Editorial Roundup: Georgia

Brunswick News. July 27, 2022.

Editorial: Ossoff’s scrutiny is also needed in other areas

The nation can only hope that U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff scrutinizes the effectiveness of the frequently criticized Department of Veterans Affairs with the same ardor as he is the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. In short, the Democrat from Georgia wants to know why inmates at federal prisons are acting badly.

The answer might not be what he and other members of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations think it is. While Michael Carvajal, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons until he resigned in January, should explain why the bureau failed to react responsibly and quickly to serious problems at the prisons he oversaw, he is not solely to blame for criminals acting like criminals.

Sen. Ossoff is not the only one asking questions. Other Democrats, as well as Republicans on the committee, want answers too. They grilled Carvajal during a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Unsurprisingly, the ex-bureau chief told those who were listening that he was unaware of many of the problems. Subordinates shielded him from certain issues, he claimed. Few committee members swallowed that.

Among other things, committee members sought to understand how prison inmates manage to escape and why contraband like drugs and weapons flows as freely as the Mississippi River through the prison system. At the prison in Atlanta, issues include inadequate health care, disgusting food and staffing shortages. At the FCI Dublin women’s prison, instances of sex abuse are commonplace.

Sen. Ossoff is right to try to get to the root of the matter, but it is too easy and too convenient to dump all the blame on a single person. In addition to considering the kind of men and women who generally end up behind bars, he might try doing a little math. How much funding is the federal government investing in keeping prisons safe? It obviously is not enough if inmates are able to add to their offenses while locked up. Overcrowding? If that is the case, then why was there an effort to shut down the prison facility in Charlton County?

Prisons should not be Hilton Hotels, but neither should they be cesspools. Nor should they be dens of blatantly wild and destructive behavior.

If Sen. Ossoff and his fellow senators succeed in sorting out the prison mess, the VA ought to be their next stop. Veterans are still complaining they are not getting the help promised them when they committed to military service. Their treatment is just as deserving of proper attention.

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Dalton Daily Citizen. July 23, 2022.

Editorial: Take a step back in time at Vann House Days

These days in our ultra-fast paced world, we don’t often enough take time to slow down and appreciate the smaller parts of our lives.

The Vann House Days at the Chief Vann House in Spring Place can help us do just that

The annual event, which was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be demonstrations of historic activities that were once common at the Vann House as well as tours.

“To celebrate the 19th century Cherokees and Moravians who once resided in Springplace, local artists and volunteers will host demonstrations of historic daily chores, such as butter churning, weaving, spinning, gardening, woodworking, doll making, black powder rifles and more,” according to event organizers. “All activities are covered with admission, there is no rain date for this event.”

“Vann House Days isn’t just a memorial celebration for those who were driven west by the greed and racism of southern planter politicians, but also a celebration of the historians, activists and philanthropists who fought with all they had and rallied their community to save the Vann House.”

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Vann House was built in 1804 by a wealthy Cherokee tradesman and chief named James Vann who “sponsored the first western-style school and mission in the Cherokee Nation before his murder in 1809.

“His son and heir, Joseph Vann, nicknamed ‘Rich Joe,’ managed the family business and plantation, and continued to sponsor the Moravian Mission. Rich Joe and his family were violently removed from their home in 1835, three years prior to the Trail of Tears, and their plantation split apart by American prospectors.

“Today, their restored plantation home stands as a reminder of the Cherokee legacy in Georgia.”

The department notes how “In the 1940s, time was running out for the house on Diamond Hill. The ‘bones’ of the building were good, but extensive rot and damage in the roof, windows, mantles, cornice work and more threatened to end the long reign of this plantation home.”

Many people, including Agnes Kemp, Tim Howard, Gertrude Ruskin and Lela Lloyd, stepped forward.

Kemp in 1951 led the fundraising of $6,000 for the purchase of the Vann House for the Georgia Historical Commission. Howard told the story of the Vanns and helped with research necessary for the restoration. Ruskin and a Mrs. Rankin from the First District Women’s Club helped fundraise. Lloyd “chronicled the entire process with Mrs. Kemp and Tim Howard.”

There have been many others who have contributed, including the Bradford, Chambers, Brandy, Dunn and Calhoun families, and those who started the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society.

On July 27, 1958, the Vann House was opened as a public historic site.

Regular admission is $6.50 to $5.50 plus tax; children 5 and under are free.

We encourage you to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to see these demonstrations up close, and to tour the historic facilities, while taking appropriate precautions considering that COVID is still a part of our lives.

We salute the many volunteers and staff who make this wonderful opportunity available to us so that we can both experience history and learn from it.

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Valdosta Daily Times. July 27, 2022.

Editorial: Traffic fatalities increasing

Traffic fatalities are on the rise in Georgia.

The Department of Transportation reports 1,844 people died on our roadways in 2021 and that is up by 125 deaths from the previous year.

It looks like 2022 could be even worse.

Traffic safety officials say 76% of the fatalities are caused by unsafe driving, including distractions, impairment or driving too fast for conditions.

Distracted driving is a huge part of the problem.

Despite the fact Georgia is a hands-free state — with some of the strongest distracted driving laws in the country — many of you are still texting and driving.

Please put your phone down when you are behind the wheel.

Texting and driving can be, and often is, fatal.

What is it going to take to get you to stop texting and driving?

Georgia’s “hands free” law has been in place for a few years now and still it is quite common to see people driving down the road, phone in hand, looking down and texting away.

The law prohibits drivers from having a phone or stand-alone electronic device in their hands or touching any part of their body while operating a motor vehicle on Georgia roadways.

A Bluetooth speakerphone, earpiece, electronic watch or wireless headset is allowed so long as it is not being operated by the driver’s hand. The use of GPS and navigational devices are allowed but drivers cannot have a phone in their hand or supported by any part of their body. The law is designed to prevent cellphones from interfering with a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle and keep attention on the road.

The law allows drivers to use “hands-free” technology to make or receive phone calls and use GPS devices but drivers cannot at any time use their phones to write, read or send text messages, e-mails, social media and internet data. The use of voice-to-text technology is allowed.

Also, the hands-free law prohibits drivers from watching videos as well as recording videos, though GPS navigational videos and continuously running dash cams are permitted. You can listen to music through streaming apps on your phone but you cannot activate their apps or change music through the phone while driving.

Music streaming apps programmed and controlled through the vehicle’s radio system are allowed. Music streaming apps that also have video are not allowed since the law specifically prohibits drivers from watching videos.

Anyone still confused about what they are allowed to do when driving, you cannot have a phone in your hands or on any part of your body if you want to make or receive a phone call or use GPS. You cannot legally text, e-mail or surf the internet on your phone when driving.

Simply put, stop texting and driving.

The life you save could be your own or someone you love.

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