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Latest from Marcy Williams

    The Butts County Sheriff's Office warns Georgians not to fall for a bogus Facebook headline reporting a fiery fatal crash.   The Macon Telegraph reports the headline is designed to grab your attention by mentioning multiple casualties involving women and children, but if you click to read more, a virus or malware infects your account.  The sheriff's office has been so besieged by calls about this phony fatal accident, it's posted about it on its Facebook page.   'This is FALSE information,' the post reads. 'We are being told the link on Facebook may be some type of virus. PLEASE DO NOT click on or 'share' the link as it apparently hacks your Facebook account after doing so.'   The Telegraph reports similar scams have popped up mentioning other counties in and out of Georgia. They typically feature a 'breaking news' graphic and a reference to 'NEWSROOMS.INFO' in the text.   If you do end up taking the bait, change your password and follow other web security precautions.
  • The success of Ponce City and Krog Street Markets in Atlanta inspires developers in Marietta.   The Marietta Daily Journal reports Concordia Properties and partners file plans to build an 18,000 square foot food hall just off the Marietta Square.   Marietta Square Market will be built in a converted warehouse on North Marietta Parkway.   The Daily Journal reports the food hall will feature three anchor restaurants, a central restaurant and bar, and smaller kiosks for food and shopping.   The hall's design is patterned after an old-fashioned railroad depot and there are plans to incorporate a fully-restored 1920s streetcar.  Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin's excited about the project and hopes it will be in business by the summer of 2018.   '[That area] used to be just car places and stuff, real dirty,' Tumlin tells the MDJ. 'You can put a shine on that area, especially with this.
  • A Columbus teen files suit in Muscogee County State Court after an incident at school results in the loss of his leg.   'We feel pretty good about this case,' Renee Tucker, the attorney representing Montravious Thomas, tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The suit seeks $25 million in damages.   The AJC reports Thomas was injured by a contract teacher at an alternative school last September. Behavioral specialist Bryant Mosley allegedly threw the 13-year-old boy to the floor at Edgewood Student Services Center several times.   Tucker alleges Thomas had to be carried to the school bus and the district failed to notify his family about the severity of his injury.   Mosley, who is named in the suit, is no longer working for the school district.   Thomas ultimately had to have his right leg amputated at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. His attorney tells the AJC, he continues with physical therapy but will require additional surgery on his leg.   Tucker says Thomas no longer lives in Columbus.   A school district spokeswoman states the system does not comment on pending litigation.
  • The family of a female inmate who died of pneumonia at the Gwinnett County jail files suit against the sheriff, jail health care provider and staff.  'This was such an avoidable, preventable death,” attorney Mark Begnaud tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Begnaud says Denise Forte begged a jail nurse to send her to the clinic after she was found in her cell too sick to go to breakfast on a Saturday in February, 2015.   The nurse noted Forte's resting heart rate was high and she complained she hurt all over.  Forte had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The nurse administered a standard cold protocol of Tylenol, an antihistamine and an expectorant and told Forte she could see a doctor Monday.    Forte died in her cell.   Begnaud alleges negligence.  The lawsuit filed in Gwinnett County State Court claims Forte's pneumonia should have been caught and treated earlier had medical decisions outweighed cost. The AJC reports Corizon Health, the private health care provider for the jail, is the largest for-profit provider of correctional health services in the country.   Corizon spokeswoman Martha Harbin will not comment on pending litigation but defends the quality of health care.  'One of the greatest misconceptions about our company is that we somehow benefit from providing lower quality care,” Harbin tells the AJC in an email.   'It is important to emphasize that the existence of a lawsuit is not necessarily indicative of quality of care or any wrongdoing,” Harbin adds in her statement to the AJC.  The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.   An inmate at the Gwinnett County jail died last month after what is described as a medical emergency. The sheriff’s office denies claims by the inmate’s family that he was not fed properly.
  • A Lawrenceville woman and her husband stand trial in Gwinnett Superior Court for child cruelty and false imprisonment after allegedly starving the woman's 15-year-old autistic daughter.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports Jade Jacobs and William Anthony Brown allegedly made the child live in a closet in the basement.   'Not only was it tiny, but it was disgusting,” Assistant District Attorney Bobby Wolf tells jurors in court. 'There was feces on the wall and a urine-stained mat where she was supposed to sleep on a hard floor.' The Daily Post reports the alleged abuse came to light after Jacobs brought her daughter to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite in August 2014.   According to the police report, a clinical social worker at the hospital said the teen only weighed about 60 pounds.      The girl's current foster father testifies she squirreled away food for months after coming to live with his family.   'She would fill her cheeks full of food, then spit it under the pillow or hide it under the pillow,' Todd Moog testifies.   He says she is now at a healthy weight.   Defense attorneys argue the overwhelmed couple tried desperately to get help to address the autistic girl's disabilities, but were stymied. 'All the resources my client begged for months, now they’re suddenly all available,' Jacobs' defense attorney Lawrence Lewis tells jurors.
  • Protesters show up at Tuesday's Gwinnett County commission meeting but embattled Commissioner Tommy Hunter does not.    Commission Chair Charlotte Nash explained Hunter was out of town.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports the board, in Hunter's absence, votes unanimously to name Herman Pennamon to the ethics panel hearing a complaint against Hunter.  An Atlanta resident filed the complaint after Hunter referred to Congressman John Lewis as a 'racist pig' on Facebook.  Hunter has apologized but resists calls to resign.  Three of the five ethics panel members have now been appointed.  Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter chose Terri Duncan as his representative and the Gwinnett Bar Association tapped David Will.  Hunter and the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia must still make their picks.  County Attorney Bill Linkous advises commissioners Hunter can be censured or reprimanded for his behavior but state law does not grant the Board of Commissioners authority to suspend or remove him.  Linkous explains citizens have the option to organize a recall effort.  Provisions of state law prevent a recall within 180 days of an elected official's term.  The Gwinnett Daily Post reports a campaign against Hunter could not begin in earnest until summer.  For the first time this week, protesters also turned up at Hunter's employer in Norcross. United Consulting distances itself from Hunter's comments and has apologized to Lewis.
  • Over the protests of some parents, Atlanta's Board of Education votes to close Adamsville Primary School and Whitefoord Elementary School this summer.  Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's plan also repurposes Miles Intermediate School as an elementary school.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports dozens of parents urged the board Monday night to vote down the restructuring, arguing the upheaval is not in students' best interest.  Carstarphen maintains the system must streamline to cut costs and maximize efficiency.  'We're not rolling in the dough,' she tells the AJC.  Board members expressed concern about class size and potential blight from empty buildings.  Steven Lee and Byron Amos cast both no votes.  'I do not think merging two struggling schools into one larger school is what's best for children,' Lee stated at the meeting.   While there had been some early discussion of combining Benteen and D.H. Stanton Elementary Schools, that was not included in the final plan the board voted to approve.   Carstarphen says she is evaluating future uses of the buildings that will be vacated. 'I don't ever want to close schools or consolidate but we're in a special situation,' she tells parents and the board.  'I'm hopeful these changes are going to make a difference for our district.' 
  • Atlanta parents protest plans set forth by Superintendent Meria Carstarphen to close and consolidate under-attended elementary schools in east and southeast Atlanta. The Atlanta Board of Education votes on the proposal today and is expected to give Carstarphen the go-ahead, with some tweaking.   The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports opponents of the restructuring fear classroom overcrowding as students are absorbed into other schools.  They also worry about neighborhood blight if buildings are left vacant.  In a letter to parents earlier this year, Superintendent Carstarphen explained the consolidations are part of her overall strategy to promote academic progress while making operations more efficient.  The AJC reports the plan calls for Benteen Elementary School to close with students moving to D.H. Stanton Elementary.  Whitefoord Elementary students would be divided between Toomer Elementary and Burgess-Peterson Academy. Miles Intermediate School would be converted to elementary while Adamsville Primary would close.  Some current Adamsville students might be sent to West Manor Elementary. Carstarphen acknowledges teachers at affected schools would have to reapply for their jobs.  Approved changes by the school board will take place before the new school year. Stay tuned to WSB for updates.  
  • Metro Atlanta's becoming a mecca for professional soccer.  The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports First Team SC announces plans to bring two professional teams to play in DeKalb County.  WSB's Edgar Treiguts reported this week, ground breaks in May for a huge soccer and sports complex near Stonecrest Mall in DeKalb.  Developers compare Atlanta Sports City to Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports in Florida.  These new teams, men and women, will play at Atlanta Sports City, according to the Chronicle.  The men's team will begin competing in 2018 with the women's team in competition the following year.  Atlanta United MLS opens its season next week against the New York Red Bulls at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium.  Ultimately, it will play home games at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.  Atlanta United President Darren Eales tells the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the area is hungry for soccer. 'With over 40,000 tickets sold for our home opener, the excitement and momentum is building quickly as we near our first match on March 5,' he tells the Chronicle. The Atlanta Silverbacks of the National Premier Soccer League also call Atlanta home.  More details about the new teams should roll out within the next few weeks on atl2018.com.
  • Forsyth County commissioners vote unanimously to deny a permit for a Hindu temple near Lake Lanier.  The Forsyth News reports the landowner pursuing the conditional use permit (CUP) may go to court.  Dr. Sumaltha Satoor's attorney believes the refusal was on religious grounds.  'The issue of religious use basically neutralizes this issue of zoning, so I think there's really no reason for denial of this,' attorney Stuart Teague tells the Forsyth News.  Commissioner Laura Semanson insists religion is not the issue at all. She says building a temple and adjoining priest's residence in a residential community is prohibited by neighborhood covenants and the increased traffic would affect other homeowners. Dr. Satoor applied last summer for a permit to build an 11,200 square foot temple and priest's residence on 8 acres she owns on Pilgrim Point Road. Plans call for 109 parking spaces.  Hundreds of residents have turned out at various hearings to object to the plans.  'They shouldn't be discriminating against one particular religion and that's what I felt like happened,' Dr. Satoor tells the Forsyth News. Longtime residents of Bald Ridge and Shady Shores near Lake Lanier disagree. 'It makes me sad that Dr. Satoor is pursuing this on religious grounds,' Bald Ridge resident Paula Chambers tells the Forsyth News.  'This is so not what that's about.' 'This is about our way of life,' she adds. 
  • Marcy  Williams

    Atlanta's Morning News Anchor

    Marcy Williams has co-anchored Atlanta's Morning News with since 1993. Marcy started working at WSB in 1992 after news stints at KLAC-Los Angeles and KNEW-San Francisco. A 1984 graduate of Princeton University, Marcy is married with 3 children.

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  • A group of protesters ignored a stay-at-home order so they could gather in front of a North Carolina women’s clinic. The city of Charlotte received complaints Saturday morning about people possibly not following Mecklenburg County’s stay-at-home order. There was a protest at a preferred women’s health center in the Grier Heights neighborhood. “They’re putting our first responders at risk if they have to show up,” Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said. “I just think it’s unconscionable. You can agree or disagree with reproductive health care, but it doesn’t matter. It’s legal. It’s deemed an essential business.”
  • Residents of several communities have come up with a fun way to keep kids entertained while school is out. Cities and towns such as Boston, Walpole, Haverhill, Leominster and others have organized “bear hunts,” where residents place teddy bears in their windows so kids can drive or walk around spotting the bears. “As we take our daily walks, we look at everybody’s windows to see if we can find a teddy bear,” said Candida Shepard, a mother. Shepard’s 4-year-old twins, Payton and Ayden, have taken up the fun activity in their Hyde Park neighborhood as more neighbors join in on the fun. “We saw the teddies in the window,” said Payton. The “bear hunts” are inspired by a children’s book, and residents can add their streets to a map on social media that parents use to trace the route they will take their kids on walks or drives, looking - at a safe distance - for the bears displayed in the windows. “It’s something nice to chime in about rather than something dismal, which is going on right now,” said Mary Francis, who put a teddy bear in her window. The Shepard twins’ grandmother placed teddy bears in her window, enjoying the cheer they bring to the youngest neighbors who have been home from school and stuck in the house. “People are actually walking by with a big smile on their face,” said Francis. Kids and adults alike are entertained and uplifted by the sight of the bears in the windows, a heartwarming illustration of how communities are doing everything they can to take care of each other. As volunteers step up to produce masks and donate supplies to medical workers, initiatives like the bear hunt aim to help keep people’s mental health strong. Something as simple as a teddy bear on a windowsill can be the light in someone’s day. As the twins write encouraging messages for others to stay hopeful during a scary time with their mom, a health care worker, they’re also thinking of their family in Italy. The country has been hit the hardest by the virus, where the outbreak has been the most rampant. “Stay safe from the ‘Canola’ virus,” Ayden wrote. If you want to participate, just search in your local community’s Facebook group to find a bear hunt near you.
  • With more states imposing “safer at home” and quarantine orders because of the coronavirus, families and friends are searching for ways to stay connected. Sure, the telephone works, but more people are using video apps for face-to-face contact. It’s a good way for older citizens to connect with grandchildren without worrying about coming in contact. While hugs may be precious, people are becoming more aware of staying isolated. There are plenty of ways to connect. Here is a look at 12 video-chatting applications: Zoom: This app appears to be geared toward business, but families can use Zoom too. Users initiating a meeting are taken to a virtual room that looks like a table in a conference room. Personal groups of up to 100 people can meet online for free. Business options include packages for sale that allow up to 1,000 participants. Facebook Live: Viewers can connect in real-time from their cellphones, computers and even through their television set. FaceTime: This app, though the Apple store, allows users to make video and audio calls to groups of up to 32 people. FaceTime is available on Apple products including iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Facebook Messenger: Similar to FaceTime, Messenger allows free video calling around the world for individuals or groups of up to six. It can be used on cellphones, tablets and computers. Skype: This app has been around for a while. Skype can accommodate groups of up to 50 people worldwide, It can be used on computers, mobile devices, XBox One and even smartwatches. WhatsApp: More than 2 billion users take advantage of the WhatsApp. The mobile app works on Android and iOS platforms, making it a good choice for people with friends owning diverse types of devices. The free app allows groups of up to four users per session. Tango: You know the old phrase. It takes two to Tango, and this app restricts video contact to two people. This free app is good but only two! The free app is good for video calling one other person at a time. You can also make voice calls, send messages and play games using Tango. Google Hangouts: This app is free in its basic form. Google Hangouts allows up to 10 participants at a time. You can even video chat through your Gmail accounts. Instagram: Up to six people can video chat at once via Instagram. Houseparty: This video chat app is owned by Epic Games, which developed Fortnite. Houseparty allows people to play video games or test trivia skills through its interface. It is available through Android, iOS, MacOs and Chrome. Snapchat: With Chat 2.0, Snapchat users can use a full, featured video chat service. Snapchat is free to use, but can chew up a lot of data time. It is recommended to connect to a wireless network before making your call. Viber: The Viber app is good for international calls and one-on-one video calls. Calls between Viber users are free, but a fee will apply for calling people without the app.
  • More than a fifth of Detroit's police force is quarantined; two officers have died from coronavirus and at least 39 have tested positive, including the chief of police. For the 2,200-person department, that has meant officers working doubles and swapping between units to fill patrols. And everyone has their temperature checked before they start work. An increasing number of police departments around the country are watching their ranks get sick as the number of coronavirus cases explodes across the U.S. The growing tally raises questions about how laws can and should be enforced during the pandemic, and about how departments will hold up as the virus spreads among those whose work puts them at increased risk of infection.  »Sign up for our new coronavirus newsletter “I don’t think it’s too far to say that officers are scared out there,” said Sgt. Manny Ramirez, president of Fort Worth Police Officers Association. Nearly 690 officers and civilian employees at police departments and sheriff’s offices around the country have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an Associated Press survey this week of over 40 law enforcement agencies, mostly in major cities. The number of those in isolation as they await test results is far higher in many places. Anticipating shortages, police academies are accelerating coursework to provide reinforcements. Masks, gloves and huge volumes of hand sanitizer have been distributed. Roll call and staff meetings are happening outside, over the phone or online. Precinct offices, squad cars and equipment get deep cleaned in keeping with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. Yet, many are worried it's not enough. This week, groups representing American police and fire chiefs, sheriffs, mayors and county leaders asked President Donald Trump in a letter to use the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to ensure they have enough protective gear. “We’re in war footing against an invisible enemy and we are on the verge of running out' of protective supplies, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “We’ve got hospitals calling police departments, police departments calling each other, and it’s time to nationalize in terms of our response.” Police are accustomed to meeting staffing crunches by canceling vacations and leave, putting officers on 12-hour on, 12-hour off schedules and, when necessary, by shifting detectives and other specialized personnel to patrol. And officers are used to risk. It's part of the job. But at a time when Americans are being advised to stay six feet from each other to combat an insidious virus that can live on surfaces for days, the perils and anxieties are new. This crisis is unlike any American police forces have dealt with before, said former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. “We're in unprecedented territory here,” said Davis, who led the police department when the Boston Marathon bombing happened in 2013. Streets are less crowded as people hunker in their homes. But police must prepare for the possibility of civil unrest among people who become anxious or unhappy about government orders or hospitals that get overrun with patients, he said. In New York, which has rapidly become the American epicenter of the pandemic, more than 500 NYPD personnel have come down with COVID-19, including 442 officers, and the department's head of counter-terrorism was hospitalized with symptoms. Two NYPD employees have died. On a single day this week, Friday, 4,111 uniformed officers called in sick, more than 10% of the force and more than three times the daily average. Leadership at America’s largest police department maintains that it’s continuing enforcement as usual. But they’ve also said that if the disease continues to affect manpower the NYPD could switch patrol hours, or pull officers from specialized units and other parts of the city to fill gaps -- steps also taken after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. But the U.S. is now leading the world in the number of confirmed cases; more than 100,000. Over 1,700 people have died in the country. And doctors say cases are nowhere near peaking. Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, based in Washington, D.C., said police can't just go out of business. “They need to have ways so that if one person goes down, who’s going to back that person up, so departments are having to be innovative,” he said. In big cities and remote areas alike, officers are being told to issue tickets or summons rather than making arrests for minor crimes. More crime reports are being taken by phone or online. These steps to limit exposure come as police must beef up patrols in shuttered business districts and manage spikes in domestic violence. In Detroit, officials say many of those quarantined should return to duty soon. In the meantime, an assistant chief recently released from quarantine is heading up day-to-day operations while Chief James Craig is out. Many officers are also worried about whether they'll be able to draw workers compensation benefits if they get sick, since the coronavirus is not spelled out in the list of covered conditions. “No one really knows,” said Robert Jenkins, president of the Florida State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police union, which covers 22,000 officers. “Unfortunately, we have to be out there. We don’t have a choice.” While the pandemic has so far hit American cities hardest, rural law enforcement agencies with few staff are in some ways most vulnerable. In the tiny West Texas community of Marfa, Police Chief Estevan Marquez instructed his four officers not to pull over cars for minor traffic infractions, especially if they're passing through from areas already hit by the virus. He can't afford for anyone to get sick.
  • Tom Coburn, a former U.S. senator from Oklahoma known as a conservative political maverick, died after a battle with prostate cancer, according to The Associated Press. He was 72. Coburn retired from the Senate in 2015 after being diagnosed with cancer. He served two terms from 2005 to 2015, KOKI reported. “Oklahoma has lost a tremendous leader, and I lost a great friend today,' U.S. Sen. James Lankford said in a statement. “Dr. Coburn was an inspiration to many in our state and our nation. He was unwavering in his conservative values, but he had deep and meaningful friendships with people from all political and personal backgrounds. He was truly respected by people on both sides of the aisle.” In the Senate, Coburn was the ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and also served on the committees on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and Intelligence. From 1995 to 2001, Coburn represented Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. A family physician, Coburn was a member of the Committee on Commerce, where he sat on the subcommittees on Health and Environment as vice-chairman, Energy & Power, and Oversight and Investigations. Coburn was also selected co-chair of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in 2001. Services for Coburn have not been announced, KOKI reported.
  • Florida senior citizens who live in a downtown Orlando high-rise flickered the lights of their apartments Friday in a show of support for the doctors and nurses who are trying to thwart the spread of the coronavirus. Residents of Westminster Towers flickered their apartment lights at 9 p.m. to show support for the medical professionals working at Orlando Health. “Tonight, we flashed all of our lights to show our thanks to the hero health care workers at Orlando Regional Medical Center as they work hard to treat the sick and keep us safe from COVID-19,” Westminster Towers said on Facebook. “Thank you.” The display could be seen from the hospital campus, which is near the apartment building. “Thank you (Westminster Towers) for lighting up the night and our hearts,” the hospital network said on Facebook. “We’re all in this together.”