LISTEN: On the Thursday, May 9 edition of Georgia Today: Strong storms knocked down trees and power lines across North Georgia late last night; Georgia is losing ground to other Southern states in terms of rail travel expansion; and Emory students express a lack of confidence in the university's president.  

New Georgia Today Podcast Logo

Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Thursday, May 9. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, strong storms knocked down trees and power lines across north Georgia late last night. Georgia is losing ground to other Southern states in terms of rail travel expansion, and Emory students express a lack of confidence in the university's president. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.


Story 1:

Peter Biello: Thousands of homes in North Georgia were without power Thursday afternoon after strong storms last night took down trees and power lines. Many school districts across the state either canceled classes or dismissed them early today because of the risk of severe weather. Habersham County Emergency Management Director Lynn Smith says many roads were closed because of downed trees or flooding.

Lynn Smith: You know, it's running across the roads. Unfortunately, it's not that the ditches and things are backed up; it's just we've had so much rain. It's just doesn't have anywhere to go.

Peter Biello: The line of storms made its way across central Georgia earlier this afternoon.


Story 2:

Peter Biello: A Georgia grand jury has indicted a man in the death of Laken Riley. José Ibarra was arrested for her murder in February. Her body was found near a popular walking trail at the University of Georgia. A grand jury handed down a 10-count indictment that also accused Ibarra of pulling Riley's clothing with the intention of raping her, hindering Riley's attempts to call 911 and tampering with evidence by concealing a jacket and gloves. The killing stunned the UGA community. Police said Ibarra did not know Riley and characterized the killing as a, quote, "crime of opportunity."


Story 3:

Peter Biello: Students at Emory University have expressed no confidence in their university's president. The university last night released the results of a non-binding referendum on President Greg Fenves. Emory student government called the vote after dozens of on campus arrests during protests over the war in Gaza. About a third of all undergraduates voted, and of those who did, about three-quarters supported the no confidence vote. A university statement says, quote, "Emory community members are sharing a wide range of perspectives that are not reflected in the motion."

High speed rail

High speed rail

Story 4:

Peter Biello: The head of the federal agency overseeing the nation's rail lines says Georgia has lost ground to other southern states in efforts to expand passenger rail service. GPB's Grant Blankenship reports.

Grant Blankenship: Federal rail administrator Amit Bose spoke to a meeting of the Interstate-75 Central Corridor Coalition, comprising government officials from Macon to Stockbridge. Bose reminded the group passenger rail corridors have been proposed through the federal bipartisan infrastructure law for Charlotte to Atlanta and on to Savannah, as well as from Atlanta north to Tennessee. But Bose says for the projects to gain steam, Georgia's state leaders need to organize around passenger rail as other southern states have.

Amit Bose: Virginia and North Carolina have made the investment in rail. It wasn't easy, and they did it on a bipartisan basis. They are years ahead of Georgia when it comes to passenger rail.

Grant Blankenship: The Georgia Department of Transportation is currently conducting an environmental study of the Atlanta to Savannah corridor. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.


Story 5:

Peter Biello: The State Election Board is moving forward with plans to develop new rules for how local election boards can certify election results. Republican state board members said yesterday the rulemaking is meant to clarify what local board members can request from election administrators before certification, a critical step before vote tallies are finalized. The state's lone Democratic appointee, Sara Tindall Ghazal, however, said existing state law already covers those questions and any new rule would come with a risk.

Sara Tindall Ghazal: The risk is using pretextual reasons to fail to certify when folks are not pleased with the results. That is my concern, is using excuses to fail to certify.

Peter Biello: The board voted to start a rulemaking process, which could take months. Any proposal would have to come back before the board for final approval.


Story 6:

Peter Biello: Massive new developments are causing concern for the underground water source critical for South Georgia. The Georgia Water Coalition today released its annual Dirty Dozen list of endangered waterways. The list highlights the Florida aquifer. The Coalition's Joe Cook says growth associated with the Port of Savannah and a Hyundai electric vehicle plant being built in Broward County is stressing the aquifer.

Joe Cook: When Bryan County officials sought to tap the Florida in neighboring Bullitt County, it set off alarm bells among farmers and local residents concerned about impacts to their well water. Coordinated and enforceable water planning is sorely needed for the region.

Peter Biello: State lawmakers have taken notice of the water needs around the Hyundai plant. On Monday, Governor Brian Kemp signed into law changes that allow a private utility to provide water service to new homes near the Hyundai plant without first getting permission from local governments. Elsewhere in the Georgia Water Coalition's Dirty Dozen report, the group expressed concern over a proposed breeding facility for research monkeys near southwest Georgia's Flint River and its continuing opposition to a proposed titanium mine near southeast Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp.

Morehouse College

Morehouse College

Story 7:

Peter Biello: Morehouse College is partnering with Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to teach a group of diverse Atlanta entrepreneurs how to grow their businesses to include airport concessions. GPB's Amanda Andrews has more on the new initiative.

Amanda Andrews: The Airport Concessionaire Accelerator Program just welcomed its first cohort of 20 business owners into the eight-week program. Participants will learn skills including marketing, securing capital and scaling their businesses for an airport environment. The Morehouse Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center is leading the program. Executive Director Tiffany Bussey says this isn't a degree program. It's more practical.

Tiffany Bussey: Our intent and our goal is at the end of the program, not that they become concessionaires, but that they understand what it takes to be a concessionaire and then make that strategic decision: "Is this for my business or is it not?"

Amanda Andrews: The cohort will meet in person and virtually with leaders in the airport industry through July. For GPB News, I'm Amanda Andrews.


Story 8:

Peter Biello: Middle Georgia State University is partnering with Fayette County Public Schools' Center of Innovation to offer aviation courses as dual enrollment options. Students enrolled in these courses will have the opportunity to complete college level courses. By integrating aviation courses with core classes, students can expedite their progression into in-flight air training, potentially beginning as early as their sophomore year. Fayette County is home to a significant number of Delta Air Lines employees, earning the reputation as Delta's housing hub.

Story 9:

Peter Biello: In sports a year ago. At this point in the season, Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna was hitting a dismal .146, and now he's hitting .315 and leading the majors with a dozen homers, just ahead of Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani. Two of those homers came last night as the Braves beat the Boston Red Sox, 5 to 0 to complete the two game sweep. Orlando Arcia also went deep for the Braves, and starting pitcher Chris Sale faced his former team for the first time since joining the Braves in an offseason trade. He struck out ten for the 82nd double-digit strikeout game of his career and got a big lift from left fielder Jarred Kelenic, who robbed a potential homer from Garrett Cooper. The Braves have the day off today before heading to New York to face the Mets. Charlie Morton is scheduled to start for the Braves tomorrow.

Peter Biello: And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, visit And if you haven't subscribed to the podcast yet, take a moment, do it now; we'll pop up automatically in your podcast feed tomorrow. And as always, if you've got feedback or perhaps a story that we should know about, we'd love to hear from you. Send us an email. The address is I'm Peter Biello. Thanks so much for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.


For more on these stories and more, go to

Tags: Atlanta  Georgia  podcast  news