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Three Big Things
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Perdue becomes first UGA alum in White House cabinet

Perdue becomes first UGA alum in White House cabinet

With former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's confirmation Monday as the U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, he becomes the first University of Georgia alumnus to be named to the White House Cabinet and the first Southerner to head the department in two decades. Perdue will lead the $150 billion agency, which directs the country's farm policy and food and nutrition programs. At UGA, Perdue attended undergraduate classes — and played on the football team one year as a walk-on — and then earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1971. 'Secretary Perdue is a distinguished alumnus of the University of Georgia, and we are grateful for the tremendous support he has demonstrated for his alma mater over the years,' said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. 'We look forward to the important contributions he will make to the nation's vital agricultural industry in this new role.' As governor, Perdue championed UGA projects such as the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, the Medical Partnership and the new College of Veterinary Medicine hospital. He returned to campus often for official ceremonies, including the February 2004 dedication of the Student Learning Center, and to speak to students, including the May 2005 Commencement. During a College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences conference in 2007, Perdue said, 'One of Georgia's greatest strengths is our agricultural industry. Our farmers and our foresters. It's our oldest and largest industry.' After his final term as governor, Perdue gave his official papers in March 2011 to the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, part of UGA's special collections libraries. 'Because of his experience and his lifelong commitment to agriculture, we are pleased to have former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the new secretary of agriculture,' said Sam Pardue, dean of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. 'Not only does Secretary Perdue know firsthand the intricacies of providing, protecting and promoting the U.S. food system, he has long been a strong supporter of the land-grant mission in public universities across the country and our role in keeping U.S agriculture growing and leading in sustainable food production.' The USDA is the funding authority for land-grant university research and extension programs in agriculture, family and consumer science, and forestry. After graduating from UGA, Perdue served in the U.S. Air Force and was honorably discharged in 1974 with the rank of captain. He then practiced veterinary medicine in Raleigh, North Carolina, before returning to Bonaire, Georgia, to start businesses in grain trading and trucking. Perdue was elected to the state legislature in 1990 and became the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 2003. Under Perdue's tenure, Georgia added new food safety regulations after a salmonella outbreak was traced to peanut butter made in the state. He oversaw the state's decades-long water dispute with Alabama and Florida, as well as a historic drought that prompted Perdue to call for strict water restrictions. Perdue is the second Georgian to join the current Cabinet, following former U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Roswell, who is now secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. His cousin, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, is hosting him in Washington, D.C., this spring.

Gym Dog coach Danna Durante fired

Gym Dog coach Danna Durante fired

The University of Georgia student-run newspaper Red and Black is reporting the dismissal of University of Georgia gymnastics coach Danna Durante, who has just completed her fifth season at the head of the Gym Dogs program.  From the AJC: ATHENS — Georgia will be looking for its third gymnastics coach since the legendary Suzanne Yoculan retired. Danna Durante was fired on Monday after five seasons leading one of UGA’s most visible sports. A source confirmed the news on Monday night. The school has not announced the news yet, but Durante was not at the athletics department’s athlete dinner on Monday night. The Red and Black first reported Durante’s firing. The Gym Dogs finished 12th at the NCAA championships two weeks ago, after going 11-9 in the regular season with a No. 10 national ranking. Afterwards Durante called it “a rough season.” Since then three gymnasts were dismissed from the team by Durante. Yoculan retired in 2009 after winning five straight national championships. She was replaced by top assistant Jay Clark, who was let go after three seasons. Then athletics director Greg McGarity hired Durante, who had been at California. Durante’s top finish at Georgia was fifth nationally. This is the second coach that McGarity, who began his tenure Aug. 2010, has hired and then fired. His first hire was in volleyball, and he made a coaching change in that sport last year. The baseball team is also struggling this year in its four season under Scott Stricklin, who was hired four years ago. UPDATE 8:10am Press release issued by UGA Athletics: “University of Georgia gymnastics coach Danna Durante will not be retained according to an announcement Tuesday by UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “We will move forward with a national search as quickly as possible to fill the head coaching position for our gymnastics team,” said McGarity. Durante recently finished her fifth season as head coach at Georgia, capped by a 12th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. In 2017, Georgia finished 15-15 overall with a 4-3 mark in conference competition. In Durante’s five years, Georgia qualified for the Super Six three times, once over the last three seasons.”

Suspects from Winder, Braselton arrested in Gwinnett Co child sex sting

Suspects from Winder, Braselton arrested in Gwinnett Co child sex sting

Gwinnett County authorities arrested 23 men, including a member of the U.S. Air Force, connected to an underage sex sting, GBI officials said Monday. The arrests were made within the past five days.  The men, officials said, pretended to be teenagers online to lure minors and have sex with them in exchange for money. Most of the men are from the metro Atlanta area, including 14 from Gwinnett, and are believed to be between 19 and 48 years old, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said.    Professional “chatters” posing as 13- and 14-year-old children posted profiles and ads “looking for a good time” on dating websites and sites like Backpage.com, a classified ad site that has been accused of facilitating prostitution and human trafficking, Gwinnett Det. David Smith said. “Online child predators visit chat rooms and websites on the Internet, find children, begin conversations with them, introduce sexual content and arrange a meeting with the children for the purpose of having sex,” Miles said.  The men’s professions include electrician, construction worker, retail employee, mechanic, hotel employee and janitor. One man arrested, Edward Harold Ramsey, 24, of Wichita, Kan., is a member of the Air Force. Some of the chatters engaged with the suspects over a few days, and others spent weeks talking to the men, Smith said. All of the suspects were arrested at a home or a “second location,” both in Gwinnett, where they believed they would be meeting a child for sex. Gwinnett police did not disclose the specific locations of either place. None of the 23 suspects has previous charges or reports of sexual offenses, but police are continuing to look into their backgrounds to determine if they have previously abused children, Smith said. Some of the suspects have children of their own and some worked in places where they would frequently have contact with children, like malls, Smith said.  Most of those arrested were charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, and many were charged with child molestation. Under Georgia law, you can be charged with child molestation without touching a minor, but intending to commit the act. Those who offered to pay for sex with a child have also been charged with human trafficking, Smith said. The investigation is part of the GBI’s “Operation Spring Cleaning” in partnership with the Gwinnett County Police Department and the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC).  Since 2014, the Georgia ICAC has arrested 77 people in similar operations. Since its inception in 2002, the organization has made more than 2,000 arrests.  Those arrested in the sting: Scott Robert Baxter, 34, Tucker  Andrew Sean Carroll, 19, Dacula Brian Dwayne Clark, 41, Winder Alisha Gagguturu, 23, Suwanee  Connor Fionn Hale, 23, Lawrenceville Demetrius Deshawn Harper, 22, Lawrenceville Joel Blake Jackson, 22, Braselton Rasesh Jagtap, 33, Alpharetta Akshat Jasra, 35, Alpharetta David Kelley, 22, College Park Steven Anthony King, 26, Clarksville Horacio Mendoza, 28, Lawrenceville Andrew Ryan Murphy, 22, Norcross Max Park, 37, Suwanee Edward Harold Ramsey, 24, Wichita, Kan. Melchior Simon, 28, Duluth  Martinez-Torres Sixto, 30, Norcross  Brett William Smith Jr., 35, no city listed  Zadok Smith, 27, Duluth James Evan Soggs, 20, Sandy Springs  Adis Spahic, 40, Lawrenceville Ertiza Talukder, 23, Lawrenceville  William David Warren, 41, Winder   

With former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's confirmation Monday as the U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, he becomes the first University of Georgia alumnus to be named to the White House Cabinet and the first Southerner to head the department in two decades. Perdue will lead the $150 billion agency, which directs the country's farm policy and food and nutrition programs. At UGA, Perdue attended undergraduate classes — and played on the football team one year as a walk-on — and then earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1971. 'Secretary Perdue is a distinguished alumnus of the University of Georgia, and we are grateful for the tremendous support he has demonstrated for his alma mater over the years,' said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. 'We look forward to the important contributions he will make to the nation's vital agricultural industry in this new role.' As governor, Perdue championed UGA projects such as the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, the Medical Partnership and the new College of Veterinary Medicine hospital. He returned to campus often for official ceremonies, including the February 2004 dedication of the Student Learning Center, and to speak to students, including the May 2005 Commencement. During a College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences conference in 2007, Perdue said, 'One of Georgia's greatest strengths is our agricultural industry. Our farmers and our foresters. It's our oldest and largest industry.' After his final term as governor, Perdue gave his official papers in March 2011 to the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, part of UGA's special collections libraries. 'Because of his experience and his lifelong commitment to agriculture, we are pleased to have former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the new secretary of agriculture,' said Sam Pardue, dean of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. 'Not only does Secretary Perdue know firsthand the intricacies of providing, protecting and promoting the U.S. food system, he has long been a strong supporter of the land-grant mission in public universities across the country and our role in keeping U.S agriculture growing and leading in sustainable food production.' The USDA is the funding authority for land-grant university research and extension programs in agriculture, family and consumer science, and forestry. After graduating from UGA, Perdue served in the U.S. Air Force and was honorably discharged in 1974 with the rank of captain. He then practiced veterinary medicine in Raleigh, North Carolina, before returning to Bonaire, Georgia, to start businesses in grain trading and trucking. Perdue was elected to the state legislature in 1990 and became the state's first Republican governor since Reconstruction in 2003. Under Perdue's tenure, Georgia added new food safety regulations after a salmonella outbreak was traced to peanut butter made in the state. He oversaw the state's decades-long water dispute with Alabama and Florida, as well as a historic drought that prompted Perdue to call for strict water restrictions. Perdue is the second Georgian to join the current Cabinet, following former U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Roswell, who is now secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. His cousin, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, is hosting him in Washington, D.C., this spring.
Athens-Clarke County Commissioners meet in executive session today: they’ll go behind closed doors to consider nominations to various County boards and authorities.  There are Authority meetings today in Athens: the Athens Airport Authority, 3:30 at Athens-Ben Epps Airport, and the Classic Center Authority, 4 o’clock at the Classic Center.  Today is a busy day for Oconee County Commissioners: another budget session is set for 5 o’clock at the Oconee County courthouse in Watkinsville, followed by a 7 o’clock agenda setting session, also at the courthouse.  Barrow County Commissioners meet tonight, 7 o’clock in Winder.  Hall County Commissioners talk about a traffic circle: the plans for the roundabout at Ledan and Sardis roads were the focus of a Monday Commission work session in Gainesville. 
The University of Georgia student-run newspaper Red and Black is reporting the dismissal of University of Georgia gymnastics coach Danna Durante, who has just completed her fifth season at the head of the Gym Dogs program.  From the AJC: ATHENS — Georgia will be looking for its third gymnastics coach since the legendary Suzanne Yoculan retired. Danna Durante was fired on Monday after five seasons leading one of UGA’s most visible sports. A source confirmed the news on Monday night. The school has not announced the news yet, but Durante was not at the athletics department’s athlete dinner on Monday night. The Red and Black first reported Durante’s firing. The Gym Dogs finished 12th at the NCAA championships two weeks ago, after going 11-9 in the regular season with a No. 10 national ranking. Afterwards Durante called it “a rough season.” Since then three gymnasts were dismissed from the team by Durante. Yoculan retired in 2009 after winning five straight national championships. She was replaced by top assistant Jay Clark, who was let go after three seasons. Then athletics director Greg McGarity hired Durante, who had been at California. Durante’s top finish at Georgia was fifth nationally. This is the second coach that McGarity, who began his tenure Aug. 2010, has hired and then fired. His first hire was in volleyball, and he made a coaching change in that sport last year. The baseball team is also struggling this year in its four season under Scott Stricklin, who was hired four years ago. UPDATE 8:10am Press release issued by UGA Athletics: “University of Georgia gymnastics coach Danna Durante will not be retained according to an announcement Tuesday by UGA J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “We will move forward with a national search as quickly as possible to fill the head coaching position for our gymnastics team,” said McGarity. Durante recently finished her fifth season as head coach at Georgia, capped by a 12th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. In 2017, Georgia finished 15-15 overall with a 4-3 mark in conference competition. In Durante’s five years, Georgia qualified for the Super Six three times, once over the last three seasons.”
The list of items that could be funded if Athens-Clarke County voters approve a November transportation sales tax referendum is now available for on-line viewing. Links to the list can be found on the county website, Athens-Clarke County dot com. Athens-Clarke County Commissioners are expected to finalize the list that was compiled by a 22-member citizens committee when they meet in August. The referendum will be held on November 7.  From the Athens-Clarke Co government website... Submitted projects for inclusion in a possible Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) 2018 program for Athens-Clarke County are now available online for public review at www.athensclarkecounty.com/tsplost. A total of 36 projects were submitted by Athens-Clarke County Unified Government departments, local organizations, and residents with a total cost of $256 million. Of these 36 projects, 25 projects also have alternate versions with reduced associated costs and scope for consideration. All of the potential projects and alternate potential projects are available online. Residents can submit public comments concerning any of these projects online at www.athensclarkecounty.com/tsplost and during a public forum on Wednesday, May 10 from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. at the Athens Regional Library at 2025 Baxter Street. The TSPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee is a group of 22 citizens responsible for recommending a list of candidate projects for adoption by the Mayor and Commission. The committee will select a list of potential projects totaling no more than $154.5 million, representing 150% of the available funding, for review by the Mayor and Commission at their Work Session on Tuesday, May 9 at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium at 120 Dougherty Street Governmental Building. Based on feedback from the public and the Mayor and Commission, the committee will then develop a final list of candidate projects that total 100% of the available funding to recommend to the Mayor and Commission at their Work Session on Tuesday, June 13.  Georgia law allows local communities to use TSPLOST proceeds for transportation purposes if approved by voters in a referendum. If voters approve a TSPLOST 2018 program on November 7, 2017, sales tax collection will begin in April 2018 as an additional sales tax to the current sales tax. The new TSPLOST sales taxes will be either 0.75% or 1% depending on whether an intergovernmental agreement is made with the cities of Bogart and Winterville. The TSPLOST website at www.athensclarkecounty.com/tsplost also contains a calendar of upcoming TSPLOST meetings and deadlines, a presentation about the TSPLOST program, and other information related to the TSPLOST 2018 program for Athens-Clarke County. The SPLOST Program Management Office, which oversees the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) programs for Athens-Clarke County, is coordinating the TSPLOST 2018 process. Upcoming key TSPLOST dates: May 9 - Mayor & Commission Work Session to review potential projects with TSPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee May 10 - Public forum on Potential TSPLOST 2018 projects June 13 - Mayor & Commission Work Session to review candidate projects with TSPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee June 20 - Public hearing on proposed TSPLOST 2018 program at Mayor & Commission Agenda Setting Session July 11 - Mayor & Commission Work Session with cities of Bogart and Winterville for possible inclusion in TSPLOST 2018 program July 18 - Public hearing on proposed TSPLOST 2018 program at Mayor & Commission Agenda Setting Session August 1 - Mayor & Commission Regular Session to approve final list of projects in TSPLOST 2018 program August 15 - Mayor & Commission Special Called Session to approve final referendum language November 7 - TSPLOST 2018 citizen referendum
Georgia Bulldog basketball player J.J. Frazier and UGA track star Keturah Orji claimed Male and Female Student-Athlete of the Year awards at the annual Student-Athlete Awards Banquet hosted last night by the University of Georgia Athletic Association. Orji received the honor for the second consecutive year. Former gymnast Courtney Kupets Carter hosted the event. Kupets Carter led the Gymdogs to four NCAA team Championships from 2006-2009, while racking up nine individual NCAA titles throughout her career. Senior Morgan Green (women’s track and field) and graduate Jimmy Hicks (men’s track and field) were named Georgia's nominees for the SEC Brad Davis Community Service Postgraduate Scholarships, while juniors Jeb Blazevich (football) and Haley Clark (women’s basketball) were named recipients of the UGA Athletic Association Sportsmanship-Ethics Award.  Men’s basketball player Brandon Young and swimmer Chantal Van Landeghem were recognized for receiving the Boyd McWhorter SEC Postgraduate Scholarship. Van Landeghem also received the Marilyn Vincent Scholar-Athlete award. The men’s tennis and women’s equestrian teams were recognized as the recipients of the Faculty Athletics Representative's award, after earning the highest team grade point averages of 3.33 and 3.34, respectively, during the 2015-16 academic year. Other special award winners included: Dick Bestwick Scholar-Athlete Award: Billy Seward, Football Clifford Lewis Leadership Award: Mackenzie Engram, Women’s Basketball Dick Copas Leadership Award: Nick Chubb, Football Hornsby Howell Community Service Award: Kendall Kazor, Volleyball 2015-16 Scholar-Athlete Award Winners: Baseball – Austin Wallace Men’s Basketball – Juwan Parker  Women’s Basketball - Marjorie Butler Equestrian – Madison Anger Equestrian – Leyan Gleeson Equestrian - Allie Harbert Football – Billy Seward Men’s Golf - Matthew Beringer Women’s Golf - Sammi Lee Gymnastics – Gracie Cherrey Soccer - Liliana Rios Soccer – Stephanie Krouskos Softball – Bekah Farris Men’s Swimming & Diving - Joshua Kenway Women’s Swimming & Diving – Annie Zhu Women’s Swimming & Diving – Rachel Zilinskas Men’s Tennis - Ben Wagland Women’s Tennis – Stephanie Grodecki Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field – Eric Westog Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field - Morgan Green Volleyball – Sarah Legler-Clark
Gwinnett County authorities arrested 23 men, including a member of the U.S. Air Force, connected to an underage sex sting, GBI officials said Monday. The arrests were made within the past five days.  The men, officials said, pretended to be teenagers online to lure minors and have sex with them in exchange for money. Most of the men are from the metro Atlanta area, including 14 from Gwinnett, and are believed to be between 19 and 48 years old, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said.    Professional “chatters” posing as 13- and 14-year-old children posted profiles and ads “looking for a good time” on dating websites and sites like Backpage.com, a classified ad site that has been accused of facilitating prostitution and human trafficking, Gwinnett Det. David Smith said. “Online child predators visit chat rooms and websites on the Internet, find children, begin conversations with them, introduce sexual content and arrange a meeting with the children for the purpose of having sex,” Miles said.  The men’s professions include electrician, construction worker, retail employee, mechanic, hotel employee and janitor. One man arrested, Edward Harold Ramsey, 24, of Wichita, Kan., is a member of the Air Force. Some of the chatters engaged with the suspects over a few days, and others spent weeks talking to the men, Smith said. All of the suspects were arrested at a home or a “second location,” both in Gwinnett, where they believed they would be meeting a child for sex. Gwinnett police did not disclose the specific locations of either place. None of the 23 suspects has previous charges or reports of sexual offenses, but police are continuing to look into their backgrounds to determine if they have previously abused children, Smith said. Some of the suspects have children of their own and some worked in places where they would frequently have contact with children, like malls, Smith said.  Most of those arrested were charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, and many were charged with child molestation. Under Georgia law, you can be charged with child molestation without touching a minor, but intending to commit the act. Those who offered to pay for sex with a child have also been charged with human trafficking, Smith said. The investigation is part of the GBI’s “Operation Spring Cleaning” in partnership with the Gwinnett County Police Department and the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC).  Since 2014, the Georgia ICAC has arrested 77 people in similar operations. Since its inception in 2002, the organization has made more than 2,000 arrests.  Those arrested in the sting: Scott Robert Baxter, 34, Tucker  Andrew Sean Carroll, 19, Dacula Brian Dwayne Clark, 41, Winder Alisha Gagguturu, 23, Suwanee  Connor Fionn Hale, 23, Lawrenceville Demetrius Deshawn Harper, 22, Lawrenceville Joel Blake Jackson, 22, Braselton Rasesh Jagtap, 33, Alpharetta Akshat Jasra, 35, Alpharetta David Kelley, 22, College Park Steven Anthony King, 26, Clarksville Horacio Mendoza, 28, Lawrenceville Andrew Ryan Murphy, 22, Norcross Max Park, 37, Suwanee Edward Harold Ramsey, 24, Wichita, Kan. Melchior Simon, 28, Duluth  Martinez-Torres Sixto, 30, Norcross  Brett William Smith Jr., 35, no city listed  Zadok Smith, 27, Duluth James Evan Soggs, 20, Sandy Springs  Adis Spahic, 40, Lawrenceville Ertiza Talukder, 23, Lawrenceville  William David Warren, 41, Winder   
Logan Booker
Logan Booker is a graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, where he earned a degree in magazine journalism in addition to a certificate in Grady Sports Media. He was raised in Lawrenceville, Ga, and in addition to his current home in Athens, he spends lots of time with his dog and his boat in Lincoln County, Georgia. Logan has covered UGA sports since 2012, previously with Bulldawg Illustrated.
Portion of Thomas Street parking deck collapses
Portion of Thomas Street parking deck collapses
Tim Bryant
Tim Bryant is the News Director for Cox Media Group Athens and works as a correspondent for WSB Radio, ABC and the Associated Press and was a commentator for the BBC and Radio New Zealand. Tim is the host of Classic City Today, North Georgia This Week, and Newsmakers. 
More snow for NE Ga mountains
More snow for NE Ga mountains
Trump keeps Export-Import Bank, but chooses fierce critic to run it
Trump keeps Export-Import Bank, but chooses fierce critic to run it
Abby Jessen
Abby is a news reporter for Cox Media Group Athens. She is from Roswell, Georgia, and is currently in Athens as a student at the University of Georgia double majoring in Digital and Broadcast Journalism and Marketing. 
Jackson EMC Outage Update
Jackson EMC Outage Update
Allen Tibbetts
During his 41-year career doing morning show radio, what he found most rewarding was taking the slices of life he observed and making them into fun, funny or satirical stories that, hopefully, the audience would enjoy. Allen now shares these stories with the WGAU audience in Tales from Tibby. 
The Right Reverend Tibby 
The Right Reverend Tibby 
Meet Shrek and Reign!