Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-09) will join a bipartisan Congressional mission to Israel next week in order to strengthen American-Israeli ties and learn more about the latest regional security and economic issues and the impact on the interests of the United States. Rep. Graves issued the following statement ahead of his departure:
“During this time of historic change in the Middle East, and with the United States fighting three wars in the region, it’s critical to maintain the strongest possible bond with Israel, our great ally and partner in democracy. I am pleased to join this mission to Israel as we seek to learn from each other and maintain the strategic U.S.-Israel alliance that protects our interests and provides security for our citizens.”
This mission is organized by the American Israel Education Foundation [AIEF], an independent, nonprofit charitable organization, and is privately funded by U.S. citizens. No funding is provided by the United States Government or the Israeli Government.
Over the course of two weeks, eighty-one members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, are expected to travel to Israel. Rep. Graves is participating in the second week, August 21-28.
Members of the U.S. delegation will meet with key Israeli and Palestinian government officials, American diplomats, and other defense and economic experts in order to receive high level briefings on security, defense cooperation, and international trade, among other core issues. The delegation will visit a variety of areas across Israel, including U.S-Israel cooperative projects, military bases, universities, hospitals, and holy sites.
Above, Graves at a recent town hall meeting here.
Smoking rates among citizens of Pickens County are above the state average according to a recent project by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. An estimated 29 percent of Pickens County residents smoke. To combat the smoking epidemic, Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, in conjunction with the American Lung Association, is offering an eight-week smoking cessation clinic called “Freedom From Smoking.” The 90-minute sessions are held Once a week beginning August 23. Total cost for the entire course is only $25.
“Smoking is a leading cause of death in Georgia according to the Georgia Department of Community Health,” says Cindy London BBA, RRT, Director, Respiratory Care Services and smoking cessation facilitator. “Piedmont Mountainside Hospital and the American Lung Association are determined to cure this addiction through the smoking cessation clinic classes led by instructors who understand the smoking addiction and can provide the best help for each participant.”
Freedom From Smoking will strive to help adults beat their smoking addiction by providing them with the skills and support needed to quit for good. The program is eight weeks of classes aimed at using a positive behavior approach to demonstrate ways for participants to become nonsmokers.
Classes take place on the lower level of Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in the conference room. Class dates are held each Tuesday beginning August 23 and end October 4. An additional Thursday evening class is held September 8. For questions or registration please call 706-301-5516, leave your name and phone number and your call will be returned. Seating is limited so please register soon. For more information on Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, visit piedmontmountainsidehospital.org.
ATLANTA – State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 10.1 percent in July, up two-tenths of a percentage point from 9.9 percent in June. The state’s jobless rate was also 10.1 percent in July a year ago.
The July increase, as in June, was due primarily to the traditional seasonal layoffs, with about 80 percent of them in state and local education.
Georgia lost 30,200 jobs in July, as the total jobs number dropped eight-tenths of a percentage point to 3,789,600. In addition to 24,500 jobs lost in government and education, business services lost 2,200, while construction lost 1,800. Overall, there were 28,400, or seven-tenths of a percentage point, fewer jobs than in July of last year.
However, a gain of 1,400 manufacturing jobs helped offset overall losses. This was the first July in 18 years that Georgia had an increase in manufacturing jobs.
“Manufacturing has been a very weak sector, but we’re starting to see some increases in hiring,” said Butler. “We’re getting a lot of inquiries from manufacturers who are looking to expand or relocate here, which is always a good sign.”
Butler said Georgia’s pro-business environment will help create much-needed jobs. However, he noted that the unrest in Washington is only hindering the growth process.
“I believe the recent lack of leadership in Washington is a contributing factor to the overall lack of confidence in the economy,” Butler said. “Due to this lack of confidence, we are seeing a business community which is hesitant to make further investments in this economy.”
The number of long-term unemployed workers increased for the first time in five months, up 600 to 251,100. The number of long-term unemployed remains 9.1 percent higher than the 230,100 in July of last year. The long-term unemployed account for 52.9 percent of Georgia’s 474,577 jobless workers.
Also, first-time claims for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits in July rose to 61,570, up 2,589, or 4.4 percent, from 58,981 in June. Most of the first-time claims were filed in manufacturing, education, services and construction. However, on the positive side, there was an over-the-year decrease of 6,519 initial claims, or 9.6 percent, from 68,089 filed in July of last year.
July marked the 48th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.1 percent, down from 9.2 percent in June.
Above, House Speaker David Ralston left and Governor Nathan Deal sign previous legislation. Today they have announced a crackdown on illegal gambling.
Gov. Nathan Deal today unveiled a new law enforcement initiative to crack down on gambling parlors currently proliferating throughout Georgia.
“Today, we are coming together to send a clear message to the illegal gaming industry, and to concerned communities throughout Georgia: Our state law prohibits gambling,” said Deal. “The code is black and white on this issue. Though some have sought to further their own interests by spreading the impression that the thwarting of these laws would be winked at, we are here to reassure Georgians that we will prosecute anyone skirting the law in this area.”
The state of Georgia has witnessed an expansion of internet cafes which are being used to host internet gaming, complete with cash prizes. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation now estimates that there are 50-100 active operations. The governor is launching this initiative because large internet sweepstakes companies have their eye on Georgia for a massive expansion – projected at hundreds of locations with major sites having as many as 500 gaming terminals.
“I am calling on GBI Director Vernon Keenan, Attorney General Sam Olens, the District Attorneys’ Association and law enforcement to use their jurisdiction and power to enforce Georgia’s gaming laws to the fullest extent,” Deal said. “Establishments falsely claiming to be internet cafes are not welcome in Georgia. We are sending a clear message that we do not want this industry in Georgia and I am directing the state’s resources to eliminate it from our communities.”
House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle joined the governor in vowing to take whatever legislative steps are needed during the General Assembly’s 2012 session.
Around 40 parents and students attended the school board meeting Thursday, with those allowed to speak asking for a reconsideration of the new centralized bus stops.
Three parents addressed the board during public comments. Many remaining parents left disgruntled that the board had not yielded some floor time so more parents could speak. Some indicated their frustration with the board for not offering more feedback to parent comments.
A parents group has since organized a meeting next Tuesday, August 23, at 6:30 p.m. to be held at the Chamber of Commerce Building for discussing the issue further. Willie Prather, among organizing parents, asked that anyone concerned with the bus routes attend.
Donna Tucker, along with other residents of the Bethany Moorings subdivision, said safety is the prime concern involved with the school bus stop for that south Pickens community.
“It is a very unsafe corner with cars flying up the hill,” she told the board. “There are no streetlights or sidewalks with kids walking in the street in the dark.”
During a break in the meeting, many other parents had harsh words about the situation and about not getting a better response from the board.
See more parent comments from those at the meeting and additional school board news in our print edition now on sale.