On the Friday, April 5 episode of the Georgia Today podcast: The removal process begins for the vice chairman of the Georgia Republican Party after a judge found he violated state election laws; and federal prosecutors indict a state inmate accused of building and mailing bombs from inside prison.

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Orlando Montoya: Hello and welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Friday, April 5. I'm Orlando Montoya. On today's episode, the removal process begins for the vice chairman of the Georgia Republican Party after a judge found he violated state election laws and federal prosecutors indict a state inmate accused of building and mailing bombs from inside prison. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.


Story 1:

Orlando Montoya: Georgia's Republican Party started the process yesterday of removing its vice chairman after a state judge found he violated state election laws. Vice Chairman Brian Pritchard, a conservative talk show host, has promoted false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Yet a judge found he committed voter fraud by voting illegally nine times while serving a felony sentence for forgery. State party chairman Josh McKoon says Prichard should resign since the party is focused on election integrity.

Josh McKoon: And we simply can't have a member of our executive team who's now been judicially determined to have repeatedly violated Georgia election law because it is a bad message to send.

Orlando Montoya: Pritchard told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the charges were overblown and he won't step down. The party executive committee could remove him 32 days after the removal notice sent Thursday.


Story 2:

Orlando Montoya: An Atlanta-based radiology practice, has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a federal lawsuit over how its radiologists interpreted scans. The practice, called the Radiology Group, serves health care professionals across the country. As part of the settlement announced yesterday, the company admitted to failing to insure U.S.-based radiologists adequately reviewed draft interpretations of scans prepared by unlicensed contractors in India. The U.S. Justice Department accused the company of fraudulently billing federal health care programs.


Story 3:

Orlando Montoya: Atlanta police are investigating after a man being held at the problem-plagued Fulton County Jail was stabbed to death by another detainee. The sheriff's office says the fatal stabbing happened around 6:30 p.m. yesterday. 36-year-old Edward Cherry is charged with killing 37-year-old Leonard Fortner. The U.S. Justice Department last year announced an investigation into the Fulton County Jail, citing violence and filthy conditions. Ten people died in county custody last year.


Story 4:

Orlando Montoya: Meanwhile, a state detainee is facing federal charges for allegedly building bombs from inside prison and mailing them to two government buildings in Washington, D.C., and Alaska. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports.

Benjamin Payne: David Cassidy was already serving a life sentence at Georgia State Prison in Tattnall County, 50 miles west of Savannah, in 2019. That's when federal prosecutors say the 55-year-old assembled bombs before depositing one in a prison mailbox, addressing it to an office building about two blocks east of the White House. He allegedly tried mailing another one to a federal courthouse in Anchorage, Alaska. The indictment does not state whether the bombs reached Cassidy's intended destinations, nor does it say if they went off. Cassidy, currently incarcerated at Phillips State Prison in Gwinnett County, has not yet entered a plea in what are federal charges. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne.


Story 5:

Orlando Montoya: The North American solar eclipse is almost here. Georgia will experience a partial solar eclipse Monday afternoon. Around 1:45 p.m., the moon will start to move in front of the sun. The eclipse will reach its height at around 3 p.m., with 65% to 90% of the sun blocked, depending on where you are in the state, according to NASA. Northwest Georgia will see the most and Southeast Georgia the least of the sun's blockage. Macon astronomer Philip Groce is an eclipse chaser who says he's seen six solar eclipses.

Philip Groce: Instead of having this wider, bigger light source, it gets to be smaller and smaller, and that means the shadows get sharper and sharper. And so the landscapes get interesting. Trees snap, buildings snap — I mean, visually, they — they have this, like, an Ansel Adams kind of effect.

Orlando Montoya: It's not safe to look directly at a partial solar eclipse, but you can look up at the sky with specialized glasses or look down at the ground.

Philip Groce: Find a tree that's got some leaves and look on the ground. Put a white sheet on the ground and you will see many, many images of the eclipse.

Orlando Montoya: Many Georgia libraries and other groups are hosting eclipse viewings.


Story 6:

Orlando Montoya: First pitch for the Braves home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks is in less than two hours. GPB's Peter Biello is at Truist Park now to tell us more about the game tonight, and what Truist is offering fans this year. Hi, Peter.

Peter Biello: Hey, Orlando.

Orlando Montoya: First of all, tell us about tonight's game.

Peter Biello: Well, it's an exciting matchup tonight Orlando .Spencer Strider's got the start for the Braves. He started the season opener a little more than a week ago. He's in fine form. The Diamondbacks are planning to start Tommy Henry, a far less experienced pitcher. The Diamondbacks made it all the way to the World Series last year, but lost to the Texas Rangers, and the Braves are bringing the bats as usual, with MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. right there at the top of the lineup. The sun is shining where I am here at Truist Park, and I'm actually here on the field a little bit early where the grounds crew is still working. That banging sound you hear is a grounds crew member, patting down the soil on the pitcher's mound. It's going to be a beautiful day for a ballgame. I'm looking forward to it.

Orlando Montoya: Beautiful day for a game. What's new this year?

Peter Biello: Well, this year the Braves are emphasizing its "We Are Braves Country" campaign, which is similar to what the Boston Red Sox did when it labeled all six New England states "Red Sox Nation." We Are Braves Country essentially means that no matter where you are, if you love the team, you're in Braves country. But it specifically names Southern cities, in the press release at least, and hints that the Braves are the team of the South. Of course, Florida has two MLB teams. And what happens to the Braves and Braves country if there is an expansion team in Nashville or Charlotte is anyone's guess. But for now, We Are Braves Country is the big push.

Orlando Montoya: Let's talk about the fan experience. What's new at the park?

Peter Biello: A few new things. A few options to enjoy the game in luxury. The new Lexus Premium boxes are for groups of eight to 14 people. The renaming is part of a rights agreement, since Lexus has been named the official luxury vehicle of the Atlanta Braves. There's a new Blue Moon Beer Garden and the Jim Beam Bourbon decks and 60 foot 6 Inch Bar, which is the distance between the pitcher's rubber and home plate. There's also room for 100 to 150 fans in the new back porch patio behind centerfield. Cool new way to see the game and get close to center fielder Michael Harris II. And of course, the clubhouse store is now 1,500 feet bigger to accommodate more shoppers and get them back to their seats quickly — though, pro tip: If you are looking for a common Braves item, the stores way up at the top level are smaller, and they usually have shorter lines.

Orlando Montoya: Now, of course, it's not just about peanuts and Cracker Jacks anymore. Let's talk about food first and foremost for many people. What's new with the food situation?

Peter Biello: Yeah, there's always something new at the park every year, something that both feeds you and maybe even challenges you a bit. Among the food challenges is the 4 Bagger, which is four charbroiled burgers covered with 1 pound of barbecue brisket, jalapeños, aged cheddar cheese and reaper pepper mayo, served on a toasted sesame bun and topped with beer-battered onion rings. I suppose this is meant to be shared, but hey, it is your 4 Bagger if you buy it. And who are we to tell you how to eat it? Also, the Perimeter Dog, which is a footlong, half-pound hot dog topped with sweet bacon jam. Get it? "Jam" like "traffic jam" on the perimeter highway. Also peppers, onions and lemon pepper dijonnaise sauce. And, there are a variety of other things as well. We've linked to those at GPB.org.

Orlando Montoya: And the Braves are preparing to celebrate a historical moment next week: Hank Aaron's 715th home run.

Peter Biello: Yeah. That's right. Monday is the 50th anniversary of the homer that broke Babe Ruth's all-time home run record. Some of the players from the 1974 Braves will be there, including Dusty Baker, recently famous for winning, as a manager, the World Series with the Astros. They'll be speaking to the press before the game. And as the Braves so often do, there will be a Hank Aaron bobblehead for several thousand fans who arrive early. The game is the first of four against the division rival New York Mets, and GPB will be there to capture it all.

Orlando Montoya: All right, GPB's Peter Biello, arriving a little early for tonight's home opener for the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park. Thanks for speaking with me.

Peter Biello: Thank you.


Story 7:

Orlando Montoya: And the Braves home opener is far from the only important sporting event going on this weekend in Georgia. Let's talk about soccer, where the U.S. women's national soccer team is playing tomorrow at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The match will open the She Believes Cup between four teams, all ranked in the top 10 in the world. The U.S. will play Japan at 12:30 and Brazil will play Canada at 3:30. The two final games will be played in Columbus, Ohio, on April 9. And turning to golf. The Augusta National Women's Amateur is underway. Lottie World of England tops the leaderboard with a two-shot lead after the second round at Champion's Retreat Golf Club in Augusta. All the players get a practice round at Augusta National today before the top 30, and ties get to compete at the home of the Masters in the final round tomorrow.


Story 8:

Orlando Montoya: Now, we've been doing this for a little while now, telling you on Fridays about upcoming events happening across Georgia for the weekend. And even though it'll be a little bit cooler than normal this weekend, spring is in full bloom here in Georgia, with plenty to do across the state. I'm going to try to go from north to south — and I can't list everything, but there are a lot of events happening this weekend, including the Toccoa Ritz Bluegrass Festival in Toccoa called the Ritz Festival because it takes place at the Ritz Theater in downtown in that charming little mountain town. The Barbecue and Blues Festival is taking place in Ball Ground. That's in Cherokee County, also home of Gibbs Gardens, another great place to visit. The Little Five Points Festival is in Atlanta. That has 15 bands, a food contest, and it takes place in a colorful and eclectic neighborhood, Little Five Points. Heading a little South, you'll find the Wisteria Festival in Williamson has crafts and home decor and antiques. There's the Gray's Hometown Spring Festival, Pine Mountain Days and the State Banana Pudding Festival in Erwinton. Banana pudding. Oh my gosh, I just can't stop thinking about it. Now let's hear about the Savannah Music Festival. It's happening this weekend. Still going on into April. There's the America's Hot Glass Beer Festival, the Watermelon Capital Hot Air Balloon Festival in Cordele. Now, my family's from New Mexico, so we know hot air balloons over there in Albuquerque. But check that out down there in Cordele as well. The Swamp Fest is taking place in Waycross, and there's the blessing of the fleet in Darian. Now, if you don't know what that is, they bless all the ships in the Port of Darian. Picturesque waterfront, and the ships all go up to the bridge and they get blessed. And there's also a festival going on with, of course, all the festival stuff in that beautiful coastal town on the Altamaha River. And finally, the Cherokee of Georgia Spring Pow-wow will take place in Saint George, Ga., far in the southeast corner of the state.


Orlando Montoya: And that's it for today's edition of Georgia Today, I'd like to invite you to visit GPB.org/news. That's where you'll find many of the stories that you hear on this podcast, and much more from GPB News. If you haven't yet hit subscribe on this podcast, do that right now. It'll help you to stay current with us in your feed. If you have feedback, we'd like to hear that as well. Tell us how we're doing with these weekly roundups and other things you'd like us to regularly feature on Georgia Today. Email us at GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Orlando Montoya. Have a great weekend.


For more on these stories and more, go to GPB.org/news