HELLO EVERYONE AND THANKS FOR JOINING US.I'M LEAH JOHNSON.. AND I'M FRANK MALLOY..THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX.
OFFICIALS SAY SOME AREAS NEAR ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE MAY NOT BE SAFE FOR PEOPLE TO LIVE.... THAT'S BECAUSE OF THE NOISE CREATED BY PLANES AND THE POTENTIAL OF CRASHES.
AS BRITTINY BARBER FOUND OUT...A PARTNERSHIP CALLED THE CENTRAL GEORGIA JOINT DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY IS WORKING TO STOP ENCROACHMENT NEAR THE BASE IN BIBB AND HOUSTON COUNTIES.
<< 72-YEAR OLD FRED WILLIAMS HAS OWNED THIS PROPERTY FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS.... AND HE'S NOT HAPPY ABOUT BEING ASKED TO SELL IT.
Fred Williams, Resident: "It puts us in a reall bad place especially when you get our age.... I don't want to but we could be forced out I don't know. I don't really know what their plans are."
HE'S NOT ALONE.
Patricia Miles, Resident: "I know a lot of people are willing to sell out... I don;t know why, but you know a lot of ours is paid for. Other people are selling theirs out to get out from under it i think."
CHIP CHERRY... PRESIDENT OF THE GREATER MACON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE GAVE AN UPDATE TO THE BIBB COUNTY COMMISSION.
THE GOAL OF THE BUYOUTS... TO PREVENT SAFETY PROBLEMS AND CONFLICTS WITH ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE.
Chip Cherry, Pres. Greater Macon Chamber, "We purchased three houses initially. We've torn those houses down. We purchased another four and we're doing a study on those."
THAT'S A SMALL DENT IN THE MORE THAN 250 PROPERTIES in the ZONE...
CHERRY SAYS THEY'RE ARE WORKING WITH HOMEOWNERS TO MAKE THE TRANSITION AS EASY AS POSSIBLE.
Chip Cherry, "We tried to be very up front and very respectful of the fact that this puts them in a difficult position."
THE PROBLEM IS FUNDING.... HE SAYS THEY'VE RAISED ABOUT 800 THOUSAND DOLLARS... BUT MOST OF THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN SPENT....
NOW THEY HAVE TO WAIT ON MORE MONEY BEFORE REACHING OUT TO OTHER HOMEOWNERS.
Britt Keene, Resident: "It's kind of put us in a pinch because we would like to sell. We would like to move. We wish they would go on and find the money and buy us out."
BRITTINY BARBER 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> CHERRY SAYS THEY HOPE TO HAVE THE PROJECT WRAPPED UP BY THE TIME NEXT ROUND OF BASE CLOSINGS ARE CHOSEN.
HE SAYS THAT COULD BE IN 2015.
BY COMPLETING THE BUYOUTS.. LOCAL OFFICIALS HOPE TO PREVENT ANY NEGATIVE MARKS AGAINST ROBINS...FOR ENCROACHMENT.
JOHN WILLIAMS WILL BE STAYING ON WARNER ROBINS CITY COUNCIL.....AT LEAST FOR THE TIME BEING.
THAT'S ACCORDING TO THE OFFICE OF GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL.
LAST WEEK...A THREE-MEMBER PANEL DISCUSSED FELONY CHARGES AGAINST WILLIAMS...FOR ALLEGEDLY MAKING A FALSE REPORT OF A STOLEN CELL PHONE.
THE PANEL SAID WILLIAMS SHOULD NOT BE SUSPENDED FROM COUNCIL...BECAUSE THE CASE DIDN'T INVOLVE HIS COUNCIL DUTIES.
DEAL WENT ALONG WITH THE PANEL'S DECISION ACCORDING TO HIS SPOKESWOMAN... STEPHANIE MAYFIELD.
THIS AFTERNOON...WILLIAMS TOLD US....."I'M ELATED...I ENJOY MY WORK AND WILL CONTINUE TO WORK FOR THE PEOPLE OF WARNER ROBINS."
HE SAYS HE CAN'T WAIT TO SETTLE THE CASE AT TRIAL...WHICH IS SCHEDULED FOR NEXT WEDNESDAY.
A 165-PAGE REPORT TARGETS BUSINESS AND HOUSING AREAS THROUGHOUT MACON FOR POSSIBLE REDEVELOPMENT.
THE PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION COMPILED THE REPORT.. WHICH IS NOW IN THE HANDS OF CITY COUNCIL'S COMMUNITY RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE.
AS RANDALL SAVAGE LEARNED.... THE REPORT PROBABLY WON'T REACH FULL COUNCIL UNTIL NEXT MONTH..
<<COUNCILMAN LARRY SCHLESINGER CHAIRS THE COMMUNITY RESOURCES AND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE.. WHICH IS LOOKING OVER THE PROPOSED REDEVELOPMENT PLAN.
AND SCHLESINGER SAYS THE CITY'S RIPE FOR REDEVELOPMENT.
15:08:47 Larry Schlesinger, Councilman: We need a lot of work in this city, and we've really got something of a mess out there, and I think the plan notes that 85 percent of the city of Macon could fall under the state of Georgia's redevelopment guidelines.
SCHLESINGER SAYS THERE'S NO PRICE TAG FOR THE PLAN SO FAR.
15:09:46 Larry Schlesinger: Councilman: I don't have a cost figure and I don't believe the mayor has a cost figure. My guess is to do the whole plan across 20 percent of the city that this plan cost would be somewhat astronomical.
BUT WITH PROPER PACKAGING.. SCHLESINGER SAYS IT COULD BE DONE.
15:10:03 Larry Schlesinger, Councilman: We're going to have to figure out a way for this to be some kind of public/private partnership.
PARTNERSHIPS ACCOMPANIED BY GOVERNMENT-INDUCED STIMULUS FOR TARGETED AREAS LIKE WESTGATE MALL.
15:11:03 Larry Schlesinger, Councilman: Westegate in particular, I think, would be designated as an enterprise zone and that would get some tax abatement in terms of property taxes, city fees as well. It would really be an incentive for somebody to move into that shopping center.
THAT WOULD PLEASE LYDIA FORD.. A WARNER ROBINS RESIDENT WHO SOMETIMES SHOPS AT WESTGATE.
14:15:37 Lydia Ford, Westgate Shopper: When I come here it's kind of quiet, and it makes me not want to come here.
BUT SHE LOVED SHOPPING WESTGATE BEFORE SEVERAL BUSINESS.. SUCH AS HOME DEPOT AND PETSMART MOVED TO PRESIDENTIAL PARKWAY.
14:59:53 Lydia Ford, Westgate Shopper: It was good. I've been here lots of time with my husband and my son.
RANDALL SAVAGE.. 13 WMAZ.. EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> SCHLESINGER EXPECTS HIS COMMITTEE TO APPROVE THE REDEVELOPMENT CONCEPT.. THEN HOLD IT UNTIL PUBLIC HEARINGS ARE HELD ON THE PROPOSAL.
ONCE DONE.. SCHLESINGER SAYS THE COMMITTEE WILL TAKE IT TO FULL COUNCIL FOR CONSIDERATION.
AND TODAY'S 13 WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS... WHAT WOULD BE THE BIGGEST CHANGE TO BOOST DEVELOPMENT IN MACON?
SO FAR 59 PERCENT OF YOU SAY LESS CRIME.
22 PERCENT SAY BETTER GOVERNMENT.
14 PERCENT OF VOTERS SAY BETTER SCHOOLS
AND 5 PERCENT SAY LOWER TAXES.
TO VOTE NOW.. VISIT OUR WEBSITE 13 WMAZ DOT COM
LOOK FOR THE WEB POLL LINK IN THE DON'T MISS BOX ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE HOMEPAGE.
MILLEDGEVILLE POLICE SAY A MAN WHO KIDNAPPED HIS EX-WIFE THIS MORNING... THEN SHOT HIMSELF... IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION AT A LOCAL HOSPITAL,
CAPTAIN DRAY SWICORD SAYS IT STARTED AROUND 5 A-M WHEN 34-YEAR-OLD KATILLYA WARREN-HALL OF SPARTA ARRIVED AT WORK AT A DIALYSIS CLINIC ON NORTH COLUMBIA STREET.
HE SAYS 41-YEAR-OLD CHARLIE STERLING HALL JR..... THREATENED HER WITH A GUN AND TOOK HER TO A CEMETERY IN HANCOCK COUNTY.
SWICORD SAID HALL SHOT HIMSELF AFTER THE COUPLE HAD A LONG ARGUMENT IN A CEMETERY.
HE SAID HE IN CRITICAL CONDITION AT THE MEDICAL CENTER OF CENTRAL GEORGIA.
HE SAID HALL IS LIKELY TO FACE KIDNAPPING AND OTHER CHARGES WHEN RELEASED.
MACON POLICE PULLED A STOLEN PICK UP TRUCK OUT OF THE OCMULGEE RIVER TODAY... AFTER A PASSERBY ON A NEARBY BRIDGE REPORTED SEEING IT UNDER WATER...
THE BLACK DODGE PICK UP TRUCK WAS STOLEN ON FEBRUARY FOURTH FROM RIDGE AVENUE..
POLICE SPOKESWOMAN JAMI GAUDET SAYS THEY'RE NOT SURE HOW IT ENDED UP IN THE RIVER NEAR THE OCMULGEE HERITAGE TRAIL OFF SPRING STREET...
THERE WAS NO ONE INSIDE THE VEHICLE WHEN THEY FOUND IT AND THEY DON'T SUSPECT FOUL PLAY...
SHE SAYS THE KEYS WERE IN THE IGNITION WHEN DIVERS FOUND THE CAR... AND THEY'RE NOT SURE WHERE IT ENTERED THE RIVER... OR HOW LONG IT WAS UNDER WATER...
YOU HAVE A LITTLE LESS THAN AN HOUR TO CAST YOUR VOTE IN A SPECIAL ELECTION TO FILL THE HOUSE DISTRICT 1-36 SEAT .
JUDYE SELLIER... ROBERT DICKEY AND SHARON HOWARD ARE HOPING TO FILL THE SEAT OF THE LATE TONY SELLIER WHO DIED IN NOVEMBER.
LOCAL BOARDS OF ELECTIONS SAY THE VOTING NUMBERS HAVE BEEN SLOW TODAY... NOTING THE RACE FOR STATE HOUSE IS NOT WIDESPREAD FOR MOST OF THE COUNTIES.
THEY ALSO SAY THE TURNOUT IS LOW... MOST LIKELY BECAUSE IT'S THE ONLY LOCAL RACE.
MOST COUNTIES REPORT LESS THAN TWO HUNDRED PEOPLE VOTING SO FAR.
HOUSE DISTRICT 136 INCLUDES CRAWFORD COUNTY AND PARTS OF BIBB... HOUSTON... LAMAR... MONROE... PEACH AND UPSON COUNTIES.
POLLS CLOSE AT 7 O'CLOCK TONIGHT.
PRESIDENT OBAMA IS CELEBRATING THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF 15 MEDAL OF FREEDOM RECIPIENTS... INCLUDING A GEORGIA CONGRESSMAN AND FORMER CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER.
CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEWIS RECEIVED THE HIGHEST AMERICAN HONOR A CIVILIAN CAN GET.
DURING THE CEREMONY.... PRESIDENT OBAMA PRAISED LEWIS' WORK AS A CIVIL RIGHTS ICON.
THE PRESIDENT SAID THIS CEREMONY IS THE ONE HE LOOKS FORWARD TO MOST EVERY YEAR BECAUSE HE GETS TO HONOR SOME OF THE WORLD'S MOST EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE.
THE HONOREES ALSO INCLUDED AUTHOR AND POET MAYA ANGELOU... FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE H-W BUSH AND INVESTOR WARREN BUFFETT.
A LITTLE MORE THAN A MONTH AFTER TAKING OFFICE... HOUSTON COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN TOMMY STALNAKER SAYS HE'S GOT A GOOD HANDLE ON THE JOB.
HE'S SETTING PRIORITIES.. AND STARTING TO BUCKLE DOWN ON BUDGETS.
LORRA LYNCH-JONES TELLS YOU WHAT HE'S WORKING ON... AND WHAT TAXPAYERS SHOULD EXPECT.
<<nats- history of commissioners
TOMMY STALNAKER HOLDS A DEEP PRIDE FOR THE HISTORY OF HOUSTON COUNTY'S COMMISSION.
BUT HE'S COMMITTED TO MAKING HIS OWN.
Tommy Stalnaker: (4:50) "Were going to put our best foot forward. I would hope at the end of four years, were going to have a number. I have not set that number yet, but a number of new industries in this county. That means were going to have to be very aggressive in going after it."
HE'S NOT REVEALING HIS BUSINESS STRATEGY YET... BUT SAYS THE COMMISSION WILL RELY ON THE HOUSTON DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY TO DRIVE IT.
Tommy Stalnaker: (4:20) "We have got to bring jobs in."
HE SAYS ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE CONTINUES TO KEEP THE TAX BASE STABLE... BUT THEY NEED MORE
STALNAKER EXPECTS NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET TO BE AT LEAST AS TIGHT AS THIS YEAR'S.
Tommy Stalnaker: "There's not going to be a lot of growth, if any."
HE SAYS DEPARTMENT HEADS HAVE MANAGED THEIR MONEY WELL... BUT BELT TIGHTENING SEEMS LIKELY FOR 2012.
HE'LL BEGIN MEETING WITH THEM THURSDAY TO TALK ABOUT POSSIBILITIES.
Tommy Stalnaker: "I'm not throwing up an alarm at this point in time. I will reiterate were in pretty good shape. Not great shape, not poor shape, but pretty good shape."
STALNAKER SAYS IT'S WHAT HE EXPECTED... BUT AFTER 38 YEARS WORKING FOR THE COUNTY.. HE CAME PREPARED.
Tommy Stalnaker: "I would be completely overwhelmed if I had not had the experience in county government. For any person, to step in to an executive role, leadership role in government, regaurdless of city government, county government, state government. If they have not had some experience in it, it would be overwhelming."
STALNAKER SAYS HE PLANS TO MEET WITH THE DEPARTMENT HEADS TWO OR THREE TIMES EACH YEAR ON THEIR BUDGET... TO CHECK SPENDING AND SET EXPECTATIONS.
IN THE PAST... HE SAYS THAT'S ONLY HAPPENED ONCE A YEAR.
ANOTHER CHANGE... THE COMMISSIONERS WILL INTERVIEW ALL CANDIDATES FOR COUNTY BOARD APPOINTMENTS... INCLUDING THOSE BEING RE-APPOINTED.
YOU CAN HEAR MORE OF HIS INTERVIEW BY GOING TO 13-WMAZ-DOT... AND FINDING THIS STORY ON OUR HOMEPAGE.
ZOO ATLANTA'S NEWEST PANDA HAS A NAME.
THE ZOO HELD ITS 100 DAY CEREMONY TODAY... AND SPECIAL GUEST JACK BLACK ANNOUNCED THE CUB'S NEW NAME.
THE GIANT PANDA WAS NAMED PO... AFTER THE STAR OF "KUNG FU PANDA."
BLACK... WHO IS THE VOICE OF PO IN THE ANIMATED MOVIE... WAS PROMOTING ITS UPCOMING SEQUEL... "KUNG FU PANDA TWO."
DREAMWORKS ANIMATION... WHICH MADE THE FILM... DONATED MONEY TO HELP THE ZOO'S PANDA CONSERVATION PROGRAM.
GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL ATTENDED TODAY'S CEREMONY.
HE POINTED OUT THAT GEORGIA WAS THE ONLY STATE IN THE U-S WHO HAD A GIANT PANDA BORN IN 2010... AND ONE OF FOUR STATES WHERE PEOPLE COULD GO SEE A GIANT PANDA.
WHILE YOU'RE SNAPPING PHOTOS... YOUR KIDS LOVE TO GET IN ON THE SHOT.
THIS IS MICHAEL... HE'S READY TO BUILD SOMETHING WITH HIS DADDY.
AND GRACE IS TELLING HER COUSIN CHLOE SOME FAMILY SECRETS... LIKE HOW TO WRAP THE GRANDPARENTS AROUND HER LITTLE FINGER.
SEND US YOUR PHOTOS...LOOK FOR *PHOTO GALLERIES* UNDER "FEATURES" IN THE MENU BAR ACROSS THE TOP OF OUR HOMEPAGE...
THANKS FOR JOINING US.... WE'LL BE BACK TONIGHT AT 11.BUT REMEMBER...THE NEWS IS ALWAYS ON AT 13WMAZ.COM !
THE EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC IS UP NEXT.
HAVE A SAFE NIGHT EVERYONE.