North Georgia residents saddened by fires in Gatlinburg

Travis Barth saw the beginnings of smoke billowing from the mountains in his rearview mirror as he headed home from Gatlinburg, Tenn., to Georgia on Sunday morning.

“It looked like a volcano just erupted,” Barth said.

Fires have led to widespread destruction in the town, which Barth had been visiting for the weekend. He stayed in the Gatlinburg Town Square Resort with his family.

“It’s a busy town, but it’s quiet at the same time. Nothing bad really happens there, so to see this devastation is terrible,” he said.

Barth had visited the town several times over the past few years, creating memories that will last forever, even as much of the town has suffered severe fire damage.

Brooke Reems was there most recently in October for a getaway with her family, but she has gone at least twice a year since she had her honeymoon there in 2012.

“I think the world of that town,” Reems said. “We literally think of it as our second home.”

The Oakwood woman and mother of two spent her last days in the town going to the Hatfield and McCoy dinner show with her family.

She also took her 3-year-old son horseback riding for the first time on that trip.

“My heart literally hurts. Not only the memories, the beauty of the town and mountains, and everything I love about the place itself,” Reems said.

She said her heart also hurt for the people who lost their homes and businesses, the emergency personnel putting their lives in danger to save what is left and even the animals that have died or been affected by the fires.  

“It’s tragic,” Reems said. “Many tragedies have happened to the country in my adult life, but nothing has personally affected me like this one.”

She first saw the news when she was on Facebook.

“I prayed it was not true, until I saw it for the third time in less than an hour, and finally looked into it,” she said.

Monica Leonard had her wedding in Gatlinburg back in August 2002.

“We just really love it there and try to go every chance we get,” she said.

The chapel she chose, Chapel at the Park, was less than a mile away from another wedding venue, Cupid’s Chapel, that was completely destroyed in the fires. She chose it because of the beautiful location, and she was sad to hear the area had burned.

Leonard saw the news of Gatlinburg online.

“I couldn’t even believe it. Such devastation,” she said. “I was immediately concerned for the people that live there and make a living from the tourism industry. I can’t even imagine how the people there feel. It’s extremely sad.”

North Georgia residents saddened by fires in Gatlinburg

Georgia roads chief: Rise in funding helping to improve conditions

ATHENS — Georgia’s roads chief told a transportation-minded crowd Wednesday he hopes new and improved state and federal funding will help shore up the state’s substandard roads and bridges.

Combining state and federal funding amounts “gives us the level of investment” recommended by a Georgia legislative committee a couple of years ago, or before state lawmakers approved the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said.

The committee had said that Georgia needed an additional $1 billion per year “just to take care of its existing assets,” he said.

McMurry was speaking at the 2016 Georgia Transportation Summit, a gathering of nearly 1,000 transportation officials in the public and private sectors.

He told the group he’s suggesting an amended 2016-17 budget of $1.9 billion — or about $1 billion more than before lawmakers passed the transportation bill, which basically eliminated the state fuel sales tax and enacted a 26-cent excise tax.

The state is budgeting $440 million in maintenance projects alone, up from $118 million two years ago.

“We’re going to make strategic investments” based on road conditions, McMurry said.

“That translates into more resurfacing, more construction and more orange barrels and orange cones on the roads, so get ready for that,” he said. “We apologize in advance, but we’re going to smile when we see all that work going on out there.”

McMurry painted an unflattering picture of current road conditions, including that 20 percent of Georgia’s interstates are in poor or worse shape.

“That’s certainly not acceptable,” he said.

Also, the average age of Georgia’s bridges is 43 years old.

“Most of those bridges were designed for a (life span) of maybe 50 years,” McMurry said.

And 12 percent of Georgia bridges have low weight restrictions, “which has an impact on business throughout this state, no doubt about it,” he said.

Several Hall County area bridges, particularly those crossing Lake Lanier, are being targeted for replacement.

There are other ways to improve “connectivity” in Georgia, including transit and private ridesharing services such as Lyft and Uber.

With such a blend, “we truly have personal mobility that (people) want,” McMurry said.

Overall, the state “is well positioned for success,” he said. “It’s not utopia, but it’s still very nice.”

Georgia roads chief: Rise in funding helping to improve conditions

Victoria’s Secret rocks Paris with $3M bra and Lady Gaga

PARIS (AP) — The laciest, if not raciest, catwalk event of the year — aka, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show — was taking place in Paris on Wednesday night. Among the anticipated highlights: performances by Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars,…

Victoria’s Secret rocks Paris with $3M bra and Lady Gaga

El Celta gana con un gol de Sergi Gómez a un combativo UCAM

El Celta se impuso por la mínima (0-1) a un combativo UCAM Murcia gracias a un solitario gol conseguido por el defensa Sergi Gómez poco antes del descanso, en un partido en el que dominó pero en el que no generó demasiado peligro ante un rival de la Liga 1/2/3.

El Celta gana con un gol de Sergi Gómez a un combativo UCAM

El Córdoba sale de su crisis sorprendiendo al Málaga en el debut Carrión

El Córdoba se tomó en la Copa del Rey un respiro a su crisis liguera al sorprender al Málaga (2-0) en la ida de los dieciseisavos de final, en el partido del debut de su nuevo técnico, Luis Carrión, en el fue capaz de imponerse con goles de Rodri y Borja Domínguez en la segunda parte.

El Córdoba sale de su crisis sorprendiendo al Málaga en el debut Carrión

El Granada se adelanta en una eliminatoria que pudo dejar casi liquidada

Un gol de Jon Toral permitió al Granada superar por 1-0 a Osasuna en la ida de los dieciseisavos de final de la Copa del Rey, eliminatoria que los andaluces pudieron haber dejado casi sentenciada en el Estadio Nuevo Los Cármenes, donde fallaron numerosas ocasiones claras y se toparon con varias buenas paradas del meta Mario Fernández.

El Granada se adelanta en una eliminatoria que pudo dejar casi liquidada

Palermo destituye al técnico De Zerbi tras caer contra el Spezia en Copa

El Palermo italiano destituyó hoy al técnico Roberto De Zerbi tras caer eliminado contra el Spezia, equipo de Segunda División, en los dieciseisavos de final de la Copa Italia, y nombró a Eugenio Corini como nuevo entrenador.

Palermo destituye al técnico De Zerbi tras caer contra el Spezia en Copa

Atlético Madrid se da un festín de goles en el Helmántico ante Guijuelo

El Atlético de Madrid dejó resuelta la eliminatoria de dieciseisavos de final de la Copa del Rey al ganar esta noche por un contundente 0-6 al Guijuelo, que milita en la Segunda División B, en el estadio Helmántico de Salamanca, y que acabó el partido con 10 tras la lesión de Jonathan.

Atlético Madrid se da un festín de goles en el Helmántico ante Guijuelo