BOE updates Distance Learning and Calendar Survey

Feature News, Featured Stories, News

JASPER, Ga. – With focused consideration for students “not on track” in classwork, the Pickens County Board of Education heard an update on Distance Learning from Curriculum Director Anita Walker.

Pickens is returning as many students as possible to in-person learning rather than virtual learning. Walker noted that they have had students “not-on-track” returning to in-person for multiple reasons varying from a dislike or disconnection with the Pearson program, including some technical issues the school overcame in the first part of the semester, to issue with difficulty of use and focus to scheduling conflicts with younger children who need parental help with the programs while the parents might be working full-time.

While the schools have some experiencing difficulties, many others are succeeding and progressing in the virtual learning. More success was seen in lower grades, Kindergarten to 4th Grade.

Walker did note, however, that she felt that in-person is usually going to provide better educational experiences for the majority of students.

During her presentation, Walker pointed out some details that may be contributing to those not on track with the program including time spent with the program. She broke down data specifically focused on those in that category based on grade levels and compared them to the number of students spending more or less that 30 hours a week on the program.

Touching on support for the program and changes to bolster their efforts to support students and families choosing virtual learning, Walker noted the teachers efforts such as a tutoring program that virtual and in-person students can take advantage of. They are also putting extensions on some class work to aid in students needing that.

On the other side, with about 60 students moving from in-person to virtual learning for various reasons, Walker said the school encouraged students and families to come in a go over the program so that they would no and understand all of the requirements and needs involved with the program before fully committing to virtual learning.

Distance learning was not the only discussion for the day, however, as the board looked closer at results from a survey over the school calendar for 2021-2022.

Learning, Calendar, EducationNearing the mid-point of the school year, early discussion is already coming in for the next school year as Pickens County is going through the lengthy process of adopting a school year calendar.

According to Superintendent Dr. Rick Townsend, a survey was taken with input from students, parents, employees, and residents/business owners.

Of the 1209 replies to the survey, the boards report indicated that 500 were parents, 298 employees, 60 students, and 39 residents/business owners.

The vast majority emphasized a great importance on Thanksgiving and Christmas and not changing those breaks.

Additionally, 70% of the response said they would prefer a digital learning day for snow days or inclement weather rather than making those days up during winter break.

Many comments supported moving back the start date of school into mid to late August, but the board was told that hey would have to do away with several breaks to incorporate that change.

While the recommendation is set to be the same calendar as previously recommended, the board will be voting on the calendar next Thursday, December 10, 2020.

Update, taken from my book Power, War, and Love


Prophecy and Tongues

I wanted to share with you what I have learned the hard way I might add, over forty six years about what we call the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I want to focus on prophecy and tongues. These gifts are mighty for the work of the kingdom, and I have a very broad experience in the area. Over the years I have heard false tongues made-up tongues, and I have probably heard more false or bad prophecies then most people have prophecy. This is also my responsibility, other words it is my duty. I will share my call with you from the Lord that I received February the seventh at 2: pm 1985.I have never shared it publicly until the last few month I will share it now to let you know that I am coming to you with a mandate, and with authority as one who is speaking for the Lord It is my responsibility to encourage you in these gifts.

I was on my knees before the Lord just praying, in general, I don’t remember what I was praying about.  I  think that I was more like just fellowshipping with the Lord  The Lord spoke to me in what I perceived to be an  audible voice  He said to me loud and clear   BOB! “I am calling you in to the ministry: calling you to be a prophet to go in and out among the people, A prophet unto the nations” at that point I was taken into A vision, and I saw many, many people just moving about in a very nice setting with streets, and large trees buses people just going about their business people just in their normal routine I saw nothing unusual about them. I did not see a Church. The Lord’s voice shook me, so I said;” Lord I want you to confirm this today by somebody.” I don’t know why I said that, and then I said no, Lord, I want you to confirm it right now by your word. My Bible was laying on a coffee table behind me, so I put my right hand over my eyes looking straight ahead and  put my left hand behind my back I reached down and flipped my Bible open. When I turned, I was shocked.  I looked down, and this verse was like glowing to me.

Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou came forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations ( Jer 1:5) I was now after that, more scared than ever I’m not sure why maybe I feared the great responsibility, or just overwhelmed by the mighty voice of God.

I believe this was on Saturday because that night I went to a meeting in a pastors office a few men would meet to pray for the Sunday morning service. While we were praying the pastor said,” Bob,” did you know that the Lord called you to great ministry before you were ever born.” I said,” yes, and he said,” how did you know? I said,” the Lord spoke to me today and told me so.” He said,” can I see you in my office when we are finished? And I said,” Yes” This might be one of my most rememberable moments for me with a pastor it just throws hearing from God into a whole new arena.  The pastor said,” you said you head from God, Bob, “when I am preaching, and I say God said, I don’t really mean God said, or that I heard from God, or that God spoke to me I am just using an expression” So I don’t think you heard from God. This is truly something I’m standing before the man that Father God is using to confirm his word to me and to prophecy to me, and he had spoken the very word of God over my life. So now I needed to convince him that he was God’s voice to me at that moment. He could not believe what he prophesied. I say we should just always keep this school of learning the prophetic open for all of us.

They are nine spiritual gifts that are to be used in the Church, and they are: The word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, the gift of faith, the gift of healing, the gift of the working of miracles   the gift of prophecy the gift of the discerning of spirits the gift of different kind of tongues, and finally the gift of the interpretation of tongues.  Now if these magnificence spiritual gifts that the Lord has given us for the Church are working in the body of your Church than the body of your church will throw off these fruits, your Church will produce these nine  beautiful, desirable  hanging spiritual fruits from  its branches  after all, what else can spiritual gifts produce but spiritual fruit.

Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians5:22-23), my friend, can’t you just imagine people coming into your Church and feasting on this kind of Fruit.

As I said earlier, I want us to zero in and take a look at Prophecy: The Lord will use you to speak forth something that He, wants others to hear, you then become His voice.

I ask you, friend, can He count on you to be used?  Father wants you to Covet this gift of prophecy.” He wants to use you.

The apostle Paul said, “Brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.”(1Cor14:39)

The gift of prophecy is used by a child of God from time to time as he or she is yielded to the Holy Spirit and has developed his or her spirit by spending a lot of time in prayer and taking in the word of God which is spirit and life in, and that is what he wants flowing out of you, His encouraging words. When the Spirit moves, you move. You don’t need to have the gift of prophecy to prophecy.

Paul said, “For you may all prophesy one by one that all may learn, and then all may be comforted.” (1Cor14:31)  This takes patience and time to develop in the Church, but it is well worth it.but he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, exhortation, and comfort.” (1Cor14:3”)  That should be about the extent of it for those who are prophesying. Notice we need to be taught

The office of the prophet, out of the five-fold ministry, will, in most cases, operate in a little higher realm of revelation. He or she is God’s mouth. We may all prophesy, bu,t{ he gave  some prophets.]( Eph 4:11)

Now the One that stands in the office of the prophet will sometimes give direction but most of the time a higher level of encouragement. I have been used by the Lord a few times to call people into the ministry. I remember being caught up in the Spirit with the Lord one night, and He showed me a young man sitting at a table, and the Lord said, “I am calling this one into the ministry.” The next morning I was seated facing him at that same table. I had never seen this man or the table before.

The apostle Paul said, “Now you are the body of Christ and members in particular. And God has set some of you in the Church first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (1Cor12:28) {Can you imagine a Church or anyone trying to do away with what God has set in order.}

And he gave some, { God gave} apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:. 1till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, (Eph4:11) I say never try to put a coma, where God has put a Period.

If we want to see these gifts working in our Churches, we need all five of these ministries to make a strong five-cylinder Church. With Pastor only you have a one cylinder. I can without a doubt tells you on February seventh at Two P.M.1985 Father God was steal calling men to these ministries.

The Old Testament prophet heard the audible voice of God; the New Testament prophet must be moved to speak by the Spirit. However, Our God is never limited.  I have heard the audible voice of God, but only a few times. The Spirit has spoken to my spirit several times, but most of the time you must prophesy out of the depths of your faith.

 “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.”(Rom16:6)


Judging Prophecy: Listen, listen, listen, the Lord taught me many years ago how to judge prophecies, and just how important it is. When someone gives you a word, of prophecy and you question it for any reason, throw it out. I asked what if it was from you. He said, if you question it walk away and if it is from me I will bring it back to you again, and it will be clear.  If you question it, Satan can still say has God said: “Has God indeed said”? Was that person right, was that God The devil will also bring confusion to your mind.  He will want to help you make the wrong decision and cause you to use poor judgment. Never try to put a prophecy together just to make it work. No matter who gives you the prophecy, if you question it let it die. The devil can bring much confusion to a prophecy. You might ask yourself did that word bring me edification, exhortation, and comfort. Let your spirit be the judge when it is the Lord you just know it.

Tongues the Power Gift

Paul said diver’s kinds of tongues, more than one. (Ch 12:10)

Paul said,” I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all.” (1cor14:18) thank God for this gift also. Paul is putting a big endorsement here on tongues, and so does Jesus.

Jesus said“And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.”(Mark 16:17) Any person that rejects this gift would be challenging the Master himself,

The gift of tongues that operates in the church brings forth a message from the Spirit of God. It becomes a prophecy when it’s interpreted; It is a very pure or a sure word of prophecy. Now, this gift is part of the nine gifts given to the church. This gift is to be used to speak to the body tongues and interpretations equal prophecies.  I think this is the purest form of prophecy I have been operating in this gift for many, many years. What makes it so pure, First of all when bringing forth the message in tongues by the Holy Spirit it is spontaneous flow. The interpretation is also spontaneous flow it will be the general message that was spoken in tongues you don’t have time to think. You just speak what you see before you. With me it is like a ticker-tape I cannot inject one thought of your own into it; I don’t get a chance because it comes so fast you just follow the words. The interpretation may come from someone else in the church, or the one that is speaking the tongues may bring it. When you are to bring the message or the interpretation, you may feel a little pressure build up inside by the Holy Spirit; this is the signal that the Holy Spirit wants to speak through you.

I have, on several occasions, been in desperate situations. While praying in tongues, the Holy Spirit would come upon me, and kick my pray tongues into another new Holy Spirit language and the Lord would speak back to me. He would speak very clearly through my own interpretation; which then becomes a prophecy.  Every time it was at a real point of need in my life, and always brought a great blessing from the Lord. Let me make this clear, I cannot do this at will, but I can always pray in tongues at will.

I want to share one such time when the Lord blessed me be on  my wildness imagine from my own interpretation. I had throat cancer about thirty-six years ago, and I had forty hits of radiation one  a day. I was told if it did not come back I would be ok well it was not too long before I started having pain starting in my shoulders, and then it spread to my neck and then to my head and up into my brain. This was scarey It got to be more pain then I could stand, and it was like it began speaking to me it got almost unbearable coupled with fear I think it was trying to say you are a dead man. I got up early on Friday morning,and I got in my prayer closet room and begin crying out to God, as usual, I started praying in tongues and after a while my prayer langue changed, and I started speaking in tongues, and the interpretation came upon me ,and out of my mouth the  Lord spoke by  the Holy Spirit, and said stand with me Bob –FOR- am standing with you.  Now, this was not my words at all or my thought, but out of my mouth. I set back I thought what does He mean to stand with me when I am the one with the problem. Just like that, it was quicken to me He is telling me I have already taken my stand on healing now will you stand with me. I said Lord I will stand. I got up Healed in one second for the rest of my life. I could not find a pain even if II tried How wonderful all fear is gone Peace, Rest, Joy came upon me all in one second I called and canceled my Monday appointment I have never been back to the Dr. It made me wish that I owned this gift of tongues, and interpretation I can tell you for sure that is wonderful, but you can’t make it work. on your own it is the Holy spirits gifts.

 I had a friend by the name of George Marshall He is now with the Lord, George and I were prayer partners, and together we were a ministry team we shared the same views when it comes to the word of God. We did deliverance ,and healing ministry together, we also led people to the Lord together. George ran the paint department at Ace Hardware for about fifteen years. He had like a corner in the store by himself, and he would preach or prophesy and lay hands on you for healing to about every customer they would leave there with something to read in there hands. He would by book by the case and give them out, and he had more sermons in his computer than he did paint mix formulas. I would of fired him, I say hats off, thumbs up  to Ace Hardware. George could sell paint thou I think Ace/George was the most effect church in our town for fifteen years. Getting back now to hearing from the Lord through your own interpretation That afternoon the day that the  Lord spoke to me and healed me George called and wanted me to go with him to a tent meeting in Fort Pierce Florida I didn’t want to go, but he talked me into it. George could find more meetings than any man I have ever seen, and if they used the name of God he was ready to go.

On the way to the meeting, I began to share with George how the Lord had healed me, and just how he when about speaking to me through tongues, and interpretation.  I zeroed in on what he was saying about taking a  stand. We talked together about what the Lord Jesus Christ has already done and that we need to stand on that, and then minister out of his finished  work. We got to the meeting it was in an open field an old run down the tent with about a dozen people, When the pastor spoke, he said he had to pay one hundred and twenty-five for the lot rent it was the last night, and he did not have it. I made sure I paid the rent. It did not look like much but then George had drug me to a lot of places. We set in the front row and a little lady who looked very poor by her appearance was playing the piano As she began to play, she said you know  you,just have to take a stand. and soon she was down  from the pulpit area   and marching up and down in front of George and me with no clue as to why saying you just have to take a stand; she got carried away with that statement, and we knew the Lord was speaking much encouragement to us for future ministry. I had just shared all this over, and over with George. The Pastor finally said you get back on the piano and I will do the preaching.I am sharing all of this to show how the Holy Spirit is always present and always working he heard what George and I talked about in the Car and is telling the little Lady on the piano what to say. If we could just learn to let him Him works.

Getting back to hearing by my own Interpretation than it is just explaining in the natural, what you heard in the spirit. Interpretation of tongues is used to speak for God and to bring an understanding of something spoken by the spirit. It comes in spontaneous flow, equal to prophesy.                                                             

Can everyone speak in tongues?  Probably not. I would say that ninety % of the Church body that prays in tongues cannot minister this speaking gift. It would be about the same percentage that can minister the gift of healing, or prophecy or any of the other nine gifts. The speaking gift is for the church and should operate in every church.

How is it then, brethren? When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation and hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edification(1Cor14:26)

This gift of speaking and praying in tongues comes with the baptism or the immersion of the Holy Spirit when He comes upon you, and only Jesus can baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

John answered, “saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” (Luke3:16”) Jesus is our Holy Spirit baptizer.

Can all pray in tongues? I think so Jesus said that it would be a sign that follows the believer, Paul seems to think, so that is why Paul said to pray in the Spirit and pray in the understanding also. Even though you can’t speak forth with the ministry gift, Paul said different gifts of tongues, so we can all pray after receiving.

Paul said “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays but my understanding is unfruitful; what is it then? [Iwill do both;] I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also. I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”(1 Cor. 14:14-15), Please notice this is two different things.  You can even learn to sing to the Lord in your spirit. Question: Should it be for everybody? Yes, we are to pray and sing with our spirit and with our understanding. God is not a respecter of persons. God is a Spirit, and it is your spirit coming directly together with His Spirit when you pray in tongues; Paul said you are speaking mysteries unto God.  Paul said praying in tongues edifies you, this builds your spirit up and fills it up; who doesn’t need that!

But you beloved build up yourself in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.” Jude, (verse: 20) Praying in the Holy Ghost means your spirit touches his. If all could not do this, we would not be told to do so.  Can you interpret your own prayer tongue? Most say yes I say No, you cannot. Your own prayer tongue never gets interpreted When the Holy Ghost gives the word in tongues there will always be a languish change that gets interpreted. Can everyone interpreter? There again it is a Holy Spirit gift if you have it yes. We must leave room for the Holy Spirit to direct or redirect at any time he can come up on you at will and give anyone a message in tongues, and he can give you an interpretation at any time, and to anyone No one can own this gift.

 That is why Paul said to pray in the Spirit and pray for the understanding also. The tongues spoken by your spirit does not get interpreted because you are speaking mysteries unto God, mysteries are mysteries. You are just praying in your own spiritual langue. Tongues spoken while moved upon by the Holy Spirit should always be interpreted. The person that prays in tongues will, however, have a higher realm of understanding and revelation, and he will hear from God more clearly when he follows up by praying with the prayer of understanding. I have had this happen while playing in my prayer language the Holy Spirit would kick my tongue into a whole new language one of authority it would be no longer me praying, but the holy ghost would begin speaking when this happens the Lord will bring forth the interpretation. Tongues are the road that takes you to the place to get your most Holy faith. No wonder Paul said, “I thank my God that I speak in tongues more than you all.”

I want to share another story with you on speaking and interpretation, just too again show you the value of these great gifts. I had opened A Ben Franklin Store an had made a one-year demand note at ten % interest for three hundred thousand dollars thinking that interest rates would fall and I would refinance. Just before the year was up the bank informed   me that they would not be renewing my note. I was quite suppressed I had never been a day late with the payment, but for some reason, they got scared of me for one thing I was going through cancer. I still had a balance of two hundred and eighty-five thousand, and they demanded full payment now. They set a date for me to come in with the check for the full amount or they would foreclose on me. I was crying out to the Lord every day, and the morning I was to meet with the Bank I got on my keens before the Lord and started praying in tongues, and just crying out to the Lord.  While I was praying the Holy Spirit changed my langue, and I went from praying to speaking, and the interpretation came upon me, and out of my mouth the Holy Spirit spoke these words I am with you Bob, be at peace, you can rest, you can rest, you can rest. I said Lord I know you have spoken to me and when you speak something three times, it is confirmed. I said will you not confirm it to me by your word. I closed my eyes and flipped my Bible open and looked down at this verse   And this happens three times Acts11:10) I think this is the only time this is recorded this way in the whole Bible.

What a blessing I went to the Bank when I walked in the door they said would you like a cup of coffee Mr. Allen we will have your new loan papers ready in just a few minutes. They had just made the decision before I got there to renew the note. I got a much better rate and lower payments. This gift of tongues and interpretation is wonderful

The apostle Paul said,” For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands him; howbeit in the spirit, he speaks mysteries.” When you are speaking to God in your prayer tongue, it is just a mystery between you and the Lord. Nothing else can be said. It gives you a hotline directly to your heavenly Father.

When you pray in tongues, it takes you into a whole new revelation and understanding of God. You could be a Bible Scholar and study the word until you know every color in Joseph’s coat, but when you begin to pray in tongues, you access a whole new realm of understanding.  You completely bypass the mind realm. There is no way to doubt. Your prayers are pure and holy and not always about you, or your needs. The Holy Spirit uses your spirit and not your mind to pray.                                                                          

Real power ministry operates out of the spirit, and not the mind. Good information that you can learn comes out of the mind. Tongues take you above the natural man when your spirit touches God’s Spirit.

I think the reason we put so much emphasis on tongues, is that everyone that we see operating in the other gifts spends a lot of time praying in tongues.  I don’t think I have ever seen the other gifts used by anyone without a prayer language. I am sad to say this, but it is also the least sought after, and neglected of the gifts, as well as the least understood of all nine gifts.  I am not sure that you can’t function in the other gifts without tongues it is just that I have never seen it.

My friend, praying in tongues every day is like putting money in the bank; when you need to share or minister to someone or have a cry in your heart from the Lord, you will have spiritual power and strength to draw from.

Seek the Lord for his gifts; He loves to give good gifts to them that ask Him. Study the gifts   until you have a clear understanding. Now, remember, when you first start praying in tongues, you might get just a few words that sound like silly symbols, but just keep working on it, and the Holy Spirit will help you develop a beautiful prayer language. You have to do this for yourself. God does not pray for you. You may want to find someone filled with the Holy Ghost to lay hands on you and pray with you for the infillings of the Holy Spirit. Your purpose for wanting these gifts should be to draw closer to the Lord and to be a more successful witness. I notice almost everyone receives differently.

God has your Number?

He knows how many times you breathed yesterday. He holds your breath in His hand. God absolutely knows every move you make. The Lord has the hairs on your head numbered. He most definitely tracts your life. My friend, if the Lord has a call on your Life for the ministry, you couldn’t get away in a race car.

Update on Hurricane Irma Cleanup and Relief Efforts

State & National

ATLANTA (September 18, 2017) | On Thursday, September 14, 2017, Senator Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)  joined Governor Nathan Deal, local elected officials and first responders for a press conference in Habersham County  to address Hurricane Irma cleanup and relief efforts.

“First and foremost, I would like to extend my gratitude to the first responders and volunteers who are helping the ongoing recovery efforts in our local communities and throughout the state,” said Sen. Gooch. “It is an honor to join Governor Deal, our local elected officials, first responders and citizens in any and all efforts to get our state back up and running. Our citizens are resilient and I am confident that by working together, we can help those in need and rebuilt each and every community that was impacted. It was very uplifting to witness the outpour of assistance from the hundreds of employees of utility companies from all over the United States.”

On Monday, September 11, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Georgia leaving around 1 million citizens without power. The impact from Irma was felt from the coastal plains to the north Georgia mountains. The state of Georgia saw unprecedented damage caused by the tropical storm force winds that reached more than 400 miles from the storm’s center. Relief efforts are ongoing and first responders, power companies, state agencies, volunteers and citizens are working around the clock to rebuild and restore power.

Governor Deal and the federal government responded quickly and declared a state of emergency in Georgia so that funds could be appropriated to help with the financial burden of the storm. Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) is coordinating their efforts with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state agencies and local authorities to ensure recovery, rebuilding and cleanup is completed in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

Additional information can be found on the GEMA and FEMA websites:

Avian Influenza Update


At the end of December 2017, a strain of the H7 avian influenza was found in a green-winged teal, a widespread North American duck, collected in McIntosh County on the Georgia coast. With a confirmed case of avian influenza found in a wild duck, Georgia’s backyard poultry farmers should be diligent in their efforts to protect their flocks and the state’s population of broilers. It’s imperative to eliminate contact with wild birds, especially migratory waterfowl, and their droppings. Wild birds have known vectors of avian influenza. Backyard and pastured poultry flocks are especially vulnerable when exposed to their wild cousins, leaving them susceptible to avian influenza.


To protect the state’s commercial and homestead flocks, the Georgia Department of Agriculture urges poultry producers, especially backyard flock owners, to remain vigilant and follow established safeguards to protect birds and their owners. While the commercial poultry industry in Georgia runs the greatest risk in terms of potential for loss, producers should have multiple safeguards in place to limit exposure to migratory birds.


Since Avian influenza can more easily be introduced into Georgia through backyard flocks, protect your backyard flock by following these tips.


Keep Your Distance. Restrict access to your property and your birds. Consider placing the birds inside a fence, and only allow those who care for the birds to come in contact with them. If visitors have backyard poultry of their own, do not let them come in contact with your birds. Game birds and migratory waterfowl should not have contact with your flock. Keep your birds inside a pen or coop. Do not let them run free.


Keep Clean. Wear clean clothes when coming in contact with your birds and wash your hands thoroughly before entering the pen. Scrub your shoes with disinfectant. Clean cages and change food daily. Clean and disinfect equipment that comes in contact with your birds or their droppings, including tools. Remove manure before disinfecting. Keep stored feed in enclosed containers and protected from wild birds and vermin. When possible use municipal or well water as a drinking source instead of giving chickens access to ponds or streams. The avian influenza virus can live for long periods of time in surface waters. Properly dispose of dead birds.


Don’t Bring Disease Home. If you’ve been near other birds or bird owners, clean and disinfect your vehicle’s tires and equipment before going home. Shower and put on clean clothing before approaching your flock. Keep any new birds or birds that have been off-site separate from your flock for at least 30 days. Do not share tools, equipment or supplies with other bird owners. If you do need to bring borrowed items home, clean and disinfect them before you bring them home.


Know the Signs of a Sick Bird. A sudden increase in deaths can be a clear sign of the virus, as well as a drop in egg production, or eggs that are soft, thin-shelled or misshapen; lack of energy or poor appetite; watery and green diarrhea; purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs; swelling around the eyes; and/or nasal discharge.


Early detection is critical to preventing the spread of avian influenza. If you suspect your flock is infected, call the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network in Gainesville at 770-766-6810. For more information on avian influenza, call the Georgia Department of Ag’s Animal Health Department at 404-656-3667.


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The Music Modernization Act Will Provide a Needed Update to Copyright Laws

State & National

ICYMI: The Music Modernization Act Will Provide a Needed Update to Copyright Laws

WASHINGTON—This op ed by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) first appeared in The Hill on January 11, 2018.

I spent my northeast Georgia youth replaying tracks from “Bat Out of Hell” and “Hotel California.” And, of course, staples from Steely Dan. I welcomed the evolution from the 8-track to cassette to CD, but the LP and 45 vinyl predate even me. So, I was stunned to learn, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee—which has jurisdiction over intellectual property rights—that some of the copyright law governing music licensing was actually designed to regulate the player piano and has endured more than a century without meaningful update.

An overview of the music licensing landscape reveals that the status quo isn’t serving industry stakeholders, so the question becomes one of sustainability. Can music lovers count on a robust pipeline of tunes to carry them into the future? Absent substantive changes to the system that has disenfranchised creators, songwriters, publishers and even digital providers have their doubts. But efforts to unify these creators, digital streaming services and other key players around a path forward have faltered until recently. Very recently.

This December, countless hours of collaboration and cooperation came to fruition in a compromise that would be the most substantial update to copyright law since 1998. Today, our jeans pockets are more likely to be lined with iPhones than lint balls, yet the laws that currently regulate how tech giants like Spotify pay songwriters were cemented before the concept of digital streaming was born. The Music Modernization Act (MMA) would literally usher copyright laws into the 21st century.

The bill tackles four dimensions of music licensing. First, the bill addresses the fact that digital music companies regularly fail to pay songwriters and copyright owners properly for interactive streaming services. The trouble often arises from inefficiencies and information gaps.

Tech companies like Amazon Music, Spotify, and Google Play frequently file bulk Notice of Intentions (NOIs) with the Copyright Office that allow them to obtain a license for music for which they can’t locate ownership information. Since this process became available in 2016, some estimated 45 million NOIs have been filed with the Copyright Office.

This “bulk NOI” shortcut has taken millions of dollars in income out of the pockets of songwriters who rely on streaming services to find the proper owners of music and issue those owners prompt and appropriate payment. It’s also left tech companies legally exposed when they use music without knowing or paying its owners.

The MMA renovates the NOI process so that music creators get paid and digital companies reduce their liability and increase operational efficiencies. The legislation would establish a Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) that would accurately compensate songwriters for the mechanical royalties they earn through interactive streaming. In exchange, the collective would afford digital providers—which would fund the collective—with blanket usage licenses for songs.

The MLC would accomplish this by providing the digital services with efficient access to the information they need in order to know which songwriters to pay for which songs. Though songwriters have never had a seat at the music licensing table, both publishers and songwriters would sit on the board of the MLC to ensure it operates transparently.

The MMA also provides songwriters a chance to get fair-market mechanical royalty rates (the rate paid for the reproduction and distribution of a song) in the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) proceedings that set those rates every five years. As it stands, songwriters can’t set prices for their own work. Instead, CRB judges determine royalty rates based on an outdated test that has depressed rates for decades. The MMA changes the standard the board uses to a “willing buyer/willing seller” consideration. In other words, the CRB would set the rates to reflect the market value of the corresponding use of a song.

Finally, the bill improves the process through which performance royalty rates (the rate paid to song writers when their music is played for an audience) are set for BMI and ASCAP, the two largest performance rights organizations. Currently, ASCAP and BMI cases are each assigned to a respective judge. The MMA would implement a rotation of the judges who decide ASCAP and BMI cases and would enable the rate court judges to consider relevant market-based evidence when determining performance rates for songwriters. Again, this change moves the industry toward a fairer, freer market for music licensing, and that benefits music creators, music providers and music lovers alike.

The MMA is unprecedented not only for what it sets out to do, but for who has signed on. The Digital Media Association (DiMA)—representing Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Pandora, Rhapsody, Spotify and YouTube—and the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA)—representing U.S. music publishers and songwriters—both support the bill.

Songwriters groups including ASCAP, BMI, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, Songwriters of North America and others have also welcomed this legislation as a compromise that benefits a cross-spectrum of stakeholders.

So, too, have labels and artists, as reflected in the support of the Recording Industry Association of America, American Association of Independent Music, American Federation of Musicians, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, SoundExchange and the Grammys.

Knowing that today’s music ecosystem suffers under heavy-handed government intervention and defunct copyright policy, I’m grateful that my colleagues Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) look past partisanship toward solutions that will take music licensing from the dark ages into the digital age.

The agreement that creators and digital providers have struck also testifies to the leadership of Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who made copyright reform a priority for the House Judiciary Committee. As we look forward to a markup of the Music Modernization Act in the coming weeks, the question is not whether we have a viable resolution to an industry stalemate but whether we have the resolve to see that agreement through. I believe we do.

Rep. Doug Collins has represented Georgia’s 9th District since 2013. He is the Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference and a member of the Judiciary and Rules Committees.

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