Grant Blankenship

Reporter

Grant came to public media after a career spent in newspaper photojournalism. As an all platform journalist he seeks to wed the values of public radio storytelling and the best of photojournalism online.

Ways to Connect

Grant Blankenship / GPB

What do kids need for success in school? Good textbooks? Great teachers? Sure. But there are some intangibles, too.

Three former sheriff’s deputies in Washington County, Georgia face murder charges. A man they tased this summer died. The incident was captured on video. We talked with GPB’s Grant Blankenship, who is following the case.

 

  

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 

Most school days You can find Jared Moore teaching freshman English at Northeast High School in Macon.


On a recent morning, students all faced each other, with their desks arranged in a room filling oval. Before they got to discussing the day’s text, Moore brought the class to attention.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

What did you do the last time your toaster broke? Or your smart phone? 

If you said you threw it out, you aren't alone. So in an age when its more the habit to toss electronics than to fix them, why would you teach high school students how to put together a circuit board? 

Well, not everything is digital. And some stuff can't be replaced.

GPB News

As the world comes to grips with the unprecedented damage of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, millions of Americans in the southeastern United States are working to rebuild their lives. Irma crossed into Georgia in the early morning hours of Monday, September 11, 2017. Over the next 24 hours, water inundated island and beach communities over 100 miles of coastline. Winds topping 69 miles per hour toppled trees and power lines. 1.1 million Georgians lost power and three lost their lives.

Grant Blankenship

When Hurricane Irma took out the power in Marshallville, Georgia, Monday, it took the water pump behind City Hall with it. 

Since then, the 1,500 or so residents of Marshallville have had no drinking water. Officials with Georgia's Environmental Protection Division said eight South Georgia water systems are under boil advisories with more to come soon. That's where Marshallville Chief of Police Ronald Jackson said the city finds itself now that the power is back on and the water is running.

Grant Blankenship

The contents of a child’s room–baby dolls, blankets, toys–line the ditch in front of Cary Westbrook’s house in Radium Springs not far outside Albany. She hasn’t lived there since January. The windows are nailed dark with nine month old plywood and the roof is gone.

 

“It’s not habitable at all. At all,” Westbrook said.

 

NOAA

 

 

Hotels across the South are booking up, as people leave the coast ahead of Hurricane Irma.

All it takes is a quick look at any of the online booking sites to see. Georgia’s hotel rooms are sold out. Brigette Lee is the director of sales of the Holiday Inn on the north side of Macon, Georgia. She says people leaving the South Carolina barrier islands beat Floridians to the punch by looking for rooms as long ago as last Friday.

Jessica Gurell / GPB

Every day in the United States 91 people die of opioid overdose. That includes prescription opiates and heroin. Over a year, that’s more than ten times the number of people who died on 9/11. On today’s “On Second Thought,” we’re going to hear from some of the people struggling with addiction, those who offer help, and communities caught in the middle.

Jessica Gurell / GPB

Dr. James Black wants opiate drug seekers to know not to look in his emergency room.

“You know, we're not going to be easy prey, so to speak, for people with repeated usage,” Black said. Black is the director of emergency medicine at the Phobe Putney Medical Center in Albany.

In the context of national trends, Southwest Georgia doesn’t have it as bad as other places. Opiate use is in decline here, but Black said he has seen his fair share of overdoses.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

Imagine a man going from 170 to 255 pounds before your next big trip. Ruby-throated hummingbirds fight for the chance to do just that near the end of every summer. What does that sound like? Listen here to find out. 

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 

 

Dependable sources of labor and a fresh look at international trade topped the wish list of farmers and other stakeholders when they met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Friday.

Perdue held a roundtable discussion in Tifton in his role as the head of President Trump’s Task Force on Rural Prosperity. It was the first such roundtable in the South.

“We’re here from the federal government and we’re here not to hurt you,” Perdue joked.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

Three hours. 

That's about how long it takes to get from Macon's airport to Union Station in Washington, D.C. 

How? Contour Airlines is the latest air carrier to take a shot at using Macon's status as a recipient of Federal Essential Air Service subsidies as a cornerstone of their business plan. That program is under considerable threat by the Trump administration, but Contour's application was processed just before the election last November. It amounts to $4.7 million dollars in subsidies. 

Grant Blankenship / GPB

In Macon, people came to the most ancient spot in town to watch the 2017 eclipse, the Temple Mound at the Ocmulgee National Monument. 

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 

 

Continuing disputes between the United States and Canada over lumber imports will not get in the way of a new factory announced Wednesday in Bibb County.  

 

Canada based Irving Consumer Products announced their intent to build a $400 million, 700,000 square foot plant  which will turn softwood lumber into toilet tissue in Macon. That will create 200 permanent jobs.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 


Allison Goldey says there’s one big question that makes her job hard.

“How do we even think about solving this problem without knowing what we have?” she asks.

As the head of the Macon-Bibb County Land Bank, Goldey is on the front lines of the $15 million blight remediation effort in the city. The Land Bank buys blighted houses, which the county then demolishes. The thing is, Macon-Bibb County can’t really say where its blighted housing is.

 

 

Georgia Congressman Austin Scott (R GA-08) wants to end a program that offers subsidized, low cost cell phones.

Scott introduced the End Taxpayer Funded Cell Phones Act in late July. It would end an Obama era program which provides basic smart phone service to people with low incomes for $9.25 a month.

A Nashville great at the Cox Capitol Theatre, experimental pop at the Fresh Produce Music Hall a

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 

 

When students don’t come to open house, why not take open house on the road?

That’s what teachers at Hartley Elementary in Macon did the day before the first day of school this week when they piled onto a bus and toured the Hartley school zone.

Why do this? Principal Carmalita Dillard said, sure, a lot of kids missed open house, but there were other reasons.

“I want the teachers to be able to experience where our kids come from,” Dillard said.

 

 

When she was a kid, SaVana Cameron says she loved to sing.

“But I never did voice lessons or anything like that,” she said.

She didn’t get serious until her senior year of high school when she landed a solo in the musical "Annie."

“After I did the solo that night a lot of people came up to me and said ‘You have a really pretty voice,’” she said.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

On average, scores released in the 2017 Georgia Milestones end of year test show incremental but positive improvement for schools across the state. Look past the big picture, though, and schools still have ground to make up. 

Take third grade literacy, largely held as one of the best predictors of future academic achievement. Third grade literacy ranged from being almost universal in some suburban schools to being largely absent elsewhere.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

Mike Mantione said he gets to live out his teenage fantasy, right around the halfway mark of the song "Palace Estates."

“It's got the best guitar solo I've ever done,” Mantione said.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

    

When Hollywood comes to your town, it can be exciting. It can also mean a lot of work.

 

The crew for the upcoming film "Best of Enemies" was in Macon recently. Filmmakers used the County Commission Chambers downtown as a stand in for City Hall in 1960s-era Durham, NC. For that to happen, there was a lot of 21st century stuff that had to move. That was Justin Crum’s job.

 

Grant Blankenship / GPB

Georgia will partially comply with a request for voter data made by President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission. The commission recently asked all 50 states for everything from party affiliation to Social Security numbers for registered voters.

 Candice Broce is spokeswoman for Secretary of State Brian Kemp. She says Georgia can’t share party affiliation, because the state doesn’t record it.

 

Homeless Pets are everywhere in Georgia. The issue has been labeled the biggest challenge facing shelter and rescue operations in our state. We spoke with Gloria Dorsey, vice president of Community Education at the Atlanta Humane Society. We also heard from Jessica Rock, a founding partner at Animal Law Source.  

A new café in Atlanta caters to cats and their humans. At Java Cats Café, you can order coffee and hang out with adoptable cats. GPB’s Sean Powers stopped by to learn more about this purrfectly feline coffee shop. 

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 

 

The numbers are in after four months of a six month experiment in promoting coyote hunting in Georgia. The results are mixed.

 

Trappers have turned in 176 coyotes to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources since March in what DNR is calling the Coyote Challenge. Jennifer Wisniewski, communications manager for the DNR Wildlife Resources Division, says that may sound like a lot until you consider what deer hunters do every fall.

 

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 

 

They say you can’t go home again. So maybe you should take a good long look before you leave?

That’s what seniors from Northside High School in Warner Robins did recently when they took a field trip to their old elementary and middle schools.

At Westside Elementary, students lined the halls to see the graduates. When Northside students walked in wearing their blue caps and gowns, students and teachers erupted.  At the head of the line is Alexis Monroy. This was her school.

If you live north of Macon, Columbus or Augusta and you think you’ve been seeing more gnats this year, you could be right. Even so, Jeff Burne says it could be worse.

“I've been some places in the tropics where I literally had to wear a respirator because they'd clog up your nose,” he said during a recent interview in his office.

“That’s a lot of gnats.”

 

Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band are all too happy to rock your town. For almost 10 years, the wife and husband duo has made their living as constantly touring troubadours bringing their unique songwriting and electrified banjo sound to places off the beaten path and into the nooks and crannies of the touring circuit. 

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