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Traffic Team fundraisers to benefit Toys for Tots Captain Herb loved so much. He loved his family, his job, his colleagues and his community. One of the many charities he helped was metro Atlanta Toys for Tots. To honor his legacy, the WSB Traffic Team still hosts his annual toy drive at Fred’s BBQ House, and it’s quite a show! Bring the family, and plan to join them and the Douglas County community this holiday season on Saturday, December 8th in Lithia Springs. Two events prior to that which will take place this fall are the 2nd annual Tossing for Tots Disc Golf Tournament and the Atlanta-area Toys for Tots Golf Tournament! To get involved in the disc golf tournament on September 29th in Henry Co., you can now REGISTER HERE. Stay tuned for information pertaining to the golf tournament, which will take place November 9th at Bear’s Best Atlanta in Suwanee! Call our traffic center with traffic incident 24/7/365 at 404-897-7358. 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.

The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • We saw a doozy on I-20 Wednesday afternoon. A tanker truck and a tractor trailer collided just after 4 p.m. on I-20/westbound just before Six Flags Dr. (exit 47) and eventually completely shut down the interstate in that direction. Traffic was a nightmare and my colleagues and I with WSB Triple Team Traffic went into hustle mode. Our Traffic Troopers, commuters who call us with info, gave us the alert before the police or GDOT did. » RELATED: I-20 reopens in Cobb County after massive fuel spill cleanup “I got the original call from traffic trooper Joey. At the time, he told me that there was a crash involving two tractor trailers and some cars,” reporter Jill Nelson said. She and teammate Alex Williams began sending both myself and Newschopper 2’s Jason Durden vital information on the crash. “The left lane was still moving at that point. By the time Alex found it on the WSB Jam Cam, they had closed all lanes.” Whereas the WSB Skycopter flies on a fixed rush hour schedule, Durden and Channel 2 Action News’ helicopter fly a la carte when various news stories break. He got to the scene within minutes and began relaying information back to us and to Channel 2 viewers both on TV and social media. The Traffic Team and I broke into programming on News 95.5/AM750 WSB with the traffic RED ALERT and also sent push notifications out on the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App and the WSB Radio App. This is Atlanta traffic’s version of a tornado warning; every second matters when someone is planning their commute. As we began to learn that this was a tanker truck overturned and that it had nearly 9,000 gallons of fuel, we knew this wouldn’t be an ephemeral closure. “When crews started spraying foam on the fuel spill, we knew it was going to be a bigger deal — then the DOT notes updated saying it was a Hazmat situation,” Williams explained. Williams discovered that at least 100 gallons of fuel had actually spilled. With this crash happening not far from the Chattahoochee River bridge, cleanup crews had to treat the cleanup with extra care. One insight that traffic reporters give that an app like Waze, Google Maps or Apple Maps cannot is just how severe or specific a problem is. When Durden, Williams, Nelson, and I processed what we were seeing, we knew this would not be the average interstate closure and we reported as much. Mike Shields joined WSB Triple Team Traffic in June and had just been on I-20, before arriving at the WSB studios in Midtown Atlanta before 5 p.m. He found out about the closure just as he pulled into the parking deck. » RELATED: Georgia roads reopen after tanker truck crash, oxygen leak “This was the largest traffic event I have covered and the domino effect on all the other interstates was unreal,” Shields said. The backup in the already stacked I-285 and I-20 interchange in Fulton County was extreme. From the WSB Skycopter, I saw I-285/southbound start jamming hard at Paces Ferry Road (exit 18) and stay slow all the way to I-20. The right lane line to exit at Hollowell Parkway (exit 12) started before the Chattahoochee River bridge, as people sought an alternate. Indeed, the impacts on side roads like Hollowell/Highway 78, Camp Creek Parkway and Highway 166 were extreme. Fulton Industrial Boulevard was jammed, as police diverted I-20/westbound traffic onto that exit before the closure. “Phone calls I received were people asking about is there any way to get around it,” Shields said. And while there technically were open roads, those alternates were gridlocked. Calls to WSB about alternate routes got trumped, however, by calls of frustration. “Most calls we got were that people were blocking emergency vehicles from passing on the shoulder and they hadn’t moved in hours,” Nelson said. And we saw this in the Skycopter: drivers stuck in the closure between Fulton Industrial (exit 49) and the crash scene began driving the wrong way on the shoulders without any directive from the police. This is completely illegal and dangerous. It prevented more rescue units from getting to the scene. Additional equipment instead had to go up to Six Flags and turn around the wrong way. We watched above as police eventually got a couple hundred vehicles turned around and exiting one at a time, the wrong way up the Fulton Industrial entrance ramp and off of the freeway. Nelson did not mince words: “I’ve covered plenty of bad crashes before, but this one stands out because of the jam that drivers caused themselves, by blocking up the shoulders. It took over two hours to finally get everyone out of there who was stuck.” » RELATED: Report finds Atlanta has some of world's worst traffic The crash cleanup eventually lasted into the night, with overnight traffic guru Steve Winslow taking the Traffic Center helm at 8:30 p.m. The crash lasted his entire shift. “The biggest issue for re-opening I-20 seemed to be the safety workers’ need to unload the overturned tanker’s load of fuel. Having to drill into a hole into the overturned tanker to siphon the combustible fuel out safely took at four hours alone,” Winslow explained. He said that this tedious process forced the closure of I-20/eastbound, the opposite direction, starting at Thornton Road (exit 44). The scene didn’t clear until almost 4:30 a.m., over 12 hours after the wreck happened. Our entire team was in unison about where this wreck ranks. “This one,” Winslow said, “made a “normal” overnight become almost as intense as a Friday evening commute.” “Aside from the [I-85] bridge collapse, this is probably the second-worst single traffic incident I’ve ever seen, due to how long it lasted and how much it impacted surface streets — even as far back as inside the Perimeter,” Williams, who joined Triple Team Traffic in 2015, recalled. And I agree with my crew. This I-20 tanker truck crash ranks as one of the worst single wrecks, in terms of traffic impact and the length of closure, that I have seen. It once again shows how vital our roads are and how just one problem can delay people for miles around for hours. The I-20 extended closure also shows how important planning your commute and keeping your radio and phone on for updates during that drive is, too. » RELATED: Metro Atlanta's 10 most consistently awful traffic hotspots Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 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@coxinc.com.
  • Now that most schools have resumed, the commute out of neighborhoods gets longer. More people go back to their normal post-summer work and errands schedules, so volume increases. Delays and patience often have an inverse relationship. Drivers simply make riskier decisions and have more stress when they are in a hurry. But extra patience is mandatory in school zones. » RELATED: Traffic hassles return as metro Atlanta schools open this week “The start of the school year is a challenging time for parents because of new routines and increased traffic,” AAA spokesperson Garrett Townsend told the AJC and WSB. “We encourage anyone taking children to school to establish habits to help them stay focused on the task of driving. Extra vigilance and patience is required so that everyone can get to their destination safely.” AAA Georgia Field VP Sasha Marcincyzk shared this resonating fact in the Gridlock Guy column on this subject a year ago: children hit by cars traveling 35 mph are three times more likely to die than at 25 mph. And the highest age group at risk of pedestrian injury are children between ages 5 and 14. This message should be enough for anyone to drive with a proverbial eggshell beneath the throttle in a school zone. The July 1st advent of the Hands-Free Georgia Act plays right into this. As we have extensively covered here, the new law mandates drivers keep their phones out of their hands and imposes more restrictions on types of texting, app use, and audio streaming allowed. The law, however, does not magically eliminate distracted driving; it is another attempt to nudge motorists in the right direction. Any hands-free precautions taken on the open road should be more so in a school zone. There are more distractions and greater consequences when kids are crossing the streets and being, well, kids. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: What the new Hands-Free Georgia Act bans and allows Drivers should not gauge the caution they take simply on how recent laws have changed. House Bill 978 also went into effect on July 1st and increased automated enforcement of traffic laws around school buses, a measure met with big opposition. But it also eased the restrictions of who stops around buses. Now drivers going the opposite direction of a school bus on a multilane highway (which is two or more lanes in each direction), do not have to stop, if there is a turn lane in the middle. “Vehicles traveling in opposite direction must use caution!” Townsend emphatically explained. This softening of the law, which before only allowed oncoming vehicles to stop if there was a raised or grassy median, also met resistance. Vehicles behind stopped school buses, no matter their lane, still must stop when buses are offloading kids. Drivers in both directions still must halt on two-lane roads, even if those have turn lanes. And people violate these existing laws all the time, in the name of “I can just squeak right by” or “this is totally unnecessary.” Kids are expected to behave — so, too, must motorists. Lives are at stake. » RELATED: Why a small change in law could create danger for students AAA’s legacy School Safety Patrol Program, something I was honored to be in 20 years ago, is still going strong and is a great way to both enforce safety and teach students themselves the importance of caution and common sense. “Prior to participating in the patrol program, I really didn’t know what safety meant,” AAA Georgia School Safety Patrol of the Year, Xavier Sellers, said. The program also teaches students how to better lead their peers and even adults. “Now that I have the responsibility of keeping my school safe, I can see the importance of being a better leader and developing qualities that will help me operate with excellence.” Sellers attended Anderson Elementary School in Clayton County, which means Clayton County has produced the Safety Patrol of the Year twice in a row. Alyce Washington won the honor a year ago. Whether new laws, news stories, public service announcements, safety patrollers in neon belts, amber school-zone lights, or some mixture of all grab attention during this time, they should prompt action. Children deserve extra attention in many ways, not the least of which being behind the wheel. » RELATED: Georgia cameras may catch school-zone speeders Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 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@coxinc.com.
  • Officials haven’t set an official opening date for the new Northwest Metro Express Lanes, a reversible tolling system along new overpasses on I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties, yet. But the targeted opening is still the end of the summer. Plans have been in place for years to improve the northwest corridor, and GDOT and SRTA got tasked with taking a big swing at it. » RELATED: School traffic is back. What to know as metro schools and buses return  The lanes will resemble the lanes that opened along I-75 in January 2017 in Henry County. They will run in the preferred rush hour directions in the weekday mornings, will close at 11 a.m. to be “flushed” of errant cars and debris, then re-open mid-afternoon for PM drive. Not just building the lanes, but training first responders and testing the equipment are big steps that need completing before they open. Smilin’ Mark McKay brought in GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry and SRTA/Xpress Executive Director Chris Tomlinson to the News 95.5/AM750 WSB studios Wednesday, for a special “Peach Pass” edition of Atlanta’s Evening News. They were enlightening, to say the least. “We’re trying to take a system approach,” Tomlinson stated, referencing the news that had just broken about SRTA’s new uniform pricing system for all Peach Pass lanes in Georgia. SRTA has set a minimum rate for the lanes during times of dynamic pricing at $.10 per mile. They dynamically adjust the lane rates, based on traffic demand, so to maintain the express lanes’ average speed at 35-45 mph. In the overnight hours total trips will not cost more than $.50 in any express lane in Georgia. » RELATED: New express lanes may have drivers paying to drive along  In the Northwest Metro Express Lanes system, there are 30 miles of new lanes, but the longest trip can be 20 miles, whether a trip starts on I-75 or I-575. Trips begin on I-75 from the Hickory Grove Road access point (north of Wade Green Road) and I-575 from Sixes Road. With the new pricing structure, the minimum cost for a full trip in the lanes is $2.00 during rush hour or another high demand time, when dynamic pricing is in place. The new Peach Pass lanes in Cobb and Cherokee counties also provide new access to the freeway from some roads that had just been overpasses. “We have 10 new access points; five of those on I-75 are interchanges that are at different locations than the interchanges today,” McMurry explained with his big Peach Pass system map spread about in the WSB Radio studio. Those new I-75 interchanges are at Hickory Grove Road, Big Shanty Road, Roswell Road, Terrell Mill Road and Akers Mill Road. PeachPass.com shows the full map and explains this in more detail. McMurry sees the benefit of these new tied-in roads, “Those are new interchanges that will give you direct access from those streets, directly into the express lanes.” This means a Peach Pass user who lives off of Hickory Grove Road in Acworth can pay a small amount and save several minutes on their commute by driving straight onto I-75. » RELATED: Peach Pass Retail Center open in Kennesaw “This is the largest of this type of project that Georgia has ever seen and has the ability to move the needle on mobility and congestion like we haven’t seen in Metro Atlanta in a long time,” McMurry said. The most crowded part of I-75 in Cobb County — near Windy Hill Road and I-285 — sees 290,000 vehicles per day. He also noted that this is just about the biggest single express lanes project in the nation; crews began work in 2015. The lanes also aid mass transit in providing a more reliable, faster trip for the Xpress and GRTA buses that before had used the main through lanes. The first similar lanes, the I-85 HOT lanes between Suwanee and Chamblee in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties, have a federal mandate that includes a certain portion of funding actually going to public and mass transit. The newer lanes do not have that restriction, but are built to move more people faster, both McMurry and Tomlinson said.  » RELATED: Here's what happens if you use the Peach Pass lane illegally And more Peach Pass toll lanes are coming. “We are eventually going to have the lanes across the top half of I-285 [anywhere north of I-20]. There will be system-to-system connectivity, where you can go from one to the other,” Tomlinson said. Though each new batch of lanes may be slightly different, the goal is to make driving in them seamless, especially as Georgia builds more. GA-400 will also seem them in the near future. This proliferation influenced SRTA’s standardizing the pricing system. Some quirks exist. The I-85 lanes in Gwinnett and DeKalb allow exemptions for carpoolers with three or more passengers and certain fuel-efficient vehicles. The current I-75 lanes in Henry County and the new ones northwest of town will not. Law enforcement/first responder vehicles and public transit are the only ones exempt from being charged in these lanes. Speaking of I-85, GDOT is extending the current HOT lanes on I-85 in Gwinnett from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road, a project set for completion by the end of 2018. This extension took less time that the I-75 and I-575 lanes, because GDOT could simply construct them in the median. “What most people don’t realize is there also is a general purpose lane in that,” McMurry said. The I-85 HOT lanes that opened in the fall of 2011 took over an existing HOV lane. The new lanes are additional and will add one toll lane and one regular lane in each direction. This should be a big boon for I-85, especially when it files down to two lanes north of the Mall of Georgia. Many people oppose toll lanes, because they are seen as only benefiting the rich. But truthfully, they are added capacity to crowded roads and they are controlled by the pricing. Even those who don’t use the new lanes will gain the benefit from not having to drive share the road with the people that pay. Keeping a Peach Pass in the back pocket (really, on the windshield) for an especially testy commute is not a bad card to have if it needs playing. » RELATED: Pay n Go Peach Pass available at Walgreens, CVS Listen to the full podcast with McMurry, Tomlinson, McKay and Turnbull, to learn more about the new Northwest Metro Express Lanes, the I-85 HOT lane extension, and how the Peach Pass works. » RELATED: More Atlanta traffic news from the AJC
  • Doug 'Fireball' Turnbull and Smilin' Mark McKay went long form with GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry and SRTA/Xpress Executive Director Chris Tomlinson on the ins and the outs of the new I-75/I-575 Northwest Metro Express Lanes, how the Peach Pass works, and where these types of lanes will open down the road in Metro Atlanta. McMurry and Tomlinson reveal a new pricing structure for the current and future lanes, the complicated construction process, and how HERO units play a key role in reversing the lanes. Listen for more and read Turnbull’s “Gridlock Guy” column in Monday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Listen to the full show:
  • I have the privilege of volunteering for TEAM Georgia, a safe and sober driving coalition that signs up people to pledge not to drink and drive. TEAM Georgia is at every event at the Infinite Energy Center in Gwinnett, getting event attendees to take the oath and not drink alcohol that night. For doing so, they receive a free soft drink coupon, by the way. But I digress. » RELATED: GDOT ramps up I-285/Ga. 400 interchange work One gentleman and I struck up a conversation at this past Sunday’s Smashing Pumpkins concert. No, it wasn’t about Billy Corgan’s nasally voice either. When he found out my vocation as a WSB Traffic Team reporter and author of this column, our talk pivoted to Atlanta traffic. He started with a statement I will paraphrase and edit for content: “Let me tell you how much the DOT (stinks)!” I immediately retorted that I knew the people running GDOT and that while we disagree on how some things go, there is a group of really talented and dedicated people at the helm. To undergird my statement even more, I explained how I know GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry and how responsive both he and the rest of his team are when we notice problems from the WSB Skycopter and the WSB 24-Hour Traffic Center. But this man didn’t let up. “Oh — the commissioner (stinks)!” I questioned him after that and realized he meant his county commissioner, to whom he had complained about a traffic issue. According to him, the county had been unresponsive to his queries, or at the very least, they had not given him the answer he wanted. But when I said I knew the commissioner, he immediately assumed it was his and not the state’s. I bring this up because we live in a society full of finger-pointing, complaining, and ranting. Whether via calls, social media, emails, or snail mail, government can hear from its constituency more easily than ever. But with that ease comes volume: the comment pile is big. As someone who deals often with customer service in my job, I can tell you that the feedback that is well thought out and constructive receives far more consideration. » RELATED: GDOT acknowledges Fayette traffic signal problem  This relates heavily to one’s advocacy about their commute. As local officials sift through comments about stop lights, potholes, bad signage, or any other road-related problem, they have to prioritize their responses. If a citizen doesn’t know the right person to complain to, they hurt their chances of getting the proper attention. If a problem is very localized — on a small street without a highway number, for example — the state won’t be handling it. Either the county or city will handle the potholes or trees on that street. If a road has a highway number, either a state or U.S. route, then check with the state DOT first. Counties and cities may handle those, but the state is often aware of issues. Some complaints may seem like they fall under GDOT’s umbrella, but the flow chart is more complicated. Take the I-85 HOT lanes in Gwinnett. They came into being because of a federal grant that stipulated certain characteristics about them. The State Road and Tollway Authority actually manages the lanes, while the Department of Public Safety/Georgia State Patrol handles enforcement. GDOT just handled construction and takes care of certain repairs. If one is upset about something with those lanes, they help their case by pinging the right department. Now, this jurisdictional confusion is not straightforward in the least. The general public may spend more time trying to navigate the bureaucratic waters than the size of the delays their traffic problems cause. This may mean a complaint ends up in the wrong public servant’s hands, which is very understandable. This gives even more credence to the idea of being civil, informed, specific, and thoughtful in the feedback. Messages completely in ALL CAPS and with “misspeld wirds” also garner less consideration. When you play the blame game with your commute, do it amicably and with consideration of the difficulty in fixing the problem. Before throwing a named official under the bus, research if they are even the one to blame. Play the traffic blame game the right way. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 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@coxinc.com . » RELATED: GDOT warns more potholes are popping up this time of year

News

  • The body of a woman who went missing while kayaking on a Troup County lake has been found. Someone called sheriff’s officials about 9 a.m. Monday to say they saw a body in the water, authorities said. Just after noon, the sheriff’s office confirmed the body was that of Maranda Whitten, 24, of Valley, Ala.  “The search for Maranda Whitten has unfortunately been suspended,” sheriff’s Sgt. Stewart Smith said in an emailed statement. “Maranda was found earlier this morning, a victim of an apparent drowning. As standard procedure her body will be sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be Maranda’s family. We appreciate all those who have gave of their time and resources during this time.” Whitten’s body was found with an extension cord, which was missing from the campground, tied to her ankles, then tied to a large rock, he said. Her death is being treated as a suicide, according to Smith. Whitten was last seen Friday. Officials said she was on a family camping trip at Shaefer Heard Park when she disappeared while kayaking on West Point Lake, which is about 82 miles southwest of downtown Atlanta.  “Around 12:30 p.m., some campers saw her kayaking out in the water and shortly after that, a storm came through and around 2:30 her kayak was seen floating into the water with the paddle and the life jacket,' Smith said. Investigators from the sheriff's office, several other agencies and some civilian volunteers searched Saturday and Sunday for Whitten.
  • Fans swarmed the Varsity’s Midtown restaurant Saturday to get 90-cent deals on the iconic chili-dog chain’s 90th anniversary. It was an all-hands-on-deck day for the North Avenue landmark: Members of the family that owns the restaurant directed traffic in the jammed parking lot and had to turn away the overflow. But the family faces bigger tests for the business. One is how to grow it. The other is more basic. “We want the brand to survive all of our generations,” said John Browne, the Varsity’s vice president and husband of one of Varsity founder Frank Gordy’s grandchildren. Another of Gordy’s grandchildren, Gordon Muir, is the Varsity’s president, and a great-grandchild, Ashley Weiser, oversees the chain’s marketing. “We are on generation four,” Browne said. “We are studying how to make this last through generation 10.” » RELATED: Growing up in Athens, the Varsity’s other hometown » RELATED: Photos of the Varsity through the years » RELATED: Podcast makes a visit to the Varsity Some decisions are taking longer than expected. They’ve been contemplating opening a restaurant in Winder for about five years. They’ve considered another in Auburn, Alabama, for maybe a decade. More recently they bought nearly the entire block around their Athens restaurant at the corner of Broad Street and Milledge Avenue and tore down buildings of other businesses that had been there. What will they ultimately use the land for? “We don’t know that yet,” Browne said. “Right now we are planting grass.” “This family is a generational investor,” he said. “We have learned we are better at purchasing and owning land, not developing it. We are just worn-out old hot dog men.” The Varsity, which opened in 1928, is owned by the founder’s daughter and her two surviving biological children. But a bigger group of family members — 22 in all — are convening for a retreat in September to discuss the family business. They had a somewhat similar gathering earlier this year, and they’ve hired a family business consultant to help them as they think about the future of the company. More than two years ago they brought in a consultant to help them survey customers and contemplate potential future restaurant locations.  But they haven’t opened a new stand-alone restaurant since locating one in Dawsonville several years ago. (They also closed one in Alpharetta.) » RELATED: Photo gallery from Saturday’s birthday bash One part of the business will remain constant, Browne said. “We are not changing anything as far as the food.” That continues to be a draw. So does generational customer loyalty, passed down from parents to children. That and 90-cent prices Saturday attracted big crowds to the intown Varsity near Georgia Tech. Hundreds of people stood outside in lines that snaked through the parking lot. One woman said she waited 40 minutes just to get to the threshold of one of the restaurant’s entrances. Cars were backed up along Spring Street. “I’ve been here 33 years,” said Gordon Muir, The Varsity’s president, “and I’ve never seen a line out the door and to the sidewalk.” Another first, he said: They repeatedly had to turn drivers away from the packed parking lot. A vintage firetruck that was part of the planned party had to be turned away initially; there was no room for it. Some customers put in giant orders: 150 to 200 hot dogs each, Muir said. All the Varsity’s stand-alone locations were “very busy,” he said. Pam Aiken made the trek to Midtown from her home in Snellville. “I’ve been coming here since birth almost,” said the 72-year-old, who grew up in Atlanta. It was a top spot as a teenager after movies. Carhops, she said, would jump on the hoods or trunks of customers’ cars and ride them in. The food, Aiken said, “is an acquired taste.” She planned to order her usual: chili steak, onion rings or fries and a P.C. (a cup of plain chocolate milk drizzled over shaved ice, according to The Varsity’s unique lingo). Sonya Ferguson, 59, of Decatur remembered her dad bringing her Varsity meals as a child. She came back Saturday for more. She said she isn’t sure the family who owns The Varsity really wants it to get much bigger, given the potential risks for any business making dramatic changes. Perhaps, she said, “they like it just the way it is.” »THE ACCESSATLANTA PODCAST GOES TO THE VARSITY  At ajc.com/podcasts, check out our weekly accessAtlanta podcast’s visit to the Varsity in advance of the 90th anniversary celebration. Hear interviews with staff and customers and get the story of the beloved fast-food spot’s past, present and future from president Gordon Muir.
  • New Zealand’s minister for women rode her bicycle “mostly downhill” to a hospital Sunday to give birth, The New York Times reported. >> Read more trending news  Julie Anne Genter, 38, who is also associate minister for health and transport, posted pictures on social media of herself and her partner, Peter Nunns, enjoying a “beautiful Sunday morning” ride to the hospital, the Times reported. “There wasn’t enough room in the car for the support crew. ... but it also put me in the best possible mood!” Genter wrote on Instagram. Genter, who is 42 weeks pregnant, will become the second government official in New Zealand to give birth this year. Prime Minister Jacinda Aldern gave birth in June, the Times reported. Genter, who was expecting her first child, was scheduled to be induced at an Auckland hospital, the newspaper reported. Genter, who grew up in Los Angeles, emigrated to New Zealand in 2006. She has had two miscarriages, the NZ Herald reported. She is expected to take three months off from Parliament before returning to her post in November, the newspaper reported.
  • Two people are dead after rip currents forced several rescues at a New Hampshire beach. >> Read more trending news  Seven swimmers were pulled from the water at Seabrook Beach, near 131 Ocean Drive, just after 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Seabrook Police said two of the people were unconscious when they were brought to shore. The beach does not have lifeguards, but lifeguards from nearby Hampton Beach helped pull a man from the water around 12:59 p.m. He was transported to the hospital where he later died. New Hampshire State Police have not released his identity, but said the victim is a 49-year-old Methuen man. 'They were probably three-quarters of a mile out from what I could see,' Rich Ferrara said. 'Pretty intense.' A 47-year-old woman was transported to the Seabrook Emergency Room and was pronounced dead Monday morning. Officials said the two were married. 'I've never seen anything like that, where so many people were in trouble,' Ferrara said Seabrook Police said an officer helped several of the people to shore before helping in the search for the last person, who was unaccounted for at the time. 'One of the police arrived and stripped down, took off his gun belt,' Ferrara said. 'He dove into the water and started swimming out because there were people screaming that there were girls missing.' >> Trending: 14-year-old surfer bitten by shark off North Carolina coast The officer was one of the first to jump in, helping to bring everyone involved to shore. 'He pulled a woman in, she wasn't breathing when he finally got her in,' Linda Farrell said. The Seabrook Fire Department, along with Seabrook Beach Patrol were the main responding agencies in the incident.
  • A Utah woman wasn’t going to let the man she said was trying to record her daughter who trying on clothes in a store’s changing room get away. Police said the woman chased down Jorge Leon-Alfara after witnesses said the 36-year-old man was trying to record the woman’s daughter from a changing room next to the teen at a Rue 21 in Salt Lake City, KSTU reported. The mother recorded the man, and the comments she made to him, as they waited for police.  The woman called him a predator, saying, “This right here is what a predator looks like. I caught this guy underneath my daughter’s stall while she was changing at Rue 21.” She warned Leon-Alfara that she was going to make sure people knew what she said he did, KSTU reported. “Not today, buddy Not today,” the mother said. “I’m going to make sure your face gets out, so that you’re not in any more stalls, looking under little girls dressing.”  The video was uploaded to Facebook where it has been watched millions of times.  Police attribute people being aware of what was happening for being able to arrest Leon-Alfaro who now faces felony charges of voyeurism of a child under 14, KSTU reported. >> Read more trending news   
  • President Donald Trump planned to use a White House event Monday to pay tribute to federal immigration officials, returning to the fight over the U.S. southern border. The president was honoring employees of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Customs and Border Protection. The federal agencies have been thrust into the debate over the Trump administration's separation of migrant children from their parents after they illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump has assailed some Democratic lawmakers for seeking to abolish ICE ahead of the November midterm elections. In a letter to state and local leaders, Trump wrote that ICE workers had been subjected to a 'nationwide campaign of smears, insults and attacks' by politicians 'catering to the extreme elements in our society.' Trump has made border security a key part of his message as he tries to maintain Republican control of Congress in the November elections. Before the president arrived, the White House held a panel discussion on immigration with several state and local officials, who pointed to the role that a secure border plays in the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking and questioned calls to abolish ICE. Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia, who has worked closely with the administration on immigration legislation, said he struggled to see the point of eliminating the federal agency, likening it to someone saying, 'I want to get rid of the Marines.' 'I just think it's unconscionable, and frankly, I think it's downright unpatriotic and treasonous,' Perdue said.