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Latest from Sandra Parrish

    A well-loved member of the metro Atlanta’s triathlon community dies suddenly leaving behind her husband and twin infant sons. On top of it, the couple’s beloved dog escapes during the chaos. Now, the community is coming together to in an all-out effort to find it. >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. Bethany Rutledge, just 37, was looking forward to her sons’ first birthday next month when she died in her sleep August 3rd from an aneurysm. As friends and family came to support her husband, John, the following day, Bailey, the couple’s 11-year-old Vizsla, escaped. “With all the commotion of people coming in because of the death, she got out. She’s probably just as shocked as everybody else,” longtime friend Rogue Hale tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish. Hale is part of the community of triathletes the Rutledges were a part of. The couple founded the Atlanta Triathlon Club and often trained with Bailey by their side. That community, led by a close group of friends including Hale, have organized searches, posted hundreds of signs and flyers, and gone door to door looking for Bailey. “We were able to get some of Bethany’s shoes and we started putting up scent stations all along the Silver Comet Trail,” says friend Kim Spence. The group also has a couple of professionals assisting in the search, and hopefully eventual capture, of the dog. Bailey has been spotted several times within a five-mile radius of her home and searchers are concentrating on the areas of Smyrna and Mableton from Atlanta Road by West Village over to the Silver Comet Trail off the East-West Connector and the Vinings Estates area. The group is asking anyone who spots Bailey not to approach her but take a picture and send it in along with the location. Tips can be called in or texted to 404-414-5784 or shared via the “Find Bailey Rutledge” Facebook page or the Nextdoor app. Longtime friend Karen Garland says it would be something positive to come out of a tragic situation. “Bethany would stop at nothing to find Bailey and I think that’s the shared attitude. Whatever it takes to find Bailey—we’re going to find her. And I don’t think anybody is going to stop until that day happens,” she says. 
  • As Gwinnett County students head back to class today, a new high school opens its doors that could help launch students into a career in healthcare.  The new state-of-the-art McClure Health Science High School in Duluth looks more like a medical facility than a high school and will give students hands-on training in the medical field.  >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. “You would think you were walking into a research institution for a medical school,” says Principal Nicole Mosley.  She tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish students will be working with medical training mannequins that talk, electrocardiogram machines, and a virtual dissection table. Even if students are not interested in pursuing a healthcare career, Mosley says they all will take health science classes.  The school is named for Dr. Robert McClure, a dermatologist who served on the Gwinnett school board for 24 years.  “It’s a real honor,” he says. “I am struck by how much has changed, even in my lifetime.” Besides its emphasis on health science, the school will also focus on Fine Arts. The campus includes a state-of-the-art theater as well.  It will relieve Meadow Creek High School and only serve 630 students its first year.
  • The community in West Georgia is coming to the aid of a Troup County Sheriff’s deputy who is battling Stage 4 esophageal cancer.  >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. Struggles with cancer are nothing new for Deputy Billy Baker. The 35-year veteran lawman just went through the battle with his wife of three years. Misty Baker was diagnosed with ovarian cancer within a few days of their wedding in 2016. Just as she fully recovered, Billy got the devastating news he had just three months to live.  “We’ve got this great love story that keeps getting interrupted by cancer,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  Baker used up most of his vacation and sick days at the sheriff’s department to care for his wife. Now as he undergoes treatment to save his own life, he has no more paychecks coming in.  “We’re still paying for her cancer treatment. There’s a stack of bills in there just for her and now I’m starting a new stack,” he says.  On top of it all, Baker was told he can’t begin collecting Social Security disability payments for at least five months—two months later than the time doctors told him he has left to live.  But he says where the government has let him down, the community and the Troup County Sheriff’s Department is stepping up with fundraising efforts.  The Billy Baker Benefit Fund has been set up at the Colony Bank in LaGrange, and The Troup County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson Services, and the Blue Knights of Georgia are hosting a motorcycle / Jeep / Hot Rod ride, along with an auction at the Elk’s Lodge in LaGrange on August 10th. Anyone wanting more information can contact Lt. Nathan Taylor at 706-883-1616 or email ntaylor@troupco.org.  “I’ll never be able to say ‘thank you’ enough,” says Baker, who hopes to return to the sheriff’s department and continue doing what he loves if even for a short time. “I want to walk out on my terms not cancer’s terms.”
  • The Cobb County Police Department releases the surveillance video from the Publix grocery store, where a state lawmaker and another shopper get into a heated argument, as well as the body cam video from the officer who responded. The store’s video has no sound but shows Eric Sparkes approach Rep. Erica Thomas (D-Austell) as she and her 9-year-old daughter were checking out in the express lane. He points to the sign that says “10 items or less”. Thomas is then seen stepping towards Sparkes, who backs away, with her finger pointed. A store employee then steps between the two. The responding officer interviews that employee the following day. “When I got closer, I heard him call her ignorant. And then she said, ‘If you’re not happy you can leave the store’. And he called her ignorant again, she said, ‘You can go back to where you came from’ and was pointing him out the door,” the employee tells the officer. The woman says she did not hear either call the other any vulgar names, although Sparkes later admits to the officer that he called her a “lazy b—tch”. Sparkes tells the officer he had just checked out with his few items in another lane at the store but was annoyed that Thomas had more than 10 items in the express checkout. He mentions his annoyance to the same employee interviewed by the officer before going back into the store to confront Thomas. The Democratic lawmaker, who is nine months pregnant, says she explained to Sparkes that she can’t be on her feet long. After leaving the store, she posts a tearful video saying Sparkes called her a 'son of a b--tch' and told her to “go back where she came from”. While Thomas and her attorney, Gerald Griggs, have encouraged charges of simple assault and child cruelty in the third degree be filed against Sparkes, the Cobb Police Department has declined to do so saying she can pursue the charges in Magistrate Court. Sparkes, who sparred with Thomas the following day in the parking lot of the store in front of television cameras, blames the media for running with the story. In the same body cam video, he tells the officer it’s not the first time he’s confronted someone over such behavior. “It won’t be the last—it’s not my nature. I hate people getting away with stupid stuff,” he says.
  • In the center of east Cobb County, maybe 50 yards from busy Roswell Road, sits what has been preserved more than 180 years--an arbor where the faithful gather for 10 days every summer to sing hymns and worship. >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. The Marietta Campground was founded by four farmers who gave 10 acres of land each to have a dedicated place to worship and thank God for their bounties.  “They first started meeting on this site in 1837, and then they decided this was going to be something they wanted to make sure they always did. So, this arbor was erected by the next camp meeting in 1838,” says Cheryl Lassiter, president of the Tentholders Association.  She tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish the so-called “tents” are actually cabins that were erected by the first families and grew to 23 over the years. Generations come back every year for the 10-day revival.  “Some of the cabins are over 100 years old,” says Susie Gantt who married into one of those families. Her three children attended the camp meeting when they were young and now their children attend.  “Your kids can run free, everybody watches everybody else’s children. It’s things they never forget and it’s lifelong friends,” she says.  Chuck Johnson, chair of the board of directors, says the camp meetings were only interrupted by the Civil War and on occasion Indians.  “At the first camp meeting they actually set up wagons and brought laying hens and cows and their food with them,” he says.  Now nearly 200 years later, the arbor has electricity and the cabins have working bathrooms. But the singing of old hymns and visiting preachers remains the same.  “It does something to people’s souls to be able to sing those old songs and have the fresh air while we’re worshiping. It’s just an experience like no other,” says Lassiter.  Two camp meetings will be held each day at the site located at 2300 Roswell Road at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. through Sunday.
  • Devon Gales, the Southern University football player paralyzed during a game against the University of Georgia in 2015, is finally in his brand-new handicap-accessible home in Jackson County.  >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW. Those who have supported the family the past four years gathered at the home in the Traditions of Braselton subdivision as Gales and his parents were given the keys.  Gales has his own wing in the home which includes a handicap-accessible bathroom, bedroom, and therapy room.  “It’s going to give me more independence. I’m going to be able to do more things on my own, not having to have somebody always looking over my shoulder. Just to be able to get that back--that’s a big, big difference for me,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  All of his family including his mother, father, younger brother and sister, will finally be under the same roof again with part of them living in Baton Rouge and the other in Georgia as Gales underwent treatment.  It was Ron Courson, head of UGA’s sports medicine and the first to come to Gale’s aid on the field after the collision with kicker Marshall Morgan, who vowed to one day build the injured player a handicap-accessible home. He was among those at the unveiling.  “I think everybody really rallied around him and they’re such a great family. They blessed us. I know people have blessed them. But just knowing them, they blessed us by the way they responded to adversity in such a positive manner. They inspire me every time I see them,” he says.  Also at the unveiling was Morgan, who has stayed close to the Gales family since the accident.  “They (UGA) just wrapped their arms around him the day the accident happened. Ever since, we’ve been trying to find ways to get this done and today is so exciting because it’s finally done, and they get to see the work that everyone’s been putting in and finally enjoy it,” he says.  Despite a few initial setbacks, the home was made possible through generous donations from the public: Land owner and developer Whit Marshall, who himself was a former UGA player; builder Mike Elrod, who stands on the sidelines during UGA football games administering oxygen to players; and nearly a hundred contractors who came forward to offer their services for free.  “God put me in a certain position to where I’ve had wonderful people come in my circle and bless me with so much joy. There’s nothing to be sad about—I’m just grateful,” says Gales.
  • The Gwinnett Police Department confirms it’s looking into a huge house party Saturday near Brookwood High School that brought 3,000 guests to a mansion on Dogwood Road--clogging the busy roadway most of the day.  Neighbors who live in the Brookwood Manor subdivision across the street tell WSB’s Sandra Parrish cars were parked on both sides of the road in their neighborhood while guests walked through yards carrying open containers of alcohol and possibly using drugs.  “The traffic was very congested. There were no police officers directing traffic. People were turning around in the middle of the road… speeding through the neighborhood,” says homeowner Amy Baker. Some neighbors also complained those attending the party wore little clothing as they walked up and down the street.  Many of the guests were shuttled to the mansion, which sits on 17 acres, from a nearby church on golf carts and ATV’s driven down the two-lane road. Flyers widely circulated on the internet advertised the “Project X Pool Party” with tickets selling online for $50.  The owner of the mansion, Ty James, daughter of the late singer Rick James, tells Parrish it was just a house-warming party which drew the huge crowd. She denies any problems were caused and apologized to the neighborhood for an inconvenience. James also denies that a promoter was used for the party or that tickets were sold. The police department says it received eight complaints about the party on Saturday ranging from noise and traffic problems to fireworks being set off. But no citations were issued other than for a car accident that happened in front of the property. “We would love for her to be a good neighbor,” says Yvonne Roberts, president of the homeowner’s association. “We assume someone that would buy a $2 million house with nothing but houses around it, wouldn’t want it for a party venue.”
  • Have you gotten your driver’s license renewed lately? If so, you’ve likely noticed some changes. The Georgia Department of Driver Services is rolling out the new licenses in parts of the state including its location in Canton which was part of the pilot project. “It’s a polycarbonate card and it’s one of the most secure cards we’ve ever had here in Georgia,” says Shevanda Leslie, director of Governmental Affairs and Communications. The new card is green with a larger peach, has laser-printed engraving which can be felt by running your finger across it, and includes a hologram in the lower right corner. The license holder’s picture has also changed. “The picture is now black and white instead of color. It’s just a more secure feature and it’s harder for criminals to try and duplicate,” she tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish. When drivers go in to get their license for the first time or get it renewed, they will now receive a full sheet of paper containing their information and picture. Their new license will then be sent in the mail. Terry Holzclaw, of Canton, didn’t know about the new license until he went to get his renewed. But he likes the copy of a new one he was shown. “It looks more difficult (to duplicate)—so many different features to it that are not on the other one,” he says.  Leslie says various DDS locations began rolling out the new license last month and all should have them by next month. But there’s no need to run out and get a new one just yet. “What they have in their wallet right now is sufficient. Your license is good until it expires,” she says.
  • In a bizarre preliminary hearing, the case against a man charged with scamming a woman out of more than $80,000 in Gwinnett County is bound over to Superior court. John Martin Hill took the stand during his preliminary hearing Tuesday which is usually a time just to hear the evidence in the case from investigators.  The 34-year-old is accused of meeting victim Lisa Goodgames on an online dating site and then meeting for the first time in person later that night. He reportedly told her he was a millionaire.  The next day, Gwinnett County Police Detective Shaun Regains testified the couple met at a bank where she he wrote him a check for $75,000 to put a down payment on a house for the two to move in together. “When I looked at his account… before that he had no more than $9 in his account,” says Regains. He says the victim also took out an additional $8,500 in cash and gave to him to furnish the home. Regains says the money was used to buy expensive clothes and meals and to purchase a BMW. On the stand, Hill denied he swindled the money saying the woman gave it to him for the purchase his business which distributes press releases. “She made a certified bank check out to my name and then I incorporated the business paperwork to basically transfer that over to her in the state of Delaware,” he testified. Hill says Goodgames took out the additional money for pocket change for herself. Regains testified a similar fraud case is pending involving another woman in the city of Milton and he has had several arrests throughout the northeast involving fraud. The prosecution pointed that Hill has changed his name five times over the years including Gregory Davis Dutton, Gregory William Davis, George Jesse Junior Hill, and Maverick Bryson McCray. The judge found enough evidence to send the case to Superior Court. His attorney says he will request bond at a later time.
  • One of the biggest tourist towns in North Georgia becomes the latest to pass restrictions on short term rentals like those through Airbnb and VRBO.  The council vote 4-1 last week to ban short term rentals inside the city limits except those within the Central Business District and those with a commercial zoning. Rentals in unincorporated Fannin County are not affected.  “We’ve had concerns and we’ve had a few folks that wonder about why there’s so much traffic in and out of some of the homes. That’s how we’ve actually discovered there’s some nightly rentals in those places,” Mayor Donna Whitener tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  Current rentals that have been paying sales tax to the city for 12 consecutive months would be grandfathered in and other homes could go before the city to seek a variance to allow it.  >>LISTEN TO SANDRA PARRISH’S FULL REPORT BELOW. Homeowners like Richard Arnold complain it takes away the rights of property owners. He manages several Airbnb rentals and worries about the affect it will have on those owners’ ability to sell in the future.  “They can continue to rent their property because they’re grandfathered in because they’ve paid their city lodging taxes. But it affects their ability to be able to sell their property to someone who wants to do the same thing,” he says.  Pam O’Dell who runs the Short Term Rental Owners Association of Georgia expects it to having chilling effect on investors and tourism. She believes investors will no longer want to buy and renovate homes in the downtown area to use as rentals.  “A lot of people love downtown Blue Ridge. It is a pretty place and many people in the downtown area have worked long and hard to make it that way. That’s what attracts people. And if you have no place to stay, that’s an issue,” she says.  Whitener has until the end of this week to sign the ordinance or veto parts of it, which she says it likely.  “We’re not trying to cause anyone a hardship, but we also want to protect our residents. We do have residents with major concerns. They want to know who their neighbors are,” she 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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  • A Texas couple was killed moments after their marriage Friday when their car and a pickup truck collided on a highway outside the justice of the peace courtroom. >> Read more trending news  Harley Joe Morgan, 19, and Rhiannon Boudreaux Morgan, 20, both of Vidor, died in the 3 p.m. collision, KFDM reported. The newlyweds were pulling out of the private drive of Joy Dubose-Simonton, a justice of the peace, according to the Orange Police Department. The couple was heading to the Orange County Courthouse to file their marriage license, the Beaumont Enterprise reported. Police said Harley Morgan was driving a 2004 Chevrolet and a man was driving a 2015 Ford F-250 pickup truck towing a trailer carrying a tractor. KDFM reported. Police said Harley Morgan was exiting the private drive when the vehicles collided. The impact caused the car to flip multiple times before coming to rest in a ditch. the Enterprise reported. The mother and sister of the groom told KDFM they witnessed the crash. 'They had just gotten married,' Kennia Lashawna Morgan, the groom's mother. told the television station. 'They haven't even been married for five minutes.' Dubose-Simonton, who performed the wedding, attended their bodies as a coroner, KTVT reported.  The driver of the pickup truck was not injured, the television station reported. Police have not released the cause of the crash.
  • Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch have made their marks as professional wrestlers. Now, both believe they have formed a perfect match and are ready to grapple with married life. >> Read more trending news  The WWE stars announced their engagement Thursday, with Lynch, 32, announcing the news on Instagram.. “Happiest day of my life,” Lynch wrote in her post. Lynch and Rollins’ fellow WWE stars shared their congratulations in the comments section, along with Nikki Bella and her sister, Brie Bella, People reported. “Awww yay! Love this so much!” Nikki Bella wrote. “You deserve all the happiness in the world!!! Love you Becky!!!” “Yay!!!! Congrats!!! So happy for you both!!!” Brie Bella wrote. On Twitter, Rollins called himself the 'luckiest man alive' and posted a photo of Lynch showing off her engagement ring.
  • Lindsey Vonn and P.K. Subban are making the switch from Olympic rings to wedding rings. >> Read more trending news  Vonn, 34, a gold medalist in the 2010 Olympics and winner of 82 World Cup skiing events, made the announcement Friday on Instagram. She and Subban have been dating for at least a year, ESPN reported. 'He said YES!!' Vonn posted. 'Can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with this crazy/kind/handsome/hyper/giving man.' Subban, 30, won a gold medal as a member of Canada's men's hockey team at the 2014 Olympics, ESPN reported. He was traded from the Nashville Predators to the New Jersey Devils in June. The couple met two years ago at the Nickelodeon sports show that follows the ESPYs, Vogue reported. The pair made their relationship official in a red carpet at the CMT Music Awards in June 2018, People reported. “Right off the bat, I knew he was different,” Vonn told Vogue. “But I’d been married before, so I was pretty hesitant to let myself think that I could find someone that I would want to be married to again. After a few months of dating, I knew he was the one I wanted to be with, though. He makes me happy, and he’s so positive and energetic.” In addition to her marriage to skier Thomas Vonn, Lindsey Vonn dated golfer Tiger Woods for nearly three years until they split up in 2015, ESPN reported. 'Lindsey's the best thing that's ever happened to me,' Subban told Vogue. 'There are people in life that deserve to be with good people. They have that person who takes care of them and makes them smile, and she deserves to be with someone who loves her more than anything else in the world, and I do.' Vonn said the couple has not set a date for the wedding but will live in New Jersey, Vogue reported. We’re in such a busy time right now. We’re trying to move to New Jersey,” Vonn told the magazine. “I just want to enjoy the moment and the engagement. We’re not in a big hurry to get married. It kind of depends on his playing schedule, and when we have time to sit down and go through it. I don’t want to stress him out because he has a big season coming.”
  • A school resource officer is out of a job after she filmed a nude video of herself inside an elementary school bathroom during her shift. >> Read more trending news  Kissimmee Police told WFTV the woman removed her badge, uniform and gun when she went to the bathroom at Kissimmee Charter Academy to make the video for her husband in December. The video, which is heavily blurred, shows the woman asking the recipient what they thought of her video. The video was unearthed after the Osceola County Sheriff's Office investigated a personal incident with the school resource officer and her husband.  An investigation showed that while she was on lunch break, she was subject to recall at any point. Police said she was fired because if a shooting had occurred, she wouldn't have been able to respond.  The officer said that she locked the bathroom door and does not believe she should have been fired.  WFTV did not include the woman's name, as it was redacted in the report. 
  • A Nevada man overcame a weighty problem to become the first member of his family to enlist in the U.S. Army. >> Read more trending news  Seven months ago, Luis Enrique Pinto Jr., of Las Vegas, weighed 317, which meant he could not pass the Army's weight requirements, Army Times reported. The 18-year-old embarked on a program of exercise and diet and shed 113 pounds, allowing him to report to basic training, KNTV reported. Pinto now stands 6 feet, 1 inch and weighs 204 pounds, the television station reported. Pinto had been an offensive lineman in high school and had a steady diet of carbohydrates, but he changed his diet and dropped the pounds. 'I had struggled with weight my whole life. I’ve always been a big kid,' Pinto told KNTV. The biggest hurdle to losing weight was cardio training, Army officials said in a news release. Pinto began to combine jogging and sprinting to improve his times. 'Running wasn't my strong suit,' Pinto said in the news release. 'Carrying all that extra weight and trying to run definitely increased my time.' 'When no one was looking, I was doing push-ups in my room, eating right, knowing what to eat,' Pinto told KTNV. 'I feel like everyone has the power to know what they take into their body, so I just took that into consideration. I just did the right thing at the end of the day,' Pinto's work ethic impressed his friends, family and his Army recruiter, Staff Sgt. Philip Long. 'There were a couple times where he hit a plateau. He would lose a pound or two, maybe,' Long told KTNV. 'But to continue to push forward and put the effort and dedication in, it inspires me and it should inspire you.' Pinto will report to basic training in September, Army Times reported.
  • Six inmates were injured -- two seriously -- during a prison riot Friday night at a San Diego prison, officials said. >> Read more trending news  The disturbance began at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility shortly after 8 p.m., The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Cal Fire San Diego spokesman Capt. Thomas Shoots said approximately 100 prisoners were in the prison yard when the riot broke out, the newspaper reported. It was not clear how many inmates were involved in the riot, the Union-Tribune reported. Officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said a fight involving several inmates on the recreation yard escalated into a riot, KNSD reported. According to KSWB, staff members ordered the inmates to stop fighting. When the fighting continued, 'officers used several rounds of less than lethal use of force to quell the disturbance.' Two of the inmates were seriously injured and airlifted to area hospitals, Shoots told the Union-Tribune. No prison staff members were injured, KNSD reported.