Michelle Wirth


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.

Ways to Connect

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

For some people in Georgia, using an oil form of medical marijuana is completely legal because of a new law, which went into effect in Georgia more than four months ago.

But some take great risk to get it to the state. Georgia’s current law does not allow for marijuana to be grown in the state, and federal law prohibits the transport of marijuana across state lines.

For two Georgia families, this predicament is reality. 

Worth the Risk

Georgia State Parks

If you want to experience the outdoors but don't want to camp in a tent, there's now another option. Georgia State Parks will start taking reservations for 10 new yurts that are now open at Sweetwater Creek State Park.

Yurts are circular structures made of wood and canvas. They've been around for thousands of years. The new yurt village at Sweetwater comes as glamping, or a more glamorous form of camping, continues to grow in popularity. 

A group of DeKalb County residents will soon oversee county audits. As a result of a new state law, DeKalb is searching for five residents with accounting or auditing experience to serve on an audit oversight committee.

Dekalb County Interim CEO Lee May and Mike Bowers at the podium
Lisa George / WABE

DeKalb County officials are reacting to a scathing letter that accuses the county's government of being "rotten to the core." It's part of an investigation into corruption in the county.

The DeKalb County Commission voted in August to approve the agreement with Atlanta United FC, one that would have involved a $12 million investment by the county.
Atlanta United FC

It’s official. A major league soccer complex will soon be built in DeKalb County on Memorial Drive near Interstate 285. On Tuesday, the DeKalb County Commission approved a $30 million practice facility and headquarters for Atlanta United FC.

About 200 county employees, several county commissioners, team owner Arthur Blank and members of the public celebrated the announcement.

Jason Longshore was one of those who showed up in support. He serves as chief development officer for Soccer in the Streets, a soccer organization for disadvantaged youth.

A fan holds a scarf during a party at which Atlanta United FC was announced as the name of an MLS soccer expansion team, Tuesday, July 7, 2015, in Atlanta. The team is scheduled to begin to play in 2017 at the city's new retractable-roof stadium.
Branden Camp / AP Photo

Editor's note: This story has been updated at 12:33 p.m. 

The DeKalb County Commission voted 4-3 Tuesday morning in favor of leasing county land for a $30 million training complex for Atlanta’s future major league soccer team. The practice site for Atlanta United FC would be built behind the county's jail near Memorial Drive and I-285.

Under the deal, team owner Arthur Blank would build a small outdoor stadium, several practice fields and Atlanta United’s corporate headquarters.

 In this Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007 file photo, Lauren Fant, left, winces as she has her third and final application of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine administered by nurse Stephanie Pearson at a doctor's office in Marietta, Ga. Protecting girls from
John Amis, File / Associated Press

Georgia’s doing better than many other states when it comes to vaccinating girls against Human papillomavirus (HPV). 

Last year, more than 65 percent of Georgia's 12- to 17-year-old girls got at least one dose of the HPV vaccination, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. That's more than 5 percent above the national average. It was also 12 percent higher than the previous year. 

Stephen Gunby / flickr.com/stephen_gunby

Marietta City Councilman Johnny Walker said a new state law that legalizes fireworks should be rewritten. The call comes after residents complained. The issue was discussed Wednesday night during a Marietta City Council committee meeting.

Walker said since the new state law went into effect July 1, many residents aren't happy about fireworks going off late at night.

“Small children don’t like it; people that have to work, the fire department really doesn’t like it; the police department doesn’t like it. People just don’t want to hear sounds constantly,” Walker said.

A female rides down the slide at Slide The City.
IQRemix / flickr.com/IQRemix

A water boil advisory that was in effect for three days in DeKalb County hurt some local businesses.

The county issued the advisory because crews had to drop the water pressure three times within 36 hours to repair a transmission line that broke late Thursday. It all started last week when a fire hydrant was struck by a crew that was mowing the grass along the road near the transmission line at Henderson Mill and Evans Road.

Daniel Mayer / Wikimedia Commons

Emory University’s law school has received an anonymous $1 million gift to train law students in religious freedom. The donation comes as state lawmakers wrestle with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and religious freedom legislation.

The project is supposed to give students hands-on experience and provide non-partisan information on religious freedom. 

Martha Dalton / WABE

Georgia's largest school systems are still searching for dozens of special education teachers. The districts only have a few weeks before students head back to the classroom on Aug. 10.

So far, the Gwinnett school district has hired more than 1,400 new teachers. But it still needs to fill nearly 40 special education positions. Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach says a nationwide shortage of special education teachers has made hiring them more challenging.

John Oxendine talks to reporters before polls finish reporting results on primary election night, in Atlanta, Tuesday July 20, 2010.
John Amis / AP Photo

Eleven surgical centers and hundreds of their patients are suing Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia.

In the lawsuit filed this week, the centers allege the insurer is overcharging those with preferred provider organization policies, or PPO policies, while reimbursing out-of-network doctors less than they did several years ago. PPO policies allow patients to visit both in-network  and out-of-network doctors.

Kristine Paulus / www.flickr.com/kpaulus/

Gwinnett County residents will now be able to have backyard chickens on smaller lots.

Ted Turner stands with his daughter, civil rights leader Xernona Clayton and Atlanta City Council members Tuesday during a ceremony to unveil Ted Turner Drive.
Michelle Wirth / WABE News

Media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner said he's happy a portion of Spring Street in downtown Atlanta has been named in his honor. Ted Turner Drive runs between Whitehall and West Peachtree streets.

Dozens clapped and cheered in a hot parking lot on Ted Turner Drive as the street's namesake was approaching the podium. Turner said he’s humbled by the honor.

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it, but I really do. This is a wonderful honor,” Turner said.

Ted Turner Drive runs past Ted's Montana Grill, which is owned by Turner and close to CNN Center.

Photos of the Auburn Avenue on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Brenna Beech / WABE

The Atlanta Streetcar has been involved in eight accidents this year.

Richard Mendoza is the commissioner of the city's department of public works, which oversees the streetcar. During a City Council committee meeting last week, he said the number of accidents isn't alarming compared to other cities with streetcars like Seattle.

“Our performance on industry standard incident rates for our streetcar is acceptable and in line with the industry standard,” Mendoza said.

Fulton County Jail
Alison Guillory / WABE

The Fulton County Sheriff's Department could soon reach a new agreement with federal immigration officials. It comes amid a national discussion on “sanctuary cities.”

Local governments that get the controversial label of a “sanctuary city” generally have policies or laws that limit the amount they cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The proposed agreement in Fulton County would let a federal immigration agent work inside Fulton's jail. The agent would be funded with federal money.

Victor Villanueva / flickr.com/bikoy

Atlanta’s airport has received a bond ratings upgrade from Fitch Ratings.

This week, the agency boosted two of the airport’s bonds from an A to an A+.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s Chief Financial Officer and Deputy General Manager, Roosevelt Council, says upping those bond ratings, which represent the corporation's bond credit quality, will save the airport millions of dollars in borrowing costs. He says that the cost savings will help Hartsfield-Jackson pay for current and future projects. 

Faye DiMassimo, the Department of Transportation Director, speaks on A Closer Look with Rose Scott and Denis O’Hayer about the recently approved FLEX bus serving Cobb communities. (Photo/Brenna Beech)
Brenna Beech / WABE

According to a new study, there’s large support for a shuttle system that would go to places like the new Atlanta Braves stadium, Cumberland Mall and the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The study was done by AECOM, a design, engineering and construction firm.

In preliminary results from the study, 94 percent of those surveyed said they’d be interested in the new shuttle service. The study also found the shuttle would cost about $1.2 million a year to operate.


On Friday, the Atlanta VA Medical Center celebrated the grand opening of a new specialty and primary care clinic in Decatur. Center officials say the clinic is supposed to help cut down on primary care and specialty wait times for veterans.

Last year, the Atlanta VA was among the facilities nationwide criticized for lengthy veteran wait times. Center director Leslie Wiggins said the new clinic will help the Atlanta VA with a growing number of veterans.

Chris Fannin / flickr.com/abbydonkrafts

It’s peak peach season, and a Georgia growers says this year's crop is especially tasty.

Duke Lane III, the president of the Georgia Peach Council, describes the peaches he's eaten this year from the Georgia orchard owned by his family as the perfect of blend of sugars and acids.

"Flavor is grand this year. It's kind of a vintage year for Georgia peaches with regards to flavor," says Lane.

He says the dry weather in June contributed to this year's perfect-tasting peaches.

during a Wednesday news conference
Michelle Wirth / WABE

State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, said he’ll push for sanctions against counties that don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials.

McKoon said there should be financial penalties for counties that release people living in the country illegally that the federal government has asked them to hold.

DeKalb County

A new mobile farmers market will roll its way through DeKalb County.

Starting this week, a remodeled yellow bus that used to belong to the DeKalb Sheriff's Department will begin to make stops throughout the county. The goal of the market is to carry fresh and affordable produce to residents who live in food deserts – areas without grocery stores or farmers markets.

County spokeswoman Emily Schwarz says the county hopes the mobile farmers market improves the health of DeKalb residents.

If Congress doesn't reach an agreement on the federal Highway Trust Fund, Georgia could have to reduce the number of highway projects it moves forward with starting in September.
April Williams / WABE

Congress has until the end of the month to find a way to replenish the ailing Highway Trust Fund. If federal lawmakers don’t reach an agreement, it could affect Georgia highway projects.

The state says it has the $300 million needed to move forward with road projects for the next two months. But if Congress can't figure out a short- or long-term fix for highway funding, Georgia would have to delay a number of the projects it has planned for the rest of the year. 

Police departments and government agencies across the U.S., and here in Georgia, are stepping up security following the recent ISIS attacks overseas.

There are no specific threats to Georgia and Atlanta. But as a result of last week’s attacks, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and those it partners with are taking additional precautions.

“There’s probably about a 10 to 15 percent increase of personnel that are available and working this weekend as opposed to in previous years,” said Jim Butterworth, director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for Georgia.

Fireworks light up the sky over the King and Queen Buildings in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
City of Sandy Springs


With fireworks now legal in Georgia, you might be wondering when and where you can shoot them off.

The new law says you can shoot fireworks between 10 a.m. and midnight. On a few special occasions such as the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, they're allowed until 2 a.m.

The law places few restrictions on where fireworks are off limits. You can't use them within 100 yards of nuclear power plant, a gas station or a refinery. But the law does not address whether they can be used in public places like parks.

Nathan Congleton via flickr

As of Wednesday, Georgia will start to regulate ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. The new law also gives the state the power to oversee taxi cabs. That’s a big change because inspections and permitting used to be handled by local governments like the city of Atlanta.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, taxis are lined up near the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta. Otis Sales is in the third cab back. He’s been driving a taxi part time for over 40 years. But in the past year or so, he’s noticed a drop in business.

A rendering of the Braves stadium showing the new name: SunTrust Park. This is the entrance on the third base side.
Atlanta Braves

The barriers are gone for the new Atlanta Braves stadium. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday it’s legal for Cobb County to issue up to $397 million in revenue bonds.

The opinion was unanimous. It says the contract to authorize the bonds between Cobb County and the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority is valid. The opinion went on to say financing for the Braves deal was structured in a manner consistent with revenue bond law and previous rulings on the state’s constitution. Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee says he’s pleased with the decision.

Now that the state has launched a medical marijuana registry, doctors throughout Georgia can sign up patients.               

Those who qualify to legally possess the oil need to have one of eight different medical conditions. Those conditions include: seizure disorders, some forms of cancer, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease and sickle cell anemia. The registry comes after the signing of HB 1 by Gov. Nathan Deal.

East Point City Hall
East Point Preservation Alliance


The National Trust for Historic Preservation has placed East Point’s civic block on its list of most endangered historic places.

The block includes a condemned auditorium and a city library, which now serves as a storage facility. There's also a City Hall, which is only partially in use. The National Trust says the properties on East Point's civic block, which were built in the 1930s, are "suffering a potential fate of demolition by neglect."

Stasio Rusek, president of the East Point Preservation Alliance, said getting on the list will help save the buildings.

Susan Varlamoff, director of environmental services for UGA's College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, talks with Rose Scott and Denis O'Hayer on A Closer Look on Tuesday, June 23, 2015.
Brenna Beech / WABE

The Archdiocese of Atlanta is responding to Pope Francis' call to combat climate change. The archbishop of Atlanta, Wilton Gregory, asked a local panel to come up with a plan of action in response to a 192-page letter written by Francis.

Last week, the pope called for bold actions to respond to climate change. He said wealthy nations need to take responsibility for how their lifestyles affect the environment and the world's poorest countries.