Georgia News Roundup
June 05, 2013 04:40 PM | 382 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State launching online health care network

ATLANTA (AP) — State officials have launched the first phase of a network aiming to automate health care referrals between patients and providers.

Georgia Department of Community Health spokeswoman Pamela Keene announced Tuesday that more than 2,100 health care providers in the state have registered for GeorgiaDirect. Officials say the program is a free, secure email messaging service designed to help exchange patient information between authorized providers to increase efficiency.

Department Commissioner David Cook says the goal of the network is to better coordinate patient care, increase administrative productivity and more.

Keene says GeorgiaDirect is powered by Medicity, a health information exchange company that will provide technical support for the network's secure messaging services.

Online: www.GaHIN.org

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Chinese judges learn US legal system at Emory

ATLANTA (AP) — Emory University in Atlanta is welcoming 29 Chinese judges, who are visiting for a month to study the U.S. legal system.

Emory says the judges will study U.S. constitutional and criminal law, the rules of evidence and the role of courts and judges in shaping the rule of law. The courses are part of their work toward a master of law degree.

The program is part of a new partnership between Emory Law School, City University of Hong Kong School of Law and the Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China.

The visiting judges include presiding and assistant judges from courts across the country.

During their time at Emory they will attend lectures, work on course materials in small groups and meet with U.S. judges and lawyers.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Georgia earns federal funds for workforce development

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia is set to receive $717,000 in federal grants for workforce and training programs after the state exceeded its goals for helping unemployed residents find jobs.

The Governor's Office of Workforce Development announced the grants Tuesday, saying Georgia was one of 15 states to receive the funds.

Gov. Nathan Deal says the grants show "Georgia is on the right path to building a strong workforce."

The funds must be used during the next two years. The goals used to determine the grants include how many residents began employment after training and how many stayed employed.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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6 firefighters hurt when fire truck, semi collide

FOREST PARK, Ga. (AP) — Authorities say six firefighters were hurt when their fire truck and a semitrailer collided just south of Atlanta.

Georgia State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright says the wreck happened at an intersection in Forest Park around 7 p.m. Tuesday while the Clayton County firefighters were responding to a call.

Wright said the fire truck, with lights and sirens activated, was traveling southbound on Old Dixie Highway when it approached the rear of a semi that was also southbound. Investigators say that as the semi was attempting to turn left onto Central Avenue, it struck the fire truck.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that one of the injured firefighters was flown by helicopter to Atlanta Medical Center. Wright said the others were taken by ambulance. Their conditions weren't available late Tuesday.

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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DeKalb county IDs 3 possible sites for animal shelter

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — Georgia's third-largest county has come up with three potential sites for a new animal shelter, including a county park that could also accommodate a dog run and trails.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the final recommendations for the new DeKalb County shelter are the same as those from a 2012 citizen task force. They are a site adjacent to DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Chamblee; a former auto dealership on Lawrenceville Highway; and a 47-acre county-owned green space, also on Lawrenceville Highway.

The county is trying to replace its current shelter, which has been plagued by problems such as mold and bug infestations.

A final recommendation for a shelter site is expected June 18. A vote could come as early as June 25.

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Nonprofit ranks Atlanta's parks 31 out of 50

ATLANTA (AP) — A national nonprofit group that analyzed the park systems in the 50 largest U.S. cities ranks Atlanta's parks No. 31 -- a tie with Tulsa, Okla.

The Trust for Public Land study rated the Minneapolis park system No. 1 in the nation in this year's ratings. San Francisco fell from first place to third, while New York improved from third to second.

The scores are based equally on three factors: the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk from a park, median park size and the percentage of total city area dedicated to parks, and a combination of the number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents and per-capita park spending.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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IRS training held at island resort, Atlanta hotels

By Jeff Martin, Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — A government report blasting the Internal Revenue Service for its spending on seminars, speakers and training videos lists 22 Georgia conferences at high-end hotels in downtown Atlanta and on St. Simons Island off the Georgia coast.

Among them is a conference for managers at Atlanta's Marriott Marquis Hotel that cost $1.18 million for 800 attendees, or an average of $1,477 per person.

The review by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration lists other conferences at Ritz Carlton, Renaissance, Hilton, Hyatt, Sheraton, Westin and W hotels in Atlanta and a Hyatt Regency in Savannah.

IRS training at the Sea Palms Golf and Tennis Resort on St. Simons Island cost $110,586 for 77 attendees in fiscal year 2010. The resort features three golf courses, three swimming pools and a pool-side tiki bar, according to its website.

Another St. Simons conference at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort cost $99,586 for 70 people in fiscal year 2012. It features ocean-front conference space, five pools and the Royal Treatment Cottage specializing in massage therapies and treatments.

Most of the report on IRS events during a three-year period focused on the most expensive one -- a $4.1 million training conference in Anaheim, where senior officials got luxury hotel rooms, free drinks and free food.

One top official stayed five nights in a room that regularly goes for $3,500 a night. Another official, Faris Fink, stayed four nights in a room that regularly goes for $1,499.

Fink is among the witnesses scheduled to testify Thursday at a congressional hearing about the inspector general's report.

The report comes as conservative groups say they've endured abuse from IRS agents as they spent years trying to qualify for tax-exempt status. The conservatives have testified before Congress about IRS demands for details about their political activities, backgrounds and comments they've posted on websites.

"I'm a born-free American woman," Becky Gerritson, president of the Wetumpka Tea Party of Alabama, tearfully told members of Congress at hearings this week. "I'm telling my government, 'You've forgotten your place.'"

Expensive employee conferences were approved with few restraints or safeguards until new rules were imposed in 2011, according to the report. In all, the IRS held 225 employee conferences from 2010 through 2012, at a total cost of $49 million, the report said.

The Atlanta conference at the Marriott Marquis is among events that would violate new rules imposed by the White House budget office in 2012 that cap expenses for a single conference at $500,000.

Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel called the conferences "an unfortunate vestige from a prior era." Werfel took over the agency about two weeks ago, after President Barack Obama forced the previous acting commissioner to resign.

"Taxpayers should take comfort that a conference like this would not take place today," Werfel said in a statement.

Though most of the events were at high-end hotels in large cities and in Las Vegas venues such as Caesar's Palace and Mandalay Bay, some were in unique venues in the South.

At the Tusculum Church of Christ in Nashville, 200 attendees took part in a training day that cost $2,720 in fiscal year 2010, the report states.

The IRS events also included a counterterrorism seminar at Shades of Green of Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The resort is an Armed Forces Recreation Center operated by the U.S. Army for military members and their families and certain other eligible people, according to its website.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Woman found dead in trunk of towed car identified

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Hennepin County medical examiner says the death of a woman whose body was found in the trunk of a towed car is a homicide.

The body of 24-year-old Klaressa Lorayne Cook, of Gainesville, Ga., was found in a Lexus towed from Brooklyn Park to Wrecker Services' lot near downtown Minneapolis last month.

The medical examiner says the cause of death has been ruled a homicide by unspecified means.

Brooklyn Park police continue to investigate.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Man fleeing police plunges to his death in Macon ravine

MACON, Ga. (AP) — A man running from police in Macon jumped over a fence and died after plummeting into a ravine before dawn on Wednesday, authorities said.

The man ignored a warning from one of the officers who knew the ravine was on the other side of the fence.

The suspect began to run as police were questioning him and another man spotted sitting in a car behind a closed sporting goods store about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Police pepper-sprayed and subdued the other suspect when he became combative.

The Telegraph newspaper of Macon reported that the man fell an estimated 50 to 60 feet.

"The officer told him, 'Don't jump here, man,'" Sgt. Melanie Hofmann said, because the officer knew of the dangerous drop.

His body was loaded into a Stokes rescue basket and several men pulled on a rope to bring it up the ravine.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assisting Macon police in the investigation.

Authorities did not release the names or ages of the two suspects.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Man arrested in fatal double shooting

JEFFERSON, Ga. (AP) — Authorities in northeast Georgia say a man has been arrested in the deaths of a woman and her 13-year-old son.

Officials say police and Jackson County sheriff's deputies responded to a house in Jefferson Wednesday morning and found the unidentified woman and teen had been fatally shot. Officials say a 47-year-old man who also lives in the home has been taken to the Jackson County Jail. Authorities say charges are pending against the man.

Information on the circumstances that led to the shooting was not immediately available.

Jefferson is about 20 miles northwest of Athens.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Churches split on Scouts' welcoming of gay youth

By David Crary, AP National Writer

In suburban Atlanta, northern Idaho and a number of other places, churches have moved swiftly to sever ties with the Boy Scouts of America in protest over the vote last month to let openly gay boys participate in Scouting.

To date, it's far from the mass defection that some conservatives had predicted before the May 23 vote by the BSA's National Council. But the exodus could soon swell, depending on the outcome of the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting next week in Houston.

Baptist leaders say the agenda is likely to include a resolution encouraging affiliated churches to phase out sponsorships of Scout units.

The Baptists already have a youth program for boys, the Royal Ambassadors, and church leaders have suggested it could expand to accommodate boys leaving the Scouts.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Bond denied for Texas man in fatal crash that killed Savannah jazz musician Ben Tucker

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Bond has been denied for a Texas man police say was involved in a car crash that killed jazz musician Ben Tucker.

Robert William Martin, of Spicewood, Texas, appeared Wednesday for a preliminary hearing in Chatham County Recorder's Court.

Police say Martin has been charged with vehicular homicide, racing and reckless driving in the crash that killed 82-year-old Tucker Tuesday.

Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police spokesman Julian Miller says Tucker was riding a golf cart on Hutchinson Island just north of Savannah when he was hit.

The Savannah Morning News reports assistant Public Defender Ryan Raines asked the judge to set a bond and says this is Martin's first arrest.

Judge Tammy Stokes says Martin was denied bond because of his lack of ties to the community.

Information from: Savannah Morning News, http://www.savannahnow.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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UGA newspaper publisher announces resignation 

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — The publisher of the University of Georgia's independent student newspaper, Harry Montevideo, has announced he will retire after about 30 years of service.

In a release Wednesday, The Red & Black Publishing Co. board member Chuck Reece says the paper's advertising director, Natalie McClure, will serve as acting general manager while the board of directors conducts a national search for Montevideo's replacement.

No reason was given for Montevideo's resignation. Reece says Montevideo's leadership helped put the paper on solid financial footing and led to some of its greatest successes.

Reece says McClure has been advertising director for The Red & Black since 2008 and graduated from the school's college of journalism in 2003.

The Red & Black was founded in 1893 and is the 10th largest newspaper in Georgia.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Bridge closes as giant cranes reach Savannah port

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The Port of Savannah expanded its ability to accommodate some of the world's largest cargo ships Wednesday as four giant cranes standing 185 feet tall arrived from China.

A ship delivering the towering cranes to the port literally stopped traffic on the Talmadge Memorial Bridge spanning the Savannah River near the city's downtown riverfront. The bridge was closed for about 30 minutes as a safety precaution while the ship squeezed beneath it.

The new cranes are capable of lifting up to 65 tons of cargo to a height of 136 feet above the dock. Their addition means Savannah now has 16 cranes large enough to load and unload supersized cargo ships that are currently too big to fit through the Panama Canal. Georgia is also pressing to deepen the Savannah harbor to make room for those ships, which will be able to use the canal after it finishes a major expansion in 2015.

Curtis Foltz, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, said the new cranes will improve efficiency at the Savannah port — the fourth-busiest container port in the nation. Last year the port handled more than 2.9 million containers of imports and exports.

The Savannah port's container terminal now has a total of 25 ship-to-shore cranes that run on electricity, the most of any shipping terminal in the U.S.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Deal honors cadets leaving for military academies

ATLANTA (AP) — Gov. Nathan Deal is urging the state's cadets leaving to attend U.S. military academies to work hard, fight through adversity and make the state proud.

Deal attended a ceremony Wednesday at the Capitol honoring the state's 138 cadets who will be attending one of the nation's five military academies for training. The governor noted the cadets were among a select few and urged them to always remember how many others would have wanted to be in their place. He also encouraged their parents to stay strong and keep encouraging their children to finish.

At one point, Deal became emotional while talking about the pride of being in the military. He served in the U.S. Army at Fort Gordon in Augusta after graduating with a law degree from Mercer University.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Floyd County man sentenced in friend's shooting death

ROME, Ga. (AP) — A northwest Georgia man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in his best friend's shooting death.

Shane Bryan Crider was sentenced Tuesday in Floyd County Superior Court. The Rome News-Tribune reports Crider apologized for shooting 23-year-old Jason Darren Puryear and asked the judge for leniency.

Prosecutors have said Puryear, Crider and another man were working on a car in a garage in December 2011. Crider heard noises from outside the garage after Puryear and the other man left. Prosecutors say Crider grabbed a gun and fired four shots into the dark. One wounded Puryear in his back and exited through his chest.

Crider is ordered to serve five years of probation after his prison sentence.

Information from: Rome News-Tribune, http://www.romenews-tribune.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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