Michelle Wirth

Reporter

Michelle comes to WABE after working at KMOX, the CBS radio affiliate in St. Louis, as a county government and general assignment reporter. Before joining KMOX, Michelle served as a medical and general assignment reporter at WSAV-TV, the NBC affiliate in Savannah, GA and as a state government and general assignment reporter at KOMU-TV in Columbia, MO. Michelle has a Master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism and a Bachelor’s in Communications from the University of Denver. She lives in Midtown with her husband, Bryan, and her dog, Chewy.

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Local
4:48 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Reed Promises Development Near New Falcons Stadium

Reed announces members of the Westside Future Fund board.
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Since the Atlanta Falcons first unveiled their plans for a new $1.4 million billion dollar stadium, nearby neighborhoods have questioned whether they would see any benefit. On Friday, Mayor Kasim Reed had an answer. Reed and the Atlanta Committee for Progress appointed members of a new nonprofit board to oversee redevelopment in the Vine City, English Avenue and Castleberry Hill Neighborhoods.

When the Georgia Dome was built in the 90s, residents who lived nearby were promised their communities would see revitalization. But most of that redevelopment never took place.

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Local
7:34 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Georgia Senate May Discuss Medicaid Expansion; But Some Say Unlikely To Pass

Georgia’s governor and many state Republican leaders have been opposed to expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. But one GOP lawmaker says the Georgia Senate could soon take another look. However, he says if the state does move forward it would be on its own terms.

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Local
12:02 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Flu Season Hits Georgia

Credit CDC.gov

Georgia is among more than a dozen U.S. states that are experiencing widespread flu activity.

State health officials say metro Atlanta is among the areas of the state where the flu is currently spreading. Audrey Kunkes monitors flu activity for the Georgia Department of Public Health. She serves as the Influenza Surveillance Coordinator for the department.

“I would say it’s severe. We’re seeing a lot of school-aged children and those in long term care facilities coming down with influenza, and it can lead to very severe complications.”

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Business
5:30 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Number Of Holiday Package Deliveries Expected To Rise This Year

Atlanta-based UPS anticipates an 11 percent growth in package deliveries this holiday season.
Credit Kari Bluff / flickr.com/mrsbluff

You might get more presents at your doorstep this Hannukkah and Christmas. That’s because there’s expected to be an increase in the number of packages being shipped.

Atlanta-based UPS anticipates an 11 percent growth in package deliveries this holiday season. The U.S. Postal Service expects to top that with 12 percent increase in parcels. Michael Miles is a spokesman for the Atlanta District of the U.S. postal service.

“Most of that volume is due to the growth in ecommerce.”

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Politics
6:00 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Veterans' Suicide Prevention Bill Blocked

Credit The Department of Veterans Affairs

A U.S. Senate bill aimed at preventing veteran suicides has been blocked. The measure has the backing of Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The bill would create independent evaluations of VA programs to prevent suicide. It would also give student loan repayment for mental health specialists who commit to work at a VA hospital for two years.

The measure was stopped from coming to a vote by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma). He argued it would cost too much and would duplicate already existing programs. The bill is unlikely to be voted on before next year.

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Health & Science
4:30 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Right Whales Spotted Off Georgia's Coast

A Right Whale with a calf swims off the coast of Florida.
Credit National Oceanic Atmospheric Association

Two North Atlantic Right Whales have been spotted off Georgia’s coast. They’re the first sightings of the endangered whales near Georgia this season.

Every year around this time, the endangered right whales make their way from Canada and New England down to Georgia and Northern Florida. They have their calves in the warm waters off the coast. On Saturday, the first newborn of the season was spotted near Cumberland Island with its mother.

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Local
5:33 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Atlanta's 'Love-Hate' Relationship With "Gone With The Wind"

Crowds flocked to Loew’s Grand Theatre for the premiere of the classic film.
Credit PBS

75 years ago today, the film version of “Gone with the Wind” premiered here in Atlanta. Michelle Wirth takes a look at the city’s love/hate relationship with the classic movie.

When the film premiered in 1939, it was a star-studded celebration at the Loew’s Grand Theatre in downtown Atlanta. 75 years later, Connie Sutherland says the film is still as popular as ever.

“I think because people relate to it, to the common thread that binds it all together which is survival.”

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Local
5:36 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Vermont Artist Wins Trademark Fight With Chick-fil-A

Bo Muller-Moore stands in his home studio in Montpelier, Vt.
Credit Toby Talbot / AP

A Vermont Artist has won a long trademark fight with Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A. This week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gave Bo Muller-Moore the trademark rights to the phrase “eat more kale.”

Bo Muller-Moore has been printing and selling T-shirts with the words “eat more kale” for more than a decade. He made them at the request of a farmer friend to promote local agriculture. Then, three and a half years ago, he decided to trademark the saying. Soon after, Muller-Moore got a letter from Chick-fil-A telling him to stop using the phrase.

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Business
6:02 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Connect With Government Decision Makers

Kurt Sobotka (R) and Kyle Sobotka (L) speak with government contractors at the National Veterans Small Business Engagement
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Recent data show veterans who have served since September 11, 2001, have a higher unemployment rate than the national average. As the government works to reduce that rate, a convention in Atlanta this week focused on helping veterans who own small businesses.

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Local
6:00 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Homelessness Drops By Nearly 50 Percent Among Veterans

People stand around the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

The number of homeless veterans in the city of Atlanta has dropped by nearly half. That’s according to U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald. He’s in Atlanta this week for a conference.

McDonald spoke about federal estimates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The data show a year ago there were almost 1,000 veterans living on Atlanta’s streets. This year, the number dropped to nearly 500. McDonald credits partnerships between the VA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and local agencies.

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Local
6:00 am
Wed December 10, 2014

State Lawmaker Wants Georgia To Apologize For Slavery

Rep Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta), seen here in 2009, plans to pre-file a resolution for Georgia to apologize for slavery this week.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

A state representative wants Georgia to formally apologize for its role in slavery. Democratic state representative Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) plans to pre-file a resolution on the matter this week.

 

Brooks has pushed for this proposal before. The resolution would express regret for Georgia’s participation in slavery, but makes it clear that it can’t be used as a basis for any lawsuit.

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Local
8:00 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Civil Rights Organizations Raise Concerns About New Profiling Policy

Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

The Obama administration came out with new guidelines on racial profiling for federal law enforcement officers Monday. Several civil rights organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and the NAACP say the policy is a step in the right direction. However, the organizations are also concerned the guidelines don’t go far enough.

The new profiling policy includes gender, religion and sexual orientation. Previously, only race and ethnicity were covered. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about the new guidelines while in Atlanta last week.

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Politics
8:00 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Should Georgia Explore Medicaid Expansion Alternatives?

Dr. Ileana Fuentes, examines seven-year-old Cardji Caliste, who is covered by Medicaid, at the Borinquen Health Care Center in Miami.
Credit Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

Georgia, and many other states with Republican governors, turned down Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Last week, Florida unveiled an alternative plan that could allow the state to take advantage of the federal money that’s up for grabs.

WABE’s Michelle Wirth spoke with those on both sides of the federal healthcare debate to see if they think Georgia should come up with a similar plan.

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Local
10:21 am
Fri December 5, 2014

CDC Warns Flu Season Could Be Severe

Credit Darron Cummings / Associated Press

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this year’s flu season could be a bad one. Here in Georgia, there have already been two deaths and flu cases are on the rise.

The CDC says this year’s flu vaccine probably won’t be as effective as some past years.  That’s because a strain of the flu has mutated. But state health officials say you should still get a flu shot. Audrey Kunkes is the influenza surveillance coordinator for the Georgia Department of Public Health.

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Features
12:12 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Several Claim Army 'Dragged Its Feet' On Toxic Vapor Testing Near Fort Gillem

One of the signs placed near several streams close to Fort Gillem
Michelle Wirth WABE

Earlier this year, the Army discovered toxic vapor in several homes near Fort Gillem. The former Army base is in Clayton County. It used to serve as a maintenance facility, and hazardous chemicals were routinely buried on its grounds. Now there’s a debate about whether the Army is to blame for the unhealthy air.

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Local
4:27 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Shopping Turns Into A Marathon

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Shoppers are out and about this Black Friday looking for deals. And like last year, an increasing number of retailers opened on Thanksgiving. That’s causing more shoppers to get an even earlier start on their holiday shopping.

It’s 6 a.m. and there are only a small number cars in the parking lot of a Buckhead shopping center. There are no lines and shoppers like Wykeia Farley head right into the stores. She’s been shopping for bargains since 5 p.m. Thanksgiving night.

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Local
4:38 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Reed Responds Following The Arrest Of Some Ferguson Protesters

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed held a press conference Wednesday after some protesters caused trouble in the city Tuesday night. The unrest came after a grand jury decided not to indict a Missouri police officer for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Atlanta Police made 24 arrests Wednesday night after protesters tried to block an Atlanta interstate. They also shattered the windows of a police vehicle, a taxi and a few businesses.

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Local
6:59 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Students Rally Following Decision In Michael Brown's Death

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

A grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson is continuing to spark national reaction, including here in Atlanta. The controversy started in August after Wilson, a white police officer, shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who is African American.

Students at several of Atlanta’s historically black colleges and universities rallied in the Center of Clark Atlanta University Tuesday in response to the decision.

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Business
6:00 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Krog Street Market Opens

Michelle Wirth WABE

After much anticipation, the Krog Street Market officially opens in Inman Park today. Developers say the new market is the first “food hall” to open in Atlanta.

Inman Park resident Lee Arno stands in front of the 30,000 square foot market. Inside there are stores, several food, retail stalls and a handful of restaurants. Arno lives just steps away and is looking forward to its opening.

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Politics
6:00 am
Fri November 21, 2014

Ethics Complaint Against Cobb County Chairman Lee Dropped

Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee sits as The Cobb Ethics Commission considered an ethics complaint against him. County resident Tom Cheek later dropped the complaint.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

An ethics complaint filed against Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee has been dropped. Lee was accused of acting improperly as he worked to bring the Atlanta Braves stadium to Cobb County.

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Politics
9:20 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Senator Proposes Banning Driver's Licenses For Immigrants Granted Deferred Action

Sen. McKoon's bill would make getting a driver’s license illegal for those who qualify for deferred action status.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

President Obama will unveil his executive action plan for immigration today. The president is expected to expand deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), a program that has allowed many who arrived illegally in this country as children to temporarily stay in the U.S. and apply for work visas.

One Georgia Republican lawmaker is already trying to combat the efforts.

A bill pre-filed by Republican state Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) would make getting a driver’s license illegal for those who qualify for deferred action status.

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Business
4:43 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Experiences Growth In Revenue, Jobs

The departure board for Delta's terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Credit David Tulis / Associated Press

In the past four years, Atlanta’s airport has seen a boost in revenue and a growing number of jobs. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed touted the increases today during the release of a 2013 economic impact study released by the airport.

Mayor Reed said last year, Hartsfield-Jackson International generated more than $34 billion in direct business revenue to metro Atlanta. That includes money from airlines, concessions and local hotels. And Reed said it’s about $2 billion more than in 2009, the last time this type of study was released.

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Politics
5:24 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

State Lawmaker Continues Push For Medical Marijuana Law In Georgia

State Rep. Allen Peake speaks on behalf of his bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Georgia for patients with certain illnesses earlier this year.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Efforts to legalize medical marijuana are back again this legislative session. A state lawmaker has pre-filed a bill that would allow for the limited use of cannabis oil.

The actual details of the bill are still being worked out. But State Rep. Allen Peake said it would legalize cannabis oil for those who suffer from conditions like seizure disorders, cancer and glaucoma.

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Local
8:50 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Isakson In The Running For Several Committee Chairmanships

Credit Sen. Isakson Press Office

When the U.S. Senate shifts to Republican control in January, a number of high-ranking GOP senators will get the opportunity to lead committees. Georgia U.S. Senator, Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) is in the running for two chairmanships.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) is currently in charge of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. But Burr has thrown his hat in the ring for chairman of Senate Intelligence. If he moves there, that would make Senator Isakson the highest ranking member of the Veterans’ Affairs committee.

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Politics
3:31 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Sen. Isakson Announces Re-Election Bid

Sen. Johnny Isakson
Credit Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

It’s official, Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) announced he will seek a third term in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Isakson stood near his wife, Gov. Nathan Deal and a large number of state lawmakers as he pledged to run again for the U.S. Senate.

“I want to try and continue to do what I’ve done for 16 years in Washington, and that’s bring Georgia values and Georgia conservatism to the Capitol of United States of America in Washington,” said Isakson.

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Health & Science
6:04 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

CDC Report: E-Cigarette Use Rising

More than four percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes. That’s about triple the percentage two years ago.
Credit Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows nearly 1 in 4 high school students still use some form of tobacco. It also found more young people are using e-cigarettes.

The CDC said it’s concerned that 90 percent of the high school students surveyed claim to use a type tobacco you light up, like cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and pipes.

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Local
7:00 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Georgia Farmers Sign Up To Accept Food Stamp Benefits

Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

State and federal officials are working to increase the number of Georgia farmers and farmers markets that accept food stamp benefits.

More than a dozen farmers gathered in an exhibit hall Wednesday at the Atlanta State Farmers Market to sign up or learn more about how to accept food stamp benefits.

   

Susan Giddens owns Gratitude Gardens, a small farm in the Savannah area. She grows all kind of fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, kale,  blueberries and strawberries. For her, getting fresh produce to those in need is personal.

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Local
6:58 am
Thu November 13, 2014

Organizations Gear Up for Round Two of ACA Enrollment

Last year, several Fulton County residents hear a presentation on signing up for a federal exchange under the Affordable Care Act
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

Round two of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act starts Saturday. Michelle Wirth takes a look at efforts to sign up residents in our state.

60-year-old Linda Spikes signed up for coverage under the federal healthcare exchange earlier this year.She works part-time as a custodian at a church and was never to get health insurance before.

"It makes me feel good, because I know I can go to the doctor.”

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Local
4:45 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Veterans Hopeful As VA Chief Announces Customer Service Changes

Veterans participate in a ceremony at the Atlanta History Center.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

This Veterans Day comes just after national Veterans Affairs chief Robert McDonald says he plans to make the VA more customer friendly. The changes include: hiring a chief customer service officer and changing the VA structure so veterans can access services easier. WABE’s Michelle Wirth reports several local veterans are hopeful about the announcement.

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Local
12:06 am
Sat November 8, 2014

Composition Of The Fulton Commission About To Change

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

After this week’s election, Democrats are still in control the Fulton County Commission. But Republicans picked up one additional seat. That means the commission will be comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans.

North Fulton Republican commissioner Liz Hausmann is excited for the change. She said it’s not because there will be one more GOP commissioner, but because the northern part of the county will now have greater representation.

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