Tuesday, April 24, 2018

CNT, GSP combine for drug and stolen firearms bust

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 5:10 PM

drugs_4-24-18.jpg
Several people are in custody following a joint operation between the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT) and the Georgia State Patrol (GSP).

"Early Sunday morning, GSP attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a truck believed to be stolen on Ogeechee Road. The vehicle fled from troopers and was disabled a short time later. A total of three persons fled from the vehicle on foot and all three were quickly taken into custody without incident," says a CNT spokesperson.

A search of the vehicle and persons resulted in the seizure of a trafficking amount of cocaine, ecstasy, a large amount of marijuana, and items commonly associated with the distribution of controlled substances. Two firearms were recovered and both were found to be stolen. More than $4,000 in US currency was also seized.

CNT arrested 30-year-old Javonn Brybon, 27-year-old Hakeem Campbell, and 36-year-old Amari Sams, all of Savannah. All three are charged with multiple felony drug, weapons and other related charges and remain in the Chatham County Detention Center.


Savannah State University gets Military Friendly School designation for 2018-2019

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 5:06 PM

Savannah State University (SSU) has earned the 2018/2019 Military Friendly ​School designation, the university announced Tuesday.

"Institutions earning the Military Friendly ​School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. For the first time, student survey data was taken into consideration for the designation," says an SSU spokesperson.

The designation "Military Friendly" is trademarked by a private company and isn't affiliated with the Department of Defense.

The news comes on the heels of a separate announcement that SSU and the U.S. Coast Guard will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding outreach and recruitment of highly skilled students in the STEM fields.

That signing on Thursday, April 26, 2 p.m., will include SSU President Cheryl Davenport Dozier, SSU Provost Michael J. Laney, USCG Commander Albert Curry, Jr., and USCG Captain Bryan Durr, and will take place at the new marine sciences building, 2717 Livingston Avenue.

SSU has a dedicated veterans affairs office, which assists veterans, or family members, in the process of enrolling in college and implementing G.I. benefits. It also guides active and reserve members using military tuition assistance. A

"Additionally, SSU offers program choices relevant to military background and is adding classes in Hinesville, near Fort Stewart. This is in addition to the U.S. Army and Navy ROTC programs and the new U.S. Coast Guard officer initiative on campus," SSU says.

“As a veteran myself, I know the importance of pursuing education while serving the country,” said Provost Laney. “It is great that SSU is being recognized for its commitment to military and veteran students.”

The 2018-2019 Military Friendly® Schools list will be published in the May issue of G.I. Jobs magazine and can be found at www.militaryfriendly.com. Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey scores with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, and more, for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

City of Savannah files sweeping lawsuit against opioid manufacturers

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 4:11 PM

Mayor Eddie DeLoach announced today that the City of Savannah has filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, Savannah Division, "after conducting an investigation into the allegedly deceptive marketing of prescription opioid painkillers by more than 20 drug manufacturers and distributors, including the makers of OxyContin and other opioid products," according to a City spokesperson.

Defendants include Purdue Pharma, Teva Pharmaceutical, Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions, Allergan, Watson Laboratories, Actavis, and Mallinckrodt.

The suit also names three of the largest distributors of prescription opioids, McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, and Cardinal Health, Inc.

“Like much of the nation, Savannah has felt the sting of the opioid crisis," DeLoach says. We have grieved with each passing death, and suffered losses both here and throughout the State of Georgia as the promise that each life had in store was taken from us too soon due to prescription opioid abuse."

DeLoach continues:

“As Georgia’s oldest city, Savannah has a long and storied history, and has, in many ways, set a shining example in paving the way toward a brighter future for the people of our city and state. We owe it to our citizens to set the standard now and do all that we can to protect them as we find our way out of this urgent public health crisis," the Mayor says.

"The opioid epidemic has negatively affected many aspects of our city, including financially, as we are forced to allocate an increasing amount of resources to law enforcement, public health, public assistance, emergency care and other services to those in need and impacted by this epidemic. Everything that we have learned about the opioid crisis points to the pharmaceutical industry as being largely responsible for where we are today. If someone must step up in order to help put a stop to the devastation that opioid abuse has inflicted on our nation, state, and city, Savannah is proud to do so.”

The City says that the opioid crisis impacts in Savannah and Georgia include:

× Georgia has an opioid prescription rate of 90.7 per 100 persons, which ranks eighteenth in the country (U.S. median rate: 82.5).

× According to the CDC, from 2001 to 2015, Georgia’s death rate due to opioid overdoses increased nearly 400 percent.

× The rate of opioid prescriptions per 100 persons in Chatham County is "far greater than the national average," with the County experiencing an annual rate as high as 104.5 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons within the County between 2006-2016, averaging 96 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons within the County during that period.

The suit alleges these companies engaged in false and deceptive marketing regarding the risks of using opioid painkillers, downplayed the serious risk of addiction, and unlawfully distributed opioids into Savannah without reporting or stopping suspicious orders.

The city alleges the Defendants created a public nuisance, violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), were negligent, violated the Georgia Deceptive Trade Practices Act, made False Statement in Advertising and violated a Legal Duty Owed to the City of Savannah.

The lawsuit seeks the costs to abate the opioid epidemic created by the defendants’ conduct.

Additionally, the City seeks compensatory damages for its costs related to the opioid epidemic, and punitive damages from the defendants.

The suit claims that major manufacturers of prescription opioids, in order to expand their market and profits, orchestrated a deceptive marketing scheme to change the perception of opioids to permit and encourage the use of opioids long-term for widespread chronic conditions.

The city is represented by Brooks Stillwell and Jennifer Herman of the Office of the City Attorney, John Suthers and Adam Harper of Suthers Law Firm in Savannah, and Joe Rice, Linda Singer, Lisa Saltzburg and Elizabeth Smith of Motley Rice LLC of Mt. Pleasant, SC and Washington, DC.

Morris Multimedia announces sale of north GA publications to Metro Market Media

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 10:15 AM

Charles H. Morris, Sr., CEO and President of Morris Multimedia Inc. (MMI) announced April 16 the sale of The Times and The Poultry Times to his son, Charles Hill Morris, Jr. and his new company, Metro Market Media (MMM).

The change of ownership of these north Georgia newspapers is effective immediately.

In a separate transaction, Morris Sr. also sold from an affiliated company The Forsyth County News and The Dawson Community News to Morris Jr. and MMM.
Morris, Jr. has been regional manager of the three newspaper properties for the past 12 years. Metro Market Media is headquartered in Gainesville, Ga.

Morris, Jr. said, “With the purchase of the media companies in these three exceptional markets, we plan to position ourselves for long-term success in the communities we serve. Having them under a single ownership will allow us to be more efficient and customer oriented in everything we do, while continuing to provide quality journalism.”

“This is a family transaction that will allow us to have a collaborative relationship with MMI, while at the same time establishing ourselves as an independent company with these three properties, all of which have great potential,” Morris, Jr. said.

The Times and its affiliated products were acquired from Gannett by MMI in 2004 by Morris Multimedia. The Forsyth and Dawson companies were owned by the New York Times Company prior to being purchased by an affiliated company in 1994.

In addition to his ownership of the new company, Morris, Jr. will continue to serve in a leadership capacity with the Tennessee, California and Caribbean operations.

Charles H. Morris Sr. said, “I’m very proud of my son for what he has accomplished in our company. He is a respected newspaper publisher who has served as president of Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents daily newspapers in 15 Southern states.”

MMI, founded in 1970 and headquartered in Savannah is one of the largest privately owned companies in the United States. MMI owns and operates 16 television stations in six southeastern U.S. markets and numerous daily and weekly newspapers, shoppers and niche publications in eight states and the Caribbean.

City solicits public comment on paid parking proposal for Forsyth Park

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 10:02 AM

The City of Savannah will hold a public meeting next week to present a new proposal to install paid parking at Forsyth Park.

The meeting is April 24 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Civic Center's O'Connor Room.

The proposal from City staff suggests implementing a new parking charge of $1 per hour in three locations in Forsyth Park that have been free of charge: the Drayton Street Café lot, the Park Avenue Tennis Court lot and the angled spaces on the park-side of Park Avenue.

Parking would be enforced Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m.- 8 p.m., beginning in July 2018, in accordance with new parking measures already instituted north of that area.

"Revenue generated in the first year will be used to cover the initial cost of the meters and other ancillary start-up costs," says a City spokesperson.

"Additional revenue will be used to maintain park facilities (including the Band Shell, Café building and restrooms), provide additional police patrols and install a public restroom at the south end of the park, and to upgrade the band shell lighting," the spokesperson says.

The City says that spaces in the Forsyth lots are often occupied by vehicles that are parked there all day long, and sometimes for days.

"Residents and members of the business community are encouraged to attend and to share any feedback or concerns about the proposed changes."





Tuesday, April 17, 2018

School Board candidate forum tonight at Armstrong

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 1:25 PM

Tonight, April 17, 6-8 p.m., there will be a Candidate Forum for Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) Board District Candidates.

It will be held at the Armstrong Center, 13040 Abercorn Street, on the Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus in Savannah.

The community forum is hosted by Georgia Southern University College of Education and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

SCCPSS board district races include: District 4, Shawn Anton Kachmar; District 5, Irene Gadson Hines and Theresa L. Watson; District 6, Alfreda Jeanette Goldwire and David Andrew Bringman; and District 8, Ruby D. Jones and Tonia Denise Howard-Hall.

Tonight's forum will be moderated by Ben Senger of WSAV TV.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Car-jackings on the rise in Georgetown, Chatham County PD says

Posted By on Fri, Apr 6, 2018 at 2:41 PM

The Chatham County Police Department (CCPD) says today "that several robberies and car-jackings have occurred in the past few months at apartment complexes in the Georgetown area."

The car-jackings involved the suspect "accosting victims late at night/early morning as they pulled in to park their vehicle," they report.

CCPD wants citizens to be alert if anything seems suspicious that fits the car-jacking description in Georgetown apartment complexes, "such as loitering subjects with no apparent purpose for being at the location." Citizens can report suspicious activity by calling 911.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Armstrong Campus to get its first K-9 officer

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 12:25 PM

K-9 officer Bear, a Belgian Malinois, "is the first K-9 officer assigned to the University’s Armstrong Campus in Savannah and will work alongside Patrol Officer Philip Garza," says a Georgia Southern University spokesperson.

"Bear, obtained through a partnership with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, has performed explosive detection work overseas with the Department of Defense for several years. He will continue to train with Garza this month and, upon successful completion of certification classes, will be assigned to provide regular patrols on the Armstrong Campus of Georgia Southern," the university says.

"There he will perform daily police patrol functions as well as respond to any calls for possible explosive devices or illegal weapons on the Armstrong and Liberty campuses. Bear and Garza will also be available to assist other agencies in the area should they need the services of an explosives detection K-9."

“We are excited to have Bear join our team and to be able to provide an extra measure of security to our Armstrong and Liberty campuses,” says Georgia Southern University Chief of Police Laura McCullough.

”We want to ensure that we have resources available to provide a safe campus environment to all of the Georgia Southern campus locations. I am sure that Bear will quickly become an integral part of the University community and most likely one of the most popular members of our department.”

Attorney: Police lied about Boyd shooting, calls on GBI to release video evidence

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 10:48 AM

Police tweeted this at 8:03 a.m. January 23, saying Boyd had initiated gun fire; later they said he only had a BB gun.
  • Police tweeted this at 8:03 a.m. January 23, saying Boyd had initiated gun fire; later they said he only had a BB gun.
The attorney for the family of a 20-year-old man shot and killed by Savannah Police earlier this year says proof exists that the police lied about the shooting.

On Jan. 23 of this year, Ricky Boyd was killed by police officers on Marian Circle as they attempted to serve a warrant for his arrest in the Jan. 21 murder of Balil Whitfield in Hudson Hill.

Police initially said Boyd came out of the house firing a weapon; then they said he came out brandishing a weapon which later turned out to be a BB gun.

Boyd was shot by police, and at least one police officer was injured by gunshots as well. However, it has never been conclusively stated who shot the officer.

"On the day that Ricky was killed by police officers, Savannah Police Chief Mark Revenew told the media that Ricky had 'initiated gunfire towards officers.' That statement was false. Later that same day, Revenew said that Ricky 'confronted officers with a weapon.' That statement was also false," says  William R. Claiborne, the attorney representing Ricky’s family.

The Claiborne Firm has released a video on the subject here. In it, Chief Revenew is shown contradicting himself in separate statements.

“We want the Savannah Police Department to release the body cam video, name the officer who shot Ricky, and clear Ricky’s name,” says Claiborne.

Claiborne and Boyd's family say flatly that he was unarmed when killed.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation put out a press release on Jan. 24 claiming that Boyd had a carbon dioxide-powered BB air gun, not an actual firearm.

"The GBI never disclosed, however, where the BB gun which they are trying to pin on Ricky was found," says Claiborne.

The web video released today by the Claiborne Firm claims to include a photograph taken by a neighbor "confirming that the BB gun cited by law enforcement was nowhere near Ricky’s body," Claiborne says.

The photo, which was taken shortly after Boyd was killed on Jan. 23, "reveals that the BB gun was 43 feet away from Ricky’s body."

“In order for the [B.B.] gun that they found—which they claim he had—to be 43-feet away from him, [Boyd] would have had to have thrown that gun as his last act while he was being shot, and thrown it quite far,” says Claiborne.

Jameillah Smiley, Boyd's mother, claims the GBI showed her the body cam video without audio following the shooting. Boyd's family is now calling on the police to release the body cam video to the public.

“They will see that my son never had a gun,” said Smiley. “They will see an innocent person getting shot down – that never had a chance against the people that came and accused him of a crime that he did not commit.”

The GBI is currently justifying not releasing the video to the public on the grounds that the case is still an active investigation and therefore exempt from open records law.

However, Claiborne answers that "if that's the reason for not disclosing evidence to the public, why did police release a photo of the BB gun to the media? The police do feel free to release information when it suits them. There's a dangerous double standard."

The Boyd shooting was part of a larger picture of crime in Savannah early this year; at Boyd's funeral on Feb. 4, a 12-year-old boy received a serious gunshot wound when shots rang out right after the service at Bonaventure Funeral Home.

Boyd's shooting came the first week of Chief Revenew occupying the office with the resignation of former Chief Jack Lumpkin.

As recently as last month police were still counting the Whitfield murder as an open investigation, despite the death of Boyd, the leading suspect.

"That means the Hudson Hill murderer is still at large, and still walking around somewhere out there," Claiborne says.

A tweet from Savannah Police the morning of Jan. 23 says Boyd "initiated gun fire."

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Chatham County Animal Services director placed on administrative leave after indictment

Posted By on Wed, Apr 4, 2018 at 4:26 PM

Chatham County Animals Services Director Kerry Sirevicius has been put on administrative leave during an investigation "for a personnel matter," the County reports through a spokesperson.

Dr. Charles “Jake” Harper, DMV, the Animal Services veterinarian, has been appointed as interim director until further notice.

Reports surfaced today that a Chatham County Grand Jury indicted Sirevicius for "invasion of privacy" when a conversation between City of Savannah Alderman Van Johnson — who is also employed by Chatham County — and Katherina Suarez was digitally recorded in an office at the Animal Services facility on Sallie Mood Drive.

While as of this writing more details are scant which would put the indictment into better context, Georgia is legally considered a "one-party" state for purposes of recording oral or phone conversations, in other words as long as one party involved in a conversation is aware that conversation is being recorded, it is considered legal.

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