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Georgia

11Toddler Almost Drowns in Mall Fountain (Video)

A member of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue team in Florida recently released a surveillance video to warn parents about the dangers of not watching their kids.

The surveillance video (below) shows a two-year-old child, Alayna, in the Augusta Mall in Georgia, climbing over the wall of a fountain, falling in and nearly drowning before an older boy calls for help and a nurse pulls the toddler out of the water, noted Local 10.

Alayna's mom, Ashley Ishmael, was looking for her daughter in the mall's stores when the girl nearly drowned on Aug. 28, 2013.

"I was playing with her and then she had gotten up into the top part of the slide playing with two or three other kids," Ishmael told WRDW. "And next thing I know she was gone."

When Alayna was released about two months later, she was still in a wheelchair. A new Facebook page "Alayna's Angels" has been set up for people to help the child and her mother.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Arnold Piedrahita posted the video on his Facebook page, where he wrote: “If me posting this video scares someone enough to … install a pool gate then my job is done.”

"I ran [upon] a 13-month-old boy who drowned in the family pool with 11 adults home at [the] time," Piedrahita added. "Everyone thought someone was watching the baby."

Sources: WRDW, Local 10, Facebook

11Georgia Tax Credit Program Redirects Taxpayer Funds To Religious Schools, Suit Says

Georgia’s tax credit program takes “funds away from Georgia’s public schools” and redirects it to private religious schools, according to a lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court.

Raymond Gaddy and three other co-plaintiffs say the program violates Georgia's Constitution and tax code.

The claim states that money is siphoning public school funds through scholarship organizations, which are not regulated by the state.

"Individual taxpayers in Georgia, as well as corporations, receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations and contributions made to private Student Scholarship Organizations ('SSOs'). The SSOs then take the redirected tax funds and use them to provide scholarships for students to attend private schools," the suit says.

"Absent the constitutionally required state administration, the SSOs and the private schools that receive their funds are free to do virtually as they please," the complaint states.

Gaddy’s children attend school in Chatham County. He says Georgia "enacted a scheme in which funds from the state's treasury are redirected to pay tuition at private schools in the state."

The suit claims that tax credits are prohibited if the taxpayer designates education expenses for the benefit of a particular student.

"In this regard, although supposedly intended to benefit underprivileged children, the SSOs and private schools receiving the funds can, and generally do, award scholarships to students who already can afford private schools," the complaint states. "Also, because the majority of private schools in the state are faith based, many enrollment decisions are conditioned on commitment to specific religious beliefs and practices."

The plaintiffs want the state enjoined from redirecting tax money and a declaration stating that the program violates Georgia's Constitution and tax code.

Sources: Courthouse News Service, Liberaland

11Four Hours Into First Day On Job 911 Operator Saves Her Dad’s Life

Four hours into her first shift as a Georgia 911 operator, Crystal Morrow got a call that saved her father’s life.

When Morrow received a call at Dekalb County 911 call center in August, she heard a familiar voice on the other end.

“I heard her voice and I saw her name pop up on the screen,” Morrow said. “I said, ‘Wait, that is my aunt.’”

The woman had no idea she was speaking to her niece when she told her that her father was going into diabetic shock.

"I did freeze, my hands froze over the keyboard, but I knew I had to get the call in," Morrow told WAGA-TV in Atlanta.

She then calmly instructed her aunt what to do to help her father before paramedics arrived.

“I want you to watch him very closely, if he becomes less awake and vomits, quickly turn him on his side,” Morrow said during 911 call. “If he gets worse in any way, call us back immediately for further instructions, OK?”

Her father has recovered.

"She handled it well," said Danielle Harvey, the man who trained Morrow and has been nominated for an award. "She got up after it was over and went out. So I checked on her and told her to go see about her family."

“Because of so many people being in the room, I didn’t think I would get the call,” Morrow said. “It’s crazy that I got it on my first day.”

Sources: USA Today, UPI

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11Teen Discovers $31K Mistakenly Deposited In His Account And Spends It, Now Bank Wants It Back

A Georgia bank accidentally deposited $31,000 into a teen’s account, and now that they’ve realized their mistake, they are asking him to pay it back. Unfortunately for the teenager, most of that money has already been spent.

The mix-up happened on March 7 when a customer named Steven Fields deposited $31,000 into his bank account. The teller mistakenly deposited the large sum of money into a different bank account that happened to belong to someone of the same name. 18-year-old Steven Fields received a notice that the deposit had been made into his account, and instead of notifying the bank that there had been a mistake, he decided to go on a spending spree.

The younger Fields immediately withdrew $20,000 from his account and proceeded to spend another $5,000 on his ATM card. 10 days after the initial mix-up, the correct Steven Fields notified the bank that his money had not been deposited into his account, and that’s when the bank’s staff realized a mistake had been made.

The next day, teenage Steven Fields went to the First Citizens Bank in Hull, Georgia to withdraw more money, but when he arrived, the bank informed him of the mistake and asked him to return the money. According to the officer that was dispatched to the scene on allegations of financial fraud, the 18-year-old told bank staff that the money was from a family inheritance and that it had been direct deposited – both claims that the bank ultimately refuted. Fields told the officer and bank staff that he would go home and retrieve proof of his inheritance, but once he left, he never returned.

Later on, when police went to Fields’ home to confront him, he informed them that he believed the money came from his grandmother’s estate.

"I informed Mr. Fields that the bank wanted the money back as soon as possible,” wrote an officer in the police report. "Mr. Fields stated that he would go to the bank and talk with Mrs. Bryant and try to settle this situation without going to jail."

Bank officials say they will press charges against the teen if he does not return to settle the matter, and as of the most recent reports, he has yet to do so.

11Georgia Law Requiring Drug Tests For Food Stamps Is On Governor's Desk

A bill recently passed the General Assembly in Georgia that would allow state workers to test food stamp recipients for drugs. House Bill 772 passed just before the close of Georgia’s 2014 legislative session and now must be signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal, Republican, according to MSNBC.

Passage of the bill came as a surprise to many, because legislators had been warned that such testing was prohibited under federal law. On March 7, Robert Caskey of the Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program in Atlanta sent an email to Georgia officials citing a law that said “no state agency shall impose any other standards of eligibility” beyond provisions already in the federal Food and Nutrition Act. 

According to The Augusta Chronicle, the email stated, “The addition of a drug testing provision of any type is prohibited in the SNAP program.”

The warning didn’t deter lawmakers. Rep. Greg Morris, Republican, who sponsored the bill, called it “common sense” legislation. 

“Hardworking Georgians expect their tax dollars to be used responsibly and efficiently,” he said in an earlier statement. “Under no circumstance should the government fund someone’s drug habit.”

The bill stipulates that drug screening would not be universal. Caseworkers must have “reasonable suspicion” before ordering the test. Such language does little to assuage the fears of critics of the proposed law.

“We still believe that the factors giving rise to individual suspicion are unconstitutionally broad and would likely be struck down in the courts,” said Chad Brock of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.

A similar law was passed in Florida in 2010 and never saved that state any money. Florida spent over $45,000 testing food stamp recipients. The law was declared unconstitutional in 2011. Before that happened, the state tested 4,000 individuals and only found 108 recipients using drugs, according to a column on Slate.com

To save Georgia money, Morris’ bill requires that Medicaid recipients pay $17 out of pocket to take the test.

“That would be a small pass for entry into an entitlement program,” Morris said. 

Deal has until May to sign the legislation. His office has not indicated his intentions.

Sources: MSNBC, The Augusta Chronicle, Slate.com

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11Toy Gun Leads To School Lockdown In Georgia For Fifth Time In 11 Days

Georgia parents: quit letting your children go to school with toy guns.

Pointe South Elementary School in Clayton County, Georgia was locked down on Friday because of a toy gun. The lockdown marked the fifth time in 11 days an Atlanta-area school was locked down over a fake firearm.

Pointe South officials says the school was locked down for about 20 minutes after officials saw three children playing with what turned out to be toy guns. The latest lockdown prompted Clayton County Schools Police Chief Clarence Cox to send a recorded phone message to each of the district’s 52,000 students and their parents reminding them not to let students bring  toys weapons to school.

After a March 14 lockdown, Cox responded to people who say the schools are overreacting when they lock down over the toys.

“We don't feel like it's an overreaction (to go on lock down)," Cox said. "When someone tells us there's a gun on our campus, we don't have time to determine if its real or not. We treat all of them as if they are real."

Source: 11 Alive, CBS Atlanta

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11Dog Fighting in Svaneti: English Russia Blog Posts Dog Fighting as Entertainment and ‘Comfort’ (Photos)

On March 6, Ukraine's acting president accused Russia of pre-Georgia (2008) open-aggression tactics in Crimea, as the world focuses on the serious threat of war in this region. That same day "team" posted graphic photos of (illegal) dog fighting on the English Russia (Georgia) blog, touted as,"The most popular blog about this part of the world with a twist." All content is "submitted by readers through feedback or acquired through open sources," the disclaimer states, "Welcome and stay comforted."

Following the traditions of Svaneti (Georgia) dogs for fighting meet on neutral territory, because Svans believe that the dog fighting on its own territory has an advantage. It is strictly forbidden. Dogs from both sides come accompanied by several cars with supporters. The road quickly gets blocked, as more and more cars arrive for the spectacle, and in such a situation nobody shows impatience or displease.


Owners of dogs start negotiating several months before the event. If a fighter is too famous or strong it becomes difficult to find an opponent. Nobody wants to lose. So such preparatory negotiations may last for a month or two…

The battle takes place right on the road. When the cars reach the road sign showing the boarder of the village they stop, surround a small area on the road and let dogs and their owners show up. After the signal both dogs get unleashed.

During a fight it’s dangerous to come too close. They may bite you too.

As a rule, it’s the more experienced dog that wins. Strength is also important, but those dogs that have no experience usually lose.

Source: English Russia

 

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11Teen Allegedly Beat Grandmother To Death For Refusing To Take Him To Buy Cigarettes

A Georgia teen was arrested for allegedly beating his grandmother to death with a baseball bat Tuesday when she refused to take him to the store to buy cigarettes.

JeNorman Bland, 18, is facing charges of murder, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment.

He is accused of chasing his grandmother through her home and repeatedly striking her with a bat, Butts County Sheriff Gray Long told WSB Radio.

The grandmother, who was not identified, was found dead in her home near Jackson at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Bland doesn’t live in her home, but came over to ask for a ride to a nearby store, Long said. She refused because she was getting ready to leave for work. Bland allegedly went inside the home, got a bat, and began chasing her with it.

He stole his grandmother’s car after the incident and was later arrested by Griffin police.

“He confessed to the murder,” Long said.

Bland is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

Sources: WSBTV, San Francisco Chronicle

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11Bus Driver Fights Against School District That Fired Him For Facebook Post

A bus driver in Georgia’s Haralson County was fired by the school district after posting a Facebook status about a student. If the bus driver had written something degrading against the student or specifically named a child in his post, his dismissal may have been warranted. The driver, however, was simply using the Facebook post to make the case that the children’s lunch program needs to be revised. 

The driver, Johnny Cook, posted his comments after a student who was riding the bus informed him that the school denied the boy lunch because his account was empty. The post reads, in full, as follows (via NBC 11 Atlanta):

“A lil flustered this evening.

A middle schooler got on my bus this evening and said mr johnny im hungry. I said why are you hungry buddy? Didn't you eat lunch ? He said no sir I didn't have any money on my account. I said they would let you charge it? No sir.

Huh! What! This child is already on reduced lunch and we can't let him eat. Are you kidding me? I'm certian there was leftover food thrown away today. But kids were turned away because they didn't have .40 on there account .

As a tax payer, I would much rather feed a child than throw it away. I would rather feed a child than to give food stamps to a crack head.

My number is 770 871 8811 the next time we can't feed a kid for forty cent, please call me . We will scrape up the money.  This is what the world has come to” 

In response to the post, the school district informed Cook that he could either be suspended for two weeks after issuing a public apology via Facebook, or lose his position as a bus driver without issuing an apology. Cook chose to stand by his statement and he was relieved of his duties by the district.

Cook’s story captured the attention of the ACLU, which is supporting Cook as he fights back against the district. According to MyFoxAtlanta, Cook, his attorneys and the ACLU are claiming that the driver’s First Amendment rights were violated. The school district is arguing that Cook violated its social media policy, which prevents employees from using the network for critical reasons.

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11Georgia Man Charged In Wedding Day Car Crash That Killed Wife

After being charged with vehicular homicide following the death of his bride, Georgia man Ryan Quinton was released on bail.

The couple had just left their wedding reception in December when Quinton suddenly swerved at the sight of, he says, a dog in the road. As a result, the car rolled down an embankment.

Quinton’s bride was trapped underneath the car, but Quinton himself managed to reach the road for help. When a witness, Chris Thomas, saw Quinton stumbling down the road he stopped and called 911.

"He was shaken up. He wasn't making a whole lot of sense. He was hysterical," Thomas said of Quinton.

Thomas said the most difficult part was telling the wedding party, still dressed for a celebration, what had happened.

Crime lab results showed that Quinton’s blood alcohol level that day was .114, though the legal limit in Georgia is .08.

On Wednesday morning Quinton turned himself in to the Cherokee County Police Department, admitting that his dog story was untrue.

Quinton was charged with a DUI and vehicular homicide.

Sources: WSB Atlanta, AJC

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