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Local Politics

    The city of Decatur has replaced an outdated apartment complex with dozens of new units designated as affordable housing. Officials are set to celebrate the grand opening of “Oakview Walk” on Wednesday morning. The project, spearheaded by the Decatur Housing Authority, involved demolishing the old apartment building — nearly 60 years old — and building 34 new one- and two-bedroom units. The new complex, on the corner of Oakview Road and Maxwell Street in the Oakhurst neighborhood, follows the DHA’s redevelopment of the Trinity Walk apartments in Decatur. With the opening of Oakview Walk, Decatur has increased its number of affordable units from 475 in 2014 to 518 this year, the DHA said in a statement. Twenty-seven of the new apartments are for families earning 30 to 60% of the region’s median income, with monthly rents ranging from $625 to $925, the DHA said. The remaining seven apartments are “workforce housing,” for families earning 80 to 120% of the median income. Those rents will range from $1,000 to $1,350 per month. The median family income for metro Atlanta is $79,700, according to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The original Oakview Apartments were fully occupied, but “the apartments were physically and functionally obsolete for today’s families, with poorly-designed floor plans and lacking modern energy efficiency and amenities,” the housing authority said. The new apartment complex includes a community room, onsite laundry, a children’s play area, a community garden and more. The units are also energy-efficient. MORE DEKALB NEWS: » Body cam catches Atlanta rapper, reality star in racist tirade during arrest » Inside a ‘food desert,’ group plans fresh, community market “The City of Decatur is relatively unique in that its affordable housing communities are part of the fabric of the city, and not constructed some distance away. This allows students to attend the award-winning public schools and offers easy access to public transportation and area jobs for adults,” DHA Executive Director Douglas Faust said in a statement. The grand opening is scheduled for Wednesday, July 17 at 10 a.m. at 1111 Oakview Road. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter  In other news:
  • Hundreds are expected to gather at vigils across metro Atlanta on Friday to protest the treatment of immigrants at the United States’ border with Mexico. The largest event is scheduled for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Plaza Fiesta on Buford Highway in Chamblee, but people are also set to gather in Alpharetta, Clarkston, Cumming, Holly Springs and Lawrenceville. The “Lights for Liberty” vigil is “part of a national campaign to draw attention to the crisis of immigration detention and the victimization of children in a broken immigration system,” according to the lead organizing group, the New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta. In recent months, reports of overcrowding and poor conditions at shelter facilities in Texas and Florida have dominated headlines and led to strong criticism from many national political figures. Several migrant children have died in the last year in these centers. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would step up deportations of undocumented immigrants. LOCAL COVERAGE: » Atlanta immigrants change ways amid threatened deportation crackdown » Trump’s threat of major deportations sparks fear, confusion in Atlanta “We are outraged that migrant children have been denied the most basic of necessities and that these egregious violations of their human rights have gone unchecked” Rev. Fabio Sotelo, the Hispanic missioner at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, said in a statement. U.S. Senate candidate and former Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Congressional candidate and state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero are expected to speak at the Chamblee vigil. Clergy from multiple faiths are set to offer prayers. An estimated 375,000 undocumented immigrants lived in Georgia in 2017, down from a high of 425,000 a decade ago, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter  In other news:
  • The city of Avondale Estates did not approve a Donald Trump campaign sign that appeared during its annual Fourth of July parade last week. But the city reaffirmed the participant had the First Amendment right to display the sign. In a statement Wednesday, Avondale Estates said it “regrets that the divisive nature of a certain float that participated in the parade had a negative impact on some community members’ enjoyment of the event.” At the end of the beloved parade through the small DeKalb County city, a silver pickup truck rolled down the street, with a large sign that said “Trump,” “Pence” and  “2020” pinned to its front, according to a  video stream of the parade posted to YouTube. The sign also said “Make America Great Again.”The truck was pulling a float that said “friends of Santa,” which was partially covered in Christmas decorations. MORE DEKALB NEWS: » Shared WeWork offices coming to large mixed-use complex in downtown Decatur » Winning $50,000 lottery ticket sold in DeKalb County In the past, the city said, “floats have respected the nature of the parade by avoiding displaying divisive political messages.” It clarified that the Trump sign was not approved by city officials, and it only expressed “a participant’s private opinion.” “However,” it continued, “the city believes firmly in the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment and will continue to respect this fundamental right.” In the video posted online, some spectators are seen shaking their head at the float. Some residents posted on social media and expressed their frustration with the Trump sign. In comments on the city’s official Facebook page, several people said they were shocked to see politics play a part in the parade. Others, however, said they were not offended by anything they saw, and emphasized that the First Amendment gave the float the right to display the Trump sign. The city itself, like much of DeKalb County, leans decidedly liberal. In the 2016 presidential election, more than 70% of the area voted for Hillary Clinton. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter  In other news:
  • Various factors in DeKalb County are offsetting the impact that rising property values have on homeowners’ tax bills. They include credits resulting from the new EHOST sales tax and lower property tax rates, which work together to lower the amount residents will have to pay later this year. Last year was the first year of EHOST, but it was implemented in April so 2019 is the first time this credit reflects a full year of the impact of residents paying more in sales tax to receive a break on property taxes. DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said EHOST will especially benefit elderly residents in older neighborhoods that are rising in popularly and experiencing skyrocketing property values. “DeKalb County’s property tax relief plan will help mitigate the negative impact of rising home values and property taxes in our rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods,” he said. The amount homeowners pay in taxes relies on a formula that includes the value of their property and tax rates set by counties, cities and school districts. Those amounts are offset by various exemptions and credits, including EHOST. The EHOST 1% sales tax everything except food and drugs will result in $119 million in revenue passed on the homeowners. On average, DeKalb residents with homes valued at $250,000 will receive an $889 credit. Prior to 2018, county residents had a similar .5% HOST sales tax in place and therefore the resulting tax credits were lower. The DeKalb County commission signed off on property tax rates and midyear budget adjustments during a meeting Tuesday morning. The county kept the tax rate consistent for residents of unincorporated DeKalb and Stonecrest, but residents of 12 other cities will find their county tax rate is lower this year. Related | Here’s how your property taxes in DeKalb could change this year Commissioner Nancy Jester, who usually votes “no” on the budget, praised the process that resulted in the EHOST credits and declining tax rates. She also noted that unlike previous years, the CEO’s office did not recommend sizable new spending projects that were not in the original budget approved in February.
  • DeKalb police officers will soon tap into private license plate readers stationed in communities across the county. The county commission voted 7-0 Tuesday to approve an agreement with Flock Safety, an Atlanta-based company that markets itself as a crime-solving tool for neighborhoods. Communities can purchase one of Flock’s license plate readers for their area, using the device to log the license plate numbers of cars that pass by. They can read plates on cars going up to 75 mph, during both day and night and from up to 75 feet away, according to Flock’s website.  The neighborhoods that have Flock cameras can now opt into the public-private partnership with the DeKalb County Police Department, at no cost to the county. Police officials said investigators will use the cameras to investigate specific crimes, and not to monitor everyday drivers. “When a crime is reported we can then look to see if a particular vehicle was picked up in that area during that period of time,” interim DeKalb County police Chief Joseph “Jack” Lumpkin told the commission Tuesday. He clarified that communities can ultimately choose whether to share the data with the police department. About 50 neighborhoods in DeKalb have a Flock camera, the police department previously estimated. They cost $2,000 each. “It actually builds a digital, electronic neighborhood watch that the citizens actually control,” Lumpkin said. The agreement is somewhat similar to the police department’s relationship with doorbell camera company Ring, which allows officers to access camera footage posted by homeowners. Investigators are able to monitor the security videos that residents voluntarily upload to the doorbell security system’s neighborhood portal.  » RELATED: DeKalb approves partnership with Ring doorbell security system In Marietta, the police department purchased five of their own Flock cameras and stationed them around the city. Officials said in April that a camera used during a trial run helped lead to a reduction in crime near Bells Ferry Road at Williams Drive.  Crime rates dropped 34% between July 2018 to March of this year in the area where Marietta police installed the trial license plate reader, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. However, the department couldn’t immediately provide data on how many crimes the cameras had helped them solve. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter 
  • The adjectives used to describe this piece of land have not been kind: A “sea of asphalt.” “Desolate.” “A black hole.” It’s a bleak shopping center just outside the Perimeter in Doraville, but developers are hoping to change that. A large-scale redevelopment could give new life to the property through a mix of retail and more than 300 apartments. On the surface, it seems like a standard redevelopment project targeting another decades-old shopping center. But to Doraville residents and city leaders, it’s much more. For years, they said, development and urbanization along Peachtree Industrial Boulevard has skipped over Doraville, as nearby cities celebrated new high-budget projects. That has caused Doraville, a city of 10,500 that straddles I-285 in northern DeKalb County, to miss out on potential businesses and new residents, officials said. “During the campaign in 2017, a lot of residents were coming out and saying, ‘Listen, why is it happening everywhere else? Why isn’t it happening here?’” Councilman Robert Patrick said, referencing discussions he had while running for office. “This is our effort to say it’s happening here.” The project, which the City Council could approve next month, targets the Village at Tilly Mill Crossing, previously known as Friday’s Plaza. The spacious center, coated in a mustard yellow paint, is currently less than 25% occupied with only five tenants, according to a memo filed with the city. The developers, Kaufman Capital Partners and Atlantic Realty Partners, hope to demolish about 70% of the existing commercial space and replace it with two new buildings and a private street running between them. Most of the three- to five-story structures will consist of apartments, with retail and office space on the ground floor facing the street. The project could also add one acre of green space. “We’re going to dramatically change the landscape,” said Garry Sobel, a senior vice president at Kaufman. “It’s going to provide a viable project that will provide a gateway to Doraville. We believe it’s Doraville’s time.” Waiting for growth On a recent June afternoon, a few cars were clustered near businesses in the outreaches of the Village at Tilly Mill Crossing parking lot, which can fit up to 621 cars. One of the businesses that will stay after the development is The PawStand, a beloved pet store on the southern edge of the property. Though she has concerns over the availability and accessibility of parking options after the construction, co-owner Jennifer Andreae said new development is a welcome addition to this suburb. “This area really needs to be revitalized … so that it’ll be a destination point for a lot of the local neighbors,” Andreae said. “I really want to see this development done the right way.” Andreae used to work at the old General Motors plant in Doraville that shuttered in 2008. It would be more than a decade before a development emerged to fill the empty industrial site. The mini-city named Assembly, which welcomed its first business earlier this year, is just two miles from the Tilly Mill plaza and represents another sign of the economic investment beginning to reach the city. » RELATED: ‘City within a city’ rises on site of shuttered GM plant Over the past several years, development in metro Atlanta has snaked northeast from Buckhead along Peachtree Road as the corridor turns into Peachtree Boulevard, and eventually Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. But the trend “jumped over Doraville,” which has a smaller population and more industrial history, Andreae said. On Peachtree Road, the city of Brookhaven for years has attracted shoppers, diners and businesses to Town Brookhaven, a 54-acre mixed-use district that includes amenities like a luxury dinner-and-a-movie theatre. Up the road, Chamblee is working to turn its downtown into a true “town center,” with new housing and the Peachtree Station shopping center opening in recent years. Just past Doraville in Peachtree Corners, the city opened its swanky town center earlier this year, with a dine-in movie theater, a spa and townhomes. The prospective redevelopment in Doraville represents the growth the city has experienced over the past decade. Once an industrial suburb, Doraville’s population has grown since 2010, reaching an estimated 10,500 people last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The median household income of its residents has also jumped 25%, from about $39,800 annually in 2010 to $50,000 in 2017. And it continues to have an ethnically diverse population, with 55% of its residents identifying as Hispanic or Latino, according to the latest Census numbers. A changing city Following the progress at Assembly, officials hope the development will signal a turning point for Doraville — one that the city is willing to hang its name on. At a meeting last month, the City Council suggested adding a large “Doraville” sign to the top of the apartment building — similar to a bright red “Chamblee” sign that sits atop a building overlooking Peachtree. Sobel and the other developers seemed open to that idea. Council members have generally hailed the Tilly Mill project as a welcome addition to Doraville, and suggested it could set the tone for future upscale, mixed-use projects. Mayor Donna Pittman said she hopes a coffee shop can take up one of the spots in the complex, while Councilwoman Pam Fleming said she thought more space for businesses would better serve the tenants. But some business owners like Sharon McCarty Armstrong aren’t as excited about the development. The Allstate insurance agent works in the part of the building slated to be demolished, and said she only learned of the plans in June. She’s worried about having to find a new location for her office by late this year or early 2020, when construction could begin. “I’m all for redevelopment and trying to get businesses here,” said McCarty Armstrong, whose business has been in the center for seven years. But, she added, “I like this area. I really don’t want to move.” There are a few concerns from nearby residents, including increased traffic and a possible jump in the cost of living, though many agreed the area was in need of revitalization. Most of the worries expressed by City Council members concerns the more immediate problem with parking. The latest renderings do not include parking spots directly outside of PawStand, while the business’ owners said those spots are crucial for disabled customers or people bringing in injured pets for therapy. “We just need to take care of our customers, make it convenient for them to come to our store and bring their dogs in for rehabilitation,” Andreae said, adding that “not everybody is in their 20s, and they need assistance sometimes and they need to have access.” In response to the concerns, Sobel said the developers would look into the possibility of changing the parking lot design. “It’s really important that you work out something,” Pittman said during the meeting, “and we would greatly appreciate that.” The City Council is set to vote on the proposal during its Aug. 5 meeting. — Newsroom Data Specialist Jennifer Peebles contributed to this report. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter 
  • One of DeKalb County’s tiniest cities is continuing its venture into the world of smaller houses. The city of Clarkston on Tuesday took the first step toward allowing a developer to build a new neighborhood of cottage-style homes on smaller-than-normal lots. The new 36-home subdivision would sit in the southeast corner of the small DeKalb County city, at the end of East Avenue. The land currently consists of one occupied home, an unoccupied home and vacant, wooded lots. The City Council on Tuesday night voted that lot sizes for nearly all of the new single-family homes in this development can be smaller than what is normally required by city law. In Clarkston, homes in high-density areas like this one usually must be built on lots no smaller than 5,000 square feet, about a 10th of an acre. The developers, Oak Hall Companies, had requested a variance for the minimum lot sizes to be reduced to 3,000 square feet.  The council also approved a 20% reduction in the minimum width of the lots, from 50 feet to 40 feet. “Even one of the planning commissioners said several times ... that this is exactly the kind of housing that Clarkston needs,” William “Tad” Braswell, a representative for Oak Hall, told the council during Tuesday’s meeting. The houses themselves will be between 1,200 and 1,400 square feet, Braswell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For comparison, the median size of a newly built American single-family home was about 2,400 square feet in 2017, according to census data. They will cost between $280,000 and $320,000, Braswell said, with the target market being millennials and empty-nesters looking to stay in the Atlanta area. It’s not the first time Clarkston has embraced the idea of smaller homes. In May, they approved a “tiny home neighborhood,” where eight small houses will be built on a half-acre lot. » READ MORE: Georgia’s first ‘tiny home neighborhood’ coming to metro Atlanta Councilman Jamie Carroll has also proposed a rewrite of the city’s zoning code that would cut the sizes of most residential lots in half. That plan was met with frustration from many residents, and the city has since said it will hire a professional firm to review the idea. The subdivision development on East Avenue would require the clearing of trees on the 4.5-acre piece of land. Several residents spoke out Tuesday against the plan, saying the decision to reduce lot sizes could set a precedent for more aggressive, high-density developments in the city. MORE DEKALB NEWS: » After recent break-ins, Dunwoody police say to not hesitate calling 911 » Developer illegally cut down thousands of trees near river, county officials say One neighbor, Lisa Williams, said the 36-home proposal stems from a “purely financial desire to put more units (on the land).” The Planning and Zoning Board previously voted to deny the developers’ request, though city staff said council should approve it, adding several conditions. Hazel Poe owns the property that would be developed and has lived there for 57 years. She told the City Council that although she plans to sell the land and move out, she looks forward to seeing Clarkston grow. “Clarkston is going through a beauty change ... Clarkson had an old hairdo and now it’s being redone,” Poe said. “I love the property, and I want the people that are going to live there to enjoy it the way we enjoyed it.” Tuesday’s vote only concerned the lot sizes of the parcels; Oak Hall now plans to apply for other permits including a land disturbance permit before construction can begin this fall. Braswell said he hopes to begin selling the homes next spring.  Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter  In other news:
  • Hundreds of small American flags were stolen from a DeKalb County neighborhood just before the Fourth of July, but that didn’t keep the community from celebrating a patriotic Independence Day. The theft of the 500 flags in late June surprised the Druid Hills neighborhood, which has held an annual Fourth of July parade since 1976, Channel 2 Action News reported. 'They were beautiful, then they disappeared,' one resident, Major Coleman, told the news station. READ MORE: Hundreds of flags stolen along July 4 parade route in Druid Hills Kit Eisterhold, president of the Druid Hills Civic Association, stepped up and paid out of his own pocket for new flags, which were placed every few feet along North Decatur and Oakdale roads.  'It's a little demoralizing, having to go back and do something you've already done,' Eisterhold told Channel 2. 'But they all got put out. The Fourth is important. A sense of community is important. The flag is important.' The 44th annual parade went on as scheduled Thursday. 'Driving around the neighborhood since the incident, once the flags were restored, it restored our sense of pride in our neighborhood,' Druid Hills resident Lois Oakley said. A home surveillance system showed what appears to be a man and a woman walking down the sidewalk late on June 23 and pulling up the flags. Some were discarded in nearby bushes, Channel 2 reported. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter  In other news:
  • The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce named seven businesses or individuals for honors at its annual APEX Awards. The awards, made on June 26, included the Business Advocacy Award for the Tucker Business Association, for its efforts to engage 100 companies operating in one of DeKalb’s newest cities. The Business of the Year in the small category is EGM Services. Based in Decatur, it is the largest minority-owned glass company in the southeastern United States. The large category winner for Business of the Year is Stablegold Hospitality, a real estate investment firm that includes the Economy Hotel chain.  The United Way of Greater Atlanta was named the Nonprofit of the Year in the large category, and the small category winner is I Care, Inc. That organization provides transportation to medical appointments for low-income seniors. The Stone Ridge Event Center in Stone Mountain received the Emerging Business Award. The Youth Entrepreneur Award went to Just Temple, a company founded by 11-year-old Temple Lester. She gets kids interested in science by selling science, technology, engineering and math-related products in her STEM Swag Shop.
  • For the second year in a row, the federal government has declined an invitation to swear in a group of new United States citizens at the Dunwoody Fourth of July Parade. From 2015 to 2017, dozens of new citizens recited the Oath of Allegiance at the end of the parade, said Pam Tallmadge, a city councilwoman who also co-chairs the parade, which attracts tens of thousands of spectators. But last year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services backed out of performing the swearing-in. The agency said it was shrinking the number of off-site ceremonies because of “mission requirements and our allocation of resources,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last year. » READ MORE: Federal government nixes second Atlanta-area citizenship ceremony In April of this year, Tallmadge emailed USCIS asking if they would return to host the naturalization ceremony. “You all were missed last year,” she wrote. A representative for the USCIS Atlanta field office replied and said it was not accepting the invitation, and that “although some ceremonies have been done as part of annual themes for one or more preceding years, ongoing theme ceremonies at a given location are never guaranteed.” A spokeswoman for USCIS did not provide a further comment about the situation by press time. MORE DEKALB NEWS: » After recent break-ins, Dunwoody police say to not hesitate calling 911 » Your trash pickup in DeKalb could be altered for Fourth of July holiday The field office is holding a swearing-in ceremony Wednesday morning for 49 people from 29 countries. Nationally, the agency plans to welcome nearly 7,500 new citizens in about 110 ceremonies from July 1 to 5. Tallmadge estimated that during the first year of the Dunwoody parade’s naturalization ceremony, about 25 new citizens were sworn in. Eventually, it grew to about 80 people in 2017. The Dunwoody Fourth of July Parade is one of the largest Independence Day celebrations in the area. » RELATED: Where to watch July Fourth fireworks and other free events in DeKalb County “The citizens of Dunwoody were thrilled to witness this remarkable ceremony. I wish every U.S. citizen could see one,” Tallmadge said, clarifying that her role with the parade is separate from her duties as a councilwoman. “In my opinion, what better venue than a Fourth of July parade, with 32,000 spectators down the parade route?” She said she plans to ask again next year for the agency to bring the ceremony back to Dunwoody. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter  In other news:

News

  • The brother of a woman shot by her husband at a medical clinic in Potts Camp, Mississippi is honoring his sister’s life. Around 10 a.m. Tuesday, state representative candidate Carl Robinson shot and killed his wife – Latoya Thompson – before turning the gun on himself inside the Williams Medical Clinic. The couple had been married since 2014, but court records show Robinson, 43, and Thompson, 33, had filed for divorce in April.  According to legal records, the two filed a joint complaint for divorce April 26. At the time, only one lawyer was involved.  That changed Tuesday morning. Records show that Thompson hired her own attorney and that she changed her mind about a previous agreement she signed about child custody, support and other details July 15.  Now, Thompson’s brother said his family is remembering her for her love of life and passion for singing. “She was a singer, she was our little songbird. Ever since she was a kid, she was always singing something. Beautiful smile, beautiful spirit,” said Kevin Thompson. Thompson said his sister loved her family, especially her 3-year-old son.  His last memory with her is from Saturday, when he traveled in town for their grandmother’s funeral in Lamar, Mississippi. “She was just real happy this weekend, and that’s what I take from all of this,” Thompson said. Three days later on his way home, Thompson found out his sister was shot by her husband.  Investigators said Robinson shot Thompson inside the clinic, where she worked as a receptionist. He then killed himself. Three staff members tried to help Thompson after she was shot.  According to Marshall County officials, staff attempted to perform CPR on Thompson to resuscitate her, but she died before she could be airlifted to a hospital. Robinson was running for state representative in Mississippi, officials confirmed. According to Robinson's campaign Facebook page, he was running in District 5 for the upcoming election. “I was mad at what happened to my sister. I was sad at the fact that I lost my sister, and I was numb because I couldn’t do anything about it,” Thompson said. Thompson said he knew her husband, but he did not know the specifics about their relationship. “I knew he had a temper like most of us did. I didn’t know to what extent,” he said. “You may know someone is off but never think they would go to this extent.” Thompson said his focus now is being there for her 3-year-old son. He said he will include Robinson’s family in the child’s life. “We are going to work together to make sure he has the best of both. It would be unfair for us to shield him and hold onto him,” he said. He said a memory he will hold close to his heart is their last conversation – when she told him that she loved him. Funeral arrangements have not yet been planned.
  • A Mableton man is accused of hiding his 5-year-old son from his wife — who has a temporary protection order against him — before leading deputies on a three-hour manhunt, authorities said. Quantavious Carrol, 27, faces 10 charges after the Thursday chase, which ended with deputies using a Taser on him, the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release. Deputies tried to pull over Carrol’s vehicle, which also had a passenger inside, near Upper Riverdale Road and Tara Boulevard, the release said. Carrol, who allegedly knew he violated the restraining order, drove away from the traffic stop on I-75 North. While driving, he’s accused of throwing a stolen handgun of the window. The gun was stolen out of Gwinnett County, the release said. The chase continued onto I-285 and ended on Fairburn Road, where Carrol got out of the vehicle and ran away, the release said. The passenger was blocked inside the vehicle and was captured by deputies. His charges have not been released. Carrol continued to run, and deputies found him after searching for about three hours, authorities said. He allegedly fought with deputies after they located him, which is why a Taser was used. The 10 charges against Carrol include fleeing police, obstruction, not having car insurance, theft by receiving and multiple driving citations, records show. He remains held at the Clayton County jail without bond. The 5-year-old has been reunited with his mother, the release said. In other news:
  • An Indiana man has been charged with endangering the welfare of children after authorities said he took kids to Kentucky and forced them to sell candy for him. >>Read more trending news Shawn Floyd, 54, of Indianapolis was arrested last week in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said in a statement. The 12 children involved in the case were taken into protective custody. Floyd is accused of taking 12 Indiana children to Kentucky and forcing them to sell candy for profit, the statement said. The children were allegedly made to sleep in one hotel room with three adults, and had to purchase their own meals and water, according to the statement. The youngest child was 11, the office said. Kentucky labor law requires a person to be at least 14 years old to be employed. Beshear's office was notified July 12 of about 25 solicitor permits issued in Bowling Green, mostly for minors. The office had also received previously reports of Floyd possibly being involved in human trafficking in several Kentucky counties, the statement said. 'I want to commend the work of the Bowling Green Police Department and our human trafficking investigator,” Beshear said. “Their actions prevented any further possible exploitation or suffering for these children. When it comes to preventing such crimes, it requires cooperation across agencies and promoting awareness of such actions in every community.” Floyd has a pretrial conference scheduled for Sept. 4 in Warren County, Kentucky, WANE-TV reported. Online records show Floyd has bonded out of Warren County Regional Jail. Anyone who has information on people being exploited for commercial sex or labor can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 (or text 233733) for immediate assistance.
  • A California family is mourning the loss of their 9-year-old daughter and warning others about the dangers of underwater pool lights. >> Read more trending news  McKenzie Kinley, who was just shy of her 10th birthday, was killed Sunday after she was electrocuted in her family’s backyard pool in Citrus Heights, according to news reports.  The child was killed after touching an underwater light fixture that was not sealed and was under repair, KOVR-TV reported. “As much as we know, she grabbed the pool light, and it electrocuted her,” the girl’s father, Cliff Kinley, told the news station.  Sacramento County rescue crews rushed to the scene, but were not able to save the child. “Thank goodness it didn’t get anyone else, because there were four other children in that pool,” Kinley said. Kinley said the family is talking about the tragedy to warn other people about the potential dangers in backyard pools. “If nothing comes from losing my daughter, at least this could save others,” the child’s mother, Lisa Moore, told KOVR. The family started a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.
  • A former Atlanta attorney and his son were sentenced to nearly six years in prison Tuesday for a banking and investment scam that netted them more than $15 million, authorities said. Donald Watkins and his son Donald Watkins Jr. were convicted earlier this year  of deceiving former NBA star Charles Barkley and using the name of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support the scam. Watkins was sentenced to five years in prison, while his son got 27 months behind bars, The Associated Press reported. The elder Watkins was also ordered to pay $14 million in restitution.  During the trial, witnesses including Barkley testified about losing more than $6 million in investments and loans to the former attorney. Barkley said he was friends with Watkins, who split his time living in Birmingham, Ala. and Atlanta. Other athletes who lost money in the scheme included former NBA player Damon Stoudamire and former NFL players Takeo Spikes and Bryan Thomas. Rice testified that Watkins used her name to promote an energy business without her permission, the AP reported. She declined to get involved, but Watkins included her name in emails to investors anyway, she said. As a lawyer, the senior Watkins once served in Montgomery as a city council member. He helped defend HealthSouth Corp. founder Richard Scrushy in a fraud that nearly bankrupted the company, now known as Encompass Health. He has also worked on various civil rights cases. Watkins reportedly only had a net worth of few thousand dollars despite portraying himself as wealthy, the AP reported. He attempted to purchase a major league baseball team and the the St. Louis Rams before the team left for Los Angeles.  In other news: 
  • A couple in Clarksburg, West Virginia, is in jail facing child neglect charges after three children wandered off from their home. >> Read more trending news WBOY reported that Clarksburg Police Department officials said officers received a call on June 1 about three children who were seen in the area and were not wearing clothes. A criminal complaint obtained by WBOY said one of the children was carrying a steak knife. >> Read more trending news According to the complaint, the children were away from their parents for about 25 minutes. Police located the children about a quarter of a mile away from home. Two of the children, girls ages 3 and 2, had no clothes on, the complaint said. A 4-year-old boy was only wearing a diaper, which was full of feces. Police contacted the children's mother, 24-year-old Sarah Nardo. They learned Nardo and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Donald Johnson, were sleeping when the children got out of the house.  Johnson and Nardo were arrested and charged with gross child neglect creating risk of death or injury, WBOY reported. According to North Central Regional Jail records, they were booked Tuesday. They are being held on $50,000 bond.