Local

Local
2:45 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

House Bill Would Protect Civil War Monuments From Opposition

The statue of former U.S. Sen. Tom Watson, a populist turned white supremacist, was moved off of Capitol grounds last year and placed across the street.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

The state House could soon take up a bill that would ban the removal of Georgia monuments, protecting them from any future opposition.

Under H.B. 50, a “monument” would broadly apply to any “plaque, statue, marker, flag, banner, structure name, display and memorial” honoring military service or a civilian past, present and future. Included are those monuments honoring the Confederacy and other controversial historical figures that some citizens could find offensive.  

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Local
2:31 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Countdown For Baby Beluga Whale Begins At Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium officials perform an ultrasound on beluga whale, Maris, who is in her third trimester.
Credit Courtesy of the Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium is eagerly awaiting the birth of a new baby beluga whale. The aquarium’s 20-year-old, white whale, Maris, is in her final trimester and due anytime now.

The aquarium team is hoping for a better outcome with this baby after Maris’ first calf died in May 2012 several days after its birth. The team remains "cautiously optimistic" for a successful delivery since this is Maris’ second pregnancy, aquarium officials said Thursday in a press release.

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Parks
2:20 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Coming Soon: Freedom Barkway Dog Park

Freedom Barkway will be the second off-leash dog park in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.
Credit Don DeBold / flickr.com/ddebold

A new dog park is coming to the Old Fourth Ward this month – called Freedom Barkway.

The off-leash park will use about two acres of public land along Freedom Parkway near Boulevard, said Wayne Reimer, president of Old Fourth Freedom Barkway Corporation.

The first phase of the park is set to open on March 21.

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National
2:03 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Ringling Bros Phasing Out Iconic Elephant Acts By 2018

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s circus handler Joey Frisco speaks to an Asian elephant during an appearance in Boston's North End on Oct. 17, 2013.
Credit Elise Amendola / Associated Press

Animal rights groups are taking credit for today's announcement by the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus that it will be phasing out the use of elephants at its performances.

The animals have often been featured on posters for the circus over the decades.

Circus officials say the decision is a result of growing public concern about how the animals are treated.

For now, 13 elephants will continue to tour with the circus before retiring to a facility in central Florida by 2018, where they will join 29 others.

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Local
6:47 am
Thu March 5, 2015

State Unemployment Rate Drops For Seventh Straight Month

The state's unemployment rate keeps dropping.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

For the seventh time in as many months, Georgia's unemployment rate has fallen.

“We saw the unemployment rate to continue to go down for the seventh month in a row down to 6.4 percent,” State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a press release.

That’s down two-tenths of a point from December and nearly a full point from January of 2014.

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Local
6:00 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Bike Share Program Coming To Atlanta

City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed signed a contract with CycleHop to have them manage a 50 bike-station program with 500 bikes across the city this summer.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE News

Mayor Kasim Reed signed a contract this week with a bike share company called CycleHop. Starting this summer, they’ll be installing 50 bike rental stations with 500 bikes around the city. 

But there aren’t a lot of bike lanes in Atlanta. That could change. 

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A Closer Look
6:54 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Postponed Executions Could Mean Constitutional Challenges For Georgia

Georgia State assistant professor of law Lauren Sudeall Lucas joined Rose Scott and Denis O’Hayer to discuss the legal issues regarding Georgia’s execution drug.
Credit Guillory / WABE

This past Monday the scheduled execution of Georgia death row inmate Kelly Gissendaner was postponed.

Officials with the Georgia department of corrections noticed the execution drug was “cloudy.”

According to the department they are obtaining an “appropriate analysis of the drugs.”

Another execution scheduled for March 10 has also been postponed.

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Local
2:50 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Former Mayor Puts 'Walking Dead' Town Up For Sale On eBay

Downtown Grantville, Georgia is being auctioned on eBay.
Courtesy Jim Sells

A town in Coweta County, Georgia, is up for sale on eBay.

The property owner and town’s former mayor Jim Sells is offering downtown Grantville to bidders for $680,000. The price includes 9 commercial properties that have been the set of movies and television shows such as AMC’s runway hit “The Walking Dead.”

For an extra $260,000, Sells will throw in two more buildings.

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Death Penalty
4:57 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Georgia Delays Another Execution Following Concerns About Lethal Injection Drug

The death chamber at the state prison in Jackson, Georgia.
Credit Ric Feld / Associated Press

Georgia is postponing a second execution, following concerns about its supply of the drug it uses for lethal injections.

Kelly Gissendaner’s execution was put on hold late Monday night because according to the Department of Corrections the drug, called pentobarbital, appeared cloudy. Now the state is also delaying Brian Keith Terrell’s execution, which had been scheduled for March 10.

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Local
4:04 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

15 Arrested In Johns Creek Sex Work Sting

The Johns Creek Police Department arrested 15 people in a two-day operation targeting sex work.

Four people were charged with prostitution, seven with pimping, three with misdemeanor pandering and one with felony pandering for soliciting a minor, according to the department.

Police reports show undercover officers posted ads on the website Backpage.com, rendezvousing meetings at a hotel on Medlock Bridge Road.

Captain Chris Byers said it’s not the first time the department has done such a sting.

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Travel
8:30 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Survey Shows 2015 Will Be Busy Year For Travel Industry

This undated photo provided by The Belize Tourism Board shows vacationers relaxing at Caye Caulker, Belize. The beach town is a laid-back, low-cost base for tourists looking to explore a nearby barrier reef.
Credit The Belize Tourist Board / Associated Press

It's March; have you started to plan a vacation yet?

Nearly 90 percent of Americans will be hitting the road for at least four days during a time not associated with holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Local
7:21 am
Tue March 3, 2015

UGA Hosts Top-Ranked Kentucky Tuesday

Kentucky's Andrew Harrison (5) shoots between Georgia's Yante Maten (1) and Kenny Gaines (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Feb. 3, 2015, in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 69-58.
Credit James Crisp / Associated Press

The University of Georgia's basketball team winds down the regular season with its last home game Tuesday night against Kentucky.

While the Bulldogs are looking for their 20th win of the season, the Wildcats are undefeated after 29 games.

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Local
6:10 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Selma Marchers Reflect On Civil Rights Movement 50 Years Later

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed honored civil rights leaders who marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

“Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama – where civil rights marchers were beaten by police on their way to Montgomery – marks its 50th anniversary this weekend. 

The city of Atlanta honored some of those who participated in the march at a ceremony Monday.

More than 100 people came to City Hall to share stories and sing songs of the civil rights movement.    

Juanita Jones Abernathy, the widow of Ralph David Abernathy, was one of the organizers of the march.

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Local
5:45 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

State Lawmakers Back Away From Indigent Defense Changes

Current law requires a person have access to a public defender within three business days of being charged or jailed.
Credit Penn State / flickr.com/pennstatelive

Georgia lawmakers have backed away from a proposal that would have removed requirements governing public defense, a move that had sparked backlash from attorneys groups in the state.

As part of sweeping reforms to the state’s public defense system taken up more than a decade ago, current law requires a person have access to a public defender within three business days of being charged or jailed. It also requires each circuit defenders office have departments dedicated to juvenile defense and that lawyers have experience proportionate to the type of cases they’re handling.

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A Closer Look
3:34 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Episcopal priest on prison ministry:"God's justice is very much tied up with God's mercy."

Kelly Gissendaner is set to die by lethal injection tonight for arranging the murder of her husband, Doug Gissendaner, in 1997.
Credit Georgia Department of Corrections

Update: The Supreme Court of Georgia has denied a stay of execution for Gissendaner in a 5-to-2 decision.

Later today, for the first time since the mid-40s, the state is scheduled to execute a woman.  

Kelly Gissendaner is set to die by lethal injection tonight for arranging the murder of her husband, Doug Gissendaner, in 1997.  

Last week, the State Board of Pardons and Parole denied clemency for Gissendaner.

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A Closer Look
3:19 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

APD Chief George Turner On Technology, Use Of Force When Fighting Crime

APD Chief Turner and Mayor Reed work together to reduce Atlanta crime.
Credit Michell Eloy / WABE

He is a 32-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department, and some consider Chief George Turner a pillar of the community.

Under his leadership, and with strong backing from Mayor Kasim Reed, the Atlanta Police Department reached its goal of 2,000 sworn-in officers in 2013.

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Local
1:36 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Paula Deen Reaches Book Distribution Deal With Hachette

Hachette Book Group announced Monday that it had reached a distribution deal with celebrity chef Paula Deen.
Credit Andy Kropa/Invision / Associated Press

Paula Deen has found a new publishing home.

Hachette Book Group announced Monday that it had reached a distribution deal with the celebrity chef's Paula Deen Ventures. Hachette's plans include selling and distributing a new title, "Paula Deen Cuts the Fat," and reissuing such older works as "The Lady & Sons" and "A Savannah Country Cookbook." Todd McGarity, Hachette's vice president of client distribution services, said in a statement that Deen's "trademark warmth and culinary flair are as appealing as ever."

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Local
12:02 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Bidding For Red-Hot Atlanta Hawks Tops Out At $800M

Bidding apparently has peaked for the Atlanta Hawks.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

If you have $800 million burning a hole in your pocket, the Atlanta Hawks could be yours.

According to Forbes Inc., that’s the top bid so far for the Atlanta Hawks.

Sports analyst Tim Darnell says that’s relatively chintzy for a team that’s as red-hot as the Hawks.

“There are a lot of pundits who are picking the Atlanta Hawks to go all the way to the NBA Finals,” Darnell said.

Darnell thought that a supposed lack of well-known star players might be what was keeping the price relatively low.

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Local
10:20 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Bill Aimed At Ending Wrongful Convictions Passes Senate

To make sure police don’t influence eyewitnesses, a bill gaining Senate approval last week would require law enforcement to adopt new policies.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

Keeping those who are innocent out of prison is the goal of a bill that recently gained approval in the state Senate.

Over the years, there have been problems with some police lineups in Georgia. That’s according to Aimee Maxwell with the Georgia Innocence Project.

“In Georgia 100 percent of our DNA exonerations had absolutely positive victims who identified the wrong guy,” Maxwell says.

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Local
9:21 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Governor's Staff Raises Exceed Those For Teachers, Other State Workers

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, center, walks with his staff after visiting the Georgia Senate on the last day of the legislative session in March 2014 at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta. Also pictured is his wife, Georgia first lady, Sandra Deal, left, walking with his chief of staff Chris Riley.
Credit Jason Getz / Associated Press

Many of Gov. Nathan Deal's top aides and senior executive branch officials received raises in 2015, according to a new analysis from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The governor himself continues to draw a $139,339 salary. But the newspaper found that several top aides in his office saw their pay rise by about 10 percent, nearly pulling even with their boss.

Chief of Staff Chris Riley now receives $138,500. Six other top lieutenants are paid $137,500.

Several Cabinet agency heads and other political appointees also got significant pay bumps.

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Local
9:11 am
Mon March 2, 2015

After Weather Delay, Ga. To Perform Execution Of Woman

The death chamber at the state prison in Jackson, Ga.
Credit Ric Feld / Associated Press

After getting a temporary reprieve when her execution was postponed because of winter weather conditions forecast to hit the state, the only woman on Georgia's death row is again set for execution Monday.

Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 46, was scheduled to be executed Wednesday at the state prison in Jackson, but the Department of Corrections postponed it to Monday at 7 p.m., citing the weather and associated scheduling issues.

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Local
8:02 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Madonna Includes Atlanta On Upcoming Tour

In this Nov. 8, 2012, file photo, Madonna performs at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
Credit Gary Malerba/Invision / Associated Press

The Material Girl is coming to Atlanta.

Madonna’s “Rebel Heart” tour kicks off on Aug. 29 in Miami.

The second stop on the jaunt is on Sept. 2 at Philips Arena.

Tickets for the Atlanta show go on sale in two weeks.

Other cities on this tour include New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Madonna’s latest album, “Rebel Heart,” is scheduled to be released next week.

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Local
7:39 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Author Thomas Stanley Killed In Weekend Car Crash

Georgia-based author Thomas J. Stanley was killed in a car crash this weekend. In this November 1996 file photo, Stanley poses on the stairwell of his Atlanta home.
Credit Alan Mothner / Associated Press

    

Thomas Stanley was a marketing professor at Georgia State University and a public speaker.

But he’ll be best remembered for his books.

His “The Millionaire Next Door,” released in 1996, turned a lot of heads and was followed by “The Millionaire Mind.” 

Both books topped the New York Times’ best-seller list.

These books focused on the spending habits of millionaires, which more often than not, were frugal ─ not flashy.

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Local
6:30 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Gas Prices Rise More Than 30 Cents Over The Past Month

The cost of gas is rising and oil prices are a main factor.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

    

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in metro Atlanta is $2.32, according to AAA.

That’s about a 2 cent bump from last week and about 32 cents higher from last month.

However, it’s still $1 less than it was last year.

  

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Local
6:00 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Georgia Companies Look Overseas For Customers

Forty-four Georgia companies will be honored Monday night by Gov. Nathan Deal for establishing themselves internationally.
Credit Branden Camp / Associated Press

Local companies are setting their sights abroad – more specifically to countries like South Korea, Germany and Brazil.

Forty-four Georgia companies will be honored Monday night by Gov. Nathan Deal for establishing themselves internationally. 

Last year was another record year for Georgia. The state’s exports grew by 5 percent. And imports were up more than 11 percent.

The goal is always to make sure your exports are greater than your imports, says Mary Waters. She oversees Georgia’s international trade team with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.  

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Atlanta Sounds
12:00 pm
Sun March 1, 2015

Local Artist Designs A World Of Balloons

Gayle Rubenstein inflates a balloon with helium.
Eric Durban / WABE

You’re probably familiar with the shiny "Get Well" and "Congratulations" balloons you find floating at the grocery or dollar store. There is however a higher world of balloons that supplies everything from ballroom displays and corporate events to bar mitzvahs and graduations.

In this Atlanta Sound, we meet certified balloon artist Gayle Rubenstein.

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Animal Abuse
7:22 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Trial Date Set for UniverSoul Circus Alleged Elephant Abuse

Alleged elephant abuse case set for trial.
Credit Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press

The case of alleged elephant abuse by UniverSoul circus during a performance in Atlanta will go to trial in April.

The trainer and marketing director have pleaded not guilty to charges of animal abuse. 

According to an incident report, witnesses told Atlanta Police they saw one of the trainers insert a bullhook into Bo the elephant’s mouth during a performance.

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State
2:59 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Georgia Golden Eagle Added To Project Tracking Appalachian ‘Ghosts’

The 5-year-old Georgia eagle is one of eight caught and fitted with phone-sized transmitters that weigh less than three postal letters in the South this year.
Credit Georgia Wildlife Resources Division / flickr.com

A high-tech research project teamed with middle Georgia’s Devil’s Backbone hunt club to catch their first golden eagle in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

The golden eagle – considered one of the state’s rarest raptors – was caught on Feb. 15 on the club’s 4,700-acre lease area that borders Sprewell Bluff Wildlife Management Area near Thomaston.

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Local
2:54 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Bond Referendum’s Fate Likely To Hang In A Few Voters’ Hands

In about two weeks, city voters will have the opportunity to approve $250 million in bonds to start addressing Atlanta's nearly billion dollar infrastructure backlog. The Courtland Street Bridge, pictured above, is one of dozens of projects slated for improvement with the bond money.
Credit Brenna Beech / WABE News

Atlantans don’t have to look very hard for signs of the city’s infrastructure problems, like big potholes, crumbling sidewalks or bridges in disrepair.

That’s because the city is nearly $1 billion short on funding these kinds of projects, according to the mayor’s office.

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Local
1:31 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Manuel's Tavern Partners With Developer To Renovate Building

Manuel’s Tavern will be renovated as part of a redevelopment project in the Poncey-Highland community.
Credit Lee Coursey / Flickr.com/leeco

An Atlanta landmark is closing its doors for a short time in early 2016.

Green Street Properties has agreed to buy the one-and-a-half acres on North Highland Avenue that Manuel’s Tavern sits on according to a report by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Manuel’s will still be owned and operated by the original owner Manuel Maloof’s family.

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