DAHLONEGA, Ga. — The Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce and the University of North Georgia did a great job hosting the 2017 Eggs & Issues Legislative Breakfast Friday at UNG’s Continuing Education Center.
State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) and State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) addressed a large, engaged breakfast crowd for about 30 minutes each, then answered questions, primarily related to the upcoming General Assembly that begins next week.
Tanner said the state continues to see month-over-month increases in revenue but added that he has some concerns about lagging sales tax revenue. “We’re concerned bout sales tax revenue because a lot of sales are going to the internet. Were’ also seeing brick and mortar stores like Sears and K-Mart close their doors.”
Tanner also said there is lingering concern about school systems that are failing.
“We all know the governor brought forward legislation last year dealing with Opportunity School Districts that failed at the ballot box. I think about how blessed I am. All my daughters attended schools here in North Georgia where we have good leaders, good educators, good superintendents. But not every child is that blessed. Some children are in schools that fail year after year. Something has to happen.”
He also talked about a school superintendent in Florida that moved a school system of 200,000 students from 50 percent failing to about 80 percent passing. “It’s unbelievable what she has done so we know it can be done.”
Drugs, both legal and illegal, continue to be a serious problem legislators will try to deal with.
“There are new opioid-based drugs coming on line every day,” Tanner said. China has produced a new drug being sold here in Georgia that is not illegal yet, but has produced two fatal overdoses in the last couple of months.
“The opioid issue is something we’re going to deal with on Day 1,” Tanner said.
“The problem is we’re chasing after chemists that continue to change the compound so when we make one drug illegal, they come up with an alternate that isn’t illegal but still has the same deadly effect.”
Gooch pointed out that Georgia has been ranked the No. 1 state in the country to do business by the Site Selection Magazine four years in a row, due primarily to the state’s favorable tax structure.
He also said the state, and in particular north Georgia, is reaping the benefits of having passed the Transportation Funding Act of 2015.
The Georgia Department of Transportation has awarded hundreds of projects designed to improve the state’s infrastructure.
“You’re about to see $600 million spent on Ga. 400 all the way to where it intersects with I-285,” he said. “There will be a northbound and southbound lane added to Ga. 400 from McFarland to Browns Bridge Road. That work should be completed this year. Part of the northbound lane has already been completed and it has made a big difference in the commute time.
“A new interchange is in the design phase for Ga. 400 at Exit 17. The traffic light will be removed there and their will be an elevated off ramp there,” he said. “There is also a continuous flow interchange being built at Ga. 400 and Dawsonville Hwy.”
Gooch spent much of the summer, traversing the state as co-chairman of a joint legislative broadband committee, studying how to bring internet access to rural parts of the state.
“Twenty years ago when a company came to our area to consider relocating, the things that were important to them was roads, water and sewer,” he said. “Today they have to have internet access.”
Gooch said more than a dozen committees had studied the problem this summer and had come up with a report that incorporates 26 recommendations. That report is ready and is now posted on the state’s website.
The problem, he said, is that companies will only invest hundreds of millions of dollars where they can expect a reasonable return on their investment and that is in the urban and suburban areas.
“In order for rural areas to continue to prosper, we’ve got to find ways to incentivize those investments whether it’s through tax credits, grants or federal programs. We’re going to take a strong look at those 26 recommendations and begin to draft legislation. We won’t be in a pass hurry to pass something in the first three weeks of the session. We’re going to take some time and be deliberative about it.”
Johns, a sophomore from Powder Springs, Georgia, is a perfect 18-0 in 29 appearances this season. She has struck out 112 batters in 110 innings with batters hitting just .146 against her this season. She has the third-best ERA in Division II at 0.76. This is Johns’ first NFCA All-American honor as she was named to the D2CCA Third Team earlier in the day.
Smith, a sophomore from Suwanee, Georgia, is 35-1 in 39 games in the circle, compiling three saves as well. She has the most strikeouts in the nation with 320 punch outs to just 43 walks. With batters hitting just .129 against her this season, her ERA is the second best in the nation at 0.65. This is Smith’s second NFCA All-American accolade as she was named to the First Team last year as well. Earlier Wednesday, Smith was named the D2CCA Ron Lenz Pitcher of the Year and to the D2CCA First Team.
The pitching duo and the rest of the No. 1 Nighthawks will open the tournament tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.
A redshirt freshman from Cumming, Georgia, Morrison is the second team All-Region reliever after recording 10 saves and a 4-2 record and posting a 2.01 ERA in 53.2 innings of work on the mound for UNG. He had 62 strikeouts against just 27 walks, with opponents hitting just .164 against him this season.
A sophomore from Duluth, Georgia, Perez earned second team All-Region honors as a catcher, hitting .330 with a Peach Belt best 23 homers to go along with 68 RBI and a .699 slugging percentage. He also caught 20 of the 28 base runners that tried to steal a base against him this season.
Both Nighthawks are on the D2CCA All-Region list for the first time in their careers.
5/18/2018 | Softball | Box Score
DAHLONEGA – For the first time since 2015, the No. 1 University of North Georgia softball team is headed to the NCAA Division II Softball Championship after coming back to eliminate Young Harris, 2-1, in the Southeast Super Regional Fridayafternoon at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.
The Mountain Lions struck first in the fourth, using three singles to scratch the game’s first run across the plate. North Georgia got runners in scoring position in three innings without plating a run prior to finally scoring in the sixth.
With a 2-2 count to lead off the sixth, Kaylyn Anthony blasted a solo shot that never got higher than seven feet off the ground, just clearing the fence to tie the game, 1-1. North Georgia took the lead for good as Hobby Gregory came sliding into home on a double steal to give UNG the margin needed to advance in the tournament. Young Harris got a runner to third in the final frame, but a groundout to senior Brittany Gilliam clinched the win, allowing the celebration to begin.
– The one-run lead for YHC was the first time that North Georgia had trailed in a game since the regular season finale against Flagler when UNG trailed, 1-0, for a half inning before the Nighthawks scored four in the next half inning.
– Shelby Hammontree led UNG at the plate, going 1-for-2 with a walk.
– With the win, North Georgia officially wins the Battle of Blood Mountain for the fifth straight year, 6.0-4.0.
5/15/2018 | Softball
DAHLONEGA – The No. 1 University of North Georgia softball team will take on rival Young Harris in the NCAA Division II Southeast Super Regional Thursday and Friday at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium for a chance to continue the road to a National Championship in Salem, Virginia.
The Nighthawks breezed through Southeast Regional 1 last weekend, outscoring opponents by a score of 20-3 on the weekend. North Georgia has hosted four straight Super Regionals headed into the weekend and has never played in a Super Regional away from the Hill.
Young Harris needed the “if necessary” game to advance out of Southeast Regional 2 in Hickory, North Carolina, after No. 11 Lenoir-Rhyne came out of the consolation bracket and forced the seventh game. The Mountain Lions are playing in their first Super Regional in program history.
The two rivals split their regular season series with YHC taking a 4-3 first game before the Nighthawks stormed back to win, 8-4, in game two.
The series will start on Thursday with a 2 p.m. first pitch. Game two will be played at noon on Friday with the third game of the best-of-three series to be played at 2:30 p.m. Friday if both teams split the first two games. Daily general admission is $10 for adults (over 17) and $5 for students (age 8-17), while children under seven are admitted for free. Students of participating schools can pay the student rates by providing a valid student ID.
Perez, a sophomore out of Duluth, Georgia, leads the PBC in homers with 20 headed into the conference tournament. His 20 bombs is also tied for the UNG single season record. He has caught all 50 games for the Nighthawks as well.
Heil, a freshman from Suwanee, Georgia, has been the Friday starter for the Nighthawks this season, going 6-7 this season with 55 strikeouts across over 93 innings on the mound. Morrison, a redshirt freshman from Cumming, Georgia, leads North Georgia in appearances with 30, garnering a 4-1 record with 10 saves.
The Nighthawks will take on UNC Pembroke tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in the PBC Tournament. UNG will also take on Lander and Georgia College in pool play on Saturday with the winner of the pool advancing to the championship game Sunday.
Johns, a sophomore from Powder Springs, Georgia, is a perfect 18-0 in 29 appearances this season. She has struck out 112 batters in 110 innings with batters hitting just .146 against her this season. She has the third-best ERA in Division II at 0.76.
Smith, a sophomore from Suwanee, Georgia, is 33-1 in 39 games in the circle, compiling three saves as well. She has the second most strikeouts in the nation with 303 punch outs to just 39 walks. With batters hitting just .128 against her this season, her ERA is the second best in the nation at 0.66.
This is the fourth season in a row that UNG has had a student-athlete on the top 10 list and the second consecutive year that two Nighthawks have earned the distinction. The award was created in 2015 to honor the outstanding athletic achievement among softball student-athletes throughout Division II. North Georgia’s Courtney Poole was the inaugural winner of the award.
The award winner will be announced on June 4.