Stephannie Stokes | WABE 90.1 FM

Stephannie Stokes

Producer

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

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 / flickr.com/CharlesAtkeison

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.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed refused to answer questions about the lawsuit and walked away from reporters.
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.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

In Atlanta, the buzzing of dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles grows loudest on Sundays. That's when a loose group of riders called ATL Bike Life gets together.

“It’s going to get bigger and bigger,” said Quint, one of the riders with the group, standing outside a park in Atlanta’s Oakland City neighborhood.

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Stephannie Stokes / WABE

 

Georgia breweries could soon be able to sell directly to their customers. That’s thanks to a new bill passed by the state legislature. And while the bill still needs Governor Deal’s signature, craft breweries around Atlanta are already celebrating.

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Office of Gov. Deal

Gov. Nathan Deal said he's exploring Georgia's health care options now that Congressional efforts to repeal ObamaCare have stalled.

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Deal had asked state lawmakers to wait and see what happened to health care at the federal level before making any big policy changes in the state.

Alex Brandon / AP Photo

New legislation before the Atlanta City Council would make possession of small amounts of marijuana a citation-only offense.

The ordinance, from Council Member Kwanza Hall, would mean someone caught with less than an ounce of the drug would face a fine of up to $75, not jail time.

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The proposal is similar to a law adopted in the town of Clarkston last July.  

Atlanta City Council president Caesar Mitchell said the council isn’t attempting to greenlight marijuana use.

Ali Guillory / WABE

Taxi drivers argue a new age limit for cars picking up from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is hurting their profits--at a time when they're already facing steep competition from companies like Uber and Lyft.

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The Atlanta City Council passed the seven-year-age limit for cabs serving the airport last fall. It went into place at the start of this year.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Some Atlantans needing help to pay rent will have a rare chance to sign up for housing assistance Wednesday.

The city's housing authority is re-opening its wait list for Section 8 vouchers for the first time in more than two years.

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However, for some low-income residents, like Athena Robinson, past experiences applying for the wait list have left them with low expectations.

Atlanta Police Department
Alison Guillory / WABE

The city of Atlanta is  considering requiring police to release any videos of officer-involved shootings.

But a city council work session Thursday showed there’s disagreement over one key detail: how soon after the incident the police should make the video public.

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Activists want recordings released within seven business days.

Lisa George / WABE

A bribery scandal involving contractors who did business with the city of Atlanta has led the city to change some of its laws.

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The Atlanta City Council agreed to a new ordinance Monday aimed at making emergency contracts more transparent.

Those are contracts where the city has to make a quick decision because there’s an event like a snowstorm.

The city of Atlanta is set to put a big chunk of money toward affordable housing.

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On Monday, the Atlanta City Council voted to approve $40 million for housing programs. The city will borrow the money from Wall Street through bonds.

Council member Andre Dickens said the goal is to help people stay in the city.

Members of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi said they're heading to Douglas County this weekend. It's to protest a judge's prison sentence for two people there this week.

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Kayla Norton and Jose Torres will each serve several years in prison for disrupting a black child's birthday party in 2015. They made armed threats, said racial slurs and waved the Confederate battle flag.

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

Professional soccer is returning to Atlanta.

The city's new Major League Soccer team, Atlanta United FC, is kicking off its first season this weekend.

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Dan Courtemanche, executive vice president of communications for MLS, said the team has a good shot of bringing together Atlantans of all backgrounds.

That's partly because the league hasn't been around that long.

Presidents of Clark Atlanta University and Georgia Piedmont Technical College signed a new partnership agreement on Wednesday at Clark Atlanta University's campus.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Leaders of historically black colleges and universities in Atlanta are back home after a visit to the White House.

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Their trip ended Tuesday afternoon with President Donald Trump signing an executive order that he said supports HBCUs.

The presidents of Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College and Morehouse College were among the dozens of HBCU leaders in attendance.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Marcuss Ealy walks through a big warehouse, passing aisles filled with various shapes of cardboard boxes.

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The warehouse on the westside of unincorporated Fulton County is part of a national printing company, Integrated Merchandising Systems (IMS). Ealy points to workers who are getting orders ready to ship.

“See I started on this aisle way back where that lady at,” Ealy said. “That’s the packer.”

Courtesy of Fulton County District Attorney

The attorney for a black man shot by Atlanta police last month says the officer had no reason to fear for his life and a video released today proves it.

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Surveillance footage shows DeAundre Phillips sitting in the passenger seat of a car at the Atlanta Public Safety Annex.

Two plain-clothes officers approach him. They talk with Phillips and then there's a struggle.

Phillips crawls into the driver's seat to drive off, when one officer jumps through the passenger door.

Al Such / WABE

Atlanta's taking a second look at some of the low-level offenses in the city's code.

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Those offenses include treasure hunts – illegal if they’re for commercial gain. Another law prohibits moving your furniture in the middle of the night unless you have a permit.

Then, there’s the crime of spitting. It’s against the law on sidewalks and in churches.  

Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

Atlanta-based Popeyes is getting a new owner.

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The company behind Burger King is buying the fried chicken chain for almost $2 billion. It comes after Popeyes Louisiana Chicken made some changes to its fast food image.

The company's been remodeling its restaurants and tweaking the flavors of its food. According to analyst John Gordon, the chain's taking a card from fast casual restaurants, like Chipotle.

Downtown Connector March 2015
Alison Guillory / WABE

Atlanta is coming up with a new vision for transportation in the city. This time, officials want to reimagine how Atlantans get around.

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For example, Courtland Street in downtown Atlanta is a wide one-way road, almost like a highway. Planning Commissioner Tim Keane said streets like that were designed to get cars through town as quickly as possible.

He said, if the city’s going to keep growing in population, that has to change.

Atlanta Police Department Badge
Alison Guillory / WABE

Some Atlanta activists want more transparency when it comes to officer-involved shootings.

The focus is last month’s fatal shooting of a young black man, DeAundre Phillips, by an Atlanta police officer.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations is looking into the shooting. It hasn’t released video of the incident. It also hasn’t made the officer’s name public due to concerns for his safety.

A couple dozen protesters, including Gerald Griggs, objected to that Tuesday at an Atlanta city council committee. 

David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia state lawmakers are trying to figure out how to stop surprise medical billing.

It happened to Vicki Willard. She went to the emergency room to check on a heart issue.

“I was admitted to the hospital, in network, things went well,” Willard said.

Then, weeks later, she got something unexpected in the mail.

“After I’ve paid all my regular bills, I see a bill come across my desk for $700,” Willard said.

It turns out, one of the cardiologists who treated her was outside her insurance network.

The City of Atlanta is handing over 10 out of 44 property deeds to Atlanta Public Schools.
Stephanie M. Lennox / WABE

The city of Atlanta has released the deeds of 10 school properties to the Atlanta Board of Education.

It’s the latest development in a battle between  Atlanta and the school system, as the city continues to hold deeds to dozens of Atlanta Public Schools properties. 

The city wanted APS to develop an affordable housing policy for the properties. The school system complied last month.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

The city of Atlanta has created a new historic district on the west side of Atlanta, near Georgia Tech.

The district is centered around a small road called Means Street. It's dotted with brick factories and warehouses dating back about 100 years.

The Atlanta City Council approved a designation Monday that protects about seven of them.

“We wanted to preserve the character of those buildings that really made this district unique,” City Council Member Ivory Young Jr. said.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Means Street is a short narrow road near train tracks west of Georgia Tech. Square nondescript brick buildings rise up on each side.

As Bill Gould walks up the street, he says it gets its name from an early Atlanta landowner, Alexander Means. That name is part of what first drew Gould here almost 30 years ago.

“All these buildings were largely abandoned, covered in Kudzu with the windows all missing. And it was really beautiful, but a little bit edgy, scary and mean, so,” Gould says.

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