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HELLO EVERYONE AND THANKS FOR JOINING US.I'M LEAH JOHNSON.. AND I'M FRANK MALLOY..THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX.


LAURENS COUNTY HOPES TO RAISE 53 MILLION DOLLARS OVER SIX YEARS WITH A PROPOSED SPECIAL PURPOSE LOCAL OPTION SALES TAX.
THE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR SAYS THE TAX IS ALREADY IN PLACE... BUT IF IT'S APPROVED... IT'LL CONTINUE FOR ANOTHER SIX YEARS.
VOTERS WILL DECIDE NEXT MONTH
BRITTINY BARBER HAS MORE.
<<
THE ISSUE OF SPECIAL OPTION SALES TAX COME BEFORE LAURENS COUNTY VOTERS IN MARCH...
COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR.. BRYAN ROGERS SAYS IF PASSED THE NEW SPLOST WOULD BEGIN IN JULY OF 20-12....
BUT THE COUNTY HAS ALREADY HAD THE TAX IN PLACE SINCE 2006...
Bryan Rogers: "It's just a continuation not an increase. It is just a continuation for the existing sales tax and I believe right now 150 of the 159 counties in Ga have the same tax."
Brittiny Barber 13WMAZ: "The tax would fund things like upgrades here at Laurens County Sheriff's Office, but the needs just start there."
IT WOULD ALSO COVER IMPROVEMENTS TO SOME OF THE COUNTIES 12 HUNDRED MILES OF ROADS... BRIDGE AND DRAINAGE WORK.....AND HELP PAY OFF DEBTS FOR IMPROVEMENTS AT THE COURTHOUSE AND ADMINISTRATIVE BUILDING...
ROGERS SAYS MOST IMPORTANTLY THE TAX WILL FUND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
Bryan Rogers, "Jobs are the life-blood of our community and we're bound and determined we're going to attract more and more industry."
PEOPLE IN LAURENS COUNTY HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT EXTENDING THE TAX.
Pat Graham, Minter : "I think I'd rather have another 1% sales tax so that it's more fair across the board than to see an increase, another increase in our property taxes."
Carl Hanson, Eat Dublin: "I want to know where all of our tax is going now that we can't already take care of that."
BUT IT'S CRITICAL THE SPLOST PASSES... ACCORDING TO ROGERS...
Bryan Rogers: "It's imperative we continue with  this splost to continue to be able to maintain the level of service in our county that we have right now 
BRITTINY BARBER 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> EARLY VOTING STARTED MONDAY AND RUNS THROUGH FRIDAY MARCH 11TH.
THE SPECIAL SPLOST ELECTION IS ON MARCH 15TH.


MONTHS AFTER ANNOUNCING THE PROGRAM IS IN JEOPARDY... GEORGIA LAWMAKERS AND GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL MAY HAVE REACHED AN AGREEMENT ON HOW TO CHANGE THE STATE'S HOPE SCHOLARSHIP.
NEXT WEEK... THE STATE COULD ANNOUNCE CHANGES LIKE 
CAPPING AWARDS SO THEY NO LONGER RISE WITH TUITION...
CUTTING FUNDING FOR BOOKS AND FEES
AND NOT PAYING FOR MORE THAN FOUR YEARS OF FULL TIME STUDY AND REMEDIAL COURSES.
STATE LOTTERY FUNDS SUPPORT THE SCHOLARSHIPS AND MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR STUDENTS ACROSS THE STATE TO ATTEND COLLEGE.
AT GEORGIA COLLEGE AND STATE UNIVERSITY IN MILLEDGEVILLE... 35 HUNDRED UNDERGRADUATES... INCLUDING FRESHMAN MARY COLLINS... GET HOPE.
Mary Collins: "People that are using hope are a lot of people who don't have money to pay for school to begin with, if they're taking full time classes they don't have time to have a job that pays for the amount of tuition they're going to have to put in."
GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL IS EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE CHANGES TO THE HOPE SCHOLARSHIP TUESDAY.


     TODAY'S 13WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS... WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT THE HOPE SCHOLARSHIP?
     SO FAR 34 PERCENT OF YOU SAY A CAP ON PAYMENTS.
     32 PERCENT SAY HIGHER GRADE REQUIREMENTS TO QUALIFY.
     AND 34 PERCENT OF YOU SAY INCOME LIMITS ON WHO CAN RECEIVE IT.
     VOTE NOW... VISIT 13WMAZ DOT COM AND LOOK FOR THE QUESTION IN THE "DON'T MISS" BOX ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE PAGE.


A BRUSH FIRE IN TWIGGS COUNTY SHUT DOWN AN EXIT RAMP OFF I-16 THIS AFTERNOON...
TWIGGS COUNTY FIRE OFFICALS SAY THE FIRE HAPPENED WHEN A CONTROLLED-BURN GOT OUT OF CONTROL... TWIGGS COUNTY DISTRICT FIRE CHIEF ANDY THOMPSON SAYS WITH THE BEAUTIFUL WEATHER AND THE DRY CONDITIONS... THEY WERE PREPARED FOR TODAY'S FIRE... DRY BRUSH AND WIND PUSHED THE FLAMES ACROSS AN I-16 EXIT RAMP AND THEN OVER THE INTERSTATE... THOMPSON SAYS IT GOT WITHIN THREE HUNDRED YARDS OF SOME HOMES BEFORE THEY GOT IT UNDER CONTROL... THOMPSON SAYS WITH THE WARM WEATHER HE HE DOESN'T EXPECT PEOPLE TO STOP DOING CONTROLLED-BURNS... BUT HE DOES HAVE SOME ADVICE...Make sure you always call Georgia Forestry or your local fire department and notify them that way if something does happen we know exactly where to go when it gets out and can call 911."THE BIBB COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT AND GEORGIA FORESTRY HELPED TWIGGS COUNTY FIRE FIGHTERS FLIGHT THE BLAZE FOR ABOUT TWO HOURS... THE EXIT 18 RAMP OFF I-16 WEST REOPENED AT ABOUT 5 PM.


DOWNTOWN FOLKS HOPING TO JUMP ONBOARD ONE OF NEWTOWN MACON'S POPULAR TROLLEYS TONIGHT... MAY BE WAITING A BIT LONGER.
THAT'S BECAUSE... ONE OF THE TROLLEYS... MISS MOLLY IS OUT OF SERVICE AFTER IT'S ENGINE CAUGHT FIRE EARLY THIS MORNING.
AMY AUBERT SPOKE WITH THE DRIVER... AND TELLS YOU WHY HE SAYS... AFTER MAKING IT THROUGH THE BLAZE... HE'S IN ROUTE TO GET BEHIND THE WHEEL AGAIN.
<<
Melvin Hughes, Jr., Macon: "In just minutes, it was just, 'Phew!' It happened real fast."


MELVIN HUGHES IS NO STRANGER TO BEING BEHIND THE WHEEL.
BUT AFTER 31 YEARS OF DRIVING COMPANY VEHICLES... HE'S NEVER SEEN ONE... LIKE THIS.


Melvin Hughes: "I looked in my rearview mirror and I seen flames commin' up."


HE SAYS... HE'S BEEN DRIVING NEWTOWN MACONS' MISS MOLLY... FOR SEVEN MONTHS... SO WHEN THE REAR OF THE TROLLEY FILLED WITH SMOKE... HE COULDN'T BELIEVE IT.


Melvin Hughes: "It's really shocking, I wasn't expecting anything like that, not a fire anyway."


THE trolley's REAR ENGINE  CAUGHT FIRE AROUND 3 A-M FRIDAY... ONLY MINUTES AFTER HUGHES SAYS... HE DROPPED OFF his LAST PASSENGERS AT MERCER.


Melvin Hughes: "It was real lucky, that's the main thing, no passengers on the trolley at that time."


HE SAYS... HE PULLED OVER ON STADIUM DRIVE... AND GOT OUT JUST BEFORE THE ENTIRE BACK END... BURST INTO FLAMES.


HAL BASKIN IS THE DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS AND REAL ESTATE WITH NEWTOWN MACON... AND HE SAYS... MISS MOLLY... AND HER SISTER TROLLEY... SWEET MELISSA... BOTH RUN ON WEEKEND NIGHTS... BUT WITH JUST ONE LEFT... HE'S SEARCHING ALL OPTIONS... TO KEEP THE TROLLEY BUSINESS AFLOAT.


Hal Baskin, Director: "It'll be a challenge to cover as much as we possibly can and continue to have this service going in Macon."


HE SAYS... BECAUSE OF THE DAMAGE... MISS MOLLY... WON'T BE ROLLING THROUGH THE STREETS OF MACON... AGAIN.


Melvin Hughes: "It was kinda scary, it was scary."


AMY AUBERT.. 13 WMAZ... EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> BASKIN SAYS... THEY HAD PLANS TO USE BOTH TROLLEYS THIS EVENING... AND THEY'RE STILL WORKING ON AN ALTERNATE PLAN TO TRANSPORT DOWNTOWN TROLLEY PATRONS.
HE SAYS... THEY HOPE TO HAVE TWO TROLLEYS ROLLING THROUGH MACON SOON.
MISS MOLLY HAS BEEN IN SERVICE FOR FIVE YEARS.


     WE ALWAYS WANT TO HEAR WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT OUR STORIES.
     BUT THE NEW LAYOUT OF 13WMAZ DOT COM MAY HAVE SOME OF YOU WONDERING WHAT HAPPENED TO THE STORY COMMENTS.
    YOU STILL HAVE THE ABILITY TO SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE STORIES WE POST... YOU JUST HAVE TO TAKE AN EXTRA STEP. 
    HERE'S WHAT YOU DO...
     JUST LOG ONTO 13WMAZ DOT COM... AND CLICK ON ANY STORY YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT.
      AT THE TOP *OR* BOTTOM OF THE STORY... CLICK ON THE LINK THAT SAYS "COMMENTS."
      THEN... YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR COMMENT... AND SHARE WHAT YOU SAID WITH YOUR FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER SO THEY CAN JOIN THE DISCUSSION AS WELL.


IT SOUNDS LIKE WE'RE HEADED INTO SOME GREAT WEATHER THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND... SO YOU MAY BE LOOKING TO GET OUTDOORS.
IF YOU'RE PLANNING A DINNER OUT... YOU MAY WANT TO SEE HOW YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS DID WHEN THE HEALTH INSPECTOR STOPPED BY.
AMY AUBERT JOINS US WITH THIS WEEK'S RESTAURANT RATINGS.
WE'RE BACK IN BIBB COUNTY THIS WEEK...STARTING WITH OUR LOWEST SCORES FIRST....
HONG KONG EXPRESS... ON NORTH AVENUE IN MACON...  SCORED A 73... THAT'S A C... AFTER GETTING AN 89 OR A B... LAST TIME.
THE INSPECTOR SAYS UTENSILS AND OTHER EQUIPMENT WERE NOT PROPERLY STORED.
HE ALSO SAYS... SOME OF THE COUNTER SURFACES WERE NOT CLEAN.
CARLYLE PLACE ON ZEBULON ROAD IN MACON... GOT AN 86... A "B"... AFTER SCORING A 96... OR AN "A"... ON ITS LAST INSPECTION.
ACCORDING TO THE INSPECTIONS REPORT... EMPLOYEES DID NOT USE PROPER THAWING METHODS FOR THE FOOD... AND THERE WASN'T ADEQUATE WATER TEMPERATURE AND PRESSURE.
DAIRY QUEEN ON LOG CABIN DRIVE IN MACON GOT A 91... THAT'S AN "A"... COMING AFTER A PERFECT 100... LAST TIME.
THE INSPECTOR SAYS... FOOD WASN'T BEING HELD AT THE PROPER TEMPERATURE.
NOW FOR A LOOK AT THIS WEEK'S TOP SCORES...
CHEN'S WOK ON GRAY HIGHWAY IN MACON... SERVED UP A PERFECT SCORE... AFTER ANOTHER 100 LAST TIME.
OLE TIMES COUNTRY BUFFET ON GRAY HIGHWAY IN MACON... GOT A 100 PERCENT... THEY GOT THE SAME SCORE... LAST TIME... AS WELL.
THE DAWG HOUSE BAR AND GRILL ON SHURLING DRIVE IN MACON ALSO WHIPPED UP A PERFECT SCORE... AFTER ANOTHER ONE HUNDRED LAST TIME.
ALL OF THOSE 100'S ARE A'S.
JOIN US AGAIN TONIGHT AS WE AVERAGE OUR NOMINEES PAST FIVE SCORES TO GIVE YOU THIS WEEK'S GOLDEN SPATULA WINNER....FRANK...LEAH?
FOR ALL YOUR BIBB AND HOUSTON COUNTY RESTAURANT RATINGS... GO TO OUR WEBSITE 13WMAZ DOT COM.
CLICK ON THE NEWS TAB.. THEN LOOK FOR FEATURES... THEN CLICK ON THE RESTAURANT RATINGS LINK.


     TOMORROW... PEOPLE IN MILLEDGEVILLE WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO CHAT WITH THEIR CONGRESSMAN.
      JOHN BARROW WILL ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS AT DIGITAL BRIDGES.
      THAT'S JUST ONE STORY YOU'LL FIND ON THE MILLEDGEVILLE PAGE OF THE "WHERE YOU LIVE" SECTION AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.
       BARROW WILL BE AT DIGITAL BRIDGES ON WEST HANCOCK STREET BETWEEN ONE AND 2 P-M.
       THE EVENT IS PART OF "CONGRESS ON THE CORNER"... AND OFFERS A CHANCE TO VISIT ONE-ON-ONE AND DISCUSS ISSUES WITH BARROW.
        FOR MORE INFORMATION... CALL THE CONGRESSMAN'S OFFICE AT 1-866-890-6236.
        AGAIN... 1-866-890-6236.
        FOR MORE INFORMATION ON EVENTS AND HEADLINES IN YOUR AREA... VISIT THE WHERE YOU LIVE PAGES AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.


NORM RICHARDS WELCOMED VISITORS TO THE WARNER ROBINS MUSEUM OF AVIATION FOR THE PAST 22 YEARS... SERVING MORE THAN 5-THOUSAND HOURS.
BUT AS LORRA LYNCH-JONES TELLS YOU... TODAY THE VOLUNTEER AND VETERAN... MADE HIS EXIT... RETIRING FROM DUTY.
<<nats- musuem 
ARTIFACTS OF AIR FORCE HISTORY DECORATE EVERY CORNER OF THE MUSUEM OF AVIATION...
nats- 
VISTORS SEE THE PLANES AND PLAQUES.... BUT MANY DON'T RELIAZE... THERE'S A MAN THAT'S LIVED THE LEGENDS.. IN THEIR MIDST.
Richard Surrency: (11:20) "You see history sitting there, that is why I love this place, young men like that."
SECURITY VOLUNTEER RICHARD SURRENCY IS TALKING ABOUT NORM RICHARDS... A FLIGHT NAVIGATOR ON B-52'S.. IN-FACT THIS B-52... THE ONE THAT LOOMS OUTSIDE THE MUSEUM'S ENTRANCE... IMPRESSING MORE THAN 600-THOUSAND VISITORS A YEAR.
Norm Richards: (21:00) "I don't do anything special. I'm just me."
RICHARDS WON'T GIVE HIMSELF ANY PATS ON THE BACK FOR HIS SERVICE....
Norm Richards: (22:10) "That's not my nature."
BUT HIS FELLOW RED VESTED VOLUNTEERS... SAYS HE CERTAINLY EARNED THE ATTENTION.
George Smith (10:05) "I say, he's a good man."
HE FLEW 72-HUNDRED FLIGHT HOURS IN THE SERVICE... THEN RETIRED... VOLUNTEERING 5-THOUSAND HERE...
nats- pointing to planes
HE WELCOMED GUESTS... AND ANSWERED QUESTIONS... FOR 22 YEARS... THE LAST FEW FROM HIS WHEEL CHAIR.
nats- (8:05) "See, I'm getting old. I'm 80 years old."
HE SAYS IT'S TIME TO MOVE CLOSER TO FAMILY.... AND LEAVE THIS FAMILIAR LANDSCAPE BEHIND. 
Norm Richards "I miss the people. I miss the environment. I miss everything about it."
RICHARDS WILL BE BE MISSED TOO...
Stephanie: "You're leaving me! I am going to miss you!"
A CONSTANT STREAM OF PEOPLE COME TO TELL HIM GOODBYE... KNOWING WHEN HE LEAVES.. A LIFETIME OF MILITARY HISTORY... GOES WITH HIM.
nats-
STD>> RICHARDS HUNG UP HIS RED VEST AT FIVE THIS AFTERNOON.
HE'S MOVING TO LEESBURG, VIRGINIA.. AND SAYS HE PLANS TO ASK IF THE NEAR-BY AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM NEEDS ANY VOLUNTEERS.




























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