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Latest from Tim Bryant

    The National Weather Service says snow accumulations are possible in a half-dozen counties I n the mountains of northeast Georgia. The Winter Weather Advisory that was issued Monday night continues through 2 o’clock this afternoon. It’s for Lumpkin, White, Towns, Union, Fannin and Gilmer counties. The Weather Service says those counties could see snow accumulations of up to two inches. 'A Winter Weather Advisory means that periods of snow will cause travel difficulties,” according to the Weather Service statement, which urges drivers to “be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities.
  • A Stephens County woman urged President Donald Trump to help get rid of the Obama healthcare law: Brittany Ivey of Toccoa, meeting with the President at a White House listening session, said that high premiums had been a financial hardship on her family.The AJC reports on Georgia congressional reaction to the Congressional Budget Office report on the Republican health care plan... Many Georgia Republicans scrambled to re-frame the health care conversation Monday on Capitol Hill after the release of a nonpartisan report that estimated that 24 million fewer people would be on the health insurance rolls by 2026 under GOP leaders’ Obamacare replacement plan compared to the current law. Several Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation emphasized the more flattering aspects of the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the GOP’s American Health Care Act and ignored the uglier ones in a bid to keep the proposal afloat. Others sought to return the spotlight to rising premiums under the Affordable Care Act. At least one Georgia Republican, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, was quoted saying the GOP should “slow down” on its health care replacement bill in order to “get this right.” The release of the CBO report on Monday marked a critical moment for the fledging Republican health care replacement. House Republican leaders and President Donald Trump have been making the hard sell to skeptical members of their own party for a week that the plan would provide relief to millions of Americans. The CBO’s analysis could attract some new supporters for the plan given its estimate that the GOP bill would lower the deficit by $337 billion over the next decade and slim health care premiums by roughly 10 percent in some cases beginning in 2020. It could also crystallize opposition, particularly among Republicans from states that expanded Medicaid, given the 24 million uninsured figure and a projected short-term spike in premiums. The offices of some Peach State Republicans kept their distance following the release of the CBO report. Some said they wanted time to evaluate before commenting. Others rushed to defend the embattled bill, which can only afford two GOP detractors in the Senate and about 20 in the House should Democrats stay unified against it. “The CBO report confirms that President Trump’s plan will decrease the deficit and lower health insurance premiums, which is great news for Georgia families,” U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, said in a statement. “This bill is just the first step to creating patient-centered, market-driven health care that gives Americans the freedom to make their own health care decisions,” said U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point. “People will be able to buy the coverage they want and need rather that an expensive, one-size-fits-all policy mandated by the government.” Several argued that the CBO’s analysis did not take into account the GOP’s full health care plan, since it excluded leaders’ pledges to implement other policies at a later date, such as allowing insurance companies to sell plans across state lines. A spokeswoman for Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson said the three-term Republican was still reviewing the bill but that he is “committed to following through on our promise to repeal the irreparably flawed healthcare law known as Obamacare before the system implodes on its own.” According to Dave Weigel, a reporter for The Washington Post, Perdue was urging a more cautious approach on Monday night. Perdue’s remarks are notable given his close ties to the Trump White House. In a statement released by his office later Monday evening, Perdue also sought to shift attention toward Obamacare’s instability: “My focus continues to be on responsibly dismantling this broken law and putting in place a better system based on people’s individual needs, not Washington’s government mandates. President Trump has been very clear he will follow through on his commitment to provide more health care choices and flexibility.”  Georgia’s four House Democrats kept quiet on Monday evening, as did Reps. Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk, the two Republicans who previously said they couldn’t support the GOP bill in its current form. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the Trump administration “strenuously disagreed” with the CBO report.
  • An Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission work session is on tap for today, underway at 5:30 at the Government Building on Dougherty Street. The Bishop Park master plan is a headline item on today’s business agenda. The Athens Downtown Development Authority meets this afternoon, 3 o’clock at Authority offices in the Gameday Building on West Broad, while the Athens Airport meets at 3:30 at Athens-Ben Epps Airport. The Northeast Georgia Workforce Development Board is meeting this morning in Athens: 8:30 at the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission office on Research Drive. This morning’s meeting of the Oconee County Board of Tax Assessors starts at 9 o’clock at the Oconee County courthouse in Watkinsville. Barrow County Commissioners meet tonight: 7 o’clock at this historic courthouse in Winder. Where to put the Ty Cobb statue is an item on the agenda for this evening’s City Council meeting in Royston: 6:30 at Royston City Hall.
  • Jackson County firefighters now say lightning gets the blame for the blaze that destroyed a home in Maysville. There were no injuries reported. Investigators in the state Insurance Commissioner’s office say arson might be behind a house fire in Franklin County: the blaze burned a home in Lavonia, causing an estimated $100,000 worth of damage. There is a $10,000 reward for information in the case.Another fire burned a home in Barrow County: there is no word yet on the cause of the blaze that damaged a house on Rat Kinney Road in Statham. There were no injuries.
  • There were Sunday flurries as far south as Athens; there were snow accumulations in parts of the north Georgia mountains, as much of north Georgia begins Monday with temperatures at or below freezing. It’s going to get even colder later in the week, with overnight lows expected to fall into the low- to mid-20s by Thursday morning when the mercury in Athens and Gainesville is expected to bottom out at around 25 degrees.  The mountain counties could see teens early Thursday. Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brian Monahan said he's expecting temperatures to run below average across north Georgia and the metro area through next weekend.    Another front is expected to move through on Monday with some rain.  'This is the same system that will deliver a major snowstorm to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast this week,' Monahan said.  Behind it, it’ll be unseasonably cold with highs Tuesday and Wednesday in the 40s across the metro.
  • The Salvation Army is the beneficiary of a local restaurant fundraising drive that begins today and continues through Thursday: a half-dozen Athens eateries—the Taqueria La Parilla West, the Place, Hilltop Grille, Em’s Kitchen, Amici Italian Café, and Gigi’s Cupcakes—are donating a portion of their profits to the Salvation Army in this year’s Paint the Town Red fundraiser.
  • There is one more week of early voting in Madison and Jackson counties, with advanced ballots being cast through Friday: Madison County voters are deciding the fate of a school sales tax; voters in Jackson County are choosing between five candidates for County Commission. The winner fills the unexpired term of District 4 Commissioner Dwain Smith, who died in December.
  • The Georgia Bulldog basketball team learns its postseason fate: coach Mark Fox’s team will not be going to the NCAA Tournament. The Dogs will instead face Belmont in the opening round of the NIT Wednesday in Stegeman Coliseum. If the Dogs and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets both win their opening round games, they would face each other in the second round of the NIT here in Athens. The Jackets face the Indiana Hoosiers in their first-round contest.
  • St. Mary's Health Care President and CEO Don McKenna announced today that Montez Carter, current President of St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital and Vice President Operations of St. Mary's Health Care System, has been named to the position of President of St. Mary's Hospital.Carter will oversee operations and strategy execution for St. Mary's Hospital. McKenna will continue overseeing St. Mary's Health Care System, which includes hospitals in Athens, Greensboro and Lavonia, as well as St. Mary's large physician network, a regional home health care/hospice services agency, Highland Hills Village retirement community with assisted living and memory care, and numerous outpatient facilities.'With our continued growth, we need to support our ministry in the most efficient and effective manner,' McKenna said. 'Montez has demonstrated his ability to lead with integrity, compassion and vision. His experience, knowledge of the communities we serve, and understanding of our Mission will support the continued growth of St. Mary's.'I am excited about this new opportunity and look forward to working with Don, our Board, medical staff and colleagues in this new role,' Carter said. 'These are challenging times in the health care industry, but St. Mary's is well positioned to continue to expand the services we offer our community and elevate our already high level of quality and safety even further.'Carter grew up in Mississippi and worked in pharmacy before transitioning into hospital leadership. He joined St. Mary's in October 2010 as Vice President of Operations. Shortly thereafter, St. Mary's began negotiating to acquire the hospital in Greensboro, now known as St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital. Carter was tapped to lead the highly successful acquisition, integration, market development and construction of a modern replacement hospital.
  • It is on display once a year, and today is the day at UGA: the University of Georgia shows the only surviving copy of the Constitution of the Confederate States. The display begins at 8 this morning at the Richard Russell Library on South Hull Street in Athens.From the University of Georgia master calendar... The Congress of Delegates from the seceding Southern States convened at Montgomery, Alabama, on Feb. 4, 1861. They quickly adopted a provisional Constitution, and in less than a month, devised and approved a permanent Constitution, which was adopted March 11, 1861. A student-created exhibit examining slavery at UGA will be up through May.
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Local News

  • 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. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS – For years, Georgia’s head football and basketball coaches used to go on an extensive spring speaking tour, answering questions and shaking hands with fans who paid a small fee at the door. Those days of extensive touring around Georgia appear to be over. At least for now. The university has planned five events this spring featuring Kirby Smart, but they will be private donor events – and for now only one will be in the state of Georgia. The school will host events in Nashville, Charlotte, Jacksonville and Houston, with the lone in-state event being in Atlanta in July. These events will be closed to the public and the media, open only to donors. But there will also be two additional in-state events featuring Smart, athletics director Greg McGarity said Monday afternoon. Those events will just be branded differently. “We’re still working through two in-state events that would be branded under the Georgia Bulldog Club, or under UGA athletics,” McGarity said. In the past, Georgia football and basketball coach did as many as 12 spring tour stops, almost all in the state, from Columbus to Macon to Augusta and even smaller stops. But those tours have gradually dissipated: In Mark Richt’s final year, he only went to seven stops. Last year Smart went to five stops, though four of the were in-state, the exception being a donor event in Dallas. This year it’s going all-private, which someone with knowledge said evolved from Smart coming in with a new approach, and UGA wanting to do fundraising. There’s a feeling they don’t need the old model, where fans get a chance to hear from coaches and ask them questions, because of social media and other factors. Crowds at these events had also been going down. “The university is trying to be strategic to generate the money that everybody needs to generate right now,” McGarity said. “The purpose of these events have changed, they’ve morphed over the years.” The athletics department did seem to anticipate some fan blowback. “As for our donors, I realize there may be some sensitivity to the majority of the events being out of state this year,” associate athletics director for development Matt Borman wrote in an internal e-mail earlier this month. “If donors bring this up to you please just say that we are excited to be in Atlanta with an event in July and we wanted to take an opportunity this year to visit some of our supporters who don’t have the opportunity to make it to Athens on a regular basis. “After this year of events we will reevaluate and definitely consider bringing some of these events back into Georgia.” There are other speaking events for Smart that aren’t directly affiliated with the school. For instance, he is speaking Monday night at the Athens Touchdown Club, and spoke last month at the Macon Touchdown Club.
  • ATHENS, Ga. --- The University of Georgia women’s tennis team extended its win streak to six matches with a commanding 4-0 victory over Mississippi State Sunday afternoon at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.   The Bulldogs (13-3, 7-1 SEC) continued to roll in doubles as they grabbed the point for the seventh-consecutive match. The 28th-ranked duo of Elena Christofi and Kennedy Shaffer clinched it on court two for the sixth time in the streak. In singles, Mariana Gould blew by her opponent 6-0, 6-1 followed by a Shaffer win at No. 3 and a clincher at the net by Christofi on court two.   “We are in the middle of this conference race and it's been tough every time we play all these schools,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “I keep saying in the SEC we have 11 in the top 25 rankings and everybody comes ready to play. Mississippi State was another one of those teams. I thought the doubles point was great. Getting that 1-0 lead is critical for us. It was a good match and a great day and now we hit the road for the next three before we conclude our season here at home.” The shutout was Georgia’s fifth of the season. The Bulldogs have now rallied off six straight conference wins with four of those against teams in the top-25.   In doubles, the No. 2 court sat at 4-3 before Christofi/Shaffer finished the last two games strong to win 6-3 over Khrystyna Vozniak and Jennifer Brown. The Georgia twosome showcases a 6-1 record playing No. 2 and an 11-2 slate on the year.   Mississippi State (11-5, 4-4) started doubles with the lead after 11th-ranked tandem of Jasmine Lee and Lisa Marie Rioux edged No. 18 Ellen Perez and Caroline Brinson on court one. However, Gould and Marta Gonzalez evened up the score on court three winning 6-3 before Christofi and Shaffer secured the point.   In singles, junior Mariana Gould, ranked at No. 102, overpowered her opponent 6-0, 6-1 on the last court to put Georgia up 2-0. Gould, of Boise, Idaho, ups her win streak to five on court six where she has a 10-2 dual record.   The remaining singles matches featured two first-set tiebreakers and four that spilled into the third set. On court No. 3, Kennedy Shaffer edged Madison Harrison in the first-set tiebreaker 7-2, then carried that momentum into the second set winning 6-2.   In the battle of freshmen on court two eighth-ranked Christofi defeated Rioux in the deciding third set 6-1 to seal the win for the Bulldogs. The clincher was Christofi’s fourth on the season en route to a team-best 26-4 record.   Georgia was leading in two of the three remaining third-set matches that went unfinished. At No. 4, Brinson was on the verge of victory leading Anastasia Rentouli 5-0. After Perez dropped the first-set tiebreaker, she took the second set over 32nd-ranked Jasmine Lee and was up 2-1 when play was called.   “This year is going fast we got to keep working and stay excited and continue to compete like we're competing,” Wallace added.   The Bulldogs are back in action Saturday, April 1st at No. 23 Tennessee. First serve is slotted for 1 p.m. ET.    ## Tennis Match Results Mississippi State vs. Georgia Mar 26, 2017 at Athens, Ga. (Dan Magill Tennis Complex)   #3 Georgia 4, #25 Mississippi State 0   Singles competition  1. #26 Ellen Perez (UGA) vs. #32 Jasmine Lee (MSU) 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 2-1, unfinished 2. #8 Elena Christofi (UGA) def. Lisa Marie Rioux (MSU) 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 3. #57 Kennedy Shaffer (UGA) def. Madison Harrison (MSU) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 4. #59 Caroline Brinson (UGA) vs. Anastasia Rentouli (MSU) 6-4, 1-6, 5-0, unfinished 5. Marta Gonzalez (UGA) vs. Khrystyna Vozniak (MSU) 4-6, 6-3, 0-1, unfinished 6. #102 Mariana Gould (UGA) def. Sara Lizariturry (MSU) 6-0, 6-1   Doubles competition  1. #11 Jasmine Lee/Lisa Marie Rioux (MSU) def. #18 Ellen Perez/Caroline Brinson (UGA) 6-2 2. #28 Elena Christofi/Kennedy Shaffer (UGA) def. Khrystyna Vozniak/Jennifer Brown (MSU) 6-3 3. #68 Marta Gonzalez/Mariana Gould (UGA) def. Sara Lizariturry/Madison Harrison (MSU) 6-3   Match Notes: Mississippi State 11-5, 4-4; National ranking #25 Georgia 13-3, 7-1; National ranking #3 Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (6,3,2) UGA Rankings: ITA #3, USTA #T6 Official: Karen Badger-Mabry T-2:15 A-460 
  • FROM UGA SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS  Athens, Ga. — For the second straight year, Georgia’s J.J. Frazier has been named the state of Georgia’s Men’s College Basketball Player of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. The club announced its annual award winners on Thursday. Frazier, 5-10, 155-pound senior from Glennville, Ga., led the Bulldogs and ranked among the SEC’s top-10 performers in scoring (third at 18.8 ppg), assists (fifth at 4.1 apg), steals (third at 1.9 spg) and playing time (first at 34.6 mpg). He finished the 2016-17 season with 640 points, the fourth-best mark in school history. Frazier set the Georgia career record for free throw percentage (.841). He had a school-record streak of 45 consecutive made free throws during his senior season, which is also the second-longest streak in SEC history. Frazier has collected a long list of accolades this season. He was named SEC and National Player of the Week on Week on Feb. 27 after averaging 28.5 points in wins over Alabama and LSU in a 49-hour span. Frazier was also voted first-team All-SEC by both league coaches and the Associated Press. He was named to All-District teams by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). UGA players have won Tipoff Club’s statewide honor 10 times since its inception in 1984. Frazier is just the second Bulldog to earn Georgia Player of the Year honors twice. Jarvis Hayes was honored following both the 2002 and 2003 seasons.  Vern Fleming was the award’s initial recipient in 1984, followed by Litterial Green in 1992, Jumaine Jones in 1999, Hayes in 2002 and 2003, Rashad Wright in 2004, Trey Thompkins in 2011, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2013 and Frazier in 2016 and 2017. 
  • There will be a new policy in place for football fans who go to games at Sanford Stadium later this year. The University of Georgia says it will be following Southeastern Conference guidelines and requiring fans to bring items into the Stadium and other athletic venues in clear plastic bags. UGA says the policy will be in place for the April 22 G-Day spring football game.  From the University of Georgia…   In the interest of public safety and to expedite entry into its venues, the UGA Athletic Association will begin to implement the Southeastern Conference Clear Bag Policy in 2017. This policy will be in effect at the annual G-Day intrasquad football game on April 22. It will go into effect permanently for the 2017-18 competition season and will include all UGA venues that host ticketed events: Sanford Stadium (football), Stegeman Coliseum (men’s & women’s basketball, gymnastics) and Foley Field (baseball). Following are the basics concerning the Clear Bag Policy: > These bags will be permitted inside UGA athletic events: Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC and do not exceed 12”x6”x12”. One-gallon clear plastic freezer bags. Small clutch bags, with or without a handle or strap, that do not exceed 4.5” x 6.5”. Bags that contain necessary medical items, which must be inspected and approved at a designated gate. > Each ticket holder is allowed one large clear bag such as a one-gallon Ziploc style bag or clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bag that does not exceed 12” x 6” x 12”, plus a small clutch purse > Prohibited bags include, but are not limited to: purses larger than a clutch bag, briefcases, backpacks, cinch bags, fanny packs that are not clear and/or exceed the size restriction, luggage, computer bags/cases, camera bags/cases, binocular bags/cases, or any bag larger than the permissible size. > Several SEC schools began implementing this policy in the 2016 school year. All SEC schools will have this policy in place by the 2017-18 school year. > Fans can still carry items such as binoculars, smart phones, tablets and cameras (with lenses shorter than four inches), so long as they are not in a bag or carrying case. > Seat cushions -- without arms or pockets -- will still be permitted into the venues. Fans may also bring in blankets during cold weather events, provided they carry them in over an arm or shoulder to allow for easy screening upon entry. > More information on this new policy can be found at the following website: http://georgiadogs.com/clear-bag-policy/
  • The Clear Bag Policy will be in effect in Sanford Stadium, Stegeman Coliseum and Foley Field.