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    We're not subtracting anything from the Confederate monuments or the history of Stone Mountain Park. We're just adding to it. And we didn't know we had this treasure of history until we did this study of it,' said Bill Stephens, CEO, Stone Mountain Park Memorial Association (SMMA).In 1965, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association rescued and relocated an ailing and structurally damaged wooden, covered bridge from downtown Athens, Georgia to Stone Mountain Park. The old bridge, rare even then, was originally constructed in 1891, and linked downtown Athens via College Street, to much more rural Clarke County farms and beyond.
  • One of Georgia's oldest counties, Gwinnett County, became 200 years old on December 15, 2018. Looking ahead, as the man whom the county is named for frequently did, it may be time for bold decisions and potentially new directions. Button Gwinnett, a longtime resident of Chatham County, briefly became Georgia's provisional President in 1777. An early speaker of the Georgia state legislature and later signer of the Declaration of Independence, like most Georgians of his time felt that an independent United States might be unthinkable. Great Britain was then the world's mightiest empire, and the colonies of the Americas were but a fledgling cluster of port cities and plantation towns up and down the eastern seaboard of North America with no organized militia.  But while first serving in a Georgia provincial assembly in Savannah in January of 1776, Gwinnett was selected as a delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, where he was first seated that May. Gwinnett became convinced that American independence was worth the risk and price that would likely be paid, and on July 2, 1776 and again on July 4th, Gwinnett voted in support of the Declaration of Independence. Georgia was considered a remote colony, but all three of its delegates to the Continental Congress became enthusiastic supporters of the declaration and the American Revolution which followed.  During the century that followed, Gwinnett County remained a predominantly rural county, and still later a somewhat remote bedroom community for fast growing Atlanta to its south. By the 1940 census, prior to World War II, the county population remained just under 30,000. Rapid growth defined the post-war decades and approaching the 2020 census, Gwinnett has become Georgia's second most populous county, now with nearly 1,000,000 residents. Gwinnett is home to Georgia's largest public school system and one of its highest performing. A strong cluster of municipalities offer differing tastes of Gwinnett life and county pride and its percentage of lifelong residents remains high. A strong technology corridor exists along the county center, and the I-85 corridor is ripe for re-development.  But, Gwinnett County is also changing. During the last census, Gwinnett's population became majority-minority. For decades thousands of Gwinnett workers streamed each morning along interstates, state highways and major thoroughfares into metro Atlanta's core. But that traffic is now much more two-way, with workers heading in and out, both of the high and low-skill variety. Interstate connectivity along I-85, 985, 316 and U.S. Highway 78 remain almost unmatched in the region, while east/west connectors apart from the Ronald Reagan Parkway are few and far between. And while Gwinnett Transit System and GRTA Xpress buses offer service across Gwinnett to other parts of the metro Atlanta region, route frequency is largely limited to rush hour commutes.  Gwinnett county sites were left on the sidelines recently during competition for the nation's largest economic development prospect, the Amazon HQ2 search, solely because of lack of direct access to region-wide transit. The Gwinnett County Commission has developed an ambitious transportation plan for the future, but they are leaving the decision on whether or not the county significantly expands and enhances its local transit options to area residents and businesses.  Gwinnett voters previously approved Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendums to improve local schools, parks, libraries and other infrastructure. Now they have the opportunity to even more significantly invest in their future through a March 2019 Transportation SPLOST special referendum.  Gwinnett County has reached many milestones with an even brighter future potentially ahead, but to maximize those successes and share the wealth with all levels of the local citizenry, a deeper and more tangible series of connections to the rest of the metro region are needed. A dedicated lane on Ronald Reagan Parkway or the Highway 120 corridor for high occupancy vehicles or bus rapid transit could easily improve and expedite county traffic east and west. Direct rail or light rail access from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport would provide an explosive boost in convention and tourism business at the Gwinnett Convention Center, Infinite Energy Arena and the upcoming Revel development.  In his day, Button Gwinnett, British born and raised, first a modest merchant and later a plantation owner, heard the voices of those afraid of the future, but he also knew that America and its people could not prosper as a subordinate, under the yolk and thumb of a large and sometimes oppressive government. If Button Gwinnett was still around today, I'm pretty sure he would be leading the way to get on board this train. Go Gwinnett.
  • “Georgia and our people have been very kind to Sandra and me. I'm glad that together we were able to accomplish some things that hopefully make life a bit better here for all Georgians,' said Georgia's outgoing Governor Nathan Deal.
  • Americans are benevolently ignorant about Canada, while Canadians are malevolently well informed about the United States,' J. Bartlet Brebner, well known Canadian historian and author. As I crossed the mid-century mark a few anniversaries around the sun ago, I decided that I needed to make a higher priority of actually taking the trips and adventures on my bucket list, before the good lord decided to take me…and while the goin’ was still good.  So last Christmas, our small family made an incredible holiday trek to The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The resort is too incredible to describe in a few sentences, and the time spent with my daughters and son-in-law, on Amtrak en-route and later at the hotel gave us a host of precious family holiday memories. I was greatly touched this year when my father started a new family tradition of sharing favorite Christmas memories, and that Christmas journey has already landed atop those lists.  But this year, both girls would be elsewhere with their mothers, so I wanted to plan something memorable, and singular…in that I was not likely to take this trip again later. I selected The Canadian, the flagship of Canada’s rail system, Train #1 traverses from Toronto to Vancouver, east to west, and Train #2 (my choice) the reverse from Vancouver to Toronto.  I actually prefer train travel in many ways, so I flew from Atlanta to Seattle, taking Amtrak from the under renovation King Street Station in downtown Seattle to Vancouver. On this leg of the trip I met an incredible woman, Ms. Loretta Young Phillips, 85 years young, on her way to spend the holidays with children and grand-children north of the border.  In Vancouver, I spent a lovely Christmas Eve getting to know the city, having only been previously to Vancouver Island and Victoria nearby. An enchanting Christmas market had at its center a three-story Christmas manger, much like a heirloom family holiday centerpiece back home, only this one contained a live three-piece music combo on its main level, which also made me feel more at home as I approached they were swinging to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” originally recorded by Lithonia, Georgia’s own, little Miss Brenda Lee.  After the market and walk along the waterfront, back to the Marriott Pinnacle Vancouver for what turned out to be an incredible Christmas Eve dinner, and the best bowl of summer squash bisque I’ve ever tasted.  Christmas morning brought a return to Vancouver’s grand Pacific Central Rail Station, and off across the Rockies and British Columbia…the views were indescribable and majestic. The Via Rail staff were all incredibly professional, hospitable and accommodating, and I sensed even more so than usual during the holiday season. My accommodations were a comfortable, and compact, sleeper cabin for two, with a half-bath, and a communal shower just steps away. A glass-domed lounge car offered even more incredible 360 degree views as the beautiful vistas continually unfolded.  Our first stop to de-board was in the ski burg of Jasper, population 4,501, easily trebling during ski season. Nearing half our cabin departed here for the slopes on Boxing Day.  This was not my first trip visiting our northern neighbors, prior business ventures had well introduced me to Toronto, Montreal and Windsor . And I noted as always on this trip that Canada welcomes diversity, and Asians of many nations are among their largest and most visible minority population. Passengers on-board this train trek represented most every continent. I counted at least 10 languages which I overheard but could not speak. Yet smiles, nods, and holiday greetings were the universal language easily spoken by all.  Friends in Toronto have already given me good reason to return soon. This was perhaps the whitest Christmas and most snowfall I have also ever experienced, other than some Christmas ski trips to Park City and Steamboat Springs, yet unlike those, I was seldom out IN the snow and cold. And as I type these words, in the warm comfort of my cabin as I watch the beautiful scenery roll by, I’m accompanied by a hot mug of cider, as well as knowing that the warmth of the VIA Rail team and fellow passengers outside are all just a few steps away. It’s the only way to roll, Happy New Year, now back to being out and about.
  • Most of us have a 'home away from home,' or a second place we consider home in our hearts and minds. Mine is Athens, Georgia. Like Athens, Greece, its namesake. The Classic City has a storied history, as well as many prominent leaders, academics and athletes living there today. But what makes most any town really unique and special are its people, and this column is about a small handful of Athens' finest. Mayor Nancy Denson has been serving the community and county for nearing four decades. With several of those as Tax Commissioner, Mayor Denson can honorably state that she never forced a single individual or family out of their home due to a forced tax sale. Mayor Denson is term limited from running again, much to the chagrin of many in the city, but her legacy will long live on. Both northeast Georgia/Athens area food banks were begun from her garage. And her family continues in public service, with one daughter the longtime City Manager of Tybee Island and another a well-regarded State Legislator as well as candidate for Mayor of the City of Atlanta. In or out of politics, the Denson community service dynasty will continue. Another prominent face, on seemingly every billboard in Athens is that of entrepreneur and Dawgs super fan, Reign Streiter. His broad grin and clean-shaven pate call to mind a more congenial Mr. Clean, with that white t-shirt replaced by Bulldog colors and a strong following of friends and customers. If you don't see Reign sign at most every major Athens intersection, touting Team Reign, and spirited, feel good sayings of the day, just look for him Between the Hedges prior to most every UGA home game.  Reign graduated from UGA, first becoming an educator, and from every account, he loved teaching and his students loved him. But with a growing family, he decided he also needed to increase his income, and he then began a side enterprise of selling cars. His approach was very unique, as he might ask you about your dream car, that you never owned, or the one that got away, as part of sizing up your needs. Within a few years, he moved on to more lucrative enterprises, and after securing his realtor's license, he began selling homes. In no time and for six consecutive years, the Reign Man became the TOP selling realtor in Athens/Clarke County, and though he was happy making money for himself as well as his lead brokers, he wanted to do more, and give back some of the success he was finding to the community. And out of that desire, just over a year ago, he birthed Give Back Realty. Reign and his team of Athens' top realtors donate 10% of their real estate commissions to a growing list of nearly 20 Athens area charities and non-profits from every sale closing. It is not unusual for sale and purchase customers to now also match that gift.  During Team Reign's first year in business, this Give Back Realty 10% community reinvestment has resulted in well over $105,000 in direct donations to the coffers of local Athens charities and non-profits. And if you do the math on how well the overall enterprise is doing, multiply those gifts by ten, and that's gross commissions, which at best are seven percent of the sale price of the homes and commercial buildings being offered. That big smile of Reign's rolls over onto a LOT of other faces. Give Back customers run the gamut, first time home-buyers, former UGA football coaches to college sports broadcast giant, IMG (a tenant in Give Back Realty and Team Reign's office building). It's easy to see given the community's return on investment by moving real estate thru Give Back, that the firm and the Reign Man will likely soon be expanding into other Georgia cities looking to slightly recast the real estate business.  And Athens leaders aren't limited to living IN the Classic City, the CEO of my own home and DeKalb County government is another Athenian, Michael Thurmond, the former legislator, State Labor Commissioner and DeKalb Schools Superintendent also has a decades long history of servant leadership and public service. And I'm happy to note that Georgia's Governor-elect, Brian Kemp, is also still an Athenian, as well as a developer, entrepreneur, former State Senator and Secretary of State. Georgia should be in good hands. As the New Year approaches, I hope that Athens will keep producing more servant leaders who walk their talk and set great examples for the rest of us, like Mayor Nancy Denson, the Reign Man and others. And with the Sugar Bowl in the Big Easy just coming into view...Go Athens and Go Dawgs too!!  
  • It has probably taken me longer than it should have to realize that the greatest gifts of my life are often the more intangible ones, as well as the longest lasting. Barclay, my first child, followed her mother into teaching, the two are both on the faculty of the same Gwinnett County elementary school, and as with her sister, Barclay shares many of her mother's mannerisms and characteristics, as well as the obvious physical resemblance.  Many of the lessons I learned through my first child, good and bad, have hopefully better prepared me for raising my second, Olivia. Though born with the genetic disability of Down syndrome, Olivia teaches me life lessons almost weekly. Her joy is contagious and her ability to make new friends is constant and instantaneous. Despite a decade and a half between my girls, the two half-sisters are quite close. Barclay's guidance and advice as an educator has also been invaluable as we step delicately through the minefield which special education in a public school setting can be.  Between them, the girls currently have 12 living grandparents, I won't bore you with the math, but it can make making everyone happy during the holidays a challenge. As I watch them both live and grow, I marvel and find great joy in noting expressions, gestures, and mannerisms shared with their ancestors, many of whom they've never met and know only through related stories and old photographs.  My paternal grandmother, Mary L. Crane, was a businesswoman and civic leader. She had few great joys in life and spent most of her time shepherding, some might say micro-managing, different aspects of the family newspaper enterprise. She wasn't one to smile often, or give herself time to relax, but when she did either it was real and genuine. My youngest has her smile, and the sometimes matching shoulder-shrug which together signaled true contentment. We lost Mary the week prior to Barclay's birth in 1992, and yet I still can feel her presence in Olivia's smile.  Barclay favors both of her grandmother's, Lynn Crane and Mary Lowery. Her maternal grandmother’s love for laughter, as well self-deprecating humor, are both frequently in evidence. And Barclay also shares these traits with her own mother, as well as a gesture ending with hands on each hip, coupled with a head tilt. It is hard to explain how much I enjoy re-discovering these mirrored micro-traits, movements and physical gestures mimicked between generations, especially when the younger never actually saw or experienced the trait being demonstrated by the elder. How exactly can genes do this?  Olivia and her mother, Tiffany often sit near or next to each other, and in a matter of moments both will have the same leg cross, with the same foot bobbing slightly. Whether it's nervous energy or more gene mimicry I’m still not quite sure, but when each is buried in a book or laptop or movie on television, and the two are half a room apart, with the same leg bob going...I'm convinced again it is more magic gene pool footwork at play.  These little memory 'gifts' of random DNA help the beloved no longer with us live on. I don't need a 21 & Me kit to frequently note who is related/connected to whom. And as we age and grow to become our parents, I note with each visit how often my sisters mirror our own mother, Lynn Crane, or how much my vocal timber and head tilt have become so identical to my own father, Jerry Crane.  So much of the holiday season is filled with time or memories of family, but now the 'greatest gift' for me is just watching my girls grow, loving life and others...while carrying along inside of each of them a little piece of the rest of us. Just as a smile itself can be shared, while also bringing back some wonderful of memories of that same smile from another face decades before.  Keep your family close and tell your children how much you love and cherish them, if not everyday, at least during this season of thanks and gracious plenty and celebration. You will be glad you did, and when they smile back at you, try and remember whose smile they are now also wearing. Merry Christmas, best wishes of the season and New Year to you and yours.
  • Atlanta's professional sports franchise history began with the transplantation of the Milwaukee Braves in 1966, followed by the start up Atlanta Falcons and later relocation of the Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta's Chiefs brought soccer, but the fan base wasn't ready quite yet, nor for the later indoor arena club. Hockey came, got hot, melted and left with the Atlanta Flames leaving for more northern climes, and lights were out on the Atlanta Knights only a few seasons after they were lit.  Atlanta's first major league soccer franchise, the Atlanta Chiefs, won the National Soccer League (NSL) Championship in 1968. Georgia's capital city would then go for 27 years before 'America's Team' and then Ted Turner's Atlanta Braves won their first World Series in 1995, and now, 23 years later, our Atlanta United has just won the Major League Soccer (MSL) Championship Cup. Our Atlanta Loserville curse is finally officially lifted.  Now a top ten metropolitan statistical area, Atlanta is not the city or market with the longest losing streak, nor the longest streak of non-championship winning...but the Loserville label has stuck and stung over time, as combining all the seasons, play-offs, pennant series and titles attempted by the Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Flames, Thrashers and Knights, Atlanta only one national championship once out of 175 seasons.  And the challenge was further aggravated by our Atlanta Falcons painful NFL Super Bowl loss, as well as back to back clincher losses to another 'Big A' team, hailing though from Alabama, taking on and then taking down the SEC's Georgia Bulldogs. Not officially an 'Atlanta team,' however the Bulldog Nation's fan base of nearly 100,000 metro Atlanta alumni almost makes them so.  Team owner, Arthur Blank began looking into an MSL soccer franchise in 2014, before finishing construction on his showplace, Mercedes Benz Stadium. The Atlanta United were supposed to open the stadium, however construction delays moved roughly half of their inaugural season in 2017 to Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium. I have to mention that Bobby Dodd has never looked quite so grand, with its stands filled to capacity and every level and concourse draped in red and black. Our Five Stripes fast built out a large family following. An MSL soccer gameday outing is comparatively affordable, at a small fraction of the cost of every other major league franchise. And Blank's acquisition of the MSL team originally had as much to do with 18 more home game days and the resulting parking, concession and merchandising revenues as it did with bringing soccer back to the ATL.  Surprising most, including the team's owner, within only a few home games, Atlanta United jerseys, colors and fanatic groups like the Footie Mob, Terminus and others made each home game a spectacle with the electric energy of a long-established franchise on a winning streak. The talent of the team certainly helped, as the young crew of 18 is a small United Nations, with most players hailing from other countries. Yet at each game there is a surprisingly strong and patriotic moment, as the players, most of whom speak English as their second language, all stand with their hands on their hearts at attention during performance of our national anthem.  As with our 1995 World Series champs, the Braves were welcomed home after beating back a strong challenge by the Cleveland Indians, with a massive parade down Peachtree Street, a perfect stage setter for the Centennial Olympic Games yet to come. The United will also have a champion's parade down Peachtree, followed by a fan celebration in the Home Depot Backyard, adjacent to the Georgia World Congress Center and MB stadium, attended by dignitaries including Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms.  Savor these moments. United Coach Gerardo Martino is departing the team, MLS League MVP Josef Martinez, also the league's leading scorer and mid-fielder and the team's 'Charlie Hustle' and sometimes hot dog, Miguel Almiron, will reportedly not be returning. American, and team captain, 34-year old Michael Parkhurst, has also not yet had his contract renewed for next season, though negotiations with the team continue.  Whether a one-time wonder, or the beginning of an MSL team dynasty remains to be seen, but for now, let's just all celebrate the glow and the end of the curse. A pretty nice holiday gift to wrap up the year in a town more than once compared to Mudville.
  • I was offered a job on Wall Street by my uncle. But I wanted to get out. Make it on my own kinda thing,' George H.W. Bush (1924-2018), the 41st President of the United States to his biographer.
  • Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!' Benjamin Franklin, (1706-1790), American founding father, author, inventor and philosopher. Ben Franklin was not a fan of pure Democracy. U.S. citizens of that day had no vote or direct voice in the Declaration of Independence, nor later the U.S. Constitution which is the basis on which our constitutional republic is formed. Few amendments to our Constitution were ratified by the states, versus adopted by Congress.  In close election contests, hard feelings often emerge and sometimes linger. It is however quite important at these times to remember that one of our greatest strengths as a nation is the time-proven, peaceful transition of power. That of course also means coming to terms with and accepting outcomes not of our preference or choosing, once the voters have spoken.  And it is also important to note that we are far from alone in this world experiencing these divides. Across the pond in Britain, a Prime Minister is battling her own party to deliver a Brexit deal which other EU countries will swallow, all while her own party plans a divorce from their PM. In Germany, Angela Merkel's ruling majority shrinks with each election, in part fueled by another splinter party and fears that Muslim immigrants are fomenting unrest and economic injury to the Rhineland.  And here, a President who shines brightest (in his mind) during the swings of battle, finds building the divide among his primary comfort zones. But he is still our President.  It has been four Presidential elections since someone I voted for has occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but I also choose to still wish every President success and that they find the will and their best ways to serve and improve the lives of the American people. Some of course do that job better than others.  But these times too shall pass. And just as the Presidential Election of 2000 ended with 532 votes in Florida, with hanging chads and a U.S. Supreme Court intervention, our republic and people are strong enough to weather differences of preference, candidate and opinion. And now is time for healing.  There will be voices who will continue to foment the division. Given the First Amendment, those voices cannot be silenced, but they can and should be countered and responded to. Our nation can suffer fools, divides and strong differences of opinion, as long as the American people do not begin to heedlessly attack one and other. We are not above or beyond mob rule, rioting or even the occasional need for curfews and Marshall Law, but on the whole, we are a more mindful, tolerant and respecting people than that.  This President has flaws, but he did not create this divide, nor is he the anti-Christ. We the voters just selected and voted in a split Congress. As typically happens during a mid-term election, the 'in' party lost more than they won, but it was not the Blue Tsunami which many forecast. The GOP retained the U.S. Senate, a strong majority of Governor's office and state legislatures and will likely further their re-shaping of the federal judiciary.  Democrats in the U.S. House will first fight an early battle among themselves, over their own leadership team, then over the progressive bent of their agenda and then over just how hard to attempt to make life miserable for this President. It will not be pretty, and neither is democracy. Making laws while also building support and public opinion, while finding consensus are each messy, but necessary. As adults, we have examples to set, for our children, as well as our neighbors, co-workers and peers. We can disagree without being disagreeable.  We voters may have tossed or lost the elected moderates in both parties, but just like the well-armed lamb in Franklin's quote, we can still have the will to fight for common sense, compromise and solutions which land in the middle. Yes, democracy is messy, and making the right choices to lead us in a republic are also never guaranteed. But our experiment in self-governance has now survived nearing 250 years, and though I won't be here when we hit 500, I do expect we will get there.  'Democracy is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.' Winston Churchill, from a speech by the former British Prime Minister, November 11, 1947.
  • It was a frigid January morning in Washington, D.C., January 2001, I am attending and covering the Inauguration of President-elect George W. Bush, following the longest and most contested Presidential election in U.S. history. Vice-President Al Gore withdrew his early concession after projections and vote totals began to foreshadow a potentially different outcome in Florida. Dozens of lawyers and protests later, and statewide recounts including the 'interpretation of voter intent' and hanging chads, and the U.S. Supreme Court halts the Florida recounts, effectively giving Bush the win and Florida's Electoral College votes, by a margin of 532 ballots. At the White House that Inauguration morn, the Clinton, Gore and Bush families shared a cordial but restrained brunch, and later the stage and front rows of the Inauguration ceremony fronting the steps of our nation's Capitol. While a blizzard paralyzed the federal district, frigid temps did not stop the crowds from attending, nor warm the frosty air between the Bush and Clinton/Gore VIPs on-stage. And yet again, without the nicety of a concession, America completed yet another peaceful transition of power.  Here and now in Georgia, following several acts of litigation and a statewide re-tabulation of absentee ballots not including the required date of birth or matching signatures, the victory margin also narrowed slightly in our hotly contested Governor's race. Both candidates gained votes, and State Representative Stacey Abrams increased her total by 120 votes.  Ms. Abrams made clear, in her press briefing acknowledging that the state and this process would result in the certification of former Secretary of State Brian Kemp as Georgia's next Governor, that she would also not offer a concession, nor her congratulations, due to her belief that the contest was flawed, and the results perhaps gamed, or at best impacted by a wide variety of acts of voter suppression.  Admittedly, this election was not without mistakes and glitches at polling places, long lines and not all of several thousand poll workers being equally knowledgeable and well-trained. As with any day or event involving several million people, doing the same thing, during approximately the same time, played out across a large and geographically diverse canvass...there will be delays, human errors and some poor decision making along the way. Imagine the joy of return travel for your own family this Sunday after Thanksgiving.  That said, a statewide election has thousands of moving parts, more than 3,300 precincts, 159 voter Registrars and county boards of election as well as one Secretary of State. The office of the latter trains registrars (county and municipal), updates those officials on changes in election law, reviews and investigates any irregularities or accusations of ballot tampering/voter fraud and distributes the sample ballot templates. Local registrars and their boards of election manage precinct map lines, distribution of voting machines, staff and ballot tabulations and maintain voter registration rolls. Most of these registrars are career local government employees, some don't even vote, and though I have met hundreds of them over three decades, very few are decided partisans, even when they work in jurisdictions where the local politics are well known and leaning.  The most vulnerable part of our voting system are admittedly absentee ballots. The only requirements of identification are on the application form which includes your date of birth and signature. There is no space on the form to indicate race.  If part of Governor-elect Kemp's campaign strategy and tactics were to in fact suppress the votes of minorities and Democrats during an election which featured record voter registration (more than 1,000,000 new voters and more than 250,000 new registrants since April), record mid-term election turn-out, record votes for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee (more than ANY other Democrat ever running for Governor in Georgia), and minority voter participation surpassing the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections of Barack Obama,...then he certainly did a really crappy job on that front.  By 2020, Georgia most likely will have new voting machines and technology in place, providing a paper trail and poll workers freshly re-trained. Georgia was first with statewide electronic voting in 2004, under a Republican Governor and Democratic Secretary of State.  Georgia has another statewide election in just a few weeks, on Tuesday, December 4th, featuring run-off races for Secretary of State, as well as a seat on the Georgia Public Service Commission. Please demonstrate that interest and turn-out in this last election wasn't a fluke. Do your research, choose and support your candidates, state and local run-offs will be taking place, and go vote.

News

  • A young couple from India who wrote a travel blog were intoxicated when they died in a fall from a scenic overlook in Yosemite National Park in California, according to an autopsy report released Tuesday. Menakshi Moorthy, 30, and her husband Vishnu Viswanath, 29, each had intoxicating levels of ethyl alcohol, a substance found in most alcoholic drinks, the Mariposa County coroner said. The report didn't provide a blood-alcohol ratio. Viswanarth's tripod was later discovered on the edge of the overlook. His brother, Jishnu Viswanath said it appeared the couple died trying to take a photo. Moorthy described herself and her husband as 'travel obsessed' on their blog, 'Holidays & Happily Ever Afters,' which was taken down Tuesday. It had been filled with photos of the couple in front of snowy peaks and on romantic trips across Europe, where they took selfies from a gondola in Venice, at the Leaning Tower of Pisa and at the Vatican. Moorthy described herself in the blog as a 'quirky free spirit' and 'an ardent adrenaline junkie — roller coasters and skydiving does not scare me.' She once posed at the edge of the Grand Canyon wearing a Wonder Woman costume, writing, 'A lot of us including yours truly is a fan of daredevilry attempts of standing at the edge of cliffs — and skyscrapers. But did you know that wind gust can be FATAL??? Is our life just worth one photo?' Park rangers found the couple's bodies in October 800 feet (245 meters) below popular Taft Point in Yosemite. Moorthy and Viswanath were born in India and had lived in the United States for a few years, most recently in the San Francisco Bay Area. Cisco India said Viswanath was a software engineer at the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley. Moorthy and Viswanath graduated in 2010 from the College of Engineering, Chengannur, in the Alapuzha district of India's Kerala state, said Nisha Kuruvilla, one of their professors. She said Moorthy and Viswanath were good students who were fond of traveling and had married at a Hindu temple in Kerala in southern India in 2014. Viswanath Facebook cover photo shows the couple smiling, with arms around each other standing at a Grand Canyon precipice. 'Living life on the edge,' he wrote. Moorthy also blogged about depression. In a post from April, she apologized to readers for going silent and 'disappearing for more than a year.' 'Between battling the tightening tentacles of depression and blustering in the tempest of moving madness, I am afraid social media is taking a back seat??' she wrote. The couple's pictures indicated they liked to pose in scenic spots at sunset, which was the last time they were seen alive.
  • A 23-year-old woman last seen Saturday night has been found alive in Charlestown, Massachusetts, nearly a mile from where she was out with friends barely three days prior, a source told WFXT.  >> Read more trending news Olivia Ambrose was last seen outside Hennessey's Bar in downtown Boston around 11 p.m. Saturday night.  She had been out with her twin sister, Francesca, and some friends after moving to the city recently. She worked for Toast, a Boston software company, and had just relocated to Jamaica Plain. >> RELATED: Mom of 4, including newborn twins, vanishes after leaving bar But Olivia, or Liviy, wasn't heard from the next morning and hadn't been seen since. Boston police said earlier in the day they had been searching for a man caught on surveillance footage with Ambrose. The following timeline was released to accompany surveillance pictures.   11:04 p.m.: Ambrose is seen leaving a bar located at 25 Union Street (Hennessy’s) with a white male who has since been determined to not be involved in her disappearance.  11:42 p.m.: Approximately 40 minutes later, two unknown males are observed inviting Ms. Ambrose to walk with them in the area of Congress Street and State Street. One of the males appears to walk ahead while the second male places his arm around Ms. Ambrose and directs her towards the State Street MBTA Station.  12:01 a.m.: Approximately 20 minutes later, additional video shows Ms. Ambrose being accompanied by that same male, still with his arm around her, exiting the Bunker Hill Community MBTA Station in Charlestown. The other male party is no longer observed in any surveillance video moving forward. 12:13 a.m.: Approximately 10 minutes later, Ms. Ambrose and the unknown male are observed again in the area of Green Street walking together towards Bartlett Street. A short time later, phone records indicate Ms. Ambrose’s phone was in the general area of the Bunker Hill Housing Development.
  • A University of Georgia graduate student is under fire for comments alluding to violence and white people.  The man at the center of the controversy is Irami Osei-Frampong -- a philosophy graduate student employed by the university as a teacher's assistant. He speaks frequently about race and equality, but some critics believe he crossed the line when he made a post online that stated, 'Some white people may have to die for black communities to be made whole.'  The teaching assistant told Channel 2's Tony Thomas he's confused by the backlash. Osei-Frampong said he's standing firm and not backing down. The grad student details what he meant by his recent statements and Thomas gets reaction from students and school leaders, for Channel 2 Action News at 5 p.m. TRENDING STORIES: Mom of 4 mysteriously disappears after leaving bar Several Georgia Tech students robbed, kidnapped during doughnut run 'Saints got robbed': Fan buys billboards near Mercedes-Benz Stadium
  • Police confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that the driver accused of hitting and killing a pedestrian has turned himself in.  Gabriel Cammon, 20, came forward to Smyrna police after he saw Channel 2 Cobb Bureau Chief Chris Jose  report on Thursday's deadly crash. Police said the victim Raul Dominguez was trying to cross a busy stretch of South Cobb Drive when the Cammon hit him with his pickup truck. A witness told Jose that the driver got out of the car but the driver panicked and left the scene. We're speaking exclusively with the family of the driver about the charges he is facing, on Channel 2 Action News starting at 4 p.m.  “He’s a good man. I hate to see this happen to him.” Police say a hit & run driver who allegedly killed a pedestrian on South Cobb Drive, turned himself in after our story aired on Friday. The man’s family says he made a mistake by leaving the scene, Live at 4. @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/tQDQznNy5r — Chris Jose (@ChrisJoseWSB) January 22, 2019
  • Producers of the Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show are looking for people to participate in the halftime show at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Feb. 3. About 450 people are needed to be part of the “Field Team” that will help move the halftime show stages and scenic elements on and off the field. Channel 2 Action News Sports Director Zach Klein talked with officials on Tuesday who said they're still looking for more 'Field Team' members. Maroon 5, Big Boi and Travis Scott are headlining the Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show. Our LIVE Team 2 Coverage of Super Bowl LIII continues on Channel 2 Action News starting at 4 p.m. We're getting a behind-the-scenes look at the Super Bowl Experience + talking with cyber security experts working to keep you and the city safe. “Field Team” members must be able to attend all scheduled rehearsals, be over the age of 18 and be in good physical health. No prior experience is required. Anyone interested in applying can view the rehearsal schedule HERE. If it fits your schedule, CLICK HERE to apply for a position. NOTE: “Field Team” members will not receive tickets or the opportunity to watch the Super Bowl. However, they will be an integral part of the halftime show.
  • A man identified by authorities Tuesday as the suspect in the fatal shooting of a teenager at a suburban Chicago mall was previously convicted of armed robbery and had been an acquaintance of the victim. Orland Park Police identified the suspect as 19-year-old parolee Jakharr Williams of University Park. The department said in a news release that Williams, who fled after the shooting and has not been arrested, should be considered armed and dangerous. Police said Williams and 18-year-old Javon Britten of Richton Park were arguing in a food court at Orland Square Mall Monday when Williams allegedly pulled out a handgun and fired several shots. Britten was struck and a bystander's leg was grazed by a bullet. Police said Britten staggered to a nearby clothing store, where he collapsed. He was pronounced dead at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn a short time later. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections website and Orland Park Police, Williams was convicted of armed robbery in 2017, and that he served a little more than a year in prison before he was released in June last year. Orland Park is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Chicago.