Thursday, August 26, 2010

Inaugural Conference Unites Georgia's Leaders in a Statewide Conversation

/PRNewswire/ -- On Wednesday, Georgia's academic, civic, economic, and government leaders began a long-awaited conversation about the future of our state. The Macon State College Conference Center played host to the 2010 GeorgiaForward Forum. Over 200 stakeholders, representing every corner of the state, convened at the Conference Center to discuss the most pressing challenges facing Georgians today, including the economy, water equity, education, and transportation.

Following the theme "Together, improving the state of our state," the day-long forum attendees were welcomed by Macon State University President Dr. David Bell and the mayor of Macon, Robert Reichert. An original short video entitled "Who We Are: What Does it Mean to Live in Georgia," started the morning session with a thought-provoking look at the current situation of Georgians, from Rome to Savannah, and everywhere in between.

"I firmly believe that this forum represents a watershed moment in Georgia's history," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver, of Augusta, Georgia. "Though the process won't be easy and will require a long term commitment on behalf of all involved, I believe the forum gave a brief glimpse of a very bright future for Georgia."

Dr. Harold Hodgkinson, the Director of The Center for Demographic Policy, led an in-depth discussion about the state's ever evolving demographic layout, including the social, economic and political implications that Georgians will face by the year 2030. Anita-Brown Graham, Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues, a public policy think-and-do tank that tackles issues facing North Carolina's future growth and prosperity, spoke to the possibilities of what a similar organization could accomplish in Georgia.

"GeorgiaForward is about creating and maintaining an on-going dialogue about the issues that are affecting Georgians," says A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress, the organization that started the effort that is now GeorgiaForward. "Every county in the state of Georgia is unique in its own right; however, by taking a unified look at our state's issues we stand to improve the quality of our state's economy and infrastructure for future generations."

A highly anticipated question and answer session with Georgia's 2010 gubernatorial candidates kicked off the afternoon program with both candidates Deal & Barnes phoning in to talk about their visions for the state. Attendees spent the afternoon participating in four problem-solving interactive sessions: Georgia's new transportation bill, the economy, the Tri-State Water Wars, as well as education's role in economic development, were the focal points of each session.

"Our goal for the inaugural GeorgiaForward Forum was to open the lines of communication between Georgia's stakeholders and citizens, across regional lines," says event organizer Amir Farokhi. "Today's event has greatly surpassed our expectations, and we are eager to see where this conversation leads us."

For more information about GeorgiaForward and its on-going efforts, please go to www.georgiaforward.org.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dove Season Opens Saturday, Sept 4th

Hunters statewide can celebrate the beginning of dove season at noon Saturday, Sept. 4. Long-awaited opening day is traditionally considered the beginning of the fall hunting season, and with the numerous wildlife management area hunts scheduled, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce children and grandchildren to the sport.

“Georgia has some fantastic public areas for dove hunters. In fact, many WMAs provide fields managed specifically for dove hunting opportunities,” says John W. Bowers, Wildlife Resources Division’s assistant chief of Game Management. “In addition to being the ‘kick-off’ to the fall hunting season, dove hunting is a prime time to introduce family and friends to hunting, as it typically is a fun-filled day.”

Most WMA public dove fields are quota only on opening day. As such, hunters are encouraged to review dove hunting rules and regulations to ensure the availability of the field they plan to visit.

The official 2010-2011 dove seasons are Sept. 4-19, Oct. 9-17 and Nov. 25 - Jan. 8. Shooting hours are noon until sunset on opening day (Sept. 4) of the first season and one-half hour before sunrise to sunset for the remaining two seasons. Sunrise and sunset times for each day are found in the 2010-2011 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide or online at www.georgiawildlife.com .

The daily bag limit is 15 doves per hunter. Additionally, there have been some reports of white-winged doves in Georgia. White-winged doves may be harvested, but count toward the daily bag limit of 15.

Any autoloading or other repeating shotgun must be plugged to hold no more than three shotshells while hunting doves.   As always, hunters must obtain permission from landowners before hunting on private property and please respect the land by cleaning up spent shells, leaving gates the way they were found and removing all trash. 

Dove hunters 16 years of age and older must possess a Georgia hunting license and a free Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program Permit (HIP Permit). Those hunting WMAs also must possess a WMA license. Hunters may purchase licenses online at www.georgiawildlife.com , by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at more than 650 license agent locations (list of agents available online).

For more information on dove hunting rules and regulations, public dove fields and conditions, or adult/child dove hunts, hunters should review the 2010-2011 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide, available at www.gohuntgeorgia.com or at any Wildlife Resources Division Game Management office.

Updated and accurate harvest rate estimates facilitate the successful management of doves. As such, the U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Research Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with several states, including Georgia, initiated a dove trapping and banding project in 2003.

Hunters can participate in this conservation effort by examining harvested doves for bands and reporting band numbers to the USFWS by calling 1-800-327-BAND.



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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Required Hunter Ed Course Available Online

Hunter education courses in Georgia are offered three ways: by classroom, CD-Rom or online.

Completion of a hunter education course is required for those born on or after January 1, 1961, who purchase a hunting license. The only exception is for those who purchase an Apprentice License – which offers novice hunters (16 years of age and older) an opportunity to hunt for three days without completing a hunter education course.

“The online hunter education course continues to grow in popularity with Georgia hunters-and is now offered by three different companies,” says Walter Lane, Wildlife Resources Division’s Hunter Development Program Manager. “It is a convenient way to fulfill hunter safety requirements without having to attend the traditional classroom course.”

The online course satisfies eight of the ten hours required for the course. Hunters still must attend a two-hour review course and take a written exam. Students that pass the exam will receive hunter education certificates.

Completion of a hunter education course is required for any person born on or after January 1, 1961, who:

·         purchases a season hunting license in Georgia.

·         is at least 12 years old and hunts without adult supervision.

·         hunts big game (deer, turkey, bear) on a wildlife management area.

The only exceptions include any person who:

·         purchases a short-term hunting license, such as the new Apprentice License or the 3-day Hunting and Fishing Combo License (as opposed to a season license).

·         is hunting on his or her own land, or that of his or her parents or legal guardians.

The hunter education course also is available by CD-Rom or in a traditional classroom setting. For more information, go to www.gohuntgeorgia.com or call 770-761-3010.

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Monster Energy Brings Professional BMX to Fiesta Georgia

/PRNewswire/ -- Fiesta Georgia welcomes the Monster Energy BMX stunt show to the 2010 Hispanic Heritage month celebration. Hosted by Lanza Group, LLC, Fiesta Georgia serves as the unofficial kickoff to Hispanic Heritage month with a day-long celebration of Latino culture and music festival in the Georgia International Horse Park, located in Conyers.

"Fiesta Georgia is a great way for us to connect with our customers and reach a new audience," said Jose Gonzalez, National Latino Event Manager. "The positive crowd interaction with our BMX show, sampling and our brand ambassadors show us how valuable it is to be here."

A festival tradition for the third year running, Monster will bring their dynamic BMX show to Fiesta Georgia. "La Experiencia Monster" features a who's who of X Games competitors, performing a wide range of stunts, flips and more. Fans will be offered complimentary cans of Monster Energy, chances to interact with the stunt performers, and the Limited Edition Monster Girls Calendar. The show runs for 20 minutes every hour, with different elements exhibited from the professional riders, and new music.

Over 30,000 people typically attend Fiesta Georgia, celebrating Hispanic Heritage month, recognizing the contributions Hispanic Americans have made to the United State. Fiesta Georgia will include a full lineup of Regional Mexican artists, Latin food vendors, children's entertainment, and crafts vendors. The 3rd annual Fiesta Georgia will take place Sunday September 19th, 2010 at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, Georgia from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Win a New Harley-Davidson® Motorcycle and Help Build the National Law Enforcement Museum

/PRNewswire/ -- For more than a century, Harley-Davidson® Motor Company has been supplying motorcycles to America's law enforcement agencies. Now Harley-Davidson® based in Milwaukee, WI, is helping to write a new chapter in law enforcement history through a unique partnership to support the first-ever National Law Enforcement Museum.

In 2010, for the fourth year in a row, the Harley-Davidson® Motor Company has donated a motorcycle to support the National Law Enforcement Museum--in this case, a 2010 Road King® Peace Officer Special Edition. The Memorial Fund is proud to continue this partnership and welcomes Harley-Davidson's leadership and support. The non-profit Memorial Fund is selling raffle tickets for just $25 each, with the proceeds going to build the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, DC.

Steve St. Thomas, Director of Police & Fleet Sales for Harley-Davidson®, Inc., joined John Shanks, Director of Law Enforcement Relations, at the Fund's Ambassador Reception during National Police Week this past May to announce the 2010 partnership.

The Harley-Davidson® motorcycle has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of $18,402, and only 6,000 raffle tickets are being printed. Tickets can be purchased in one of two ways: by calling either 877-622-BIKE (2453) or 202-737-3402 Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (EDT), or in person at the Memorial Fund's Visitors Center & Store, located at 400 7th Street, NW, Washington, DC, where the motorcycle is currently on display.

The raffle drawing will take place and the winner announced on the evening of Thursday, October 14, during the Inaugural Gala celebrating the National Law Enforcement Museum's groundbreaking, which will take place earlier that day. The winner need not be present to win.

"Harley-Davidson Motor Company has a long and distinguished history of supporting law enforcement in our country, so it was not surprising that the Company would step up early in the campaign to support the National Law Enforcement Museum and would remain a strong and reliable partner ever since," said Craig W. Floyd, the Memorial Fund's chairman and CEO.

He noted that the raffles of the first three motorcycles donated by the Harley-Davidson® Motor Company raised more than $135,000 for the Museum campaign. The previous winners were a U.S. Border Patrol agent from California who had been on special assignment to Washington, DC; a Florida woman who had been riding on the back of her husband's Harley-Davidson® for two decades; and a corrections lieutenant from New Jersey who recently retired and now spends much of his time touring New England on his new motorcycle.

Authorized by Congress in the year 2000, the National Law Enforcement Museum (www.LawEnforcementMuseum.org) is an architecturally inspiring, 55,000-square-foot, mostly underground museum that will be located adjacent to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in downtown DC. The Museum will tell the story of American law enforcement through high-tech, interactive exhibits, collections, research and education. Groundbreaking for the Museum will take place on October 14, 2010, with a projected opening in late 2013.

The privately funded Museum has launched an $80 million capital campaign, with more than $40 million raised to date. Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton serve as co-chairs of the Museum's National Honorary Campaign Committee, which also includes seven former Attorneys General of the United States, as well as other former government officials and celebrities.

For more information about the Memorial Fund's Harley-Davidson® motorcycle raffle, visit www.LawMemorial.org/HarleyRaffle. Raffle tickets may be purchased by phone--at 877-622-BIKE (2453) or 202-737-3402--between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (EDT), Monday through Friday.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

GSU researchers to investigate oil-degrading microbes in the wake of Gulf oil spill

Georgia State University researchers will head to Louisiana this fall to see if clay minerals can be used to aid microbes to better break down oil in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The research in the salt marshes is sponsored by a one-year, $61,537 Rapid Research Response (RAPID) grant from the National Science Foundation.

The research team includes Daniel Deocampo, W. Crawford Elliott, Larry Kiage, Eirik Krogstad and Seth Rose of the Department of Geosciences; Kuki Chin of the Department of Biology; and Gary Hastings of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

"Anytime we can shave off the timeline for ecological restoration of the Gulf coast will have tangible economic and ecological impacts," said Daniel Deocampo, assistant professor of geosciences.

Georgia State researchers will select three experimental plots in the marshes. They will then spray the clay minerals, which occur there naturally, over the plots. Chunks of sediment and seawater will be taken back to the GSU lab in Atlanta for further analysis.

Deocampo said that the team will hopefully have preliminary data by spring 2011 - a quick turnaround for research.

The microbes that exist in the marshes have evolved over time to be able to ingest oil, as oil naturally seeps out of sediments in the Gulf of Mexico - albeit in significantly smaller amounts than the recent oil spill, said Kuki Chin, assistant professor of microbiology.

"So in this case, when the oil comes, it can be used as a food source," Chin said. "Some microbes can degrade sulfate as well as petroleum hydrocarbon."

There are thousands of species of microbes which can eat up oil, some existing on the surface of the water that are aerobic, meaning they rely on oxygen to live. Others existing in deeper sediment layers on the marshes are anaerobic and can live without oxygen.

What scientists don't know is the exact mechanism that encourages microbes to consume petroleum hydrocarbons, Deocampo said. In the lab, the application of clay minerals, particularly one called calcium montmorillonite, seems to encourage aerobic bacteria to consume more hydrocarbons.

"Clay minerals are really unique among minerals because they have a really high, natural electrical charge," he explained. "That charge has to be balanced somehow, and has to be balanced by magnesium or calcium in sea water."

But this can change, where particles called cations that carry the charge can go back and forth, depending on chemical reactions.

"The hypothesis is that when you have this charged surface with these cations on it, and put that right next to a cell wall of one of these microbes, the charged surfaces help the microbe to gain nutrients," Deocampo said.

Researchers will also test to see if the process functions in anaerobic bacteria in the same way as aerobic bacteria.

Chin said that environmental conditions could play a factor in how the microbes react in the Deepwater Horizon spill, causing a different reaction that the one which occurred during the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.

"Environmental conditions, such as the temperature, can make a difference. We hope that in the marshes, the reactions could be quicker," she said.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

2010 Fall Atlanta Home Show Offers Exciting Roster of Speakers Including HGTV Favorites Tonya M. Williams and Joe Washington

/PRNewswire/ -- The 27th Annual Fall Atlanta Home Show (www.AtlantaHomeShow.com) will bring ideas, innovations and experts in the home improvement and remodeling industries to Atlanta's Cobb Galleria Center Sept. 24-26, 2010. Among the many offerings is an exciting roster of speakers including HGTV favorites Joe Washington and Tonya M. Williams. They will join hundreds of local home improvement companies that will exhibit the latest home services and products, along with experts offering hands-on demonstrations and advice about home remodeling and repair, gardening and landscaping, energy savings, cooking, decorating, outdoor living and more. There also will be activities for children, live radio broadcasts and culinary demonstrations. The 2010 Fall Atlanta Home Show is a SEMCO production.

Tonya M. Williams is well-known to Atlanta audiences as one of HGTV's real estate and lifestyle experts. She stars on two of the network's popular shows, Designed to Sell and Bang for Your Buck. Williams will speak Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the Home Show Stage at 3 p.m. on My House is Worth What?

Joe Washington is another Atlanta favorite. The award-winning broadcaster spent decades as a local and national broadcaster with WXIA-TV and WTBS. He served as the original host of HGTV's Ground Breakers, the network's longest-running landscape show. He will kick-off the Show's speaking schedule with a noon presentation on Friday on The Right Plant in the Right Place the Right Way. On Sunday at 1 p.m. Washington will offer Stretching Your Budget and Your Outdoor Living Space.

WSB-AM will air two popular radio shows live Saturday morning: The Lawn and Garden Show and The Home Fix-It Show. Eight of metro Atlanta's top designers will create vignettes as part of the Total Wine & Design Experience and the Cobb County Fire Department will staff a Fire Safety House.

Sponsors and promotional partners include National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), Total Wine & More, Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation, Atlanta Home Improvement Magazine, Cobb County Fire Department and ConsultAHomePro.com.

The Cobb Galleria Centre is located at Two Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339. Show hours are Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon - 6 p.m. Adult tickets are $10. Children 12 and under and adults 65 and over are admitted for free. On-site parking is free. 24-hour information line: 770/798-1997.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nominations End Friday for Atlanta's Cox Conserves Heroes Program

/PRNewswire/ -- Nominations are being accepted for Atlanta's 2010 Cox Conserves Heroes program through 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 20. To nominate an individual, visit www.wsbtv.com/community.

The Cox Conserves Heroes program encourages viewers to nominate people in their community who create, preserve or enhance places for everyone to enjoy - parks, greenways, gardens, waterways, plazas, streets and public squares. Eligible nominees cannot receive financial compensation for their conservation work.

By showcasing unsung heroes, Channel 2 WSB-TV and The Trust for Public Land hope to inspire more people to take an active role in neighborhood conservation, while also providing financial support to local environmental nonprofits.

Following the nomination stage, the Cox Conserves Judging Circle, a group of local environmental and civic leaders, will select five finalists. The winning Hero, chosen by an online public vote, will be awarded $5,000 to donate to the environmental nonprofit of his or her choice. The four finalists will each receive $1,250 to donate to their nonprofits of choice.

This is the second year for Atlanta's Cox Conserves Heroes program. Don Wells - an advocate for conserving and enjoying the open spaces of the North Georgia Mountains - was named Atlanta's 2009 Cox Conserves Hero. As Wells' environmental nonprofit of choice, Mountain Stewards received $5,000 that was used to build new public trails and connect students with nature through outdoor classrooms. The 2009 finalists were Angelou Ezeilo, Evonne Blythers, Doug Williams and R.R. Harris.

The Cox Conserves Heroes program was created through a partnership between The Trust for Public Land and Cox Enterprises, the parent company of Channel 2 WSB-TV, to honor everyday conservationists. The program also runs in New Orleans, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. For more information, visit www.CoxConservesHeroes.com or find us on Facebook.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Independent Toxicologists Issue Warning: Urgent Concerns Regarding FDA Recommendations to Open Offshore Shrimp Fisheries

/PRNewswire/ -- Attorney Stuart H. Smith, representing the United Commercial Fishermen's Association, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, public and private entities, and citizens harmed by the BP oil catastrophe, today issued this statement:

"Independent water and seafood testing and analyses by Gulf Oil Disaster Recovery experts reveal that highly toxic chemicals remain in the water and food chain. These toxins pose a significant risk to marine reproduction and human consumption of Gulf seafood.

"The greatest concern is the presence of chemicals known as PAHs (or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons), which have carcinogenic properties. Our studies have shown that PAHs are present in shrimp from the impacted Gulf areas of the spill at 10 times the levels found in shrimp from inland, low-impacted areas.

"Further, BP's use of dispersants at 5000 feet below the sea surface caused PAHs and other toxic substances to remain in the seawater. This means biodegradation of the toxins in crude oil is greatly reduced. It could be at least 8 months before the toxic soup we are seeing in the Gulf experiences significant biodegradation, due to low temperatures, lack of sunlight, and other factors.

"Moreover, we have major concerns about FDA disclosures regarding seafood safety. The decisions to re-open commercial fishing in selected off-shore areas affects thousands of seafood consumers of shrimp in Louisiana and Mississippi. However, these decisions were based upon as few as a single shrimp sample from Louisiana offshore waters, and two shrimp samples from Mississippi offshore waters (rendered as composites from 12 shrimp), with detectable PAH levels present in all shrimp samples.

"We vigorously refute FDA claims that they have performed sufficient sampling to declare shrimp from this area safe for consumption. The result may have been for state authorities to issue premature shrimp harvesting area re-openings, based on flawed FDA recommendations. Given the potential public health issues at stake, this is a major cause for concern.

"Therefore, I am releasing several statements by toxicologist Dr. William Sawyer, as well as supporting material, which address these issues in greater detail. Official documents from FDA confirm that the recommendations to re-open selected areas for commercial harvesting were based on insufficient samples for state authorities to render responsible decisions. A thorough review of all available FDA test results to date further confirm our findings."

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Monday, August 9, 2010

2010-2011 GA Hunting Regulations Available

The 2010-2011 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations Guide is available online and in print announces the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division.  This guide provides information on season dates, bag limits, hunting licenses, wildlife management areas and much more and is available to view, download and print at www.gohuntgeorgia.com . Printed copies are available at Wildlife Resources Game Management and Law Enforcement offices and license vendors throughout Georgia.   

“The Hunting Seasons and Regulations publication is designed to better inform hunters on the laws and regulations for hunting in Georgia,” says John Bowers, Wildlife Resources Division Assistant Chief of Game Management.  “We encourage all hunters to review the publication each year for any changes to their favorite hunting areas, seasons or activities.”

Members of the Board of Natural Resources enact hunting regulations by acting on recommendations made by the division’s professional wildlife biologists and field personnel.  Georgia’s game and fish laws are enacted by the elected members of the General Assembly.

Changes for the upcoming season include:

·    In an effort to encourage youth participation in hunting and enhance youth hunting opportunities, the Georgia General Assembly passed SB 474.  This legislation included language that establishes a special youth hunting opportunity that allows youth under 16 years of age to hunt deer during the primitive weapons season with any firearm legal for hunting deer.  This includes primitive weapons hunts on wildlife management areas.

·    Tugaloo State Park, near Lavonia on Lake Hartwell, hosts a quota archery deer hunt in December 2010.  Apply online at www.gohuntgeorgia.com .

·    Mistletoe State Park, near Augusta on Clarks Hill Lake, hosts a quota firearms deer hunt in December 2010.  Apply online at www.gohuntgeorgia.com .

·    Alligator quota hunt opportunities have expanded.  The number of available permits has increased from 700 to 850.  Quota opportunities were increased in each of the nine zones.  Details and applications may be found at www.gohuntgeorgia.com .

For more information on Georgia hunting seasons and regulations, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com contact a local Wildlife Resources Division, Game Management Office or call Hunter Services at (770) 761-3045. 

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Aug. 11 (8/11) Serves as Good Reminder for Americans to Always Call 811 Before Digging

/PRNewswire/ -- A recent report released by the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the leading association dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the safety of the people who dig near them, indicated an underground utility line is damaged during digging projects once every three minutes in the United States.

The same report found that 34 percent of underground utility lines are damaged because this free phone call was never made.

With Aug. 11 almost here, CGA hopes this date on the calendar, 8/11, will serve as a natural reminder for all Americans to call 811 prior to any digging project to have underground utility lines marked.

When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to their local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of their intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both.

"On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional contractors alike to call 811 before digging to eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line," said CGA President Bob Kipp. "We hope the '8/11 Day' message will resonate with the American public, leading to a reduction in the amount of damage done to underground utilities and an increase in safety."

Anyone planning to dig during the weekend of Aug. 14 and 15 should call 811 prior to Aug. 11 to allow professional locators a few days to mark the premises.

Striking a single line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. Installing a mailbox, building a deck and planting a tree are all examples of digging projects that need a call to 811 before starting.

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line still exists.

Visit http://www.call811.com/ for more information about 811 and safe digging practices.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Georgia sets record high and low temps in July

Anyone who dared a toe outdoors in July knew that the heat started in June turned up in July, which was an extreme weather month. Above-normal temperatures ruled with some record highs being broken. Some record lows were set, too.

In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 82.3 degrees F (2.3 degrees above normal), in Athens 83 degrees (3.2 degrees above normal), Columbus 85 degrees (3 degrees above normal), Macon 83.4 degrees (2.3 degrees above normal), Savannah 83.9 degrees (1.8 degrees above normal), Brunswick 84 degrees (1.6 degrees above normal), Alma 83.3 degrees (1.3 degrees above normal), Valdosta 84.2 degrees (1.8 degrees above normal) and Augusta 83.6 degrees (2.8 degrees above normal).

Record daily highs were set in several cities. Athens reached 103 degrees July 26, breaking its record of 101 degrees set on that date in 1925. Columbus broke its record July 26 with 99 degrees, breaking 98 degrees set on that date in 1993. Savannah broke record July 26 with 102 degrees, surpassing 101 degrees set in 1940. Brunswick hit 99 degrees July 30, breaking its 98-degree record set on that date in 1961. Several other record highs were tied.

The May-July period was the warmest ever for Atlanta, Athens and Savannah and the second warmest ever for Columbus.

Several record daily low temperatures were also set early in the month. Savannah with 62 degrees July 3 broke its record of 64 degrees set in 1965. Augusta broke record lows three days in a row with 59 degrees July 3, 59 degrees July 4 and 60 degrees July 5. Alma set a record low July 3 with 62 degrees, breaking its record of 63 degrees set in 1975.

Most of the state received below-normal rainfall. However, a few isolated areas received rainfall that was significantly above normal, including areas in Coweta, Liberty and McIntosh counties.

The highest monthly total from National Weather Service reporting stations was 6.97 inches in Macon (2.65 inches above normal). The lowest was Athens at 1.40 inches (3.01 inches below normal).
Valdosta received 4.56 inches (1.87 inches below normal), Alma 2.51 inches (3.50 inches below normal), Brunswick 3.62 inches (1.19 inches below normal), Atlanta 4.37 inches (.75 inch below normal), Columbus 2.16 inches (2.88 inches below normal), Savannah 2.18 inches (3.86 inches below normal) and Augusta 5.86 inches (1.79 inches above normal).

A record daily rainfall was set in Brunswick, where 2.25 inches fell July 11, breaking the old record of 1.57 inches set in 1993.

The highest single-day rainfall from Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network stations was 6.30 inches in Coweta County in west-central Georgia July 13. An observer in Franklin County received 6.28 inches July 2. The highest monthly rainfall total from the network was 12.25 inches in McIntosh County, followed by 9.33 inches from an observer in Coweta County.

Severe weather hit somewhere in Georgia on 17 days during the month. The vast majority of these reports were for high winds, including a report of a 76-mph wind at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta July 28. A few reports of small hail were made. No tornadoes were observed.

Due to the almost daily occurrence of pop-up thunderstorms, there were many reports of lightning-caused damage across the state. July 27 alone, Gwinnett County firefighters reported more than 120 incidents, resulting in 14 house fires, 12 apartment fires and one business fire. One estimate indicated more than 1,000 lightning strikes in just 15 minutes in the Atlanta area on that date.

Two teens’ deaths were blamed on lightning that hit the tree they were standing underneath July 13 in Cobb County. Three heat-related deaths were reported, two in Bleckley County and one in Twiggs County.

The heat continued to stress crops and animals, particularly in areas that are not irrigated. Reductions in yield are starting to be reported in several crops.

By Pam Knox
University of Georgia 

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Child Nutrition Initiative Applauds Senate for Passage of Critical Legislation to Strengthen Nutrition Standards, Improve Children's Health

/PRNewswire/ -- The Child Nutrition Initiative commends Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee and ranking member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) for their hard work and commitment to pass the bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307) - a vital step in the effort to improve children's health and increase their access to nutritious school meals. We applaud the Senate for their strong bipartisan support and encourage the U.S. House to act quickly to pass similar legislation so critical improvements can be signed into law this year.

This important legislation improves the nutrition standards for meals served in schools through the national school breakfast and lunch programs as well as food sold in vending machines and other outlets on school grounds. These improvements are central to the effort to combat skyrocketing obesity rates that have left almost one third of U.S. children and adolescents overweight or obese. The bill also improves access to meals for many children who rely on them as one of their most reliable sources of food. With more than 30 million children participating in school meal programs, it is critical that we provide schools with the resources they need to improve children's health and readiness to learn.

The Child Nutrition Initiative encourages members of the House to act quickly to ensure critical bipartisan improvements are enacted by passing the Improving Nutrition for America's Kids Act (H.R. 5504), which has already passed out of the House Education and Labor Committee under the leadership of Chairman George Miller (D-CA). We urge House leaders to work quickly to pass the bill before it expires on September 30th.

Strong nutrition programs are good for our kids and good for our nation. We congratulate the Senate on this bold step forward and encourage House Leadership to capitalize on this unique opportunity to invest in the future of our country by bringing this important legislation to the floor before September 30th.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Georgia Forestry Commission Lends Expertise to Oil Disaster Recovery

Specially trained employees of the Georgia Forestry Commission are being commended for their work in response to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Since the April spill, more than 50 GFC employees have served in an Atlanta command center established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and at locations along the Gulf coast being impacted by the oil slick.

"The Georgia Forestry Commission stepped up at a time when we could not fill all our resource needs," said Roger Boykin, Incident Advisor and retired Fire Management and Disaster Coordinator for the southern region of the USFWS. "The large number of GFC employees who are qualified to respond to this type of situation has been a huge help to us."

Those eligible to serve have extensive experience in the National Interagency Incidence Management System and are certified to staff a wide variety of positions on teams that respond to emergencies including wildfires, weather events, and all hazards incidents.

"The Georgia Forestry Commission provides incident management expertise at local, state, and national levels," said Alan Dozier, Chief of Protection at GFC. "Our people have a reputation for being very strong in these capabilities." Dozier added that Georgia is experiencing a record low number of wildfires this year, which gives the GFC team an opportunity to assist with the oil spill. Compensation for expenses is covered through prearranged inter-agency agreements.

According to Boykin, GFC workers have served in the Atlanta center as resource unit leaders, ordering managers, dispatchers, and plans chiefs. Along coastal regions impacted by the oil, the GFC team has assisted with bird search and rescue operations and sensitive habitat protection.

"Supporting these operations helps our team hone their skills and increases our capability to serve Georgia when called upon," said Greg Strenkowski, GFC Staff Forester. "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is our partner agency, and we are proud to help our partner in their time of need. It is a win- win for us all."

For information about the Georgia Forestry Commission and its services and the agency's Type 2 Incident Command Team, visit GaTrees.org.

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Ice-free Arctic Ocean may not be of much use in soaking up carbon dioxide, a component of global warming, according to new study

The summer of 2010 has been agonizingly hot in much of the continental U.S., and the record-setting temperatures have refocused attention on global warming. Scientists have been looking at ways the Earth might benefit from natural processes to balance the rising heat, and one process had intrigued them, a premise that melting ice at the poles might allow more open water that could absorb carbon dioxide, one of the major compounds implicating in warming.

Now, though, in research just published in the journal Science and led by a University of Georgia marine chemist, that idea may be one more dead end. In fact, a survey of waters in the Canada Basin, which extends north of Alaska to the North Pole, shows that its value as a potential carbon dioxide “sink” may be short-lived at best and minor in terms of what the planet will need to avoid future problems.

“The Canada Basin and entire Arctic Ocean are still taking up carbon dioxide,” said Wei-Jun Cai, a professor in the department of marine sciences in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and lead author of the study. “But our research shows that as the ice melts, the carbon dioxide in the water very quickly reaches equilibrium with the atmosphere, so its use as a place to store CO2 declines dramatically and quickly. We never really understood how limited these waters would be in terms of their usefulness in soaking up carbon dioxide.”

The research was a joint project with the government of China. Other authors on the paper published in Science include, from the University of Georgia: graduate student Baoshan Chen, research scientist Yongchen Wang, postdoctoral associate Xinping Hu, and doctoral student Wei-Jen Huang. Colleagues from China and elsewhere who were co-authors include Liqi Chen, Zhongyong Gao, Yuanhui Zhang and Suqing Xu from the Third Institute of Oceanography of the State Ocean Administration of China; Sang Lee of the Korea Polar Institute;Jianfang Chen and Haisheng Zhang of the Second Institute of Oceanography in China; Denis Pierrot and Kevin Sullivan of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Akihiko Murata of the Research Institute for Global Change in Japan; Jackie Grebmeier of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland; and Peter Jones of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Canada.

The carbon dioxide level in the Earth’s atmosphere has increased dramatically since the industrial revolution, and around 30 percent of that CO2 has been absorbedby the oceans. That has been the good news. The bad news is that it increases the acidification of the seas, causing changes in conditions for the growth of all life forms.

Melting in the planet’s Arctic zone has been dramatic in the past three years. A recent paper predicted that the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free during summer within 30 years, Cai noted. Researchers in years past had predicted that increased areas of open water in the Arctic, while troublesome in many ways, might at least sequester increasing amounts of carbon dioxide because of summertime ice melts.

“This prediction, however, was made based on observations of very low surface water carbon dioxide levels,” said Cai, “from either highly productive ocean margin areas or basin areas under earlier ice-covered conditions before the recent major ice retreat.”

To see just how efficient Canada Basin waters would be in taking up atmospheric carbon dioxide, an international team of scientists in the summer of 2008 boarded the retrofitted Chinese research vessel Xue Long (Snow Dragon) for a three-month research voyage. Using direct sampling of water and another method called “underway” sampling, in which water is pumped into the ship directly from the ocean, analyzed and returned, they studied the upper layers of the water into which they sailed. They also studied the waters’ salinity, temperature, nutrient concentration and chlorophyll activity.

What Cai and colleagues found was that as greater areas of ice melt each summer, the Canada Basin’s potential as a CO2 sink will diminishdramatically mainly because of the rapid uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere. And because of this carbon dioxide uptake, the waters become quite acidic and “a poor environment for calcium-carbonate shell-bearing marine organisms,” Cai said.

The findings are at once intriguing and disappointing because carbon dioxide and other gases dissolve more readily in cold water than warm water, and so scientists had long thought that seas of melting polar ice would at least have the trade-off of being good places for the absorption of carbon dioxide.

Collaborative work of this kind between the governments of the United States and China on Arctic research is relatively new. Cai said it greatly benefits both parties.

“One of the take-away lessons of this research is that we can’t expect the oceans to do the job of helping offset global warming in the short term,” said Cai.

Cai’s work is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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