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L Street barricades set to go up today
 gjackson  / 

It’s been hard to notice, but work has already begun on the yearlong L Street reconstruction project in Brunswick.

One reason it doesn’t look like anything is currently being done is most of the work conducted by crews is surveying and preliminary staking, said Garrow Alberson, the city engineer.

Another reason is there was a delay in the arrival of the barricades and signs needed to close a portion of L Street from MLK Boulevard to Goodyear Street for the first phase of work. The work is scheduled to take about six months to complete.

Alberson said the barricades are scheduled to be erected “first thing” this morning and will totally block motorists from driving on the road.

Residents living on L Street can drive to their homes on parallel side streets and access their driveways while work is ongoing unless it is being done in front of their houses. Work is not expected to block a person’s driveway more than a day, Alberson said.

Construction activity will be more evident starting early next week when stacks of water and drainage piping and heavy equipment will be moved to two staging areas on L Street. One will be on Goodyear Street and the other at Stonewall Street.

Digging will begin once the equipment and materials are moved to the staging area, Alberson said.

“They should see work begin within the next week,” he said.

There will be lots of preparation happening next week with materials being unloaded and heavy equipment moving into the area.

The work will all be done during daylight hours, with activity starting around 8 a.m. and work completed no later than 6 p.m., Alberson said.

After the first phase is complete, work will be done on the second phase, stretching on L Street from Goodyear Street to Cook Street. A portion of Cook Street will be paved as part of the work.

The final phase will be near the Pinova plant.

The work is being done to address flooding problems on the road.

The work will also include new sidewalks, curbs and gutters near the central and east ends of the project near ball fields.

College application process brings high demands for students
 lmcdonald  / 

As the clock ticks down to college application deadlines, many high school seniors are begging for more hours in the day.

They’re writing essays and taking standardized tests, staying involved in the extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities needed to make a college application competitive, all the while going to class and maintaing their GPAs.

For some, though, it’s a goal they’ve worked toward since freshman year.

“You can’t sit down one afternoon and say ‘OK, let’s do all of this,’” said Sara Seckinger, a senior at Frederica Academy who plans to attend Vanderbilt in the fall.

Seckinger is among thousands of local seniors who recently completed or will soon wrap up the college application process. Like many, she was encouraged to begin preparing her freshman year.

“It’s a process, so it’s not just all of a sudden junior year meeting with your counselor and saying ‘This is what I want to major in, these are the schools I want to go to,’” said Laura Nevins, a counselor at Frederica Academy. “You really do need to start thinking of that ahead of time.”

Nevins serves as the school and college counselor at the school. She begins building a relationship with students as early as possible. She first meets with most Frederica students during eighth grade and then begins to have individual meetings with students during their freshman year.

Students at Frederica Academy use a web-based college counseling program that allows them to explore colleges, keep track of their résumés, record test scores and research career interests and corresponding majors at different schools.

By junior year, the process kicks into high gear as students begin to do more college tours, prepare for and take standardized tests and make final decisions about which schools they wish to apply to. Senior year, they’re applying.

The intensity of the college application counseling process at Frederica Academy is a reflection of how involved the application itself is today, Nevins said.

“Maybe 15, 20 years ago, all you needed to do was submit an application to some schools to be admitted,” she said. “Now, there’s so many more elements that go into the application process itself, which is why we start introducing these components in ninth grade.”

Colleges today look for more than an academically-successful student, Nevins said. The college staff reviewing applications also need to see that a student can be an asset to the college’s campus.

“They want to see what a student’s engaged in their high school and in their community because that’s a reflection on what their interests may be,” she said.

Many colleges in their application process expect to see students stand out in a crowd of stand-outs.

Students need to have found time not only to take the most rigorous courses offered by their high school, but also to have been members of clubs, played sports, volunteered and more.

They also have to find time to do well on the SAT or ACT and thoughtfully complete the applications and corresponding entrance essays.

“A lot of it is, in a way, trying to make yourself stand out to someone who may not have had his cup of coffee in the morning,” said Ryan McHugh, a Frederica Academy senior who plans to attend Notre Dame in the fall. “… You have to write something or have something in your application that makes that person think, ‘That’s someone I want to have in my school.’”

The applications, and particularly the essays, require students to clearly communicate how they stand out among their peers, said Armani Johnson, a Frederica Academy senior who plans to either attend the University of North Carolina or the University of Georgia.

“You have to put your whole personality into that essay so the college will accept you,” she said.

Before the essay, though, years of hard work and thoughtful preparation are involved. Students face great pressures throughout the process, said Kate Worthley, a Frederica Academy senior who plans to attend UGA.

“Colleges, they expect you to have the fantastic ACT scores and SAT scores, plus they expect you to have every single club that you’ve been in since freshman year or before that, with a continuation throughout your high school years to show that you’ve been involved and committed,” she said. “And then they expect sports, they expect the fantastic grades, the extremely rigorous classes. They’re expecting a lot from you.”

Carter asks feds to remove Georgia from offshore oil and gas plans
 wwolfe  / 

The state House of Representatives resolution against energy exploration off the Georgia coast — passed with a 125-36 vote — now has measurable impact. Thursday, U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, sent a letter to Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt asking him to remove Georgia from an as-yet unreleased 2019-2024 five-year plan for oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf.

“While I will continue to be an ardent supporter of American energy independence, I believe that the will of our state and local communities must be respected in a decision of this magnitude,” Carter wrote. “This is why I want to bring to your attention a resolution that overwhelmingly passed in the Georgia House of Representatives this week opposing offshore energy development off Georgia’s coast. The resolution passed in the legislature this week was preceded by the approval of resolution opposing offshore energy development by several municipalities.

“Elected representatives of Georgia have voted, and I believe that the federal government should respect the people of Georgia to make this critical decision for themselves. That is why I write today to request that Georgia be excluded from offshore energy plans until the concerns of the legislature are addressed.”

The news was welcomed by the state’s environmental advocates.

“Congressman Carter’s action proves that citizen action and civic discourse can make a difference for the future of our coast,” Megan Desrosiers, CEO of One Hundred Miles, said in a statement. “As the federal government prepares to release the new plans for drilling, Congressman Carter’s timing could not be more appropriate and I know the thousands of Georgians who have weighed in on offshore drilling and seismic testing over the years are grateful.”

A resolution against seismic testing and offshore drilling didn’t even receive a vote in the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee last year, and on the penultimate day of this year’s session, state Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, pulled from the House floor and sent back to the House Rules Committee. The Rules Committee sent the resolution, H.R. 48, back to the floor Tuesday, when the House passed it.

Powell was one of the 11 House members who didn’t cast a vote at all. Of the yes votes, representatives from every coastal district and those that could be called coastal-adjacent went for H.R. 48.

That included state Reps. Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville, 157), Jon Burns (R-Newington, 159), Jan Tankersley (R-Brooklet, 160), Bill Hitchens (R-Rincon, 161), Carl Wayne Gilliard (D-Garden City, 162), Craig Gordon (D-Savannah, 163), Ron Stephens (R-Savannah, 164), Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah), Jeff Jones (R-St. Simons Island, 167), Al Williams (D-Midway, 168), John Corbett (R-Lake Park, 174), Steven Meeks (R-Screven, 178), Don Hogan (R-St. Simons Island, 179) and Steven Sainz (R-Woodbine, 180).

State Rep. Mickey Stephens, D-Savannah, who is from the 165th District, had an excused absence and didn’t vote.

None of the 36 House members who voted against the resolution are in districts near the coast, but several sit on committees in which they have influence on coastal environmental matters, such as Natural Resources, where the resolution emerged from, and the House Game, Fish and Parks Committee.

House Natural Resources and Environment Committee members who voted against H.R. 48 include state Reps. Sheri Gilligan (R-Cumming, 24), Tom McCall (R-Elberton, 33), Terry England (R-Auburn, 46), Tim Barr (R-Lawrenceville, 103), Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain, 133) and Sam Watson (R-Moultrie, 172).

Generally the higher district numbers mean more south and east, though there are several in the 150-180 range, like Moultrie, that are west of I-75.

Members of the House Game Fish and Parks Committee who voted against H.R. 48 include McCall, Barr, committee Vice-Chairman Matt Dubnik (R-Gainesville, 24), and state Reps. Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga, 2) and David Knight (R-Griffin, 130).

Utility moves to sniff out Academy Creek's odor issue
 tcooper  / 

The Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission contracted Jacksonville-based engineering firm Stantec on Thursday to look at ways to reduce the smell coming from Academy Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brunswick.

Stantec will look at nine pump stations that feed into the Academy Creek plan and the plant itself, which commission Chairman Ben Turnipseed said were identified as the main sources of the problem.

Based on its findings, it will offer the utility a number of solutions, their cost and effectiveness, he explained.

“This has been an ongoing problem within our system and once the study is complete that’ll give us the information we’ll need to make the revisions at the pump stations and install the necessary equipment at both the pump stations and the treatment plant to help control odor problems, which does affect our community,” Turnipseed said.

Commissioner Cornell Harvey said it would take roughly 60 days to complete the study, after which the utility will put out a request for proposal to take action based on the study.

“You’re right, it has been an ongoing problem, and this commission has gotten numerous complaints, as well as the city of Brunswick. I’m pretty sure there were some on St. Simons (near the Dunbar Creek treatment plant) as well. I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Harvey said. “... The city of Brunswick is 100 percent behind this.”

The commission approved the $51,499 contract 7-0.

Commissioners also voted to contract Georgia Water and Environment Services to determine the cost of extending water and sewer service to certain key areas of the county.

“Basically it’s to do an engineering study to extend sewer to the areas north and west of (U.S. Highway) 341 and (state) Highway 303 and north of Community Road, and also the Arco community,” Turnipseed said.

The contractor will have 60 days to complete the study, he added.

Commissioners again voted unanimously to approve the contract, worth $17,636.

In other business, the commission voted to enter an agreement with NuRock Acquisitions of Florida LLC for its property at 2307 Gloucester St. The property is appraised at $475,000, according to utility legal counsel Charles Dorminy.

According to the agreement, NuRock offered $500,000 contingent on its receiving $950,000 in tax credits from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for the construction of low-income housing.

“If the purchaser obtains the grant, then the property would close before March 31 of 2020,” Dorminy said.

According to John Donaghy, the utility’s finance director, this is the first time the utility has gotten a final monetary offer in the four or five years since the property went on the market.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the agreement.

The commission also tabled discussion of amendments to its pension plan and heard an update on potential Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 2020 projects from Junkin. The utility’s next regular meeting is scheduled for April 18.