SBA offers disaster assistance loans to Georgia

ATLANTA – The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to Georgia small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza announced today. SBA acted under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, to declare a disaster following a request received from Gov. Brian P. Kemp on March 17, 2020.

The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in the entire state of Georgia; and the contiguous counties of Barbour, Chambers, Cherokee, Cleburne, De Kalb, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Lee, Randolph, and Russell in Alabama; Baker, Columbia, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Madison, and Nassau in Florida; Cherokee, Clay, Jackson, and Macon in North Carolina; Abbeville, Aiken, Allendale, Anderson, Barnwell, Edgefield, Hampton, Jasper, McCormick, and Oconee in South Carolina; Bradley, Hamilton, Marion, and Polk in Tennessee.

“SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist Georgia small businesses with federal disaster loans. We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19),” said Administrator Carranza.

SBA Customer Service Representatives will be available to answer questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and explain the application process.

“Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and

small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred,” said Carranza.

“These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing,” Carranza added.

Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75 percent. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 18, 2020.
For more information about Coronavirus, please visit: Coronavirus.gov.
For more information about available SBA resources and services, please visit: SBA.gov/coronavirus.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

Beware of COVID-19 scams

ATLANTA – Attorney General Chris Carr is encouraging Georgians to remain vigilant and only rely on trusted sources when it comes to information concerning COVID-19.  Various scams already have been discovered that are designed solely to deceive and disrupt local, state and federal responses to the pandemic. Scammers continue to monitor the headlines looking for ways to steal money and/or personally identifiable information from Americans.

“Criminals continue to exploit the COVID-19 outbreak – trying to  steal, deceive and disrupt,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We often see fraudsters use texts, and unfortunately, they are at it once again. If you or anyone you know receives one of these texts, please immediately contact our office or law enforcement so we can better protect Georgians during this difficult time.”

At this time, the legislation aiming to provide Americans with money to support them during the COVID-19 outbreak is still in draft form. Reports that checks are currently available are false – Congress is still debating this issue. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer. If passed, the government will not text you nor ask you to pay anything up front to get this money, and the government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer. If you spot one of these scams, please contact our office or notify the Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov/complaint.

Again, DO NOT respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. We join the Federal Trade Commission in reiterating the following tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:

  • Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
  • Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
  • Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
  • Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.

For information on COVID-19, see the following resources:

  • What You Should Know – How COVID-19 Spreads, Symptoms, etc. (here)
  • Updates from Governor Kemp’s Coronavirus Task Force (here)
  • How Is Georgia Responding to COVID-19 (here)
  • Situation Summary (here)
  • Avoid Scams (here) or (here)
  • Preventing COVID-10 Spread in Communities (here)
  • Higher Risk & Special Populations (here)
  • Healthcare Professionals (here)
  • Resources for Healthcare Facilities (here)
  • Resources for Health Departments (here)
  • Laboratories (here)
  • Communication Resources (here)

To file a complaint with the Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division:

  • CALL: 404-651-8600 inside the metro Atlanta area
  • CALL: 1-800-869-1123 toll-free outside of the metro Atlanta calling area
  • To report suspected scams online, visit consumer.ga.gov.

Two charged with murder

Justin Payton Hooker of Dalton and Nadya Catherine Schwartz of Chatsworth have been charged with the murder of Kenneth Bunn of Chatsworth.
Bunn’s body was found under the Conasauga River Bridge on Carlton Petty Road on Monday. His body was identified “through pictures, clothing, tattoos, and other information provided by witnesses,” according to a release from the Murray County Sheriff’s Department.
Hooker and Schwartz were arrested on Thursday. They are now in the Murray County Jail.

Community Foundation creates virus fund

DALTON —  The Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia has launched the COVID-19 Response Fund, a charitable fund designed to provide flexible resources to organizations throughout the region that serve the most vulnerable individuals and families of Northwest Georgia communities amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“From families exercising social distancing to volunteers dropping off groceries at an elderly neighbor’s doorstep to doctors and nurses standing ready at our hospitals, everyone is doing their part to respond during this unprecedented time,” says David Aft, president of the Community Foundation. “We are bracing for what’s ahead, and that’s one reason why we have developed a giving mechanism to raise and deploy much-needed funds to local nonprofits whose missions are to serve the underserved in the communities across Northwest Georgia.”

Aft noted that the fund serves two purposes. First, it will enable people who feel compelled to give during the COVID-19 crisis to make donations now to a trusted partner committed to directing funds to organizations throughout the Northwest Georgia region with proven track records of efficiently serving struggling individuals and families. Second, it will enable the Foundation to help administer those funds to ensure that the donations are distributed to local organizations that help people here in Northwest Georgia. Donations given to national funds may not provide assistance to our region.

“We are still shaping how this fund will operate,” Aft says. “What we do know is that the need will be immediate and long-term. Distributions from our COVID-19 Response Fund will be guided by local volunteers and, at least initially, target areas of immediate need and hardship arising from the recent health crisis. As we learn more about our local needs and the changing nature of this unprecedented situation, we will adapt our process.”

The Foundation has made giving to the COVID-19 Response Fund easy. People who want to contribute should navigate to the COVID-19 Response page on the Foundation’s website and select a giving level in which they feel comfortable — $25, $50, $100, $500, $1,000, or $5,000.

“The online donation process takes less than three minutes,” he says. “You can direct your gift to help specific counties within Northwest Georgia. Our promise is that we will fulfill each donor’s wishes. And as always, donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.”

Donations can be made online at https://www.communityfoundationnwga.org/covid19response. The Foundation also has a link on their Facebook page.

“We know this crisis has the potential to reshape many aspects of our lives,” Aft says. “Charitable giving and the work of key civic and humanitarian organizations will continue to play a vital role.”

The mission of the Community Foundation is to promote philanthropy and charitable giving throughout Northwest Georgia.  Individuals wishing to learn more about ways to respond charitably during the crisis are encouraged to reach out to the Foundation by calling (706) 275-9117 or emailing Aft directly at David.Aft@CommunityFoundationNWGA.org.

“Our job is to help people who are interested in making a difference develop strategies that best suit their needs,” he says. “Charity isn’t just what we do — it is who we are.”

State to expedite nursing licenses

(ATLANTA)-Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is taking action to expedite licensing for healthcare professionals who come to Georgia to help fight the spread of COVID-19. The Georgia Board of Nursing, under the Professional Licensing Boards, a Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, will begin issuing temporary permits to nursing professionals licensed in other states who come to Georgia in response to the declaration of a public health state of emergency in Georgia. These licenses will receive expedited review, less than 24 hours for a temporary license and less than 7 days for a regular application, to better respond to the public health threat.

“Fighting, defeating, and overcoming coronavirus in Georgia and across the country will require enlisting the help of the best and brightest medical professionals available,” said Raffensperger. “Regulatory barriers should not get in the way of public health. Quick, temporary licenses for qualified nursing professionals to practice in Georgia will help ensure the people of Georgia have access to the best care possible.”

On March 16, 2020, Governor Brian Kemp signed a public health state of emergency to address COVID-19 in the state of the Georgia.

Following the declaration, the Georgia Board of Nursing, under the Professional Licensing Boards, a Division of the Office of the Secretary of State, has enacted provisions for the issuance of temporary permits for nursing professionals who have come to Georgia to fight the coronavirus spread. Licensed practice nurses, registered nurses, and advanced practice registered nurses who have an active license to practice anywhere in the U.S. will be eligible to apply.

To limit bureaucratic obstacles these dedicated health professionals face in Georgia, the temporary licenses will be reviewed in less than 24 hours. Regular licenses will be reviewed in less than 7 days.

Applications can be submitted and permits can be verified at http://www.nursys.com/. Please visit the Board’s website at www.sos.ga.gov/plb/nursing for more information.

Georgia is a member of the Nurse License Compact (NLC), which allows licensed practical nurses or registered nurses from other NLC states with multi-state licenses to practice in Georgia.

Health Department limits services

North GA – In order to protect our clients, health department staff, residents and communities and to better shift our focus on our coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response, the North Georgia Health District is limiting services to only the most crucial public health services.

At all public health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties, these are the services that are currently offered until further notice:

  • Birth Control
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Immunizations for children 5 years of age and under
  • Tdap vaccinations
  • Hepatitis A vaccinations
  • Medicaid enrollment for women’s health and pregnancy
  • WIC vouchers

Protective measures in place at our county health departments, include:

  • Residents are urged to make an appointment for services.
  • Visitors will be screened at health department entrances for symptoms of COVID-19, including fever or cough, or if they have tested positive for the virus.
  • To help limit the number of people entering the health department and maintain social distancing, adult clients are asked to enter the health department alone, instructing any other adults or older teens who may be accompanying them to remain outside or in their vehicle.
  • Children who are clients are to be accompanied by one adult.

These measures are in place for the safety of our clients, health department staff, residents and communities.

Local county health departments in North Georgia may be reached at the following numbers:

  • Cherokee: Canton (770) 345-7371 Woodstock: (770) 928-0133
  • Fannin (706) 632-3023
  • Gilmer (706) 635-4363
  • Murray (706) 695-4585
  • Pickens (706) 253-2821
  • Whitfield (706) 279-9600

We regret this inconvenience to the public, but it is part of the North Georgia Health District effort to protect our communities as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For easy access to the latest COVID-19 updates and recommendations from both the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), log onto our COVID-19 Information for North Georgians web page at http://bit.ly/COVID19-Updates-NorthGA.

Food bank needs donations

CHATTANOOGA – The Chattanooga Area Food Bank is preparing for a possible 30% increase in the need for our services during the COVID-19 pandemic. We anticipate an additional cost of up to $100,000 every month to cover the growing need caused by coronavirus and the economic impact that will follow. If major food donors like manufacturers or grocers are unable to continue donating food to us, costs could grow to $400,000 monthly
The Chattanooga Area Food Bank has launched Operation Feed Our Neighbors to address this critical need, but can only do so with the community’s support.
Empty store shelves may be a very familiar sight for the 1 in 8 people overall – including 1 in 5 children – who face hunger in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. But stocking up isn’t possible for them when putting food on the table is a daily struggle.
Who needs help?
* For thousands of children, the free and reduced meals they receive at school may be the only food they can count on. With school out, they may not know where their next meal will come from.
* Parents who have to miss work to care for children out of school may be putting their paychecks and ability to buy food at risk.
* Seniors at highest risk from coronavirus are being told to prepare supplies to stay at home, but they may be already struggling to balance the cost of food with medicine, utilities, rent and other necessities.
* Still more people face unsure futures as businesses are closing or significantly reducing services.
* We are now serving people who have not needed our services in the past.
In this time of uncertainty, gifts of money and time will put nutritious food into the hands of those who need it.
Every $1 helps provide 4 meals. Of every dollar donated, 95 cents goes straight to food and programs. Volunteers provide essential support.
As the community supports each other by practicing safe health habits, we need help to feed the children, families and seniors who most need us during this time.

About the Chattanooga Area Food Bank
Founded in 1972, the Chattanooga Area Food Bank’s mission is to lead a network of partners in eliminating hunger and promoting better nutrition in our region. In its 20-county service area in southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia, 1 in 8 people, including 1 in 5 children, are food insecure. Annually, the Food Bank distributes more than 13 million meals through its network of partner agencies to serve children, families, seniors, veterans and others who are facing hunger. The Food Bank is a proud member of Feeding America, the largest hunger relief umbrella nonprofit organization in the U.S. For more information about the Food Bank or to how to get involved, visit chattfoodbank.org, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Georgia gas prices plunge

Georgia gas prices have fallen 9.0 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.07/g today, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,883 stations. Gas prices in Georgia are 17.6 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and stand 32.3 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Georgia is priced at $1.69/g today while the most expensive is $2.80/g, a difference of $1.11/g. The lowest price in the state today is $1.69/g while the highest is $2.80/g, a difference of $1.11/g. The cheapest price in the entire country today stands at $0.57/g while the most expensive is $4.99/g, a difference of $4.42/g.

The national average price of gasoline has fallen 14.3 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $2.22/g today. The national average is down 21.2 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands 32.9 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

Historical gasoline prices in Georgia and the national average going back five years:

March 16, 2019: $2.39/g (U.S. Average: $2.54/g)

March 16, 2018: $2.39/g (U.S. Average: $2.53/g)

March 16, 2017: $2.17/g (U.S. Average: $2.29/g)

March 16, 2016: $1.88/g (U.S. Average: $1.96/g)

March 16, 2015: $2.26/g (U.S. Average: $2.42/g)

Neighboring areas and their current gas prices:

Augusta- $2.01/g, down 10.5 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.11/g.

Macon- $2.06/g, down 12.8 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.19/g.

Atlanta- $2.03/g, down 12.3 cents per gallon from last week’s $2.15/g.

“It’s coming true- gas prices are plummeting in every town, city and state with the national average seeing one of its biggest weekly declines in the last decade,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “The number of stations selling gasoline under $2/gal has risen to nearly 40,000, up from 15,000 a week ago, while retail prices have collapsed to as low as $1.24/gallon in Oklahoma City last week, with more price drops coming for nearly every station in the week ahead as they continue to pass along the lower replacement cost. The root cause continues to be coronavirus related, since demand for oil slumped globally, inducing the current price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia as they both raise output, causing oil prices to crash through the floor. Such a large decline at this time of year is mind-blowing, as gas prices have risen in all but one year in the last ten during the spring. All good things may not last forever, however, as rumors swirl that Russia and Saudi Arabia are holding high level talks to reign in the collapse in oil prices, which could eventually end the party at the pump.”

Turkey season starts Saturday

SOCIAL CIRCLE – Gobble. Cluck. Purr. Georgia turkey hunters are practicing their best turkey calls as they get ready for the statewide turkey hunting season opening Saturday, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“We saw an uptick in reproduction in 2018, so that could mean a better number of 2-year-old birds in the woods this year,” explains Emily Rushton, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator. “We also had a higher than average jake harvest in 2019, nine percent of the total harvest, which typically means a better harvest the following spring.”

What can hunters expect across state regions this spring? Harvest in the Ridge and Valley region of the state could be up, as 2018 was a phenomenal reproductive year. The Blue Ridge Mountain region also saw a jump in poults per hen, indicating promise of a good harvest.  The other regions of the state, the Piedmont and Coastal Plain, had increases of varying levels, suggesting a fair to good harvest in these areas. With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from Mar. 21 through May 15 – one of the longest seasons in the nation – to harvest their bird(s).

Cedar Creek and Cedar Creek-Little River WMA Hunters, take note! The 2020 turkey season will run April 4-May 15 on these properties. This is two weeks later than the statewide opening date. This difference is due to ongoing research between the University of Georgia and WRD, who are investigating the timing of hunting pressure and its effects on gobbler behavior and reproductive success. Through this research, biologists and others hope to gain insight to the reasons for an apparent population decline in order to help improve turkey populations and hunter success at Cedar Creek WMA and statewide.

Georgia Game Check: All turkey hunters must report their harvest using Georgia Game Check. Turkeys can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (www.georgiawildlife.com/outdoors-ga-app), which now works whether you have cell service or not, at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661. App users, if you have not used the app since deer season or before, make sure you have the latest version. More information at www.georgiawildlife.com/HarvestRecordGeorgiaGameCheck.

Hunters age 16 years or older (including those accompanying youth or others) will need a hunting license and a big game license, unless hunting on their own private land.  Get your license at www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, at a retail license vendor or by phone at 1-800-366-2661.

With many pursuing wild turkeys on private land, hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting.

Conservation of the Wild Turkey in Georgia

The restoration of the wild turkey is one of Georgia’s great conservation success stories.  Currently, the bird population hovers around 250,000-300,000 statewide, but as recently as 1973, the wild turkey population was as low as 17,000. Intensive restoration efforts, such as the restocking of wild birds and establishment of biologically sound hunting seasons facilitated the recovery of wild turkeys in every county. This successful effort resulted from cooperative partnerships between private landowners, hunters, conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Wildlife Resources Division. The Georgia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has donated more than $6,000,000 since 1985 for projects that benefit wild turkey and other wildlife. The NWTF works in partnership with the Wildlife Resources Division and other land management agencies on habitat enhancement, hunter access, wild turkey research and education. The NWTF has a vital initiati

Murray County Sheriff’s Office seeks public’s help

The Murray County Sheriff’s Office has issued the following press release:

On Monday, March 16, 2020, at approximately 1600 hours (4:00 p.m.), the Murray County Sheriff’s Office responded to Carlton Petty Road at the Conasauga River Bridge regarding an unidentified deceased white male appearing to be in his twenties.

The area was processed by investigators of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The male was transported to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy by the State Medical Examiner.

If anyone has information regarding this incident or happened to see anything suspicious between the dates and times of Sunday, March 15, through Monday, March 16, at approximately 1600 hours (4:00 p.m.), please call the Murray County Sheriff’s Office at 706-695-4592 ext. 339 or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region One at 706-624-1424.