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Peter Biello: Welcome to the GPB News Georgia Today Podcast. Today is Monday February 13th. I’m Peter Biello. In today’s episode, the judge makes a decision on releasing documents related to the special grand jury investigation into attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. The key figure in that investigation says he won’t run again. And we’ll learn more about the Georgia native who kicked the game-winning field goal in last night’s Super Bowl. These and more stories are coming to this edition of Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: A Fulton County judge ruled today that most of a special grand jury report into interference in the 2020 Georgia presidential election should be kept private for now, with other parts could be released later this week. GPB’s Stephen Fowler has more on the judge’s decision.
Stephen Fowler: Judge Robert McBurney said the special grand jury report on which laws were violated and who likely broke them is complete. But due to due process, it shouldn’t be made public unless or until the DA’s office actually files criminal charges. But some things can and probably will be made public on Thursday this week: the introduction, the conclusion, and a section expressing concern that some people lied to the jury under oath because none of those sections name names. Fulton de Fani Willis said during the hearing on this report last month. Decisions are, I quote, imminent. It is unclear whether anyone involved in the case will appeal the judge’s order. For GPB News, I’m Stephen Fowler.
Peter Biello: Among President Trump’s allies at the center of the case is Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, who is reportedly not running for another term as state party leader. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Shafer announced his decision to party leaders in an email Friday. He comes amid dissatisfaction among some party members with GOP losses in the 2020 election and Schaefer’s support for pro-Trump candidates.
Peter Biello: The Environmental Protection Agency is awarding $1 billion from the federal Superfund program to clean up 22 toxic waste sites across the country. Approximately $50 million will go towards cleaning up lead contamination in a residential neighborhood in Atlanta. US Senator Raphael Warnock says the project has been waiting years for access to federal funds.
Sen. Raphael Warnock: The West Side Lead Project will be able to reduce wait times so the EPA can expedite the removal of lead from people’s properties. This helps our children.
Peter Biello: Experts say it’s unclear exactly where the lead comes from, but it’s likely to come from metal smelters that were once common in western Atlanta.
Peter Biello: Workers in seven counties who lost income due to severe storms on Jan. 12 have until Friday to file their first claims for disaster unemployment assistance. The federal program offers assistance to self-employed entrepreneurs, farmers, loggers and others who are not eligible under the state program. That’s according to a release from the Georgia Department of Labor. For more information, visit DOL.Georgia.gov.
Peter Biello: Filmmaker Tyler Perry is the focus of a new exhibition opening this month in Macon in what is billed as the first retrospective of its kind on Perry’s career. GPB’s Ashley Pemberton has more.
Ashley Pemberton: The exhibition at the Tubman African-American Museum in Macon details Tyler Perry’s life, from the milestones of his early career to his most recent works. Tubman Museum executive director Harold Young says the exhibition is a first for the museum and a dream of his.
Harold Young: I compared him to Harriet Tubman, where he went back and dragged people with him; that after he reached a certain level, he brought people back with him and helped so many different people.
Ashley Pemberton: Perry’s body of work includes writing over a dozen plays, directing nearly 60 feature films, and a New York Times bestseller. The exhibition spans at least the next two years. For GPB News, I’m Ashley Pemberton in Macon.
Peter Biello: Beyonce added Monday, Aug. 14 as the third show to her Atlanta stops as part of her Renaissance World Tour. Mercedes-Benz Stadium said on Friday the addition was due to high demand. Tickets for the Beyonce Fan Club presale went on sale today. There are a couple of pre-sales scheduled for the end of this week and ticket sales for verified fans start on Saturday at 2pm
Peter Biello: In last night’s Super Bowl game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs. Chiefs kicker and Georgia native Harrison Butker threw a 27-yard field goal with 8 seconds remaining to put the Chiefs on top. Butker graduated from Georgia Tech and Westminster School in Atlanta when the Westminster Wildcats were looking for a kicker. Butker transitioned into football from soccer. With me now is the high school coach who helped him do it, Westminster assistant football coach Joe Sturniolo.
Joe Sturniolo: When Harrison was a freshman, he really only played soccer. He hadn’t started playing soccer yet. We were in spring training that year and we were looking for a new kicker and our senior kicker from the year before that I had talked to about signing a replacement and I said, Coaches, boy, that’s the band with me, that’s a footballer . I think he might be pretty good, but he didn’t come out at the end of his freshman year and he’d never really kicked a ball before, he’d just been a soccer player, but he decided he wanted to go for it. And ironically, I was in the soccer press box and her mother was outside the press room talking to another mom, and I heard her say they want Harrison to play soccer, but I’m not sure about soccer. You know, he’s always been a soccer player. He has never been a footballer. I’m just a little worried. And I stuck my head out and said, let me introduce myself and I had a conversation with Elizabeth. She agreed. She is now a huge football fan and I know she was enjoying the Super Bowl too.
Peter Biello: So what is it like for soccer players who want to be transition soccer players? And did Harrison somehow follow the traditional role or was there something different or special about the way he played it?
Joe Sturniolo: Well what he did was work harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. His work ethic was amazing. Transition for a footballer is a little different football. Obviously, the eye-foot coordination, the ability to kick strength and leg. All of this transfers from football. Well, with the motion of kicking a soccer ball and the motion of picking up a ball are different. Your hips in a different place. Make contact in a different place. And it’s all because of the trajectory you want on the ball. Some people do the tradition well, some aren’t very good at it. Harrison worked very, very hard, not just in the offseason, but in the offseason as well. He was constantly looking for ways to improve. That meant going on the pitch somewhere, spending extra time where him and I out there, there were many nights that he and Izzy, who is now his wife, spent on the pitch with him, kicking and Izzy chasing balls near the post while I was criticizing along the way.
Peter Biello: So Harrison was a football player. He’s a football player. He was a footballer. He was also in the band. He played the tuba in the band. How did he manage to juggle all those extracurricular activities?
Joe Sturniolo: He is a very dedicated person. A very busy person. He doesn’t care much about social media, social activities, stuff like that. The focus of his attention is enormous. That’s part of what made him such a great footballer in the NFL is the goal of him. I mean, last night, obviously, he missed the first kick last night. One of the things we try to teach footballers is that there is nothing less important than the last kick and there is nothing more important than the next. His ability to put aside whatever happened and say, okay, it happened. What have we learned? Now let’s get ready for the next one.
Peter Biello: So you have to feel some measure of pride right now.
Joe Sturniolo: Oh absolutely. But, you know, someone asked me last week, you know, how would a kick kick, you know, game-winning field goal feel. And I said, I’m going to be tremendously proud. But I’m proud of Harrison, whether he made a field goal or not; the man he has become is a phenomenal, phenomenal father, a phenomenal figure in the Kansas City area. And he serves as an altar assistant in the Latin mass and also teaches the children how to do it.
Peter Biello: Have you kept in touch with him over the years?
Joe Sturniolo: Absolutely. I texted him last night.
Peter Biello: Oh, what did he have to say last night?
Joe Sturniolo: Not so much. We kept it short last night. I talked to him a bit before the game and then after the game. It was right after the game. So he was still in the field when I sent my last message and I said, you know, I have some questions, but of course not, I’ll wait later. I want you to enjoy your evening and we’ll talk about that later this week. And he just said, thank you, coach. I love you.
Peter Biello: Well, Joe Sturniolo, thank you so much for speaking with me and sharing your thoughts on Harrison Butker. I really appreciate it.
Joe Sturniolo: You are welcome. Cute. I am happy to talk about it with you. I’m happy to spread the word about him. I couldn’t be happier for Harrison Butker.
Peter Biello: And that’s it for this edition of Georgia Today. If you haven’t already, take a moment to subscribe to this podcast and keep us updated in your podcast feed. And if you like this podcast, please leave a review. It will help others find us. And if you have feedback, of course we love to hear it. Email us. The address is [email protected]
I’m Peter Biello. Thank you so much for listening. See you tomorrow.
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