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Latest from Bill Caiaccio

    With Georgia's Tom Price leaving Congress to become the nation's Health and Human Services Secretary, it leaves an opening in the state's 6th Congressional District. The non-partisan special election to replace Dr. Price will most likely be held in late spring. Some experts are predicting a crowded field in the race to represent the district stretching from north Dekalb and Fulton counties to east Cobb.  If one candidate doesn't receive more than 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff. State Senator Judson Hill has already announced his candidacy, but WSB Political Analyst Bill Crane is expecting many more to join him. Crane says the seat could stay in the family.  'One of the question marks that still remains out there is Congressman Price's wife (Betty Price), who's a State Representative representing Roswell.' If she decides to run, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handle could be a frontrunner.  Crane says, 'In addition to having held statewide office, she's run for governor and statewide office twice.' Despite the district’s heavy Republican lean, Crane says a surprising number of Democrats have already indicated they're going to run.  Still, Crane says, 'I can't really see it going Democratic, unless the Republican Party has so many candidates they sort of eat each other alive.' And then there's the so-called Trump-effect.  'It'll be interesting to see how many running Republicans for that seat run away from or towards Donald Trump.
  • The University of Georgia releases a statement on President Donald Trump's immigration order that limits nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the United States. UGA President Jere Morehead, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten and Associate Provost for International Education Noel Fallows have written a letter to all students, faculty and staff on how the policy may impact international travel and visa holders. It says 'As you know, the safety and well-being of the UGA community is our top priority, and it is important that we remain in close communication as new information and direction from the State Department becomes available in the coming days.' All international students, staff and faculty who might be traveling overseas in the near future are advised to consult with the UGA Office of International Education. Morehead says it appears no University of Georgia students or faculty were detained over the weekend because of the executive order.   UGA will continue to assess the impact on its students, staff and faculty, and will provide updated information and assistance.
  • After weeks of going up, gas prices are finally beginning to fall across metro Atlanta. According to GasBuddy's weekly survey, average retail prices in Atlanta are down 3.5 cents per gallon in the past week to $2.22.  During the same time, the national average is down 3.2 cents to $2.30 per gallon. Despite the decline in the past week, prices are still almost 45-cents higher than the same time last year and are about 2-cents more expensive than a month ago.  One year ago, the average price in metro Atlanta was $1.77 per gallon. As for what impact President Donald Trump's administration will have on prices at the pump, GasBuddy's Gregg Laskoski says 'It's too soon to speculate.' One of the first announcements made by the new administration was its 'America's First Energy Plan,' which states producing more energy is in America's national security interest. Trump has said he's committed to achieving energy independence from OPEC countries and any nations hostile to our interests.  At the same time, the president says we will work with our Persian Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our antiterrorism strategy. Laskoski says 'Last week ended with President Trump's inauguration and we saw the benchmark WTI crude close up more than $1 per barrel from the previous day, coincidence?' He says 'Refineries are unloading winter-blend gasoline at fire sale prices.
  • After weeks of going up, gas prices are finally beginning to fall across metro Atlanta. According to GasBuddy's weekly survey, average retail prices in Atlanta are down 3.5 cents per gallon in the past week to $2.22.  During the same time, the national average is down 3.2 cents to $2.30 per gallon. Despite the decline in the past week, prices are still almost 45-cents higher than the same time last year and are about 2-cents more expensive than a month ago.  One year ago, the average price in metro Atlanta was $1.77 per gallon. As for what impact President Donald Trump's administration will have on prices at the pump, GasBuddy's Gregg Laskoski says 'It's too soon to speculate.' One of the first announcements made by the new administration was its 'America's First Energy Plan,' which states producing more energy is in America's national security interest. Trump has said he's committed to achieving energy independence from OPEC countries and any nations hostile to our interests.  At the same time, the president says we will work with our Persian Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our antiterrorism strategy. Laskoski says 'Last week ended with President Trump's inauguration and we saw the benchmark WTI crude close up more than $1 per barrel from the previous day, coincidence?' He says 'Refineries are unloading winter-blend gasoline at fire sale prices.
  • Be prepared to pay more for gas this year. GasBuddy's 2017 Fuel Price Outlook is calling for the national yearly average to rise to $2.49 per gallon.  If that prediction holds, Americans will spend $52 billion more on gas this year compared to 2016. Prices are expected to spike in early spring when suppliers switch to 'summer blend' gasoline.  GasBuddy predicts prices will rise between 35-60 cents from mid-February, reaching a peak in May. Gas prices may hit $3 in several of the nation's largest cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Seattle.  There's a strong possibility other big cities will eclipse the $3 mark as well. GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan says, 'The list of factors being mixed into the yearly forecast has never been larger.'  With so many unknowns, DeHaan adds, 'Forecasting fuel prices remains a challenging balance of science and art.' Other variables that could impact prices at the pump include federal and/or state tax changes, volatility in the Middle East, refinery maintenance or unscheduled outages and weather events.
  • When it comes to our roads and highways, Georgia has a lot of room for improvement. A recent report rates 20% of Georgia's interstates in poor or worse condition, and the roads we're driving on are highly congested. Atlanta ranks anywhere from 9th to 13th, among the most congested metro areas in the country. The American Society of Civil Engineers, which issues 'report cards' on infrastructure in each of the 50 states, has given Georgia grade of 'C-' for its transportation infrastructure. Georgia grades out just ahead of the national average of 'D.' Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry tells WSB, 'When you think about poor or worse conditions, that's things where you see rough pavement, you've got potholes, you may have cracking in pavement that ultimately increase the wear and tear on your vehicle.' The report goes beyond Georgia's major highways. The condition of smaller roads and bridges also aren't up to par in many cases. McMurry says 'The C-minus is not really where you want to be. You want to strive for A in this category.' He says the DOT is in the process of making many improvements through 'strategic investments.' McMurry says the state has invested up to $400 million a year to get infrastructure back into the condition it needs to be, which is fair or better.    One goal for the DOT is to lessen the effects of congestion. The 'Major Mobility Improvement Program' is a list of 11 projects across the state, with most of them in metro Atlanta. It includes adding more express lanes around 285 and up 400, as well as widening some existing interstates like I-85 going northeast into Gwinnett and Jackson Counties.  Other projects on the list include replacing some very congested interchanges such as I-20 on the east side at 285 and I-20 on the west side at 285. McMurry says 'private investors will help finance those projects' to get them done sooner. At the end of the day McMurry says 'The metro Atlanta region is really taking a bold step forward' to make improvements in our transportation infrastructure, but McMurry reminds weary drivers 'It takes time. None of this happens as quick as anybody would want it to, but I would say that we're definitely heading on the right track.
  • Dunwoody police say an infamous 86-year old jewel thief has struck again. Doris Payne has been arrested at a Von Maur department store at Perimeter Mall in Dekalb County.  Police tell WSB Payne put a $2,000 diamond necklace in her back pocket and tried to leave the store. Payne’s life in crime dates back several decades.  She has stolen pricey jewels from stores all around the world, including Greece, France, Britain and Switzerland.  Payne has been arrested at least 20 times. The most recent arrest comes just over a year after Payne was busted trying to take a pair of $700 earrings from the Christian Dior store inside Saks Fifth Avenue at Phipps Plaza. Atlanta Police Sgt. Warren Pickard said, “According to my research, when she was 20 years old, she started committing crimes.” In July, police suspected Payne of stealing a $32,000 David Yurman engagement ring from South Park Mall in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was the subject of a 2013 documentary 'The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne.' When asked about her exploits in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this year, she said simply: 'I was a thief.
  • The FBI says the man known as the 'Scruffy Faced Bandit' has struck again. Acting Special Agent in Charge George Crouch says the same suspect has now robbed at least six metro Atlanta area banks. The latest occurred at the Chase Bank at 4490 Wade Green Road in Kennesaw on November 1.  Just after 4:00pm a lone white man entered the bank and handed a teller a note demanding money.  Witnesses say the suspect fled the bank on a bicycle.  He's described as a white man with scruffy facial hair, wearing a long-sleeve shirt, dark pants and a dark baseball cap. The description is similar to the suspect in at least five other robberies.  Witnesses say in several of those, the suspect also fled on a bike. The first of the robberies happened on August 11 at the Suntrust at 2674 Sandy Planes Road in Marietta.  While he threatened to have a weapon, no one actually saw one. On Friday August 19, the man walked into the Bank of America at 10750 Alpharetta Highway in Roswell, and gave a teller a note demanding money.  He left the scene on foot. On Tuesday October 4, a man entered the Suntrust at 2880 Shallowford Road in Marietta and gave a teller a demand note.  He got away with an undisclosed amount of money, and was seen driving off on a bicycle. One week later, on October 11, a man came to the First Citizens Bank at 3060 Eagle Drive in Woodstock and handed the teller a note announcing a robbery.  He never displayed a weapon.  After getting away with an undisclosed amount of money, the man was seen riding off on a black mountain bike. The FBI along with Roswell Police, the Cherokee County sheriff's office and Cobb County police are asking for the public's help in identifying the suspect.
  • Georgia is ranked the number one state for business for the fourth straight year. The ranking comes from Site Selection Magazine, a leading economic development trade publication. Governor Nathan Deal says, 'For a remarkable fourth time in a row, Georgia has once again been named the top state in the nation in which to do business, highlighting the vitality of our state economy and the businesses-friendly environment that continues to help companies grow.' The governor credits collaboration at the state and local level for creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in Georgia.  Since 2011, more than 575,000 private sector jobs have been created. Deal says, 'In the last four years, many small businesses have expanded in Georgia and numerous international companies have established operations here.'   He says the state leads the way in providing companies with a low tax burden. Site Selection releases its rankings each November.  Georgia has been among the top 10 throughout the last decade. Editor-in-chief Mark Arend says, 'Georgia's fourth consecutive top state business climate ranking is based on where corporate expansion projects are occurring and where investors say they want to commit their capital for the long term.'  Arend says the state's fiscal soundness, predictable economic and regulatory climate, workforce and transportation infrastructure are the main reasons for keeping Georgia in the top spot.
  • Home Chef' is bringing more than 1,200 jobs to metro Atlanta. Governor Nathan Deal announced Wednesday the meal kit delivery service will invest over $3.3 million in a new Dekalb County facility to open by 2020. Deal says, 'Home Chef is among the many innovative companies using Georgia’s high-performing transportation infrastructure to grow their distribution network.'  He says with the new facility, 'Home Chef will be able to reach more of the Southeastern market and meet the needs of a growing customer base.' The company will lease a 140,000 square-foot facility located on Lithonia Industrial Boulevard.  It will serve as a wholesale purchasing, assembling, packaging and distribution center. Home Chef Founder and CEO Pat Vihtelic says, 'We’re undergoing tremendous growth and are excited to expand our distribution footprint. We’re confident DeKalb has the skilled workforce necessary for us to achieve our ambitious growth goals.' Home Chef currently employs more than 500 people in the United States.  The company delivered more than 1 million meals in 2015 and expanded to nationwide service this year. Decide DeKalb President Ray Gilley says, 'Home Chef’s presence in DeKalb will be the first meal kit delivery service production facility in metro Atlanta, an exciting new concept taking the nation by storm.'  Gilley says, 'DeKalb’s robust transportation network, close proximity to the airport and diverse workforce will help enhance Home Chef’s delivery capacity to new and existing customers in and around the southeastern United States.' Georgia Department of Economic Development project manager Josh Stephens says, 'We are thrilled to celebrate the news that an innovative company like Home Chef has decided to grow their U.S. operation in Georgia.' Home Chef is a meal kit delivery service with fresh ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes available nationwide. It offers 13 meals that can be selected from a new menu every week.
  • Bill  Caiaccio

    Anchor/Reporter

    Bill Caiaccio has been working for WSB since 2014. 

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  • An off-duty Fulton County police officer shot a man after a chase in Atlanta Wednesday morning, the GBI says. The officer, whose name has not been released, was in his personal vehicle about 11 a.m., when he responded to a theft at a T-Mobile store on Mount Zion Parkway in Morrow, GBI spokesman Rich Bahan said.  The officer followed the suspect’s car into the city limits of Atlanta while reporting the incident to 911, Bahan said. At some point near Alyson Court, the two cars collided and when the driver got out of his car the off-duty officer shot him with his service weapon, Bahan said.   MORE:  Sheriff: Man out on bond for murder arrested after fighting victim’s family Ex-NFL player jailed after allegedly attacking woman in front of kids Police: Men brought ‘bag of bullets’ to shootout with alleged gang members Witness Jay Mitchell told Channel 2 Action News he thinks the man was shot in the stomach area after the police officer chased him and tried to pull him over. The suspect kept driving even after he was shot, Bahan said, and Atlanta police stopped him in the 1700 block of Lakewood Avenue. Whether the off-duty Fulton County officer stayed on the scene was not released, but his car was found parked at a store on Cleveland Avenue, Channel 2 reported. The man who was shot was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, Bahan said. The shooting is the fourth in less than a week involving a Georgia officer. A Georgia State Patrol trooper fatally shot a man after a chase early Saturday in Polk County. Jason Dennis Watkins, 36, was taken to Polk County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. RELATED: GSP trooper fatally shoots man after chase Willie Ivy III, 29, of Atlanta, died after a Fulton County police officer and an armed security guard shot him early Saturday in College Park, the GBI said.  RELATED: Man dead in police-involved shooting incident in College Park A Pickens County sheriff’s sergeant on Tuesday shot and critically injured Gary Lee Castle after he “moved aggressively” toward the official “with a large metal pipe in his hand,” the sheriff’s office said. RELATED: Sergeant shoots, critically injures man, Pickens County sheriff says In January and February, the GBI conducted 17 officer-involved shooting investigations, agency spokeswoman Nelly Miles said. RELATED: OVER THE LINE: Police shootings in Georgia The GBI investigated 78 police shootings in the state last year. In other news:
  • A middle school bus driver in the Valdosta area is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol while students were on her bus, according to the Lowndes County sheriff. Amanda Mullinax, 41, registered more than twice the legal limit, Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said. A school resource officer at Hahira Middle School smelled alcohol on Mullinax, and a student said she had been drinking, the Macon Telegraph reported. The night before, deputies were called to a domestic dispute at Mullinax’s home and found she had been drinking heavily, Paulk said. RELATED: School bus driver charged in accident that injured child She could face multiple counts of child endangerment since there were about 44 students on the bus, the newspaper reported. Read more of the story here. In other news:
  • U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch vowed to uphold the law if confirmed to the nation’s highest court, not tipping his hand as he sidestepped controversial political subjects, as Gorsuch directly pushed back against President Donald Trump’s criticism of federal judges. “When anyone criticizes the honesty or integrity, the motives of a federal judge, I find that disheartening; I find that demoralizing,” Gorsuch said in response to questions from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). “Anyone including the President of the United States?” Blumenthal pressed. “Anyone is anyone,” Gorsuch replied. In a day of testimony that stretched for almost twelve hours, Gorsuch parried most questions from Democrats, who tried in vain to get him to reveal his views on issues like abortion, and items that might come before the Supreme Court, like President Trump’s travel ban. Gorsuch repeatedly refused to take the bait. “I can’t get involved in politics, and I think it would be very imprudent of judges to start commenting on political disputes,” Gorsuch said. Under questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Gorsuch was asked what he had discussed with President Trump on the issue of abortion. “In that interview did he ever ask you to overrule Roe v Wade?” Graham asked. “No, Senator,” Gorsuch replied, adding that if the President had asked that question, “I would have walked out the door.” Gorsuch was pressed about the President in a number of different ways, telling Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that, “nobody is above the law in this country, and that includes the President of the United States.” With Republicans strongly in support of Gorsuch, there was already maneuvering behind the scenes over the expected floor fight in the Senate, as Democrats have made clear they think the GOP should be forced to get 60 votes for his nomination. That has prompted GOP leaders to criticize the threat of a filibuster. “If there aren’t 60 votes for a nominee like Neil Gorsuch it’s appropriate to ask the question is there any nominee any Republican president could make that Democrats would approve,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Gorsuch’s lengthy day of testimony ended on a light note, as Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) suggested to Gorsuch that he have a cocktail before bed. “Just don’t drink vodka,” Kennedy said to chuckles from the audience. Kennedy then drew even more laughter by adding in one more surprise. “You never been to Russia, have you?” “I’ve never been to Russia,” a smiling Gorsuch said.
  • Donald Trump Jr. is facing criticism for tweeting in the hours after Wednesday's London attack a months-old comment from London Mayor Sadiq Khan that terror attacks are part of living in a big city. Trump Jr. tweeted : 'You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan.' The tweet included a link to a Sept. 22 story from Britain's Independent newspaper that includes the quote from Khan, who was asking Londoners to be vigilant following a bombing in New York City. British Member of Parliament Wes Streeting was among numerous Britons who responded to the tweet with criticism. He called Trump Jr. 'a disgrace' and accused him of using a terrorist attack for 'political gain.' When asked about Trump Jr. on Thursday, Khan told CNN: 'I'm not going to respond to a tweet from Donald Trump Jr. I've been doing far more important things over the past 24 hours.' He added that 'terrorists hate the fact' that cities including London, New York and Paris have 'diverse communities living together peacefully.