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Business News

  • As you get older and continue to work for a living, you may begin to feel like you’re going to clock in at the office forever. A new study shows that those feelings are shared by many. Poll: Most employees age 60+ say they won’t retire anytime soon Fifty-three percent of workers age 60 and above say they will delay retirement, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. The findings, compiled from November 28 to December 28, 2017, by The Harris Poll, come from a representative sample of 809 full-time employees across multiple industries and company sizes. When asked if they think they’ll be able to retire by age 70, four in 10 employees didn’t think so, the poll showed. And when it comes to gender, 57% of men say they will hold off on retiring, while 48% of women said they same. How much do you need to save to retire comfortably? Money expert Clark Howard says that a practical way to find out how much money you’ll need to retire is to employ the 25 Times Rule. “Most people are going to retire when they’re Social Security-eligible,” he says in a recent podcast. At that point “you may have, depending on where you work, some amount of pension.” He adds: “The money you’ve saved other than that, in investment accounts, retirement accounts, 401(K)s, IRAs, etc — that money is what you’ll use to fill in the gap that Social Security, and/or in addition, some amount of pension, would cover.” “So the amount you need is based on what your gap is,” Clark says. “So it doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge amount of your income, but what it does have to be, is when you hit retirement, 25 times that gap.” He says the 25 Times Rule is simply a scenario that allows you to “make sure you don’t outlive your money.” RELATED: Nearly half of Americans have less than $10K saved for retirement Related Articles from clark.com: New report: This pharmacy's prices are cheaper than Costco Read More Travel alert: Clark Howard warns about American, Delta and United’s cheap fares Read More Aldi vs. Kroger vs. Walmart: Which grocery store has the lowest prices? Read More
  • 2018 is shaping up to be another difficult year for traditional retailers. After shutting down more than 5,000 stores in 2017, there have been more than 2,000 store closures announced over the past few months. The latest news comes from a fast-food giant that’s reducing its store footprint in the U.S. Read on for the details… RELATED: These 17 retail chains are opening thousands of stores in 2018 2018 retail closings: The latest news  Subway – 500 restaurants  Subway plans to close 500 of its U.S. sandwich shops this year and will focus on expanding internationally, according to Bloomberg. The company has faced competition from McDonald’s, supermarkets and even gas stations. It’s reportedly struggling to increase sales in the U.S. as new options emerge. There are still more than 25,000 Subway locations across the country. Bon-Ton – 256 stores The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., a department store chain, announced in mid-April that it’s going out of business. The store has been an icon of retail since 1854 with 256 locations today in operation throughout 23 states in the Midwest, Northeast and upper Great Plains. Bon-Ton also owns six other nameplates: Boston Store, Younkers, Bergner’s, Carson’s, Elder-Beerman and Herberger’s. The liquidation process in all Bon-Ton stores began on April 20 and is expected to run for approximately 10 to 12 weeks. Customers can learn more at bontonrestructuring.com. Previously announced store closures  Toys R Us – 735 stores  It’s a sad day for Toys R Us kids across the country. The iconic Wayne, New Jersey-based toy retailer announced in a news release that it filed a motion seeking Bankruptcy Court approval to begin the process of winding down its U.S. business — liquidating all 735 of its stores. “This is a profoundly sad day for us as well as the millions of kids and families who we have served for the past 70 years,” said Toys R Us Chairman and CEO and Dave Brandon. Here are three things Toys R Us shoppers need to know about the going-out-of-business sales: Liquidation sales began Friday, March 23 at Toys R Us and Babies R Us locations nationwide. Use any remaining gift cards before they become worthless! USA Today reports that the retailer plans to honor gift cards until mid-April. Toys R Us is expected to finish liquidating stores by the end of June, although some stores may close sooner. J. Crew – 20 stores J.Crew Group announced in March that it plans to close 20 stores in 2018. It shut down 50 stores during fiscal 2017. The retailer says it’s seeing results in its most important business — women’s apparel — but the company is only in the beginning stages of evolving the J.Crew brand. In the fourth quarter of 2017, J.Crew sales decreased 4% and Madewell sales rose 32%. Abercrombie & Fitch – 60 stores Abercrombie & Fitch isn’t finished shrinking its retail footprint. The teen apparel company said it plans to close about 60 stores in the U.S. during the fiscal year as leases expire. CNBC reports that Abercrombie has been trimming its store count in malls because more people are buying clothes online. Foot Locker – 110 stores  Your favorite shoe store may be closing soon — Foot Locker is shutting down 110 stores in 2018. During a recent earnings call, Foot Locker executives said the retailer is continuing to close underperforming stores. The company has struggled with declining foot traffic at malls and the shift to e-commerce. Foot Locker reported a net loss of $49 million in the fourth quarter and comparable-store sales fell 3.7%. Best Buy cell phone stores – 250 stores Your local mall may have another vacancy soon. Best Buy has announced that it will shut down 250 mall-based mobile phone stores in the United States, Reuters reports. The small-format stores will close May 31, but the retailer will continue to sell cell phones at its 1,000 U.S. big box stores and online. J.C. Penney – 8 stores  After closing more than 140 stores in 2017, J.C. Penney is shutting down one of its distribution centers and eight more stores nationwide, The Dallas Morning News reports. Around 670 jobs will be cut with the closing of the distribution center in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, this summer. Meanwhile, around 480 employees will be affected by the eight stores that are closing, which follows a post-holiday review. The locations will be shut down between now and May, according to CNBC. Here’s a list of the affected stores: St. Louis, Missouri Paramus, New Jersey Galesburg, Illinois Alexandria, Minnesota Bartlesville, Oklahoma Burlington, Washington Calexico, California Mt. Vernon, Ohio J.C. Penney still operates approximately 875 stores nationwide. Sam’s Club – 63 stores Bad news for Sam’s Club members! The Walmart-owned warehouse club has abruptly shut down multiple locations across the country, according to local media reports. The retailer has confirmed that 63 clubs are closing and up to 12 of them will be converted to e-commerce fulfillment centers. “Transforming our business means managing our real estate portfolio and Walmart needs a strong fleet of Sam’s Clubs that are fit for the future,” said John Furner, president and CEO of Sam’s Club. “We know this is difficult news for our associates and we are working to place as many of them as possible at nearby locations. Our focus today has been on those associates and their communities, and communicating with them.” Walmart said the impacted clubs will close over the next few weeks, leaving 597 Sam’s Club locations. Several people have used Twitter to ask for an official list of the stores that are going away. Sam’s Club has replied by directing them to the store locator tool on SamsClub.com. Click here for a list of closing Sam’s Club locations, based on local media reports Macy’s – 11 stores Nearly a dozen Macy’s department stores will soon be closing their doors forever. In a news release, the company announced the closure of 11 Macy’s stores. It’s part of the retailer’s plan to close approximately 100 stores, which was announced back in August 2016. Macy’s intends to close an additional 19 stores as leases or operating covenants expire or sale transactions are completed. The following Macy’s stores will be closing in early 2018. In most cases, clearance sales will begin on January 8, 2018, and run for approximately 8 to 12 weeks. Laguna Hills Mall, Laguna Hills, CA Westside Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA Novato (Furniture), Novato, CA Stonestown Galleria, San Francisco, CA The Oaks, Gainesville, FL Miami (Downtown), Miami, FL Magic Valley Mall, Twin Falls, ID Honey Creek Mall, Terre Haute, IN Birchwood Mall, Fort Gratiot Township, MI Fountain Place, Cincinnati, OH Burlington Town Center, Burlington, VT Sears and Kmart – 103 stores Just days after the holiday shopping season ended, Sears Holdings announced that it’s closing more than 100 stores. In a news release, the struggling retailer said it told associates at 64 Kmart and 39 Sears stores that the locations will be shut down between early March and early April 2018. Liquidation sales will begin as early as January 12 at the impacted department stores. See the full list here. “Sears Holdings continues its strategic assessment of the productivity of our Kmart and Sears store base and will continue to right size our store footprint in number and size,” the company said in a statement. “In the process, as previously announced we will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members.” Sears Holdings previously announced plans to shut down 63 Kmart and Sears stores this January. The company closed more than 350 locations last year. Gap and Banana Republic – 200 stores  Gap Inc. plans to close 200 Gap and Banana Republic locations over the next three years, the company announced in September 2017. No list of the stores was released, but they’re all “underperforming.” At the same time, Gap Inc. will open 270 locations for its growing brands, Old Navy and Athleta. Teavana – 379 stores Bad news for tea lovers! Starbucks plans to close every single one of its Teavana retail locations, according to a news release. Many of the 379 Teavana stores, which are primarily mall-based, have been underperforming. Starbucks said it tried to improve sales through creative merchandising and new store designs, but it just wasn’t working. Ascena Retail Group – At least 268 stores Ascena Retail Group, the women’s clothing retailer that operates the brands Ann Taylor, Loft, Dress Barn, Lane Bryant, Justice and several others, is planning to close hundreds of stores. In June 2017, company executives announced that 667 stores are part of its fleet optimization program. At least 268 of those stores will definitely be closed by July 2019. The remaining 399 stores will be shut down if rent concessions aren’t obtained through negotiations with landlords. The company didn’t specify which locations will be closed. Michael Kors –  100 to 125 stores Michael Kors is closing between 100 and 125 of its retail stores over the next two years. According to a May 2017 news release, the company is making the move to improve the profitability of its store fleet. No list of the affected stores was released. Clark’s key takeaway If you happen to receive a gift card for any of the retailers on this list, money expert Clark Howard wants you to spend it right away in case your local store is on the chopping block. “If you have any gift cards for major retailers, I want you to go and shop. I want you to use them up,” Clark said. More Clark.com retail coverage: 12 money-saving secrets to know about Ross Dress for Less 9 things to know before your first trip to Costco 12 money-saving secrets to know about T.J. Maxx and Marshalls Related Articles from clark.com: New report: This pharmacy's prices are cheaper than Costco Read More Travel alert: Clark Howard warns about American, Delta and United’s cheap fares Read More Aldi vs. Kroger vs. Walmart: Which grocery store has the lowest prices? Read More
  • Rewards credit cards are a great tool to earn cash back or miles and points, but it isn’t always sunny in Rewards Credit Card Land. There are certainly pros and cons of rewards credit cards. If you understand the cons, you will be better able to avoid them so you can take advantage of the pros! Follow along to learn more about the pros and cons of rewards credit cards so you know whether to say “yes” or “no” the next time you think about applying. The advantages of rewards credit cards We are going to start with the pros of rewards credit cards. These are the benefits you should consider when shopping around for a rewards card that should help you decide if it is a go or no-go. These are the biggest benefits to look for: Rewards program The first place to look for a credit card benefit is the rewards program. Each time you use a card to pay, the credit card issuer takes a portion of the transaction as a fee. Your credit card rewards come from that interchange fee the bank charges each store you shop at, online or offline. Cash back rewards programs regularly pay 1% to 2% cash back on everyday purchases, with some bonus categories paying as much as 5% with quarterly rotating cards like Chase Freedom®. Travel rewards cards can give you even more value, as you can redeem for more than 1 cent per point in value to really stretch your reward as far as it goes. In both cases, the rewards program is the reason to use a rewards credit card. RELATED: What is a ‘good’ credit card? Sign-up bonus When you get a new card, you may find you can earn a giant bonus if you spend a certain amount within the first few months after getting a new card. Never spend more than you would anyway because of a credit card, but you may want to stock up on gift cards for your favorite grocery store or retailer to put yourself over the hump. Top cards offer as much as 100,000 to 150,000 point bonuses worth thousands of dollars in free travel. You will regularly find bonuses in the 40,000 point to 75,000 point range that are also quite lucrative. For travel rewards cards, 50,000 points is usually enough for two domestic round-trip flights or one round-trip to Europe! RELATED: New Barclays Arrival Premier Card: Worth a look if you love to travel Travel insurance When traveling, everything doesn’t always go according to plan. When flights are delayed, disasters strike, or illnesses happen, the best cards will reimburse you for the cost of your trip or help you figure out alternate arrangements. Not all cards offer travel insurance, but the ones that do give you something very useful at a low cost. Common coverage includes rental car insurance, travel insurance for airfare, hotels, and other reservations paid for with the card, and a concierge service to help solve problems that arise anywhere in the world. Purchase protection When you buy something and find the exact same item at a lower price the next day at the same store, it can be very frustrating. It is even more frustrating if the store won’t refund the difference back to your card. But with purchase protection, that is exactly what happens when you send in proof to the card issuer’s purchase protection company. Some cards also offer an extension of the manufacturer’s warranty and offer item replacement if it is stolen or damaged within a short period after buying. I’ve read stories about people getting an iPhone replaced after breaking it within a few weeks of purchase. That is more than almost any card’s annual fee! Fraud protection Virtually every credit card offers fraud protection. If someone steals your card or card information and uses it to make purchases, your liability is limited by law. But most credit cards make your liability $0 for this type of fraud. The disadvantages of rewards credit cards Credit card rewards are hugely valuable, but it is easy to offset those miles, points, and cash back with expensive charges. Beware of these downsides of rewards credit cards if you carry one in your wallet or are considering adding one. Interest charges The biggest downside of credit cards is interest. Some cards charge up to 30% APR, which is a huge expense if you carry a large balance. If you want to use credit card rewards, you should always pay off your balance in full otherwise the interest costs make it no longer worthwhile. Late and missed payments If you miss a payment for whatever reason, it is going to show up on your credit report. One random 30-day-late payment isn’t going to make or break your credit score, but a pattern of late or missed payments certainly will. A bad credit score prevents you from being approved for the best loans and credit cards, and if you do get approved might lead to a higher interest rate. For a mortgage, that can easily cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Cash advances Credit cards are great for purchases, but you should stick with your debit card to get cash. A cash advance from a credit card typically charges both a one-time cash advance fee and a higher interest rate. Unless you are getting the cash out to keep food on the table (avoiding going hungry) or keep from getting evicted (avoiding homelessness), you should avoid credit card cash advances in almost every scenario. Foreign transaction fees If you like to travel a lot, travel rewards cards are a great way to get there. But once you land at your international destination, you should make sure you use a card that does not charge a foreign transaction fee, which commonly costs as much as 3% of the transaction price. Annual fees Annual fees are not fun to pay, but in many cases they are worth it. Do the math to compare how much value you get from your card each year compared to the fee. If your annual fee is higher than what you get in return, you may be better off downgrading or cancelling the card. But if you get more in value, annual fees are not so bad. Find the right balance when choosing how to pay Credit cards offer more good than bad, if you keep your balances paid off and avoid unnecessary fees. You know yourself and your habits better than anyone else, so be honest with yourself and only use rewards cards if you will diligently keep the balances paid off. If not, they probably are not worth it for you. If you do find managing your cards to be an easy task, the pros can easily outweigh the cons. It is up to you to maximize the value you get while keeping costs down. If you can do it successfully, you have a big world of credit cards reward opportunities just waiting for you to get started. Related Articles from clark.com: New report: This pharmacy's prices are cheaper than Costco Read More Travel alert: Clark Howard warns about American, Delta and United’s cheap fares Read More Aldi vs. Kroger vs. Walmart: Which grocery store has the lowest prices? Read More
  • Kansas has some financial breathing room less than a year after legislators reversed past income tax cuts to deal with persistent budget woes that followed what many voters saw as a failed fiscal experiment. Now some Republicans want to go back to slashing taxes. The state Senate's GOP leaders are pushing the idea. Their chances of success are good enough that critics are questioning whether lessons from the state's recent fiscal miseries sunk in after former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's policies made Kansas a national example of how not to do trickle-down economics. But top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature feel compelled to act in an election year — like lawmakers in many other states — because of changes in federal income tax laws engineered by President Donald Trump. Those changes have some Kansas residents facing higher state income taxes after state lawmakers boosted their burden last year. 'It's going to be a double whammy to all the taxpayers,' said Senate President Susan Wagle, a conservative Wichita Republican who's leading the charge. After years of budget pain and disappointing tax collections, Kansas officials are feeling more optimistic. Last year's tax increase is filling the state treasury and the economy is stronger, with revenues exceeding expectations. Wagle and other GOP lawmakers argue that they're not attempting to cut taxes so much as 'return the windfall.' A bill approved by the Senate earlier this month went further, increasing the state's standard income tax deduction and several other deductions, and some lawmakers have other tax-cutting priorities, such as lowering the state's sales tax on groceries. Reducing taxes also would undercut the Legislature's efforts to meet a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to increasing funding for public schools. Lawmakers approved a plan meant to phase in a $534 million increase over five years, but projections from their research staff this week suggested that the higher spending can't be sustained over time if lawmakers also reduce revenues. Nor has the state fully recovered from the financial problems that followed the Brownback tax-cutting experiment. It's still siphoning funds from highway projects for general government programs and hasn't fully caught up on its annual contributions to public pensions. Many lawmakers think spending outside of education remains too tight. 'The strongest political impulse ought to be to stabilize Kansas financially,' said Duane Goossen, a former budget director for both Democratic and Republican governors and a strong critic of the past tax cuts. 'It's almost unbelievable to me that there's even a serious consideration in the Legislature about cutting some part of the state's revenue stream.' The debate is likely to be settled within the next 10 days. Lawmakers ended an annual spring break Thursday and returned to the Statehouse to wrap up their business for the year. Democrats partnered with moderate Republicans last year to override Brownback's veto of the $600 million-a-year bill reversing most of his income tax cuts and now see at least a few GOP moderates open to offsetting federal tax changes. 'I don't think it makes any sense for us to go down this path again,' said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat. 'I think people will say that there is no way that they learned their lesson.' But Scott Drenkard, director of state projects for the conservative, nonpartisan Tax Foundation, sees the criticism as overstated. His group strongly criticized Brownback policies and saw Kansas' experience as a cautionary tale but is not criticizing this year's push. Drenkard said the tax cuts engineered by Brownback were far larger than what lawmakers would consider this year. State forecasters project the state's 'windfall' at $105 million for the budget year beginning July 1, and legislative researchers said it would be roughly $150 million each year afterward. Furthermore, Drenkard said, most states with income taxes are wrestling with similar issues because their tax laws are tied to federal ones. While federal taxes drop, many Kansas wouldn't be able to claim itemized deductions on either their state or federal forms, increasing their state taxes. 'If legislators don't act, this is an automatic tax increase,' Drenkard said. Politics are a key factor in the Kansas debate. All 125 House members are up for re-election this year, as is Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer, who replaced Brownback after Brownback resigned to take an ambassadorship. Tax cuts remain an easy sell to the GOP's right-leaning base, particularly if they head off new and unexpected pain for individuals and business owners. Colyer is in a tough primary race. One rival, conservative Secretary of State Kris Kobach, promises 'full throttle-conservatism' and has called for not only returning any windfall but rolling back last year's tax increase. Many conservatives argue that Brownback's tax-cutting experiment went bust with voters because he and lawmakers wouldn't cut spending enough. As for Colyer, spokesman Kendall Marr said the governor 'will be happy to consider any legislation that arrives on his desk that reduces the tax burden on hard-working Kansans.' ___ Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/
  • Union Pacific Corp.'s first-quarter earnings chugged ahead 22 percent as the railroad hauled 2 percent more freight and increased its prices. The Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad said Thursday it earned $1.31 billion, or $1.68 per share, in the first quarter. That's up from $1.07 billion, or $1.32 per share, a year ago. That's better than the $1.65 per share that the analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research predicted. Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz said congestion had eased along the railroad in recent weeks, and he is optimistic about the year ahead. 'With the economy favoring a number of our market segments, we are well positioned to benefit from another year of positive volume growth and solid core pricing gains,' Fritz said. But UP officials did back off the railroad's long-term targets for cutting costs and improving efficiency because the congestion this quarter created roughly $40 million in additional expenses. Fritz said the railroad remains committed to becoming more efficient but won't hit its 2019 target. A new goal will be announced at Union Pacific's investor conference at the end of May. Union Pacific shares slipped more than 2.5 percent Thursday afternoon to $132.44 after the report. Edward Jones analyst Dan Sherman said it will be hard for the railroad to focus on cutting expenses at the same time it is scaling up to handle higher volume. The railroad said its quarterly revenue grew 7 percent to $5.48 billion. Wall Street expected $5.37 billion revenue. Union Pacific shares have increased 1.5 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has declined slightly more than 1 percent. The stock has climbed 23 percent in the last 12 months. The railroad operates 32,400 miles of track in 23 states. _____ Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on UNP at https://www.zacks.com/ap/UNP

News

  • An 17-year-old faces a vehicular homicide charges nearly a month after police said she crashed a car, killing her classmate on senior skip day.  Prosecutors said Cristina Pavon-Baker was driving at 106 mph when she crashed a Mini Cooper into a tree and killed 18-year-old passenger Makayla Penn, Channel 2 Action News reported.  The March 26 crash occurred on I-75 North at the Jonesboro Road exit in Clayton County. The vehicle, “traveling at a high rate of speed,” failed to navigate the turn on the exit ramp, went airborne, overturned several times and ended up hitting a tree, uprooting it in a wooded area, the GSP said at the time of the crash. Pavon-Baker was cut out of the car and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for her injuries.  Prosecutors said Pavon-Baker was on Snapchat before the crash.  The two girls attended Community Christian School and were participating in senior skip day at the time of the crash.  The judge gave Pavon-Baker a $31,000 bond and ordered her to surrender her passport, Channel 2 reported. She was also ordered to not drive and to stay off of Snapchat. 
  • Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, has withdrawn his name from consideration, multiple news outlets are reporting. >> MORE COVERAGE: Embattled VA nominee Ronny Jackson accused of drunken driving, drug use | Jamie Dupree: Trump pick to head VA in trouble as Senators postpone hearing | Senate postpones hearing for Trump VA pick Ronny Jackson amid 'serious allegations' | More trending news 
  • The Latest on a Wisconsin refinery explosion that injured several people (all times local): 2:15 p.m. Authorities have expanded the evacuation zone around a Wisconsin refinery that was rocked by an explosion and are now saying anyone within a three-mile (five-kilometer) radius should leave. Douglas County authorities also say those in a 10-mile (16-kilometer) corridor south of the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior should leave due to smoke coming from the site. Evacuees are being told to gather at Yellowjacket Union at the University of Wisconsin-Superior or at Four Corners Elementary School in Superior. It isn't clear how many people the evacuation order will effect. The refinery is in an industrial area, but there's a residential neighborhood within a mile to the northeast. The corridor downwind to the south is sparsely populated. At least 11 people were injured in the Thursday morning blast. A spokeswoman for Essentia Health says one person was seriously injured, while another nine being treated at Essentia hospitals in Superior and nearby Duluth, Minnesota, have non-life-threatening injuries. St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth received one patient who is in fair condition. ___ 12:55 p.m. The number of people injured in a refinery explosion in Wisconsin has grown to at least 11. Essentia Health spokeswoman Maureen Talarico says five patients are being treated at St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, Minnesota. She says emergency room physicians describe those patients as awake and alert. Talarico says another five are being treated at St. Mary's Hospital in Superior, Wisconsin, where the explosion happened. She says the extent of injuries is unknown. In Duluth, spokeswoman Jessica Stauber says St. Luke's Hospital is treating one person. She doesn't know the condition of that person. The explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery happened Thursday morning. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger has said there are no known fatalities. Panger earlier said the fire was out, but Superior police tweeted that the fire has reignited but that there is no need for residents to evacuate. ___ 12:10 p.m. Authorities now say five people have been taken to hospitals after an explosion rocked a large refinery in Wisconsin. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger initially told The Associated Press that six were taken to hospitals in nearby Duluth, Minnesota, after the explosion Thursday at the Husky Energy oil refinery. The Superior Fire Department later updated that number to five. The fire chief says there are no known fatalities. Authorities don't know the extent of injuries. The fire is out. A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like 'a sonic boom' and that it happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs. Owned by Alberta-based Husky Energy, Wisconsin's only refinery produces gasoline, asphalt and other products. ___ 11:30 a.m. Several people have been injured in an explosion at a refinery in Wisconsin. Authorities in Superior say the explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery happened at about 10 a.m. Thursday. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger says six people were taken to hospitals in Duluth, Minnesota. He doesn't know the extent of their injuries. Others were walking wounded. There are no known fatalities. A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like 'a sonic boom' that happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs. Panger says the fire was out by 11:20 a.m. Superior police are advising people to stay away from the area and roads around the refinery have been blocked off. There have been no neighborhood evacuations.
  • Opening your hotel room door with your cell phone? Disney has started to roll out the new technology for guests to skip the front desk and go directly to their room, speeding up the start of vacations. Disney gave WFTV anchor Jamie Holmes an exclusive look at how guests will be able to use their cellphones to get into their hotel rooms. The theme park rolled out the technology at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Over the years, the My Disney Experience app has been an expanding feature of how guests navigate the parks and hotels. Previous story: Your smartphone could unlock Disney hotel rooms Guests can use it to check ride wait times and even clean up park photos. But guests can also use it to plan their hotel stay, skip the check-in desk, and go straight to their rooms. 'If you choose to, you can actually bypass the front desk area, if that's important to you, and start your vacation earlier,' Michael Trum, with Disney digital guest experience, said. Here’s how it works: Guests take their cellphones and hold it up to their hotel room door, and that’s when a little Disney magic happens. >> Read more trending news  'They're Bluetooth-enabled. Your phone, most smart phones. We've upgraded our locks to be Bluetooth enabled as well. So, they pair together, via security obviously,' Trum said. The technology can be used as a companion to the Magic Bands, which are required to get into the parks. Long gone are metal hotel room keys, and for the most part, even plastic key cards are gone. But, since most guests these days aren't far from their phones, the Bluetooth technology gives them a choice. Many people wonder whether the new technology is safe. Cellphone passcodes are notoriously hard to crack and Disney stands by the system. “We obviously designed this with security in mind. We can't go into details on Disney security policies, but our guests should absolutely feel safe using this as an entry point into their rooms,' Trum said. Disney is not the first to use the Bluetooth technology. Hilton and Marriot hotels have been using it for several years. The FBI said it has never had a case of hackers using phones to enter a hotel room in the U.S. Disney will expand the service to other hotels over the next several months.
  • New text messages obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News show a top aide to former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed pressuring other city officials to delay production of open records during Reed's final months in office. In unvarnished, sometimes vulgar comments, the texts reveal the mindset of senior Reed administration officials through the unguarded words of one of Reed's closest advisers and most ardent defenders, former communications director Anne Torres. We'll show you the text messages and explain how a simple request quickly turned into a dispute between Reed's office and the Atlanta BeltLine, on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. The GBI opened a criminal investigation of the city's handling of open records requests last month after the AJC and Channel 2 reported on other text messages from former Reed press secretary Jenna Garland. Garland instructed another staffer 'to drag this out as long as possible' and provide information 'in the most confusing format available' in response to a Channel 2 open records request for city water billing records. The new texts from Torres show Garland's instructions to curtail production of records were not an isolated incident. Torres defended the remarks as 'inter-employee banter.' This article was written by Scott Trubey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Several fired and still working bus drivers gathered in front of Dekalb County School headquarters on Thursday to discuss their demands for a better work environment. Five of the eight divers who were let go one week ago, were back at the district’s offices demanding their jobs back. The press conference was held a half-hour before Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green was to meet with a hand-full of current drivers. Also in attendance, parents, grandparents and current drivers who were there in support of fired drivers like Melanie. “I stand here with the support of hundreds of drivers, parents, students and community members, and I say without hesitation, give us our jobs back.” Said Melanie.