A1 A1
News
featuredpopularurgent
Search for next Albany city manager set to resume in December

ALBANY — With vacancies of permanent leaders in top spots in Human Resources, Recreation & Parks, Public Works, and Community and Economic Development departments, the city of Albany has some vital roles to fill.

On top of that, Assistant City Manager Ken Stock announced his resignation last week and the city has been operating under the guidance of interim City Manager Steven Carter since March of this year.

The key to finding a replacement for Stock and filling the other positions is the selection of a new city manager, a process sidelined temporarily by recent Albany City Commission elections. Facing the potential of three new commission members ahead of the Nov. 2 general election, the commission decided to wait until the new political landscape emerged before moving forward.

Incumbent Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff won re-election and Jalen Johnson won in Ward II and will replace Commissioner Matt Fuller, who did not seek another term. Now commissioners are awaiting the results of next week’s runoff between incumbent Commissioner B.J. Fletcher and Vilnis Gaines in Ward III.

With a better idea of the makeup of the commission that will be in place next year, and will be working with the new city manager, the process should be moving forward relatively soon, Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard said.

Howard, who has worked with a number of what is essentially the city’s CEOs since being elected in 1993, said one of his main criteria is finding someone with a proven track record as head of a city organization.

“We have never hired another true city manager from another area,” he said, noting the previous promotion of assistant city managers to the top position and hiring of former military officers. “I’m looking for someone that’s got experience and that we realize he or she can hit the ground running and bring some new ideas.

“I can attest, from my experience, that we would like to get someone in there who can think outside the box and see where we need to go.”

The commission has interviewed four candidates during the selection process. Under Georgia law, the city is not required to announce a list of candidates until a group of three finalists has been selected.

While stating his preference of an experienced city manager, Howard said that would not necessarily kick Carter out of the running.

“If he falls into the names the commission wants, I will be pleased,” Howard said. “I’m not saying Mr. Carter does not have experience.”

Stock’s departure also leaves a vacuum, particularly relating to utilities, Howard said.

“He is certainly going to be missed,” the commissioner said.

Once a permanent city manager is in place, the task of filling other vacancies can move forward as well.

The city manager has the authority to hire department heads, Mayor Bo Dorough said. For certain positions, including assistant city managers and fire and police chiefs, the commission’s approval is required.

The mayor said he expects to move the selection process forward with a special called meeting of the commission in early December.

“Obviously we need to move forward,” Dorough said. “On the other hand, there was the possibility we could have had several new commissioners.

“You need somebody who’s familiar with the city and understands the challenges we face. You think about (challenges of) loss of population, continued alarming crime statistics and a stagnant tax digest.”

Economic development also will be a key issue for the new city manager, Dorough said.


Features
featured
Where does your Thanksgiving feast come from?
  • Updated

We’re well into November and with the holiday season at hand, millions of Americans are bust preparing their Thanksgiving dinners. Traditional foods are a big part of the celebration, and everyone is looking forward to their roast turkey and favorite Thanksgiving sides and desserts.

According to a Nielsen report, Americans will consume more than 350 million pounds of turkey, 250 million pounds of potatoes, 57 million pounds of sweet potatoes, 80 million pounds of cranberry, 28 million pies (pumpkin, apple and pecan being among the favorites), $4 million worth of brussels sprouts, and the list goes on.

But where does all this food come from? The Chef’s Pencil turned to the USDA website to find the top producing states for some of Thanksgiving’s most popular ingredients. USDA provides state-level data for 2020 for all Thanksgiving ingredients analyzed in the report.

Key findings:

— Minnesota is the leading producer of turkey, followed by Arkansas and North Carolina.

— Potatoes are primarily grown in Idaho and Washington state, the two states accounting for more than half of the nation’s potato production.

— Sweet potatoes are primarily grown in the South, with North Carolina topping the list followed by Mississippi and California.

— Green bean production is dominated by Wisconsin.

— The cranberry is a native wetland plant that likes cool weather and is primarily grown in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Oregon and New Jersey.

— Illinois is the pumpkin capital of the U.S., producing more than the next six states combined.

— Washington state is the center of apple production in the US, while Georgia is the center of pecan production.

— California is the only state with a sizable harvest of brussels sprouts.

— Field corn and sweet corn are produced in different parts of the country; Washington tops the sweet corn production table while Iowa leads in field corn.

Turkey

The National Turkey Federation has estimated that roughly 46 million turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving, with about half eaten at Christmas and Easter. Thanksgiving without turkey is unthinkable for most, so where does this cherished bird come from?

Minnesota is the leading producer of turkey, and has long been the turkey capital of the U.S., though the number is down by 2 million from 2017. Compared to the same year, Arkansas has overtaken North Carolina for second place, while Indiana and Missouri rank 4th and 5th nationally.

Potatoes

Potatoes are served up in a variety of ways on the Thanksgiving dinner table, but mashed potato is definitely the most popular potato dish and arguably America’s favorite Thanksgiving side.

So if you love potatoes (and who doesn’t), say thanks to Idaho farmers who produce more than 134 million cwt (hundredweight) of potatoes every year. Washington state comes in second and together with Iowa, the two states are responsible for roughly 55% of the nation’s potato crop.

Potatoes prefer cool weather, so most are produced in northern states.

Sweet potatoes

The distant cousin of the potato, sweet potatoes are a popular Thanksgiving side, though not nearly as popular as regular potatoes.

Sweet potatoes prefer hot weather and are grown is southern states. North Carolina leads in sweet potato production and is responsible for more than half the entire U.S. crop. California ranks second while Mississippi comes in third. Outside of these three, no other state produces a significant amount of sweet potatoes.

Green Beans

Green bean casserole is reportedly served at 20 million Thanksgiving dinners every year. That’s a lot of green beans.

Wisconsin is by far the leading producer of green beans, with more than 5.5 million cwt ever year. Wisconsin produces more green beans, also called snap beans, than the next three states combined (New York, Oregon, and Michigan).

Cranberries

Cranberry sauce is one of the most popular sauces served at Thanksgiving. Americans consume 80 million pounds of cranberries during Thanksgiving, including 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry — enough to fill nearly eight Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to Insider.

For such a large amount you might be surprised to learn that just four states produce the bulk of all the cranberries consumed. Wisconsin is responsible for close to 60% of the nation’s harvest and over half of the world’s production.

The cranberry is a native wetland plant that likes cool weather, which is why it’s harvested in Wisconsin, New England, New Jersey and Oregon. Outside the U.S., cranberries are also grown in Canada, where cranberry sauce is a very popular Thanksgiving side, too.

Pumpkins

Let’s talk desserts, in particular pumpkin pie – according to Google Trends, this is the most popular Thanksgiving dessert. So where are they grown?

Illinois is the pumpkin capital of the U.S., with a production that outweighs the next six states combined.

Apples

Pumpkin pie might be America’s favorite Thanksgiving dessert, but apple pie rules in the Northeast, according to a poll conducted by GE.

Somewhat counterintuitively, the center of apple production in the U.S. is not the Northeast. In fact, it is the Pacific Northwest. Washington states accounts for close to 70% of the apples grown in the country. New York comes in second, while Michigan and Pennsylvania rank 3rd and 4th.

Pecans

Pecan pie is America’s second favorite pie according to YouGov, so where do Americans source the nuts for this popular dessert?

Pecans grow best in warm, humid climates, so are found primarily in the South. It’s not surprising then that pecan pie has its largest fan base in the region.

Georgia is the pecan capital of the U.S., accounting for close to 50% of all local pecan production. New Mexico is also a very strong pecan production base, while Texas and Arizona come in at 3rd and 4th.

Sweet Corn

Creamed corn, anyone? This tasty dish is one of the most popular Thanksgiving side dishes according to Zippia.

To many people’s surprise, sweet corn is not primarily produced in the Corn Belt. The top producing states for this delicious vegetable are Washington, followed by Minnesota, Wisconsin and California.

Cheese

Finally, cheese is a key ingredient in so many popular Thanksgiving dishes, from mac ‘n’ cheese to hashbrown casserole, that we had to include it.

Wisconsin tops the table (again!), with California coming in second and Idaho third. Wisconsin produces so much cheese that if it were a country, it would rank fourth in the world for cheese production.

Chef’s Pencil is an international food magazine that reports on industry trends. The magazine’s in-house reports have been covered by CNBC, the Guardian, Voice of America, Pacific Business News, Eater and the Toronto Star.


News
featuredpopularurgent
DA seeks additional information in case of Dougherty Probate Court judge

ALBANY — A prosecutor investigating charges against Dougherty County’s Probate Court judge is awaiting reports before making a decision on whether to present the lingering case to a grand jury or dismiss charges.

Judge Leisa Blount was arrested and charged in March 2020 after Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul asked the GBI to launch an investigation. The case was assigned to Southern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Brad Shealy, who said this week that he is waiting for reports from the GBI.

“I had to request some additional information from the GBI, and they have not gotten it back to me,” he said. “‘I’m hoping to get it back now.”

Specifically, the district attorney is seeking additional witness statements and layouts of the courtroom area.

Shealy said he is not ready to make a decision on whether the case merits being presented to a grand jury, but he hopes to make a determination by January.

“No, not until I have all the evidence,” he said. “I don’t like to make a decision until I have all the evidence in. I think that’s fair to the individual. They’re having to get those witness statements and put together a report. Hopefully, I can get that pretty soon.”

Blount was charged in March 2020 with one count each of terroristic threats and violation of oath of office.

The GBI alleges that Blount made threats against an employee who works with the county’s Facilities Maintenance department.

The alleged victim, who was not present at the time that Blount had the conversation with county employees, had reportedly entered Blount’s office while she was in the office during a time when he was not assigned duties in that part of the building.

In an affidavit filed in court, Blount indicated that the employee acted strangely. In one instance he told her he was there to turn off the lights, and in the other he did not give an answer for why he was inside the Probate Court area.

During a meeting with officials from the county and sheriff’s office, Blount made a remark about defending herself and that she was allowed as a judge to bring a gun inside the building for protection.

Albany attorney Maurice King Jr., who is representing Blount, said that the last he had heard, the GBI had not spoken with the county employee who is the alleged victim in the case.

“They’ve talked to everybody in the case but the alleged victim, who has said he was not threatened,” King said. “That’s what he told a coworker. It was my understanding the GBI did not talk to the alleged victim before the charges were filed.”

Shealy seems to be doing his due diligence, King said, but the incident does not seem to rise to a matter that could be successfully prosecuted.

“I just don’t think they need to waste taxpayers’ money on a case like this,” he said. “Sometimes you have when time passes that cooler heads will prevail, and I hope that’s what’s happening here.”


San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) looks toward the San Diego Padres dugout during the tenth inning at Petco Park on Sept. 23.


Alex A., Lake Park Elementary School


Back