Georgia

ATLANTA -- As summer comes to an end and thousands of Georgians hit the road to celebrate the Labor Day holiday, the Georgia Department of Public Safety reminds motorists that Georgia State Patrol (GSP) troopers and Motor Carrier Compliance Division (MCCD) officers will conduct highly visible patrols on interstates and secondary roads, looking for unsafe behaviors that put travelers at risk.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — A New York man will serve three months in prison for making threatening phone calls to Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. Joseph Morelli, 51, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Syracuse after pleading guilty in February to threatening Greene in several calls to her Washington, D.C., office in 2022.

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Transportation has reopened a seven-mile stretch of westbound Interstate 16 north of Soperton after repairing a bridge over Pendleton Creek. The highway was closed earlier this month after a routine inspection found some of the supports holding up the bridge had settled.

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia sheriff pleaded guilty to groping TV judge Glenda Hatchett during a law enforcement conference last year and resigned from office Monday. Bleckley County Sheriff Kristopher Coody pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery in Cobb County State Court, news outlets reported. Hatchett addressed the court, saying the ordeal had “cut me to the core.”

ATLANTA – The Georgia Senate is working to come to grips with the ramifications of the growth in artificial intelligence technology for public policy. Two Senate committees announced plans Monday to hold a joint hearing on AI this fall. The Public Safety and Science and Technology committees will take up the issue at the state Capitol on Nov. 1.

ATLANTA – A federal court judge has handed both sides in a lawsuit over a controversial election reform bill the General Assembly passed two years ago a partial victory and a partial defeat. Judge J.P. Boulee granted a preliminary injunction Friday to civil rights and voting rights groups temporarily blocking portions of Senate Bill 202 that restricted volunteers from providing food and water to voters waiting in long lines at the polls.

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia school board voted Thursday to fire a teacher after officials said she improperly read a book on gender fluidity to her fifth grade class. The Cobb County School Board in suburban Atlanta voted 4-3 to fire Katie Rinderle, overriding the recommendation of a panel of three retired educators. The panel found after a two-day hearing that Rinderle had violated district policies, but said she should not be fired.

ATLANTA (AP) — Rosalynn Carter will celebrate her 96th birthday at home Friday with her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, and other family members, while the surrounding community of Plains, Georgia, honors the former first lady's years of public health advocacy. The latest milestone comes as Rosalynn Carter navigates dementia and the former president, now 98, continues to receive hospice care. 

ATLANTA – Georgia’s unemployment rate held steady last month at 3.2%, three-tenths of a percent lower than the national average, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday. The labor force was up by 9,038 in July to more than 5.3 million, an all-time high, with the workforce participation rate increasing to 61.4%. The number of employed Georgians rose for the ninth consecutive month to more than 5.1 million, also a record.

ATLANTA (AP) — Workers have begun loading radioactive fuel into a second new nuclear reactor in Georgia, utilities said Thursday, putting the reactor on a path to begin generating electricity in the coming months. Georgia Power Co. says workers will transfer 157 fuel assemblies into the reactor core at Plant Vogtle, southeast of Augusta, in the next few days.

WOBURN, Mass. (AP) — It took more than three decades, but the 1991 death of a 17-year-old Massachusetts girl found shot in the head on the fire escape of her foster family's home has come to a close with the conviction of a Georgia man. Rodney Daniels, 50, was found guilty on Wednesday in Middlesex Superior Court of first-degree murder in the slaying of Patricia Moreno in Malden on July 20, 1991, according to the office of Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A student was shot during a fight at a central Georgia high school that escalated into gunfire Wednesday, authorities said. Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree told news outlets that the suspected shooter, a juvenile, remains at large following the shooting at Josey High School in Augusta. One student was shot in the finger and transported to a hospital for treatment, sheriff’s spokesperson Kimberly Lee said.

ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia Supreme Court decided Wednesday that a state appeals judge accused of ethical misconduct should be removed from the bench, though it said the case was “initially a close one.” Christian Coomer, appointed by former Gov. Nathan Deal in 2018, was accused of flouting ethics rules on how a lawyer should treat a client and of looting his campaign account to pay for a family vacation to Hawaii and loans to keep his struggling law firm afloat.

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — The former police chief of Georgia's second-largest city has become a teacher. Freddie Blackmon, who was police chief in Columbus until the city's council paid him $400,000 to retire in April, is teaching social studies at Fort Middle School in the Muscogee County school district, which includes Columbus, The Ledger-Enquirer reported.

JONESBORO, Ga. (AP) — The jail in a suburban Atlanta county held inmates for days who were due for release because a state database had crashed, preventing jailers from being able to check whether a person was wanted in another jurisdiction. Officials in Clayton County said they stopped releasing inmates, including those who had been bailed out, because they didn't want to release someone who might be wanted elsewhere for a more serious crime.

ATLANTA – The Georgia Ports Authority is off to a strong start in the new fiscal year. The ports of Savannah and Brunswick handled 447,590 twenty-foot equivalent container units in July, the first month of fiscal 2024. That represents a 17% increase over June but was 16% below July of last year, when the ports set a record for the month.

ATLANTA – State tax collections posted a double-digit increase last month compared to July of last year, mostly driven by gasoline and other motor fuels taxes. Tax receipts in July – the first month of fiscal 2024 – rose by 13.1% over July 2022, the Georgia Department of Revenue reported Thursday. Of $289.3 million in additional revenues, $179.5 million was due to the reinstatement of the state tax on motor fuels.

ATLANTA – The state’s foster care system was “hoteling” only seven children as of Tuesday night, the head of the Georgia Department of Human Services said Wednesday. “Our providers stepped up because they want us to get to zero,” Human Services Commissioner Candice Broce told members of a state Senate study committee looking for ways to improve Georgia’s foster care and adoption services. “We couldn’t have done this without them.”

DUBLIN, Ga. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are seeking a man charged in the misuse of more than $30 million donated by religious groups and individuals for Christian ministry in China, including an Ohio-based group receiving donations from Amish and Mennonite communities. Jason Gerald Shenk, 45, formerly of Dublin, Georgia, is charged in a recently unsealed federal indictment in Georgia with wire fraud, money laundering and failure to file a report of a foreign bank account.

ATLANTA – The University System of Georgia delivered an economic impact of $20.1 billion in fiscal 2022, up $800 million, or 4.14%, over the previous year, system Chancellor Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday. That economic impact included $14.2 billion in direct spending by students and the system’s colleges and universities. The remaining $5.9 billion is the multiplier effect that direct spending had in local communities.

ATHENS, Ga. — Gov. Brian Kemp pledged Tuesday to push for tort reform during the next session of the General Assembly this winter. “The laws on our books make it too easy to bring frivolous lawsuits against Georgia business owners, which drive up the price of insurance and stop new, good-paying jobs from ever coming to communities that need them the most,” Kemp told an audience of the state’s political and business leaders at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Congressional Luncheon, held this year at Athens’ Classic Centre.

JONESBORO, Ga. — A lightning strike is being blamed for a Sunday evening fire that gutted the former Bethel Baptist Church in Jonesboro. Flames were shooting through the roof of the building, which is now home to Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal, when firefighters arrived.

ATLANTA – Facing a chronic shortage of physicians in mostly rural South Georgia, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, which already had a branch campus in Gwinnett County, launched Georgia’s first medical school south of Macon in 2019. In May, the school graduated its first class of 51 students. A new class of 59 first-year students will arrive at the Moultrie campus this month.

ATLANTA – A veteran administrator at Georgia Public Broadcasting is stepping up to become the state network’s CEO, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Friday. Bert Huffman began working at Georgia Public Broadcasting in 2014 as its first vice president for development and marketing. He later became senior vice president of external affairs before being named president in 2021.

ATLANTA – Eight former state employees have been indicted on charges of unemployment insurance fraud allegedly committed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The indictments, handed up last week in Fulton County, accuse the eight defendants of filing false unemployment claims with the Georgia Department of Labor while they were working for the state.

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