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Local

    Trouble appears to be brewing in Elbert County, where Bowman Mayor Betty Jo Maxwell has filed harassment complaints with the Sheriff’s Office in Elberton, complaints against Bowman City Councilman Clay Rooker. The Mayor says the Councilman made threats. The Elbert County Sheriff’s Office says its investigation is ongoing. 
  • A Jackson County man is among those charged in a bribery case in Rome: David English is 38 years old, from Hoschton. He’s facing theft, bribery, and RICO allegations, accused of taking bribes as a security contactor for the Floyd County School System. English owns Southeastern Security Professionals; he’s accused of taking more than $60,000 from the school district in Rome over a four-year period that ended in 2014. 
  • Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Kelly Girtz says he will kick off his 2018 campaign for mayor with a rally on September 9. Girtz joins Harry Sims as Commissioners who say they will run to replace a term-limited Athens Mayor Nancy Denson. Also in the race are Antwon Stephens, Richie Knight, and Sam Thomas.  'We can build a strong foundation that will support Athenians of every walk of life, one that will set the stage for great lives for generations ahead,” said Girtz. “A safer, healthier, more prosperous Athens is awaiting, and I can't wait to work with you to build it.”  The election for Athens-Clarke County Mayor will be held on May 22, 2018. 
  • The victim of a Thursday accident at a quarry in Oglethorpe County has been identified. Matthew Kantala was 36 years old, from Elberton. The Oglethorpe County Coroner's office says he was struck by a piece of falling granite at the Blue Sky Quarry on Veribest Road. OSHA is investigating. 
  • A 32 year-old man arrested on Westchester Drive in Athens was wanted on larceny and theft charges in Virginia: Joseph Freeman is in the Clarke County jail, awaiting a return to Gloucester County Virginia.  There are weapons charges for an Athens teenager: 19 year-old Tyrell Gordon was pulled over by Athens-Clarke County Police, allegedly doing 90 miles per hour on the 10 Loop near Prince Avenue. Aside from speeding and reckless driving charges, Gordon faces a count of illegal possession of a firearm by a felon after a handgun was found in his car. He’s also accused of driving without a license. 
  • The funeral for former Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith is set for 12 o'clock Saturday at Lord and Stephens East on Lexington Road in Athens. Smith, who served three terms as sheriff in Oglethorpe County, died earlier this week at the age of 56. David Gabriel, the former Athens-Clarke County Police Officer who defeated Smith in last November’s election, posted the following on his Facebook page:  “I am saddened by the passage of Retired Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith. I truly understand the stresses and difficulties of serving the citizens of Oglethorpe County like few others. He has left all of his troubles and burdens behind as he began his journey to his heavenly home. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Please keep his wife Gail, and his family in your prayers..”
  • The University of Georgia State Botanical Garden has hired a designer and a construction manager for the Alice H. Richards Children's Garden and plans to break ground Sept. 1. Koons Environmental Design, of Athens, will lead plans for the garden, to be nestled in an area between the Alice Hand Callaway Visitor Center and the administration building. The construction manager from Allstate Construction, of Perry, will oversee a superintendent based in Athens for the project. 'I am delighted with our choice of design firm and construction manager for the project,' said Jenny Cruse-Sanders, director of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, a unit of UGA Public Service and Outreach. 'It is clear to me that the entire team-garden staff, university architects, UGA leadership, and the designer and construction manager-are all thinking about this project in the same way. We are all excited to create something unique and rooted in the creativity and sense of place in Athens.' Both Koons and Allstate have a history of successful projects at UGA, Cruse-Sanders said.UGA, in partnership with the garden's board of advisors, has raised more than $4.3 million for the $5 million children's garden, which includes an initial $1 million gift from the family of Alice H. Richards, for whom the garden is named. Richards, who was from Carrollton, was a charter member of the State Botanical Garden Board of Advisors and one of the garden's most devoted and beloved supporters until her death in 2007. To help raise funds locally, the garden launched a Georgia Funder crowdfunding page in March, with a goal of raising $10,000 by Sept. 8. The 2.5 acre accessible, fun-filled, educational environment will include a canopy walk in the trees, a tree house, creature habitats, hands-on garden plots, an underground zone, edible landscapes, and a bog garden and pond. One component, an amphitheater in the woods, was completed in 2015. The garden is expected to be open to visitors by early 2019. 'We are looking forward to welcoming a new generation to the garden,' Cruse-Sanders said.To contribute to the Alice H. Richards Children's Garden through Georgia Funder, go to https://t.uga.edu/34z.
  • A fisherman was arrested after hundreds of fish were found to be illegally taken from Lake Oconee in Middle Georgia, according to state officials. The violation was discovered after Sgt. Matt Garthright checked a fisherman’s license, according to a Facebook post Wednesday by the Department of Natural Resources. Garthright found a cast net and 42 fish nearby, according to the post. When he inspected the fish, Garthright found that none of them had hook marks in their mouths. As he investigated further, Garthright found 259 illegally taken fish, according to the post. The poaching suspect, who was not identified, was charged with taking game fish by illegal methods, according to the DNR. Garthright felt the fish, which had been left in a hot vehicle for several hours without being placed on ice, weren’t fit for consumption, so they were disposed of at a landfill.
  • Pop singer Aaron Carter criticized his famous brother this week, shortly after Nick Carter reached out via social media to his flesh and blood. Aaron was recently arrested in Habersham County for driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. After news of his arrested circulated, Aaron’s brother Nick posted about his brother on Twitter. “To my brother: I love u no matter what & if u feel the need to reach for help, I am here and willing to help you get better,” Nick wrote. “Family isn’t always easy, [but] we’re all here for you.” In a recent response, Aaron chided his brother for making such a statement. “If my own blood (Nick) truly cared about my well-being, why wouldn’t he call me directly and have a conversation instead of making this about him through a very public forum?” “That’s not cool at all to use me for his PR and kick me while I am down. I love my family despite it through thick and thin.” Aaron would later clarify to fans that he was not using hardcore drugs.
  • The Republican who represents Athens in the US House gets a Democratic challenger for the 2018 election cycle: Chalice Montgomery lives in Bethlehem and says she will make a run against Barrow County Republican Jody Hice.  “I never thought I’d be a candidate for public office, but after hearing the stories of so many 10th district residents, from Athens, Winder, Milledgeville and Dacula, I realized that Jody Hice is failing families, just like he failed mine.  After praying with my family about launching this campaign, I have decided that the time is now to be directly involved in facing our nation's challenges. '