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City Notebook
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Chambliss, Miller vote to keep waste at SRS

An amendment that would have obliged the government to obey current law in cleaning up high-level radioactive waste at the Savannah River Site failed to pass in the U.S. Senate last week.

The 48-48 tie vote on the Hollings/Cantwell amendment means that the Department of Energy will be allowed to label high-level waste as “low-level” waste by the simple addition of a layer of grout on top of the existing radioactive sludge in the 51 waste storage tanks at SRS.

Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Zell Miller both voted against the amendment.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts missed the vote, as was the case with potential Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards of North Carolina.

“Once the tanks have been filled with grout, it will be virtually impossible to reverse the action,” said Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson in a letter to the senators shortly before the vote.

“It is quite obvious that the primary desire in reclassifying this waste sludge is monetary savings,” Johnson wrote.

Activists were outraged.

“Regrettably, both Sen. Chambliss and Sen. Miller voted against the

Hollings/Cantwell amendment that would’ve protected this region from further contamination at SRS,” says Sara Barczak of Southern Clean Energy Alliance.

“I can only hope that something is done to remedy this horrible situation before our region is really ruined by what they propose to do up there.”

The Savannah River Site lies about sixty miles upriver, near Aiken, S.C.

Kingston on Reagan

“I met Ronald Reagan when I was a young Republican in Savannah and it was so exciting to get a chance to see him,” remarked Savannah Rep. Jack Kingston on the passing of former President Ronald Reagan. “He just had a way to inspire you to work hard and do something positive for your country. He had charm, charisma, conviction and the power to communicate and he had the guts to use them all.”

Kingston was in Europe traveling with Pres. Bush when the news came. It was not a complete surprise.

“I had dinner with his son, Michael Reagan, just a few months ago and he

said that his father was ready,” Kingston recalls. “He told me that the good news was that his dad had a very strong heart and body. The bad news was that his mind was no longer with him and that the time was drawing near.”

Haines gets Osborne nod

In an important development in his bid for U.S. Congress, Doug Haines last week received the endorsement of Savannah Alderwoman Mary Osborne in the 12th District Democratic Primary.

“After meeting and talking with all of the Democrats running for Congress in this district, I came to the same conclusion that I know the voters will reach on July 20th,” said Osborne. “Doug Haines is the best candidate to represent not just Savannah, but people throughout the 12th District.”

Haines, a public interest lawyer and former state senator, seeks to unseat Republican incumbent Max Burns in the November general election. In addition to another Athens attorney, John Barrow, two Savannahians are vying with Haines in the July 20 primary: Tony Center and Caine Cortellino.

Center hosts local meetup

Democratic congressional candidate Tony Center hosted his first Savannah meetup with John Kerry supporters at the Sentient Bean recently. Center met with about 45 volunteers and citizens.

“Not only were loyal, original supporters there, but I also met and we signed on many new volunteers, even some with professional talents who work in the media, do professional event organizing, and Get Out the Vote experts,” Center reports.

SCAD students get Oscar kudos

Savannah College of Art & Design students Bill Ridlehoover and Nilanjan Lahiri won top prizes in the “Alternative” category of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Student Academy Awards.

The award, presented for their film “Focus,” will be presented to the filmmakers June 13 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles.

Mr. Black Teen crowned

A Savannah High senior beat out 14 rivals to win the first ever Mr. Black Teen of Savannah title last week.

Alvin C. Edwards waved to the audience as his mother “wept tears of joy,” an observer recalls.

The former SHS basketball MVP plans to attend the University of Georgia in preparation for a law career. The awards production was founded by radio veteran Lester Lec’k White.