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Latest from Sandra Parrish

    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.
  • A Gwinnett County family who lost their home to a fire this week is thanking the firefighters who installed their smoke alarm three years ago. Some of the same firefighters, who not only gave them the smoke detector but helped install it in the home on Dogwood Street in Duluth in Dec. 2016, were among those who responded to the blaze.  “It’s amazing to know the stuff we do on an everyday basis, that we really find as just being second-nature, is something that is so impactful,” says Gwinnett Asst. Fire Marshall Matthew Phillips.  He believes it saved the lives of all six family members who were awakened when the smoke detector went off and had enough time to escape before part of the house collapsed.  “Obviously that was a significant fire and if they had not had that early notification, part of that house could have landed on somebody,” Phillips tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  Last year the department handed out and installed some 5,000 smoke detectors to Gwinnett residents as part of the program, “Prevention 365”, which works to provide the life-saving devices to anyone who needs one.  “This is something that is of minimal cost to our residents because we’re able to get a lot of donations,” says Phillips.  The fire overnight Tuesday started in the basement of the home, but the cause is still undetermined. The American Red Cross was called in to provide assistance the five adults and one child.
  • Some shoppers at an Athens mall this weekend were shocked to find a store front with dozens of boxes full of toys meant for needy children for Christmas.  Lyn Elliot from Social Circle was at Georgia Square Mall with her sister when they noticed black plastic covering the windows had fallen revealing the boxes inside.
  • A father and son from Roswell are facing charges accused of blaring a siren at motorists and telling them to get out of their cars.One driver was quick to call Cherokee County 911 after the black pickup pulled behind her on Arnold Mill Road in Woodstock.“They’re back there laughing so there must be somebody in the vehicle because he turned to look at them,” she tells the dispatcher.
  • Students at a Gwinnett County high school that focuses on technology get a special visit from Grammy-award winning artist Ciara. The 9th grade coding class at Paul Duke STEM High School had no idea the Atlanta singer/songwriter would be visiting their class Monday. They’ve been using her songs to learn to write code. “It’s absolutely incredible and amazing to know you that guys are learning to code and do remixes to my songs ‘Melanin’ and ‘Set’. That’s pretty amazing, and I can’t wait to see what you’re cooking up on those computers,” she told the students. >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. It’s part of Amazon’s Future Engineer program. The company and Georgia Tech are partnering to train-up the nation’s next generation of computer experts using music to make learning fun. “It’s an opportunity to make coding cool and get kids excited about learning about computer science and what coding is. And so, I think they’ve masterfully chosen the right venue in music to do that, ” says Amazon Vice President Ken Knight. A graduate of Georgia Tech himself, he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish students like these at Paul Duke can enter their remixes of Ciara’s music into a nationwide competition to win prizes. “For her to provide her music… Grammy-award winners (and) singers don’t do that often. So, it just shows you what kind of caring and giving person she is,” says Knight. During her visit, Ciara made time to go to each student and critique their creations. It meant a lot to 14-year-old Kadrese Allen. “I feel great because an artist gave me feedback on my song, and I feel like I can do better and add more affects because of the feedback she gave me,” she says.
  • Christmas is a little over a week away. So, what are children asking from Santa this year?  “I’m getting more wishes for unicorns than I ever remember. Things that fly like helicopters and drones,” says “Santa Jimmie” Snead, who’s been playing the jolly old elf for the better part of 16 years.  >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. He says as technology advances, children are asking for things their parents could never have imagined at the same age.  “It’s surprising how many times young children now and days will ask for iPhones and computers. They may be only between 5 and 7 years old. And, of course, I never promise them that I can deliver. I always look up at the parents and say, ‘We’ll see what the parents say’,” Snead tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  And even though requests can change, he says you’d be surprised how many stay the same year after year.  “American girl and Barbie; and this one has been around forever—people love Pokémon,” says Snead.  Legos are also a dependable favorite.  “The thing about Legos--you know they start out simple and they become more and more technological. They can build things with moving parts. Kids really like that type of toy,” he says.  Snead started out as Santa for Georgia Square Mall in Athens and later became the first Santa for Atlantic Station. He now does private events through Woodstock-based Mystical Parities. But no matter the place, he always gets requests that tug at his heart.  “Every year I’ll get at least one child who wants his parents to get back together. And I’m always touched by that,” he says.  Snead was also touched recently as he was leaving a party in Buckhead and encountered a homeless man outside. He offered the man gift to which the man wanted to offer one in return.  “He went through his brown paper bag that probably had all his worldly goods,” recalls Snead. “At first, he pulled out this crumpled-up Star Trek magazine. He said, ‘I can’t part with that, but I do have this lighter that probably doesn’t work, so I want to give you that’.”  So, Snead took the broken lighter home and placed it on his Christmas tree and realized he had witnessed the real spirit of Christmas.  “It occurred to me that he had given to me out of his little and I had given to him out of my much. So, his gift was extravagant. It was the true meaning of giving,” he says.
  • It’s the final weekend of Clark’s Christmas Kids--the last opportunity you have to buy Christmas gifts for Georgia’s foster kids. Shimaine Quimbley, 22, is a former foster child who aged out of the foster care system last year. She is among those who have benefited from the program now in its 29th year.“Christmas didn’t start getting exciting until I was like 13… I think I was in my fourth or fifth placement at that time. When I started receiving Christmas gifts, I thought they were rewarding me or something,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.
  • A Gwinnett County megachurch is donating more than $62,000 to pay off school lunch debt in three metro school systems where it has campuses. 12Stone Church made the announcement to it members as part of a larger effort called Knock Out Hunger.  Nearly $45,000 will go to Gwinnett schools, $11,000 to Hall County schools and $6,000 to Barrow County schools to pay off the debt of those students who are awaiting approval of their free and reduced lunch applications.  “During that window of time, they incur student meal debt. And we’re paying that off,” says Chief Financial Officer Norwood Davis.  While Gwinnett schools couldn’t quantify the number of students it will help, the total amount of school lunch debt in the county is around $100,000.  “We’re going after tackling food-insecurity here in Gwinnett County and the greater metro area. One in six kids are described as food-insecure sometime throughout the year where they don’t know where their next meal will come from,” says Davis.  He says it’s only the beginning of a long-term effort to help families in need.  For the month of December, church members are being asked to provide a days-worth of food for a family of four in a box that’s provided to them. So far, it has collected 2,000 boxes that will be distributed to six local co-ops around Gwinnett County.  “The better life that God promises us is when we give more than we take. And we think that’s true not just on food, but it’s true in all relationships,” he says.
  • 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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  • An 8-year-old was driving a car that crashed into another car in the parking lot of a Walmart in Washington state on Tuesday afternoon, police said. Renton police officers responded to the store at 743 Rainier Ave. S. around 2:45 p.m. They said a father and his son were shopping inside when the son got the keys from his dad, ran ahead, started the car, put in in reverse and struck another moving car. The car hit by the young driver had a mother and her 2-month-old child inside. Renton police said there were no injuries.
  • Florida's St. Augustine Police Department said they are searching for the suspect who robbed a group of children at gunpoint at a popular park. The robbery happened at Project Swing park on Saturday around 9:30 p.m. Several signs at the park read, “For your safety, park is closed from dusk to dawn.” According to the report, the victims, whose ages are redacted, were sitting at the tables in the middle of the park when a man approached them and demanded money. In the report, one of the victims said the suspect pointed the gun into his chest when he told him he didn’t have any money. Police said the man took $16 from one of the victims before he tried to grab a backpack from the other. The victims told investigators when the suspect tried to take the backpack, they ran towards the parking garage for help. Detectives said the suspect took off running in the opposite direction toward Ketterlinus gym. By the time police responded, the suspect was gone. Investigators said they found a bag believed to belong to the suspect near the tennis courts next to the park. It was sent to the lab for DNA testing. Anyone with information on the suspect is encouraged to call the police department.
  • A 77-year-old man was punched in the face as he walked into a grocery store in Gwinnett County, Georgia, and now police are looking for the person responsible. It happened at the Kroger on Braselton Highway, and it all started in the fire lane in front of the store. It happened at the Kroger on Braselton Highway, and it all started in the fire lane in front of the store. The victim, who did not want to be identified by name, said on Jan. 23 around 4:30 p.m. he pulled up, saw someone parked there, and on his way inside the store, he said, “You're not supposed to park here.” Police said surveillance video shows a woman, who was in the parked car in the fire lane outside, go in the store, walk up to the victim and say something. Officials said a man who was with her then assaulted the 77-year-old man. “And the next thing I know, this jerk comes around and just cold-cocks me right flat on the floor,” the victim said. Witnesses told police they couldn’t believe it happened. The suspect took off and police are still looking for him now. There’s video of the assault that Kroger cameras recorded, but investigators said they’re not releasing it yet because the case is still open. “I had no idea he was even in the place until he came round in front and punched me,” the victim said. The incident is a reminder to shoppers that you may want to tell police when someone is doing something illegal instead of saying something to that person. You never know what they are going to do.
  • A bill sponsored by Utah Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, would restrict people from purchasing a hunting license if they aren’t up to date on child support payments. The “Fishing and Hunting Restrictions for Nonpayment of Child Support” House bill would prohibit “the issuance of a license, permit, or tag related to fishing or hunting if an individual is delinquent in child support.” According to KUTV, the bill would affect anyone who owes more than $2,500 in child support. Once a person is no longer behind on their child support payments, they can obtain a hunting license. If the bill passes, it will go into effect in the summer of 2021.
  •  For the first time, NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal opened up about the death of his former teammate and friend, Kobe Bryant. Bryant, his daughter 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed Sunday when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed in Calabasas, California. O’Neal’s comments came at the start of TNT’s pregame show, as he sat on the court at Staples Center along with the rest of the network’s studio team. TNT was supposed to televise a doubleheader, but the NBA canceled the Lakers-Clippers game that was scheduled to be the nightcap because the Lakers organization is still too devastated after the death of Bryant and his daughter. I haven’t felt a pain that sharp in a while,” O’Neal said. Shaq said he was working out with his son and nephew, when another nephew walked into the room crying and showed him the phone. “I snapped at him,” O’Neal said. “I said, ‘Get that out of my face.'” O’Neal said he thought it was a hoax at first, and then he started getting phone calls from friends and other fellow basketball players. “Forty-seven years old, I’ve lost two grandmothers … lost my sister. And now I’ve lost my little brother,' O’Neal said. O'Neal and Bryant teamed to help the Lakers win three straight championships from 2000-02, but they occasionally feuded and O'Neal was traded to Miami in 2004. He would win another title there, while Bryant would win two more with the Lakers. O’Neal said his heart broke even more when he learned who else was on the chopper. “It’s sort of like a triple stabbing to the heart because after you cry and wonder about that, then I get back on the internet – Rick Fox is on the (helicopter). So now, I’m sick even more,” O’Neal said. “And then the final blow, his lovely daughter was with him on the helicopter.” They eventually patched up their relationship and O'Neal said they texted frequently, though he said he hadn't actually seen Bryant since the final day of his career in 2016. O'Neal said he told Bryant to score 50 points and Bryant instead scored 60. O’Neal said Bryant even checked in with his son Shareef, who underwent heart surgery in December 2018. “Shareef called me, devastated, and said Kobe just texted me to check and see how he was doing. And he used to do that from time to time,” O’Neal said. O’Neal said this year’s NBA Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be a solemn event. “The fact that we’re not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony. The fact that we’re not going to be able to say, ‘Ha, Ha. I got five. You got four.’ The fact that we’re not going to be able to say, ‘If we had stayed together to get 10,’ those are the things we can’t get back,” O’Neal said. O'Neal's comments were his first that were televised since Bryant's death. He had previously only posted on social media and spoken on a podcast. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
  • Last week, the head of a Chinese government expert team said that human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people avoid travel to China. Here are some tips for travelers who may be making their way to or from China or other destinations:  Check the CDC website for updates on the outbreak The CDC has a dedicated page that is kept up to date with travel information to China, impacted transportation in China and status of medical care in the country. Maintain good personal hygiene According to The New York Times, passengers should avoid touching their faces and practice proper coughing etiquette, such as coughing or sneezing into an arm instead of your hands or the environment. The CDC recommends washing hands for at least 20 seconds. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be used when soap is not available. The Times also reminded travelers that seatbacks and tray tables are wiped down by ground crews, but cleaning them again with a disinfecting wipe is recommended. Lastly, try to keep a safe distance from anyone who appears to be ill. If you are seated next to someone who may be ill, you can ask a flight attendant to reseat you. Please note that they may not be able to accommodate the request. Do I need a mask while traveling? Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of medicine in Vanderbilt University’s division of infectious diseases, told CNN that the benefit of masks may be impractical. “The scientific basis showing that people in the community wearing masks actually has any benefit is very thin and questionable,” Shaffner told CNN. Schaffner also told CNN that U.S. travelers who are traveling only within the United States should not be as concerned about the virus. Other noteworthy tips Henry Harteveldt, of Atmosphere Research, told USA Today that travelers should consider keeping air vents open above the seat to improve ventilation but also noted that he aims them away from his body. USA Today also suggested bringing tissues with you to use to avoid touching door handles when you use the bathrooms on flights. Book a window seat. A study published in 2018 concluded that the window seat is more likely to keep a passenger away from people who might be sick because it is furthest from the aisle where more people move through the cabin. What are other countries doing in response to the outbreak? Many countries are checking the temperatures of arriving airline passengers and adopting precautionary quarantine procedures in response to a new virus. India, Nigeria, Japan and the United States are some of the countries where airport screening procedures were in place. Below are some of the public health measures in multiple countries intended to prevent a repeat of the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, which started in China and killed nearly 800 people (Source:The Associated Press, Jan. 21, 2020) MAINLAND CHINA China’s often-secretive Communist government was blamed for making SARS far worse by initially hiding information and blocking the work of the World Health Organization. This time, leader Xi Jinping has called for tough measures and said “party committees, governments and relevant departments at all levels should put people’s lives and health first.” At the airport in Wuhan, the temperatures of departing passengers were checked and outbound tour groups were banned from leaving the city. Virtually everyone in a public role, from traffic police officers to bank tellers, is wearing a protective face mask. JAPAN Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged officials to step up quarantine checks at airports and other entry points, and Japan will require visitors arriving from Wuhan to fill in health forms. HONG KONG The semiautonomous city is one of the most popular destinations for mainland Chinese. It has stepped up surveillance and ordered more cleaning and disinfecting for planes and trains from Wuhan, as well as for train stations and the airport. Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung said authorities are ready for a worst-case scenario and are on extremely high alert. A lack of information and low levels of vigilance were blamed for Hong Kong becoming the second-hardest hit area by SARS after mainland China in the early 2000s. As in much of mainland China, Hong Kong residents favor traditional markets where live poultry and other animals are sold. The government advises people against visiting such markets or touching animals or their droppings. SOUTH KOREA South Korea reported its first case of the virus in mid-January, in a Chinese woman who works at a South Korean company. At Incheon International Airport near Seoul, the only airport in South Korea with direct flights from Wuhan, two special gates are designated for passengers from the city and ear thermometers are used to check their temperatures. Arrival halls are being sprayed with disinfectant twice a week, up from once a week previously, and escalator handrails, elevator buttons and other sensitive surfaces are wiped with disinfectant twice a day. NIGERIA Nigeria’s government says health authorities at points of entry are on alert for cases of coronavirus arriving in Africa’s most populous country. The Nigeria Center for Disease Control asked that travelers from Wuhan report to a medical facility and the center if they feel ill. China is Africa’s top trading partner. South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said anyone with a severe respiratory illness should be tested if they have traveled to Wuhan within two weeks or had close physical contact with a coronavirus patient or treatment at a facility where a confirmed case has been reported. There were more than 200,000 Chinese workers in Africa as of the end of 2017, not including numerous informal migrants such as traders and shopkeepers, according to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University. INDIA India will expand thermal screening of passengers arriving from China, including Hong Kong, to seven airports from the current three. In-flight announcements before arrival will direct passengers with a fever or cough who have traveled to Wuhan in the previous 14 days to declare themselves to health authorities. Thermal screening will begin in Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Cochin, and continue in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said. SINGAPORE AND MALAYSIA Singapore will expand temperature screening at Changi Airport, one of Asia’s busiest travel hubs, for all travelers on flights arriving from China beginning on Wednesday. The health ministry said individuals with pneumonia and a history of travel to Wuhan within 14 days of the onset of symptoms will be isolated in a hospital as a precautionary measure and investigated. Neighboring Malaysia has also beefed up screening at Kuala Lumpur’s airport. Deputy health Minister Lee Boon Chye said staff are being trained to handle possible cases. “If a case emerges, then we may have to take more drastic measures, but for now, we hope we can nip it at the entry point,” Lee told reporters. BANGLADESH Bangladesh civil aviation authorities have ordered airport managers to start screening incoming passengers from China. A.H.M. Touhid-ul Ahsan, director of the main Shahjalal International Airport, said doctors at the airport would look for fevers, coughs, breathing difficulties and sore throats. The country’s Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research will be notified of any passengers with symptoms for further examination, he said. AUSTRALIA Brendan Murphy, Australia’s chief medical officer, said biosecurity staff and state health officials in New South Wales are meeting flights from Wuhan and are distributing pamphlets printed in English and Chinese to all passengers. The pamphlets describe symptoms of infection and ask people to identify themselves if they are experiencing any. RUSSIA Russia’s Healthcare Ministry described the virus as a biological hazard, with Deputy Minister Sergei Krayevoy saying the virus was a “striking example” of the biological threats Russia faces. The Russian public health service, Rospotrebnadzor, said it had developed a testing kit that would allow labs to detect the new coronavirus quickly. Russia is one of the three most popular tourist destinations for people from China, according to Russian officials. They estimate that about 2 million tourists from China visited Russia in 2018. ITALY The Italian Health Ministry says passengers making direct and indirect flights from Wuhan, China, to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport will be checked for potential signs of the virus. People with suspected infections will be quarantined at an infectious disease hospital in Rome, the ministry says. No cases have been reported so far. Posters at the airport advise travelers to consider delaying trips to the Wuhan area and if they do go there, to avoid touching animals or uncooked animal products. The Associated Press contributed to this story. Associated Press journalists Moussa Moussa in Canberra, Australia, Kim Hyung-jin in Seoul, South Korea, Cara Anna in Johannesburg, South Africa, Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Daria Litvinova in Moscow, and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report. xxx