April 27 to be a day of prayer for Georgia as fight against COVID-19 continues

Press Release
severe day of prayer

Atlanta, GA – On Monday, April 27, Governor Brian P. Kemp will join Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, Speaker David Ralston, and faith leaders from across Georgia in holding a Day of Prayer service in the rotunda of the Georgia State Capitol at 10:00 a.m. As the state continues to battle COVID-19, Kemp, Duncan, and Ralston are calling on all Georgians and members of the faith community around the state to participate by posting videos of their prayers on social media throughout the day.

“Our unprecedented battle with COVID-19 has proven the resolve of the people of Georgia to fight hard, come together, and do what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus,” said Governor Kemp. “While we cannot all be together right now, we can join with one another in prayer for our frontline healthcare workers, first responders, law enforcement, business owners, local leaders, and fellow Georgians as we continue the important work of fighting COVID-19 and safely reopening our state. On Monday, I am calling on all Georgians to participate in our Day of Prayer by posting on social media and showing their support for their fellow citizens.”

“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on countless lives across our state and nation. In the midst of tremendous loss, uncertainty, and anxiety, I look forward to joining together in prayer,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “Faith and prayer are a comfort to millions of Georgians, and whatever your background, I hope Monday will be a chance for us to focus on those who are hurting and seek wisdom for the hard road ahead.”

“I’m very proud of the response to this crisis by our state government and local and federal partners as well as healthcare workers and frontline personnel,” said Speaker David Ralston. “In such trying times, it is appropriate that we come together to pray for those battling this disease and its impact as well as those who have tragically lost loved ones. I join with Governor Kemp, Lt. Governor Duncan, and all Georgians in praying for the mercy and comfort of our Lord as we look forward to brighter days ahead.”

To ensure adherence to social distancing guidelines, the Day of Prayer service will not be open to the general public. Georgians are encouraged to participate via livestream at www.facebook.com/GovKemp at 10:00 a.m.

Live Call-In With House Speaker David Ralston

Community

#BKP has House Speaker David Ralston on the show to discuss the elections in Georgia, the worldwide pandemic, and much more.

 

UPDATE: Ralston sends another letter to Raffensperger regarding Georgia Primary

Featured, News
ralston

UPDATE: April 8, 2020

ATLANTA, Ga – After announcing his support of extending the Public Health State of Emergency through May 13, House Speaker David Ralston has again asked Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to move the Georgia Primary to June 16.

Ralston has been very vocal about moving the election until Georgia can overcome the COVID-19 outbreak, which has a death rate in Georgia of 3.65 percent.

“We have seen many reports recently about how impactful a May 19 primary will be on the
ability of poll workers to report. Paramount is the health of voters, poll workers and others who
must be at polling precincts on Election Day,” stated Ralston in the letter.

Letter to Secretary of State 4.8.20

Copy of the April 8 letter.

Original Story from March 26, 2020 below: 

ATLANTA, Ga – Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston (Ga -7) sent a letter to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) asking him to please move Georgia’s May 19th primary due to novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

In the letter, Ralston asserts that he would like the primary to be moved to a date of June 23 or later. He cites several other southern states that have already moved their May Primaries to June or July as a precautionary measure to keep the public safe.

An exert from the letter below:

“At the present time, our state, the entire nation and the world are confronted by a public health emergency of unprecedented magnitude.

Our prayer is that we will be on the other side of this difficult period sooner rather than later. However, the inescapable truth is that we do not know the duration of the immediate health peril. Reputable scientists and physicians cannot agree on its duration.

All of which means that the precautionary measures recommended by the CDC and adopted in executive order by Governor Kemp will continue for an unknown period of time.”

The Georgia Speaker of the House also addresses the right to vote as one of America’s “cherished freedoms” and it “should be free of impact from circumstances which create obstacles to its exercise.”

The May 19th primary puts Georgia over a month ahead of anyone else in the south.

View the full letter here. Secretary Raffensperger 3 26 2020

On Tuesday, March 24, Raffensperger announced that the Secretary of State’s Office would be mailing out absentee ballots to 6.9 Georgia voters for the May 19th primary. This was his answer to ensuring the health of Georgia voters and poll workers during the pandemic.

In a press release issued by Raffensperger on the absentee ballots, he said,

“Times of turbulence and upheaval like the one we Georgians face require decisive action if the liberties we hold so dear are to be preserved,” said Raffensperger. “I am acting today because the people of Georgia, from the earliest settlers to heroes like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Congressman John Lewis, have fought too long and too hard for their right to vote to have it curtailed. Georgia has faced challenges before and overcome them, and we can do so again through the grit and ingenuity that has made America a shining example for democracies around the world.”

In the 2016 and 2018 November elections, around 95 percent of Georgia voters opted to cast their ballot in person versus the 5 percent who did so by mail. With social distancing as the most important tool for limiting the spread of coronavirus, providing alternatives to voting in person is crucial. All Georgia voters can request and vote an absentee ballot for any reason.

While Secretary Raffensperger is encouraging as many voters as possible to vote by mail, some rely on in-person voting to exercise their right to vote privately and securely. People without internet or mail access, such as those experiencing homelessness; Georgians who need language assistance; and people with disabilities who rely on voting machines to cast their ballot will still be able to do so in person on the state’s new voting system. Additionally, research from the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law shows that eliminating “in-person voting could disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latino, and young voters”. Their right to vote too needs protection.

To that end, Raffensperger is taking extra steps to limit the threat of COVID-19 at the polling place. Poll workers will receive additional resources to clean the equipment regularly. In-person voters who show up to vote in person will be instructed to maintain a safe distance when waiting to vote.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger

These measures will protect poll workers as well. Understanding the extra risk Georgia’s generally elderly poll workers face, Raffensperger is working to help counties hire more and younger poll workers. Extra staff will allow those who feel sick to be absent from the polls without significantly impacting continuity while a younger pool of workers will increase resiliency in the face of the COVID-19 threat.

USDA announces grant to ETC for broadband expansion

News
USDA ETC ReConnect Grant Award

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – “We are extremely proud to partner with Ellijay Telephone Company to expand broadband access,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Georgia State Director Joyce White as she announced a $4.4 million investment grant into Gilmer County through ETC.

Holding a celebratory ceremony on February 7, 2020, ETC shareholders, administrators, and a group of employees were joined by numerous officials from Georgia’s State Government and the USDA to both announce the award and celebrate the accomplishment.

House Speaker David Ralston speaks at the ETC's ReConnect Grant Award Ceremony

House Speaker David Ralston speaks at the ETC’s ReConnect Grant Award Ceremony.

As a part of the USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program, ETC’s application over the last year has “persevered,” as said by White during the ceremony. The grant they receive will provide $4.4 million to support the construction of 90 miles of fiber-optic cable infrastructure in Gilmer County.

Jason Smith, COO of ETC, said the service extension is going to be providing “1 Gig Fiber Broadband.” He went on to add, “The total project is estimated at $5.9 million, $4.4 [million] of that will be provided by the grant and almost $1.5 [million] is provided by ETC.”

The program is set to incorporate 2,159 households, two community facilities, and an Educational facility. Additionally, there have been 25 businesses and 24 farms pre-subscribed to the service.

House Speaker David Ralston spoke at the ceremony about the great need for better internet and high-speed broadband connections as the foundation of improvements in education, transportation, and healthcare. He noted key points like telemedicine and farming as specific examples. Ralston threw his support behind the application with a letter of support for ETC during the application process. He said he wanted to salute ETC’s efforts and called the program a part of efforts to revitalize rural Georgia.

State Senator Steve Gooch speaks at the ETC's ReConnect Grant Award Ceremony.

State Senator Steve Gooch speaks at the ETC’s ReConnect Grant Award Ceremony.

State Sen. Steve Gooch also wrote a letter of support for ETC’s application. He spoke at the ceremony of the need for the internet’s infrastructure for industry and economic development as well. Gooch said attracting new businesses and industry are among the first question when companies scout new locations. He said questions about providers, speed, reliability, and hubs are always among the initial questions interested parties would ask.

Gooch also echoed Ralston’s words about education as he shared his experience from his travels around the state hearing from community leaders. He said they told him about families in their communities when kids were sent home with homework to be done online. Parents would have to drive the kids back into town to a library or business with wifi to complete their homework assignments. Gooch said responding to these challenges is easier when private companies partner with the public interests to achieve success. Gooch said, “This is one success story, but we need thousands of others just like it.”

Parts of those challenges include the costs of preliminary and ground-work of projects like this do not compare to the number of houses or facilities reached. ETC’s Jason Smith noted these challenges as he said the estimated costs of this project reach $65,000 per mile. He said, “When you consider that many of our most rural areas have less than five homes per mile, it is easy to see why a grant plays such a vital role in broadband deployment.”

Jason Smith, COO of ETC, speaks at the ETC's ReConnect Grant Award Ceremony.

Jason Smith, COO of ETC, speaks at the ETC’s ReConnect Grant Award Ceremony.

Smith went on to say that the grant award is an early step in the project. With funding, he wants ETC to move forward quickly but said the project will not happen overnight. With an estimated timeline of five years to complete the expansion. However, Smith said that ETC is hoping to reach goals to reduce that time by one year if possible.

The ReConnect Program offers funding options through loans, grants, and combinations of the two in order to facilitate broadband deployment in “areas of rural America that don’t currently have sufficient access to broadband,” according to the USDA’s website and ReConnect Program Informational.

In March 2018, the USDA reports that Congress provided $600 million to them to expand broadband infrastructure and services in Rural America. On December 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of his ReConnect program and the loans and grants involved. They received 146 applications between May 31, 2019, and July 12, 2019, requesting $1.4 billion in total funding.

Additionally, Perdue announced in December 2019 that the USDA will continue ReConnect through another round of applications in 2020 and will fund another $550 million through the program.

 

CORE receives grant and state office at ribbon-cutting

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – “This is the kind of project that will spread prosperity throughout our entire region. It is the kind of skin-in-the-game project that deserves support…” Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston praised the CORE Facility in Ellijay who hosted their official ribbon-cutting today.

Nestled just off Maddox Drive on the banks of the Coosawattee River in Ellijay, Georgia, the CORE Facility hosts business offices and incubation locations for entrepreneurs and start-ups in need of an office or workspace without the hassles of long-term investment.

Left to right, Gilmer Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Fannin Commission Chairman Stan Helton, and Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones celebrate with Greater Gilmer JDA Executive Director Kent Sanford at the CORE Facility ribbon-cutting in Ellijay, Georgia, on July 24, 2019.

However, the facility’s impact reaches so much farther than the city limits or the county’s borders. Today marked a celebration for the region and for the state. Representatives statewide joined together for this ribbon cutting including Gilmer Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Gilmer Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson, Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones, Fannin Commission Chairman Stan Helton, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, State Senator Steve Gooch, State Representative of District 11 Rick Jasperse, Ellijay City Mayor Al Hoyle, Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, and many representatives from the Ellijay and East Ellijay City Councils and Gilmer Board of Education. Efforts from many organizations have led into combined organizations such as the Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) and the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.

That Foundation was the birthplace of the initiative to build CORE. According to Kent Sanford, Executive Director of the Greater Gilmer JDA and part of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation, a 14-month birth cycle has finally come to full fruition.

While the celebration was a culmination of efforts so far, it is only the beginning. It is a project that holds great impact on the future, according to Ralston who said, “It will create jobs in our area. The jobs of tomorrow will be possible because of the work that goes on in this building.”

Speaker of the House, David Ralston announces a $420,000 state grant for the CORE facility to applause from attendees at the ribbon-cutting on July 24, 2019.

Ralston also dedicated support to the facility as he announced, “Because of the local commitment to the CORE building the State of Georgia, through our OneGeorgia Authority, is awarding $420,000 to this project to be used for Facility purchase and improvement costs. This $420,000 grant is historic. both in terms of its dollar amount and the impact it will have on this project and community.”

Ralston continued speaking about the economic development and job creation in the county before offering the second announcement of the day regarding the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center.

Ralston stated at the ribbon-cutting, “I am proud to announce that the new North Georgia of the Georgia Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation will be housed right here in Ellijay in this facility. The office will be led by Janet Cochran.”

Ralston’s office later offered a full Press Release on the announcement stating the center serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.

The Georgia Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center, was officially announced to open a North Georgia Office at Gilmer’s CORE facility during a ribbon-cutitng on July 24, 2019.

These announcements were applauded by those present and praised by the Chairman of the Gilmer Chamber, John Marshall, who said, “Mr. Speaker, once again you have proven yourself to be the very epitome of a stalwart and faithful advocate not only to your hometown and all the other communities in these beautiful North Georgia Mountains, but to each and every corner of the state of Georgia.”

President of the Gilmer Chamber, Paige Green also praised the facility as the realization of a dream for the community that has spread to benefit not only one county but something larger that now spans the region.

Today was a celebration of completing the first steps of a larger plan for the facility. Though it is now open, it is only the first phase of that dream. Director Sanford noted last year that the hopes for the facility include two more phases.

In Phase II, the foundation will continue renovation onto the second floor to open up a larger area for education and training in a 1,200 square foot space upstairs.

In Phase III, hopes for the CORE Facility could extend into the schools for things like STEM Classes, STEM Saturdays, or other forays into education connection. Consolidating resources for these could include shared STEM kits or a shared expense for a STEM subscription service involving 3d-printing necessary components. However, specific details into PHASE III have yet to be finalized.

Ultimately, the CORE wants to continue spreading and growing this larger community where possible. Opportunities that may come have yet to be revealed, but one ribbon-cutting today, one celebration, can lead to something bigger than imagining tomorrow.

Speaker David Ralston Attends White House Speakers Conference

Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) is attending the White House State House Speakers Conference. This conference brings together state house speakers from across the country to receive an update on President Trump’s policy initiatives. Several administration officials will meet with the group including Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Ben Carson and Senior Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway.

“I thank President Trump for his invitation, and I appreciate his administration’s continuing outreach to state and local officials,” said Speaker Ralston. “The President understands that our government can be most effective when the federal, state and local levels work together as partners on behalf of the citizens we serve.”

Following the conference, Speaker Ralston will attend the President’s recognition of NASCAR Cup Series Champion Martin Truex, Jr., and his team at the White House.

Speaker Ralston previously visited the White House in February to represent Georgia at President Trump’s infrastructure plan announcement. That proposal would combine public-sector funding with private-sector investments to rebuild and improve the nation’s infrastructure – particularly in rural communities.

“It is refreshing to have a President who leads on issues like tax reform and infrastructure improvements,” said Speaker Ralston. “I am hopeful that Congress will support the President’s infrastructure plan, which would spur economic growth and create jobs across the country.”

 

Ralston Endorsed by Georgia Carry – Vote Ralston

Uncategorized

Our 2nd Amendment rights are not up for debate. That’s why I refuse to entertain gun control activists who seek to undermine our safety and compromise the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. From passing “the most pro-gun bill in state history” to ensuring that students, faculty, and visitors can protect themselves on a college campus, I am proud of my record of defending and expanding our 2nd Amendment Rights.

This election, I am once again endorsed by the NRA – National Rifle Association of America and countless #2A supporters throughout the District. Together, we will stand up for our God-given rights and remain “freedom’s safest place.”

Speaker David Ralston Announces $1.26 Million in Funding for Gilmer County Water System Improvements

Politics, Press Release

ATLANTA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today announced that the FY 2019 state budget includes $1.26 million in infrastructure funding for the Ellijay Gilmer County Water and Sewerage Authority (EGCSWA). The funding will be used to build the “Yukon Road project” which will provide service to new customers, ensure redundancy for the utility, and provide fire protection.

“Funding this project is an important priority for Ellijay, Gilmer County and all of our North Georgia mountain region,” said Speaker David Ralston. “The Yukon Road project will help us plan for growth while providing fire protection for residents and property. It will also give both the Pickens and Gilmer water systems an important back-up capability in the event either system requires it.”

The Yukon Road project will be constructed in two phases. The first phase will consist of a new water main on Yukon Road to the Gilmer/Pickens County line and an interconnection with the Pickens County Water Authority system. The first phase of the project is expected to cost $710,000.

The second phase of the project will consist of the construction of a 300,000 gallon water storage tank and booster pump station upgrades. This will allow EGCWSA to deliver 500,000 gallons per day to Pickens County in addition to new customers on Yukon Road. The second phase of the project is estimated to cost $550,000.

The funding for the project will be provided through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA).

The FY 2019 budget was adopted by the General Assembly during the 2018 legislative session that ended last month. The budget is on the Governor’s desk awaiting his approval.

SPEAKER DAVID RALSTON QUALIFIES FOR RE-ELECTION IN HOUSE DISTRICT 7

Election 2018
Monday, March 5, 2018(Blue Ridge, GA) – Today, House Speaker David Ralston qualified to run for re-election in House District 7. The Republican Primary is May 22, 2018.

“Serving as House District 7’s voice in the Georgia General Assembly is an honor and responsibility I hold dear,” said Ralston. “Representing the best interests of North Georgia remains my number one priority.

“In the State House, we passed comprehensive tax reform that will empower job creators, spur economic growth, and keep more money in the pockets of Georgia taxpayers. Thanks to President Trump and the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, we delivered the largest tax cut in modern, Georgia history.

“To keep District 7 – and our entire state growing – I created the House Rural Development Council to identify the problems facing communities outside of Metro Atlanta and prescribe legislative solutions for growth and prosperity. We have already passed several of the Committee’s recommendations and have a long-term commitment to the success and vitality of rural Georgia.

“While I am proud of what we have accomplished at the State Capitol and throughout District 7, I am seeking re-election to continue fighting for Gilmer, Fannin, and Dawson County families. With the continued support of local voters, we can keep our community strong and our future bright.”

David Ralston is the 73rd Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, a position he has held since 2010.  He was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2002, and represents House District 7, which includes Fannin and Gilmer counties and a portion of Dawson County.

BKP Interviews Georgia House Speaker David Ralston

State & National

On FYN TV, BKP interviews Georgia’s District-7 Representative Speaker of the House (R-Blue Ridge) David Ralston, as they discuss President Trump’s aggressive plan for  1.5 trillion dollar infrastructure investment that was presented and highlighted at a meeting for Republican leaders including Ralston, Monday at the White House. Speaker David Ralston comments on what that means for Georgia.

Pictured below: Speaker of the House for Georgia District 7 David Ralston at this past weekends Infrastructure Meeting at the White House with Republican leaders and President Donald Trump.

Speaker Ralston Attends Trump’s Infrastructure Announcement

News, Politics

ATLANTA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) attended President Trump’s infrastructure announcement at The White House this morning.  Speaker Ralston was one of several local and state elected officials invited to participate in a series of discussions with the President as well as members of his cabinet and senior staff about the plan and the infrastructure needs facing our nation.

I appreciate President Trump’s emphasis on public-private partnerships, as well as rural areas of America, as we look to address the nation’s infrastructure needs,” said Speaker Ralston.  “Much like his Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, this measure will make a real difference in projects of profound economic importance like the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project or long-overdue efforts like expanding broadband infrastructure into rural areas.  This is another example of President Trump focusing on creating jobs and expanding economic opportunity across our country.  I am honored to represent the State of Georgia at this important announcement.”

President Trump’s infrastructure plan looks to leverage the power of public-private partnerships to improve the nation’s infrastructure including transportation, water/sewer and other critical needs like broadband internet access.  More details on the President’s plan are available on The White House website at http://www.whitehouse.gov.

Margaret Williamson to challenge David Ralston in Republican Primary

Featured, Politics

 

Margaret Williamson announces run for Georgia House of Representatives, District 7.

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The 2018 General Election is already starting to take shape as challengers emerge announcing bids for candidacy against well known incumbents. The most recent of these announcements comes from Margaret Williamson who intends to face off against Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston.

Ralston was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2002 and represents House District 7, which includes Fannin County, Gilmer County and a portion of Dawson County. Ralston is the 73rd Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, a position he has held since 2010.
Williamson, who resides in Ellijay, made a statement discussing her decision to run:

“For many years I have been involved in political campaigns, on local, state, and national levels. I have actively participated in legislative issues, in support of or in opposition to, learning all the way. Now I intend to use this experience and acquired knowledge to enter into the process as a candidate.”

Already having begun the process of running for the House District 7 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, Williamson acknowledged in her statement that she has mailed the “Declaration to Accept Campaign Contributions” form to the Georgia State Transparency & Campaign Finance Committee.

After approval of this form, Williamson’s next step will be to complete the qualifying process held in March of this year. The qualifying will officially make Williamson a candidate in the Republican Primary for Georgia State House Representative, District 7.

Williamson concluded her statement by announcing that she is in the process of creating a Facebook page which will contain her position on various issues.

“This decision is the culmination of months of debate and prayer. Please continue praying for both John and me,” Williamson said, “This is an exciting time for me.”

A General Primary Election for both Republicans and Democrats will take place on May 22, 2018. Voter registration deadline for the Primary Election is April 23.

Winners of the primaries will face off in the General Election to held on Nov. 6, 2018.

 

 

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Georgia Speaker of The House David Ralston Talks About Rural Georgia Issues, Health Care…

Featured, Politics

Our interview Friday with Speaker of The House David Ralston focused on rural Georgia. Ralston went into detail about the new Rural Georgia Economic Council. This council will be co-chaired by (R) Terry England from Auburn, (R) Jay Powell from Camilla and Vice Chair (R) Sam Watson from Moultry. The council will be holding meetings across Georgia to hear from elected officials, local businesses and citizens about how they feel rural Georgia economy can best be improved. Ralston said jokingly that he better not find out that one meeting took place in Atlanta.

Health care is a major concern in rural Georgia. Several hospitals have closed in rural Georgia areas including one in Ralston’s district in North Georgia. We spoke to Ralston abut one possible solution to meet rural Georgia health care needs. Ralston used the example of the first stand alone emergency room, opened by Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in Gilmer county. In this interview we asked Ralston if Gilmer county still had the possibility of having a full hospital.

Ralston told us that sometime within the next month Governor Nathan Deal would be visiting Gilmer county’s Fire Station 1 to sign the fire fighter’s workmen’s compensation bill.  We asked Ralston the difference in this years campus carry bill opposed to last year’s bill which Governor Deal vetoed. Not being able to speak for the Governor, Ralston said he felt they made the changes necessary to get Deal to sign the bill. We also discussed the pay raises agreed upon in the 2017 legislative session for teachers, state law enforcement, and D.F.C.S workers.  

Our final question in our interview friday: Speaker Ralston do you see the governor’s mansion in your future?

Insider Advantage/James Magazine Present “Influential Georgians” Awards

News

Insider Advantage/James Magazine Present “Influential Georgians” Awards

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IAG CEO Phil Kent and Speaker of the House David Ralston present the ‘Top Legislators’ award to Rep. Barry Fleming, Rep. Stacey Evans, & Sen. Steve Gooch

 

Atlanta’s Commerce Club was the venue yesterday evening for the Insider Advantage/James Magazine “2016 Influential Georgians” reception sponsored by the Atlanta law firm Hall Booth and Smith. Approximately 70 attendees– ranging from various state and local elected officials to prominent business, judicial and political leaders– were welcomed by Insider Advantage/James CEO and Publisher Phil Kent and Hall Booth Smith Managing Partner John Hall.

Phil Kent presents the ‘2016 Influential Georgians Award’ to Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers

Kent presented the “2016 Influential Georgians Award” to Georgia Power Company CEO Paul Bowers.

Bowers became chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power in 2010, having previously served as chief financial officer of the Southern Company. His business, civic and charitable service is wide-ranging an impressive— which is why James chose him for the award. His board memberships include serving on the University System Board of Regents, the Georgia Research Alliance, the Georgia Historical Society, the Atlanta Committee for Progress and the policy advisory board for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. He was also the 2015 chairman of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

A special guest was Georgia House of Representatives Speaker David Ralston, who presented three InsiderAdvantage/James “2016 Lawmakers of the Year” awards. The recipients were state Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, who was elected majority whip of the Senate GOP Caucus in 2014 and has been a key policy-maker in the critical area of transportation; state Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, a lawyer known as a voice for, among other issues, restoring and preserving the HOPE Scholarship; and state Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, an attorney who has sponsored numerous criminal justice bills.

Ralston commended Kent along with InsiderAdvantage/James Magazine “for presenting fair and balanced information necessary to all Georgians— and I don’t usually praise the media.”

Attendees included prominent business people, members of the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, various judges and lawyers, the state’s attorney general, Republican and Democrat activists, high-powered lobbyists of government affairs firms, a bipartisan group of state legislators and former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell.

A Best Veteran’s Day Speech

Opinion

For nearly two decades, Veterans Day in Gilmer County, Ga., has been a big event, celebrated with a parade, music, marching veterans in uniform, flags, the Gilmer Co. High School Band and chorus, free breakfasts and after parade lunches for vets. The schools also participate with prize money offered in essay and poster contests. A few times we have even enjoyed the thrill of fly overs by reserve aviation unites or CAP planes. Even a out of county High School ROTC Unit has asked to participate in the parade for the past several years. It’s always a busy day and always includes, as the main speaker, some dignitary or other, often a military officer, returned from a war zone, a local business personality or some other recognizable name.

This year, 2017, the invited guest speaker was Georgia’s own Speaker of the Georgia Assembly, and our state representative, The Honorable, Mr. David Ralston and also, a friend of mine. The following essay is the excellent speech, (verbatim) of speaker Ralston this year and was, in my opinion, just too good not to share:

Good morning. What a beautiful day to be in Gilmer County!

I stand before you today as one who is proud to be an American. I am proud to be in Gilmer County. I am proud and honored to be a part of this very special occasion to honor our veterans for their service and sacrifice. Nothing I can say will full express the enormous debt of gratitude we owe to those who have served our nation in our military.

I want to thank everyone who helped put this spectacular display of patriotism on this morning. I particularly want to thank all of the students who have participated in today’s festivities. You all have helped us show that the American spirit is alive and well in North Georgia!  Serving as Speaker of your House of Representatives as well as your State Representative is an honor for which I am thankful each and every day.

I know our political dialogue isn’t as kind as it once was. We’ve got some divisions that need healing. But we are so much better off than many other nations in the world. Here we are free to discuss and debate our disagreements. We can come to a table with different views and reason together. We have open, free and fair elections that put each and every one of us on a level playing field.  That’s not the case in North Korea. That’s not the case in Zimbabwe. That’s not the case in Cuba. That’s not the case in Venezuela.

But here in this great nation, you and I are free. I am free to take a knee when I pray and I am free to stand with pride when the National Anthem is played or the Pledge of Allegiance is recited. In so many other parts of the world, people don’t enjoy the freedoms we enjoy. Their decisions are made for them. Their leaders are selected by others. The information they get is filtered for them by others. In 2017 when so many nations around the world are free – it can be hard to remember the millions of our brothers and sister who aren’t. Why do they still suffer under tyrants and dictators and we don’t? — Our men and women in uniform.

Our service members and veterans who have stood up to serve this one nation – under God – indivisible – say it with me – “with liberty and justice for all.” Throughout our history, America has been attacked by those who don’t value freedom. Whether it was the Axis powers in World War II or today’s terrorists from ISIS or Al Qaeda, Americans have always had the protection of our armed forces.

In the noise of today’s 24-hour news cycle, service and sacrifice aren’t qualities that we hear much about. That’s a shame. Yet there are heroes who live in communities each and every day – our mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, neighbors and friends – the veterans of our armed forces.

If anything, I hope today reminds us that no matter what happens, there are good and decent patriots who have stood up to defend our freedoms. They have offered to make the ultimate sacrifice and lay down their lives, if necessary, to protect this nation and its citizens. In the Book of John, Jesus tells us that “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

By stepping forward and volunteering to serve, each member of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Reserves offers to do just that. So today is a day that we pause to honor and celebrate their collective service and sacrifice. Today we rededicate ourselves to supporting our veterans and showing them the gratitude they deserve.

So long as the sun rises and the stars come out at night, this nation will remain a beacon of hope and opportunity for every oppressed person around the globe. They dream of one day enjoying the freedoms we enjoy. They dream of the limitless possibilities that exist in America.

And so long as our armed forces keep watch, this nation will stand proudly as the land of the free and the home of the brave. May God bless our veterans and our United States of America. Thank you!”

Remember, Freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em! (13Nov17)

Governor Signs House Bill 146 in Gilmer Fire Station

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Nathan Deal Signing Bill 146

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal visited Fire House 1 in Gilmer County Thursday to officially sign House Bill 146 known as the “Firefigher’s Cancer Insurance Bill.”

Micah Gravley - District 67 RepresentativeJoined by several officials including Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Senator Steve Gooch, author of the bill Micah Gravley, District 67 Representative, opened the ceremony by speaking about the two year effort to bring the bill to this point. Gravley related his interactions with two firefighters, Frank Martinez and Brian Scutter, who he said were the honor of the Bill as they fought for and spoke with legislators to get the bill passed, as well as the appropriateness to have the signing in Scutter’s home station in Gilmer County. Scutter was also mentioned by Speaker Ralston who said he had made a promise to Brian that he would give all that was in him to bring this day about. Turning to face Scutter, Ralston said, “I kept my promise.”

Governor Nathan Deal, who originally vetoed last year’s Bill 216 called the new House Bill 146 an “innovative and great solution to the situation.” Deal said the Bill provides relief for firefighters by providing a different method for compensation and money for treatment and care for firefighters who contract cancers during their work. Gravley thanked the Governor for his support of, as he called it, a “better bill.”

Speaker David Ralston - House Bill 146The sentiment was echoed by Speaker Ralston who said, “We have arrived at a better solution. By requiring a local government to provide insurance to our firefighters for certain types of cancer, the firefighter can skip the process of litigating a worker’s comp claim. This will allow the firefighter to focus on getting better and recovery rather than having to worry about legal bills and depositions and hearings.”

FYN caught up with Speaker Ralston and Governor Deal to ask them to elaborate on why the bill is better, comparative to last years Bill 216. The Speaker replied saying, “This uses a Health Insurance Model as opposed to a Workman’s Comp model which means instead of having to make a claim and perhaps go through a court type process to get benefits and income, Firefighters in this case will file a claim just like health insurance.”

Governor Nathan Deal - House Bill 146Governor Deal also spoke on the insurance versus workman’s comp comparison saying it was an awkward and “adversarial way of deciding whether or not compensation is owed.” Deal went on to say the newer Bill is a much better solution “to provide insurance coverage that will define benefits and give some flexibility as to deciding the compensation that will be given to firefighters.”

More than Senators and Congressman came to see Deal sign the Bill, though. Several representatives from neighboring and local emergency services attended the event including Gilmer’s own Director of Public Safety Tony Pritchett who said the Bill “gives you a sense of protection… You can lay your head down and sleep better at night knowing that if you contract cancer because of the job, there’s some protection that will take care of you and your family.”

 

For more on the Signing of House Bill 146 watch the full ceremony below or find more Photos in our Album:

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