Tuesday, May 18, Eyewitness News at 11

10:46 PM, May 18, 2010   |    comments
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<<opening for eyewitness news at eleven>>

"I hope the community can open its eyes to see the kind of shape we're in in Macon, that we have this much need

BIBB COUNTY'S DFCS OFFICE SAYS IT HAD TO TURN PEOPLE AWAY FROM A SPECIAL SESSION TONIGHT... AFTER THOUSANDS SHOWED UP TO GET HELP.

GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US..

I'M FRANK MALLOY..

AND I'M LEAH JOHNSON...

THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT 11.

THE BIBB COUNTY DFCS OFFICE SAYS THE FIRE MARSHALL HAD TO FORCE SOME PEOPLE OUT ITS OFFICE... AFTER MORE THAN A THOUSAND PEOPLE SHOWED UP FOR A WORKSHOP TONIGHT.

PEOPLE TURNED OUT TO GET ACCESS TO STIMULUS MONEY.

BIBB COUNTY DFCS DIRECTOR MARJORIE ALMAND SAYS THEY ASKED PEOPLE TO COME AT SIX... BUT PEOPLE SHOWED UP AT THREE... AND THE OFFICE WAS OVERWHELMED BY THE CROWD.

DFCS WORKERS WERE HELPING PEOPLE GET ASSISTANCE FOR UTILITY BILLS... AID FOR CHILD CARE EXPENSES... AND INFORMATION ON EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS.

THEY ALSO WE'RE HELPING SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS SIGN UP FOR MONEY TO HIRE WORKERS.

Majorie Almand, Bibb County DFCS Director, It's sad and I really apologize to the people because it was hard for them to get here, and then to get here and not be served I feel very badly about it.

ALLMAND SAYS HER OFFICE WAS ABLE TO HELP ABOUT 900 PEOPLE TODAY.

SHE SAYS DFCS WILL RESCHEDULE A TIME TO HELP THE PEOPLE WHO COULD NOT BE SEEN TODAY.

PEOPLE IN MACON'S BELLVUE COMMUNITY WILL HAVE A LONGER WAIT FOR A NEW RECREATION CENTER AS THE CITY CONTINUES TO LOOK FOR FUNDING SOURCES.

IN 2002..THE CITY DEVELOPED A MASTER PLAN THAT INCLUDED TRANSFORMING THE DURR'S LAKE PROPERTY ON LOG CABIN DRIVE...INTO THE FILMORE THOMAS RECREATION CENTER.

DESPITE SOME PROGRESS...THERE IS STILL A LOT OF WORK TO DO.

STEPHANIE SUSSKIND HAS MORE ON THE PROJECT'S STATUS...AND WHAT'S HOLDING IT UP.

<<

nats Merritt "at some point we should complete some work that we've started"

WHEN MERRITT JOHNSON VISUALIZES THE FILMORE THOMAS REC CENTER AT DURR'S LAKE...HE DOESN'T SEE A PILE OF DIRT.

Merritt Johnson: "I see a property that has lots of potential, not just for the residents in that area, but for the entire city"

JOHNSON BEGAN WORKING WITH FILMORE THOMAS IN 1996...TO BRING A REC CENTER TO THE AREA...BUT YEARS LATER..IT'S STILL NO PLACE FOR KIDS TO PLAY.

Stephanie Susskind: "Public works says they have made progress. They've removed trees from the dam and are excavating the lake on the property. But funding and time have now become major obstacles in the project"

nats 'we still have to excavate the other half of the lake'

PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR RICHARD POWELL SAYS THAT REQUIRES THE SAME EQUIPMENT AS TEARING DOWN ABANDONED HOMES...A TOP PRIORITY FOR THE CITY.

HE SAYS IF THE DEPARTMENT DEDICATED RESOURCES SOLELY TO CLEARING THE LAKE..THE WORK COULD BE DONE IN ABOUT THREE WEEKS.

(nats)

COUNCILWOMAN LAUREN BENEDICT LIKES THAT IDEA...BUT ALSO SAYS PAYING FOR THE ALMOST FIVE MILLION DOLLAR PROJECT PRESENTS A ROADBLOCK.

Lauren Benedict: "We really had hoped when we made the application for the section 108 loan that that would allow us to fairly quickly complete phase one...unfortunately we haven't gotten a response back on that loan and so the question does become, where do you find the money?"

MERRITT JOHNSON SAYS THE BELLEVUE COMMUNITY DESERVES AN ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION.

Merritt Johnson: "We need something for our young people and for our seniors, a safe place for them to walk"

SO HE WON'T GIVE UP...UNTIL THESE CHAINS CAN BE UNLOCKED.

STEPHANIE SUSSKIND 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.

>>

THE PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT BEGAN CLEARING OUT THE LAKE IN APRIL 2009..

DIRECTOR RICHARD POWELL SAYS IT WOULD TAKE ABOUT ANOTHER YEAR AT THEIR CURRENT RATE.

TONIGHT..SOME CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS ASKED THE MAYOR'S OFFICE TO COME UP WITH A SECONDARY PLAN...AND LOOK INTO OTHER WORK CITY DEPARTMENTS CAN GET DONE ON THE PROJECT.

THE CITY ALSO PLANS TO SEND A LETTER TO CONGRESSMAN JIM MARSHALL AND ASK FOR HIS HELP WITH GETTING FEDERAL FUNDING.

HANCOCK COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL'S GRADUATION MAY BE CANCELED DUE TO A PRANK THAT INJURED A STAFF MEMBER.

SCHOOL SPOKESWOMAN (lang-rah) L'ANGRA WEBSTER SAYS IT HAPPENED LAST FRIDAY...WHEN SOMEONE COATED FLOORS WITH BABY OIL...AND RELEASED CRICKETS AND MICE IN THE SCHOOL.

SHE SAYS A STAFF MEMBER INJURED HER LEG WHEN SHE FELL IN THE SCHOOL.

WEBSTER SAYS ALL OUTSIDE ACTIVITES ARE CANCELED THIS WEEK.... INCLUDING AWARDS BANQUETS AND CEREMONIES.

SHE SAYS THEY'RE STILL INVESTIGATING THE PRANK....TO FIND OUT WHO'S RESPONSIBLE.

SO FAR... SHE SAYS NO STUDENTS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED.

WEBSTER SAYS THEY HOPE THE MATTER CAN BE RESOLVED... IN TIME TO HOLD THE GRADUATION WHICH IS SCHEDULED FOR 10 A-M SATURDAY..

MACON POLICE SAY A SHOOTING IN A WEST MACON NEIGHBORHOOD YESTERDAY MAY HAVE BEEN DRUG RELATED.

INVESTIGATORS SAY SOMEONE SHOT 28-YEAR-OLD TOMMY LEE DANIEL JUNIOR THROUGH HIS CAR WINDOW.

THE BIBB COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS DANIEL WAS ARRESTED TWICE BEFORE ON SEVERAL CHARGES INCLUDING AGGRAVATED ASSAULT... CRIMINAL ATTEMPT TO COMMIT ROBBERY.. AND DRUG CHARGES... AND SERVED SEVERAL YEARS IN PRISON.

POLICE LIEUTENANT CARL FLETCHER SAYS THEY'RE NOT SURE WHY DANIEL WAS IN THE AREA.

HE SAYS THEY FOUND AT LEAST ONE OUNCE OF MARIJUANA IN DANIEL'S CAR.

FLETCHER SAYS INVESTIGATORS HAVE SOLID LEADS.

Lt. Carl Fletcher, Macon Police

"And if it wasn't for the community this would be what we would call a 'who done it' but that neighborhood out there has stepped up and we appreciate it and hope they continue to step up until the bad guy is in jail."

DANIEL'S HOMICIDE IS THE SEVENTH HOMICIDE IN MACON THIS YEAR.

POLICE SAY JUST ONE OTHER.. IS STILL UNSOLVED.

A BALLARD HUDSON MIDDLE SCHOOLER FACES A BATTERY CHARGE AFTER HE ALLEGEDLY BEAT UP A BUS DRIVER.

BIBB COUNTY SCHOOL OFFICIALS SAY THE 8TH GRADER USED FOUL LANGUAGE ON THE BUS....AND BUMPED INTO THE DRIVER ON PURPOSE.

THE DRIVER THEN CALLED POLICE... AND TURNED AROUND TO GO BACK TO THE SCHOOL.

CHRIS FLOORE WITH THE SCHOOL SYSTEM SAYS.. AS THE BUS RETURNED TO BALLARD HUDSON... THE STUDENT STARTED BEATING THE DRIVER.

CAMPUS POLICE ARRESTED THE 8TH GRADER... WHO'S NOW SUSPENDED AND FACES A HEARING.

FLOORE SAYS THE DRIVER WAS TREATED FOR SOME SCRAPES AND BRUISES... BUT WAS NOT SERIOUSLY INJURED.

STATE BUDGET CUTS ADD A NEW WRINKLE TO THE WAY COUNTY TAX COMMISSIONERS ISSUE CAR TAGS.

HOUSTON COUNTY TAX COMMISSIONER MARK KUSHINKA IS ONE OF MANY IN GEORGIA WHO ARE HAVING TO ISSUE TEMPORARY TAGS BECAUSE OF THE STATE BUDGET CRUNCH.

THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SUPPLIES TAGS AND DECALS TO TAX COMMISSIONERS WHO ISSUE THEM TO DRIVERS.

BUT THE STATE ISN'T GETTING TAGS TO TAX COMMISSIONERS FAST ENOUGH.. AND THAT'S WHY TEMPORARY TAGS ARE BEING ISSUED.

KUSHINKA SAYS DEFINATIVE ANSWERS AREN'T COMING FROM REVENUE DEPARTMENT LIPS.

Mark Kushinka, Houston County Tax Commissioner: You get a lot different answers when you talk to the state. But basically, I think they're just short handed with the budget.

DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SPOKESMAN REG LANSBURY SAYS STATE WAREHOUSES SHIP TAG DELIVERIES TO THE COUNTIES.. AND THE PROBLEM IS CAUSED BY A DELAY IN GETTING DISTRIBUTION FROM THE STATE TO TAX COMMISSIONERS OFFICE.

HOUSTON COUNTY HOMEOWNERS MAY PAY LESS IN TAXES NEXT YEAR IF COMMISSIONERS APPROVE A PROPOSED BUDGET.

COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR... STEVE ENGLE SAYS PEOPLE WHO OWN A 200-THOUSAND DOLLAR HOME COULD PAY ABOUT 40 DOLLARS LESS.

ENGLE SAYS THE HALF-MILL ROLL BACK MEETS THE PROMISE THAT COMMISSIONERS MADE TO VOTERS BEFORE A 2008 REFERENDUM.

VOTERS APPROVED RAISING THE RATE BY A HALF MILL FOR ONE YEAR TO PAY FOR AN EMERGENCY WARNING SYSTEM.

ENGLE SAYS IT'S FINISHED... SO THEY'RE KEEPING THEIR WORD.

THAT'S DESPITE WHAT COMMISSION CHAIRMAN NED SANDERS CALLS A BARE BONES BUDGET... THAT'S ABOUT 9 PERCENT LESS THAN LAST YEAR AT JUST UNDER 50-MILLION DOLLARS.

Ned Sanders, Houston Commission Chair: (20:40) "The budget is trimmed down as far as we can possibly get it, still provide the constitutionally mandated services that we as a county government are responsible to provide."

THERE WILL BE A PUBLIC HEARING ABOUT THE BUDGET TUESDAY JUNE FIRST.... AND COMMISSIONERS WILL VOTE ON THE BUDGET JUNE 15TH.

THE BIBB COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD DISCUSSED POSSIBLE CUTS.

DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT RON COLLIER SAYS THE DISTRICT WILL OPERATE WITH NEARLY ELEVEN MILLION DOLLARS LESS NEXT YEAR.....THAN THIS YEAR.

AT A WORKSESSION LAST NIGHT...THEY CONSIDERED

ELIMINATING 30 TEACHING JOBS THROUGH ATTRITION.

UP TO TWELVE DAYS' FURLOUGH FOR STAFF.

AND CUTTING EACH DEPARTMENT'S SPENDING BY 20 PERCENT.

TODAY...TRANSPORTATION DIRECTOR TODD HARRIS...PROPOSED ENDING BUS RIDES FOR SOME STUDENTS WHO VOLUNTARILY ATTEND SCHOOLS OUTSIDE THEIR HOME ZONE.

HE SAYS THAT WOULD AFFECT ABOUT 725 STUDENTS AT MAGNET SCHOOLS AND HUTCHINGS CAREER CENTER...AND SAVE ABOUT 550 THOUSAND DOLLARS.

ACTING-SUPERINTENDENT SYLVIA MCGEE WILL MAKE A FINAL RECOMMENDATION TO THE BOARD... PROBABLY AT THEIR JUNE MEETING.

NISSAN SAYS IT'S PLANNING TO RECALL SOME TRUCKS AND S-U-Vs BECAUSE THEY MAY NOT RIDE SMOOTHLY.

THE COMPANY SAYS SOME MODELS COULD HAVE PROBLEMS ON A LOWER SUSPENSION CONTROL LINK THAT MAY NOT HAVE BEEN WELDED PROPERLY.

NISSAN SAYS THE PROBLEM COULD LEAD TO A ROUGH AND NOISY RIDE.

THE RECALL MAY BEGIN THIS WEEK... AND COVER SOME 2010 ARMADAS... FRONTIERS... TITANS... PATHFINDERS... XTERRAS AND INFINITI Q-X-56s.

IF YOU OWN A HOME IN BIBB COUNTY... YOU COULD BE GETTING A NEW PROPERTY VALUE THIS MONTH... AND IT MAY BE LOWER.

BILL VAUGHN.. CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF ASSESSORS... SAYS NOW THAT THEY'RE WRAPPING UP LAST YEAR'S REVALUATION... THEY'RE UPDATING ABOUT 5 THOUSAND PROPERTY VALUES FOR 2010.

HE SAYS THEY'LL MAIL OUT NEW VALUES AROUND MAY 28TH.

AND PEOPLE IN SOME NEIGHBORHOODS COULD SEE LOWER VALUES BY 5 OR 10 PERCENT... DUE TO LOWER HOME SALE PRICES.

BIBB COUNTY COMMISSIONERS ARE LOOKING FOR A WAYS TO MAKE LAKE TOBESOFKEE MORE PROFITABLE.

THE BOARD IS LOOKING AT A NEW POLICY THAT WOULD REGULATE GOVERNMENT AGENCY AND CHARITY GROUPS THAT USE THE PARK.

JENNIFER BELLAMY SHOWS YOU WHAT CHANGES THE COUNTY'S CONSIDERING.

<<

GETTING OUT IN THE SUMMER SUN BRINGS PEOPLE OUT TO BIBB COUNTY'S LAKE TOBESOFKEE EVERY YEAR....BUT DIRECTOR DOUG FURNEY SAYS SOMETIMES THE DEMAND ON THE PARK FROM SOME NON-PROFIT GROUPS CREATES A LOSS FOR THE COUNTY.

Doug Furney, Director-Lake Tobesofkee:

"They're comin in on Friday, and setting up if it's a large event. And then they're having the event on Saturday, and then they're breaking down on Sunday, They've actually tied the park up for three days."

THAT'S TWO DAYS THEY COULD HAVE RENTED AN AREA OUT TO ANOTHER GROUP....AND PART OF WHY BIBB HOPES A NEW POLICY WILL INCREASE THE PEOPLE AND MONEY FLOWING INTO THE PARK.

FURNEY SAYS THE COUNTY COULD ALLOW GOVERNMENT AND CHARITY GROUPS IN DURING THE WEEK...EXCEPT HOLIDAYS WITH NO PROBLEMS...BUT WEEKENDS ARE DIFFERENT.

Doug Furney, Director-Lake Tobesofkee:

"It's requiring us additional manpower to keep the place clean, prepare it."

FURNEY SAYS WHEN A LARGE GROUP LIKE RELAY FOR LIFE USES THE PARK...IT CAN BRING IN ABOUT 5,000 PEOPLE ....IF THEY CHARGE THE 3 DOLLAR GENERAL ADMISSION PRICE DURING THE EVENT ...THE PARK COULD TAKE IN ABOUT 15,000 DOLLARS...CREATING ANOTHER OPTION FOR TOBESOFKEE'S POLICY.

Jennifer Bellamy, Eyewitness News:

"Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen would also like to look at privatizing Lake Tobesofkee. He's like to see if it could help the recreation area the way it's helped others across the state."

Joe Allen, Bibb County Commissioner:

"They can do a lot of things and they can bring revenue into Bibb County."

TUESDAY...COMMISSIONERS DISCUSSED CHARGING VENDORS ABOUT 25 DOLLARS A DAY TO SELL APPROVED ITEMS LIKE FOOD...AND DRINKS...HOPING THAT WILL IMPROVE YOUR TRIP TO TOBESOFKEE AS WELL.

ALL THINGS THEY HOPE WILL CREATE A BETTER AND MORE PROFITABLE ATTRACTION FOR THE COUNTY.

JENNIFER BELLAMY...13WMAZ...EYEWITNESS NEWS

>>

COMMISSIONERS WILL LOOK AT LAKE TOBESOFKEE POLICIES AT THEIR NEXT MEETING.

THEY'LL ALSO LOOK AT CHANGING SOME PARK FEES .

RIGHT NOW IT COSTS YOU THREE DOLLARS A PERSON TO GET INTO THE PARK.

BUT SOME OTHER ACTIVITIES COME WITH A DIFFERENT COST.

ACCORDING TO FURNEY...EXCEPT FOR ARROWHEAD PARK....TOBESOFKEE HASN'T RAISED FEES IN ABOUT 15 YEARS.

 

WE'RE INVITING YOU TO GET INVOLVED WITH OUR GREAT HANG UP SERIES.

EVERYDAY ON EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX... WE'RE TAKING A LOOK AT CELL PHONE USE WHILE DRIVING.

TOMORROW... BOFTA YIMAM WILL INTRODUCE YOU TO A DRIVER WHO SAYS HE USES A HANDS-FREE KIT AFTER NEAR-MISSES WHILE USING HIS PHONE AND DRIVING.

WE'LL ALSO LOOK AT SOME DATA TO SEE IF HANDS FREE CALLING IMPROVES DRIVER SAFTEY.

YOU CAN SIGN A PLEDGE AGAINST DISTRACTED DRIVING.

COME OUT TO THE INGLES IN FORSYTH TOMORROW.

WE'LL BE THERE FROM FIVE UNTL 6-30.

YOU CAN ALSO GET A COPY OF THE PLEDGE ON 13-W-M-A-Z DOT COM.

LOOK FOR THE GREAT HANG UP BOX ON THE RIGHT OF OUR HOMEPAGE.

LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL FROM AROUND CENTRAL GEORGIA GOT TOGETHER THIS AFTERNOON...FOR A CRIMESTOPPERS LUNCHEON.

"whatcha gonna do when they come for you?"

THE ROTARY CLUB OF CENTERVILLE PUT ON THE EVENT TO HELP RAISE MONEY FOR THE POLICE ORGANIZATION.

DURING THE PAST NINE YEARS... POLICE HAVE RECOVERED MORE THAN 500-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN STOLEN PROPERTY AND NEARLY 140-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN DRUGS.

THEY'VE ALSO PAID OUT MORE THAN 350-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN REWARDS FOR TIPS.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.... FIRST MORNIN COMES YOUR WAY AT 5 A-M.

THE NEWS IS ALWAYS ON AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.

ON LETTERMAN TONIGHT: actor Jonah Hill

HAVE A SAFE NIGHT EVERYONE.

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