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GDOT to limit roadwork for 2 weekends

GDOT to limit roadwork for 2 weekends

(WXIA) -- Here's some good news for spring breakers and Atlanta Braves fans: road construction will be limited for the next two weekends.

The Georgia Department of Transportation announced Wednesday it will close fewer interstate lanes than usual from midnight on Friday, Apr. 3 to 5 a.m. on Monday, Apr. 6. The construction break is meant to accommodate drivers who are heading into or out of Atlanta for spring break and Easter weekend.

Lane closures will also be limited from 10 p.m. on Friday, Apr. 10 to 5 a.m. on Monday, Apr. 13, for the Braves' opening weekend at Turner Field.

Traffic throughout Georgia is expected to be heavy both weekends, and drivers are asked to be cautious.

"Also, incident management or emergency maintenance-related lane closures could become necessary on any time on any route," GDOT director of construction Jeff Baker said.

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2015 Shuler Hensley Awards nominees announced

2015 Shuler Hensley Awards nominees announced

ATLANTA -- Twenty-four productions have been nominated for the 2015 Georgia High School Musical Theater Awards, otherwise known as the Shuler Hensley Awards.

The program is named for Tony Award-winning actor Shuler Hensley, a Cobb County native. This year's winners will be announced Thursday, Apr. 23 during an awards ceremony at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

Winning a Shuler Hensley Award can reap major benefits for a budding performer. Just ask Jai'Len Josey, who won Best Actress in 2014 for her portrayal of Effie White in Tri-Cities High School's production of Dreamgirls.

T.MAC raises money for Christopher Sparkman

T.MAC raises money for Christopher Sparkman

(WXIA) -- All 22 Atlanta-area T.MAC restaurants will raise money for Christopher Sparkman this week.

Sparkman was working as a security guard at a Kennesaw FedEx facility last April when he was shot in the abdomen. Since the shooting, Sparkman has undergone more than 30 surgeries. His wife Jamie Lynn quit her job to help take care of him.

Read more about Chris Sparkman's recovery

The Sparkman family faces enormous medical bills; Jamie Lynn has spoken publicly about the need for financial assistance.

T.MAC customers who want to help Sparkman pay for his treatment can do so on Thursday, Apr. 2. Diners can drop their receipts in designated collection boxes; 10 percent of their bills will be donated to the Sparkman family.

Fulton County Police Chief to retire after 35 years of service

Fulton County Police Chief to retire after 35 years of service

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. -- Fulton County Police Chief Cassandra Jones has announced her retirement effective April 7, 2015. 

“Chief Jones will be greatly missed. Her work was a key part of our crime prevention efforts in this county,” says Chairman John H. Eaves.  “Due to her emphasis on community oriented policing, burglaries in our unincorporated area decreased by more than 22 percent during her tenure.”

Chief Jones has served with the Fulton County Police Department since December 17, 1979. She has served as Police Chief since October 9, 2007.  She is the only female to serve as Fulton County Police Chief.

“We thank Chief Jones for her 35 years of service to the citizens of Fulton County, and extend best wishes to her on her retirement,” said County Manager Dick Anderson.

Assistant Police Chief Gary D. Stiles will serve as Interim Chief until a permanent replacement is named.

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Metro Atlanta unemployment drops to 6.1 percent

Metro Atlanta unemployment drops to 6.1 percent

(WXIA) -- The Atlanta area's unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in February, down from January's 6.2 percent. It was also down a full point from the rate of 7.1 percent in February 2014.

Fulton County's unemployment rate was 6.5 percent last month.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the drop was due to fewer layoffs and more new jobs. Many of the gains came in business, construction, education, government, and leisure and hospitality.

Nearly 39 percent fewer new claims for unemployment insurance were filed in February as well.

Metro Gainesville had Georgia's lowest February unemployment rate, at 5.1 percent. The Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest, at 8.1 percent.

Ga. health rankings: Fulton County

Ga. health rankings: Fulton County

(WXIA) -- A new report offers detailed health statistics for each of Georgia's counties.

The findings, which are posted at countyhealthrankings.org, determined that Forsyth is Georgia's healthiest county. Early is the least healthy.

Fulton is Georgia's 20th healthiest county, according to the data. It ranks 24th for quality of life, 6th for health behaviors (such as smoking and obesity), 14th for clinical care, 60th for social and economic factors (like graduation rates and violent crimes), and 156th for physical environment.

Here are some interesting takeaways about Fulton County:

Gardening tips available at Fulton County Extension Offices

Gardening tips available at Fulton County Extension Offices

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. -- Spring is the optimum time for planting a variety of shrubs, trees, annuals, perennials and seeds but, before tilling the earth, it is important to consider your specific plant needs and your area's climate. Fulton County Cooperative Extension Agents are available to provide guidance to assist residents with growing successful gardens and beautifying their yards.

The University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (UGA CAES) provide helpful tips on line to help you get started.

“Spring is one of our favorite seasons simply because we get to help budding gardeners achieve their dreams of producing a successful garden,” states Menia, Director of Fulton County Cooperative Extension. “Whether it’s a flower garden or vegetable garden, our extension agents are able to provide expert guidance to county residents.”