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Morning Edition

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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.

Atlanta Business Chronicle

Pinewood Atlanta Studios is teaming up with Atlanta-based virtual reality studio Trick 3D to bring its plans to life.

This week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle reports Pinewood Forrest, a 234-acre project underway in Fayetteville, will include 600 single family homes, 100 attached townhomes, 600 multi-family homes, a wellness and health center, two hotels and 250,000 square feet of retail space, including 15 restaurants and 25 boutiques.

Georgia's Space Industry Gets Ready To Blast Off

Apr 14, 2017
Atlanta Business Chronicle

The space industry in Georgia is about to take off.

This week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle reports an Arizona-based aerospace company will test launch a sub-orbital rocket as soon as this summer from a 400-acre site on the Georgia coast that could become the Peach State’s first commercial spaceport.

Al Such / WABE

At the beginning of 2017, Erika Shields became Atlanta's new police chief.  In her first three months on the job, she has emphasized that preventing violent crime is her priority.  Shields now leads a force where she has spent 22 years -- in jobs from beat patrols, to vice enforcement, to internal affairs, to deputy chief.

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Shields talked about her career, and her priorities, in a wide-ranging conversation with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition."

Elly Yu / WABE

More and more signs are popping up in neighborhoods near Atlanta's Interstate 85 overpass collapse site that say "No Thru Traffic During I-85 Closure."

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"The neighborhood streets were definitely not designed to accommodate the heavy traffic volume and the weight of some of these vehicles that would normally try to go through those streets," Atlanta's Public Works Commissioner Will Johnson said.

He said neighborhood streets often have children playing in them, which can make it dangerous for cars to rush through them. 

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

South Georgia Wildlife Refuge Bans Grills, Campfires

Apr 13, 2017
skeeze / Pixabay

A fire ban at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge means charcoal grills and campfires are off limits.

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The refuge, which sits on the Georgia-Florida line, has been fighting the huge swamp fire for several days. The refuge is also still in the middle of a drought.

Susan Heisey, Okefenokee's supervisory ranger, said Easter weekend is the park's busiest time of year.

Courtesy of Atlanta Ballet

Atlanta Ballet will stage "Firebird" April 14-16. It's the first performance since the announcement that half the company's dancers are leaving.

This is the first season with Atlanta Ballet Artistic Director Gennadi Nedvigin. He has a new vision for the company, and, in "Firebird," it shows.

“I want to bring different styles of ballet to the city, to the company that would attract the largest audience possible,” he said.

Right now the company leans toward contemporary dance techniques. Nedvigin wants more variety.

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.

GDOT Offers $3.1M Bonus To Finish Bridge By Late May

Apr 12, 2017
Adhiti Bandlamudi / WABE

CW Matthews, the contractor on the Interstate 85 overpass repairs, could earn more than $3 million in bonuses for finishing early. 

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The Georgia Department of Transportation set the completion date for June 15, but said if CW Matthews can finish three weeks earlier, by May 25, it'll get a $1.5 million bonus. If the contractor finishes the work by May 21, it'll get $2 million. And for every day before May 21, it'll get $200,000 for a potential grand total of $3.1 million. 

Neighborhood Near I-85 Collapse Feels Traffic Pressure

Apr 12, 2017
Adhiti Bandlamudi / WABE

Since the collapse of the Interstate 85 overpass, many people have had to find creative ways to get where they need to be. But neighborhoods near the collapse site have had to deal with more traffic as a result. 

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The traffic in Morningside is so bad these days, it's hard for locals to even get off their block. Winston Wiant, a Morningside resident, said ever since the bridge collapsed, a lot more drivers have been cutting through her neighborhood. 

Alison Lu was in shock on election night. The Harvard Business School student had voted for Hillary Clinton, and she couldn't fathom how Donald Trump had managed to win the presidency.

She opened her Facebook page searching for answers, but she didn't find any Trump-supporting friends. "None of them [Trump voters] showed themselves on my Facebook feed," she says.

Al Such / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal will soon sign his school turnaround bill into law. The legislation requires the state to provide extra support for struggling schools.

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Education experts say there’s no magic bullet when it comes to improving schools. However, State Superintendent Richard Woods said recently there is one key ingredient.

“I think leadership is probably one of the – if not the – most important factors in making sure our schools succeed,” Woods said.

Atlanta Reaches Financial Milestone, Mayor Reed Announces

Apr 11, 2017
Adhiti Bandlamudi / WABE

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed held a press conference on Friday to announce that Atlanta reached a historic financial milestone.

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The Mayor said Atlanta has about $175 million in cash reserves. He said this is the most the city has ever had in its rainy day fund. 

"We've secured this record, without once raising property taxes in Atlanta or without once raising water rates during the entire time that I have been in office," Reed said. 

StoryCorps Atlanta

When Will Reynolds was growing up – around 3rd grade – his mom noticed he seemed less happy and more anxious. She took him to different doctors and therapists, but it wasn't until he was 16 years old that he was diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder.

Reynolds remembered what those early teenage years were like with his mom, Terri Sellers, in the StoryCorps Atlanta booth.

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

An influential federal task force is relaxing its controversial opposition to routine screening for prostate cancer.

In the proposed revised guidelines released Tuesday, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says men ages 55 to 69 should decide individually with their doctors whether and when to undergo prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Construction is ahead of schedule to repair the Interstate 85 overpass, which collapsed after a fire. And that's despite the shortage of construction workers in Atlanta.

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To repair the overpass and meet the June 15 deadline, construction company CW Matthews took skilled workers from other projects, according to David Moellering, the executive director of the Georgia Highway Contractors' Association. 

WABE

Morehouse College has new leadership. The board of trustees voted to remove President John Wilson last week.

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The trustees voted in January not to renew Wilson's contract when it ends in June. The former president drew mixed reactions from faculty, students, and alumni. Some didn't like his decision to cut 150 staff members in an attempt to balance the budget. Others credited Wilson with increasing fundraising and boosting enrollment.

 Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was the main celebrant and homilist for the second annual Red Mass in 2007 at Sacred Heart Church, Atlanta.
Michael Alexander / Georgia Bulletin

As Christians began to observe Holy Week, the leader of the world's Catholics was preparing for a two-day visit to Egypt despite the recent deadly bombings at Christian churches there. Among other things, the April 28-29 visit by Pope Francis is aimed at further improving relations between the Catholic Church and the world's Muslims.

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Owen Sweeney / Invision/Associated Press

This weekend's concert calendar includes some hometown country and a pair of '80s throwbacks. Contributor Mara Davis joins host emeritus Steve Goss for a look ahead.

Longtime Atlanta Driving Range Shutters Its Doors

Apr 6, 2017
Grand Slam Golf and Baseball closes April 9 to make way for townhomes.
Miranda Hawkins / WABE

After 53 years, one of the last golf driving ranges inside the perimeter will disappear.

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Daniel McDonald sweeps the concrete walkway leading up to entrance of Grand Slam Golf and Baseball off North Druid Hills Road. He sports typical golfers gear, with a blue striped shirt tucked into crisp, white pants. He’s the owner of the range.

“I’ve owned it since 2005,” McDonald says. “I had a partner originally and I bought them out about four years ago.”

Cloudy storm skies over WABE studios in Atlanta.
John Lorinc / WABE News

Cleanup efforts are underway after severe storms tore through the Southeast on Wednesday.  

A long-track tornado was confirmed in Columbus, Georgia, and there are reports of at least three other suspected tornadoes throughout the state.

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Death penalty laws are on the books in 31 states, but only five carried out executions last year. Now Arkansas is rushing to execute death row inmates at an unprecedented pace this month, before the state's supply of lethal drugs expires.

All presidents since Gerald Ford have volunteered to show the public their tax returns. All of them except Donald Trump.

He has said emphatically that he really wants to do it, including at a Republican primary debate in February 2016.

"Let me just tell you something. I want to release my tax returns. But I can't release it while I'm under an audit. We're under a routine audit. I've had it for years I get audited. And obviously if I'm being audited I'm not going to release a return. As soon as the audit is done — I love it."

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.

Al Such

The Atlanta area has already seen scattered strong storms Wednesday morning, and the rest of the day will bring more of the same.  That means everyone needs to make preparations and take immediate cover if severe weather hits.  

On "Morning Edition," Denis O'Hayer got an update, and a look ahead, from Laura Belanger, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City.

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The U.S. military is trying to figure out whether certain heavy weapons are putting U.S. troops in danger.

The concern centers on the possibility of brain injuries from shoulder-fired weapons like the Carl Gustaf, a recoilless rifle that resembles a bazooka and is powerful enough to blow up a tank.

As soon as you set foot in any of the refugee camps along the South Sudan border in Uganda, a vast human suffering becomes easily apparent.

ELLY YU / WABE

It's a quiet morning inside Mama's restaurant on Piedmont Road, just one block away from where the Interstate 85 bridge fell. Over the weekend, the road under the bridge was closed off, and that's hurt business for the restaurant, said Jaime Zelaya, Mama's morning manager. 

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"It's usually really bombing here because all the business, you know, after-hours people that goes to the clubs, they come over here and eat because this is a 24-hours restaurant," he said. 

Deal Asks Feds For More Money For I-85 Reconstruction

Apr 4, 2017
David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao on Monday, saying that Georgia will need more federal funding than the $10 million the federal government has pledged to help with reconstruction efforts for the Interstate 85 bridge that collapsed last week. 

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