phi kappa unveiling

Jess Brown, left, and a member of Phi Kappa unveil a portrait of Jeffery Monroe on Apr. 19, 2019 at the Phi Kappa Hall. (Photo/Foster Steinbeck)

UGA announced impending arrival of electric buses

In an effort to become more environmentally friendly, the University of Georgia is set to introduce electric buses during the fall 2019 semester.

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An electric demonstration bus stops at the Tate Center bus stop on September 26, 2018. The bus was run on the Orbit route during the morning hours to see how it handled on UGA's roads. The bus is part of an ongoing test program run by UGA campus transit to see which type of electric bus will work best on campus. UGA has been given a grant of $10 million to invest in electric busses. (Photo/Julian Alexander)

The 19 Proterra Catalyst E2 40-foot buses add to UGA’s growing campus transit system, which is one of the largest in the country with more than 11 million annual riders. Though an exact date of arrival has not been set, the addition of the buses represents a greener move on behalf of the university’s administration.

UGA began testing the electric buses after receiving a $10 million grant in 2016 from the GO! Transit Capital Program, administered by Georgia’s State Road and Tollway Authority. The estimated cost for the 19 electric buses and 14 chargers is $16 million, Director of UGA Transportation and Parking Services Don Walter said. UGA Transportation and Parking Services will provide the remaining amount for the purchase. The funds will come from transit capital reserves.

According to Forbes, a typical electric bus is around 58% more expensive than a diesel bus. However, energy costs for operating the electric buses cost less than $10 per day, while a diesel bus costs $90 per day per bus, Walter said.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed medical marijuana bill, allows cannabis research at UGA

With the passage and signing of Georgia House Bill 324, a new product could soon be cultivated and studied at UGA — medical marijuana.

HB 324, signed into law on April 17 by Gov. Brian Kemp, licenses UGA and Fort Valley State University to “produce, manufacture, and purchase low THC oil,” overseen by the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission. It licenses up to six private companies to do so, and Georgia’s 9,500 registered medical marijuana patients will be able to purchase and use the drug medicinally.

Medical marijuana has been legal in the form of low THC oil in Georgia since 2015, but it was illegal to grow, purchase, sell, or transport the oil until the bill was passed.

A notable opponent of the bill was Sen. Bill Cowsert, Kemp’s brother-in-law and a Republican legislator who represents part of Athens. Athens’ other state legislators — Sen. Frank Ginn (R-47) and Reps. Houston Gaines (R-117) and Marcus Wiedower (R-119) — voted for the bill.

ACC government opened application for mayor’s youth commission

Applicants applied by April 7 for the opportunity to be a part of the ACC youth commission, and the selection process is currently taking place. Over the summer, the students will come together to grow connections and work on team building, and the youth commission will officially begin around September.

Jestin Johnson, assistant ACC manager, said the goal of the commission is to involve more youth in local government. He said ACC wants to provide some foundation of understanding to the youth, and their staff has been trying to formulate ways to connect with the youth demographic.

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Mayor Kelly Girtz leads the first Athens-Clarke County Mayor & Commission meeting of the year and his first in this position on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Girtz served as district 9 commissioner from 2007 until his election as mayor. (Photo/Erin Schilling)

Kelly Girtz, mayor of ACC, wants the teen population in the community to become more engaged and knowledgeable in the local government and feel like they have contact with people in policy-making decisions, as well as growing into adulthood with the sense they have tools at their disposal and can be a part of leadership.

Jestin Johnson said the structure of the youth commission will look similar to the current mayor’s commission. ACC plans to have 11 students representing the various high schools, while potentially having an opportunity to include a few middle school students, as well as a committee of around seven to nine students that would serve as a mini thinktank to help formulate discussion.

In total, there will be about 15-18 students involved, but ACC is going to see what they receive from the application process, Jestin Johnson said.

If there are substantive issues the students would like to discuss, they will have an agenda, items that will come before the commission and debate before coming to some consensus. The students will vote and send recommendations to the mayor-commission.

Phi Kappa unveiled portrait of first African American president

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A newly-revealed portrait of Jeffery Monroe, Phi Kappa's first Black president. The unveiling marked a step in Phi Kappa's strides toward diversity. (Photo/Foster Steinbeck)

Crowded in the debate chambers with alumni and spectators, the Phi Kappa Literary Society unveiled its newest portrait of Jeffery O’Neal Monroe, the society’s first African-American president and newest-appointed Bibb County judge, on April 19.

The society originally passed a resolution to commission a photograph of Monroe and hang it in the hall in 2015, but constant scheduling conflicts and the semesterly turnover of the society’s officers delayed the process until December 2018, when Brown picked up the torch and created a GoFundMe for the project. Four months later, the society surpassed their initial goal of $350.

In addition to serving as the society’s first African-American president during the winter quarter of 1996, Monroe won two intersociety debate titles and was awarded the Phi Kappa Speaker’s Key upon graduation, the highest honor awarded by the society.

Since graduating from the UGA School of Law in 2000, Monroe has enjoyed a long legal career, serving as president of the Macon Bar Association and as a member of the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Georgia, among other roles. He was most recently appointed as the new Bibb County State Court judge in 2017.

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