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3 men charged with possession of child pornography

An investigation into “cybertips” reported to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force resulted in the arrest of three Polk County men last week after police say they discovered several images of child pornography in their possession.

According to Polk County jail reports, the three men were arrested on Wednesday, May 5, and charged with over 100 counts combined of child pornography.

Stephen Alexander Griffin, 34, of Aragon, faces 24 counts of felony possession of material depicting minors in sexual situations, Dacoda Lee Hughes, 24, of Cedartown, faces 66 counts as well as probation violation, while Keen Blaine Mabry, 25, of Cedartown, faces 14 counts. Griffin and Hughes remain in jail after they were denied bond.

Polk County Police Detective B. Brady said he worked with Polk County Chief Magistrate Judge Jean Crane to set a bond for Mabry after he was made aware of a health condition. He was released to a caregiver.

Brady, who is a member of ICAC, said the task force received tips on possibly child pornography from internet providers and through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is the first agency to issue subpoenas for any instances in Georgia and then assign cases to local law enforcement. The IP addresses tagged in some of the tips from internet providers came back to the three men’s residences.

Brady said interviews with the suspects and search warrants uncovered images downloaded from various websites on the suspects’ computers and phones. He said more charges for Griffin and Hughes could be forthcoming as more evidence is processed.

The illegal activity occurred from last last year to just recently, and Brady said they do not believe there are any local victims involved in the investigation.

The ICAC Task Force Program is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are continually engaged in proactive and reactive investigations and prosecutions of persons involved in child abuse and exploitation involving the internet.

Greene finds responsive crowd in Polk

Speaking on similar issues raised by former president Donald Trump, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene made a stop in Polk County last week to speak to a group of constituents in the strongly Republican county.

Hosting a town hall at JWR Land and Cattle Co. in Rockmart on Wednesday, May 5, Greene received rousing applause and verbal approval from the crowd of about 150 people, most of which were given access to the event by registering through the congresswoman’s website.

The first-year representative of Georgia’s 14th congressional district spoke about a wide range of topics, from her dismissal from any house committees to her work with the Republican-forged House Freedom Caucus.

Throughout the evening, which lasted just more than an hour, Greene came back to President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan and how the $2.7 trillion plan will not only hurt individuals in their pockets, but also in their jobs as part of the pathway to lowering carbon emissions.

“They want to pass these big bills, big spending bills, trillions of dollars, and in these spending bills they want to increase your taxes, and it’s a terrible thing,” Greene said. “You all work so hard every single day for the money that you earn, and you’re already paying your taxes. And then here we’ve got the federal government that wants to run you into deeper debt.”

Greene claimed Biden’s jobs plan is a thinly-veiled attempt at putting in the Green New Deal, an environmental- and energy-focused plan to reduce the country’s carbon footprint. Green said only a small fraction of Biden’s plan would be spent on infrastructure, one of the bullet points of the plan.

“We need to take care of our roads and our bridges and waterways and ports. These are very important things that tax dollars should be spent on,” Greene said. “But I don’t think anywhere in infrastructure does that mean the Green New Deal.”

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the American Jobs Plan is focused on upgrading and repairing America’s physical infrastructure, investing in manufacturing, research and development, and expanding long-term health care services.

To offset the cost of new proposals, the American Jobs Plan includes a number of tax increases on corporations through raising the corporate rate, the minimum tax rate on the foreign income of U.S. corporations, and imposing a new corporate minimum tax, among other changes.

As part of his administration’s broader climate change strategy, President Biden has made investing in electric vehicles a major focus of his jobs and infrastructure proposal.

Greene linked the push for electric vehicles with the supply chain of rare earth minerals used to manufacture batteries for them with China and possibly leading to the loss of jobs in the shipping industry when it comes to tractor trailers.

“I think electrical vehicles are cool, they really are,” Greene said. “But the government has no business forcing industries to move into something that is not part of their natural evolution.”

Jennifer Owens, a lease purchase truck driver from Aragon, spoke up when Greene answered her question about the effect Biden’s plan would have on the jobs of truck drivers in the country.

“I can tell you right now I’ll be voting no,” Greene said. “But everyone should be concerned about this bill. It’s a terrible bill. We shouldn’t be forced into a union or punished because you’re not a member of one.”

County police named area agency of the year

The Polk County Police Department was recognized twice during the May work session of the Polk County Commission.

Officers Andy Anderson and Thomas Howard were recognized for their actions during the March 25th severe storms when they responded to a serious chainsaw related injury.

Commission Chair Hal Floyd read a letter of commendation from Cpl. Robbie Akins, the two officers’ superior, detailing the pair’s actions when responding to a call on Lees Chapel Road in Cedartown where a man had suffered a serious chainsaw injury to his leg.

Officer Anderson and Officer Howard took immediate action to control the bleeding until the arrival of EMS, which was delayed because of the storm damage and utility trucks in the area following the storms.

The letter states that the officers applied trauma gauze and a tourniquet to the injury.

“EMS later advised that the action of these two officers very likely saved the young man’s legs,” the letter states.

“So thank you for your service. Thank you for what you did that night, and we appreciate all that you do,” Floyd told the officers.

The department was also recognized for being awarded the 2020 Agency of the Year by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for the 10-county Mountain Area. The award was given to the Polk County Police Department because of its outstanding work in the area of traffic enforcement.

Police Chief Kenny Dodd has also requested that the commission look into approving the purchase of body cameras for officers as opposed to dashboard cameras for new police cars.

Dodd said he hopes to save close to $11,000 by putting in for purchasing 12 body cameras instead of six new dashboard cameras. Currently, only a few county police officers — including K-9 officers and ordinance enforcement — wear body cameras.

“A lot of the time dash cameras don’t capture everything,” Dodd said. “This way we can provide a more accurate account of any encounter our officers come across.”

Dodd said they are also looking into making their data storage for all of their camera recordings more efficient and cost effective. He expects to have a proposal for the body cameras presented to the county’s finance committee at its next meeting.

Kemp signs series of education, business bills Tuesday (copy)

Gov. Brian Kemp last week signed into law a package of education bills to give veterans an easier path to becoming teachers and allow private groups to donate grant funds to struggling public schools in Georgia.

The six-bill package also aims to boost teacher training at historically black colleges and universities, increase the share of state funding for charter schools, bolster mentorships for new teachers and allow schools to use vehicles other than school buses for student transportation.

The measures mark the latest moves by Kemp and backers in the General Assembly to show more support for Georgia teachers following passage of a new income-tax credit program to attract retired educators back to classrooms and a string of teacher pay raises approved in recent years.

“Today sends a message that brighter, more prosperous days start with putting our students and educators first,” Kemp said at a bill-signing ceremony at Kennesaw State University on May 4.

One measure sets up a teacher-training certification program for active or honorably discharged veterans who have earned bachelor’s degrees, met certain grade-point-average standards and passed a state educator ethics test.

The bill also allows Georgia’s teacher of the year to serve as an advisor to the state Board of Education, assigns mentors to help coach teachers with three years or less on the job who have low performance ratings, and creates training programs in alternative education and at historically black colleges and universities.

Two measures focus on Georgia charter schools by allowing local charter schools to take a larger share of the roughly $11 billion in state funds allocated for public schools annually and creating so-called “alternative charter schools” that focus on students with poor grades or at risk of dropping out.

Other bills create a nonprofit outlet for private groups and taxpayers to make donations to struggling schools, allow schools to contract with companies for energy-efficient installations and let schools use vehicles that are not school buses for transporting students in underserved areas.

Those measures follow separate legislation Kemp signed last month allowing teachers in 100 rural or low-performing schools picked annually by the state to apply for a $3,000 credit on their income taxes for up to five years if they teach certain subjects that students are struggling to learn.

The bills signed Tuesday were sponsored by Republican Sens. Russ Goodman of Cogdell, John Albers of Roswell, Jason Anavitarte of Dallas, Greg Dolezal of Cumming, Steve Gooch of Dahlonega and Tyler Harper of Ocilla.

Kemp signs business bills in Cobb County ceremony

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a half dozen bills Tuesday aimed at spurring business investment in Georgia.

A bill signing ceremony at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce was highlighted by Kemp putting his name to legislation providing tax breaks to several key industries.

Senate Bill 6 includes tax credits for medical equipment and pharmaceutical manufacturers, aerospace defense projects performing arts venues, short-line railroads and developers of corporate “mega-sites.”

Kemp also signed bills aimed at streamlining the approval process for building projects, changing the definition of a small business and creating the criminal offense of organized retail theft to aid in prosecutions.

“These bills cut red tape, lower the tax burden on businesses, promote small business development and crack down on crimes that target Georgia businesses,” Kemp said.

The governor told political and business leaders Georgia has helped lead the nation’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic through his “measured reopening” of businesses while other states were shutting down economic activity entirely. He said his decision to protect livelihoods as well as lives sometimes drew criticism from the national media.

“It was not always popular to make these decisions, but it was important,” Kemp said. “Despite the headwinds of the pandemic, we continue to maintain our designation as the No. 1 place to do business.”

Kemp lifted virtually all COVID-19 restrictions on businesses in an executive order that took effect last Saturday.

The governor’s order eliminated all distancing requirements for bars and restaurants and mask requirements for workers. He also lifted all restrictions covering gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, body art studios, hairstylists and massage therapists.

Standard Journal Area Calendar of Events from the Wednesday, May 12, 2021 edition

The American Red Cross will hold a blood drive at First Baptist Church of Rockmart, 311 E. Elm St., on May 20 18 from 2-7 p.m. There is a critical need for blood at this time.

Join in helping to plan your county’s future by completing the Polk County Community Vision Survey www.nwgrc.org/polksurvey. Polk County and its cities are working on the 5-year update of the Polk Joint Comprehensive Plan and want everyone to get a chance to give their opinion on topics that matter all, including transportation, economic development, housing, and historic and natural resources. Your input will be used in deciding which improvements and projects to pursue in the next five years and beyond.

A anointed gospel singing will be held in Peek Park in Cedartown on May 15 from noon to 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome and all who attend will get free lunch along with drinks and dessert. Groups and singers include Zenk Turner, Skeeter Hindman, Katherine Croker, Darlene Johnson and The Faithful Promise.

Sons of the American Legion Post 12 in Rockmart is hosting a $5 All-You-Can-Eat spaghetti and meatball supper the third Wednesday of the month from 5-7 p.m. at 1 Veterans Circle. Each meal comes with garlic bread, salad and tea, and all proceeds got to veterans’ and children’s programs.

A memorial service for Vietnam War veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Ray McKibben will be held Monday, May 31, at Center Cemetery in Felton at 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend. For more information call 470-217-6882.

The Clothing Bank at Kresge United Methodist Church is open the first Thursday of each month. The church offers free clothing for ages birth to 5 years old from 9 to 11 a.m. The church is located at 15 Booger Hollow Road in Cedartown.

The Good Neighbor Center Food Pantry in Cedartown located next to the Cedartown Seventh-day Adventist Church on Woodall Road receives foods from various donors. Food boxes are distributed on the last Sunday of the month from noon to 3 p.m. Recipients still remain in their vehicle when getting food boxes. For updates, visit the Cedartown Seventh-day Adventist Facebook page at facebook.com/cedartownsdachurch.

Tallatoona CAP is accepting appointments for the LIHEAP Cooling Assistance Program for households with seniors age 65 or older. Appointments are on a first-come, first-serve basis and can me made online at www.tallatoonacap.org or by calling 770-817-4666 or 770-773-7730 and selecting option 2. Applicants must qualify based on the FY 2021 annual income guidelines.

The Rockmart Library will host its Summer Reading Program kickoff event on Saturday, May 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Seaborn Jones Park in Rockmart. The event is designed to help register children for the program through the Beanstack app on mobile devices. Manual reading logs will be available as well. For more information contact the library at 770-684-3022.

The Northwest Georgia Center for Independent Living holds a COVID-19 Peer Support call every Monday at 2 p.m. via the Zoom website and by phone. For the link and password, or if you need assistance, contact Christina Holtzclaw at 628-246-1825 or choltzclaw@nwgacil.org.

Want to get your event or announcement on the calendar? E-mail JStewart@polkstandardjournal.com.