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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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  • Pickens County deputies are searching for an armed fugitive.  Authorities are looking for Nicholas Bishop in the area of Priest Circle in Talking Rock.  Bishop is believed to be armed with a handgun and on foot after he abandoned a stolen vehicle around 2 p.m.  If you see him, call 911 immediately. Officials say do not attempt to approach him. - Please return for updates.
  • One more time, Doris Payne, the 86-year-old infamous international jewel thief, has pleaded guilty to the usual crime. She admitted Wednesday to stealing a necklace from Von Maur at Perimeter Mall last year, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office said. Payne, who recently said she’s been dealing with a possibly cancerous tumor, was sentenced to 120 days of house arrest and three years of probation.  She was also banned from all Von Maur locations and every mall in DeKalb County. Payne, who’d been free on bond, was arrested last month for missing a court date. Shortly after the would-be appearance, she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she wasn’t medically able to attend. “I ain’t runnin’,” she said in a phone interview. “I’ve never in my life been late for court. Last month, Payne was deemed too ill to stand trial by the judge presiding over a Fulton County case stemming from a missing set of earrings at Phipps Plaza. Payne has been open about her habits of theft, which she detailed in a documentary called, “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne.” RELATED: Huge DeKalb center with (at least) 8 popular chains is opening soon RELATED: Cop helps elderly woman who got kicked out of dentist office in DeKalb RELATED: A DeKalb family’s tale of two dead bodies and a crying baby girl Like DeKalb County News Now on Facebook | Follow on Twitter and Instagram
  • A drunken driver destroyed a row of headstones at a historic Carrollton cemetery, causing tens of thousands of dollars' worth of damage, police said. According to police, the driver was coming down Martin Luther King Street on March 19, ran a stop sign, jumped a curb and crashed into the city-owned cemetery. The broken headstones range in date from the late 1800s to 1950. 'And what we discussed is, if one is damaged beyond repair, we'll put something back that's respectful. It's hard to replace it with the exact same item. The families aren't around anymore, so the city will take on the responsibility,' city manager Tim Grizzard said. TRENDING STORIES: Thousands of Georgians could lose food stamps next week 16-year-old in custody after hoax call about school gunman Food prices at SunTrust Park vs. Mercedes-Benz Stadium: What's the difference? The 35-year-old driver, Ray Antonio Baker, was arrested and charged with DUI. City officials said they will ask his insurance carrier to pay for the damage. 'Our plan is to go after the individual's insurance to pay for repairs. If that doesn't pay for everything, the city will certainly pick up the tab,' Grizzard said. Officials said this isn't the first time a driver has damaged headstones, but it's not a big enough problem to put up a wall. 'It's not something that has happened often enough that we need to put up a barrier. If it was a recurrent spot, we would do something,' Grizzard said. City officials said it could take weeks to repair the damage.
  • A federal judge in Hawaii who temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's revised travel hours before it was set to take effect issued a longer-lasting order Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson held a hearing Wednesday on Hawaii's request to extend his temporary hold. Several hours later, he issued a 24-page order blocking the government from suspending new visas for travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and halting the U.S. refugee program. Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin argued that even though the revised ban has more neutral language, the implied intent is still there. He likened it to a neon sign flashing 'Muslim Ban,' which the government hasn't bothered to turn off. Chad Readler, a Department of Justice attorney defending Trump's executive order, told the judge via telephone that Hawaii hasn't shown how it is harmed by various provisions, including one that would suspend the nation's refugee program. Watson disagreed. Here's a look at Watson's ruling and what comes next: ___ THE PREVIOUS RULING This month, Watson prevented the federal government from suspending new visas for people from six countries and freezing the nation's refugee program. The ruling came just hours before the ban was to take effect. Watson, nominated to the bench by former President Barack Obama in 2012, agreed with Hawaii that the ban would hurt the state's tourism-dependent economy and that it discriminates based on nationality and religion. Trump called the ruling an example of 'unprecedented judicial overreach.' The next day, a judge in Maryland also blocked the six-nation travel ban but said it wasn't clear that the suspension of the refugee program was similarly motivated by religious bias. The federal government appealed the Maryland ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and sought to narrow the Hawaii ruling. ___ THE LATEST RULING Like his temporary order, Watson notes that Hawaii has shown the state's universities and tourism industry will suffer from the ban. A plaintiff in Hawaii's lawsuit, the imam of a Honolulu mosque, will be harmed if the ban is enforced, Watson said: 'These injuries have already occurred and will continue to occur if the Executive Order is implemented and enforced; the injuries are neither contingent nor speculative.' Government attorneys have tried to convince the judge not to consider comments Trump has made about the travel ban. 'The court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has,' Watson wrote. Watson also refused to narrow his ruling to only apply to the six-nation ban, as the government requested. The ruling won't be suspended if the government appeals, Watson said. 'Enforcement of these provisions in all places, including the United States, at all United States borders and ports of entry, and in the issuance of visas is prohibited, pending further orders from this court,' he wrote. ___ WHAT'S NEXT FOR HAWAII'S LAWSUIT? Watson's ruling allows Hawaii's lawsuit challenging the ban to work its way through the courts. 'While we understand that the President may appeal, we believe the court's well-reasoned decision will be affirmed,' the Hawaii attorney general's office said in a statement. Ismail Elshikh, the imam of a Honolulu mosque who joined the lawsuit as a plaintiff, argues that he's harmed by Trump's order because it prevents his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting family in the U.S. It's not clear how Watson's ruling will affect the mother-in-law's ability to obtain a visa. The Department of Justice didn't immediately comment after Watson issued his decision. ___ DEFENDING TRUMP'S EXECUTIVE ORDER The Department of Justice opposed Hawaii's request to extend Watson's temporary order. But the department said that if the judge agrees, he should narrow the ruling to cover only the part of Trump's executive order that suspends new visas for people from Somalia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen. Other provisions of the order have little or no effect on Hawaii, including a suspension of the nation's refugee program, Department of Justice attorney Chad Readler said Wednesday. In an attempt to downplay the effect suspending the nation's refugee program would have on Hawaii, Readler said only a small amount of refugees have been resettled in Hawaii. But Watson questioned that reasoning by noting that the government said there have been 20 refugees resettled in Hawaii since 2010. Other parts of Trump's order allow the government to assess security risks, which don't concern the plaintiffs in Hawaii's lawsuit, Readler said. The revised order removes references to religion, he said. ___ CAN AN APPEALS COURT AFFECT THE HAWAII RULING? The president is asking the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put the ruling by the judge in Maryland on hold while it considers the case. The Richmond, Virginia-based appeals court will hear arguments May 8. If the court sides with the federal government, it would not have a direct effect on the Hawaii ruling, legal experts said. The Trump administration's best bet for saving the travel ban is to have the case go before the U.S. Supreme Court, said Richard Primus, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Michigan law school. 'What a ruling in 4th Circuit in favor of the administration would do is create a split in authority between federal courts in different parts of the country,' he said. 'Cases with splits in authority are cases the U.S. Supreme Court exists to resolve.