The burn ban in Banks County will begin on June 1 and continue through Sept. 1. The state burn ban usually begins May 1, however, Banks County is one of seven counties in the state given a one-month extension on the burn ban this year.
For seven counties that are normally included in the summer burn ban, restrictions will be activated on June 1, giving them extra time to clear vegetative debris from April storms. Those counties are: Banks, Catoosa, Chattooga, Floyd, Gordon, Upson and Walker.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) puts the burn ban restrictions in place during the summer months, when increases in ground level ozone may create health risks.
"From May until September 31, open burning of yard and land-clearing debris is prohibited in some counties where particulate matter pollutants and chemicals from smoke are more likely to combine with emissions from vehicles and industrial activities," said Frank Sorrells, Chief of Protection for the Georgia Forestry Commission. "That's more likely to occur in cities, where there's more asphalt and concrete than open green space and trees to help cool and filter air. The risk of wildfire also may be high in summer, so our agencies are closely monitoring air quality and weather conditions for the safety of all Georgians," Sorrells said.
May through September is the time of year when people, particularly children, are more likely to be outdoors. Higher levels of ground-level ozone and particle pollution levels are known to contribute to lung problems and heart disease.
"During this time of increased focus on safety and respiratory issues in response to COVID-19, the GFC will be particularly mindful about the potential impact of smoke in every area of the state," said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Chuck Williams. "The GFC and EPD carefully monitor air quality indices and will continue to do so wherever prescribed fire is permitted."
For more information about the EPD summer burn ban go to https://epd.georgia.gov/ and click on “Open Burning Rules for Georgia” under Popular Topics, or call the EPD District Office serving your area. To learn about services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit GaTrees.org.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) and construction partner C.W. Matthews Contracting Company, Inc. have begun construction on the Interstate 85/State Route 403 resurfacing project. Construction will consist of single lane closures and ramp lane closures.
Nightly closures are from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. The project has an estimated completion date of late January 2021.
The Interstate 85/State Route 403 single lane and ramp lane closures begin north of State Route 63 in Banks County to approximately 0.50 miles south of State Route 17 in Franklin County. Alternate routes will be provided for all ramp detours. Only one entrance or exit ramp will be closed at a time during paving operation.
Georgia DOT maintenance offices conduct regular Pavement Condition Evaluation System (PACES) assessments to monitor pavement conditions on routes maintained by the department. This resurfacing project was selected by the District Maintenance Office based on the current low PACES rating. Such resurfacing projects are designed to enhance and preserve existing pavement by decreasing the formation of potholes and cracks in areas of the roadway where pavement has deteriorated.
Exact dates may change due to weather or other factors. Motorists are cautioned to reduce their speed while traveling through work zones, stay alert, and watch for workers. Before heading out, get real-time information on work status and traffic conditions by calling 511, visiting 511ga.org, or downloading the Georgia 511 app.
If you are not registered to vote, May 11 is the deadline to do so to cast a ballot in the June 9 election.
Early voting for the General Primary/Presidential Preference Primary will begin on May 18.
If you did not receive an absentee ballot application in the mail, they are available on the Banks County Voter Registrar’s website and on the Georgia Secretary of State website.
So far, Banks County has 2,548 absentee ballots sent out — 304 Democratic, 55 Non-Partisan and 2,189 Republican. These ballots must be sent back to the voter registrar's office by Tuesday, June 9, at 7 p.m.
Local races on the Republican ballot will include:
•Banks County Board of Commissioners chairman’s race, Charles Turk will face Will Ramsey. Incumbent Jimmy Hooper is not seeking reelection. Turk is the current District 4 commissioner.
•District 2 commission race, incumbent David Duckett will face challengers Jason Hensley and Bo Garrison.
•District 4 commission race, Robert “Bob” Blackwell, Brad McCook, William Reems and Keith Gardiner will be on the ballot.
•9th Congressional District race: Michael Boggus, Paul Broun, Andrew Clyde, Matt Gurtier, Maria Strickland, Kevin Tanner, Ethan Underwood, Kellie Weeks and John Wilkinson.
•50th State Senate race are: Andy Garrison, Dan Gazaway, Stacy Hall, Bo Hatchett, Tricia Lynne Hise and Lee Moore.
•Should Georgia lawmakers expand educational options by allowing a student’s state education dollars to follow to the school that best fits their needs, whether it is public, private, magnet, charter, virtual or homeschool? Yes or No
•Should voting in the Republican Primary be limited to voters who have registered as Republicans? Yes or No
•Should candidates for board of education be required to declare their political party? Yes or No
•9th Congressional District: Devin Pandy, Brooke Siskin and Dan Wilson.
•Public Service Commissioner: Daniel Blackman and John Noel.
•Should Georgians work to shop climate change and listen to the scientific community, which recommends immediate action to combat this serious threat to our planet? Yes or No
•Should Georgia enact basic standards to protect our environment from wasteful plastic items that pollute our state? Yes or No
•Should every eligible Georgian be allowed to register to vote on Election Day to make sure everyone can exercise their right to vote? Yes or No
•Should Georgia take partnership out of the redistricting process and have an independent commission draw district lines instead of politicians? Yes or No
•Should our criminal justice system end the discriminatory cash bail system that allows the wealthy to buy their way out of jail while disadvantaging lower-income Georgians? Yes or No
•Should every Georgian that has served their sentence for a crime they committed be allowed to have their voting rights restored? Yes or No
•Chief magistrate seat, incumbent Ivan Mote will face Noel Brown Ventrice.
Two seats on the Supreme Court of Georgia are also non-partisan races:
•Incumbent Charlie Bethel vs. Elizabeth Baskin.
•Incumbent Sarah Warren vs. Hal Moroz.
In the Town of Homer, residents will vote on the two issues related to the sale of alcohol. The two questions citizens will be asked to vote on will be:
•Alcoholic Beverages by the Drink: Shall the governing authority of the Town of Homer be authorized to issue licenses to sell distilled spirits for beverage purposes by the drink, such sales to be for consumption only on the premises? Yes or No
•Sunday Sales of Alcohol by the Drink: Shall the governing authority of the Town of Homer be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits of alcoholic beverages for beverage purpose by the drink? Yes or No
•Sunday Package Sales of Alcohol: Shall the governing authority of the Town of Homer be authorized to permit and regulate package sales by retailers of both malt beverages and wine on Sundays between the hours of 12:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.? Yes or No
The primary runoff will be August 11.
More than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed around Georgia from Thursday afternoon to Friday afternoon, with the total number in Banks County totaling 25.
As of 4:25 p.m. Friday, there had been 27,437 confirmed cases in the state and 1,159 deaths from COVID-19, according to the latest figures from the Georgia Department of Public Health. There have been no deaths reported in Banks County.
The latest DPH totals for other counties near Banks included 1,843 cases and 58 deaths in Gwinnett County; 1,466 cases and 22 deaths in Hall County; 155 cases and 13 deaths in Clarke County; 129 cases and four deaths in Walton County; 97 cases and two deaths in Jackson County; 66 cases and no deaths in Oconee County; and 24 cases and one death in Madison County.
The numbers are likely higher as state officials have acknowledged a lag of up to two weeks in reporting confirmed cases.
The latest totals around the state come as Georgia's mandatory shelter-in-place order has been lifted after 28 days.
Gov. Brian Kemp and other state officials urged Georgians to continue to stay home as much as possible, and Kemp issued an executive order requiring the state's elderly and medically fragile residents to shelter in place through June 12. Businesses must continue to operate with strict social distancing guidelines in place through at least May 13 in order to remain open.
Nationwide, there were 1.08 million confirmed cases and more than 63,100 deaths as of 3 p.m. Friday.
Anyone who believes they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or believes they may have been exposed to the virus is advised to contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or any medical facility. Only people who have been evaluated by public health officials at their local health department or a health care provider and assigned a PUI number will be referred to the drive-thru specimen collection sites.
In addition to the most common symptoms — fever, dry cough, shortness of breath — the CDC has recently added six more commonly-seen symptoms to its list. Those include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and a loss of taste and/or smell.
A statewide COVID-19 hotline is available at 844-442-2681.