Friday, March 12, 2010

Severe Thunderstorm Warning Issued For NW Georgia

A line of strong storms is moving toward metro Atlanta Friday... A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Catoose, Chatooga, Dade, northern Floyd, western Gordon, Walker and Whitfield counties in northwest Georgia. 

Flood warnings were issued for Big Creek near Alpharetta in both Forsyth and Fulton counties, for Sweetwater Creek near Austell in Cobb and Douglas counties, the Flint River near highway 19 in Crawford, Talbot, Taylor and Upson counties. 

There are also flood warnings for the Ocmulgee River near Macon in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe and Twigg counties. The Oconee River in Greene and Oconee counties is also under a flood warning.

Heavy rain will hit metro Atlanta after noon, according to WSB-TV Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologists.There is a wind advisory until 5 p.m. for the mountain counties for winds of 20-30 mph and gusts to 35 mph.

Flood watches and warnings remain in effect for counties in the north Georgia mountains.

Saturday will be mostly cloudy with a few showers possible. Lows will be in the mid 40s, highs in the mid 50s.

Struggling Atlanta Charity Paid CEO $1 Mil

A group of Republican senators is questioning high salaries and expensive travel bills for executives at the Atlanta-based Boys & Girls Clubs of America, raising issues that could jeopardize millions in federal funding for the national charity. 

The four senators said they were concerned that the chief executive of a charity that has been closing local clubs for lack of funding was compensated nearly $1 million in 2008. They also questioned why in the same year officials spent $4.3 million on travel, $1.6 million on conferences, conventions and meetings, and $544,000 in lobbying fees. 

"The question is whether or not a very top-heavy organization might be siphoning off federal dollars that should be going to help kids," said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. 

The senators sent a letter to the head of the charity's board of governors Thursday seeking detailed financial information about executive compensation, travel and lobbying expenses, and how the national charity awards grants to local clubs. The issues they raise could threaten the reputation of a popular charity that supports 4,300 local Boys & Girls Clubs serving about 4.8 million children. The timing threatens a bill moving through the Senate that would provide up to $425 million in federal money to the national organization over the next five years.

Community Boys & Girls Clubs are all locally governed, but most receive tens of thousands of dollars each year from the Atlanta-based national charity. In 2008, the national charity reported receiving $41 million in government grants and $51 million in other gifts and contributions. 

Roxanne Spillett, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, received a total compensation of $988,591 in 2008, according to the charity's tax filings. She got a base salary of $360,774, a bonus of $150,000 and other compensation of $83,152, for a total of $593,926. She also received $385,500 in deferred compensation, most of which went to a retirement plan, and $9,165 in nontaxable benefits. 

Evan McElroy, senior vice president of communications for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, said the charity would respond to the letter before the March 29 deadline set by the senators. He declined to answer questions about the charity's finances when contacted Thursday but said in an e-mail that Spillett's base salary has not increased since 2006.

Experts were split on whether Spillett's pay was excessive for a charity with revenues of $107 million in 2008, the latest year available. 

Black Pepper, Seasonings Recalled

Frontier Natural Products Co-op is recalling products with black pepper that may have Salmonella. Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin alerts consumers to some products with black pepper that may have Salmonella contamination. 

Frontier Natural Products Co-op is recalling several of its products made with a non-organic black pepper that were sold under the Frontier and Whole Foods Market brands. The products contain black pepper, supplied by Mincing Overseas Spice Company, that may be contaminated with Salmonella. 

Georgia Power Raising Rates In April

Georgia Power customers will see their bills go up again. 

The Georgia Public Service Commission voted four-to-one on Thursday to let the utility raise prices starting April 1. The average residential customer will pay $9.91 more a month from June through September and $3.44 the other eight months of the year. 

The hike is to help pay for the cost of fuel that the company uses to produce power. The increase is the company's seventh fuel charge hike in as many years. 

The commission vote approved a settlement that put to rest a 3-month-old case after Georgia Power saw a $683 million deficit because of collection shortfalls from unpredictable fuel prices. Customers will pay for the deficit over 42 months.

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