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Latest from Sandra Parrish

    A ministry operating out of a Gwinnett County neighborhood is coming under fire from neighbors and now county officials.   Teammates in Ministry has been run out the home of Dave and Peggy Jones in the Rivermist subdivision for 14 years and serves as a respite for pastors who need a break. Jones was pastor of Gwinnett Community Church for 20 years before retiring to start the ministry.
  • Driverless shuttles are coming to one Gwinnett County city.The Peachtree Corners City Council voted Monday night to approve the $2 million-dollar autonomous shuttle project.The vehicles, which could hold up to a dozen riders, will run in a dedicated 1.4 mile stretch of Technology Parkway from Peachtree Parkway to Spaulding Drive.
  • After a handshake agreement last week, Piedmont Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield have signed a new three-year agreement. The deal means nearly 600,000 state and university system employees with Blue Cross who visit Piedmont doctors or facilities will no longer be considered out-of-network and any services provided since April 1 will be covered retroactively.  “We were able to reach an agreement on all the substantive items thanks to some really hard work on both sides to negotiate a fair contract to make sure that we’re paid fairly for the quality care that our physicians and hospitals deliver,” says Piedmont Chief Consumer Officer Matt Gove. He tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish some patients who were affected will be hearing from their doctors. “Patients who are likely to get calls are ones who had to cancel appointments for hospital services,” says Gove. He says all others who had to cancel or postpone care should contact their doctor’s offices.  Gove also credits Gov. Nathan Deal for helping bring both sides together. “His attention to this negotiation helped both sides crystalize the things that were most important and push harder to make sure we reached an agreement quickly,” he says. The new agreement will extend to 2021.
  • A late day deal is reached between Blue Cross Blue Shield and Piedmont Health.
  • Gov. Nathan Deal issues an ultimatum to Blue Cross Blue Shield and Piedmont Healthcare to reach an agreement by close of business Tuesday or he will take executive action.
  • A Gwinnett County Sheriff’s deputy is out of a job accused of conducting more than just business while on the clock. The department had already received complaints about Deputy Chase Peden using his patrol car for personal business. Then it received a typed letter signed only by “Michael” in late December that Peden had been meeting girlfriends for sex in his vehicle: “Deputy Peden uses his sheriff’s car, county-issued phone, uniform, and time on the clock to meet his girlfriend’s (sic)…. Even his part time security job at Eastside Station in Snellville, he uses his car and handcuffs. He brags how the woman (sic) like that.” Peden denied the allegations in a videotaped interview with supervisor Lt. Jeremy Brown. “I’m just going to ask to be clear, you’ve never had sex in your patrol car,” asks Brown. “No,” responds Peden. “You’ve never had sex when you’re on duty other than your wife,” asks Brown. “Ah, yes,” he answers. Peden also failed a polygraph test. “What was the thing with the question that made your fail,” asks Brown. “I told her the word ‘sex’ kind of made me, I mean when I’m just saying it now makes my body kind of react different,” Peden replies. His personnel records show investigators interviewed dozens of sheriff’s office employees and reviewed his cell phone records and tracking information from his patrol car before firing him. The former deputy is appealing his termination. He has a hearing before the Merit Board next week.
  • A north Georgia town is trying to come to the aid of its beloved drive-in movie theater after a disgruntled neighbor is threatening its business. The Blue Ridge City Council will take up an ordinance at its meeting tonight that would make it illegal to project light without a permit on city property including a drive-in movie screen. The city owns the land the 63-year-old Swan Drive-In sits on. It has been leased to owners Steve and Kathleen Setser for nearly 30 years. But spot lights from the home owned by Patrick Crain, which backs up to the theater property, began shining on the movie screen late last summer making it difficult to see. “Some movies it’s much more noticeable. If it has a lot of dark scenes in it, then it will look like trees on the screen,” Kathleen Setser tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish. She says a dispute between Crain and her husband prompted their neighbor to make it difficult for customers to enjoy the movie. “The Crains actually both worked for us in the past. So, he got mad one night and threw his keys down and left and hasn’t spoken to us since,” she says. Crain tells Parrish he knew when he built his home 17 years ago, it would be located behind a drive-in theater. He says he never had any problems until the Setsers removed a chain-link fence that once separated the two properties several years ago. He denies focusing the spot light on the screen, but says he turns it on to protect his property since the fence is no longer there to keep moviegoers from walking over to his land.  Crain also says the vegetation that had grown over the fence throughout the years used to reduce the noise level. Now that it’s gone, he says you can hear sounds projected from the movie inside his home. Despite numerous visits by the local police over the last several months, the lights have continued including this past Sunday night.  The Setsers are now installing a 20-foot-high blackout screen between the two properties, attempting to keep the light out. “It is expensive and if he goes around that, I don’t know what the next step is,” she says. That’s where the ordinance, if passed by the city council, is expected to help. The first offense would prompt a $500 fine. Subsequent offenses would include a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Crain tells Parrish it could all be resolved if the Setsers would simply put the fence back up. In the meantime, the community has turned out in droves to support the theater.  “It’s actually made us want to come here more to show that we still care about the Swan and we’re going to continue to love it no matter how mean somebody wants to be,” says Kayla Henry.
  • “We’re continuing to see projects of all types and of all sizes that are going to many diverse parts of the state of Georgia and that’s a good thing for our state,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
  • The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), says changes have been made to the bill to allow for drivers to use GPS and dial a number. Voice-to-text would also be allowed but drivers would not be able to type a text or use the internet.
  • The House last week went along with the Senate’s request to allow parents to give temporary custody to others without going through the Division of Family and Children Services. Instead, the guardian would register with the local probate court.
  • 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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News

  • An 17-year-old faces a vehicular homicide charges nearly a month after police said she crashed a car, killing her classmate on senior skip day.  Prosecutors said Cristina Pavon-Baker was driving at 106 mph when she crashed a Mini Cooper into a tree and killed 18-year-old passenger Makayla Penn, Channel 2 Action News reported.  The March 26 crash occurred on I-75 North at the Jonesboro Road exit in Clayton County. The vehicle, “traveling at a high rate of speed,” failed to navigate the turn on the exit ramp, went airborne, overturned several times and ended up hitting a tree, uprooting it in a wooded area, the GSP said at the time of the crash. Pavon-Baker was cut out of the car and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for her injuries.  Prosecutors said Pavon-Baker was on Snapchat before the crash.  The two girls attended Community Christian School and were participating in senior skip day at the time of the crash.  The judge gave Pavon-Baker a $31,000 bond and ordered her to surrender her passport, Channel 2 reported. She was also ordered to not drive and to stay off of Snapchat. 
  • Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, has withdrawn his name from consideration, multiple news outlets are reporting. >> MORE COVERAGE: Embattled VA nominee Ronny Jackson accused of drunken driving, drug use | Jamie Dupree: Trump pick to head VA in trouble as Senators postpone hearing | Senate postpones hearing for Trump VA pick Ronny Jackson amid 'serious allegations' | More trending news 
  • The Latest on a Wisconsin refinery explosion that injured several people (all times local): 2:15 p.m. Authorities have expanded the evacuation zone around a Wisconsin refinery that was rocked by an explosion and are now saying anyone within a three-mile (five-kilometer) radius should leave. Douglas County authorities also say those in a 10-mile (16-kilometer) corridor south of the Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior should leave due to smoke coming from the site. Evacuees are being told to gather at Yellowjacket Union at the University of Wisconsin-Superior or at Four Corners Elementary School in Superior. It isn't clear how many people the evacuation order will effect. The refinery is in an industrial area, but there's a residential neighborhood within a mile to the northeast. The corridor downwind to the south is sparsely populated. At least 11 people were injured in the Thursday morning blast. A spokeswoman for Essentia Health says one person was seriously injured, while another nine being treated at Essentia hospitals in Superior and nearby Duluth, Minnesota, have non-life-threatening injuries. St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth received one patient who is in fair condition. ___ 12:55 p.m. The number of people injured in a refinery explosion in Wisconsin has grown to at least 11. Essentia Health spokeswoman Maureen Talarico says five patients are being treated at St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, Minnesota. She says emergency room physicians describe those patients as awake and alert. Talarico says another five are being treated at St. Mary's Hospital in Superior, Wisconsin, where the explosion happened. She says the extent of injuries is unknown. In Duluth, spokeswoman Jessica Stauber says St. Luke's Hospital is treating one person. She doesn't know the condition of that person. The explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery happened Thursday morning. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger has said there are no known fatalities. Panger earlier said the fire was out, but Superior police tweeted that the fire has reignited but that there is no need for residents to evacuate. ___ 12:10 p.m. Authorities now say five people have been taken to hospitals after an explosion rocked a large refinery in Wisconsin. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger initially told The Associated Press that six were taken to hospitals in nearby Duluth, Minnesota, after the explosion Thursday at the Husky Energy oil refinery. The Superior Fire Department later updated that number to five. The fire chief says there are no known fatalities. Authorities don't know the extent of injuries. The fire is out. A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like 'a sonic boom' and that it happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs. Owned by Alberta-based Husky Energy, Wisconsin's only refinery produces gasoline, asphalt and other products. ___ 11:30 a.m. Several people have been injured in an explosion at a refinery in Wisconsin. Authorities in Superior say the explosion at the Husky Energy oil refinery happened at about 10 a.m. Thursday. Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger says six people were taken to hospitals in Duluth, Minnesota. He doesn't know the extent of their injuries. Others were walking wounded. There are no known fatalities. A contractor who was inside the building told WDIO television that the explosion sounded like 'a sonic boom' that happened when crews were working on shutting the plant down for repairs. Panger says the fire was out by 11:20 a.m. Superior police are advising people to stay away from the area and roads around the refinery have been blocked off. There have been no neighborhood evacuations.
  • Opening your hotel room door with your cell phone? Disney has started to roll out the new technology for guests to skip the front desk and go directly to their room, speeding up the start of vacations. Disney gave WFTV anchor Jamie Holmes an exclusive look at how guests will be able to use their cellphones to get into their hotel rooms. The theme park rolled out the technology at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Over the years, the My Disney Experience app has been an expanding feature of how guests navigate the parks and hotels. Previous story: Your smartphone could unlock Disney hotel rooms Guests can use it to check ride wait times and even clean up park photos. But guests can also use it to plan their hotel stay, skip the check-in desk, and go straight to their rooms. 'If you choose to, you can actually bypass the front desk area, if that's important to you, and start your vacation earlier,' Michael Trum, with Disney digital guest experience, said. Here’s how it works: Guests take their cellphones and hold it up to their hotel room door, and that’s when a little Disney magic happens. >> Read more trending news  'They're Bluetooth-enabled. Your phone, most smart phones. We've upgraded our locks to be Bluetooth enabled as well. So, they pair together, via security obviously,' Trum said. The technology can be used as a companion to the Magic Bands, which are required to get into the parks. Long gone are metal hotel room keys, and for the most part, even plastic key cards are gone. But, since most guests these days aren't far from their phones, the Bluetooth technology gives them a choice. Many people wonder whether the new technology is safe. Cellphone passcodes are notoriously hard to crack and Disney stands by the system. “We obviously designed this with security in mind. We can't go into details on Disney security policies, but our guests should absolutely feel safe using this as an entry point into their rooms,' Trum said. Disney is not the first to use the Bluetooth technology. Hilton and Marriot hotels have been using it for several years. The FBI said it has never had a case of hackers using phones to enter a hotel room in the U.S. Disney will expand the service to other hotels over the next several months.
  • New text messages obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News show a top aide to former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed pressuring other city officials to delay production of open records during Reed's final months in office. In unvarnished, sometimes vulgar comments, the texts reveal the mindset of senior Reed administration officials through the unguarded words of one of Reed's closest advisers and most ardent defenders, former communications director Anne Torres. We'll show you the text messages and explain how a simple request quickly turned into a dispute between Reed's office and the Atlanta BeltLine, on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. The GBI opened a criminal investigation of the city's handling of open records requests last month after the AJC and Channel 2 reported on other text messages from former Reed press secretary Jenna Garland. Garland instructed another staffer 'to drag this out as long as possible' and provide information 'in the most confusing format available' in response to a Channel 2 open records request for city water billing records. The new texts from Torres show Garland's instructions to curtail production of records were not an isolated incident. Torres defended the remarks as 'inter-employee banter.' This article was written by Scott Trubey, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Several fired and still working bus drivers gathered in front of Dekalb County School headquarters on Thursday to discuss their demands for a better work environment. Five of the eight divers who were let go one week ago, were back at the district’s offices demanding their jobs back. The press conference was held a half-hour before Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green was to meet with a hand-full of current drivers. Also in attendance, parents, grandparents and current drivers who were there in support of fired drivers like Melanie. “I stand here with the support of hundreds of drivers, parents, students and community members, and I say without hesitation, give us our jobs back.” Said Melanie.