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News

  • A college student from Gwinnett County is doing his part to help fight hunger using technology.  Jack Griffin, a junior at the University of Michigan, was just a sophomore at Peachtree Ridge High School when he was touched by a news story showing kids his age homeless and in need of food.  “It’s such an invisible problem that, if you’re not impacted by it, it’s so hard to see,” he tells WSB.  While trying to find a place to volunteer, he found the search so cumbersome he knew it would be difficult for those in need to find them.   So, while still in high school, Griffin created the non-profit FoodFinder to help people locate nearby food pantries or free meals. He raised money to develop a website and then added a phone app last year.  “Eighty percent of these kids still have access to a phone. Sixty percent still have access to a smart phone. It’s not an iPhone 7-type deal, but they are going to have access to the internet because it’s a huge lifeline,” says Griffin.  He says organizations that offer food programs including the USDA have partnered with Foodfinder to make sure information on location and times are available on the app.  “There is about a thousand free resources all across the state of Georgia,” he says, with that number reaching more than 3,000 right now to make sure kids are fed during the summer months.  Griffin, who is a business major and community action minor, is working this summer to get the word out about the app and increase access to free meals. 
  • A grand jury indicted former DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson with theft Tuesday after he receiving about $3,000 in advances for government trips that he never took. Watson, 63, faces a single count of theft by conversion in DeKalb Superior Court, according to DeKalb District Attorney Sherry Boston’s office. Watson withdrew advance checks in January 2016 for conferences in Chicago and Savannah, but then he resigned from office in March 2016 to run for DeKalb Tax Commissioner. “The state alleges the expense money was then converted to personal use and not repaid until approximately one year later, well after Watson’s resignation,” according to a press release from Boston’s office. “County policy requires any funds advanced for travel but not actually used for said travel be returned to the county immediately.” A warrant was issued for Watson’s arrest, and he’s expected to surrender to authorities, the release said. Watson didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment. Exclusive to subscribers: Read the full story on myAJC.com. MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT. The AJC's Mark Niesse keeps you updated on the latest happenings in DeKalb County government and politics. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories: Accused politicians try to undermine ethics oversight in Georgia DeKalb Sheriff Mann could retain office even if found guilty DeKalb police, firefighter pay raise plan revealed Never miss a minute of what's happening in DeKalb politics. Subscribe to myAJC.com. In other DeKalb news:
  • A man convicted of robbing Waffle House restaurants in Cobb and Gwinnett counties will spend the rest of his life in prison. >> Read more trending news Cobb County Superior Court Judge C. LaTain Kell handed down the sentence Friday after a jury convicted Robbin Haynes, 23, of armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony for the 2014 crime. Haynes and another man, Otis Lee Barnes, used a gun and large, orange bolt cutters to rob restaurant workers off Highway 92 near Sandy Plains Road on March 13, 2014. They got away with $400. That restaurant wasn’t the only one they hit. Investigators say the pair robbed two other Waffle House restaurants the same way. >> Related: Waffle House co-founder dies a month after business partner In a release sent to WSB-TV, Assistant District Attorney Lauryn Perry, who prosecuted the case, said, “Mr. Haynes committed three armed robberies in about 24 hours. The first occurred in Gwinnett County, the second one in Cobb County and the last one in Gwinnett County. He showed a lack of compassion for his victims and a streak of violence that the state believes is reflected in his sentence.” Haynes was previously convicted in Gwinnett County for the two related armed robberies there and was sentenced to life in prison. In addition to the life in prison sentence, the Cobb County judge also added a mandatory five years to serve in prison on the firearms charge. Haynes’ sentence will run concurrently with the sentence imposed in Gwinnett. Barnes, 25, pleaded guilty to charges in both counties. He was sentenced in Cobb County to 20 years, with 10 years to be served in prison.
  • Residents at a DeKalb County apartment complex finally have temporary stairs to reach their second-story units. Channel 2 Action News first reported how firefighters had to rescue people stuck on the second floor of the Maple Walk Apartments in Decatur earlier this month. Channel 2's Sophia Choi learned residents were using ladders to reach their second-floor homes. Even though it was unsafe, residents said they had to get into their homes after waiting weeks. 'I got a ladder and came home. I had no choice. I didn't have the funds to stay out anymore,' resident Shawta Tiller said. As of Tuesday, they have temporary wooden steps to use. The DeKalb County fire marshal toured the construction site weeks after the complex removed their stairs. Residents said despite promises of payments for hotel rooms, they have received nothing. So after a week or so, they decided to use ladders to get in. TRENDING STORIES: Body found in locked Walmart bathroom that employees thought was out of order for days Woman could face jail time over garden Man who robbed 3 Waffle Houses in 24 hours sentenced to life in prison 'It was very dangerous, because trying to take groceries, just trying to get your things up it was just very scary and dangerous,' resident Tyler Reese said. The fire marshal said the county evacuated residents on three separate occasions for using those unsafe ladders. Channel 2 Action News was with the code enforcement officer who checked out a host of other problems at the complex, including mold and holes inside units, and major structural problems like a sagging balcony. 'It's not just the building with no stairs, most of the buildings around here look like this, with debris all over the hallway and the ceiling gone,' one resident said. The county said the owners of the complex were late in following their orders, and they will be cited for the delay. 'The building department is waiting for that structural analysis pending to be submitted by the ownership. That's where the permanent fixes will take place,' DeKalb fire marshal Joe Cox said. Choi contacted the apartment manager, who declined to comment.
  • The woman whose lobster has reached internet fame after a TSA agent took a photo with it is telling the agent to 'mind his own business.' >> Read more trending news 'When is it okay to go through someone's checked baggage and take photographs?' Lisa Feinman wrote on the Atlantic Seafood Market's Facebook page.  Feinman, owner of the Atlantic Seafood Market in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, said she had 12 other lobsters on top of the large lobster in the TSA photo.  >> Related: TSA pulls giant lobster from suitcase at Boston airport 'I am personally offended by this because I packed this checked cooler with care and concern for the lobsters and my customers' personal property,' she said. The Atlantic Seafood Market has rave reviews and many awards, known for its fresh seafood and prepared seafood.  'Seriously, nothing better to do?” Feinman wrote on Facebook. “Do your job and leave our personal property alone.” The TSA has the right to go through any checked or carry-on luggage and search it. 
  • Police said a father and son fought back against a suspected home invader who forced them to drive to a local bank. It happened just after 2 a.m. Wednesday at the SunTrust Bank on Interstate 20 at Panola Road. A witness told Channel 2's Liz Artz she walked to the ATM off Panola Road and saw two men arguing inside a pickup truck. She said she heard a gunshot and ran to a nearby Burger King to call for help. That's when she said she heard a second gunshot. She said the shooter stayed at the bank on scene and waited for police to arrive. Authorities said it started as a home invasion, in which a father and teenage son were taken at gunpoint. Police said they were not sure whether it was the father or his 16-year-old son who pulled the trigger. We're working to learn details of the shooting for Channel 2 Action News starting at 4 p.m. TRENDING STORIES: Mom says baby overheated as United Airlines plane sat on tarmac for hours Man, pregnant woman accused of robbing Waffle House Mother of teen struck by baseball: 'God's got this'