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Restoration begins on R.E.M. steeple

Restoration begins on R.E.M. steeple

ATHENS, Ga. — Workers are beginning to restore the steeple of the old church in Athens where Georgia rock band R.E.M. played its first show. Scaffolding is rising around all that remains of the structure — its now-iconic steeple, The Athens Banner-Herald reported.

Last year, the nonprofit Nuçi's Space launched a 60-day crowdfunding campaign aimed at restoring the steeple and helping to fund the organization's health care assistance and other services it provides to local musicians. Nuçi's Space works to prevent suicide.

R.E.M. performed its first show at the church on April 5, 1980, as Twisted Kites and renamed itself a few weeks later. R.E.M. had formed in Athens, where all four members were students at the University of Georgia.

GDOT to limit roadwork for 2 weekends

GDOT to limit roadwork for 2 weekends

(WXIA) -- Here's some good news for spring breakers and Atlanta Braves fans: road construction will be limited for the next two weekends.

The Georgia Department of Transportation announced Wednesday it will close fewer interstate lanes than usual from midnight on Friday, Apr. 3 to 5 a.m. on Monday, Apr. 6. The construction break is meant to accommodate drivers who are heading into or out of Atlanta for spring break and Easter weekend.

Lane closures will also be limited from 10 p.m. on Friday, Apr. 10 to 5 a.m. on Monday, Apr. 13, for the Braves' opening weekend at Turner Field.

Traffic throughout Georgia is expected to be heavy both weekends, and drivers are asked to be cautious.

"Also, incident management or emergency maintenance-related lane closures could become necessary on any time on any route," GDOT director of construction Jeff Baker said.

Metro Atlanta unemployment drops to 6.1 percent

Metro Atlanta unemployment drops to 6.1 percent

(WXIA) -- The Atlanta area's unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in February, down from January's 6.2 percent. It was also down a full point from the rate of 7.1 percent in February 2014.

Clarke County's unemployment rate was 6.0 percent last month.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said the drop was due to fewer layoffs and more new jobs. Many of the gains came in business, construction, education, government, and leisure and hospitality.

Nearly 39 percent fewer new claims for unemployment insurance were filed in February as well.

Metro Gainesville had Georgia's lowest February unemployment rate, at 5.1 percent. The Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest, at 8.1 percent.

UGA professor robbed at gunpoint

UGA professor robbed at gunpoint

ATHENS, Ga. – A University of Georgia professor was robbed at gunpoint near downtown Athens Monday night, police said.

According to an Athens-Clarke County Police report, two women at the lobby of Hotel Indigo told authorities that they saw three men rob the female professor around 8 p.m. The witness told police that the professor was waving her hands in the air on North Jackson Street.

The victim told police that after she parked her car, she was approached by a man with a t-shirt covering his face. He told her to "Give me everything you got," and pulled a gun from his waistband. Two more suspects then also approached her.

The suspects stole the woman's purse, cell phone, and backpack. They were described as between 16 and 18 years old, and between 5-foot-11 and 6-foot-3.

Athens family welcomes quadruplets

ATHENS, Ga. – An Athens family welcomed four new additions on Saturday.

Julianne and Matthew Kirkland's quadruplets had been scheduled to be delivered on March 27, but they were apparently eager to see the world.

Matt was with his son Jack cheering on another son, Campbell, at his first baseball game in Athens Saturday when Julianne went into labor.

When Matt called Julianne around 5 p.m., she gave the news: she would be having the babies that night at Georgia Regents University Hospital in Augusta.

Matt packed up Campbell and Jack, called Julianne's mother, and headed to the hospital.

Police: UGA student died of alcohol poisoning

Police: UGA student died of alcohol poisoning

ATHENS, Ga. -- A 19-year-old University of Georgia student who passed away in January died of acute alcohol toxicity, UGA Police announced Monday.

Michael McClary, of DeKalb County, was found unresponsive in the back seat of a car Jan. 10, while returning to campus after a night out with friends. He was pronounced dead at an Athens-area hospital.

McClary's death has since been ruled accidental. His autopsy was performed at the GBI Crime Lab. His exact blood alcohol content has not been released.

During a January memorial service held at UGA's Reed Hall, where McClary lived, friends shared stories of "Big Mike" and remembered how he always made them laugh.

Weekend roadwork: The usual suspects

Weekend roadwork: The usual suspects

(WXIA) -- It's going to be "more of the same" on the Atlanta area's highways and interstates this weekend, as Georgia Department of Transportation crews take to the streets.

Drivers are asked to avoid travel on interstates 20 and 285, if possible. GDOT will close lanes in several areas, which could result in lengthy delays.

As always, all work is weather permitting.

Interstate 20

Three eastbound lanes will be closed between Langhorn and McDaniel streets from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday for bridge joint repairs.

Two westbound lanes will be closed between the Downtown Connector and Langhorn Street from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday for bridge joint repairs.

Two westbound lanes will be closed between Fulton Industrial Boulevard and I-285 from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday for bridge joint repairs.