Monday, February 28, Eyewitness News at 11

9:39 PM, Feb 28, 2011   |    comments
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GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US..
I'M LEAH JOHNSON..
  AND I'M FRANK MALLOY..THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT 11.


    THE THREAT OF STRONG STORMS ROLLING ACROSS CENTRAL GEORGIA NEVER MATERIALIZED TONIGHT..
   WE JOIN CHIEF METEOROLOGIST BEN JONES IN THE WEATHER CENTER FOR A LOOK AT WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT.
   THANKS BEN.. WE'LL TALK WITH YOU AGAIN IN JUST A FEW MINUTES.


STATE HEARINGS THAT COULD DETERMINE THE DISPUTED MONROE/BIBB COUNTY LINE BEGAN TODAY IN ATLANTA.
SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE JOHN SHERRILL HEARD OPENING STATEMENTS FROM LAWYERS REPRESENTING BOTH COUNTIES.
THE ARGUMENT IS BASED ON A 2009 LAND SURVEY BY TERRY SCARBOROUGH WHO WAS HIRED BY BOTH COUNTIES.
HIS FINDINGS WOULD MOVE THE COUNTY LINE - SOMETHING BIBB COUNTY LEADERS ARE FIGHTING. 
Bibb Chairman Sam Hart: "It's not where the survey line is, but we do simply need to know to put an end to this so this is something that's been lingering out there for over 100 years.
Monroe Chairman James Vaughn: "Administrative Judge will make a recommendation to the Secretary of state on whether TErry Scarboroughs survey established the proper line or not .
Brittiny Barber and you guys are contending that it does right?
James Vaugh: "We believe Terry Scarborough got it right."  
THE HEARING WILL RESUME TOMORROW MORNING AT 8:30..
IT IS EXPECTED TO WRAP UP ON WEDNESDAY.. 
       JUDGE SHERRILL WILL THEN MAKE A RECOMENDATION TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE.. 


BIBB COUNTY OFFICIALS ALSO MADE PROGRESS ON 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 THAT THE CITY AND COUNTY HAVE REACHED WHAT HE CALLED A 'JOINT RECOMMENDATION'. 
BUT AS ELEANOR LISSITZYN EXPLAINS... JUST BECAUSE THEY'VE COMPROMISED... DOESN'T MEAN THEY'RE HAPPY.
ON THE DAY OF THE DEADLINE FOR NEGOTIATIONS... MACON MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT ANNOUNCED THAT THE CITY AND BIBB COUNTY REACHED AN AGREEMENT ON HOW TO TAX RESIDENTS FOR PUBLIC SERVICES.


Reichert: "While we didn't get everything we asked for I'm confident it will make local government more efficient."


HE SAYS THE DETAILS WON'T BE RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC UNTIL NEXT WEEK.
MACON CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT MIRIAM PARIS SAYS COUNCIL HASN'T SEEN THE FINAL AGREEMENT... BUT SAYS IT'S NOT A WIN FOR THE CITY.


MP"It's not the best day, it's not what I was wishing for."


PARIS SAYS SHE REALIZES A COMPROMISE MEANS GIVE AND TAKE... BUT THERE ARE SOME THINGS SHE HOPES THE CITY DIDN'T GIVE UP ON.


MP"I personally was wishing for a complete eradication of the double taxation as well as some cold cash."


Stand up: The city maintained throughout negotiations that its citizens were being double taxed, by paying county taxes that went toward services city resident's don't receive such as the sheriff's office. Paris says city residents' money shouldn't go to the sheriff's office... because deputies don't patrol the city. The Carl Vinson Institute conducted a study to examine the tax structure and Paris says the results were instrumental in negotiations.


MP"Weve always said that the citizens of the city have been double taxed, the tax equity study certainly showed the gravity of that."


RR"I think it facilitated in large measure the comprimise."


REICHERT SAYS HE'S HAPPY TO HAVE A PLAN TO MOVE FORWARD WITH... BUT HE SAYS NEITHER THE CITY OR THE COUNTY IS HAPPY WITH THE RESULTS...


"As a practicing attorney I learned when both parties leave the table a little bit unhappy, that's probably a sign of a pretty good comprimise."


REICHERT SAYS THE AGREEMENT WON'T BE FINAL UNTIL BOTH THE COUNTY COMMISSION AND CITY COUNCIL HAVE APPROVED IT.
STD
     THE STATE WILL ALSO HAVE TO APPROVE THE AGREEMENT.
     REICHERT SAYS HE PLANS TO ASK CITY COUNCIL FOR ONE MORE EXTENTION...FOR ENOUGH TIME TO GET THE FINAL PLAN APPROVED BY COUNCIL AND THE COUNTY BEFORE SUBMITTING IT TO THE STATE.
     13WMAZ TRIED TO REACH COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR STEVE LAYSON FOR COMMENT ON THE AGREEMENT... HE COULD NOT BE REACHED.


     YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD THE TERM "ROBINS REGION"
     IT WAS ONCE USED TO DESCRIBE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY SURROUNDING ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE.
     NOW... IT'S QUICKLY REACHING ACROSS COUNTY LINES.
     TONIGHT ON EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX... VANESSA RUFFES TOOK A LOOK AT WHY THAT HAS SOME PEOPLE PREDICTING THAT HOUSTON COUNTY IS BECOMING THE BIG NAME IN CENTRAL GEORGIA.
     YOU CAN FIND HER FULL REPORT AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.
     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.


A MACON MUSICAL LEGEND DIED AFTER HIS CAR COLLIDED WITH A GREYHOUND BUS IN FLORIDA.
THE FLORIDA HIGHWAY PATROL SAYS IT HAPPENED SUNDAY..
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. 
WE TALKED WITH ONE OF KIRKLAND'S FRIENDS AND HIS DAUGHTER ABOUT THE LOSS.
Gary Montgomery sorts through the belongings of his dear friend. Guitars, speakers and other items he says music legend Eddie Kirkland was carrying while driving through Florida Sunday. 
He says Kirkland was full of talent and loved to share his music.


SOT: He's won every major blues award that's been out there. He's traveled nationally and internationally.


           this is kirkland performing in 2009.
           he 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. His daughter says she has fond memories of her dad when he would come home after a music road trip.


SOT: Whenever my dad would come home he would always try to get us to sing. He would say, I know you guys can sing cause you got my blood.


Montgomery says he likes to remember how kind Kirkland was to everyone.


SOT: He loved all people. He treated all people the same. He would walk a mile if he had to to give someone an autograph. He was one of the kindest and wisest guy I knew.


   a tough loss for the music world and his family -especially his children..


SOT: We're really going to miss our dad and it's a tragedy to us. We so used to him being on the road but we're used to him coming back so now we've got to deal with him not coming back at all.  It's going to be hard for us but I've got to try to stay stay strong for my mom. It's going to be hard but I know I can do it.
      KIRKLAND WAS BORN IN JAMAICA AND RAISED IN ALABAMA.... BUT MADE HIS HOME IN MACON FOR SEVERAL DECADES.


GEORGIA'S NEWEST PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER SAYS HE'S PLEASED WITH THE ENVIRONMENTAL UPGRADES GOING ON AT THE STATE'S LARGEST COAL-FIRED PLANT.
TIM ECHOLS TOOK A TOUR OF PLANT SCHERER IN MONROE COUNTY THIS MORNING.
VANESSA RUFFES WAS THERE AS ECHOLS GOT AN UPDATE ON THE PLANT'S EFFORTS TO RUN CLEANER.
<<
NATS


AT GEORGIA POWER'S PLANT SCHERER... COAL HEATS WATER TO POWER MORE THAN 800 THOUSAND HOMES AT ONCE.


MONDAY... PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER TIM ECHOLS MET WITH PLANT MANAGERS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BUSINESS HE REGULATES.


NATS


Echols "I want to see where we're getting our energy and how the environmental controls look on these plants and the progress we're making."


SO FAR... ECHOLS SAYS HE'S IMPRESSED WITH THE PROGRESS AT ONE OF THE NATION'S LARGEST COAL-FIRED PLANTS...
YEARS AGO... PLANT SCHERER WAS LABELED ONE OF THE NATION'S "DIRTIEST" POWER PLANTS BY ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS.
PLANT MAINTENANCE MANAGER JERRY GRISSOM SAYS THEY'RE ABOUT TWO YEARS INTO THE PROJECT OF INSTALLING POLLUTANT FILTERS ON THEIR COAL-BURNING UNITS.


Grissom "It's the right thing to go ahead to and put them on either due to regulations that exist now or pending legislation that's out there."


ECHOLS... WHO SUPPORTS USING MORE ALTERNATIVE ENERGY... SAYS HE'S AWARE COAL DOES NOT FIT INTO THAT CATEGORY... BUT HE'S LEARNING THE FUEL SOURCE CAN BE MUCH CLEANER THAN IT WAS DECADES AGO.


Echols "It is an American resource so I like that. So we need to continue to urge Georgia Power to use more solar, and they are working on that."


GEORGIA POWER SAYS IT WILL COST ABOUT 2 POINT 8 BILLION DOLLARS TO INSTALL ALL THE POLLUTANT FILTERS... BUT 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 LEARNING ABOUT THE LATEST IN COAL-BURNING TECHNOLOGY... HAS PUT HIM MORE AT EASE WITH THE PROCESS.


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."


VANESSA RUFFES 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> IN 2007... A GROUP CALLED THE ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY PROJECT RANKED PLANT SCHERER 39TH WORST IN THE COUNTRY.


IF YOU ASK BOBBY MERCER... MOST OF THE TOWN'S GOSSIP... HAPPENS WHILE SITTING IN A BARBER'S CHAIR.
AS AMY AUBERT SHOWS YOU... AFTER CUTTING HAIR IN DOWNTOWN MILLEDGEVILLE FOR FIFTY FOUR YEARS... MERCER SAYS HE'S SEEN IT ALL.....
<<
Nats


BOBBY MERCER SAYS... IN HIS BARBER SHOP... ONE THING HASN'T CHANGED SINCE THE '60'S.


Bobby Mercer: "We got a lot of bullshooters that come in here. In the mornin's, every mornin' this place will fill up with a bunch of guys that we could solve all the world's problems."


Nats barber chair talk


Bobby Mercer: "I've cut four generations of hair, same family."


THE SEVENTY-FIVE YEAR OLD FIRST CLIPPED HAIR... WHEN HE WAS TWENTY.


Nats


Bobby Mercer: "It was real good in the begining, and the hippie era came along--we called it the barber drought."


HE SAYS... HE GREW UP ON WILKINSON STREET... JUST FOUR BLOCKS FROM THE SHOP.....AND WATCHED THE TIMES CHANGE... THROUGH HIS BARBER COMB.


Bobby Mercer: "I've seen Model 8 Fords all the way up to space ships."


HE'S LIVED IN MILLEDGEVILLE HIS WHOLE LIFE... AND SAYS HE KNOWS THE TOWN... LIKE THE BACK OF HIS HAND.


Bobby Mercer: "I know who all the bad guys are, you move somewhere else, you gotta learn the hard way."


BUT ON MAY SECOND 19-53... WHEN ONE OF THE MOST NOTORIOUS MURDERS OF THE TIME... HIT MILLEDGEVILLE... A SEVENTEEN YEAR OLD MERCER... SAYS... HE WAS CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE. 


Bobby Mercer: "I heard a shot, bam, boom, bam, bam, bam."


HE SAYS HE WORKED AT THE DOWNTOWN THEATRE AS A TICKET TAKER... AND GREETED MARION STEMBRIDGE... A LOCAL GROCERY CLERK... AS HE CAME IN...NOT KNOWING HE WAS ON A MURDEROUS RAMPAGE... KILLING TWO LAWYERS.
HE SAYS... THE THEATRE SITS BELOW MARION ENNIS' LAW OFFICE... STEMBRIDGE'S FIRST VICTIM.


Bobby Mercer: "I was face-to-face with him, like that, and he had dropped the pistol, and he picked it up and turned and ran to the Sanford building."


THAT'S WHEN... HE SAYS... STEMBRIDGE RAN TO PETE BIVINS' OFFICE... KILLING HIM... AND FINALLY... HIMSELF.
BUT HE SAYS.... THROUGH THE EYES OF A BARBER... WITH DEEP ROOTS IN THE CITY... IT'S JUST ANOTHER DISCUSSION FOR THE BARBER CHAIR.


Bobby Mercer: "If we could take this barber shop and move it over to Washington, we could solve all the problems."


Nats


AMY AUBERT... 13 WMAZ.... EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> MERCER SAYS HE RETIRED TEN YEARS AGO... BUT STILL OPENS HIS BARBER SHOP ABOUT FOUR DAYS A WEEK.


       IT'S TIME TO FEATURE ONE OF OUR FACEBOOK FANS AS THE FAN OF THE DAY.
    ....TONIGHT'S WINNER... CAROL GIDNEY.
     CONGRATULATIONS...  YOUR 13WMAZ MUG IS IN THE MAIL.
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      VISIT FACEBOOK DOT COM SLASH 13WMAZ AND CLICK THE "LIKE" BUTTON TO BECOME A FAN.
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