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State Farm Arena approved as Georgia’s largest-ever voting location

The home of the Atlanta Hawks will soon transform into the largest voting precinct in Georgia history.

The Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections approved State Farm Arena as a new voting location Monday. Channel 2′s Sophia Choi was there when the announcement was made.

“There is no other city, no other voting location in the country that has anything like this,” Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robb Pitts told Choi. “This was like a God send for us.”

During this month’s primary, voters became frustrated with long lines and other voting issues. Hawks CEO Steve Koonin came up with the idea to use the arena for early voting.

“Our 700,000 square-foot building will allow for CDC requirements including social distancing,” he said.

Along with the building, the Hawks employees and players will work side-by-side with poll workers.

“Having everyone in our organization participating is something we are all very proud of,” Hawks owner Tony Ressler said.

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At a march held earlier this month, Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce made a commitment to help voters. The Hawks are pushing for other cities to do the same with their arenas.

“We want to get 30 cities in our country being able to take part,” Pierce said.

State Farm Arena will be open to voters in all Fulton districts for early voting during Georgia primary runoffs and November general election.

The arena will not be open on Election Day because voters must go to their assigned precincts.

The Fulton County elections board also approved an additional 18 early voting sites, three in each district.


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News

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  • The Chicago Blackhawks are bucking the trend of considering a name change. The NFL’s Redskins and the MLB’s Indians have both announced that they will consider changing the teams’ names and logos to something more culturally appropriate. But the Blackhawks will not. The name and image of a Native American warrior will be staying but the team’s officials said they will be “raising the bar even higher” to raise awareness of Native American culture. “The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public,” the team said in a statement according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Team officials said they have worked with Native American groups “by offering ongoing reverent examples of Native American culture, traditions and contributions, providing a platform for genuine dialogue.” While the team won’t be changing its name, it does not discount the decisions of other professional sports teams to reevaluate their names and logos, The Associated Press reported. “We recognize there is a fine line between respect and disrespect, and we commend other teams for their willingness to engage in that conversation,” the team said. The hockey team honors Native Americans with pregame and intermission events, the Sun-Times reported. But there have been some Native American groups that have said the name and logo continue racist stereotypes. The Blackhawks, known as the Black Hawks, joined the NHL in March 1926 and was named by the owner Frederic McLaughlin after the unit he served with in World War I – the Blackhawk Division of the 86th Infantry, WMAQ reported. The NHL season has been suspended due to coronavirus, but training camps are set to start July 13 with games resuming Aug. 1, the NHL announced Monday.
  • A Texas boy is recovering after he was struck by gunfire twice in two separate drive-by shootings that happened just days apart. According to WOAI-TV, the shootings occurred late Saturday and early Tuesday at the same home on West Viola Avenue in Yakima, authorities said. In the first shooting, an 11-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to the leg, Yakima police said in a news release. In the second, the same boy was shot in the leg once, while his 9-year-old sister was shot in the leg twice, according to the release. The children were taken to a nearby hospital and released after receiving treatment, authorities said. In a statement, Yakima police Chief Matt Murray called the incidents 'heart-wrenching and alarming.' “The Police Department’s top priority is the reduction of violent crime – and these incidents are a glaring example of why,” Murray said. “But this is a community issue, and we need the community’s help to solve it and prevent further violence.” Authorities have not announced any arrests in the case. If you have information about the shootings, you can submit a tip anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-248-9980. Read more here or here.
  • Gov. Brian Kemp has asked the federal government to send more resources to expand COVID-19 testing in Gwinnett County and to renew funds needed to keep the National Guard staffing testing sites around the state. Kemp on Tuesday asked for help getting personal protective equipment like masks and gloves for the state’s first responders and essential workers and an extension in funding for the Georgia National Guard, which has been performing COVID-19 testing and sanitizing long-term care homes during the pandemic. In addition to sustaining the ongoing federal coronavirus assistance, Kemp is seeking additional funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to increase Gwinnett’s testing infrastructure, a spokesman said. Gwinnett has seen a surge in positive COVID-19 tests since mid-May, with 9,666 total as of July 6, according to the Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale County Health Departments. Members of a federal COVID-19 response team visited Gwinnett County last week and are expected to compile a report detailing how spread could be further prevented. That report will be given to local health officials. >>Read MORE on AJC.com.
  • A driver died Wednesday morning after a fiery crash on a major interstate in Gwinnett County.  The wreck, which involved a truck and an SUV, happened about 1:30 a.m. on I-85 at Jimmy Carter Boulevard, according to Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera.  The truck caught fire after the crash, and the driver had to be freed from the vehicle, she said.  A Gwinnett police officer was injured during the rescue effort, according to Pihera. The officer was checked out at a hospital and released.  One driver died on the way to a hospital, Pihera said. It is not clear which vehicle that person was driving.  No details were released about the second driver’s condition. — Return HERE for updates from The Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • About a dozen American flags lined up along Highland Avenue in Needham, Massachusetts, were burned Sunday night, according to police. A dozen more flags set on the lawn near the Exchange Club were found destroyed, as well. According to Boston's WFXT, the flags have been replaced, but the ashes are still scattered along the grass. Longtime Needham resident Kate Robey takes it upon herself to display the flags on Highland Avenue during patriotic holidays. “I think everyone appreciates it. I get honks and the waves and the thank-yous,” Robey said. But this Fourth of July, the flags were vandalized. “Dedicated people put those out and to just burn them, nonchalantly, it’s hurtful,” said Robey. Robey has been working with the Needham VFW for years and has displayed these flags in the same parts of town for almost a decade now. She’s left confused and wondering why someone would vandalize her tribute to the men and women serving the country. “As I do the flags, I think of the veterans, fallen brave and the military out there fighting for our freedom now,” Robey said. Robey said about a dozen were burned by Memorial Park and a dozen more burned outside the Needham Exchange Club, where 500 flags were displayed in lieu of a scaled-back Fourth of July celebration. “I don’t mind what you do at your home with your flags, but these flags are my flags, and it’s vandalism,” Robey said. Police said they are investigating the matter.