Hundreds of buildings being eyed for possible renaming on Georgia college campuses

An advisory group mulling whether to rename buildings and academic colleges on the University System of Georgia’s 26 campuses has whittled down to a list of 840 buildings and nearly 40 college and university names for further research.

Albany State University President Marion Ross Fredrick, who chairs the advisory group, said at a meeting Wednesday the group had culled those names from more than 3,000 buildings that dot Georgia’s university system.

Fredrick said the group has also brought on board two historians to research the roughly 880 building and college names and is eyeing an early 2021 date to wrap up work after forming in June.

The group has also fielded more than 1,700 public comments about the renaming project, Fredrick said.

“We want to make sure we do have a product at the end of this that was well-thought through,” Fredrick said at Wednesday’s meeting.

The advisory group was created amid a backdrop of protests across the country over centuries of racial injustice in America that have been marked by the removal of statues of Confederate leaders and public calls for renaming buildings honoring historic figures connected with the South’s history of slavery and racial discrimination and violence.

Lisa Tendrich Frank, a Florida-based historian who is one of the two historians conducting research, said her team has started pouring over encyclopedias, newspapers, alumni magazines and other sources to identify the names that grace the selected campus buildings.

Working with two PhD students and historian Joshua Butler, Frank said the plan is to create one or two-page summaries on the histories of each name that appears on the roughly 880 buildings and colleges highlighted by the project.

“We’re trying to find out exactly who these individuals were,” Frank said Wednesday. “Why was the building named for these people.”

The advisory group will produce a final report once the research work wraps up.

Kemp extends COVID-19 restrictions in Georgia through Oct. 15

Coronavirus has sickened hundreds of thousands people and killed thousands more in Georgia. (Image: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Gov. Brian Kemp has extended social distancing and sanitization restrictions for businesses, gatherings and long-term elderly care facilities in Georgia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a news release sent late Wednesday, the governor’s office announced Kemp signed an order extending the restrictions through Oct. 15. The order keeps restrictions that have been in place for months largely the same.

Kemp’s public health emergency, which allows him to continue issuing executive orders, has also extended until Nov. 9. Georgia’s emergency status has been in effect since mid-March when the virus began spreading in the state.

The latest order keeps in place a ban on gatherings larger than 50 people in Georgia and continues to make wearing a mask voluntary at the statewide level, not mandatory.

Cities and counties have been allowed to impose their own mask mandates since August so long as their local requirements do not apply for businesses and residences.

Residents of long-term care facilities and Georgians with chronic health conditions have been under stay-at-home orders since March, though Kemp has moved in recent weeks to start relaxing some restrictions on visitors at elderly care facilities depending on how well a facility has fought the virus.

Restaurants, bars and other popular gathering spots remain under occupancy limitations and cleanliness requirements that have been in place for several months.

Bars have been limited to no more than 50 customers or 35% of occupancy, whichever is greater. Restaurants must keep at least six feet of space between seated groups.

Kemp’s latest order does allow workers at restaurants and bars who have been symptom-free for 24 hours to return to work after showing symptoms or testing positive for the virus.

As of Wednesday afternoon, roughly 318,000 people in Georgia had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel strain of coronavirus that sparked a global pandemic. It had killed 7,021 Georgians.

UGA satellite set to launch Thursday

(L-R) Post Doc research scientist David Cotten of the Center for Geospatial Research, Senior computer science and astrophysics major Caleb Adams, Professor of Geography Deepak Mishra, and senior mechanical engineering major Megan Le Corre are working together along with a team of students and professors in a collaborative effort to design, build, and deploy (with the help of NASA) a cube satellite. Adams is holding a 3D printer model of the CubeSat.

ATLANTA – An Antares rocket scheduled for launch Thursday night from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia will carry a small research satellite developed by students at the University of Georgia.

The SPOC, short for Spectral Ocean Color, will monitor the health of coastal ecosystems from space.

The satellite, about the size of a loaf of bread, features an advanced optic system that can zoom in on coastal areas to detect chemical composition and physical characteristics on ocean and wetland surfaces.

UGA students and faculty researchers have been working since 2016 to get the project off the ground. The team won a highly competitive research grant from NASA to secure a spot on the rocket and earn funding.

“I was looking for the most difficult thing I could find and throwing myself at it,” said Hollis Neal, a UGA graduate and one of the founders of UGA’s Small Satellite Research Lab. “That’s a theme with us: We really enjoy a challenge.”

Among the challenges the UGA team had to overcome was a malfunction discovered weeks before a planned launch last March that forced a postponement. After that, the coronavirus pandemic got in the way, shutting down the lab in the spring and summer, then limiting the number of people who could be inside the lab at any one time.

Once in space, SPOC will travel to the International Space Station for deployment into orbit a few weeks later.

“The most important date for our success will be sometime in November when the satellite is actually deployed and the scientific mission begins,” said Deepak Mishra, a UGA geography professor and director of the lab.

UGA hopes to launch a second satellite about a year from now, while a third satellite is in development with help from a local nonprofit.

Georgia joining multi-state effort to stop investment fraud scheme

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr

ATLANTA – Georgia is joining 29 other states in a coordinated crackdown on an alleged fraudulent precious metals scheme that has solicited more than $180 million from seniors and other investors.

Attorney General Chris Carr and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Wednesday that Georgia and the other states have joined the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission in a federal court petition seeking enforcement action against Beverly Hills, Calif.-based

“We are concerned that the defendants capitalized on investor fear of market instability and economic uncertainty causing investors to suffer substantial losses from retirement savings,” Carr said. “We will continue working together to protect older Georgians.”

“Preying on the elderly and vulnerable is terrible at any time,” Raffensperger added. “Doing so during pandemic-driven economic uncertainty compounds the egregious wrong done to Georgia’s seniors.”

The petition alleges that TMTE Inc., which goes by several other names including and Barrick Capital Inc., sold precious metals at grossly inflated prices, targeting elderly investors through traditional and social media and providing unregistered investment advisory services designed to “instill fear in elderly and retirement-aged investors and build trust with investors based on representations of political or religious affinity.”

Investors were advised to liquidate their holdings at registered investment firms to fund investments in precious metals through self-directed individual retirement accounts and bullion coins, the petition said.

The defendants also are accused of failing to disclose, among other things, what and Barrick charged investors for their precious metals bullion products and that investors could lose the majority of their funds immediately upon completing a transaction. The defendants charged investors prices for gold or silver bullion averaging from 100%to more than 300% the melt value or spot price of that gold or silver bullion.

In many cases, the market value of the precious metals sold to investors was substantially lower than the value of the securities and other retirement savings investors had liquidated to fund their purchase.

In addition to claims under federal law, Georgia alleges the defendants also violated state securities laws, including failure to register as investment advisors, fraud in the sale of commodities and securities, and the unlawful sale of commodities. Losses to Georgia investors were about $5 million.

The petition asks the court to order the defendants to cease sales activity, return money to investors, and stop defrauding investors and violating federal and state laws going forward.

The attorney general’s and secretary of state’s offices are encouraging investors to come forward if they suspect they have been targeted by similar precious metals investment schemes. Please email [email protected] or call 470-312-2640.

New poll has Warnock leading U.S. Senate race for first time

A new poll shows Rev. Raphael Warnock leading one of Georgia’s two U.S. Senate races. (Credit: Warnock for Georgia)

ATLANTA – A new poll for the first time shows Democrat Raphael Warnock leading the crowded field vying to complete the U.S. Senate term of retired Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Support for Warnock, the pastor at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, stood at 31% in a poll released Tuesday by the independent Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, appointed to the Senate by Gov. Brian Kemp last December on an interim basis, was second with 23%, followed by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, at 22%.

Loeffler has held a narrow lead in recent polls of the Senate race, but Warnock has introduced himself to voters in recent weeks with a mostly positive TV ad campaign and has picked up endorsements from prominent Democrats, including former presidents Barack Obama and Georgia’s Jimmy Carter.

Many Democratic leaders have been urging Democrat Matt Lieberman, the son of former Sen. Joe Lieberman, to pull out of the race and leave the Democratic field to Warnock. The Quinnipiac poll had Lieberman running fourth with 9% of the vote.

Loeffler and Collins have been conducting a bitter battle for support from Republican voters, which has split the Georgia GOP and increased the Democrats’ chances of flipping the seat.

With 21 candidates running, a runoff in January is likely between the top two vote-getters on Nov. 3. To win outright in November, the first-place candidate must capture more than 50% of the vote.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s two other key races remain too close to call. According to the Quinnipiac poll, Democrat Joe Biden holds a narrow lead in the Peach State over Republican President Donald Trump, 50% to 47%. That’s close to the poll’s margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.9%.

The last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Georgia was Bill Clinton back in 1992.

And in Georgia’s other U.S. Senate race, Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff is barely ahead of incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue, 49% to 48%, well within the poll’s margin of error.

“This Georgia race looms as one of several that could shift the balance of power in the U.S. Senate,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy.

The presidential race in Georgia reveals wide gaps in support for the two candidates among demographic groups. Trump is dominating among men 56% to 41%, according to the Quinnipiac poll, while Biden leads among women 57% to 39%.

Trump is the overwhelming choice among white voters 67% to 31%, while Biden’s support among Black voters is even more lop-sided at 89% to 7%.

Georgia independents are backing Biden over Trump 51% to 42%

Quinnipiac interviewed 1,125 likely voters in Georgia, who were surveyed Sept. 23-27.