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Top Georgia stories of 2014

Executives accused of putting profit over food safety

The former owner of Peanut Corporation of America, his brother and another co-defendant face prison time for distributing peanut butter that led to a major salmonella outbreak in 2008 and 2009.

AirTran makes final flight

Airliner ends 21-year run

AirTran, which was acquired by Southwest in 2011, joins Northwest Airlines, which was bought by Delta, and Continental Airlines, which merged with United Airlines, in retirement. US Airways will disappear after it is folded into American Airlines — those two merged in December 2013 but still operate separately for now.

Restoration of historic theater planned

Built by the Army in 1930, the Tybee Post Theater showed its last movie five decades ago had fallen into disrepair by the time a developer sought to demolish it in 1999.

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After seven seasons as head coach, the Falcons show Mike Smith the door

Falcons dismiss head coach Mike Smith

Georgia family's battle with cancer inspires song

Song record by country singer Darius Rucker

Music helped comfort Brennan Simpkins during his years of treatments. He had favorite albums, and his dad would often play guitar for him in the hospital.

Georgia Briefs Dec. 29 2014

Partiers urged to avoid drunk driving

Harris Blackwood is director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. He says there’s no excuse for party goers not to designate a sober driver in your group ahead of time or line up a taxi or other safe ride.

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Top business stories: U.S. grows, world slows

Jobs are back in 2014

This year showed how sheltered the U.S. economy is from geopolitical and health crises around the world. The global economy sputtered, but the U.S. powered ahead. Employers are finally hiring enough to lower unemployment. A plunge in gas prices and a rising stock market has Americans feeling richer and spending a bit more.

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Cabbage Patch Kids have fans 30 years later

Collectors snag limited-edition babies

Rebecca Wagner has passed her love of Cabbage Patch Kids on to her 24-year-old daughter, Victoria, and the two have more than a thousand dolls.

Atlanta streetcar ready on Dec. 30

Downtown route connects several attractions

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement that the streetcar is expected to open for passenger service Dec. 30. Reed says passengers are invited to ride for free for the first three months of service.

2 shot in movie theater in Midtown Atlanta

Atlanta police are investigating a shooting inside a movie theater in the city's Midtown neighborhood that left two people hospitalized in stable condition.

Atlanta streetcar expected to open Dec. 30

Officials say the new Atlanta streetcar is expected to open just before the end of the year.

Drones popular Christmas gifts

Industry addressing safety concerns

Drones — flying devices that often carry cameras and can be navigated remotely by smartphones or controllers — have “taken off” as popular gifts as novices have become just as interested in the devices as serious hobbyists.

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Convict in 1964 civil rights deaths won't confess

Lawyer says Killen's role as organizer made him guilty

Testimony read in court showed Killen ordered fellow Klansmen to attack Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman and then went to a funeral home to create an alibi for himself.

Georgia jobless rate drops to 7.2 percent

Georgia adds 23,400 new jobs in November

State officials say the new rate represents what they call a significant drop. It is the largest monthly rate decline seen in Georgia since 1976, state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said.

Jackson to headline Deal gala

Newnan native to perform at Gwinnett Center

Country music artist Alan Jackson will headline the Jan. 15 Inaugural Gala as part of the kickoff to Gov. Nathan Deal’s second term in office.

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Former Dougherty County teacher pleads guilty to child pornography

Prosecutors say Brian Brannen faces up to 20 years in prison

Brian Brannen, 41, a former school teacher, could be imprisoned for two decades and fined a quater-million dollars after pleading guilty Wednesday to child porn charges, federal prosecutors say.

Georgia Briefs - Dec. 18, 2014

Toll lane price in metro Atlanta hits record $10

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Wednesday that South Carolina-based WRS Inc. is buying Underground Atlanta for $25.8 million and has plans to build a mixed use retail and housing development. Reed said in a statement that the sale will mean $8 million in annual cost savings for the city.

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Carmike pulls movie with Sony’s support

Carmike Cinemas operates 278 theaters, including Wynnsong in Albany.

The Georgia-based company is the fourth largest cinema chain in the nation, following Regal, AMC, and Cinemark, none of whom commented on their plans for “The Interview” showings.

Homeless slayings suspect accused of fourth killing

Suspect accused in death of man at shopping center

A man already accused of gunning down two homeless men in their sleep and fatally shooting a hairstylist as she walked to her car now faces charges in the death of a fourth person.

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With oil down by half, what it means for you

Global demand expected to grow

The U.S. is still the world’s largest consumer, but more fuel-efficient cars and changing demographics mean demand for oil and gasoline is not increasing.

Kennesaw approves plans for mosque

Group threatened to file lawsuit

The Kennesaw City Council has unanimously approved a permit for a mosque in a strip mall, reversing an earlier decision to reject it.

Ebola, celebrity deaths tops for 2014 web searches in Georgia

The Ebola virus and celebrities who died this year dominated search trends in Georgia.

Physicians with spotty records hired to treat Georgia inmates

Eleven of 50 doctors have misconduct citations

Four physicians were hired despite failing to diagnose or treat serious medical conditions that led to patient deaths.

'Gone With the Wind' premiere sparked tension

Producer clashed with city of Atlanta officials

Producer David O. Selznick was upset that Hattie McDaniel would not be invited to the Atlanta premiere. McDaniel played the character, Mammy, and went on to become the first black actor to receive an Academy Award for her performance as Best Supporting Actress in 1940.

Budget bill passed by Congress has $1.5 million for Savannah harbor

Georgia officials confident more federal funding to follow

Congress has appropriated small sums for the Savannah project since 2009. This latest installment would cover less than 1 percent of the $250 million the Army Corps of Engineers plans to spend in the first year of construction.

Georgia Briefs - Dec. 16, 2014

UGA seeks dean for forestry school

Michael Clutter has served as Warnell dean since 2007. He recently announced he is leaving effective Jan. 2 to pursue a private sector opportunity. Warnell professor and associate dean for academic affairs Dale Greene will serve as interim dean.

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Auburn football player Jakell Mitchell shot and killed; arrest made

Auburn freshman football player Jakell Lenard Mitchell was shot and killed Sunday morning at an apartment complex near the Auburn University campus.

Music producer Jermaine Dupri's Atlanta mansion in foreclosure

According to foreclosure documents, music producer Jermaine Dupri is losing his multimillion dollar Atlanta mansion.

Georgia Briefs -- Dec. 11, 2014

Agency approves Georgia school merger

Civil rights icon the Rev. Joseph Lowery is recovering from surgery after fracturing his hip in a fall.

Georgia man executed for killing deputy after robbery

Jury convicted Robert Wayne Holsey in 1977

Holsey’s lawyers filed a number of last-minute appeals to stop the execution but they were all rejected. Holsey was executed nearly an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay.

Georgia Briefs - Dec. 10, 2014

Hospital employee took $480,000

The U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta says 55-year-old Donald Thomas embezzled more than $480,000 by falsifying extra vacation and severance pay for terminated Grady employees and depositing the money in his bank account.

U.S. adds 321,000 jobs in Nov., most in nearly 3 years

A burst of U.S. hiring in November — the most in nearly three years — added 321,000 jobs and provided the latest evidence that the United States is outperforming other economies throughout the developed world.

State approves heavier planes at Gainesville airport

Gainesville's airport is putting in place new guidelines that would allow airplanes four times larger than previously allowed to land there.

Hall Co. Sheriff aims to equip deputies with body cameras

Hall County sheriff's officials say their goal is to outfit every deputy and patrol supervisor with a body camera within the next four months.

3 Georgia corrections officers sentenced in inmate beating

Federal prosecutors say three former corrections officials have been sentenced for beating an inmate and conspiring to cover it up.

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Flu vaccine may be less effective this winter

The flu vaccine may not be very effective this winter, according to U.S. health officials who worry this may lead to more serious illnesses and deaths.

Small plane makes unplanned landing on north Georgia freeway

Authorities say a small plane made an emergency landing on a north Georgia interstate.

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New Falcons stadium now to cost $1.4 billion, up from original $1 billion tag

The initial cost of the retractable-roof facility, which will replace the Georgia Dome in 2017, was estimated at $1 billion. That was later raised to $1.2 billion.

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Promotions, gas prices boost auto sales

Chrysler leads major automakers in sales gains, with a 20 percent rise

American shoppers passed on the malls and headed to the car dealerships over Thanksgiving weekend.

Boy behind wall used texts to help police find him

Mother said boy has been missing for four years

The boy’s 37-year-old birth father and 42-year-old stepmother face charges of false imprisonment, cruelty to children and obstruction.

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Rolling Stones' sax player Bobby Keys dies

Rolling Stones' saxophone player Bobby Keys, who also performed on recordings with John Lennon and Eric Clapton, has died at his home in Franklin, Tennessee. He was 70 years old.

Georgia helps treat hundreds of ill endangered turtles

Georgia's hospital for sick and injured sea turtles is busier than ever as it helps treat hundreds of endangered turtles washing ashore with acute hypothermia in Massachusetts.

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Cyber Monday gets online shoppers hyped

After a busy holiday weekend in shopping malls, millions of Americans are expected to log on and keep shopping on the day dubbed Cyber Monday.

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Ohio State football player found dead with self-inflicted gunshot wound

Police say an Ohio State football player who disappeared shortly after sending a text message about his concussions was found dead Sunday in a dumpster, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Georgia Democrats debate future after '14 losses

If Democrats want to win statewide in Georgia, they'll need to start now by reaching out to key constituencies and dedicating more money and resources to building up a network of grassroots supporters.

Camera on eagle nest records visit from owls

Skidaway Audubon installed two video cameras on eagle nest

In one nighttime sequence from late October, a great horned owl arrives in the nest 75-feet above a golf course tee box and shares a love offering — a small songbird it’s hunted — with its presumed mate, who gulps it down whole.

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Georgia roads, airport to see 1.3 million travelers this Thanksgiving weekend

More than 1.3 million Georgians are expected to travel on the state highways and use the world's busiest airport through Sunday for Thanksgiving.

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Protesters in Atlanta oppose Ferguson decision, arrests made | PHOTOS

Protesters marched and rallied in Atlanta Tuesday to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri.

Cosby philanthropy shawdowed by sexual allegations

School removed Cosby from board of advisors

Cosby’s legacy of giving is decades-old and extensive, topped by a $20 million gift to Spelman College in 1988 and including, among many other donations, $3 million to the Morehouse School of Medicine; $1 million in 2004 to the U.S. National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg, Virginia; and $2 million from Cosby’s wife, Camille, to St. Frances Academy in Baltimore in 2005.

Georgia Briefs - Nov. 26, 2014

UGA breaking ground on new annex

University of Georgia and state officials will break ground next week on a new building for the School of Public and International Affairs.