The future of the SK Battery plant could rest in the hands of President Joe Biden, a political leader whom the local community resoundingly reject in the Nov. 3 election.
The International Trade Commission ruled on Feb. 10 that SK had stolen trade secrets from its rival, LG Chem, and imposed a ban on SK's ability to import parts to make electric vehicle batteries at its two plants being constructed in Commerce. The ban is for 10 years, with two major exceptions.
The move is a dire threat to the future of those facilities, a $2.6 billion investment that plans to hire over 2,600 employees.
“We have serious concerns about the commercial and operational implications of this decision for the future of our EV-battery facility in Commerce, Georgia,” SK said in a statement about the decision.
The ITC ruling does allow the firm to make EV batteries for Ford EV F-150 production for a period of two years and for VW for four years. But the business implications of that would be for the plants to start production, then shut down for 6 years.
There are two possible ways the ITC's decision could change.
First, President Biden has 60 days to overrule the commission's decision, something some observers believe he might do. Biden has voiced support for "clean" energy and domestic production of EV batteries.
In addition, thousands of jobs are on the line, not just at the Commerce facilities, but also with VW and Ford. A disruption of a battery supplier could slow the two firm's EV production, costing additional jobs.
Gov. Brian Kemp called on Biden to overrule the ITC in the SK case.
“Litigation in these disputes is always complex, and there are several additional levels of review prior to a final resolution – along with the possibility of a settlement," Kemp said. "President Biden and his administration also have the opportunity to support thousands of hardworking Georgians – and their communities – who would benefit from SK Innovation’s continued success in our state. I sincerely hope Georgia’s congressional delegation will join me in advocating for swift presidential action.”
If Biden does overrule the ITC and allows SK to proceed, it would be an ironic political twist. By far, the Northeast Georgia area supported Donald Trump in the November presidential election. Jackson County voted for Trump by nearly 80%.
The second way for the ITC decision to be erased would be for SK and LG Chem to negotiate an agreement that allows SK to import the technology needed to produce its batteries in Commerce.
According to a Korean newspaper, LG Chem has said it's open to discussion with SK about that possibility.
Nine people were charged by the Banks County Sheriff's Office last week, including the following:
•Christopher James Willis, 28, 203 Forest Lake Road, Pendergrass, theft by shoplifting and criminal trespass.
•Leanna Marie Craig, 20, 854 North Mangum Bridge Road, Maysville, sale of methamphetamine and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sale of a controlled substance.
•Dmitrian Mykel Lett, 27, 6403 The Ridge Road, Monroeville, Ala., aggravated assault, battery and kidnapping.
•Erica Nicole Reese, 35, 1200 Lee Road, Opelia, Ala., driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUI).
•Krystal Michelle McClure, 40, 338 Hembree Road, Maysville, DUI.
•Pamela Jean Venable, 51, 400 McClure Road, Gillsville, theft by receiving stolen property.
•Ursula Ryan Thomas, 36, 2774 Jackson Trail Road, Jefferson, theft by shoplifting and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
•Tiffany E. Rusgrove, 30, 504 Kesler Road, Nicholson, theft by shoplifting and criminal trespass.
•Brayden Justice Sullens, 19, 754 Riverdale Road, Toccoa, DUI, driving too fast for conditions, failure to maintain lane, driving without a license and violation of license restriction.
To maximize more efficiency for vaccine delivery, District 2 Public Health Departments have coordinated with community partners to locate vaccine clinics in larger spaces.
“This move will allow our staff to provide both first and second doses at one location,” said Zachary Taylor, M.D., District Health Director. “Having a larger space than the health departments, will also give us flexibility to vaccinate more people each day, especially when vaccine becomes more readily available.”
Appointments will still be required to get vaccinated at the new clinic sites.
Essential services such as, immunizations for school, women’s health services, and communicable disease services will be available at the health departments.
Beginning Feb. 22, COVID-19 vaccines will be given at Grove Level Baptist Church, 1702 Grove Level Road, Maysville, instead of at the Banks County Health Department. All Covid-19 vaccinations, including first and second doses, will be at this location. All vaccinations will be given by appointment only. The hours of operation will be: Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Essential services will continue to be offered at the health department. These include, but are not limited to, women's health services, school/childhood immunizations and communicable disease clinic services.
All Environmental Health services will continue to operate as normal.
45 NEW CASES
Forty-five new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Banks County since last week, according to the latest report from the Georgia Department of Public Health.
There have been 28 deaths in the county attributed to the virus and 171 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19. Last week, there were 27 deaths and 163 hospitalizations reported.
This week, the Banks County School System reports there are seven students with a current positive COVID-19 status among the 2,706 student population. There are 146 students quarantined due to possible exposure.
Of the 405 employees, two have a current positive COVID-19 status and one is quarantined due to possible exposure.
For more information about COVID-19 https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
For updates on COVID-19, follow @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Facebook.
Kindergarten registration at Banks County Primary School will be held March 29-April 1 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on March 30 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
Go to https://www.banks.k12.ga.us/ then click on “New Student Registration” under resources to complete online registration. Visit Sign Up Genius to select a date and time for registration, https://www.singupgenius.com/go/805044eaca72daaf84-kindergarten1.
Items needed for registration include:
•Child’s certified birth certificate
•Child’s Social Security card
•Georgia Department of Human Services Immunization Form 3231
•Certificate of ear, eye and dental examination
•Proof of address: property tax statement, current utility bill, landline phone bill or rental agreement
•Parent’s photo ID
•Proof of custody (if applicable)
"Please bring your upcoming kindergartener with you so he/she can be given a readiness test by one of the kindergarten teachers," leaders state.
For more information, call 706-677-2355.
Bethlehem Baptist Church will be having a canned food give-away on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The church is located at 176 Bellamy Road, Homer.
Bags will be given on a first-come, first served basis (baring inclement weather).
The pastor is the Rev. Bartez Gillespie.
The following students earned the distinction of Faculty Honors for Fall 2020 at the Georgia Institute of Technology. This designation is awarded to undergraduate students who have earned a 4.0 academic average for the semester.
•Joseph Lee of Homer.
•Kimberly Molina-Veronico of Homer.