Georgia Today: Mental health for military members; Macon's record year; Hawks put Janet on hold
LISTEN: On the Wednesday, April 26 edition of Georgia Today: A new mental health grant program for military members; Macon's record year in tourism; and the Hawks won, so Janet Jackson's concert is put on hold.
Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today's Wednesday, April 26. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, Georgia is creating a grant program to support mental health for military service members. Last year was a record year for tourism in the Georgia city that was named by The New York Times as one of the best places to visit. And pop superstar Janet Jackson gets sidelined by the Hawks. We'll have the details. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: Students at Emory and Georgia Tech in Atlanta staged a day of action yesterday to protest the construction of a new Atlanta police training center in a DeKalb County park. GPB's Sarah Kallis has more.
Sarah Kallis: Student activists are asking their universities to cut any ties with organizations tied to the training facility, including the Atlanta Police Department. Students at Georgia Tech camped out on campus for over 24 hours before being removed on Wednesday. Those at Emory were removed by police in the early hours of Tuesday. Jonissy Kadima, an Emory freshman, helped to organize the event.
Jonissy Kadima: And I thought that there had been a grave disservice committed against us and our fellow classmates. But despite the ugliness that unfolded last night, I'm truly inspired by our resolve and our potential.
Sarah Kallis: Emory is a private university, so it was easier to ask students to leave than at Georgia Tech, a public university. For GPB News, I'm Sarah Kalis.
Peter Biello: The organizer of Orange Crush, the annual spring break beach party that draws Black students, says he wants to work with Tybee Island officials to resolve their complaints and his. The event this past weekend drew tens of thousands of revelers, bringing good times for most, but also complaints of traffic, litter and drug use. Orange Crush organizer Kenneth Jacobs says he's disappointed with some students' behavior, but also with the lack of hospitality shown to the vast majority who behaved well.
Kenneth Jacobs: I'm kind of a little bit upset with just how thing was operated. Especially, some of the businesses on Tybee Island by shutting everything down. It isn't nothing to move. But I still want, you know, the people that still have the support of the community as well.
Peter Biello: This was the first official Orange Crush on Tybee Island in years. Jacobs says he plans for the event to return next year.
Peter Biello: Macon Mayor Lester Miller says the city had a record year for tourism last year. At his State of the City address yesterday, Miller said Macon-Bibb County brought in $6 million from hotel motel taxes last year. That was up by about $900,000 from 2021. Earlier this year, Macon was named to The New York Times' Best Places to Go 2023 list.
Peter Biello: Gov. Brian Kemp has signed into law tougher penalties for gang crimes. Kemp signed the bill today at a gathering of county sheriffs in Gwinnett County. The new law adds a mandatory five years to prison sentences for anyone convicted of a gang crime.
Peter Biello: Yesterday, the governor signed a law creating a $750,000 grant program to support mental health programs for military service members, veterans and their families. Georgia's Department of Veterans Service will offer grants to nonprofit groups to provide mental health and addiction services under House Bill 414. Priority will be given to grant applicants located within 50 miles of a military base.
Peter Biello: The father of a University of Georgia football player killed in a fatal car wreck in January is seeking $2 million from the university in a wrongful death case. Lawyers for the father of Devin Willock made the claim in a legal notice filed two weeks ago. It was published yesterday by t\The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It could become the first lawsuit to stem from the crash that killed Willock and football recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy. A university spokesman calls the wrongful death claim false and inaccurate.
Peter Biello: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has released its annual report card for the state's coastal ecosystem in 2022. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports.
Benjamin Payne: The six-county coastal region received a grade of B, meaning moderately good ecosystem health following the previous year's A-minus. Sea turtles had a banner year. Their nesting notched a perfect score and Hatching saw its highest numbers since 2014 when the report card began. Researchers attribute sea turtles' success to nest protection and predator management programs, as well as an absence of major storms. Blue crabs, on the other hand, took a huge hit, scoring just 18%, plummeting from the perfect score they saw in 2021. This was due to high salinity, which can be caused by low rainfall. Bald eagles also struggled owing to an avian flu outbreak. But land conservation improved as the DNR entered about 25,000 acres to the Salon Wildlife Management area in Camden County. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne.
Peter Biello: Two Georgia nonprofits are partnering to connect low-income children and families in the northern part of the state with resources to improve health outcomes. Voices for Georgia's Children and Quality Care for Children launched the Healthy U.S. pilot program last July to address obstacles families face navigating health care, behavioral health and social support systems. Lesley Kelley is a senior policy analyst with Voices for Georgia's Children. She says families are helped based on individual needs.
Lesley Kelley: We have another family who is in temporary housing and we have connected them with a community partner who is working with them to provide permanent housing. We've connected some of our families with food pantries, helped them access healthy and nutritious food.
Peter Biello: Families are assigned a health and family support specialist in one of three nearby early childhood education centers.
Peter Biello: A city in Middle Georgia broke ground Monday on a new public sewer system that's been years in the making as it phases out aging septic tanks. GPB's Sofi Gratas has more.
Sofi Gratas: The new sewer system for the city of McIntyre will cost just over $20 million. State and federal funding will cover 85% of the cost, including $6.3 million earmarked by U.S. Sens Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock last year. Older septic tanks pose environmental and public health risks when they overflow, which is more likely with the changing climate. They can also cost thousands of dollars to repair. Gloria Scott Jackson was raised in McIntyre. She says she hopes the new infrastructure will attract more business to the area.
Gloria Scott Jackson: The kids need jobs. You need — we need some places like, you know, restaurants, grocery stores, but we don't have a grocery store.
Sofi Gratas: Construction on the new source system is expected to take two years. For GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratas in McIntyre.
Peter Biello: And this final note, Janet Jackson fans with tickets to her second show this Thursday will have to wait an extra day to see the pop star at State Farm Arena. The Atlanta Hawks won their game against the Boston Celtics last night, sending the NBA playoff series back to the arena for a Game 6 tomorrow night. Jackson, who plays her first show tonight, will now have to wait until Friday for her second show. And that means both she and Taylor Swift will be performing in Atlanta on Friday. Swift is playing three sold-out shows at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Friday through Sunday. So my question is, what is Janet Jackson going to be doing in Atlanta on Thursday? Some kind of escapade, I am sure.
All right. That's it for today's edition of Georgia Today. We do appreciate you tuning in. If you have comments or questions or feedback about this program, you can send it to us by email. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. And if you're curious about any of these stories or want to catch up on the latest headlines, you can check out our website, GPB.org/News.
And of course, if you are loving what you're hearing, please do leave a review; that'll help other folks find this podcast. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.