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Local News

  • City Hall says the new voting machines we will use in elections starting next year will be on display at various locations around Athens starting next week and continuing through February. The new machines, which feature touch screens and paper back-ups, can be inspected starting next Thursday at the Georgia Square Mall on Atlanta Highway in Athens.  From the Athens-Clarke Co government website… As of the March 2020 Presidential Preference Primary election, Athens-Clarke County voters will begin using new voting equipment for the first time in nearly 20 years. The new system is paper based, while still using secure technology for voter accuracy. The new system is managed by the Georgia Secretary of State's office for use throughout Georgia and completely replaces the previous voting system. 'I'm excited to use the new system and for Athens-Clarke County voters to try it out for themselves,' says Charlotte Sosebee, Athens-Clarke County Director of Elections and Voter Registration. 'The new voting system is easy to use, provides opportunities for voters to review their votes on a screen and on paper before casting their ballot, and also provides our office with multiple ways to review election results if necessary.' When voting with the new system, a voter will check in using a photo ID and receive a voter access card, which does not contain any information about the voter. Using touchscreen ballot marking devices, a voter will make their selections, review their selections onscreen, print out a paper ballot, review their selections in-hand, and scan their paper ballot into an optical scanner themselves when ready.  This provides an opportunity for voters to review their ballot both onscreen and in-hand. Voters will be alerted onscreen if they leave a section blank, don't cast a vote, or do not make all available selections, but will not be required to cast a vote in any race or to make all available selections. After scanning a ballot, the ballot is deposited into a secure container. Voters will not take the ballot with them. The new system not only creates digital images of all ballots, but also securely keeps the printed versions for the Board of Elections as a paper trail for recounts or audits, if needed. The Board of Elections has a test unit available for the public to try out until early February. The unit can be tested at the Board of Elections Office, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. The unit has a series of questions about Georgia to allow voters to try out different kinds of votes, such as those that might require multiple selections in a single election. Staff will also have a test unit at several public events and locations scheduled during December and January. Locations currently confirmed are: , Dec. 19 – 4:00-6:00 p.m. – Georgia Square Mall at the Center Court, 3700 Atlanta Highway , Dec. 21 – 1:00-3:00 p.m. – Georgia Square Mall at the Center Court, 3700 Atlanta Highway , Jan. 9 – 8:45 a.m. - Noon – Athens-Clarke County Regional Library, 2025 Baxter Street , Jan. 14 – Noon-2:00 p.m. – Iris Place in the Atrium, 755 Epps Bridge Parkway , Jan. 17 – 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. – Athens Community Career Academy in the Common Area, 440 Dearing Extension , Jan. 19 – Noon until parishioners leave – Ebenezer Baptist West, 205 N. Chase Street, in the Vestibule , Jan. 21 – 8:00 a.m. - Noon – Miriam Moore Community Center, 410 McKinley Drive, Suite 101 , Feb. 5 – 10:00 a.m. - Noon – Saint Mary’s Hospital, 1230 Baxter Street, in the Atrium/Lobby Additional locations and dates may be added and will be listed at accgov.com/elections. The Georgia Secretary of State has also launched the Secure The Vote website at www.securevotega.com that contains information about how to vote using the new equipment, the legislative process of purchasing the equipment from Dominion, frequently asked questions, online voter registration, newspaper articles about counties that took part in the pilot project, and additional information about the new equipment. For more information about the local demonstration units, visit accgov.com/elections or contact the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections at 706-613-3150.
  • Athens Tech says the front entrance to the college will be closed in both directions for the next two weeks. Crews are working on a new visitors center at Athens Technical College.    From Athens Technical College… Pardon our progress while we grow for you with the addition of a NEW visitors center: Beginning this evening, on our Athens Campus, the Front Entrance will be closed in both directions.  All traffic will need to enter and exit the campus off Old Hull Road.  The main entrance is expected to be open in January.
  • The University of Georgia gymnastics team is ranked eighth in the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association’s preseason poll.    The GymDogs finished the season in the same spot after advancing to the NCAA National Championships with a decade-best score of 198.050 in the Athens Regional.    All eight teams in the Southeastern Conference were ranked in the top 20. Reigning SEC Champion LSU leads the way at No. 2, followed by Florida at No. 3. After the No. 8 GymDogs, Alabama checks in at No. 10 with Kentucky (No. 12), Auburn (No. 13), and Missouri (No. 16) following. Arkansas rounds out the conference’s presence in the poll at No. 20.    During the regular season Georgia will face five additional teams currently ranked in the Top 36, including reigning national championship and top ranked Oklahoma, Denver (No. 6), Oregon State (No. 11), Iowa State (No. 20), and Iowa (No. 29).    GymDogs fans have the opportunity to see the team before the official start to the season in the annual 'First Look', which is scheduled for Tuesday, December 17 at 6:30 in Stegeman Coliseum.  Georgia opens the season on January 3 at The Critique Classic Invitational in Kissimmee, Florida, against Bridgeport, Iowa, and Oregon State, before welcoming the LSU Tigers to Athens on January 10. 
  • Athens-Clarke County Police have arrest warrants for a 28 year-old woman from Punta Gorda Florida: Emma McIlwain is charged with financial transaction fraud. Police say she worked with what is known as the Felony Lane Gang. She was arrested last month in Montana and is facing similar charges there. From the ACCPD… On December 9th, ACCPD obtained 15 arrest warrants for Emma Patrice McIlwain, 28 years old from Punta Gorda, Florida, for her involvement in Felony Lane Gang crimes in Athens, Georgia, in late October, 2019.    McIlwain is part of a large Felony Lane Gang, whose name stems from the location they prefer to commit fraudulent transactions – a bank’s drive-thru lane farthest from the teller – dubbed the “felony lane” by law enforcement. In order to commit the fraudulent transactions, the gang commits other crimes such as entering autos, identity theft/fraud, and forgeries. ACCPD Detective Nathaniel Franco determined that members of the Felony Lane Gang visited Athens in September, 2019. McIlwain’s associates stole credit cards, checks, and identity documents from a victim’s car in Ben Burton Park on September 17, 2019. (Incident Number: 201909170193) Det. Franco confirmed that McIlwain used these stolen documents to withdraw almost $22,000 from banks in Winder, Watkinsville, and Athens (including the victim’s bank account), on October 25, 2019. (Incident Number: 2019-10250155)    In a related incident, a Felony Gang member used identity documents stolen from a parked car in Southeast Clarke Park on September 17, 2019, in fraudulent transactions in Charleston, SC.  McIlwain was arrested in Butte, Montana, in November, 2019, while possessing stolen identity information and forged checks in unrelated cases. She is currently being held in Montana on those offenses.    Det. Franco identified and linked McIlwain to the Athens’ incidents with assistance from the FBI and detectives from the Butte-Silver Bow Law Enforcement Department in Butte, Montana.    In Athens-Clarke County, McIlwain is facing 14 Felony Charges and 1 Misdemeanor Charge including Identity Fraud, Forgery in the First Degree, Felony Theft by Deception, Criminal Attempt to Commit Theft by Deception, Financial Transaction Card Theft, and Theft by Receiving Stolen Property.    According to Det. Franco, Felony Lane Gangs have targeted Athens several times over the last year. These gangs select parks, daycares, gyms, and other public places where purses or wallets are left in vehicles. A gang member breaks the vehicle window, grabs a purse or wallet, and then leaves the area in a rented car, frequently with a stolen tag.    “These gangs operate in broad daylight and wait for individuals to leave their vehicle to pick up children, take a walk, or workout,” said Detective Franco, who has been with the ACCPD for over 11 years. “It is important to always remove valuable items from your vehicle. If you are a victim, you should contact the ACCPD but also remember to reach out to your bank and credit card companies, as well as keep a close eye on your accounts to prevent fraudulent transactions.”

Bulldog News

  • Kirby Smart's hire of Matt Luke as Georgia football associate head coach and offensive line coach provided a prompt and strong answer to Sam Pittman's departure to become the Arkansas head coach. It was a statement hire if ever there was one for the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs, serving notice Georgia remains a top choice for elite coaches as well as the best players in the country. Luke, with his three years of SEC head coaching experience and the countless NFL contacts that brings, is sure to continue Georgia's trend of recruiting and developing the top offensive linemen in the country. Beyond that, it gives Smart one more dynamic football mind in the meeting rooms. Luke has several years of co-offensive coordinator experience under noted offensive gurus David Cutclifffe (Duke) and Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) that led up to his appointment as the Rebels head coach. Ole Miss beat writer Neal McCready, who has covered the program 13 years and writes for RebelGrove.com, the school's Rivals.com-affiliated, took some time out for DawgNation. McCready, who also covered Houston Nutt and Freeze in Oxford, provided valuable insight into Luke, who has hit the ground running recruiting at Smart's side this week. Here are five questions with Neal McCready: Q: What kind of offensive line coach is Georgia getting in Matt Luke, in terms of what sort of players he has produced and what his Ole Miss offensive lines looked like? McCready: Luke is an excellent offensive line coach. He's worked for David Cutcliffe and Hugh Freeze in that capacity two coaches with very different offensive styles. At Georgia, I think he'll thrive in the Bulldogs' pro-style offense and he'll obviously enjoy working with the elite talent in Athens. Luke did a phenomenal job with Laremy Tunsil at Ole Miss, but in fairness, Tunsil is the best offensive lineman I've ever seen in person. More impressively than his work with Tunsil, take a look at the job he did with guys like Sean Rawlings, Fahn Cooper, Justin Bell, Aaron Morris, Robert Conyers, Rod Taylor and Javon Patterson. Those aren't household names and they weren't/aren't elite talents, but Luke developed them into very effective SEC offensive linemen. 2. How effective is Matt Luke as a recruiter? You know his personality as well as anyone, what is he like? McCready:Luke is as nice a guy as you'll ever meet. He's remarkably humble, down to earth and congenial. He's a man's man fair, gentlemanly and a great husband and father to his family. Kids like him. Players love playing for him. He's honest with recruits. He's good at building relationships. I suspect he'll do very well on the recruiting trail working for Georgia. 3. Matt has been a co-offensive coordinator and obviously had control of the Ole Miss offense, ultimately. What are some staples of his philosophy? McCready:I think his ideal offense is a run-oriented, smash-mouth, physical brand of football. He's a former offensive lineman who blocked for Deuce McAllister in college, and he's worked for Phillip Fulmer and David Cutcliffe. He's coached under Freeze, who utilizes more zone-blocking and spread schemes. So while he's seen it all, he's a guy who loves the physical aspect of offense. 4. How do you see Matt blending in with Kirby Smart and the insanely high expectations at Georgia, where there figures to be immediate pressure on him to produce one of the top lines in the nation? McCready:Don't forget he was part of two very good Ole Miss teams as an offensive line coach. Those 2014 and 2015 teams were contenders. He's worked for Fulmer. Pressure won't faze him. That won't be an issue. He'll fit right in with Smart, by the way. There are a lot of similarities between the two men. Both were underdogs as players. Both are players' coaches. Again, I think he's a great fit replacing Sam Pittman at Georgia. 5. What is the best way to characterize Matt's relationship with the Ole Miss fans, and how they will remember him and his tenure? Just how difficult of a situation did he take over and did he leave it in a better place? McCready:Ole Miss fans will also be grateful to Luke. He is a former player who has poured his heart and soul into the school. He and his wife, Ashley, are beloved in Oxford. He took over a train wreck in July 2016 and stabilized it. He got the permanent job after a 6-6 season in a way that was, frankly, unfair to him. The school said it was conducting a national search and then hired the former coach's offensive line coach. Fans never completely bought in because of that. Luke was loyal to Freeze's coordinators, Wesley McGriff and Phil Longo, and when 2018 went sideways, fans blamed him. Last season, with Mike MacIntyre and Rich Rodriguez as coordinators, Ole Miss showed marked improvement, but this is a scoreboard business. Close losses to Memphis, California, Missouri, Texas A&M, Auburn and Mississippi State just led to apathy. He left the program far better than he inherited it. I suspect there was, deep down, a sense of relief to move on. I know he felt he was close, and he likely was, but 2020 was going to be challenging, and it was going to be difficult to survive. He'll be well-paid in Athens, and I think a change of scenery and a chance to reboot his career will be revitalizing for Luke. The post 5 questions about Georgia OL coach Matt Luke with Ole Miss beat writer Neal McCready appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia sophomore tailback James Cook was one of the few bright spots in the SEC Championship Game for the Bulldogs, and he's just getting warmed up. 'I've learned to always be prepared when your number is called,' said Cook, a 5-foot-11, 198-pound tailback from Miami. 'And I learned to fight through things.' Cook has proven he can fight through tackles and run away from defenders this season. Against LSU last Saturday, he had 23 yards on 5 carries along with a catch for 11 yards. It wasn't the sort of season some had expected for Cook, who impressed his head coach and teammates in spring drills and throughout season practices. Kirby Smart said several times the Bulldogs had to find a way to get the dynamic Cook the football in the open field. Cook finished fourth on the team in rushing with 176 yards on 28 carries, his 6.3 yards per carry second only to freshman Kenny McIntosh (19 carries for 148 yards). Cook also had 16 catches for 132 yards, tied with Brian Herrien for second-most among the backs, behind D'Andre Swift (24-216). Learning to play receiver as well as running back added more to Cook's plate this season, and he also started the season as a kick returner. 'It's something you have to embrace and learn from,' Cook said of spreading out and learning new roles. 'Things are going to get better.' Cook has made it clear he has no intention of leaving Georgia. He's well-aware with Swift and Herrien moving on there will be plenty of carries and snaps to split up. Minnesota Vikings' star running back Dalvin Cook, James' older brother, has provided wise counsel. 'I just learn from him and ask for advice, I look up to him,' James Cook said. 'I just talked to him, and he said Keep pushing, save your body, and keep working hard, and next year it will come.' ' Opportunity will likely come even sooner than that. Swift is nursing an injured shoulder and is not expected to play in the Sugar Bowl. Cook said he's eager to get back to work, and he senses the team is too with the Jan. 1 meeting with Baylor on deck in New Orleans. 'We're going to approach it like champions,' Cook said. 'We're going to go back to practice and get ready for the single bowl game we have to play. 'I'm going to keep working, and work on getting bigger, stronger and faster.' I'll be back pic.twitter.com/cr76n7zApg James Cook (@thegreat__4) December 9, 2019 Georgia tailback James Cook DawgNation Georgia football League-leading UGA defense shut out on first-team All-SEC Zamir White keeps working hard 3 critical factors with Sam Pittman leaving Georgia staff Georgia favored over Baylor in Sugar Bowl clash Arkansas announces Sam Pittman as next head coach Kirby Smart calm at center of Georgia whirlwind D'Andre Swift discusses limits and pain in SEC Championship The post WATCH: Georgia RB James Cook confident things are going to get better' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • File this under the-what-I'm-hearing column in regard to Georgia and 5-star OT commitment Broderick Jones and his current commitment. Jones is the second-highest rated of Georgia's 15 public commitments for 2020. When Sam Pittman opted to go for his dream job at Arkansas, it did affect his recruitment. It could even be termed as a crushing development. He really wanted to play for Pittman. When he first met him, he was naturally comfortable. DawgNation outlined the 2020 O-line recruiting class outlook in an extensive breakdown on Monday. But there was a definite unknown as to where Jones goes now. Auburn was coming hard. Still is. Georgia was likely going to be able to hold off the Tigers with Pittman in Athens. Before the news broke on Matt Luke being hired to replace Pittman at Georgia , we were able to check in on Jones and his process going forward by persons very familiar with his situation. There are a few more knowns here to share: Kirby Smart and Jonas Jennings (on the road for UGA while Georgia was without an O-line coach) went to see Jones on Monday. It was a priority stop after the Pittman news broke. Luke's hiring does help Georgia's cause to retain Jones. He has not de-committed from Georgia and 'probably' will not. 'He loves it there (at UGA) but this did put Auburn in the race.' Georgia made a lot of sense because of Pittman, the way he related and coached his players and the way he developed players like Lithonia native Andrew Thomas and had him ready to play right away. When Jones watched the Bulldogs play, he was always focused on the offensive linemen, including Thomas. That said, Athens was always a big draw for Jones and his family based on location. It will be much easier to travel to see him play. Jones is actually very busy playing basketball right now. His Lithonia High team is ranked No. 1 in the Georgia High School Association's Class 5A rankings at this time. He is not a mid-year graduate so this gives him time to check out all his options and get a new feel for what UGA will now be like with Luke leading the offensive line room. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Jones has some uncommon all-around athletic ability for his size. He rates as a 5-star recruit and the nation's No. 19 overall prospect on the 247Sports Composite ratings for 2020. Jones has always seemed like he looks about 20 pounds less than his actual weight once he steps on the scale. That's the way it has always been across two-plus years of watching him develop as a prospect. It is still believed that Jones will take the majority of his official visits over the next two months, including ones to both Auburn and UGA. RELATED: How do the current commits on the Georgia O-line feel about the Matt Luke hire? The post Broderick Jones: Georgia remains in a good spot, but Auburn is in the race' for 5-star OT appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia freshman linebacker Nakobe Dean isn't shy about hitting ball carriers, and he's coming out of his shell as a vocal leader, too. Dean, who most often played on third downs at inside linebacker and finished with 23 tackles and 2 pass break-ups this season, explained one key way he's evolved this season. 'I came in as more of a quiet guy, so I just wanted to feel my way through things,' Dean said following Saturday night's SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 'But as time went by and the season went on, I started to talk more, build my leadership role,' said Dean, a 2019 recruit from Horn Lake, Miss., who was rated a 5-star prospect. 'I do plan on in the future being more of a vocal leader, and also leading by example.' Dean would have been in much better position to do just that if not for the high ankle sprain he suffered early in fall camp. Much had been expected from the 5-foot-10, 220-pound early enrollee after his impressive performance in spring drills. Dean had five tackles and a pass break-up in the G-Day Game, getting snaps with the first-team defense against QB Jake Fromm and the first-team offense back in April. RELATED: Nakobe Dean stands out in G-Day Game Dean did what he could to play through it, learning another valuable lesson along the way. 'It messed with me more so mentally, than physically,' Dean said. 'I had to get my mind right and learn to sit out, but still learn without actually being out there. That was one thing that hindered me.' Physically, Dean said he didn't feel 100 percent until 'Week 5 or Week 6.' Georgia coach Kirby Smart has been high on Dean from the start, so it's a good bet the freshman will get plenty of reps during Georgia's Allstate Sugar Bowl practice, which begins next week. The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) play No. 7 Baylor (11-2) at 8:45 p.m. on Jan. 1 in New Orleans. The Bears are looking to become the winningest team in Baylor football history. Dean said he can't speak for what happened last year, when Georgia showed up somewhat divided and uninspired for the Sugar Bowl, falling 28-21 to Texas. 'I didn't practice with the team last year, but I know this team is going to go attack practice the way we always do, 100 percent,' Dean said. 'I feel like we have to continue practice the way do. Don't slack off. Go try to attack the teams the way we always do, and we'll be good.' Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean DawgNation Georgia football League-leading UGA defense shut out on first-team All-SEC Zamir White keeps working hard 3 critical factors with Sam Pittman leaving Georgia staff Georgia favored over Baylor in Sugar Bowl clash Arkansas announces Sam Pittman as next head coach Kirby Smart calm at center of Georgia whirlwind D'Andre Swift discusses limits and pain in SEC Championship The post WATCH: Georgia freshman MLB Nakobe Dean ready to be seen and heard appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia football finished the regular season leading the SEC in each of the four major defensive statistical categories, but the Bulldogs failed to have a player named to the Associated Press First-Team defense. Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and kicker Rodrigo Blankenship are the No. 5-ranked Bulldogs only first-team All-SEC picks. Georgia's second-team picks were tailback D'Andre Swift, offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, center Trey Hill, and on defense, linebacker Monty Rice and cornerback Eric Stokes. Alabama and Auburn each had three first-team All-SEC defensive picks, and Missouri had two. Safety J.R. Reed, one of three finalists for the Thorpe Award and one of five finalists for the Nagurski Award, did not make first or second team All-SEC as selected by the Associated Press. The Bulldogs completed a rare grand slam of leading the league in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense playing a regular-season scheduled that included wins over three Top 15 teams. E ven after the 37-10 loss to LSU, the Georgia defense ranks: No. 1 in the SEC in scoring defense and No. 2 in the nation. No. 1 in the SEC in total defense and No. 4 in the nation. No. 1 in the SEC in rushing defense and No. 3 in the nation. No. 5 in the SEC in pass efficiency defense and No. 15 in the nation. Coach Kirby Smart was asked at the SEC Championship Game press conference about the 'No-Name' nature his defense seemed to have this season, with many overlooking individual talents. ' We play a lot of guys, so it's easy to kind of label it a no-name type defense,' Smart said. 'I think they play so well together, they play so hard, they buy into the game plan, and they're unselfish. 'There's not that dominant personality or dominant player, but there's a lot of good football players that buy into it.' DawgNation Georgia football Zamir White keeps working hard 3 critical factors with Sam Pittman leaving Georgia staff Georgia favored over Baylor in Sugar Bowl clash Arkansas announces Sam Pittman as next head coach Kirby Smart calm at center of Georgia whirlwind D'Andre Swift discusses limits and pain in SEC Championship Jake Fromm makes no excuses after defeat in SEC Championship Game WATCH: Kirby Smart sheds light on LSU, Jake Fromm passing issues Bulldogs stock report, LSU crashes Mercedes-Benz Stadium The post League-leading Georgia defense gets shut out on AP All-SEC First-Team list appeared first on DawgNation.