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Atlanta City bonuses raise transparency questions

ATLANTA -- At a time when many in Atlanta city government have gone the years without a raise, Atlanta City Council members are giving bonuses to their staff. They're doing it with your tax dollars.

While this practice is perfectly legal under city code, is it transparent and does the process have oversight to ensure it's fair? 11Alive took the bonus findings directly to the elected leaders who gave them.

"It's all a matter of public record," said Councilman Howard Shook.

"But do you think the average Atlanta citizen knows that city council is giving multiple bonuses a year to their staff?" responded 11Alive's Catie Beck.

"Again, I think it's a matter of public record," Shook said.

It is public record but is it common knowledge or a transparent practice we continued to ask elected leaders who had given recent bonuses.

"I think we just have seen how difficult it is for our employees and how hard they work," said Councilman Kwanza Hall.

Roadwork planned for Downtown Connector, other highways

Roadwork planned for Downtown Connector, other highways

(WXIA) -- The Downtown Connector is one of several metro Atlanta highways to be affected by weekend roadwork.

Georgia Department of Transportation engineer Shun Pringle said three left northbound lanes of Interstate 75/85 will be closed nightly for sign work. The closures will happen between Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Pine Street.

Three left southbound lanes will also be closed nightly at Freedom Parkway for bridge painting.

All Downtown Connector work will happen at night; Pringle said the interstate will be completely open during daylight hours.

However, some daylight work will occur on I-85 in both directions between Clairmont and Lenox roads. Crews will work on highway signs, forcing them to close two left lanes in each direction. Drivers traveling through the area should plan ahead for possible delays.

7th Amendment essay competition to award 2 scholarships

7th Amendment essay competition to award 2 scholarships

(WXIA) -- The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association is holding a scholarship essay competition for high school seniors.

The contest focuses on the 7th Amendment, which is an American's right to a trial by jury.

To enter, a college-bound senior must write an essay in response to this question:

Since the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791, the 7th Amendment Right to Trial by Jury has been the cornerstone of the Civil Justice System. And yet, in the two-plus centuries since, the Right to Trial by Jury has been under near-constant assault. In your opinion, what role does the 7th Amendment play in the 21st Century, and why do you believe that it is important to safeguard this right?

All essays must be submitted to the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association no later than Monday, Apr. 7. One grand prize winner will receive a $1,000 college scholarship. The runner-up will get $500.

2nd annual Race for the Arts 5K Run/Walk

2nd annual Race for the Arts 5K Run/Walk

Doodle 4 Google contest accepting entries

Doodle 4 Google contest accepting entries

(WXIA) -- It's back! The wildly popular Doodle 4 Google contest, which gives children the opportunity to create a Google Doodle, is now accepting entries.

Students in grades K-12 can enter the competition by drawing the Google logo with the theme, "If I could invent one thing to make the world a better place ..."

"So many of the world's greatest inventions started out as simple doodles -- just think of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of flying machines long before airplanes were made. We hope students will think big and surprise us with their creative ideas, just like they've done in years past!" Google said in a release.

Google will choose one finalist from each state. Last year's Georgia winner was Christine Jeong, a 5th grader at Wilson Creek Elementary School in Johns Creek. Meet Christine and see her winning doodle.

Eating too much added sugar may be killing you

(USA TODAY) -- Sugar not only makes you fat, it may be killing you.

Consuming too much added sugar -- in regular soda, cakes, cookies and candy --
increases your risk of death from heart disease, according to a new study, the largest of its type.

"The risk of cardiovascular disease death increases exponentially as you increase your consumption of added sugar," says the study's lead author, Quanhe Yang, a senior
scientist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

FDA launches anti-smoking ads aimed at teens

WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration is launching the government's largest effort yet to curb tobacco use among at-risk teens.

The $115 million media campaign stems from the FDA's new authority to regulate tobacco, granted by a 2009 law, says commissioner Margaret Hamburg. The ads will target the roughly 10 million American teens who are open to smoking or are already experimenting with cigarettes, she says.

That investment "is one of the most important efforts in recent times in the effort to reduce youth smoking," says Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "The FDA has carefully researched which ads will have the greatest impact on at-risk youth. These were designed with the same scientific rigor that Madison
Avenue uses to market its products."