Local

Local
6:00 am
Sat April 19, 2014

Church 'Revisting' Plans To Move Priests, Still Intends To Move Forward

Atlanta Archdiocese Bishop Wilton Gregory presides over mass at Christ the King Catholic Church in Buckhead earlier this year.
Credit Jaimee Lee / WABE News

There’s a new controversy involving the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta and housing, after some Buckhead residents say they oppose a plan to move some priests into a house previously inhabited by Archbishop Wilton Gregory.

Christ the King Catholic Church spokesperson Dave Fitzgerald said the church is taking a second look at its plans to move six of its priests into the home, but said the church still intends to move forward.

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Local
5:56 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Educators Pleased About Potential Changes to the State Health Benefit Plan

Credit Ga. Dept. of Community Health

Several education organizations are pleased the state plans to increase the number of providers and health plan options for state employees next year. The announcement by the state comes after state employees raised concerns about Georgia selecting Blue Cross Blue Shield as its only insurer this year for the State Health Benefit Plan.

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Local
4:34 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Controversy Over Pay Raises Puts Greater Focus On Atlanta Watershed Operations

Atlanta Watershed Commissioner Jo Anne Macrina.
Credit Channel 26

Questions persist over how the city’s Watershed commissioner was able to dish out hefty pay raises to her leadership team without City Council approval. It comes as the department is being investigated for mismanagement and widespread cases of lost and stolen equipment.

Earlier this year, Watershed chief Jo Ann Macrina awarded pay raises to five members of her leadership team, ranging from $15,000 to $25,000. The raises were backdated to June so retroactive pay was included.

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Local
10:17 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Georgia State Hires Chief Innovation Officer

Credit Georgia State University

Georgia State University has hired its first chief innovation officer.

The university hired Phil Ventimiglia, former NCR Corporation vice president for innovation and new product development. Ventimiglia started the position week and will head the university’s Information Systems and Technology Department. He also plans to explore new technology solutions both in and out of the classroom.

“My position on this that it’s that it’s not to go and remove the classroom from the equation but really to augment the classroom with other modalities of learning.”

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Local
4:35 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Reed Says Turner Field Area Is Attracting Developers

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed
Credit City of Atlanta

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Thursday he’s already received two to four offers to redevelop the Turner Field area when the Atlanta Braves relocate to Cobb County in 2017.

Reed said the city can’t act on them until 2015, when the Braves' lease is set to expire.

But he said the area’s redevelopment isn't keeping him up at night.

"I’m completely calm about Turner Field. We have very nice options," said Reed. "We could sell Turner Field right now."

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DeKalb County
2:00 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Request for Appeal in Ellis Corruption Case Refused

Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis's corruption trial is scheduled to begin June 2.
Credit DeKalb County

A judge has denied a request from suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis to take part of the case against him to a state appeals court.

If DeKalb Judge Courtney Johnson had approved the request, it could have delayed Ellis’s trial.

Ellis’s lawyers contended the grand jury that indicted the CEO exceeded its scope during its investigation of corruption allegations against him. DeKalb Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson disagreed.

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Local
12:29 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Georgia Unemployment Rate Declines Again

Georgia’s unemployment stands at its lowest rate in more than five years.

The Georgia Department of reports unemployment rate for March 2014 was 7.0%, its lowest rate since September 2008. It is the ninth month in a row Georgia’s jobless rate has declined.

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Local
4:44 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

U.S. Transportation Chief Pushes Obama Bill, Defends Atlanta Streetcar Investment

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx flanked by (from left) Central Atlanta Progress head A.J. Robinson, MARTA CEO Keith Parker, Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed,

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx spoke in Atlanta Wednesday about the need for Congress to pass a broad transportation bill.

Foxx touted the Atlanta Streetcar and the Beltline, both recipients of federal funding. He spoke along the Beltline in east Atlanta and said future projects are at risk. 

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Ernest Moniz at Georgia Tech
2:52 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

U.S. Energy Secretary: Nuclear Power Plant Vogtle an Example of 'Fuel Diversity'

U.S. Secretary Ernest Moniz
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz talked about the future of nuclear power during an appearance in Atlanta today.

Moniz pointed to the construction of Plant Vogtle as just one indicator of an ongoing commitment to using different kinds of energy.

“Fuel diversity is something that I think that’s very important for the country; it’s happening here,” said Moniz. “For the country and even globally, the cost and schedule performance will be very important for the future trajectory of nuclear power.”

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2:47 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Judge Won't Intervene In Vidalia Onion Dispute

Lead in text: 
News Brief: We will have more on this story later today, but a Georgia superior court judge has declined to intervene in a fight between one of the state's largest Vidalia onion farmers and Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black over a new rule restricting the packing of Vidalia onions for shipping before a certain date.
Vidalia onion rule: A Georgia judge Tuesday refused to intervene in a legal battle between a prominent Vidalia onion farmer and the state's agriculture commissioner over a new regulation aimed at keeping unripe onions from reaching store shelves.
Local
4:14 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Federal Government Warns Georgia Food Stamp Program, Also Notes Progress

Credit USDA

Georgia continues to remain at risk for losing millions of dollars in federal funding due to an application backlog and other issues with its food stamp program. The federal government issued a formal warning letter to the state yesterday but is also recognizing the state’s progress.

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Heirs Battle Over Bible and Nobel Medal
3:00 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

MLK Estate Hires New Legal Team

An Associated Press file photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holding his Nobel Peace Prize medal.
Credit Associated Press

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s estate has a new legal team.

Two lawyers from the firm Bryan Cave LLP, Nicole Wade and Luke Lantta, now represent the estate for current litigation. According to the firm’s website, both attorneys specialize in fiduciary litigation.

A judge disqualified William Hill as the estate’s lawyer earlier this month because Hill had been closely involved in an earlier property dispute involving the heirs.

Losing Hill means losing the local influence and reputation of the former Fulton Superior Court judge.

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Local
6:00 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Deal Signs Bill Renewing Tax Exemption For Food Banks

Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill to give sales tax exemptions to food banks, a measure he vetoed just last year.

The exemption, which was lumped into a larger tax exemption bill the governor signed into law Monday at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, reinstates a sales tax exemption for food banks that had expired two years ago.

“What this means is hundreds of thousands of dollars that we can use to purchase food for families for families and children across the state,” said Bill Bolling, who heads the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

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Local
6:00 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Voter Registration Deadline For May Primary Election Less Than A Week Away

Credit moria/Flickr.com

  The registration deadline to vote in this year’s May 20 primary election is less than a week away.

Monday, April 21, is the last day Georgians can register to vote.

“Citizens can register online. They can download an app that the secretary of state’s office just rolled out to register with their smart phone,” said Fulton County elections head Richard Barron.

Monday, April 21, is the last day Georgians can register to vote.

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Local
5:52 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Local Synagogues Heighten Security After Kansas Shootings

Credit joshbousel/Flickr / http://bit.ly/1kqhHmZ

Passover begins at sundown Monday night and some local Jewish institutions and synagogues are being extra vigilant. A man suspected of being a white supremacist killed three people outside a Jewish Community Center and a nearby assisted living facility in Kansas this past weekend.

Laurence Rosenthal is a Rabbi at Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Atlanta. He says his congregation is moving forward with Passover events as scheduled, but the shootings have prompted extra security precautions.

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Local
4:30 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

State Suspends Transfers of Developmentally Disabled Patients into Community Settings

Central State Hospital in Milledgeville is one of only three state hospitals still open for patients with developmental disabilities.
Credit Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Under an agreement with the federal government, Georgia has to move everyone with developmental disabilities out of state hospitals and into community settings by July 2015.

  However, the state has stopped making those transfers for the second time since it began the transition program. This time, two people transferred from the state hospital in Thomasville died not long after moving into community settings.

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Local
6:00 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Child Welfare Council Reacts To Deal's Privatization Plans

Members of a Governor Nathan Deal’s child welfare panel are responding to his plan to privatize some of the child welfare system.

Deal’s plan calls for a two-region privatization pilot program, with the state moving child placement and family recruitment to private groups already working with the state. Those two pilot regions have yet to be named.

The Department of Family and Children Services would maintain oversight of case management and investigations into abuse and neglect claims.

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Local
5:09 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

MARTA To Improve Wait Times

MARTA plans to cut down wait times on its buses and trains beginning mid-May.

Weekday trains moving through the heart of Atlanta will come about every five minutes. For stops further out, most wait times will improve from around 15 minutes to ten. Seventeen bus routes will also see lower wait times.

“Anytime you can increase the frequency, you increase the ridership and that’s going to be good for the system and the city,” said Lee Biola, chair of the advocacy group Citizens for Progressive Transit.

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Local
6:00 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Human Rights Group: Violence, Homicides Up In State Prisons

Relatives of Pippa Hall-Jackson, including his mother, Yolanda (right), tell Democratic state Sens. Nan Orrock and Vincent fort that Jackson feared for his life just weeks before he was killed by a fellow inmate at Hays State Prison.
Credit Michell Eloy / WABE News

Yolanda Jackson is the mother of Pippa Hall-Jackson, a former inmate at Hays State Prison who was killed in February 2013.

Speaking at a Capitol hearing Thursday, she said her 19-year-old son was stabbed by a fellow inmate at Hays while exiting a bus headed to another prison.

Jackson said her son feared for his life just weeks before he was killed, and she wants the prison held accountable for his death.

“We just need some closure. We need some help. Because he cried out on several occasions,” Jackson said. “He told us he wasn’t going to make it in there.”

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Local
6:53 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Gov. Deal Announces Medical Marijuana and Foster Care Privatization Pathways

On Thursday, Gov. Deal announced two potential pathways Georgia can take to help those with seizure disorders obtain an oil based form of medical marijuana without legislative approval.  Deal also announced the establishment of a pilot project for some privatization of the state's child welfare system.

Gov. Deal says the state has been in talks with the FDA to help as many Georgia children as possible with seizure disorders receive cannabis oil in a safe and legal manner.

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Local
5:11 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Judge Hears Arguments In Legal Challenge Of Falcons Stadium Financing

Credit Keizers via wikipedia

A Fulton County judge Thursday heard arguments in a legal challenge that could hold up public financing for a new Atlanta Falcons stadium.

After more than six hours of arguments, Judge Ural Glanville commended both sides and said he’d make a decision about next steps by April 25th.

“Those involved argued very well and very passionately in terms of your respective positions so I really have a lot to consider,” said Glanville.

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Local
2:00 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Daycare CEO Pleads to $2M Fraud of Government Food Program

  The head of a statewide chain of daycare centers has pleaded guilty to stealing millions from a federal program that feeds needy children.

38-year-old Antonio Hurt was CEO of Bright Star Daycare and Early Learning Centers with nearly a dozen centers around the state.

He pleaded guilty to defrauding the Child and Adult Care Food Program of almost $2 million over a two-year period.

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Local
11:49 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Atlanta Involved in Pro-Bicycle Project

The city of Atlanta wants to see more people getting around on two wheels.

There's a push to make Atlanta more bicycle-friendly.

The city's Department of Planning and Community Development is taking part in the Green Lane Project.

That program, which launched in 2012, promotes biking in general by taking steps like building protected lanes for riders.

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Breaking
10:40 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Cobb County Schools Names Christopher Ragsdale As Interim Superintendent

Christopher Ragsdale, the newly-appointed interim superintendent of Cobb County Schools.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE

BREAKING:  Christopher Ragsdale, currently the deputy superintendent for operations at Cobb County Schools, has been named the interim superintendent by the Cobb County Board of Education.

Ragsdale's selection was announced this morning in a press conference.  

Ragsdale has been with Cobb County Schools since 2006, initially serving as chief technology officer for the district.  In 2011 he was promoted to deputy superintendent for operations and placed in charge of the system's buildings, technology and capital projects.

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Local
6:20 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Gun Group Argues "Stand Your Ground" Lawsuit Invalid Due To Improper Procedure

Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, speaks during a press conference to announce it planned to file a lawsuit challenging Georgia's "stand your ground" law.
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Will a lawsuit filed by the Rainbow Push Coalition and others challenging Georgia’s so called “Stand Your Ground” law be dismissed over a technicality?

Last month, a group hoping to intervene in the case asked a federal judge to dismiss it because it claimed Georgia’s Attorney General and Governor Nathan Deal were never served with the lawsuit. But attorneys filing the lawsuit responded this week and said they attempted to serve both state officials.

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Local
5:43 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Legal Maneuver Could Speed Up Falcons Stadium Lawsuit

Atlanta Falcons stadium opponents rally against plans to issue bonds backed by hotel/motel tax revenue Wednesday at the corner of Northside Drive and Martin Luther King Drive in the Vine City neighborhood.
Credit Michell Eloy / WABE

A motion filed earlier this week by the City of Atlanta and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens could speed up a lawsuit over the financing of the new Falcons Stadium that's scheduled for a hearing Thursday.

The city and state have filed a motion before Fulton County Superior Court judge Ural Glanville, asking him to issue a show cause order at a bond hearing Thursday for a small group of Atlantans who’ve challenged the stadium’s financing plan.

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Local
5:30 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Spalding County Takes First Step to Ask Voters Whether to Build a New Airport

Griffin-Spalding Airport
Credit City of Griffin

Spalding County residents will get to decide in November whether they want a new airport … maybe.

After plenty of public comment, most of it negative, about building a new airport in Spalding County, the county commission decided Monday night to put the question on the November ballot.

According to Commission Chairman Chipper Gardner, “It’s an issue that is so important such as this, we decided that the voters needed to decide do they want it or not."

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Local
4:36 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

State Ethics Chief Critical of Governor’s Reform Plan

Ethics chief Holly LaBerge and Gov. Nathan Deal

Embattled state ethics chief Holly LaBerge is defending her agency and calls a reform plan proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal problematic.

Deal said Monday the state’s campaign finance system is broken. He proposed expanding the ethics board from five members to 12. Right now, the governor appoints a majority of the board. Under the proposal, the executive, legislative, and judicial branches would each appoint four members.

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Architecture
6:50 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Tiny House Experiment Opens at SCAD Atlanta

A SCADpad micro-house, under construction at SCAD Atlanta in Midtown.
Credit SCAD Atlanta

  The Savannah College of Art and Design’s (SCAD) Atlanta campus is getting ready to move some student living quarters into parking spaces. SCAD does not have a housing shortage. Instead, it is conducting an experiment to look to the future in terms of space.

  The experiment takes the form of three dwellings call SCADPads. They measure 135 square feet each. SCAD will unveil them later today. For several weeks, the SCADPads will “live” in parking spaces – where they fit neatly in one space apiece -- on the SCAD-Atlanta campus.

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Local
6:05 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Gubernatorial Candidates Report Finances as Primary Nears

Georgia’s incumbent governor continues to have the most cash on hand in the upcoming gubernatorial contest, but Democratic candidate and state Senator Jason Carter has raised a significant amount of money.

On Monday, Governor Deal reported having $3.9 million dollars on hand for his reelection campaign. Since the legislative session ended, Deal has raised more than $84,000. Jen Talaber is a spokesperson for Governor Deal’s campaign.

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