Thursday, August 29, 2019

Savannah City Council debates Rock 'n' Roll Marathon contract extension

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2019 at 3:38 PM

The Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Marathon was renewed for another three years, through 2021, but not without controversy.

One of the terms of agreement is an annual payment of $25,000 to the Marathon, courtesy of taxpayers, which drew concern from two members of Savannah City Council.

Alderman Bill Durrence said it makes no sense to continue paying the for-profit Marathon when non-profits continue to have to pay the City for the right to hold events.

"I cannot support this and will not go for it," he said.

When it was confirmed that there will be no chance to renegotiate the contract for another three years, Durrence said, "That's three times the reason not to vote for it."

Defenders of the event say it nets at least one million dollars into the local economy.

Alderman Brian Foster said the $25,000 a year is essentially for selling Savannah as a destination city to a broader, national audience, and as such "from a marketing standpoint is a fairly reasonable fee to pay."

However, even Foster admitted that Savannah's calendar is more full than it was when the Marathon was first brought here in 2010 during the great recession — particularly that weekend in November concurrent with the SCAD Savannah Film Festival.

"At the time we were desperate to get an event like this when hotel occupancy was low," he said.

Alderman Van Johnson, while voting in favor of the contract extension, also voiced concerns, saying "there is a tipping point" where the event will eventually cost more to host than it brings in.

Johnson said the Savannah Police Department is already understaffed, and the event puts too much pressure on them, with taxpayers picking up the full tab for police presence during the weekend event, set for Nov. 2-3 this year.

In the end, Durrence was the only dissenting vote, with many of the others saying their hand was forced due to the next Marathon coming up in a few months.

In other City Council business:

Two controversial bond issues were approved, one in the amount of $45 million for more Arena funding, and one for $10 million to cover unexpected additional cost in building the Plant Riverside public/private parking garage on West River Street.

Also, Council awarded the management contract for the current Civic Center to OVG Facilities until the new Arena is built. OVG has already been awarded the Arena management contract.

OVG says they will retain current vested City employees at the Civic Center, and as many as possible will move over to the new Arena in West Savannah. (Alderwoman Carol Bell recused herself from the vote due to her son's company's cleaning contract with the Arena.)

Council approved leasing a future Arena parking lot from Tenenbaum Inc/Chatham Steel in the amount of $3.49 million for five years. Tony Thomas and Estella Shabazz were the only no votes.

A non-agenda discussion came up when Alderman Tony Thomas voiced citizen complaints about Georgia Power contractors destroying trees on the Southside during trimming operations in the City right of way.

"They are not a good neighbor," Thomas said of Georgia Power and the crews. They "come into yards" and "destroy trees," even killing azalea bushes.

Several aldermen concurred, saying it is a City-wide issue.

Alderman John Hall said "they've destroyed at least 8 or 9 trees on Sunset Boulevard" in his district.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Sen. Isakson to step down Dec. 31

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 10:39 AM

Ga. Senator Johnny Isakson this morning announced his plan to resign from the U.S. Senate effective Dec. 31, due mostly to health complications.

“I look forward to returning to Washington on September 9 when the Senate goes back into session. And after December 31, I look forward to continuing to help the people of Georgia in any way I can and also helping those who are working toward a cure for Parkinson’s," says Isakson.

His office says "Isakson’s Senate term ends in 2022, and there will be three years left in the term when he vacates the seat in December."

The 74-year-old Republican is currently in his third term in the U.S. Senate. He was hospitalized this past summer after a fall.

Gov. Brian Kemp, also a Republican, would appoint his replacement.

CEMA now in 'enhanced monitoring phase' for Dorian

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 10:31 AM

Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) has entered the Enhanced Monitoring Phase (OPCON 4) as Tropical Storm Dorian approaches the east coast of the United States.

"Everyone in Chatham County should review their personal emergency plans at this time to be prepared for any impacts to our area," says a CEMA spokesperson.

"As a common practice, individuals, families, and businesses are encouraged to review their storm preparation activities," CEMA says, as follows:

Monitor local authorities for advice and protective actions.

Prepare or inspect your emergency supply kit, and do not forget your pet’s kit too.

Create or update your family evacuation plan, detailing how and where you will evacuate and where you could meet if separated.

Document important belongings and consider taking pictures or video of your home.

Inspect your property for loose, lightweight items that could become airborne.
If you have functional access or medical needs call the Chatham County Public Health Department to sign up for the registry, 1-833-CHD-REGISTER

CEMA says their Enhanced Monitoring Phase activities will include:

Monitoring the storm with each advisory

Sending regular updates via social media and posting relevant information on CEMA’s Website.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Savannah Philharmonic announces Picnic in the Park theme, event details

Posted By on Tue, Aug 27, 2019 at 10:17 AM

The Savannah Philharmonic this morning announced details of their annual Picnic in the Park event, slated for Sunday, Oct. 6.

The theme for this year's event, "Color Your World with Music," was chosen by Lucinda Shultz after a social media campaign invited community members to submit ideas inspired by the word "kaleidoscope." 
Executive Director Terri O'Neil and theme contest winner Lucinda Shultz pose with the official Picnic in the Park poster.
  • Executive Director Terri O'Neil and theme contest winner Lucinda Shultz pose with the official Picnic in the Park poster.

Terri O'Neil, Executive Director for the Savannah Philharmonic, was joined at the podium by Mayor Eddie DeLoach, Mayor Pro Tem Carol Bell, Alderman Bill Durrence, Col. Dave Escobar, and Enmarket district manager Hailey Grene.

O'Neil expressed her gratitude to the city and to Enmarket for their partnership and her pleasure to again partner with the 3rd Infantry Division.

The Savannah Philharmonic's new conductor, Keitaro Harada, will not be able to conduct Picnic in the Park this year, instead appointing Maestro Gene Chang for the task.

Chang will be joined by American Traditions Vocal Competition silver medalist and VOICE Festival singer Emily Yocum Black.

Prior to the Philharmonic's performance, there will be performances by the Savannah Arts Academy Orchestra, Savannah High School Band and SCAD's Honey Bees.

Picnic in the Park is recognized as Savannah's most popular single-day event and has been a local favorite for over thirty years. The event begins at 3 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

For more information about Picnic in the Park, call 912-232-6002, visit, email, or find the event page on the Savannah Philharmonic Facebook. 

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Suspect arrested in E. 36th St. homicide

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2019 at 10:14 AM

The Savannah Police’s Violent Crimes detectives have made an arrest in the Aug. 25 death of a 45-year-old woman discovered off of E. 36th Street.

"Around 2:30 a.m. Aug. 25 officers responded to a wooded area near E. 36th and Wallin streets and discovered the body of Kimberly Donegan. Due to the nature of her apparent injuries, Donegan’s death was investigated as a suspicious death," police report.

"Later that day, detectives identified her boyfriend, Dwight Brewington, as a suspect in the incident. Brewington, 62, was arrested and charged with murder."

The investigation remains active and ongoing. An autopsy will be conducted this week.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Savannah release of The Peanut Butter Falcon announced

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 12:46 PM

Zack Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf in The Peanut Butter Falcon - PHOTO BY SETH JOHNSON
  • Photo by Seth Johnson
  • Zack Gottsagen and Shia LaBeouf in The Peanut Butter Falcon

Roadside Attractions announces that their critically acclaimed, award-winning film The Peanut Butter Falcon will debut in Savannah on Friday, August 23 exclusively at Savannah 11 and Pooler Stadium 14.

The film was shot mostly in and around Savannah, beginning in July 2017.

"A modern Mark Twain style adventure story, The Peanut Butter Falcon tells the story of Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, who runs away from a residential nursing home to follow his dream of attending the professional wrestling school of his idol, The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church)," a statement from the production company says.

"A strange turn of events pairs him on the road with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a small time outlaw on the run, who becomes Zak’s unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a kind nursing home employee charged with Zak’s return, to join them on their journey."

The film won the Narrative Spotlight Audience Award at South by Southwest and currently has a 97 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

It garnered some local controversy when star Shia LaBeouf was arrested July 8, 2017, in downtown Savannah for public drunkenness. The actor accepted a plea deal to charges of disorderly conduct.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Joint operation results in nine arrests for guns, drugs, parole violations

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 10:40 AM

A two-day operation conducted by Savannah Police and the Department of Community Supervision resulted in nine arrests, 64 checks of probation and parolees, and the seizure of multiple guns and drugs.

"Operation Summer Heat was a joint operation that concluded Aug. 9 and focused on probation and parole checks in crime hot spots throughout the city. During the sweep officers conducted searches, resident verifications, drug testing of offenders and served multiple warrants for wanted subjects," a spokesperson says.

“This is just one of the operations we have conducted this year with our DCS partners that is focused on overall crime reduction in the city of Savannah,” said SPD Maj. Robert Gavin. “We are continuing to keep a close eye on probation and parolees to make sure they are not involved in gun, drug or gang activity. We are going to continue to remove violent offenders who are committing crimes. The intelligence and arrests made during this operation are already proving to be of assistance in some of our current, ongoing violent crime investigations.”

In addition to the 64 checks with probation and parolees, officers conducted 29 searches; 21 drugs screens, 13 of which returned positive; served nine warrants; and recovered two guns, as well as marijuana, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, MDMA and pills.


· Jerome Frazier, 26: possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (two counts), possession of Percocet

· Ezra Wright, 18: Entering auto

· Xavier Dennis, 17: hindering apprehension or punishment of a criminal, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of crack cocaine, possession of powder cocaine

· Marcquel Frazier, 28: possession with intent to distribute MDMA

· Cameron Blige, 21: obstruction, feeling to elude an officer, contempt of court, felony probation violation

· Jonathan Franklin, 25: possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime

· Devante Daniels, 26: aggravated assault, aggravated battery

· Charone Taylor, 38: concealing the death of another

· Rashamell Miller, 26: probation violation, contempt of court

CAT awarded $1.3 million for a new ferry

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 9:57 AM

The Juliette Gordon Low ferry boat
  • The Juliette Gordon Low ferry boat

Chatham Area Transit has been awarded $1.28 million in grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration for a new ferry boat.

The City of Savannah has committed a 20 percent local match of $320,000, pending approval by the Savannah City Council, to cover the remaining costs of the $1.6 million ferry.

"The new 149-passenger ferry will expand the Savannah Belles Ferry fleet from four to five boats and help accommodate increased demand expected from hotel and residential development projects along the Savannah Riverwalk and from the planned expansion of the Savannah Convention Center on Hutchinson Island," a CAT spokesperson says.

“Ferry ridership has steadily increased since the service was first launched in 2003 and the developments along the riverfront are expected to help boost ridership up to more than one million passenger trips a year,” said interim CEO/Executive Director Michael Brown. “This funding support for our new vessel will help us meet that increased demand.”

Providing marine staff with another higher capacity vessel "will also allow for the ferries to be taken out of the water for required routine maintenance while still having enough boats for peak service," CAT says.

CAT’s ferry system links downtown Savannah to Hutchinson Island by providing free passage across the Savannah River. The system operates from 7 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week, and currently provides more than 750,000 passenger trips a year.

The ferry boats can be boarded along the riverwalk behind City Hall and on the east end at Morrell Park near the Marriott Riverfront hotel. On Hutchinson Island, the boats can be boarded at the Savannah Convention Center, next to the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa.

The new water ferry is expected to join CAT’s fleet and begin operating in late 2021.

City to host faith-based 'Connecting The Dots' community work session

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 9:54 AM

The City of Savannah Human Services Department is hosting Connecting the Dots: Mobilizing Communities of Faith, Aug. 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Savannah Civic Center, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave.

Connecting the Dots: Mobilizing Communities of Faith "is a breakfast meeting and half-day work session designed to inform and connect leaders and mission workers in the faith community to a wide array of area services that will help their effort to assist individuals in need. It will include a resource fair and work sessions to ignite discussions on how to expand mission efforts through partnerships with non-profit organizations," a City spokesperson says.

The registration form can be found online at

Connecting the Dots: Mobilizing Communities of Faith is free and open to ministry leaders and mission workers in all faith communities. For more information, please call 912-651-6520.

Travis Tritt to perform at Lucas in February

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 9:52 AM

Travis Tritt - PHOTO BY ED RODE
  • Photo by Ed Rode
  • Travis Tritt

Country star and Georgia native Travis Tritt is set to perform a solo-acoustic performance on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at The Lucas Theatre in Savannah.

Tickets go on sale this Friday, August 16 at 10am, online at, by phone at 912-525-5050 and the Savannah Box Office located at 216 E. Broughton St.

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