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Latest from Marcy Williams

    The Butts County Sheriff's Office warns Georgians not to fall for a bogus Facebook headline reporting a fiery fatal crash.   The Macon Telegraph reports the headline is designed to grab your attention by mentioning multiple casualties involving women and children, but if you click to read more, a virus or malware infects your account.  The sheriff's office has been so besieged by calls about this phony fatal accident, it's posted about it on its Facebook page.   'This is FALSE information,' the post reads. 'We are being told the link on Facebook may be some type of virus. PLEASE DO NOT click on or 'share' the link as it apparently hacks your Facebook account after doing so.'   The Telegraph reports similar scams have popped up mentioning other counties in and out of Georgia. They typically feature a 'breaking news' graphic and a reference to 'NEWSROOMS.INFO' in the text.   If you do end up taking the bait, change your password and follow other web security precautions.
  • The success of Ponce City and Krog Street Markets in Atlanta inspires developers in Marietta.   The Marietta Daily Journal reports Concordia Properties and partners file plans to build an 18,000 square foot food hall just off the Marietta Square.   Marietta Square Market will be built in a converted warehouse on North Marietta Parkway.   The Daily Journal reports the food hall will feature three anchor restaurants, a central restaurant and bar, and smaller kiosks for food and shopping.   The hall's design is patterned after an old-fashioned railroad depot and there are plans to incorporate a fully-restored 1920s streetcar.  Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin's excited about the project and hopes it will be in business by the summer of 2018.   '[That area] used to be just car places and stuff, real dirty,' Tumlin tells the MDJ. 'You can put a shine on that area, especially with this.
  • A Columbus teen files suit in Muscogee County State Court after an incident at school results in the loss of his leg.   'We feel pretty good about this case,' Renee Tucker, the attorney representing Montravious Thomas, tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The suit seeks $25 million in damages.   The AJC reports Thomas was injured by a contract teacher at an alternative school last September. Behavioral specialist Bryant Mosley allegedly threw the 13-year-old boy to the floor at Edgewood Student Services Center several times.   Tucker alleges Thomas had to be carried to the school bus and the district failed to notify his family about the severity of his injury.   Mosley, who is named in the suit, is no longer working for the school district.   Thomas ultimately had to have his right leg amputated at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. His attorney tells the AJC, he continues with physical therapy but will require additional surgery on his leg.   Tucker says Thomas no longer lives in Columbus.   A school district spokeswoman states the system does not comment on pending litigation.
  • The family of a female inmate who died of pneumonia at the Gwinnett County jail files suit against the sheriff, jail health care provider and staff.  'This was such an avoidable, preventable death,” attorney Mark Begnaud tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Begnaud says Denise Forte begged a jail nurse to send her to the clinic after she was found in her cell too sick to go to breakfast on a Saturday in February, 2015.   The nurse noted Forte's resting heart rate was high and she complained she hurt all over.  Forte had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The nurse administered a standard cold protocol of Tylenol, an antihistamine and an expectorant and told Forte she could see a doctor Monday.    Forte died in her cell.   Begnaud alleges negligence.  The lawsuit filed in Gwinnett County State Court claims Forte's pneumonia should have been caught and treated earlier had medical decisions outweighed cost. The AJC reports Corizon Health, the private health care provider for the jail, is the largest for-profit provider of correctional health services in the country.   Corizon spokeswoman Martha Harbin will not comment on pending litigation but defends the quality of health care.  'One of the greatest misconceptions about our company is that we somehow benefit from providing lower quality care,” Harbin tells the AJC in an email.   'It is important to emphasize that the existence of a lawsuit is not necessarily indicative of quality of care or any wrongdoing,” Harbin adds in her statement to the AJC.  The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.   An inmate at the Gwinnett County jail died last month after what is described as a medical emergency. The sheriff’s office denies claims by the inmate’s family that he was not fed properly.
  • A Lawrenceville woman and her husband stand trial in Gwinnett Superior Court for child cruelty and false imprisonment after allegedly starving the woman's 15-year-old autistic daughter.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports Jade Jacobs and William Anthony Brown allegedly made the child live in a closet in the basement.   'Not only was it tiny, but it was disgusting,” Assistant District Attorney Bobby Wolf tells jurors in court. 'There was feces on the wall and a urine-stained mat where she was supposed to sleep on a hard floor.' The Daily Post reports the alleged abuse came to light after Jacobs brought her daughter to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite in August 2014.   According to the police report, a clinical social worker at the hospital said the teen only weighed about 60 pounds.      The girl's current foster father testifies she squirreled away food for months after coming to live with his family.   'She would fill her cheeks full of food, then spit it under the pillow or hide it under the pillow,' Todd Moog testifies.   He says she is now at a healthy weight.   Defense attorneys argue the overwhelmed couple tried desperately to get help to address the autistic girl's disabilities, but were stymied. 'All the resources my client begged for months, now they’re suddenly all available,' Jacobs' defense attorney Lawrence Lewis tells jurors.
  • Protesters show up at Tuesday's Gwinnett County commission meeting but embattled Commissioner Tommy Hunter does not.    Commission Chair Charlotte Nash explained Hunter was out of town.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports the board, in Hunter's absence, votes unanimously to name Herman Pennamon to the ethics panel hearing a complaint against Hunter.  An Atlanta resident filed the complaint after Hunter referred to Congressman John Lewis as a 'racist pig' on Facebook.  Hunter has apologized but resists calls to resign.  Three of the five ethics panel members have now been appointed.  Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter chose Terri Duncan as his representative and the Gwinnett Bar Association tapped David Will.  Hunter and the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia must still make their picks.  County Attorney Bill Linkous advises commissioners Hunter can be censured or reprimanded for his behavior but state law does not grant the Board of Commissioners authority to suspend or remove him.  Linkous explains citizens have the option to organize a recall effort.  Provisions of state law prevent a recall within 180 days of an elected official's term.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports a campaign against Hunter could not begin in earnest until summer.  For the first time this week, protesters also turned up at Hunter's employer in Norcross. United Consulting distances itself from Hunter's comments and has apologized to Lewis.
  • Over the protests of some parents, Atlanta's Board of Education votes to close Adamsville Primary School and Whitefoord Elementary School this summer.  Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's plan also repurposes Miles Intermediate School as an elementary school.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports dozens of parents urged the board Monday night to vote down the restructuring, arguing the upheaval is not in students' best interest.  Carstarphen maintains the system must streamline to cut costs and maximize efficiency.  'We're not rolling in the dough,' she tells the AJC.  Board members expressed concern about class size and potential blight from empty buildings.  Steven Lee and Byron Amos cast both no votes.  'I do not think merging two struggling schools into one larger school is what's best for children,' Lee stated at the meeting.   While there had been some early discussion of combining Benteen and D.H. Stanton Elementary Schools, that was not included in the final plan the board voted to approve.   Carstarphen says she is evaluating future uses of the buildings that will be vacated. 'I don't ever want to close schools or consolidate but we're in a special situation,' she tells parents and the board.  'I'm hopeful these changes are going to make a difference for our district.' 
  • Atlanta parents protest plans set forth by Superintendent Meria Carstarphen to close and consolidate under-attended elementary schools in east and southeast Atlanta. The Atlanta Board of Education votes on the proposal today and is expected to give Carstarphen the go-ahead, with some tweaking.   The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports opponents of the restructuring fear classroom overcrowding as students are absorbed into other schools.  They also worry about neighborhood blight if buildings are left vacant.  In a letter to parents earlier this year, Superintendent Carstarphen explained the consolidations are part of her overall strategy to promote academic progress while making operations more efficient.  The AJC reports the plan calls for Benteen Elementary School to close with students moving to D.H. Stanton Elementary.  Whitefoord Elementary students would be divided between Toomer Elementary and Burgess-Peterson Academy. Miles Intermediate School would be converted to elementary while Adamsville Primary would close.  Some current Adamsville students might be sent to West Manor Elementary. Carstarphen acknowledges teachers at affected schools would have to reapply for their jobs.  Approved changes by the school board will take place before the new school year. Stay tuned to WSB for updates.  
  • Metro Atlanta's becoming a mecca for professional soccer.  The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports First Team SC announces plans to bring two professional teams to play in DeKalb County.  WSB's Edgar Treiguts reported this week, ground breaks in May for a huge soccer and sports complex near Stonecrest Mall in DeKalb.  Developers compare Atlanta Sports City to Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports in Florida.  These new teams, men and women, will play at Atlanta Sports City, according to the Chronicle.  The men's team will begin competing in 2018 with the women's team in competition the following year.  Atlanta United MLS opens its season next week against the New York Red Bulls at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium.  Ultimately, it will play home games at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.  Atlanta United President Darren Eales tells the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the area is hungry for soccer. 'With over 40,000 tickets sold for our home opener, the excitement and momentum is building quickly as we near our first match on March 5,' he tells the Chronicle. The Atlanta Silverbacks of the National Premier Soccer League also call Atlanta home.  More details about the new teams should roll out within the next few weeks on atl2018.com.
  • Forsyth County commissioners vote unanimously to deny a permit for a Hindu temple near Lake Lanier.  The Forsyth News reports the landowner pursuing the conditional use permit (CUP) may go to court.  Dr. Sumaltha Satoor's attorney believes the refusal was on religious grounds.  'The issue of religious use basically neutralizes this issue of zoning, so I think there's really no reason for denial of this,' attorney Stuart Teague tells the Forsyth News.  Commissioner Laura Semanson insists religion is not the issue at all. She says building a temple and adjoining priest's residence in a residential community is prohibited by neighborhood covenants and the increased traffic would affect other homeowners. Dr. Satoor applied last summer for a permit to build an 11,200 square foot temple and priest's residence on 8 acres she owns on Pilgrim Point Road. Plans call for 109 parking spaces.  Hundreds of residents have turned out at various hearings to object to the plans.  'They shouldn't be discriminating against one particular religion and that's what I felt like happened,' Dr. Satoor tells the Forsyth News. Longtime residents of Bald Ridge and Shady Shores near Lake Lanier disagree. 'It makes me sad that Dr. Satoor is pursuing this on religious grounds,' Bald Ridge resident Paula Chambers tells the Forsyth News.  'This is so not what that's about.' 'This is about our way of life,' she adds. 
  • Marcy  Williams

    Atlanta's Morning News Anchor

    Marcy Williams has co-anchored Atlanta's Morning News with since 1993. Marcy started working at WSB in 1992 after news stints at KLAC-Los Angeles and KNEW-San Francisco. A 1984 graduate of Princeton University, Marcy is married with 3 children.

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  • Declaring an end to what he's called 'the war on coal,' President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that eliminates numerous restrictions on fossil fuel production, breaking with leaders across the globe who have embraced cleaner energy sources. The order makes good on Trump's campaign pledge to unravel former President Barack Obama's efforts to curb global warming, eliminating nearly a dozen measures in an effort to boost domestic energy production, especially oil, natural gas and coal. Environmental activists, including former Vice President Al Gore, denounced the plan. But Trump said the effort would spark 'a new energy revolution' and lead to 'unbelievable' American prosperity. 'That is what this is all about: bringing back our jobs, bringing back our dreams and making America wealthy again,' Trump said during a signing ceremony at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, where he was flanked on stage by more than a dozen coal miners. Throughout the election, Trump accused the former president of waging 'a war' against coal as he campaigned in economically depressed swaths of states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The miners 'told me about the efforts to shut down their mines, their communities and their very way of life. I made them this promise: We will put our miners back to work,' the president said. 'My administration is putting an end to the war on coal.' But Trump's promise runs counter to market forces, including U.S. utilities converting coal-fired power plants to cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas. And Democrats, environmental groups and scientists said the executive order ignores the realities of climate change. 'There is much our nation can do to address the risks that climate change poses to human health and safety, but disregarding scientific evidence puts our communities in danger,' said Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation's largest general scientific society. California Gov. Jerry Brown was more blunt. 'Gutting the Clean Power Plan is a colossal mistake and defies science itself. Erasing climate change may take place in Donald Trump's mind, but nowhere else,' Brown said. While Republicans have blamed Obama-era environmental regulations for the loss of coal jobs, federal data shows that U.S. mines have been shedding jobs for decades under presidents from both parties as a result of increasing automation and competition from natural gas. Another factor is the plummeting cost of solar panels and wind turbines, which now can produce emissions-free electricity cheaper than burning coal. According to an Energy Department analysis released in January, coal mining now accounts for fewer than 75,000 U.S. jobs. By contrast, renewable energy — including wind, solar and biofuels — now accounts for more than 650,000 U.S. jobs. Trump's order initiates a review of the Clean Power Plan, which restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. The regulation — Obama's signature effort to curb carbon emissions — has been the subject of long-running legal challenges by Republican-led states and those who profit from burning oil, coal and gas. The order also lifts a 14-month-old moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands. The Obama administration had imposed a three-year moratorium on new federal coal leases in January 2016, arguing that the $1 billion-a-year program must be modernized to ensure a fair financial return to taxpayers and address climate change. The order covers a range of other Obama-era rules, including repeal of measures to consider the 'social cost' of carbon emissions in all regulatory actions and crack down on methane emissions at oil and gas wells. The rule also eliminates an Obama-era rule restricting fracking on public lands and a separate rule that requires energy companies to provide data on methane emissions at oil and gas operations. In all cases, business groups had complained to Trump — a self-celebrated business tycoon — that the rules were overly burdensome and expensive. The American Petroleum Institute, the chief lobbying arm of the oil and gas industry, said Trump's new 'common-sense' regulations will help continue a domestic energy boom that 'benefits American consumers, workers and the environment.' Rewriting the Clean Power Plan and other regulations is likely to take years to complete and will face legal challenges from environmental groups and Democratic-leaning states such as California and New York. A coalition of 16 states and the District of Columbia said they will oppose any effort by the Trump administration to withdraw the Clean Power Plan or seek dismissal of a pending legal case before a federal appeals court in Washington. Brown said in an interview he is confident the Obama-era rule will be upheld in court. 'Climate change is real and is a great threat that cannot be ignored,' Brown said. The Trump administration has yet to decide whether it intends to withdraw from the international climate agreement signed in Paris, which sets ambitious goals to reduce carbon pollution. Trump's order could make it more difficult, though not impossible, for the U.S. to achieve its carbon reduction goals. The order does not withdraw a 2009 finding by the EPA that greenhouse gases endanger the public health and welfare. The finding, along with a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, forms the basis of the Clean Power Plan. Some conservative groups have pushed to withdraw the so-called endangerment finding, but Trump's EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, has said the finding 'needs to be enforced and respected.' Trump has called global warming a 'hoax' invented by the Chinese, and insisted he would protect clean air and water while boosting energy jobs. Pruitt alarmed environmental groups and scientists earlier this month when he said he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming. The overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed studies and climate scientists agree the planet is warming, mostly due to man-made sources, including carbon dioxide, methane, halocarbons and nitrogen oxide. Gore blasted Trump's action as 'a misguided step away from a sustainable, carbon-free future for ourselves and generations to come.' But he said no one — not even Trump — 'can stop the encouraging and escalating momentum we are experiencing in the fight to protect our planet.' ___ Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker contributed to this report. ___ Follow Daly and Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC and https://twitter.com/colvinj
  • The Latest on House Republicans and health care, tax cuts and other issues (all times local): 2:35 p.m. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says 'Obamacare' will stay in place after House Republicans failed to pass an alternative last week. McConnell indicated there are no plans in the Senate take up the issue. The Kentucky Republican told reporters Tuesday that 'It's pretty obvious we were not able in the House to pass a replacement. Our Democratic friends ought to be pretty happy about that because we have the existing law in place and I think we're just going to have to see how that works out.' House Speaker Paul Ryan insisted earlier that they would still try to repeal 'Obamacare.' But McConnell said: 'I want to thank the president and the speaker, they went all-out to try to pass repeal and replacement, sorry that didn't work.' __ 11:30 a.m. Speaker Paul Ryan says next month's governmentwide funding bill should not get ensnared with a fight over taking federal money away from Planned Parenthood. The Wisconsin Republican says 'defunding' Planned Parenthood belongs on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That legislation failed in the House last week but Ryan says it's more suitable since it addresses the organization's eligibility for Medicaid reimbursements. The idea to attach Planned Parenthood funding to the larger bill and risk a government shutdown has been the subject of media speculation but no GOP leader had displayed any enthusiasm for it. ___ 11:10 a.m. House Speaker Paul Ryan says his chamber will take another crack at a health care overhaul. But he's offering no timeline, and no details about how leaders would overcome GOP divisions that sunk their bill Friday. That retreat was a humiliating setback for President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans. Ryan spoke Tuesday after House Republicans met for the first time since he sidetracked his party's health care legislation just before a scheduled House vote. The measure was destined for defeat because of GOP opposition. Republican lawmakers say there's a consensus to keep working on health care. Conservatives say it didn't repeal enough of President Barack Obama's 2010 law. Moderates say it takes coverage away from too many people. Ryan says Republicans would try working out their differences over the measure. ___ 10:25 a.m. A member of the House Freedom Caucus says he will force the House to vote on a full repeal of former President Barack Obama's health care law in a month if the chamber hasn't acted to roll back the statute. Alabama Republican Mo Brooks also said Speaker Paul Ryan indicated the House would revisit the issue and that it would be 'fairly immediate.' Brooks spoke after divided House Republicans met to discuss strategy. Four days ago, Ryan abruptly canceled a vote on a GOP bill annulling much of Obama's law. That bill faced certain defeat due to Republican opponents, including the conservative Freedom Caucus. Brooks wants a vote on a measure that goes further in repealing Obama's overhaul. Ryan's move was a jolting setback for himself and President Donald Trump. __ 3:30 a.m. Congressional Republicans want to pivot to tax cuts and other issues following last week's House health care debacle. But the party remains riven into factions. And they're all over the map about how and when to return to their marquee pledge to eviscerate former President Barack Obama's 2010 health overhaul. House Republicans are scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss their agenda. It's their first gathering since House Speaker Paul Ryan suddenly abandoned plans last Friday for a vote on the GOP legislation. The retreat on the party's top legislative priority was a jarring defeat for President Donald Trump and Republican leaders. It also raised questions about whether the GOP could muster the unity needed on other issues. Republicans have issued mixed messages on what comes next on health care.
  • A woman was paying for parking in Midtown Sunday afternoon when a man slashed her throat and grabbed her handbag, Atlanta police said. Marla Franks was at a pay station at Juniper and 5th streets when the man tried to take her purse off her shoulder, according to an Atlanta police incident report. She resisted and held onto the bag.  “I will hurt you,” police said the man told Franks. She continued holding her purse. 'The man then took a knife and cut her throat about 5 to 6 inches,' Officer Stephanie Brown told Channel 2 Action News. He grabbed the purse and took off running, according to the police report. Fernando Bispo, who witnessed the attack, told police he ran after the man and got him to drop the handbag. Bispo stopped when the man turned the knife on him.  Another witness told police she saw a man jump the back fence of Kindred Hospital and offered to help him when he fell. She later learned about the robbery victim, according to the report. Police have not made any arrests in the incident. Bispo wasn’t injured in the encounter.  Franks had to get 17 stitches but was expected to recover. In other news:
  • Two men have been charged with murder in an October shooting outside a Pappadeaux in Marietta that began with a piece of costume jewelry and ended with a dead husband. Cobb police investigators filed the paperwork on Thursday against Dylan Marquis Ledbetter and Demarious Greene, both of whom were already in custody. The men are connected to violent crimes throughout Cobb and Cherokee counties. Ledbetter is also wanted in Florida on an attempted murder charge. Sentenced: Cobb man paid Filipino girls to perform online sex acts The Cobb murder charges stem from an Oct. 7 shooting. Cynthia and Anthony Welch were heading to their car after a birthday dinner at the Windy Hill Road restaurant when they were stopped in the parking lot. Cynthia Welch previously explained that a man shot her husband of 25 years and snatched the $5 costume necklace off her neck before shooting her and running away. The warrant doesn’t specify who police think pulled the trigger. Cobb man indicted in double murder of his mother and Buckhead teacher  Ledbetter was 22 when he was indicted in January for allegedly trying to run over officers with a car. A week after the Pappadeaux slaying, cops were trying to stop Ledbetter because the car he was driving matched the description of a vehicle connected to the shooting. Officers shot Ledbetter in his arm and leg as they said he sped toward them. Lab results in the Pappadeaux shooting were recently returned from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, and Cobb police were able to file charges in the case. Man facing death in Craigslist slaying of Marietta couple appears in court  Ledbetter has been in jail since Oct. 18. Two days before that, 21-year-old Green was booked into Cherokee County jail on charges of robbery, aggravated assault and other counts. Those Cherokee charges are from an Oct. 12 incident when the men allegedly stole a man’s necklace at gunpoint outside the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta. Like Cobb County News Now on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.  Ledbetter has also been accused of a similar necklace-snatching crime in Sandy Springs. A woman told police she was holding her 1 year old and just getting home when a man snatched a gold chain off of her and the child. The men are awaiting indictment on the Pappadeaux charges. Authorities have not discussed how they will handle the pending charges in other jurisdictions.