Georgia Today: New voting district maps; West Central Georgia health care gets boost; Flag football
LISTEN: On the Friday, Dec. 1 edition of Georgia Today: State Lawmakers move closer to passing new court-ordered voting maps; rural health care in West Central Georgia gets a boost; and we'll talk about one of the fastest growing football programs in the country: flag football.
Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Friday, Dec. 1. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, state lawmakers move closer to passing new court-ordered voting maps. Rural health care in west central Georgia gets a boost. And we'll talk about one of the fastest-growing football programs in the country, flag football. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: The state House and Senate took steps toward finalizing new political boundaries ordered by a federal judge last month. The House passed its Republican-drawn redistricting plan this morning that creates five additional majority-Black districts in metro Atlanta and around Macon. The map would pit three pairs of Democrats and one pair of Republicans against each other in next year's election. The Senate's proposal passed this afternoon, would add two majority-Black districts in Atlanta's southern suburbs and protect every incumbent. Lawmakers also must consider new U.S. House boundaries before a court-ordered deadline of next Friday. Each state legislative plan must now work its way through the other chamber before final passage.
Peter Biello: The state Senate has passed a resolution supporting the controversial planned police and firefighter training center in Atlanta. GPB's Amanda Andrews reports the resolution condemns acts of violence and, quote, "domestic terrorism."
Amanda Andrews: The resolution passed 48 to 5 with bipartisan support. Those in favor of the action say it's simply about supporting police and condemning extremism. Those opposed claim it unfairly condemns all groups opposing the training center. Democrat Kim Jackson proposed an amendment to the resolution reassuring the public it's safe to exercise their First Amendment right to protest.
Kim Jackson: I have asked for us to put that in this resolution, not to be ridiculous, but instead to acknowledge that we come from a history of people feeling intimidated and afraid to protest when they see people get arrested.
Amanda Andrews: Her amendment failed 23 to 31. Sen. Jackson abstained from the final resolution vote. For GPB News, I'm Amanda Andrews.
Peter Biello: A once-vacant doctor's office in west central Georgia's Taylor County is now open again and taking patients GPB's Sofi Gratas reports it's the latest to open as part of the Mercer University School of Medicine's efforts to strengthen rural health care.
Sofi Gratas: The people of Taylor County have been waiting for a doctor to come to town for over a decade, say residents Milton Harris and Frederick Waller.
Milton Harris: I mean, actually, this is a blessing for our community.
Frederick Waller: You have to travel a hundred miles round trip to go to the doctor.
Milton Harris: Or further. You got to go to Columbus, Macon.
Sofi Gratas: Now they can visit this primary care clinic less than a mile from downtown Reynolds. It's run by Mercer Medicine, which also trains students in clinics like this one in hopes that they'll stick around. Without local doctors, people are less likely to seek care. That can lead to chronic disease. Nurse manager Charietta Foreman says her team wants to prevent that.
Charietta Foreman: We physically pick up the phone and call and schedule their mammogram. We schedule their colonoscopy. We schedule their DEXA for their bone scan.
Sofi Gratas: Though Mercer Medicine closed its clinic in nearby Fort Valley, federal dollars are helping a different facility run by Georgia-based Care Connect. Add more exam rooms for a growing patient load, according to an announcement on Friday, Both clinics accept major insurance types and offer sliding scale fees for care. For GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratas in Reynolds.
Peter Biello: Georgia attorneys are remembering former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as a trailblazer who paved the way for generations of women in law and politics. The court said O'Connor died today of complications related to advanced dementia and a respiratory illness. Atlanta attorney Glenda Hatchett was the first African-American chief presiding judge in Georgia and presided over her own court in two television series, including The Verdict with Judge Hatchett.
Glenda Hatchett: I believe that we owe her a big debt, and I appreciate who she was as a role model. There had never been a woman on the U.S. Supreme Court for 191 years before she got there.
Peter Biello: Georgia's first Supreme Court justice, Leah Ward-Sears, called O'Connor a, quote, "great lady." Sandra Day O'Connor was 93 years old.
Peter Biello: Columbus philanthropist and former insurance industry executive Shelby Amos has died. John "Shelby" Amos II was the son of the principal founder of Columbus-based insurance giant Aflac. He also served on the company's board of directors and as a company market director. He used his fortune to establish a foundation that benefited many community organizations. He also co-owned a professional hockey team, the Columbus Cottonmouths, that won two league championships. An Aflac spokesman says he died after a brief illness. Shelby Amos was 71 years old.
Peter Biello: A new World AIDS Day report finds if current trends continue, global targets on ending AIDS by 2030 might not be met. GPB's Ellen Eldridge reports.
Ellen Eldridge: It also finds urgent action is needed to tackle inequalities, especially in the South, which has the highest rates of new HIV infections. One way to accomplish this is increase testing for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Miranda Ward is with the Center for AIDS Research in the District of Columbia. She says making testing part of an annual checkup could go a long way in finding HIV early and reducing the stigma of the disease.
Miranda Ward: No matter what you present for, no matter why you came in today, you're going to ask every single patient that walks through the exam room these questions. That's what we're saying needs to happen around sexual history-taking and, you know, HIV screening and PrEP screening, because without that, patients will feel profiled.
Ellen Eldridge: Ward says the fastest-growing incidence of new HIV cases is among Black women. For GPB News, I'm Ellen Eldridge.
Peter Biello: A California-based semiconductor manufacturer is laying off 200 workers in Sandy Springs, north of Atlanta. The layoff announced by Broadcom comes a week after the company acquired the cloud computing firm VMware. Broadcom told state officials on Monday the employees at VMware's offices at Perimeter Center would be laid off starting in January. Similar layoffs were announced in Colorado and Ireland.
Peter Biello: If you're planning to step out for holiday events tonight or tomorrow, you might want to double check to see if they're still happening. More than a dozen Christmas parades or tree lightings around the state have been canceled as rain moves into Georgia to make a wet weekend. Albany, Tipton, Dublin, Warner Robins and Lawrenceville are just a few of the cities that have canceled or rescheduled holiday events. The forecast calls for widespread showers and possible thunderstorms through Sunday.
Peter Biello: The first round of the Georgia High School Association flag football tournament kicks off next week. The sport is enjoying tremendous popularity in the state. GPB's Jon Nelson is with us now to talk about it. He's been covering high school athletics for GPB and co-hosting the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Hey, Jon, welcome back.
Jon Nelson: Anytime my friend. What do you want to talk about this time?
Peter Biello: Flag football. Tell me all about the growing popularity of this sport. Why is it getting so popular here?
Jon Nelson: It's been fun to see it develop. And while there are still some pockets here in the state that are still trying to integrate it as a part of their — their athletic programs, it's been fun to see it develop from, say, 25 or 30 schools — and then COVID kind of puts a bit of a slowdown — to it to where it is now. And the numbers are just staggering. It's been exponential around the state to see all the different institutions dive in and have flag football be a part of it. And I mean, it goes from one end of the state to the other that you're seeing the involvement. It's been — it's been really fun to see the state of Georgia literally take this sport and be at the forefront nationally of the growth of the thing.
Peter Biello: Okay. So a relatively new sport and some teams are already standing out, right?
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Let me let me talk. Let's talk dynasties.
Pete Biello: Okay.
Jon Nelson: You go to Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Georgia, and Southeast Bullock, The Yellowjackets. They are undefeated as a program. They have not lost since they started. They are back-to-back champs. And I think the number's 57 in a row heading into the playoffs. They have not lost in their three seasons and everyone is trying to knock Southeast Bullock off of the top of the perch. But yeah, literally, what is it? The sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and southeast — Southeast Bullock is chasing after a state championship.
Pete Biello: Wow. Jon, tell me how you really feel about them.
Jon Nelson: It's just — it's fun to see something like this develop to the point where, you know, when we started showing the championships on Georgia Public Broadcasting as a part of championship week, you're getting players across the board being showcased and you've got players who are being offered scholarships like the second their game is over in years past. You've got players being offered scholarships to play flag at the next level. It's been really cool. Yeah.
Peter Biello: Tell us about — tell us about scholarships in flag football.
Jon Nelson: To give you an example, I think going back to Southeast Bullock, you're getting schools in Florida and Kentucky who are like in the NAIA who are now offering players scholarships. I think it was Cumberland. I think the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky is is giving scholarships. And you're also getting it to two schools in Florida that are now part of it, too. And you've also got the fact that flag is now going to be approved for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles? I mean, you're really getting into something on the ground floor here. So scholarship athletes becoming part of the the growth of the sport. That could even thing I mean, think about this. You could have athletes from the — student athletes from the state of Georgia five years away from possibly representing their country internationally when it comes to flag football. It — it's really cool to see it develop.
Peter Biello: And if folks want to watch the tournament begin on Tuesday, what's the best way to do that?
Jon Nelson: Probably going to be on the NFHS network with the early rounds. And first and foremost, what you ought to do is you ought to go see it in person. You know, if there is, they do it in a hub. So it's not like home game, home game, home game across the board. But go to the GHSA website, GHSA.net. And you can sit there and look at it and go, okay, my home team's got a hub and so I'll follow it there. Go watch these student athletes. It's fantastic stuff. But then when it comes to the championships, it'll transfer over to us and we'll have those games right there across the board on GPB. It's really fun to watch.
Peter Biello: GPB's Jon Nelson, thank you so much for telling us about flag football.
Jon Nelson: Anytime my friend, and I cannot match the athleticism of some of these folks catching all these flags.
Peter Biello: GPB will have the tackle and flag football championships later this month. But tonight it's the GHSA Tackle football semifinals taking place across the state. GPB will air the Class 7A semifinal between South Georgia powerhouse Camden County and Cobb County's Walton High School. The action starts at 7:30 p.m. on GPB-TV, the GPB Sports App and the GPB website. The University of Georgia will play in the SEC Championship game tomorrow at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Alabama. The Bulldogs win, they earn a spot in the college football championships and a chance for a third straight championship. The Southeastern Conference championship game will remain at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in downtown Atlanta through at least 2031. The SEC announced the contract extension ahead of tomorrow's game. The previous deal was set to expire after the 2026 game. Atlanta began hosting it in 1994. And in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks beat the San Antonio Spurs 137 to 135 yesterday. Trae Young was practically unstoppable in the fourth quarter and for the game he scored a season-high 45 points as the Hawks handed the Spurs their 13th straight loss.
And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. Thanks so much for tuning in. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, visit GPB.org/news. And we'll be back on Monday. You know what to do. Subscribe. We'll pop up automatically if you do. And if you've got feedback, send it our way. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. Thanks again for listening. I'm Peter Biello. We'll see you on Monday.
For more on these stories and more, go to GPB.org/news