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Morning Headlines: ACC Commissioners push for March special election

ACC Mayor Kelly Girtz speaks at a Mayor and Commission meeting on September 15, 2022.
ACC Mayor Kelly Girtz speaks at a Mayor and Commission meeting on September 15, 2022.

The Athens-Clarke County Commission voted 7 – 0 on Thursday night to urge the county’s Board of Elections to hold a special election in March to fill the District 2 commission seat, rather than trying to hold the election on November 8.

That vote follows a similar call from Mayor Kelly Girtz, pushing for the March election. At Thursday’s meeting, Girtz laid out his reasons for why he feels the election should wait until next spring.

"We know that we've had a significant redistricting this year, and so we find ourselves in greatest legal clarity when we move into the new year, and so we are in an environment where the new maps are in effect," Girtz told commissioners.

Girtz also noted that a March election would give candidates more time to make their case to the voters.

In a Board of Elections meeting earlier this week, county Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee laid out a number of reasons why a November 8 special election Could be a logistical and administrative boondoggle, including the need for extra elections staff and voting machines, as well as the possibility of errors.

District 10’s Mike Hamby spoke in favor of the March date as well.

"It just seems to me the cleanest way is having it in March," Hamby said.

While all the commissioners present voted in favor of the resolution calling for a March election, the final decision rests with the county’s Board of Elections, which will meet next Wednesday to make a final determination.

Kemp announces aid for Grady

Gov. Brian Kemp is allocating $130 million dollars from COVID relief funds to help add 200 inpatient beds at Grady Memorial Hospital’s new surgery center, slated to open next year.

Grady is one of a handful of hospitals getting ready to shift operations as Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center’s closes in November.

Speaking at the Capitol, Kemp said the funding will create more than enough space at Grady Memorial Hospital, which is bracing for an influx of underinsured and uninsured patients.

"Our team's desire was to come together with these partners to fill the gap that's been left by AMC closing," Kemp said. This plan does that.”

Grady will also have access to a temporary medical unit with 24 patient rooms, and is receiving higher Medicaid reimbursement from a state aid program passed this summer.

Fulton County Commission Chair Rob Pitts says county and state leaders also need to talk about long-term solutions.

Filling that void, in my judgment, is going to require a new facility," Pitts said.

Grady is co-owned by Fulton and Dekalb Counties.

Employment numbers continue to look rosy

Employment numbers continue to look good in Georgia.

The number of unemployed Georgians - those without a job and searching for work, remained at 2.8% in August, its lowest level since early 2001. Still, hundreds of thousands of jobs remain open in Georgia.

Currently, the state’s jobs website lists 220,000 open positions. To fill about 1,900 of them, the state is holding an online career fair for metro Atlanta Sept. 29th. But low unemployment was partly due to a decline in the number of people in the workforce, which has dropped for two consecutive months. And it does not account for people who have no job but are not looking for work.

UGA to offer COVID and flu vaccines

As flu season rapidly approaches, UGA’s Health Center is offering flu and COVID vaccines for students, faculty and staff.

Flu shots will be available at mobile clinics across campus throughout September and October, as well as at a large, one day event at Ramsey Student Center on October 5 from 9am to 3pm. No appointments are necessary to receive a flu shot at this event, and there will be no out-of-pocket costs for students.

The University Health Center has also received a limited supply of doses of the recently approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Students, faculty and staff can receive this COVID booster free of charge.

To find additional information about vaccination opportunities or to schedule an appointment, visit www.healthcenter.uga.edu.

UGA Volleyball tames Wolfpack

In sports, UGA Volleyball tamed the NC State Wolfpack yesterday 3-0. They return to Athens tomorrow night to face off against number 7 Georgia Tech. UGA football heads to Columbia tomorrow for an in-conference game against unranked South Carolina. The Atlanta Braves play the Phillies tonight at home – first pitch is at 7:20.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.
Alexia Ridley joined WUGA as Television and Radio News Anchor and Reporter in 2013. When WUGA TV concluded operations, she became the primary Reporter for WUGA Radio. Alexia came to Athens from Macon where she served as the News Director and show host for WGXA TV. She's a career journalist and Savannah native hailing from the University of Michigan. However, Alexia considers herself an honorary UGA DAWG!