Quick notes from The Current staff about the ebb and flow of news, what we’re seeing and what washes in that’s probably not a giant story but interesting enough to muse about.

  • The Tide: Judge recuses self from Buddy Carter property tax hearing

    A Camden County Superior Court judge on Monday recused himself from a hearing set to take place less than 24 hours later. He hadn’t previously realized the plaintiff was U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter.

    “The undersigned, having just been made aware that Petitioner Earl L. Carter is Congressman Buddy Carter, with whom he has enjoyed both a personal and professional relationship, has determined it necessary that he recuse himself from the hearing in the above captioned manner,” the recusal order from Judge Anthony L. Harrison reads. 

    The order was filed just before 1 p.m. Monday. The hearing had been set for Tuesday at 9 a.m. but was canceled by the recusal. The clerk of court will reassign the matter to another superior court judge.

    A freeze worth $30,000

    U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter purchased this land in 2018 for $2.1 million. He appealed the 2020 property tax assessment that put the value at 13 percent of the sale price.

    Carter is petitioning the court for an order to the Camden board of assessors regarding his contested property tax assessment. He wants either a freeze on the assessment at the 2020 level for three years — saving him about $30,000 in taxes —  or another shot at a hearing on his property tax appeal.

    The Congressman also asked for “costs and reasonable attorney’s fees” and “any and all other relief this Court deems just and proper under the circumstances.”

    Carter, Georgia’s First District representative, lives in Chatham County. But he bought a nearly 500-acre undeveloped property in Camden in 2018 for $2.1 million from Challenged Investments LLC.  The land is about 220 acres of wetlands and 250 acres of higher ground the county describes as “residential large tract.” 

    The 2020 tax assessment that Carter appealed put the land’s value at $278,000, about 13% of what he paid two years prior.

    Carter’s estimated net worth in 2019 was $13.2 million, making him the 22nd wealthiest member of the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a USA Today article that year. 

    A claim of bad advice

    After two delays, the Congressman’s hearing at the Camden County Board of Equalization was scheduled for Dec. 29, 2020.  

    But before the hearing Carter talked with someone at the board, who he says gave him bad information.

    “… Carter spoke with a representative of the CCBE who informed Carter he could submit a letter consenting to the assessed value,” Carter’s petition to the court states. “The CCBE representative stated to Carter submitting the letter of consent would obviate the need for the appeal hearing, and freeze the assessed value on the property for three years.”

    U.S. Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter

    Carter wrote the consent letter, including the stipulation that agreeing to the assessment would freeze his property value for three years and that he wouldn’t be required to attend the hearing. 

    The letter concludes: “If this information is incorrect I request the board of equalization contact me immediately.” 

    The board didn’t contact him until Jan. 4 when in an email the clerk of court informed the Congressman that his filed consent form ended his appeal. 

    His property assessment was not frozen and would increase significantly in 2021. 

    “Carter was knowingly misled by the CCTA via the CCBE and its operatives,” his petition states. 

    In 2021 the property was assessed at $1.3 million, or 61% of what he paid. Carter has said he plans to use for hunting and fishing and not as an investment. It sits about 7 miles down the road from the site of the planned Spaceport Camden, which Carter supports. 

    The Current filed a request Friday to record the hearing and will pursue it whenever it’s rescheduled.

  • The Tide: Tree fight stops road project on St. Simons

    A judge on Friday granted a stop work order on a road project on St. Simons Island near Fort Frederica.

    “It is hereby ordered that defendants are temporarily enjoined from any further development, demolition or tree removal of any kind related to the Frederica Road Location Project until further order of the court, Superior Court Judge Roger B. Lane wrote Friday morning.

    A hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 25.

    “No more trees will be hitting the ground,” reported Dave Kyler of the Center for a Sustainable Coast. The Center, along with county resident Jeff Kilgore, requested the order Thursday.

    Work on the Frederica Road on Sept. 22. Photo courtesy Jeremy Marquis

    About six large trees, only two of which were in good shape, along with undergrowth, had been removed since work began in late September, according to Jeremy Marquis, a landscape architect on the project. The adjacent Christ Church Episcopal hired his St. Augustine-based firm of Marquis Latimer + Halback to assist in the $1.3 million plus project to reroute the road, for which the church is paying the bulk.

    Marquis said the current alignment of the road with two blind curves poses a safety hazard to the church’s growing population of elderly members and young families, many of whom park across the road for services.

    Jeremy Marquis. Photo courtesy Jeremy Marquis

    His plan aims to remove as few healthy trees as possible, protect remaining trees and plant 21 new live oaks along the road and another 20 on the church property.

    “I love Christ Church because that parish loves their trees; they take care of their trees,” Marquis said.

    But the church’s involvement complicates the project on the county road, the Center for a Sustainable Coast explained in its brief to the court. A memorandum of understanding requires Christ Church to pay all project costs — estimated at  $1,324,740.38 — except $50,000 paid by Glynn County to construct the Stevens Road  intersection. This funding arrangement means the Corps of Engineers erred in providing a permit for the project, the Center for a Sustainable Coast argues. 

    “Special Condition #1 in Regional General Permit 34  requires that transportation projects authorized thereunder must be funded by federal, state, or local  government,” the brief states. “However, the terms of the MOU clearly evidence that the Stevens Road  intersection is the only portion of the Project that can be authorized under RGP 34  because Defendant Christ Church is funding all engineering services, permit coordination,  easements, and cost overrun and funding all construction costs other than the Stevens Road  alignment/intersection.”

    Glynn County’s tree ordinance  also requires its Tree Board to review any privately developed public roadway project. But the county hasn’t made sufficient appointments to its Tree Board, rendering it defunct. 

    “So they never had a hearing of any kind to remove the trees, they never followed the ordinance and could not really follow the ordinance because they had killed the tree board that was supposed to render a judgment that the county considered,” Kyler said.

    The Tide brings regular notes and observations on news and events by The Current staff.

  • The Tide: Draft plan for Savannah’s Forsyth Park offers ‘lighter touch’

    A 30-acre rectangle of green that bridges the city’s historic and Victorian district, the Forsyth Park provides something for everyone. It’s a picturesque wedding site, a weekly fresh produce spot, a grassy lawn for a picnic, a canvas for an annual chalk art contest, a concert venue, a place to play pickup basketball, a 1-mile jogging loop. 

    So when the partners who undertook the task of creating a master plan for the park asked for public feedback last spring, they got plenty. Those partners include The Trustees’ Garden Club, which took on the project six years ago as a gift to the city and hired Charlottesville, Va.-based landscaping architects Nelson Byrd Woltz. 

    Trustees’ Garden Club is paying for the $600,000 cost of the plan. 

    “The plan is not to change the character of the park,” co-chair of the Trustees’ Garden Club Forsyth Park Project Eleanor Rhangos said in an online public forum Wednesday. “But it is to preserve and where possible, restore its historic integrity, make recommendations for areas in need of improvement such as lighting and stormwater management and identify enhancements such as more bathrooms to be implemented in the years to come based on the feedback from the community.” 

    The draft plan is now open for comment, which must be received by Sept. 30. The existing park and the draft plan are reproduced here and are also available at www.friendsofforsyth.org 

    EXISTING, DRAFT PLANS

    Existing layout of Forsyth Park.
    Draft plan for Forsyth Park.

    The plan suggests a few new elements for the park: 

    ● Bathrooms near the southwest corner 

    ● Stormwater gardens in each of the four outer corners of the open lawns.

    ● Addition of a children’s garden directly south of the existing Fragrant Garden. 

    ● Additional picnic/seating areas in the central portion of the park near the cafe.

    ● Enhanced lighting throughout the park. 

    ● A new, yet-to-be-designated monument along southern portion of the central walkway. 

    Modifications to existing features include: 

    ● A six-foot widening of the 1.5-mile perimeter sidewalk to 14 feet to accommodate a one-way bike lane and a separate two-way pedestrian lane

    ● Removal of the western “big kids’” playground from its west-central position and the creation of a new playground and splash pad area on the south end. 

    ● Moving/replacing the bandshell and splash pad. Shifting the position of the bandshell slightly south to allow for loading and unloading equipment. Addition of electric outlets. Removal of water feature in front of stage. 

    ● Adding tree-root protection for trees lining the southern half of the central walkway 

    The draft plan leaves largely unchanged: 

    ● The placement and size of the two parking lots. 

    ● The Rotary Club playground 

    ● Tennis courts 

    ● The north half of the park with its criss-crossing paths, canopy of trees and iconic fountain. 

    The project team completed a health assessment for each tree in the park, with treatment recommendations for each tree. 

    Several of the residents who participated in the online sessions Wednesday expressed relief that the current draft seems to have a “lighter touch” than did previous iterations. 

    Costs of implementing any of the plan’s elements are not yet available.

    “This is the draft plan,” said Project Manager Charlotte Barrow of Nelson Byrd Woltz. “We’re presenting it to the community now. We’re going to incorporate feedback from the community. We’re going to refine the plan. We’re going to send it to our cost estimator, we’re going to give them five weeks to produce construction cost estimates. And those pricing estimates will be included in the final master plan.” 

    Elements of the final plan, if approved by Savannah City Council, will be implemented as priorities and funding allow. The city already has funding set aside for lighting improvements in the park and that’s likely to be among the first things implemented. Comments can be submitted directly on the Friends of Forsyth web site or at Saturday informational sessions in the park: Sept 18 and 25 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. The deadline for comment is Sept. 30.

    The Tide brings regular notes and observations on news and events by The Current staff.

  • The Tide: Thiokol Memorial Project seeks help

    Fifty years after an explosion claimed the lives of 30 people at the Thiokol munitions manufacturing plant in Woodbine, a nonprofit is calling on Georgia’s U.S. Congressional representatives to formally honor the lives of those workers.

    Most killed in the explosion on the morning of Feb. 3, 1971, were poor, Black women who perished while making trip flares to help soldiers fight the Vietnam War. Despite the magnitude of the explosion and loss of life, the tragedy has not been part of the historical narrative of Camden County, The Current reported earlier this year.

    The Thiokol Memorial Project, led by Jannie Everette, operates a small museum downtown Kingsland that is devoted to preserving and honoring the lives of the victims. She is the daughter of survivor Lucille Washington. The petition is designed to get the attention of Georgia’s U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock and it calls for the victims to be posthumously honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. The group contacted District 1 Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter some time ago.

    “They are the only contributors to the Vietnam War that have not been honored for their service to this nation and humanity,” according to the Thiokol Memorial Project’s online call-to-action. “They have not been honored as the pioneers of the Modern American Workplace.”

    The honor requires cosponsorship by at least two-thirds (290) U.S. House members and 67 U.S. Senators.

    The online petition can be found at http://thiokolmemorial.org/petition/. To sign it, donate or comment, click on “Add Your Voice,” which redirects to a form on www.change.org.

    The Tide brings regular notes and observations on news and events by The Current staff.

  • The Tide: Fort Stewart gets notice for woodpecker work

    An endangered bird is making a comeback after nearly three decades of careful forestry management on a coastal Georgia Army post. 

    Red-cockaded woodpeckers at Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, the largest U.S. military installation east of the Mississippi, have been steadily increasing in population since the Department of Defense began working to save the dwindling species in 1994. 

    The red-cockaded woodpecker is making a comeback, in part due to work being done at Fort Stewart.

    The resurgence of the rare birds, a result of good forestry management practices, are among reasons why the post was awarded the 2020 Secretary of the Army Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation for a large Installation in April. 

    “We reached our recovery goal of 350 pairs back in 2012 and the population continues to grow,” said Larry Carlile, Chief of the Fish and Wildlife branch at Fort Stewart. “Everything so far shows that we have another increase this year.” 

    The birds require mature longleaf pine forests and live in cavities they hollow out of old longleaf pine trees. Decades of timber over harvesting, poor agricultural practices and fire suppression resulted in the destruction of much of the birds’ habitat.

    In addition to seasonally appropriate controlled burns and tagging the birds, the Army post also installed about 4,000 artificial cavity boxes on the trunks of mature trees.

    “We are right on the cusp of this forest being old enough for them to excavate all their cavities without us doing it for them, but we intend to keep doing this to help prop them up until the forest reaches the proper age,” Carlile said.

    Red-cockaded woodpeckers were designated a federally endangered species in the 1970s. Last year, the Trump administration proposed downlisting the bird from endangered status to threatened status as the U.S. 

    The Department of Agriculture Forestry Service estimated nearly 7,800 clusters living in 11 states from southern Virginia to eastern Texas, according to a September 2020 report.

    Jeff Mangun, chief of Stewart-Hunter Forestry Branch, said the controlled burns, timber thinning, timber harvesting on base have helped not only the woodpeckers, but also the economy and soldiers in training.

    The Army advertises bids for wood buyers and commercial loggers and hires private companies to cut the timber to the Army’s specification. Money made from timber sales, by law, must be returned to the forestry branch, which uses it to pay for forestry management.

    The post has harvested 38,228 acres of timber in the past decade, according to an informational poster presented to newsmakers during a media day at the base June 14, 2021. The Current requested information about how much revenue timber sales raised and information about the contractors; the base did not respond by publication. 

    Fort Stewart has the largest prescribed burn program in North America of any one public or private contiguous land holding, Mangun said. The burn season is Dec. 1 through June 30. The Army uses helicopters to ignite and monitor the burns, which amount to roughly 120,000 acres per year.

    The Army branch also thins the forest by reducing the number of trees per area, which allows for an understory suitable for army training. 

    That’s also good for the flatwoods salamanders that live there. The amphibians are the last known colony living in Georgia and one of three on Earth.

    The Current highlighted the species in a February article that detailed the reasons for its decline and efforts to save the cryptic critters. A month after the article was published, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a long overdue draft plan which provides official guidance for how best to care for the species by providing the proper conditions to ensure its survival.

    The Tide brings regular notes and observations on news and events by The Current staff.

  • The Tide: Carter’s role in Revenge of the Nays

    Congressional reporting over the past week focused on the aftermath of the events of Jan. 6: the insurrection at the Capitol and the attempt to throw out Georgia’s votes in the November election.

    Coastal Georgia’s Rep. Buddy Carter took center stage in several stories — he was one of several members of the Georgia delegation who tried to block their state’s votes from counting at all. 

    That move — construed by some as an endorsement of the riot — nearly derailed a bipartisan effort to stem the opioid addiction crisis by allowing more treatments for addiction on the market. Carter had been working steadily on that bill for a couple years as the lead Republican sponsor. His Democrat co-sponsor on the bill, Pennsylvania Rep. Madeleine Dean, refused to work with him as the lead on the bill as it finally came up for a vote because of his stance on Jan. 6. Carter refused to budge saying “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I apologize for standing up for my values.” He also reiterated that he did not endorse the violent attack on the Congress and wanted to move on from the event. He then led an effort to defeat the noncontroversial opioid bill in protest. Requiring a two-thirds vote, it failed on a first vote. Here’s the PBS NewsHour report on the environment in Congress and Carter’s full statement.

    It wasn’t Carter’s only skirmish with his colleagues over the topic. He filed a complaint against California Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren regarding a 128-page report she issued in March that quoted various House members and their social media communications regarding the fairness of the election and the insurrection. In the report, 18 instances of Twitter and other notes quoted Carter questioning the Georgia state government and the voting process. It also linked to a video where Carter called  the riot “a few people who got out of control” and that their actions were unacceptable. In it, he said there was no link to those actions and his move to disallow the votes and overturn the election.

    Carter said Lofgren violated the House Communication Standards Commission’s rules of civility by compiling and circulating the report. The Washington Post report detailed the blowback on Lofgren.

    This week, Carter also voted against the formation of bipartisan legislation to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. 35 Republicans joined 217 Democrats to pass the bill which now heads to an uncertain fate in the U.S. Senate. And he also voted Nay for funding to pay for damages and more security for the Capitol, Capitol police and Congress stemming from the insurrection. That bill passed, as well. (He did not vote on the other bill getting press attention this week, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, that requires the Department of Justice to do expedited reviews of COVID-19 hate crimes. This was in part advanced in the aftermath of a mass killing that included Asian women outside Atlanta.)

    So what happened to the opioid treatment bill? Carter, who is the only pharmacist in the House and who is known for his knowledge and legislative work on drug benefits and supply chains, turned down an offer to be an ordinary co-sponsor. 

    The bill, key to opening new treatments for opioid addiction, was delayed for more than a week but did eventually pass 402-23 and headed to the Senate on Wednesday. Carter voted Nay. 

    The Tide brings regular notes and observations on news and events by The Current staff.

    WANT TO KNOW MORE: Follow your Washington representative, his daily speeches, votes and funding at this link on The Current. Follow your U.S. senators here.

  • The Tide: Separating pork from bull

    Currently Congress is wrangling over the meaning of “infrastructure.” 

    Should the term refer strictly to brick and mortar items to fuel and transport growth, or include the economic safety net of child care, teachers and health care? Those are the basic outlines of political debate surrounding the proposed $2 billion infrastructure spending bill backed by President Joe Biden and many Democrats.

    There is another principle dividing the U.S. House of Republican legislators: the use of budget earmarks — often called pork. That’s the term for funding requests by lawmakers for something that directly benefits a state or district. Like a deepwater port, or new housing at Fort Stewart. 

    Despite toeing the line on many GOP issues, Coastal Georgia’s Rep. Buddy Carter is one of the few Georgia Republicans who bucked party guidance about earmarks. Republican leaders have strongly discouraged their members for using the popular tool as they try to unify their ranks to defeat the huge infrastructure bill.

    Carter has requested $47,144,936 for six projects for Coastal Georgia. They include:

    • Project Derenne ($29M) to address the hairy traffic knot along Savannah’s nastiest stretch of streets; 
    • Two projects for Chatham Area Transit ($8.1M) to add park and ride and paratransit capacity; 
    • A U.S. Army Health and Holistic Wellness program ($1.5M) to be based at Georgia Southern for research and training;
    • A Coastal Equity and Resilience Hub ($5M) to be based at Georgia Tech facilities at King’s Bay submarine base that would “develop the fundamental knowledge and tools to design adaptive coastal infrastructure and equitable resilience strategies under projected future sea level rise scenarios along the vulnerable Georgia coastline”; 
    • The Johnson Rocks Revetment Project ($2.9M) to restore the older rock structure that is designed to protect the Saint Simons Island coastline during natural disasters. 

    Congressional earmarking ended 10 years ago under GOP House Speaker John Boehner who called it out for rampant abuse. Earmarking earned a bad reputation when legislators snuffled too far into the public troughs to build things no one needed — like a bridge to literally nowhere. (Thanks, Alaska.)

    But this year, as the Democrats regained the majority in the House of Representatives, they restored the practice of allowing representatives to sponsor and tag specific pieces for funding with some new guidelines. Earmarks, or Community Funding Requests, may be tied to one congressional bill now — but they can be deleted and added to other bills as a lawmaker sees which piece of legislation is more likely to pass.

    Although Carter has bolstered his reputation in the last couple of years as a staunch pro-Trump Republican, he’s been on the record for longer as a booster for earmarks.

    In 2010, Carter argued eloquently in a Savannah Morning News opinion piece that earmarks like helping expand the Savannah port are anything but a bad idea. In fact, he advocated for some creative linguistics for such projects: “And if it has to be through Congressional action, don’t call it an earmark, at least not one of the pork kind. While technically it may be labeled that, an economic development project of this magnitude is anything but pork,” he said at the time.

    The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is now closing in on a $1 billion tab; Sen. Jon Ossoff announced another $100M for the project this past week. 

    According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Carter is one of only two current GOP representatives from Georgia to request earmarks. 

    Rep. Carter’s latest requests are a matter of public record. But it’s not a position he’s talking about in his numerous TV spots on Newsmax and Fox News.

    Instead, Carter has vigorously criticized Biden’s infrastructure plans.

    In a March 31 statement about the bill, Carter said “America needs a strong, bipartisan infrastructure bill. Unfortunately, the Biden plan is certainly not it. …. Just 5 percent of the Biden plan will go to repairing roads and bridges, just one percent will go to airports and less than one percent will go to our waterways and ports. This is not an infrastructure plan. This is a disguise for the Green New Deal, tax increases, and other liberal policies.”

    If these earmarks — and the infrastructure bill — end up passing, commuters heading to work at Hunter Army Airfield might thank their congressman. But voters who care about fiscal prudence could end up punishing him at the next election.

    The Tide brings regular notes and observations on news and events by The Current staff.

  • The Tide: Census shows Georgia gained weight, but not representation

    The first 2020 Census numbers are in. There are 331,449,291 Americans and 10,711,906 of them live in Georgia.

    The first data from the latest Census presentation, linked below, shows the U.S. grew at a rate of 7.4% over the last 10 years (the time period for Census taking in America). That’s the slowest pace of growth since the 1930 Census during The Great Depression.

    Lots of people moved south since 2010: Southern states picked up 10% growth while other regions picked up much less. Population counts determine how many seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Census Bureau, which is in charge of these statistics, released a boatload of tables to show how apportionment works and historic norms.

    For a complete visual presentation of Census changes since 1910, take a look at this. It puts a lot of percentages in perspective. For example, there are more people in Washington, D.C., than in Wyoming.

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    Our neighbor Florida gets a new Congressional seat, and even though the Peach State seems a lot more crowded these days, demographers say Georgia wasn’t even in the top 10 states closest to gaining enough population to get an additional rep.

    In another loud example of why citizen participation in the Census matters: New York is 89 people short of retaining a Congressional seat. That’s why the government bombarded folks with Census reminders a good portion of last year — power and money in statehouses and the U.S. Capitol hinges on the number of seats representing you.

    Texas was the fastest growing state in numbers and it gained two Congressional seats. Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon will pick up one seat each.

    California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia lost one seat each. California gained population but had more people leaving than those moving in, so it lost a seat.

    The average House of Representative member represents 781,169 — that more than 61,000 more people than 10 years ago. At some point, it bears considering if it’s time to expand the number of members of Congress. If you’re an earnest representative, three-quarters of a million people is a pretty large group to understand and advocate for.

    The next data dump, designed for use by states and local entities for redistricting, arrives by Aug. 16 with the final breakdowns by Sept. 30. That’s when the real wrangling at local statehouses will begin.

    Here’s the initial presentation and some media questions from the Census Bureau announcements. In short: The experts there feel very confident in the numbers and have a lot of checks for them. Take a look and see how it stacks up for you.

    The Tide brings regular notes and observations on news and events by The Current staff.

    https://youtu.be/CnZqLlOwUhE
  • The Tide: Mumps, measles – what are the odds?

    If you remember having to get a set of vaccines before you could attend school or travel, you aren’t alone. The new discussions over mandating COVID-19 shots before university students can attend class seem odd in light of the standing requirements nearly every institution of higher ed and most school districts have consistently maintained.

    At Georgia Southern — and other colleges and universities under the University System of Georgia (USG), students are required to provide documented proof of immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella, chicken pox, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and hepatitis B prior to registration.

    The USG Board of Regents is a 19-member panel appointed by the governor and the chancellor is selected by the board. The USG sets the rules following this mandate that basically says that if authorities declare a health emergency, then other measures — like COVID-19 vaccines — can be ordered. Anyone who doesn’t follow along will be “excluded from any USG institution of facility” until they can prove immunity or immunization.

    While USG hasn’t mandated COVID-19 vaccines for students, faculty or staff, Georgia remains under a Public Health State of Emergency by order of Gov. Brian Kemp, at least through April 30. (The order has been extended 13 times since it was first signed March 14, 2020.)

    All of this begs the question: How dangerous are the other threats that require vaccines? Here’s what the CDC says:

    • Mumps: 11 cases this year; none in Georgia.
    • Diphtheria: While there have been small clusters of cases in Brazil, Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the past year, none have been reported in Georgia. In 1921, 15,520 deaths in the U.S. were attributed to it.
    • Measles: In 2000, this disease was declared eradicated until it roared back in 2019 with several outbreaks totaling 1,282 across 31 states. The outbreaks were traced to travelers and unvaccinated groups. 2020 held only 13 cases. No cases have been reported in 2021, according to the CDC.
    • Rubella: This disease was declared eliminated in 2015 for the Americas, but it still exists in other parts of the world.
    • Chickenpox (varicella): This disease still occurs and remains extremely contagious. Before a vaccine became available in 1995, the U.S. averaged 4 million cases a year and as many as 150 deaths. While we still smile at the name, it’s still a threat but serious illness is rare.
    • Whooping cough (pertussis): While it still threatens babies, it’s a danger to adults, as well. Around 16,000 cases are reported annually.
    • Tetanus: While cases have declined to a handful of cases each year, it’s still a danger. Sporadic cases still occur in adults who did not get the recommended tetanus vaccinations, according to the CDC.
    • Hepatitis B: This viral disease is still alive and well among those who haven’t gotten vaccinated. More than half of the 3,300 new cases reported annually are among persons ages 30-49. At last count, the CDC reports 1 case for every 100,000 people overall, but that incidence nearly triples for people ages 40-49.

    All of these maladies have two things in common:

    • They were once recognized as deadly ailments and still could be.
    • They are now contained well or nearly eradicated by internationally recognized vaccines.

    So how do these potentially debilitating and fatal diseases currently rank against the coronavirus pandemic?

    As of this writing, in the U.S. alone there are 31,666,546 COVID-19 cases with 566,494 deaths reported by the CDC. 219 million vaccines have been administered across the country.

    • Want to get a COVID-19 vaccine? Go here to find the closest site to you or call 888-457-0186 to schedule your shot.
    • Want more information? Call 888-357-0169 to talk to someone a the state Department of Public Health who can answer your specific questions about the immunization and vaccines.
    • Want to start your own search? Here’s a good place to start.

    The Tide brings regular notes and observations on news and events by The Current staff.

  • The Tide: Carter casts a Senate net

  • The Tide: Pecans with a side of horse racing

    The Pecan — will it be Georgia’s official nut? 

    Spare us the jokes — it’s too easy. 

    Senate Bill 222 is headed for a vote before Crossover Day on Monday, and that likely leaves it to the House and the governor to finish the work to officially declare the pecan as the official state nut. (Update: Late Wednesday, the Senate passed the bill 51-0.)

    And for those of you who think we already have a state nut — the peanut — you’d be wrong. Peanuts are the official state crop. And they are legumes, and that’s another discussion. 

    The bill, which extols the heart-healthy benefits of the tree fruit and traces its history to the 16th century, has 31 sponsors just in the Senate. It also mentions that 170,000 Peach State acres are dedicated to its growth. While there’s no recipe attached (yet), there’s even a list of ways you can enjoy Georgia’s own nut. 

    Pecans got another noteworthy mention Tuesday in the House as Rep. Ron Stephens introduced a new version of his bill in support of horse racing

    The Savannah representative argued that the racing industry would provide a more diverse income flow to farmers whose pecan groves may take decades to recover from storm damage. Some have yet to recover from Hurricane Michael in 2018, when the farmers lost crops after their trees were blown down. 

    “It allows them to get into the industry on the low end and then move up depending on how they purchase and sell horses, so it’s an additional industry,” he said. “It reminds me of somebody that, the wind comes down and blows down their corn farm. Well, they’ve got chickens and hogs as backup.” If successful, the bill, called the Harry Geisinger Rural Jobs and Growth Act, would send the ultimate decision on horse racing to the voters in the form of a constitutional amendment.

    The Tide features regular news and observations from The Current’s staff.

  • The Tide: A fight to save the legacy of Savannah’s Virginia Kiah

    Savannah Agenda’s Eric Curl has put together a three-story package this week on the late Civil Rights activist and artist Virginia Kiah and the two-decade delay in settling her estate, the curiosity of what SCAD may be doing with the artist’s works, and the hard-fought efforts to save her house by the Savannah Historic Foundation.

    In addition to serving as a community museum, Kiah’s Savannah home was a meeting place for residents and a safe haven for Civil Rights activists, political figures, artists and athletes at a time when participants in the movement were targeted and Blacks had limited lodging options, Kiah’s nephew, Michael Bowen Mitchell, said in January. Notable visitors included Julian Bond, Rosa Parks, Daisy Bates, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Langston Hughes and Jesse Owens.

    Curl’s stories and observations, linked above, highlight some of the confounding issues of saving Black landmarks and keeping the work of Black artists accessible to the public. The update on the frustrating delays and the fallout from them are well worth your time this weekend. See his regular public meeting agenda collection and observations here.

    The Tide features regular news and observations from The Current’s staff.

  • The Tide: Mallow bill looks for change through education

    February in America has become synonymous with Black History month, the 30-day period when mainstream media make a concerted effort to highlight illustrious Americans whose achievements, successes and breakthroughs have been diminished or forgotten.

    Rep. Derek Mallow

    Rep. Derek Mallow, our first-term lawmaker representing District 163 in Savannah, wants that to change. He, also with four other state House legislators have sponsored a resolution calling for the Georgia Department of Education to create a textbook that would highlight African American achievements from ancient civilizations to current day. And make that part of Georgia’s public school standard curriculum.

    “We have a month in February to learn about Black history, but it’s not enough time to have your history told. Or have any history told. I think it’s important that for African Americans to understand that our history didn’t just start at the bottom of slave ships,” Mallow told The Current.

    Rep. Calvin Smyre

    The bill has the backing of senior Democrats, including Rep. Calvin Smyre, the oldest serving House member and most senior Black legislator. It would go a long way to helping Georgians learn about non-white civilizations, as well as recall recent tragedies experienced by Black Georgians that have been dropped from state history books.

    It’s part of a wave of legislative action aimed at addressing racial discrimination and historic inequality. One of those – House Bill 17 – would make it against the law for law enforcement agencies to racially profile people and make it mandatory for them to collect data so that Georgians could hold them accountable to that mandate. So far, that effort has only Democratic support at the statehouse.

    However, other social justice laws have garnered bipartisan backing, such as the planned repeal of the notorious Civil War-era “citizens’ arrest” law, which was cited last year by the men indicted for killing Ahmaud Arbery.

    Rep. Carl Gilliard

    Gov. Brian Kemp wants to tighten the law to prevent vigilantism. With broad Republican support, the changes are expected to be one of the top civil rights achievements of the legislative session.

    “I’m elated that this antiquated and outdated law of 1863 is about to be repealed,” said Rep. Carl Gilliard of Savannah, a co-sponsor of the bill. “We can now put an end to Georgia’s past and move Georgia forward toward its future.”

    The Tide brings regular notes and observations on news and events by The Current staff.

  • The Tide: Raphael Warnock, Jon Ossoff take power committee spots

    Rookies don’t always get prime spots in the U.S. Senate committee lineup, but Georgia’s duo fared well.

    The senior senator from Georgia, Jon Ossoff, starts his full, six-year term on the four key committees: Banking Housing, and Urban Affairs; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Rules and Administration; Judiciary. Ossoff also was named chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, a spot that’s famous for powerful bipartisan work.

    Sen. Jon Ossoff and Sen. Raphael Warnock

    Raphael Warnock starts his partial, two-year term as part of the committees on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; commerce, Science and Transportation; and joins Ossoff on the Banking panel. He is also a member of two committees shared with the Senate: the Special Committee on Aging and a Joint Economic Committee.

    Follow their votes, public statements, campaign funding here.

  • The Tide: Buddy Carter gets a top fundraising post

    The National Republican Congressional Committee named Rep. Buddy Carter a Deputy Chair last week. He’s now one of three deputies to chairman Tom Emmer focused on the group’s goal to retake the U.S. House majority in 2022 for the Republicans.

    It’s a group that candidates routinely donate to from their own campaign funds to ensure support from the party and its supporting political action groups. Since he entered the House in 2015, Carter has donated $556,744 to the NRCC, according to Federal Election Commission records. In 2020 alone, he donated $95,307. 

    According to its website, the group supports the election of Republicans by donating to candidates and party organizations; technical and research assistance to candidates; and voter education and registration programs. It is considered a subsidiary of the Republican National Committee. 

    As for committees that are part of his day job as U.S. First District representative, Carter is on the Energy and Commerce and Budget committees in the House.

  • The Tide: Watching your vote

    The U.S. Congress and the voting processes for the House and Senate have been in the spotlight for the last few weeks. Many people never get to witness in person that crucial act by the representative they directly elected, and it’s fair to say we need to know what they are up to.

    So how do you keep up with your representative’s day-to-day work on your behalf? Various websites and projects now make that possible. The Current has compiled a page of constantly updated information so you can see the work of Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter as he represents Coastal Georgia residents in Washington. Pages to monitor work of elected U.S. Senators Raphael Warnock and John Ossoff are underway and will debut as they join the U.S. Senate.

    Through the links and information we’ll constantly add, you’ll be able to decide if they are doing work that benefits you as a citizen. In two years, Carter and Warnock will likely be back on the ballot and you’ll be able to make better-informed decisions about whether they should stay in Washington as your delegate.

    The page links to officials’ votes, floor speeches, campaign donations and web sites with their appearances, photos, videos and more. Now, when you wonder “What did Buddy say about this?” or “How did Buddy vote?” there’s a very quick way to find out.

    Start now, bookmark this link:

    https://thecurrentga.org/2021/01/13/follow-georgia-u-s-house-district-1-buddy-carter/ and keep up with the work.

    As we say regularly: Democracy isn’t a spectator sport.

  • The Tide: Social media and revolt

    Events of last week offer a stark reminder of why trusted news is so important — and reminds us that freedom of information isn’t guaranteed and it does have a cost.

    The explosion of social media as the source where many Americans get their information as well as the shrinkage of local news sources has given birth to an disinformation epidemic in our country, where its harder and harder to discern credible information and where mistrust of traditional news outlets is rampant. It’s a situation that’s as much the fault of the media itself as political leaders who dilute facts for their own gain.

    The information revolt led to five people dead during the Capitol Hill insurrection and tens of thousands more in the unceasing threat we face from COVID-19.

    When our phones light up with news alerts about a presidential tweet — or news that a president has been banned from social media sites — it’s clear how central those platforms have become in disseminating information in contemporary America.

    Social media has gotten rich from the phenomenon. In the meantime, traditional journalism outlets struggle to pay for staffing, expertise and support in many cases because their standards and processes of practicing and publishing fact-based news runs counter to the clickbait, hot takes and outrage that viewers see on social media. In-depth journalism may reveal uncomfortable facts and raise questions about common beliefs, but that ethos to hard looks and tough questions can help Americans make informed choices. That’s the kind of journalism that must be revived and must be valued and supported by local communities. That kind of news is not cheap, but it does underwrite the basic function of our freedoms in this democracy.

    Over the last four years, President Donald Trump’s social media posts, aided by the social media companies themselves, created a feedback loop for likeminded supporters. Critical analysis, verified facts and other views were conveniently ignored. In such an unchained information environment an angry mob emerged, one that believes that American institutions are rotten and that gasoline could be poured over our basic norms and ignite the conflagration Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol.

    One example of how social media has fueled anger and disinformation is Facebook. Through the campaign season leading up to Election Day on Nov. 3, the social media giant prohibited paid political ads, a key source of the company’s revenues during the 2016 election. The company’s rationale in 2020: such ads amplified disinformation. But when Georgia’s U.S. Senate campaigns went into overtime, Facebook ended its ban and began buying politically motivated posts again, despite the local and national importance of the two races. It readily allowed partisan and often inaccurate information to permeate the personal feeds through the Jan. 5 vote.

    Likely, your Georgia-based Facebook feed overnight became much like your Georgia-based TV channels: a constant attack by ads from parties, candidates and political action committees. In a survey by Citizen Browser and reported in The Markup, a nonprofit group that follows the influence of social media content, partisan media and messaging elbowed out traditional media coverage from Facebook user feeds.

    Here’s the effect of Facebook’s decision, according to The Markup:

    • David Perdue’s campaign spent up to $25,000 to reach nearly a million Georgians with one ad.
    • Raphael Warnock spent $1.2 million on Facebook to blast out 205 ads.
    • Facebook stopped some voter guide materials as it allowed candidates to gear up in early December.
    • As of the third quarter of 2020, Facebook was on track to surpass the previous year’s $70 billion in total revenue.

    Scrolling through Facebook, or Instagram, you might care about cute photos of children and pets. But Facebook cares about making money. Your feed gives the company an opportunity to do that, nuance and verified information be damned.

    And Facebook isn’t the only crowd making money off the polarization of the U.S. While Trump loyalists raided the Capitol, some of them were making money by livestreaming the event as they went in. One site, Dlive, helped one of the insurrectionists make $2,000 through his real-time footage. That user had already been kicked off Twitter and YouTube.

    And while we are talking about nuance and presentation: If you were watching the mob descending on the Capitol on Wednesday, you probably noticed that TV commentators were struggling with language for what was happening. Here’s a piece to read that talks about how the media portray events, rumors and people and how the events of the week makes us all take a step back and think about the approaches now and those we took on the road to where we are today.

    We’ve enabled the comments section for this — what’s your read on all of this?

  • The Tide: Where Trump is on the ballot

    While it’s pretty clear there are four distinct candidates for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seat, there’s still another person lurking just off the touchscreen: President Donald J. Trump. And if you don’t believe it, just take a quick ride up to North Georgia.

    Welcome mat at the Trump store in Ellijay. The store is open 7 days a week, but closed until afternoon on Sundays.

    Gilmer County sits in the middle of North Georgia, and it’s the home of Republicans Georgia House Speaker Rep. David Ralston and U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde of the 9th District. Clyde’s campaign signs feature the outline of an automatic weapon. He’s the owner of two gun stores and succeeded Doug Collins in that seat. The county borders the 14th District, newly represented by QAnon fan and outspoken Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Taylor Greene made news Sunday during her own U. S. Capitol swearing-in ceremony as she got into a shouting match over wearing a mask. Based on the will of the local residents over the years, it’s clear the area has a sharp tilt toward conservative politics.

    The Trump Store in Ellijay.

    And if you aren’t completely convinced on that point, you will be reassured by the door mat at the Trump Store, located in an Ellijay strip mall just behind the McDonald’s and next door to a home decor store. The mat, a large red industrial one, is printed with big white letters: 0% LIBERAL. A truck in the grocery store lot also carries a sticker: NOT A LIBERAL.

    (In case you were wondering, the Trump Store is one of several official and unofficial outlets for pro-president paraphernalia around the country, including Myrtle Beach, Dallas and Panama City, Fla. The one in Ellijay carries just about anything you’d want with the president’s name on it, as well as “Trump 2020 F$# Your Feelings” beer glasses and coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, stickers, earrings, kids apparel, flags and other items imprinted with Confederate flags and gun-rights slogans.)

    There are other signs, too, one antiques and collectibles store downtown has one in the window and there’s another more-subtle approach inside at a booth selling old signage and metalware.

    All that said, there are actual campaign signs along the North Georgia highways for actual candidates for Senate.

    While Ga 515 aka Zell Miller Mountain Parkway was lined with Trump signs of all types long after the Nov. 3, most of those are now gone. Small roadside signs for GOP candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler sit in small clusters at some busy intersections, usually matched equally with signs for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Intermittent driveways have signs for one or the other, but the larger signs remain for Trump, attached to houses and fences and nailed up in random trees along the four-lane strips.

    So if anyone tells you Donald J. Trump lost his bid for a second term and isn’t running for Senate, you may assure them he’s not on the ballot but he’s very much in the race.

    — Susan Catron

  • The Tide: Federal workplace protections for Covid-19 expire

    As the New Year arrived, a few things departed and one of those was the special paid leave provision under Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The provision was intended to deter workplace spread of the dangerous virus and protect those who stayed home to quarantine or care for others.

    The Temporary Rule was set April 1 by the U.S. Department of Labor under the Act to provide workers with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to Covid-19. The Temporary Rule expired at midnight on Dec. 31.

    Today, on the U.S. Department of Labor website you’ll find a note to say it has expired with a link that only takes you to information on what it was supposed to do and a few general notations about wage and hour law.

    Message displayed on U.S. Department of Labor site.

    Under the Act, up to 80 hours of paid time out of work for quarantine, illness or wait for a diagnosis was covered by law. It also provided for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at two-thirds of pay if an employee was unable to work in order to care for a person in quarantine or a child when a school or childcare provider is closed because of the virus.

    This means that employers and employees go back to the leave plans they had before the pandemic.

    At this point, it’s important to note that all Coastal Georgia counties are seeing post-holiday spikes in positive test rates, ranging from 18.55% in Bryan County to 11.83% in Glynn County. These rates are marked increases over those in early fall. You can track state stats here.

    So, if your child’s school closes or you’ve been exposed and have to quarantine until your test results return, you’ll have to telework — if possible — or take your regular vacation, sick leave or paid leave time. That’s that, unless your employer is benevolent or federal officials, whom you employ, decide to renew the rules as the virus continues to advance.

    — Susan Catron

  • The Tide: Ogeechee Riverkeeper brings different views from 2020

    TUESDAY, Dec. 29 Right now, we’re seeing plenty of news and story roundups of “the best” from this tough year. Yet, there are options to take the edge off those sad notes and remind you that Coastal Georgia and the rest of the world is such a spectacular place: Photo galleries.

    The Ogeechee Riverkeeper just released its photo awards for the year — including this little guy caught coming out of his shell by Wesley Hendley.

    FUNNY WILDLIFE category winner: Pond Slider in camo, Wesley Hendley, 2020. George L. Smith State Park, Twin City, Georgia.

    And while we’re at it, here’s another 2020 gallery from the Pew Charitable Trusts and its most popular images from its Instagram site this year.

    And one more — this set of galleries is pretty fabulous from National Geographic. A bonus: There’s even one for 2020 in maps and graphics.

    Enjoy!

    — Susan Catron

  • The Tide: Create your own stimulus plan

    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