Tuesday, September 8, 2009

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gov. Proclaims Georgia's Support of National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month and Gov. Sonny Perdue is encouraging residents to get ready for the unexpected by creating an emergency plan and “Ready Kit” of emergency supplies – steps only about 20 percent of Georgians have taken.

National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Ready America campaign, is a nationwide effort to increase awareness and encourage action for emergency preparedness. Nearly 2,000 private, public and nonprofit organizations across the country participate as National Preparedness Month Coalition Members to remind citizens of the importance of emergency preparedness by hosting events and initiatives during September.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s Ready Georgia campaign, an extension of Ready America, is Georgia’s local, comprehensive resource for emergency preparedness. The campaign’s Web site, www.ready.ga.gov – sponsored by the Georgia Department of Community Health, Division of Emergency Preparedness and Response – offers users an interactive tool that generates a tailored communications plan for the entire family and a list of specific supplies to include in household Ready kits, along with other valuable information for individuals, families and businesses on how to get ready.

To help spread the campaign’s message – prepare, plan and stay informed – The Ad Council in cooperation with DHS, launched a new public service announcement today that was localized for Georgia by the Metro Atlanta Urban Area Security Initiative on behalf of Ready Georgia. The new PSA will air on television stations throughout the state to educate and engage viewers in the preparedness process.

“Research has shown that most Georgians feel immune to the threats that are real and dangerous,” said Julia Janka, program administrator for Metro Atlanta UASI. “By creating awareness for the need to be prepared, we hope that more people will act as their own first responders should disaster strike.”

Citizens Corps, Community Emergency Response Teams, local emergency management agencies and organizations across Georgia are planning additional preparedness events in their communities. For a list of events taking place during September and for more information about the Ready Georgia campaign and National Preparedness Month, visit www.ready.ga.gov .

Gwinnett County Makes More Budget Adjustments

Gwinnett County's separately elected officials and Constitutional officers have agreed to $1.9 million in budget cuts to help commissioners balance the books for 2009.

The Board accepted their recommendations on Tuesday and cautioned that another $11 million in cuts will be needed for next year. These cuts are consistent with reductions in budgets throughout the County. While the Board of Commissioners appropriates funds for departments run by elected officials, they do not directly manage those departments.

The officials include the Clerk of Court, Clerk of Recorder’s Court, District Attorney, Judiciary, Juvenile Court, Probate Court, Recorder’s Court, Sheriff, Solicitor and Tax Commissioner. The County’s Department of Human Resources has offered to work with all these departments to arrange staff reductions through a retirement incentive program in those areas where personnel costs must be reduced.

In related action, commissioners approved a retirement incentive program for Probate Court, similar to the one offered to many eligible County employees last month. It is expected to save $59,295 in 2010.

Stone Mountain Man Arrested; Allegedly Hit Toddler

According to police, a 61-year-old Stone Mountain man annoyed with a crying 2-year-old girl at a Wal-Mart slapped the child several times after warning the toddler's mother to keep her quiet.

A police report says after the stranger hit the girl at least four times, he said: "See, I told you I would shut her up."

Roger Stephens of Stone Mountain is charged with felony cruelty to children.

Authorities say the girl and her mother were shopping Monday when the toddler began crying.

The police report says Stephens approached the mother and said, "If you don't shut that baby up, I will shut her up for you."

Authorities say after Stephens slapped the girl, she began screaming.

The mother then called for security.

The girl suffered some redness in the face but was otherwise okay.

Stephens was being held without bond.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cobb Paramedic Honored for Helping Fellow Firefighter's Widow

Dennis Thayer, an engineer and paramedic for Cobb Fire and Emergency Services, was recently honored with the Special Presidential Award for Outstanding Service and Dedication by the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs. The award is given at the discretion of the president when someone has met the high standards for the honor.

Thayer was chosen for this prestigious award for his efforts to help the widow of Joey Turner, a volunteer firefighter from Homerville-Clinch County who died of a heart attack while training at the Georgia Fire Academy. Thayer worked tirelessly to raise enough money to buy her a used car, new tires, insurance for a year and make six months worth of mortgage payments on her home.

Thayer also led a group effort to ensure the State Indemnification Commission paid the widow money due from her husband's line of duty death. The commission originally recommended not paying benefits because the firefighter was in training at the time of his death.
Photo by Jim Mykytyn

Grant Park Tour of Homes Set for Sept. 26-27

The 36th Annual Grant Park Tour of Homes will be held Sept. 26-27

Join organizers for the 36th Grant Park Tour of Homes and enjoy "Atlanta's Backyard". Grant Park living has it all, from historic bungalows to new construction and modern city condos.

For ticket information, visit: https://neighborhood.org/net/commerce/signup.aspx?ez=1&s=

UGA to Host Young Students at Scholar Weekend

As many as 100 of the brightest middle and high school students in Georgia and nearby states will get their first taste of college courses during a Scholar Weekend Sept. 19-20 hosted by the University of Georgia College of Education’s Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development in partnership with Duke University and the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

The UGA Scholar Weekend, directed by UGA’s Torrance Center for Creativity and Talent Development, is part of the Duke Talent Identification Program to identify academically talented children and provide resources to nurture and challenge each child’s abilities.

TIP scholars are identified through standardized test scores and invited to take the SAT or ACT in the 7th grade as part of the program. Those scoring exceptionally well are then invited to attend TIP’s Scholar Weekends where they are exposed to interesting and challenging topics not typically covered in middle or high school curricula.

This is the first of three Scholar Weekends planned this fall at UGA, which is one of only eight locations in the nation selected to be hosts. The second Scholar Weekend is scheduled for Oct. 17-18, and the third program will be held Dec. 5-6. Other sites include the University of South Carolina, Appalachian State University, New College in Sarasota, Fla., the University of Houston, the University of Kansas, Texas Christian University and Duke University’s main campus.

At TIP Scholar Weekends, students are introduced to the collegiate experience by participating in two days of intense study in one of the provided courses taught by UGA professors and Athens area school teachers. The overall goal is to enhance student skills, enrich the learning experience and foster an interest in college as well as specific collegiate majors.

The courses available for the Sept. 19 Scholar Weekend include “Introductory Robotics,” “Architecture: From Playhouses to Mansions,” “A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words: Creative Writing and Photography,” “To Climb the Great Wall: Fun with Mandarin Chinese,” “CSI: Plant Pathology,” “Biofuels: The Next Step?,” “Rube Goldberg Challenge,” “Psychology, Human Experience and the U.S. Military,” and “The Physics of the Nintendo Wii.”

Tuition for the Scholar Weekend on Sept. 19-20 is $395 for day students and $425 for overnight students. Some financial aid is available. Registration ends Sept. 1.

For more information on these programs and a printable registration sheet, see the Torrance Center’s Web site at www.coe.uga.edu/torrance/ or call (706) 542-5104.

Gwinnett Co. Fed Stimulus Money Totals $120M

Gwinnett County commissioners heard Tuesday that they have received almost $120 million so far from the $787 billion federal economic stimulus law, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) that became law last February.

The funds are being distributed through various federal and state agencies. Gwinnett’s largest amount to date, totaling $81.3 million, is going to shovel-ready road improvements including the $24 million extension of McGinnis Ferry Road across I-85. Bids for that project were opened on July 17 and construction should begin soon.

Board Chairman Charles Bannister said, “County staff began looking for funding opportunities the day the law was passed, and we’ve obviously been very successful with our many applications. It’s clear that our success is a result of staff having solid plans in place and projects that were ready to go. We also appreciate the help of our Congressional delegations in Washington who are very aware and supportive of our needs.”

Gwinnett focused on four areas for stimulus funding: modernizing infrastructure, clean energy technology, crime control and prevention, and community stabilization in the wake of record foreclosures.

Of the funds received to date, $81.3 million came through Georgia DOT, $21.8 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), $16.7 million from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, $9 million from the Federal Transit Administration, $7.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, and $2.4 million through the U.S. Department of Justice. The latest award is $1.7 million from HUD to prevent homelessness and help homeless residents find new housing; four nonprofit organizations with experience in serving homeless individuals and families are recommended to receive the funds.

Gwinnett submitted successful applications for a wide variety of projects including road-building, weatherization, homelessness programs, a new Senior Services Center, mid-life overhauls of transit buses, a waste-to-energy power generator, recycling of fats, oils and grease, and new public safety systems including online citizen reporting, and improved forensic and crime scene investigation equipment.

Federal stimulus funds are subject to very thorough audit and reporting requirements and can be tracked at www.recovery.gov for federal projects and www.stimulusaccountability.ga.gov for state projects.

Friday, August 28, 2009

FedEx to Expand Cobb County Operations

FedEx Ground plans to expand its Cobb County distribution center and add 270 well-paying jobs. This initiative will add 85,000 square feet to the state-of-the-art facility.

"This has been one of FedEx's most successful distribution centers," Michael Hughes, Cobb director of economic development, said in a statement. "FedEx enjoys access to a world-class workforce as well as great infrastructure."

The facility manager of the Cobb location credits support received from the county as a major help in making the center one of the most productive facilities. The expansion will provide additional capabilities to aid efficient handling of local, regional and country-wide service.

UGA Inducts 102 Incoming Vet Students

The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine welcomed the class of 2013 during its annual White Coat Ceremony held recently. Sponsored by the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association, this event officially recognized 102 members of the incoming class of 2013 by donning them in bright white lab coats to be worn during their veterinary education.

The hour-long ceremony was held in the Mahler Auditorium at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel. After the ceremony, Dr. Myron Downs, president of the GVMA and an Athens-area veterinary surgeon, led the two-block recessional of coated students to the College of Veterinary Medicine for a class photo and a reception with their families and veterinary faculty and staff.

This year’s incoming class includes 76 women and 26 men, with an average undergraduate GPA of 3.54 and an average GRE score of 1116.

The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1946, is dedicated to training future veterinarians, providing services to animal owners and veterinarians and conducting investigations to improve the health of animals and people. The college benefits companion animals and their owners, food-producing animals and wildlife by offering the highest-quality hospital and diagnostic laboratory services. The college enrolls 102 students each fall out of more than 570 who apply and employs more than 145 faculty members.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

UPDATE: Hunt on for Gunman Who Killed 4 in Gwinnett County

Police in Gwinnett County are looking for a gunman who shot 5 people and killed 4 of them.

It happened Thursday night on Clairidge Lane in Lawrenceville which is off Sugarloaf Parkway near the Gwinnett fairgrounds. Police say when they arrived at the home they found 3 people already dead. A fourth was taken to the hospital where they died. A 4 year old was also found with a gunshot wound but alive. She's been taken to a hospital.

A neighbor told CBS Atlanta she helped put the child in the ambulance and that the child told her her family is dead. She says the child was injured and hysterical.An all out manhunt is underway for the shooter.Police say the shooter is driving a black Dodge Intrepid with Georgia tag AZH-7311. According to police the car has a New Orleans Saints sticker on the gas cap cover and is flying a New Orleans Saints Flag.

Courtesy: CBS Atlanta

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Peachtree City Council will hold the last of three public hearings on the millage rate on Thursday, Aug. 27, 6:30 p.m. The millage rate and FY 2010 budget will be adopted following the public hearing.

Staff has proposed increasing the millage rate by 0.237 mills to avoid using any cash reserves for the FY 2010 budget. Based on the proposed millage rate for the City and the other agencies in Fayette County, 16.5% of a Peachtree City resident’s property taxes would come to the City of Peachtree City, with 67.2% going to the Fayette County Board of Education,15.5% going to Fayette County, and 0.7% going to the State of Georgia.

UGA to Dedicate Expansion of Health Center

The University of Georgia will dedicate the addition and renovation of its University Health Center Sept. 1 at 3 p.m. at the facility.

The ceremony, which commemorates the $17 million project that added 30,000 square feet of new clinic and office space, will feature speakers: UGA President Michael Adams; Rodney Bennett, vice president for Student Affairs; Jean Chin, director of the center; and Jasmaine Williams, a fourth-year biology major and member of the Student Health Advisory Committee.

“The completion of the expansion project means the ‘one-stop shop’ health care experience for students is now a reality,” said Chin. “With the Vision Clinic addition, we are offering eye care services to round out our medical, dental, counseling, travel, health education and prevention, diagnostic, and pharmacy services. We have a new training kitchen for students to learn about healthy cooking and an optical shop that carries glasses, contacts, and accessories. This building brings all of these services under one roof. There are few reasons for students to leave campus for health care now.”

In addition, the project expanded the Women’s Clinic and the Dental Clinic, relocated the Allergy/Travel Medicine Clinic to the first floor to improve access, and augmented the pharmacy and waiting area. The Vision Clinic, which opened Aug. 10, serves students, faculty, staff and employee dependents by offering comprehensive eye exams and a vast selection of glasses and contact lenses. The second floor of the center is now dedicated solely to Counseling and Psychiatric Services in order to meet the rising demand for mental health services. The project added more clinician offices, group therapy rooms and testing spaces. The renovation, which was completed in two phases, began in April 2008. The University Health Center is a department within UGA’s Division of Student Affairs.

For more information on the University Health Center, see http://www.uhs.uga.edu/.

Emory Names Grad School After James Laney

The Emory University Board of Trustees has approved naming the Graduate School in honor of President Emeritus James T. Laney, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, who led the university from 1977 until 1994, a time when it emerged as a national research university.

"The naming of the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies honors the vision and leadership of Jim Laney, whose ambitious plan for Emory revolved around graduate education," said Emory President James Wagner. "He understood clearly that the core of great research universities lies in the training of new generations of intellectual leaders for the academy and for the public good."

"Emory's decision to name the Graduate School for me is the greatest honor of my life," said Laney. "From the very first, Emory has been in my heart, and I am deeply touched and humbled to always be associated with the university in such a special way."

Lisa A. Tedesco, dean of the newly designated Laney Graduate School, said that "naming the graduate school is a fitting way to acknowledge President Laney because it recognizes his vision for the central role of doctoral education in establishing and sustaining a great research university at the forefront of discovery in the sciences and humanities."

Monday, August 24, 2009

UGA to Host Social Media Talk Sept. 19

Public relations professionals and academics alike are continuing to talk about how social media are changing what they do. Leading that conversation, the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication will host its third annual Connect conference on public relations and social media on Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Miller Learning Center on campus.

The conference, sponsored by Porter Novelli and the Grady College, is designed to bring together public relations professionals and educators to explore how social media is being used in public relations.

“We’ll be talking about whether social media should be integrated with traditional PR and marketing programs. And, if it should, how that might be done,” said Karen Miller Russell, Grady College associate professor of public relations and conference organizer.

Paula Berg, manager of emerging media for Southwest Airlines, will provide the keynote speech on Saturday evening. According to Russell, Southwest is the nation’s leading low-fare air carrier and has been one of the most successful U.S. businesses of the past 30 years.

Panel discussions on Saturday will match professionals and academics discussing important issues and practices within non-profits, business and industry, and government public relations. Speakers include Jeremy Pepper, Dan Greenfield, principal of Bernaise Source Media; Richard Waters, North Carolina State University; and Toby Bloomberg, Bloomberg Marketing/Diva Marketing.

Adding a global perspective will be two speakers joining the discussion via the Web—Melanie James of Newcastle University in Australia and Tom Watson of the United Kingdom’s Bournemouth University.

Saturday’s luncheon will feature Lauren Fernandez, marketing coordinator at American Mensa and popular public relations blogger. Fernandez recently tackled a controversial subject when she questioned whether PR agencies should be executing social media plans for their clients.

Past conferences received rave reviews from participants. “Connect really changed my approach to public relations,” said Melissa Libby of Atlanta’s Melissa Libby and Associates. “I learned it all at the conference. Facebook, YouTube, Yelp and Flickr are now all in a day’s work at our company.” Public relations measurement professional Katie Paine called Connect “a very fun and fascinating discussion of social media.”

“Social media isn’t new anymore,” said Russell. “It’s time for organizations of all types to figure out how to make it part of their overall communication programs.”

Conference registration is $150 with a deadline of Friday, Sept. 11. Space is limited. For more information and to register, see www.grady.uga.edu/connect.

Gwinnett Co. Checking Businesses on Immigration Status

More than 26,000 Gwinnett-based businesses soon will get a letter from the County’s license and revenue office asking for compliance with a new state immigration law.

The County is required to check the immigration status of all applicants for a business/occupation tax certificate, commonly called a business license.

Board Chairman Charles Bannister said the law requires all applicants to be a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, qualified alien or a nonimmigrant as defined in the Federal Immigration and Nationality Act. Bannister explained, “We are making sure that Gwinnett County is in compliance with the law.”

All businesses, corporations, LLCs and partnerships registered in Gwinnett will receive the letter over the next few weeks. Applicants are required to return a signed, notarized affidavit before they can renew online or receive a 2010 business/occupation tax certificate. Those who are not U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents must also submit a copy of certain paperwork to establish their status, which the County will verify through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program operated by the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Since 2007, Gwinnett has been verifying the immigration status of applicants for jobs at the County and its primary contractors and subcontractors. The verification program also applies to other public benefits such as housing assistance, certain work permits and adult education.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Athens-Clarke County Police Battle ID Theft, Hold Sept. 2 Event

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department said it has received reports that individuals are being called on their cell phones by people posing as bank representatives.

The victims are being told their debit cards have been compromised. The caller then requests personal information from the card holder. This is an attempt to gain identity information to be used to commit identity fraud.

If you receive such a call and have doubts about the caller, contact your local bank to confirm the activity on your account before giving out any identifying information.

Do not call the number that the caller attempts to give you for that number will ring back to the suspects. Find your bank’s customer service number independent of the caller. Your bank's customer service number should be located on the back of your bank card, on your monthly billing statement, the bank’s web site, or the paperwork received when you opened your account.

triangle Upcoming community meetings to discuss crime problems:

  • Wed., Sept. 2
    6:30 p.m.
    Central Baptist Church
    720 Danielsville Rd.

Residents will be able to:

  • Discuss crime problems in your community.
  • Relay ideas on how to have a better community.
  • Learn facts about neighborhood crime.
  • Have up-to-date information on Crime Prevention and Crime Prevention tools.
  • Address issues on physical condition of the neighborhood.

For information, contact Lt. Terrie Patterson at (706) 613-3358, ext 223, or Nick Aguilar, ext 237.

UGA Gains a Top Ranking in Magazine Report

The University of Georgia is ranked 21st among public universities and tied for 58th overall according to the U.S. News & World Report's 2010 edition of America’s Best Colleges.

UGA also was listed among 25 national universities for 2008 graduates with the least debt.

The undergraduate program at the Terry College of Business is ranked 25th overall—up from 30th last year—and 18th among public business schools. This year’s ranking marks the 11th consecutive year Terry has been ranked in the top 30. Terry’s risk management and insurance program maintained its second place ranking nationally, as did the real estate program, which is ranked third in the country.

“We see continual improvement in the quality of students and faculty in the Terry College of Business, and it is satisfying to have our undergraduate program consistently recognized as one of the very best in the country,” said Dean Robert Sumichrast. “We’re undertaking some curriculum changes this year that will challenge our students in the classroom and make their campus experience even better while they’re students in the Terry College.”

The 2010 rankings are available on-line at www.usnews.com and highlights of the college rankings will be published in the Sept.1 issue of U.S News & World Report, available for newsstand purchase Monday, Aug. 24. The U.S. News & World Report's 2010 edition of America’s Best Colleges guidebook will be available as of Tuesday, Aug. 25.

U.S. News considers several factors in producing the annual ranking. Among those are graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving and peer assessment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Golf Event Tees-Off Aug. 31

The SafePath Children's Advocacy Center and Cobb Department of Public Safety's 12th annual charity golf classic, "Teeing Off for Kids," will take place Monday, Aug. 31, at the Indian Hills Country Club. Registration is at 9 a.m. with a shotgun start at 10 a.m.

The event is a four-person Ft. Lauderdale scramble golf tournament. The fees are $175 for individual players and $700 for a foursome. Sponsorships start at $300. All proceeds of the tournament benefit the SafePath Children's Advocacy Center, which provides assistance to child abuse victims and their non-offending caregivers. The club is located at 4001 Clubland Drive, Marietta.

Registration is available online at: teeingoffforkids.com.

UGA Math Dept. to Open New Study Area

The department of mathematics at the University of Georgia will formally open a new Undergraduate Study Area in room 308 of the Boyd Graduate Studies Building on Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 3 p.m. The public is invited to the event.

“The department has provided the study area Undergraduate Study Area in order to meet our students’ need for a space to study and collaborate in groups while remaining close to their instructors and classrooms,” said Jason Cantarella, an associate professor of mathematics and co-director of the Vertical Integration of Research and Education program, which is funded by a five-year $3.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The new facility will encourage casual mathematical interaction between students and faculty before and after their classes, Cantarella said. The USA will house personal lockers so students can store books and space where they can work together. It will also host math club meetings and drop-in tutoring hours for all mathematics students.

“The USA is a modern and comfortable space equipped with seating for 25 students to work alone or in small groups, with laptop power outlets, WiFi, a conference room, a reference library of mathematics texts and a coffeemaker,” said Cantarella.

The Undergraduate Study Area was completed with support from the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of the Vice President for Instruction, personal contributions from members of the mathematics department, including Jim and Nancy Cantrell, and the National Science Foundation, through the mathematics department’s VIGRE grant. The room was designed by Leslie DiSimone of the UGA Physical Plant. The department of mathematics is part of UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.