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September 30--  Forty percent of the criminal indictments returned by a Toombs County grand jury in September were related to alleged drug offenses.

Indicted for cocaine charges are Walford McKinney, Shone Hunt, John Baskin and Marcus Trull, Jr.  Marijuana-related indictments were returned against Orbey Gibbons, Terrence Woods, Kenneth Manuel, Ryan Hewitt and Gary Stauff.  Also indicted in drug cases are Sylvester Clark and Emily Stuckey.

A cruelty to children indictment was returned against Alyshia Profit and Derrell Ruth was indicted for child molestation.

A rash of 19 automobile breakins late last year is expected to be solved with the indictment of Aaron Mullinax.

Burglary indictments were returned against Rashan Beacham, Jeremy Bell, Travis Spencer, Martez Walker, Jr. and Tony Lee Swain.

The grand jury also indicted Brian Collins for aggravated assault, Brian Shelton for debit card theft, Wesley Mobley for forgery, Shawn Cribbs and Blake Johnson for damaging police vehicles, Lewis Gardner for damaging government property and Carl Kelley for possessing a vehicle with an altered identification number.

 

September 29-- The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that the preliminary unemployment rate in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha area rose to 12.2 percent in August, up two-tenths of a percentage point from 12 percent in July. The rate was 12.5 percent in August 2011.

The rate increased because there were 125 more unemployed people in the area.  

The Heart of Georgia-Altamaha Regional Commission had the highest area rate in the state, while metro Athens continued to have the lowest area jobless rate at 6.7 percent. 

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in August, unchanged from July. The jobless rate was 9.9 percent in August a year ago.

The number of jobs in the state rose by 25,100, or six-tenths of a percentage point, from 3,914,100 in July to 3,939,200 in August. Georgia has created 49,700 jobs since August 2011 when there were 3,889,500 jobs.

Local area unemployment data are not seasonally adjusted. Georgia labor market data are available at www.dol.state.ga.us

The highest unemployment rate in Georgia is the 17-county Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region surrounding Toombs County.

The Georgia Department of Labor says the jobless rate in the area in August was 12 point two percent, up slightly from July.  That’s three percent higher than the state average and four percent higher than the national average which remains above eight percent.

Jeff Davis County has the highest unemployment rate of 14.5 percent with the lowest rate in Tattnall County with 9.8 percent. Treutlen County has a jobless rate of 13.9 percent, Montgomery County is at 11.4 percent and Toombs County’s rate is 11.1 percent which equates to more than 15-hundred people out of work.

 

 

September 28--  The Sweet Onion Classic Golf Tournament has raised over a million dollars for local causes in its history and continued the tradition Thursday night at the Vidalia Community Center.

At the annual pre-tournament auction, checks totaling nearly $60,000 were handed out to eight agencies and organizations in Toombs County.

{mosimage}The largest single donation of $25,000 was made to the Meadows Healthcare Foundation. The Foundation's Melissa Hightower says the money will be used to help the new cancer center whichis being built on the grounds of the local hospital. (L-R Hightower, Brian Bishop, Dennis Ingley and B.J. Davis)

"In this area people are driving to Statesboro, Savannah, Augusta, Macon and Atlanta to receive radiation and chemotherapy treatment.  This cancer center will be about 18,000 square feet and include radiation and chemotherapy and be and opportunity for local people to receive quality healthcare," Hightower says.

{mosimage}The second largest Sweet Onion Classic grant being made this year is $10,000 to the Toombs County Boys and Girls Club.  Board chairperson Dianne Zimnavoda says the money is needed to help equip the Club's new building which is under construction in Vidalia. (L-R Howard Hill, Lisa Bishop, Diane Zimnavoda and Howard Holman)

"It's going to be used to make that Boys and Girls Club the best place for kids in the county," Zimnavoda promises.

The Sweet Onion Classic awarded $5,000 each to the local Red Cross, the Vidalia Education Foundation, the Altama Gallery and the Vidalia High School video production class.  Awards of $2,500 each were made to Robert Toombs Christian Academy in Lyons and Open Doors to the Handicapped.

In additon to proceeds from the auction, golfers pay $500 each to play in the 18-hole charity tournament at Hawk's Point Golf Course in Vidalia.

 

September 26--  The College Board has released its 2012 Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) report.  The average statewide score went up seven points over last year but is still lower than the national average.  The state average is 1,452 and the national average is 1,498.  The highest possible score in 2,400 points.

The highest score among high schools in the area is the private Robert Toombs Christian Academy in Lyons with an average of 1,603 points.

Among public schools, the highest area score belongs to Jeff Davis High School with 1,434 followed by Vidalia High School with an average score of 1,410.  Tattnall comes in third, Montgomery is fourth, Toombs and Treutlen tied for fifth, Wheeler is sixth, Metter seventh, Swainsboro is eighth and Appling Co is ninth.

School

# Tested

Reading

Math

Writing

Total

RTCA

26

537

536

530

1603

J.D. Davis Co HS

61

483

477

474

1434

Vidalia HS

65

465

485

460

1410

Tattnall Co HS

90

461

475

460

1396

Montgomery Co HS

24

470

465

457

1392

Toombs Co HS

47

473

466

439

1378

Treutlen Co HS

33

452

485

441

1378

Wheeler Co HS

32

455

453

454

1362

Metter HS

60

444

440

436

1320

Swainsboro HS

65

427

448

426

1301

Appling Co HS

81

438

430

430

1298

U.S. Average:  1498    Georgia Average:  1452

 

Five public schools with improved scores from last year are Jeff Davis, Montgomery, Treutlen, Wheeler and Tattnall.  Schools with lower scores than last year are Vidalia, Toombs, Appling, Metter and Swainsboro. 

September 26--  Here's the latest news from our local animal world.

{mosimage}This little guy was found near the intersection of Adams Street and 7th Street in Vidalia.  If you know him or to whom he belongs, please email Marybeth Gay at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Veterinarians in our area continue to go above and beyond to help people and their pets.  Here's the latest example

{mosimage}Dr. Charles Faulk of Four Rivers Veterinary Center with Gretchen Williams and her dog, honey. In November 2011, Gretchen was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. She has since undergone numerous rounds of chemotherapy and surgery and is currently undergoing radiation treatments in her battle against this disease. As a testament to her character and strength of will, Gretchen dedicates her free time to designing and gifting hair bows and coloring books to the young cancer patients at the Backus Children's Hospital in Savannah. Thanks to the efforts and generosity of friend Melissa Padgett, Four Rivers Veterinary Center was able to offer Gretchen a reduced cost-spay and veterinary care for Honey. Gretchen's positive attitude and dedication to helping others - both people and animals - have been and continue to be an inspiration to us all!

For more information on Gretchen and how you can help in her battle against breast cancer, please visit her Give Forward page at www.giveforward.com/affectionforgretchen.

 

 

 

September 26--  The Sweet Onion City was in the limelight over the weekend thanks to the Symetra Tour LPGA Vidalia Championship at Hawk's Point Golf Course in Vidalia.

Producers from WTOC-TV in Savannah spent most of the weekend in Vidalia and at the golf course to report the story.  Click below to view their 30-minute program which was televised Sunday night.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBRSap3p29M&feature=youtu.be

 

 

September 26--  Property owners in Vidalia, Lyons and Toombs County can expect to be paying the same property tax rates this year.

The Vidalia city council approved the city's rate at a called meeting Tuesday.

"We're recommending the council approve the net millage rate of 4.5 mils for Toombs County residents in Vidalia and 3.549 mils for Montgomery County residents living in Vidalia," according to Vidalia City Manager Bill Torrance.

Torrance says the city is working on a thin margin to maintain the status quo on property taxes.

"It's very, very tight.  There's only about a $1,500 contingency right now and we're still working on the budget to try to bring that up a little bit.  Right now it's practically a zero balance budget in the general fund," he said.

Lyons is also maintaining the same tax rate at 2.89 mils.

The Toombs County milage rate was approved on a three to one vote earlier this month to keep the tax rate at 9.625 mils.  However, unlike Vidalia, Toombs County is in better financial condition after raising the tax rate one mil three years ago.  Commissioner Skeeter Toole tried to get the commission to reduce taxes.

"I wanted to actually decrease it.  With the money we have in the bank, $3.5 million in the general account and  $2 million in CD's, I felt like we owe it to the taxpayers to roll back the mil  that we increased in '09, but nobody wanted to go along with it but me, so it didn't pass," Commissioner Toole said. 

City residents could see an increase in property taxes next year if a judge rules to increase Toombs County's share of local option sales tax collections.

"If our percentage goes down, that results in an increase in taxes in the city.  The only way to avoid that is to cut back on services," Torrance points out.

A hearing is scheduled October 30th before Judge H. Gibbs Flanders of the Dublin Judicial Circuit to determine how the sales tax revenue will be distributed  in Toombs County for the next ten years starting in January. 

September 25--  Toombs County's new school superintendent took her oath of office Monday.

{mosimage}Dr. Kim Corley was sworn in by Toombs County Probate Judge Larry Threlkeld at the county school board office in Lyons.  A longtime teacher, staff member and school principal in the county school system, she succeeds veteran superintendent Dr. Kendall Brantley who retired.

She takes the job only a few weeks before voters will decide in November if they want to approve an amendment to the state constitution allowing creation of a charter school system in Georgia.

The state has been unable to adequately fund public schools for years and State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge is urging voters not to approve the amendment.

Dr. Corley agrees that now is not the time.

"I think until we can give teachers the materials they need and restore the calendars back to 180 days and fully fund what we need to fund, I'm very concerned about funds being diverted to support any other type of endeavor," she says.

"I'm certainly not opposed to the concept of charter schools.  We have a very successful one here that serves local systems around us, but I'm concerned about the amendment creating additonal charter schools and money being taken away from our local school system," she notes. 

Supporters of the amendment claim charter schools are needed to give students enrolled in below standard public schools a choice and a chance at a better education.  

 

September 24--  State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville has concerns about the last two months of revenue collections in Georgia.

FLAT SECOND MONTH OF FY CAUSES CONCERN

 

July and August are not "barnburner" months to begin with.  In FY012, July ranked 10th in revenue brought in and August ranked 7th out of 12 months.  But, one year ago, each of the two months showed solid gains at 7.3% in July and 9.1% in August. That memory just makes July and August of FY2013 even more a matter of concern.

 

This July's growth came in at 7.4% overall and that seemed ok until you looked at the overall Sales Tax level of only 0.9% growth which followed other anemic months in the spring.  And when you look at the August numbers:  1.9% overall growth, 0.2% up in Individual Income Taxes and -0.2% Sales Tax drop, it is hard not to be concerned if not alarmed.

 

In fact, the unusual second month growth of Corporate Income Taxes at $23.8 million was essentially all of the growth of $24.5 million for the month.

 

There is just no good news in any of the numbers for August.  These are the August numbers that are causing furrowed brows:

 

               Individual Income Taxes                -0.2% down -$1.6 million

               Sales and Use Taxes-Gross           0.2% up $1.6 million

                                            

Inside the Individual Income Tax numbers for the month of August, Individual Withholding Payments were up only $18 million but Refunds were also up $4.5 million.  All other Individual Tax Categories, including estimated payments, were down -$12 million ....not a pretty picture.

              

Motor Fuel Taxes were down in both categories:  Excise Taxes down -$1.6 million or

-4.3% and Sales Taxes down -$2.1 million or -4.4%.  Usually as gas prices rise, sales tax collections go up because of the higher price, but it is obvious that sales were down dramatically.

 

As mentioned, Corporate Sales Taxes were up for a second consecutive month showing a gain of $23.8 million for the month that was caused mostly by Corporate Tax Refunds being down for the month by -$22 million.  Corporate Return and Estimated Payments were down by -$7.0 million and all other categories of Corporate Income Taxes were up a combined $9 million over August of last year.  

 

YEAR TO DATE TOTALS ARE PROBLEMATICAL

With a total of $2.6 billion collected so far this fiscal year, the big months that carry the load of the state's revenue stream are ahead of us.  But the Year to Date totals, an analysis shows, only seem to be extending a trend that has plagued the state since the first of 2012.  Both Individual Income Taxes and Sales tax collections are lethargic and are well below the amount expected in the revenue level contained in the FY2013 General Appropriations Budget passed this past March by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.

 

Overall, the YTD gain is only $115.5 million for the two months or a growth rate of 4.6%.

Individual Income Taxes have grown only $43.1 million or only 3.2%.

Gross Sales Taxes are up only 0.4% and somehow through "adjustments/Refunds", the state portion shows a 3.1% growth.

Motor Fuel Taxes are down in total -$9.3 million or -5.4% with both taxes, excise and sales taxes falling so far this year.

 

The redeeming grace so far has been Corporate Income Taxes showing a positive $65.8 million gain and frankly, if you took that amount out of the total for FY2013, state revenues would really be flat.

 

Tobacco Tax collections are negative year to date at -$6.6 million or -20.5% and Alcoholic Beverages collections are up slightly at 2.1%.

 

It is with this backdrop that Gov. Deal called for 3% budget reductions in Amended FY2013 and 3% for the FY2014 budget being prepared by the Governor this fall. He exempted K-12 Education and assigned a 5% cut to Medicaid.  Some departments may not believe these cuts will actually happen, but those are not folks studying state revenue trends and the fact that the FY013 budget that began in July counts on about 5.5% growth from the state's economy.


 

 

September 24--  Listen weekday mornings from six till nine o'clock to America's Morning News on NewsTalk970, WVOP, Your News, Talk and Information Station in Vidalia powered by The Washington Times.  You'll hear news you may not know.

The 24 Seven

Obama set to release 55 Gitmo inmates

Breitbart.com

Obama set to release 55 Gitmo inmates

President Barack Obama is about to release or transfer 55, or one third of all Gitmo prisoners, despite reports that the Libyan believed to be behind the killing of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens was a former Guantanamo inmate transferred to Libyan custody. Read & Comment

.

Pakistani minister: $100k for filmmaker's head

The Sydney Morning Herald

Pakistani minister: $100k for filmmaker's head

A Pakistani cabinet minister has offered a $100,000 reward for the death of the person behind the anti-Islam video made in the US that has angered Muslims around the world, even suggesting that Taliban and al-Qaeda militants could carry out the killing. Read & Comment

.

Progressive 'elites' show sensitivity only to Islam

Newsbusters

Progressive 'elites' show sensitivity only to Islam

The “enlightened” who claim a firm grip on the steering wheel of Western civilization see the future through a lens in which man becomes ever more perfectible as outdated religious creeds fade away. And thus the irony. For all the contempt these cosmopolitans show for religion, there is one faith beyond public rebuke. Call it Islamic exceptionalism. Read & Comment

.

Florida kindergartners to cheer gay history month?

The Miami Herald

Florida kindergartners to cheer gay history month?

Broward County School Board members on Wednesday are expected to approve a formal resolution in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month, which takes place every October. Read & Comment

.

Muslim protests raise spectre of civilizational clash

Reuters

Muslim protests raise spectre of civilizational clash

The outrage and violence over a crude film ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed points to a chasm between Western free speech and individualism and the sensitivities of some Muslims over what they see as a campaign of humiliation. Read & Comment

.

Newly discovered alien planet could support life

Space.com

Newly discovered alien planet could support life

A newly discovered alien planet may be one of the top contenders to support life beyond Earth, researchers say. Read & Comment

.

Canada surges as Obama sinks America

The New York Sun

Canada surges as Obama sinks America

It is notorious that most Canadians are to some degree anti-American, though most are also appreciators of America, and this makes the present election in the United States, unfathomably banal though the campaign has been so far, a matter of legitimate comfort to most Canadians. Canada has been to some degree the beneficiary of the self-imposed decline of America these past 15 years. Read & Comment

.

24|7 Collections

The strike must go on: Chicago teachers hold out for more

The strike must go on: Chicago teachers hold out for more

Former National Education Association General Counsel Bob Chanin once said the union is effective not because members care about children, but because they have power. The parents of 400,000 Chicago schoolchildren now know he was serious. Despite some of the nation's worst test scores, America's highest-paid teachers are holding out for more. Read & Comment

In the tank: Mideast meltdown exposes media bias .

Leading from behind: Obama's foreign policy failure .

9/11: 'The price of liberty is eternal vigilance' .

DNC 2012: 'We're all in this together' .

 

Right Now 24|7

Canada surges as Obama sinks America .

Progressive 'elites' show sensitivity only to Islam .

Pakistani minister: $100k for filmmaker's head .

Florida kindergartners to cheer gay history month? .

Obama set to release 55 Gitmo inmates .

Chick-fil-A sticks with pro-marriage donations .

Silent Obama hears it over 'Piss Christ' art .

Libyans tired of killing continue violent protest .

Nevada GOP to Reid: Show how much tax YOU paid .

Smothering speech OK, so long as Muslims do it .

Daily Muhammad cartoon might douse protests .

Libyans storm militia to avenge consulate attack .

Bill Clinton stuns Dems by hosting Morsi in NYC .

Mitt 'years younger than his age,' doctor says .

Senator: Deport illegals who vote in U.S. elections .

Cleaver: Nonvoting blacks 'not worth the color' .

Obama beats Romney in August fundraising battle .

 

September 24--  September has been a good month for the Toombs County Development Authority.

Earlier it announced a plant expansion and more jobs for U.S. Pet in the Toombs Corporate Center on U.S. One in Lyons and now has reached agreement with TUMI Luggage to grow its Vidalia Distribution Center on Harris Industrial Boulevard.

The company had been considering a possible move to the Western United States which would have meant a loss of local jobs.  TUMI's Richard Lawrence is happy the decision was made to stay in Toombs County.

"The decison was made by the executive leadership team at our corporate headquarters.  The presence we've had here over the past several decades helped with that decision.  We have a workforce with an average tenure of ten years and we have a great management team and I think all of that tipped the scales in our favor along with the contribution the Development Authority made for us," he said.

The Development Authority has approved a $500,000 grant to TUMI over a five year period.  The payback locally is retention of jobs and the additon of more jobs.

"It's volume related.  As volume picks up, we'll need more bodies to process those orders and I'm thinking six to seven jobs a year for the next five years and we're expecting to add up to 40 jobs in that period," Lawrence says.

The Development Authority grant is contingent on TUMI maintaining 200 local jobs for each of the next five years and spending at least $1,750,000 to expand and equip it's distribution center.

"We're looking to break ground as soon as possible and I'm expecting we'll start within the next two to three weeks," Lawence reports.

Development Authority Director Bill Mitchell says it's another positive step for local economic development.

"Obviously it's jobs and investment in the community and a committment by a well known international company to say we thank you for what you did, how you helped us and what it's going to do for us to bring new employees here," Mitchell observed.  

September 20-- The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 9.2 percent in August. The rate is unchanged from July, when the preliminary 9.3 percent rate was revised to 9.2 percent. The jobless rate was 9.9 percent in August a year ago.

“The unemployment rate has stabilized after two months of increases,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Georgia continues to have respectable job growth, which is a good sign. While more than one-half of the monthly growth in August came from seasonal education workers returning to their jobs, what’s more encouraging is the fact that the August-to-August growth in the last year is the most we’ve had since 2007.”

The number of jobs rose by 25,100, or six-tenths of a percentage point, from 3,914,100 in July to 3,939,200 in August. While 15,200 of those jobs resulted primarily from workers returning to local public and private schools following seasonal layoffs, there was new growth in some industries. Health care and social assistance grew by 4,400; professional and business services by 2,400; manufacturing by 1,600; trade, transportation, and warehousing by 1,500; and construction by 1,000.

Georgia has created 49,700 jobs since the 3,889,500 recorded in August 2011. The annual growth sectors were professional and business services, 25,500; trade and transportation, 22,500; education and health services, 9,800; manufacturing, 6,900; and leisure and hospitality, 4,700.

The pace of new layoffs continues to slow, as the number of initial claims dropped to 45,725, down by 10,815, or 19.1 percent, from 56,540 in July. Most of the decline in claims came in manufacturing and administrative and support services. The number of new claims was down by 19 percent over the year, dropping by 10,751 from 56,476 in August a year ago. 

The number of long-term unemployed workers decreased to 217,200 in August, down by 8,200 from 225,400 in July. And, the number of long-term unemployed is down by 36,900, or 14.5 percent from 254,100 in August 2011. The long-term unemployed, those out of work for more than 26 weeks, make up 49.4 percent of those unemployed in Georgia, the lowest percent in almost two years.

Connect with us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter @GeorgiaDOL. You can access all pages via our website at www.dol.state.ga.us.  

DATA FOR THE METRO AREAS ARE ATTACHED. TABLES AND GRAPHS REFLECTING LABOR MARKET DATA ARE AVAILABLE AT http://www.dol.state.ga.us/pr/current_data.htm

Sept. 20--  {mosimage}  It is almost impossible to tell a child of age 6 that his beloved pet is missing.  This 12 year old miniature dachshunds “Sophia” is missing from Tarrytown area and if you know where she is, please call 912-237-5847.  Please help Anthony Mosley find their dog where she can be reunited with the boy that loves her so much.  Sophia has been missing since Wednesday (09-12-12) and Anthony is offering a reward for her return.

 

September 19--  The Macon Telegraph is urging a "no" vote on the charter school amendment to the Georgia constitution which voters will see on the November ballot.

"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities."

Aside from the other races for president and vice president, this seemingly benign constitutional amendment will also be on the ballot. It is not what it seems to be.

A little history. During the last legislative session, one of the most contentious fights was over charter schools. The state Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the mechanism for establishing charter schools that bypassed local school boards. That should have been the end of it. After an initial reluctance by local boards to establish charter schools, more than 150 exist in the state today. In some cases, entire systems have adopted charter status. So why the need for a constitutional amendment? Follow the money.

There are several for-profit school management companies that would love to get their hands on some of Georgia's dwindling state pie for education, particularly in the metro Atlanta area. While the amendment is one short mom and apple pie paragraph, the bill behind it, House Resolution 1162 is much more detailed.

Basically, the measure would create a third educational bureaucracy that would have authority to establish charter schools without local or state board of education approval. Why vote against this travesty? Ask the state Superintendent of Schools John Barge who has risked the wrath of his party by opposing the measure as has every legitimate educational proponent in the state. The educational landscape is already bleak. The state has cut $5 billion out of K-12 education. Nowhere in the proposed legislation is a funding stream identified for this charter school effort. It would be easy to assume, with this measure coming from the most anti-public school Legislature in history, that money will be diverted from already strapped school systems of which 72 of the 180 in the state are in deficit spending already.

State allocations were also changed, further hampering, particularly rural school systems. More to come, but put this measure on your radar. Vote no.

 


September 19-- This is a piece of information we all can understand.

If you watch nothing else today....watch this short illustration lesson. 

 This is a non-partisan video produced by an accountant, Hal Mason,

 retired after 27 years with IBM.  He looks at the budget, its revenues

 and expenses, and very simply illustrates the problem.  Amazingly, we

 get all the media talking heads blathering and shouting for hours and

 never get clarity.  This guy does it in a couple of minutes.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/EW5IdwltaAc?rel=0


September 18-- Governor Nathan Deal announced today that General Biofuels Georgia, LLC will construct a wood pellet manufacturing plant in Sandersville investing $60 million and creating 35 jobs. 

“We are committed to making Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business and a central plank in our strategy is to boost the manufacturing sector,” said Deal. “Our state is uniquely equipped to help manufacturers compete globally and efficiently meet the needs of their customers. So, I am especially glad to welcome General Biofuels to Georgia.”

The plant will manufacture industrial-grade wood pellets for sale to a major European utility under a long-term contract. Capacity of the plant will be approximately 440,000 tons per year. Start of production is scheduled for the first quarter of 2014.

“Sandersville is an ideal setting for our pellet production facility. The timber resources are abundant, the workforce is capable and motivated and the transportation system from Sandersville to the Port of Savannah will be tremendously advantageous. We look forward to joining the Washington County business community,” said founder and chairman for General Biofuels Ruby Sahiwal.

Renewable feedstock will come from Georgia timberlands and local lumber producers. Pellets from the plant will be loaded into railcars for transport by the Sandersville Railroad and Norfolk Southern Railway to the Port of Savannah for intermediate storage and trans-load to ocean-going ships.

“We are very excited to have General Biofuels join the Washington County business community and for the Sandersville Railroad to provide long-term rail transportation services,” said Executive Director of the Development Authority of Washington County Charles Lee. “This project offers manufacturing jobs to the Washington County region and will provide long-term, stable employment in the timber harvesting, manufacturing, transportation sectors, and increase exports through the Port of Savannah.”

Project manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development was Renée Rosenheck. The Georgia Center of Innovation for Energy also played a significant role in the location by introducing the company to Georgia as an attractive biomass industry destination. Co-director Jill Stuckey connected General Biofuels with the Georgia Forestry Commission, Georgia Department of Economic Development and other state resources. The company also participated in the Center’s One Stop Shop to present its project.

“General Biofuels’ location to Sandersville is great news for central Georgia,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Chris Cummiskey. “The biofuels industry in Georgia is growing by leaps and bounds. We have more commercial timberland than any other state in the country, as well as the workforce and the logistics infrastructure needed to move the product quickly and efficiently to market.”

Energy is one of the six industries identified for growth in Georgia. Georgia’s entrepreneur-friendly policies, reduced taxes on bioscience energy companies and expedited environmental permits for biofuel plants are among a few reasons why the state is ranked third in the United States for its future in alternative energy production. The state is No. 1 in the nation for commercial timberland, with 10 million acres of agricultural land and 24.7 million acres of forest land. Georgia also has an established “brain trust” of university research and development in bioenergy, with world-renowned programs at the University of Georgia, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Herty Advanced Materials Development Center, a $150-million-dollar nonprofit research center focused on biomass commercialization.

About General Biofuels

General Biofuels Georgia, LLC is part of the General Biofuels group (www.generalbiofuels.com). Headquartered in Northern California, General Biofuels is an international developer of wood pellet and energy crop pellet manufacturing facilities. The company has projects in Canada, the Southeast, the Caribbean and Latin America.

September 18--  A Treutlen County deputy sheriff was injured early Tuesday morning in a wreck on Interstate 16.

{mosimage}Sheriff Tommy Corbin says Deputy Mark Raiford suffered a broken wrist when an oncoming vehicle crossed the median.

"The other guy hydroplaned and came across the interstate sideways and Mark T-Boned him.  The boy is okay, he's banged up but he'll be alright.  Then another subject came along and saw the blue lights sitting on the shoulder and the other car was sitting on the road with no lights on and he hit that one, but he's going to be alright," the sheriff explained.

Deputy Raiford was enroute to a training class in Forsyth when the accident happened near the Treutlen-Laurens county line.  

September 18-- A Telfair County deputy sheriff found more than expected when he stopped a truck hauling tomatoes Saturday afternoon.

{mosimage}Sheriff Johnny Smith says cocaine with an estimated street value of $38 million was found in the truck and in a subsequent search of the area where the subjects lived near Lumber City.  Overall, about 840 pounds of cocaine were found.

"We unloaded the tomatoes.  Me and my investigator Kevin Yawn and my chief deputy and a couple of DEA agents were unloading the tomatoes from the truck.  We'd dump the box out and in the bottom of the box would be a kilo of cocaine.  We found 191 kilos in the truck we unloaded and we found 191 kilos buried in the ground," he said.

Four Hispanic males are in custody and two more are being sought in the case which Sheriff  Smith says is one of the largest drug seizures in recent state history.

"It's the largest one I've ever been involved in and all the guys who participated say it's the largest they've ever been involved in.  It's huge.  I knew we had a drug problem here, but I had no idea these people were involved," he said. 

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is taking the lead in the ongoing investigation, according to Sheriff Smith.

September 18--  Toombs County is trying to save money and time treating inmates at the county detention center.

The county commission has approved a $126,000 contract with Southeast Correctional Medicine which provides similar service to 14 other rural counties.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight says most of the treatment will be provided in the detention center.

"Instead of us having to take them up to the hospital when they have cuts or bruises, they can treat it right there in the emergency room in the jail.  They'll have EKG machines and portable x-ray machines and it cuts out the transportation and the security needed when we take them to a doctor's office or the hospital," Sheriff Kight reports.

The sheriff says the contractor will also provide medicine to inmates which will also save the county money plus it assumes liabiity for inmate treatments.

In other Toombs County news, the county commission has authorized a $6,000 budget to conduct a search for a new county manager.  Applications are now being accepted and the deadline to apply is October 15.

The commission has accepted a low bid to build a new EMS and Voter Registration Building in Cedar Crossing.  The $374,000 bid was submitted by Harper and Harper Construction of Douglas.

It's also approved a low bid of $13,340 from Hub Communications for new radioes for the sheriff's office.

 

September 17--  Elected officials from both the Georgia Working Families Legislative Caucus and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference last Friday calling on Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler to restore the unemployment benefits for thousands of private sector workers in the State of Georgia.  This press conference was held in response to Labor Commissioner Mark Butler’s letter to the United States Department of Labor stating that the issue of unemployment insurance for private sector seasonal employees is a states rights issue.

At the event, elected officials highlighted the letter from the U.S. Department of Labor that instructed the Commissioner to retract his decision that fails to comply with federal law. Legislators called for full restoration of unemployment benefits for the thousands of private sector employees affected by the actions of Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.  

“We urge Commissioner Mark Butler to retreat from his reckless decision. We insist that he comply with the ruling of the United States Department of Labor and fully restore the unemployment benefits for the affected workers. For more than 30 years, employees of private contractors providing services to educational institutions have received this benefit. Butler has overstepped his power and must be reined in,” said Senator Nan Orrock, Co-Chair of the Working Families Legislative Caucus.

“This rash action by Commissioner Mark Butler impacts more than 32,000 hard- working Georgians and their families.  Shockingly, his actions also have a very negative effect on the health of our state’s economy when families and local economies are denied these funds,” said Senator Emanuel Jones, Chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.

Senator Jones introduced Chiquita Allison, a laid-off bus driver who described the dire straits in which her family has been placed by Butler’s denial of her lawful benefits.  The mother of a 9-month-old daughter, Mrs. Allison is facing repossession of her automobile and the prospect of being evicted from her home due to Butler’s action.

“The unilateral decision by the Commissioner is unfair, unjust and unwarranted. The employers have already paid into the unemployment trust fund so the money is already there and does not come from taxpayers,” said Rep. Virgil Fludd, Co-Chair of the Working Families Legislative Caucus.

The two legislative caucuses are requesting an immediate meeting with Commissioner Mark Butler to resolve the situation, as well as calling on the U.S. Department of Labor to make a speedy response to Butler’s refusal to comply with their ruling that was issued in early August.

Sen. Nan Orrock represents the 36th Senate District, which includes portions of Fulton County. She may be reached by phone at 404.463.8054 or via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Sen. Emanuel Jones represents the 10th Senate District, which includes portions of Henry and DeKalb Counties.  He may be reached by phone at 404.656.0502 or via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

September 17--  News you may not know from The Washington Times which powers America's Morning News weekdays from six till nine a.m. on NewsTalk970, WVOP, Your News, Talk and Information Station in Vidalia.

The 24 Seven

Obama's excuse for Mideast riots masks failure

Washington Examiner

Obama's excuse for Mideast riots masks failure

The White House insists that deadly attacks on U.S. diplomats in Libya and violent protests targeting U.S. facilities in Egypt are entirely the result of an anti-Islamic video. Why would the White House heap blame on the movie — indeed, insist that it is the sole cause of the violence — when officials don’t actually know that to be true? Read & Comment

.

White House makes case for 'indefinite detention’

The Blaze

White House makes case for 'indefinite detention’

Less than 24 hours after a federal judge in New York ruled the federal government could not indefinitely detain “suspected” terrorists, the Obama administration asked a court to suspend the ruling. Read & Comment

.

Anti-Muslim filmmaker was U.S. govt. informant

The Smoking Gun

Anti-Muslim filmmaker was U.S. govt. informant

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attempt to distance the U.S. from “Innocence of Muslims” may be complicated by the revelation that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula became a government informant after his 2009 arrest for bank fraud, The Smoking Gun has learned. Read & Comment

.

Prince Harry target of Taliban attack

MailOnline

Prince Harry target of Taliban attack

The Taliban have announced that Prince Harry was the main target of an attack last night on his base in Afghanistan, which left two U.S. Marines dead and others injured. Read & Comment

.

Mideast chaos, gas-prices spark recession fears

Big Peace

Mideast chaos, gas-prices spark recession fears

Turmoil in the Middle East, the Federal Reserve's decision to devalue the U.S. dollar through a third round of "quantitative easing," and rising oil prices could send the global economy into recession. Read & Comment

.

Many Chicago teachers send kids to private schools

Hotair

Many Chicago teachers send kids to private schools

Given the state of public education and that of Chicago, it’s not alien for public school teachers to ship their kids to private institutions. According to The Washington Times in September of 2004, they quoted the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which found that 39 percent of Chicago teachers chose private schools for their children. Read & Comment

.

Samuel L. Jackson to record raunchy Obama ad

New York Post

Samuel L. Jackson to record raunchy Obama ad

They picked the perfect actor for a political ad loaded with f-bombs. Samuel L. Jackson will film a provocative spot supporting President Obama’s re-election bid. Read & Comment

.

24|7 Collections

In the tank: Mideast meltdown exposes media bias

In the tank: Mideast meltdown exposes media bias

Media refused to ask tough questions of President Obama following the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens at the hands of a Libyan mob, and the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. They showed a different face to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, coordinating their line of questioning to put him in the worst possible light. Read & Comment

Leading from behind: Obama's foreign policy failure .

9/11: 'The price of liberty is eternal vigilance' .

DNC 2012: 'We're all in this together' .

Narcissist in chief: Obama leads march of the 'Me' generation .

 

Right Now 24|7

Anti-Muslim filmmaker was U.S. govt. informant .

Teen arrested in Chicago car-bomb attempt .

Prince Harry target of Taliban attack .

Mideast chaos, gas-prices spark recession fears .

Many Chicago teachers send kids to private schools .

Samuel L. Jackson to record raunchy Obama ad .

Black flag flies over U.S. Embassy in Tunisia .

Cries of 'Allahu Akbar' ring through Jerusalem .

Obama's political fate may be decided by a mob .

Imagine media reaction if Mitt made 'ally' gaffe .

Adviser: Libya doesn't happen if Mitt is president .

N.D. State evacuated over bomb threat .

Bomb threat empties campus at Univ. of Texas .

Marines deployed to protect embassy in Yemen .

Smoke, gunfire, chaos at U.S. Embassy in Tunis .

Mobs storm British, German embassies in Sudan .

Obama claims 'biblical call' to give foreign aid .

 

September 17--  The annual United Way campaign for Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler Counties is off to a good start.

{mosimage}The kickoff to the music of Vidalia's Wardlaw Brothers emphasized the theme "U + Me = United Community."  This year's goal is $465,000 and, thanks to Pacemaker Companies and fund raising events, $183,940 has already been pledged.

Employees at Plant Hatch raised $88,000, Dot Foods donations total $45,045 and Vidalia City Schools collected $10,000.  The United Way golf tournament raised $12,240, Dancing for the Stars and Power of the Purse made $12,000 and the Sweet Onion Century Bike Ride raised $2,200.

Twenty-two community service organizations in the three counties depend on the United Way to help with their budgets.


 

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September 14--  This is "Chip" and he's missing.  He was last seen in the area around Hawk's Point Golf Course off Loop Road in Vidalia.  If you've seen "Chip," please call Josh at 253-3395.


 

 

September 14--  One of Vidalia's beloved senior citizens is officially an "Indian Star" for her volunteer work on behalf of special education students at Vidalia High School.

{mosimage}The Vidalia school board presented the award to Polly Rushton for her 38 years of service to the school.  "Miss Polly is a fixture at Vidalia High School and has been for some time.  She's as much a part of the climate and culture in that building as anyone.  She donates an inordinate amount of time, money and effort to our special needs children," said School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox in presenting the award.

Miss Polly was nominated for the award by special education teacher Bettina Linden, who wrote:

"I have the honor of introducing Ms. Polly Rushton to you as this month’s recipient of the Indian Star award of the Vidalia-City School System. 

Ms. Polly is an accomplished artist who illustrates among other things a couple of different lines of children’s books.  She is originally a native of Alabama where she studied Art at Troy-State University before moving to Vidalia as a bride and raising a family.

Ms. Polly has been supporting the special needs students in this school system for about 50 years.  She was an assistant to the resource room teacher starting at the elementary school level and moved up to the higher grades over the decades with the teacher. She became a fixture in the lives of many students with challenging physical and mental disabilities. Over the years, a lot of these students , even after they graduated from high school and moved on to assisted living and working facilities, still keep in touch with ‘their’ Ms.Polly by calling her, visiting her, or writing her to let her know how they are doing and what is going on in their lives.

Ms. Polly has assisted with art instruction for the resource room students at Vidalia High School by providing meaningful and effective materials and subjects for the students to work on.  Besides learning about color and form, the students’ fine motor skills are honed through the assignments she prepares for the class.  Many of the students have made great progress in their skills through these assignments.  Ms. Polly provides all the materials necessary out of her own funds, preparing an art lesson and project for every Friday of the school year, year after year.  Besides that, she supplies snacks for the resource room students on a daily basis, and often helps a student with the final assignment during the last period of the school day so that everybody can get ready for the arrival of the special needs bus.  The students love their Ms.Polly, and start asking by about lunch time, “Is Ms. Polly coming today?”

Besides supplying all the materials needed for the art projects and the snacks, Ms. Polly also provides other classroom necessities which are greatly appreciated during the time of financial constraints on the funds available to teachers. She also secures a contribution from the Lions Club every December to take the high school resource room students to Wal-Mart to purchase Christmas presents, thus ending the year on a high note for our students.

All the wonderful things Ms.Polly has done over the years for the students and the teacher and parapros in the special needs resource classroom cannot be listed in this short tribute, but to all of us who know her personally, she is just the Angel of Vidalia."

Meanwhile, J.R. Trippe Middle School and the Toombs County Boys and Girls Club are partnering to provide math tutoring.  School Principal Gwen Warren says teachers will go to the club after school to help prepare middle school students for high school math.

"We have difficulty getting students who need extra help to stay after school because of transportation problems.  There are a large number of our students who go to the Boys and Girls Club and the Club provides transportation for them.  I talked with Tonjai Gaffney at the Boys and Girls Club and she was gracious to provide us space and time for us to send certified teachers to tutor the students in the afternoon," Warren said.

Tutoring will also be offered at the school, the principal says.

September 13--  Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Fram Renewable Fuels is expanding in the city of Hazlehurst in Jeff Davis County, creating 80 new jobs. The alternative energy manufacturer will invest $91 million in opening its second Georgia wood pellet manufacturing plant.

“Alternative energy manufacturers such as Fram Renewable Fuels help keep Georgia top of mind as a strategic location for this industry, increasing our prominence around the world as a go-to location for these businesses,” Deal said. “Georgia is fortunate to have an abundance of forestry resources for Fram to expand its wood pellet operations, and meet the growing needs of its global customers.”

Headquartered in Richmond Hill, Fram Renewable Fuels currently operates Appling County Pellets in Baxley. Fram’s new plant in Hazlehurst will help the company meet the expanded needs of its customers in Europe that use wood pellets for energy utilities. This plant will have a total production capacity of 500,000 metric tons of wood pellets per year, and will use pine logs and sawmill residuals as feedstock. Upon completion of the new manufacturing plant, Fram will be positioned among the top wood pellet export companies in the United States, exporting more than 900,000 metric tons of wood pellets annually. 

“This is another step toward Fram’s mission to be a significant, reliable and cost effective supplier of wood pellets, and we are very happy that we were able to locate in an area where we already have roots,” said Fram President Harold Arnold. “The pellet business will continue to be a learning process and is no ‘walk in the park.’”

Fram’s Hazlehurst wood pellet manufacturing plant will be strategically located in South Georgia’s “wood basket,” providing efficient access to that region’s raw materials and other forestry products. This location also provides the company with convenient access by rail to the Port of Brunswick, where Fram will export its finished wood pellets to Europe from the port’s Logistec Terminal.

In addition to the direct jobs to be created, this expansion is expected to lead to the creation of indirect job opportunities in South Georgia’s forestry industry to support the new pellet plant as increased amounts of wood are harvested to supply the plant. These new opportunities are expected to have a near-immediate impact in communities throughout this region of the state.

“By working with our partners in economic development throughout the state as well as our community, the tools were available to make this project a reality,” said Ray Wooten, chair of the Jeff Davis County Board of Commissioners. “The Development Authority looks forward to working with Fram Renewable Fuels for years to come.”

The Georgia Department of Economic Development collaborated with the Joint Development Authority of Jeff Davis County, Hazlehurst and Denton to manage this project. GDEcD regional project manager Ryan Waldrep assisted the company on behalf of the state.

“This expansion is significant not only for Fram Renewable Fuels, but also for Georgia’s growing alternative energy sector,” said GDEcD Commissioner Chris Cummiskey. “From our plentiful natural resources to our high-performing logistics infrastructure, Georgia is uniquely positioned to be the best place for wood pellet manufacturers to operate. As the global demand for this product grows, we look forward to partnering with Fram and others in this industry to create future opportunities.”

About Fram Renewable Fuels

Fram Renewable Fuels was established in 2005 to contribute to the ongoing environmental efficiency improvements happening across the globe. Fram Renewable Fuels, LLC focuses on being a significant, cost-effective supplier of wood pellet fuel manufactured in North America. Fram’s emphasis is upon long-term, secure relationships with its customers. It sources fiber, manufactures wood pellets, and delivers to the customer in a consistent manner. www.framfuels.com

 

September 13--  The Toombs Corporate Center at U.S. Highway One north of Lyons is growing.

The Toombs County Development Authority and Chicken of the Sea is negotiating a five-year, $1.5 million lease-purchase agreement for the company to expand into a 100,000 square foot building in the Center.

The three-year-old building is located just north of the Chicken of the Sea main plant and will be used by the company's pet food subsidiary, U.S. Pet.

Toombs County Development Authority Executive Director Bill Mitchell says the agreement precludes U.S. Pet from moving about 80 jobs to a location in Missouri and will result in even more jobs here.

"It will mean an additional 50 jobs here pretty quickly," Mitchell says and he believes there may be more job growth in the future.  "With what we've heard from the sales team, the production requirement is anything they can make with quality here in the States rather than offshore somewhere," he adds.

According to Mitchell, the company wants to start building out the interior of the building right away.

"There's probably around a $5 million investment for warehousing, storage, processing and labelling and that type stuff.  They're going to expand their office presence in that building and eventually put one hundred  percent of the dry dogfood and catfood production in that building.  It will be air conditioned, there will be a number of shipping docks and require some work by local contractors to get it prepared for use and they're ready to go now," he said.

At the same time, Mitchell reports the company is obtaining additional acreage in the Center for future expansion and the Development Authority is planning additonal road paving there to provide better access to Highway 130 on the north side of the site.

 

 

September 12-- Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Georgia’s net tax collections for the month of August totaled $1.32 billion for an increase of $24.5 million, or 1.9 percent, compared to August 2011. Gross tax revenue deposits totaled $3.56 billion — an increase of $43 million, or 1.2 percent, compared  to August of the previous fiscal year. Finally, year-to-date net collections totaled $2.64 billion — an increase of $115.5 million, or 4.6 percent.

The following changes within the various tax categories led to the overall net revenue increase in August:
 
Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections for August totaled $709 million — up from $707.5 million in August 2011 — for an increase of $1.5 million, or 0.2 percent.

The following notable components within Individual Income Tax account for the increase:

·       Individual Withholding payments were up $18 million, or 2.5 percent

·       Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were up $4.5 million, or 9.5 percent

·       All other Individual Tax categories, including estimated payments, were down a combined $12 million

Sales and Use Tax: Net Sales and Use Tax collections for August totaled slightly less than $447 million — up from $433.5 million in August 2011 — for an increase of $13.5 million, or 3.1 percent. The monthly distribution of Sales Tax to local governments totaled $385.5 million, which was a decrease of $15.7 million, or -3.9 percent, compared to last year.

Corporate Income Tax: Corporate Income Tax collections for August increased $24 million, or 201 percent, over the previous fiscal year when refunds issued during the month outstripped tax revenues for a negative net collections total of nearly $12 million in August 2011.

The following notable components within Corporate Income Tax make up the increase:

·       Corporate Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were down $22 million, or -59.7 percent

·       Corporate Tax Return and Estimated payments were down a combined $7 million

·       All other Corporate Tax categories, including Net Worth, Assessments and S-Corp tax, combined for an increase of $9 million in August 2012

 

September 12--  It's been 19 years since property taxes were increased in the city of Vidalia and the city council wants to keep it that way.

The council has a called meeting September 25 to set the property tax millage rate and plans to hold it at 4.5 mils.  However, city manager Bill Torrance told the council Monday night the time is coming when the rate may have to go up to pay for increased costs in running the city.

Meanwhile, the city's annual audit shows the town is in good financial shape with more than $47 million in assets and less than $1 million in liabilities.

It won't be long before the now vacant Vidalia Police Department building is history.  The city has awarded McLendon Construction a $22,000 demolition contract and plans to use the space for parking and green space.

In other actions at its September meeting, the council approved a $100,000 seven-year economic development loan to U.S. Energy at three percent to buy new equipment; okayed a $5,375 contract to Nicky Ray for renovation work at Flossie Hayes Park; reappointed Hughes Threlkeld to the Vidalia Housing Authority and commended ESG, the company which runs the city's water and sewer system, for winning the Water Plant of the Year Award from the Georgia Association of Water Producers. 

September 11--  Ceremonies at Meadows Street Park in Downtown Vidalia Tuesday commemorated the 11th anniversary of the Nine-Eleven attack on the United States. 

{mosimage}The program has been hosted each year since the attack by the Downtown Vidalia Association and in recent years has been organized by area Girl Scouts.  Reverend Robert Green from the Vidalia First United Methodist Church addressed those attending this year's ceremony. 

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The JROTC Thunderbird Regiment Honor Guard assisted with the ceremony.

 

September 11--  The Republican challenger to the 12th Congressional District's incumbent Democrat Congressman John Barrow believes President Obama's unpopularity in the disrtrict will hurt Barrow in the November election.

{mosimage}State Representative Lee Anderson of Grovetown says the message that got him nominated in the Republican primary will carry the day in the general election.

"We're going to stay on focus to balance the budget, repleal Obamacare and get our country back growing again with jobs in the great state of Georgia," Anderson says.

Anderson says he expects he will debate Barrow before the election and adds,  "I want to hear him on TV saying I support Obama and Nancy Pelosi.   He voted with Obama 85 percent of the time.  He voted to keep Obamacare and that's the biggest tax increase that is being shoved down American's throats.  The people do not have a choice and we need to repeal Obamacare so people can choose their own doctor and their own hospital."

Because of redistricting, Anderson believes he has a good chance beat the four-term congressman.

"We feel very good and very comfortable that we will have another Republican congressman in the state of Georgia come November.  We've got to get back to basics.  We've got to have less government.  We've got to get government out of the way of the people and let the people create jobs.  Government does not create jobs and we've got to balance the budget," Anderson claims.

September 10--  City officials say a steady stream of visitors made their way through the new Vidalia Municipal Annex Monday afternoon.

{mosimage} 

Mayor Ronnie Dixon officiated at the grand opening ceremony and the ribbon-cutting which followed.

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Less than two hours after the ribbon-cutting, the City Council met for the first time in the new council chambers.  The building also houses the Vidalia Police Department and has a courtroom for Vidalia City Court.

September 10--  The cost of attending Southeastern Technical College and the state's other 24 technical schools is going up about 13 percent in January.

The board that runs the system is increasing tuition ten dollars per credit hour which translates to a $150 hike for a full 15-hour course load.  It's also adding a $50 fee per semester with another $50 increase for online courses scheduled to start next Fall.  Officials say that pushes the average total cost of attendance, including books, to nearly $2,000 per semester.

The President of Southeastern Tech, Dr. Cathy Mitchell, says it's a move that had to be made.

"We can't afford to operate if we don't do that.  Our state funding has decreased so much that if we're going to continue, we're going to have to go up.  This gets it more in line with other two-year Board of Regents colleges in the state and, even then, we're still lower than other schools in the southern region of the country," she notes.

Dr. Mitchell says financial assistance in various forms is available to STC students.

"Ninety percent of our students get the HOPE scholarship and that pays for about half of our tuition fees.  About 65 percent get Pell Grants which don't have to be paid back and then we also offer student loans and our STC Foundation helps any way they can with scholarships," she says.

The bottom line for students, according to Dr. Mitchell, is where there's a will there's a way.

"I think for the students who really want to go, we will find a way to help them.  If a student really wants to go, I don't think the cost will deter them, I really don't," she observes. 

September 7--  The Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting Thursday for the new Yo So Sweet Frozen Yogurt Shop located in the Vidalia Onion Factory between Vidalia and Lyons.

{mosimage} 

Front Row (L-R) Howard Hill, Alex Stanley, Samantha Stanley, Emily Stanley, Abby Stanley, Sara Brown, Blake Brown, Adam Moore

Second Row (L-R) George Holcomb, Bill Mitchell, Ben Johnson, Austin Smith, Jeff Stanley, Casey Mosley

 

September 7--  Today GreenLaw and Stack and Associates, on behalf of Ogeechee Riverkeeper, filed an appeal of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s issuance of a water pollution permit for King America Finishing.

 "For over 6 years, King America Finishing has illegally polluted the Ogeechee river.  Tens of thousands of fish have died as a result of their illegal activity and the river downstream from them has been unsafe," said Dianna Wedincamp, 

color discharge_laborday_2011Ogeechee Riverkeeper.  "The permit that the state issued allows this pollution to continue.  We believe the state should require King America to remove the pipe from the Ogeechee and re-use their wastewater instead of subjecting people and wildlife to their toxic chemicals."

 

The water pollution permit issued by the state Environmental Protection Division allows King America Finishing to continue to pollute the Ogeechee River.  

“The state has consistently and repeatedly refused to require King America to stop its pollution of the river,” said Hutton Brown, attorney at GreenLaw.  “This permit violates state and federal law.  It gives the industry the ability to add more pollution to the river and to continue to degrade the health of the river and put fish, wildlife and people at risk.”

The permit issued to King America Finishing should have much more stringent limits for ammonia and other chemicals that lower oxygen levels in the river.  Toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde should not be allowed to be discharged into the river.  Many other known pollutants in the industry’s waste stream are not required to be monitored or limited by the water pollution permit.

“The permit continues the pattern of coddling the industry at the expense of those who are most affected by the pollution,” said Don Stack, Stack and Associates.  “The pollution permit issued to King America Finishing excuses the industry from the responsibility to clean up their waste before sending it out into the Ogeechee. By filing this appeal on behalf of Ogeechee Riverkeeper, we are asking the Office of State Administrative Hearings to find the permit invalid and send it back to the state agency.”

To view the comments, visit www.greenlaw.org/ogeecheefishkill


September 7--  ObamaCare is gradually being implemented and will take full effect in 2014.  Many companies and individuals are looking at their options and a benefits consultant from Macon says it's time to pay attention.

David Warren believes employers are weighing their options.  

"Employers need to pay attention to the changes which are taking effect in 2014. There are financial penalties for not providing health insurance to their employees or providing unaffordable care with $2,000 per year per employee if the company employs more than 50 people," Warren says.

Warren says some companies will opt to pay the federal government penalty.  "Paying $2,000 a year is a lot better than paying somewhere between $500 and $1,000 a month per employee," he observes.

Thre are also penalties for individuals.

"Employees need to pay attention as well as to what decisions their employers are going to make.  There's going to be a lot of individual responsibility.  The penalties for not having insurance for individuals start at $695 per year or 2.5 percent of income and that will increase with inflation.  That also includes dependents and when you start looking at that for a family of three or four  you have some very interesting numbers on an annual basis," Warren notes.

Warren also points out the feds will use the IRS to monitor payment of health insurance premiums.

"It's going to start with reporting on the W-2 form.  The requirement in 2012 will be the value and if it's a fully insured program, we're looking at the value of the premium being reported to the federal government," he notes.

September 7-- Grace has been found!  Many thanks to the Vidalia Communications family and their audience for their efforts.  It was through southeastgeorgiatoday.com that she was located.  Thank you Mrs. Blount.

Lee and Jennifer Evans

 

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September 6--  Grace, our beloved 16-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, went missing Wednesday in the Lewis Drive area of Vidalia between Center Drive and Church Street.  If you have any information, please call Lee at 912.293.5776. 

Meanwhile, Angela Combs has found a dog and is looking for her owner.  Have you lost this girl?  If so, contact Angela at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Here's her story.

{mosimage}"Hi. I found this dog out near the trash dump out Adams Street. She was hanging around her dead mother ( I think) that had been run over obviously several days ago. Don't know if someone is missing her. She didn't have a collar. I brought her home with me, but I really need to find her a home . We already have 9 dogs and 2 cats. She gets along with our other dogs and have had no issues with the cats. Let me know if someone is looking for her or if you can help find her a home."


September 6--  State Representative Lee Anderson of Grovetown won the recount of his Republican primary race with Augusta contractor Rick Allen Wednesday by 159 votes.

Anderson will face four-term Democrat Congressman John Barrow in the November general election.

September 5-- Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp today certified the results for the August 21, 2012 General Primary Election Runoff recount in the 12th Congressional District. The certified results of state and federal races can be found on the Secretary of State’s website: http://sos.georgia.gov/elections.

The final tally is as follows:

Lee Anderson: 13,785 votes, 50.29%

Rick Allen:   13,626 votes, 49.71%

In certifying the results, Secretary of State Kemp affirmed that all counties in the 12th Congressional District have provided to the state the total recounted votes tabulated for each candidate. Further, Secretary of State Kemp affirms that the returns are a true and correct tabulation of the certified returns received by this office from each county.

Certification does not preclude the state from continuing any current investigations related to the General Primary Run-off or from pursuing any future allegations that may arise from the election.

Allen has indicated he wants a recount because he lost by less than one percent of the vote.

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September 5--  Dr. Misty Poole graduated from Toombs County High School in 1999 and this week returned home to practice medicine.  After graduating from the University of Georgia and the Mercer University medical school, she presided at the opening of  Vidalia Internal Medicine on Mose Coleman Drive across from the AmericInn.

September 5--  The city of Vidalia invites the public to the grand opening of the new Vidalia Municipal Annex Monday, September 10 from two till six p.m. at 302 First Street East.

Members of the Vidalia Police Department will conduct tours from 2 till 4:30 p.m. and again from 5 till 6 p.m.

Mayor Ronnie Dixon will make remarks at 4:30 p.m. followed by a ribbon cutting.  Light snacks will be served.

The city council will hold its first meeting in the new building at 6 p.m. 

September 5--  The city of Lyons is sending a signal it won't tolerate the sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors.

Police Chief Wesley Walker informed the city council Tuesday night his department and the Georgia Department of Revenue conducted undercover operations and found that three businesses sold to minors.  He identified them as Amman's Convenience Store, the Open Air Market and the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant.

"Under a city ordinance we can declare those businesses a nuisance and shut them down," Chief Walker reports.  

The area around Amman's on Northeast Broad Street and another nearby convenience store has long been a high crime and drug sale area in Lyons.  Chief Walker says authorities are trying to clean it up.

"Right now we have deterred a lot of the activity down there.  It seems to be getting somewhat better, but we still have a long way to go," he says.

In actions at its monthly meeting, Mayor Willis NeeSmith reported the city has acquired property adjacent to Partin Park for parking and possible new sports fields.  The city paid Bob Moore $95,000 for 2.8 acres of land at the intersection of Washington Street and U.S. One and paid the Bill Brown estate $16,000 for another 1.6 acres.  Also, Moore donated almost an acre of land to the city.

Mayor NeeSmith says the city has received a $500,000 state grant for road improvements on North Lanier Street.

The city council approved a property tax rate of 2.89 mils which is the same as last year and plans to approves the city's budget at its October meeting.

The city is also getting out of the residential trash business.  It has reached agreement with Republic Services in Vidalia which is also seeking to take over the city's commercial trash collection.  Republic is buying the city's trash truck and is expected to start work in Lyons in the next few weeks, according to the mayor.

September 4--  Paradoxical Quote of the Day (Author Unknown)

"Fathom the hypocrisy of a government that requires every citizen to prove they are insured... but not everyone must prove they are a citizen."

Now add this, "Many of those who refuse, or are unable, to prove they are citizens will receive free insurance paid for by those who are forced to buy insurance because they are citizens."

 

September 4-- There’s another surviving Confederate son living in Georgia.  Here's the story from Bill Torphy in The Augusta Chronicle.

ELBERTON, Ga. — For a while, it seemed another bit of history had slipped away.  This month, John Charles McDonald, an 85-year-old retired Vidalia onion farmer and son of a Confederate soldier, was buried. The Georgia branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans put out an announcement that mourned the death of its last “Real Son.”

It marked the “end of an era,” the organization said, the passing of the last remnant of a time when gallant men fought “innumerable masses of Yankee invaders.”

Luckily for H.V. Booth, the press release was premature.

Reached by phone, the 93-year-old Elberton resident chuckled at the news. “I’m still kicking,” he said.

Booth’s daddy, like McDonald’s, was a Rebel. And now, with McDonald’s passing, it seems Booth has achieved a unique status. Not only is he a rare Real Son, as the SCV calls such historical and long-living curiosities, he is most likely Georgia’s Last Son. Sitting in the dining room of his small home about 100 miles east of Atlanta last week, Booth considered his distinction with a shrug.

“Is that an honor?” he asked. He seemed equally happy discussing a tasty chicken-and-gravy dinner he had just consumed or enjoying a conversation with his great-niece. It’s the small pleasures that keep him going.

He smiled thinking of his father, Isham John-son Booth, a country boy from the area who signed up at age 16 to fight in the Civil War and later lived a hard, austere life, eking out a living as a farmer.

“My daddy was 72 years old when I was born,” H.V. said. “I tell that to people and they say, ‘What a man. What a man.’ “

Henry Victor Booth was Isham’s 12th and last child. His mother, a pretty redhead named Miranda Lue, was 38 and a widow.

As the 20th century dawned, “a lot of the old soldiers had young women taking care of them,” said Ben Sewell, national executive director of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “When the old men died, they got widows’ pensions.”

Booth’s mother received $25 a month after his father’s death in 1934 at age 87. (The old vet was still picking 90 to 100 pounds of cotton a day not long before his death.) His widow received a pension until her death in 1968. By then, it was $110 a month.

Sewell acknowledged the Georgia’s SCV branch jumped the gun on writing off the state’s last Real Son, adding that they are a vanishing breed. In late 2010, a national count found about 32 known Real Sons still living. With McDonald’s passing last week, there are 18 left.

The dearth of Real Sons has caused the SCV to start honoring Real Grandsons, said Sewell, whose great-grandfather, George Washing-ton Sewell, was wounded at the Battle of Atlanta in 1864.

___

Guard at a hellhole

After enlisting, the young Isham Booth — no relation to John Wilkes Booth (the family has checked) — was assigned to be a guard at Camp Sumter, which became known as the hellish Andersonville prison. The compound started holding Union prisoners in early 1864. By August, more than 32,000 forlorn POWs were packed into a squalid 26.5-acre pen with a befouled stream running through it.

Almost 13,000 prisoners died of disease, starvation and exposure to 100-degree days and freezing rains.

Isham didn’t talk much about the camp, other than telling his son, “It was the awfulest thing he had ever seen,” his son recalls. “There were dead Yankees laying everywhere. No clothes, no food, no medicine. Just awful.”

He sometimes recounted to his son the story of a lightning strike at the camp, which opened up a spring that provided dying prisoners with water. It became known as Providence Spring.

But there wasn’t much time to converse at the Booth home. “He believed in working,” Booth said. “He said a poor man didn’t need anything but a burial plot.”

___

Son saw his own war

Life was often hard for the son, too. In 1943, H.V. Booth signed up for the Navy. He was assigned to a landing craft in the Pacific and witnessed some of World War II’s most ferocious battles: Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

Back home, he owned a car dealership but later went broke, losing the business and his home.

He has buried two wives and both sons. “It’s not supposed to happen that way,” he said.

Last year, he was asked to attend a Confederate Memorial Day ceremony at Andersonville and toured that horrible place his daddy long tried to forget. During the event, he slipped away, filled a bottle with water from the famous spring, ignoring a sign warning the water was contaminated. He took a sip of the spring that allowed many Yankees long ago to survive.

Asked why he did it, Booth said he was curious.

“Curiosity killed the cat,” he added, laughing, “but I survived.”

September 4--  The following story on the failed Range Fuels plant in Soperton is from The Valdosta Times.

September 3, 2012

Questions raised about taxpayer financing for failed South Georgia ethanol plant

ATLANTA — Government officials who approved financing for a failed South Georgia ethanol fuel plant that cost taxpayers at least $75 million did so despite repeated warnings and strong opposition by some of the federal overseers who reviewed the projected. Critics compared the failed project to Solyndra, the infamous solar energy project that collapsed after more than half a billion taxpayer dollars had been pumped into it.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday that documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request show the doubts that were surrounding the Range Fuels plant at Soperton, before it obtained government backing.

Located about 80 miles west of Savannah, the Range Fuels operation was proposed to transform wood chips into ethanol fuel, but it closed last year without producing any usable ethanol. Taxpayers lost at least $75 million in loan guarantees and grants.

The newspaper reported that Hosein Shapouri, a senior economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, in late 2008 issued a critique that called the proposed Range Fuels plant “a high risk venture” that should raise “a red flag.” Three weeks later, top USDA officials approved the guarantee anyway; in all, it received access to some $162 million in government money, including $6.2 million from the state of Georgia.

The documents show that three USDA officials who vetted the project approved

it, and three opposed it. Three others who made critical comments about the proposal had their opinions redacted.

Shapouri, now retired, said decision-makers dismissed Range’s many, easily detectable faults.

“Nobody ever expected them to produce anything,” he said in an interview. “I told them not to finance it. They didn’t listen to me. They decided to rush, rush, rush and give them the money.”

Federal officials say they learned from the Range Fuels collapse and have established safeguards to prevent recurrences.

“While the Agency is disappointed that this one company did not succeed . it is important to remember that USDA has a long history of successful lending that supports rural homeowners, business owners, utilities and cooperatives,” the agency said in a statement to the newspaper. The agency said the delinquency rate on more than 1 million loans is a scant 2.16 percent, although relatively few involve alternative energy.

Government support for alternative energy has become a hot-button political issue, pitting the promise of energy independence against the prudent use of tax dollars. Both the Bush and Obama administrations strongly supported Range Fuels, which was expected to showcase the feasibility of cellulosic ethanol, as did politicians of both parties keen to bring jobs to Georgia.

Washington continues to hand out grants and guarantees for the commercially unproven technology which attempts to turn wood pulp into fuel for cars and trucks. Last month, USDA approved a $99 million loan guarantee for a North Carolina grass-to-fuel factory.

Opponents criticize giving taxpayer dollars to deep-pocketed corporations and entrepreneurs like Vinod Khosla, the billionaire co-founder of computer giant Sun Microsystems and primary financial backer for Range Fuels. They liken the Range fiasco to the failure of Solyndra, the solar energy project that received $535 million in federal guarantees and produced only political heat for the Obama administration.

“Solyndra had a lack of due diligence just as Range Fuels did,” said Sam Shelton, founding director of the Strategic Energy Institute at Georgia Tech. “It really hurts me to see Energy and Agriculture department moneys poured down the drain. Government should be involved in a lot of things, but commercialization of technologies isn’t one of them.”

Another alternative energy company — also backed by Khosla, who declined comment to the newspaper — bought the foreclosed Range Fuels factory for $5.1 million and plans to produce ethanol using a different method. Williamson said the new company — which is using the taxpayer-funded machinery, but not getting additional aid — expects to one day honor the job-creation goals that triggered Georgia’s grant to Range Fuels.

The breakdown of taxpayer losses includes $43.6 million from DOE and $32 million from USDA. Georgia’s loss is $6.2 million - unless the factory’s new owners succeed

USDA now requires more technical and financial information before, and after, approval of a loan guarantee.

“Obviously, hindsight is perfect,” said Brian Williamson, deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. “If we got the same deal tomorrow, we would use what we experienced from Range and learn from it.”

 

{mosimage} 

September 4--  (update) Pikachu has been found!   ------  This is "Pikachu," a nine-year old Jack Russell Terrier last seen Sunday afternoon in the Bob Sharpe Road area of Vidalia.  If you've seen her, please call Ruthie McKenzie, 293-5502.

September 2--  Retired Vidalia dentist Dr. Lloyd Darby adopts SDM music teacher Mrs. Kaysi Beverly, just as he did last year.  Once more the challenge is issued to businesses and individuals throughout the community  -- Adopt a Teacher. 

{mosimage}Last year 130 teachers out of 200 were adopted by various businesses and individuals. “It’s really very simple,” Dr. Darby said.  “Choose a teacher, almosteverybody knows at least one.   Call her or him and offer to help offset any school supply expense that they may have.   I just asked Mrs. Beverly to itemize a supplies list, place a cost on each item, tell me the total and I did my best to pay the cost.  It’s just that easy.”

This year School Superintendent Garrett Wilcox has designated a teacher in each of the four schools to be Adoption Coordinators.  People who don’t know who to adopt can call the school and these four teachers will know who hasn’t been adopted yet. They are:  J. D. Dickerson Elementary - Carol Welch (Principal); Sally D. Meadows Elementary  -  Mrs. Kaysi Beverly; J. R Trippe Middle School – Kellie Cox;  Vidalia Comprehensive High School - Nikki Balcziunas (Guidance Secretary)

September 2--  Here's a list of happenings in September in the Toombs County School System.

Lyons Upper Elementary School Council meets Tuesday, September 4 at 4:00 p.m. in the media center.

September 4: Toombs County Middle School softball versus Swainsboro at 4:30 p.m. at home.

Lyons Primary School Council meets Thursday, September 6 at 5:00 p.m.  in the media center.

September 6:  Toombs County Middle School football versus Vidalia at 4:30 p.m. at home.

September 6:  Toombs County Middle School softball versus Dublin at 4:30 p.m. in Dublin.

September 8:  Toombs County Middle School softball versus Dodge County at 10:00 a.m. in Dodge County.

Lyons Primary School PTO and Annual Title I meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 10 at 6:00 p.m.  in the gymnasium.  Open House will follow the PTO meeting.

Toombs Central Elementary School Council meets Tuesday, September 11 at 5:00 p.m.  in the media center.

Tuesday, September 11:  Toombs County Middle School Cross Country Team takes on Claxton at 4:30 p.m.

September 11:  Toombs County Middle School softball versus West Laurens at 4:30 p.m. at home.

September 12:  Toombs County Middle School football versus Dodge County at 4:30 p.m. in Dodge County.

September 12:  Toombs County Middle School softball versus Vidalia at 4:30 p.m. in Vidalia.

Toombs County Board of Education meets Thursday, September 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

Lyons Upper Elementary School PTO and Annual Title I meeting is Monday, September 17 at 6:00 p.m. in the cafeteria.  Open House will follow the PTO meeting.

September 18: Toombs County Middle School softball versus Dodge County at 4:30 p.m. at home.

Thursday, September 20:  Toombs County Middle School Cross Country Team travels to West Laurens.  Middle school teams will run after the high school.  High school boys start at 4:30 p.m. and high school girls start at 5:00 p.m.

Toombs County Middle School will take fall pictures on Thursday, September 20.

Progress Reports will be sent home for all Toombs County students on Thursday, September 20.

September 20:  Toombs County Middle School football versus East Laurens at 4:30 p.m. at home.

September 20: Toombs County Middle School softball versus East Laurens at 4:30 p.m. at East Laurens.

Toombs County Band Boosters meet Thursday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the TCHS band room.

Toombs Central Elementary School will take fall pictures on Friday, September 21.

September 22:  Toombs County Middle School softball versus Southern Pines at 10:00 a.m. at Southern Pines.

Toombs County Middle School Open House and Annual Title I meeting is Monday, September 24 at 6:00 p.m. in the cafeteria.

Toombs Central Elementary School FTA and Annual Title I meeting is Tuesday, September 25 at 7:00 p.m. in the cafeteria. Open House will follow the FTA meeting.

Tuesday, September 25:  Toombs County Middle School Cross Country Team will be at home at 4:30 p.m.

September 25: Toombs County Middle School softball versus Bleckley at 4:30 p.m. at home.

ESOL Parent Orientation Meeting is Thursday, September 27 at 5:30 p.m. at Lyons Primary School.  All parents of ESOL students are invited to attend.

September 27: Toombs County Middle School football versus Bleckley County at 4:30 p.m. in Bleckley County.

September 2--  State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville discusses college tuition.

Tuition Increases Across the Nation

As in many areas, the past few years have dealt multiple blows nationwide to centers of higher learning.  First, enrollment has increased as the children of baby boomers, as well as those who are unemployed or underemployed turned to universities, colleges and technical schools to give them an advantage in the job market.  Second, state budgets nationwide are finding it difficult to keep up with rising costs and enrollment trends.  So, a percentage of the total cost being paid by state governments has been slipping.  The Government Accountability Office reports that state and local appropriations have decreased nationwide between 6% and 65%.  Finally, charitable giving to higher learning institutions has fallen due to less disposable income from economic conditions.  These donations are important for institutions because it allows them to cover scholarships and other costs not covered by state appropriations or tuition.  Because of these issues, leaders nationwide have begun discussing the affordability and role of higher education in America.  This week we will examine the affordability of higher education in Georgia.

 

Enrollment Growth and HOPE Coverage

As we have tracked in this column over the past few years, Georgia has tried to maintain its commitment to keeping college affordable.  The HOPE scholarship, funded by lottery revenues transferred to the state, was able to pay full tuition for students who maintained a 3.0 GPA at a state school.  HOPE is the only merit based scholarship nationally on this scale.  But, from 2008 to 2011, technical schools had grown enrollment 47% while public colleges and universities saw growth of 18%. 

 

Lottery revenue growth is significantly lower than increasing tuition costs and growing enrollment so reserves were utilized to keep pace.  When HB326 was passed in 2011 it was seen as the only way to keep the program solvent.  While HOPE is not as generous as it was before, it is still merit based and provides many benefits.  At the close of this fiscal year, the Georgia Student Finance Commission estimates that over 1.5 million students have received the HOPE scholarship since the inception of the program. This past fiscal year, approximately 219,000 students received a HOPE program award. Around 12,000 of these recipients were for the Zell Miller Scholarship and will receive a lottery-funded scholarship covering full tuition as long as recipients continue to meet requirements.

 

Tuition Increases in Georgia Compared to Other State Schools

The University System of Georgia, which governs and services all of Georgia's public postsecondary institutions, takes pride in the nationally competitive, comparatively low tuition the state's universities and colleges charge.  Like the rest of the nation, tuition increased throughout institutions in the University System of Georgia for the 2013 fiscal year. Tuition at research universities saw increases between 2.44% to 5.65%.  Regional Universities, State Universities, State Colleges, and Two-Year Colleges all had an average increase of 2.4% 

 

This might not be welcome news to students and parents, but Georgia is in a better situation than most states.  A survey of similar non-Georgia universities shows higher increases.  The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, for example, will have a 8.86% increase in tuition and mandatory fees for the FY2013 school year while Florida State University will increase by 10.33%.  Both of these can be considered research universities and compared to Georgia Tech, UGA, Georgia Regents University and Georgia State University.

 

Similar regional universities like the University of Central Florida and Western Carolina had tuition and mandatory fee increases of 3.84% and 7.76% respectively, higher than Georgia Southern University and Valdosta State University which saw an increase of 1.75% in tuition and mandatory fees.

 

According to the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), which tracks and coordinates education policy for 16 southern states, Georgia ranked 10th out of 16 in FY2011 for tuition and mandatory fees at public four-year colleges and universities. Georgia's median tuition and fees was $5,919 and below the SREB median of $6,203.  The College Board ranked Georgia 16th nationally in lowest average in-state tuition with the national average at $8,043 for the 2010-2011 school year.

 

Georgia Student Debt Compared Nationally

Finally on the topic of affordability is the subject of student debt.  This has garnered significant national attention with Pell Grants and other student aid being debated.  According to the Institute of College Access and Success, Georgia college seniors who graduated in 2010 had an average debt of $18,888 while the national average was $25,250. Georgia's average ranks the state 44th in the nation for student loan debt. Around 55% of Georgia students borrow to pay for school, ranking the state 33rd in the nation for proportion of students with debt. This low ranking of debt across the nation can be attributed to low tuition and fee rates at Georgia's public postsecondary institutions in comparison to the rest of the nation and to the HOPE Scholarship. As schools across the nation increase their tuition at rates higher than Georgia, it is likely that we will remain on the lower end of rankings for average student loan debt.

 

 

September 2--  Here's news you may not see or hear anywhere else.  Listen to America's Morning News powered by The Washington Times weekdays from six till nine a.m. on NewsTalk970, WVOP-AM, Your News, Talk and Information Station in Vidalia.

The 24 Seven

Officers: 'Political correctness' killing Army

CNS News

Officers: 'Political correctness' killing Army

An internal Army survey that was conducted in 2011 and published this year discovered that only 26 percent of active-duty Army officers say the U.S. Army is headed in the right direction. Army is now adversely impacted by "political correctness," the survey indicated. Read & Comment

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Eerie Obama sand statue erected at DNC

Front Page Magazine

Eerie Obama sand statue erected at DNC

Forget the marble pillars, this time there will be a giant 16-foot sculpture of Obama made out of 15.5 tons of sand at the Democratic National Convention. Read & Comment

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'Occupy Unmasked' screening spurs lively debate

Big Government

'Occupy Unmasked' screening spurs lively debate

The progressive establishment has become the enemy of free speech in America, and the conservative movement has become its bastion. When a contingent of leftists showed up at the RNC screening of "Occupy Unmasked," they were welcomed rather than turned away, leading to a dynamic question-and-answer session. Read & Comment

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Newsweek's anti-Obama issue flies off newsstands

Ad Age Media News

Newsweek's anti-Obama issue flies off newsstands

Newsweek received withering and widespread criticism over its "Hit the Road, Barack" cover story by Niall Ferguson. But it turns out the cover may have also been a newsstand hit. The read on sales suggests the issue could double Newsweek's newsstand average. Read & Comment

.

Federal prosecutors clear Arpaio in financial probe

CNN

Federal prosecutors clear Arpaio in financial probe

Federal investigators have cleared controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio's office of criminal wrongdoing regarding allegations of financial improprieties. Read & Comment

.

Bernanke hints at more Fed stimulus

Reuters

Bernanke hints at more Fed stimulus

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday left the door wide open to a further easing of monetary policy, saying the stagnation in the U.S. labor market was a "grave concern," but he stopped short of providing a clear signal of imminent action. Read & Comment

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Kuhner: Mad Matthews plays race card obsessively

Times247

Kuhner: Mad Matthews plays race card obsessively

Chris Matthews' ideological worldview boils down to one idea: Opposition to liberalism is racist. This is not the belief of a serious intellectual, but a political thug — a rabid Democratic partisan who cannot deal with dissent and craves one-party rule. In short, he is a left-wing kook. Read & Comment

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24|7 Collections

Convention's final night shines light on Romney's character

Convention's final night shines light on Romney's character

Mitt Romney accepted the GOP nomination on Thursday, but not before friends, family and a Hollywood icon spoke to the content of his character. Clint Eastwood was the surprise guest, but Romney delivered the best line: "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans. And to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family." Read & Comment

'We can do this': Republicans seek to secure American greatness .

'We built it': Diverse GOP all-stars deliver unifying message .

Red dawn: China aims for global dominance .

Credible conservative: Principled Ryan has depth and breadth .

 

Right Now 24|7

'Occupy Unmasked' screening spurs lively debate .

Newsweek's anti-Obama issue flies off newsstands .

Federal prosecutors clear Arpaio in financial probe .

Bernanke hints at more Fed stimulus .

Kuhner: Mad Matthews plays race card obsessively .

Obama appointee resigns over sex charges .

Disaster: Romney beats Obama to Isaac's victims .

TSA detains Ron Paul's family, aides after RNC .

Limbaugh: Clint got under Obama's skin .

Report: Bibi rips Obama in spat with U.S. envoy .

Stealth executive order slashes carbon emissions .

Romney's best line: Pledge to help families .

Axelrod readies attack on Romney's Mormon faith .

Romney accepts GOP nod, pledges to create jobs .

University offered credit to campaign for Obama .

Romney gets 5-point bump after first day .

White House says Obama watches ESPN, not GOP .