Stephannie Stokes | WABE 90.1 FM

Stephannie Stokes


Stephannie Stokes is a producer at WABE’s features desk. The title, “producer,” can mean a lot of things, but her focus is on telling stories. On WABE, you might hear her reporting about a lesser known part of Atlanta’s history, while another day you might catch a sound portrait she produced about a person or place in the region.

She came to Atlanta in 2014 by way of Washington, D.C., where she worked for member station WAMU’s local news and public affairs program The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

But really she isn’t from the East Coast at all. She was born, raised and educated in the Pacific Northwest. 

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

As one of Atlanta’s largest homeless shelters prepares to close this summer, some of those who stayed inside it feel ambivalent.

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Two blocks from Peachtree-Pine in Midtown, Allen Little is sitting on a curb. It’s where he spends much of the day. He only goes to the shelter at night.

But even that is rough.

“I sleep when I can. Sleep with one eye open,” Little said.

There isn’t much of a feeling of safety inside Peachtree-Pine, he said. In there, anything goes.

Peachtree Pine homeless shelter in Atlanta
Allison Guillory / WABE

The embattled Midtown Atlanta homeless shelter, Peachtree-Pine, will be closing its doors later this summer.

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On Aug. 28, the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless will be handing the building over to the downtown development group Central Atlanta Progress.

It's the conclusion of a years-long lawsuit between the two parties over a 2010 foreclosure on the building.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Downtown Atlanta has struggled for years with the perception that it’s not vibrant.

Now, a group of business leaders in the area hopes an ordinance before the Atlanta City Council on Monday will change that — by bringing in bright lights.

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The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta is one of the first to show the movie, The Interview.
Molly Samuel / WABE file photo

The Atlanta Department of City Planning wants to give a special landmark status to several sites around the city.

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One is the Ponce de Leon Avenue shopping center, including the Plaza Theatre and the Majestic Diner. Built in 1938, the city said it was the first complex in Atlanta to offer off-street parking for visitors.

The Atlanta Urban Design Commission approved that nomination Wednesday, calling it a "no brainer." 

Al Such and Kaitlin Kolarik / WABE

Early voting numbers continue to climb in Georgia's Sixth Congressional District special election.

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After this weekend, about 94,000 people had already cast their ballots in the runoff, with more than 10,000 voting on Saturday alone.

The total so far is almost double the roughly 55,000 early voters in April's election.

University of Georgia professor Charles Bullock expects even more people will be heading to the polls before early voting ends on Friday.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

A new kind of project could be coming to Atlanta’s Memorial Drive. It’s being dubbed a “park-oriented development.”

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According to the developers, it would be a mixed-use project designed around a greenspace that's planned for the area.

But the development is facing pushback from some who claim it could put the park it’s geared toward in jeopardy.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Atlanta police recruits had just arrived at the Center for Civil and Human Rights when their class coordinator, Officer Andre Hartley, asked them a question.

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“Curious, what is anybody expecting?” he said. “What are you expecting to see this morning?”

A few answered, quietly. “Civil rights,” one said. “Atlanta history,” said another. Overall, the 20 or so recruits—dressed in blue polos and khaki pants—seemed unsure.

It became clear as soon as they entered the museum.

Courtesy of Atlanta History Center

A more than 150-year-old lamppost in Underground Atlanta is set to move. The City Council voted Monday to donate it to the Atlanta History Center.

The change may bring more attention to the black businessman whose life became tied to the artifact.

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The old gas lamp, standing near the entrance to MARTA in the subterranean mall, still bears the mark. It’s a hole in its iron base, from when an artillery shell struck it during the Civil War.

Eboni Lemon / WABE

It's a bad year for peaches. Farmers across the Southeast are looking at 80 to 90 percent losses in their crops.

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The only exception may be North Georgia, where farmers managed to escape some of the weather conditions that ended up hampering peach production elsewhere.

Brett Blaauw, part of the peach team at the University of Georgia Extension Service, said there were two main factors that ended up hurting farms in Georgia and South Carolina.

Courtesy of the Savannah, Georgia Chamber of Commerce

Savannah is considering new limits on vacation rentals, and one of the proposals could mean part-time residents wouldn't be able to rent their homes.

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The regulations are in response to the rise of Airbnb-type rentals in Savannah's historic neighborhoods.

Victorian district resident Michael Ambrose said tourists now stay in homes all around him. Sometimes the visitors can be noisy and less considerate about trash, he said.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

The number one filming location for box office hits wasn't California last year. According to a new study, it was Georgia.

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The study by FilmLA, the nonprofit film office for Los Angeles, looked at the top 100 grossing movies of 2016 and found that 17 were filmed in Georgia. By comparison, California had 12.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Kids in low income neighborhoods tend to change schools more often than their peers. Studies show that can have a detrimental effect on their education.

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This past year in Atlanta, one public school tried to break that trend—by bringing in some lawyers.

At Thomasville Heights Elementary School in southeast Atlanta, Christal Reynolds and Ayanna Jones-Lightsy have just started their day.

The Supreme Court is seen in the morning in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017.
Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press

Georgia may feel the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overruling voting districts in North Carolina.

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State lawmakers there claimed they drew the districts for political advantage. But the high court decided they used race as a main factor, and that was unconstitutional.

Michael Kang, a law professor at Emory University, said the decision could have a big impact in Southern states, like Georgia, where party preference tends to fall along racial lines.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao paid a visit to the newly rebuilt I-85 bridge Thursday.

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Chao joined Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and other state officials under the reconstructed interstate overpass in Atlanta for a rededication ceremony.

She praised the completed bridge as an example of local, state and federal agencies collaborating to get something done.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Alumni and staff of Morris Brown College are still pushing to regain accreditation.  The historically black college lost it more than a decade ago, in large part due to financial woes.

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Some Morris Brown supporters showed their loyalty at one of the school's regular cleanups Wednesday. Volunteers repainted parts of the campus and worked on other projects the college can’t get to on its limited budget.

Alison Guillory / WABE

The city of Atlanta's economic development arm is trying to help small businesses struggling from the I-85 bridge collapse.

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But not everyone agrees about what kind of help is needed.

Invest Atlanta has identified about 200 small business affected by the March 30 collapse. Some have seen drops in sales between 20 to 50 percent.

Michael Kahn

MARTA's considering improving its communication to passengers during emergencies.

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That's after riders caught in Thursday's smoke-filled tunnel say they weren't given much direction.

Michael Kahn, an architect and rider on Thursday's evacuated train, said there was confusion from the time their train encountered the smoke. People didn't know what happened or where to go.

Michael Kahn

Hundreds of MARTA passengers were forced to evacuate an underground train Thursday due to a fire near the North Avenue station.

Architect Michael Kahn said smoke filled his car almost as soon as the train left the Midtown station.

After the train stopped, he pried the emergency door open.  

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

In DeKalb County, this past week, a well-known artist found that folk art can be a code violation.

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Kyle Brooks, usually known as Black Cat Tips, has placed his art in prominent places, like the Atlanta Beltline, and also in more obscure ones, like atop telephone poles.

But when he moved to a 2 acre property in southeast DeKalb County last year, he decided to focus on his yard.

Mike Stewart / Associated Press file

Atlanta's airport is ramping up efforts to spot instances of human trafficking.

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Part of the program is teaching more airline and airport workers how to identify victims.

“We want them to know the things they can do,” said Jan Lennon, director of security at the airport, “so they can help us globally to stop human trafficking.”

A survivor, Donna Hubbard, trained employees at a seminar Wednesday.

Courtesy of Kennesaw State University / Courtesy of Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw State University faced pushback late last week when it revealed plans to cancel its African-American studies degree. The university has since said it will continue the program, at least through the 2017-18 academic year.

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In its explanation of the planned discontinuation of the degree, the university said the program consistently failed to meet the minimum number of enrollees and graduates recommended by the Georgia State Board of Regents.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

These days, East Atlanta is a diverse, urban neighborhood with bars and music venues.

But once it was a battlefield. Two cannons, a mile apart, still point up to the sky as reminders.

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Henry Bryant examined the cannon near his house. It stands on a landscaped island in the middle of a residential street.

“It really hasn’t had much done to it," Bryant said, "since 1877 is when this monument got here.”

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

There are pockets of forest all around Atlanta, but some have qualities that make them unique. And now, those green spaces are being recognized with a national designation.

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One is a serene, 56-acre forest that lies at the western edge of Atlanta.

The nature preserve, called Herbert Greene, surrounds a section of Utoy Creek. Its landscape is dotted with boulders.

Al Such and Kaitlin Kolarik / WABE

President Trump is weighing in on the 6th Congressional District race. And that could have mixed results for the Republican candidate.

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In a tweet, the president congratulated Republican Karen Handel for making it into a runoff with Democrat Jon Ossoff.

Handel, also on Twitter, thanked the president for calling her this morning.

Atlanta Braves v NY Mets: Turner Field  Outside Atlanta's Turner Field on September 30, 2012
Charles Atkeison /

Neighborhoods around Turner Field could soon benefit from the sale of nearby city-owned properties, according to legislation the Atlanta City Council approved Monday.

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The bill would send money from sales into a trust fund that could be used for affordable housing or job training.

Council Member Alex Wan said the redevelopment of Turner Field warranted the new law.

Jeff Chiu / Associated Press file

An effort to reduce penalties for marijuana possession has stalled in Atlanta.

The City Council decided it wasn’t ready to vote on the legislation Monday.

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The ordinance from council member Kwanza Hall has been in the works for months. It would make less than an ounce of marijuana possession a fine-only offense.

That is, under Atlanta law.

What still worried council members, like Keisha Lance Bottoms, was that stiff penalties would remain under state law.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

The disruption from the Interstate 85 bridge collapse has led many commuters to change their habits. And some say that’s a big opportunity for MARTA.

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On a weekday morning, Pam Porter usually would be sitting in her car.

But on this day, she's sitting on a bench at the Brookhaven MARTA station.

"Since the collapse, I've been taking the MARTA into Midtown," Porter said.

Ric Feld / Associated Press

Operations at Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines are just about back to normal. On Monday the airline expected only a handful of canceled flights.

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That's after the airline faced days of flight cancelations following last Wednesday's severe storms. In total, Delta had to ground about 3,500 flights.

Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed asked Congress to keep federal transportation funding flowing to cities and states in a trip to Washington, D.C. this week.

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In testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Reed pointed out the projects that Atlanta has accomplished thanks to federal support: From fixing roads and bridges to building a streetcar line.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

There’s a lot of new development in Atlanta these days, and with it often comes worries about trees. When construction goes up, trees on private land tend to come down.

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And now in a park in Peachtree Hills, a neighborhood in south Buckhead, forest on public land is a concern too.

In the center of Peachtree Hills Park, there's a playing field and a community garden, and at the border are trees. That’s where Laura Dobson stands, looking at a handful of pines, birches and an oak.