Kelvin King announces campaign for U.S. Senate in Georgia

News, Press Release
Kelvin King

Marietta, GA – Today, Kelvin King announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in Georgia. King, a Georgia native, proud veteran, Republican activist, and successful business owner, had the following to say about his campaign.

“Republicans in our state are at a crossroads. We’ve seen what’s at stake in our country. The Biden Administration is currently wrecking our economy, creating a crisis at our border, and systematically dismantling every bit of the “America First” agenda implemented over the last four years. Career politicians, woke corporations, and the cancel culture are all empowered while our families and small businesses are left to pay the price. As the GOP, we have to decide right now if we are knocked down or knocked out. Personally, I am ready to take back our state and fight for the future of our country!

Many of you across Georgia know my wife, Janelle, and me. I am a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, a proud veteran, and the owner of a successful construction company. At the same time, my story includes being born to a teenage mother, raised in a single parent home, and overcoming the challenge of poverty. Statistically speaking, I shouldn’t have made it. I truly am a product of the American dream, which makes me the fiercest defender of freedom, opportunity, and American exceptionalism.

I believe our nation deserves better than President Biden and his weak leadership, just as I believe our state deserves better than Senator Warnock’s divisive far left representation. This election for the U.S. Senate is bigger than you and me. Georgia truly is ground zero for taking back our country. Let’s win for America.”

Kelvin King was born in Macon, GA and raised in Mableton, GA. His mom, Janet, was a teenager when she had Kelvin. His mother, at a young age, had the courage to leave an abusive marriage, becoming a single mother to two children, Kelvin and his younger sister Tameisha. Kelvin spent most of his childhood in a single parent home and they oftentimes struggled to make ends meet. Though he became the man of the family early, his mother and grandmother worked hard to instill in him the values needed to grow into a successful young adult. It was these values he credits with earning him an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy where he was an All-Conference football player.

Kelvin graduated from the Academy and served 5 years in the Air Force as a Contracting Officer. He made the rank of Captain before deciding to leave the military and transition to corporate America. Upon completion of his service, he returned to Georgia to begin building his life as a civilian. He worked in procurement, business development and eventually became the General Manager of an international construction firm where he achieved numerous honors including being named to the Top 20 Under 40 in ENR Magazine and Manager of the Year in his company. After several years in this role, he decided to save enough money to start his own construction firm, Osprey Management. Kelvin’s firm has twice been named the fastest-growing business by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Kelvin is married to Janelle who serves as a panelist and commentator on Fox 5 Atlanta’s “The Georgia Gang.” The two of them have been entrenched in Georgia politics as leading conservative activists and are passionate about spreading the Republican message throughout the minority community. They founded “Speak Georgia”, a 501c3 organization designed to educate and provide resources to the community directly from subject matter experts.

The Kings attend the Church of the Apostles and in their free time enjoy cooking out with friends. Kelvin is also the proud father of a fellow Air Force veteran Christian Ward – GO AIR FORCE!

Rep. Clyde to Take Metal Detector Fine Case to Federal Court Following Rejected Appeal

News, Press Release
andrew clyde bills metal detectors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Andrew Clyde released the following statement on April 12th, 2021:

“I recently learned that the formal appeal of my fines incurred as a result of refusing to comply with
Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unconstitutional placement of metal detectors at the entrance to the floor of the
House of Representatives was rejected. This now provides the legal standing which I needed to challenge
this unconstitutional resolution.

Another aspect that greatly concerns me is the unequal enforcement and selective manner these fines have
been implemented, as noted in House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis’ letter to Acting
Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett on February 10, 2021 noting the existence of closed-circuit footage
providing irrefutable proof that Speaker Pelosi bypassed her own screening procedures.

While my team and I continue to await an announcement of a fine levied on the Speaker, we are preparing
for the next stage of this fight. I will take my case to federal court where I am confident justice will be
served.”

State employees and teachers paid parental leave passes General Assembly

News, Press Release, State & National
paid parental leave

ATLANTA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and State Representative Houston Gaines (R-Athens) announced that House Bill 146 received final passage in the General Assembly today. House Bill 146 provides three weeks of paid parental leave as a new benefit to full-time state employees and teachers. This is the Georgia’s first paid parental leave benefit for state employees and teachers.

“This paid parental leave benefit speaks to our hardworking state employees and teachers and tells them that we value their contributions and the sacrifices they make to serve our citizens,” said Speaker David Ralston. “I commend Representative Gaines for taking the lead on this important initiative which demonstrates our unyielding commitment to families and giving children the best possible start in Georgia.”

This new paid parental leave benefit would provide some 245,000 state employees and teachers with three weeks of paid leave upon the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. It applies to all employees with six months of creditable service regardless of the employee’s gender. It is limited to once in any 12-month period. This benefit does not impact the employee’s accrued leave or rights under any family medical leave policy.

“I am proud that this legislation received such overwhelming bipartisan support in the General Assembly,” said Rep. Houston Gaines. “We know this benefit will make a difference in the lives of young families across our state. This is a pro-family, pro-jobs bill that will set the right example in the nation’s #1 state for business.”

Co-sponsors of House Bill 146 included Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton), Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville), Rep. Bonnie Rich (R-Suwanee), and Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn). House Bill 146 was carried in the State Senate by President Pro Tempore Butch Miller (R-Gainesville).

Speaker David Ralston announced a paid parental leave benefit for employees of the Georgia House of Representatives in July 2019. That benefit went into effect in January 2020. The State Senate implemented a similar policy at that time.

House Bill 146 now goes to Governor Brian Kemp for his consideration. More information about House Bill 146 may be found here.

Allan Glidewell announced as BRMEMC General Manager

News, Press Release
Allan Glidewell

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — The Board of Directors of Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (BRMEMC) announced in Tuesday night’s Board Meeting that Allan Glidewell has been selected as general manager. Glidewell brings more than twenty-three years of experience in the utility industry working primarily in electric cooperatives.

“Glidewells’s knowledge, experience, longevity and leadership within the electric cooperative caught the attention of our Board,” said Ray Cook, president of BRMEMC’s Board of Directors. “Our Board and legal counsel spent several weeks interviewing and vetting the candidates, and we feel we have an excellent choice as our general manager who will lead the Co-op successfully into the future. We look forward to having Mr. Glidewell as a part of the BRMEMC family. On behalf of the Board, we want to especially thank Interim General Manager Erik Brinke for his leadership during the search for our new general manager.”

Glidewell currently serves as branch manager for Fisher & Arnold, Inc.; a multi-discipline architecture and engineering firm in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is responsible for planting and growing the private organization’s venture into the Chattanooga and Birmingham markets.

During his tenure as vice president of operations and engineering at Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation, he managed daily operations of the 50,000 meter co-op including safety, engineering, operations, information technology, maintenance and member services. He oversaw the deployment of a state-of-the-art AMI, outage management and SCADA system as well as the construction of a fiber network to connect co-op facilities, substations and commercial accounts. Glidewell accepted a couple of positions within the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) working as manager of applied line services and then as transmission system manager.

“I believe in service to others and electric cooperatives present unique opportunities to serve. Electric cooperatives were built on the idea of service, and they function best when service is at the heart of each decision, action and policy. Employees and the members they serve are a co-op’s greatest asset,” said Incoming General Manager Glidewell. “An electric cooperative has to be flexible and nimble; ensuring that we meet folks where their needs are. This includes both employees and members. We’re in an industry that is essential and ever changing, but we can’t forget about service to one another.”

Glidewell grew up in west Tennessee. He holds a bachelor of science in engineering from the University of Tennessee and a master of business administration degree from Union University. He is a widower and the father of three grown children with his first grandchild on the way. Glidewell also enjoys playing bluegrass music.

Glidewell will begin as general manager Monday, March 22. “I offer my sincere gratitude to the Board of Directors for the opportunity to serve Blue Ridge Mountain EMC as the next general manager,” said Glidewell.

Georgia Expands COVID Vaccine Eligibility

News, Press Release

Atlanta – The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and Governor Brian Kemp today announced the state will expand its vaccine eligibility March 15, 2021, to include adults aged 55 and older, individuals with disabilities, and certain medical conditions.

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are already eligible for vaccination. This expansion now includes disabilities caused by an injury (e.g., traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury), a disability due to a longstanding condition that could cause vision loss, nerve damage or loss of a limb, or a disability due to illness such as ALS or multiple sclerosis.

The medical conditions referenced are:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Heart Conditions
  • Immunocompromised State
  • Liver Disease
  • Neurologic Conditions
  • Overweight and Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Thalassemia

To find a vaccine location near you or to schedule an appointment, log on to https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine. For individuals aged 16 and 17 who are in an eligible population for vaccination, Pfizer is the only vaccine currently approved for these ages. Please schedule an appointment at CVS or Walgreens or at one of the GEMA mass vaccination sites to ensure Pfizer vaccine is available to you.

For updates on COVID-19, follow @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Facebook.

District 2 public health announces appointments available for vaccine

Community, News, Press Release

GAINESVILLE – The 13 District 2 county health departments have appointments available now for the COVID-19 vaccine. “Recent shipments have given us enough vaccine to open up more appointments for residents,” said Alan Satterfield, Director of Nursing. “We hope that residents who are eligible to be vaccinated will take this opportunity to make an appointment.” Eligible residents can make appointments by calling 1-888-426-5073 OR online at www.phdistrict2.org OR by calling their local health department.

To see if you are eligible, go to https://dph.georgia.gov/

On March 8, eligibility was expanded to include pre-K through 12 educators and staff of public and private schools, adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their caregivers, and parents of children with complex medical conditions.

Rep. Andrew Clyde formally appeals fines incurred for refusing to abide by Capitol’s metal detectors

News, Press Release
Fines

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Andrew Clyde (GA-09) released the following statement regarding his appeal of fines incurred resulting from his refusal to abide by Speaker Pelosi’s unlawful placement of magnetometers outside the entrance to the Floor of the House of Representatives:

“Today, with the assistance of my private counsel, I appealed the fines I incurred as a result of my refusal to abide by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unconstitutional placement of magnetometers in front of the entrance to the Floor of the House of Representatives. Per House Resolution 73, which established this ridiculous break in Congressional precedent, I filed my appeal with the House Ethics Committee.

While my name formally appears on the documentation, I am filing this appeal symbolically on behalf of my constituents in the Ninth Congressional District of Georgia, because it is their vote that is being impeded by Speaker Pelosi’s egregious actions.

As I have said before, the installation of the magnetometers is part of the Democratic Party’s ongoing attempt to treat Republicans as a threat when no such threat exists. The ongoing militarization of Capitol Hill, including the placement of metal fencing, razor wire, and the deployment of National Guard troops, are also part of this perverse strategy. The Democratic Party’s motive in crafting this narrative is to silence us through fear and intimidation, with the ultimate goal being the creation of domestic terrorism legislation and a political litmus test for all elected officials, public servants, and members of the Armed Forces. Make no mistake, Democratic Party leaders would rid anyone who does not agree with their fringe ideology from public service and the political sphere if given the opportunity.

I look forward to continuing the appeal process, and I trust the Committee will review my case with the same fairness and due process they will surely afford the Speaker once her fine for allegedly breaking her own rule is processed.”

Feature image courtesy of the Associated Press.

NGTC Names John Wilkinson as New President

Community, Press Release
Wilkinson

ATLANTA, GA—Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Commissioner Greg Dozier has appointed former Georgia State Senator and Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) specialist John Wilkinson as the new President of North Georgia Technical College (NGTC).

“Senator Wilkinson has spent his professional life advancing and advocating for CTAE here in Georgia,” said TCSG Commissioner Greg Dozier. “He is one of Georgia’s leading CTAE experts and we are excited for him to lead North Georgia Technical College as we serve the needs of business and industry in the region and across the state. I know he will continue the lasting legacy left by Dr. Mark Ivester by providing opportunity for every student that comes through the college’s doors.”

Wilkinson began serving in Georgia’s General Assembly in 2011 as State Senator representing District 50. Senator Wilkinson served as the Chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and as Vice-Chairman of the Education and Youth Committee. In 2012, he was named “Policy Maker of the Year” by the Georgia Association for Career and Technical Education. Prior to being elected State Senator, Wilkinson was a program manager at the Georgia Department of Education, where he oversaw the state’s agricultural education programs. He also worked as the executive secretary for the Georgia Future Farmers of America (FFA) Association.

“I am truly honored to be chosen to lead North Georgia Technical College,” said Wilkinson. “Technical education is near and dear to my heart as I have seen how it transforms the lives of students. It is my goal to continue in the footsteps left by Dr. Mark Ivester by providing business and industry with a skilled workforce and by helping more students realize their full potential through postsecondary education.”

In 2017, Senator Wilkinson was presented the Outstanding Service Award by the Georgia Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association and was later named the Region V national award winner by the National Association of Agricultural Educators. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences honored Senator Wilkinson with an Award of Excellence in 2009. He is a member of the Georgia Agricultural Education Hall of Fame and was recognized as the Outstanding Member of the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education in 2006.

A lifelong advocate of CTAE, Wilkinson began his career teaching Agriculture and serving as an FFA advisor in Banks County and Forsyth County public high schools. Wilkinson received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Masters in Education at the University of Georgia.

The State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia approved Commissioner Dozier’s appointment of John Wilkinson on Thursday, January 14 in Atlanta. Wilkinson assumes his new role as President on February 1.

Sen. Steve Gooch Assumes Additional Duties in State Senate

News, Press Release

ATLANTA (January 25, 2021) | Recently, Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) received his committee assignments for the 2021 legislative session.

Sen. Gooch will serve as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Vice Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and as a member of the Ethics, Finance, Reapportionment and Redistricting, and Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. Additionally, Sen. Gooch will serve as an Ex- Officio member of the Rules and Natural Resources and the Environment Committees.  Sen. Gooch will also continue to serve as the Senate Majority Whip.

“I am grateful for the Lt. Governor’s office and the Senate Committee on Assignments for allowing me to serve our community, as well as our state, through these committee appointments,” said Sen. Gooch. “This session will be unlike any other that we have experienced and will require careful, responsible leadership, particularly when it comes to our state budget. I am honored to have an opportunity to lend my experience to the service of our state through these committees, as well as through my role as the Senate Majority Whip.”

“Sen. Gooch, as well as all members receiving committee assignments, have proven their ability to provide meaningful solutions to issues citizens face across the state,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “Sen. Gooch brings a host of experience and knowledge to each committee he serves on and I look forward to continuing to work alongside him as he works tirelessly to advance policies in the best interest of all Georgians.”

The first session of the 156th Georgia General Assembly convened on January 11, 2021, at the Georgia State Capitol.

More Georgians to Become Eligible to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

News, Press Release
remdesivir covid-19 vaccine

Atlanta – Governor Brian Kemp and Commissioner Kathleen Toomey, M.D., M.P.H.,  announced plans to add adults aged 65 and older, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and first responders to the current group of individuals eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Healthcare workers and staff and residents of long-term care facilities are already in this highest priority group. The expanded administration of the vaccine is expected to begin within the next two weeks provided there is adequate vaccine supply available.

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for prioritizing vaccination. States have the flexibility to tailor these recommendations based on their specific needs and available vaccine.

“Following the expert guidance of Dr. Toomey, the CDC, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Georgia will move to expand Phase 1a vaccination criteria within the next two weeks to include the elderly, law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders – provided the state continues to receive adequate vaccine supplies,” said Governor Kemp. “We will continue to monitor the administration efforts of our public health workers and partners in the private sector, and the supply chain of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to ensure eligible Georgians are vaccinated without delay.”

“Different areas of the state are completing Phase 1a at different times based on the number of healthcare workers and LTCF residents and staff they have to vaccinate,” said Commissioner Toomey. “This expansion of 1a eligible vaccination criteria will allow vaccine to be administered as quickly as possible to our most at-risk populations in terms of exposure, transmission and severity. It also gives healthcare providers and public health staff time to plan and work with local communities across the state to ensure safe and efficient deployment of limited vaccine supplies.”

It is critical that even as vaccine becomes available to more people, all Georgians must continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently. While the COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective in preventing illness in the individual being vaccinated, it is not yet known if the vaccine fully prevents person to person transmission or asymptomatic infections.

For updates on COVID-19, follow @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Facebook.

Secretary of State unveils new absentee ballot request portal

News, Press Release
absentee ballots

ATLANTA-Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger unveils a new online portal to make it easier for Georgia voters to request absentee ballots for the November elections. Georgia voters with a driver’s license or state ID card will now be able to request an absentee ballot entirely online.

“Georgia is constantly searching for new and innovative ways to expand access to the ballot and uphold the integrity of the vote,” said Raffensperger. “We are encouraging Georgia voters who are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 threat to use our new online absentee ballot request portal to request absentee ballots safely and securely from their computers or phones. This new tool will help counties stay on top of the several million absentee ballot requests expected in November.”

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has developed a website that will allow Georgia voters to request an absentee ballot entirely online. Georgia voters will be able to request their ballot via the portal using their first and last name, date of birth, county where they are registered, and Georgia State ID or Georgia Driver’s License number. Voters will get a confirmation email that their request has been entered into the system. Also, voters can monitor their ballot status on My Voter Page.

The portal is available herehttp://www.securevotega.com/secureabsentee/

Absentee ballots requested for the November 2020 presidential election cannot be sent out before September 15.

In the past, Georgia voters had to download and print an absentee ballot request, then scan and email it or put it in the mail. This new portal saves voters effort and postage and will increase confidence that the request has been received by county elections officials. It also makes it easier and faster for county election official to process absentee ballot requests by minimizing the possibility of data entry errors.

While the State ID or driver’s license number provide a secure safeguard for requesting ballots, the ballots themselves will still be verified by matching the voter signature to their signature on file upon submission. A record 1.6 million absentee ballot requests were received for the June primary, inundating county elections officials. This portal will make processing the large number of absentee ballot requests expected for the November election easier for county election officials to process quickly and accurately.

State Senator John Wilkinson announces for Congress

Politics, Press Release
John Wilkinson

GEORGIA NINTH DISTRICT – State Senator John Wilkinson announced today that he plans to run for the Ninth District Congressional seat. This election will be to replace Congressman Doug Collins, who has announced that he will be running for a seat in the United States Senate. Senator Wilkinson, who was elected to the State Senate in a special election in 2011 and has been re-elected to 4 additional terms, was raised on a small farm in Stephens County.  Working with projects in 4-H and FFA, he learned the value of hard work, cooperation, and responsibility at an early age. Those values have stayed with him during his career in agriculture, education and politics. He has not missed a day of work during his eight years of service in the Senate.

“This is a critical time for our country, and we need an experienced, conservative voice willing to stand up for the values that residents of North Georgia hold dear”, said Wilkinson. “For the past eight years in Atlanta, I have fought to eliminate useless red tape and regulation of business, defended the sanctity of all life, and fought for our constitutional rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment.  I look forward to continuing that fight in Washington.”

A native of Toccoa and graduate of Stephens County High School, Wilkinson earned degrees in agriculture and education from the University of Georgia. He has experience as a classroom teacher and served on the State Agricultural Education staff for 26 years. He has served as State Advisor to the Georgia FFA Association, as well as the Georgia Young Farmer Association.  He was recognized as the Outstanding Member of the National Association of Supervisors of Agricultural Education in 2006. He and his wife Debbie have two children and five grandchildren. John and Debbie are active members of Tates Creek Baptist Church.

Senator Wilkinson has served as Chair of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee in the Senate for the past eight years.  He also serves as Vice Chairman of the Education and Youth Committee, as well as a member of the Natural Resources and the Environment, Appropriations and Rules Committees. He has served as Secretary of the Senate Majority Caucus for the past 6 years.

The Ninth Congressional District includes all of Banks, Dawson, Elbert, Fannin, Franklin, Gilmer, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, White and parts of Clarke, Forsyth and Pickens counties. To learn more about Senator John Wilkinson, please visit www.VoteWilkinson.com.

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales attends PlanFirst Day at Capitol

Press Release

Press Release

Atlanta, GA – The Georgia Department of Community Affairs honored 18 communities as part of the 5th Annual PlanFirst Capitol Event on February 27. The 2019 PlanFirst honorees were recognized for their communities’ successes in coordinated comprehensive planning in Georgia.

PlanFirst is a DCA program which recognizes and rewards communities that demonstrate an established pattern of successfully implementing their Local Comprehensive Plan. The process for PlanFirst designation includes meeting multiple prerequisites and evaluation by multiple state agencies.Mayor LIz Ordiales

Designation brings statewide recognition and incentives for these communities.

This year’s honorees were the cities of Centreville, Chamblee, Dublin, Gainesville, Fitzgerald, Hiawassee, Lula, Porterdale, Roswell, Suwanee, Swainsboro, Sylvester, Toccoa, and Washington; Colquitt, Gwinnett, and Liberty counties; and Columbus Consolidated Government.

Ebony Simpson, Planning Outreach and Training Coordinator, congratulated the recipients saying, “We are here to celebrate and commend you for doing excellent planning in your communities.” Tyler Reinagel, Director of the Office and Planning and Research, echoed Simpson’s sentiments in his remarks,saying, “You are committed to building better, stronger, communities across the state.”

Christopher Nunn, Commissioner, said DCA’s mission of building helping communities created a climate of success and understanding that good planning is one of the essential building blocks to accomplishing that goal.

“The fruits of labor take time and energy. That’s what we are here to celebrate today,” Nunn said. “What you are doing is the core of success.” Nunn added, “DCA values our partnership with Georgia’s cities and counties to assist with comprehensive planning and to promote successful communities. Our staff was impressed with the accomplishments of each of these communities and the community vision they created – along with
their skill and commitment as they turned their visions into reality.”

Applications for the 2020 designation are due May 15.

For more information, visit dca.ga.gov or call 404-679-4840.

Collins Praises Isakson Legacy

Announcements, Politics

GAINESVILLE, Ga.—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) released the following statement after Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced he will resign from the U.S. Senate at the end of 2019 after 40 years of public service.

“Johnny Isakson has been a standard of public service and statesmanship for decades in Georgia. He’s always drawn on his extensive roots in our state to deepen his advocacy for all Georgians. Johnny faithfully remembers the forgotten, including America’s veterans. I’ve looked up to him as a mentor and still work to emulate him.”

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www.dougcollins.house.gov

PRESS RELEASE: Speaker David Ralston Thanks Senator Johnny Isakson

Announcements, Politics

Speaker David Ralston Thanks Senator Johnny Isakson

ATLANTA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) issued the following statement on the news that Georgia’s senior United States Senator Johnny Isakson will resign from office at the end of the year:

“The loss of Johnny Isakson from public life will leave a void in Georgia which is beyond comprehension. While I respect his reasons, I feel a tremendous sense of personal sadness – Johnny is a mentor, role model and friend. Over a distinguished career in the Georgia House, Georgia State Senate, State Board of Education, U.S. House and U.S. Senate, Johnny Isakson demonstrated that civility and reasonableness are virtues that will never go out of style. My family and I will continue to pray for Johnny, Dianne and the Isakson family.”

“Operation Rattlesnake” Targets On-line Child Predators

Press Release

“Operation Rattlesnake” Targets On-line Child Predators

Decatur, GA (10/10/17) – As a result of a proactive undercover investigation coordinated by the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit (CEACC), the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, and the Hall County District Attorney’s Office, five (5) people were arrested over a four-day period beginning Thursday, October 5, 2017.  Those arrested were charged with O.C.G.A. 16-12-100.2, Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007.  Additional charges may be forthcoming.

“Operation Rattlesnake” was a four-day proactive effort centered in Hall County, GA.  The operation took several months of planning.  The arrestees, ranging in age from 23 to 58, traveled from areas around metro Atlanta with the intent to meet a child for sex.  One person that was arrested was a registered sex offender with previous convictions for child molestation and statutory rape.

The goal of “Operation Rattlesnake” was to arrest persons who communicate with children on-line and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex.  In addition, the operation targeted those that are willing to exploit children by purchasing sex with a minor. On-line child predators visit chat rooms and websites on the internet, find children, begin conversations with them, introduce sexual content and arrange a meeting with the children for the purpose of having sex.  The children these predators target are both boys and girls.  Since 2014, the Georgia ICAC Task Force has arrested over 100 people in similar operations.  

Over the course of the multi-day operation, investigators had almost 300 exchanges with subjects on various social media or internet platforms. More than 60 of those were exchanges in which the subject initiated contact with whom they believed to be a minor and directed the conversation towards sex. In some of those cases, the subject introduced obscene or lude content, often exposing the minor (UC) to pornography or requesting the child take nude or pornographic images for them. More than 170 exchanges involved websites used for dating, socializing, or even websites used for classified advertisements.  Although some websites promote themselves as being for “adults-only” it is not uncommon for law enforcement to work cases in which children access these sites, establish profiles claiming to be older, and then find themselves vulnerable to victimization, harassment, blackmail, or assault. More than a dozen subjects were identified as communicating simultaneously with multiple investigators posing as minors. Such activity confirms what investigators uncover conducting these types of investigations: that many predators specifically seek out minors on such websites to groom them as potential victims for sexual contact.

Along with those agencies who participated in the planning and coordinating of the operation, eleven (11) additional law enforcement agencies participated in “Operation Rattlesnake” as members of the Georgia ICAC Task Force. These agencies were:

    1. Brookhaven Police Department
    2. Coweta County Sheriff’s Office
    3. Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office
    4. Gainesville Police Department
    5. Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center (GISAC)
    6. Hall County Solicitor’s Office
    7. Hall Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad
    8. LaGrange Police Department
    9. Oakwood Police Department
    10. Richmond County Sheriff’s Office
    11. Roswell Police Department

The proactive on-line investigation was a coordinated effort among the participating law enforcement agencies to combat this activity.  Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch stated, “This operation is a prime example of interagency planning and cooperation.  I am proud that we were able to host the task force at our facility to carry it out.  Moreover, I hope that these arrests send a loud and clear message: the exploitation of children will not be tolerated in Hall County.  We look forward to working with the ICAC task force whenever needed to stop these predators. Hall County is a great community and we will work relentlessly to ensure that it remains a safe place for our children.” GBI Special Agent in Charge, and Commander of the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, Debbie Garner remarked “The Hall County Sheriff’s Office is one of our most active member agencies.  We appreciate their daily efforts to combat child exploitation.  This type of cooperation and collaboration is invaluable in the effort to keep our children safe from predators who seek to harm them.  This successful operation was a partnership between all the agencies involved. We will continue to aggressively work together to protect our children.”  

The following were arrested and charged in Hall County as part of “Operation Rattlesnake”:

  1. Melo Hairapetian, W/M, Morris, IL, 28 years of age, construction worker
  2. Baribefe Monkpe, B/M, Lawrenceville, GA, 23 years of age, employment unknown
  3. Anthony Jordan, W/M, Newnan, GA, 37 years of age, unemployed
  4. Drake Cook, W/M, Athens, GA, 23 years of age, retail store employee
  5. James Herndon, W/M, Flowery Branch, GA, 58 years of age, pharmacist

The Georgia ICAC Task Force is comprised of 200+ local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, other related criminal justice agencies and prosecutor’s offices.  The mission of the ICAC Task Force, created by the U. S. Department of Justice and managed and operated by the GBI in Georgia, is to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in developing an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases. This support encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services, prevention and community education. The ICAC Program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims. By helping state and local law enforcement agencies develop effective and sustainable responses to online child victimization and child pornography, the ICAC program delivers national resources at the local level.  Arrests made by the Georgia ICAC Task Force have been steadily increasing over the last 3 years.  In 2014, the GA ICAC Task Force made 196 arrests.  The Georgia ICAC Task Force made 244 arrests in 2015, and in 2016, the Georgia ICAC Task Force made 340 arrests. The Georgia ICAC Task Force has made over 2,000 arrests since its inception in 2002.  

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