LISTEN: On the Monday, March 4 edition of Georgia Today: Prospective candidates flock to the Capitol as candidate qualifying week gets underway; the FDA approves new medication which could lessen reactions to severe food alergies; and we'll tell you the story of a Macon high school student who gets the thrill of a lifetime as his top college choice pays him a visit.

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Orlando Montoya: Hello and welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Monday, March 4. I'm Orlando Montoya. On today's episode, prospective candidates flock to the Georgia Capitol as candidate qualifying week gets underway. The FDA approves new medication, which could lessen reactions to severe food allergies. And we'll tell you the story of a Macon high school student who gets the thrill of a lifetime as his top college choice pays him a visit. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.


Story 1:

Orlando Montoya: Hundreds of candidates for political offices will be streaming into the state capitol and local elections offices this week to qualify to run for office. Suburban Atlanta Democratic congresswoman Lucy McBath serves Georgia's 7th District, which recently was redrawn by the Republican-controlled state legislature. She showed up to qualify at the state capitol today in the 6th District, saying her campaign won't change based on her district lines.

Lucy McBath: I'm really doing as I've always done, just meeting my voters where they are. I am happy to represent any Georgia resident. I will continue to work on those policies that are important to them.

Orlando Montoya: Candidates have until noon on Friday to qualify for races in the May primary or November general election.


Story 2:

Orlando Montoya: The federal government is reasserting its authority to review a proposed mine near Georgia's Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the project can't be allowed to divert water from the swamp if it would harm the refuge's primary function as a wildlife habitat. The agency's letter to Georgia environmental regulators sets up a new battle over the mine, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed to a hands-off position in 2022.


Story 3:

Orlando Montoya: The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medication that can lessen serious and sometimes deadly allergic reactions in children and adults with food allergies. GPB's Ellen Eldridge has more.

Ellen Eldridge: People with severe food allergies to things like peanuts and dairy products have new treatment options now that omalizumab is available. Dr. Brian Vickery is the Atlanta doctor who led the national clinical study. [It] shows antibodies causing anaphylaxis are neutralized before exposure. That means the individual is better protected in case of an accident.

Dr. Brian Vickery: That avoidance strategy is not terribly successful. Accidental reactions to food allergens that are extremely common. It's not so simple just to say, "oh, just stay away from it. You'll be fine." Because these patients are exquisitely sensitive.

Ellen Eldridge: Omalizumab is the first medication approved for children as young as 1. For GPB News, I'm Ellen Eldridge.


Story 4:

Orlando Montoya: The brother of the suspect charged with murdering a woman on the University of Georgia's campus in Athens, is expected to be in court today in Macon. Diego Ibarra is the brother of Jose Ibarra, who has been charged with the murder of Laken Riley. Diego Ibarra has been charged by federal prosecutors with possessing a fraudulent document. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Macon says an Athens-Clarke County police officer approached Ibarra because he matched in the description of a suspect in the homicide investigation. Federal authorities say he then presented an officer with a U.S. permanent resident card, also called a green card, that was determined to be fraudulent. If Ibarra is convicted, he can face up to 10 years in prison.


Story 5:

Orlando Montoya: Authorities have recovered the body of a City of Albany employee who went missing while collecting water samples from the Flint River Public Works employee. 36-year-old Darius Stevens was last seen alive near the Albany waterfront on Feb. 12. City Manager Steven Carter said his body was recovered yesterday near the Mitchell Dougherty County line, south of Albany.

Steven Carter: The loss of a family member in our community is felt by us all, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Stephens family, including his public works family, as we attempt to navigate through this profound grief.

Orlando Montoya: A search continues for another Albany man, 23-year-old Cameron Jones, who disappeared after he was last seen entering the river on Feb. 26, blocks away from where Stephens went missing.



Story 6:

Orlando Montoya: A firearms parts manufacturer in Southeast Georgia's Bryan County broke ground today on a facility it says will roughly triple the company's local workforce. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports.

Benjamin Payne: C&H Precision expects to create about 70 new jobs upon completion of its 50,000-foot factory and office building in Richmond Hill, just outside Savannah. The company makes red dot sights and mounts for pistols. This new facility is the latest in a deluge of economic development projects across Bryan County, where automaker Hyundai is building a massive electric vehicle plant. On hand at the C&H groundbreaking was Sean Register, who until recently directed the Bryan County Development Authority for over two decades.

Sean Register: You know, years ago we started in economic development. Nobody thought we would ever pull off anything. You look around today and it is amazing.

Orlando Montoya: Census data show Bryan County was the sixth-fastest growing in the nation by percentage between 2010 and 2020. C&H Precision says the company's $17 million project will be finished around this time next year. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne in Richmond Hill.


Story 7:

Orlando Montoya: The executive director of Savannah's Telfair Museums, has resigned. The organization announced the departure of Benjamin Simons on Friday. Simons joined the museum in 2020 and led the opening of the Telfair Children's Art Museum. Telfair is the oldest art museum in the South, the first in the U.S. founded by a woman and one of Savannah's major tourist attractions.


Story 8:

Orlando Montoya: Georgia Ports Authority is reporting a record month for intermodal rail cargo. The agency said today its February rail volumes at the Port of Savannah's Mason Mega Rail Terminal ramped up to just under 47,000 containers, a 39% increase over the same month a year ago. Rail accounted for 19% of GPA's February container trade, with the rest moving by truck.


Story 9:

Orlando Montoya: Georgia tenants mistreated by landlords while living in government-subsidized housing got a chance to voice their stories in Congress today. Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff chaired the hearing at the Senate Human Rights Committee as part of an investigation into the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD. Resident Miracle Fletcher described backed up sewage, unresponsive managers and threats of eviction for complaining about conditions at her apartment in Atlanta.

Miracle Fletcher: Throughout all our efforts, we still feel unheard. Our rights were violated daily. Yet the constant threat of losing our home was way heavier than the support we received from HUD.

Orlando Montoya: A lawyer representing low-income tenants says the agency should do a better job enforcing laws against shoddy housing, starting with boosting funding for inspections.

First lady of the United States Jill Biden

Former second lady Jill Biden calls on Georgians in 2020 to get to the polls and cast their votes.

Credit: Ross Williams / Georgia Recorder

Story 10:

Orlando Montoya: First lady Jill Biden launched a nationwide women for Biden-Harris initiative in Atlanta on Friday ahead of the March 12 presidential primary and ahead of the Atlanta visit of her husband, President Joe Biden, on this upcoming Saturday. GPB's Sarah Kallis reports.

Sarah Kallis: Jill Biden addressed a crowd of over 100 women in a downtown venue, and highlighted reproductive freedom as a reason to vote for her husband. She said female voters helped her husband win in the 2020 election in Georgia.

Jill Biden: And when our daughters' futures are at stake, when our country and its freedom hangs in the balance, we are immovable and unstoppable.

Sarah Kallis: Many voters at the event said policies on women's rights were one of the main reasons they planned to support President Biden. The newly formed group aims to mobilize other women to vote for the current president in this year's race. Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump is well ahead of Nikki Haley in the Republican presidential primary. Early voting in the race is already underway in Georgia and continues through March 8. For GPB News, I'm Sarah Kallis.


Story 11:

Orlando Montoya: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is asking for public input on how it manages the white-tailed deer population in Georgia. The state is updating its deer management plan and feedback is integral to that process, says Charlie Killmaster, the state's deer biologist.

Charlie Killmaster: Everybody in the state is in some way, shape or form, affected by deer, and that can be positively or negatively. This is not just for hunters, and this is not just for farmers. This is for everyone. And we want everyone's input on this, regardless of your level of involvement or experience with deer.

Orlando Montoya: He says issues the DNR wants to hear about include deer-car collisions, urban deer management and communications. There's an open house in Statesboro tomorrow, in Jackson on Wednesday, and in Gainesville on Thursday. It's also an online open house at


Story 12:

Orlando Montoya: Brit Turner, drummer and founding member of the Southern rock band BlackBerry Smoke, has died at the age of 57. Turner was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer, in 2022. The band announced his passing Sunday on social media. BlackBerry Smoke formed in Atlanta in the year 2000. Their albums Holding All the Roses and Like an Arrow both charted at number one on Billboard's Top Country Albums.

Story 13:

Orlando Montoya: Many high school seniors are on pins and needles this time of year as they wait to learn if they get into the college of their dreams. Last Friday, Jordan Smith, a senior at Macon's Southwest High School, got to put his worries to rest. GPB's Grant Blankenship has that story.

Grant Blankenship: A representative from Georgia Tech came to Southwest High School to personally tell Jordan Smith, "you made the cut." Cassandra Ashley is one of Jordan's teachers.

Cassandra Ashley: This is big news for us because we don't have many Georgia Tech, you know, going kids to Georgia Tech. But I knew it ,the first time I met him, though. He was always talking about being an engineer. And I'm like, "this kid's going to do it."

Grant Blankenship: Ashley wrote a recommendation letter for Jordan, as did teacher Garnet Rochon. Rochon says when Jordan was the only student at Southwest High who wanted to take AP calculus, that meant he had to enroll in a community college class instead. It's just one way, Rochon says, Jordan is a role model.

Garnet Rochon: He's come after school and tutored other kids that are staying after school to tutor with me.

Grant Blankenship: That's on top of band, robot team and the highest SAT score in school.

Cassandra Ashley: He's not just smart, he's nice.

Grant Blankenship: For Jordan Smith, the first of seven siblings to head to college, acceptance to Georgia Tech is the first big step toward his goal of being an electrical engineer. And he says it's amazing to be seen for who he wants to be.

Jordan Smith: For many years, I wasn't sure if that was happening or if I was just going about it myself, but now I know there are people actually looking at me.

Grant Blankenship: Smith says, that's why getting into Georgia Tech is one of the biggest accomplishments of his life — so far. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.


Orlando Montoya: And that's it for today's edition of Georgia Today. For all the latest news from GPB, check out our website, constantly updated 24/7. Also, check us out on social media. You can find us on Facebook and Instagram @GPBNews. And here's your regular reminder to hit subscribe on this podcast so you never miss an episode. If you have feedback, send that to us at I'm Orlando Montoya. Peter Biello will be back tomorrow. Thanks for tuning in.


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