2009 – 9th Annual GRN Conference

28 01 2009

Maximize Your Impact, Protect Your River
Friday, February 20 and Saturday, February 21, 2009
The Classic Center in Athens, GA

The conference will feature:

  • Keynote Speakers
    Saving Water, Saving Money – Mary Ann Dickinson, Alliance for Water Efficiency
    Communication About Water Issues in America – Ezra Milchman, River Network (national), President & CEO

    An Update on Georgia’s Statewide Water Plan and Current State Legislative and Policy Issues – Neill Herring, Sierra Club; Jill Johnson of Georgia Conservation Voters; Shana Udvardy, Georgia Conservancy
    Overview of the Altamaha Basin – Ben Emanuel, Georgia River Survey

  • Three informative tracks on Saturday:
    Water Efficiency:
    The Solution to Georgia’s Water Supply Problems – Featuring presentations on how Georgia can embrace water efficiency and address our water supply problems.
    Success Stories for Georgia’s Watersheds– Featuring presentations on projects to prevent pollution in our rivers and building our strength for bigger impact.
    Working In Your Watershed – Featuring presentations on monitoring pollution and the health of our rivers.
    Track chaired by Georgia Adopt-A-Stream
  • Friday Workshops
    “Communication for Impact” Erick Eckl, Water Words That Work
    “Get the Dirt Out: Train the Trainer” Jason Ulseth and Juliet Cohen, Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
    Train people in your community to spot problems on local construction sites, who to call if you see a problem, and how to follow up with the authorities to make sure the problems get fixed. Field trip incuded!
  • A Friday Night Party and Auction featuring Awards, music by the Georgia Mudcats, food and drinks
  • Fifth Annual River Celebration Awards honoring Georgia’s watershed groups, volunteers and river conservationists
  • Networking opportunities
  • Exhibits

EVENT: Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center holds bird banding workshop on Nov. 15

12 11 2008


By SANDRA OKAMOTO | The Ledger-Inquirer

Charlie Muise, coordinator of Georgia’s Important Bird Area program, will show volunteers how to catch, identify and band birds.

The workshop is 7:30-11:30 a.m. Nov. 15 at Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, 3535 S. Lumpkin Road.

He expects to catch northern cardinals, Carolina wrens, American goldfinches, mourning doves, downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, tufted titmice, mockingbirds and other species.

The fee is $5, $2 for children 10 and younger.

Call 706-687-4090.

Innovative Firms Gain Widening Profit Advantage By Going Sustainable

10 11 2008


The profitability gap between companies that compete on the basis of innovative products or processes and firms that compete with a low-price advantage has more than doubled over the past three years, a new survey of Georgia manufacturers has found.

The 2008 Georgia Manufacturing Survey also found that Georgia companies are making significant progress in adopting sustainable techniques – another form of innovation – though they tend to focus on short-term cost reduction rather than long-term profitability and growth.

Results of the survey, done periodically to assess the business and technological condition of Georgia’s manufacturing community, were released this week by the Enterprise Innovation Institute and the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The results are based on responses from 738 companies with more than 10 employees.

“Innovation remains as important as ever,” said Philip Shapira, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy and one of the study’s co-authors. “Those Georgia companies that innovate receive rewards for doing so. But a significant number of companies still have not adopted innovation as a leading strategy.”

The survey showed that companies competing on the basis of innovation had a three-year average return on sales of 14.5 percent – nearly twice the 7.6 percent average for companies competing with low prices. In the 2005 Georgia Manufacturing Survey, companies relying on innovation saw an average return on sales of 6.3 percent, compared to about 3.6 percent for the low-cost competitors. The gap between the rewards for these two competitive strategies nearly doubled during the 2005 to 2008 period.

Slightly less than 20 percent of Georgia manufacturers compete based on price, compared to fewer than 10 percent that use innovation as the competitive edge, the study found. Half of Georgia manufacturers report gaining a competitive edge from quality products or services. Other strategies include quick delivery, adding value and adapting to customer needs.

Wage rates are also associated with competitive strategy. Innovative companies pay an average of nearly $42,000 annually per employee, compared to a range of $33,000 to $37,000 for other firms.

The survey studied innovation in products, processes, organizational structures and marketing. About 70 percent of the manufacturers responding to the survey report that they had introduced a new or technologically improved product or process in 2008.

Support for the study came from the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Georgia Tech, the Center for Paper Business and Industry Services, the Georgia Department of Labor, the QuickStart Program of the Technical College System of Georgia, and Habif, Arogeti and Wynne, LLP. Beyond Shapira and Youtie, authors included Luciano Kay, Ashley Rivera, Bryan Lynch and Andrea Fernandez Ribas.

For more details about the Georgia Manufacturing Survey and to download the 2008 report, please visit (http://www.cherry.gatech.edu/survey).

Read on here.

Developer fined over buffer laws

28 10 2008


Rob Pavey | The Augusta Chronicle

A Burke County developer will pay fines totaling $50,025 over stream buffer violations at an Ogeechee River subdivision, according to Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division.

In an Oct. 8 consent order, the developer — Brannen & Son Inc. — also agreed to restore vegetation along the river where land-clearing activities at The River Bluff subdivision affected the required 25-foot stream buffer.

A citizen’s Jan. 22 complaint about tree cutting in the buffer zone was referred to EPD, the Georgia Forestry Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers, which ultimately issued a cease-and-desist order over violations of wetlands issues.

The case was complicated because logging had been conducted on the 37-acre site prior to the creation of the subdivision, which includes 29 riverfront lots.

“There were buffer encroachments during the logging, and once they started development, there were other buffer encroachments as well,” said Jeff Darley, the interim district manager of EPD’s East Central District office in Augusta.

Although there are certain exemptions to the buffer laws for timber activities, those exemptions do not apply to other development.

“During logging, if you encroach on a stream buffer, you are subject to a three-year moratorium on development,” he said. “The rule was designed to prevent developers from clearing the buffer through logging and then starting a development in there.”

In a Sept. 3 letter, Charles Brannen told EPD he was not using the timber exemptions to circumvent buffer requirements.

“There was no intent of the developer to exploit the rules. This was the condition the tract was in when purchased.”

Consequently, EPD agreed to waive the three-year moratorium and will allow the subdivision’s progress to continue, Mr. Darley said.

The buffer requirements are designed to protect watersheds from silt and dirt that can wash into rivers and streams if land is disturbed too close to their banks.

Maintaining a vegetative buffer also provides a shaded canopy that prevents excessive warming of the water

S. Fulton firm agrees to settlement over chemical stench

19 10 2008

George Nicholson was driving to his south Fulton County home one day two summers ago when he smelled an onionlike odor from the highway.

The closer he got to home, the stronger the smell.  “The smell was bothering everybody,” said Nicholson. “The dogs wouldn’t go outside.”

Nicholson and his Fairburn neighbors soon figured out the source of the stench — chemicals from the plant owned by Philip Services Corp., tucked away off Ga. 92, where wastewater was treated and sent to Fulton County.

About 2,000 residents — some from 15 miles away in Peachtree City — claimed the odor and chemicals caused health problems and made their lives unbearable.

At issue were water shipments from Alabama containing the agricultural pesticide ethoprop and an odorizer additive called propyl mercaptan. Ethoprop, also known as Mocap, is lethal to humans and wildlife in large quantities and is a known human carcinogen. The propyl mercaptan, commonly added to pesticides and natural gas as a warning agent, can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and skin irritation.

Last month, Texas-based Philip Services agreed in principle to a $4 million settlement. The settlement is scheduled to be finalized in April.

Despite the deal, those who live closest to the plant are not satisfied. Some say the chemicals that caused the smell beginning in June 2006 caused more serious health problems that have been ignored or covered up by local, state and federal officials. They want the plant shut down.

“At some point, [Philip Services] had to realize it was more than an odor,” said Nicholson, whose son’s allergies worsened. Nicholson’s wife had congestion issues.

Nicholson’s neighbor, Earl Hindman, blames the plant for the rapid deterioration in the health of his wife, Clare, 66, whom he said was diagnosed with amyotropic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, shortly after the smell began. She died Aug. 24.

“There’s no doubt in my mind. My wife was poisoned,” said Hindman.

An attorney who represented Philip Services noted a 102-page report by state and federal health officials found no hazardous levels of the chemicals believed to have caused the odor. The report was released in March.

Read on here.

Don’t Wait – Cast Your Vote Before Election Day!

7 10 2008

If you have chosen your candidates in the upcoming election, please vote in advance to reduce lines on election day and help ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Early voting began on September 22 in Georgia, and in the week before Election Day (Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31st), most counties will have multiple voting centers and extended hours.

To find out everything you need to know about voting in advance, by mail, and on election day (Tuesday, November 4), click here. Detailed information about voting by mail or advance voting is also available from the Georgia Secretary of State Elections Division by phone at (404) 656-2871.

First Annual Seafood Festival at Ray’s on the River this Saturday!

1 10 2008

This Saturday, October 4, Ray’s Restaurants will hold its inaugural seafood festival at Ray’s on the River on the banks of the Chattahoochee from 11:30-3:30 p.m. Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is the nonprofit beneficiary of this event, which will feature great seafood, wine tasting and demonstrations from Ray’s Award Winning Chefs. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 on the day of the event, and free for kids under 10. Click here for more information.

In addition, Ray’s will donate a percentage of sales from every Seafood Platter ordered by diners throughout October to UCR!