30 October 2014

Georgia-based Blue Bird Bus Company Sees 44% Increase in Employees Since 2010

(Workers assemble buses on the Blue Bird Manufacturing Line)
The Blue Bird Corporation, a school bus manufacturer based in Peach County, says greater industry demand over the last four years has pushed its number of employees to over 1,600; a 44% increase since 2010.

This number includes a geographically diverse workforce with employees from over 45 Georgia counties.

As a leading bus manufacturer, Blue Bird experienced growth in all vehicle segments and expanded its alternative-fuel leadership position, led by the class-leading Propane Vision bus. Propane is the fastest growing alternative fuel in the school bus industry.

“Blue Bird’s impressive growth has had a tremendous impact on Peach County, Central Georgia and the state of Georgia,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird. “The company’s growth is a direct reflection of Blue Bird’s commitment to engineering and building industry-leading buses that our customers value. We are proud of Blue Bird’s sustained success and are committed to growing the company and providing more employment opportunities for the citizens of Georgia.”

Blue Bird is the second largest automotive manufacturer in the state of Georgia and the largest manufacturing employer in Central Georgia. Established in 1927, Blue Bird is the largest employer in both the city of Fort Valley and Peach County.

The company’s Fort Valley footprint includes two production facilities with over one million square feet of manufacturing and fabrication space.

Governor Deal Sits Down with Attorney Gary Martin Hays to Discuss Criminal Justice Reforms

If you've spent any time in Atlanta watching TV, you've likely seen an advertisement or two promoting the law offices of Gary Martin Hays.

(Governor Nathan Deal, right, sits down for an interview with attorney Gary Martin Hays.)
In addition to his law practice, Hays hosts a podcast called the Wise Counsel Project.

Governor Nathan Deal (R - Georgia) recently sat down with Gary Martin Hays and discussed the criminal justice reforms approved in Georgia during the first four years of the Governor's term.

Deal told Hays he recently created two new initiatives. This past Apri, the Governor began the ‘Interfaith Council’ with the purpose of addressing how convicted offenders are able to re-enter the work force. In September, Governor Deal started ‘The Healing Communities of Georgia’ to work with congregations of faith to reduce recidivism.

Governor Deal's push for reform began by trying to divert non-violent adults out of the prison system followed by non-violent juveniles.

Deal noted that most of the time, non-violent offenders have lost any kind of support system including their families in the civilian society.

"The pattern for a released individual is to return to the community in which they were first picked up for trouble," Deal said. "If the local community, including the faith-based community, does not provide some assistance for them, the likelihood of them getting in more trouble is greatly increased."

You can watch Gary Martin Hays' interview with Governor Deal here:

28 October 2014

State Representative to Blacks: Vote Democrat or You'll Lose Your Section 8 and Food Stamps

The Democrats are pulling out all stops in Georgia, as they battle Republicans in a very tightly contested election.

One Democrat, state Representative Dexter Sharper (D - Valdosta), says Section 8 and food stamps are at risk if the Republicans win.

"Listen! If you are on Section 8, EBT, or CAPS," Sharper wrote in a Facebook post, "You need to get out to vote ASAP. Your benefits are at risk if Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter are not elected!"

Sharper was first elected in 2012, and represents a district that is 56% black.

According to the federal government, more than 46 million Americans receive food stamps as of June 2014. 43% of those getting food stamps are white, 33% are African-American, 19% are Hispanic, 2% are Asian, and 2% are Native American.

Section 8 is a federal rent assistance program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As of 30 September 2014, 49% of whites and 46% of blacks are on the Section 8 program.

Pavlov Media Connects Statesboro, Georgia to 10 Gigabit Fiber Optic Network

Pavlov Media, one of the nation’s largest private providers of broadband services for multi-family real estate, announces it has completed the first phase of fiber optic construction in Statesboro, Georgia. This provides businesses and apartment complexes in Statesboro access to Pavlov Media’s national backbone. The high capacity network delivers reliable speeds up to 10,000 Mbps to apartment residents and businesses in Statesboro.

Pavlov Media has been building and managing broadband networks for more than 20 years. The company owns and operates its own fiber construction company. Pavlov Media has made municipal fiber optic network construction a priority for 2014-2015, recognizing the increasing demand for faster and more reliable Internet.

“We’re excited about the opportunities in Statesboro to deliver exceptional Internet services,” said Mark Scifres, CEO of Pavlov Media. “Our state of the art fiber optic network will showcase the advantages of our Tesseractiv® Content Delivery technology and improve the quality of life for students and businesses in Statesboro.”

By the end of the first quarter of 2015, Pavlov Media plans to complete the second phase of fiber construction in Statesboro. The company already has fiber rings in Bloomington, Illinois, and Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

Al Sharpton Visits Clayton County to Campaign for MARTA

The Clayton-Henry County National Action Network Chapter (NAN) and the Friends of Clayton Transit (FCT) welcomes MSNBC personality and political activist Al Sharpton today for a rally in support of Clayton County joining MARTA.

Next month, Clayton County voters will decide if they want to add an additional penny to their sales tax for MARTA buses and trains.

Sharpton will speak at an 7PM rally featuring other supporters of mass transit. The rally will take place at the Center of Hope Church of God in Christ, located at 492 Roy Huie Road in Riverdale, Georgia.

27 October 2014

Gov. Deal & Union City Mayor Vince Williams Applaud Plans to Replace Shannon Mall with Film Studios

Shannon Mall Being Demolished to Make Way for Film & TV Studio

Rooker, an Atlanta-based real estate development and construction company, announced today a collaboration with 404 Studio Partners to develop a purpose-built film and television studio facility at the former Shannon Mall site in Union City, Georgia.
(Construction crews begin demolition of the former Shannon Mall to make way for a new 345,000 film & tv studio.)
Union City is located south of downtown Atlanta in Fulton County.

The first phase of the new development features a 345,000-square-foot film and television studio, including 130,500 square feet of sound stages, 60,000 square feet of office space, and 50,000 square feet of mill (construction and flex space). The production facility will sit on 25 acres of land.

"We couldn't be happier to have one of the largest studio facilities in the state call Union City home," said Union City Mayor Vince Williams. "Today is about a city rising and partnering with the private sector to bring new jobs and new opportunities to our community's front door."

Rooker, which purchased the former Shannon Mall site in February 2014, will be the developer and general contractor of the studio complex named Atlanta Metro Studios. 404 Studio Partners, led by a team of film and television production professionals, including a former Turner Entertainment Group producer and the former President of Physical Production at Universal Studios, will be the exclusive sales, marketing and operations management company for the studio facilities.

"Georgia is one of the fastest growing entertainment production centers in the nation," Governor Nathan Deal said (R - Georgia). "Production companies are picking Georgia because we have the entire package -- a business-friendly environment, statewide accessibility, diverse locations, and a skilled crew base."

Demolition of the old Shannon Mall started 27 October. Construction on the studio begins 1 March 2015, with a target completion date of fourth-quarter 2015.

Ed Richardson, an executive with 404 Studio Partners and CEO of R&R Productions Worldwide, said, "Georgia offers the film and television industry a number of key advantages, including production tax incentives, strong state and city leaders who are committed to promoting the industry, and a growing infrastructure and workforce.

"Atlanta Metro Studios will provide large-scale film and television content creators the additional benefits of a purpose-built studio facility, central location only five minutes from Hartsfield International Airport and less than 20 minutes from Midtown Atlanta, and a marketing and management team with extensive industry knowledge and experience," Richardson continued.

25 October 2014

Early/Absentee Voting Numbers by Congressional District for the Week Ending 25 October 2014

As of 25 October 2014, 335,098 Georgians have either voted at their local elections office or cast ballots by mail.

Below are the totals by congressional district:

Number of
Early Votes
Increase from
18 Oct. 2014
1 20,558+12,017
2 25,225+15,226
3 30,740+19,056
4 28,099+17,278
5 20,911+14,075
6 22,521+15,877
7 13,791+7,754
8 27,531+18,368
9 31,025+18,138
10 30,415+17,980
11 19,537+11,408
12 21,034+11,524
13 25,362+16,701
14 18,349+10,388
Totals 335,098+205,790

24 October 2014

Callaway Gardens Announces the Return of Fantasy In Lights for the 2014 Holiday Season

The holiday season is right around the corner, and Callaway Gardens is preparing to welcome families to Pine Mountain for the 23rd annual Fantasy in Lights spectacular.

(The Fantasy in Lights holiday spectacular returns to Callaway Gardens for its 23rd year in 2014.)
Named one of the “Top 10 Places to See Holiday Lights” by National Geographic Traveler, Fantasy In Lights features 8 million lights stretching more than five miles, creating 15 larger-than-life holiday scenes.

Fantasy In Lights at Callaway Gardens sets Pine Mountain, Ga., ablaze from 21 November through 30 December 2014.

Visitors experience the light and sound extravaganza on the “Jolly Trolley” or by driving through the lighted scenes in their personal vehicle. The sparkling, animated displays include Snowflake Valley, a winter wonderland filled with enormous snowflakes and thousands of white lights; Magical Christmas Garden with a 24-foot wreath entrance; and Santa’s Workshop, showcasing animated versions of Santa’s elves busy making toys for the big night. Two “don’t miss” scenes are on Robin Lake Beach and are both narrated: ’Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Nativity.

Ninety-nine percent of the frames used to create the scenes in Fantasy In Lights are custom designed and built just for Callaway Gardens, taking 3,900 hours to install. In keeping with Callaway Gardens’ mission of connecting man and nature, every kilowatt of power used to light up Fantasy In Lights is compensated with “green” power. Callaway Gardens was the first destination in the Southeast to offset 100 percent of its electricity use by purchasing wind power credits.

Purchasing tickets in advance is strongly advised and provides discounted price. Advance ticket prices start at $17 for adults and $8.50 for children. Children 5 and younger are always admitted for free. Tickets purchased on the same-day of visit are $28 for adults and $14 for children; and will be sold on a first-available basis.

For more details, visit www.callawaygardens.com