Gainesville city school board waits on ‘self-assessment’ discussion

For the second meeting in a row, the Gainesville Board of Education members declined to talk about an item — with at least two members saying they need additional time.

The board had a “self-assessment” on the agenda, and the first item included three members who said improvement is needed, Delores Diaz, the board chair, said.

However, she asked three times “how we could improve” the board’s “governance structure,” and no one commented. She noted three of the four board members who did the anonymous, online assessment said improvement is needed. One member rated it “satisfactory.”

Board members Sammy Smith and Willie Mitchell said the meeting was the first time they had seen the survey results, and they would like to have additional time.

The assessment is an annual process.

Four board members attended the meeting — Smith, Mitchell, Diaz and Brett Mercer. Board member John Filson did not attend.

Diaz asked if they would then be willing to have another meeting and discuss the parts of the assessment in detail. Both agreed.

The only discussion about the survey was about the “leadership team,” which includes the five board members and Superintendent Wanda Creel.

“Team equals six,” Smith said.

The item about “board self-assessment” came after the board held at 39-minute closed session on personnel. No motions were made after the closed session, but the board did approve a personnel list at the end of the meeting.

Diaz said at least part of that session was about the board’s evaluation of Creel.

Creel received a three-year contract when she came to Gainesville, and she is starting her third year.

Asked if the board would have another called meeting before the scheduled July 18 meeting, Diaz responded, “I have no idea.”

At the June 20 meeting, which also included four members, two sets of minutes were not approved. Both the June 2 called meeting and June 6 work session minutes did not get a motion or second for approval. Diaz missed the June 20 meeting because of a death in her family.

Board members made no comment about those minutes.

Six people attended Thursday’s meeting who have raised questions about the proposed building of a new school at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy. It was noted that the board has not responded to comments and questions from four speakers at the June 6 meeting.

Mercer said a response is ready and is awaiting the approval of all board members before being sent.


• The board approved spending $167,000 for computers for an audio-video room, 40 laptops and 120 Chromebooks, 11 70-inch TVs, an Apple TV with iPads and furniture, including 300 desks for Gainesville High School.

• Creel said the ninth-grade center will have “true transition” courses for the first time, requiring new classrooms.

• Creel explained that three new classes for English for speakers of other languages will be added at the high school, and a second class each of construction and early childhood education will be added. Those additions are based on requests from students, she said.

• The board approved a contract for athletic training services for 2016-17 with the Northeast Georgia Physicians Group. The medical practice will provide the service of two trainers at the high school and one for the middle school for free. The school district will pay mileage expenses above $750 per trainer. Chris Griner, the school district’s financial officer, said the total cost should be less than $5,000. Benchmark Physical Therapy, which has had the contract, bid $30,000, which covers the salary of a trainer, Griner said.

Gainesville city school board waits on ‘self-assessment’ discussion

Man charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide after January wreck

A Gainesville man has been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide after a Jan. 19 wreck in Hall County, according to authorities.

Jerry Dwayne McKee, 18, was booked in to the Hall County Jail Wednesday on the misdemeanor charge and was released Thursday.

No phone number was listed for McKee in the Hall County Comprehensive Justice Information System, and no attorney was listed in the Magistrate Court’s office.

Georgia State Patrol investigated a Jan. 19 two-vehicle crash on Ga. 365/Cornelia Highway at Athens Street in Lula.

McKee was driving a Buick Park Avenue and was attempting to turn on to Cornelia Highway from Athens Street.

State patrol said McKee’s car failed to yield the right of way and struck a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Mary Ellen Maznicki, 64, of Lakemont.

“(The Jeep Grand Cherokee) then overturned, ejecting the driver,” Sgt. Anthony Coleman wrote at the time of the incident.

Maznicki was killed in the crash.

The Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team conducted the investigation following the crash.

“The investigating trooper did obtain warrants on (June 27) for failure to yield after stopping at a stop sign and (second-degree) vehicular homicide,” Sgt. A.J. Allen wrote in an email.

Second-degree vehicular homicide is a misdemeanor charge.

Man charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide after January wreck

Allgood family participating in radiothon for hospital treating 3-year-old daughter Brecklynn

This time last year, Courtney and Zack Allgood had little need for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Today, the couple’s 3-year-old daughter Brecklynn spends much of her time at the hospital that’s helping to save her life.

Brecklynn Allgood was diagnosed with pleuropulmonary blastoma, a rare childhood cancer, in November. Doctors at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta removed two tumors from the girl’s brain, radiating the area and beginning an aggressive chemotherapy treatment.

This month, Brecklynn and her family will be featured in the WSB Care-a-thon at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Her parents will be interviewed on the 37-hour radiothon between 5 a.m. July 11 and 6 p.m. July 12 on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB.

“She’s doing really well,” Courtney Allgood said of her daughter. “Though I guess it depends on how you look at that. Overall, she’s super tough, but we’ve still got a good road ahead of us.”

Brecklynn finished her ninth round of chemotherapy last week and has five more to go, according to her mother.

The sites of Brecklynn’s brain tumors were radiated, but Allgood said doctors haven’t decided yet if they will radiate the other tumor sites when the chemo is finished. She also has tumors in her arm, her spine and one in her leg.

“It’s very hard for them to come up with a game plan for her, because there were very little cases ever like hers,” Allgood said. “Most cancers have a typical protocol, but she doesn’t really have that.”

Allgood said her daughter’s doctors are always honest with the family, admitting when they aren’t sure what they’ll do next.

“They’ll just say, ‘We haven’t really decided,’” she said. “So we just wait for them to tell us.”

Allgood said the radiothon will be an opportunity to share how Children’s Hospital of Atlanta has cared for their daughter, and to ask for donations to the 501(c)(3) hospital.

She said the hospital provides care that goes beyond healing her daughter’s cancer.

“They have something called child life specialists who work there and their entire job is just to be there for the kids,” Allgood said. “They’re amazing. Soon as we get there each time, they find Brecklynn and ask her what she wants to play with, what she wants to do.”

These specialists will do anything from bringing Brecklynn an iPad to bringing her paper and paints.

Allgood said one specialist brought Brecklynn paint, Q-tips and a “big, huge thing of paper,” then spread it all out on the floor.

“She took the straws and put paint on the end of the Q-tips, then let Brecklynn blow the Q-tip out the end of the straw onto the paper,” Allgood said. “There was paint everywhere.”

She said it’s “little things like that” that make all the difference for a child going through treatment, and the hospital relies on donations to provide child life specialists to clients.

“We’re going to be talking a lot about those important things and how, without people donating, they wouldn’t be there,” she said.

Allgood said her family is still thankful to the community that rallied around them in the last seven months. People are still reaching out, still praying and still donating, she said.

Her parents, Jim and Gloria Syfan, have a family foundation that will match all donations made during the radiothon up to $50,000, she said.

“Without donations, without people caring enough to give, we wouldn’t be there,” Allgood said.

Last year, the Care-a-Thon raised more than $1.5 million for the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Listeners can hear it on News 95.5-FM and 750-AM WSB or online at To donate, visit

Allgood said she encourages listeners to consider donating, not only for her daughter, but for all the children who are currently being treated by the center and who may one day be treated there.

“You never know when it’s going to be your child or grandchild, your niece or nephew,” she said. “We never in a million years would have thought we’d be spending a good portion of our time at the hospital. Now that we are, we couldn’t be more thankful or more blessed to have CHOA. There are tons of people all over this country that don’t have near as wonderful a hospital.”

Allgood family participating in radiothon for hospital treating 3-year-old daughter Brecklynn

Ronaldo pospone el récord y es semifinalista con otra tanda afortunada

No tuvo alcanzó este jueves Ronaldo el récord de máximo goleador histórico, pero rescató una “bola extra” para las semifinales, a las que llegó tras marcar el camino a su selección en la tanda de penaltis, en la que se encargó del primer lanzamiento.

Ronaldo pospone el récord y es semifinalista con otra tanda afortunada

New approach to decades-old rule could hurt affordable housing efforts

Harold Kilgore maneuvers the excavator expertly behind a home under construction in Flowery Branch’s Misty Harbor subdivision, near Lake Lanier, digging deep into the Georgia-brown earth where a septic tank will be placed.

The job is a lifestyle as much as a paycheck.

“This is all I do,” Kilgore, the owner of Gravelator Systems in Talmo, later said.

But he wonders how his septic install and repair business will be impacted by the Department of Public Health’s new approach to a decades-old rule.

Kilgore’s concerns are not about the bottom line, however.

“If anything, it would help my business,” he said.

Rather, Kilgore is worried his customers will take the hit.

And it’s not just homeowners on Lanier who are taking notice.

Officials with Habitat for Humanity of Hall County are itching over its potential impact on affordable housing development, which census figures show is already lacking in the region.

The rules for approving septic tanks have long been interpreted to allow for a sort of “grandfather” clause, protecting primarily smaller lots established prior to 1984, according to Kilgore.

“In other words, if a lot was approved under the septic rules in place at the time it was platted, then it would still be build-able and today’s standards, which are much more stringent, do not apply,” said Tim Williams, associate executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Hall County.

Jennifer Fulbright, District 2 environmental health director, said her office began evaluating county procedures for “approval of lots utilizing on-site sewage management systems in each of our 13 counties” late last year.

“No rule change has taken place, nor is a new rule being proposed in regards to permitting lots for septic systems,” Fulbright added.

Instead, Fulbright said, the district office clarified the minimum requirements necessary for approving septic system permits — including land area requirements for both initial and replacement systems, as well as county zoning and setback ordinances.

The rules “were established to provide for the orderly and safe development of property utilizing on-site sewage management systems, in the interest of public health,” Fulbright said.

Now, plans to build three- and four-bedroom homes with septic on less than an acre lot could be restricted to just two bedrooms, Kilgore said.

He concedes that the rule does not exempt older properties, but said its implementation has only recently changed.
Kilgore is currently working with a customer, for example, who “three months ago would have been approved,” he said.

But officials with environmental watchdog Chattahoochee Riverkeeper believe the rules could help improve water flow and quality in the region.

Jason Ulseth, who leads the nonprofit, said serving new lots and residences with a publicly owned sewer system is better for Hall’s water quality than septic tanks, “which have been associated with high levels of E. coli in nearby streams when not properly maintained.”

“Septic tanks have a lower rate of water returning to the river and lake as they tend to lose a lot of water through evaporation in the drain field,” he added.  

Mark Watkins and his wife are building a new home on the Lanier lakefront and stopped by the Flowery Branch worksite to see just how Kilgore installs a septic system.

When Watkins heard about how the rule might be applied, he said he was concerned that his property might face new scrutiny.

Existing and prospective homeowners like Watkins fear lost property values if they have to reduce the size of their planned homes.

But, for now, construction on Watkins’ home continues.

Kilgore said he hopes his advanced treatment systems for lake properties, which is what Watkins is having installed, could be used as a compromise.

Additionally, the initial and full backup system requirements under the department’s rule might be cost-prohibitive, which Williams said “could make it very difficult for Habitat to acquire build-able lots.”

Habitat for Humanity’s Copper Glen subdivision will not be impacted by the rule.

Williams is wondering whether older lots will even be approved for septic.

“We regularly acquire these grandfathered lots as part of our mission model,” he said, including a recently acquired property near Lula, “which fell under this rule.”

“If they are successful in implementing this change, it will cripple our ability to fulfill our mission of providing affordable homeownership,” Williams added.

New approach to decades-old rule could hurt affordable housing efforts

Inauguran la tienda oficial de los Juegos Olímpicos en la playa de Copacabana

La tienda oficial de los Juegos Olímpicos de Río de Janeiro, en la que se podrá comprar desde mascotas de peluche a vino y repelente contra insectos, fue inaugurada hoy en la playa carioca de Copacabana.

Inauguran la tienda oficial de los Juegos Olímpicos en la playa de Copacabana

15-year-old Gainesville girl reported missing

Hall County Sheriff’s Office investigators are looking for a missing 15-year-old girl from Gainesville.

Lt. Scott Ware said authorities are looking for Hailey Grimsley, who last seen at a home on Morgan Drive in the county.

“She is believed to be accompanied by an unidentified black male, who may pose a threat to her,” Ware wrote in a news release.

Grimsley and the man were last seen around Hall and Clarke counties.

Grimsley is biracial with green eyes, weighing 125 pounds and standing 5 feet 3 inches tall.

“Hailey’s current location, mode and direction of travel are unknown,” Ware wrote. “Her clothing description is unknown.”

Anyone with information about Grimsley or the man are asked to call investigator Mark Mason at 770-533-7690, Sgt. Angie Miller at 770-718-5159 or central communications at 770-536-8812.

15-year-old Gainesville girl reported missing

Portugal sobrevive y entra en semifinales gracias a los penaltis

Portugal es el primer semifinalista de la Eurocopa tras imponerse en la tanda de penaltis (3-5) de un flojo partido, que abrió nada más comenzar Robert Lewandowski y empató, también en el primer tiempo, el joven Renato Sanches.

Portugal sobrevive y entra en semifinales gracias a los penaltis