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Hall County Commissioner Bell selected for foreign policy delegation to Israel

Hall County Commissioner Bell selected for foreign policy delegation to Israel

Gainesville, GA --  Hall County Commissioner Ashley D. Bell will leave Sept. 5 for Israel as part of a national delegation of emerging American leaders. Commissioner Bell was selected by the American International Education Foundation, the educational arm of American Israel Public Affairs Committee that funds the trip concentrating on foreign policy.

"I have always been a strong supporter of Israel and am humbled by their invitation to learn more about domestic and foreign policy, as well as take some time to visit the Holy Land,” Commissioner Bell said. “As a Christian, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I feel blessed to be able to take this time to also focus on my faith in such a historic setting."

Participants will include elected officials, civic leaders and political activists who seek to gain an in-depth understanding of modern Israel.

Cagle raises $18K in off-election year

Cagle raises $18K in off-election year

ATLANTA -- Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has more than $208,000 in the bank for a possible re-election bid in 2014.

A report Cagle filed with state officials Friday showed the Gainesville Republican has raised a little more than $18,000 in the first six months of 2011, a non-election year when fundraising is typically sluggish.

He already had $344,262 left over from last year's successful bid for a second term as the state's No. 2.

Finance reports detailing campaign contributions and expenditures were due with the state ethics commission by Friday night.

Cagle trailed at least one other top Republican in the Senate, where he presides. House Rules Committee Chairman Don Balfour of Snellville raked in $137,000 for the first six months of the year. He has more than $174,000 in the bank.

(The Associated Press)

Georgia appeals ruling on immigration law

Georgia appeals ruling on immigration law

ATLANTA -- A spokeswoman for the state attorney general says the state has filed a notice of appeal of a federal judge's ruling that blocked parts of the state's law cracking down on illegal immigration from taking effect.

Spokeswoman Lauren Kane says the notice was filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, but has not yet been filed with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The office will file court papers outlining the state's objections to last week's ruling.

The decision from federal Judge Thomas Thrash granted a request filed by civil liberties groups to block two sections of the law from taking effect until a lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality has been resolved.

Other parts of the law, passed by the Georgia Legislature this year, took effect Friday.

Goodwill receives $5.7 million grant to help those in need

Goodwill receives $5.7 million grant to help those in need

ATLANTA -- Good news is coming for many Georgians who are struggling to find jobs.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recently announced that Goodwill of North Georgia will receive $5,724,222 to help people with barriers to employment, namely ex-offenders and low-income non-custodial parents, obtain the skills they need to find work.

The funds will go toward an Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration program, which offers temporary paid work experiences to more than 3,500 people nationwide. The program improves participants' employability, earnings and opportunities for advancement, not to mention their self-sufficiency and long-term success in the workforce.

"This grant provides needed support to individuals who face significant obstacles to employment," Solis said.

Commission chairman supports tax increase

Hall County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Oliver announced Thursday that he supports a property tax increase to balance the 2012 budget, in lieu of massive cuts for employees and service reductions for citizens.

“As a resident of Hall County, I cannot ask county employees, firefighters, EMTs and deputies to protect my family, if I am not willing to protect their families,” Chairman Oliver said. “This tax increase is essential if we are to retain our experienced staff and keep this county running quality, efficient services.”

Chairman Oliver said his tax bill on a home valued at $180,000 would increase by $101.50/year, or 28 cents a day, if the Commission approves the increase.

Since the recession began in 2008, sales taxes, property taxes and other county income have dropped dramatically. As a result, the tentative fiscal year 2012 budget has an $11.5-million shortfall.

Town Hall meeting on June 2nd is open for resident feedback

Town Hall meeting on June 2nd is open for resident feedback

Hall County, (submitted by Nikki Young)  District 3 Commissioner Scott Gibbs invites the public to attend a town hall meeting at 7-8:30 p.m. June 2 at the Hood Center, 6008 Hulsey Road, Clermont, GA 30527. He seeks input on the proposed 2012 budget.

“I want to hear what citizens have to say about the budget. I welcome their input,” Commissioner Gibbs said.

Hall County Government is in the process of drafting a budget for fiscal year 2012. The proposed budget will be published on June 2. A presentation and public hearing will take place during the Board of Commissioners meeting on June 9 at 6 p.m. at the Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville. The budget and millage rate must be approved before the fiscal year begins July 1.

Immigrant contributions to the U.S. Economy

A new SBA Office of Advocacy sponsored report by Robert W. Fairlie examines the contributions of immigrants to the U.S. economy. Some of its findings are:

    Immigrants are nearly 30 percent more likely to start a business than are nonimmigrants, and they represent 16.7 percent of all new business owners in the United States.

    Immigrant business owners make significant contributions to business income, generating $67 billion of the $577 billion in U.S. business income, as estimated from 2000 U.S. Census data. They generate nearly one-quarter of all business income in California—nearly $20 billion—and nearly one-fifth of business income in New York, Florida, and New Jersey.

    Nearly 30 percent of all business owners in California are immigrants, compared with about 12.5 percent of the population of U.S. business owners.