Sunday Solutions — Jan. 29, 2023

We’ve got news, updates and dinner, in the form of Brunswick stew. Get a spoon because there’s a lot to dig into.

The Okefenokee is the largest wildlife refuge east of the Mississippi. Credit: Photo courtesy office of Sen. Jon Ossoff

DNR Board hears mining permit update

The state’s regulators tasked with the permit process for mining near the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge met Friday at St. Simons Island and got updates on the controversial request. The Current’s environment reporter Mary Landers describes the 3-minute presentation, the questions and reactions. The process is now in the public comment stage, which lasts until March 20. The director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division told the state’s Department of Natural Resources Board that his group is evaluating the plan’s proposed mining process as well as provisions for protecting the adjacent watersheds and post-mining cleanup. The EPD is a a division of the DNR. Board members asked specific questions about the evaluation, encouraging those in the audience who oppose the mining permits.

Mary Ross Waterfront Park in Brunswick during Saturday’s Stewbilee. Credit: Justin Taylor Credit: Justin Taylor for The Current

Out & about: Brunswick Stewbilee

This weekend, Brunswick celebrated the age-old recipe coastal natives know as winter’s slow-cooked comfort food: Brunswick Stew. Roy and Mandy Chambliss took first place in both the Peoples Choice and Judged Professionals categories, as well as the overall 2023 Grand Champion award. The Chamblisses own and operate Roy’s Nutz and Buttz in Bloomingdale, but for Saturday they owned Mary Ross Waterfront Park and this year’s Stewbilee.

Roy and Mandy Chambliss Credit: Justin Taylor for The Current

Cooking with gas?

Count your Sunday editor as one who loves cooking on her gas stove. And, contrary to popular rumor, no one’s trying to ban them. Here’s a look at the policy discussions from However, there are climate and health considerations. This article from ProPublica goes through those facts along with a reporter who wanted to know more. Here’s what she found.

How do foster children end up in hotels?

State officials are taking on a managed care group that it says leaves children in Georgia’s foster care system stranded in hotels. One night last month, a 9-year-old boy who had autism and talked about killing himself was among about 70 foster care children sleeping in hotels. He’d been denied placement in a facility by the agency the state hired to see that children would get help for complex mental and behavioral needs. The problem, which has many layers, isn’t isolated to Georgia but the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services is recommending the group’s contract not be renewed. This story from Kaiser Health News takes a look at the problems, solutions and expectations.

Considerable: Infrastructure cracks

  • Pennsylvania governor drops college degree requirements for state jobs: In an effort to stem workforce shortages and expand the labor force, the new chief executive officer of the state signed an order dropping degree requirements that affect 65,000 jobs. A story from Route Fifty describes the potential impact.
  • When the infrastructure boom meets the workforce crash: In another story from Route Fifty, state and local officials across the country look for ways to attract young people to the 300,000 annual construction jobs. It’s a common need as the number of skilled workers falls to retirement and job moves at the same time federal money is pouring in to pay for projects of all types.
  • Inflation is cutting into states’ big infrastructure windfall: If labor shortages aren’t enough, there’s another problem for states ready to spend the $350 billion in federal infrastructure money over 5 years. Projects already set to begin are costing 20% to 40% more money than anticipated. Ohio officials say they are almost tapped out, according to this story from Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

TELEHEALTH AUTISM Zernzach works with child
Dr. Randall Zernzach, a developmental pediatrician with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, uses telehealth to work with a young patient on Dec. 9, 2022. The use of telemedicine is expanding options for families who may not have easy access to treatment. Credit: Photo courtesy of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

Your second cup: Pandemic discovery

The Covid years brought many underlying problems to the surface. In one case, however it provided a discovery: Telehealth technology allows counselors and children with developmental needs to continue successful progress and has the power — any time — to reach more children than ever in rural areas. Here’s the story of an Indigenous family and therapists in remote Alaska that, before the pandemic, had to wait for months for appointments and therapists had to drive for days to give in-person help. Now they’ve found ways to connect by video regularly and continue the work.


EPD director updates board on mining project near Okefenokee

Mining near the Okefenokee is a hot button issue with the public, but board meeting brought only a brief update and a few questions.

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What to know: Risks of gas stoves, appliances

Nitrogen dioxide exacerbates asthma and impairs lung function. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates these emissions from cars and power plants with national air quality standards, but those regulations don’t apply to indoor air.

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Despite ongoing investigation and scientific disputes, a plan for strip mine near Okefenokee advances

While weighing fines for the mining company, state regulators open a comment period on its controversial plan to strip mine near the Okefenokee.

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Unmet needs: Critics cite failures in health care for vulnerable foster children

While foster care grabs headlines mainly in cases of abuse or neglect — even deaths — the failures of states and insurers in providing adequate health care for these children are widespread and occur largely without public scrutiny.

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Telehealth offers boost to children with developmental needs

A recent study of services in Iceland found that parents could learn and retain the skills that they need to better support a child with autism, and demonstrated that it is also possible to communicate securely and effectively on an older, wireless network.

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Rural Americans aren’t included in inflation figures – and for them, cost of living rises faster

But the main indicator of inflation, the consumer price index, is compiled by looking at the changes in price specifically urban Americans pay for a set basket of goods. Those living in rural America are not surveyed.

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