- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

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Nov. 25

The Telegraph of Macon on law enforcement crackdown on crime suspects:

Operation Neighborhood Redemption, a dramatic moniker for a deadly serious period in the life of this city. The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, along with the U.S. Marshal’s Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Department of Community Supervision, joined in an effort to, as Sheriff David Davis put it, remove “some of the hoodlums and villains who have been preying on the good people on these streets and who have tarnished Macon-Bibb County’s reputation.”

The dragnet took 48 of those hoodlums and villains off the streets along with 13 guns. And one of the troubling aspects of the catch is its census. Twenty of the 48 are in their 20s and 11 of those are 25 years old or younger. Three are women and four teens were caught up in the sweep, two of them just 17. The oldest? 63.

Some of the captured were low level drug dealers, parole violators and other petty criminals, even a few people behind on child support or had charges for marijuana possession. Still others were wanted for more serious offenses.

And while this sweep was necessary, we’re sure even the sheriff knows the operation only scratched the surface.

Online: http://www.macon.com/

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Nov. 27

Savannah Morning News on city plans to invest $160 million in a new civic center:

Back in the day, it wasn’t unusual for the mid-sized Savannah Civic Center to host any number of big-name bands or acts, like KISS, the Doobie Brothers, the early Allman Brothers, Bob Hope, Red Skelton and a young up-and-comer named Bob Dylan.

Even Elvis Presley brought his act to Savannah in 1977, much to the delight of more than 8,000 delirious fans who paid from $10 to $15 to see The King as the whole cellblock got down to the Jailhouse Rock.

Now fast forward to the present. City officials are planning to invest about $160 million in a new Civic Center. The latest published reports show that the arena will include just 9,000 seats - that’s a tad smaller than the 9,600-seat capacity that’s advertised for the current aging arena that is said to be too cramped, poorly lit and generally outdated. Why so small?

If officials want to attract the bigger name events to Savannah, it would seem like they should aim for a larger capacity than 9,000 seats for a new arena. While some promoters may be fine with booking an act into a mid-sized arena, those with more popular acts are likely to skip the smaller venues, as size matters.

In the concert business, it’s all about putting paying customers in the seats. Look at it this way, if you are doing the booking for a popular group that’s on a national tour and have a spot to fill on your client’s tour of the Southeastern U.S. are you going to book the act at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum (capacity, 15,000 seats) or the North Charleston Coliseum (capacity, 13,295 seats) or Savannah’s arena (9,000 seats)? It’s not rocket science. It’s money and business.

Obviously, Savannah’s taxpayers can’t afford to build a huge, grand concert palace that will sit empty most of the year. At the same time, they shouldn’t under-build and construct an arena that won’t be attractive …

Fortunately, it seems the city has time on its side for now, as this project is far from shovel-ready.

City officials are smart to want to hire an expert to help guide them during the 38 months it’s expected to take to design and build a new arena. The city is in the process of hiring a project manager to oversee this costly project. So far, it appears that seven consultants from places like Atlanta, Chicago, Texas, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., are competing for the job of keeping the project on schedule and within budget.

The deadline for proposals was extended from Sept. 26 to Oct. 31 after the city amended the scoring criteria used to rate each firm.

When the building comes out of the ground it is initially like any other building, but then features such as seating, lighting, locker rooms, kitchens, and acoustics have to be incorporated, Assistant City Manager Peter Shonka said.

“There are so many special things in this building and that’s part of the reason we are hiring a project manager to advise us on those issues,” he said. He’s right as all these little details matter. Savannah must aim for quality and for a reputation as a great place to perform and to see a concert.

The arena site is located west of the Historic District on city property northeast of Gwinnett Street and Stiles Avenue.

Right-sizing the new arena should be high on the priority list. The consultants who are vying to be the city’s project manager must be familiar with the national marketplace for entertainment and venues.

Savannah may not be able to afford to return to what some local fans consider to be the glory years of the 1970s, but with $160 million in the pot, it should be able to build an arena that’s more attractive than what it offers now …

Online: http://savannahnow.com/

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Nov. 28

The Brunswick News on some College of Coastal Georgia basketball players kneeling during the national anthem:

Much has been recently about the decision by some players on College of Coastal Georgia’s basketball teams to kneel during the national anthem.

Many local people see the act as disrespectful to the brave men and women who sacrifice so much to keep us safe and protect our freedoms abroad by serving in the military. It is an understandable reaction to a protest that for months has been making headlines and evoking strong emotions.

A national veterans publication, Military Times, however, sent a message recently that shows the basketball players’ decisions are not indicative of how the college treats the veterans who attend there. In fact, the newspaper called CCGA one of the best institutions in the country for veterans, putting the college in its “Best for Vets” list for the third consecutive year.

Coastal ranked as the No. 5 school for vets in Georgia and No. 70 in the U.S. That is impressive out of more than 600 colleges considered.

Coastal cares about its veterans so much, it employs a Veterans Services staff that aims to engage all veterans in campus-wide programs to enhance their learning experience. These include veterans’ study lounges and the student organization VALOR, or Veterans Academic Learning Opportunities and Resources.

These help a diverse group of veterans and their family members who attend the college, including those with disabilities developed during their time in the service. Students from all branches of the armed services, including reserve units, attend CCGA.

As Military Times Editor Georgia Altman said, “Only the best make the cut.”

Coastal is clearly among the best when it comes to educating our veterans and giving them a chance to succeed after putting their lives on the line for our country.

They deserve every bit of support they get at Coastal and anywhere they go. Coastal realizes how much veterans mean to our community and to our country. The college takes every step it can to ensure they have what they need to succeed while getting their degrees.

A few athletes may choose to practice their free speech by kneeling during the national anthem, but they do so as individuals, regardless of what sports uniform they are wearing.

When it comes to the administration and leadership at College of Coastal Georgia, they deeply care about veterans.

This most recent ranking, the third in a row, proves yet again that CCGA understands how to take care of veterans.

Online: http://thebrunswicknews.com/

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