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Local

    Rabun County authorities are seeking a missing 28-year-old woman who has her three sons with her, officials said. According to a post on the sheriff’s Facebook page, Brittany Rebecca Stewart has been missing since Thursday. Her children are 7 months to 7 years old. She’s believed to be driving a maroon 1999 Ford Explorer with Georgia tag RCP0743, the sheriff’s office said in the post. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Stewart and her children is asked to call 911 or Rabun dispatch at 706-782-6226.
  • A dinner meeting is set for tonight for Clarke County School Board members and the first of three finalists to be the next Clarke County School Superintendent: the Board is looking for a replacement for the departed Dr. Phil Lanoue. The United Way of Northeast Georgia holds its annual meeting and awards banquet, 5:30 this afternoon at the downtown Holiday Inn.  Another meeting of the Envision Athens steering committee is on tap for today, underway at 4 o’clock at the Classic Center.  There is an afternoon meeting of the Classic Center Authority: 4 o’clock at the Classic Center in downtown Athens. There is a jobs fair today in Athens: the Benson Hospitality Group is setting up shop at the downtown Holiday Inn at 5 o’clock this afternoon.  Tonight’s Oconee County Commission meeting gets underway at 7 o’clock at the Oconee County Courthouse in Watkinsville. It’s an agenda setting session.  Barrow County Commissioners meet tonight, 7 o’clock at the Historic Courthouse in Winder. 
  • Police in Winder have released the name of the man whose body was found in a car in a shopping center parking lot. Todd Davis was 52 years old, from Winder. His body was discovered Sunday in a vehicle parked in the Holly Hill shopping center on West Athens Street in Winder. Police say there are no immediate indications of foul play; also still no word on the exact cause of death. Hall County authorities have released the name of the husband and wife killed in what is believed to have been a murder-suicide: the bodies of 75 year-old Larry McGinness and 69 year-old Shelly McGinness were found last week at a home in Gainesville. The GBI is in on the ongoing investigation. 
  • State Rep. Tommy Benton believes the history of the Confederate army is part of Southern cultural heritage and should be recognized formally in the state. Benton, a Republican from Jefferson, sponsored House Resolution 644 along with state Reps. Alan Powell, Steve Tarvin and Jesse Petrea to commemorate the “brave” men who fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War by recognizing April as Confederate History Month and April 26 as Confederate Memorial Day. His resolution, however, makes no mention of the “Civil War,” instead referring to it as the “four-year struggle for states’ rights, individual freedom, and local governmental control, which they believed to be right and just.” But when asked whether the resolution, which is written to “encourage our citizens to learn about Georgia’s heritage and history and to observe the occasion with appropriate ceremonies,” includes the need to understand the role that slavery and systemic exploitation and oppression of African and African-American people played and an acknowledgement of what the war was fought about, Benton declined to answer. “Next question,” Benton said Monday during a press conference about the resolution. A former schoolteacher and unapologetic supporter of preserving Georgia’s Confederate heritage, Benton has previously backed a measure that would protect state monuments from being moved or removed. He has also said the Ku Klux Klan, though he didn’t agree with all its methods, “made a lot of people straighten up.” Benton said the intentions of his proposal, which isn’t expected to gain any traction in the final days of the legislative session, have been misunderstood and misinterpreted. “It should never have been a controversy,” Benton said. “We’re not honoring slavery.” After a gunman and avowed white supremacist shot and killed nine people praying in an African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, S.C., many Southern states came under fire for their embrace of Confederate memorabilia and traditions. The fourth Monday in April had for decades been known in Georgia as Confederate Memorial Day. But in 2015, Gov. Nathan Deal quietly struck that reference, as well as Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthday, from the official state calendar and renamed each date as a “State Holiday.”
  • The Georgia DOT is holding an afternoon meeting on plans to widen Highway 441 in Oconee and Morgan counties. The first session with the Oconee County Citizens Advisory Committee is set for 5 o’clock in the Community Center at the Oconee County Veterans Park. It is expected that plans for a Bishop bypass will be up for discussion at today’s meeting.  Your drive through Madison could be disrupted again this week: more movie work is taking place in Morgan County, with production of a film that stars Reba McIntire. Southbound lane closures on I-85 in Franklin County are scheduled for tonight, as the DOT continues work on the Interstate weigh station near Lavonia. 
  • The University of Georgia plays host to the 11th annual Global Educational Forum: UGA says the event that gets underway this morning at the Georgia Center will focus on engineering, education and technology in human development and sport. From the University of Georgia Master Calendar…   The 11th annual Global Educational Forum will focus on engineering, education and technology in human development and sport. The keynote speakers and UGA faculty scholars in the the fields of engineering, technology, and human sport biomechanics will use different platforms and frameworks to provide solutions to issues of worldwide significance such as unsafe drinking water and sports injuries like concussion.
  • This past Friday saw the US House decline to vote on the American Health Care Act as part of Republicans’ comprehensive health care reform plan. Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, is an attorney and Air Force Reserve chaplain representing one of the most conservative districts in the nation. Collins has issued the following statement in response: “I am proud to have stood with President Trump to repeal and replace the law that has hurt American families and replaced their freedom with federal mandates. Yet I find myself frustrated and grieved that so many Republicans refused to act according to their professed principles. Because I am convinced that human life and dignity deserve fierce protection under the law, I am unable to understand how many of my colleagues allowed political myopia to prevent them from supporting the opportunity to defund America’s largest abortion peddler. Because of the decisions of a few members, we remain mired in a health system that is able neither to care for our neighbors nor to protect unborn Americans.”
  • A 25 year-old Gainesville woman is behind bars, charged in a deadly hit-and-run wreck in Hall County: Rachel Bond is also facing a vehicular homicide charge in the accident that claimed the life of 41 year-old Brenda Turpin. It happened on Gillsville Highway in east Hall County. The Georgia State Patrol is investigating.  An Atlanta man is facing assault and aggravated battery charges in Hall County: 25 year-old Timothy Hill is accused in the shooting of a woman who was wounded at a home in north Hall. The 42 year-old shooting victim was flown by helicopter to Grady Hospital in Atlanta and is recovering from what are said to be non life-threatening injuries. 
  • Charges for David Blanton have been upgraded to include murder after the weekend death of his father Michael: the 31 year-old suspect is accused in last week’s shooting of the 62 year-old Athens businessman, who was gunned down in his home in Oconee County last Thursday and died two days later. David Blanton was arrested a short time after the shooting and is being held without bond in the Oconee County jail. There is no word from Oconee County Sheriff’s Office investigators on a possible motive for the murder.  Michael Blanton’s obituary, from Lord and Stephens Funeral Home... Michael Raymond Blanton, 62, of Athens, Georgia passed away on Saturday, March 25, 2017 in Athens.The family will receive visitors at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29 at First Baptist Church of Athens. The funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. with the Pastor John Woodall, Dr. Michael D. Shaffer and Pastor Paul Baxley officiating followed by a brief graveside service at Evergreen Cemetery on Atlanta Highway. Afterwards, the family will host a reception and celebration of life at the Athens Country Club from 5 until 8 p.m.Mike Blanton was born in Seattle, Washington to Nila Lou Blanton and Raymond Howard Blanton on May 25, 1954 and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. Mike earned his BA in Biblical Education from Florida Bible College in 1976. He married his beloved wife, Kelley Pruitt on July 25, 1997 in Athens at the Taylor Grady House. Mike was a devout Christian who believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the everlasting life through our Lord and Savior. He helped get Athens Church started and supported Campus Crusade for Life. He was a pillar of the community and involved in numerous philanthropies including Boys & Girls Clubs of Athens, Building for America's Bravest™, Campus Crusade for Christ, Project Safe – Athens, Cancer Foundation and the Salvation Army.Mike Blanton was a prominent and well regarded northeast Georgia businessman. He opened Dalton Carpet Outlet on July 5, 1978 with just one other part-time employee and now the business has grown to 130 employees. He had been exposed to the floor covering industry at an early age; his mother, who had worked previously as a bookkeeper for a hardwood company, started an in-home carpet business when Mike was young and eventually opened her own retail location. Mike worked for her company as an installer during his high school and college years. Through growth and relocations, the company eventually joined the nationwide Carpet One cooperative and changed its name to Dalton Carpet One in 1988. A second location in Gainesville had already been added in 1979, and the company’s third store opened in Eatonton in 2000 and fourth in Lawrenceville in 2015.Mike has also continued to steadily grow the commercial side of the business, and DCO Commercial Floors now takes on projects all over the country. Over the years, Mike has been honored with numerous awards, including the Alan Greenberg Award in 2011. Named for the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of CCA Global Partners (Carpet One’s parent company), the award is given each year to one member out of approximately a thousand who most embodies the Carpet One Floor & Home spirit and values. Mike loved to ride a Harley and enjoyed vintage muscle cars especially Corvettes and Porsches. Mike loved college and pro football games and attended as many as he could with Kelley and friends and family. He was an avid golfer.Mike Blanton is preceded in death by Nila Lou Blanton and Raymond Howard Blanton. Mike Blanton is survived by his wife Kelley, daughter Katy Blanton and her partner Meg Mantia, sons Curtis Blanton and David Blanton, sister Jann Blanton and her partner Wendy Johnson, sister-in-law Victoria Farmer, sister and brother-in-law Alice and Hal Pruitt, niece Patricia Pruitt, nephew William Pruitt and beloved dogs Nila, Gidget and Dr. Pepper. His son Curtis said of his father, “My dad was the best man I have ever known. He has inspired and taught me and so many others so much. He was a coach, a mentor, a leader, a best friend, and truly a role model to us all. He touched more people than I ever knew.”Pallbearers will be JR Allred, John Barrett, Tucker Blount, John Culpepper, Keith Guest, Ricky Lane, Vance Leavy, Don Leebern, Mitch Malcom, Keith Porter, Billy Rivers, Jimmy Rector, Lee Stinchcomb, Danny Thompson and Cary Wood.The family of Mike Blanton wishes to extend their sincere thanks to the staff of Piedmont Athens Regional and especially Dr. Russell Pruitt, Dr. David Sailors, Dr. Jonathan Woody and Dr. Cody Gunn and the nurses that worked tirelessly to save his life.Memorials may be given to the trauma unit at Piedmont Athens Regional. 1199 Prince Avenue, Athens, Georgia, 30606.
  • from University of Georgia News Service, by Don Reagin... University of Georgia students have elected the Ignite ticket to the executive branch of the Student Government Association for the 2017-2018 academic year. The ticket consists of President-elect Cameron Keen, Vice President-elect Roya Naghepour and Treasurer-elect Kalvis Golde. This year, 7,760 students voted in the election, representing an 8 percent increase over last year's voting and just over 21 percent of the total student body. The Ignite ticket claimed 57 percent of the votes cast with the Rise ticket pulling 42 percent. The executive ticket was disregarded by 111 voters. Keen is a third-year student from Dublin majoring in political science, international affairs and public relations. Naghepour is a second-year political science and international affairs major from Roswell, and Golde is a third-year applied math major from Atlanta. The Ignite ticket's campaign platform centered around three key issues: campus safety, including improving resources for sexual assault and mental health; affordability, focusing on preservation of the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships; and improving the day-to-day campus experience for students. The SGA inauguration ceremony is scheduled for April 5 at 6 p.m. in the Chapel.