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
5:00 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Polls Show Runoffs Possible In Georgia's Top Races

Credit Chris Ferguson / WABE

In Georgia, candidates need to receive more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. That means if Georgia’s contests for U.S. Senate and governor are as close as they appear in the polls, they might not end on November fourth.

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Local
6:00 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Georgia Lottery: New Game and Record Profits Likely To Boost Education Funding

Georgia and more than 20 other states are rolling out the Monopoly Millionaires' Club game this week. Georgia Lottery officials estimate the game could mean a total of $10 million for state-funded lottery programs for this fiscal year.
Credit youtube.com/PlayMMCLottery / Georgia Lottery

A new lottery game launched this week – the Monopoly Millionaires' Club. The rollout follows a record-breaking quarter for the Georgia Lottery. WABE’s Michelle Wirth reports on what new lottery profits could mean for our state’s students.

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Local
5:41 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Atlanta VA Plans to Expand Women's Healthcare At Fort McPherson

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The Atlanta VA Medical Center says it plans to expand healthcare services for women at its Fort McPherson Campus. The expansion comes as some female veterans express concerns about the types of services available to women at the Atlanta VA.

On Friday, a crowd gathered to celebrate the expansion of veterans’ services at Fort McPherson. One of the newer services is a center focusing on reproductive care, mental health and other medical services for female veterans.

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Local
6:00 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Ebola Fears Lead To Local Discrimination

Rev. William B.G.K. Harris, International Christian Fellowship
Katie King for WABE

As Ebola fears grow in the U.S., some local residents from countries hardest hit by the deadly viral disease are experiencing discrimination.

Rev. Dr. William B.G.K. Harris moved to Atlanta in 1980.  He still has family in Liberia and a large number of Liberian members in his church, International Christian Fellowship.

“Some members of the church have had relatives die, and that’s been very disturbing.”

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Local
9:07 am
Wed October 15, 2014

State Lawmakers Examine Whether Georgia Should Create Mold Laws

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Mold can cause serious health problems. But right now, there are no state laws, or even EPA regulations, to protect residents. Some state senators are looking at whether that should change.

Senators created a study committee to look at mold and mildew related problems after hearing stories like Linda Porter’s. After Porter moved into an apartment in Southwest Atlanta, she discovered a blackish colored mold.

“I began to see mold and mildew from behind the walls, on the corners, and at the top of the ceiling.”

Then Porter developed health problems.

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Business
6:00 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Developers Focus On Those Seeking 'Carless Commutes'

Credit MARTA.com

Congestion continues to be a major issue in Atlanta. And as the region’s population grows, transit experts say it could get worse. The Atlanta Regional Commission predicts by the year 2040, the Atlanta metro area will have 1.5 million more jobs. Those are among the reasons developers are building with the “carless commute” in mind.

35-year-old Jayma Koval lives in Lake Claire. Rather than get in a car, she rides MARTA daily from the Candler Park/Edgewood station to her job in Midtown Atlanta.

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Local
7:00 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Early Voting Gets Underway

Credit Georgia.gov

 Early voting starts Monday and Tuesday throughout the state. This year, residents in some Georgia counties will have more chances than ever to vote before the November 4 election.

To increase access and turnout, some counties like Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton are offering early voting on Sunday.  

Cobb County is not offering Sunday voting. But Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid worked to open up a Saturday early voting site in the southern part of the county.

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Local
11:23 am
Fri October 10, 2014

How Will Savannah's Port Deepening Benefit Atlanta?

Credit U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The deepening of the Savannah port is expected to start later this year. The project comes as East Coast ports throughout the U.S. prepare to handle larger cargo ships expected to arrive from the Panama Canal in 2016. 

One person who’s excited about Savannah’s port expansion is Darrel Penn. He’s a manager of business development for C.H. Robinson, an international third party logistics company with two offices in the Atlanta metro area.

“We’re a travel agent for cargo. We’re helping it get where it needs to go in the most efficient and effective manner.”

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Local
6:00 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Several Veterans Call For Mental Health Care Improvements At Atlanta VA

Several veterans raised concerns about mental health care at the center during a recent town hall meeting. The meetings were held nationwide.
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Last year, the Inspector General for the Veterans Administration released a report linking three deaths at the Atlanta VA Medical Center to mismanagement in the center’s mental health programs. After the report, the medical center made a number of changes to mental health care.  But several local veterans say more improvements are needed.

During a recent town hall meeting, Air Force Veteran Dawn Brys told VA leaders she considered committing suicide. She said the depression came after she met with several mental health professionals in the Atlanta VA’s trauma recovery clinic.

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Local
5:38 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Local First Responders Prepare For Potential Ebola Cases

Medical jumpsuits, booties and other personal protective equipment purchased anby the Marietta Police Department.
Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The Atlanta City Council passed a resolution this week calling for city department heads to develop action plans for Ebola and other contagious diseases. Local first responders are also gearing up to handle the deadly viral disease if it’s diagnosed here in Georgia.

Marietta Police detective Christopher Lindsey unwraps booties, a mask and other medical protective equipment from a plastic kit. Then he holds up a white medical jumpsuit.

“This is a head to toe zippered suit with a hood on it. It fits fairly snug.”

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Business
6:00 am
Tue October 7, 2014

State's High Court Sides With Brookhaven In Pink Pony Lawsuit

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

If the Pink Pony wants to remain a totally nude strip club that sells alcohol it will have to relocate. That’s based on a Georgia Supreme Court ruling Monday in favor of the city of Brookhaven. In the ruling, the court upheld a lower court decision dismissing the lawsuit. The strip club sued Brookhaven after the newly created city passed a law last year prohibiting completely naked dancing combined with alcohol.

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Local
6:23 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Cobb County Jail Inmate's Initial Ebola Tests Negative

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The testing for Ebola began after a male was diagnosed with flu-like symptoms. He was booked early Friday morning on DUI charges. During a health screening at the center, the inmate told officials he had recently traveled to several parts of Africa, including to Liberia where there is currently an Ebola outbreak. Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren said the inmate was immediately isolated and taken to a local hospital. Then the detention center took steps to ensure safety.

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Ebola
3:37 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Inmate in Cobb County Jail Tested for Ebola

The outside of Cobb County Detention Center where the lockdown took place.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

Updated at 4:35 p.m.: In a press conference the Cobb County sheriff says he arranged for treatment of the inmate after they discovered he had flu-like symptoms. All of the inmate's test have been negative - but they're still waiting on the results of one last test.

At this time, however, officials have said they have no reason to believe the inmate is infected with Ebola. 

Posted at 3:37 p.m. An inmate at the Cobb County Detention Center has reportedly been tested for Ebola.

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Local
5:00 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Some Atlanta Travelers Worry; CDC Says Risk Of Contracting Ebola Low

Credit Victor Villanueva / flickr.com/bikoy

Following the diagnosis of the first Ebola patient in the U.S., some travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport are on edge.

Several flying at Atlanta’s airport say they have been worried about Ebola since the outbreak began in West Africa.  But after a Liberian man developed Ebola symptoms in Dallas, they say their concern has grown. Courtney Stubblefield flies weekly for work. She said, “I think it is extremely worrisome. I don’t necessarily think we’re getting the full story. I wish they would do something to curtail those flights from those countries.” 

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Education
6:08 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Georgia's Public Universities Go Smoke Free

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

All 31 campuses within the University System of Georgia went officially smoke free Wednesday. That means students can’t light up, use chewing tobacco or e-cigarettes anywhere at school. Kennesaw State University is one of the schools undergoing the change. WABE’s Michelle Wirth spoke with students and administrators at the university.

Tre Robinson skateboards across Kennesaw’s campus. Robinson is a junior communications major who smokes one or two cigarettes a day. He said the change is unfair.

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Local
6:00 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Massive Number Of Illegally Dumped Tires Discovered In DeKalb County

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

This month, state environmental officials discovered one of the largest illegal tire dump sites in recent history.

More than six thousand old tires are scattered on a large wooded property in Lithonia. Near the tires mosquitoes swarm and the entire area smells of rubber. Eric Sanders, a Department of Natural Resources ranger, found the tires.

“I said man that’s a lot of tires. And the more I got to looking at the location, the magnitude of the tires is unreal,” said Sanders.

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Local
6:25 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Grady Receives $30 Million For Expansion

Credit Nick NeSmith/WABE NEWS

Grady Memorial Hospital is getting $30 million to expand its emergency department and its stroke center. The donation comes from the Marcus Foundation, whose board is chaired by Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus.

Most of the money will go toward a new emergency center for the hospital. Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation Board of Directors, Pete Correll, said the current one is more than 20 years old.

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Local
5:45 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

EPA Orders Army To Improve Air Quality Near Fort Gillem

Credit Evan Jang / WABE

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued an order requiring the U.S. Army to take corrective action near Fort Gillem in Clayton County. The Army was supposed to take steps to improve air quality in more than 25 homes near the former Army base after testing and discovering toxic vapor. But the EPA says the Army has yet to act.

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Local
5:26 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Operators Of Homeless Shelter To Fight Potential Water Shut-Off

The shelter at Peachtree and Pine Streets
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

Atlanta officials say a large homeless shelter located at Peachtree and Pine Streets could have its water turned off within the next 6 to 10 days.  That’s if shelter operators don’t pay the city $600,000 thousand dollars for unpaid water bills and a federal court judgment. But those in charge of the shelter are not going down without a fight.

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Local
12:12 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

Fox Theatre Celebrates 40th Anniversary of "Save the Fox"

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Altanta’s Fox Theatre will hold a yearlong celebration in honor of the 40th anniversary of the “Save the Fox” campaign. In the mid-1970’s, the theatre was in danger of being demolished.

The Fox Theatre opened in 1929 as a movie palace, but by 1974 many customers had migrated to the suburbs and the theatre had fallen into disrepair. The theatre’s parent company placed the Fox for sale.

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Local
9:47 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Reed: City Has Plan To Aid Homeless If Shelter's Water Is Turned Off

The shelter located at Peachtree and Pine Streets is run by the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the city has a plan to relocate hundreds of homeless men, women and children if a large shelter located on Peachtree and Pine Streets has its water shut off. City officials say that could happen within the next week or two unless operators of the Peachtree-Pine shelter pay the city $600,000. Reed said if the water is turned off, the city will work with Fulton County to evacuate the building. He said the relocation will be done in a “compassionate manner.”

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Local
6:00 am
Tue September 23, 2014

African American Lawmakers Plan To Contact Justice Department Over Voter Applications

Members of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus hold a press conference following their meeting with officials from the Georgia Secretary of State's Office.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

After meeting with top officials for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office Monday, the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus said it still has a number of unanswered questions about the processing of about 51,000 voter registration applications turned in by the New Georgia Project. The head of the caucus said she plans to contact the U.S. Justice Department. In the meantime, a number of applications turned in by the New Georgia Project are being investigated by the Secretary of State.

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Local
6:00 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Judge Sides With Fulton In First Round Of Property Tax Case

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Fulton County scored an initial victory Thursday in a court case that will determine whether the county had the authority to approve a 17 percent property tax increase. Fulton commissioners voted for the property tax hike last month.

Senior Cobb County Superior Court Judge G. Grant Brantley decided not to block Fulton County from collecting about $1,300 in additional taxes owed by 7 current and former state lawmakers filing suit against Fulton. The lawmakers asked the judge to prevent the county from collecting the money while the case is underway.

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Local
4:31 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Carter Blames Deal For Rise In State Unemployment Rate

Credit WABE 90.1 FM

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Senator Jason Carter blasted Republican opponent Governor Nathan Deal for an uptick in the state’s unemployment rate. The rate increased from 7.7 percent in July to 8.1 percent in August.

Carter criticized the governor and said the unemployment rate, which has risen four months in a row, shows the state is heading in the wrong direction.

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Politics
6:00 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Voter Registration Group Accused Of Turning In 25 Forged Voter Applications

The Ga. Secretary of State's office says the New Georgia Project turned in 25 fraudulent voter registration applications. The group brought copies of more than 51,000 applications it says it turned in but have not been processed to the state Capitol.
Michelle Wirth/WABE News

During an emergency election board meeting Wednesday, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office said it has discovered dozens of voter registration applications submitted by the New Georgia Project have been forged. Last week, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued a subpoena to the voter registration group, which was founded by Democratic House leader Stacey Abrams. As part of the subpoena, the group is supposed to turn over all documents related to voter registration efforts and canvass sheets.

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Sports
4:35 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

The Atlanta Braves Break Ground On SunTrust Park

Pouya Dianat Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves broke ground on a new $622 million dollar stadium and adjoining mixed-use development in Cobb County today.  The Braves also unveiled the name of the future ballpark.

Baseball legend Hank Aaron, Governor Nathan  Deal and Major League Baseball Commissioner-Elect Rob Manfred were among those taking part in groundbreaking.

Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz said the stadium will offer fans the highest-quality experience possible.

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Local
6:28 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Georgia DNR: Army Has Yet to Address Toxic Vapor Found in Homes Near Fort Gillem

The U.S. Army is currently testing a number of homes near Fort Gillem.
Credit Evan Jang/WABE

State environmental officials say the U.S. Army has not fulfilled a commitment it made to help residents of 26 homes that have tested positive for toxic vapor near Fort Gillem. Officials say the Army agreed to install vapor mitigation systems within the 26 homes no later than Sept. 11 but has yet to act.

Susan Martin-Morgan lives about a mile from Fort Gillem. She said the Army sampled the air quality of her home and discovered it contains elevated levels of dangerous chemicals that could pose a long-term risk to her family’s health. 

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Local
6:47 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Civil Rights Leader Reacts to Ferry's Leave Of Absence

Francys Johnson speaks Thursday at the Georgia Capitol on another matter.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry is taking an indefinite leave of absence, effective immediately. The leave of absence comes after audio of a June conference call of Ferry speaking about free agent Luol Deng.

During the call, Ferry said words civil rights leaders and others describe as racially insensitive. This excerpt of the call was obtained by ESPN.

“He's a good guy overall, but not perfect. He's got some African in him."

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Local
5:49 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Civil Rights Leaders Accuse Secretary Of State Of Voter Suppression

NAACP President Francys Johnson (middle) and other civil rights leaders speak in front of the Georgia Secretary of State's office Thursday.
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and several other civil rights organizations are accusing Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp of trying to suppress voter rights. The organizations delivered a letter to Kemp today saying a subpoena issued by his office to a voter registration group is an attempt to keep minorities from voting.

The New Georgia Project, which was founded by State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, (D-Atlanta), calls itself nonpartisan. The group said it’s worked lawfully since January to sign up about 85,000 Georgians, particularly minorities.

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Politics
6:00 am
Thu September 11, 2014

DeKalb Elections Board To Decide On Sunday Voting Plan

Credit DeKalb County Government

DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May has recommended early voting on Sunday October 26 at South DeKalb Mall. If approved by the County’s Board of Elections Thursday, the county would be among the first counties to let citizens vote on Sunday. But the lone state Republican Senator representing a portion of DeKalb says the move appears partisan.

Republican state Senator Fran Miller said May’s recommendation to place Sunday voting at the South DeKalb Mall ignores northern DeKalb and is clearly aimed at getting more Democrats to turn out in November.

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