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Latest from Veronica Waters

    A man yelling in the middle of Cobb Parkway that he wished he had a bomb could have become another statistic in a list of police shootings. But Marietta Police took him down after a tussle -- without ever firing a shot. Travis Cormier, 27, was just indicted by a Cobb County grand jury on four charges including two counts of Obstruction of an Officer for a confrontation dating back to late December of 2017. Two Marietta Police officers responded to a call of a black male walking in the middle of Cobb Parkway, yelling at passing cars that he wished he had a bomb so he could kill everyone. Marietta Police Officer Chuck McPhilamy tells WSB that while Cormier left the roadway and walked to the sidewalk, it became evident that he had no intention of being taken away peacefully -- yelling at the officers and getting into a fighting stance. “He kind of dropped down a little bit and his posture squared off, and he hiked up his pants and made clenched fists,” Officer Chuck McPhilamy recalls. A Taser failed to take down Cormier after getting tangled in his scarf. The officers strategically positioned themselves around Cormier, who then fought with one of them--even lunging for the cop's weapon. “While he’s reaching for the officer’s gun, it’s every officer’s worst nightmare,” McPhilamy says. McPhilamy adds that the officers fell back on their training, which Police Chief Dan Flynn mandates is many hours over the state minimums for departments. They focus not just on target practice, but on de-escalation. “We would be having an entirely different conversation, had it not been for that training,” McPhilamy says. Officers Langley and Lindsey were able to wrestle Cormier into handcuffs without ever resorting to deadly force--a situation that McPhilamy says might have called for the phrase 'lawful, but awful.' He adds, “It would have been lawful for the officers to have pulled their weapon and discharged it, but that isn’t the outcome that anyone would ever want.”
  • A comment about lynching students, censorship of essays with racial themes, a threat to throw a Latino student over the president’s wall, and questions about whether their families are here legally. These are among the list of alleged teacher comments that South Cobb High School’s students say they have brought to the administration’s attention. South Cobb seniors Malik Freeman, Rin Faith, and Naomi Yaledah-Bashaar spoke with WSB Radio’s Veronica Waters, recalling a series of racially-offensive comments made by teachers in the past year. “Our band director once said to his students in class, ‘Is it cotton-picking season?’” Freeman says.  “[A] teacher said to Hispanic students, ‘If you don’t get this question right, we’re going to throw you over the wall,’” Faith remembers. Yaledah-Bashaar tells WSB a teacher once told a noisy classroom 'that if we wouldn’t be quiet, he would have to hang us.” All three students say this has tainted their love of their school and their trust in its administration and staffers. None feels safe in the place they spend hours every day, in a year that should be one of the best, they all say. “I’ve never felt so unsafe in a school building, ever in my life,” says Yaledah-Bashaar. 'I've always had respect for my teachers, I've always had love for the schools that I've been in, and I’ve always had a close connection to my teachers. “But I no longer feel comfortable at South Cobb. I no longer feel safe. I no longer feel as though I'm welcomed or my opinions or values or me as a person is appreciated.' The trio says complaints have fallen on deaf ears. The teacher who made the lynching remark stood by his comment when Yaledah-Bashaar confronted him about it the next day. She taped the conversation, and shared part of it on Twitter. The instructor, who has since retired, insisted he was standing by his words because he 'tells it like it is.' In a more recent incident, Faith says, a teacher assigned students to write about a controversial topic and present their essays in class. One student wrote about how most mass shootings in the U.S. are committed by white men. The teacher took offense, students say, accusing the author of not backing up his paper although he listed his proper citations, and began censoring the topics she allowed to be presented in class. One student was disciplined after questioning the teacher about her decision, the students tell WSB.  The students are lobbying for apologies, and action – including having that student's disciplinary record cleared. Freeman, a student government board member, hopes that something positive will be done to resolve this before he graduates in May, and that the administration will listen to their grievances seriously. 'It's my senior year at South Cobb High School, and it's been my worst year,' he says. 'It's been their worst year. All because of what we've had to endure.' He says the administrators put the onus on students to do research on the allegations and then talk to their classmates about what was happening. “We’re sick of always having slaps on the wrists,' Freeman says. 'We just want something to be done about it. Whether that's reprimanding the teacher, her losing her job, whether that's bring the board out here and let's have a forum. We just want something to be done.' Students and parents accuse the administration is turning a deaf ear to them after they put together a package of statements from students about the comments they have witnessed. Although they met with their local school board rep, a promised deadline to give them some resolution by the end of January has come and gone and they have heard nothing, the group says. Only five students demonstrated Thursday afternoon. The students and parents present say most other parents were afraid of backlash targeting their kids, so they did not allow them to attend. Faith says she understands the nervousness, but believes the stakes are high enough that she should protest publicly. 'We really just want to show people that you don't get to sweep this under the rug like you did everything else,' she says. Faith adds that the teachers who make racist, homophobic, or sexist comments should be disciplined or even fired, much like a student who says something considered inflammatory would be disciplined. 'It's just sad to look around,” Faith says, adding, “You teach at a predominantly black and brown school. Are you really still thinking like that?  “Issues like this [are] what keep us from progressing as a whole, and everybody should be more concerned about coming together despite your adversities and differences, rather than separating us further.” Several community members came out in support of the students. Calli McGregor is a Cobb County parent who does not have kids at South Cobb, but who is frustrated that these students are being ignored and made to feel unvalued. “These students have done their best to go through the proper channels and chain of command, to get some resolution [for] these issues and so far, they have not,” McGregor says. 'I think they’re very, very brave young men and women and I just want to be here to support them.” Asked what she feels the district should do, McGregor says, “Just respond to these students. Make them feel heard, make them feel supported. “And above all else, make them feel safe. Make them feel like they can go to school without having to feel discriminated against and marginalized.” Leroy Tre Hutchins is another Cobb County parent whose children attend different schools, but is alarmed over continued missteps and offenses by staffers. “To hear this and to hear some of the things that the teachers have said to these students, I can’t imagine the type of post-traumatic stress disorder these children are gonna have as a result of the people that we’re supposed to trust with our kids every day,” Hutchins says. He adds that he thinks it is imperative staffers at South Cobb High receive immediate training on “explicit and implicit bias.” “For every school employee; every lunch lady, the resource officers, the substitute teachers, all the way to the superintendent’s office,” Hutchins concludes. Friday afternoon, John Stafford, senior executive director of communications and events for South Cobb High, emailed the following statement to WSB: “We take the claims of racial bias seriously, and the safety of our students is of paramount importance. All allegations are reviewed thoroughly and appropriate action taken, as necessary.”
  • A few keystrokes online could match you up with a life insurance payout you did not even know you were due. Georgia leads the nation when it comes to matching people with misplaced life insurance. This is thanks in part to a service launched a year ago by the State Insurance Commissioner and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The ‘Life Insurance Policy Locator’ is a free service that “streamlines and simplifies the process for consumers,” State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said in a statement.  The Commissioner’s office said that with the new service, Georgian’s requests are encrypted and secured to maintain confidentiality. “Participating insurers will compare submitted requests with available policyholder information and report all matches to state insurance departments through the locator,” the statement read, “Companies will then contact beneficiaries or their authorized representatives.” State Deputy Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence tells WSB the service is invaluable. “People thought that it was worthwhile during their life to spend this money to give you a benefit upon their death,” Florence says, adding, “Whether it’s large or small, obviously they had something in mind – a need that they wanted to fill.  “If you’re talking about a widowed spouse, a life insurance benefit can mean all the difference in the world.” In the year since it has launched, one out of every six Georgians using it found something a loved one left for them. According to Consumer Reports, an estimated $1 billion in benefits from life insurance policies are unclaimed.  “The largest life insurance policy that we’ve seen come back has been over $640,000,” says Florence. Since the service went live last December, 589 Georgians have received more than $6.6 million in policy payouts. For a link to the Locator, located on the front page of the state insurance commissioner’s website, click here. 
  • The vote tally is certified in the Atlanta mayoral race, and Keisha Lance Bottoms' margin of victory has grown. Was the vote a tale of two Atlantas?  WSB Political analyst Bill Crane is unsurprised by Atlanta's election map, which shows a pretty distinctive geographical split.  'You can almost see at the precinct level, if you were to match up census tracks and ZIP codes, more affluent and whiter neighborhoods voted for Mary Norwood, and less affluent and blacker neighborhoods voted for Keisha Lance Bottoms. But that map, geographically, has largely been in place since the 1970s,' Crane says. North and east Atlanta went mostly Mary Norwood, the south and west to mayor-elect Keisha Lance Bottoms. Election officials in Fulton and DeKalb counties on Monday certified their election results, with Bottoms in the lead by 832 votes. The Associated Press points out that the outcome practically mirrored her 2009 loss to current Mayor Kasim Reed by 714 votes. Crane says coded language played a role on both sides of the mayoral race, adding, “Race became a pretty dominant issue in social media discussion, and indirectly in the advertising about who was a Democrat and who was a Republican.” Atlanta's last white mayor, Sam Massell, left office in 1974 and was succeeded over the next four decades by Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, Bill Campbell, Shirley Franklin and Kasim Reed. The AP says Atlanta’s population today is 53 percent black, with black Atlantans still constituting a majority of registered voters and overall turnout. The runoff election saw 92,169 votes cast, The AP reports – less than 20 percent of the Atlanta’s roughly 500,000 residents. “We still more likely view things – as general voters – as who most and best understands me, who’s most like me, and who is most likely to best represent me,” Crane explains, adding, “And when you get to that simplistic view, race calculates much higher than a lot of other factors.” Crane says until Atlantans blend more and learn to trust each other, racial politics will keep coming into play.
  • Basil Eleby’s case is being transferred to Fulton County behavioral court. Prosecutors say it is the right track for the accused I-85 arsonist since he has been working hard to treat his addiction. “I’d rather be sober than be the other way around,” Eleby told reporters outside the Fulton County court house Friday. “It’s a whole lot better.” Now 79 days sober, Eleby says this arrest turned his life around. “I never thought I’d get to this point,” Eleby said. “To get another chance because there are so many people out there who didn’t get another chance.” He added, “So many people out there who are still where I was a couple of months ago – out in the cold and out in the rain, and they feel like they just don’t have no way out. “Those people – they are human; most low people are just looking for a way out and they just need a chance. They just need people to believe in them.” If Eleby successfully completes the 18-month program, the arson charges will be dropped. “Good luck Mr. Eleby,” Judge Constance Russell said after the hearing. “Go forth and do well. Don’t let me read about you.”  Atlanta police alleged Eleby set fire to a shopping cart underneath I-85 last spring. The blaze eventually spread to construction material the Georgia Department of Transportation stored under the bridge and caused a chunk of the busy highway to collapse. The highway reopened six weeks later, ahead of schedule, and Eleby was charged with arson. An arson conviction for Eleby could have resulted in a severe felony sentence, but WSB senior legal analyst Ron Carlson says prosecutors would have had an uphill battle proving it. “That charge requires – under Georgia law – number one, the suspect intentionally set the fire; there were witnesses to that,” Carlson explains. “However, number two, [that] when he did so, he realized the blaze would endanger human life. “With his reported mentality of about a 15-year-old, that mental element of the charge might have been difficult for the state to prove.” Outside court Friday, Eleby’s attorneys maintained his innocence. “Basil was unfairly accused of something he did not do,” attorney Lawrence Zimmerman said. “We presented evidence from day one from polygraph tests to alibi witnesses to the state of Georgia that Basil had nothing to do with this fire whatsoever.” Zimmerman added, “The state’s been very gracious. They saw all the evidence and they also realized there was no case against Basil. “The Atlanta Police Department made a mistake.” He concluded by saying, “This is what we call justice. I’ve gotten so many phone calls from so many people around the country, from engineers that work on highways – everybody wanting to help out. “So many people believing in Basil, knowing that charging him with arson was ridiculous.” Mawuli Davis, another of Eleby’s attorneys, echoed Zimmerman’s sentiments. “Basil made it clear and has been consistent that if anything we did [would] require him to enter a plea of guilty, he would not do it – period.  “What he was crystal clear about was that he did not set that bridge fire; he didn’t do anything that caused it to catch fire and was not present when any fire was burning.” Davis added, “People can say what they want. This man stands here knowing that entering this program is in his best interest as a human being, but that he is an innocent man and will remain so.”  Before his arrest, Eleby had been homeless for about 10 years. Outside court Friday, Eleby told reporters of his hopes and dreams going forward. “I want to live and I’m going to keep pushing forward. I wanna start my own mobile detail business, or get into computers; I like computers. “And I like cleaning stuff; taking something that looks dead and making it look alive again. Eleby concluded his remarks by saying, “At first I couldn’t see the blessings I was getting out of this, but through all this crazy stuff happening and through all this time, God just took it and turned it around and gave me what I was asking for in the first place – to stay sober and to get a new way of life.”
  • Basil Eleby is entering the Fulton County Accountability Courts -- avoiding a plea deal and jail time. If the accused I-85 arsonist successfully completes the 18-month program, charges made against him will be dropped. “I never thought I’d get to this point,” Eleby told reporters outside court. “To get another chance because there are so many people out there who didn’t get another chance.” Eleby added, “So many people out there who are still where I was a couple of months ago – out in the cold and out in the rain, and they feel like they just don’t have no way out. “Those people – they are human; most low people are just looking for a way out and they just need a chance. They just need people to believe in them.” WSB senior legal analyst Ron Carlson says Fulton’s Accountability Courts slash recidivism as well as cost to taxpayers. “It’s basically a highly supervised probation program, which features treatment and rehabilitation,” Carlson explains. He adds, “Our man Basil Eleby would seem to qualify for accountability court on two grounds: number one, crack was involved in this crime and number two, there are reports he has limited mental ability.” Eleby got more restrictive addiction treatment after testing positive for drugs or alcohol twice since April. Atlanta police say Eleby set fire to a shopping cart underneath I-85 last spring. The blaze eventually spread to construction material the Georgia Department of Transportation stored under the bridge and caused a chunk of the busy highway to collapse. The highway reopened six weeks later, ahead of schedule, and Eleby was charged with arson. An arson conviction for Eleby could have resulted in a severe felony sentence, but Carlson says prosecutors would have had an uphill battle proving it. “That charge requires – under Georgia law – number one, the suspect intentionally set the fire; there were witnesses to that,” Carlson explains. “However, number two, [that] when he did so, he realized the blaze would endanger human life. “With his reported mentality of about a 15-year-old, that mental element of the charge might have been difficult for the state to prove.” Before his arrest, Eleby had been homeless for about 10 years. Outside court Friday, Eleby told reporters of his hopes and dreams going forward.  “I want to live and I’m going to keep pushing forward. I wanna start my own mobile detail business, or get into computers; I like computers. “And I like cleaning stuff; taking something that looks dead and making it look alive again. Eleby concluded his remarks by saying, “At first I couldn’t see the blessings I was getting out of this, but through all this crazy stuff happening and through all this time, God just took it and turned it around and gave me what I was asking for in the first place – to stay sober and to get a new way of life.”
  • Police say the man arrested for peeping in on UGA sororities may have some unknown victims, after recovering a stash of women’s clothing and underwear that has yet to be claimed. A detective pored over images and videos in 30-year-old Patrick McElroy's camera, finding they had been taken at night through the slats of window blinds. A 19-year-old UGA student who recently met with Athens Clarke County Police recognized her own face in videos on Patrick McElroy's camera, seeing herself dressing in her bedroom and bathroom.  Police spokesman Epifanio Rodriguez says the amount of women's clothing and underwear McElroy allegedly stole sends up red flags. “For the most part, women’s undergarments are not of value for resale,” Rodriguez tells WSB. “That’s concerning to us that he possibly was on a track of escalating the crime that he was already committing.”  First arrested in late September after a neighbor spotted a man lurking outside the window of a house where a sorority's members lived, McElroy now faces 10 peeping Tom charges, 16 burglary counts, and five larceny charges. Rodriguez says since the crimes date back four years, and detectives have found women's clothing and underwear which have not had owners identify them, some women may not know they have been victimized. 'So anyone who has any property that may be stolen, anything along these lines, may want to call us,' says Rodriguez.  McElroy lives in Madison County, but has been held without bail since his arrest. Police say he targeted his victims after meeting them as their Uber driver.  'He would pick them up at their residence, at that point knowing where they lived, then going back later on and burglarizing them,' says Rodriguez, 'and even going further later on and going back when they were home and conducting these peeping Toms.”
  • The third-place finisher in Atlanta's mayoral race is throwing her support behind runoff candidate Mary Norwood. Former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard admitted she made the difficult decision mere moments before addressing reporters in a morning news conference on the steps of Atlanta City Hall on Wednesday morning. 'I did it about five minutes ago, on the roof of the parking deck,' said Woolard. 'Seriously. I did entertain the notion of not endorsing anyone--I'd like to be useful to either campaign, whoever becomes mayor--but I also realized that abdicating leadership by not making a decision really isn't who I am.'  She said she had not called either candidate before announcing her decision publicly.  Woolard, who grilled Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms in a Tuesday-night forum on topics from race to public transit, detailed the thought process that led to her decision, based on the reasons she herself ran for mayor. The forum, Woolard said, was 'unsurprising' in what material she was able to mine from the candidates.  She says it comes to issues of growth and city-building, she's been 'confounded' by City Hall decisions she says have left parts of Atlanta behind. Norwood has the edge here, Woolard says, having attended 'all of the city design meetings' and being an early advocate of the Beltline. But on issues of income inequality and social justice, Woolard says Lance Bottoms is the greater candidate, because as the city grows, she says, it's important to think about who gets to be successful in that growth. With Atlanta being a majority-black city, says Woolard, black leadership and representation matter. As Georgia's first openly-gay elected official, Woolard says, she knows having a seat at the table made it possible to get certain things done. The third, deciding factor, says Woolard, was ethics. 'In all of her years at City Hall, she has managed to stay true. Periodically, everybody makes mistakes, but I have not seen a pattern of mismanagement or decisions that I feel like have been unethical.  'I feel like the lack of transparency at this City Hall has crushed the spirit of our city, and I feel like we need a very clean break with this administration and a new start here, with a fresh set of players,' says Woolard. Lance Bottoms, the top vote-getter in November's election, has been endorsed by Mayor Kasim Reed. Reed is a two-term mayor whose last months in office have seen a federal investigation into alleged bribery in the procurement office. The mayor himself has not been implicated. Woolard says there have been 'ethical lapses' and questionable decision-making on Lance Bottoms' part, but said she would be 'polite' so as not to make her announcement a negative conversation. She likes and respects both candidates a great deal, she said. 'It's a painful decision, but it is the decision that I made,' said Woolard. Woolard was asked whether she has concerns about Woolard being progressive enough for Atlanta. 'I worry sometimes about the people around her not being sufficiently progressive, but I don't worry about her,' said Woolard.  Economic development and social justice are not mutually exclusive, said Woolard.  'We have had parts of this city that have been neglected, where investment hasn't happened, where we have let schools fail, where we have been okay with letting poor parts of town be poor parts of town, and I just don't think it has to be that way,' says Woolard. Early voting is underway. The runoff election is Tuesday, December 5.
  • WSB legal analyst Phil Holloway says while that might make for a sympathetic victim in a lawsuit, that same fact also makes for a convincing argument for the defense.
  • In 2018, a new statue of a longtime boxing legend will go up in downtown Atlanta.  Monday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that Evander 'The Real Deal' Holyfield, 55, will be immortalized with a statue near Woodruff Park. The statue will be in a pedestrian plaza area in front of the Flatiron Building.  'I believe that great cities have great art and great artists, and these treasures should be accessible to all our residents,' said Reed. 'And I believe that Evander Holyfield is a treasure.' WSB asked the five-time world heavyweight boxing champion and Olympic medalist whether he ever expected to be immortalized with a statue in the town where he grew up.  'No,' says Holyfield. 'You know, all I wanted to do was be the best.' Holyfield, who retired in 2014, credits his mother and the Boys Club for helping him fight his way out of the ghetto. Both, he says, taught him that there were other options for him than the ones the world said were his choices, growing up in a poor area. The installation of the statue at Peachtree St. and Auburn Ave. will be completed in January. It shows the 6'2' boxer standing calmly, with his gloved hands at his sides.  Was that the pose he would have chosen? Holyfield tells WSB Radio he is just happy to have a statue--but he admits that while this is one of the pictures he picked for consideration, it wouldn't have been his first choice--until he was told that humility was the theme.  'Sometimes you want that shot that you're strong and all this, but the point of the matter is that humility is the key to success,' says Holyfield. 'With humility, you know how strong you are, so you don't have to show it.  'You ain't got to pose and make all your veins pop out and all that, but you can be telling somebody, 'Hey, I was once in your place at one point in time, as well.
  • Veronica Waters

    Reporter

    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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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.