Timeline: Modern Georgia 1990-Present
Zell Miller was elected governor of Georgia; one of his major campaign promises was to give Georgia voters the option of choosing to institute a state lottery, with funds raised going to support education.
Meeting in Tokyo, Japan, the International Olympic Committee announced that the 1996 Summer Olympic Games were to be hosted by Atlanta, Georgia.
The Vidalia Onion was designated as Georgia’s official state vegetable.
A long running dispute between the states of Georgia and South Carolina, over their boundary along the Savannah River, was finally settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Bobby Cox was named manager of the Atlanta Braves.
The World of Coca-Cola, a museum and showplace for the company and its products, opened in Atlanta.
Evander Holyfield won the world heavyweight boxing championship, the first of three times he would hold that title.
Georgia Tech’s football team went undefeated (but with one tie), winning college football’s national championship in one poll (Colorado was selected national champions in the other major poll).
Jim Williams, the central figure in the case later dramatized by the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, was found dead in his home in Savannah. He had been tried for murder four times before finally being acquitted.
Former University of Georgia football great, and Heisman Trophy winner, Frank Sinkwich died in Athens, Georgia.
The Atlanta Braves, who had finished in last place in 1990, completed an amazing turnaround by winning their division, then defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the National League championship, before falling in seven games in one of the greatest World Series ever played. Braves third baseman Terry Pendleton was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player, and Tom Glavine won the Cy Young Award as the National League’s top pitcher. This season began a record setting series of championships for the Braves.
Famous African-American tenor Roland Hayes was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
“Fried Green Tomatoes,” filmed primarily in Georgia, was released.
Evander Holyfield twice defended his world heavyweight boxing championship.
Georgia native Clarence Thomas was nominated for, approved, and sworn in for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Augusta, Georgia born novelist Frank Yerby died in Spain.
Georgia born comic illustrator Ed Dodd, famous for the Mark Trail comic series, died.
The Atlanta Braves continued the success they had begun in 1991, this time again winning their division and the National League championship before falling again in the World Series. Highlights for the year were John Smoltz tying the franchise record for most strikeouts in a single game, Tom Glavine tying the franchise record for consecutive wins by a pitcher, and a thrilling come from behind win to win game seven of the National League championship series. In a singular event, Deion Sanders accomplished a sports feat never before done - actually two feats. He played in two separate professional sports games in one day, playing for the Atlanta Falcons on a Sunday afternoon, then he caught a plane to Pittsburgh to play for the Braves in the playoffs that night. After the season was over, the Braves bolstered their already strong pitching staff by signing free agent Greg Maddux, who had won the Cy Young award for 1992.
Georgia voters approved a proposed constitutional amendment legalizing a state lottery; the proceeds from the lottery were to be used to support education in the state. In the same election, Cynthia McKinney became the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress from Georgia.
The Georgia Dome opened in Atlanta.
The Olympic Flag was carried across Georgia and placed atop Atlanta City Hall, where it stayed until it was placed over the Olympic Stadium in 1996.
Evander Holyfield successfully defended his world heavyweight boxing championship early in the year, but lost it in a match in November.
University of Georgia graduate and Atlanta native Gwen Torrence won gold medals in both the 200 and 400 meter women’s relays at the Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. In the same Olympics, Georgia swimmer Angel Martino also won a gold medal.
Pogo was designated as Georgia’s official state ‘possum.
Former Georgia governor Ellis Arnall died.
Sterling Holloway, born in Cedartown, Georgia, died in California. He was a successful actor, but was famous for providing the voice for the Winnie the Pooh character.
Actor and Miss America host Bert Parks, born in Atlanta, died in California.
The Georgia Lottery, with proceeds to go to support education in Georgia, was officially launched. Georgia governor Zell Miller, who had campaigned on a promise to institute such a lottery, bought the first ticket.
The Atlanta Braves continued their streak of division championships this year, highlighted by Greg Maddux winning the Cy Young Award as the National League’s best pitcher and the acquisition of first baseman Fred McGriff. Maddux was the first player to the win the Cy Young Award in consecutive years, but for different teams (he won it as a Chicago Cub in 1992).
Actress Holly Hunter, born in Conyers, Georgia, won an Academy Award for her role as a mute musician in “The Piano.”
ValuJet, which later was renamed AirTran, began operations in Atlanta.
Columbus, Georgia native Frank Thomas won the American League’s Most Valuable Player award in major league baseball.
Evander Holyfield again won the world heavyweight boxing championship; he is one of only two men to hold the title three separate times.
Georgia born Thomas Dorsey, known as the father of gospel music, died in Illinois.
Major league baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Mize, born and raised in Demorest, Georgia, died in his hometown.
Zell Miller was re-elected governor of Georgia.
The book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was published.
Heavy rains from tropical storm Alberto, stalled over south Georgia, caused extensive flooding along the Flint River. Several southeastern Georgia counties were declared federal disaster areas.
The Georgia Dome in Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl, with the Dallas Cowboys winning over the Buffalo Bills.
Boxer Evander Holyfield lost a defense of his world heavyweight boxing championship, after which it was discovered he had a heart defect. He announced his retirement, but after it was determined his condition was not serious, he resumed his career.
“Forrest Gump,” filmed partially in Savannah, was released.
“Cobb,” a movie based on the life of native Georgian Ty Cobb and filmed largely in Royston, GA and Athens, GA, was released.
Actress Dakota Fanning was born in Conyers, Georgia.
Georgia native and former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk died in Athens, Georgia.
Author, newspaper columnist, and humorist Lewis Grizzard died in Atlanta.
Olympic weightlifter Paul Anderson, born in Toccoa, Georgia and once known as the world’s strongest man, died.
Georgia born actor Claude Akins died in California.
The Atlanta Braves again won their division championship and National League championship, then took the ultimate prize by winning the World Series over the Cleveland Indians! The final game took place in Atlanta on October 28, with the Braves winning 1-0 behind the one-hit pitching of Tom Glavine and a home run by David Justice. Greg Maddux again won the Cy Young Award as the National League’s top pitcher, becoming the first person to win the award four straight seasons.
Georgian Newt Gingrich was elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the third Georgian to hold that prestigious post, following Howell Cobb and Charles Crisp (both of whom held the post in the 1800s).
The peach was designated as Georgia’s official state fruit and the peanut was designated as Georgia’s official state crop.
A special session of the Georgia General Assembly met to redraw the state’s congressional districts, part of which had been succesfully challenged to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Long time U.S. Senator from Georgia Sam Nunn announced he would not seek re-election.
Georgia native Alan Jackson won the Country Music Association’s Male Entertainer of the Year award
Orlando “Tubby” Smith was named head basketball coach at the University of Georgia, becoming UGA’s first African-American head coach of any sport.
The “Great Dinosaurs of China” exhibit opened at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
The 1996 Summer Olympic Games, popularly called the Centennial Games (because they were held 100 years after the beginning of the modern Olympic games in 1896), were hosted by Atlanta. Other Georgia locations also hosted events; Athens hosted soccer, volleyball, and rhythmic gymnastics, Stone Mountain hosted tennis, and Savannah hosted yachting events. While there were many notable athletic achievements at the games, there was also sadness with the tragic and deadly (one killed, over 100 injured) bomb set off in Centennial Olympic Park in the early morning hours of July 27. Still, Atlanta and the state of Georgia took great pride in becoming an Olympic city. Lavish opening ceremonies were held July 19, then there were sixteen days of competition, followed by the moving closing cermonies on August 4. These also were the first Olympic Games in which tickets were sold over the Internet.
The Georgia Music Hall of Fame opened in Macon, Georgia.
The Atlanta Braves continued their string of division championships and won the National League championship before falling in the World Series. Before the 1996 season began, President Bill Clinton hosted the 1995 champions at the White House. Greg Maddux was again a highlight for the Braves, setting a major league record with 17 consecutive wins on the road. But it was his teammate John Smoltz who won the Cy Young Award as the National League’s top pitcher this year; Maddux had won it the previous four years. This was the Braves final season playing at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, as Centennial Olympic Stadium was to be refurbished into a new home for the Braves after the Olympics.
The square dance was designated as Georgia’s official state folk dance, and English was declared the official language.
An FBI report originally named Atlanta as the country’s most violent city, but a later recalculation of statistics moved Atlanta to second place on the list.
Cairo, Georgia High School named its baseball field in honor of Jackie Robinson, who had been born in the south Georgia town.
Evander Holyfield defeated Mike Tyson to become only the second man to win the world heavyweight boxing championship three separate times.
University of Georgia women’s basketball player Saudia Roundtree was named NCAA Player of the Year after leading the Lady Bulldogs to the Final Four.
Artist Lamar Dodd died in Athens, Georgia.
Georgia native and author Eugenia Price died and was buried on St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Turner Field, Centennial Olympic Stadium reconfigured to be the new home of the Atlanta Braves, opened. A new home did nothing to change the quality of play for the Braves; they continued their record setting string of division championships. Meanwhile, the Braves’ former home - Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was demolished. The sites for home plate and the spot where Hank Aaron’s 715th home run had landed were preserved in a parking lot adjacent to Turner Field.
Georgian Newt Gingrich was elected for a second term as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
A bombing at an abortion clinic in Sandy Springs was followed by a second detonation after authorities arrived, injuring seven people. Though it was unknown at the time, the bombings were committed by Eric Rudolph, the same man responsible for the Centennial Olympic Park bombing the previous year. Later in the year, similar incidents occurred at a bar in Atlanta.
Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat visited former president Jimmy Carter in Plains, Georgia.
Georgia’s official state tartan was designated.
Ted Turner made the largest recorded donation in history by a single person when he donated $1 billion to U.N. Charities.
Two female country music artists, and native Georgians, were awarded this year: Brenda Lee was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Trisha Yearwood was named Female Vocalist of the Year by the Country Music Association.
The movie version of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil premiered in Savannah, Georgia.
Evander Holyfield retained his world heavyweight boxing championship in a rematch with Mike Tyson. In a bizarre incident, Tyson was disqualified for biting Holyfield’s ear! Later in the year Holyfield again defended his championship against another opponent.
The National Hockey League announced a franchise had been granted to Atlanta; its team would be called the Thrashers.
Former Braves pitcher Phil Niekro was elected to and inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Former University of Georgia football coach James Wallace “Wally” Butts was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Georgia born poet and novelist James Dickey died in South Carolina.
Famous folk artist Mattie Lou O’Kelley died in Atlanta.
Roy Barnes was elected governor of Georgia. Thurbert Baker (Attorney General) and Mike Thurmond (Commissioner of Labor) became the first two African-Americans in the history of Georgia to be elected to statewide office in the executive branch of state government.
The Atlanta Braves continued their record setting string of division championships, highlighted by a streak of 25 consecutive games in which the Braves hit a home run, by Bobby Cox breaking the franchise record of wins by a manager, and by the team winning a franchise high 105 games. Tom Glavine won the Cy Young Award as the National League’s top pitcher.
But this year the Braves’ success was matched by the Atlanta Falcons, who had their best season record ever, advanced to the playoffs, and eventually played in the Super Bowl (though the game itself would not be played until January 1999).
Native Georgian Julian Bond was selected as Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The National Prisoner of War Museum opened in Andersonville, Georgia.
The Albany Civil Rights Institute opened in Albany, Georgia.
For the second year in a row, Georgia native Trisha Yearwood won the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year Award.
Athens, Georgia native Kim Basinger won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in L.A. Confidential.
University of Georgia professor Edward J. Larson won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for history for his book, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion.
Evander Holyfield again defended his world heavyweight boxing championship.
Former University of Georgia football great Herschel Walker retired from professional football.
Former University of Georgia defensive standout Bill Stanfill was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Robert Shaw, long time director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, died in Connecticut.
The Atlanta Falcons stunned the favored Minnesota Vikings in the National Football Conference championship game, advancing to the first Super Bowl in franchise history. The game was played this year in Miami, FL. There, the Falcons lost to defending Super Bowl champions the Denver Broncos.
The Atlanta Braves continued their record setting string of division championships, and again won the National League championship before falling in the World Series. Braves’ third baseman Chipper Jones was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player.
Newt Gingrich resigned his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
One month after his death, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conductor laureate Robert Shaw won Grammy Awards for best classical album and best choral performance.
Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, were selected as recipients of the first annual Delta Prize for Global Understanding. The award went to the person(s) who best exhibited “globally significant efforts that provide opportunities for greater understanding among nations and cultures.” Jimmy Carter won an even more prestigious honor later in the year, when President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the nation’s highest civilian honor.
University of Georgia graduate, and one of the first two African-Americans to attend UGA, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, won her second George Foster Peabody Award for “excellence in international reporting, from an under covered and often misunderstood region of the world.” She had done reports from Africa.
Georgia born Henry O. Flipper had been the first African-American to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy in 1877. He served the army well and successfully, but was eventually accused of conduct unbecoming an officer, a charge many thought was racially motivated. He went on to a very successful career in civilian life, but fought all his life to clear his name, and his family kept up the fight after his death. Their efforts culminated this year, when he was officially pardoned by President Bill Clinton.
Former University of Georgia Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Atlanta native Evander Holyfield fought to a draw (in a controversial decision) with Lennox Lewis in a fight intended to unite two different organizations’ world heavyweight boxing championships, then lost to Lewis in a rematch later in the year.
University of Georgia female track star Debbie Ferguson won the Jackie Joiner-Kersee Award, bestowed on the top female in college track and field in the nation.
Though the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame had been inducting members since 1956, it did not have a permanent home until this year, when its brand new facility opened in Macon, Georgia.
Atlanta native Curtis Mayfield was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; he died in Atlanta later this same year.
Georgia born actor DeForest Kelley, famous for his role as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the Star Trek television series and movies, died in California.
Long time Atlanta Constitution columnist and writer Celestine Sibley died in Florida.
Atlanta artist and illustrator Harry Rossoll, who conceived the idea and first drew the image of Smokey Bear, died.
Paul Coverdell, U.S. Senator from Georgia and former Peace Corps director, died in Atlanta from a cerebral hemorrhage. Georgia governor Roy Barnes then appointed former governor Zell Miller to complete Coverdell’s term until a special election could be held to fill the Senate seat; Miller won that election to fulfill the complete term.
Mark Richt was named head football coach at the University of Georgia.
The Atlanta Braves continued their record setting string of division championships, highlighted by a franchise record 15 game consecutive win streak.
Derwin Brown, election winner over incumbent DeKalb County sheriff Sidney Dorsey, was shot and killed in his driveway. Dorsey and some accomplices would later be charged with the murder.
The Super Bowl was again played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, with the St. Louis Cardinals defeating the Tennessee Titans.
Civil rights leader Hosea Williams died in Atlanta.
Georgia’s state flag, controversial to some because it contained the Confederate battle flag, was changed to a compromise version that would show the state seal in gold on a blue field, with five small flags that had previously flown over Georgia.
Georgia experienced its largest multiple traffic accident in history. On Interstate 75 in Catoosa County, severe fog helped trigger an accident in the northbound lanes. Because of low visibility, cars and trucks repeatedly collided with the first wreck, then other vehicles. Altogether 125 cars and trucks were involved in both northbound and southbound lanes, resulting in 5 dead and 39 injured, with I-75 completely closed near the site for the rest of the day.
University of Georgia Athetic Director Vince Dooley won the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award , presented to the “individual, group or institution whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football.”
The Atlanta Braves continued their amazing, record setting string of division championships.
The Georgia Supreme Court overturned use of the electric chair to execute prisoners, ruling that it constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
Smyrna, Georgia native Julia Roberts won the Oscar for best actress for her title role in the movie Erin Brockovich.
Former Georgia state school superintendent Linda Schrenko was indicted for allegedly using education money to help finance her re-election campaign.
Former DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey, and two other men, where charged with the murder of Derwin Brown, who had defeated Dorsey for the sheriff’s position in 2000.
Like other Americans across the nation, Georgians reacted with shock, horror, and anger at the destruction of the World Trade Center towers and part of the Pentagon by terrorists in hijacked airplanes.
Artist Howard Finster died in Rome, Georgia.
Two people with Georgia ties were among those selected for the 2002 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Atlanta Braves baseball great Hank Aaron was honored, not just for his baseball accomplishments, but also because he was able to achieve them despite “frequent encounters with racism throughout his career.” Also honored was Dr. Donald A. Henderson, a scientist at Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who led the worldwide efforts of the World Health Organization to eliminate smallpox.
In a gruesome case in Walker County, numerous bodies were discovered on the grounds of the Tri-State Crematorium. The investigation centered on the owner, who was eventually arrested. The bodies had been delivered to him for cremation, but the incinerator he used for that purpose had broken and he reportedly could not afford to fix it, but had still been taking money for cremations, and returning people dust in jars.
For the first time since Reconstruction, Georgia elected a Republican governor in Sonny Perdue.
The University of Georgia Bulldogs won the 2002 Southeastern Conference Football Championship; their first SEC championship since 1982. The season was highlighted by a 51-7 trouncing of rival Georgia Tech, the largest margin of victory in the storied series. The Bulldogs defeated Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game, played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Georgia native Alan Jackson won five Country Music Association awards. He was named Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year. His single “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning” (about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001) was named Single of the Year and Song of the Year. His album “Drive” was named Album of the Year.
The Atlanta Braves continued their amazing record setting string of division championships, highlighted by former starting pitcher John Smoltz, now a relief pitcher, setting franchise and National League records for saves. Smoltz would return to starting in 2005.
Former DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey was convicted for the murder of Derwin Brown, who had defeated Dorsey in an election in 2000.
Tiger Woods won his third Masters golf tournament, becoming only the third player to win back-to-back Masters.
Former Georgia governor and senator Herman Talmadge died in Hampton, Georgia.
Sonny Perdue, elected the previous November, was sworn in as governor, becoming the first Republican governor of Georgia since Reconstruction.
A new state flag was created and approved by the General Assembly and became effective immediately upon being signed into law by the governor. This design is still the current state flag.
The University of Georgia completed their best season in twenty years, and the season with the most wins ever, by defeating Florida State (where UGA head coach Mark Richt had coached previously) in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Carl Isaacs, leader of the group responsible for the Alday murders in Donalsonville, Georgia in 1973, was put to death by lethal injection.
Eric Rudolph, suspected (and later admitted) to be the man responsible for the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, as well as abortion clinic bombings in Georgia and Alabama, was arrested in North Carolina.
Georgia native Alan Jackson won three awards at the Country Music Association’s annual awards presentation. He was named Male Vocalist of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, and he and Jimmy Buffett won the Vocal Event of the Year award for their song “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”
A fire on the second floor of the University of Georgia Main Library building caused approximately $1.5 million in damages to various books, documents, and equipment. A homeless man, Eric Nelms, was later charged with starting the fire, but was not convicted. He admitted to starting it, but claimed it was an accident.
The Atlanta Falcons defeated the Green Bay Packers in a National Football League playoff game. This was the first time Green Bay had ever lost a playoff game on their home field.
The Atlanta Braves continued their amazing record setting string of division championships.
The National Basketball Association held its annual All Star game at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
Former Georgia governor Lester Maddox died.
Former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson died in Washington, D.C.
Former Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. died.
The G-8 Summit, an annual meeting of the leaders of eight of the world’s most powerful nations, was held on Sea Island, Georgia.
Jim Mora, Jr. was named head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. In this his first season the Falcons won their division and advanced to within one game of reaching the Super Bowl.
Phil Mickelson won his first major championship at the the 2004 Masters golf tournament. His caddie, and good friend, Jim “Bones” Mackay resided in Athens, Georgia.
Former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell was indicted on a number of charges for financial improprieties.
Georgia born musician Ray Charles, a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died in California. He is perhaps best known for his rendition of Georgia’s state song “Georgia on My Mind.”
Former Georgia governor George Busbee died in Savannah, Georgia.
A judge and court reporter were shot and killed in an Atlanta courtroom, when a man on trial overpowered a deputy, took her gun, and entered the courtroom firing. He escaped outside, shot and killed a deputy, then went on the run. He eventually killed a U.S. customs agent, and took a young woman hostage in Duluth. Brian Nichols was arrested for the crimes the following day. The woman he had taken hostage, Ashley Smith, had talked to him and calmed him during the night. He eventually let her go; she called the police who surrounded her apartment with Nichols still inside, where he surrendered peacefully.
Leah Ward Sears became the first woman elected chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, and the first African-American state chief justice in the country.
Jennifer Wilbanks, scheduled to be married, did not return from an evening jog, beginning a bizarre case in which she took a bus to Las Vegas without telling anyone, prompting a massive missing person search. When she did call home several days later, she pretended she had been kidnapped, but soon admitted this story was false. She finally returned home to face a charge of making false statements to police, and was eventually sentenced to probation and community service. The case was publicized nationally as the “Runaway Bride.”
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission announced plans to close four Georgia military bases - Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Fort Gillem in Forest Park, the Naval Air Station in Marietta, and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.
The Green Treefrog was designated as Georgia’s official state amphibian.
A statewide ban on smoking in all public buildings was instituted.
The Atlanta Falcons defeated the St. Louis Rams to advance to the National Football Conference title game, but lost there to the Philadelphia Eagles, falling one game short of reaching the Super Bowl.
The Atlanta Braves again won their division, continuing their record breaking string of championships. The season was highlighted by outfielder Andruw Jones breaking the franchise record for home runs in one season, previously held by all time home run champion Hank Aaron. The Sporting News named Jones the Major League Baseball Player of the Year; Braves manager Bobby Cox was named National League Manager of the Year. Pitcher John Smoltz was honored with the Roberto Clemente Award, for both his on the field performance and his dedication to community service.
Coretta Scott King, widow of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., suffered a major stroke.
Tiger Woods joined Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus as the only person to win at least four Masters golf championships.
Former Georgia governor Ernest Vandiver, Jr. died in Franklin County.
Georgia born actor Ossie Davis died in Florida.
Georgia born comedian and actor Nipsey Russell died in New York.
Former Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell was convicted of tax evasion, but cleared of more serious charges of accepting bribes and illegal campaign contributions; he was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution cartoonist Mike Luckovich won a Pulitzer Prize (his second) for twenty cartoons depicting the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq.
Marietta, Georgia native Larry Nelson was named as a 2006 inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
In the midst of her trial, former Georgia State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko pled guilty to money laundering and using federal education money to help fund her unsuccessful bid for governor; she was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
The city of Atlanta (and all of Georgia) celebrated the ten year anniversary of hosting the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
Legendary University of Georgia defensive coordinator and Georgia Southern head football coach Erk Russell died from a stroke in Statesboro, Georgia.
A team from Columbus, Georgia won the baseball Little League World Series, defeating a team from Japan.
The Atlanta Braves failed to win their division or reach the playoffs, ending a remarkable, record setting streak of fourteen consecutive division championships, beginning in 1991.
Ground breaking ceremonies were held for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Famous novelist and Georgia native William Diehl died in Atlanta. He wrote Sharky’s Machine, Primal Fear, and numerous other popular novels.
Rock and roll Hall of Fame musician James Brown died in an Atlanta hospital from complications from pneumonia. He was a native of Augusta, Georgia, and was world famous as the “Godfather of Soul” and the “hardest working man in show business.”
Athens rock band R.E.M. was chosen for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Atlanta based Delta Air Lines avoided a $10 billion merger bid from Arizona based US Airways. Fighting to emerge from bankruptcy, Delta employees and retirees mounted a strong campaign to oppose the proposed takeover.
Georgia’s representative from the U.S. Tenth Congressional District - Charlie Norwood - died at his home in Augusta after a lengthy battle with lung disease and cancer. Ten candidates qualified for a special election to fill the term, in a runoff between the top two vote getters, Paul Broun was elected to the vacant seat.
A series of tornadoes ripped through southwest Georgia’s Mitchell, Taylor, and Sumter Counties, killing nine people and causing extensive damage to buildings and homes, including a hospital in Americus.
A statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt was dedicated atop Dowdell’s Knob - the place near Warm Springs where he loved to picnic.
High winds blew a tree down over a power line, sparking a huge wildfire in southeast Georgia. Over 25,000 acres were burned, thousands of homes were evacuated and classes at Ware County High School were cancelled. The fire threatened the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
Bobby Petrino was named the new head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. His job was made tougher later in the year when star quarterback Michael Vick was indicted on a series of federal charges involving a dog fighting operation in his home state of Virginia. Vick later reached an agreement to plead guilty to the charges. On December 10, Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison. Then, in a stunning move, Petrino - on Dec. 11- resigned as head coach of the Falocns to accept the same positon at the University of Arkansas.
Professional wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife, and son were found dead in their Fayetteville, GA home. It was later determined that Benoit had killed his wife and son, then committed suicide. Toxicology reports after the autopsies indicated traces of steroids in Benoit’s system.
Atlanta based HomeBanc Corporation shut down its mortgage lending business and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the wake of a massive downturn in the mortgage business nationwide.
A team from Warner Robins, Georgia won the baseball Little League World Series, defeating a team from Japan. This was the second year in a row that a team from Georgia won the Little League World Series.
A severe drought throughout Georgia (and much of the south) forced statewide water restrictions. It became so severe that Governor Sonny Perdue asked that north Georgia be declared a federal disaster area. Georgia’s congressional delegation introduced legislation requesting that less water be released from Lake Lanier, conserving it for Georgia’s use - much water was released each day to protect several endangered fish species in Florida.
The Vision House, an art museum dedicated to the work of Georgia folk artist Howard Finster, opened in his home town of Pennville, Georgia. Finster died in 2001.
Meredith Emerson, a young woman hiking on Blood Mountain in north Georgia, disappeared. After an extensive search , suspicion fell on Gary Michael Hilton, who had been seen with her on the Appalachian Trail where she was hiking. Hilton was arrested and led investigators to Emerson’s body. Subsequently, he became the suspect in several similar murders in Florida and North Carolina. Hilton pled guilty to the Emerson murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
Mike Smith, formerly defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was hired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
On the evening of February 7, an explosion rocked the Imperial sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia (near Savannah). Thirteen people were either killed instantly or died later from injuries sustained in the explosion, with dozens more injured, some burned badly in the fire following the explosion.
The University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted to approve a 60% expansion of the Medical College of Georgia, aimed at addressing the doctor shortage in Georgia. The primary focus of the expansion was to be a new campus of the MCG at the University of Georgia in Athens.
The University System of Georgia Board of Regents voted to approve a statue of Vince Dooley to be located on South Campus. They also voted to name the Athletic Complex where the statue will sit after Dooley - longtime UGA football coach and athletic director. Controversy immediately arose over the proposal - with many fans believing Dooley should be honored by having the football stadium or field named for him, or at least having the statue either in or near the stadium.
Two native Georgians attending college out of state were murdered in the same week in March - Lauren Burk from Marietta at Auburn University and Eve Carson from Athens at the University of North Carolina.
On the evening of March 14, a tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta, causing extensive damage and postponing the SEC basketball tournament being held in the Georgia Dome. The tournament was subsequently moved to the gymnasium at Georgia Tech, where ironically the University of Georgia won the tournament.
Atlanta based Delta Air Lines ended months of negotiations when a merger with Northwest Air Lines was announced. The merger created the world’s largest air line, and resulted after Delta had been on the verge of bankruptcy for over a year.
The Atlanta Hawks qualified for the NBA playoffs for the first time in nine years. Even though they had the worst record of any playoff qualifier, they took the league leading Boston Celtics to seven full games in their playoff series, with Atlanta winning all three games at home and Boston winning all four in Boston. After the season, Hawks general manager Billy Knight resigned his position.
William Earl Lynd became the first person in Georgia (and the U.S.A.) to be executed after the Supreme Court ruled death by lethal injection was constitutional. Lynd was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and had been on death row for 20 years.
Hamilton Jordan, the man who was the architect of Jimmy Carter’s successful campaign for the Presidency in 1976, died after battling cancer for several years.
Long time Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Hawks sportscaster Skip Caray died in his home of Atlanta.
Native Georgia musician Isaac Hayes died in Memphis, Tennessee. Hayes was a muti-talented musician who performed and composed music of several genres - including soul, urban contemporary, and rap before it became popular. He is perhaps most noted for the theme song from the movie “Shaft” and for providing the voice for the character Chef in the “South Park” TV series.
Numerous cases of salmonella poisoning, several of them fatal, were traced back to the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Blakely, Georgia. Subsequent investigations discovered that proper cleaning procedures had not been used at the plant.
University of Georgia marketing professor Dr. George Zinkhan killed his wife and two men at a luncheon at a local theater in Athens. He took his two children, dropped them off at a neighbor’s house, and disappeared. After a two week manhunt his body was found just a few miles from his home; he had dug a shallow grave, covered himself with debris, and committed suicide.
The University of Georgia Bulldogs had two players taken in the first round of the NFL draft, including the top pick - quarterback Matthew Stafford selected by the Detroit Lions. Running back Knowshon Moreno was selected with the 12th pick by the Denver Broncos. Later in the year the Bulldogs pulled off one of their greatest upsets by defeating seventh ranked arch-rival Georgia Tech 30-24 in Atlanta. Georgia limped into the game both physically and emotionally; they had lost their best player - A.J. Green - to an injury two weeks earlier, and beloved mascot Uga VII had died the previous week. Standing in for Uga was one of his half-brothers - Russ. Georgia was only 6-5 coming into the game and was a heavy underdog; in fact many expected Tech to extract revenge for the biggest loss in the series, a 51-7 win in 2002. But Georgia took the opening kickoff, and using only running plays, moved straight down the field to score, setting the tone for the game. UGA rushed for over 300 yards rushing total in the victory, After the game the Georgia players paraded around the field, some with pieces of the Tech turf, and finally planted a UGA flag on the fifty yard line.
A series of storms passed through west and north Georgia, eventually dropping over ten inches of rain (significantly more in some areas) over much of the state. The result was severe flooding in numerous Georgia counties, some even closing interstate highways. Death tolls from the flooding would reach at least nine people.
The Georgia Theatre in downtown Athens - which had hosted numerous famous musical artists - was gutted by fire, leaving only the exterior walls standing; it was eventually rebuilt.
Eight people were killed, and one critically injured, in a mobile home park on the grounds of New Hope plantation near Brunswick. Later, the person who made the 911 call, Guy Heinze, Jr., was charged with the murder of eight members of his family.
Cairo, Georgia native and two time UGA All American Teresa Edwards was selected for induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Edwards is the only American basketball player - male or female - to participate in five Olympic games. She won four gold medals and one bronze.
Legendary University of Georgia sports announcer Larry Munson was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame.
Author and educator Tom Deitz died in Gainesville, GA. Born on Jan. 17, 1952 in Young Harris, Georgia, Deitz attended Young Harris College and the University of Georgia, where he attained both a B.A. and M.A in English, and worked for a time, before embarking on a writing career that saw him publish over twenty works of fantasy. He was honored as Georgia Writer of the Year in 2006. Deitz also taught at Gainesville State College.
National Football Foundation officials announced that the College Football Hall of Fame would be moving to Atlanta from South Bend, Indiana.
Former Marshall and University of Georgia football coach Jim Donnan was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Former U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell died in Atlanta, Georgia. Bell was born in Sumter County, GA in 1918 and attended Mercer Law School in Macon. He served as U.S. Attorney General under President Jimmy Carter.
Argentine golfer Angel Cabrera won the Masters golf tournament on the second playoff hole, becoming the first South American to win the prestigious green jacket.
In a ceremony at the White House, President Barack Obama honored long time Atlanta civil rights activist Joseph Lowery with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest national honor awarded to civilians.
Former welterweight and light middleweight boxing champion Vernon Forrest was killed in Atlanta in an attempted robbery; he was shot numerous times. Forrest was born Jan. 12, 1971, in Augusta, Georgia.
President Barack Obama visited Georgia twice - Savannah in March and Atlanta in August.
Phil Mickelson won his third Masters golf tournament - becoming only the eighth player in history to win the green jacket three or more times.
Former University of Georgia tennis All-American John Isner won the longest tennis match every played by defeating Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in a three-day marathon at the Wimbledon tournament in England.
Actor Pernell Roberts, born in Waycross, Georgia, died in Malibu, California.
Atlanta Braves’ pitcher Tim Hudson was named National League comeback player of the year. Hudson had ligament-replacement surgery in his elbow in late 2008, and only pitched a handful of games late in 2009, before coming on strong to lead the team the wild card spot in the playoffs in 2010.
Prior to the University of Georgia’s homecoming game with Vanderbilt, Uga VIII was installed as the official bulldog mascot of the university in a lineage of English bulldog dating back to Uga I, who took the sidelines in 1956. Unfortunately, Uga VIII’s time as mascot would prove to be short, as he contracted cancer soon after the regular season, and died on February 4, 2011.
Two recordings by Georgia musicians were selected for inclusion in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress catalog of music and historic recordings. One was the pioneering 1955 hit “Tutti Frutti,” recorded by Macon native Richard Penniman (better known as Little Richard); the other was “Radio Free Europe,” by Athens based band R.E.M.
Georgia winners at the annual Country Music Association awards show were: Zac Brown Band - New Artist of the Year, Lady Antebellum - Vocal Group of the Year and Single of the Year for “Need You Now,” and Sugarland - Vocal Duo of the Year.
For the first time since 1882, Atlanta and most of the northern third of Georgia got measurable snow - from one to six inches - on Christmas Day of this year. The snow began in the morning and continued through the night, giving many Georgians a once-in-a-century treat.
Georgia congressman John Lewis received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award possible, for his work as a civil rights activist.
A record-breaking snowstorm hit Georgia; it would dump up to nine inches of snow and ice (more in the mountainous areas) across north and central Georgia, shutting down schools, roads, and government offices for much of the following week. In the midst of the storm, former Georgia congressman Nathan Deal was sworn in as Georgia’s 82nd governor.
Later in the spring, a series of storms, spawning numerous tornadoes, swept through northwest Georgia in the early morning hours, destroying many homes and buildings, knocking out power to thousands, and killing at least fifteen people.
First Lady Michelle Obama visited Atlanta as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign to fight obesity and improve nutrition among children. She visited with children at an elementary school and gave a speech at a north Atlanta church.
Troy Anthony Davis was executed by lethal injection for the 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Davis maintained his innocence until the end; his case had gained international notoriety with dignitaries such as former President Jimmy Carter and the pope asking that Davis be granted clemency. His defenders maintained another man on the scene with Davis had actually pulled the trigger of the gun that killed MacPhail. Prosecutors and MacPhail’s family insisted Davis was guilty of the crime.
Legendary Athens-based rock band R.E.M. announced that they intended to “call it a day” as a band. The official announcement read: “To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.” R.E.M.
Two Georgians sought the Republican nomination for the 2012 Presidential election - former congressman Newt Gingrich and radio talk shot host and former pizza magnate Herman Cain. Neither would win the nomination.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources opened Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Coweta County, the first new state park to open since 1993.
The Atlanta Thrashers hockey franchise was sold to a group from Canada, who moved the team to Winnipeg.
Uga VIII’s time as UGA mascot ended just months after he had been chosen, as he contracted cancer soon after the 2010 season, and died on February 4 of this year.
A statue of University of Georgia founder Abraham Baldwin was officially dedicated; the statue stands in front of Old College on North Campus.
McCarthy Cottage, the first cottage built by Franklin Roosevelt at Warm Springs, Georgia, burned overnight. The probable cause of the fire was lightning.
Atlanta Braves’ relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel was named National League Rookie of the Year. Kimbrel saved 46 games for the Braves, a rookie record and tied for the most in the league. He also led all major league relief pitchers with 127 strikeouts. Finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting was yet another Atlanta Brave - first baseman Freddie Freeman. The Braves also experienced an oddity this year, as played the longest game in franchise history, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The game lasted six and one-half hours, going nineteen innings, before the Braves won 4-3.
Atlanta based AirTrain Airways was sold to Texas based Southwest Airlines.
Georgia winners at the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards show, held in Las Vegas, were: Sugarland for Vocal Duo of the Year, Lady Antebellum for Vocal Group of the Year and Album of the Year (“Need You Now”), and the Zac Brown Band and Alan Jackson for Vocal Event of the Year (“As She’s Walking Away”).
Georgia winners at the 2011 County Music Association Awards presentation in Nashville were Sugarland (Vocal Duo of the Year), Lady Antebellum (Vocal Group of the Year), and Jason Aldean (Album of the Year for “My Kinda Party” and Musical Event of the Year for “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with Kelly Clarkson).
Author Harry Crews, born in Bacon County, Georgia, died in Gainesville, Florida.
Former Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports editor and columnist Furman Bisher died in Atlanta.
Atlanta-born singer and songwriter Joe South died at age 72 at his home in Buford, Georgia.
Noted adventurer Fred Birchmore died at age 100; he is most famous for riding a bicycle around the world. But he was also active in many philanthropic activities in his hometown of Athens, Georgia.
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia voted to merge eight schools into four as a cost cutting measure in response to budget cuts over the previous few years. The schools to be merged were Augusta State College with Georgia Health Sciences University, Gainesville State College with North Georgia College & State University, Waycross College with South Georgia College, and Macon State College with Middle Georgia College.
President Barack Obama visited the Atlanta area for a series of fund raisers. Also, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Georgia, after landing in Savannah aboard Air Force One. At an outdoor event at Fort Stewart, Obama signed an Executive Order to help America’s service members, veterans, and families have the needed information to make informed educational decisions.
Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones played his final season. In a rarity for modern sports, he played all nineteen of his seasons with the same team. The Braves won a wild card position, allowing Jones to participate in post season play one final time.
Georgia based winners at the Academy of Country Music Awards held in Las Vegas were Lady Antebellum for Vocal Group of the Year, and Jason Aldean for Vocal Event of the Year and Song of the Year for his “Don’t You Wanna Stay” duet with Kelly Clarkson.
President Barack Obama visited a preschool in Decatur, Georgia to unveil a plan to expand the federal Head Start program to provide preschool for all four year old children from low and middle income families. President Obama had mentioned Georgia’s pre-K program in his State of the Union address.
For the first time in its venerable history, a concert was held in Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia. Country stars Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan headlined the show, played before 66,000 fans. Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett also performed.
Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss announced he would not seek re-election, primarily because of the frustrating gridlock in national politics.
Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the Masters golf tournament.
The Atlanta Braves completed a blockbuster trade by acquiring outfielder Justin Upton from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Braves has signed Upton’s older brother, B.J. Upton, to a free agent contract earlier. To acquire the younger Upton, the Braves traded the popular and versatile Martin Prado and four young prospects.
The Atlanta Falcons defeated the Seattle Seahawks, winning a playoff game for the first time in the tenure of head coach Mike Smith. But they fell one game short in their quest for the Super Bowl, losing a close game to the San Francisco 49ers the following week. The Falcons did win the South Division championship and finished with the best record in the conference.
William Watts (Buck) Biggers, a former native of Avondale Estates, Georgia, died in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Biggers was noted as one of the creators of the cartoon character “Underdog.”
Many Georgians, including family and friends of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and former President Jimmy Carter, attended the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
In November, the Atlanta Braves made the surprising announcement that they would move from their home at Turner Field in Fulton County after the 2016 season. The team announced plans to build a new stadium complex in Cobb County, near the northwest corner of the I-75/I-285 interchange.
On the evening of January 6 and the morning of January 7, temperatures across Georgia reached lows not seen in thirty years. Many areas of the state experienced single digit temperatures, even reaching below zero with the wind chill factor. Temperatures were well below freezing even in south Georgia.
Snow began to fall across much of northern and middle Georgia on the afternoon of January 28, and while it was not a heavy snowfall, the reaction to it caused massive traffic jams in and around Atlanta. Many motorists were stuck in their cars for hours, some even had to abandon them to find shelter. Students were also stranded on school buses, and many could not even leave their schools and had to spend the night at their school buildings.
Three baseball players were selected for induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame for 2014, and all three had Georgia connections. Two were former pitchers for the Atlanta Braves - Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. The third was Columbus, Georgia native Frank Thomas, who played most of his career with the Chicago White Sox. Glavine and Maddux will join their former manager - Bobby Cox - on the podium for induction into the Hall of Fame.
It was also a good year for football players with Georgia ties - two were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ray Guy was a Georgia native - born in Swainsboro, and played high school ball in Thomson. Guy became the first punter elected to the Hall of Fame. Also elected was long time Atlanta Falcon defensive end Claude Humphrey.
A cold rain began falling across north Georgia on the evening of February 10, turning to sleet and freezing rain during the early morning hours of February 11. More ice fell on February 12, causing many power outages. Then several inches of snow fell on top of the ice. Most schools, and many government offices throughout north Georgia, were closed through February 13. Governor Nathan Deal declared an emergency in 91 counties. However, after being poorly prepared for the storm in late January, state and local government officials, and most Georgia citizens, were much better prepared for this storm, and there were few problems beyond the power outages.
Following soon after the snow and ice storm, a rare earthquake hit Georgia on the evening of February 14. It was centered in South Carolina, just across the border from Augusta, Georgia. The quake registered 4.1 on the Richter scale and shook Georgians across the northeast and north central portions of the state.
Elena Meyers, a native of Douglasville, Georgia, won a silver medal in the bobsled event at the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia.
On March 4, Vice-President Joe Biden visited Atlanta to promote the benefits of early childhood education. He visited an elementary school, where he played with - and handed out gifts to - the children. Biden also visited with former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, and attended a fundraiser for Nunn’s daughter Michelle - who was a Democratic candidate for the Senate seat once held by her father.
Howard “Bo” Callaway died in Columbus, Georgia. Born in LaGrange, Georgia on April 2, 1927, Callaway is considered the father of the modern Republican party in Georgia. In 1964, he became the first Republican elected to Congress from Georgia since Reconstruction. In 1966, he almost became the first Republican governor in modern times. He actually won the most votes, but because no candidate received more than 50% of the votes cast (and there was no provision for a runoff at the time), the decision was left in the hands of the heavily Democratic Georgia legislature, which subsequently chose Lester Maddox as governor. Callaway did not seek political office again, but was instrumental - along with his parents - in the founding of Callaway Garden in Pine Mountain.
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights opened in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.
The historic Hancock County courthouse in Sparta, Georgia was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of Monday, August 11.
The new College Football Hall of Fame opened in Atlanta, Georgia.
President Barack Obama visited the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to receive a briefing on the United States’ efforts to help in the fight against an ebola virus outbreak in Africa. Already, two Americans who had contracted the disease while working in Africa had been treated successfully at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Former Georgia governor Carl Sanders died in Atlanta.
Mercedes-Benz announced that it was moving its U.S. corporate headquarters to Atlanta.
President Barack Obama visited Atlanta. He spoke at Georgia Tech - talking about college affordability and reforming the student loan system. He also met with Governor Nathan Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and visited a local tavern.
The Atlanta Falcons announced Dan Quinn as their new head coach. Quinn had been defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, who had played in the previous two Super Bowls, winning in 2014.
Rome, Georgia native Jamie Barton won the prestigious Richard Tucker award. The award is given annually to an American opera singer on the verge of launching an international career.
Atlanta Hawks’ coach Mike Budenholzer was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year. Budenholzer led the Hawks to a first place finish in the Eastern Conference, after finishing eighth the previous year.
Dalton State College won the men’s NAIA basketball national championship by defeating Westmont (California) College. The tournament finals were held in Kansas City. Dalton had disbanded its athletic program over thirty years previously, and only began playing again in 2013.
Longtime Georgia state representative and civil rights activist Tyrone Brooks resigned from his Georgia house seat and pled guilty to one count of filing a false tax claim, and no contest to five other charges of wire and mail fraud.
A portion of Georgia State Highway 9 was named Gladys Knight Highway to honor the native Georgian (born in Atlanta) known as the “Empress of Soul.” Knight has won four Grammy awards in a career spanning over 50 years.
Twenty-one year old Jordan Speith became the second youngest person to win the prestigious Masters golf tournament. He led from opening day to the finish - and it was an impressive finish; Speith scored an 18 under par, tying the record for best score ever in the Masters.
Former Atlanta Braves’ pitching great John Smoltz was inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Civil rights activist and politician Julian Bond died in Fort Walton Beach, FL. Bond was a leading figure in the civil rights movement, from his days as a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta through his service in the Georgia legislature, and to being chairman of the NAACP.
Betty Cantrell of Warner Robins, Georgia was named Miss America at the pageant held in Atlantic City, NJ.
Musician Billy Joe Royal died at his home in North Carolina. Royal was born in Valdosta, Georgia and grew up in the Atlanta area.
Mark Richt was let go as coach of the University of Georgia football team after the season-ending win against Georgia Tech. One week later, former UGA player Kirby Smart was named as the new head coach; Smart had been defensive coordinator at Alabama.
Novelist Pat Conroy, who was born in Atlanta, died at his home in South Carolina.
Georgia governor Nathan Deal announced he would veto controversial House Bill 757, also called the “Religious Liberty Bill.” Proponents of the bill claimed it would protect citizens’ religious beliefs in matters such as gay marriage, while opponents claimed it would virtually legalize discrimination. Many corporate leaders and sports and entertainment executives spoke out against the bill, while the religious right in Georgia strongly supported it.
President Barack Obama visited Atlanta to lead a summit on helping to control prescription drug abuse. First Lady Michelle Obama visited Burke County Middle School in Waynesboro, Georgia to help students there plant a learning garden.
University of Georgia swimmers won medals at the Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro: Allison Schmitt and Melanie Margalis won gold medals as part of the USA’s women’s 4x200 meter freestyle relay team. In the same event, Brittany MacLean won a bronze medal swimming for Canada. Schmitt and Amanda Weir also won silver medals swimming for the United States, while Chantal Van Landeghem won a bronze medal swimming for Canada. Olivia Smoliga earned a gold medal in the 4x100-meter medley relay. University of Georgia track star Shaunae Miller won a gold medal in the 400 meters. Miller was running for her native Bahamas. Fayette County, Georgia native Christian Taylor won the gold medal in the triple jump.
Hurricane Matthew tracked up the eastern coast of the United States, coming off shore of Georgia in the early morning hours of October 9. The storm caused significant damage from winds, flooding, and storm surge, and left many coastal residents without power and water for several days. Most of the coastal counties were evacuated before the hurricane reached Georgia.
The Atlanta Braves named Brian Snitker manager. He became the interim manager after the team got off to a horrible start. The team improved significantly under Snitker’s leadership, culminating with them winning 20 out their last 30 games to end the season.
Steve Wrigley was named Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, replacing the retiring Hank Huckaby. Wrigley had served as vice-chancellor under Huckaby. Both men had previously served as director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.
Gregory Paul Lawler was executed by lethal injection for the 1997 murder of an Atlanta policeman. This marked the seventh execution in Georgia for 2016, the most since the death penalty was re-instated in 1976.
In the 2016 general election, there were virtually no surprises in Georgia. A majority of Georgians voted for Donald Trump as President; he also won the national election. Incumbent senator Johnny Isakson easily won re-election, as did all of the incumbent U.S. representatives running for re-election. In the one highly contested issue in Georgia - the Opportunity School District - a move by the state to take over chronically failing schools (and championed by Governor Nathan Deal) was defeated.
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