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Latest from Tim Bryant

    It's a mild start to Friday but big changes are coming this weekend.  Most people are experiencing fog and light rain this morning. A Dense Fog Advisory has been issued for most of north Georgia until 10 a.m. Some areas have visibility of less than a quarter mile. Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan said that on Saturday, we have a chance to see rain, storms and the coldest temperatures this year. 'As we head through the next 24 hours or so, we've got rain moving into north Georgia, we've got a chance for storms moving into north Georgia and then the coldest air of the season moving in,' Monahan said.
  • Athens-Clarke County Commissioners meet for a rare Friday afternoon work session: they say fair housing is the topic of talk in the session that starts at 1 o’clock at the Government Building on Dougherty Street.  The city School Board in Jefferson signs off on the purchase of a new emergency alert system, one that will be used on all four Jefferson schools. The price tag is $165,000.  There is a new City Administrator in Statham: Statham’s Mayor and City Council has signed off on the hiring of Mai Chang. Chang worked previously as City Clerk in Statham. She takes over for former City Administrator Michelle Irizarry. 
  • A former Athens-Clarke County police officer is suing the police chief who fired him last June. Former Chief Scott Freeman terminated officer Taylor Saulters for hitting a suspect with his patrol car, but a state investigation later cleared him. It happened after a police pursuit on Athens’ east side. Saulters, his lawsuit, is seeking financial compensation for what he says is emotional distress and slander. He is now working as a part-time reserve deputy in Oglethorpe County. 
  • A Gainesville man is in the Hall County jail, facing charges that include child molestation. There are also 76 counts of identity fraud for 25 year-old Estaban Olivas. The Hall County Sheriff’s Office says Olivas, who worked at the Department of Drivers Services office in Gainesville, had more than six dozen drivers licenses with other people’s photographs and information on them; most from Georgia, one from Massachusetts. The child molestation arrest comes from a warrant issued by police in Oakwood.  Three people are behind bars after a SWAT standoff in Barrow County. The four-hour siege happened at a home in Hoschton, where deputies were trying to serve an arrest warrant on 24 year-old Jacob Shelton of Gainesville. Also arrested after hours of negotiations were 24 year-old Johnny Madwell of Flowery Branch and 19 year-old Anna Damewood of Gainesville. There were no injuries reported.
  • Congressman Jody Hice, the Walton County Republican who represents Athens in the US House, has lost his spot on the House Armed Service Committee, apparently because he did not vote for Congressman Kevin McCarthy to be the GOP Leader in the House.  Hice’s exclusion is a sign he made enemies among GOP leaders, who exert control over committee assignments and reserve the right to punish members of their party who they don’t see as team players.  The move comes two weeks after Hice voted against Kevin McCarthy to be speaker on the House floor. He was among the handful of Republicans who instead supported former Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan.
  • Governor Brian Kemp delivered his first State of the State speech Thursday: the Athens Republican used his address to a joint session of the Georgia House and Senate to call for teacher pay raises, new money for school security, and the creation of an anti-gang task force that will operate within the GBI. From the AJC’s Greg Salazar… Gov. Brian Kemp made a substantial down payment on his campaign promises Thursday, recommending that teachers get a $3,000 raise and state employees a 2 percent pay hike. If the budget Kemp proposed Thursday is approved, the raises will put more money into the paychecks of more than 200,000 educators and state employees in Georgia. Kemp’s budget plan for fiscal 2020, which begins July 1, also includes borrowing $150 million for a new voting system in Georgia and $100 million for bridge projects. Officials said it also funds the k-12 school formula, which was shorted for more than a decade before Gov. Nathan Deal added money to it during the 2018 session. The new governor promised a $5,000 teacher pay raise on the campaign trail, but the price tag — about $700 million — had budget writers concerned. The $3,000 pay raise Kemp proposed is a substantial down payment on the promise he said he’ll still keep and something the governor said is vitally needed because so many teachers are leaving the profession within their first five years on the job. “To recruit and retain the best and brightest in our schools, we must remove heavy burdens in the classroom and keep teacher pay competitive,” Kemp told lawmakers in his State of the State address. The governor called it the biggest raise in state history. Gov. Zell Miller pushed 6 percent pay raises for four years during his second term in the 1990s in an effort to make average teacher pay in Georgia the highest in the Southeast. A $3,000 raise for each teacher would cost about $418 million, according to an estimate by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. The state’s two largest teacher groups — the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the Georgia Association of Educators — applauded the proposal. John Palmer, a Cobb County educator and spokesman for the teacher group TRAGIC, said his organization “was thrilled the governor has included raises for teachers and state employees. “This is a good first step and a welcome relief for state employees who haven’t seen raises in over a decade,” he said. “We applaud the governor for recognizing this need and hope he can continue to work through his term to make salaries for teachers and state employees more competitive.” Margaret Ciccarelli, a lobbyist for PAGE, called the proposed $3,000 raise “a wonderful step in the right direction.” But she said teachers also will want to know when they can expect Kemp to follow through on the rest of his promise of a $5,000 raise. House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn, called the pay raises “doable,” despite the high price tag. “I know he wants to go on and fulfill his campaign promise of $5,000 overall, and we will get there, lord willing and the economy stays strong,” England said. “Being pragmatic and not trying to bite off the whole thing in one year is wise.” While educators probably expected a raise since Kemp had touted it on the campaign trail last fall, the 2 percent pay raise for state employees may be more of a surprise. Pay raises for state employees have been few and far between since the Great Recession hit in the late 2000s. The governor also repeated that his recommendations include $69 million in one-time funding for school security grants. Each of the state’s 2,294 public schools would receive $30,000 to implement security. State lawmakers included similar grants to districts during the 2018 session. Kemp also wants $8.4 million for mental health programs in Georgia high schools. “To keep our classrooms safe, we must also address the mental health issues that often lead to school violence,” he told lawmakers. Shemeka Dawson, a parent of children with mental health issues, appreciated the proposal. She founded the group Parents Reaching Parents and works part time as a parent liaison at the Morehouse School of Medicine, where she advises parents of troubled teens, many of whom have mental health issues. “I think the children will definitely benefit from it,” she said. The record $27.5 billion budget — $53 billion when federal and other funds are included — would borrow about $1 billion for construction, equipment upgrades and other projects. Besides school funding, the voting-system money was among the most closely watched line items in Kemp’s budget proposal. Questions were raised repeatedly during last year’s election season about the system because it doesn’t provide paper verification of how Georgians vote. Georgia legislators plan to replace the state’s 16-year-old electronic voting machines with a new voting system that has a paper trail for accuracy. Lawmakers will decide between paper ballots filled in by a pen and paper ballots printed by touchscreen computers, similar to the system currently in use statewide. Hand-marked paper ballots would cost at least $30 million, and computer-printed voting machines would cost well over $100 million. The $150 million Kemp recommended would provide lawmakers the money to go for the more expensive system. Besides the pay raises, much of the extra money in next year’s budget would go to fund growth in education and public health care programs. Kemp, however, also included millions more for hazardous waste cleanup, trauma medical care, water project planning, addiction treatment and for a 3 percent increase in HOPE scholarship awards.
  • A former candidate for governor pleads not guilty to charges that include lying to GBI investigators: Republican Michael Williams was in court in Gainesville Wednesday. He’s accused of falsely claiming his Hall County campaign office was burglarized last spring, with thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment stolen.  Williams, a former Republican state senator, has requested a jury trial ahead of an arraignment hearing on Wednesday. His attorney, A.J. Richman, has said his client “looks forward to his day in court.”
  • An Athens-Clarke County Commission work session is on tap for today: it’s underway at 5:30 this afternoon at City Hall.  The Clarke County School Board meets at 5:30 this afternoon.  There is an afternoon meeting of the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, a 12 o’clock session at the downtown Holiday Inn on Broad Street in Athens. The Barrow County School, meeting this week in Winder, chooses a new School Board Chair: former Board vice chair Lynn Stevens takes over for Mark Still, who did not run for reelection last November.  The Gainesville City Council convenes this afternoon: it’s a 5:30 work session at the Administration Building in Gainesville. 
  • Governor Brian Kemp makes his third major speech of the week today in Atlanta: the Athens Republican, who delivered his inaugural address Monday and spoke at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Eggs and Issues legislative breakfast Wednesday, speaks to a joint session of the Georgia House and Senate, laying out his budget priorities for the General Assembly that is now into its fourth day. From the AJC’s Greg Bluestein… The governor first unveiled his school safety plan in September, with a goal of pouring a total of $90 million into initiatives that also include financing a school safety division within the Georgia Department of Education.  It’s part of the overall approach by Georgia Republicans to try to address safety initiatives after mass shootings at schools without delving into a debate over new gun control measures.  Case in point: House and Senate lawmakers last year allocated $16 million in school safety funding after the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla. school left 17 people dead. A range of gun-related proposals, meanwhile, stalled in the Legislature.  The November election heightened the divide. Top Georgia Democrats bucked years of pro-gun positions last year to embrace new restrictions, such as a ban on assault rifles and waiting periods.  And leading Republicans, including Kemp and just about every other statewide GOP candidate, pushed to aggressively expand where people can carry firearms.  Since his election, Kemp has said he would continue to champion Second Amendment rights. But he’s been notably non-committal about a plan he supported in the campaign to let people carry concealed firearms without a permit. Instead, he’s focused on broader appeals that are less likely to draw Democratic opposition. And soon after his speech, bipartisan legislative leaders signaled they were receptive to his school safety plans.  “We can all agree with Governor Kemp that the safety of our schools and students is a top priority,” said Republican P.K. Martin, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “We made an investment in school security last session, and safe schools continue to be a priority in the Senate.” State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, a Decatur Democrat and a leading advocate for gun restrictions, said she welcomed Kemp’s plans.  “My three school districts can benefit from new money for cameras and security equipment,” said Oliver. “Most importantly, additional school counselors who can focus on school climate and children in trouble will help keep schools safe.” And Carolyn Hugley, a Columbus Democrat, added that she hopes Republicans “will leave all options on the table as we work to protect our children.”  The cost of the programs raised other fiscal questions, since Kemp has promised he won’t raise taxes to pay for any of his proposals.  Stephen Owens of the left-leaning Georgia Budget & Policy Institute praised Kemp for “wisely” highlighting school safety as a priority. But he warned against relying solely on economic growth, rather than increasing taxes, for initiatives that could top $700 million annually.  “Adding additional revenue will provide the funds necessary to display a commitment to the teacher workforce and school safety, as well as show the state is dedicated to public education,” he said.  ‘Grab some nails’ Kemp’s “stop and dismantle” program also played a central role in his run for governor. He first unveiled it in April as part of a broader push to emphasize crackdowns on crime and illegal immigration.  The plan would also give the state Attorney General more power to prosecute gang members and pour an unspecified amount of state funding to improve a database created in 2010 to track gang members. For Kemp, who was in a tight race for the GOP nomination, the tough talk was a way to appeal to conservatives and echo President Donald Trump, who made targeting MS-13 and other violent gangs a linchpin of his criminal justice policy.  Statistics on gang membership and gang-related crime in Georgia aren't easily available - the FBI hasn’t published a gang threat assessment since 2011 - and some critics have accused Kemp of fear-mongering. Some gang investigators, meanwhile, have recently documented a rise in gang activity. In his address, Kemp cited statistics from a 2018 law enforcement survey to urge lawmakers to immediately target what he called a “crisis that stretches statewide.”  “It’s a great time to be a Georgian,” he said. “But it’s not time to grow complacent. Let’s pick up a hammer and grab some nails. It’s time to start building on the solid foundation poured by those who came before us.” 
  • Athens-Clarke County Police say they caught two automobile break-in suspects red-handed: 30 year-old Cutler Glenn of Athens and 43 year-old Alan Wolford of Bishop were arrested at an apartment complex on Sussex Drive in Athens. They were booked into the Clarke County jail. Another burglary and break-in suspect is behind bars: Athens-Clarke County Police say 22 year-old Joseph Calvert-Fowler was arrested after allegedly breaking into a car on Dougherty Street and burglarizing a business on North Avenue.  There are now vehicular homicide charges for a man from Barrow County, charges stemming from a deadly car crash in Gwinnett County: Michael Hall is 40 years old, from Bethlehem. He was allegedly DUI at the time of the wreck that claimed the life of 37 year-old Aleshia Williamson, who was also from Bethlehem. The wreck happened late last week on Highway 316 near Dacula; Williamson died earlier this week.  The man who was shot and killed by police in Gainesville has been identified as a man from Lumpkin County: Rodney Anderson was 62 years old, a patient of doctors at the dermatology clinic in which he took hostages and pointed a gun at the police who opened fire on him. Anderson, who was from Dahlonega, died after being taken to a hospital in Gainesville. A GBI investigation is ongoing. 
  • Tim  Bryant

    News Director

    Tim Bryant is News Director for Cox Media Group Athens and also works as an anchor and reporter for WSB Radio in Atlanta. Previous stops on the dial include Augusta and Tallahassee. Tim has reported for ABC, CBS, and the Associated Press, and has provided guest commentary and analysis on stations across the US, the U.K., and New Zealand. Tim hosts Classic City Today, 6-10 weekday mornings on 98.7FM & AM 1340 WGAU in Athens. 

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Georgia Sports News

  • For the UGA fans who wish the Bulldogs didn’t always play the Florida Gators in Florida, they’ve found an ally on the other side. Florida athletics director Scott Sticklan was asked this week what he thought about the Gators-UGA series being played in Jacksonville, as part as an extensive Q&A with Gatorsports.com’s Pat Dooley. “Jacksonville is really unique and special,” Sticklan said. “It’s something not many schools have. It would be nice to have Georgia on our campus and go to their’s, but we have to weigh that against what Jacksonville means to that series. It’s pretty important now. But you never say never.” The Georgia-Florida game has been played in Jacksonville since 1933, with the exception being a home-and-home series during the 1994 and 1995 seasons due to stadium renovations at Jacksonville. Many UGA fans approve of the Florida game always being in Jacksonville because it’s a longtime tradition, and nice vacation during the fall to go to St. Simons Island and the nearby beaches. Other Bulldog fans prefer a switch to a home-and-home series because they feel that Florida has an advantage with the game being played in the state of Georgia or they simply don’t like giving up a home game every other year, among other reasons. Are you pro-Jacksonville or not? Please post your opinion below. The post Florida A.D. likes idea of home-and-home series for Georgia-Florida appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — The Georgia basketball family is rallying around Coach Tom Crean, whose mother Marjorie passed away Thursday in Michigan. Bulldogs’ assistant coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said he wanted to respect Crean’s privacy at this sensitive time. But Abdur-Rahim confirmed what many of the Georgia players have already come to know and respect: Tom Crean is a man of faith and a man of great strength and resiliency. RELATED: Tom Crean dealing with pain of mother’s passing There’s no doubt Crean will be coaching with a heavy heart when Georgia (9-7, 1-3 SEC) plays host to Florida (9-7, 1-3) at noon on Saturday in a nationally-televised CBS tilt. But throughout these final times of his mother’s life in Michigan, Crean has shown exemplary leadership in Athens amidst a challenging schedule dealt him and UGA the SEC conference office. A sellout crowd will be at Stegeman Coliseum to show their support for Crean and the Bulldogs. UGA has already played the three highest-ranked teams in the SEC in Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn — easily the most difficult early slate in the league. Georgia fans have responded, having already sold out seven games this season. It’s the most sellouts for the Bulldogs since they had eight during the 2002-03 season. Crean has been appreciative of the support, but obviously, he has also been dealing with a much more painful, personal family issue for some time. “I t’s a pretty private matter, (but) the one thing that I will say is you know Tom Crean is a really strong person,” Abdur-Rahim said. “Obviously you know that his faith is very important to him, but just watching him here over the last you know week or so, you just realize how strong of a person he is.  He’s still been able to come to practice dealing with what he was dealing with and still give guys and give our guys and our staff 100-percent effort, 100-percent focus on what we’re doing and preparing us. “I think he’s one of the best leaders I’ve been around. I’m sure it’s been difficult for him, but how he’s done it I couldn’t answer that for you.” Crean has kept the focus completely on basketball, declining to elaborate on his mother’s health after a road loss at then-No. 12 Auburn last Saturday. RELATED: Tom Crean wants more mental toughness from Bulldogs The Georgia head coach hinted that he may have to make some lineup changes to spark his team’s defensive effort and slow starts in the second half. “We know that’s been our Achilles heel this season,” Abdur-Rahim said, “so we have to make sure we do a great job of just mentally coming out with great energy you know physically being prepared to playing knowing that it’s a 40-minute game.” Georgia sophomore star Nicolas Claxton said the Bulldogs are ready to change their mental approach. WATCH: Kentucky coach John Calipari praises Nicholas Claxton “I think it is more of a mental thing, I wouldn’t really say it is a physical thing,” Claxton said. “We have to make sure to come out with the right mentality and make sure that we starting the second half with the right mindset and ready to go.” Georgia is 7-2 at home this season, with the only losses coming to ranked opponents Arizona State (No. 20) and Kentucky (No. 12). Georgia basketball assistant Amir Abdur-Rahim   The post WATCH: Georgia basketball family respects, rallies around Tom Crean leading into Florida game appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Once again, Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley appears to be a wanted man. Only this time, it’s an NFL team that may be after his services. The Dallas Cowboys fired their offensive coordinator Scott Linehan on Friday, and will be searching for a new one to optimize the talents of quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. And one name that was almost immediately mentioned was that of Coley by the NFL Network’s Adam Ian Rapoport. As the #Cowboys dig into possible replacements for embattled OC Scott Linehan, they have one on their current staff — TE coach Doug Nussmeier — and may look to the college game to better utilize Dak Prescott’s talents. UGA OC James Coley will receive some consideration there. — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 18, 2019 Just last Friday, Coley was named Georgia’s new offensive coordinator, replacing Jim Chaney. Chaney left to become the offensive coordinator at Tennessee. Contract details for Coley’s new deal have not been announced yet. Georgia hired its tight ends coach, Todd Hartley, on Monday and released his contract details on Thursday. Coley has been with the Georgia program since 2016, starting as the wide receivers coach before moving up to quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator this past offseason. Coley is also an excellent recruiter in the South Florida area, making him a major asset for the Georgia program. Last offseason, Texas A&M tried to hire Coley to be its offensive coordinator, but he elected to remain with the Bulldogs. Related:  Terry Godwin: Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley ‘brings the juice every day’ Most of Coley’s work has come in college, but he did serve as an offensive assistant for the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and 06, when Nick Saban ran the team. He previously worked as an offensive coordinator at Florida State and Miami, but only served as the play caller in Miami. While Georgia has filled out its offensive staff, it is still looking for a new defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. The search to fill that position has lasted longer than six weeks, as Mel Tucker was named the head coach at Colorado on Dec. 5. Best Georgia football stories from around DawgNation Georgia football staff attrition challenging Kirby Smart, leaves anxious fans watching, waiting ESPN names Georgia standout Andrew Thomas to early 2019 All-American team Georgia football podcast: UGA’s delay in hiring defensive coach starting to make more sense Terry Godwin: Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley ‘brings the juice every day’ Identifying who could be Georgia’s best under-the-radar offensive player in 2019 When should Georgia fans start to worry about the defensive coordinator hire? The post Report: James Coley mentioned as candidate for Dallas Cowboys OC job appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily — the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the cast of DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss UGA coach Kirby Smart’s quest to keep the Bulldogs on top of the SEC. On episodes No. 868 (Jan. 18, 2019) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about UGA’s upcoming recruiting weekend. Georgia football podcast: UGA heads into major recruiting weekend without DBs coach in place Beginning of the show: Georgia’s expected to host a number of top recruits this weekend — incuding 4-star defensive back Kaiir Elam. However, as of Friday it still hasn’t announced a defensive backs coach. I’ll address that subject on today’s show. Eight-minute mark: UGA left tackle Andrew Thomas is generating early buzz as both an All-America candidate and a first-round draft pick. I’ll discuss why Thomas might be UGA’s most important player next season. 15-minute mark: DawgNation’s recruiting insider Jeff Sentell joins the show. Some of the topics covered include… Whether UGA’s lack of defensive coaching hires is a problem The lastest on Elam Reaction to an interesting thread from the DawgNation forum on UGA’s wide receiver recruitment And a look at some fun videos involving a a new helicopter for UGA coach Kirby Smart and an impressive dunk from 2020 recruiting target, 5-star defensive end Brian Bresee. 35-minute mark: I take a look at other SEC headlines including the odd way in which former Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos was reported to have left the program, a minor NCAA violation for Tennessee that might point to a larger problem, and a Vols coach who has apparently decided to pass on a new job and promotion in order to stay with the team. 40-minute mark: I recommend DawgNation Daily listeners and viewers check out Chip Towers’ piece on running back Brian Herrien and address the reports involving former UGA defensive back Deangelo Gibbs transfer to Tennessee. End of show: I share the Gator Hater Updater. The post Georgia football podcast: UGA heads into major recruiting weekend without DBs coach in place appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean lost his mother, Marjorie Crean, after her long battle with an illness. “My sister Michelle and our family are incredibly fortunate to have my mom as a mother and a grandmother,” Crean said in a school release. “Her perseverance and toughness were huge characteristics in her life, and she carried those with her until the very end,” he said. “We could never thank her enough for giving us the wherewithal and the courage to pursue our dreams with an incredible passion she instilled in each of us.” Crean traveled to Michigan last Friday to be with his 80-year-old mother, returning last Saturday to coach the Bulldogs at Auburn. Crean, in his first year as UGA’s head coach, has let Georgia know he does not plan on missing any games. The Bulldogs play host to Florida at noon on Saturday in the second of five consecutive sellouts at Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia is 9-7 overall and 1-3 in the SEC with league losses to No. 3-ranked Tennessee, No. 12-ranked Kentucky and No. 14 Auburn. The defeats to the Vols and the Tigers were both on the road. Marjorie Crean is survived by her two children, Tom Crean and Michelle Dean; her daughter-in-law, Joani Crean; her son-in-law, Shannon Dean; and three grandchildren, Megan, Riley and Ainsley Crean.         The post Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean’s mother, Marjorie Crean, passes away at 80 appeared first on DawgNation.