Georgia News Roundup
June 12, 2013 03:05 PM | 999 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Search committees formed for Georgia college president

ATLANTA (AP) — Two committees have been formed as part of a national search for the next president of Middle Georgia State College.

Currently, John Black is serving as interim president of the college with campuses in Macon, Cochran, Dublin, Eastman and Warner Robins.

Regents Chair Dink NeSmith announced the appointment Tuesday of 15 people to a campus-based committee, which will forward between three and five candidates to a second committee comprised of select members of the university system's Board of Regents.

That committee is responsible for recommending finalists to university system Chancellor Hank Huckaby, who will make a recommendation to the full Board of Regents.

The college is the result of a merger earlier this year of Macon State College and Middle Georgia College. The college has nearly 9,000 students.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Hunter Army Airfield getting new top officer

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah has a new top officer taking charge.

A change of command ceremony was scheduled Wednesday to install Lt. Col. Clarence Bowman as the Army post's new garrison commander. He will succeed Lt. Col. Edward Kovaleski, who held the job for two years.

Hunter Army Airfield covers more than 5,300 acres in Savannah and is home to aviation units of the 3rd Infantry Division based at nearby Fort Stewart as well as other tenant units including elite Army Rangers and special operations helicopter crews.

Hunter's garrison commander reports to the command at Fort Stewart.

The Savannah airfield is set up to efficiently deploy troops overseas. Its 11,340-foot runway is the longest of any Army post east of the Mississippi River.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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New mental health center planned in south Georgia

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — State mental health officials have announced expanding service at an Albany facility is expected to create 20 new jobs in the area.

Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Frank Berry announced Monday that the department is investing $4.9 million to create a Behavioral Health Crisis Center in Dougherty County.

Berry says the center will have a capacity of 30 beds and six temporary observation beds. Berry says the center will help the department "achieve its mission of serving individuals with mental health challenges as close to home as possible."

A behavioral health crisis center blends short-term walk-in crisis intervention and counseling services with emergency, and crisis stabilization services. The center is slated to include physicians, registered nurses, licensed clinicians and other behavioral health professionals.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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GBI closing its Handwriting Analysis Unit 

ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is eliminating its Handwriting Analysis Unit, which had been operating for 20 years.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that experts say that the long-established crime-solving tool of handwriting comparison, which came into use more than a century ago, is going the way of snail mail and cursive penmanship.

The unit was temporarily suspended last June to allow GBI analysts time to get up to speed on their accreditation. But on May 31, the GBI permanently closed the unit. It provided services for local law enforcement agencies that are investigating forgeries, fraudulent documents, suicide notes, threatening letters, bank robbery demand notes and other questioned documents. Those agencies will now have to use private vendors.

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Isakson calls for hearing on Atlanta VA hospital

ATLANTA (AP) — U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is calling for a hearing on the Atlanta VA Medical Center after two federal audits earlier this year detailed allegations of mismanagement of mental health programs and poor patient care linked to three deaths.

The Georgia Republican said Wednesday he has requested the Senate VA Committee hold a field hearing in Atlanta in August.

Isakson says it's "imperative that the committee follows up with the VA in a public forum to address the problems at the Atlanta VA Medical Center and any progress the VA has made in improving the mental health care provided in all of their facilities."

Earlier, Isakson and Sen. Saxby Chambliss sent letters to the VA secretary seeking information about what steps have been taken to address problems cited in the audits.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Girl, 16, dies while 'car surfing' on vehicle hood

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Authorities say a Dawson County teenager has been killed while riding on the hood of a moving vehicle in a stunt known as "car surfing."

Law officers say 16-year-old Anna Hawkins was killed shortly before 10 p.m. Monday, when the driver of the car lost control on a curve on Couch Road. She died when being taken to Northside Hospital-Forsyth.

Georgia State Patrol Post spokeswoman Robin Stone said the 16-year-old driver, whose name wasn't released, was traveling at an excessive rate of speed.

Hawkins was a rising junior at Dawson County High School. She played on the girls' varsity soccer team her freshman and sophomore years, The Times of Gainesville reported.

"This is our worst nightmare, losing one of our kids," Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the phenomenon and reported in 2008 that at least 99 people had died or sustained serious injuries while car surfing since 1990. CDC researchers reviewed newspaper reports to compile the research. It found that males were more likely to participate in the activity, and that injuries were reported in 31 states.

It is difficult to know how many people are injured or killed while car-surfing because national injury surveillance systems, trauma registries, and death certificates lack sufficient detail to distinguish victims from others who have fallen from moving motor vehicles, the CDC reported.

In their 2008 report, researchers noted that car-surfing was increasingly being filmed and posted on video-sharing websites.

"However, these videos often do not portray the associated risk for injury or death," the researchers wrote.

Information from: The Times, http://www.gainesvilletimes.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Columbus mayor: Massive layoffs could be ahead 

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — The mayor of Columbus is warning of "massive layoffs" of city workers next year if the consolidated government continues on its current path.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson also accused public safety department heads Tuesday of using the threat of layoffs to "maintain possibly inflated budgets."

Tomlinson also announced plans to hold monthly council work sessions starting in July to review public safety department budgets, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported. She said the budgets would be examined "line by line" to see if there are places other than personnel to trim "fluff."

City Council member Judy Thomas took issue with Tomlinson's criticism of the public safety department heads.

"I do not believe that the fire chief, nor the police chief, nor the sheriff came to this council and presented anything to us that they did not believe was absolutely what they needed in their budget to do their job," Thomas said.

"I believe that when we look at budgets and we see that the majority of funds in these budgets are personnel costs, and we have to cut these budgets dramatically, there are not a lot of places to cut," Thomas added.

During recent budget review hearings, Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren said cutting the 1.5 percent Tomlinson wanted from his budget (and all other city budgets) would likely cost him 20 police officer positions.

Fire and EMS Chief Jeff Meyer said cuts would cost him 14 positions.

Sheriff John Darr said 59 deputies could be laid off as a result.

All three public safety officials received concessions from council, putting their budgets higher than the mayor's proposals. Only Marshal Greg Countryman's department took the full 1.5 percent cut.

In the budget review process, councilors added back a total of $2.62 million of cuts made to reach Tomlinson's proposed $266.9 million budget. Of that $2.62 million, $2.4 million went to public safety.

Information from: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, http://ledger-enquirer.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. 

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