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Waking up is hard to do, but it's easier with NPR's Morning Edition: bringing you the day's stories and news to radio listeners on the go. A two-hour mix of news, analysis, interviews, commentaries, arts, features and music, Morning Edition is heard Monday through Friday.

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Saturday may be your last chance to see the Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta on New Year’s Eve. A pending sale of the property could leave the 28-year-old tradition in limbo.

The event has been compared to a Southern version of New York’s annual ball drop in Times Square. Revelers crowd into the outdoor mall to watch an 800-pound peach fall from a tower.

Beforehand, they're treated to big name musical acts. Atlanta artists Ludacris and T.I. have played in the past. This year hometown band Collective Soul will open, and singer Ne-Yo will headline.

Amy Ray (L) and Emily Saliers and the Indigo Girls perform at Magnolia Fest at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak Florida on Saturday. October 18, 2014.
Photo by John Davisson/Invision/AP

How will you begin 2017? Contributor Mara Davis suggests opening with a song. Mara and host emeritus Steve Goss have a concert calendar for all your New Year's weekend plans. It's "Mara's Music Mix."

An EF-1 tornado touched down in Jefferson, located in Jackson County, early Thursday morning.

"It traveled about 3.4 miles in that 10-minute time period that it was on the ground," said Kent McMullen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

Clean-up efforts are underway.

"It put some trees down on some homes, I've heard that there was anywhere from about 20 to 25 homes that had some type of damage," said McMullen.

There were also downed trees and power lines.

No injuries were reported.  

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DeKalb County officials say the owners of the Presidential Hotel, the 15-story building at Spaghetti Junction, have violated a consent order.

Marcus Kellum, DeKalb's beautification director, says the county code enforcement staff had been working with Habib Osta and Vincent Lu, the property's owners, "trying to bring them into compliance with the codes and standards that require the property to be safe, secure and sanitary."

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Boy Scouts of America has seen a steady decline in membership over the years. Some say that's because kids today no longer have time for it, with all of their after school activities.

Here in Atlanta, there's a man who has always made time for Boy Scouts, even now that he's 94 years old. His name is Josiah Benator, but among scouts he’s often known simply as “Mr. B.”

Benator, a friendly man with big eyeglasses, has been with Boy Scouts for eight decades. He wears a uniform decorated with pins and badges, showing his years of involvement.

Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

The latest electronic device Delta Air Lines' has forbidden on its planes is a rideable suitcase.

Those are rolling bags you can sit on and ride through the airport.

Just like hoverboards, the problem is with the lithium ion batteries.

It’s the same type of battery in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which federal authorities banned from planes in October.

Injectable and nasal forms of Naloxone, which can be used to block the potentially fatal effects of an opioid overdose, are shown Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at an outpatient pharmacy at the University of Washington.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Drug prevention advocates in Georgia say they’re concerned about the rising cost of a drug that’s used to reverse an overdose from opioid use. 

Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this month took action to make naloxone available over the counter without a prescription. In 2014, he signed an amnesty law that extended protections for people who reported overdoses and allowed more people to administer naloxone.

The Chattahoochee River is one of the major state rivers at risk, according to the Georgia Water Coalition. In August, the state got rid of a minimum water flow requirement to allow for a reserve in case of a drought.
David Barasoain / WABE

Georgia is joining dozens of other states urging the incoming Trump administration to get rid of a controversial water rule. This is the second letter state Attorney General Chris Carr has signed this month, asking for the Obama administration's environmental rules to be overturned.  

The water rule is known as "Waters of the United States." The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the rule would clarify what water is protected by the Clean Water Act. Opponents say it's a case of government overreach.

Mary Claire Kelly / WABE

Tybee Island's city council is scheduled to consider a plan that would restrict alcohol consumption during the spring months.

Councilmember Julie Livingston said the measure would ban open containers on the island's beaches and parking lots from March through May.

Tybee Island has been a popular spring break destination, where people gather for the annual Orange Crush party.

Downtown Connector March 2015
Alison Guillory / WABE

As the year comes to a close, Georgia is setting a deadly record. The number of roadway fatalities has reached the highest point in a decade.

Around 1,500 people have died on state roads so far. It follows a trend set last year, when Georgia saw a spike in roadway deaths.

Jill Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said distracted driving is definitely a factor.

"People are just not paying enough attention on the roadways,” Goldberg said, “and we're seeing that reflected in the increased fatalities."

Katie Darby / Invision/AP

This holiday weekend, Atlanta is playing host to tribute acts, homegrown hip hop and much more. Contributor Mara Davis joins host emeritus Steve Goss for a look at upcoming Atlanta concerts with Mara's Music Mix.

Some intown residents have been perplexed by the kinds of businesses moving into developments. A new mattress store along Atlanta's Moreland Avenue spurred discussion in the surrounding Reynoldstown neighborhood.
Stephannie Stokes / WABE

As mixed-use developments pop up around Atlanta, some intown neighbors have become perplexed by the kinds of businesses moving in.

Recently, along Atlanta’s Moreland Avanue, a big sign with shiny white letters went up above one project’s retail space.

Janine Brown lives in the surrounding neighborhood, Reynoldstown. When she saw what the sign was for -- a mattress store -- she was not excited.

"Well, what we have is a Mattress Firm literally across the street from another Mattress Firm,” Brown said.

The security line at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
David Goldman / Associated Press

 

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is expecting more than 4.2 million passengers to travel through the airport during the holiday period that runs from Dec. 16 through Jan. 3, airports officials said. 

Travelers leaving out of Atlanta, however, shouldn't have to worry too much because the bulk of the passengers will be from connecting traffic, said Reese McCranie, the airport's director of policy and communications.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) during a hearing at the Senate Finance Committee, May, 2013.
Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

Sen. Johnny Isakson says already established committees should be the first in congress to investigate what the CIA, and FBI have reportedly called an attempt by Russia to sway the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump. The agencies say they’ve concluded Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and top Hillary Clinton campaign staffers during the election.

“We need to determine what we know we know, and what we know we don’t know,” Isakson said. “And the more you know you don’t know is the more need for a committee, but until we get to that point I’m not ready to do it.”

Fulton County Wants To Make Gas Stations Safer

Dec 21, 2016
Miranda Hawkins / WABE

Crime at gas stations have been on the rise for the last year in parts of Fulton County.

That’s according to county commission chair John Eaves who says he’s taking steps toward a solution.

Fulton County police have already increased patrols at gas stations. And Eaves says commissioners will talk next week about creating legislation requiring gas stations to beef up security.

“We don’t want one gas station to do a lot, and then the bad guys run to the gas station that’s doing nothing or little,” Eaves said.

Courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures

Retiring state Rep. LaDawn Jones has a lot of reasons for leaving the Georgia Legislature. She’s the mother of a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old, both her parents recently passed away and she runs her own law firm.

One thing that might have kept Jones in the Legislature: more money.

“I could not dare ask my family to continue to make such a big sacrifice without that help,” she said.

Bill Kostroun / Associated Press

Six Atlanta Falcons are heading to the 2017 Pro Bowl.

Quarterback Matt Ryan, receiver Julio Jones, running back Devonta Freeman, center Alex Mack, linebacker Vic Beasley and place kicker Matt Bryant all got the nod this year.

This is the fourth Pro Bowl trip for Ryan, Jones and Mack.

It's the first for Bryant, who's been in the NFL for 16 years.

Al Such

2016 was a vintage year for political lies. But PolitiFact's editors decided to bestow their Lie of the Year title, not on a person or a political party, but on a trend: fake news.  

Deciding on what qualifies as fake news – and how to slow its spread – are quite difficult things to do. On "Morning Edition," PolitiFact Georgia editor Jim Tharpe talked with Denis O'Hayer about how all of us can search for truth in an age of lies. PolitiFact Georgia's work appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and on myajc.com.

Wellstar Cobb Hospital
Al Such / WABE

The biggest insurer and the biggest hospital system in Georgia are joining forces.

WellStar Health System and Blue Cross Blue Shield have agreed to take part in a federal insurance exchange product.

“Continuity of physician and hospital is important to consumers and you know, you feel comfortable with somebody you trust. And if a WellStar patient very much likes their doctor, they can keep them if they stay in the Blue Cross network,” said Andy Miller, with Georgia Health News. 

Courtesy of Cobb County

There are less than two weeks before 2017, and that means the Atlanta Braves will soon be playing in their new park.

The 1,100-foot bridge that will help pedestrians get to and from Sun Trust Park is about 40 percent finished, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Jim Wilgus, Cobb's transportation director told the newspaper the bridge will be operational by April 14.

StoryCorps Atlanta

Brothers Paul and Hank Barnes – 87 and 95 years old respectively – grew up on a 1,000-acre farm in Warm Springs, Georgia that has been in their family since 1832.

Paul's grandson, Clifford, brought the brothers to the StoryCorps Atlanta booth to learn more about the workings of the family farm and what Christmas was like for them in this bygone era.

This story was recorded in partnership with the Atlanta History Center, which hosts Atlanta's StoryCorps Booth.

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Kathleen Allen

The Norcross Police Department says about a third of the city’s major crimes are committed in 14 of the city’s hotels and motels. So the city council recently passed a measure requiring hotels to tighten security, among other things.

Norcross Police Chief Bill Grogan says the ordinance requires hotels to improve lighting, make guests show ID and ensure that surveillance cameras work.

“When you show up to a shooting, like we’ve had in the last few months, and the video isn’t working, that’s a problem,” Grogan says.

Courtesy of Laurie Stone

There’s one holiday ritual that goes back a long time, and it doesn’t involve strings of lights, office parties, giving presents or baking cookies.

It's the Christmas Bird Count, a tradition that began in 1900, according to the Audubon Society, when an ornithologist suggested counting birds, instead of what had been the Christmas tradition of hunting them.

Now, in the weeks around Christmas, there are thousands of counts in the U.S., Canada and a handful of other countries. Tens of thousands of people count tens of millions of birds every year.

Elly Yu / WABE News

Cindy Jones still can’t help but think about the timing of things. Stewart-Webster Hospital, the place she and her family had gone to for years, closed in March of 2013. A month later, her husband Bill suffered a heart attack.

“He came in from a day of farming and ate supper, and then sat down to watch David Letterman,” Jones said. “And all of a sudden he got quiet, and we knew something was wrong because he wasn’t laughing at David Letterman anymore.”

via Pixabay

Own a hot tub, or thinking about getting in one while on vacation? In this "Medical Minute" segment, WABE senior correspondent Jim Burress and medical analyst Dr. Ford Vox discuss just what can happen if it isn’t properly maintained. There’s a reason two diseases are named for their association with hot tubs. Soak safe this winter!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

House members work during the House's session on the final day of the 2015 legislative session, Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Atlanta.
Branden Camp / Associated Press

A hospital lobbyist gives money to a state lawmaker running for U.S. Congress, and the candidate turns around and votes on a hospital bill in the Georgia state legislature.

It’s an ethical problem that will likely appear when state lawmakers gather in Atlanta for the annual legislative session.

“It creates conflicts, or certainly the potential for a conflict,” said State Senator Josh McKoon. “If you’re going to go run for congress, run for congress. If you’re going to be a state legislator, be a state legislator.”

Local research is confirming something we've all heard: getting a job is often about who you know.

Like many people, Atlanta resident Brenna Lakeson has seen the benefits of personal connections in her career.

Recently, when a friend was leaving her job at a center serving the homeless in Atlanta, she put in a good word for Lakeson. The two had gone to grad school together.

Lakeson ended up getting the spot, and, she said, it's worked out well.

DeVonte Kirkland is in his second to last year of school at Center Point High in Jefferson County, just outside of Birmingham, Ala. When he graduates next year he wants to head to Alabama State University.

DeVonte also wants a car, so he's taking some serious time to learn how to work on them. Every day, he rides a school bus 25 minutes, each direction, for an auto tech class at Gardendale High, another school on the south side of the district.

Georgia state capitol
Nick Nesmith / WABE

Georgia's electors will convene Monday at noon at the state Capitol to cast their votes for president. And as in several major cities across the country, they'll likely run into protests.

Several groups, including Democracy Spring Georgia and the Electoral College Petition, have scheduled rallies outside the Capitol in the morning.

The protesters plan to ask Georgia's 16 electors not to vote for the candidate who won the state, Donald Trump.

It's not the first time this year the state's electors have faced pressure from the public.

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