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Latest from Veronica Waters

    Work. Workouts. Happy hours. Birthday parties. In the coronavirus pandemic, videoconferencing was initially a boon--and then kind of a bomb.  'At first, people were so thankful to have this tool to use, 'So I can be productive and work, and stay connected to family, and stay connected to friends,'' says Laura Morse, a licensed professional counselor in Atlanta. 'And then, after a while, it became, 'I'm really tired of interacting this way, and I'm realizing I don't have any other choice but to do this.''  >>Listen to Veronica Waters’ full on-air report below. Morse says it's being called 'Zoom gloom' or 'Zoom fatigue,' based on the name of the videoconferencing platform that has seen a huge rise in popularity since teleworking became the go-to for companies. But the feeling applies to all of the video platforms, be they Microsoft Teams, Skype, or others. It makes people feel disaffected, she says, on a platform that is supposed to keep us connected. There's a lot of visual input with others onscreen; we can also get distracted by seeing ourselves and wondering how others see us or our homes.  'It requires us to have an attention to communication in a way we normally don't,' she explains. 'You're missing each other's eye contact. You don't get some of the nuances you might get through hand gestures, body positioning. Other people are feeling self-conscious about how they look.  It's taking a lot of energy, and people are feeling drained already.'  The physical toll of screen time--eyes hurting, headaches--can be equaled by the mental toll that leads to frustration and irritability. People who spend time on screens for work are also dependent on them socially when self-quarantining, and it can feel like too much when they're finally off the clock. They can feel fatigued with the idea of being 'on' all the time, says Morse.  'The gloom part of it is feeling guilty about not wanting to get on that family call...when other people might've been looking forward to connecting in that way. It also comes with the acceptance of, 'This is as good at it's getting. In order for me to talk to my loved one, my family member, celebrate something, I have to use a platform that I'm tired of using, and I really just wish I could be in their company and we can't right now,'' says Morse.  To climb out of the Zoom gloom, she says it's important to schedule down time from the screen time, so there's no burnout. Assume you're going to get fatigued, Morse says, and prepare your day accordingly. Schedule meetings, along with stretch time, meal time, and fresh air time.  'If they had back to back to back meetings, and then their normal habit was to get back on the screen to look at social media, to look at news, maybe take a break,' says Morse. 'Get outside. Do some exercise. Find a way to get grounded with your environment if you can. Nature has a really great way of keeping us mindful and present, if we allow it to, and a little bit can go a long way.'  The virtual barriers keeping us connected and physically safe are also the problem.  'A lot of people have taken for granted the necessity around human interaction,' Morse says. 'For those people who are going and maybe even social distancing with a couple of friends...it really does something just to lay eyes on someone outside of a barrier.
  • Cheryl Catron called her sister on April 1, 2020, and said she was feeling under the weather. She'd been feeling bad at work that day at the Fairburn Police Department. Their mother checked on Catron, an administrative aide, the following day; the 57-year-old was unresponsive and taken to the hospital.  Friday, Cheryl passed away. She tested positive for COVID-19.  'Within 24 hours, she was gone,' says Karla Ware, Cheryl's younger sister.  On that day, April 3, 2020, a reported 198 people in Georgia had died of COVID-19.  Since then, more than 1,760 others in the Peach State have been killed by this coronavirus illness: 1,962 total deaths in Georgia, as of Thursday, May 28.  'Our loved ones are not just numbers,' says Ware.  That sentiment is almost the precise name of a website behind a new statewide initiative to put faces and names to the hundreds of Georgians who have lost their lives to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the complications it causes.  Georgians are asked to go to LovedOnesNotNumbers.com to upload a high-quality photo of someone lost to the pandemic--and share something special about them.  'One of the questions on the short form is, 'What do you want the world to know about your loved one?'' says GC2SL representative Jana Johnson-Davis.  'I have not lost anyone directly during this tragedy, but when I have lost a loved one, I wanted the world to stop to know the void that was created in my life,' she says.  Rev. Francys Johnson has participated in the funerals of six people who have died from COVID-19, and looking at the state Department of Public Health dashboard of COVID infections and hospitalizations, he fears the deaths will increase as the governor reopens the state on a faster track. He has seen families agonize over not being able to be near their ailing loved ones as they fight to survive.  'Beyond these numbers--the 655 yesterday, the 660 the day before, that 819 the day before that, or the 946 the day before that, these are people,' said Johnson. 'These are communities. And ultimately these deaths and the consequences will redound for a long time to come.'  Ware is eager to tell the world something about her sister, Cheryl Catron--a giver, a sociable person, a skilled decorator, a hostess who oversaw flawless details to a tee. Ware, like countless others, says the grieving process was made harder by the need to safely distance during the pandemic; they had to have only a graveside service for Cheryl. The website, she believes, can help thousands of others with the grieving process.  'What Cheryl meant to me, some other family had someone that meant just as much to them,' says Ware.  Award-winning singer/songwriter Avery Sunshine will record an original song for the online tribute.  'We hope to provide a way for us to help cope and to make things a little bit better,' says Sunshine. 'I'm grateful for this opportunity to provide some music and some healing, hopefully--something to soothe everyone.'  Johnson-Davis says putting faces and names to the numbers on the screen is important.  'Some of our leaders have written off our neighbors who have passed because of COVID-19 as collateral damage, but we know that they are much more than that,' she says. 'We want to personalize this horrible tragedy.'  Click here to add information about a loved one who lost her or his life to COVID-19.
  • It's not all doom and gloom on the small business front in the coronavirus pandemic.  An Atlanta entrepreneur has seen average daily sales skyrocket more than 700% for her plant-based hair product company, Moisture Love, which specializes in care for curly hair.  Jeannell Darden's good business fortune came as a result of timing, faith, and a firm business push. In the early weeks of the virus' spread in early March, but before businesses were prompted to shut their doors with voluntary curfews and stay-home orders, Darden and her husband put their heads together to determine whether they'd step on the gas, or take their collective foot off the pedal, save cash, and ride it out. The couple prayed about it, and then moved ahead with an aggressive business strategy.  'Pre-corona, we were struggling to gain traction,' says Darden, 'because there are so many brands in the natural hair space. Figuring out a way to differentiate our message was difficult for us.'  Darden saw an opportunity to have a more captive audience who would be at home, using technology, spending time on their social media accounts. Moisture Love increased advertising, and stepped up interactive, step-by-step tutorials in Facebook and Instagram Live broadcasts. The result, she says, has been 'absolutely phenomenal. We've been able to integrate our message more in a time when people are able to listen more.'  The Georgia Tech Industrial Engineer graduate was confident that the products she had formulated with proprietary technology would speak for themselves once customers tried them on their tresses. Retaining customers isn't hard, she says; it's just finding new ones--many of whom are skeptical of trying new products. The challenge was simply standing out in a crowded field, and at times, she had thought that she might just use her Tech degree to land a well-paying job somewhere else. But her entrepreneurial spirit kept her going, and the renewed marketing quickly paid off as salons everywhere closed down for safety.  'I hadn't even thought about it on the front end, but people weren't able to go to their stylists. So old customers were reaching out like, 'Listen. I haven't bought product in a while, but I can't go to my stylist now. I need some product, and I need you to tell me what to do,'' says Darden.  The multiple Facebook Lives per week, with styling tips and hair care education, also brought in new customers. Darden says before the pandemic, a 'good' sales day might average $150. Now, mid-April, a typical day sees $1,300 in sales.  'Amazing,' she laughs. 'It's been really good.' Then, at a calculation of the percentage difference--a 767% jump--Darden seemed stunned. 'That's crazy. I could cry!'  Darden's team is strategizing ways to keep increasing business as salons eventually reopen and need quick access to quality product.  Her gratitude about the uptick in business and satisfied customers is not all she's feeling these days--it's also grief. Coronavirus claimed the life of one of her aunts days ago.  'It's hard to almost gloat in it, because we've lost a family member to COVID, and we know a number of people have lost family members to COVID, so it's hard to say, 'Corona's been good to me,' you know what I mean?' says Darden. 'But I look at it from a silver lining perspective.  'It's changed the course of my family. I'm able to help support our household, and if my husband's job falls back, for once in a very long time, I'm able to step in and fill that gap--and there's just no words to really explain what that feels like.
  • A metro Atlanta housekeeper says her services are more in demand now that coronavirus has hit. Four years after launching her business, Teresa Goodman tells WSB that her housekeeping appointments are way up.  'Mine have doubled or tripled,' says Goodman. 'I have clients, I only go to them like once a month. But when the coronavirus came in, I go once a week.'  She says homeowners, anxious over the bug, want to make sure their houses stay healthy.  'Everyone wants their home clean and sanitized, so really it picked up for me,' Goodman says. She has begun carrying an additional DIY alcohol-based disinfectant that she begins using on the doorknob as soon as she steps up to a client's door. Frequently-grabbed places like closets, appliance handles, and drawer pulls get the spritz, too.  Homeowners like to see Goodman clean and disinfect the rooms where they hang out the most, and the items they touch the most.  'Telephones, TV remotes, the arm of the chairs, computers, faucets,' she explains.   Goodman admits that she was a bit nervous at first to keep going into clients' homes amid the viral concerns, but says the job is essential to her family.  'I am, but it's a business. You got to do what you've got to do for your family. I just stay prayed up,' says Goodman, who adds that the job is important to her clients.  'They trust me to do a good job,' she says. Goodman changes gloves in between one room and the next, and noted that her attention to detail and even her products have led to smiles.  'A neighbor came over and said, 'You know that Lysol you've got is worth more than gold now!' We just laughed, laughed, laughed. I said, 'You're right.''  She hopes the new handwashing and extra-cleanliness habits people are forming stick with us post- pandemic.  'Don't wait until after the coronavirus,' says Goodman. 'Say they say it leaves or whatever, you want to stop. Wrong thing. Keep doing what you're doing. Just keep your house sanitized--or call me. And I'll come do it for you.
  • It's a case of coronavirus that may illustrate as well as anything the benefits of sheltering in place.  A Fulton County jail inmate was diagnosed with COVID-19.  The 38-year-old inmate has a chronic health condition, but had otherwise been fine as he had been behind bars on Rice Street for more than two months.  What changed?  'He had been with us since early January. He'd been in jail 77 days as of this past Sunday and had been doing well, other than his other underlying medical issues,' says the jail's commander, Fulton County Sheriff's Colonel Mark Adger. 'He had gone to court on March 9th, and then two or three days after that, he started complaining about a temperature.'  >>LISTEN TO VERONICA WATERS’ FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. The man was immediately isolated in a negative-pressure cell.  Before complaining of any symptoms, the detainee had been on lockdown with one other person. That inmate has also been isolated, and has shown no signs or symptoms of infection, according to Col. Adger. Adger says medical staff monitored the man, but his fever was not consistently responding to treatment. The man complained of body chills, and the fever began spiking by the 15th or 16th of March. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where tests confirmed COVID-19.  'He's been discharged from the jail, but he is still a patient at Grady Hospital,' says Adger, who says the man was granted a $1,000 signature bond. The jail had already begun evaluating the cases of non-violent detainees to determine who might be eligible for early release in an effort to stem any chances of infection.  'I don't think there was a high risk of violence,' he says. 'He was charged with two drug offenses--both bondable offenses--and quite honestly, having someone in a jail setting with coronavirus in custody would pose probably more of a public health risk than otherwise.'  Adger recently detailed the extraordinary steps the Fulton County Jail was taking to keep staffers and inmates safe. A jail that he said often won praise from visitors for its cleanliness had stepped up to an even stricter cleaning regimen. Staffers were greeted with questions about travel or any other possible exposure to the coronavirus. A kitchen worker with a cold was sent home, not allowed to come in to work, out of an abundance of caution. Inmates were given the same series of questions before even leaving the transport vehicles, says Adger. The jail capped the capacity of its in-house court hearings, and cleaned the courtroom after every 10 inmates. In-house video visitation was stopped; visitation can only be done remotely now. They regularly disinfected the attorney booths and holding tanks with an electrostatic sprayer.  'The importance of the electrostatic part of the sprayer is that it turns the disinfectant into a mist, and that mist, with a negative charge, then sticks to everything it comes in contact with,' explains Adger. The colonel even ordered two infrared touchless thermometers via Amazon with his own money, with plans to donate them to the jail, so Fulton County could do a thorough job screening incoming people--including visitors to the public lobby and deputies--by checking their temperatures. The regular procurement process would take weeks, he said, and he didn't want to wait. Plus, he needs at least seven of them--one for each entrance at all jail facilities.  Adger says he'd even stopped on-site roll call to keep deputies from congregating in small spaces.  No surprise, then, that with all the steps taken to protect the jail population and its staffers from COVID-19, Col. Adger was taken aback by the inmate falling ill.  'It was like a gut punch getting that first case,' Adger tells WSB, 'but I think we responded well. We looked at the procedures we use here in the jail; I don't think there was any lapse in procedure, especially when you consider that he had been here 77 days. So he couldn't have come in infected.'  Adger says they have consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Emory University to ensure they are using best practices to limit exposure--as well as reached out to their criminal justice contact to express a major concern.  'We need very little movement of prisoners between the jail and the courthouse during this time of the emergency, so we're working to do more video court and less in-person court hearings so that we don't jeopardize either the jail or the court system and their facilities,' says Col. Adger.  A problem the jail had already been mulling over was what to do if an incoming detainee seemed to have or be at risk of the disease. Fulton County Jail holds about 2,850 inmates.  'How do we isolate someone for 14 days?' he wondered. 'We just don't have the space.'  The tier on which the 38-year-old inmate was living has been sanitized, and those who had or may have had contact with him before, during, and after his hearing trip to Fulton County courtroom 2-F have been alerted. Many have been urged to self-quarantine, says Adger, and it's a wait-and-see at this point.  'We have to protect this environment because we cannot sustain large numbers of employees or our criminal justice partners being waylaid by this,' Adger says.  The first of the two touchless thermometers Adger ordered arrived Wednesday, and deputies began using it right away.
  • The only coronavirus patient to be isolated at Georgia’s special quarantine site in Morgan County is happy to be home again. Joey Camp, a former Georgia National Guardsmen who cooked at a Waffle House in Canton before he became ill, told WSB’s Veronica Waters that he previously understood he would be staying at Hard Labor Creek State Park near Rutledge for a 14-day quarantine. However, Camp said the Georgia Health Department has since informed him that he no longer has a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Suffering from a fever, chills and aching joints, Camp first visited Northside Hospital Cherokee on March 5. >>LISTEN TO VERONICA WATERS’ FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. A diabetic, Camp explained that he was diagnosed with pneumonia and tested positive for COVID-19 there. After being discharged on March 9, he was sent by ambulance to the remote isolation site at Hard Labor Creek Park. State officials have set up seven emergency trailers at the park to isolate and monitor coronavirus patients. “I can now join society,” Camp said, emphasizing how happy he was to leave his quarantine. Camp said he hopes to return to work cooking for Waffle House, which announced last week that it had closed its 1849 Marietta Highway location in Canton and was preparing to sanitize it after one of its employees tested positive for the disease. State health officials said Sunday Camp did not need to be retested for COVID-19 and could be released from the park because he has been asymptomatic for a full week, adding he is considered “cured.” “That is the new CDC guidance being followed by states,” the Georgia Department of Public Health said. “He was also hospitalized for some time before isolation at the park.” After several days symptom-free, he came home Sunday to celebrate with friends, and some Corona beer, at a Mexican restaurant. His advice to everyone: Don't panic, and stay positive—even if you get COVID 19.
  • Will Baggett, a cybersecurity consultant in Atlanta, tells WSB that tech firm Reason Labs has already found infected coronavirus maps online.    'It's a heat map of the coronavirus spread, mirrored from the Johns Hopkins [University] site, but the back end of the site loads malware so they can access your e-mail accounts and your bank accounts,' Baggett tells WSB. 'The malicious site has code to pull in the real map.'  The nasty program can also snatch passwords, usernames, cookies, and other information stored in a web browser.  Baggett says the hackers may be spreading it with spam e-mails, and they are also using simple attachments.  'Traditional Word document attacks that we've seen since the '90s are back,' he says.  There have also been Android apps which look like the maps, but those fake trackers lock up a phone and demand a bitcoin ransom to free it.  Details from Krebs on Security say that late last month, someone on several Russian language cybercrime forums started selling a digital Coronavirus infection kit that claims to mirror the real-time data of the and interactive nature of the Johns Hopkins map, and can also go viral to their friends when users grab it.  'It's very simple to set up malware with a cloned image of something that looks desirable,' Baggett says. 'People want to know where this virus is spreading.'  Baggett warns that self-quarantining telecommuters could be more at risk, because people working from home may be without the advanced firewall protections of their offices. He noted that a company he's consulting for has software that was catching this malware as employees clicked on things--but at home, workers may not be looped into that.  'The corporate network keeps their anti-virus up to date on a regular basis. The home network people don't do that,' Baggett says. 'They're avoiding the physical virus, but they're vulnerable to the electronic virus.'  He notes that as long as this pandemic is in the headlines, this won't go away, and employees may ultimately be putting their employers' systems at risk.  'These are going to be constant threats as more people work from home until the crisis passes,' says Baggett.
  • Coronavirus concerns mean an annual meeting of leaders in the nation's capitol are not getting as 'hands-on' as in years past. Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore is attending the 55th annual National League of Cities Congressional City Conference in Washington, DC. Elected officials from America's cities, towns, and villages gather to share ideas, and advocate for public policy important to their communities with congressional leaders.  Moore says this year, people are greeting each other differently.  'We have a handshake-free meeting,' she says. 'So, no one is shaking hands. There's sanitation, there are wipes, there's antibacterial lotion and everything around, and we're really encouraging everyone to use that and people have.'  Moore posted a photo of the big no-handshake strikethrough illustration greeting delegates.  While some events around the country are being postponed or canceled because of Covid-19 precautions, Moore notes that the NLC is still extremely well-attended as the focus is the 2020 Cities Agenda in this election year. Key agenda issues include infrastructure, creating a skilled workforce, ending housing instability and homelessness, and reducing gun violence.  'There's over 2,000 participants, and maybe only 40 people canceled,' says Moore. 'Local elected officials are braving our fears. We've come and we all are sharing information on how we're dealing with the contravirus because we're the closest thing to the people.'  Moore says Covid-19 is, of course, a major topic this year as the outbreak continues.  'Even with the virus issue, we have to think about how do we serve our homeless population. They are amongst us and they do share public spaces with us,' says Moore.
  • Surrounded by family members, 58-year-old Jimmy Meders was told Thursday afternoon his bid for clemency was granted -- six hours shy of his scheduled execution. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles announced Thursday it was commuting his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Christian Boone , Meders became the sixth inmate to be granted clemency in Georgia since 2002 and the first in nearly six years. For more on the story, WSB’s Veronica Waters spoke with one of Jimmy Meders’ lawyers, Mike Admirand, staff attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights, as well as WSB Radio senior legal analyst Ron Carlson, and Steve Hayes, spokesman for the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles. >>LISTEN TO VERONICA WATERS’ FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW.
  • I started hating coming home. When you start hating where you live, it's time to go.'  Today, Melissa Thompson loves where she lives: an immaculate three-bedroom home decorated in greys and jewel tones, with a long front porch and a spacious backyard that's the perfect place for cookouts and her granddaughter's games, and a neighbor who not only greeted her with a pound cake when she moved in, but cut low trees between their houses--without permission--just so she could keep an eye on the happenings next door.  But in 2015, Thompson was a 45-year-old, living in a two-bedroom apartment with her son and granddaughter; the young girl alternately slept in a room with her dad or her grandmother. She had lost both her parents within months of each other; the grief ripped most of her family apart to the point where some were not on speaking terms with others. >>LISTEN TO VERONICA WATERS’ FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. She spiraled into depression, eating emotionally and gaining weight and worrying her doctor. Thompson was sick of apartment life and neighbors who didn't seem to care about the property where they lived when she applied, and was approved, to become a homeowner with Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.  'I knew financially, I couldn't afford a house the traditional way,' says Thompson. 'And what I mean by that: Where can you get a house with no interest built from the ground up? So I went through the program and I got approved.'  Atlanta Habitat for Humanity offers qualified applicants the opportunity to build and buy a quality, affordable, energy-efficient home in select neighborhoods with a 30-year, zero-interest mortgage. So armed with the organization's financial and home education classes, her savings, and backed by hundreds of volunteer hours of what Atlanta Habitat calls her 'sweat equity,' Thompson plunged ahead. She was thrilled to learn that her her home's sponsor was Clark Howard, the consumer guru whose advice she and her late mom always follow and whose other Atlanta Habitat home builds she admits 'stalking' during the process, dreaming about what could be hers one day, how she'd decorate, what color appliances she wanted.  'He's the number-one people want as their sponsor,' she confides.  The acceptance into Atlanta Habitat's program also gave her hope and permission to dream. She set goals and began taking care of herself again and looking forward to the future.  In January of 2016, Thompson began building her home alongside volunteers. She remembers pounding in the first nail of what would be her three-bedroom, two-bath ranch home--or at least, trying to--and her son laughing at her attempt.  'You put the first nail into your foundation at the warehouse,' Thompson explains. 'Simple job! Just nail it, just tap.  'I missed the entire nail and everything. And he said, 'You had one job to do, Mom! One job!'' she laughs. 'You start, you build, you paint. The only thing I didn't do to my house was the insulation. That's itchy.'  For eight Saturdays that winter, Thompson and various teams of volunteers worked on the house; the only weather that stops construction is dangerously hard rainstorms. And every day on her way home from work, Thompson would drive by her lot, park, and marvel at the way the house was coming along.  As it turns out, Howard's sponsorship made for special bonuses in the house.  'I had Clark. With him, I got an additional dishwasher, and garbage disposal, and ceiling fans in the bedrooms, and mattresses. Different perks. And that's something he got his sponsors to do, which was awesome!  'When I say he's highly sought, it's like, 'I gotta time it because he builds in January! I want him!'' Thompson laughs. 'Trust me, he is. And he was a joy. Every Saturday he was out here with us, in the cold, too, and I enjoyed it.'  Through all that, she says, she was delighted to know that Clark Howard is the same person in person that he appears to be on TV. A friend who was one of the volunteers on her home asked excitedly, 'Do you think it'll be possible if I ask him some questions?' It was. Clark answered every one of her friend's queries. She was sad that her mom was no longer around to meet him.  While Atlanta Habitat also rehabs homes and provides repairs for some, Thompson says she wouldn't have traded the new-construction experience for the world.  'It's the longest eight weeks of your life, to a person who's ready to move in! But it's so worth it,' Thompson says.  When Dedication Day came, Thompson was excited and happy. She spent the first night in her new home without any bed covers, which she'd forgotten to buy. But waking up in the chilly new home of her own was worth it, she says, as she listened to the creaks and cracks of the new home settling. She walked around and gazed at everything, grateful, because 'I really never thought I'd be able to afford a home.' Asked to compare that joyful feeling to something else, she says it was equal only to 'the day I had my son.' Melissa Thompson can't say enough good things about Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.  'I speak highly of it because it is a good program. It helps a lot of people to have a home. I know it's a lot of people out there who probably feel like I felt: 'Couldn't afford a home.' And you can. You really can,' says Thompson. She says people don't always know what Habitat has to offer.  'They think you're getting this little basic house and then when they come in my house, they're blown away. I'm like, 'What did you think I was getting?!' I got a three-bedroom, two-bath house with yard. Now I've got two girlfriends applying for the program.'  She believes that she would still be able to meet her house payment even if her job circumstances took a turn for the worse, and she credits the program for that.  'Thirty years seems like a long time, but it's 30 years that I can pay my mortgage,' she says. Thompson loves Atlanta Habitat so much that she says if she comes into money, she's going to sponsor builds herself. She's already convinced the higher-ups at her job to sponsor one.  While her ranch home's walls can't talk, she has a story about each one, remembering the people who helped put them up and paint them along the way.  'When I say I love my house, I really love my house,' says Thompson. 'It's not a day that goes by that I'm not thankful for it. I sit out there on that porch and one day if you're riding by, you might see me out there. I sit out on the porch and we have the grill going and we just have a good time.'  Thompson was healthier, bringing her family together again, hosting a holiday dinner late that year. Her doctor was once again happy when she went for checkups. Today, nearly four years later, she describes herself as 'at peace.'  'That's why I say Habitat saved me,' Thompson says. 'And I truly believe that.' This year, Howard is building three houses with Atlanta Habitat, starting Jan. 16. The homes will be built in Sylvan Hills alongside three home-buyers and hundreds of volunteers over the next eight Saturdays.
  • Veronica  Waters

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    Veronica Waters is an anchor and reporter for News/Talk WSB. She is also the staff expert on legal affairs and the courts. In 2007, the Radio-Television News Directors Association named Waters' series on "Snaring Internet Predators" best in the region with an Edward R. Murrow award for Investigative Reporting.She has been honored by several professional organizations for news and sports feature reporting, and was named in 2003 as the Atlanta Press Club's Radio Journalist of the Year. Waters has covered an assortment of high-profile cases from Mayor Bill Campbell's corruption trial to the murder trials of activist-turned imam Jamil Al-Amin and of former DeKalb County, GA Sheriff Sidney Dorsey.She served as the station's correspondent for the murder trial of accused "Black Widow" Lynn Turner, and the death penalty case of double murderer Stacey Humphreys. One of the biggest legal cases in Atlanta history involved the notorious Gold Club racketeering trial. Waters covered this unfolding drama not only for WSB Radio and radio stations throughout America, but also for a worldwide audience on BBC Radio. Waters joined WSB in 1997 as an anchor and reporter. She began her journalism career at the Southern Urban Network and Mississippi Network in Jackson, MS. Waters attended Alcorn State University and Mississippi State University, and enjoys cheering for the NFL's Tennessee Titans.

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  • A 6-year-old Florida girl has died after she was shot in the head inside her Palm Bay home, according to police. Officers said the girl was shot in her home near Washington Street around 5 p.m. Tuesday, WFTV reported. She was initially taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center in critical condition. Police believe the shooting to be an accident involving siblings. Content Continues Below A man who identified himself as the girl’s uncle called the shooting “tragic and preventable.” Investigators are still working through all the details but said the little girl was in the apartment with an adult and another child when she was shot. Palm Bay police Lt. Michael Smith said police are not seeking a suspect, and officers are speaking to family and friends to determine what happened.
  • Several college students in Alabama who knew they had tested positive for the coronavirus still attended parties in Tuscaloosa, a city official said. Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith said his department discovered the students had been attending parties around the city and in Tuscaloosa County over the past few weeks, WBMA reported. Smith revealed the information before a City Council meeting Tuesday, the television station reported. Smith said his department investigated rumors and confirmed the unnamed students had tested positive through local doctors’ offices and the state health department. “We had seen over the last few weeks parties going on in the county, or throughout the city and county in several locations where students or kids would come in with known positives,” Smith said. “We thought that was kind of a rumor at first. ... we did some additional research. ... not only did the doctor’s offices help confirm it but the state confirmed they also had the same information.” Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry took it a step further, accusing students of organizing “COVID parties” to intentionally infect one another, ABC News reported. “They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense,” McKinstry told the network. “They’re intentionally doing it.” The City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring people to wear face coverings while in public, hours after Smith addressed the lawmakers, WBMA reported.
  • Twenty-two years after Terrance Lewis was wrongfully convicted of second-degree murder, the city of Philadelphia awarded him nearly $6.3 million and a formal apology Tuesday. “The settlement can never repair or restore what has occurred in my life — period,” Lewis told WHYY, while also conceding the award left him “speechless” and that had he been standing when he received the news, his knees “would have buckled.” Lewis, now 41, was only 17 when he was sentenced to life in prison, and he spent 21 years fighting to prove his innocence before being released in May 2019 after Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott finally threw out the conviction, WPVI reported. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney told WPVI the $6.25 million settlement can never give Lewis those years back, but it will fund his work to help others who are wrongly convicted. “I know that money alone cannot compensate Mr. Lewis and his family for the 21 years he spent incarcerated. And I know that much more must be done to reform our criminal justice system and to help the families and communities that have been torn apart by instances in which the system didn’t work,” Kenney said. Indeed, Lewis called the settlement a “kind gesture” but told WHYY that missing the funerals of several close family members during his incarceration can never be made right. “Up until this day, there’s still a hole in my heart that I wasn’t able to say my goodbyes,” Lewis said, referring to the 2012 death of his sister from a drug overdose and the 2013 deaths of both his younger brother and stepfather from cancer. In addition to ensuring his son, Zhaire, resumes his formal education, Lewis told WHYY he plans to build up the Terrance Lewis Liberation Foundation, which he founded to help others who have been released from prison after being wrongfully convicted. Read more here.
  • Stoney prevailed over Stonewall in Richmond on Wednesday. Mayor Levar Stoney, using his emergency powers, ordered the removal of the Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson statue from Monument Avenue, WTVR reported. Workers toiled through a thunderstorm to remove the statue of the Confederate general from its pedestal as hundreds of people watched, the television station reported. The dismantling of the statue took about 3 1/2 hours. In a statement, Stoney said he was using his emergency powers for the immediate removal of “multiple monuments in the city, including Confederate statues.” “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, and protesters attempt to take down Confederate statues themselves or confront others who are doing so, the risk grows for serious illness, injury, or death,” Stoney said. The mayor was going against the advice from Richmond’s city attorney, and gave the order several hours after the City Council delayed a vote on removing the Jackson statues and three others owned by the city, The Washington Post reported. A fifth statue is owned by the state, the newspaper reported. Once the statue was removed from its pedestal, it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and taken to an “undisclosed location,” a worker at the scene told WRIC. The Republican Party of Virginia said a news release that Stoney did not have the legal authority to remove the statue and called the Democratic mayor’s action a “stunt” that fuels the flames of the violent and chaotic protests.” “Richmond is no longer run by the rule of law -- it has devolved into anarchy,” Jack Wilson, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said in the release. “The loudest group of protesters or rioters are in control at any given moment. Caving to mob rule tells the mob that their violence and looting is the way to make change and that law and order is irrelevant.”
  • Enough was just enough for Derick Lancaster. In what has now become a viral tweet, Lancaster, 22, quit his job as a delivery driver for Amazon mid-shift, leaving the keys in the ignition of his van – still loaded with packages – at a gas station in a Detroit suburb and caught a Lyft home. “It was immature and irresponsible on my end. At the same time enough is enough,” Lancaster told WXYZ of the Monday afternoon tweet that, as of Tuesday, had more than 218,000 likes and had been shared more than 25,000 times. reported. Lancaster told WXYZ he was frustrated with the long hours, number of deliveries and pay because he often pulled nearly 12-hour shifts to deliver more than 100 packages for $15.50 per hour. The final straw, he said, was missing his sister’s birthday party. “She was real upset with me,” Lancaster told the TV station. “There is no set schedule.” Lancaster told the Free Press that being late to his sister’s graduation party – coupled with the constant pressure to deliver more packages faster – finally took its toll. “This does not reflect the high standards we have for delivery partners,” Amazon said in an email to the Free Press. “We are taking this matter seriously and have investigated the matter and are taking appropriate action.” Lancaster did return to the Marathon gas station in Lathrup Village several hours after his online tirade to wait for someone from Amazon to pick up the van, he told the newspaper.
  • Authorities in Mexico City said gunmen broke into a drug rehab center and opened fire on Wednesday, killing 24 people and wounding seven others, The Associated Press reported. Police in the state of Guanajuato said the attack occurred in Irapuato. Three of the seven wounded were in serious condition, according to the AP. Guanajuato has been the location of a bloody turf battle between the Jalisco cartel and a local gang, according to the AP. No motive was given for the attack. Check back for more on this developing story.