Georgia Today: Lawmakers honor Tyre Nichols, student loan forgiveness news, endangered whales in GA
LISTEN: On the Monday Jan. 30 edition of Georgia Today: Local lawmakers honor Tyre Nichols, we find out what new student loan forgiveness means for Georgians, and endangered whales are living off the coast of Georgia
Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Monday, Jan. 30. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode: Georgia lawmakers pause to remember Tyre Nichols; the White House has released data on student loan forgiveness, but what do those numbers mean for Georgians? And we'll tell you what's being done to protect a critically endangered species of whale living off the coast of Georgia. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: The Georgia State House held a moment of silence this morning for Tyre Nichols, the unarmed Black man who died after a police beating in Memphis. Macon state Rep. Democratic Minority Leader James Beverly quoted a well-known writer and management consultant as he called for a change in laws and culture to prevent such tragedies in Georgia.
James Beverly: Peter Drucker said culture eats strategy for breakfast, which means that no matter how well designed your strategic plan is, it will fall flat unless your teams share the appropriate culture. Our culture, the Georgia House of Representatives, will not stand idly by while injustice prevails.
Peter Biello: The Georgia NAACP demanded changes yesterday, including body cameras on all sworn officers and independent prosecutors in all police-involved deaths.
Peter Biello: Addiction recovery advocates are asking lawmakers to fund programs to help the growing number of people dealing with substance use disorder as budget discussions continue at the state Capitol. GPB's Ellen Eldridge reports on some of their priorities.
Ellen Eldridge: The 40 organizations that make up the Substance Use Disorder Partnership met with lawmakers at the Capitol. They told politicians they would like to see more funding in several areas, including peer support programs. Amanda Williamson is in long-term recovery. She serves as a peer advocate serving hospitals in Lumpkin County. She visits with moms in the neonatal intensive care unit where newborns might have addiction-related health concerns.
Amanda Williamson: So we're just there supporting them with that and supporting mothers that are on medication-assisted recovery, which could be methadone, Suboxone, and letting them know that that's okay, too, and that's recovery, too.
Ellen Eldridge: Williamson says the current grant money funding the Building Communities of Recovery program comes from the federal government. For GPB News, I'm Ellen Eldridge.
Peter Biello: Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who led the Bulldogs to their second straight national championship, was arrested early yesterday after police said he was intoxicated and banging on doors near Dallas, Texas. Police say that the 25-year-old was charged with public intoxication and taken to the city detention center. Last week, Bennett told reporters that he would be in training for his pro career in Fort Worth, Texas, which is about 30 miles west of Dallas. Video from WFAA TV showed Bennett leaving the detention center yesterday morning just before 11 a.m. He did not say anything as he got into a vehicle.
Peter Biello: The White House has released official numbers on how many students have applied and been approved for student loan forgiveness. GPB's Amanda Andrews explains what that means for Georgia students.
Amanda Andrews: Data from the White House shows 642,000 Georgia applicants have been approved for student loan forgiveness out of 26 million nationwide. But checks have not gone out, following court challenges by several states. President Biden's plans would cancel debt of up to $20,000 for eligible borrowers. Jordan Matsudaira, chief economist at the U.S. Department of Education, says some individuals are approved automatically.
Jordan Matsudaira: So in cases where we know their income for the relevant years already, and we know that they income qualify for the plan, we're able to automatically discharge their loans.
Amanda Andrews: That's if the president prevails in court. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the student loan lawsuits in June. For GPB News, I'm Amanda Andrews.
Peter Biello: A sustainable building materials company will build a new headquarters in Georgia. Green Georgia LLC will design and manufacture low-carbon materials used to create prefabricated buildings. The facility will be in Thomaston, the seat of Upson County. The company expects to invest $59 million and create more than 170 jobs. Operations are expected to begin by early next year.
Peter Biello: Visitors to Savannah's riverfront on Friday got a rare look at a boat specially designed to detect North Atlantic right whales, a critically endangered species currently in waters off the coast of Georgia and other Southeastern states. GPB's Benjamin Payne hopped aboard.
Benjamin Payne: That's the call of a North Atlantic right whale as recorded by underwater microphones aboard a big sailboat docked on the Savannah River. The boat is aptly named Song of the Whale. The International Fund for Animal Welfare uses it to follow the species as they make their way up the Eastern seaboard. Oliver Boisseau is the senior research scientist on board.
Oliver Boisseau: Work here has been primarily with the mothers and calves, trying to record them and trying to implement findings into some of the early warning systems. The whales produce very distinctive, idiosyncratic calls. If these are detected, the Coast Guard is alerted and then the Coast Guard can in turn alert passing vessels.
Benjamin Payne: Vessels like container ships and fishing boats. Right whales are slow-moving, so speed restrictions can give them the time they need to avoid fatal collisions. This research boat is able to get close to the whales thanks to its quiet design, including a submarine-style propeller. After calving season, the crew will follow the roughly one dozen calves and their mothers up north to their feeding grounds in Canadian waters. Only about 350 North Atlantic right whales remain on the planet. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne in Savannah.
Peter Biello: Both the Falcons and the Braves have some news regarding their coaching staff. First, the Atlanta Falcons hired Ryan Nielson as their new defensive coordinator. The 43-year-old Neilson had worked on the New Orleans Saints staff since 2017 and was the defensive line coach this season. Neilson replaces Dean Pees, who retired earlier this month. And Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker has signed a contract extension through the 2025 season. The 67-year-old Snitker guided the Braves to the 2021 World Series championship.
Peter Biello: And attention all Parrotheads: Jimmy Buffett has announced he will be stopping in Alpharetta at the Marriott Bank, Ampitheater, on Saturday, April 22, as part of the Second Wind Tour 2023. Tickets go on sale this Friday, Feb. 3 at 10 a.m.
Jimmy Buffett (singing): Wastin' away again in Margaritaville. Searching for my lost shaker of salt.
Peter Biello: And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. Haven't yet subscribed to this podcast, take a moment and do it now, so we will pop up in your podcast feed tomorrow. And if you have feedback for us, we'd love to hear it. Send us an email. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org.
I'm Peter Biello. Thank you so much for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.
GPB's Georgia Today newsletter hits your inbox on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with top stories from around the state featuring news, politics and more. Subscribe here.