GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US..
I'M FRANK MALLOY..
AND I'M LEAH JOHNSON..THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT 11.
BOTH THE CITY OF MACON AND BIBB COUNTY HAVE REPORTED AN INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF METAL THEFTS AS THE PRICE OF SOME SCRAP METALS HAVE ROSE BY NEARLY 50%
THE CITY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT ARE WORKING TO PUT TOGETHER A BLACK-LIST OF SUSPICIOUS METAL SCRAPPERS... TO MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR THIEVES TO SELL STOLEN SCRAP... AS ELEANOR LISSITZYN EXPLAINS WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR QUICK... AND EASY CASH IN THE METAL SCRAPPING BUSINESS... THIEVES ARE NO LONGER JUST TARGETTING ABANDONED OR VACANT HOUSING... AND THEY'RE LEAVING BEHIND THE UNLIKLIEST OF VICTIMS...
"They're ya go baby."
AS DIRECTOR OF HEADSTART.... PAMELA BROWN SPENDS HER TIME SERVING UP HEAPING HELPINGS OF NURTURING AND SUPPORT TO TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY NINE CHILDREN ...
THE FEDERALLY FUNDED PROGRAM PROVIDES EARLY EDUCATION... CLOTHING... FOOD and more TO PRE-SCHOOLERS FROM NEEDY FAMILIES...
"It's crucial, essential in the lives of children who might not otherwise have these things."
SO WHEN COPPER THIEVES DESTROYED EIGHT OF THE BUILDING'S HEATING AND COOLING UNITS IN DECEMBER... FORCING DOZENS OF CHILDREN FROM THEIR CLASSROOMS... BROWN SAYS SHE GOT ANGRY...
"I think one of the statements I made was I want to be at that trial."
THEY PAID TO REPLACE THEM... ONLY TO HAVE THIEVES RETURN SEVERAL WEEKS LATER AND STRIP FOUR BRAND-NEW UNITS.
"It's like a big jolt in your stomach, aw man, we spent all this money and now we got to come back and do it again."
JIMMIE SAMMUEL IS THE DIRECTOR OF THE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY COUNCIL WHICH OVER SEES HEADSTART... HE SAYS IN TOTAL... THE THIEVES CAUSED ABOUT THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS IN DAMAGE... OR AS SAMMUEL PUTS IT... ENOUGH TO HIRE ANOTHER TEACHER... FURNISH TWO CLASS ROOMS WITH TECHNOLOGY AND SUPPLIES... OR FEED ALL THE CHILDREN AT THE CENTER FOR TWO MONTHS...
"It makes you angry, big time."
"It actually takes money away from the children."
SAMMUEL AND BROWN SAY ONE OF THE BIGGEST FRUSTRATIONS IS THE SUSPICION THAT THE THIEVES... ARE MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY THEY'RE TRYING TO SERVE... AND BROWN SAYS SHE HAS A MESSAGE FOR THEM...
"Most of these children are probably your relatives... or children in your community.... know that it does directly affect them when acts like this are committed."
THEY'VE PAID TO BEEF UP SECURITY AT THE BUILDING...
BUT BROWN SAYS THE EXPERIENCE HAS TAUGHT HER ... A DETERMINED CRIMINAL IS TOUGH TO DETER.
STDBIBB COUNTY REPORTED A TWO HUNDRED PERCENT INCREASE IN METAL THEFT IN 2010... MACON POLICE DIDN'T PROVIDE THAT SPECIFIC STATISTIC...
BROWN SAYS SOME OF THE CLASSROOMS WERE HIT BY METAL THIEVES AS MANY AS FOUR TIMES.
NOW SHE SAYS THE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND LOCAL POLICE HAVE INCREASED PATROLS IN THE AREA TO TRY TO KEEP THIEVES AWAY...
NAGGING BOILER PROBLEMS CAUSED THE RAMADA PLAZA TO SHUT DOWN AGAIN FOR THE SECOND TIME IN TWO WEEKS.
MONICA SMITH... PRESIDENT OF THE CONVENTIONS AND VISITORS BUREAU SAYS.....THIS TIME IT COULD BE CLOSED SEVERAL WEEKS INSTEAD OF A DAY.
RANDALL SAVAGE HAS MORE.
<<5:58"09 I was coming in on a shuttle bus. I was like no rooms available. I was like uhhh. Everything is like really booked. Everybody's coming to the film festival, and I got to the door and it doesn't open.
THAT'S MARCO VELEZ.. A NEW YORK BUSINESSMAN.. WHO ARRIVED IN MACON TO FIND HIS HOTEL RESERVATIONS VOID... BECAUSE THE DOWNTOWN RAMADA PLAZA WAS SHUT DOWN.
3:48:23 Marco Velez, Macon Visitor: There's no rooms available and stuff like that. But I made reservations weeks ago.
VELEZ IS IN TOWN TO ATTEND THIS WEEK'S MACON FILM FESTIVAL..
ACCORDING TO CONVENTIONS AND VISITORS BUREAU PRESIDENT MONICA SMITH.. THE HOTEL'S BOILER PROBLEMS SURFACED AGAIN.. CLOSING THE HOTEL.. AND LEAVING VISITORS WITHOUT ROOMS.
SMITH SAYS HER VISITORS BUREAU IS HELPING.
8:58:12 Monica Smith, Conventions & Visitors Bureau: We have been in contact with some of the convention groups that are scheduled there already to try to relocate them to other Macon hotels. Our goal obviously is to have as manny of them as possible stay in Macon as opposed to going somewhere else.
SMITH DISCUSSED THE SITUATION WITH THE RAMADA'S MANAGEMENT.
7:12:25 Monica Smith, Conventions and Visitors Bureau: I have been in touch with the general manager of the property, and he has advised me that as of Monday they closed the doors to the hotel again due to issues with the boiler and hot water.
AND SHE SAYS THOSE ISSUES WILL TAKE SEVERAL WEEKS TO FIX.
7:35:17 Monica Smith, Conventions and Visitors Bureau: They have indicated that the system needs to be replaced and cannot be repaired, and he is working with the owners and the other partners of the hotel to resolve the matter as soon as possible.
RANDALL SAVAGE.. 13 WMAZ.. EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> LAST YEAR... G-S-D HOSPITALITY GROUP HOLDINGS... WHICH IS A GROUP OF FLORIDA DOCTORS BOUGHT THE RAMADA FOR ABOUT TWO MILLION DOLLARS.
THEY DID NOT RETURN OUR PHONE CALLS.
A GROUP OF BIBB COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE GEARING UP FOR THE PEACHTREE REGIONAL ROBOTICS COMPETITION... WHICH IS JUST WEEKS AWAY...
STUDENTS ON TEAM ROBO BIBB MET AT HOWARD HIGH SCHOOL TO PUT THE FINAL TOUCHES ON THEIR COMPETITION ROBOT BEFORE HEADING TO ATLANTA SATURDAY TO TEST IT AGAINST COMPETITORS.
THE ROBOT'S MAIN TASK IS TO LIFT A SERIES OF INFLATABLE GAME PIECES AND MOUNT THEM ON PEGS ON A WALL...
THE GROUP OF ABOUT THIRTY STUDENTS... MOSTLY FROM HOWARD HIGH SCHOOL... SPLIT IN TO TEAMS OF ENGINEERS... SOFTWARE CREATORS... AND MECHANICS TO GET THE ROBOT COMPLETED.
THE REGIONAL COMPETITION ISN'T UNTIL MARCH SEVENTEETH... BUT VETERAN TEAM MEMBER BRANDAN SIMMONS SAYS THERE'S NO TIME TO WASTE.
Brandan Simmons: "Actually it's crunch time, I think we're going to get there. Were in the right time, we're putting in a lot of work. It has to be shipped actually next Tuesday so, I think we're going to get it done."
THE ROBOT WILL BE BOXED UP AND SENT TO THE REGIONAL COMPETITION WHERE OTHER STUDENTS FROM THE STATE WILL COMPETE TO WIN THE REGIONAL TITLE.
NEARLY FIFTY YEARS AGO DURING A TIME OF RACIAL SEGREGATION... MERCER UNIVERSITY SENT ITS FIRST ACCEPTANCE LETTER TO A BLACK STUDENT.
AS A COLLEGE FRESHMAN... SAM ONI LEFT HIS HOME IN PRESENT DAY GHANA... AND STARTED SCHOOL IN A TIME WHEN HE RECEIVED JAIL THREATS AND NAME CALLING ON A NEAR EVERDAY BASIS.
AND WHEN MERCER BASKETBALL STAR... DON BAXTER... AGREED TO BE ONI'S ROOMMATE... HE SAYS... IT WAS LIKE LIVING LIFE IN ONI'S SHOES.
BAXTER SAYS HE STOOD BY HIS ROOMMATES SIDE WHEN THEY WERE ASKED TO LEAVE RESTAURANTS AND STORES... AND HE SAYS... THE EXPERIENCE CHANGED HIS LIFE.
AND AS MERCER'S FIRST BLACK STUDENT... AND VINEVILLE BAPTIST CHURCHS' FIRST BLACK MEMBER... ONI SAYS HE HOPES TODAY'S STUDENTS LEARN FROM THE PAST.
Sam Oni, Ghana: "Be the change you want to see in the world. And change will happen in the area of race relations, in the area of political affiliations, and so on and so forth. And perhaps the world might begin to change for the better for all of us."
THE FORMER ROOMMATES SPOKE AT MERCER UNIVERSITY TODAY AS PART OF THE SCHOOL'S FOUNDERS' DAY.
AFTER GRADUATING FROM MERCER... SAM ONI ATTENDED UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA... BERKELEY... AND RECEIVED HIS M-A IN JOURNALISM.
DOCTOR DONALD BAXTER RECEIVED HIS M-D FROM THE MEDICAL COLLEGE OF GEORGIA IN 19-69... AND WORKS AS A DOCTOR OF SPORTS MEDICINE... HE'S WORKED ON COUNTLESS ATHLETES AND OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL RECIPIENTS.
GEORGIA LAWMAKERS COULD SOON EXPAND ANTI-BULLYING LAWS TO INCLUDE MORE TYPES OF ELECTRONIC MEDIA.
NEW LEGISLATION WOULD PROHIBIT STUDENTS FROM BULLYING USING EMAIL AND TEXT MESSAGES ON SCHOOL PROPERTY.
IT WOULD MAKE BULLYING ILLEGAL AT BUS STOPS AND AT SCHOOL FUNCTIONS.
THE BILL WOULD ALSO MAKE IT ILLEGAL FOR STUDENTS TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA SITES TO BULLY OTHER STUDENTS... SCHOOL STAFF... AND AFFECT THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.
IN JONES COUNTY... CLIFTON RIDGE MIDDLE SCHOOL COUNSELOR KIM LANFORD SAYS.... SOMETIMES STUDENT CONFLICTS TRACE BACK TO TEXT MESSAGES... OR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES.
SHE SAYS NEW LAWS COULD HELP STOP SOME OF THE BULLYING.
Kim Lanford: "So it comes here, so I'm glad to know that they're recognizing that as a form of bullying that needs to be addressed at the school level."
THE BILL IS EXPECTED TO BE FILED IN THE STATE HOUSE THIS WEEK.
TODAY'S 13 WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS... IS CYBERBULLYING A PROBLEM IN YOUR LOCAL SCHOOLS?
SO FAR 51 PERCENT OF YOU SAY NO.
AND 49 PERCENT OF YOU SAY YES
VOTE NOW.. LOOK FOR THE LINK TO THE WEB POLL ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF OUR HOMEPAGE INSIDE OF THE DON'T MISS BOX.
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MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND STUDENTS ARRIVED AT THE GEORGIA NATIONAL FAIRGROUNDS TODAY...
THEY'RE KICKING OFF THE 21ST GEORGIA NATIONAL JUNIOR LIVESTOCK SHOW.
STUDENTS FROM ALL OVER THE STATE WILL COMPETE FOR THE COVETED GRAND CHAMPION TITLE.
THE DAY WAS FILLED WITH WASHING.. GROOMING AND PREPPING FOR THE BIG SHOWS.
BUT THESE KIDS HAVE WORKED FOR MONTHS TO MAKE IT TO THIS LEVEL.
Camille Sellers:Moultre "It's taught me how to be really responsible and what I need to do to make my cattle be the best they can be and have them presented to the top of my ability."
Luke Aldridge: Brantley County: "You have to feed the everyday make sure they have plenty of water make sure they have a place to sleep. Keep them fenced in so they can't run off."
THE LIVESTOCK SHOW RUNS THROUGH SUNDAY.
FOR A FULL SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES.... GO TO OUR WEBSITE 13WMAZ-DOT-COM.
LOOK FOR THIS STORY ON OUR HOMEPAGE.