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
12:44 pm
Fri May 29, 2015

CDC Investigates Anthrax Shipment From US Military

The CDC is looking into a shipment of live anthrax that the Pentagon says was accidentally shipped from an Army facility in Utah.
Credit John Lorinc / WABE

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating what the Department of Defense says was an accidental shipment of live anthrax. The suspected samples were shipped from an Army facility in Utah to laboratories in nine states.

Georgia did not receive any of the live spores, but the CDC has confirmed at least one lab in Maryland received live anthrax. CDC spokesman Jason McDonald says 17 others are under investigation.

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Local
2:50 pm
Thu May 28, 2015

Atlanta Parking Ticket Fines Could Rise During Festivals

You may soon have to watch where you park during Music Midtown, the Dogwood Festival and the Peachtree Road Race or risk a larger fine.
Credit Stephen Harlan / flickr.com/gogostevie

Those who park illegally in neighborhoods during Atlanta’s largest festivals could soon pay triple the amount for a parking ticket.

Right now, your ticket would be $25 if you park illegally in a neighborhood with permit parking during a festival. But the Atlanta City Council could soon decide whether to raise those tickets to $75 during festivals that draw crowds of more than 50,000 people. Those include: Music Midtown, the Dogwood Festival and the Peachtree Road Race.

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Supreme Court
6:13 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

US Supreme Court To Hear Georgia Death Row Inmate's Case

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether prosecutors engaged in racial discrimination in the jury selection process for death row inmate Timothy Foster.
Credit Jonathan Satriale / flickr.com/politicalpulse

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Timothy Foster, a Georgia death row inmate. The justices will decide whether prosecutors racially discriminated in the jury selection process.

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Local
1:00 pm
Fri May 22, 2015

Georgia Joins Fight Against Four Charities Accused Of Fraud

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens says the public was defrauded by four cancer charities.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

The Georgia Attorney General’s Office and the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office have joined in a federal complaint against four cancer charities. The charities are accused of defrauding residents in all 50 states out of more than $187 million.

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Features
11:54 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Local Honey As A Cure For Allergies: The Debate Buzzes On

Master beekeeper Linda Tillman checks a frame of honey to see if it's ready for harvest.
Brenna Beech WABE

The tree allergy season is winding down, but for those with grass allergies, the misery is just beginning.

And if you’ve had itchy eyes and a runny nose, you’ve probably heard the advice to eat local honey. WABE took a look at whether it can help with allergies, or if it’s just an old wives' tale.

About 1,000 bees fly all around in Linda Tillman’s Atlanta backyard. She’s been a beekeeper for about a decade and swears by her daily dose of local honey.

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Local
12:52 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

Georgia Could See A Heavy Mosquito Season

If Georgia experiences a wet summer, the remainder of the mosquito season could be heavy.
Credit AFPMB / flickr.com/afpmb

Despite a wet start to the spring, so far the number of mosquitoes is typical for this time of year, says University of Georgia Extension entomologist Elmer Gray. But he says it could get worse.

“It has been wet up to this point, and now it’s begun to dry out,” Gray says.

But Gray says seasonal forecasts call for wet weather.

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Politics
3:24 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

Georgia Negotiates Over Developmental Disability Transfers

Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Frank Berry, middle, and advocates speak during a forum at The Carter Center about the state of the 2010 settlement Georgia reached with the federal government.
Credit The Carter Center

Georgia is in negotiations with the federal government over a 2010 settlement reached with the U.S. Justice Department. By June 30, the state was supposed to move all people with developmental disabilities out of state-run hospitals and into community settings. But the state is not going to meet to that deadline.

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Health & Science
6:05 pm
Mon May 18, 2015

CDC: Ga.’s Use Of ADHD Medication For Children Above Average

Dr. Visser presents the parental survey on ADHD at a mental health forum held at the Carter Center.
Credit The Carter Center

Too many young children in the U.S. and Georgia with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder might be getting medication rather than behavioral therapy. That's according to the CDC, based on results from its national parental survey on ADHD. The survey was presented by a CDC researcher during a recent mental health forum at The Carter Center.  

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Life Expectancy
2:30 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Atlanta Population's Life Expectancy Varies By ZIP Code

View your ZIP code with the interactive map above.
Credit Charles W. Jones / WABE

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Decatur
5:15 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Decatur Eyes Property For New Park Near Avondale Marta

Credit http://decaturga.com/

 

There could soon be a new park on Decatur’s east side.

If the city is able to reach an agreement with AT&T, the park would be next to the Avondale Marta Station along Columbia Drive and College Avenue.

The city is currently in talks with the telecommunications company for land AT&T currently uses as an office and a storage site for vehicles. 

“This particular piece of property is one we have looked at and considered for a long time as this district begins to change,” says Lyn Menne, Decatur's assistant city manager.

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Local
12:58 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Atlanta Bridgescape Contest Could Give 2 Bridges A New Look

One of the designs submitted for the Atlanta Bridgescape Competition.
Credit Finalist B / Atlanta Bridgescape Competition

Right now, when you drive on the Downtown Connector, you may not even notice the bridges you drive under. Several organizations want to change that.

Midtown Alliance, Central Atlanta Progress and others are holding a design competition to transform two bridges over I-75/85. The first is the 10th Street Bridge in Midtown Atlanta. The other is the Courtland Street and Ralph McGill Boulevard Bridge downtown.

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Veterans
12:41 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Atlanta VA Hopes To Reduce Eye Care Wait Times For Veterans

A veteran gets his eyes checked at a Veterans Affairs clinic. Atlanta-area veterans will soon have more options on where they can go to get their eyes checked.
Credit Ann Hamilton / Atlanta VA Medical Center

Atlanta-area veterans may soon have a shorter wait to get their eyes checked out.

In the past, all local veterans wanting eye care had to go to the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Decatur.

Some may be able to get those services closer to home.

Right now, veterans have to wait about two or three months for a routine eye appointment at the Atlanta VA. The agency also runs several primary VA clinics around the state and has started to offer eye exams and eyeglass fittings in Rome, Newnan and Blairsville.

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Local
12:34 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Atlanta Police Could Phase In Body Cameras By End Of Summer

The Atlanta Police Department could start phasing in body cameras by the end of this summer.
Credit Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

More Atlanta police officers could soon wear body cameras. 

The department is still waiting on funding from the Atlanta City Council, but if all goes well, the department is expected to start phasing the cameras in by the end of the summer. There’s also talk that some federal money might be available. 

“We’ve found that body cams keep everyone honest and provide for greater transparency within the department,” Elizabeth Espy, spokesperson for the Atlanta Police Department, said.

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Business
6:27 am
Fri May 8, 2015

Georgia Companies Could Profit From Florida Flag Bill

Florida's bill says government agencies in the Sunshine State can only buy Florida's state flag and American flags made in the USA.
Credit eric lynch / flickr.com/royal65

Georgia flag makers could benefit from a bill recently passed by the Florida legislature. The bill says government agencies in the Sunshine State can only buy Florida's state flag and American flags made in the USA.

Steve Erlich owns a company called U.S. Flag maker in Marietta and could benefit from Florida’s push for patriotism. Erlich says even though only a small part of his business is with government agencies, he’ll likely see his sales increase.

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Politics
12:53 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Georgia School Systems To Decide On Operating Models

Atlanta Public Schools has told the state it intends to become a charter system.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

  

  

All Georgia school systems face a deadline next month. They have to decide how they want to run their schools, and they get three choices from the state.

The first choice for school systems is the "status quo," which means they have to follow all state mandates unless there are extenuating circumstances like a natural disaster. So far, only the Burke County school system has decided to do so.

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Politics
10:29 am
Thu May 7, 2015

Gov. Deal Signs Bill To Protect Teens From Cyberbullying

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill on Wednesday that's aimed at the prevention of cyberbullying.
Credit Rachel Johnson / flickr.com/rachel-johnson

  

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law Wednesday that seeks to prevent teenagers from becoming victims in cyberspace.

The law says you’re not allowed to put a teenager’s personal information like a phone number or username on a pornographic website. It also prohibits anyone from posting a picture of a minor’s face on one of those sites. State Rep. Dave Belton, R-Buckhead, authored the law.

“We really want to confront cyberbullying. It’s become a very huge epidemic, and it really affects a lot of teenagers,” Belton says.

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Politics
3:25 pm
Wed May 6, 2015

Strip Club Lawsuit Likely After Sex Trafficking Law Signed

New legislation could lead to strip clubs having to pay $5,000 a year or one percent of their annual profits a fund to help victims of sex trafficking.
Credit Dan Raby / WABE

 

Several adult entertainment clubs could soon sue the state over a new sex trafficking law.

Gov. Deal signed the legislation yesterday. It could lead to strip clubs having to pay $5,000 a year or one percent of their annual profits a fund to help victims of sex trafficking. But that part of the legislation still needs voter approval.

Now that the sex trafficking bill has been signed, attorney Alan Begner says one thing is for sure: “You can certainly guarantee the law will be challenged.”

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Politics
4:44 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

$1 Billion Georgia Transportation Bill Signed By Gov. Deal

Gov. Deal stands near orange construction cones just before signing HB 170 on Monday. The legislation is supposed to bring in nearly $1 billion for transportation.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

There could soon be smoother roads and fewer potholes on state-owned roads.

On Monday, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a nearly $1 billion transportation bill. Most of the money will go to maintain existing roads and bridges.

Deal says it fills one of Georgia’s most critical needs.

“We are paving the way forward for more than 6.5 million Georgians to a better ride, a safer ride and a more prosperous state,” Deal says.

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Politics
5:36 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Atlanta Mayor, Fulton Chairman At Odds Over Turner Field

Mayor Kasim Reed says he's willing to get input from Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves on Turner Field, but he says doesn't want the process to get ''bogged down.'' Eaves says he doesn't want a Turner Field deal to move too fast and says the ''county will be involved on some level.''
Credit Dan Raby / WABE

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he welcomes input from Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves on a deal to transform Turner Field after the Braves give notice. Reed says the city still can act alone if it wants to, however, he says it doesn’t mean it will.

Mayor Reed says it all comes down to simple math. He says the city has six seats on the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority and the county only has three. The Authority maintains and operates Turner Field.

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Local
6:00 am
Fri May 1, 2015

Atlanta's Spring Real Estate Season Appears Strong

March residential home sales were up by almost 14 percent compared to last year. Home prices also went up between 7 to 10 percent.
Credit Stephen Harris / flickr.com/96227967@N05

Experts are expecting a strong spring for local real estate.

Last month, home prices went up by 7 to 10 percent compared to last year according to the Atlanta Board of Realtors. Ennis Antoine, the board's president, says a stronger economy is pushing more homebuyers into the market and allowing others to sell.

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Features
9:50 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Atlanta's Spring Street Could Be Renamed Ted Turner Drive

Councilman C.T. Martin has proposed renaming part of Spring Street in honor of Ted Turner.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

Business mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner is well known for starting CNN. He also once owned the Atlanta Braves and got the United Nations Foundation rolling with a $1 billion gift.

Now, the Atlanta City Council is thinking about renaming a downtown street after Turner. A hearing took place at Atlanta City Hall Tuesday.

The proposed route for Ted Turner Drive is on a portion of Spring Street between West Peachtree and Whitehall streets. The plan was proposed by a group called Friends of Ted Turner and City Councilman C.T. Martin.

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Health & Science
6:38 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Grady To Pay $2.95M To Settle Medical Billing Allegations

Grady will pay the state more than $2.9 million to settle allegations of improper medical billing.
Credit Unclepockets / flickr.com/unclepockets

Grady Health System will pay nearly $3 million to the state to settle allegations of improper medical billing.

The state had accused Grady of inflated billings for services it provided in its neo-natal intensive care unit. The state alleged the hospital inaccurately coded some claims and got unjustified payments from Georgia Medicaid. As part of the settlement, there was no determination of wrongdoing.

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Local
11:41 am
Thu April 23, 2015

Ga. Education Groups Plan Fight Over School Takeover Measure

Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta is on a list of schools that could be eligible for Gov. Nathan Deal's school takeover plan. Under Deal’s plan a superintendent, appointed by the governor, would select up to 20 schools deemed failing each year.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Groups are already lining up for and against a referendum that would allow for the state takeover of failing schools. Voters will decide next year whether to create a statewide school district to oversee schools the state determines are doing poorly under a Georgia Department of Education standard for three years in a row.

The Georgia Association of Educators says the referendum would give too much power to Gov. Nathan Deal and bypass local control. The group will work with others to oppose the referendum says Georgia Association of Educators President Sid Chapman.

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Education
6:18 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Georgia Students, Activists Call For 'Debt-Free' College

Students, members of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Sen. Vincent Fort and others gather in a Georgia State University classroom to call for ''debt-free'' college.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

As tuition increases, students are calling on presidential candidates to let everyone graduate from a public college without student-loan debt.

In a classroom at Georgia State University, a handful of students, members of the left-leaning Progressive Change Campaign Committee and others spoke about the idea of debt-free college.

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Politics
4:57 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Medical Marijuana Bill Signed By Gov. Nathan Deal, Becomes Law

Gov. Deal smiles after signing HB 1, a bill that decriminalizes medical cannabis oil for Georgians with eight different medical conditions.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

A type of medical marijuana is now legal in Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill legalizing cannabis oil for Georgians with eight different medical conditions. That means some families who had left the state to get the oil can now return home.

The bill is named for 5-year-old Haleigh Cox who suffers from a seizure disorder.  Her mother Janea moved with her to Colorado so she could get Haleigh cannabis oil, but her husband stayed behind. Janea and her entire family attended the signing.

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Local
3:21 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

New Braves Stadium May Get Bicycle Trails Nearby

The Cumberland Community Improvement District plans to look into the possibility of bicycle trails near the new stadium.
Credit Atlanta Braves

As officials look for more ways to alleviate traffic congestion near the new Atlanta Braves stadium in Cobb County, Braves Vice President Mike Plant threw out another option this week.

Plant told the Kennesaw Business Association he’d like to see fans bike to the ballpark. The chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District, Tad Leithead, says that could someday be a reality.

There are already bicycle trails near the new stadium, but they don’t reach the ballpark. Leithead says he’d like to that see that change.

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Politics
6:04 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Ga. Medical Marijuana Bill To Be Signed By Gov. Nathan Deal

Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order on medical cannabis oil earlier this month.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal will sign a medical marijuana bill on Thursday.  The legislation decriminalizes cannabis oil for Georgians with eight different medical conditions. The oil won’t be produced in Georgia, so residents will have to figure out how to get it here.

Rep. Allen Peake sponsored the medical marijuana bill. He says Georgians will be able to get cannabis oil with less than 0.3 percent THC from two Colorado companies.

“[For] that particular product both manufacturers have said they’re willing to ship it back to Georgia,” Peake said.

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Local
11:56 am
Wed April 15, 2015

IRS Cuts Hurt Georgia Taxpayers, Union Says

The National Treasury Employees Union says Georgia has lost nearly 1,900 IRS workers since 2011.
Credit Ken Teegardin / Flickr.com/teegardin

It’s tax day. But if you need last minute help, you might want to avoid your local IRS office. Many taxpayers have had long waits when visiting the offices, as well as on the phone.

The National Treasury Employees Union says the wait times are a result of federal budget cuts. The union says Georgia has lost nearly 1,900 IRS workers since 2011. Terry Scott, president of NTEU Chapter 26 in Atlanta, says with fewer employees, local offices are no longer offering tax preparation help.

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Politics
6:15 am
Tue April 14, 2015

South Carolina Could Recognize Georgia Gun Permits

House Bill 3799 in South Carolina would allow Georgians with concealed carry permits to take their guns anywhere in South Carolina where firearms are legal.
Credit Robert Ray / Associated Press

Georgia gun owners with concealed carry permits might soon be able to take their firearms to more places in South Carolina. That’s if House Bill 3799 that’s been proposed in the South Carolina legislature gains approval.

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Politics
10:41 am
Mon April 13, 2015

Ga. Criminal Justice Reform Bill Revises Probation System

A criminal justice reform bill passed by the state legislature would create a new state agency to oversee parole and probation. The agency would combine supervisory services from the Department of Corrections, Department of Juvenile Justice and Pardons and Paroles into one state agency.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Private Probation

Georgia lawmakers passed a key part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice reform package this year, HB 310. Among other changes, the bill would change the state’s probation system for misdemeanor offenses. Critics have said for years that the system led to abuse, especially for poor offenders.

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