The Georgia Press Association has completed a four-year project to provide public notices from all 159 Georgia counties on a single, searchable database available online at www.GeorgiaPublicNotice.com.
The notices include foreclosures, divorces, forfeitures, incorporations, bids, name changes, sheriff levies, invitations to bid, rezoning matters, alcohol license applications, proposed new laws and many other matters of public business that are also published in the legal organ of newspapers for each county.
The Web site now offers 100 percent coverage of public notices from across Georgia, meaning that anyone with Internet access can find a notice from any county, according to a GPA news release, dated Thursday.
"This is a great milestone to get accomplished for all of the newspapers in Georgia, and more importantly, for the citizens of Georgia," said GPA President Judy Fleming, general manager of the Early County News of Blakely.
Burgett Mooney, whose tenure as GPA president ended in June, called the project a key goal of his term.
"That is a goal we set for the association, and it included a number of non-member papers to achieve," he said.
The Web site, which is free to all users, is a database of public notices that will be searchable by county, by map, by category or by keyword.
The GPA and the state's newspaper industry started the project four years ago to increase access to notices and fend off potential legislative efforts to use third-party companies or government sites to publish such notices.
Other states have seen such efforts, which critics contend would reduce overall access to the public.
Several companies nationwide have begun to mount legislative lobbying and public relations campaigns to win the right to publish public notices.
"A lot of people and newspapers didn't realize that public notices could be taken from newspapers," Ms. Fleming said. "Once they grasped that public access could be lost, we went forward from there."