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Traffic Team in the Community  Fellow Cox Media Group coworkers recently participated in the 2019 Toys for Tots Golf Tournament at Chateau Elan Golf Club. The goal of this tournament was to raise $100,000 for children in our communities! Way to go golfers, and Alex Williams of Triple Team Traffic, Steve Gehlbach of Ch. 2 Action News, Drex Rener from the Tad & Drex Morning Show on B98.5 and John Frasca! Our events, in memory of Captain Herb Emory, support the Marine Toys For Tots Foundation. There are 800 local Toys For Tots campaigns across the United States, collecting and distributing toys to less fortunate children. Their goal is to deliver a message of hope, through a new toy during Christmas that will assist children in becoming responsible, productive and patriotic citizens.  Call our traffic center with traffic incidents at 404-897-7358. Start YOUR new year off right and do yourself this favor. You can also get through to us using the “Triple Team Traffic Alerts” app, free in your phone’s app store! The app provides real-time, traffic incidents recorded by WSB radio traffic reporters. Powered by Cool Ray Carrier.

The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • “What the flood?” — or some variation thereof — was a likely reaction from commuters stuck in recent watery messes on I-285. The pejoratives have flown twice in 2020. Heavy rain on both Friday, January 3, and during the line of severe storms on Saturday, January 11, caused heavy ponding in the four left lanes of I-285/westbound (Outer Loop) at Ashford Dunwoody Road (Exit 29). In each case, crews took a couple of hours to find and unclog the responsible drain, leading WSB Triple Team Traffic to issue our “GRIDLOCK ALERTS” for the stopped traffic back before I-85/Spaghetti Junction. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Setting an extremely attainable commuting bar for 2020 The first flood came on the tail end of AM drive and at least one vehicle got stuck in the water. That kind of flooding one time raises eyebrows. But a second occurrence just a week and a day later connects faces and palms. And GDOT has had to wag some fingers. “We had intense or heavy rain in a short amount of time,” GDOT’s Stephen Lively told the AJC. “And then inadvertently the developer and their team had temporarily blocked an outfall, which was in stage construction.” Lively is the construction lead for GDOT’s Office of Innovative Delivery. So this tasks him with making sure various developers hold up their end of the work contracts. The developer of the Transform I-285/GA-400 project is North Perimeter Contractors (NPC), and we talked about their responsibility in maintaining the roads in their project zone last week. Someone on the ground at NPC’s I-285 job in Dunwoody supposedly accidentally blocked a certain drain twice during this rainy period. So Lively and GDOT have had to work to ensure a third mistake doesn’t happen. “We, as an agency, met with them and stressed the importance of maintaining the travel way on I-285 and not ponding water,” Lively explained. He said GDOT’s own inspection team has surveyed the area to make sure it fits their standards. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: DUI death rates and the easy options to get home safely The other way GDOT can enforce this is to levy certain penalties or consequences spelled out in the contract. Whether those mean fines or not, Lively would not specify, because he said each situation has different factors. He did say that NPC has laid out a plan on how they would prevent that kind of flooding again. Because the flood took up such a large space on such a critical and busy highway, GDOT sent its own crews to un-stop the drains. That job would normally fall under NPC’s scope, but Dunwoody commuters could not afford to wait longer for that smaller firm to alleviate the blockage. GDOT also puts people on the ground in potential trouble spots when they suspect bad weather, so they can assess the area and deploy crews and fixes more expediently. On a smaller level, the flooding closure of Chamblee Dunwoody Road in Chamblee has been a fly in that city’s recent traffic ointment. That low-lying stretch of road has been submerged in water at least three different times since Monday, December 23. Each instance normally lasts multiple days. Again, the same problem occurring multiple times in a short period raises questions. “In the first two weeks of this year, we’ve had about four-and-a-half inches of rain,” Chamblee Public Information Officer Tisa Moore told the AJC. “The intensity of that amount of rain in such a short amount of time, along with the rainfall the prior week, caused the problems on Chamblee Dunwoody Road.” Chamblee PD has had to put up barricades on this popular cut-through between American Industrial Way and New Peachtree Road, because of the inches-deep water collected under the Peachtree Road, MARTA, and railroad overpasses. » RELATED: Remembering WSB’s Pete Combs and the I-85 plane landing “We are pumping the water out so staff can safely get into the drain and place cameras there that will assess the situation,” Moore said. But Moore also said they need a drier weather period to keep the drains clear for repair. Chamblee oversees the traffic in the area, but DeKalb County maintains the sewer system. So much like GDOT’s relationship with NPC, Chamblee has to work in concert with the county to properly fix the problem. And all parties involved in both boondoggles are hoping for a stretch of dry, preferably sunny, days to dry the puddles and take the stress off of the panting drainage systems, work crews, authorities, and motorists. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com. 
  • Weather and road construction, combined with heavy traffic, cause major wear and tear on our roads. Two points of interest in 2020 caught my eye and prompted me to reach out to the Department of Transportation for how and why they unfolded. Major construction projects require crews to shift travel lanes away from where they build bridges and other major structures. This traffic pattern change on I-285 near Ashford Dunwoody Road (Exit 29) in DeKalb actually caused holes to form in the road on the different seams between the ribbons of pavement and prompted a jam-inducing, rolling closure. » RELATED: Remembering WSB’s Pete Combs and the I-85 plane landing “When the road was previously constructed, the wheel paths after the lanes have been shifted are actually on those joints,” GDOT District 7 Assistant Engineer Paul DeNard explained. So cars are often driving on the creases, gradually forcing apart the pavement. “As we grind out those things to make the new pavement, as well as the cars traveling over it, it weakens the integrity of the pavement.” DeNard explained that the contractor on any road build is normally required to maintain and fill those cracks during projects. In the case of the Transform I-285/GA-400 project, North Perimeter Contractors has that domain. GDOT then repaves the entire area when the project finishes. I noticed these cracks where the old lane stripes were on I-285. I drove near Perimeter Mall the weekend before the major repairs and the damage had gotten worse very recently. So DeNard said that urgent repair-need played into why the rolling closures happened sooner in the day and not later at night. He also said that the availability of road crews factors into which repairs are done at night or within the normal 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekday window. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: DUI death rates and the easy options to get home safely Of course, the repeated multi-lane closures on one of Atlanta’s busiest interstate stretches created miles of delays at a time. Those extraneous traffic jams behind the slow-moving patching crews greeted the starts of the PM drives both last Monday and last Tuesday. The beginning of the “Back to Everything” post-holidays week had bad enough traffic without these unplanned interruptions. Reality bit. Routine road maintenance also changed the topography of the Buford-Spring Connector/Highway 13 in both directions south of Monroe Drive this month. That stretch of pavement looked cracked, scarred, and used-up during and right after the deluge on the first Friday of the decade. By the following Monday, crews had filled those fissures. “That’s a pavement preservation preventative measure that we do,” District 7 Maintenance Manager Jason Moore said. “Because of the distresses in the roadway, the cracking in the roadway, we did a crack-sealing operation, by putting that emulsion in there to seal those cracks off.” » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: The urbanist view on street design Moore explained that sealing the cracks isn’t just for vanity or to prevent traffic on them from opening potholes. It is also a seasonal maintenance state teams perform to keep water from seeping into and damaging the pavement even more. This extends the life of the asphalt, Moore said, staving off a full-on paving operation that would cause a much larger inconvenience and cost taxpayers more money in the long run. As to why Moore’s team decided on January for this: “We tend to do that during the winter months, because the temperature makes the cracks expand to the widest width. That way, we are able to get the material down in there.” Bemoaning and analyzing construction closures is part of the culture in Atlanta traffic; giving the state and local governments grief is a way to blow steam. And while characteristics of some road projects just seem to make zero sense to some people, plenty of thought and myriad factors influence the closures. The jams on I-285 were major, but if crews ignored the cracks, people would then gripe about terrible road conditions. And if maintenance crews hadn’t been proactive in sealing the Buford-Spring Connector, a bigger, more expensive overhaul would have taken place sooner in the future. You may be repeating this mantra to yourself during your new 2020 workout: “No pain, no gain.” You’re absolutely right. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com. 
  • Keeping New Year’s resolutions is hard because people have a tendency to set goals that are either too lofty or too broad. Losing 25 pounds and getting a cheese-grater six-pack (make it eight, no, 10) are hard for most to achieve. But simply committing to living a healthier lifestyle might allow for too many progress-stifling mistakes. Since this is the “Gridlock Guy” column and not “Diet Dude,” let’s set a goal that all Atlanta motorists can achieve. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: DUI death rates and the easy options to get home safely Say this together: “I will not put people’s lives in danger just to avoid a delay.” Let me explain my focus on this heavy but simple goal. On Monday, December 30, we brought the WSB Skycopter to a crash scene between Newnan and Palmetto. Early-morning emergency pothole repair had caused a backup on I-85/northbound near Highway 154 (Exit 51), and just as that had cleared, a vehicle flipped over in the tail end of the slow traffic. Crashes often happen when drivers hit delays unexpectedly and take seemingly evasive action. As the scene began to clear, police, a wrecker, and a GDOT CHAMP unit began packing equipment and leaving. The CHAMP operator had a trail of cones diagonally set in the two left lanes, tapering up to the crash scene. As he walked back, by himself, stacking cone after cone, cars started whizzing right by him in the newly-opening lanes. » RELATED: Remembering WSB’s Pete Combs and the I-85 plane landing The two right lanes had been open for a long time, so drivers easily could have gotten over early, slowed just a little bit, and left a safe bubble for the CHAMP operator to finish the job. But selfishness, tunnel vision, and “Hey, they’re doing it, so it must be okay” groupthink put the CHAMP operator in danger. Then, to add extreme insult to near-injury, one obviously extremely important sports-car driver passed the CHAMP unit on the left shoulder. That narrow patch between the CHAMP truck and the wall seemed the perfect outlet to squirt past for this motorist. Unreal. Later that same day, 511 Georgia, the organization that dispatches HERO and CHAMP units and manages traffic incidents all over the state, tweeted a disturbing video. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: The urbanist view on street design The clip shows a driver choosing to avoid delays in one direction of I-985 by driving on the shoulder in the opposite direction of travel. Yes, this hurried commuter figured that driving the wrong way on an interstate and putting their lives and those of others in serious peril was better than getting stuck in a traffic jam. Neither of these extraordinary lapses in judgment made headlines. The only way these daredevils (emphasis on devils) likely end up on the front page and in the A-section is if they injure or kill someone. So please take something away from the Metro section here: These stunts just simply are not worth the risk. Neither keeping a schedule nor avoiding an inconvenience is worth life and limb. Commute preparation is key. Tune-in to Channel 2 Action News in the mornings before you leave for work and school and 95.5 WSB any time of day. Know where the unusual jams are before you get to them. Keep the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App running in the background on your smartphone as you drive. With all of the information out there, there is little excuse to be surprised by a traffic jam, unless a crash happens only a few minutes before you arrive. This whole “Driving and not risking others’ lives” New Year’s resolution is the diet equivalent of “I will not eat an entire cake every single day.” But this commuting goal is specific and attainable. We’re setting an almost subterranean low bar here, yet people sadly will still trip over it. Just because the homesick blues have us in a tizzy to get to point B, they don’t license us to risk the lives of first responders or our fellow motorists to get there. Cheers to a safe 2020 for us all! Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com. 
  • The 95.5 WSB family suffered a big loss on Dec. 12, when iconic reporter Pete Combs lost his short battle with bone and lung cancer. Combs worked two stints with WSB between 2006 and 2019, covering national stories for CBS Radio and ABC Radio, along with the local beat in Atlanta. When the AJC’s breaking-news team started working from our radio newsroom, Combs and beat writer Kristi Swartz worked in back-to-back cubicles. “We clicked from the start. I mean, he had this energy and enthusiasm that were just infectious,” Swartz, who now writes about utilities and energy for EnergyWire.com, said. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: DUI death rates and the easy options to get home safely Early into this collaboration, they began working stories together. The Sept. 20, 2010, emergency plane landing on I-85 one will go down as one of the most memorable and odd. “It was pretty calm out there and there was some scanner chatter,” Swartz recalled. Combs was closer to that police scanner than her and heard the first reports that DeKalb County 911 received about a plane possibly going down on I-85. Combs and Swartz wasted no time, though Swartz admitted she needed a minute to process what Combs had just heard. “We both looked at each other and he said, ‘You wanna go?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’” They checked in with their bosses and then hit the road, obstacles be damned. “We were getting closer — we could see the plane from the other side of the highway. And Pete’s driving and I’m in the passenger seat and we are just talking a mile a minute.” Their station vehicle was traveling a bit faster than 60 mph, however, as they approached the Shallowford Road exit off of I-85/northbound. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: The urbanist view on street design “Both of us had our heads turned to the left, so we are looking across the highway and we can see the plane.” Swartz said. Their attention to the plane and their speed almost sent them into stopped traffic on the exit ramp. “He looks at me and goes, ‘You look, I’ll drive.’” Their urgency in leaving WSB’s and AJC’s Midtown offices meant they got to pull up right next to the plane. At just before 5 p.m., a Piper aircraft scraped to a stop in the three left lanes on I-85/southbound about one mile south of Shallowford. It didn’t crash, hit zero cars, and the pilot even posed with a thumbs-up after officials got him safely from the plane. It was a miracle. Had he been forced to land on the busier northbound side, the plane very likely could have hit vehicles and made the landing far more infamous. The late Captain Herb Emory relayed the first reports the WSB Traffic Team received of this landing. “We’ve got four left lanes blocked on I-85/southbound between Shallowford Road and Clairmont Road in DeKalb County,” Emory bellowed during the opening of the 5 p.m. newscast on 95.5 WSB (WSB had just begun simulcasting on 95.5 FM the month prior). Emory then pitched to former WSB Skyplane reporter Kim McCarthy, who circled above the melee. “There are a lot of emergency vehicles on the scene. It doesn’t look like the plane is damaged too badly,” McCarthy calmly reported. “There is no fire at this time — only southbound traffic is affected. Traffic is slow back to Shallowford Road, Captain.” As I worked from the WSB 24-Hour Traffic Center on the ground, relaying what information I could to Emory and McCarthy, they worked hard to assure everyone that this improper plane-interstate connection was not nearly as bad as it sounded. Once Combs and Swartz arrived, they got right up close and did just the same. At 5:11 p.m., Combs described to WSB news anchor Chris Chandler just what he saw. “Right now, I’m looking directly at this Piper Saratoga, a single-engine, high-performance airplane, red and white, with gold stripes on it.” Combs was an aviation wonk, even hosting a podcast, “The Human Factor: Tales from the Flight Deck.” Swartz was impressed that Combs knew to take down the tail number of the aircraft, so they could easily look up flight information. And Combs’ knowledge of planes made for a richer dispatch to WSB’s listeners. “I think (calling this) landing is probably pretty charitable,” Combs’ adrenaline rang. “It looks like (the pilot) had some gear down landing on touchdown here and that maybe another problem actually brought him onto the highway.” » RELATED: Why the West Freeway ride keeps getting worse Combs continued, “There appears to be no fire. The pilot is out and appears to be talking to fire officials right now. The propeller of this plane is bent, so it was moving as the airplane struck the ground. One of the tires on the main landing gear is flat, the nose gear doesn’t appear to have deployed at all.” Combs was obviously just seeing and gathering some facts as he talked, a talent that few can pull off well. His snap judgments throughout his coverage of this strange news story astonished, educated, and reassured the listening audience. Crews eventually towed the wounded Piper down the I-85/southbound exit to Clairmont Road and then north to DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. The scene’s diminuendo was very much like that of a car crash scene: tow and go. The delays could have been much worse and the closure much longer. Swartz said she was always so amazed with one particular trait of Combs’ and those like him: “The amazing ability to boil something down to 30 seconds or 20 seconds and then he would paint a picture.” Swartz said that even though she saw the same things Combs saw up close, she could close her eyes and listen to his reports and see them just the same way. Much like the vicious whiplash of the news cycle, Combs’ battle with cancer came like a blind left hook and knocked him into hospice care almost before any of us really got to process that he was in such shape. His war with the disease, though, ended much as the I-85 plane scene did: peacefully and mostly painlessly for him. Many who worked alongside him, including myself, have described him as a “reporter’s reporter,” always thirsting to get as close to a story as quickly as possible. He once asked me for any NASCAR aviation connections to try to bum a ride to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. He always found a way. To Combs’ widow, Karen, son Daniel, and the rest of his family and close friends: thanks for sharing him with us and with the many listeners his unmistakable voice graced all over the United States. The Atlanta motoring public needed that calming baritone on that hot Monday evening over nine years ago and many more times of crisis. Godspeed.
  • The message is a familiar one from a coalition of law enforcement agencies, state safety and transportation departments, advocacy groups, and private sector firms: Drinking and driving is a big problem every holiday season. And once again, Georgia will have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone driving under the influence. The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety unveiled the 2019 “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign last Wednesday at Stone Mountain Park. About 20 lit-up police cars from the Georgia State Patrol, various agencies, and DeKalb County’s DUI task force truck flanked several speakers that chilly morning. This hearty, statewide enforcement mobilization goes into effect as 3.1 million Georgians hit the roads for Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Maybe the best bargain for holiday travel “They’re going to arrest any and all drunk and drugged drivers that they find behind the wheel of a vehicle,” GOHS Director Allen Poole sternly said, motioning to a couple dozen officers in formation behind him. “So be aware — this is your Christmas present, this warning right here today. There will be no exceptions.” Drunk-driving fatalities have decreased in the past 40 years, but a GOHS news release highlighted some startling figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on these avoidable deaths. More than 10,500 people died in these crashes in the U.S. just last year, with more people dying over the late December holiday period than any other. Georgia saw 375 inebriation-related deaths on the roads in 2018, which is 5% more than in 2017, the GOHS said. More than a quarter of all traffic-related deaths involved alcohol in Georgia in 2018. This campaign is supposed to scare people straight, but that isn’t the sole goal. It’s not about writing tickets, collecting revenue, and imprisoning people. “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is about spreading awareness; this coalition also wants people to know that they have options, even free ones, if they celebrate a bit too hard. “We urge all of you to have a plan,” AAA spokesperson Garrett Townsend said. “Make sure you know in advance how you’re going to get home or to your destination, if you’re going to have something to drink.” AAA is one of at least two organizations to give people an out, if they have their car and have had too much to drink. AAA’s “Tow-To-Go” program offers a free tow and ride home for up to two people. That may seem like too much of an ordeal, but it is free to anyone (not just AAA members) until 6 a.m., January 2nd, 2020. People can just dial (855) 2-TOW-2-GO or search for the offer online. TEAM Georgia is a safe- and sober-driving coalition that mobilizes volunteers at different events to sign up attendees to pledge not to drink and drive. I’m on the board with TEAM Georgia and have been on hand for these different concerts and sporting events and seen many people make pledges. Chairman Ron Fennel, who is also an outgoing Smyrna city councilman, explained how TEAM Georgia partner Checker Cab Company is helping the cause. “They’ll give you a free ride home during the holidays. If you can’t make it home unimpaired, they’ll take you home.” Checker Cab has been a TEAM Georgia partner for 30 years and has offered these rides to anyone in DeKalb County or the City of Atlanta during the holiday season each year. Like AAA, they will offer these rides home only (not to another party) through January 2nd. People can book rides at 404-351-1111 or AtlantaCheckerCab.com. Fennel also reminds people that distracted driving is part of the problem on the roads, especially with so many people driving in unfamiliar areas. So drivers need to plan their ride as far as who may be driving to and from a party and then plan that commute beforehand. Texting and driving has the same effect as inebriation. Just as we discussed in the distracted driving column last week, a series of small bad decisions can add up to a supernova of consequences. We (me, too) justify small slips in judgment as our best bad decisions in the moment. Good, well-meaning people often say “I’m fine” or “Let me have a cup of coffee to sober up” when facing the prospect of leaving their cars at a party. They often aren’t greedy thieves or monsters that kill squirrels with hammers. They’re regular folks who get behind the wheel just a bit too tired or inebriated. Then tragedy strikes and the cosmic fabric changes forever. » RELATED: Here are the worst times to drive in Atlanta for Christmas 2019 Partygoers, take this all to heart and know that you have options. Party hosts, you have responsibilities to make sure people are taking the safest routes home. If they push back, order them an Uber yourself or offer to drive them home and Uber back yourself. There aren’t many things in this country that kill more than 10,000 people per year, but booze-wrecks do. As a nation, we have made inroads on this epidemic, but there is still a long way to go. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.

News

  • A pilot was killed Saturday morning when a small plane crashed into the side of a north Florida home, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. The family inside the home managed to escape the home without injury, the Sheriff’s Office said. A picture a viewer sent to Action News Jax shows the moment when a plane crashed into the front yard of the Lake City home.In the picture, a man in an orange shirt can be seen running across the yard to try to help the pilot, but he had to retreat because the flames were too extensive. Neighbors watched as a ball of fire flared up in their neighbor’s yard. Kristy Amato said she hears many small planes and often worries about them. “I was sitting on my couch watching a movie with my daughter, and I heard a plane take off like all of the planes take off,' Amato told Action News Jax. “Then I heard a backfire, then a loud kaboom, so I ran out front and there was a plane in my neighbor’s yard on fire.” Columbia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Murray Smith told Action News Jax that after crews put the fire out, the pilot’s body was found underneath debris. “Shortly before 10, we received about 59 911 calls,” Smith told the television station. Smith said he believes the plane was a single-engine aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board is now working to find out where the Piper PA-32 was going and the name of the pilot who died. Officials believe he was the only person on the plane. “There is an airport nearby, but so many neighbors have come over and gave so many stories, so we’re just going to wait for NTSB to get all of the facts straight,” said Smith. The Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB are investigating what caused the plane to crash, but the investigation likely won’t be complete for months.
  • Three people — including two teens — are in custody and police are looking for a fourth after an armed robbery at a Sandy Springs jewelry store.  Antonio Collier, 40, Antwan DeKarlos Robinson, 17, and a 16-year-old juvenile were arrested after the incident, which happened about 4:20 p.m. Saturday at a business on Abernathy Road near Roswell Road, officials said.  Witnesses to the robbery and the store owner were able to subdue two of the suspects until police arrived, Channel 2 Action News reported.  Three men walked into the business and tried to steal items from the display case, Sandy Springs police spokesman Sgt. Sam Worsham said.  “They had hammers and were breaking everything and grabbed Rolexes,” a witness told Channel 2.  The owner, who was returning from lunch, saw the robbery in progress, the news station reported. He told Channel 2 he hit the robbers over the head and in the face with a bag full of glass pickle jars.  Two bystanders then tackled one of the suspects, Worsham said.  Two other suspects drove off in a car, he said. The incident turned into a police chase that ended in a crash on Glenridge Road.  One of the suspects was arrested at the scene, and the fourth suspect ran away into a wooded area, Worsham said.  Collier, Robinson, and the juvenile are all charged with armed robbery, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, felony criminal damage to property, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, obstruction and two counts of battery.  Read the full story from Channel 2 Action News here.
  • Tamra Judge is leaving “The Real Housewives of Orange County” after 12 seasons, the star of the Bravo series said in an Instagram post Saturday. “It’s been a wild 12 years. But it’s time for me to move on,” Judge wrote on Instagram. “I’m sad to go but I’m very excited about my future.” Judge is currently the longest-running full-time cast member in “Housewives” history, People reported. She joined the show during its third season in 2007, according to the magazine. Judge’s announcement comes a day after fellow co-star Vicki Gunvalson also announced she was leaving the reality television show, E! Online reported. Judge said she was looking forward to life after the series. “It’s been a wild ride, and after all these years, I’m looking forward to life away from the cameras,” Judge told People. “I was offered a chance to come back to the show in a limited role, but would prefer to walk away on my own terms.” Judge has been part of the show’s most memorable moments, including the show’s first wine toss, People reported. She also starred in a three-episode spinoff of the series, “Tamra’s OC Wedding,” which documented her June 2013 wedding to Eddie Judge. “I want to thank all the fans who have offered me their support over the years,” she told People. “It’s meant a lot.”
  • Margaret Mackie is not a household name in the music industry, but she’s getting there in a hurry. The 83-year-old dementia patient from Scotland has gone viral on YouTube with her heart-melting duet of “My Way” with her caregiver, Jamie Lee Morley. The pair recorded a single of the song, with proceeds going to Dementia UK and the Alzheimer’s Society. People with elderly parents will have a tough time avoiding the tissues after watching the sweet, sentimental ballad made famous by Frank Sinatra. But Mackie is not ready to face the final curtain just yet. She’s content to keep singing. Morley, a musician who works as a food server at the Northcare Suites Care Home in Edinburgh since it opened last fall, told The Washington Post he was walking past a lounge at the center when he heard a lovely voice singing Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Morley told the newspaper he thought someone had left the radio on, but then he saw Mackie singing the song in perfect pitch. “I was stunned,” Morley, 31, told the Post. “I’ve loved singing and music since I was a little lad, and I could just tell that Margaret did, too. Her voice is amazing.” Morley and Mackie sang “My Way” at the care home’s Christmas party in December, CBS News reported. A video of the duet was posted to YouTube and quickly went viral. “Every day in work we sing this song together and I do whatever I can to brighten her day and all the other residents,” Morley wrote on YouTube. 'For those close to me will know this was my Grandad’s funeral song who our family sadly lost to Alzheimer’s last year. I’ve never really sang this song, as it’s a classic, but I knew how much Margaret and her family would love it.” Mackie’s family attended the Christmas party and enjoyed the duet, CBS News reported. They are even more delighted with the response to the video. “It has brought her back to life. The dementia was taking a hold of her and she was getting sad with it, but this has given her a new lease of life,” Mackie’s daughter, Mairi Hunter, told the BBC. “It’s quite remarkable how she can remember the lyrics. It just seems to come back to her. “She wants everyone to be happy. People cry when they hear the song and she’ll say ‘No don’t cry, I want you to be happy.’” Meanwhile, the recording of “My Way” is No. 6 on the United Kingdom’s Amazon download chart and at one point reached No. 27 on iTunes’ Top 40 in the U.K., the Post reported. That’s ahead of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran, the newspaper reported. Morley filmed his excursion with Mackie to the recording studio and released the single and a music video to go with it Dec,. 28, CBS News reported. The music video has had nearly 200,000 views since its release. Mackie, a former whiskey distillery worker, rarely remembers one day from the next, the Post reported. She came to Northcare Suites in October from another care center, Jordan Simpson, manager of Northcare Suites, told the newspaper. While Mackie might be forgetful, she never forgets the lyrics to her favorite songs, Simpson said. “Singing is something that makes Margaret happy. She has a great singing voice,” Simpson told the Post. “And although she has dementia, she has a great memory for song lyrics. She and Jamie sing together most of the day.” Mackie said she wouldn’t mind recording another song, and joked about recording an entire album, the BBC reported. “It’s great seeing your face in all those newspapers,” Mackie told the BBC. “It’s nice to have a busy life like that, every now and then.” The single can be purchased on iTunes here.
  • A FedEx driver in upper Michigan went beyond the call of duty while delivering a package Thursday morning. The delivery man was dropping off a package for Jodi LaFreniere in Manistique around 11:42 a.m., WLUC reported. Instead of just leaving the package on the snowy stoop, the delivery man grabbed a shovel and cleared off the area, the television station reported. “Shout out to this guy! He shoveled my stoop while I was gone,” LaFreniere wrote on Facebook. LaFreniere, who is a kindergarten teacher, told WLUC she received an alert on her phone from her doorbell camera. When she checked the video, she saw the delivery man shoveling off her porch. “I was wondering who was at my house since my fiance was away in Alaska, teaching,” LaFreniere told CNN. LaFreniere hadn’t spoken to the delivery driver -- Melvin J. Marlett, who has worked for FedEx for 23 years -- but said her fiance, Rodney Riesland, has spoken with him since he is usually home when deliveries are made, CNN reported. “There are good people out there who do selfless acts,” LaFreniere told WLUC. LaFreniere decided to post the video to Facebook as a way of saying thanks. “FedEx is proud of the many contributions our team members make to the communities we serve every day,” FedEx spokeswoman Heather Wilson told CNN. “We commend our courier, Mel Marlett, who went above and beyond to help shovel snow for our customer while making a delivery.” Marlett told CNN he thought shoveling the snow was the right thing to do. “I would hope it’s something that anybody would have done,” Marlett told the cable network. “If you take care of your customers, they take care of you.”
  • Sophie Yazzie, the longest-living veteran in Arizona and a member of the Navajo Nation, died Saturday. She was 105. Yazzie died at her Tucson home, according to Facebook posts by Women Warriors and the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services. Yazzie, who was born in Canyon de Chelly in 1914, enlisted in the Army when he was 28 and served during World War II, KPNX reported. She was a Women’s Army Corps Technician Grade 4 and was honorably discharged after the war, according to Navajo Times. Yazzie graduated from Wingate Boarding School in 1934, the website reported. She returned to her alma mater after the war and worked there until she retired at 70, KPNX reported. Wanda Wright, the director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services, released a message of condolences, KNXV reported. “I am blessed to have met Sophie and hear about her service to our country. Last summer we were honored to be able to present Sophie with Governor Ducey’s Arizona Women Veteran’s Week proclamation,' Wright said. 'We send our deepest condolences to her family and friends, and will always remember her legacy.” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted a tribute to Yazzie on Saturday afternoon. She had four children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.