On the Friday Jan. 13 edition of Georgia Today: Gov. Kemp issues a state of emergency; an Atlanta landmark is moving; and a Georgia city has been named a top travel destination.

GA Today Podcast

Peter Biello: Welcome to the new Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Friday, Jan. 13. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, Gov. Kemp has issued a state of emergency after devastating storms moved through Georgia yesterday. A downtown landmark is moving and one of the best travel destinations in the world is right here in Georgia. But it's probably not the place you think. These stories and more are coming up in this edition of Georgia Today.


Story 1

Peter Biello: Gov. Brian Kemp has issued a state of emergency after severe storms and tornadoes moved across the state yesterday. The storms killed at least two people: a 5-year-old who died when a tree fell on a vehicle — that's according to the Associated Press — and a state Department of Transportation worker who died while responding to storm damage. That's according to Gov. Brian Kemp. In Griffin, south of Atlanta in Spalding County. Mayor Douglas Hollberg, who's also an insurance agent, says people are cleaning up after downed trees and power lines.

Mayor Douglas Hollberg: I've got over 25 houses that are crushed with trees that my clients. I mean, it's like every third or fourth house seems to have a tree on in on the north side of Griffin, which is the older section of town. Downtown had some trees down in the central business district. I've seen some awnings and different roofing on the downtown that have been sheared off of buildings just north of the railroad track crossing. I was out helping deliver food with volunteers to one — to the middle schools and, like, the middle schools up on Kennedy Road in there were — when the storm hit, the kids basically were — were stuck at the school. So I got there with with water and snacks and things at 9:00. You know, the entire neighborhood was dark. The school was dark with kids there just waiting to get picked up from parents once they could get to them.

Peter Biello: The National Weather Service says four tornadoes touched down yesterday in Spalding, Troup, Meriwether, DeKalb and Warren counties. Kyle Thiem, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service, says the four confirmed tornadoes are just an initial assessment.

Kyle Thiem: That number is going to increase throughout the coming days as we get storm surveys out to areas where significant damage was observed. And we perform storm surveys to evaluate if and how intense tornadoes may have occurred in different areas.

Peter Biello: He says the same storm system that brought severe weather yesterday could bring some wintry weather today in north and possibly central Georgia. A winter weather advisory has been issued, primarily for the north Georgia mountains.

CNN Center Interior
Credit: Wikipedia

Story 2

Peter Biello: The last of CNN's employees are moving out of its downtown Atlanta. CNN Center location. A spokesperson said the remaining CNN staff in operations would move to the company's Techwood Turner Broadcasting campus in midtown by the end of the year. CNN's previous parent company, AT&T, sold the CNN Center in 2021.


Story 3

Peter Biello: Neighborhoods across Atlanta have been awarded $2.5 million dollars in grants to improve community green spaces. GPB's Amanda Andrews reports.

Amanda Andrews: Park Pride began the grantmaking program in 2004. This year is the Atlanta nonprofit's largest yet, with awards going to 25 neighborhoods. The money will fund improvements, including new playgrounds, trails, art installations and accessibility upgrades. Park Pride executive director Michael Halicki says they're focused on equity in development.

Michael Halicki: I think in parks, when they're not done with the community in mind and are not coming from the community, can actually lead to green gentrification that actually forces out the very people that live in a neighborhood.

Amanda Andrews: Palicki reports in 2022, 60% of grants went to low-income neighborhoods, and this year it's up to 67%. For GPB News, I'm Amanda Andrews.


Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, talks with Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., after a failed seventh vote in the House chamber as the House meets for the third day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., left, talks with Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., after a failed seventh vote in the House chamber as the House meets for the third day to elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023.

Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Story 4

Peter Biello: Athens congressman Andrew Clyde is among four members of the Republican Freedom Caucus to receive a coveted appointment to the powerful House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. Clyde was the only Georgia Republican to oppose Kevin McCarthy's nomination to be Speaker of the House. Clyde eventually relented when McCarthy agreed to a number of concessions to win over the holdouts. It is unclear if Clyde's appointment was among the concessions.


Story 5

Peter Biello: Communities across Georgia are celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend in observance of the late civil rights icon's birthday. On Sunday, President Biden will be speaking at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. And on Monday, the MLK Day parade in Savannah returns for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. Deborah Adams, an organizer of the parade, says the event was canceled last year due to an increase in COVID infections. But it is back this year with more than 250 entries.

Deborah Adams: This parade is about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and honoring him and his legacy. He was an individual who fought for nonviolence. On Monday, we're asking everyone to be, to have a peaceful parade. It's about unifying our community, unifying our people. He was a people person. We're honoring him and his legacy and his life.

Peter Biello: The parade starts at 10 in the morning on Monday at the intersection of East Broad and Liberty Street in Savannah.



Story 6

Peter Biello: Macon-Bibb County is set to pass an ordinance creating a revolving fund for building new affordable housing in the city of Macon. GPB's Grant Blankenship has more.

Grant Blankenship: The ordinance passed out of a committee of the entire county commission this month. It would set aside $7.5 million of American Rescue Plan money to seed a revolving affordable housing fund, with the aim of doubling the money through local philanthropy. Macon-Bibb Mayor Lester Miller says the money would be used for building new houses on the hundreds of lots leftover from years of demolishing dilapidated housing.

Mayor Lester Miller: We are like most other communities, we have a severe shortage of housing. We have a lot of out-of-town, out-of-state institutional investors that have come into our county and pretty much taken a lot of our affordable housing stock away.

Grant Blankenship: The rules for using the fund will be left to officials from the Land Bank, local Housing Authority, Bibb County Public Schools and others. The Affordable Housing Fund is expected to be approved in the next full meeting of the Macon-Bibb County Commission. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.

Peter Biello: Speaking of Macon, The New York Times has listed the city as one of its 52 best places to visit in 2023. The newspaper cites the Ocmulgee Mounds and Macon's musical roots as reasons to visit. Those of you who've been to Macon may already know about what the city has to offer. For music lovers, there's the Allman Brothers Band Museum, Capricorn Studios, and the Capitol Theater. History buffs will love the Hay House, Rose Hill Cemetery and the Tubman Museum. Foodies will want to visit Parrish on Cherry, the Back Burner, Fresh Air Barbecue, Fountain of Juice, Dawson's Kitchen and so much more. Making me hungry just thinking about it.

And that is it for today's edition of Georgia Today. Now, if you haven't hit subscribe yet on this podcast, take a moment and do it now. That way will always be current in your podcast feed and you will always be up on the news. Remember, President Biden is expected to visit Atlanta in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr Day, so we will certainly be reporting on that. If you've got feedback for us, we'd love to hear it. Send it to us by email. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org.

I'm Peter Biello. We will be off for the MLK holiday on Monday, but we will see you again on Tuesday. Have a great weekend.

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