On the Thursday, June 1 edition of Georgia Today: Arrests have been made in connection to the protests surrounding the proposed police training facility; Tybee Island makes preparations for hurricane season; and Georgia is facing a lifeguard shortage.  

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Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Thursday, June 1st. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, protesters rally at DeKalb County jail after three bail fund administrators are arrested. Tybee Island Prepares for Hurricane Season. And how did Georgia's congressional delegation vote on the debt ceiling bill? These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.

Story 1:

CROWD: Free them all! Free them all!

Peter Biello: At the DeKalb County jail yesterday, a crowd gathered to protest the arrest of three administrators of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund.

Kamau Franklin: The charges are false charges, charges which are based on a criminalization of a movement against Cop City.

Peter Biello: That's Kamau Franklin with the activist group Community Movement Builders. The Atlanta Solidarity Fund has been used to bail out and provide legal assistance to people arrested while protesting the planned public Safety training center known to opponents as Cop City.

Kamau Franklin: The fact that this bail fund has bailed people out time and time again for again the last seven years, but only now when it has bailed folks out involved in the Cop City protests has the state and the city and the county decided to jump on these people and to criminalize these people.

Peter Biello: Marlon Scott Kautz, Savannah Patterson and Adele McLean were all charged yesterday with money laundering and charity fraud. Alex Joseph, an attorney, spoke at last night's protest. She says these arrests are unprecedented. But at this point, we don't know much about what really happened.

Alex Joseph: We have very little evidence. And the evidence seems to point to perhaps sloppy bookkeeping, but honestly paying for organizational overhead. I don't see a crime. I don't even see any smoking guns.

Peter Biello: Governor Brian Kemp said yesterday the fundraisers are part of a criminal operation. The arrest warrants cite their support of a group called Defend the Atlanta Forest. One of the groups responsible for organizing resistance to the project, the Warrens, say that group has been classified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as domestic violent extremists. The Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin the day before the arrest warrants were signed listing, quote, alleged divi's or domestic violent extremists in Georgia pushing back on the training center. The label of domestic violent extremists puts these individuals on par with mass shooters and white supremacists. The bulletin doesn't mention defend the Atlanta force by name. Atlanta City Council member Liliana Bakhtiari says the arrests are political.

Liliana Bakhtiari: Given to me that it seems that both the AG and the governor had statements ready to go the moment the arrest was conducted. It would appear political to me.

Peter Biello: The Atlanta Police Department declined to speak with me about the arrests, referring me to the GBI, which did not respond by airtime. Meanwhile, the Atlanta City Council is getting ready to vote on funding for the planned public Safety Training center at its next meeting on Monday, June 5th.

Story 2:

Peter Biello: Hurricane season officially begins today. And for the city of Tybee Island, this year's plans include building a storm shelter. But as GPB's Orlando Montoya reports, it comes with a warning.

Orlando Montoya: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is giving Tybee Island $2 million to construct a large concrete shelter. Plans call for a building 17 feet off the ground that can withstand Category five hurricane winds and fit 700 people. But project consultant Alan Robertson says it's only intended for first responders, city staff members and vulnerable residents, such as those in nursing homes.

Alan Robertson: This is not designed to keep people on the island in the event of a hurricane. The protocols all remain in place. And when you're told to evacuate, everybody should evacuate.

Orlando Montoya: The shelter is expected to open in two years. Forecasters this year expect an average of 12 to 17 named storms across the Atlantic. For GPB News, I'm Orlando Montoya.

Story 3:

Peter Biello: As pools open for the summer, many across Georgia are still hiring. GPB's Amanda Andrews reports a lifeguard shortage is affecting about a third of public pools nationwide.

Amanda Andrews: Cities across the state are rolling out benefits to incentivize more people to become lifeguards, Macon-Bibb County increase pay from $14 to $20 an hour. The metro Atlanta and Albany YMCAs are offering up to $300 bonuses and free Red Cross training to hire and retain lifeguards. Some cities have hired staffing agencies. YMCA Albany CEO Dan Gillen says they've had to shift the pool hours because they have so few lifeguards.

Dan Gillen: Our outdoor pool opened next week because we had to delay it. Once it opens, we're going to be only opening our indoor pool from 5 a.m. till noon, and then we're going to open our outdoor pool from 1pm to 7.

Amanda Andrews: Gillen says they currently have about half the number of lifeguards needed to run both pools full time. For GPB News. I'm Amanda Andrews.

Lifeguard is a Perfect Summer Job for Many Students
Credit: File photo

Story 4:

Peter Biello: The U.S. House approved the debt limit package last night, sending it to the U.S. Senate. It was largely a bipartisan vote. Among Georgia representatives, ten voted for it, four against three Republicans. Representatives Andrew Clyde, Mike Collins and Rich McCormick voted no. McCormack said in a tweet, the legislation doesn't go far enough to reduce federal spending. And one Democrat, Representative Maxima Williams of Atlanta, voted no. She said on Twitter that the bill hurts marginalized communities. Among the representatives that voted for the legislation is Buddy Carter, he said in a tweet, The bill is a, quote, bipartisan step in the right direction towards restoring fiscal sanity in Washington.

Story 5:

Peter Biello: The Savannah Chatham County School Board has announced a single finalist in their national search for the district's next superintendent. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports.

Benjamin Payne: Denise Watts is currently a senior administrator at the Houston Independent School District in Texas. In the coming weeks, the Savannah Chatham County School Board plans to vote on her hiring as current superintendent Ann LaVette is retiring at the end of June after five years on the job. Watts was not in attendance at Thursday's announcement in downtown Savannah, which was made by board President Roger Moss. He said Watts has a data driven approach to turning around struggling schools in Houston.

Roger Moss: Within her first year. She helped reduce the number of low rated schools from 48 in 2021 to 11 in 2022.

Benjamin Payne: In the Savannah Chatham County School District, only about one third of elementary students were reading at or above their grade level last school year. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne in Savannah.

Story 6:

Peter Biello: Mercer University Provost has announced the appointment of a new dean of Mercer School of Law. Karen J. Snedden has been a member of the law school faculty for 17 years and has served as interim dean since October 2021. She will formally move into the role as Dean immediately. Mercer Law School is currently celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Story 7:

Peter Biello: The city of Rome has reached an agreement to settle a long running legal battle over toxic PFAS chemicals dumped into the river that provides the city most of its drinking water. Rome has spent millions of dollars to clean up water from the Austin River, where chemical companies, carpet manufacturers and Dalton Utilities released the PFAS Chemicals. City attorney Andy Davis says specific dollar amounts and terms to settle the lawsuit in state court might not go before the city's commission for several months, but all defendants have agreed to settle.

Andy Davis: It's been a four year process and we're very delighted to bring this portion to a resolution and to to know that it's going to be a great day for the citizens of Rome.

Peter Biello: A separate class action Clean Water Act lawsuit continues in federal court. Last year, Rome increased water rates by 9% to pay for a new treatment system to completely remove the chemicals from the water.

Poisoned Water: asset-mezzanine-16x9

Story 8:

Peter Biello: A Finland based modular housing company plans to build a $750 million manufacturing facility in southeast Georgia's, where county state officials said yesterday that ad Mars expects to hire 1400 people at the site in Waycross. The company plans to produce between five and 6000 homes a year there, helping to address a national workforce. Housing shortage.

Story 9:

Peter Biello: The University of North Georgia women's softball team are national champions. UNG beat Grand Valley State to win the NCAA Division two title in a game played in Chattanooga. It's the second national title for the Nighthawks, who also won it back in 2015. Lawrenceville's Sophie Mooney, who led UNG as a hitter and pitcher, was named the most outstanding player in the NCAA Division two Championship tournament, finishing with a 64 and seven record. UNG set a program record for victories, breaking the previous mark of 62 in 2018. The Nighthawks put together their historic season with a roster, including only one senior.



Peter Biello: And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you want to learn more about these stories or find the latest, visit gpb.org/news. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast, too. We're going to be putting out a new episode tomorrow afternoon and every weekday afternoon with all the latest headlines. If you've got feedback, we want to hear it. Send us an email. The address is georgiatoday@gpb.org. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.



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