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Pete Combs

    In the midst of a bountiful holiday season, the people of southwest Georgia and the Florida panhandle are struggling. Two months after Hurricane Michael roared ashore near Panama City, they’re still disoriented by the breathtaking extent of the storm’s destruction. While we celebrate the holidays with friends and family, hurricane survivors like Yalonda Crews, who are living under blue tarps, in hotels and shelters say, “We’ve been forgotten.”
  • President Trump's allegations of partisanship aimed at members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team could have wide-ranging and long-lasting effects on the American judicial system. LISTEN TO A FULL REPORT FROM WSB’S PETE COMBS BELOW:
  • He looks great in tights, wears a red cape, and can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Superman turns 80 this year and he’s getting the birthday treatment this weekend at a huge sci-fi convention called Dragon Con in Atlanta. For years, Dragon Con has been the go-to place for fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror. This year, 85-thousand people are filling downtown hotels. There will be a huge parade on Saturday, before the five-day convention winds down on Monday.
  • “If you watch people—how they interact—they interact mostly with their digital devices,” Zellmer tells WSB’s Pete Combs. “To then get into a car and viscerally experience what can be done on a track is something people appreciate obviously. And we’re very happy about that.” In this case, the experience involves driving on a closed track in a way you can’t drive on the highway. At the Atlanta Porsche Experience Center, that involves pushing both car and driver to the limits of their abilities. For 90-minutes, paying customers drive company cars on this road course. That may not seem like a long time, but Porsche bets it’s long enough to fall in love.  It’s also a learning experience. Drivers are instructed by Porsche experts who ride along, providing tips and cautions all along the way.  The course is set up in several parts.  “There’s a road course that’s designed to mimic a windy road in the North Georgia Mountains,” says Operations Manager Geoffrey Lowdermilk.  There’s a kick plate course where the road actually turns underneath the car, forcing it to slide. “That’s an effective way to learn how to control oversteer by turning into the slide,” he points out.  There’s also a multi-faceted off-road course built specifically for the Porsche Cayenne, an all-wheel drive SUV.  “You’d be surprised at what that vehicle can do right off the showroom floor,” Lowdermilk says with a smile.  Finally, there’s a “launch pad,” where drivers can feel the wind in their hair, accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in around 3.2 seconds.  How do customers react to a brand land like the Porsche Experience Center?  “I just wanted to experience it more than I would if I was driving it around the block at the Porsche dealership,” says Suwanee retiree Terry Jordan. As he’s speaking, a bright blue roadster speeds up to a circular pad of polished concrete. It’s a drift pad, where drivers fling their Porsches into a sliding 180 degree turn, tires screeching all the way. “You know, like that,” he says, motioning over his shoulder.  It’s hard to be objective about the Porsche Experience Center once you’ve driven the course, met the people who work there, dine in the elegant café and see the remarkable collection of fine sports cars parked all over the property.  And that’s quite the point.  Porsche says the Experience Centers are a boon to sales and to the company’s cache. The point, says Zellmer, is that people want this sort of hands-on experience. He believes “brand lands” will work in a number of industries worldwide.  Says one employee at the Porsche’s Atlanta facility, “It’s like Disneyland for adults who like to drive really fast.”
  • A vehicle of interest has been identified in Tuesday’s QuikTrip robbery. 
  • An extremely dangerous robbery in Cobb County has police looking for the suspect who got away. WSB’s Pete Combs explains.
  • Long before McDonalds, before Burger King or Wendy’s – the Varsity was founded in 1928 by a former Georgia Tech student named Frank Gordy. The fast-food phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down, even as it prepares to celebrate its 90th anniversary with a birthday party on Aug. 18. WSB Radio’s Pete Combs spoke with Gordon Muir, president of the Varsity and grandson of founder Frank Gordy, and employees who have worked for the chain for decades about the Varsity’s legacy. LISTEN TO COMBS’ FULL REPORT HERE.
  • They thought it was a dud – a three-inch artillery shell on display at a museum in Marietta.  But it wasn’t.  It was actually one of several shells that could have exploded at any moment. WSB’s Pete Combs reports Amy Reed, curator at the Marietta Museum of History, always assumed the 150 or so artillery shells on display were all safe. But her friend, historian Michael Hitt, had been nagging her for weeks to get them checked out. He was worried they weren’t duds at all. So, Reed called Marietta Police. Several officers checked out a number of shells that showed no indication of having been rendered inert. They found seven.  “They said, ‘Okay, well, this one’s not good, so we’re going to take it with us,” Reed recalled. “Then they took a couple of others and said, ‘Okay, we’ll be leaving now!’” Reed says, in retrospect, she wasn’t scared. She’d moved the 3-inch shell circa World War I from place to place within the museum. She even knocked it over once. Rather than afraid, she felt lucky. “They told me to buy a lottery ticket,” she said, “because it was a miracle….” The heavy, 3-inch round was apparently fired toward Kennesaw Mountain in 1917 by a group of officer candidates training to take over the newly-created Camp Gordon, which was located where DeKalb-Peachtree Airport is now. The battery of guns fired hundreds of shells toward the mountain. But at the end of their training exercise, historian Michael Hitt says the cadets’ aim went wild. Several shells flew over the top of the mountain. One landed near the present-day intersection of Stilesboro Road and Mossy Rock Road at the edge of the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield, killing two men and a woman. Another shell found its way to the museum. It, along with several shells from WWI and the Civil War were safely detonated at the Vulcan quarry in Kennesaw by the Cobb County Police Bomb Squad and explosives experts from Dobbins Air Reserve Base.   Hitt and Reed are no longer worried about the possibility of finding live bombshells at the museum. But they do worry about the likelihood there are countless live rounds buried in the backyards of homes all over Cobb and DeKalb Counties. Hitt is especially worried about sites near PDK, site of a housing construction boom. He hopes police in Brookhaven and Chamblee will send out precautionary warnings to residents of the former Camp Gordon site—beware of unexploded ordnance.   “If you find something like this,” Hitt warned, “don’t go playing with it.” “Yeah,” Reed agreed, “don’t go putting it on your mantel.”
  • The first numbers are coming in, and it looks like Georgia’s new Hands-Free Law is saving lives. In July last year, statewide, there were 136 wrecks where cell phones were a factor. WSB Radio’s Pete Combs reports that after the law went into effect, that number was down to 107.  The law does not just apply to texting or talking on the phone, The AJC’s Amanda C. Coyne reports. You cannot go through your Spotify playlist, browse Twitter, play Candy Crush or take a selfie on Snapchat unless you’re lawfully parked.  The law bans the phone from touching any part of the driver’s body, even when stopped at a stop sign or red light.  You can adjust a GPS app or device while driving.  In Gwinnett County, the first violation comes with a $50 ticket and one point on your license. The penalty for a second violation is a $100 fine and two points on your license, and the third violation carries a $150 fine and additional points on your license.  During a ride-along in Marietta, Police Officer Jared Rakestraw tells WSB’s Pete Combs the state’s new hands-free law does seem to be working.  The number of accidents involving cell phones last month, when the law went into effect, was 27 percent lower than a year ago.  And that is why Rakestraw says he is still out here – looking for cell phones.
  • A little Jonesboro boy should be celebrating his birthday.Instead... as WSB's Pete Combs reports... the boy is missing... and authorities are increasingly worried about his safety.

News

  • New cellphone video appears to show a Florida substitute teacher body slam a student while breaking up a fight between at least two students. >> Watch the news report here Witnesses told ActionNewsJax that this happened Monday at Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville. ActionNewsJax spoke exclusively with Towyhia McAffee, who says her 15-year-old son was the one tackled. “You slammed my son,” she said. “You picked him up and slammed him.” She said her son is the teen shown wearing a cast in the video. “Do you intend to make any kind of complaint?” ActionNewsJax reporter Russell Colburn asked. “Absolutely,” she said. >> Read more trending news  Last week, after at least five recent allegations of teachers hitting students came into the ActionNewsJax newsroom, Colburn sat down with superintendent Dr. Diana Greene to discuss training. “Is there ever a situation where a teacher would want to put their hands on a student?” Colburn asked. “There should never be a situation where a teacher wants to put their hands on a student, unless they are preventing they are preventing that student from hurting themselves or hurting someone else,” Greene said. Duval County Public Schools policy does state the teacher 'must act reasonably given the circumstances when they intervene.' McAffee said that didn’t happen here. “Something needs to be done about that,” she said. “That’s not right.” ActionNewsJax followed up with DCPS on this specific case for more information on the teacher and what may have led up to the fight, but officials said that because fighting is a student disciplinary situation, they won’t provide details or comment further.
  • A father in Tuscumbia, Alabama, surprised his daughter’s entire second-grade class with a field trip to her favorite place. But Jeremy Smith’s little girl wasn’t among the kids jumping and laughing at the town’s local trampoline business, Sky Zone. Jaleia Smith died in September after the family was involved in a car crash, WHNT reported. Weeks before the crash, Jaleia and her friends celebrated her 8th birthday at the same Sky Zone. >> Read more trending news  So, to remember his daughter, and to thank the school and students for everything they have done for him this year since Jaleia’s death, Jeremy Smith treated all 111-second grade students at G.W. Trenholm Primary School to a surprise field trip to the trampoline business, WHNT reported. Her friends still miss the little girl. “[We] try to have as much fun as we can, but sometimes we can’t have as much fun as we would have if she was here,” Mia Awwad told WHNT.  Jaleia’s friends have tried to keep her memory alive too over the past school year. They retired her student number and planted a tree in her memory. They also left messages to Jaleia on the chalkboard in her classroom, according to WHNT.
  • Sisters Hailey and Hannah Hagor of North Carolina spent the weekend selling lemonade to pay off their classmates’ lunch debt. >> Watch the news report here >> Fired lunch lady was 'dishonest,' didn't follow rules, food vendor says Student lunch debt at Southwood Elementary in Davidson County is up to $3,100. >> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  “There's one family that owes $800,” the girls’ mother, Erin Hager, said. “I don't know how many years worth that is, but it's a big deal.' >> Read more trending news  The girls also sold chili, hot dogs and chips. >> See the girls' Facebook page here More than $40,000 is owed to schools across Davidson County.
  • Maybe they just wanted to go for a joyride? Three bear cubs recently crawled into a man's car in Gatlinburg, Tennessee – and the shocking moment was caught on camera. >> Gatlinburg SkyBridge: Nation's longest pedestrian suspension bridge opens in Tennessee According to WFIE, Chad Morris of Owensboro, Kentucky, was visiting the popular tourist destination last week when he spotted the undesignated drivers taking over his vehicle. Photos show the bears peeking out the windows, which Morris had left open, and getting cozy behind the steering wheel as their mother watches from the street. >> Read more trending news  'Is this real life?' Morris captioned the pictures in a Facebook book Thursday. 'Tell me we are being punked.'  >> See the Facebook post here >> Watch a video of the moment here In a Facebook comment, Morris said the bears eventually 'climbed out and took off back down the mountain.' 'I knew as soon as they got out and went down the hill, I put my windows up and they stayed up every time I parked,' Morris told WFIE. Thankfully, Morris’ new furry friends didn’t cause too much damage, though a bear did take “a chunk out of the seat,” he said. Read more here.
  • Police in Phoenix are trying to find the woman they said left a toddler in a stroller in the middle of a shopping center parking lot Saturday. The child, who is between 1 and 2 years old and was asleep in the stroller, is in the custody of the Arizona Department of Child Safety, KTVK reported. >> Read more trending news  The little boy was discovered by a bystander. The stroller was in a parking space near a fast-food restaurant, and was partially hidden under food wrappers and what police described as “other junk,” according to KTVK. “Someone who was on their way to work was walking by a pile of really just debris and among that debris was a stroller and inside the stroller was a little moving leg,” Phoenix Police Sgt. Vince Lewis told KTVK. The boy was taken to an area hospital to be checked out. He wasn’t hurt, KTVK reported.
  • A child was injured after being struck by a Boston Police cruiser Monday night. Boston Police say just after 7 p.m., they received a call of a pedestrian struck on Shawmut Avenue in Roxbury.  The pedestrian, who police said is a 1-year-old child, was taken to the hospital with minor injuries after being hit. The child's mother tells us her daughter suffered a broken collarbone in the crash.  >> Read more trending news  No additional information was released.