30 January 2018

Newton County Solid Waste Authority meets to vote on bringing in outside trash to the Home County

The Chronicles

SWA MEETING - 1/30/18

Approx. 35 Citizens attended Tuesday's NCSWA meeting.

Chairman Phillip Wise opened w/ a statement saying that nobody wants a “trash mountain” & that anything allowed from out of the county would be looked at on a “case-by-case basis."
Several citizens spoke out against this proposed change during the first round of Citizens' comments including Porterdale Mayor Arline Chapman who gave an impressive & impassioned speech that articulated the feeling of many in the room. Several others spoke as well. 
  • Members present: Buddy Morgan, Marcello Banes, Lanier Sims, Chairman Wise, Nancy, Kent Campbell & one other & presumably legal counsel. 
  • The financial report was not encouraging. A $582K shortfall : $250K approx of operating shortfall & the rest in debt service. A seemingly dire financial situation. 

The Authority approved a SWA Checking account but tabled expenditures for a new truck and compactor. 

*Item 14 - Approval of Resolution to propose an amendment to bring in out-of-county trash to the Newton Co. Landfill on a case by case basis on outside trash. SWA wanting power to decide case by case. 

  - Sims said table indefinitely. 

Sims said he never wants to see it on the agenda again! He said if we don’t want outside trash we have to work together to find a financial solution. Shultz asking how much money Social Circle would bring into our county. SWA said It would increase our tonnage 10%. SWA wanting to increase our intake 10 or 20% to fix budget shortage. Shultz saying she wants to reduce trash mountain and not add to it. Banes wants SWA to come before the board in a work session.

The proposed amendment was tabled.

We'll keep an eye on it. 

* A TPC Correspondent contributed to this report 

28 January 2018

Sunday Check-in: Talkin' ORRs & OCGA; Saving Money & Improving Safety for the Home County; Odds & Ends

The Piedmont Chronicles
est. 2010

[State of GA] 

[Newton Co.] 

(North Covington * 28 January 2018) - 

Hello, dear readers, and we hope all is well out there in Newton & the rest of the glorious GA Piedmont. 

The Status of Two ORR (Open Records Request)s filed by The Chronicles 

As previously mentioned, this publication did file an ORR with the Clerk of the Newton BOC (Board of Commissioners) & its legal counsel, Jarrard & Davis, a couple of weeks ago seeking information on communications related to the Newton Co. Rec Commission situation. Despite filing on January 15th, TPC editor MB McCart was informed that most of the information requested will not be ready until tomorrow - Monday, January 29th. So...keep an eye out for that.

An ORR was also submitted by this publication to the Newton Co. Hospital Authority some time back. For the moment, it does not seem that most of the information desired is even available, and for what may possibly be - a cost of approx. $1,000, per a communique received by TPC, would be incurred by this publication for that information. I do know, however, that the Authority allegedly did a "document dump" when the Newton BOC & its legal counsel previously requested some information during the ambulance situation, so I'll try to get my hands on that. Perhaps the time has come for this publication to start a "Go Fund Me" or set up a Pay-pal account. Regardless, from what this publication can tell, apparently there are no records whatsoever for the Authority previous to two years ago. The Authority was chartered over 50 years ago and had received millions of dollars during that time in earmarked millage.

OCGA (Official Code of Georgia )as it relates to the Rec Commission Situation 

After much research and consultation, The Chronicles feels very confident in releasing the following statement:

The Newton Co. BOC Chairman has no legal authority to remove any member from the Newton Co. Recreation Commission. 

Save money & increase the number of Deputies on the road by doing away with the metal detectors and the multiple deputies who are assigned to both the Historic Courthouse & the Newton Administration Building 

Question: how many CPD officers man Covington's City Hall? How many metal detectors are at City Hall?

If you answered zero on both, you are correct!

Former Newton BOC Chair Keith Ellis was a grave disappointment on many levels, but perhaps nothing was more idiotic & frustrating than his knee-jerk reaction after the State of Georgia rightly declared that permitted GA Citizens could carry their firearms on government property UNLESS it was a a Judicial Center OR if screening (metal detectors) were put in place.

Get rid of the metal detectors & put a couple of Deputies back on the road. And with the remaining money I suppose our Sheriff can help pay his legal fees to Wm Thomas "Tommy" Craig...

Odds & Ends 

- An amendment to the Best Burger List of Newton Co.: the word on the street is true, folks - Five O'Clock Somewhere has one of the best burgers I've ever had! No joke. Man, it's good! Half a pound of meat with perfect seasoning & it tasted like it was grilled in your backyard. Definitely get it with the Blue Cheese. And finally somebody in town that uses the big & thick steak fries. I was impressed. Well done, Greg!

- The Steel Road Band will be doing a month-long residency at The Listening Room at Irish Bred Pub. Every Thursday night in the month of February. These guys are good. I'd recommend checking them out.

- And speaking of the Pub, local songwriter extraordinaire Campbell Harrison played a triple-bill last night & word was that it was quite the show!

That's all for now, friends. See you next time.


25 January 2018

TPC Day-tripping: a Journey to Stanton Springs

The Chronicles
25 January '18

Hello, lovely readers. Is that a new necklace? It's nice!

So the other day TPC took a stroll out to the east to check out the Baxter Baxalta Shire set-up, the learning institution & the rest of the Stanton Springs development. Recent word is that Facebook might be coming, or possibly Amazon.

Apparently this Shire facility is going to be producing blood plasma or something, or maybe "Captain Trips." The place looks like it's guarded like a military installation.

And I can confirm this: it is true that if you go down the Stanton Springs Parkway and turn around without entering one of the attended gates - and especially if you stop a couple of times to take some pictures - a security vehicle will fall in behind you within about 30 seconds.

He was eyeing me pretty good as I'd pulled over to talk with a worker marking lines near the front by Hwy 278. I flashed my press badge I had on hanging on my rear view mirror. He looked disappointed. I was hoping against hope that he'd try to talk to me, or preferably even attempt to give me some type of command, on a public road.

Naturally I'm being somewhat hyperbolic in this piece. For more research, google: "baxter pharmaceutical issues & baxter pharmaceutical flu," or click on this link about Shire's settlement for false advertising claims.

Hope all is well.


23 January 2018

Lt. Governor Candidate Geoff Duncan Speaks at Newton Co. GOP meeting

The Piedmont Chronicles 
est. 2010

[State of GA]
[Newton Co.] 

(Covington, GA - 23 January 2018) - 

The Newton County Republican Party (NCRP) held its regular monthly meeting last night at the Covington Municipal Airport's Conference center. Approx. 40 persons attended this event that was conducted by  NCRP Chair Scott Jay. After party business was attended to the assembled body heard from a few speakers, most notably Geoff Duncan, declared GOP candidate for Lt. Governor. 

In attendance were multiple elected officials including HD 112 Rep. Dave Belton, SD 17 Senator Brian Strickland, Newton Co. BOC-1 Commissioner Stan Edwards & Mansfield Councilman Brett Dunn.

Duncan was the featured speaker for this event and gave a very good speech that was well received by several in attendance. One NCRP member that I spoke with after the meeting said, "I'm really impressed with Duncan...I think he'll be the one that I get behind."

Duncan's speech highlighted his conservative values while playing up his status as the presumed underdog & "true conservative" to odds-on favorite David Shafer, who spoke to the NCRP a few months back.

This writer was impressed, and as many have commented in the past - including a certain "local politician" - Duncan is easily the most handsome man running in any statewide race in the 2018 election cycle.

Visit its webpage to get more information about the NCRP. 

Thanks for reading. Until we meet again.


21 January 2018

In Which I Reminisce About the Time Darrell Huckaby Blocked Me on Facebook

The Piedmont Chronicles
- est 2010 - 

So a fair number of you reading this might know who Darrell Huckaby is. Like me, he's a UGA grad; and also like me, he's a published writer who often discusses the South & many things Southern. Unlike me, though, he's not a muckraker or ant-hill kicker, at least not with local issues & politics.

Over the years more than a couple of folks have mentioned things like, "you're kind of the next generation's Darrell Huckaby." I'd honestly always kind of take that as a back-handed compliment. While we both had beards and the aforementioned similarities, we're really kind of night & day. And naturally for the couple of years I was writing for the Covington News while he was (and still is) doing his longtime gig at the Citizen, I got a few more of those comments. 

Darrell seems like a nice enough fella, and certainly he's a fairly gifted writer. However, and as a few folks who've known him for years might tell you, the "Huckster" can maybe sometimes get his panties in a bunch, and that leads me to this little tale.

I remember it fairly well, and I can give you the exact date: September 24th, 2011.

I can give you the date because it was the day that Georgia went to Oxford, MS and defeated the Ole Miss Rebels by a score of 27-13. During the football season chances are that a dust-up on Facebook with folks in and around the GA Piedmont is going to be something related to UGA football. Usually, however, it's folks from competing teams getting hot under the collar with one another. But not this time.

For those of you who may not remember, September of 2011 was a bit of a dicey time for UGA football. Coming off the heels of a disastrous 6-7 campaign in 2010 and just a few weeks removed from the epic embarrassment against Boise St in the season opener at the GA Dome, the general state of the Georgia program was one of borderline malaise.

Of course, some of us remember how things turned out. At least for awhile. SEC Championship game appearances in 2011 & 2012 and literally just one play away from playing for (and most likely winning) the national championship in the 2012 campaign. Honestly, this Ole Miss game kind of set the tone for that turnaround. 

I believe, if memory serves, me and Huckaduck had only become Facebook friends maybe a few months before this went down. When we connected, I'd sent him a FB message talking about writing, UGA football & a few other things. He responded back. It was nice. We seemed to be getting along pretty good.

And for the record, this game was a nooner, and all of this went down in the mid-afternoon hours. I hadn't gotten into the Bourbon yet, and there was no profanity involved.

After the game was over, the Huckman had made a post, and I really can't remember the specifics, but something about how proud he was of his Dawgs, and how big of a win it was.

And a quick sidebar here. You have to remember that at this time and with all of the backstory I previously mentioned, there was a lot of "noise in the system," as it were. By this point a fairly large contingent of UGA alumni, boosters & fans were ready to throw in the towel on the Mark Richt era. But there were also many who had a seemingly undying loyalty to Coach. Around this time a Facebook page had sprouted up called something like - The Support Coach Richt Group. And don't quote me on this, but I believe Huckaberry was maybe involved with that. But anyways, like how I am with politics, I was basically a "GDI" and could see both sides, though at this time I was feeling less and less sure about Richt being the guy to get us to an elite level. 

So he made his post, and I, naturally, felt obliged to reply.

Basically - and the memories are fairly fuzzy; this was over six years ago - I mentioned some specific concerns with all facets of the game - offense, defense & special teams - and how we were going to have to tighten up and address these concerns if we were going to rebound from an 0-2 start. I also had a line in there saying, in essence, I love Coach Richt & all but I'm just starting to wonder if he's the guy. A few more comments come in on the thread with most folks saying the same thing Huckamania was saying and at least one negative comment about my comment.

So the afternoon goes on & I'm watching college football on TV. I go back to check on the thread to, you know, see what the "Support Richt" crowd was saying. I hit on the notification for the thread and nothing happens. "Hmmm, that's odd," I thought. A few minutes later I tried again. This time it went to a page I'd never seen before basically saying that the page couldn't be found. "That's strange," I said to myself...

I got wrapped up in the games going on and then I think I ended up cooking up some steaks maybe. That evening I tried again and this time I couldn't find the post in my notifications at all. So then I searched Darrell Huckaby. His listing came up and when I hit on it - it said something like this page wasn't available. And then it hit me. The SOB blocked me! What the huck, HUCK?!

I was pretty dang pissy about it for a bit. Grits might be groceries, but an ass is an ass. Then I just shook my head & scoffed at the whole thing. As I'd heard before & since, DH's skin is maybe a little thin, and he doesn't necessarily like to hear competing viewpoints. 

As fate would have it, a few months after this went down I was at the Butcher Block waiting for a pick-up order and there on the counter was that day's edition of the Citizen. I'm thumbing through it & come across his column for that day. I've never regularly read his column & could probably count the number of ones I have on both hands. I'm scanning through it & he starts talking about Facebook. And in one line he basically says - "If I encounter someone and don't like what they're saying, hell - I'll just block 'em!" I nodded my head. Yup. He'll do it...

So that's the time Darrell Huckaby blocked me on Facebook.

For the record, I was right & he was wrong. Richt wasn't the guy.



17 January 2018

The Porch: Chapter 2 - A Piece by Ellis Millsaps

est. 2010

The Porch: Chapter 2
A piece by contributing writer Ellis Millsaps
~ Special to The Chronicles ~

Ed. Note: here is Da's much anticipated second part of "The Porch." Hope you enjoy it as much as I have. As always, thanks for reading. -MM

So I’m sitting on the porch when an overweight, adolescent girl walks by. I want to ask her if she dressed that way on purpose, but I don’t. She might go home and kill herself. I don’t need that on my conscience with my myriad of other sins.
Then Bruce and Bob walk up.
“What up?” I inquire.
“Just in the neighborhood. Thought we’d sit and chill.” says Bruce.
“Yeah, thought we’d sit here so peacefully and watch the river flow,” Bob adds.
“You know you can’t actually see the river from here,” I say.
“It’s a metaphor, Millsaps,” Dylan rejoins.
With that they pull up two chairs and sit. I pour drinks and we’re quiet for a spell.
Bruce pulls out three Cubans and after a while I break the silence. “Ain’t seen you for a while.”
“Well, the Boss here’s been busy being a big Broadway star and I’m on this neverending tour, you know.”
“And what brings you two to Porterdale, again, and particularly to my porch?”
“You tell him Bruce. I’m tired of being interviewed.”
“I’m about to observe that my only previous question was “What up?” when Bruce says, “Ah, Porterdale, Porterdale, meanest city this side of hell. Well, well, we come here for the peace. If we avoid the lofts, you’re the only person in town who recognizes us.”
“And you don’t make a big deal of it. You’re not calling the neighbors or taking those look-who-I’m-with pictures,” says Dylan.
“I think they call them selfies,” Bruce gently corrects.
“Well, I’m not very photogenic and my neighbors don’t like me.”
“Not even Arline?” Bob asks.
“It was one of those self deprecating jokes I peddle, Zimmerman.”
I’m about to ask how he knows Arline when up walks Elvis, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie and, to my surprise, Tom Petty.

It’s hard to be surprised on this porch, but at least they’ve brought folding chairs.

 Ellis Millsaps 

Ellis was an attorney by trade (now recovering) but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved. You can read his past works at TPC by visiting his Contributing Writer page

15 January 2018

Checking in on the Rec Commission Situation

The Piedmont Chronicles 
- Est. 2010

[State of GA]

[Newton Co.]

As previously covered by this publication, the termination suspension with pay of former (?) Recreation Department Director Anthony Avery has been quite the thing. Unfortunately, with each passing day it seems as if this whole thing continues to spiral more and more out of control and, sad to say, it seems as if race is the only factor for many folks both inside and outside the arena of this particular situation.

This much we know: 

Anthony Avery was terminated by the Board of Directors of the Recreation Commission.

What we may or may not know: 

His termination was changed to a suspension with pay by Newton Co. HR, perhaps, but maybe not, per the advice of county legal counsel, possibly. maybe, allegedly...

Here's where it gets juicy: 

Word on the street is that everybody & their brother & sister is getting in on this thing - BOC Commissioners, City of Covington Council members, County Constitutional Officers, the Minister's Union, maybe former county attorneys, and about 227 other persons apparently. That's why The Chronicles will be submitting an Open Records Request first thing in the A.M. We'll keep you posted on that.

And here's what starting to become fairly apparent: 

The Chronicles has in its possession multiple official documents that clearly shows, in our estimation, that Mr. Avery was definitely fired WITH cause. While apparently the actual process of terminating Avery under his classification of a civil servant was mishandled, that is no reason for a county as beyond broke as Newton to feel compelled to agree to a possible settlement that some are saying has eclipsed the $300,000 mark. Also, The Chronicles are in close contact with an anonymous source who says the really heavy stuff is about hit. Based on their previous track record, we have little doubt that they will be proven correct.

Also, it seems as if our quasi-esteemed Chair, Marcello Banes,  is maybe either getting bad advice from somebody, or somebodies, or is being set up to fail miserably, by that same somebody, or somebodies. Sending out certified letters threatening to improperly and illegally remove Rec Commission Board members is about as dumb as trying to violate the county's form of government to take over operations of a county facility. Oh, wait, that's right...

Tonto Network; ear to the ground & all that.

We'll be keeping an eye on it.



05 January 2018

Ramblin' Man: A Piece by Ellis Millsaps

Ramblin’ Man

A piece by contributing writer Ellis Millsaps * Special to The Chronicles

I choose this title because I intend to ramble on, but while we’re here let’s talk about the Dickie Betts classic. A Southern anthem, I think it’s one of the Allman Brothers’ best tracks. Another one of my favorites is “Midnight Rider” off their second album, though most people are more familiar with Gregg’s re imagined version on his first solo record. It’s a classic because of that underlying guitar riff. I love it when the soaring guitar solo drops back to the killer riff.

Beck, brilliant musical innovator of the 21st century, for his first hit, “Loser,” could have called it Beck and Gregg, because the underlying guitar part is unvarnished “Midnight Rider.”

But meanwhile ramblin’ on, I’ve been a politics junkie since high school. It was Eugene McCarthy’s opposition to the war that first electrified me. For my generation, “the war” isn’t WWII the big one, it’s Vietnam, a place where I might be sent to die to satisfy the lies of a bunch of old white guys, including my maternal cousin Dean Rusk.

I watch election returns with the enthusiasm that some watch the lottery numbers fall. The election returns from the recent Alabama senate race were for me riveting TV.

There was amazing drama. With 75% of the vote in, I think Roy Moore was leading by six percentage points, but the networks considered it “too early to call.” They were calling it that way because the precincts out there were the cities: Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, and Auburn, the places with concentrations of black votes.

We know what happened after that.

I watched these returns partly on my favorite TV show, “The Rachel Maddow Show,” but I think it was the next day, the aftermath, when her show had for a backdrop a banner proclaiming “Alabama Shakes.” One has to be as cool as Rachel and I to appreciate that slogan, but the music I thought about was Neil Young, “Oh, oh, Alabama, the devil fools with the best laid plans.”

Of course when we hear Neil’s “Alabama” we white trash shift immediately to Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home,” which to Rolling Stone Neil famously conceded was a much better song than his, "And then when I found out I was in it…” more superlatives.

I need a theme here to tie this piece together, something like the Dude’s rug.

Remember about a year ago when you could wake up in the morning and know the President of the United States wasn’t a deranged, pathological liar?

Man, that was awesome.

And “Well, how did I get here?”

I of course voted for Clinton, but I didn’t give her any money. I sent my 29 dollars to Bernie. She didn’t need my money. What she needed was my advice which, as you may have assumed, she didn’t ask for.

Had she, the advice I would have given was that which Lou Grant gave to Ted Baxter on the occasion of Ted’s upcoming nuptials. Lou didn’t want to give Ted advice, but when Ted kept insisting said, “Ok, Ted, you know the way you always are (pause) well don’t be that way.”

Remember when you could wake up in the morning and know the President wasn’t an egomaniacal imbecile.

I’m loving watching Trump’s undoing as much as I did the Watergate hearings in my early twenties. I was glued to the television for months. I was thrilled to see Tricky Dick go down. But while Nixon was also dishonest and criminal he wasn’t an imbecile, and he did despite that, in a plausible way, try to president good.

At last check, the Vegas betting line is still slightly in favor of Trump serving out his term. If I had any money I’d take that bet.

You may not have read it here first, but the Democrats will sweep to power in the house in ten months, then Trump will be impeached. They may not take the senate, but there are enough honorable Republicans there to complete the deal. Aah, the art of the deal.
They might not be able to dump Pence the way they did Agnew, because that would require Trump approving a replacement which he will not do. But maybe if they told him that  Obama thinks he shouldn’t go along with the replacement…

And what will happen after we’ve dumped Trump? I’m thinking the rest of the world will let us back in the club if we agree to stand in the corner and think about what we’ve done.

*Author’s note: this piece was written before the recent blockbuster news about the new Trump expose.  Ellis Millsaps

Ellis is a recovering Attorney but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved...