The Athens-Clarke County government will pay $3 million to bring an end to a federal class action lawsuit, one that alleged that City Hall reneged on assurances to Athens-Clarke County government retirees who say they were promised no cost health insurance benefits as part of their compensation packages. The Athens-Clarke County Historic Preservation Commission meets this afternoon: it’s a 5:30 session at the Government Building on Dougherty Street. The Madison County School Board is reporting an increase in sales tax revenues: the Board, meeting in Danielsville, hears a report that Madison County’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is on pace to collect up to $2.4 million for the year, which would be the most Madison County SPLOST dollars since 2013. Madison County’s Industrial Development meets this evening at the historic courthouse in Danielsville: the Board session is set to start at 6 o’clock. The Oglethorpe County Zoning Board meets tonight, 6 o’clock at the courthouse in Lexington. Tonight’s meeting of the Jackson County Commission is set to start at 6 o’clock at the courthouse in Jefferson.
Athens Republican Brian Kemp will name the members of his transition team today. The Governor-elect saw the results of the November 6 elections certified over the weekend. Atlanta Democrat Stacey Abrams ended her campaign Friday, not conceding to Kemp but acknowledging she did not have the votes to force a December 4 runoff. There will be two runoffs in two weeks: former Athens-Clarke County Commissioner John Barrow is running as a Democrat for the Secretary of State’s office; he’ll face Republican Brad Raffensperger. Republican Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton will square off against Democratic challenger Lindy Miller. Early voting for the runoff starts one week from today, in Athens at the Elections Office on Washington Street and in Oconee County at elections headquarters on Court Street in Watkinsville.
The University of Georgia hosted a ceremony on Nov. 16 to dedicate a new memorial at Baldwin Hall in tribute to those who were buried there. “We are drawn here today by a deep sense of respect for these individuals and by a strong sense of duty to commemorate the lives they lived,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The memorial we are dedicating this morning will provide for an enduring tribute as well as a physical space for meaningful reflection in the future.” Morehead was one of three individuals who spoke at the ceremony. The Honorable Steve Jones, U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, and Michelle Cook, UGA’s Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Strategic University Initiatives, also shared their own reflections. “As a member of the Baldwin Hall Memorial Advisory Task Force, my fellow members and I spent a great deal of time thinking deeply about this monument,” Jones said. “We recognized the significance of this great project. We took pride in knowing that we had been called upon for this special occasion and this special task. It mattered to us. We wanted to get it right, and I think we did.” The memorial, located on the south end of the front lawn of Baldwin Hall, near Old Athens Cemetery, will serve as a place of remembrance for the individuals who were originally buried on this site in the 1800s, most of whom likely were slaves or former slaves. The memorial, which complements the aesthetic of the university grounds, includes: a circular form for the memorial plaza, creating a focal point that will serve as a place of contemplation to honor and respect these individuals; an elevated fountain in the center of the memorial plaza; a granite marker, purposefully designed with elements similar to a marker at Oconee Hill Cemetery, which will include text about the memorial; two granite benches facing the granite marker; and vertical elements that will create a sense of ascension and will provide visibility from the street. The design was recommended by members of the Baldwin Hall Memorial Advisory Task Force, a group of 18 representatives from the university and the local community appointed by Morehead and chaired by Cook. “Our goal was to honor, with dignity and respect, the men, women and children who were once buried here,” Cook said. “This memorial is a place of remembrance and reflection. Each element was chosen to evoke a sense of place and permanence. It will be here for generations to come.” The memorial includes more than 35,000 pounds of granite donated by an Oglethorpe County quarry on land that has been owned by a Georgia African American family for more than a century. Cook is a member of the family that owns the property. The remains of the individuals were first discovered during construction of an addition to Baldwin Hall in November 2015. They were reinterred at Oconee Hill Cemetery in March 2017, in accordance with guidance from the State Archaeologist’s Office. The university also held a memorial service at Oconee Hill Cemetery to commemorate their lives, and a granite marker was placed at the gravesite. Acknowledgment in the form of a plaque also was placed inside the new entrance of the Baldwin Hall addition.