Eyewitness news at 6

6:06 PM, Jul 1, 2013   |    comments
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Tonight in our top story, two teachers...at one school...have been accused of sexual misconduct with students ...
     Tom George has the latest from Taylor County.
Two different teachers here at Taylor County High School are under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct with students. The first was arrested back in April, that's David Van Buren. He's the band teacher here at TCHS. He's 53 years old. Now, he was arrested and charged with sexual assault for instances that happened between August of last year and April. That's according to Robert Devane of the GBI. Now, after Van Buren's arrest, a student posted on their Facebook page "they got the band man. Mr. Walker is next."  That led into a investigation to a second teacher. That's referring to Shannon Walker, he's a 42-year old social studies teacher. According to the GBI, he was arrested last Tuesday after allegedly having sexual relations with a student. The FBI has also gotten involved in this case because the student was taken across state lines. I spoke with the superintendent of schools for Taylor County, Wayne Smith, and he told me that Walker's been denied bond and that he also took a letter of resignation to jail and that Walker signed it, so he's now lost over this. He tells me that both of these cases are not believed to be related and that they involve different students but that they're still investigating and that the school has no tolerance for this. In Taylor County, Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.
As Tom said, Walker signed a letter of resignation ..Van Buren was suspended ... Superintendent Smith says he's asked Van Buren to resign, but so far he hasn't ... Smith says the school board plans to hold a termination hearing.


Students preparing for the GED will have to put away your pencil and paper ... Because the test is going digital. But Judy Le tells us those aren't the only key changes..
Ever since Jacole Robertson dropped out of school ...
There was a little voice inside her head ... repeating one word
<GED. So I said, forget about it. Just forget about all my problems. I'm going to move forward and get my GED first>

Ten years later ... Robertson finally takes the test... (nat - keyboard) on the computer.

That's because paper tests are being phased out... ending more than a 70-year tradition as a printed exam.
<chances of passing a digital ged exam are higher. About 90-percent of students pass the computer exam. That's compared to about 70-percent who pass on paper and pencil
you know right away if you passed or not. After you take it, it takes about two or three minutes for it to print out>

Counties have until December 31st to make the switch. That's not the only change. By January of next year ... There will be a new test
it's going to be more correlated to high school diploma and workforce skills>

That means more analysis and writing. The digital test will have four subjects ... One less than the paper version but the price tag remains the same ... At 160 dollars

for anyone who has already taken parts of the ged test, they need to come in and complete the test by december 31st>

Scores don't roll over when the new test comes out. Students will have to re-take the entire exam. 

to say no matter whatever comes up im going to do this. I'm going to complete this. That's what kept me going>

Five months of testing ... And Robertson is GED certified.

Judy Le 13 wmaz eyewitness news 

 Not all counties are ready to provide the computer-based test.
      Paper is still an option ... But if you want to opt for the digital version ... You will have to go online to find the closest testing center.
     Visit our web story at 13-wmaz-dot-com for more details.


 For parents looking for a good day care for the little ones... There are so many factors to weigh out.
     You want to make sure they're safe... You want them to enjoy their environment...and, you'd like them to learn while they're there.

That is what drove the state to develop a new quality ratings system for day cares.
     That system started today.
     Child care centers will get one, two, or three stars bases on a set of performance standards.
     More than 1200 businesses in the state have applied to participate...Joshua's House off Mercer University Drive in Macon is one of them.
     So far, 154 centers already have ratings.
    Bobby Cagle, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, told us the system couldn't come at a better time.

This has been an issue nationally. And, in the state of Georgia, we know from studies that were commissioned by my department in 2008, that the level of quality in Georgia Child Care facilities overall was low, so this is indeed an attempt to improve quality in all of the settings around the state.

To see if a child care center you're interested in has been rated yet... Just look for our story at 13WMAZ-dot-com.


 In Macon County one woman is dead and seven injured after a van overturned.
     The accident happened on Highway 224 on Barons Lane Road.
     Sergeant Crystal Griffin from the Georgia State Patrol in Perry says the van overturned on a curb after it left the roadway.. killing  Meena Patel from Lake City Florida.
     Three of the seven others in the van....were children under the age of ten.
     They were all taken to the Macon Medical Center where five remain in critical condition.
     Griffin says the vehicle may have overturned due to slippery roads.
      Authorities are still investigating.    


  Investigators say they know what caused a Sunday morning fire that killed an 85 year old woman.
     She is Kathryn Perry...who died in her home on Old Copelan Road in Eatonton.
     Investigators say, Perry had been smoking...and her cigarette set the bedroom on fire.
     This marks the 70th fire-related death in Georgia this year, including 11 in Bibb County.


 A new candidate is jumping into the race for the Macon-Bibb consolidated elections.
     Community activist Al Tillman announced he will run for the district 9 commission seat.
     His opponent... Is Macon Council President James Timley.... Who was alone in the race after qualifying closed in April.
     Last week's Supreme Court ruling on the Civil Rights Act... Allowed Macon-Bibb to move forward with the elections without approval from the Department of Justice.
     They were rescheduled for September 17th... Which meant qualifying had to be re-opened.
     Tilman says he wants to help the new government focus on building the community... Not bringing up its past.

there's always those three or four people on each side, black and white, that try to keep us divided and make it about race. This is not about race. It's about rich and poor, economics, jobs
Qualifying will re-open August 5th... And close on the 7th.


 If you're looking to adopt a pet this week from Macon-Bibb Animal Welfare... You'll need to do it before the holiday.
 The shelter will be closed to observe Independence day from Thursday, July 4th, through Monday, July 8th.
     But up until then...a special is running for potential pet parents.
     Through Wednesday, adoptions are fully sponsored, and there's no fee for those dogs and cats that have already been spayed or neutered.  The others will just require a payment of fifty dollars.
 The shelter is located on Eleventh Street....near downtown Macon.
     For information, you can call the shelter at 478-751-9200. That number again....751-9200.




     It's Fourth of July week...and for many Americans...beer is on the BBQ menu.
     Elise Brown was at the Macon Beer Company....as a major must for brewing arrived...
Cory Smith....Jeremy Knowles....and C.J. Holmes are trying to move this 3,000 pound fermenter into the Macon Beer Company.
And it's not easy.
what we tried to do is lean them up against the side of the building where we wanted to get them. And kind of lift and push at the same time using the forklift which we had never driven before. And at the same time hook the chain from the inside so if it slipped it wouldn't fall out into the street. >

 Attaching the chains to the forklift didn't work well....but they ended up getting the job done....moving, and lifting all three giant tanks.
did you have a little bit of moe, larry and curly action going on today? A little bit...there's always a little bit of action with us around.  >

In fact....Smith and Knowles...both co-owners.....have been doing most of the hard labor themselves. 
They hope it'll pay off this week....once they get their license.
When that happens... the brewing can begin.
we'll put the first batch in the kettle on friday, we'll have it in the fermenters that same day. And a couple of weeks later when the yeast is finished doing its thing  we'll be able to get it out to distributors and into the market
People will be able to tour the brewery and taste the beer in the taproom.

our first two products in the market will be Macon History and Macon Progress.  Macon History is a brown ale....and Macon Progress is a pale ale
now this is the beer garden. It's a place where people can enjoy their beverage and listen to live music. Now it might not look like very much right now but Smith says they're going to be putting in a fence, some tables and also growing their own blueberries and hops.
The hops grown in the back yard won't be nearly enough for a large batch of beer...but Smith says they could be used for small batches.  As for everything else, he plans to keep as many of his ingredients as he can...local.

Elise Brown, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.


The weather is a big factor for many July 4th celebrations going on this week..
Warner Robins will hold its 31st annual Independence Day celebration Wednesday July 3rd.
     Bring your lawn chairs and picnic blankets to McConnell-Talbert Stadium for a concert featuring Bobbi Eakes, Stillwater and a special encore performance from the Band of the Air Force Reserve.
     Gates open at 6 p.m... concert starts at 8 p.m. with fireworks to follow.
At 9:30 p.m. Lake Tobesofkee in Bibb County will light up with a fireworks show after sunset.  It's under way at 9:30 p.m.


Firefighters work in life-threatening situations, with little recognition for what they do.
 Four Warner Robins Fire Department firefighters received awards today...as a result of their heroic response to a fire in May
Lieutenant Wayne Nelson... Lieutenant Larry Warren...
Engineer Randy Willis... and Firefighter Taylor Howell...
Responded to a fire on Arrowhead Trail...
Early on the morning of May 27, 2013.
The heroic firefighters saved 57-year-old James Gindele's life...
By relying on their training.
LT WARREN: We're always trained to go in and look but it's on a pretty rare occasion that you get somebody that you can make a difference on. LT NELSON: The way we train, we pretty much have a set way of doing things. It comes second nature
Warner Robins is honoring the firefighters with Valor Awards... at its city council meeting this evening.



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