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Reversible lanes for Atlanta studied

LAWRENCEVILLE, GA. — Authorities say they’re studying the idea of reversible lanes on part of Interstate 85 in metro Atlanta to relieve congestion.

The idea has been raised by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who said he wants to add movable barriers to I-85, which would convert northbound lanes into southbound for the congested morning commute. Lanes would be reversed in the evenings, adding more capacity during rush hour.

Gwinnett County officials tell The Gwinnett Daily Post that reversible lanes have been a part of the discussion among members of a citizen advisory group. They declined to say what other options are being studied or to go into specifics of the reversible lanes before a report is complete, which could happen in March.

Recent tornadoes put total at 29

ATLANTA — Authorities at a National Weather Service office outside Atlanta say three tornadoes in north Georgia last week bring their total for this year to 29.

That makes it the third-highest total for the area covered by the Peachtree City office, which covers 96 counties in north and central Georgia, including metro Atlanta.

The most recent tornadoes hit Thursday evening in the north Georgia counties of Bartow, Coweta, Floyd and Gordon. Those twisters caused some minor injuries to residents.

The highest number of tornadoes for the Peachtree City forecast area was 38 in 2008.

Biodiesel to fuel some city trucks

ATLANTA — The Atlanta suburb of Smyrna plans to fuel some of its city trucks with a mix that includes biodiesel, which is repurposed cooking oil the city plans to collect from dozens of restaurants that fry food.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Smyrna joins at least two other Georgia cities – Roswell and Tybee Island – in using Department of Energy federal stimulus funds to start and run biodiesel programs for their fleets.

Ann Kirk, the executive director of Keep Smyrna Beautiful, said her city’s program will begin in January. It is modeled on a program in Hoover, Ala.

Kirk said it will be phased in as supplemental fuel for the city’s fleet, with the idea that eventually some of the city’s trucks will run entirely on the repurposed cooking oil.

Woman killed was under indictment

MARIETTA, GA. — A woman killed by a Marietta police officer during a confrontation was under indictment on charges related to the mailing of a package to a New York state senator.

The woman, Jameela Barnette, 53, was killed Sunday morning at a Marietta apartment complex. Police say she assaulted an officer with a knife and handgun and was shot to death.

Federal court records show Barnette was charged with false information and hoaxes and mailing threatening communications in connection with a package sent to the offices of New York state Sen. Greg Ball containing a letter, a vial of perfume and a Curious George doll.

She pleaded not guilty last month and was released on bond, and her attorney was seeking to have the charges dismissed.

No plans to change rules for bear hunt

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — There are no plans to change the rules of South Carolina’s coastal bear hunt, despite the fact that only one hunter bagged a bear during this year’s season.

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports state officials don’t plan to allow dogs or bear baiting to increase the totals for the 2012 hunt.

Brett Witt, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, said organizers had hoped between five and 12 bears would be killed during the two-week hunt, which ended Dec. 15.

This year was the first bear hunt allowed in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties in over 50 years. Nearly 300 hunters submitted applications for the 30 slots. The hunt raised $3,000 that will go toward bear habitats.

Biomass power plant gets support

HARLEYVILLE, S.C. — Plans for a wood-burning power plant in Dorchester County have won support from local, state and federal officials, and even from environmentalist groups with concerns about air pollution.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports that the proposed $46 million “biomass” plant would generate electricity by burning roughly 280,000 tons of logging debris per year. The plant would provide enough electricity to power about 15,000 homes.

Local leaders see it as a money saver, while state and federal regulators see it as a cleaner alternative to plants that burn coal or other fossil fuels.

Even the Coastal Conservation League, a Lowcountry environmentalist group, says such small-scale plants can help rural economies while reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

The plant is expected to begin construction next month.

– From wire reports


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