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

Former President Jimmy Carter threw his support behind democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and her vision for rural healthcare in his hometown of Plains Tuesday.

Carter and his wife Rosalynn joined Abrams in front of the brand new Mercer University run health clinic across from the rail depot in Plains.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

Stephanie McClure, a professor of sociology at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, had a simple plan.

She and other members of the Middle Georgia Progressive Women activist group would head out to a Baldwin County High School football game with a stack of voter registration forms and sign people up. But when a friend went to the office of the Baldwin County Registrar to pick up the forms, they hit a road block. The forms asked for proof of residency, such as a photo ID, to register.

  

Beau Cabell / The Telegraph of Macon

A Peach County man who admitted to killing to sheriff’s deputies in 2016 was sentenced to prison for a term that could cover the remainder of his life, plus at least three more lifetimes.

Grant Blankenship / GPB News

After drawing the attention of the whole country, election officials in Randolph County decided Friday morning not to close polling places. The decision took about 45 seconds.

Grant Blankenship / GPB News

A while back, Jimmy Carter needed a doctor.

Not just for himself, but for everyone in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. The town’s single doctor had folded up shop a while back. Luckily for Carter, he served on the board of Mercer University, which has a medical school.

Turns out, all Carter had to do to get another doctor was ask. The upshot is that his asking may lead to big things for rural healthcare around the state. 

GPB News

How do you build an economy? From the top down or the ground up?

The major party candidates to be Georgia’s next governor offered their answers those questions at the annual Georgia Chamber of Commerce Luncheon in Macon Tuesday.

In her speech before the Chamber, Democrat Stacey Abrams floated ideas like a $10 million state fund for small business investment, money to be spent on wraparound services in public schools and Medicaid expansion as ideas for building economic capacity from the ground up. She called Medicaid expansion a bipartisan issue.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

There’s a question a lot of Georgians have been asking this election season: given that the secretary of state oversees elections in the state, why doesn’t Brian Kemp have to step down from that position as he seeks to become governor?

 

Cathy Cox is well suited to answer that question. Today Cox is the dean of Walter F. George School of Law At Mercer University in Macon. She’s also run for governor as a Democrat while serving as Georgia’s secretary of state.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

If you know Lindsay Holliday, you know he’s serious about his politics.

Holliday, who most people in Macon know as “Doc,” was once a fixture at Macon City Council meetings where he made good use of the public comment periods. He has run for office. To call him politically active is an understatement.

“I'm an activist. I'm definitely an activist and I'm ready to get active about this,” he said during a recent break at his Macon dentistry practice.

By this, Holliday meant the letter he got in the mail about a week after the second round of Georgia primary voting this year.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

Published August 7, 2018

The Macon-Bibb County Commission failed to set a new property tax rate after a contentious meeting Tuesday. That means some services could grind to a halt. 

Local libraries were already within a week of running out of money when commissioners went at each other in a debate over a substantial increase in property taxes Tuesday night. Ultimately, commissioners could find no middle ground and tabled the issue.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

The monthslong budget fight in Macon-Bibb County that had closed libraries and parked city buses is over.

The Macon-Bibb County Commission voted 5 to 4 to approve a property tax increase Thursday. That will open up the flow of cash to the local health department, parks, public transit and other agencies that were either closed or near closing. There will still be cuts to make before the budget is final.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

The stakes are high for public health in Macon-Bibb County, heading into what might be a pivotal meeting over property taxes and public services later this afternoon.


Credit: Georgia Air National Guard via FLICKR

The new Defense Spending Reauthorization Act lays out the path to the eventual end of a longstanding mission at one of Georgia’s largest military installations.

 

For decades the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS program at Robins Air Force Base has provided aerial battlefield surveillance. Not only are the JSTARS aircraft based out of Robins, but all of their maintenance is taken care of there, too, by a mix of Air National Guard and civilian personnel.

 

Courtesy Anya Silver

Anya Silver did not flinch from talking about death.

Death enraged her, moved her to compassion and incited her to worry for her son, all of which she wrote about in her poetry published in four books and dozens of journals, but she was never afraid of talking about it. In fact, as a poet Silver thought it was her job to see that her reader confront death as she had.

 


Grant Blankenship / GPB

High end loft living is the rage in downtown Macon today. But a few decades ago, people who wanted to be downtown were thin on the ground.

Back then, Macon's Tony Long kept the rent super low on the corner of Mulberry Street and Second Street so that artists could have space to work.  That became the Contemporary Arts Exchange, a community at the vanguard of downtown redevelopment.

Athens-Clarke County Police Department

A cell phone video making the rounds on social media has prompted an internal affairs investigation by The Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

The video shows a 10-year-old boy being held face down on the ground by a pair of officers following the arrest of his father after a domestic disturbance. Bodycam footage released by police shows what came first: an emotional outburst following the arrest in which the boy leapt at one officer.


There has been another death at Georgia’s largest immigration detention facility.

 

Efrain De La Rosa, 40, was the second apparent suicide and the third death overall at the Stewart Immigration Detention Center in Lumpkin in the last 15 months.

 

 

According to a press release from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, De La Rosa died Thursday night from self strangulation.

 

Grant Blankenship / GPB

The Macon-Bibb County Commission amended their just passed budget to restore funding to local libraries and other public services Tuesday night. 

The first budget that passed last week just under the wire of the new fiscal year had zeroed out library funding, money for public transit as well as for the local health department,  museums and other "external" services. A hue and cry ensued. 


Grant Blankenship / GPB

An unresolved budget fight in Macon-Bibb County means that at least in the short term, local libraries will close.

The Macon-Bibb County Commission was faced with a dilemma this week when trying to find a way to address a projected budget shortfall of about $14 million dollars.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

The long awaited U.S. Supreme Court decision named no clear winner in the decades long dispute between Florida and Georgia over the Chattahoochee/Flint River Basin. 

In a decision handed down Wednesday, the court remanded the dispute back to the Special Master, or investigator, they appointed to get to the bottom of the water issues. 


Grant Blankenship / GPB

A nod from the National Institutes of Health, and the sizable grant that comes with it, will bolster Mercer University’s efforts at strengthening rural healthcare.

The NIH recognized Mercer’s Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities as one of two “centers of excellence” for rural healthcare. The other center is in Montana.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

You probably saw the photo. 

A woman with her right hand raised in a fist, her left on the autobiography of Malcolm X. That was Mariah Parker. 


Grant Blankenship / GPB

A little trove of Georgia’s biological treasures once without homes now have them.

 

They were preserved animals, mammals and birds, that instructors and staff in the Science Department at Mercer University found while moving to their new building. Mercer biologist Craig Byron said they needed a better home than a dumpster out back.

 

 


Grant Blankenship / GPB

There’s something people think they know about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP.

It’s the idea that people who use what we used to call food stamps spend their once monthly benefits on groceries almost immediately after they get them. When you look at averages, that’s true, and for some it can mean some lean and hungry days at the end of the month before the next round of SNAP benefits.

 

 


Grant Blankenship / GPB

Chalk it up to the law of unintended consequences.

The Federal tax reform that passed this year was intended to provide tax relief. The perhaps unintended effect was a potentially massive disruption in one of the private solutions to public sector problems often beloved by Republicans and Democrats alike.

 


Grant Blankenship / GPB

The latest in our Macon Conversations series: Meet Charise Stephens and Scott Mitchell. In their conversation, Charise and Scott tackle the challenges of overcoming the prejudice you are raised with.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

Plans for a clinic that would provide abortion access drew protest in Macon. 

About 150 anti-abortion protesters sang, prayed and held sometimes medically graphic posters outside the proposed location of a Summit Medical Center clinic in downtown Macon. Summit Medical Center operates a clinic in Atlanta and another in Detroit.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

A string of 32 arsons that began in January in Macon-Bibb County has almost doubled the pace of firefighting in the county.

There were 11 arsons in April alone. Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins says in a typical month, firefighters here tackle five or six serious, fully involved house fires. 

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 


 

There’s a little dirt path leading from Pio Nono Avenue to what until not too long ago was a Kroger grocery store. The store’s closed now.

 

One morning before the closure, Shon Williams walked down the path, headed toward her apartment. Like a lot of people in this neighborhood, she can afford groceries, but she can’t afford a car.

You find all kinds of things in drawers when you're getting ready to move. Expired credit cards. Single socks. Concert tickets. Chargers from old phones. Two-foot-long dead squirrels.

Well, maybe not the squirrels - unless you're a scientist moving to a new lab. That's what happened in the Biology Department at Mercer University in Macon, Ga.

The music of Macon based band Mani exists at a nexus of styles.

The vocals are pushed deep into the mix of their first real release, icanthearwhattheyresayingbutithinkigetit, the better to focus on their mix of world music, math rock, noise and psychedelia.

Guitarist Zach Farr said the project started with his composing and recording on his own until a live band, featuring drummer Steve Ledbetter, started to jel sometime around 2013.

 

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