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'A way to slow down those calls': Macon-Bibb food marts required to close overnight starting in July

Commissioner Bill Howell says commissioners saw statistics about when and where crimes happen in Macon.

MACON, Ga. — In just a few weeks, Macon food and vice marts will be required to change up their hours.

It comes after three deaths in the last couple months at a Houston Avenue food mart. Last week, Macon-Bibb commissioners approved the new ordinance, which would close food marts between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. 

They say the main focus is to limit crime.

"You'd be amazed how much of it is around vice marts," Commissioner Bill Howell said.

According to the county, vice marts are convenience stores that sell inexpensive grab-and-go food, lottery products and gifts. Food marts sell a mix of food and non-alcohol items. 

Some Macon-Bibb leaders think Macon's crime may have something to do with vice marts and food marts.

"We all looked at some statistics and numbers concerning when a lot of the crime, especially the violent crime's been going on in Macon," Howell said.

Howell was one of the sponsors for the ordinance, along with Mayor Lester Miller, Commissioners Valerie Wynn, Raymond Wilder, Virgil Watkins, Seth Clark, Paul Bronson and Mallory Jones. 

Howell says limiting the hours may help take some pressure off the sheriff's office, since they're still understaffed.

"Our deputies are overworked. They answer a lot of calls. Maybe this is a way to slow down those calls," Howell said.

Gas stations are not affected by the ordinance, even if the signage reads, 'Food Mart.' Grocery stores, discount stores and pharmacies are also not affected.

The ordinance will go into effect in July, according to the ordinance. It should be around July 21.

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