Monday, February 28, Eyewitness News at 6

9:38 PM, Feb 28, 2011   |    comments
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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.


    PARTS OF CENTRAL GEORGIA ARE UNDER A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH AS A LINE OF STORMS MOVES INTO WEST GEORGIA.
     THAT LINE *COULD* BRING HIGH WINDS... LARGE HAIL AND ISOLATED TORNADOES.
 FOR THE LATEST ON THE FORECAST.. WE JOIN CHIEF METEOROLOGIST BEN JONES IN THE WEATHER CENTER.
The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Baldwin, Bibb, Crawford, Hancock, Johnson, Jones, Monroe, Putnam, Taylor, Twiggs, Washington and Wilkinson counties until 10 p.m.


 A line of showers and thunderstorms will be moving across the Southeast late this afternoon into tonight and could bring severe weather to Central Georgia.
While the strongest storms are forecast to remain in North Georgia, Tennessee, and Northern Alabama, there is a small possibility that some severe thunderstorms could make it into Central Georgia.
Because of this threat, the Storm Prediction Center has placed all of Central Georgia under a 'slight risk' for severe thunderstorms. The biggest threat from these storms are damaging straight line winds, but large hail and isolated tornadoes will also be possible.
   THANKS BEN.. WE'LL TALK WITH YOU AGAIN IN JUST A FEW MINUTES.


     A LONG RUNNING CENTRAL GEORGIA BORDER WAR RAGES ON.
BUT THIS ONE'S BEING FOUGHT BY LAWYERS...IN AN ATLANTA COURTROOM.
    BRITTINY BARBER WENT TO ATLANTA TODAY TO LISTEN IN ON THE LATEST IN THE MONROE-BIBB BORDER DISPUTE..
     TOMORROW...BIBB COUNTY IS EXPECTED TO BRING EXPERT WITNESSES SUPPORTING THEIR SIDE OF THE LINE DISPUTE - THEN MONROE COUNTY WILL PRESENT ITS CASE.


       WHILE THEY ARGUED THAT CASE WITH MONROE COUNTY TODAY....BIBB COUNTY OFFICIALS SETTLED ANOTHER ISSUE....THEIR SERVICE DELIVERY STRATEGY.
       THAT'S THE PLAN THAT OUTLINES HOW MUCH THE CITY AND COUNTY EACH PAY TO FUND LOCAL SERVICES.
MACON MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT ANNOUNCED TODAY THE CITY AND COUNTY HAVE A TENTATIVE DEAL. 
ELEANOR LISSITZYN HAS MORE.
IN ATLANTA...BIBB COUNTY CHAIRMAN SAM HART SAID HE UNDERSTOOD THAT THEY HAD WORKED OUT A DEAL WITH THE CITY...BUT HE WASN'T SURE OF THE DETAILS.
HE REFERRED QUESTIONS TO COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR STEVE LAYSON...WHO COULD NOT BE REACHED FOR COMMENT.


GEORGIA'S NEWEST PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER SAYS HE'S PLEASED WITH THE ENVIRONMENTAL UPGRADES AT THE STATE'S LARGEST COAL-FIRED PLANT.
COMMISSIONER TIM ECHOLS MET WITH MANAGERS AT PLANT SCHERER IN MONROE COUNTY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BUSINESS HE REGULATES.
HE REDEIVED AN UPDATE ON THE PLANT'S NEW POLLUTANT FILTERS.
GEORGIA POWER SAYS ONCE COMPLETE... THEY'LL REMOVE 95 PERCENT OF THE SULFUR DIOXIDE... 60 PERCENT OF NITROUS OXIDES... AND 80 PERCENT OF THE MERCURY RELEASED INTO THE ENVIRONMENT.
ECHOLS SAYS WHILE COAL IS NOT *ALTERNATIVE ENERGY*... THE FUEL SOURCE CAN BE MUCH CLEANER THAN IT WAS DECADES AGO.
Echols "I think people think about the old plants that don't have any of the environmental protections on them, but Georgia Power is moving their plants away from that."
GEORGIA POWER SAYS THE UPGRADES WILL COST ABOUT 2 POINT 8 BILLION DOLLARS.
IN 2007... A GROUP CALLED THE ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY PROJECT RANKED PLANT SCHERER AS THE 39TH WORST IN THE COUNTRY.
THE PLANT WAS THE LARGEST SINGLE EMITTER OF CARBON DIOXIDE AMONG THE NATION'S COAL-FIRED PLANTS.
IT WAS THE SECOND WORST EMITTER OF MERCURY. 


A MACON MUSICAL LEGEND DIED AFTER HIS CAR COLLIDED WITH A GREYHOUND BUS IN FLORIDA.
ACCORDING TO THE FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL...  IT HAPPENED YESTERDAY.
88-YEAR-OLD EDDIE KIRKLAND WAS DRIVING ALONG HIGHWAY 98 WHEN HE TRIED TO MAKE A U-TURN AT AN INTERSECTION AND COLLIDED WITH THE BUS. 
KIKRLAND LATER DIED AT A HOSPITAL. 
   pause 3 sec for nats
THIS IS KIRKLAND PERFORMING IN 2009.
           KIRKLAND WAS A BLUES GUITAR LEGEND WHO PERFORMED WITH GREATS LIKE OTIS REDDING AND LITTLE RICHARD... AND RECORDED MORE THAN A DOZEN ALBUMS ON HIS OWN.
      HE WAS BORN IN JAMAICA AND RAISED IN ALABAMA.... BUT MADE HIS HOME IN MACON FOR SEVERAL DECADES.


IS WARNER ROBINS THE NEW MACON?
YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD THE TERM "ROBINS REGION" USED MOSTLY IN REFERENCE TO THE AREA SURROUNDING ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE.
BUT THE NAME IS QUICKLY REACHING ACROSS COUNTY LINES... WITH MORE PEOPLE USING IT TO DEFINE MUCH OF CENTRAL GEORGIA.
VANESSA RUFFES EXPLORES WHAT THAT HAS TO DO WITH THE COUNTY'S RAPID GROWTH... AND THE PREDICTION IT MAY SOON BE THE FOCAL POINT OF CENTRAL GEORGIA.<<
NATS, blowing up balloons


WITH EACH HOLIDAY... KIM WENDLER'S PARTY SUPPLY STORE IS BUSTLING...


NATS


IT'S BEEN TEN YEARS SINCE SHE OPENED UP SHOP ON WATSON BOULEVARD... AND SHE SAYS SHE'S SEEN WARNER ROBINS COME ALIVE... RIGHT OUTSIDE HER WINDOW.


Wendler "Houston Lake this way was nothing but peach fields. And we just keep expanding."


NOW HOTELS... RESTAURANTS AND SHOPS CROWD MAJOR THOROUGHFARES... 


WENDLER SAYS IT'S CLEAR HOUSTON COUNTY'S POPULATION HAS SKYROCKETED... AND THERE ARE NO SIGNS OF STOPPING.


(GFX)
ACCORDING TO THE U-S CENSUS... IN 2000... HOUSTON COUNTY'S POPULATION WAS JUST LESS THAN 111 THOUSAND -- ABOUT THIRTY PERCENT SMALLER THAN BIBB COUNTY'S POPULATION OF NEARLY 154 THOUSAND.


FLASH FORWARD NINE YEARS... AND THE NUMBERS SHOW BIBB GROWING BY ABOUT 2 THOUSAND PEOPLE... WHILE HOUSTON GREW MORE THAN TEN TIMES FASTER... WELCOMING NEARLY 25 THOUSAND NEW RESIDENTS.


Wendler "People who don't live here, who don't live in Houston County, or even Bibb County know where Warner Robins is at now."


CITY AND COUNTY OFFICIALS SAY MANY FACTORS HAVE PUT THE INTERNATIONAL CITY ON THE INTERNATIONAL MAP...
TO NAME A FEW... ITS CHAMPIONSHIP LITTLE LEAGUE TEAMS... SEVERAL INDEPENDENT RANKINGS AS THE BEST PLACE TO RAISE A FAMILY OR BUY A HOME... AND OF COURSE ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE.


NATS


ED RODRIGUEZ WITH THE ROBINS REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SAYS THEY CHANGED THEIR NAME LAST YEAR FROM THE WARNER ROBINS AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE -- FORGING A NEW IDENTITY IN RESPONSE TO THE AREA'S EMERGING IDENTITY AS "THE ROBINS REGION."


Rodriguez "I'm not sure where it all came from, but I think it's just gone viral."


HE SAYS THE NAME HAS BEEN AROUND FOR YEARS... AND FOR DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS IT HAS DIFFERENT MEANINGS AND GEOGRAPHIC BOUNDARIES... BUT HE SAYS THE CHAMBER USES THE TERM TO ENCOMPASS ALL ITS MEMBERS... IN HOUSTON... PEACH... AND BIBB COUNTIES.


Standup "The Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce says the search for a regional brand took about two years and was actually a class project for a group of students at Georgia College and State University."


RODRIGUEZ SAYS THE STUDENTS SURVEYED PEOPLE THROUGHOUT CENTRAL GEORGIA... AND CAME UP WITH SEVERAL BRANDS BASED ON PEOPLE'S RESPONSES ABOUT WHERE THEY LIVED. 


EVENTUALLY... HE SAYS THEY LANDED ON A NAME THAT WAS BASE-ORIENTED.


(Off cam) "Would you consider Macon part of the Robins Region?"
Rodriguez "Sure. And they would consider us part of the greater Macon area."


... TO WHICH HOUSTON COUNTY IS QUICKLY CATCHING UP... BASED ON CURRENT TRENDS...
MANY BELIEVE HOUSTON WILL SOON SURPASS BIBB IN POPULATION AND FAME.


Rodriguez "Two years ago when the Warner Robins girls were in the World Series, the ESPN commentator said Warner Robins is about 200 miles west of Atlanta... I think the last time they said we were a suburb of Macon -- we still have to get them straight on that."


Wendler "We're not twenty minutes south of Macon anymore."


ON THE CONTRARY... WITH THE BALLOONING GROWTH... WENDLER AND OTHERS SAY IT'S NOT HARD IMAGINING THE DAY WHEN PEOPLE SAY MACON... IS A CITY JUST NORTH OF WARNER ROBINS.
VANESSA RUFFES 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> RODRIGUEZ SAYS THE TWO BIGGEST FACTORS PEOPLE SAY BRING THEM TO HOUSTON COUNTY ARE THE SCHOOL SYSTEM... AND THE LOW CRIME RATE.
F-B-I STATISTICS SHOW HOUSTON COUNTY'S CRIME IS ABOUT HALF THAT OF BIBB. THE LATEST CENSUS NUMBERS FROM 2009 SHOW HOUSTON IS ABOUT 20 THOUSAND PEOPLE SHY OF BIBB COUNTY'S POPULATION OF156 THOUSAND.
THE NUMBERS FOR 2010 WILL BE RELEASED BEFORE APRIL 1ST.


     TODAY'S 13WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS... WHICH CITY IS MOST IMPORTANT TO CENTRAL GEORGIA?
     SO FAR 85 PERCENT OF YOU SAY WARNER ROBINS.
     AND 15 PERCENT OF YOU SAY MACON.
     VOTE RIGHT NOW... LOOK FOR THE LINK TO THE QUESTION IN THE "DON'T MISS" BOX ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF OUR HOMEPAGE.


TONIGHT ON EYEWITNESS NEWS AT ELEVEN...
Amy Aubert, Eyewitness News: "One local barber in Milledgeville says he's been cutting hair since he was 20 years old. I'm Amy Aubert and coming up, I'll tell you why he says in the past 54 years, he's seen a lot of interesting people come through his doors."
      AMY AUBERT IS HEADING DOWN TO BALDWIN COUNTY TO BRING YOU THE STORY OF THE MAN WHO SAYS HE'S CUT FOUR GENERATIONS OF HAIR.


       THE CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL IS LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY... AND ORGANIZERS ARE ALREADY GEARING UP TO GREET THE ANNUAL CROWD OF VISITORS.
     TODAY... THE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCED THE OPENING OF THEIR NEW CHERRY BLOSSOM GIFT SHOP AT 567 CHERRY STREET.
     THE STORE WILL SELL ALL OF THE 2011 CHERRY BLOSSOM MERCHANDISE.
     FESTIVAL PRESIDENT AND C-E-O KAREN (JER-DAN) JORDAN LAMBERT SAYS SHOP OPENING CAME JUST IN TIME... AS CENTRAL GEORGIANS GET READY FOR THE PINKEST PARTY ON EARTH. 
Karen Jordan-Lambert, Presodent of Cherry Blossom "We have all the merchandise out so that you can come by ahead of festival time and be prepared and get your t-shirts, and get all of your fun pink and really get into the spirit and celebrate the festival"
     LAMBERT SAYS WEDNESDAY IS THE DEADLINE FOR REGISTERING TO TAKE PART IN THIS YEAR'S CHERRY BLOSSOM PARADE ON MARCH 20TH.
     THE FESTIVAL RUNS FROM MARCH 18TH THROUGH THE 27TH.












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