Balfour lawyer asks judge to toss out state's case
ATLANTA (AP) - A lawyer for indicted state Sen. Don Balfour is arguing the state's prosecution of his client is unconstitutional because it violates the concept of separation of powers and violates the exclusive authority of the Senate to discipline its members.
A lawyer for the state says that interpreting separation of powers and the authority of the Senate that way essentially implies that state legislators are above the law.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk heard the arguments Friday and said he'd have a decision later on Balfour's attempt to dismiss the indictment.
A grand jury in September indicted Balfour on felony charges of making a false certificate, theft by taking and a count of false statement and writing.
Trial is set to begin Dec. 16.
Ga. Power crews head to Ark. for storm help
ATLANTA (AP) - About 400 Georgia Power employees are heading to Arkansas to help crews in the aftermath of a winter storm there that has prompted schools, businesses and government agencies to close on Friday.
WXIA-TV in Atlanta reports the crews left Friday morning and will be assisting Entergy with restoration work following the icy weather that hit Arkansas this week.
More than 37,000 homes and businesses were still without power on Friday morning, and Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe declared a statewide emergency.
Cold air following the storm was forecast to drop temperatures below zero in parts of northern Arkansas as bitter cold stretches across the state into next week.
Boy, 13, stabbed at apartment complex near Atlanta
CLARKSTON, Ga. (AP) - Police are investigating the stabbing of a teenager in DeKalb County, just northeast of Atlanta.
WSB-TV reports that a 13-year-old boy was injured in the stabbing shortly before noon Friday at the Willow Branch apartment complex on Jolly Avenue in Clarkston. Details on the boy's condition were not immediately available.
The father of the boy, a student at Freedom Middle School, says his son was home from the school Friday because he had been suspended.
Police early Friday afternoon were using tracking dogs as they searched for a weapon and suspects in the case.
COBB SUPERINTENDENT-TAX BREAK
Concerns raised about Cobb developer's tax break
MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) - Cobb County schools superintendent is raising concerns about a tax break for a $103 million development, saying the project could take as much as $756,000 away from schools each year.
The Marietta Daily Journal reports that Cobb County Schools Superintendent Michael Hinojosa sent a letter to the Cobb Board of Assessors asking for a delay, saying he had just learned of the plan which has "the potential to have a significant impact financially on school funding."
Hinojosa also pointed to the school system's $80 million deficit.
Cobb Tax Assessor Stephen White says the board doesn't have the ability to stop a tax break, and the newspaper says assessors voted unanimously this week to approve the method by which the property is made tax exempt.
Attorney: Ga. soldier charged in killings has PTSD
LUDOWICI, Ga. (AP) - The defense attorney for an Army sergeant charged in a double slaying outside Fort Stewart says the soldier suffers from brain injuries and post-traumatic stress after serving in combat in Afghanistan.
The attorney for Sgt. Anthony Peden told a Superior Court judge Friday he's undergone psychological evaluations in preparation for his defense. Peden and a fellow soldier, Pvt. Christopher Salmon, face possible death sentences if they're convicted of the Dec. 4, 2011, killings of Michael Roark and Tiffany York.
Prosecutors say the soldiers belonged to an anti-government militia group and killed the couple to protect its plans.
The soldier accused of leading the group, Pvt. Isaac Aguigui (ah-GEE-gee), pleaded guilty to murder charges July 19 and named Peden and Salmon as the shooters.
Savannah to receive grant to reduce uninsured
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - Savannah has been selected as one of a dozen cities to receive grant money through the National League of Cities to reduce the number of uninsured children and families.
The Savannah Morning News reported Friday that Step Up Savannah, Inc., on behalf of the city, will receive a $30,000 grant and technical assistance for developing an outreach campaign to boost enrollment in Medicaid and the PeachCare program.
Step Up Director Daniel Dodd-Ramirez says the goal will be to reduce in two years the number of uninsured children to roughly 2,500 from the current count of 5,100.
The newspaper says the effort will involve representatives of the Chatham County Health Department, the Department of Community Health and the Chatham County Department of Family and Children Services.
Valdosta City Council votes to raise hotel tax
VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP) - The City Council in Valdosta has voted to raise its local lodging tax on hotel and motel guests to 7 percent.
The Valdosta Daily Times reports the increase from 5 percent was approved by six of seven representatives at Thursday's meeting.
Councilman James Wright says he abstained from voting because he did not receive information he had requested during the city's work session.
The newspaper reports 91 communities in Georgia have a hotel-motel tax higher than 5 percent and a portion of the increase will help sustain the Mathis Auditorium until a replacement facility can be built. City Manager Larry Hanson says another portion of the increase will go to the Tourism Authority as required by state law.
Gorilla born at Atlanta zoo in August gets a name
ATLANTA (AP) - A gorilla born at Atlanta's zoo in August has been named Anaka.
Zoo Atlanta officials say the female is the youngest gorilla at the zoo and was born to mother Sukari on Aug. 30.
She is the 21st gorilla born at the zoo since 1988 and is one of two infants born there this year. She and her half-sister Andi, who was born in March, are the fifth and sixth surviving grandchildren of the zoo's famous deceased gorilla Willie B.
The daughter of a longtime zoo supporter got to name the gorilla as a gift for her birthday.
Atlanta's zoo is home to the country's largest collection of western lowland gorillas. The species is classified as critically endangered, with wild populations being harmed by habitat loss and poaching.
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