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Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be “beyond compare”

Mercedes-Benz Stadium General Manager Scott Jenkins tells WSB Radio he and his team hope to “redefine the stadium experience for fans.”

During an exclusive tour this week, Jenkins and representatives with Mercedes-Benz presented the big plans they have in motion for the stadium to WSB Radio.

Mike Gomes, senior vice president of fan experience at AMB Sports & Entertainment, predicts the stadium will be “beyond compare of any place you've ever been before.”

A recurring theme throughout the tour was “fans first.” Some 2,000 TVs will line the concourse in between food and drink vendors so fans can “always stay connected to what's happening on the field,” Gomes tells WSB Radio.

Around 4,000 miles of fiber optic cable are planned to run throughout Mercedes-Benz to enhance Wi-Fi access for fans.

Gomes adds, “We're also going to have a lot of fun with programming.” Stadium officials say they are implementing split-screen technology that displays an instant replay of action on the field for fans in the stands, while still broadcasting a view of live action.

“We want to entertain first, inform second, but certainly not overwhelm,” Gomes explains.

Progress is moving quickly at Mercedes-Benz. Jason Hughes, vice president of the project management group charged with overseeing construction at the stadium, says workers are installing an average 1,000 seats per day.

Darden & Company, LLC, employed one of the “world’s biggest crawler cranes” in the construction of Mercedes-Benz.

Gomes says ultimately, “We want you to say, ‘this stadium does it right.’”

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is slated to officially open on July 30.

Ellen Degeneres gives Super Bowl tickets to Atlanta Falcons fan with “be kind” message

Fans of the Atlanta Falcons and The Ellen Degeneres Show stood outside for hours on Georgia Tech’s campus Wednesday in hopes of appearing on the tv host’s show and securing tickets to the Super Bowl this weekend.

Degeneres has been teasing Atlanta fans with hints regarding the giveaway all week and today she tweeted that she would be giving away a pair of tickets to someone dressed as a cat with “the biggest bowl.”

The costume contest was a nod to Degeneres’ love for Hallmark’s Kitten Bowl.

But, there was a catch. After catching the attention of Degeneres’ team, finalists had to make up a song to prove that they deserved tickets.

Katie Battle, a nurse at WellStar Kennestone Regional Medical Center, caught the attention of the TV show host (who was watching remotely from Los Angeles) by incorporating Degeneres’ popular “be kind” mantra.

Battle said she plans to take a friend/coworker who helped her put together her costume as her guest to Super Bowl LI.

Ellen DeGeneres is Giving Away Super Bowl Tickets in Atlanta Today

Aha! So this is why Ellen DeGeneres is coming to town on Wednesday.

First she posted this cryptic tweet that had us all guessing .. and now we have some answers. Actually she’s not coming – but her team will be, and afterward someone is going to the Super Bowl. 

Ellen’s correspondent, Jeannie Klisiewicz, will be on site. It’s unclear exactly how things are going to work but the magical moment will air during Thursday’s show.Details to come via Ellen’s Twitter feed!

Falcons “A City Waits” Video

Marietta's Big Chicken KFC restaurant is closing - but it's only temporary

An iconic restaurant in metro Atlanta is closing its doors Monday.  But the shuttering of the Big Chicken in Marietta is only temporary, as the KFC restaurant gets a major remodel.  

KBP Investments owns the Big Chicken location and 60 other KFC stores in metro Atlanta.  All of them have been getting overhauls the past couple of years, with the majority now having been completed.  But news of changes to the famous Big Chicken is sure to grab headlines.  

First-off, this reassurance where it concerns the landmark Big Chicken structure that overlooks Cobb Parkway: "We're going to paint it, we're going to repair it, we're going to work on some of the mechanical, but you won't notice a change to that piece of the facility," says Mike Kulp, CEO of KBP Investments.  "We're going to sharpen it up, brighten it, and add a more updated KFC sign to the side of it." 

But as for the restaurant structure itself, Kulp says there will be "a pretty massive overhaul from front to back."  That includes everything from the drywall to the ceilings and beyond. 

"An exterior seating area, a screened-in porch...we're re-doing the entire kitchen, we're going to have a wall that's made out of Plexiglas where you can see the cooks fresh-breading product back in the kitchen while you order."  Kulp says there will be unique materials used in his restaurant, not used in any other KFC in the country. 

While other metro KFC location renovations have cost roughly $200,000 each, the work to the Big Chicken location alone will cost in excess of $2 million.  

Kulp says the Big Chicken will close Monday, with work to extend about 12 weeks. "We've got some pretty big plans for a pretty wild grand re-opening celebration in mid-April."

Crash victim's parents outraged at fundraiser for driver's family

The parents of a teenager killed in a 2015 car wreck are upset about a fundraiser to recoup legal fees, medical bills and other expenses of the family of the driver who caused the wreck.

>> Read more trending stories

The GoFundMe page called Family Help Fund seeks to raise $75,000 for the family of Abigail McGaha.

Prosecutors charged McGaha and later reached a plea agreement after she crashed an SUV in 2015. Police said the vehicle had been traveling more than twice the speed limit.

The crash killed Alex Mundt, 16, of Sante Fe, New Mexico. He had been wearing a seat belt and riding in the car with McGaha and one other passenger at the time.

The GoFundMe webpage lists the creator as Joseph McGaha.

The fundraiser description says, "Abby's criminal legal battle is pretty much behind us. But the civil battle remains with Alex's family."

It cites legal fees from criminal and civil cases, medical bills from the accident and a family knee surgery as creating a "financial burden."

The post said the two families settled out of court to avoid a civil lawsuit.

"The second portion of an established payment is due to Alex's family in February. The first payment was made in November. We are establishing a Go Fund Me for this purpose," part of the post read.

Mike and Lynn Mundt, Alex's parents, had not been not aware of the page until WSOC contacted the couple Monday.

"I'm stunned that they would do such a thing," said Mike Mundt. "I can't imagine what all was involved in the case and then a civil settlement afterwards, but those are natural consequences of crime and to ask the community to pay for the consequences of crime is incredulous to me."

Calls and messages made in attempt to reach the McGaha family were not immediately returned. 

UPDATE: Popular Atlanta restaurant passes re-inspection with score of 88

UPDATE: PittyPat’s Porch restaurant has passed a re-inspection by the Georgia Department of Public Health with a score of 88.

The Southern restaurant, in its 50th year of service, failed a late December inspection including uncovered food in the walk-in cooler and inadequate handwashing.

Many of the violations were addressed the day of the inspection, owner Guy Thomson said, and others were repaired between the failing inspection and Thursday’s passing inspection.

The restaurant will also paint a door, repair a sink and fix “a few other minor items” in order to reach a score in the “high 90s”the next time they are inspected, Thomson said.

UPDATE: PittyPat’s Porch will be re-inspected by the Georgia Department of Public Health on Friday after failing a late December inspection.

The issues that caused the restaurant to fail were resolved on the day of the inspection and allowed dinner service to occur as planned, owner Guy Thomson said. 

The restaurant was asked to voluntarily close after the December inspection, but chose not to because the issues were “minor and easily correctable,” Thomson said. 

“We had a very busy night and everything went well,” he said in an email.

The inspector’s report said an “intervention meeting” had been scheduled, but instead a follow-up inspection was scheduled, Thomson said. 

All violations in the December report have been “either fixed or rectified” and the restaurant expects to be in full compliance for its follow-up inspection Friday, Thomson said.

PittyPat’s Porch refused to voluntarily close after failing its second health inspection within a year, a report from the Georgia Department of Public Health said. 

The downtown Atlanta restaurant scored a 69/U on its Dec. 30 inspection. Violations included inadequate handwashing and handwashing stations, leaking pipes and uncovered food in a walk-in cooler. 

PittyPat’s Porch 25 Andrew Young International Blvd.  Atlanta, GA 30303 Score: 69 Read the full report here.

The restaurant manager refused to close the restaurant after the health inspector asked him to voluntarily do so, the report said. 

PREVIOUSLY: Popular Atlanta comfort food spot re-inspected after flies reported MORE: Midtown gastropub re-inspected after molded bacon kabobs reported

The inspector and the manager, Charles Dorough, were scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. Wednesday for an “intervention meeting,” according to the report. Dorough was not available for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Coyote in Piedmont Park concerns neighbors

A coyote seen Tuesday in Piedmont Park may be looking for a mate or for food.

Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Robin Hill said a biologist saw a coyote in the park on Saturday and people were feeding it, which is not advised.

“They think the coyote might be sticking around because of the opportunity to get food from people in the park,” Hill said. “The biologist believes the coyote to be a young adult and they hope that if people stop feeding it, it will eventually move on to another location.”

RELATED: Trapper catches 45-pound coyote in Sandy Springs neighborhood

Neighbor Jeff Porubsky told the television station he’d never seen a wild coyote before and he’s concerned for his children and little dogs. 

Timothy Herdina spotted it on Christmas day. 

“It was definitely surprising to see it,” he said. 

He told Channel 2 he hopes someone can help return it to its natural habitat, despite how friendly it's been. 

“He's not very big, and he was very docile and didn’t seem like he wanted any interaction with humans, but probably should be relocated,” Herdina said.

Experts with the Atlanta Coyote Project say that it's mating season and coyotes pose little risk to people as long as no one is feeding them. 

“If they start getting access to food, as associating people with food, they’ll start to overcome their wariness of humans and they’ll start to expect food,” expert Chris Mowry said.

RELATED: Rabid coyote attacks person in Roswell

Tex McIver surrenders at Fulton jail after being charged in wife’s death

Atlanta attorney Claud “Tex” McIver turned himself in at the Fulton County jail Wednesday night after Atlanta police charged him with involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct in the shooting death of his wife, businesswoman Diane McIver.

McIver shot his wife in the back as the couple rode in their SUV near Piedmont Park, late on the night of Sept. 25. He was in the back seat and she in the front when his .38-caliber revolver discharged. She died later that night at the hospital.

McIver has said the shooting was an accident. Atlanta police have been investigating for the better part of three months.

The involuntary manslaughter charge is a felony, police said. The reckless conduct charge is a misdemeanor.

“This has completely destroyed his life,” John “Spike” McIver, Tex’s brother, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this morning. “This was his life mate. They were inseparable. This was a horrible accident.”

Spike McIver said his brother called him last night to say that he’d heard the warrants were being issued and that he was trying to arrange for booking at the jail. 

“He’s very depressed about it,” McIver said of his brother. “He keeps getting hit over and over from one direction and another. ... He’s upset that this is occurring on Christmas week. They could’ve waited, but they work in strange ways.”

McIver’s attorney, Steve Maples, told the AJC that the charges don’t make sense to him.

“We’re very, very disappointed,” Maples said. “We feel it was an accident. Hopefully the grand jury would dismiss it when they hear the evidence.

“He was not doing anything in a reckless or negligent manner.”

He described his client as “very, very embarrassed and very, very humiiliated” by the charges. “Tex said this was the second worst day of his life,” Maples said.

He also noted that neither of the charges suggest that McIver had any malice toward his wife nor intent to cause her harm.

Andrew Ward, a longtime friend of McIver’s, said Wednesday that the couple adored each other.“

This was a tragic accident. If it has to go through court to prove that, so be it,” said Ward, who has known McIver for more than a decade. “He meant no harm to Diane. … I would not hesitate to be a witness in court to support their wonderful relationship.”

Thursday will be McIver’s 74th birthday, his lawyer said.

TIMELINE

February 27, 1990: Three teenagers accuse Claud “Tex” McIver of firing shots into the air and into their Ford Mustang outside his DeKalb County home.  

May 1990: Tex McIver is indicted in DeKalb County on three counts of aggravated assault as well as other lesser charges in the shooting incident. Prosecutors would go on to drop the case after the parties decided to settle privately.  

July 31, 2000: Tex McIver and his first wife are divorced.  

November 2005: Tex McIver and Diane Smith are married. 

 Sept. 25, 2016: Tex McIver shoots Diane in their SUV near Piedmont Park. She dies early the next morning at Emory University Hospital on Clifton Road.  

Sept. 26, 2016: An autopsy performed on Diane McIver determines she died of a gunshot wound to the back. The medical examiner declares the incident a homicide.  

Sept. 30. 2016: Bill Crane, a spokesman for Tex McIver, says the lawyer shot his wife accidentally after the Ford Expedition they were riding in hit a bump. Crane told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the McIvers became alarmed and took their .38-caliber revolver from the console after individuals approached the vehicle. Crane said the McIvers were also worried about unrest surrounding recent Black Lives Matter protests in the area. 

Oct. 6, 2016: In his first public comments on the case, Tex McIver tells The AJC that the shooting was an accident. McIver’s lawyer, Stephen Maples, also says some details provided by Crane about the night of the shooting were wrong. Maples said there was never a concern about Black Lives Matter. And he disputes that the gun went off after the SUV struck a bump. Instead he says Tex McIver was startled awake and the gun, which was in his lap, went off.  

Oct. 24, 2016: State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, issues a letter to Senate leaders calling for the removal of Tex McIver as vice chairman of the state Board of Elections.  

Nov. 2, 2016: Dani Jo Carter, a friend of Diane McIver who was driving the couple the night of the shooting, speaks for the first time. Carter says the SUV was stopped when the gun went off.

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