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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.

Tasnim Shamma / WABE

DeKalb’s top elections official said there’s “no doubt” the county’s board of elections will call for an additional early voting location ahead of the closely watched special election in the 6th Congressional District set for June 20. 

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Dan Raby / WABE

If you live or work near the Interstate 85 bridge under reconstruction right now, Tuesday is the day things are really going to get tough.

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The Georgia Department of Transportation is closing Piedmont Road, just under the bridge, for 24 hours. The road will be closed between 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 25 and 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 26.

GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said crews need to set the final section of beams on the highway.

A voter takes a "I'm a Georgia Voter" sticker after voting during Georgia's primary election at the polling station at South Lowndes Recreation Complex in Lake Park, Ga., Tuesday, March 1, 2016.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Georgia lawmakers violated federal voting rights law by moving black voters out and white voters in to two state House districts in 2015, according to a lawsuit filed Monday that calls the mid-decade redistricting an effort to protect white Republican incumbents.

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Wildfires Continue To Scorch Parts Of South Georgia

Apr 24, 2017
Firefighters spent more than two months battling wildfires in north Georgia and in Tennessee this fall.
John Bazemore / Associated Press

Georgia’s wildfire season is underway, and true to form, a major blaze is burning land in the southern part of the state.

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The West Mims fire has scorched more than 36,000 acres around the Okefenokee Swamp.

It's just over 4 percent contained.

Stephen B. Morton / associated press file

Parking in Savannah's downtown historic district could get a lot more expensive next year.

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The Savannah City Council is considering a consultant's recommendations that would increase rates on some parking meters in the downtown area that is the city's business hub as well as the heart of its vital tourism economy. The plan would extend the hours drivers would have to pay for on-street parking.

 

Kaitlin Kolarik

 

The Atlanta March for Science brought more than 4,000 people into the streets around Candler Park on Saturday.

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The Atlanta demonstration was one of 600 satellite marches for science around the world this weekend. The main event took place in Washington D.C. 

"We are gathered here because unfortunately, science is currently under attack," said organizer Jasmine Clark.

Courtesy of AMB Group

Once Mercedes-Benz Stadium is finished, the Georgia Dome will be torn down and will be replaced by a park. The 13-acre space will be for tailgating on game days and open to the public when the new stadium is not in use.

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Fired Gwinnett County Police Officer Asks For His Job Back

Apr 21, 2017
Gwinnett County Police Department

A Gwinnett County police officer fired after authorities said a video showed him hitting a man in the face during a traffic stop wants his job back.

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Mike Puglise, a lawyer for Michael Bongiovanni, says the former Gwinnett police sergeant this week asked the human resources department to reinstate him. Puglise says Bongiovanni's request will be reviewed by the county merit board.

JamesDeMers / Pixabay

Georgia's hunters and fishers will see an uptick in licensing fees come July 1.

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Gov. Nathan Deal will sign a bill on Tuesday that will increase the fee to buy a hunting or fishing license to be on par with surrounding states. For example, hunting licenses that are currently $10 will be $15.

Right now, Georgia has some of the lowest prices in the Southeast. That's according to a state audit from November 2016.

MARTA Gets Stalled Concessions Program Back On Track

Apr 21, 2017
The entrance to the MARTA station near underground Atlanta
Brenna Beech / WABE

New legislation passed during the recent session of the General Assembly makes way for MARTA to expand its concessions program. According to this week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle, MARTA officials will survey customers to find out what types of businesses and services they would like to see set up shop in rail stations.

Alison Guillory / WABE

First, the bad news: When it comes to trash, the average American reportedly produces more than 4 pounds of it per day. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 220 million tons of waste, more than half of which ends up in one of more than 3,500 landfills across the country.

Civil rights activist and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. is introduced before speaking at the unveiling of a U.S. Postal Service stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Friday, Aug. 23, 213, at the Newseum in Washington.
Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

The work and achievements of civil rights leader and longtime Congressman John Lewis of Georgia have been recognized by Time magazine. He made its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

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The 2017 list, released Thursday, recognizes artists, activists, athletes, leaders and executives who have worked to change and influence the world.

JIM BURRESS / WABE

The term "affordable" can take on different meanings depending on whom you ask. Also, quality and affordability are not always one in the same. That's something Mechanicsville Cityside is trying to change. It's an entire neighborhood in Southwest Atlanta designed to provide low-income families with the chance to own their own home. 

In this installment of "Closer Look's" affordable housing series, co-host Jim Burress visits the neighborhood to learn how public-private partnerships and tax credits, make this possible.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed refused to answer questions about the lawsuit and walked away from reporters.
Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has named a new city attorney.

 

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In a news release Thursday, Reed announced that Jeremy Berry will assume the position of the city's top legal officer, replacing Cathy Hampton who plans to step down May 19.

 

Reed didn't say when he would begin the new job.

 

Atlanta City Council Begins Hearings On FY 2018 Budget

Apr 20, 2017
City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta University Center Consortium leaders announced the launch of a new camera surveillance program. The president of Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, is pictured right.
Al Such / WABE

Atlanta City Council members on Thursday began examining outgoing Mayor Kasim Reed's budget proposal for fiscal year 2018.

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The first draft of the budget was $2.5 billion, already $30 million more than the current year. The general fund portion of Reed's proposed budget is $637 million.

Dario Lopez-Mills / Associated Press

Georgia has issued a birth certificate for a toddler with the last name "Allah" after initially declining to do so because that doesn't match either of the parents' last names, a civil rights group that sued on behalf of the parents said Thursday.

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Georgia's Unemployment Rate Drops In March

Apr 20, 2017
The Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday that the new March jobless metro Atlanta was 5.9 percent. That is down from 6.1 percent in February and 7 percent from March 2014.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Good news for job seekers in Georgia.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in March, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

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Labor Commissioner Mark Butler says this is the lowest that rate has fallen to since December 2007.

Atlanta Expands Its Relay Bike Share Program

Apr 19, 2017
New bikes part of the bike share expansion.
Miranda Hawkins / WABE

More blue bikes are hitting the streets of Atlanta.

The blue bicycles are part of Atlanta's Relay Bike Share program. And as of Wednesday, there are 500 Relay bikes available in the city, which is up from just 100. 

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Al Such / WABE

For the past two decades, Anne (who chose not to give her last name because she fears retribution from her landlord) has lived in the same two-bedroom apartment in Buckhead. It's a brick building just off of Peachtree Street. In 1995, Anne began renting her apartment for just $600 per month. Now, 22 years later, her rent has increased and she is concerned about her ability to stay there.

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Susanna Capelouto / WABE

The man accused of starting a fire that caused a section of Interstate 85 in Atlanta to collapse has been released from jail after posting bond.

WSB-TV reports that Basil Eleby was released from Fulton County Jail on Wednesday. Eleby was issued a $10,000 signature bond by a judge during a hearing Tuesday.

The judge told Eleby not to go near the collapsed overpass except with his attorneys.

Eleby faces charges of arson and criminal damage to property. He was jailed March 31, the day after the collapse.

Mary-Pat Hector held a press conference Thursday about potentially being disqualified a month into her campaign. She is 19 years old and a student at Spelman College.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

A 19-year-old candidate for a council seat in a newly formed city in Georgia has lost the runoff election.

 

News outlets report that Mary-Pat Hector, a sophomore at Spelman College, narrowly lost Tuesday to George Turner Jr., a retired MARTA manager. Turner received 867 votes to Hector's 845.

 

Hector had finished second to Turner is a five-way race March 21, prompting the Tuesday runoff.

 

Man Accused In I-85 Overpass Fire Pleads Not Guilty

Apr 18, 2017
Fulton County Jail via AP

Basil Eleby, the homeless man accused of starting the March 30 fire that caused the I-85 overpass to collapse, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Fulton County Court. 

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Eleby was charged with arson and criminal damage to property. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville ordered Eleby's release on a $10,000 signature bond. Eleby will soon move to Michael & Michael Counseling and Consulting LLC, a substance abuse treatment facility.

Mercedes Benz Stadium under construction
Alison Guillory / WABE file

The planned opening of the $1.5 billion Mercedes Benz Stadium has been delayed by ongoing roof construction.

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The CEO of Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank's businesses says there are no concerns about the "operability" of the roof. Steve Cannon said the delay is a "timeline" issue with ongoing steelwork.

The new opening date of the stadium is now the Atlanta Falcons' August 26 preseason game against Arizona.

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.

Lisa Hagen / WABE

 

The year 2014 should have been a great one for Ron Laster. He and his wife had just bought a house.

Then he got injured. And that same year, his boss died. He'd been a touring musician with James Brown for 27 years. The Lasters called around to relatives for help as bills piled up, but the mortgage payments were too much. That’s when they saw a TV commercial.

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Downtown Connector
Alison Guillory / WABE

Police say drivers of a tractor-trailer and SUV are facing charges involving a crash that caused a chemical spill on the Downtown Connector in Atlanta.

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Local news media reports the tractor-trailer spilled a hazardous chemical called Benzoyl Chloride. The spill shut down all lanes for hours on the north side of the interstate Monday morning.

 

The lanes were reopened.

 

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.

 In this Sept. 29, 2014 file photo, Secretary of State Brian Kemp announces a March 6, 2012 date, as Georgia's 2012 presidential primary at a news conference in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

On a day when Georgia is taking part in a special election that has national implications, news of voting equipment being stolen is likely the last thing most want to hear.

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But Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp found out about just that two days after equipment was stolen from a car in Cobb County and issued a statement saying that was "unacceptable."

Courtesy of GDOT

Atlanta commuters caught a break Tuesday morning: Repair work on Interstate 20 was completed a few hours ahead of schedule.

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Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Natalie Dale originally expected I-20 to be reopened around noon, but shortly after 6 a.m., all westbound lanes of the roadway were repaired.

All westbound lanes around Candler and Gresham roads were shut down for hours after part of the roadway buckled Monday.

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