GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US..
I'M LEAH JOHNSON..
AND I'M FRANK MALLOY..THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT 11.
PERRY'S CITY COUNCIL AGREED TONIGHT ON HOW TO BALANCE NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET.
THEY DON'T PLAN TO RAISE TAXES... ADD FEES OR STOP FUNDING RECREATION PROGRAMS.
BUT AS LORRA LYNCH JONES TELLS YOU.. THEY DO PLAN TO CUT TEN JOBS.
A CROWD CAME TO CITY HALL FOR THE SIXTH MEETING... ON THE SAME TOPIC... PERRY'S 2012 FINANCES.
FACING A 460-THOUSAND DOLLAR SHORTFALL... MAYOR JIMMY FAIRCLOTH SAID THEY FIRST LOOKED AT CUTTING RECREATION.
Jimmy Faircloth: "One of the easy things to do is say if we cut recreation, we will balance the budget. that's a worst case scenario, it's always proposed every year but we never do it."
THEY DON'T PLAN TO THIS YEAR EITHER... AFTER HEARING FROM PEOPLE LIKE LOCAL PEDIATRICIAN DR. DAN STEWART.
Dr. Dan Stewart: "We have a tremendous problem in our country right now with childhood obesity, and the last thing we need to do is go cutting services that i think are essential."
COUNCIL ALSO DOES NOT WANT TO RAISE TAXES... OR ADD FEES.
INSTEAD... THEY PLAN TO TRIM EXPENSES FROM EVERY DEPARTMENT... AND ELIMATE SOME JOBS.
Lorra Lynch Jones, EWN: "Council plans to cut funding for ten positions. right now only eight are filled, Two are already vacant."
Jimmy Faircloth: (2117) "When you start looking at the availability of cutting expenses, you have to consider that."
FAIRCLOTH SAYS THE POSITIONS SLATED TO BE CUT INCLUDE A DETECTIVE... TWO SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS... THREE CROSSING GUARDS... AND A FIRE MARSHALL.
COUNCIL FINALIZES THE ROUGHLY 10-POINT-SEVEN MILLION DOLLAR BUDGET JUNE 21ST.
>> FAIRCLOTH SAYS THE CITY NEEDS TO BUILD A SECOND FIRE DEPARTMENT.
THE CONSTRUCTION IS FUNDED... BUT THE MONEY FOR STAFFING IT IS NOT.
HE SAYS THEY'LL HAVE TO RAISE THE ISSUE OF ASKING TAX PAYERS FOR A FIRE PROTECTION FEE... WITHIN THE NEXT SIX MONTHS.
THE BIBB SCHOOL SYSTEM'S BUDGET WILL INCREASE BY ABOUT FIVE MILLION DOLLARS NEXT SCHOOL YEAR.
THE BIBB SCHOOL BOARD VOTED TO APPROVE A TENTATIVE 2011 BUDGET TONIGHT SET AT NEARLY 300 MILLION DOLLARS.
SOME BOARD MEMBERS SAY SUPERINTENDENT ROMAIN DALLEMAND HELPED CRAFT A BUDGET THAT MAKES THE BEST USE OF THEIR MONEY.
NO FULROUGH DAYS... 4 EXTRA PLANNING DAYS FOR TEACHERS... CUTTING 87 JOBS... INCLUDING 52 TEACHING POSITIONS... AND INCREASING SOME CLASS SIZES BY 1 TO 2 STUDENTS
THE DISTRICT SAYS SO FAR... STATE CUTS HAVEN'T BEEN AS DEEP AND THEY PLANNED FOR... BUT BOARD MEMBER SUSAN SIPE SAYS SHE'S STILL WARY OF FUTURE CUTS.
Susan Sipe, Board Member: This budget has been well constructed where we are able to weather a little bit of a storm if it should come down but it all depends on what happens in Atlanta.
THE SCHOOL BOARD HAS UNTIL JUNE 30 TO FINALIZE NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET.
THEY'LL HOLD A PUBLIC HEARING ON THE TENTATIVE BUDGET AT 530 P-M ON MAY 31 AT THEIR OFFICES ON MULBERRY STREET IN DOWNTOWN MACON.
THE MACON-BIBB FIRE AND POLICE PENSION BOARD WON'T ACCEPT MACON MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT'S PROMISSORY NOTE TO PAY THE CITY'S DEBT TO THE FUND.
THE CITY'S ACTUARY FOUND THAT MACON UNDERFUNDED THE PENSION PLAN FOR ABOUT EIGHTEEN MONTHS BEGINNING IN 2009.
NOW... THE CITY OWES THE FUND FOUR AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS.
THREE BOARD MEMBERS VOTED AGAINST ACCEPTING THE PROMISSORY NOTE... WHICH WOULD SERVE AS A LEGALLY BINDING "I OWE YOU."
IT WOULD HAVE PAID THE FUND BACK OVER FIVE YEARS... WITH EIGHT PERCENT INTEREST.
BOARD MEMBER CHARLIE BISHOP SAYS HE VOTED AGAINST IT... BECAUSE THE INTEREST RATE IS TOO LOW.
"To me that's not a good investment when the investment returns right now on the money is somewhere up around 20%. 20 to 25%. So if we had the money in the bank so to speak we'd already made 25% in return.
BISHOP ALSO CALLED FOR THE BOARD TO VOTE ON HIRING AN OUTSIDE ATTORNEY TO REVIEW THE CITY'S OFFER.
THAT VOTE DIDN'T HAPPEN... BECAUSE IT WASN'T ON THE SCHEUDLE FOR THE SPECIAL MEETING.
BOARD CHAIRMAN CHARLES JONES SAYS HE'LL CALL ANOTHER MEETING TO TALK ABOUT IT..
BUT THE PROCESS COULD MEAN THE BOARD MISSES THEIR JUNE 30TH DEADLINE..AND RISK LOSING STATE GRANT MONEY AND FUNDING.
FOR THE FOURTH TIME IN A YEAR...COUNCILMAN JOHN WILLIAMS' NAME APPEARED ON A WARNER ROBINS POLICE REPORT.
TODAY...A POLICE REPORT SAID WILLIAMS ARGUED WITH ANOTHER CITY OFFICIAL AT A WATSON BOULEVARD WAFFLE HOUSE.
IT SAYS WILLIAMS THREW FOOD...COFFEE..AND WATER...AT DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT BOARD CHAIRMAN TONY ROBBINS.
ROBBINS SAYS HE CALLED POLICE... THINKING WILLIAMS MIGHT BE CARRYING A GUN.
WILLIAMS SAYS THE SPILL WAS AN ACCIDENT... AND THAT ROBBINS CALLED POLICE BECAUSE THEY TWO DISAGREED ABOUT A DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT PROJECT.
John Williams: " I got up to leave and I guess I rushed too much because my legs were hanging up under the table and it shook the table real bad and I spilled a cup of water on him and I apologized to him and i'll apologize again. I'm very sorry but just because i'm elected doesn't mean I have to take the abuse."
POLICE SAID THEY COULDN'T TELL FROM WAFFLE HOUSE SURVEILLANCE VIDEO WHETHER WILLIAMS ACTED INTENTIONALLY.
THEY SAID THE CASE WILL GO TO A MAGISTRATE JUDGE WHO'LL DECIDE WHETHER THE COUNCIL MEMBER WILL BE CHARGED.
MACON ANIMAL CONTROL NOW HAS A NEW TEMPORARY DIRECTOR WHILE IT GOES THROUGH A POLICE INTERNAL AFFAIRS AUDIT.
ACCORDING TO MAYORAL SPOKESMAN CLAY MURPHEY... ANIMAL CONTROL DIRECTOR JIM JOHNSON... WAS TRANSFERRED TO ANOTHER DEPARTMENT LAST WEEK.
MURPHY SAYS THIS COMES AS THE POLICE DEPARTMENT AUDITS PROCEDURES AT THE ANIMAL CONTROL SHELTER.
IN A SEPARATE INVESTIGATION....THEY'RE ALSO LOOKING INTO THE ARREST OF AN ANIMAL CONTROL WORKER... BRUCE ROZIER.... AND REPORTED THAT HE LET A STRANDED DOG DIE LAST MONTH.
ROZIER WAS CHARGED WITH VIOLATING THE STATE'S ANIMAL PROTECTION LAW.
AFTER HIS ARREST.... MACON CITY COUNCILWOMAN NANCY WHITE SAID THE ANIMAL CONTROL DEPARTMENT NEEDED NEW LEADERSHIP... DUE TO A FIVE-YEAR PATTERN OF PROBLEMS.
MURPHEY SAYS MACON SERGEANT ROBERT CARR WAS APPOINTED INTERIM-DIRECTOR.
BIBB COUNTY CHAIRMAN SAM HART AND MACON MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT CONTINUED THEIR LISTENING TOUR TONIGHT GETTING PEOPLE'S THOUGHTS ON A NOVEMBER SPLOST.
ABOUT FIFTY PEOPLE ATTENDED THE SESSION AT CITY HALL.
IT BEGAN WITH A PRESENTATION FROM THE COUNTY... CITING A GEORGIA TECH STUDY THAT FOUND 75% OF SALES TAX REVENUE ALREADY COMES FROM SHOPPERS OUTSIDE OF BIBB COUNTY.
PEOPLE ALSO OFFERED UP THEIR WISH LIST FOR THE SPLOST PROPOSAL INCLUDING NEW ANIMAL CONTROL CENTERS... COURT HOUSE REMODELING... AND SEWER SYSTEM REPAIRS.
SARAH HUNT ATTENDED THE MEETING... SHE SAYS SHE 'LL SUPPORT THE SPLOST IF IT WILL PUT MONEY TOWARDS COUNTY-WIDE RECREATION.
"We don't have the money to do but that 1% sales tax would help us generate the kind of funds we need to fix the recreation centers and to get some projects, some activities and things going in the community for the children."
THE NEXT STOP ON THE LISTENING TOUR IS MAY 26 AT SEVEN P.M. AT PORTER ELLIS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
MACON WON'T GET A GRANT TO RENOVATE THE TINDALL HEIGHTS NEIGHBORHOOD.
THE CITY APPLIED FOR A HOPE SIX GRANT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT LAST YEAR.
TODAY... THE MACON HOUSING AUTHORITY ANNOUNCED THAT MACON WAS NOT ONE OF THE EIGHT CITIES CHOSEN FOR THE GRANT.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JOHN HISCOX SAYS THEY DON'T CONSIDER THE EFFORT WASTED... BECAUSE IT HELPED THEM DEVELOP PLANS AND PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE PROJECT... WHICH WOULD REPLACE THE CURRENT TINDALL HEIGHTS AREA WITH A VARIETY OF MIXED INCOME HOUSING.
MORE STORMS ARE HAMPERING THE SEARCH FOR TORNADO SURVIVORS IN JOPLIN, MISSOURI.
OFFICIALS SAY THOSE STORMS COULD BRING TORNADOES IN ADDITION TO RAIN AND HAIL.
AT LEAST 116 PEOPLE DIED IN THIS WEEKEND'S STORMS... BUT CREWS HAVE PULLED MORE THAN A DOZEN SURVIVORS FROM THE RUBBLE.
LIZ ZAMORA HAS MORE FROM THE DISASTER AREA.
At least one-quarter of Joplin, Missouri, no longer exists. A devastating tornado tore a six-mile path of destruction through town.
Crews along with the national guard searching for survivors.
"WE'RE TRYING TO COVER THE WHOLE AREA OF DAMAGE ONE TIME TO TRY TO FIND ANY VIABLE VICTIMS. (and then after that there'll be secondary, maybe even a third or fourth search.")
Shannon Johnson sifted through her grandmother's belongings, looking for keepsakes.
((SOT)) Shannon Johnson
"SHE HAD A HEART ATTACK WHEN IT STARTED - AND DIED."
Daniel Powell and his wife took cover in the shower. He says there are just two things he wants to find in what's left of his home.
((SOT)) Daniel Powell (cover part)
"I WANT HER WEDDING RING AND A LEATHER SATCHEL THAT SHE GOT ME WHEN WE GOT MARRIED THAT CAME WITH A LEATHER BIBLE IN IT AND THE FRONT OF IT SAYS 'THROUGH EVERYTHING WE WILL OVERCOME.'"
One resident was lucky enough to find her dog - whimpering in the rubble. He was underneath a stove.
St. John's Hospital withstood a powerful tornado in 2008. This time, it was severely damaged. But more than 180 patients made it out alive.
Staff inside scrambled to move patients to interior hallways when the tornado hit.
((SOT)) Angie Abner ER Nurse, St. John's
"THINGS WERE FLYING OVER OUR HEADS, JUST SOUNDING LIKE A BOMB, DOORS WERE FLYING OFF, MEDICAL EQUIPMENT FLYING OVER OUR HEADS, VERY SCARY."
Veteran doctor Jim Briscoe immediately set up a makeshift hospital in an auditorium.
((SOT)) Dr. Jim Briscoe ER Doctor, St. John's
"ALL MY STAFF IS HERE AND I MEAN I HAD TWO PREGNANT NURSES THAT DOVE UNDER GURNEYS /// THEY SHOWED UP, THEY WORKED ALL NIGHT LONG, SO IT'S A TESTIMONY TO HUMAN SPIRIT."
So far, more than one thousand people have been treated for injuries.
>> TORNADOES HAVE KILLED 500 PEOPLE THIS YEAR.
THAT'S SEVEN TIMES THE SEASONAL AVERAGE.. AND MAKES THIS THE DEADLIEST YEAR IN MORE THAN 50 YEARS.
5 CENTRAL GEORGIANS HAVE DROWNED IN THE PAST TWO MONTHS.
THE MOST RECENT OCCURED SATURDAY AT LAKE TOBESOFKEE WHEN A FIREFIGHTER DROWNED SAVING THREE CHILDREN..
A HOUSTON COUNTY SWIM INSTRUCTOR SAYS THAT SHOULD BE REASON FOR EVERYONE... ESPECIALLY PARENTS... TO BRUSH UP ON WATER SAFETY.
VICTORIA CAMPBELL TEACHES CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS 6 MONTHS OLD TO SURVIVE IN THE WATER.
SHE SAYS ADULT SUPERVISION IS KEY... BUT IT'S ALSO IMPORTANT TO SHARPEN YOUR KIDS' SWIMMING AND FLOATING SKILLS... AT LEAST UNTIL THEY'RE COMFORTABLE IN THE DEEP END OF THE POOL WITHOUT FLOATIES.
Victoria Campbell; "When you are able to maintain a floating position, it's effortless. you don't see alot of kicking involved. You don't have to struggle with your arms, you can just relax and breathe effortlessly."
Briar Hunnicutt, age 4; "Flip over on my back and breathe... then swim to the wall and that's not hard. Do a flip in the pool, that's not hard either. then go to the stairs, climb up the stairs, that's not hard at all."
CAMPBELL SAYS FLOATING COMES IN HANDY IN DEEP OPEN WATER... IT LETS YOU REST UNTIL HELP ARRIVES AND ALLOWS YOU TO ORIENT YOURSELF SO YOU CAN SWIM TO SAFETY.
THERE'S ANOTHER "UNDER CONSTRUCTION" SIGN ON THE GEORGIA COLLEGE CAMPUS.
THE SCHOOL'S NEWEST PROJECT STARTED THIS MONTH... AND INCLUDES ADDING FIVE NEW DINING AREAS.
IT'S A COMPLETE RENOVATION TO CAMPUS DINING COMMONS... AND THE FIRST MAJOR CONSTRUCTION ON THE EATERY SINCE BEING BUILT IN THE 1960s.
ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT KYLE CULLARS SAYS STUDENT INPUT INSPIRED THEM TO START THE THREE MILLION DOLLAR PROJECT.
Kyle Cullars, Auxiliary Services: "In the planning plase, we focused very heavily on getting student involvement and their input in terms of what they really want us to bring in. We surveyed students extensively, we've had several focus groups that we've held. We're bringing in the dining venues and the kinds of things that they're actually asking us to have here."
CULLARS EXPECTS CONSTRUCTION TO BE COMPLETED BY AUGUST.
THERE ARE JUST TWO MORE EPISODES OF OPRAH'S FAREWELL SEASON.
TOMORROW AFTERNOON YOU CAN WATCH THE SECOND HALF OF OPRAH'S SURPRISE FAREWELL SPECTACULAR.
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HAVE A SAFE NIGHT EVERYONE.