Wednesday, February 2, Eyewitness News at 6

11:28 PM, Feb 2, 2011   |    comments
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 HELLO EVERYONE AND THANKS FOR JOINING US.I'M LORRA LYNCH-JONES.
 AND I'M FRANK MALLOY..THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX.


     A MACON CITY AUDIT SAYS MISSPENDING IN ONE DEPARTMENT... PUT THE CITY ONE MILLION DOLLARS IN THE HOLE.
TONIGHT WE HAVE NEW INFORMATION... ON THAT AUDIT OF HOW MACON CITY GOVERNMENT SPENDS ITS TAX DOLLARS.
     LAST WEEK...WE TOLD YOU THE CITY GOT A CLEAN AUDIT FOR 2010....BECAUSE IT ACCURATELY REPORTED HOW THE MONEY WAS SPENT. 
     AND THAT'S TRUE. 
     BUT TODAY ELEANOR LISSITZYN GOT A LOOK AT SOME NEW DOCUMENTS THAT AREN'T PART OF THE AUDIT POSTED ONLINE.
     THEY INCLUDE THE CITY'S ECONOMIC AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT...WHICH REPORTEDLY MISPENT MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLRS IN FEDERAL GRANTS.
IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SPENT ON BUILDING OR BUYING NEW AFFORDABLE HOUSING.
INSTEAD...THE AUDIT SAYS...THE CITY USED IT TO MAINTAIN HOUSING IT ALREADY OWNED.
THEY MISSPENT A HALF-MILLION DOLLARS IN FISCAL 2009...AND MORE THAN HALF-MILLION....LAST YEAR.
AND NOW...THEY'VE GOT TO PAY IT BACK.
CITY SPOKESMAN ANDREW BLASCOVICH SAYS HE'S NOT PREPARED TO COMMENT... AND HE'LL LOOK INTO THE MATTER.
WE'LL HAVE MORE ON THIS STORY TONIGHT ON EYEWITNESS NEWS AT 11.


BONES FOUND ON A PLEASANT HILL STREET LAST DECEMBER HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED AS THE REMAINS OF A MISSING MACON WOMAN.
THAT'S ACCORDING TO BIBB COUNTY CORONOR LEON JONES.
JONES SAYS THE BONES... THAT WERE DISCOVERED BY A MAN WALKING HIS DOG IN EARLY DECEMBER... BELONGED TO 45-YEAR-OLD HILDA LOUISE COLLINS.
  THE BONES... INCLUDING A SKULL... WERE FIRST IDENTIFIED THROUGH JEWELRY THAT DEPUTIES FOUND NEARBY.
COLLINS' MOTHER... HARRIET TAYLOR... SAYS THE DESCRIPTION SHE GAVE POLICE... OF HER DAUGHTER'S JEWELRY... MATCHED WHAT POLICE FOUND.
TODAY A  D-N-A TEST CAME BACK SHOWING THAT THE BONES BELONGED TO HER DAUGHTER. 
Harriett Taylor, Macon: "Just for them to confirm that, 'Miss Taylor, that was your child we found,' It hurt. I just don't know what to do, but pray." TAYLOR SAYS HER DAUGHTER HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE NOVEMBER FIRST... AND SHE FILED A MISSING PERSON'S REPORT ON DECEMBER 6TH.
45-YEAR-OLD COLLINS WAS A WIDOW... AND HAS FOUR CHILDREN. 


GEORGIA VOTERS COULD SOON DECIDE WHETHER THEY WANT TO BUY ALCOHOL ON SUNDAYS.
THE PROPOSAL IS HEADED TO THE SENATE FLOOR... AFTER IT BREEZED THROUGH A COMMITTEE TODAY.  
BOFTA YIMAM SPOKE TO A WARNER ROBINS PASTOR... WHO SAYS HE'LL FIGHT THE MOVE... AT BOTH THE STATE AND LOCAL LEVEL.
NATS "Wine is a mocker intoxicating drink arouses brawling"


WARNER ROBINS' PASTOR MAX PATTERSON CALLS SUNDAY ALCOHOL SALES IN STORES... AN INSULT TO THE LORD'S DAY AND THE CITY'S INTEGRITY.


Patterson,
"Here is where that conviction of standards, of morals, of behavior and the things that are traditional to be kept in place."


THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH INTERIM PASTOR SAYS SUNDAY IS GOD'S DAY...AND MUST BE RESPECTED.  WITH THE CITY'S BEST INTEREST IN MIND... THE 72-YEAR-OLD SAYS HE PLANS TO FIGHT THE EFFORT.   


NATS "We will provide transportation to our senior citizens."


THE PASTOR SAYS HE UNDERSTANDS ASKING PEOPLE TO VOTE "NO"... IS A TALL ORDER...  BUT PLANS TO GIVE IT A SHOT ANYWAYS.


Bofta Yimam
"Georgia is one of only three states that won't allow stores to sell alcohol on Sundays.  Former Governor Sonny Perdue opposed Sunday sales and vowed to veto any law passed in the legislature approving the measure.


THE BILL'S SUPPORTER SAY THE ISSUE IS NOT A MORAL ONE... BUT A QUESTION OF ECONOMIC FAIRNESS... COMPETITION AND COMMON SENSE.  PATTERSON ADMITS SUNDAY SALES COULD BOOST REVENUE... BUT SAYS ITS NOT WORTH THE PRICE.


Patterson
"to save a life or save an accident."


PLUS... HE SAYS THE INTERNATIONAL CITY HOLDS A STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE AND SHOULD CONTINUE TO SET AN EXAMPLE.


Patterson,
"It is possible that people standup for what they think is right."


THE PASTOR SAYS HE PLANS TO SOON PREACH ABOUT THE TOPIC.  MEANWHILE... HE ASKS THE LEGISLATURE TO POUR SOME FAITH INTO THEIR DECISION.


"People that are thinking about it pray about it."


BOFTA YIMAM 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS 
THE PROPOSAL WOULD LET VOTERS DECIDE IN LOCAL REFERENDUMS WHETHER THEY WANT SUNDAY ALCOHOL SALES BETWEEN 12-30 P-M AND 11-30 P-M.
IF APPROVED... THE ISSUE COULD BE BEFORE VOTERS... AS SOON AS THIS FALL. 


     TODAY'S 13WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS... SHOULD GEORGIA RETAIL STORES BE ALLOWED TO SELL ALCOHOL ON SUNDAYS?
     SO FAR 58 PERCENT OF YOU SAY YES.
     AND 42 PERCENT OF YOU SAY NO.
     YOU HAVE UNTIL MIDNIGHT TO VOTE.
     LOOK FOR THE WEB POLL QUESTION ON THE BOTTOM RIGHT SIDE OF OUR HOMEPAGE.


     A FUNERAL SERVICE IS NOW SCHEDULED FOR LONGTME BIBB COUNTY LEADER ALBERT BILLINSLEA.
    HIS FUNERAL WILL BE HELD SATURDAY AT NOON.. AT THE MACON CITY AUDITORIUM....ON FIRST STREET.
     THAT'S ACCORDING TO HIS DAUGHTER... PAULA.
     BILLINGSLEA DIED SUNDAY AT THE AGE OF 82. 
     HE IS A FORMER COUNTY COMMISSIONER... PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION AND WATER AUTHORITY MEMBER... AND A CIVIL RIGHTS ACTVIST AND BUSINESSMAN.


  THE DOWNTOWN MACON RAMADA INN TEMPORARILY CLOSED IT'S DOORS.. APPARENTLY BECAUSE OF A FAULTY BOILER ROOM.
  GENERAL MANAGER SHAM K. CHHABRIA SAYS THE HOTEL CAN'T SUPPLY HOT WATER TO THE ROOMS UNTIL THE BOILER IS FIXED.
  AND AS CHHABRIA TOLD OUR RANDALL SAVAGE.. HE DOESN'T KNOW WHEN IT'LL BE REPAIRED.
<<RAMADA GENERAL MANAGER SHAM K. CHHABRIA SAYS THE HOTEL'S BOILER CONKED OUT TUESDAY NIGHT.. AND WILL BE FIXED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. BUT HE ISN'T SURE WHEN.
  12:47:48 Sham K. Chhabria, Ramada General Manager:I don't know. Maybe take two days. Maybe take week. Or maybe take month. I don't know.
  THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR ROBERT HOLDEN.. WHO RESERVED SPACE AT THE RAMADA FOR AN AMERICAN CAMELLIA SOCIETY MEETING.
  12:58:10 Robert Harden, Cameilla Society: Beginning Wednesday the evening of Feb. 23, we're having our winter national convention here in Macon, Ga., which is the historical home of the American Cameilla Society.
  HARDEN SAYS HE CHOOSE THE 300-ROOM RAMADA BECAUSE OF ITS LOCATION.
  12:58:49 Robert Harden, Cameilla Society: So we entered into a formal contractural relationship with them for sleeping accommodations, for meeting rooms and for receptions and banquets.
  HARDEN SAYS HE'LL MAKE OTHER ARRANGEMENTS.
  12:59:35 Robert Hardin, Cameilla Society: We are. We really have no confidence at this point that the Ramada will be able to accommodate our group in three short weeks.
  HARDEN ISN'T THE ONLY DISAPPOINTED PERSON. TRACY MILLER SWUNG BY THE RAMADA FOR LUNCH.
  12:45:57 Tracy Miller, Macon: They said the restaurant is closed for the day.
  BUT PRIVATE BUSINESSES THAT RENT SPACE AT RAMADA REMAIN.. TRACEY BALTHROP'S QUALITY TAX SERVICE IS ONE OF THEM.
  12:52:48 Tracey Balthorpe, Quality Tax Service: We're not allowed to know anything. But there's a sign outside that says the hotel is renovating. But they assured me that this side that I'm own is the business side and Quality Tax Service will stay open.
  RANDALL SAVAGE.. 13 WMAZ.. EYEWITNESS NEWS.  
>> THE 16-STORY RAMADA WAS BUILT IN 1969...AND IT'S HAD SEVERAL OWNERS...AND SEVERAL NAMES...IN THE PAST DECADE.
   LAST JUNE.... A GROUP OF FLORIDA DOCTORS BOUGHT THE RAMADA FOR JUST OVER TWO MILLION DOLLARS.
 THEY DID NOT RETURN OUR PHONE CALLS TODAY.


   AS YOU KNOW....SOME HEAVY WINDS BLEW THROUGH PARTS OF CENTRAL GEORGIA LAST NIGHT...AT THEY LEFT A MESS AT ONE HOUSTON COUNTY HOME.
   KAREN PUTNAM SENT US THIS PHOTO OF THE DAMAGE LEFT BEHIND WHEN THE GUSTS BLEW DOWN THEIR CARPORT.
   THEY LIVE ON WHITFIELD ROAD...NEAR ELKO.
   HER CAR...AND HER HUSBANDS...ARE TRAPPED UNDERNEATH...AND PROBABLY TOTALED.
   AND KAREN SAYS NOTHING GETS FIXED UNTIL THE INSURANCE ADJUSTERS ARRIVE...AND THAT MAY NOT BE UNTIL FRIDAY.
   IF YOU'RE RECEIVING OFFERS IN THE MAIL TO PURCHASE IDENTITY THEFT PROTECTION... SHERRI GOSS WITH ROSENBERG FINANCIAL IS HERE WITH SOME ADVICE FOR YOU.
     SHERRI... WE HEAR THE ADS AND IT SOUNDS LIKE IDENTITY THEFT IS A BIG PROBLEM... BUT WHAT DO THE NUMBERS LOOK LIKE?
 
Sherri:  According to the Consumer Sentinel Network, which receives complaints from the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Burear, and a number of other agencies, of the 1.3 million complaints they received last year, identity theft was on top, with 21% of the complaints.
 
Of these complaints, the top ones involved credit card fraud, government benefit fraud, phone or utility fraud, and employment fraud.  When companies promote the sale of an identity theft product, they use the total number of cases to make the point.  But, if you look at the number, many of those complaints do not impact the consumer.
 
Let's look at the top category, credit card fraud.  The people that are being hit hardest by this are retailers.  If someone steals my credit card info and buys a bunch of stuff online, and the retailer ships it.  Once it's sold and shipped they have no recourse unless they can track down the person who used the stolen card.  Me, however, as the consumer, can just say I didn't make that purchase and I'm off the hook.
 
People need to know that, according to the BBB, 68% of persons who experienced identity theft had no out-of-pocket expense, and almost half of all identity theft is done by friends and relatives who steal your information and apply for credit cards, or sign up for government benefits or utility service using your info.
 
You can do a number of things to avoid identity theft on your own, at no cost.  You can look at your credit reports each year, which is free.  You can carefully review bank and credit card statements each month.  You can keep your personal information safe, and only shop online using secure websites and a credit card.  You can also, for a small fee, freeze your credit and the instructions on how to do this will be posted on the 13 WMAZ website.


     IT'S GROUNDHOG DAY... AND GEORGIA'S FAMED GROUNDHOG GENERAL BEAUREGARD LEE... IS PREDICTING AN EARLY SPRING.
     EARLY THIS MORNING... HE DIDN'T SEE HIS SHADOW WHEN HE BRAVED SOGGY 44-DEGREE WEATHER AT HIS HOME IN LILBURN.
      HIS PENNSYLVANIA COUNTERPART... PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL... ALSO PREDICTED AN EARLY SPRING.
      WE ASKED OUR FACEBOOK FANS WHAT THEY THOUGHT ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF SPRING COMING EARLY THIS YEAR.
     JAZMIN MOLINA WROTE... "NOT READY! THE COLD DOES NOT LAST LONG ENOUGH IN GEORGIA."
      AMANDA BRANNON COMMENTED... "LET IT SNOW ONE MORE TIME... THEN THE WEATHER CAN DO WHATEVER IT WANTS TO DO!"
JANICE JOINER SAYS... "HOPE IT COMES SOON BUT NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO THE POLLEN IT BRINGS."
     AND CHERYL DORSEY-HOLLAND WROTE..."I WAS READY THE DAY WE GOT THE SLEET AND ICE. BRING IT ON!
     JOIN US ON FACEBOOK AND GET INTO THE CONVERSATION.
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