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Groups push to connect Atlanta Beltline to Silver Comet Trail

There's a new push to connect the Atlanta Beltline to the Silver Comet Trail.

The PATH Foundation is working alongside Connect the Comet to connect the heavily used Silver Comet Trail, which reaches from Cobb County to Alabama, with the hugely popular Beltline that will circle the metro.

"This would give us pedestrian transportation and recreation and tourism and higher property values. Everybody wins here," said Roberta Cook, with Connect the Comet.

There is a six-and-a-half mile stretch of out of service CSX Railroad line between the trails. The tracks are not officially abandoned, but part of them have already been paved over.

"You have to have a willing seller. CSX has been reluctant to abandon the line," said Ed McBrayer, with the PATH Foundation.

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Groups have lined the tracks with signs to build support for their cause.

More than 4,000 signatures were delivered to Governor Nathan Deal on Wednesday in hopes that his influence can start a dialogue about connecting the trails, something Cook said she has been working on tirelessly for more than a decade.

"CSX, we just want to get them to the table to talk about how we can come to terms and if we need to buy it, how much does it cost?" Cook said.

Channel 2's Wendy Corona contacted CSX, which sent a statement saying, "CSX frequently works with public agencies and nonprofits on rails-to-trails projects across our network. We consider the trail proposals on a case-by-case basis."

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News

  • A New Jersey man died early Saturday in a fireworks explosion in Jersey City, authorities said. According to witnesses, the victim, who has not been identified, was struck in the neck with fireworks shortly before 1 a.m., NJ.com reported. The explosion took place outside the Booker T. Washington housing complex, the website reported. Attempts to revive the man were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at an area hospital. In 2017, New Jersey lawmakers legalized the use of certain fireworks, including poppers, sparklers and other non-aerial items, The Associated Press reported. According to NJ.com, a city task force was created after social media videos showed men conducting shootouts involving Roman candles, which are illegal in New Jersey.
  • A motorcyclist was thrown from their bike and killed Saturday morning after rear-ending an SUV on I-20 in Atlanta, police said. The crash occurred about 1:30 a.m. in the eastbound lanes near Hamilton E. Holmes Drive. Speed appears to have played a role in the deadly wreck, investigators said. “The preliminary investigation indicates an SUV was entering onto I-20 and observed a motorcycle approaching from behind at a high rate of speed,” Atlanta police said in a statement. “The motorist stated they attempted to avoid the motorcycle. However, the motorcycle struck the rear of the SUV, causing the motorcyclist to be ejected.” Read more on this story on ajc.com.
  • An Arizona woman fell to her death Friday at Grand Canyon National Park as she attempted to take photographs, park officials said. Maria A. Salgado Lopez, 59, of Scottsdale, was hiking off-trail when she fell off the edge of Mather Point, park officials said in a news release. Rangers received a call about 12:35 p.m. When they arrived, rangers found Lopez about 100 feet below the rim, KNXV reported. An investigation is being conducted by the National Park Service and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office, KTVK reported. No additional information was available. In its release, park officials reminded visitors to follow safety guidelines. “Grand Canyon National Park staff encourage all visitors to have a safe visit this holiday weekend by staying on designated trails and walkways, always keeping a safe distance from the edge of the rim, and staying behind railings and fences at overlooks,” the park said in its release.
  • People aren’t the only ones feeling cooped up during the coronavirus pandemic. A wayward pet chicken hitched a ride with a Texas woman and her son to a Jiffy Lube on Wednesday, surprising everyone -- including the technicians performing an oil change. Tiffany Travis, of Pearland, was returning a dog and its crate to her neighbor, Laurie Fowler, KSAT reported. As Travis left, Fowler’s pet chicken, Maggie, jumped into the back of Travis’ truck, the television station reported. “Jury is still out if she flew into (the) bed or wheel well. Forensic Ring evidence is hazy,” Travis told KSAT. Travis and her son left and drove three miles to a Jiffy Lube for an oil change. When she started to pay for the service, she noticed a commotion. “My kids and I were in my husband’s truck, masked up COVID-style,” Travis told the television station. “When we were leaving the bay, because I was still in driver seat the entire time, we handed the staff my credit card through a cracked window and heard a commotion.” That’s when Travis saw a Jiffy Lube employee chasing after Maggie, finally catching the bird as it ran around one of the service bays. “Ma’am, is this your chicken? It just fell out of your truck,” the employee asked. “At first I was very confused,” Travis told KSAT. “Then it dawned on me. ‘Yes, yes that is my chicken.‘” “The JiffyLube staff [was] already cracking up. They all got out their phones and took pictures.” Oil’s well that ends well, even for the chicken. Maggie was unhurt, except perhaps for some ruffled feathers. “The entire experience was like a scripted sitcom and brought much-needed humor to what has been a rough few months for our family and well, humanity,” Travis told KSAT. “We all could use some laughter right about now. Thank God for funny chickens.”
  • Two boys magnet fishing reeled in an explosive find, a rusted old hand grenade. Lari Tammiviuori and Viljami Juutilainen made the discovery while fishing Thursday in Lake Vesijarvi in Lahti, Finland, YLE reported. 'We carried it to the shore with our hands, but then didn't touch it again when we found out what it was,' Tammivuori said.  The boys have gone magnet fishing frequently this summer, pulling in scrap metal, bottle caps and nails. They called police who arrived and disposed of the grenade.  The age and condition of the explosive have not been released.  Mother Maarit Juutilainen thought her son's magnet fishing hobby was harmless. “Now you kind of get scared of what they might find,” she said. “But we won’t allow the boys to continue fishing scrap from there.”
  • A 13-foot tall metal giraffe sculpture was stolen from out front of a St. Louis brewery and its owner is offering a $1,000 reward to get it back. “With all the bad going on in the world, you try to find things that make you smile,” Civil Life Brewing Company owner Jake Hafner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “And the giraffe was one of those things.” Hafner bought the sculpture for $1,800 last year to lift employees' spirits after a plan to expand the brewery fizzled. The giraffe was added to a display that already included two large dinosaurs. Hafner took down a fence around the animal art in March.  “I thought, ‘nobody is going to take a 13-foot giraffe,’” Hafner said. “Famous last words.” Surveillance video from the brewery shows a white box truck pull up June 25 and minutes later the truck and giraffe are gone. The theft has been reported to police.  It would have likely taken at least two people to move the cumbersome, 160-pound sculpture.  Hafner is offering $1,000 reward for the giraffe’s return. He will also donate $1,000 to Northside Community Housing, an affordable housing group.