MONDAY, Dec. 28 When President Trump signed the latest stimulus bill last night, it had a few other items in it beyond help for Americans hurt economically by the pandemic. And while some term the extras as unwanted “pork,” the $13 billion included for nutrition assistance will be a welcome meal or two for the 50 million food-insecure Americans right now. The U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent survey (Dec. 16) — worth a click if you want to dig deep into real effects of this tough time — found 13% of all adult Americans didn’t have enough to eat in the past seven days. That’s more than 1 in 10 people you may know.

In Coastal Georgia, there are 143,000 people in need of help with food daily. America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, based in Savannah, is the key provider of food assistance. Its Southeast Branch warehouse serves Brunswick along with Brantley, Camden, Glynn, Charlton, McIntosh and Wayne counties.

The food bank has distributed more than 25 million pounds of food this year, six more than in 2019. It’s provided 730,000 meals through Kids Cafe — 130,000 more than in previous years.

Want to help with the most basic needs in your neighborhood? Here’s how to be part of your own stimulus solution.

— Susan Catron

Take your keyboard for a spin across South Georgia

SUNDAY, Dec. 27 In these mostly indoor days, we’ve found some gems to take our minds outside to play. Editor in Chief Margaret Coker brings us this discovery: Vanishing South Georgia from photographer Brian Brown.

Brown has been photographing historic places on or below the Fall Line for years. Along with that, he’s been collecting stories like this one about Hall’s Knoll in Liberty County, which was named for Dr. Lyman Hall. Hall was one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence and was part of the stalwart Midway group that was known for its drive to leave British rule — hence the name now of Liberty County.

Brown’s site takes you on a drive across South Georgia and through places you’ll want to visit when it’s safe and warm again. But for now, enjoy steering your keyboard through this vast and beautiful collection.

Do you have a favorite internet trip you’d like to share? Send it to us at thecurrentga@gmail and we’ll add it to the The Tide for all to see.

— Susan Catron

Counting the days

SATURDAY, Dec. 26 In the quiet of the holiday moment, away from the aggressive campaigning for the U.S. Senate seats from Georgia, here’s a look at how many votes have already been cast and a comparison of turnout vs. the November election.

We can count down the days until the voting is done on just two hands now, and let’s hope we don’t have to count much higher until it’s really over.

Susan Catron

Break for a moment

THURSDAY & FRIDAY, Dec. 24-25 And just to get it out our system: This is the Yule Tide edition of The Tide.

But it’s the most important one: We also celebrate our readers and supporters on this day. So many of you have offered support (moral or monetary or reporting or otherwise) for The Current’s endeavor this year to bring a new approach to journalism in Coastal Georgia. We thank you heartily.

— The Current staff

Time change, citizens arrest power among local legislators’ prefiled bills

State Rep. Carl Gilliard

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 23 Just in time for the holidays, the Georgia General Assembly has a new website. Instead of two distinct sites, the House and Senate have a unified homepage with plenty of access to documents, calendars and other items citizens might want to see.

So, if you are trying to figure out what bills might be arriving for each house, you can find them and read them at every edit. So far, you’ll find a handful of prefiled bills from Coastal Georgia legislators including Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Dist. 167) to repeal citizens arrest powers, rework some excise tax exemptions, create a gang prevention commission, and propose a monument to the Original 33 Black General Assembly members in 1868.

State Sen. Ben Watson

Sen. Ben Watson (R-Dist. 1) has been busy, too. He has prefiled two bills to exempt Georgia from daylight saving time and provide for a nonbinding referendum on springing forward, and falling back each year.

No matter where you come down on that topic, the new site should make it easier to find out how your elected representative voted on various measures, as well. After all, you hired them, so you can check their work.

— Susan Catron

And Glynn gets a new D.A.

TUESDAY, Dec. 22 Write-in candidate and election winner Keith Higgins was sworn in yesterday as the district attorney for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, which includes Glynn, Camden, Wayne, Appling and Jeff Davis counties.

Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Keith Higgins is sworn into office by Superior Court Judge Stephen D. Kelley. Higgins term begins on January 4, 2021. (Bobby Haven/365° Total Marketing)

A couple things are noteworthy: Higgins won as a write-in with 52.8% of the vote — not something anyone ever sees in a write-in campaign — and he beat a 10-year incumbent, Jackie Johnson. Voters ousted Johnson after the early investigation and recusal after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. After a second attorney recused himself, a third prosecutor charged three men with felony murder and aggravated assault. One of the men charged was a longtime investigator for Johnson’s office and is shown on video calling her from the scene.

Higgins ran a campaign promising “Justice for All.” He takes office Jan. 4.

Susan Catron

The shortest day and active citizens

MONDAY, Dec. 21 Here we are, it’s winter. It’s the one time of year when Coastal Georgians stay inside more than usual. Except that we’ve been doing that since last winter. Good news: It’s the shortest day of the year. 

All that said, early voters were out today at every polling place — the lines at Southwest Library in Chatham County and the Elections Board on Eisenhower held 50 to 75 people at lunchtime. Editor Meg Coker says her machine at the Savannah Civic Center had already processed 568 ballots before 11:30 a.m. today and there are 12 machines there.

Just one stack of voting reminders for one address — so far.

As for encouragement to vote, I had no idea how many people across the country cared about my voting habits — I understand from many of you that you have the same experience.

While I do make jokes about the ever-growing mail pile, it’s absolutely inspiring to see engaged citizens taking time out to hand write notes to pitch for their candidates or merely tell me to be sure to vote. After all, who hand writes notes any more?

So, I send sincere thanks for the reminders to my new “friends” Debbie at the Sierra Club in Kentucky, Dave from Eloa Beach in Hawaii, and Ron from somewhere east of Atlanta. And I’m pretty sure the Postal Service folks will be able to buy their own election night pizza AND a new sorting machine from this direct mail onslaught in front of the runoff. 

— Susan Catron

Buses roll in

SUNDAY, Dec. 20 The Democrats’s Senate candidate caravan rolled into town Saturday. Reporter Laura Corley was there to watch take in the crowd who came to see Oscar- and Grammy-winning artist/writer/producer Common and Rev. Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff in Garden City.

Instead of story telling you what they said, Corley recorded the candidates’ Q&A with reporters after the rally. That way you can see and hear how the reporters worked it for yourself. Here’s the link.

That’s Laura at center-right in the plaid shirt. 

Also, today we welcome and thank The Current’s new donors Michele Wiedenhaupt, Anne Linnee, Paul Linnee, Stacey Waldrup, Tim Lindgren, Jerry Connor, Terry Waldrup, Sarah Swan, Jane Hansen, John Bennett, Adam Patterson, David Bloomquist, Elissa Habib, Alice Tisch, Stuart Karle, and Eleanor Hinz Radue. 

We couldn’t do it without you all — nonprofit is journalism for and by the people.

– Susan Catron

Camden County votes early

SATURDAY, Dec. 19 Reporter Laura Corley headed down to Woodbine today for a look at the only day of early voting for a good number of people in Camden County. She’s working on a story about voter turnout and what it can require. 

When she got there, the lines were strong and steady outside the Board of Elections office on 4th Street. She sent along this picture to show what the line looked like — but she waited outside at a respectful distance before talking to voters as they came out. 

I couldn’t help but notice the festive decorations — and the lack of social distancing next to a wall sign reminding people to space out. Either way, it’s good to see so many people ready to do their civic duty. 

Don’t miss Laura’s story when it’s published: Sign up for our newsletter here.

– Susan Catron