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Georgia Briefs - Jan. 8, 2014

News from around Georgia

GOP schedules seven Senate debates

ATLANTA – The Georgia Republican Party has scheduled seven Saturday evening debates throughout Georgia for candidates seeking the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie.

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Republicans vying to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, who is not seeking re-election, will debate seven times over the next 18 Saturdays. (Albany Herald file photo)

The first is set for 6 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Cook County High School Performing Arts Center, 9900 Georgia Highway 37, in Adel.

Officials with the Georgia GOP say that by organizing the debates across the state, party officials hope to provide voters with more access, more information, and more opportunities to interact with the Republican candidates.

The state party is partnering with district and county Republicans to organize and promote the debates, all of which will start at 6 p.m.

Following the Adel event, debates are scheduled for Feb. 1, Kennesaw; Feb. 22, Gainesville; March 8, Macon; March 29, Savannah; April 19, Augusta, and May 10, Columbus.

Lane closures possible on I-75

TIFTON — There may be some lane closures on Interstate Highway 75 in Tift County overnight, but they won’t be attributable to the frigid weather this week.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials had planned to sweep debris from the median and shoulders of I-75 between mile markers 53 and 55 (the area of the new Omega/El Dorado Road interchange) overnight starting Monday, but delayed the maintenance until the deep freeze that brought lows of 14 to the area Monday night passed.

Weather permitting, Georgia DOT officials plan to start the cleanup work at 7 p.m. today and wrap it up by 7 a.m. Thursday. Transportation officials said some lane closures for both southbound and northbound traffic on that stretch of I-75 are possible during the work. Traffic pacing in which law enforcement vehicles escort motorists through the work area at a slow speed may also be implemented periodically as DOT equipment is moved during the cleanup project.

Insurance may help frozen pipes costs

ATLANTA —Homeowners whose residences sustain damage because of the arctic cold that invaded Southwest Georgia the past two days should check their homeowner’s insurance policies to see if they’re covered, Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said Tuesday.

“Depending on the source of the property damage, you may or may not be covered,” Hudgens said.

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A malfunctioning sprinkler creates frosty mess in the front yard of a residence in Albany. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)

The commissioners said that a typical homeowner’s policy may pay for repairing damage to internal plumbing caused by freezing, noting that is generally included on homeowner’s policies. If covered, it should also pay for damage to carpet, furniture and other possession damaged by freezing pipes.

Damage to pipes outside the residence is not usually found on a homeowner’s policy, and water damage inside the home from an external source, such as a water main, may be classified as flooding or seepage, which Hudgens said would also likely be exempt from the policy coverage.

Those who live in an apartment or condominium whose property is damaged from by a neighbor’s freezing pipes are covered under their own renter’s (or condo owner’s) policy. If the resident doesn’t have such coverage, the neighbor’s liability policy may pay for the damage, but only if it can proven that the neighbor was negligent.

Assaulted couple are now engaged

AUGUSTA (MCT) — A couple who were brutally attacked during their first date on Riverwalk Augusta in May are engaged, according to their Facebook pages.

Ashley Solesbee, a 25-year-old Aiken County teacher and dance instructor, and Wesley Spires, a 27-year-old volunteer firefighter at West Side Fire Department, were ending their first date of ice skating and pizza with a walk down Riverwalk on May 3 when they were attacked by two men with metal bats or pipes.

The couple announced their engagement via Facebook late Monday by posting photos of themselves and the engagement ring and saying, “We found the perfect fairy tale ending. We’ll be Mr. and Mrs. soon at our wedding.”

The couple had both had facial fractures and head wounds in the attack, which prompted community outrage and a demands for better downtown security.

Despite his injuries, Spires, who also had a broken hand, drove to University Hospital for treatment.

Solesbee was released several days after the assault, but Spires was put in an induced coma and remained in critical condition for weeks. He was finally released in June.

Two men, Kevin D. Richardson and Robey E. Moses, both 21, were charged with aggravated assault and robbery by force.