Hunter’s meeting with NAACP ends early

Members of the Gwinnett County NAACP are far from ready to forgive Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter for his Facebook attack on civil rights icon and Democratic Congressman John Lewis. When Lewis questioned President Donald Trump’s legitimacy shortly before last month’s inauguration, Hunter responded by calling Lewis a “racist pig” on Facebook. Hunter’s attempt to begin repairing relations between himself and Gwinnett’s growing minority community crashed with a thud Tuesday when he attended the monthly NAACP meeting. Actually, he attended part of the meeting before abruptly leaving in the face of anarchy among the members and an open rebellion against the NAACP leadership. NAACP members, leadership and a Hunter spokesman all expressed frustration following the meeting that few got to express their views.  Hunter aide Seth Weathers said the meeting had reached a point that it no longer made sense for Hunter to stay. “It is not what it was billed as,” he said. “All the time they were shouting him down. Temperatures were rising, and that was just a protest.” NAACP member Penny Poole was most outspoken in protest of both Hunter and the group’s leadership for having him there. “I had to stand up and be rude, and I am not a rude person,” she said.  “We did not want him here tonight.” Poole repeatedly challenged NAACP local president Marlyn Tillman for inviting Hunter, and then for taking 30 minutes asking the commissioner prepared questions rather than accepting questions from the members.  Poole, and many who sided with her at the meeting, carried signs demanding Hunter’s resignation. Hunter has repeatedly said that is not going to happen,...

Regional rail carrier adds to Georgia network

  Genesee and Wyoming, a company that owns regional railroads, announced this week it will buy the Heart of Georgia Railroad, giving G&W an unbroken network of small railroads stretching from Savannah across Georgia and into Florida and Alabama. The Heart of Georgia operates along 219 miles of track leased from the Georgia Department of Transportation from Midville to the Chattahoochee River near Mahart, Ala. Most importantly, it gives G&W a connection to the Cordele Intermodal Services center. The center, adjacent to the state-owned Cordele Inland Port, allows container and other freight traffic that comes in at the Port of Savannah to reach road traffic at I-75 quicker than other routes. And it can be reached directly by G&W-owned railroads. G&W also owns the 171-mile Georgia Central line, which runs from Savannah to Macon. That line connects with the Heart of Georgia at Vidalia. The Heart of Georgia offers interchange with major railroads CSX and Norfolk-Southern. It also interchanges with G&W-owned Georgia Southwestern Railroad at Americus. That line offers connections to the Hilton and Albany, also owned by G&W, which then connects to the Bay Line to Panama City. With connections to Columbus and Albany, the network will serve four of the nine largest metro areas in Georgia. “The Heart of Georgia is an excellent bolt-on acquisition that we expect will enhance economic development by providing an efficient lane across southern Georgia,” G&W senior vice president Andy Chunko said. “Its proximity to other G&W railroads unlocks operational efficiencies, while enhancing the railroads’ abilities to serve customers and generate new commercial opportunities across the region. “We look forward to the...

Atlanta’s famous Cyclorama painting on the move this week

  The Cyclorama painting of The Battle of Atlanta will move to its new location this week after about two years of preparations. The painting has been housed in Grant Park next to Zoo Atlanta since 1921. Its new home will be at the Atlanta History Center on West Paces Ferry Road.  Moving the giant painting will be a work of engineering in itself. The 23,000 square foot work of art and history had to be removed from its display and rolled into two giant rolls. Those rolls will be transported by truck to the new center, where the process will be reversed.  The rolls are on 45-foot steel rolls that weight 6,200 pounds each. Each spool will be lifted by crane through a 7-foot hole cut in the concrete roof of the building at Grant Park.  Over the next few months, the painting will be unrolled in its new location. The display will be complete with the addition of the restored Texas locomotive, from the Great Train Chase, The entire project is expected to open to the public in late 2018. The painting was first displayed in Minneapolis in 1886 as a symbol of the Union victory in the Civil War. It moved to Atlanta the next decade and became a symbol of the Confederate effort during the war. Those differing perspectives on the piece only add to its historical value, according to Atlanta History Center CEO Sheffield Hale. “These shifting viewpoints are precisely what make The Battle of Atlanta such a distinctive and important artifact. No other object can so vividly tell the story of how attitudes...

DOT launching motorist assistance program

  Motorists with disabled vehicles on Georgia’s rural interstates will receive help from a new program the Georgia DOT is launching next week in northeast Georgia. Called CHAMP for Coordinated Highway and Maintenance Program, the new service will be similar to metro Atlanta’s HERO program, but will be on interstate highways outside the metro area. The first leg to receive service will be Interstate 85 from Georgia Highway 20 to the South Carolina State line. CHAMP operators will handle both motorist issues and minor highway issues following this week’s launch. Operators will be able to handle issues ranging from a flat tire to an emergency lane closure. CHAMP vehicles will carry extra fuel, an air compressor, push bumpers to move stranded vehicles from travel lanes and an electric message board. Motorists can contact operators by dialing 511. The first segment of I-85 is served by the DOT’s District One, and district crews spend up to 40 percent of their time dealing with issues on the interstate. DOT officials expect the CHAMP program to cut that in half. “These operators will truly be our champions patrolling 64 miles of I-85. Their assistance will allow our district maintenance crews to focus on incidents on rural state routes and routine maintenance activities,” District Engineer Brent Cook P.E. said. The program will launch across the state throughout the year. It will be available on I-85 south from exit 47 to the Alabama line and over the entire length of I-185 to Columbus. On I-20, it will be available from exit 44 to the Alabama line and from exit 89 east to the South...

Phishing remains top tax scam

Criminals who try to steal personal information from taxpayers remains the biggest threat to taxpayers this year, according to the IRS.  Each year the IRS compiles a list of the top threats to taxpayers and releases them individually during the tax season. The entire list of 12 is called the Dirty Dozen. Phishing is the process of tricking someone into giving personal information, usually by fake websites or bogus emails. “These email schemes continue to evolve and can fool even the most cautious person. Email messages can look like they come from the IRS or others in the tax community,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a news release. “Taxpayers should avoid opening surprise emails or clicking on web links claiming to be from the IRS. Don’t be fooled by unexpected emails about big refunds, tax bills or requesting personal information. That’s not how the IRS communicates with taxpayers.” Scammers can pose as the IRS in emails and seek personal information that would allow them to file a false return or may seek banking information that would allow them to take money directly from a taxpayer. Phishing schemes have been an issue for the IRS for years, but the number of cases spiked in 2016, according to the agency. This year, the scammers are making the schemes more sophisticated, and the targets have evolved a little.  The IRS said the scammers are targeting tax professionals and human resources departments. Other scams on this year’s Dirty Dozen including phone scams that are similar to phishing but through the telephone instead of online. Also, the IRS warns of scams involving false...

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