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Appellate court to wait until Supreme Court abortion ruling before ruling on Georgia law

ATLANTA – The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Friday, Sept. 24, on Georgia’s controversial abortion law, and justices said they were inclined to wait on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on a Mississippi abortion law before issuing a ruling.

“That would be the prudent way to proceed,” said Justice William Pryor during the hearing, which was livestreamed on the court’s website. Attorneys on both sides of the case – Jeffrey Harris for the state of Georgia and Gov. Brian Kemp, and Elizabeth Watson, representing SisterSong – said they had no issue with the court delaying a decision.

Georgia’s abortion law — known as the Living Infants Fairness Equality Act – seeks to prevent abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, typically six weeks into pregnancy, except in special situations.

Lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights led the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in December 2019 to rule the law unconstitutional. The legislation, which the General Assembly passed earlier that year, had been scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

If the 11th Circuit agrees with the district judge on SisterSong v. Kemp, Georgia could then appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which may then look at the law’s constitutionality and reexamine the precedent of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand.

The Mississippi case coming before the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1 is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which has the potential to challenge Roe v. Wade. The case has drawn more than 1,000 friend-of-the-court briefs so far from groups on both sides of the issue.

Leap into fall at Rock City Gardens

The region’s longest-running Oktoberfest celebration returns to Lookout Mountain Saturday, Oct. 2, through Sunday, Oct. 31, at Rock City Gardens. The 15th annual German-themed harvest festival, Rocktoberfest, offers delicious new German food and a variety of themed entertainment from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Rocktoberfest hosts one-of-a-kind characters including the Fall Fairy, Jerry the Mime, Ik the Troll King and a caricature artist onsite to draw pictures of guests, included free with admission. There will also be Rock City Raptors birds of prey shows, live German music from The Musik Meisters and Wurstbrats, and mini-pumpkin painting.

German food will be offered at one of several eateries throughout the park beginning at 11 a.m. Café 7 is serving a variety of new dishes including the Beyond Brat (plant-based bratwurst) with sauerkraut; Wienerschnitzel with house-made spaetzle (German dumpling-style noodles) and Black Forest ham topped in Swiss fondue; Beef Rouladen (braised beef rolled around a stuffing of bacon, onions and pickles) with German style potato salad; and an apple crisp featuring Clumpies ice cream.

At the pavilion guests can try specialty Oktoberfest beer sponsored by Chattanooga Brewing Co., a Bavarian pork sandwich with kraut, beer cheese soup in a bread bowl or grilled bratwursts, or venture nearby for a warm oversized pretzel.

Big Rock Grill is offering a Black Forest burger and German chocolate cake, with other fall treat options like pumpkin spice fudge at the Fudge Kitchen.

This event has been selected as a Top 20 Event for 2021 by Southeast Tourism Society. Visit for the entertainment schedule and to make reservations for timed entry. All tickets during October are available online only.

Rock City has an ongoing partnership with CHI Memorial Foundation honoring breast cancer awareness month during October. Several pink “survivor” products are sold, with a portion of proceeds benefitting the organization’s MaryEllen Locher scholarship program for students whose parents have been impacted by breast cancer. This year’s college scholarship recipient is Luke Qualey, who has been awarded $1,250.

Oktoberfest coming to Ringgold

Rabbit Valley Farmers Market, in partnership with Farm to Fork restaurant, will host Ringgold’s first-ever Oktoberfest celebration.

The event is set for Saturday, Oct. 2, from 6-9 p.m. at the Market Pavilion at 96 Depot Street in Ringgold.

Sponsored by local business Dreamscapes Hardscapes of Chattanooga, this event promises to be fun for everyone.

Local food vendors will be selling traditional foods such as brats and Bavarian style pretzels, and there will also be hamburgers, kettle corn and lemonade.

Farm to Fork will be selling beer from the Ironmonger Brewing Co., and traditional-style beer mugs will be available for sale at the event.

Traditional Oktoberfest attire will be worn by event coordinators, and festival-goers are encouraged to dress up for the occasion as well. There will be a costume contest at 8 p.m. and Hometown Promotions will play traditional music throughout the festivities.

“One goal of the market this season was to bring in activities that would reignite fun community events,” Rabbit Valley Farmers Market manager Samantha Martin said. “We wanted to start new traditions and offer events that Ringgold has not had in the past. Oktoberfest was the perfect fit.”

The city of Ringgold has provided picnic tables and other seating arrangements for this event, but festival-goers are more than welcome to bring their own chairs or blankets for seating.

Ringgold, Fort Oglethorpe city elections: 7 candidates — 5 incumbents, 2 challengers

Two candidates have come forward to challenge incumbent city council members in Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe for the Nov. 2 general election.


In Ringgold, two council seats are up for grabs, with three people running. The top two vote-getters will be the winners.

Incumbents Randall Franks, an actor and entertainer, and Kelly Bomar, a teacher, are seeking re-election. They are being challenged by Earl Henderson, a school bus driver and a former council member.

Franks, 56, was elected to office in July 2009 to fill the seat vacated when Vice Mayor Tom Clark died. He was re-elected in November that year and started his first full term in office in January 2010.

Bomar, 41, took office in January 2018, so he’s seeking his second term. He has lived in Ringgold all his life. The Ringgold High graduate is a music educator at West Side Elementary and has been the percussion coordinator for the Ringgold High School Marching Tiger Band for 14 years.

Earl Henderson, 62, is a former council member, serving 2014-17. The Ringgold High School graduate retired from a career at the local Advance Auto Parts after 25 years and has spent the past two years as a school bus driver for Catoosa County Public Schools.

Fort Oglethorpe

In Fort Oglethorpe, three council seats are available, but only one seat, or ward, is being challenged. Voters can make a choice for each ward.

Incumbents Jim Childs, representing Ward 2, and Craig Crawford, representing Ward 3, are running unopposed. Incumbent Paula Stinnett, representing Ward 5, is will face Clay Kissner, a paving contractor.

Childs, 70, who is retired, took office in January 2016. During his time in office, he served a year as mayor pro tem.

Craig Crawford, 43, took office in January 2014, so he is seeking his third term.

Kissner, a former council member, ran for re-election in November 2013 and was defeated by Stinnett. Stinnett, 56, was elected to her seat in November 2013 and took office January 2014. If re-elected, she will be serving her third term.