LISTEN: On the Friday May 10 edition of Georgia Today: Hearings looking into deaths at Atlanta's Fulton County Jail wrap up; Savannah is clamping town on trolley noise in its historic district; and the city of Macon's downtown redevelopment efforts get some national recognition. 

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Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Friday, May 10. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, hearings looking into deaths at Atlanta's Fulton County Jail wrap-up. A bill designed to protect kids online becomes law. And the city of Macon's downtown redevelopment efforts get some national recognition. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.

Story 1:

Peter Biello: A panel of state senators investigating problems at Atlanta's Fulton County Jail held its last meeting today. GPB's Sarah Kallis reports the six-member committee started meeting in November after 10 people being held there died in one year.

Sarah Kallis: Senators on the committee heard public comment from those involved with diversion programs that could keep people out of jail and possibly address problems at the Fulton County Jail, including overcrowding and violence. Roberta Douglas, the vice president of state strategy and reentry at Legal Action Center, also spoke. She urged senators to look at solutions presented by those impacted by incarceration.

Roberta Douglas: These are folks who are directly impacted, who've lived it. They have the answers, they have the solutions, and they have the passion and compassion to bring about a lot of the changes and that we — we need. And that people need.

Sarah Kallis: Senators on the committee plan to release a report of their findings sometime this summer. For GPB News, I'm Sarah Kallis in Atlanta.


Story 2:

Peter Biello: Meanwhile, in Butts County between Atlanta and Macon, the family of a man who died by suicide at the county's jail is suing the jail over his death. The lawsuit, filed yesterday alleges Leon Scott, the man who died, repeatedly warned jail staff that he was in danger because he testified against other inmates. The lawsuit claims the jail didn't provide care to keep him safe. The county sheriff hasn't responded to the lawsuit or to the requests for comment.


Story 3:

Peter Biello: Voters in metro Atlanta's Cobb County will elect two county commissioners this year in districts drawn by the commission's Democratic majority. This after the state's highest court declined to rule in a long-simmering case challenging the districts. The state legislature's Republican majority two years ago overrode the map and what Democrats decried as a hostile takeover of local government. A unanimous Georgia Supreme Court wrote yesterday the residents who brought the lawsuit weren't qualified to receive a judgment. That doesn't settle the underlying case and sets up the possibility of commissioners being elected and then thrown off the board.


Story 4:

Peter Biello: Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has joined a lawsuit that challenges a new federal rule on power plant emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency's rule requires coal and gas plants to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2032. It's a key part of President Joe Biden's efforts to combat climate change. The legal filing asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to declare the rule unlawful. Carr and two dozen other attorneys general from Republican states argue the rule has costly and unattainable standards in an attempt to close coal plants.


Story 5:

Peter Biello: President Joe Biden signed into law this week legislation meant to protect children from online abuse and exploitation. The Bipartisan REPORT Act was introduced by Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. The bill requires websites and social media platforms to report crimes that involve trafficking and enticement of children to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Companies will be fined if they knowingly fail to report these crimes. A Senate Human Rights subcommittee investigation launched by Ossoff and Blackburn found lax oversight by federal and state child welfare agencies when it comes to missing children. The NCMEC endorsed the REPORT act.

Emergency sign on hospital
Credit: Pexels

Story 6:

Peter Biello: A recent publication out of the University of North Carolina lists Georgia as one of the states with the most hospitals at high financial risk. Using a model to measure risk, the study considers new changes that affect rural hospitals. GPB's Sofi Gratas has more.

Sofi Gratas: A hospital's size, types of care offered and ownership status, among other things, are all metrics in the Hospital Financial Distress Index. Co-creator Tyler Malone says it's more of a screening tool than a predictor of hospital closure.

Tyler Malone: Although it can be a useful marker that we can look at and say, "okay, so these hospitals are ones that we should keep a close eye on."

Sofi Gratas: Still, certain patterns are consistent.

Tyler Malone: We do see that clustering of highest relative risk hospitals down South.

Sofi Gratas: Most of which are rural. The updated report suggests harm from an end in pandemic assistance, but also help from Medicaid expansion in some states of the highest-risk hospitals in the U.S. Georgia has four, though more have been reported to be operating with extensive debt. For GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratas.


Story 7:

Peter Biello: The meal subscription service HelloFresh is laying off more than 700 workers at its distribution center in metro Atlanta's Coweta County. The German company opened the facility in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when meal kits and other stay at home conveniences surged. A statement from HelloFresh after the layoffs were made public Wednesday says the market has now stabilized. It's the largest layoff announcement in Georgia in more than a year. That's according to official notices tracked by the Technical College System of Georgia.


Story 8:

Peter Biello: Savannah officials want to tamp down noise pollution in the city's popular historic district. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports the city's council passed an ordinance yesterday aimed at tourist trolleys.

Benjamin Payne: Trolley busses and other open air tour vehicles will need to install what council members are calling amplified sound control devices. That means special directional speaker systems aimed at keeping amplified narration inside the trolley, rather than spilling out into the surrounding neighborhood. Alternatively, trolley tour guides can speak to their passengers using in-ear listening devices like headphones or earbuds. The ordinance is crafted with input from both the tourism industry as well as downtown residents who had complained about excessive noise. Savannah Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier:

Bernetta Lanier: I am so happy that we are responding to the outpouring of these residents to improve your quality of life on this issue.

Benjamin Payne: The ordinance phases in the new trolley noise regulations over a period of three years. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne in Savannah.


Story 9:

Peter Biello: Leaders of Macon's decades-long downtown redevelopment efforts are celebrating national recognition of their success. GPB's Grant Blankenship explains.

Grant Blankenship: Chicago-based Main Street America recognizes cities annually which best exemplify their approach to revitalizing medium and small cities: public/private partnerships making hyper-local investments lined with shared community values. This year, the nonprofit Newtown Macon was recognized as one of three great American Main Street winners for its work nurturing about 120 new businesses into a downtown that sat nearly vacant 25 years ago. Emily Hopkinson manages Newtown Macon's Main Street program.

Emily Hopkinson: From the very beginning, we've had to rely on Maconites to revitalize downtown Macon because no one else was interested and no one else wanted to. And I think that's what really sets us apart.

Grant Blankenship: The other honored main streets this year were Madison, Ind., and Monroeville, Ala. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.

Story 10:

Peter Biello: In sports, Georgia Tech senior Christo Lamprecht has been named the 2024 Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Golfer of the year. Lambrecht was one of only five amateurs who competed in this year's Masters. He earned his invitation by winning last year's Amateur Championship. He's currently ranked sixth in the national collegiate golf rankings, after claiming a pair of individual titles and earning four top-three finishes. And in baseball, the Braves face the Mets in New York tonight in the first of a three-game series. Charlie Morton is scheduled to start for the Braves, and so far this season, Morton is 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA.


Story 11:

Peter Biello: This weekend, with spring in the air, you will find a lot of festivals dotted all across the map of Georgia. The 14th annual Smoke on the Lake Barbecue Festival is in Acworth. Adele will host its Daylily Festival. Winterville has the Winterville Marigold Festival, and the Pueblo Peacock Day Festival will be in Pueblo, Ga. The official Sweet Auburn Spring Fest is this weekend in the Sweet Auburn Historic District of Atlanta. And finally, celebrate all things Dolly Parton at Ringgold's Dolly Days.


Peter Biello: And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. Thanks so much for tuning in. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, visit And remember to subscribe to this podcast. We got a lot of news coming your way next week, and you won't want to miss any of it. If you've got feedback, we'd love to hear from you! Email us. The address is I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you on Monday.


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