Local

Local
5:58 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Opponents of Sweeping Gun Bill Speak Out

Piyali Cole, Georgia Chapter Leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and other supporters speak in opposition to the signing of HB 60
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Today, Governor Nathan Deal signed a sweeping bill to expand gun rights in Georgia. Opponents have dubbed it the “guns everywhere bill” and protested the signing during a press conference held at a church near the Georgia Capitol.

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Local
8:29 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Governor to Sign Bill Easing Gun Restrictions

Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE News

[Update: Gov. Deal has now signed the gun bill along with several others. More details to follow.]

Governor Nathan Deal will sign a bill today that greatly expands where Georgians can legally carry guns.

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Paulding County
6:00 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Paulding County Rolls Out 911 Texting

Paulding County is the first county in the state to roll out 911 texting.

The county’s 911 Director, David Mumford, says the new system has been up and running about three weeks, but his operators have not gotten a single emergency text.

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Local
6:53 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Georgians Challenge State's Gay Marriage Ban Amendment

Christopher Inniss and his partner Shelton Stroman are among the plantiffs in the lawsuit.
Credit WABE 90.1 FM

The country’s oldest and largest legal organization that works on behalf of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people filed a federal class action lawsuit today.

WABE’s Rose Scott reports, three same-sex couples and a widow, all Georgians, are challenging the state’s constitutional amendment that denies same sex marriage.

Moving to another state that recognizes same-sex marriages was never the answer says Christopher Inniss.

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DeKalb County
3:00 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

DeKalb Interim CEO Cracks Down on Use of County Purchasing Cards

DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May admits that news reports alerted him to a problem with the use of county purchasing cards.
Credit Lee May

DeKalb County’s Interim CEO has issued an executive order changing the way county employees and elected officials can use county purchasing cards.

Starting today, county employees and elected officials have two weeks to review and sign a new policy about the use of county purchasing cards, which are called “P-cards.”

Interim CEO Lee May admits the issue came to light after reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporting that Commissioner Elaine Boyer purchased thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and services on her card.

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#weloveatl
1:43 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

The Bitter Southerner's Love Note To Atlanta

The beginning of The Bitter Southerner's feature about Atlanta.

Chuck Reece decided to call the web magazine he edits The Bitter Southerner because he was, as he freely admits, feeling bitter toward his native South at the time.  In fact, Reece talked about his then-fledgling online journal with WABE's Steve Goss last year.

  But that name is arguably a misnomer for a publication that so clearly adores so much about the modern South.

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Local
12:16 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Georgians Encouraged to Head Outdoors on Earth Day

It's Earth Day!

It's April 22,  otherwise known as Earth Day.

"It's important that we consider Earth Day as a chance to make a commitment to engaging with the natural world," says Sherry Crawley, with the Nature Conservancy of Georgia.

She says there's a wide range of plant and animal life throughout the Peach State.

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Local
8:49 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Old Newnan Hospital Renovated for UWGA

The University of West Georgia is recycling an unused hospital into a new spot for its students.
Credit University of West Georgia

The University of West Georgia is using something from the past to fuel its future.

The Carrolton-based school is  planning to use the renovated Newnan Hospital as its campus in that city.

The facility in downtown Newnan hasn't been used after Piedmont Healthcare built a new hospital in Coweta County.

Officials are glad the building is being recycled.

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Local
6:00 am
Tue April 22, 2014

'Peach' Coming Back To Chick-fil-A Bowl

Credit Josh Pate / WABE News

Atlanta’s annual college football bowl needed a little something old to get a little something new.

The Peach Bowl is back, part of a six-year agreement between Atlanta-based fast food chain Chick-fil-A and ESPN that will also bring portions of the new 4-team College Football Playoffs to the city in the next few years.

Under the agreement, the game’s name will revert from the Chick-fil-A bowl back to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl to satisfy naming rules set by playoff organizers. The word “peach” was dropped from the bowl title in 2006.

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Local
6:35 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Advocates React After State Suspends Transfer of Developmentally Disabled

Advocates continue to support moving people with developmental disabilities from state hospitals into the community. That’s despite two deaths that occurred after individuals with developmental disabilities were placed into community settings shortly after a state hospital closed in Thomasville.

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Watershed Management
5:12 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

City Council Criticizes Watershed Chief and Reed Team for Pay Raises

Watershed Commissioner Jo Ann Macrina before the Atlanta City Council Monday.

The Atlanta City Council Monday reprimanded the city’s embattled Watershed chief and members of Mayor Kasim Reed’s team over hefty raises awarded to five Watershed managers.

Watershed Commissioner Jo Ann Macrina said legislation approved in 2012 gave her broad authority to adjust salaries to help attract and retain workers.

“Part of the reason we are losing good people is we can’t pay them the salaries they are getting elsewhere,” said Macrina.

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DeKalb County
6:00 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Cityhood Groups Pushing Toward 2015

The three cityhood group's maps have undergone changes, but this 2013 Atlanta Regional Commission map gives a broad idea of the proposed boundaries of each.
Credit Atlanta Regional Commission

In the final days of the 2014 Georgia General Assembly session, the battle for cityhood got ugly. Ultimately, none of the cityhood bills passed.

So advocates for the potential cities of Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker are now redoubling their efforts and looking toward the 2015 legislative session.

All three groups are moving forward and planning public meetings in the next few weeks. One of the Tucker cityhood organizers is Frank Auman. As Auman sees it, the end of this year’s legislative session wiped the slate clean, and he says he got a clear message from lawmakers.

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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
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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