Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Velvet Caravan to headline September bill at The Lucas

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2018 at 11:53 AM

Velvet Caravan
  • Velvet Caravan

Local Gypsy Jazz and Latin Swing band Velvet Caravan will headline the Lucas Theatre for the Arts on Friday, September 14 at 7:30 pm in a special show brought to you by Savannah Stopover.

Tix go on sale today, July 18, at noon to members of Velvet Caravan’s mailing list or Savannah Stopover Music Festival’s mailing list. General public tix go on sale July 20.

Tix are via Savannah Box Office with tiered pricing at $25, $35 or $45.

Recent Velvet Caravan performances include South By Southwest Music Festival, Rochester International Jazz Festival, The Iridium Club in New York, Word Cafe in Philadelphia, NPR’s Latino USA as well as appearance with the Savannah, Hilton Head and Jackson, TN Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras.

Locally they have appeared at the Savannah Jazz Festival, Revival Fest, Savannah Stopover Music Festival well as the grand finale event for the 2018 Savannah Music Festival.

Jazz vocalist Annie Sellick will join the band and Atlanta’s Balkan band Mercury Orkestar will open the night. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Georgia Southern Economic Monitor anticipates upswing as year progresses

Posted By on Tue, Jul 17, 2018 at 12:16 PM

Georgia Southern University’s latest Economic Monitor, which analyzes data and identifies trends affecting the regional economy, reports that "the Savannah metro economy ticked up modestly despite Winter Storm Grayson, which blanketed the area in heavy snow and ice fall in early January," a university spokesperson says.

"Indicators of economic conditions were slightly mixed due to the weather-related incidents, however, the surging forecasting index is based on renewed strength in the housing and labor markets, which points toward increased growth during the rest of the year."

“Overall, expansion in the regional economy remained modest, but marginally improved from the closing quarter of 2017,” said Michael Toma, Ph.D., Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Economics and director of the Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research. “Expect increasing economic strength in Savannah-area business conditions during the remainder of 2018.”

During the first quarter of 2018, the Savannah metro total employment figure remained flat at 179,000, up only .5 percent over the previous year’s data. Early data from the second quarter suggests improved conditions will push year-over-year gains to about 1 percent.

Additional highlights from the latest Economic Monitor include:

Tourism activity in the first quarter was soft, with hotel room sales and vacation rentals dipping four percent on a seasonally adjusted basis as compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. The number of visitors on tours in Savannah declined 10 percent.

Activity at Savannah’s port facilities fell by 3 percent compared to 2017’s closing quarter and is up 6 percent from this time last year.

Employment growth has slowed, remaining flat for the first quarter of 2018, however, some sector-level changes are notable. Construction added 300 workers, manufacturing added 200, while retail and state government lost 200 workers. Year-over-year, the healthiest growth was in manufacturing, wholesale trade, business and professional services and leisure and hospitality.

Unemployment insurance claims dropped from 631 to 541 in the first quarter of 2018, representing a 14 percent quarterly decline. The regional unemployment rate fell to four percent in the first quarter, dropping from 4.1 percent in the previous quarter. The unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Barricaded subject arrested

Posted By on Fri, Jul 13, 2018 at 11:11 AM

"Collaboration between Savannah Police’s Strategic Investigations Unit (SIU), SWAT and Hostage Negotiation Team (HNT) resulted in the apprehension of a barricaded gunman" on July 12, a Savannah Police spokesperson says.

"Around 1:45 p.m., SIU detectives attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a vehicle on 44th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard due to surveillance in the area. One of the passengers, identified as Travis Mobley, 33, jumped out and fled on foot to a nearby business on 45th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with a handgun," police report.

One individual was inside of the business, but was able to leave.

"SWAT and HNT were called to the scene and used multiple tactics to attempt to get Mobley to exit the building. SWAT eventually made entry into the building at which time Mobley was placed under arrest without incident." police say.

There were no reported injuries.

Mobley was charged with obstruction, criminal trespass, probation violation and multiple drug charges to include, intent to distribute crack.

The driver of the vehicle, Alicia Johnson, 32, was arrested for obstruction and possession of marijuana.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Savannah three-peats award as No. 3 city in the U.S.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 7:06 PM

Savannah retained its ranking as No. 3 city in the United States according to the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2018 readers’ survey announced today.

Longtime regional rival Charleston also retained its No. 1 ranking, its sixth straight nod for the top spot.

Savannah held on to its No. 3 spot from 2017 and 2016, when it jumped from No. 7 on the 2015 list.

“Savannah again being recognized by the readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine as being one of the top three visitor destinations in the country is a testament to all that our community has to offer our guests,” says Visit Savannah President Joseph Marinelli.

“From terrific air service, lodging, dining, attractions and tours to dynamic overall retail offerings, we have the type of experience that our customers are looking for. But it’s Savannah’s people and true spirit of Southern hospitality that is the difference-maker in why folks choose to visit Savannah.”

The magazine wrote that Savannah “wins readers over with meticulously preserved architecture, winsome gardens, and inviting inns.”

The complete top ten:

1. Charleston, SC
2. New Orleans, LA
3. Savannah, GA
4. Santa Fe, NM
5. New York City
6. Chicago, IL
7. San Antonio, TX
8. Asheville, NC
9. Nashville, TN
10. Honolulu, HI

Monday, July 9, 2018

State targets homeless camps in West Savannah for removal

Posted By on Mon, Jul 9, 2018 at 10:50 AM

The Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless is holding what's being called an "emergency meeting" this afternoon to address the announcement by the Georgia Department of Transportation that several homeless camps in West Savannah will be displaced from state-owned land.

"I have asked staff at DOT to re-consider their plan (with the help of Metro Police) to move residents in four homeless camps... due to the problematic weather," Homeless Authority Director Cindy Kelley wrote in an email to City and County leaders.

"We cannot require folks in our homeless camps to move without providing an alternative location to camp, as the high heat is a significant health hazard," she said.

The camps targeted for removal are mostly near or under the West Bay Street Viaduct.

Savannah City Manager Rob Hernandez replied to Kelley that "Neither the Savannah Police Department nor the City will be participating in any effort to relocate these individuals and their possessions unless an alternative is made available for them."

Hernandez continued:

"We must acknowledge that without this alternative we are simply moving this issue into other neighborhoods. We have yet to see any plan for dealing with this issue from either Chatham County, CEMA, GDOT, the State, the Homeless Authority, or anyone else for that matter."

Hernandez concluded:

"This is not a Savannah problem. It is a regional problem and its time we all get moving on a viable solution instead of placing this solely on the City’s shoulders."

Savannah has at least 22 known homeless camps, many of them on land owned by city, state, or county government, as well as railroad property.

The Homeless Authority has recently amped up its criticism of Chatham County government for failing to earmark funds to aid the homeless.

Friday, July 6, 2018

City Council set to regulate fireworks; officially eliminates fire fee

Posted By on Fri, Jul 6, 2018 at 2:53 PM

Responding to a deluge of complaints from the public over the course of the Fourth of July holiday period, Savannah City Council took the first tentative steps toward new restrictions on the use of fireworks inside City limits.

"The public needs to know... that we are taking it seriously," said Alderwoman Carol Bell at a workshop session prior to last Thursday's regular Council meeting.

As of July 1 of this year, state law allows individual cities to pass restrictions on fireworks as long as it is part of an overall municipal noise ordinance.

Alderman Julian Miller said the reason regulating fireworks is necessary is that some people "take great delight" in disturbing their neighbors.

"The unfortunate thing is, as with just about anything else, the individuals who choose to take advantage of a situation to make their neighbors miserable," he said.

In a rare step, Council allowed Parkside resident Janet Levine to speak to the workshop session about her experiences with the issue — mostly, with a single household nearby which lit off fireworks several hours a day, for days on end prior to the holiday.

"We cannot tolerate living in what sounds like a war zone during non-holiday times," said Levine, who struggles with PTSD and has a service dog who is also "traumatized" by the fireworks, in her words.

"We need restrictions to protect our residents with all kinds of stress issues, from the current free-for-all state law," Levine said.

Alderman Van Johnson said that state law is frustratingly vague.

"There appears to be an absolute lack of clarity on what state law is... my concern is our ability to enforce it. Police resources are stretched," he said.

Alderman John Hall said the fireworks situation in the neighborhoods had become "ridiculous" and that "People are fed up with this."

He said if action isn't taken, "People are going to get confrontational. It's not going to be pretty."

Alderwoman Shabazz said that in nearly 60 years of living where she lives, "I have never experienced what I've experienced in the last two days" with regards to fireworks. "We've got to do something."

In other Council news, at the regular meeting they voted unanimously to formally repeal the controversial fire fee, as promised at the prior meeting in which they accepted the will of the public.

City Manager Rob Hernandez again attempted to defend the fee, saying "perhaps... one of the greatest wins" was how many citizens formulated fire escape/safety plans in order to qualify for discounts on the fee.

Savannah Fire & Emergency Services "spent over 5,000 hours interacting with the public about fire safety," he said.

City Council opted not to reverse the charter change which enabled the fire fee however, meaning the City could establish similar user fees in the future if desired.

Hernandez warned Council that, "I don't want anyone to leave here today with a rosy picture of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget."

In response to Hernandez saying that "growth in revenue hasn't kept pace with the growth in expenditures, Alderwoman Bell said, "Our citizens want a Cadillac on a Volkswagen budget."

Also: In a move guaranteed to put a smile on historic preservationists faces — at least for the time being, the developer of the lot at Oglethorpe and Habersham has agreed to delay and reexamine project in order to attempt to comply with the City's request to restore that section of the historic lane, which was essentially destroyed in the 1980s.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Roy Minter selected as new Savannah Police Chief

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 3:23 PM

Chief Roy Minter
  • Chief Roy Minter
Roy Minter, who announced his retirement earlier this year as Police Chief of Peoria, Arizona, has been announced as new Savannah Police Department Chief.

City Manager Rob Hernandez says Minter is a "21st Century police executive" who "embraces diversity across all dimensions."

Minter, age 57, who has experience in Denton TX (Dallas/Fort Worth metro), Aurora CO (Denver metro), and Houston, is set to begin August 22.

Minter has been the chief in Peoria since 2011. From 2008-2011 Minter was the Police Chief in Denton, Texas. Prior to becoming a police chief, he spent 15-years with the Aurora, Colorado Police Department and 10 years with Houston Police Department.

He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and a master's degree in Organizational Management.

Hernandez thanked interim Chief Mark Revenew for his service in the post since January of this year, and hoped Revenew would consider serving the local law enforcement community.

"He is an ultimate professional and he accepted the challenge to lead on interim basis without hesitation. He has done an exceptional job. We hope he will stay on during the transition to Chief Minter’s leadership," Hernandez said of Revenew.

Hernandez also addressed the City's overall approach to crime and public safety.

"The Mayor and City Council’s commitment to public safety is paying off. So far, there has been an 18% drop in overall Part I crimes including a 16% drop in violent crime. Compared to last year, we’ve had six fewer homicides than this time last year and 16 fewer from just two years ago. Robberies and shootings are also down significantly from last year. When it comes to public safety, we are moving in the right direction: Forward," Hernandez said.

Savannah Music Festival Director Rob Gibson resigns

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 11:03 AM

Savannah Music Festival (SMF) has accepted the resignation of Rob Gibson, its Executive & Artistic Director of sixteen years.

"Mr. Gibson led the organization’s transition and ascendance from a small, primarily local event to one of international prominence, drawing visitors, artists and favorable reviews from around the world to its multi-genre presentations. He leaves to pursue other interests, and SMF wishes him well in those endeavors," says an SMF spokesperson.

SMF says it will "quickly but thoughtfully engage in a national and formal search for new leadership. In the interim, the organization’s operations will be in good hands under the direction of its highly experienced and dedicated board and staff."

Under Mr. Gibson’s leadership and vision, "SMF developed three landmark music education programs for which it expends nearly half a million dollars annually. The largest of these is Musical Explorers, a program developed in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, which provides year-round music education to approximately 11,000 Savannah-area K-2 students. Other education programs formed under Rob Gibson’s leadership include Swing Central Jazz, a workshop and competition for the country’s leading high school jazz orchestras, and the Acoustic Music Seminar, a nationally recognized mentorship program for young string players. Mr. Gibson also fostered numerous artistic partnerships and commissioned works, and hosted ten seasons of the public radio show Savannah Music Festival LIVE," the organization reports.

The 30th annual festival season runs from March 28 through April 13, 2019, and includes more than 100 performances in intimate venues throughout Savannah’s historic district. For more information visit

Southside death could be accidental shooting, police say

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 10:55 AM

Savannah Police’s Violent Crimes Unit is investigating a shooting that fatally wounded a 45-year-old woman at a home on Plantation Drive in Windsor Forest.

"Officers responded to the home in the 600 block of Plantation Drive just prior to 11 p.m. and discovered Marissa Clay deceased from a gunshot wound. Detectives are investigating this as a possible accidental shooting. Charges have not been made at this time, but residents who were in the home are being questioned by police. Detectives believe this is an isolated, domestic incident." police report.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call the Violent Crimes Unit tip line at (912) 525-3124. Information may also be forwarded to CrimeStoppers at (912) 234-2020. Tipsters remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward.

Savannah Police prepare to enforce new hands-driving law

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 at 10:53 AM

On July 1 Georgia’s New Hands-Free Law goes into effect, and Savannah Police officers are telling the public they "are prepared to begin enforcement immediately."

Texting while driving has been illegal in Georgia since July 2010, but the new law will expand the illegal phone usage to any phone activity that involves holding or touching a phone.

"This includes holding the phone up to your ear to talk, reading messages, emailing, watching or recording videos, social media, or programing or holding GPS devices," police say.

Police are urging drivers to "explore available hands-free technology, like voice to text or Bluetooth. If a device needs to be used for GPS, drivers are asked to start the navigation prior to putting the vehicle in gear and to purchase something that will hold the device while navigation is running."

“This law has been put into effect for the safety of all citizens,” said Lt. Torrance Garvin, of Savannah Police’s Traffic Unit. “Distracted driving is a major source of crashes. If we can eliminate those distractions then we can lower our number of crashes and fatalities.”

Savannah Police officers are planning to give verbal and written warnings during the first 30 days for the first offense. Citations may still be issued for an initial offense if officers believe it is warranted.

“We understand that in the first 30 days there will be a lot of education that will need to be done,” Garvin said. “Even though the state has been announcing the change for some time, there are still people who are unaware of the specifics of the law and how it will affect them. Everyone who receives a warning will also receive information on the Hands Free Law.”

Officers are exploring enforcement plans that may include plainclothes officers looking for unlawful phone usage.

Connect Today 07.21.2018

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