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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Politics
2:56 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Perdue Tops Kingston In GOP Senate Runoff

Businessman David Perdue addresses supporters after being declared the winner of a tight runoff race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination Tuesday night in Atlanta.
Credit Michell Eloy / WABE News

Businessman David Perdue came out on top against Congressman Jack Kingston in Tuesday night’s tight runoff race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, making the Savannah congressman the third and final sitting House member to fall to the political newcomer.

The results went back and forth between Perdue and Kingston well into the night, with a clear winner looking doubtful at times. But in the end Perdue edged out the 22-year-veteran lawmaker with just over 50 percent of the vote.

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Politics
8:24 am
Tue July 22, 2014

Today's Vote Will Decide Key Primary Runoff Races

Voters heading to the polls today will decide a number of highly contested primary runoff races.

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Local
5:43 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

U.S. Senate Candidates Campaign Across Georgia Before Primary Runoff

Kingston shortly before getting on a plane to travel across Georgia.
Dan Raby WABE

With less than 24 hours until the polls open, both of Georgia’s Republican U.S. Senate candidates are on statewide fly-around tours. WABE’s Michelle Wirth caught up with Congressman Jack Kingston as he tries to pull out a Republican primary runoff victory against businessman David Perdue.

Prior to getting into a small airplane at the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, Kingston told supporters he will fight for every last vote.

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Features
6:00 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Kingston Works To Win Over Undecided Voters

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Jack Kingston is traveling throughout Georgia to get his message out before tomorrow’s Republican primary runoff. The 11th term congressman is facing businessman David Perdue in a closely contested and bitter U.S. Senate race. WABE’s Michelle Wirth followed Kingston as he campaigned in Gainesville.

Kingston shook hands and mingled with supporters and undecided voters as they ate bacon, eggs and other breakfast food at a cafe in Gainesville.

“How are guys doing?”

“We’re doing well.”

“I’m doing great. I’m jack Kingston.”

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Local
4:30 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Carter Leads Deal In Poll Following Release of Ethics Memo

A new poll has Senator Jason Carter leading Governor Nathan Deal 49 percent to 41 percent in the Georgia governor’s race. The Landmark Communications poll conducted for channel 2 comes just after the release of a memo by the head of Georgia’s ethics commission. In the memo, Holly LaBerge claims top Deal aids pressured her to quietly settle ethics complaints against the governor and threatened the commission’s authority.

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Local
5:46 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Cobb Commission Approves Zoning Change For Braves' Mixed-Use Development

Crews work on a pipeline relocation project on the Braves' stadium site.
Credit Chris Ferguson/WABE

The Cobb County Commission Tuesday  unanimously approved a zoning change that will allow the Atlanta Braves to move forward with a mixed-use development near their new stadium.

Commissioner Bob Ott says he voted for the change because he sees it as a continuation of efforts to reinvigorate the Cumberland Galleria area.

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Politics
5:14 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Republican U.S. Senate Candidates Battle in Heated Debate

Credit Wikipedia; perduesenate.com

Republican U.S. Senate candidates Jack Kingston and David Perdue squared off Sunday in a heated televised debate. The Atlanta Press Club debate is only time the two will face off before next week’s primary runoff.

During the debate, Kingston painted Perdue as an untested elitist who is inaccessible and out of touch with average Georgians.

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Local
4:56 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Former APS Chief Will Not Stand Trial in August

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Former Atlanta Public School Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall will not stand trial next month when testimony gets underway in the massive test cheating case. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter made the decision Friday based on Hall’s current battle with stage four breast cancer.

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Local
4:04 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Fulton County Manager Proposes Reorganization Of Several Departments

Fulton County Manager Dwight Ferrell

The Fulton County manager unveiled a plan this week to reorganize and consolidate a number of county departments.

The proposed changes include combining the facilities and transportation and water resources departments. It would also combine the cooperative extension and the library and arts and culture departments into one larger department. The plan also calls for the hiring of several new positions and the elimination of some that are vacant. Dwight Ferrell is Fulton County manager.  

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Local
4:49 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Fulton Residents Speak in Opposition to Proposed Property Tax Hike

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

During the first of three hearings, several Fulton County residents called on county commissioners to reject a proposed property tax increase of more than 17 percent.

The majority speaking during the sparsely attended hearing asked commissioners to vote against a plan to raise Fulton County's millage rate by 1.57 mills.  If approved, that would mean a $140 increase for those with a $275,000 home. College Park Resident Kip Carr asked commissioners to trim the county’s budget instead.

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Cobb County
5:30 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Judge Hears From Residents Seeking to Block Stadium Bonds

About a dozen Cobb County residents intervened in the case
Michelle Wirth/WABE News

A Cobb County Superior Court judge could soon decide whether issuing up to $397 million dollars in revenue bonds for a new Atlanta Braves stadium in Cobb County is legal under state law. Judge Robert Leonard heard from several residents seeking to block the stadium bonds and attorneys who argued in their favor during a more than six hour hearing Monday.

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Local
6:36 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Several Cobb Residents Challenge Bond Issuance for Braves Stadium

Rich Pellegrino stands with members of Citizens for Governmental Transparency outside the Cobb County Superior Courthouse.
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

A member of a Cobb County watchdog organization filed a motion to intervene and object to the issuance of bonds for a new Atlanta Braves stadium. A court hearing Monday will determine whether the issuance of up to $397 million dollars in revenue bonds complies with state law.

Citizens for Governmental Transparency member Rich Pellegrino is among the Cobb residents who have filed an objection. Pellegrino says at least a half dozen residents plan to file before the hearing on Monday.

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Local
5:43 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Exclusive: Atlanta VA Chief Responds to Wait Time Audit

Atlanta VA Medical Center officials say the average wait time for new patients to see a primary care doctor is actually shorter than the 64 days recently reported in a U.S. Veterans Affairs Department audit. That 64 day wait was among the worst in the nation.

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Local
6:00 am
Mon June 30, 2014

New Gun Law Takes Effect Tuesday

Credit Courtesy: TSA

Starting tomorrow, the law opponents have referred to as the “guns everywhere” bill goes into effect. Among other things, the law allows permitted gun holders to carry firearms in bars, some churches and government buildings without security.

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Local
5:00 am
Mon June 30, 2014

State Bar Files Complaint Against House Speaker Ralston

Credit Georgia General Assembly

The State Bar of Georgia has filed a complaint against House Speaker David Ralston with the Georgia Supreme Court. The 10-count complaint alleges Ralston violated several bar rules while representing a client in an injury accident case.

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Local
4:48 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Groups Plan to Challenge Bond Issuance for Braves Stadium

Citizens for Governmental Transparency
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Groups and individuals that are part of a government watchdog coalition are planning a court challenge to try and stop the validation of bonds for a new Atlanta Braves Stadium planned for Cobb County. The announcement comes ahead of a court hearing that’s scheduled for July 7. That hearing will determine whether up to $397 million dollars in bonds will be issued to help finance the stadium project.

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Business
5:51 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

CNBC Ranks Georgia As Top State For Business

CNBC logo
Credit William Hartz, CNBC News via flickr.com / https://flic.kr/p/3W9Nig

  CNBC says Georgia is the top U.S. state for business this year.

Georgia received the number one ranking after coming in first in the study in workforce and infrastructure. The state also ranked in the top half in all but two of the study’s ten categories. Scott Cohn is a senior correspondent with CNBC. He says Georgia went from eighth in last year’s study to first this year.

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Local
5:00 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Georgia Might Not Meet Yearly Terms of DOJ Settlement

DBHDD Commissioner Frank Berry
Credit Georgia DBHDD

  State officials say Georgia might not meet its yearly terms for a 2010 settlement with the U.S. Justice Department. A portion of the settlement requires hundreds of people with developmental disabilities to be moved out of state institutions and into community settings by 2015.

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Local
11:02 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Olmstead Anniversary Celebrated Amid Report on Deaths in Community Group Homes

Several people who say their lives were positively affected by Olmstead spoke during the anniversary celebration
Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Advocates and people with developmental disabilities celebrated the 15th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision at the Carter Center in Atlanta yesterday. The decision says those with developmental disabilities have the right to receive services in the community rather than institutions when it’s appropriate and they can reasonably be accommodated. But a new report shows moving those with disabilities from institutions into community group homes has been problematic for some.

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Local
10:21 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Cobb Commission Could Create Special Tax District in South Cobb

Credit Cobb County

  Cobb County Commissioners will hear a proposal Tuesday by the South Cobb Development Authority to raise property taxes on businesses and rental properties in part of South Cobb. Officials say a 3.5 mills increase would help buy blighted properties and improve interchanges and streetscapes.

Boundaries for the special services district would stretch from the Cobb County and Fulton County line all the way to the Cobb and Douglass County border. It would also include areas north of I-20 along the Six Flags over Georgia corridor.

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Local
4:54 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Additional CDC Workers May Have Been Exposed to Anthrax

Credit John Lorinc / WABE

A greater number of workers at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may have been exposed to live anthrax.

The agency now says as many as 84 employees may have had contact with the bacteria. That’s up from 75 reported yesterday. More than 50 of those employees are now taking an antibiotic treatment. And some of those are also taking the anthrax vaccine.

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Local
5:00 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Braves Stadium Project Becomes Eligible for State and Federal Funding

Future Braves stadium site in Cobb County
Credit Chris Ferguson/WABE

A state agency that reviewed the potential traffic effects of the new Atlanta Braves stadium planned for Cobb County has given the project the green light. But the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority says Cobb and the Braves will need to meet a number of conditions before they can get state or federal funding.

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Local
5:40 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Fulton County to Advertise for Potential Property Tax Increase

Fulton County commissioners listen to residents speak for and against a potential property tax increase.
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Fulton County commissioners voted 5 to 2 to advertise a potential property tax increase that could amount to a more than 17 percent increase for county homeowners. If commissioners approve the increase, the matter will likely end up in court. That’s because a state law prohibits Fulton from raising property taxes until 2015.

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Local
5:40 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Georgia Right to Life Forms National Pro-Life Group

Georgia Right to Life logo.
Credit Georgia Right to Life

Georgia Right to Life is creating a new national pro-life organization. The new group comes after National Right to Life recently decided to cut ties with Georgia Right to Life.

Founders say the National Personhood Alliance will focus on protecting all innocent human beings. In addition to abortion, Georgia Right to Life co-executive director Genevieve Wilson says the alliance will actively oppose things like cloning, embryonic stem cell research and physician assisted suicide.

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Local
11:37 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Governor Deal Renews Call for Tightening Whistleblower Rules

Credit Marylee Williams/WABE

Governor Nathan Deal Monday reiterated state lawmakers should consider limiting who qualifies as a whistleblower. The comments come just days after the state agreed to spend more than $1.8 million to settle three remaining whistle-blower complaints by former state ethics employees. The employees alleged retaliation in connection with the handling of an ethics investigation involving Governor Nathan Deal and his 2010 campaign.

Governor Deal declined to comment on the settlement agreements beyond a statement released by his spokesman Brian Robinson on Friday.

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Local
6:52 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Winter Storms Prompt Changes to State Emergency App

Gov. Deal announces upgrades to the state's mobile emergency app.
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The state is upgrading its emergency mobile app. The update comes after several winter storms, including one state officials drew some criticism for after thousands of drivers were stranded on local highways.

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Local
5:00 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Local Veterans React to Report on Atlanta VA Wait Times

U.S. Army Veteran Rudolph Early
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Local veterans tell WABE they've had both positive and negative experiences at the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur. The veterans comments follow a USA Today report, which says the Atlanta VA is among the nation’s worst when it comes to wait times for new patients.

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Drug Testing Not Allowed
5:40 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

USDA Says New Georgia Food Stamp Law Violates Federal Policy

Credit Chris Ferguson/WABE

  The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Georgia is no longer in danger of losing up to $15 million dollars in federal funding due to a backlog in applications for the state’s food stamp system [copy of letter, PDF].  The department says it will continue to monitor Georgia, but the state is now in compliance with federal processing requirements.

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Local
4:09 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Report: Atlanta VA Among the Worst for New Patient Wait Times

Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE News

A USA Today report says new patients at the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center are waiting nearly two months to receive care, which is among the worst in the U.S.

Data obtained by USA Today showed the Atlanta VA had one of the longest wait times in the nation. The information from the U.S. Veterans Administration shows on average new patients at the center wait more than 56 days to receive care.

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Business
8:57 am
Tue June 3, 2014

1,100 Jobs Coming to Clayton County

Gov. Deal announcing that more than 1,100 jobs are to be relocated to Clayton Co. by Atlanta-based Chime Solutions.
Credit Marylee Williams/WABE

More than 1,100 jobs are coming to Clayton County.

Chime Solutions is an Atlanta-based human resource, business process outsourcing firm. The company plans to bring more than 1,100 jobs to Morrow in Clayton County and repurpose a former J.C. Penney inside Southlake Mall.

Governor Nathan Deal says the announcement comes in a county where the unemployment rate has greatly exceeded the state as a whole.

“This announcement should bring hope and opportunity to that part of our state. We think it will be a precursor to opportunity that will follow soon behind.”

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