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Senator James on the mend after serious case of COVID-19

District 35 state Sen. Donzella James has been missing in action now for most of the current General Assembly.

As the legislative session got rolling this year, James fell ill and that’s kept her from going to the Capitol up to now.

James is an Atlanta Democrat who represents the eastern half of Douglas County in the Senate.

James spoke by phone and said she began the session and shortly after felt ill, testing positive or “inconclusive” for COVID-19.

James, who’s been out with COVID-19, said she’s spent most of that time working from a hospital bed.

Additionally, James explained that she had some prior respiratory issues dating back to 2016 that have since resulted in a perfect storm of complications along the way.

James said she was taking oxygen through January and February and early-on was listed in “critical condition.”

But James added that lately she’s on the mend and “improving every day.” She hopes to make it back to the Capitol by the last week of the session, but even then it won’t be for long days.

“I probably would just go and make roll call and vote, or go to my office and when it’s time to vote come back upstairs and vote,” she said.

She said she’s been forced to miss a lot of face-time with colleagues at the General Assembly, but she has done her best to keep up with what’s going on in this year’s session from the hospital.

“I’ve never really stopped working. Someone was bringing me paper work and I’ve been streaming [online] from the Capitol to stay caught up,” she said.

James, like many since the pandemic hit, has attended meetings via Zoom, she said.

“I was very ill,” she said. “Some days I didn’t say very much. Unfortunately it’s been a crazy session.”

James, still in isolation, says she’s not now contagious and hoping that doctors will release her in time to make it back to the Gold Dome for the final week of this year’s session. The session runs through March.

“A lot of important bills have come through and I wish I could have been there for my constituents in person. But I did what I could to encourage the vote the way I would have voted by staying in touch with colleagues,” she said.

James noted one such bill, HB 290, which has recently gone through the Senate, and would require health care facilities where a patient is staying for more than 12 hours to allow a “legal representative” — defined as someone at least 21 years old and designated as someone who can act on behalf of the patient — to be at the patient’s bedside at least one hour per day. The legal representative would be allowed at hospitals and long-term care facilities.

James commented that her own experience this year served to show her how important it is for loved ones to retain some access to family members in the hospital, despite recent restrictions.


Local
'GOOD TIME': Alexander grad Moon has top country song in nation
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Alexander High teacher and coach Brian Robinson always knew Nic Cowan had the potential to exceed at whatever he chose to do beyond school.

It came as no surprise for Robinson to see that Cowan, who goes by Niko Moon, has the top song on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Moon’s single “Good Time” hit the charts in November 2020 and has risen to No. 1.

“He always had the potential to be good at anything he did,” said Robinson, who taught Moon in middle and high school. “He is a very talented young man.”

Moon is a former state champion in the 3,000-meters in track and field and was the top runner on the Cougars 2000 state champion cross country team.

Music has always been a passion for Moon, who is also a songwriter. He signed with Sony Music Nashville in July 2019.

“Their reputations speak for themselves and their belief in me is truly humbling,” Moon said at the time of his signing with the record company. “I believe that a person is only as strong as the people they surround themselves with, and with this team, the sky is the limit.”

Prior to releasing his debut album, Moon collaborated with Zac Brown and is credited with writing five songs for the Zac Brown Band.

Moon’s style has been described as one that embodies the “layered synthesis of his Georgia roots, pairing Atlanta-bred hip-hop with rural-fed traditional country,” according to a RCA Nashville news release.

Moon becomes the latest singer with ties to the county to hit big on the Billboard music charts.

In 2019 Lithia Springs High graduate Lil Nas X, real name Montero Hill, spent a record 19 weeks atop Billboard Hot 100 chart with his song “Old Town Road” that featured Billy Ray Cyrus.

Douglas County High graduate Megan Danielle Phillips captured national attention on ‘The Voice’ as a popular contestant.

Moon moved from Texas to Georgia at the age of 10 when his father gave up a music career to become a truck driver.

A temp job by his mother relocated the family to Douglasville.

Moon started out as a drummer, the same instrument his father used to play.

“Both my parents are songwriters,” Moon said on his website. “They’re not professional, but they love to do it. Some of my first memories in life were crawling into the living room and watching them write a song together on guitar, sitting Indian-style on the floor.”

He was also talented in running, which earned him a scholarship to Samford University in Birmingham.

He left school after a year to pursue his musical career.

While waiting on his big break, Moon worked a construction job to earn a living, which parlayed in his owning a real estate appraisal company.

According to his website, Moon caught his big break when a a booking agent booked him for $200 a night.

He would eventually move to Nashville where his career has taken off.

“Good Time” is described as more than just an album but “a way of life for Moon,” a bio on his website says.

Moon’s relationship to both hip-hop and country makes the cross-pollination a natural one,” the website reads.

“Douglasville, Georgia, where he spent his teens, is 30 miles due west of downtown Hotlanta, the epicenter for OutKast, T.I. and The Ying-Yang Twins. Douglasville is likewise 30 miles north of Newnan, the home of holy-jeans wearing country singer Alan Jackson and the birthplace of “Seven Bridges Road” songwriter Steve Young,” the website reads. “Adding to Moon’s musical upbringing, his father was a part-time musician with a penchant for smart country artists — such as John Prine and Kris Kristofferson — and all those influences blended into Moon’s artful persona: a mix of hooky melodies, shrewd wordplay and edgy, electronic beats.”

“If my life was to have a sound, this is it,’ Moon says of the summery architecture in Good Time. “The way I think of it is bass and drums is Atlanta, and everything above it is Douglasville.’ ”


Local
Cartersville man arrested for shoplifting spree
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A Cartersville man is back in jail after being arrested for shoplifting and failing to appear in court.

William Weaver, 41, was arrested two days before his birthday on March 10 for shoplifting at a home improvement store, according to arrest records.

It was the second time that he has been charged with shoplifting. The latest arrest stems from charges that he took $1,529.98 worth of tools from Lowe’s on Douglas Boulevard around 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 6, according to an arrest warrant.

He is being held without bond after also being charged with a failure to appear warrant, which also stems from a shoplifting charge the same day.

Weaver was out on bond from shoplifting charges that allegedly took place on the same day at Arbor Place Mall.

He was charged with taking close to $1,000 worth of clothing from Dillard’s, according to an arrest warrant.

The arrest warrant from the Lowe’s charges stated that Weaver allegedly took an impact drill, a welder and a port torch that totaled $1,500.

According to the warrant, he “pushed all items passed all points of sale” without payment.

He left the premises in silver Chrysler 300, according to the arrant warrant.

Weaver, along with Michael Crowe, is also charged with taking $997.50 worth of clothing from Dillard’s between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. the same day, another warrant stated.

After failing to appear in court for the warrant for the Dillard’s charges, a felony bench warrant was issued, according to court documents.

There is currently an active bench warrant for Crowe, court documents state.

An April 12, 2021 hearing on a bond forfeiture had been waiting prior to Weaver’s latest arrest, according to court records. He had a Dec. 7, 2020 court date for the Dillard’s charges, but court documents showed he failed to appear.


Local
3.3 million more Georgians now eligible for vaccine
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By STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

The floodgates opened Monday for Georgians wanting the COVID-19 vaccination.

Gov. Brian Kemp added all adults over 55 and those with high-risk health conditions from diabetes and cancer to hypertension and obesity to the list of Georgians eligible for the vaccine.

Officials with Kemp’s office say that, overall, another 3.3 million people are eligible, meaning more than 6 million Georgians overall can now seek vaccination, according to the Associated Press (AP). Georgia has about 8.4 million residents 16 and older, the AP reported.

The move comes as Georgia works to improve its worst-in-the-nation share of the population that has been inoculated against the respiratory illness.

Before Monday, Georgia was offering vaccinations to people 65 and older, preschool and K-12 education employees, medical workers, emergency workers, residents and employees of long-term care facilities, intellectually disabled adults, and parents of children with certain complicated medical conditions.

While many Georgians were able to secure vaccine appointments over the weekend, with so many people now eligible, the shots were harder to find Monday.

Although Walgreens and Kroger showed available appointments on their websites Monday morning, attempts to book those appointments were met with error messages as people snapped up the chances to get the shots, the AP reported. Publix and Ingles showed all their vaccination appointments were fully booked. A few appointments remained available at state and local public health mass vaccination sites, but some feared that older people will be crowded out in a new rush for appointments.

“Once we start expanding the number of people who are able to get vaccinated, the younger, more tech-savvy individuals are definitely going to snatch up those spots from the seniors,” Dr. Cecil Bennett in Newnan told WAGA-TV.

The Douglas County government announced via Facebook on Monday it was trying to help, with county residents 55 and older eligible to call for a vaccination appointment Tuesday, March 16. The county urged residents who qualify to call them between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m at 770-489-3100 or 678-626-5630 for more information about scheduling an appointment.

Premier Drugstore in downtown Douglasville is one of many independent pharmacies also working to vaccinate residents. In a Facebook post Sunday, Premier announced that for a fourth-straight week it had “gotten zero first doses.”

Premier said on Facebook it gave close to 600 doses to the community last week, including at a pop-up event Saturday afternoon. The drugstore said the doses it received last week came from a local hospital that transferred its extra doses.

“We were rewarded by getting zero doses this week,” the Sunday Facebook post reads. “We need everyone in our area to reach out to the state health department and governor’s office and ask them why we will receive zero doses this week especially since the phase opens up to cover more people than ever starting tomorrow 3/15. We are trying our best to make sure Douglasville and the surrounding areas are not forgotten when it comes to vaccine distribution. It seems like we ask every week ... But please reach out to your elected officials and ask them to send us more vaccines!”

Appointments can be made directly at the Arbor Place Mall mass vaccination site operated by Cobb & Douglas Public Health by visiting https://gta-vras.powerappsportals.us/ and residents can also visit cobbanddouglas publichealth.com for more information about appointments.

Another website, https://vaccinefinder.org, lets you search by zip code to find retail pharmacies with vaccines in stock. The website showed a few local pharmacies in Douglasville with vaccine appointments available late Monday afternoon. However, many pharmacies require you to make a first dose appointment and second dose appointment (usually 3-4 weeks after the first dose) at the same time for the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Kroger is one such pharmacy, and it will not allow vaccine seekers to make an appointment unless the same Kroger location has both first and second dose appointments available. Kroger and some other pharmacies in north Georgia also have the newly approved one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Kroger, Walgreens and other chains appeared to be opening appointment slots at different times over the last few days. So, if a vaccine seeker doesn’t find an appointment at first, they might find one by checking the pharmacy website later.

Another resource for those searching for the vaccine is the Facebook group GA COVID VAX APPT HELP (unofficial). The public group has over 15,000 members and many members are glad to share information and help fellow Georgians find open appointments. The group is at https://www.facebook.com/groups/836814577 165399


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