New York has the Ball Drop. Atlanta has the Peach Drop. Now, Savannah is starting its own tradition to ring in the new year. It involves a giant replica of a plastic cup. The cup celebrates a Savannah tradition: being able to drink on the streets year-round. The six-foot-tall steel and plastic cup replicates those taken "to go" from bars.
Soon, ships sailing through the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick will get to their destinations a little bit slower. That’s because of a federal regulation to protect the endangered right whale. Officials are now enforcing a speed limit for ships, designed to protect the whales during their winter birthing season.
The Defense Department is taking a look at how it educates military children. And two Georgia military bases are part of the study. The department's education officials will be looking at graduation rates, test results and community involvement at Ft. Benning in Columbus and Ft. Stewart near Savannah.
Fresh drinking water is becoming an issue on the Georgia coast. State officials are studying a potential new source. The Environmental Protection Division is looking at the deep Cretaceous aquifer because the shallower Floridan aquifer can't take any more pumping. But water from the Cretaceous aquifer is more expensive to reach. One study will look at new technologies designed to make it cheaper.
While Christmas toys wait safely under the tree for their big day later this month, you might be surprised to learn how much testing they went through before they hit the shelves. Some of the testing that makes sure those gifts are child-ready goes on right here in Georgia. In the port city of Savannah, a new facility has opened to test all types of products coming into the U.S. Chemists in the lab have found some surprising violations, including candy laced with cocaine and stuffed animals stuffed with arsenic.
The city's former police chief is blasted in a third-party investigation into police operations. Willie Lovett resigned in September amid sexual harassment allegations. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking into possible criminal violations.
It's not clear what's causing a mysterious white dust to fall over parts of a Savannah neighborhood. A dirt-like substance has covered cars and homes in East Savannah for a few months. Officials at a nearby chemical factory say the dust is not coming from them. Company spokeswoman Donna Jakubowski says the company tested the dust and determined it wasn't coming from the factory. She said it appeared to be dust like you'd find in any road.
Georgians looking for help staying warm this winter are finding long lines and reduced budgets at assistance programs. Low-income residents can apply for federally-financed home heating through community organizations. Last month's cuts in food stamp benefits led to a record number of applicants for energy assistance.
South Africans living in Georgia are remembering the late Nelson Mandela as a statesman and liberator. Mandela wasn't only a hero to South Africa's black residents. White South Africans praise Mandela for reconciling the country after years of bloody apartheid. One woman says the whites in South Africa initially feared for their lives when the balance of power shifted, but soon realized Mandela's goal was to unite the country, not further divide it.
Twelve organizations are uniting their efforts to restore longleaf pine forests in Georgia. The forests are seen as critical for wildlife. They also benefit timber production. The effort is part of a multi-state coming together of public and private groups aimed at longleaf restoration.