Local veteran works with national non-profit to bring hope, purpose and healing to others
Friday, November 11, 2022
Local veteran and business owner Tim Cooper has been working tirelessly with an organization that devotes time and resources into vets and first responders offering programs to engage and empower our nation’s heroes.
Founded in 2010, Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (SDIA) is a national non-profit founded and headquartered in Rogers, Ark. that provides charitable services benefiting the overall well-being of the nation’s “Sheep Dogs” (Veterans, Law Enforcement, Fire & Rescue, and EMS personnel) through Get Off The Couch™ programming. SDIA exists to engage, assist and empower our nation’s heroes through Outdoor Adventures (physical activity), Warrior PATHH training (mental wellness) and Continued Service/Disaster Response (volunteerism) programs. SDIA is made up of teams throughout the United States; Cooper serves with the Georgia Team.
Calhoun's Tim Cooper of Sheep Dog Impact Assistance.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 6,000 Veterans die by suicide each year, and twice as many first responders die by suicide than in the line of duty. Post-traumatic stress, injuries, depression, addiction and isolation can plague the nation’s Sheep Dogs to the point of thinking about and/or attempting suicide.
Our nation’s heroes have an instinctive desire to serve, and their service gives meaning and purpose to their lives. That’s where Sheep Dog Impact Assistance comes in, offering opportunities for physical activities to foster camaraderie, peer-to-peer training to transform struggle into strength and posttraumatic growth and volunteer opportunities for continued service, which helps prevent suicides in our Veteran and First Responder communities. These programs fulfill a Sheep Dogs’ innate desire to serve again.
“I attended a class with another organization, and another veteran that I met at that class was affiliated with Sheep Dog Impact Assistance at the national level,” said Cooper, who serves as the SDIA Interim Team Leader for the State of Georgia. “He told me about this organization. We kept in touch for about a year, talking back and forth. He discussed getting me and some of the other guys in that class to the Yellowstone trip with SDIA. I went on the trip and thought, ‘This is awesome.’ But I knew I couldn’t just take that trip to Yellowstone and not do anything else within the organization. So I volunteered with the Hurricane Ida relief, and stayed with the organization after that.”
Cooper served in the United States Army for 11 years and was medically retired with the rank of Staff Sergeant. During that time, he served three deployments to Iraq. For the past couple of years, Cooper has been heavily involved in SDIA and their mission.
According to Cooper, the organization is comprised of three tiers that offer hope for veterans and first responders that they can thrive and grow past their traumatic experiences.
“This is the only organization that has a program for those dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” said Cooper. “And it’s for both military veterans of any era, and public safety officials and first responders.”
The Outdoor Adventures program helps engage sheep dogs in physical activities which fosters healing and camaraderie.
“We get together and go fishing, hiking, whitewater rafting or other outdoor activities,” said Cooper. “The goal of the outdoor adventures is to get busy; to get off the couch and get out of your thoughts. The national organization gets a yearly trip organized to Yellowstone National Park to snowmobile. I was fortunate enough to go on that trip a couple of years ago.”
The program Warrior PATHH assists sheep dogs in learning to transform struggles into strength and posttraumatic growth. Warrior PATHH (Progressive and Alternative Training for Helping Heroes) is the nation’s first non-clinical, peer-to-peer program designed to cultivate and facilitate Posttraumatic Growth (PTG). PTG occurs when a person turns adversity, trauma and other challenges into positive psychological change, enabling them to THRIVE not in spite of, but because of their experiences. This training program focuses on Combat Veterans and First Responders struggling with traumatic stress symptoms (such as post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and other challenges associated with trauma), giving them the training necessary to make peace with the past, live in the present, and plan for a great future. This enables them to transform times of deep struggle into profound strength and lifelong growth.
The third program is Continued Service, or disaster relief missions. Cooper said that his favorite part of the organization is the Continued Service program.
“It’s been a very beneficial program for me,” said Cooper. “There’s something about volunteering to go on disaster relief missions that does me good. I know that we make an impact in the areas that we go into but I get just as much from it as well. Helping others helps me mentally.”
Cooper traveled to Florida a couple of weeks ago to complete disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Ian. He has also gone on disaster relief trips with the organization to Kentucky, for both tornado relief and flooding relief, and worked Hurricane Ida relief. Earlier this year, the Georgia team traveled to the Macon-Warner Robbins area for tornado relief efforts.
“We’re watching Hurricane Nicole now to see if it’s going to do damage,” said Cooper. “We’re preparing in case they need us. We don’t wait for things to happen or to get invited; we just go. These teams are from all over the United States and they’re ready to help.”
Cooper is now a local business owner, running Cooper’s Cleanup Services & More, removing unwanted items and cleaning out rooms, houses, sheds, barns and businesses. He has been heavily involved in the community in recent years, most notably with his service at the Oothcalooga Masonic Lodge No 154 F&AM and with Resaca Daylight Masonic Lodge. Keeping Cooper active is also his two children; one a student at Sonoraville High School and one at Red Bud Middle School. His work with SDIA is very important to him, helping him to channel his experience into helping others.
Cooper hopes that any veterans or first responders/public safety personnel in the community will look into the SDIA program. Cooper can do presentations about the organization with local public safety/first responders on request.
And for those who would like to support the organization, donations can be made at the national level by visiting www.sheepdogia.org or by making a donation to the Georgia Team by contacting Cooper.
For more information, contact Cooper directly at 706-618-6018 or find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100033592054756
Cooper, far left, during his time in the U.S. Army.
Cooper and other members of Sheep Dog Impact Assistance on a disaster relief mission during Hurricane Ian.
Shankly Elite Training LLC: Training students in both the game of soccer... and the game of life
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Coach Tyler Hudson, in red, works with a small group of players at Shankly Elite Training LLC, his new supplemental training program in Dalton.
The game of soccer has exploded in popularity in Northwest Georgia in recent years, especially in Dalton and the surrounding communities, where deep runs in high school soccer have been made at the state level. Dalton has even been declared “Soccer Town USA” by the New York Times for their multiple high school state champion teams.
It’s no surprise that soccer has seeped into the fabric of Northwest Georgia. Considered a European sport, FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) statistics show that there are now 24,472,778 Americans who play soccer at some level. Soccer is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the world, played by more than 250 million people in more than 200 countries, with more than 4 billion fans.
Making the most of the professional experience he gained in Europe, Tyler Hudson, a Dalton State grad who played the game of soccer growing up in England, has started Shankly Elite Training, LLC, a sports company that offers a supportive training regimen for soccer players throughout the region.
“We’re a private, supplemental soccer and sports performance training company,” said Hudson. “We are more focused on soccer than the other sports. We offer classes including one-on-one training, small group and team sessions.”
Team sessions work with those soccer teams that are already playing but need more detailed instruction.
“It gives us the chance to get into more of a detailed session where we replicate game movements which they can use in their team practices and games,” said Hudson.
Hudson has an immense love and knowledge of soccer and knew he wanted to somehow mix these things to start his own business.
“It was an idea I came up with after watching many different people around the world for many years,” said Hudson. “I had to wait until I graduated from college, then I was able to form my own company.”
The soccer trainer knew that the Dalton community and surrounding areas could use supplemental training and used contacts through his time at Dalton State to help begin building up clientele.
“Obviously Dalton and the surrounding areas are very highly soccer-oriented communities,” said Hudson. “I have met many people over the years through school and being around the town and among the community that helped me get my start.”
Hudson laughs that another foot in the door for him was the fact that he is from England.
“People in the community always ask me if I wanted to do something like this (training business) because there’s a stereotype of me being from England; everyone thinks I must know about soccer,” said Hudson. “That was the foot in the door for me really. But I worked on this for a long time and did a lot of planning; I put together a business proposal together and in June I went ahead and launched the company. It’s four months in and it’s been crazy. I’ve had kids coming in to train from everywhere.”
His training philosophy is more than just training for the game of soccer…he trains his students on the game of life as well.
“I try to make it more than just soccer,” said Hudson. “I put a strong emphasis on the kids. It’s not really about just building soccer players, but building people and building character. (The soccer training) doesn’t mean that the kids will go on to become superstars in the game because most of them will not likely get to the highest level of the game professionally, but I want to make sure they gain things that they never thought they could do (by training) with us; they may gain new friends, they may gain confidence in certain areas they didn’t have originally and then of course, it will set them off as a better person. I want to make them better players, but more importantly, better people…better team players, better people individually so they do gain more confidence in their own abilities.”
THE LONG ROAD TO NORTHWEST GEORGIA
Hudson began playing soccer in Liverpool, England, in a very working-class area, when he was around four years old.
“All we really know in Liverpool is soccer,” said Hudson. “Of course, we call it football, and it’s almost a religion. We are born, we go through our first three years of life and then we start playing soccer. I started in the grassroots Saturday-Sunday league in soccer. I was fortunate enough to play on some okay teams at the time. I went ahead through the first few years just playing local leagues, then I was fortunate enough to get scouted and picked up by Liverpool and Everton academies. I basically went through the academy system training 2-3 times per week, getting the exposure of professional facilities and environments. When I was around 10 or 11 years old, I got picked up by a team called Liverpool Schoolboys, which is made up of the best 16 or 18 kids playing soccer in the inner city of Liverpool. They had scouts at every game, and to be honest, I never got picked up (with a professional club) throughout those years…I just enjoyed playing for my local teams and my school team, as well as the Liverpool Schoolboys. But at that time, they took us to Holland to play in a big tournament. And we were good enough that we actually went over and played against Barcelona’s Academy. Some of those players in Barcelona that we played with are now actually playing in the Premier League (professional English soccer). It’s nice to have played with guys that went to the highest level.”
He attended high school at Alsop High School in Walton, Liverpool. Throughout the next few years, Hudson, who played the position of left back on defense, played in the regular weekend league, school soccer and played with the Liverpool Schoolboys. He was then scouted for Wigan Athletic, which at the time was a premier level team in England that now plays in the English second division.
“I actually signed with them and played with them between the ages of 13 and 16,” said Hudson. “I spent three years there trying to get recognized. That’s around the age that puts you in the limelight and gives you professional opportunities to go further in the game. You can get a pre-professional contract, called a Youth Team Scholarship which puts you into full-time soccer and you start getting paid a small amount, like an internship’s wage. You train full time and you do your schooling for your last two years of high school with the club. I played with Wigan and tried to get that contract, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out for me like I wanted it to for one reason or another, and I got released from the club when I was 16.”
While disappointment could have easily set in, Hudson was determined to play and realized that setbacks are opportunities for setups to something bigger and better.
“I spent four to five months with my dad, driving up and down the north of England trying to find a new club,” said Hudson. “My dad was taking me everywhere there might be an opportunity, like a few contracts left or somewhere they needed a position that I played.”
Hudson visited several different clubs and ended up meeting a man by the name of Tony Robinson, who is the father of U.S. soccer pro Antonee Robinson, a left back on the U.S. National Team who will be playing in the World Cup next month.
“Tony reached out to me and asked me to go to a connection that I had through my school since I was still in need of a club,” said Hudson. “He hosted regular sessions on a local field in Liverpool, and it was basically just guys being released from clubs who were looking to train at a high level. Tony was trying to open doors for these guys to get a chance to train for another club in hopes of getting signed. I went to his training session one time, and he called me aside and said, ‘Son, what on Earth are you doing here?’ It confused me - I was there because he asked me to be there! But he told me he was asking me that because he didn’t see anything that would be a reason to have been released from Wigan. He told me, ‘Give me a week and I’ll contact a club; I’ll send you there and they’re going to sign you.’ Literally a week later, I went to a club that was in the 4th division in England called Morecambe FC. I went for a week on trial, and then signed. I spent about a year-and-a-half there. I played for their second team, a reserve team of the pro team. I was playing with guys who were a lot older than me and were fully established, professional soccer players. I was getting a lot of good exposure and a lot of good experience. It was while I was there that I began looking at the American scholarship route to come over and play in college.”
That opportunity presented itself about 16 months into playing at Morecambe FC.
“I received a call one night after a game; I actually thought it was a scammer because it was a call from North Atlanta, Georgia,” said Hudson. “I called back and it was the assistant coach at Georgia State. He was actually from England himself, and he told me he had one of the scouts from the university watching me in a game and watched what I did, and he offered me a scholarship over the phone.”
Hudson said another call came on a Tuesday just after Christmas, and he was told to sit down because a lot of information was coming.
“I asked when I was going to America, thinking it would be in the summer,” said Hudson. “He told me, ‘No, that’s the deal…you’ve got to go next week.’ We’d just finished eating breakfast and I was sitting there with my teammates and he was telling me to pack my bags, go tell my coaches ‘bye,’ to tell my teammates ‘bye’ since I’d never be playing with them again. I packed my bags and took the first train from the club back home to Liverpool. The next night, he came to my home and spoke to my parents about what was going to happen and by Sunday afternoon, I was on a plane to Atlanta.”
Hudson was set up with a host family, the Samniks, in Atlanta.
“I went to their house, I didn’t know them and had never met them before,” said Hudson. “I walked into a completely new environment but I didn’t feel out of place whatsoever because they were so welcoming. I stayed with them for over four months and played for an academy in hopes to gain a college scholarship, of which I was offered 15. I eventually committed to play at the University of Wisconsin. I went home for a couple of months to get all of the paperwork sorted and get my visa, and found out two days before I was about to fly to Wisconsin that I was ineligible to compete for the NCAA because one of my classes in England didn’t transfer. I had to stay home for another year and I lost the full scholarship.”
Hudson took a night school course during the next year in England and worked menial jobs. He said that year really taught him a lot.
“It taught me that when I did come back, while nothing was certain I knew I would do whatever to get back over here, and when I did get back here, to do everything in my power, and work my tail off, to not have to go back to a job I just did not like doing.”
In June of 2015, Hudson made it back to America, and again stayed with Michael Samnik, who had ties to a new college soccer program in Northwest Georgia.
“He had already spoken to the coach at Dalton State, which was a new program at the time,” said Hudson. “They took three of us from England and I’ve basically been here ever since.”
Hudson got his first degree in Biology, ran into a visa issue and had to go home and fix it then come back to America for another degree.
“That put me on the right track to graduate this past May with my second degree, then start the company,” said Hudson. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, but it was worth it.”
Shankly Elite Training LLC works with all ages of soccer players, from little tykes all the way through high school. In the less than six months he’s been training players, parents are impressed with the results they are seeing.
“My son has been training with Tyler a little over a month now, and my son’s confidence has grown so much. Tyler pushes the kids to their full potential and teaches them quality techniques. We absolutely love the patience and dedication he has for the kids. I’ve seen the growth in my son, so now I take my 5-year-old daughter to his mini kickers training,” said Angelica.
Shankly Elite Training currently holds sessions at Riverbend Park (Whitfield County Recreation Department), Dalton High School and Heritage Soccer Complex, all located in Whitfield County. The company serves players from all around the region who travel to the training sessions. In addition to the one-on-one training, small group and team sessions, Hudson also offers a variety of camps throughout the year. Hudson also plans to introduce a mental and physical well-being course that will be offered to the middle school and high school students in the area, with the belief that there is much more to soccer than just the technical side of the game.
Hudson is thankful for the support he's received through the years, and plans to keep working hard to grow his company as a way to honor those who have encouraged him.
“I would never be where I am today without the ongoing support and guidance from my parents back home, the Samniks and many other families here in the U.S. that have treated me like their own,” said Hudson. “And of course, Tony Robinson, who helped to kick-start my U.S. journey.”
Sessions can be scheduled through Vagaro at https://www.vagaro.com/shanklyelitetrainingllc/.
Shankly Elite Training can be found on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/shanklyelitetraining_llc/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087267036256. Shankly also has a TikTok account at https://www.tiktok.com/@shanklyelitetraining_llc
For more information, follow Shankly Elite Training LLC on any of their social media platforms.
Gordon County Coroner James Carver will not be cited after hitting pedestrian in crosswalk
UPDATED: Thursday, October 13, 2022
ORIGINAL: Wednesday, October 12, 2022
The Georgia State Patrol is not citing Gordon County Coroner James Carver after a traffic incident last Tuesday, Oct. 4 where Carver struck a 77-year-old man walking in a crosswalk with his county-issued vehicle.
The Calhoun Police Department originally responded to the scene, but due to the incident involving a county vehicle and elected official, the investigation was handled by the Georgia State Patrol, with the CPD reporting in an assist capacity.
According to the Calhoun Police Department’s incident report, they arrived on the scene on Tuesday, Oct. 4, after a call was dispatched just before 11 a.m. to the intersection of Court Street and River Street in downtown Calhoun in reference to a pedestrian vs. law enforcement vehicle. After arriving on scene, an officer was able to locate the vehicle, a 2013 Ford Explorer owned by Gordon County and driven by James Franklin Carver, 73, of Spencer Drive in Calhoun. The report states an officer walked over to the pedestrian who was struck, identified as 77-year-old Cipriano Barajas Rios, of Lilac Way, Calhoun. The officer asked Rios if he was okay and where he was struck; Rios stated he was okay and denied medical treatment by signing a refusal from a med unit on scene. He told the officer he was struck in his left hip and arm area. The officer then walked over to the Title XChange, where Carver was located.
The report states that upon walking to Carver’s Gordon County issued vehicle, the officer observed Carver sitting in the driver’s seat. The officer began speaking to Carver and noticed his eyes were glossed over, watery and droopy, and that he also had sluggish reactions. The officer asked Carver what had happened; Carver informed the officer he was attempting to make a left turn off of Court Street and onto River Street and that he had the green arrow to make the turn. Carver then attempted his turn and struck Barajas Rios, who was crossing the road at the same time. While Carver was speaking, the officer noted in the report that his speech was slurred, and the officer asked Carver if he had consumed any prescription pills or had anything to drink. Carver told the officer that he did not drink and he was heading to the prescription shop to get a refill on his medicine. The officer asked Carver if he would be willing to do some Standardized Field Sobriety Tasks; Carver stated he would but advised that he couldn’t walk without his walker. The supplemental incident report states that “due to Mr. Carver’s inability to walk long distances (medical issues/age) he was not asked to step out of the vehicle.”
After performing several checks that included Carver following the officer’s finger with his eyes, the report notes that lack of smooth pursuit was present, and that distinct and sustained Nystagmus was present. Carver did notify the officer that he had shingles in one of his eyes. The investigating trooper then arrived on scene and took over the accident investigation; the CPD officer advised the trooper what had been observed in the Standardized Field Sobriety Tasks but the trooper conducted his own field sobriety and stated he “saw no validated clues,” according to the CPD report.
According to the CPD report, upon turning the scene over to the State Patrol, David Gibson, identified as the Risk Management Coordinator for Gordon County, arrived on scene; Gibson advised that “they have had problems with Mr. Carver in the past.” Carver was released from the scene and Gibson gave Carver a ride, according to the report.
The officer noted in the Calhoun Police report that based off of Carver’s mannerisms and the result of the CPD’s Standardized Field Sobriety, he felt it was unsafe for Carver to drive.
The GSP then conducted their investigation of the incident. According to their incident report, Carver was traveling east in his vehicle on Court Street, attempting to turn left onto North River Street. Barajas Rios was walking west on the north sidewalk of Court Street at its intersection with North River Street. Carver’s vehicle turned left onto North River Street, striking the pedestrian who was crossing North River Street. After impact, both Barajas Rios and Carver’s vehicle were relocated to a safe area off the roadway before the investigating trooper arrived on scene.
Carver told the GSP that he had a green left turn arrow traffic signal to turn left onto North River Street.
Barajas Rios, the pedestrian, told the GSP that he was traveling west and crossing over North River Street on the north sidewalk of Court Street. The report says that the pedestrian did not look at the pedestrian traffic control signal as he began crossing the street. He told the trooper he was struck by Carver’s vehicle on his left side.
A witness stated that he was traveling south on North River Street and that as he was approaching the intersection, he could see that his traffic signal was turning red so he began to slow to a stop. He said that the pedestrian began to cross the street and was struck.
The investigating trooper noted he observed the cycles of the traffic signals at this particular intersection and that it was determined the Walk/Don’t Walk signal would remain on ‘Don’t Walk’ unless the button was pressed on the signal. When the button was pressed by the investigating trooper, the ‘Don’t Walk’ signal was displayed until the green left turn arrow on Court Street was no longer illuminated. After the green left turn arrow on Court Street was no longer illuminated, the ‘Walk’ signal was displayed on the crosswalk to cross over North River Street.
The determination of the GSP’s crash investigation is that the pedestrian, Barajas Rios, did not press the button to activate the ‘Walk’ signal on the crosswalk pedestrian traffic signal, nor did the pedestrian abide by the ‘Don’t Walk’ pedestrian traffic signal that was activated when he began crossing North River Street. (OCGA 40-6-90 a: A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of any official traffic-control device specifically applicable to him, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.)
No citations were issued to either Carver or Barajas Rios.
Gordon County released a statement to the Gordon Gazette on Thursday morning, Oct. 13, saying "James Carver is elected by the people of Gordon County to serve as Coroner. Gordon County provides his office with necessary equipment to perform his duties as coroner including several vehicles. The County risk manager was on scene to collect information for insurance purposes."
Carver has been the Gordon County Coroner since the late 1970’s, and is believed to be the longest serving coroner in the state of Georgia. He was last re-elected in 2020.
Kemp visits Calhoun Wednesday during bus tour, says there is a 'fight for soul of our state'
Thursday, September 15, 2022
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, along with First Lady Marty Kemp, stopped in Calhoun on Wednesday, Sept. 4 during a bus tour of Northwest Georgia as part of Kemp’s re-election campaign.
After welcoming the large crowd that included the general public, local and state elected officials and public safety, Kemp addressed his fight for what he termed “a fight for the soul of our state.”
“We are working so hard every day to make sure Stacey Abrams is not going to be your next governor, or your next president,” said Kemp of his democratic challenger, Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia State Representative who is making her second attempt to become Georgia’s governor. “We are beating the bushes every single day, reminding people of where they would be now if Stacey Abrams was your governor; if you remember how heavily she criticized me, along with the national media and the media in Atlanta and the healthcare pundits when I was the first governor in our country to reopen small parts of our economy (during the pandemic shutdown). You remember how much grief I took, telling me I was doing the wrong thing and that it was a death experiment.”
Kemp said it was important for him to reopen the State of Georgia as soon as possible during the pandemic because as a former businessman, he knew the importance of getting small business reopened and people back to work.
“We’ve been there on Friday night; barely paid the people working for us, couldn’t pay our suppliers and thinking ‘are we going to be able to make it to the next Friday night?” said Kemp. “It’s a bad feeling to know you’re going to lose something you’ve worked over a decade for. It’s a bad feeling when you’re going to lose the roof over your head; it’s a bad feeling when the bank’s coming to get your truck or equipment. It’s a bad feeling thinking, ‘What happens next week if I can’t pay the people working for me? What’s going to happen to them and their families?’ That’s why I did what I did because I was listening to you. All I did when I (made that decision) was fulfill a promise I made in 2018 to put you first ahead of the status quo and the politically correct.”
Kemp said he also listened to the public concerning school closings.
“We did the same thing when we pushed to get our kids back in the classroom,” said Kemp. “Stacey Abrams criticized us when we did that. The data today in the Biden administration is the same data that we had when Donald Trump was president; it said our kids need to be in the classroom. Dr. (Kathleen) Toomey (Georgia Department of Public Health) and I understood that; we understand that we didn’t need to just do everything we could to protect lives but we had to protect livelihoods. (We had to protect) people’s financial wellbeing and also their children and how the children were going to be affected by this if they’re not in the classroom. Getting physical help and being around other kids is great mentally for them. All the other issues we talked about and warned about, we’re seeing now in other states. They weren’t having kids in the classroom and they’re struggling even worse than our kids are.
“We’re going to address the issues we do have and we’ve been working on that for months if not the last year concerning learning loss and other things,” continued Kemp. “People (were) playing pandemic politics; they were ‘following the science.’ They were following the political science. But the political science winds are blowing different now than they were in 2020 because people are seeing the bad results of not having your economy open and not having your kids in the classroom. I will tell you, it was sad to watch the other governors around the country where you could go to their state and gamble in a casino but you couldn’t go worship at your church. That does not make good common sense to me. We did not close places of worship here in Georgia and as long as I’m your governor, I will not.”
Kemp said the difference in this race is his opponent thinks the government knows what’s best for the people of the state and he wants to let the people decide because he believes in them.
“This is the big contrast in this race: you have a governor that believes in the people more than one person in the government. And Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden think exactly the opposite of that. They want to control and make every decision for you,” said Kemp. “They want to tell you whether you can go to work or not, they want to tell you whether your kids can be in the classroom or not, whether you can go to your place of worship or not. They also want to try to tell your people how your voting laws are in this state. If you remember when we passed the strongest elections integrity act in the county, they tried to cancel us. Big corporate CEOs and Stacey Abrams pressuring Major League Baseball and got them to move the All Star Game because they said (our election law) was suppressive and was ‘Jim Crowe 2.0.’ They even rolled President Biden out to say that; he didn’t even realize his own state of Delaware was more restrictive than our state and most other states in the country. But you know what, we did not waiver. We stood for the truth and what we knew to be the truth. These legislators that supported the bill, just like me, know what was in the bill. We knew it made it easy to vote and hard to cheat. And you know what? We stood up, did the right thing, and even though we lost the All Star Game, we got poetic justice because the Braves won the World Series. We got poetic justice again on Primary Day, because we had record turnout with the new voting bill that we have (in place), in the Republican Primary and the Democratic Primary. I have not heard any apologies yet from the other side, nor do we want any because all it did was verify what the truth is and it verified that they lied to you. They’re trying to scare you; they’re trying to tell you that we’re something that we’re not, but Georgian’s know different.”
Kemp said the concern for residents of the state is the people from other states trying to control the destiny of Georgia with the use of what he deemed ‘dark money.’
“Georgians also know that Abrams has raised 86 percent of her money from outside the state. It’s a lot of (money),” said Kemp. “But she’s going to need it, because those (donors) can’t vote here. They’re trying to use their money to empower her to control us. That’s why we’re in a fight for the soul of our state. But you (the public) control the ballot box here (in Georgia) because you can vote.”
Kemp feels the policies he and the conservatives put in place during the pandemic made Georgia a better place, including criminal justice reform.
“If we had have done what they wanted to do (during the pandemic), we would be in a much different place than we are right now,” said Kemp. “This is the same crowd that a year-and-a-half ago thought it was a good idea to defund the police, and Stacey Abrams said that with her own words. She said ‘We have to reallocate resources.’ Let me translate that: that means defunding the police. We passed legislation to keep rogue local governments from defunding police. We are going to stand with our men and women in law enforcement. Stacey Abrams said she backs the George Soros-backed ideas of eliminating cash bail. It’s insane what we’re seeing out there right now. We have to be tough on crime; we have to go after violent, repeat offenders. They’re dangerous people and we need to take them off our streets. No state in the country has done as much as we have on criminal justice reform. I support the good work that Governor (Nathan) Deal has done and some that we have done also, but that does not relinquish us, and me, from one of the prime duties of the Georgia constitution and that is the safety of its people. I take that very seriously and I look forward to working with your local law enforcement to do that.”
Another point Kemp made was the booming economy of the state throughout the pandemic; with economic development records broken the past two years.
“But if we had not been open; if you all and the rest of the citizens in our state had not been so resilient, we would not be in the economic circumstances that we’re in right now,” said Kemp. “(We have) the greatest economy I’ve seen in my adult lifetime; lowest unemployment rate in the history of the state, the most people we’ve had working in this state, least amount of people on the unemployment roll since post-911. The previous fiscal year (ending June 30, 2021), we had a record year for economic development: $11 billion dollars of new investment in the state with over 30,000 jobs (created); 74 percent of them were outside the 10 metro counties which is keeping true to my word of strengthening rural Georgia, which is what I campaigned on in 2018. We meant it and you’re seeing it here in North Georgia. This fiscal year that just ended, we crushed last year’s record: over $21 billion dollars in new investment in new investment, over 51,000 new jobs coming with that, over 75 percent of them outside the 10 metro counties. It’s just incredible because we’ve been open and we’ve been resilient. If Stacy Abrams had been your governor, that wouldn’t be happening right now.”
Kemp said that if Abrams had been the governor of Georgia, the help the public has received to fight inflation would not have been available.
“You wouldn’t have the ability for the General Assembly to work last year to fight through 40-year high inflation (if Abrams was governor),” said Kemp. “I don’t know about you, but I thought it was pretty disappointing to see 300 democrats celebrating the so-called Inflation Reduction Act yesterday on the lawn of the White House the same day the stock market plummeted. If you take out fuel and food, inflation went up in August. And overall CPI (Consumer Price Index) with everything included is still over 8 percent, close to the 40 year high we just had. To me, that is not something to celebrate, nor is raising your taxes when this president said he would not. That’s exactly what he did in that bill.”
Despite what is happening on a national level, the Governor said that he and his team are doing everything they can to help Georgians fight through inflation and property tax increases.
“We can’t fix every bad, broken policy in Washington D.C., but what the members of the General Assembly, the rest of the state team and myself is asking is, how do we help you fight through that? How do we help you fight through going to the grocery store? Remember when you used to be able to go to the store and buy a bottle of ketchup or mustard for $1 dollar and now you go and it is $5 dollars? That hurts hard working Georgians and their families. What we’ve been focused on is helping you fight through that; that’s why we sent a billion dollars of your tax dollars back to you last year to help you fight through 40-year high inflation. And if I’m re-elected on November 8th, we’re going to do it again this coming January to again help you fight through 40-year high inflation.
“We made the largest personal income tax cut in state history last year because we were open, because we budgeted conservatively and because we have a business-friendly environment, to put more money back in your pockets,” said Kemp. “We’re going to continue to work to do that in the future. We have suspended the gas tax since March to help you fight through 40-year high inflation. It matters. It matters when you talk to working Georgians across this state. We can’t control the bad domestic energy policy that this White House has implemented on this country and one that Stacey Abrams supports and helped him get elected to do. But we can help you get through that.
“Because we’ve been so fortunate in Georgia and because we were so resilient, we’ve seen our property assessments go up, which means our property taxes are going to go up,” said Kemp. “Not every local government is rolling back the millage rate to offset that. So what we’re going to do instead of spending excess revenue on pork barrel projects, we’re going to do a one-time property tax relief grant in January to help offset your rise in property taxes. We believe that’s going to save 15 to 20 percent for the average homeowner in the State of Georgia. (We are) just trying to help fight for our people.”
Kemp finished by telling the crowd that his goal is to continue to fight for Georgians to keep the state economically sound unlike other states with policies in place that Abrams supports.
“We’ve been fighting for you and we’re fighting now,” said Kemp. “And Marty and I, and our family, along with you, are going to fight until November 8th to make sure that we keep the good policies going, and that we don’t go the way of California or New York.”