Georgia News Roundup
June 14, 2013 04:45 PM | 1009 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Gunman opens fire on driver in southwest Atlanta

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta police say a driver was shot to death and his passenger was wounded after a gunman apparently approached their vehicle and fired multiple gunshots at them in southwest Atlanta.

Police said officers found the victims around 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the area of Parsons and Webster Streets, near the Atlanta University Center campus in southwest Atlanta.

The driver, who police say appeared to be in his early to mid-20s, appeared to have been shot multiple times and was dead at the scene. Police say the passenger was shot in the hand and was in stable condition at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Witnesses told police a third occupant might have been wounded and left the scene on foot. Witnesses say the gunman fled the scene in a separate vehicle.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


School boards, libraries face insurance cost hike 

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia school boards and public libraries will have to pay more for the employer share of health insurance following a decision by the Community Health Board.

The Florida Times-Union reports that the board made the unanimous decision on Thursday.

The biggest jump goes to school boards for their employees who are not teachers or administrators, such as bus drivers, custodians and lunchroom workers. The local board's share for them will rise 33 percent.

For charter schools and regional education service agencies, the employer share will go up by 3.5 percent.

Public libraries will have to pay

13.5 percent more for their employer share.

Other state agencies will have to pay 1 percent more.

Information from: The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union,

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Board: Superintendent must revisit book decision 

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Clarke County's school board has decided that its superintendent must reconsider his decision to allow a book in classrooms after it drew objections by parents.

Administrators felt the book should not be removed from schools, and that students can relate to its story. Superintendent Philip Lanoue decided parents could opt out if they didn't want their children to read "And the Earth Did Not Devour Him" by Tomas Rivera.

The book is the story of a Mexican boy's life in a migrant family in the 1940s and 1950s, with themes of family life and tensions, getting an education, and growing up, according to an email Clarke County Deputy Superintendent Noris Price sent to the parents saying administrators would not remove the book.

"We think the themes listed above speak directly to many of our students," Price said.

Parents of a seventh-grader had asked school officials to prohibit the book from being part of a class reading list, saying a paragraph in the book is full of offensive language.

Most school board members agreed with the parents and voted 5-2 Thursday to ask the superintendent to reconsider his decision, The Athens Banner-Herald reported.

"It's got language in there that's not appropriate for our children to read," said Chad Lowery at Thursday's board meeting. "We just don't think it has any place in our classroom, that kind of language."

Board members Sarah Ellis and David Huff voted to uphold Lanoue's decision.

Carol Williams, Charles Worthy, Carl Parks, Linda Davis and Denise Spangler voted to ask Lanoue to reconsider his decision. Two other board members were absent.

"My intent is for this book not to be on the seventh grade reading list," Davis said.

Information from: Athens Banner-Herald,

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Friday marks deadline for charter school operators 

ATLANTA (AP) — The deadline is approaching for charter school operators to submit applications to run independent public schools authorized by the state.

Prospective operators must hand-deliver or mail their requests to Georgia's Charter School Commission by the end of business Friday. The deadline marks the latest milestone in the state's expansion of non-traditional public schools.

Schools and operators submitting applications for this round of charters won't open until at least the 2014-15 school year. Final decisions on the charters won't come until this fall.

Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment last fall recreating the charter commission, which can issue charters to independent operators over the objections of local school boards. The charter schools are financed with taxpayer money but run privately, free from most rules and regulations that govern traditional campuses.

The state Supreme Court had disbanded a previous version of the commission that the legislature created by law. The court based its ruling on a constitutional provision that gives local school boards control of public schools in Georgia, including issuing charters for independent schools. The amendment effectively overruled that decision, allowing charter applicants to bypass local officials.

According to its plans, state authorities will interview applicants in September and release a list of recommended charters in October. The commission is scheduled to vote Oct. 30 on whether to grant the charters. The state Board of Education, which is a panel of Gov. Nathan Deal's appointees, selected the commissioners from nominees that Deal and other elected officials submitted.

Charter operators can range from national for-profit companies or nonprofit entities to local groups formed by parents, teachers and educators who want to run a single campus. Georgia law requires charter recipients to be nonprofit organizations based in the state, but the law allows the applicant to contract with for-profit management firms.

In an earlier application cycle, the commission cleared 15 existing schools for charters that will cover the upcoming school year.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Cause of Savannah warehouse fire remains unknown

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Fire officials say they're still working to determine the cause of a large fire at a Savannah warehouse that sent smoke pouring over the city's west side.

The building was already fully engulfed by flames when firefighters arrived around 5 p.m., The Savannah Morning News reported.

Savannah Fire and Emergency Services spokesman Mark Keller said the warehouse housed Savannah Architectural Supply, a locally-owned building materials company. He said items such as wooden doors and moldings helped fuel the fire.

As firefighters worked to contain the blaze to the rear of the building, fire spread throughout it and eventually fully engulfed the entire structure, Keller said. About an hour and 30 minutes into the battle, the roof collapsed, he said.

The heat index at the time was more than 100 degrees. That prompted firefighters to take turns battling the blaze and recuperating at a rehabilitation station set up at a neighboring business, Keller said.

Keller said the cause of the fire remained unknown several hours after the blaze was extinguished.

Information from: Savannah Morning News,

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Man who faked his death pleads to sex charge 

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — A Georgia man who officials said faked his own death to avoid prosecution on sex charges in Florida, has pleaded no contest in the Florida case.

Nathan Wilkins, 19, entered the plea in Panama City on Thursday to charges that he traveled to that city with the intent of meeting an 11-year-old child for sex after seeing an advertisement on Craigslist, the News Herald of Panama City reported Friday. Wilkins was arrested in the "Operation Riptide" sting operation during which investigators placed false child sex advertisements on the Internet and arrested those who responded.

Wilkins was out on bond when a Georgia fisherman found a supposed suicide note and Wilkin's clothing on the banks of the Little River in Brooks County. He was found three days later in Colorado. Authorities said he had attempted to fake his death to avoid prosecution.

Wilkins' attorney, Al Sauline, had argued that his client was so high on hallucinogenic drugs that he did not understand what he was doing when he waved his Miranda rights and gave a statement to Florida prosecutors. Sauline argued that the Wilkins' statement should be suppressed.

But prosecutors said Wilkins' statements were clear and that he did not appear to have any drug-related problems when he gave the statement and that he appeared to have a clear memory of the events that led to his arrest.

Wilkins' is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 5 before Judge Michael Overstreet in Bay County and faces up to 20 years in prison for traveling to meet a minor for sex, computer pornography and child exploitation.

Information from: The (Panama City, Fla.) News Herald,

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Finalist named for Fort Valley State president 

ATLANTA (AP) — A finalist has been named following a national search for the next president of Fort Valley State University in middle Georgia.

University system officials announced Friday that Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, provost and senior vice president at York College of the City University of New York, is the sole finalist for the position.

If selected by the Board of Regents, Griffith would replace current President Larry Rivers, who is stepping down in June.

University system officials say Griffith has served in his current position since 2007 and has increased the number of full-time faculty at York College by 30 percent, reorganized the academic division and established an undergraduate student research program.

He previously served as provost at Radford University in Virginia.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Georgia panel will consider suspension of lawmaker

ATLANTA (AP) — Two Democratic lawmakers and the state's top attorney will decide whether to suspend state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, who is accused of misappropriating charitable donations, Gov. Nathan Deal said Friday.

Deal, a Republican, appointed the Democratic minority leaders of the House and Senate, Rep. Stacey Abrams and Sen. Steve Henson, to a panel that will decide whether to suspend Brooks, a Democrat from Atlanta. By law, the panel also includes Attorney General Sam Olens, a Republican. The panel has two weeks to make its decision.

Brooks was charged last month in a 30-count federal indictment with mail fraud, wire fraud and filing false tax returns. He has pleaded not guilty.

Brooks referred questions to his attorney, Roy Barnes, who did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

If the panel suspends Brooks, he would receive his legislative salary and benefits but could not take official actions. His seat in the General Assembly would remain vacant until the next election.

Henson said in an interview Friday that he had not decided whether Brooks should be suspended.

"It's the kind of thing where you remove the politics and the personal of it, you review the facts and you make a decision," Henson said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Army Ranger dies during parachute drill in Georgia

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The military is investigating the death of an Army Ranger who was found on the ground with parachute cords wrapped around his neck after a routine training jump in southeast Georgia.

Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis, a spokesman for the Army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment, said Friday that military officials are trying to determine whether the soldier became entangled in the air or perhaps was knocked unconscious when he landed and then got wrapped in the cords.

He says it appears the soldier was dragged 350 feet along the ground as wind filled the parachute.

The death occurred Thursday at a training area on Fort Stewart, where Rangers from nearby Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah practice parachute jumps several times a year. The soldier's name was not immediately released.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides