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Latest from Sandra Parrish

    Search and rescuers will resume their efforts this morning along the Appalachian Trail in Dawson County looking for a missing North Carolina man.  Eddie Noonkester began his hike Friday at Amicalola Falls State Park, but called a friend Sunday saying he was having medical issues. The friend in turn called 911.  The 60-year-old then called 911 himself about 30 minutes later but couldn't give dispatchers his location and may have been disoriented.  Searchers pinged his phone in order to search the area where they did locate some of his belongings Monday afternoon.  “It’s a very, very treacherous area. The terrain is just very, very difficult. You couple that with heavy rains we’ve had… and will have over the next 72 hours,” says Dawson County Fire Chief Danny Thompson.  He says the Georgia Emergency Management Agency is assisting as well as multiple law enforcement agencies and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  Volunteers who want to help can also email their information to dcsar@dawsoncounty.org.  “When you email into that address, leave your name, a contact telephone number, your availability and your experience level of hiking,” says Thompson.  He says Noonkester was planning to hike the Appalachian Trail all the way to Maine which usually takes about six months.
  • For a week, Vanessa Prior’s Great Pyrenees named Ruth Bader has had a friend--a black coyote that researchers have been tracking since late December when it was first spotted in Smyrna.  It ended up in Prior’s backyard in East Cobb, where for a week it would show up every morning to play with Ruth Bader.  “(They were) playing together and jumping in the pool and chasing each other,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  Wondering what the animal was, she posted on social media looking for answers.  “Was it a coyote; was it a fox; half dog-half fox? I really wasn’t sure,” says Prior.  It’s actually a melanistic coyote according to Chris Mowry, a biology professor at Berry College and co-founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project. He says while rare, it’s more common in the Southeast.  “In the West, for example, we rarely see black coyotes. But here in the Southeast, it’s in the gene pool,” he says. >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. The coyote’s affection for dogs may also be a genetic trait that’s been discovered in wolves and dogs that Mowry would like to learn more about.  “This potentially gives us the opportunity to look for this gene in this animal. We don’t know for sure, but [I] have some suspicions that perhaps there’s a genetic basis,” he says.  That’s why he enlisted the help of licensed coyote trapper Brandon Sanders of Sanders Wildlife Incorporated and Lara Shaw, a known dog trapper with Angels Among Us Pet Rescue.  Both set up cameras in Prior’s yard and like clockwork the coyote would appear every morning for her play date.  “Ruth Bader—she is the hero. Because if she hadn’t been playing with the coyote, we wouldn’t be here right now,” says Shaw. Within two days, the coyote was caught in one of two traps set up in the backyard of a home behind Prior’s house. Sanders transported it to the Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary in Lilburn where it will live happily with another coyote and allow Mowry to continue his studies of it.  He had to get special permission for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to capture and relocate it.  “Biologists who study coyotes—we’re not in the business of capturing and relocating coyotes. But this was a unique situation in that this coyote was not acting aggressively but on the contrary was acting very friendly,” he says.  Prior says she’s happy the coyote will be saved but knows it will be missed.  “Ruth Bader is definitely going to miss her,” she says.
  • Gilmer County becomes the latest to declare itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary in a growing movement across the country to protect gun rights. The movement started in wake of anti-gun legislation being considered by the Virginia Legislature.  Jason Williamson of Ellijay joined a packed Gilmer County commission meeting Thursday night to present a petition with 700 signatures.  “It is clear that across the United States that we need to send a message to Washington D.C., state and local elected officials, that we, the people, do not want our right to bear arms infringed upon--period,” he told the commission.  Joene DePlanke, also of Ellijay, told commissioners it’s important for the county to join the movement.  “Our forefathers worked hard to give us these rights. And we just would like to make sure that Gilmer County is determined to protect our Second Amendment rights in the U.S. Constitution,” she said.  The three commissioners passed the resolution unanimously.  Chairman Charlie Paris tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish it’s important for all Georgia counties to come together on this.  “I don’t think that our current state folks would be threatening us. (But) I do believe the federal people, at any time, would love to start restricting gun rights,” he says.  Paris says the resolution makes a statement more than anything.  “That we’re opposed to this and that we would not willingly surrender our guns,” he says.
  • Facing budget cuts, the head of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation gives state lawmakers an option to stay on top of testing rape kits even with fewer scientists. Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed budget includes the elimination of nine forensic scientist positions in the State Crime Lab something concerning to state Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) whose bill four years ago now requires all rape kits be conducted in a timely manner. “This is something that is incredibly important, and we’re just not going to accept going backwards into creating a new backlog—we’re just not,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
  • In his ongoing efforts to go after street gangs, Gov. Brian Kemp unveils new legislation that could have some of the most violent members facing the death penalty.
  • Former Gov. Nathan Deal has gotten his first look at the state’s new judicial building named for him. The Nathan Deal Judicial Center is the new home of the Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals. “The state of Georgia, I think can be very, very proud of this building and all that it signifies,” he says.  During his time as governor, Deal was essential in getting the $131 million in funding to build the six story, 215,000 square foot building at the corner of Memorial Drive and Capitol Avenue.  “This is a 100-year-old building. We intend to have this building for 100 years,” remarked Chief Justice Harold Melton before the tour for Deal and local media.  The building holds offices for 150 state employees who were crammed in a total of three buildings across the street from the State Capitol.  “Those who were close to it already knew that the quarters were very cramped in the old Law Building where they were located. Of course, as your recall, we expanded the size of both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  The new building features handmade desks and upholstered chairs made by inmates in Georgia’s prison system. It’s appropriate because Deal was a proponent of rehabilitation and giving prisoners a second chance at life.  “We have to make sure that those who are leaving our system have some skill sets and have as much support as possible so that they can make a successful entry back into civilian life. And to see those kinds of examples in person and in this building certainly is rewarding,” he says.  Deal met one of those former inmates, William Rutledge, during his tour.  “It is because of the rehabilitative programs that are in place within the Department of Corrections that I have become the man I am today,” says Rutledge.  The new building will also soon house Georgia’s new statewide Business Court championed by Deal as well. Cases are scheduled to begin in August.
  • A Georgia State House committee is expected to pass a bill Wednesday morning that could pave the wave for U.S. Rep. Doug Collins to run in a primary election against U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler. The bill would allow for primaries in all special elections--doing away with Georgia’s “jungle primary” in which all candidates would run in the same primary regardless of political party.  “Georgia is one of only a very few states in the country that still clings to this jungle primary thing. This just brings us in line with what the vast majority of states are doing,” says House Speaker David Ralston.  He supported amending the change onto another bill dealing with voter registration but denies it has anything to do with his friendship with Collins.  “This is not about personalities. This about making the elections more orderly, more sensible. And anybody who is running is going to have an equal shot at winning,” Ralston tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  Collins came to the State Capitol Tuesday to eulogize his friend and former seatmate Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) who died before the legislative session began. Afterwards, he refused to comment on the rumors he would run.  “It’s a reminder that when you come into public service, it’s often you’re touched by the ones who step forward and have public service with each other. And I think that’s what I want to emphasize today. For the other question many of you may be asking, there will be more coming later,” he said as he quickly exited the room.  Once the bill passes the House Rules Committee Wednesday, it could go before the full House later this week and would then head to the State Senate. Gov. Brian Kemp has vowed to veto it.
  • The first bill of the new legislative session headed to the Governor’s desk would require online market facilitators to collect and remit sales tax to the state.  House Bill 276 would require online retail companies such as Amazon, online travel agencies like Airbnb and VRBO, and ride shares that collect payment on a product or service to also collect and remit sales tax to the state.  Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) sponsored the bill says it will put brick and mortar businesses on a level playing field.  “It’s clean across the board. It treats everyone the same. If you have a taxable product or service, it is taxable under this bill. If you do not, it is not,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  The measure is expected to raise $150 million annually for the state with some estimates are as high as $750 million.  “These marketplace sellers are from all over the country and the world that sell to our Georgia consumers. They currently owe taxes on these sales, but Georgia has not had an efficient manner to collect these taxes,” says Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) who pushed for the bill in the Senate.  He says 37 other states currently have similar laws in place.  It could take effect as soon as April 1 if Gov. Brian Kemp signs it.
  • Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor wants to make Georgia the Technology Capitol of the East Coast.During the Georgia Chamber’s annual Eggs and Issues Breakfast at the Georgia World Congress Center, Geoff Duncan announced the creation of the Georgia Innovates Task Force.
  • The 2020 legislative session is just getting underway, but there’s already indication than an effort to legalize gambling may have folded. With study committees looking at legalized gambling in both the House and Senate during the off-session, some members like Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Macon) were hopeful voters would finally get a say on bringing casinos and horse racing to the state.
  • Sandra Parrish

    News Anchor Reporter

    Sandra Parrish has been a reporter for WSB Radio since 1995 and covers political, legislative, transportation, and educational news. She graduated from the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism in 1989 and worked as an anchor/news director for WPLO in Lawrenceville, an anchor/assistant news director for WNGC in Athens and an anchor/reporter for WDUN in Gainesville before joining the WSB news team. Over the years, she has received over a dozen Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for "Best Use of Sound", "Best Series", and "Best Sports Reporting". She's also received numerous awards from the Associated Press, Georgia Association of Broadcasters, Society of Professional Journalists, and National Association of Black Journalists. Sandra is a former member of the board of the Georgia Associated Press Broadcast Association. She is married with two daughters.

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  • Authorities in Missouri have arrested three relatives after an 11-year-old girl gave birth last week in a bathtub at a home in the St. Louis suburbs, according to multiple reports. An adult man and an adult woman have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child in connection to the case. A 17-year-old boy was also arrested on charges of incest, statutory rape and statutory sodomy of a child younger than 12 years old, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Associated Press. The birth was discovered after a man brought the newborn to a hospital, claiming the child had been left on his front porch, KSDK reported. Charging documents obtained by the news station showed the infant had a body temperature of 90 degrees and still had an umbilical cord and placenta attached after being brought to the hospital. The man later admitted that he was related to the baby and told authorities he was unaware the 11-year-old girl was pregnant until she gave birth to the child, according to the AP. The man was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child, KSDK reported. A judge ordered him held in lieu of a $10,000 cash-only bond. Charging documents said he came to the country illegally and had previously been deported, according to the AP. In a probable cause statement obtained by the Post-Dispatch, authorities said a 17-year-old boy related to the 11-year-old girl admitted to having sexually assaulted the girl about 100 times. After his arrest last week, a judge ordered him held in lieu of a $25,000 bond, according to the newspaper. Authorities made a third arrest in the case Tuesday, charging an adult woman with failing to provide the 11-year-old with medical care as she was giving birth. She was ordered held in lieu of a $10,000 bond, according to the AP.
  • Surveillance video captured an Ohio inmate, who was attempting to escape a jail waiting area through the ceiling last month. Jessica Boomershine, 42, was in the Montgomery County Jail after she and another man were accused of breaking into a house and assaulting an 85-year-old man in Miamisburg, WHIO-TV reported. In the video, Boomershine is seen using a chair to attempt to climb into the ceiling in the jail waiting area. She was awaiting a court appearance Jan. 21. Boomershine comes crashing to the floor, bringing part of the ceiling with her, when several deputies come in to grab her, the video shows. She now faces additional charges of escape and destruction of property, WHIO reported.
  • A man who escaped from a Texas jail Tuesday night was found 40 minutes later at a Dairy Queen restaurant, authorities said. According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the inmate was found with a cellphone shortly before he escaped, KTRK reported. The man was captured at the Dairy Queen within an hour of his escape, the television station reported. The Sheriff’s Office tweeted a photo of deputies leading the man to a squad car, according to KTRK.
  • Date night is supposed to be romantic and fun, a time when work-related concerns are left at home. Saturday night, date night for two off-duty police officers in Kentucky ended when they foiled a robbery at a restaurant chain in Louisville, WDRB reported. The married couple, Chase McKeown and Nicole McKeown, are officers with the Elizabethtown Police Department. They were eating dinner at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, their favorite fried chicken restaurant, around 10 p.m. when a masked man walked up to the counter, showed a gun and demanded money, the Courier-Journal reported. According to an arrest report, the man was identified as Justin Carter, 30, WDRB reported. When Carter flashed the gun, the couple, who had been married for just six months, sprang into action. “I think we kind of both saw him at the same time,” Nicole McKeown told WDRB. “I looked at (my husband) and said, ‘That’s kind of odd.’” “I saw (the employee’s) hands go up like this and I’m like, ‘Is he doing what I think he’s doing?’” Nicole McKeown said at a news conference Tuesday. “And he’s like, ‘Yeah.’” Video footage shows the McKeowns getting up from their table, drawing their weapons and chasing Carter, the Courier-Journal reported. Carter basically chickened out, rushing from the restaurant as the two officers gave chase. The couple held Carter at gunpoint a few blocks away from the restaurant until Louisville police arrived and arrested him, WDRB reported. Carter was charged with first-degree robbery, receiving a stolen firearm and possessing a handgun as a convicted felon, according to court records. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, the television station reported. The officers were in the right place at the right time, thanks to a date night. “At our church, we’ve been focusing on marriage,” Chase McKeown told WDRB, adding that his church emphasizes having a “date night” once a week. “It is my belief that if not for the heroic actions of these two officers the perpetrator’s actions inside the business would have escalated. They acted honorable and heroically,” Deputy Dan Mason, of the Louisville Metro Police Department’s robbery unit, told CNN. In addition to being heroes, the McKeowns gained an added benefit. They ate at the restaurant on their wedding night, the Courier-Journal reported. Restaurant officials said the couple would receive free chicken dinners for the next year. Winner, winner, chicken dinners. “Detective Chase and Officer Nicole McKeown, we know your date night got cut short, so we’ve got your Cane’s covered for the next year,” Raising Cane’s officials said Wednesday morning. “Thanks for protecting our customers and crew.”
  • Authorities are investigating a fatal crash involving an overturned vehicle at a major south Cobb intersection. The wreck occurred on Riverside Parkway at Factory Shoals Road, Cobb County police said on Twitter. No details have been released about the deadly crash, but traffic on Riverside Parkway is affected, authorities said. Drivers are urged to use alternative routes or avoid the area, if possible.  — Please return to AJC.com for updates » For updated traffic information, listen to News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB and follow @ajcwsbtraffic on Twitter.  In other news: 
  • NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, who was involved in a horrific crash during the final lap of the Daytona 500, was hospitalized after Monday’s race. Update 2:03 p.m. EST Feb. 19: According to Roush Fenway Racing, NASCAR driver Ryan Newman was released from a Daytona Beach hospital Wednesday afternoon, two days after he was involved in a scary crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500. Roush tweeted a photograph of Newman leaving Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, holding the hands of his two daughters. “Ryan Newman has been treated and released from Halifax Medical Center,” the racing team tweeted. Update 12:25 p.m. EST Feb. 19: Ryan Newman continued to show “great improvement” as he recovered from injuries he suffered Monday night in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 race, his racing team said. Roush Fenway Racing tweeted a statement that said Newman was “fully alert” and walking around Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. The racing team also tweeted a photo of a smiling Newman with his children. Update 4:47 p.m. EST Feb. 18: In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Roush Fenway Racing tweeted that Ryan Newman was “awake and speaking” with family members and doctors. Newman, who was seriously injured in a final-lap wreck during Monday’s Daytona 500 race, remains at the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. Update 10:13 p.m. EST Feb. 17: In a statement Monday night, NASCAR officials said Newman, 42, was in serious condition, “but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life-threatening.” Original report: Newman, 42, has 18 Cup wins, including the 2008 Daytona 500 and 2013 Brickyard 400. He was battling for the lead with Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin on the final lap of the 2.5-mile track at Daytona International Speedway when he crashed. Newman was in the lead coming into the final turn with Blaney and eventual winner Hamlin in close pursuit, NASCAR.com reported. Closing in on the finish line, Newman attempted to block Blaney, who was in second place. The impact of the cars touching sent Newman’s car airborne and into the wall. Newman’s car flipped several times and was hit head-on by Corey LaJoie, who sent Newman skidding across the track upside down Newman’s No. 6 Ford crossed the finish line engulfed in flames, ESPN reported. An ambulance departed Daytona International Speedway’s front stretch at 8:10 p.m. Newman was taken to an area hospital. His condition was unknown. 'I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are, and No. 1, we are praying for Ryan,'' Hamlin said. “I hope he’s all right,” Blaney told reporters. “I was trying to push him to the win. I don’t like saying that things just happen because I feel really bad about it. It was a close one. I just hope Ryan is all right.” “I was hoping he would kind of bounce off the fence to the left, but he didn’t and I hit him,” Lajoie said. “I don’t know exactly where I hit him. I haven’t seen a replay. It was some scary stuff.” Newman, who led 15 laps, was credited with a ninth-place finish. “We ask that out of respect for privacy that you please do not speculate on Ryan Newman’s condition until an official statement has been issued,” Roush Yates Engines tweeted. Kelley Earnhardt, the daughter of Dale Earnhardt Sr., tweeted, “Please let @RyanJNewman be ok!” Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a final-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001. Newman, born Dec. 8, 1977, in South Bend, Indiana, was named Winston Cup rookie of the year in 2002, beating Jimmie Johnson, according to his NASCAR biography. Nicknamed “Rocket Man,” Newman graduated with honors from South Bend La-Salle High School in 1996. He studied engineering at Purdue University but at the same time, continued to race. Newman was a champion midget racer when he was 17, ran USAC sprint cars and won that division’s Silver Crown championship in 1999.