Tuesday, March 1, Eyewitness News at 6

9:40 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.

DESPITE TRAFFIC PROBLEMS... PARKING SHORTAGES... AND SKY-ROCKETING GAS PRICES... ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE SAYS IT WASN'T GETTING ENOUGH RIDERS ON ITS ON-BASE BUS SYSTEM.
THAT'S WHY IT'LL COME TO AN END ON THURSDAY.
THE ROUND ROBINS EXPRESS IS GONE...
BUT AS VANESSA RUFFES EXPLAINS... THE BASE ISN'T GIVING UP ON MASS TRANSIT.
<<
NATS

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE SAYS IT'S STRUGGLING TO PRY THE CAR KEYS FROM EMPLOYEES' HANDS.

JOHN PUGH WITH MISSION SUPPORT SAYS THURSDAY... THE FREE ROUND ROBINS EXPRESS WILL STOP FERRYING WORKERS AROUND THE BASE... BECAUSE TOO FEW SHOWED INTEREST IN RIDING.

IN NOVEMBER... THE BASE LAUNCHED ROUND ROBINS ALONGSIDE THE BIRD SHUTTLE -- THE MACON TRANSIT AUTHORITY-OPERATED ROUTE FROM MACON TO THE BASE.
THE TWO SYSTEMS WERE MEANT TO COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER IN ROBINS' MISSION TO EASE TRAFFIC... MAXED-OUT PARKING... AND AIR QUALITY.

Standup "Pugh says while Round Robins is going away, they're going to refocus their efforts into the BIRD shuttle."

THE MACON TRANSIT AUTHORITY SAYS ABOUT 40 TO 50 PEOPLE RIDE BIRD EVERY DAY... A SUBSTANTIAL JUMP FROM WHAT IT PULLED THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF SERVICE...
BUT... M-T-A SAYS IT'S STILL ABOUT ONE FOURTH THE RIDERSHIP NEEDED TO BREAK EVEN.

PUGH SAYS SCRAPPING ROUND ROBINS WILL LET THEM FOCUS MORE ON BIRD.
HE SAYS THEY NOW OFFER BUS PASSES ON BASE...
AND THERE ARE PLANS TO ADD MORE ROUTES THAT FEED INTO BIRD'S TO BOOST RIDERSHIP.
THE PLAN.. HE SAYS... IS EASING THE TRANSITION TO MASS TRANSIT...

Pugh "It's important even if you go five miles, if you can share a ride with somebody, take a taxi, take a vanpool, it's highly worth the while."

THE HARDEST PART... HE SAYS... IS CONVINCING PEOPLE IT'S WORTH GIVING UP THE KEYS.
VANESSA RUFFES 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> PUGH SAYS THEY'VE MOVED THE HIGH OCCUPANCY VEHICLE ENTRANCE FROM GATE 12 TO GATE 15 -- WHICH IS THE AIR NATIONAL GUARD GATE.
THAT'S SO THEY CAN FREE UP PERSONNEL THERE.
HE SAYS THE COST TO RIDE BIRD IS STILL SIX DOLLARS... ROUNDTRIP...
BUT SOME PROGRAMS WILL REIMBURSE EMPLOYEES FOR RIDING.

THE GEORGIA JUSTICE PROJECT SAYS ABOUT 2.5 MILLION GEORGIANS HAVE CRIMINAL RECORDS. BUT DO PEOPLE WITH AN ARREST RECORD IN THIS STATE GET A REAL SECOND CHANCE? THE NON-PROFIT GROUP HOPES TO TALK ABOUT THAT AT A PUBLIC FORUM IN MACON SATURDAY.
A HOUSE BILL INTRODUCED YESTERDAY AIMS TO CHANGE STATE CRIME INFORMATION LAWS... SO THAT PEOPLE'S CRIMINAL RECORDS...DON'T REFLECT CRIMES THEY WERE NEVER CONVICTED OF.
LAUREN DISPIRITO SHOWS YOU... WHY SOME SAY THOSE RECORDS UNFAIRLY KEEP PEOPLE FROM MOVING FORWARD.
SINCE SERVING A PRISON SENTENCE FOR FORGERY NEARLY TWO YEARS AGO... WILLIAM WEST SAYS HE'S ENROLLED IN COLLEGE FULL TIME... HOLDS A WORK STUDY JOB... AND RAISES HIS TWO KIDS... ON HIS OWN.

Nats "we'll apply for expungement for that"

TALKING WITH MACON ATTORNEY ASHLEY DEADWYLER TUESDAY... WEST SAYS HE'S MADE PROGRESS TURNING HIS LIFE AROUND... BUT STILL FACES WHAT FEELS LIKE AN UPHILL BATTLE.

William West, Macon: "I can't find a decent job because every time somebody pulls my record, they're not going to hire me, even though I have a high school diploma, even though I have some college experience."

WEST'S CRIMINAL HISTORY... THAT ANY EMPLOYER CAN REQUEST... HAS SOME FELONY CONVICTIONS... BUT SOME CHARGES ON THERE... DEADWYLER SAYS... HE WAS NEVER FOUND GUILT OF.

Ashley Deadwyler, Georgia Justice Project: "If you're not convicted by a court of law, then you shouldn't have to have a criminal history follow you around for the rest of your life."

DEADWYLER AND THE GEORGIA JUSTICE PROJECT HOPE A HOUSE BILL CHANGES RECORD EXPUNGEMENT LAWS... SO THAT A CRIMINAL RECORD LISTS ONLY CRIMES YOU;VE BEEN CONVICTED OF...NOT CASES THAT WERE DROPPED.

SHE SAYS A CRIMINAL RECORD MAKES IT HARDER TO FIND A JOB OR A HOME... AND THAT CAN KEEP PEOPLE IN A CYCLE OF CRIME AND POVERTY.

Ashley Deadwyler, Georgia Justice Project: " if they can't provide for themselves then what else are they to do"

WEST SAYS HE TAKES PARENTING CLASSES AND HOPES TO SWITCH HIS COLLEGE MAJOR TO EDUCATION.

"if I do my time if I'm making strides to make myself better at least give me the opportunity, the chance, to prove myself."

HE PLANS TO SHARE HIS STORY AT SATURDAY'S FORUM... TO CREATE OPPORTUNITIES... AND INSPIRE OTHERS... LOOKING FOR A SECOND CHANCE.

LAUREN DISPIRITO
13 WMAZ
EYEWITNESS NEWS THE EXPUNGEMENT FORUM RUNS FROM TEN A-M TO 2 P-M SATURDAY.
IT'S AT STRONG TOWER FELLOWSHIP... AT 2193 VINEVILLE AVENUE IN MACON.
THERE... YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO GET A RECORD EXPUNGED... AND ATTEND A PANEL DISCUSSION ON BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS TO OPPORTUNITIES.

AN EASTMAN COUPLE ACCUSED OF PROVIDING A 14-YEAR-OLD GIRL'S SEXUAL SERVICES IN EXCHANGE FOR A VAN WERE SENTENCED TO PRISON THIS WEEK.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY TIM VAUGHN SAYS.....
SANDRA DAVIS AND JAMES CLARENCE DAVIS... BOTH 36 YEARS OLD PLEADED GUILTY TO CHILD MOLESTATION IN DODGE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT.
HE SAYS THE AUTO DEALER... 66-YEAR-OLD ROBERT WAYNE BEARDEN... ALSO PLEADED GUILTY.
ALL THREE GOT 20-YEAR SENTENCES.
THE MEN WILL SERVE 10 IN PRISON.
SANDRA DAVIS WILL SERVE EIGHT.
LAST YEAR... THE DODGE SHERIFF SAID BEARDEN MANAGED A LOCAL CAR LOT... AND THE COUPLE PROVIDED THE GIRL'S SERVICES IN EXCHANGE FOR A 1998 DODGE CARAVAN.
VAUGHN SAID THEIR VICTIM ASKED TO SPEAK IN COURT.
SHE SAID HER LIFE WAS IMPROVING AND SHE WAS DOING WELL IN SCHOOL..

A MACON PASTOR ADMITTED TO CHEATING MEMBERS OF HIS CONGREGATION BY CONVINCING THEM TO TAKE OUT BOGUS LOANS.
BIBB COUNTY PROSECUTOR SHARELL LEWIS SAID JIMMY COLLINS PLEADED GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT RACKETEERING.
COURT DOCUMENTS SAY HE FOUNDED HIS CHURCH...GOD'S WORSHIP CENTER IN JONES COUNTY...AS PART OF A PLAN TO CHEAT PEOPLE.
COLLINS AND BANK WORKER STEVEN PITTMAN WERE ACCUSED OF TAKING OUT MORE THAN A HALF MILLION DOLLARS IN FALSE LOANS.
COLLINS IS SCHEDULED TO BE SENTENCED TOMORROW.
CHARGES AGAINST PITTMAN ARE STILL PENDING.

A PROPOSED OVERHAUL OF THE HOPE SCHOLARSHIP PASSED THE STATE HOUSE TODAY.
THE BILL IS PART OF GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL'S PLAN TO SAVE THE PROGRAM FROM GOING BANKRUPT.
THE OVERHAUL WOULD CUT SCHOLARSHIPS TO 90 PERCENT FOR MOST STUDENTS AND ELIMINATE MONEY FOR BOOKS... FEES... AND REMEDIAL CLASSES.
THE BILL NOW MOVES TO THE SENATE... BUT NOT EVERYONE AGREES WITH THE PROPOSAL.
A SPECIAL COMMITTEE TO REVIVE HOPE WILL HOLD A PUBLIC HEARING IN ATLANTA TOMORROW.
THEY'RE INVITING THE PUBLIC TO SHARE OPINIONS ABOUT ALTERNATIVE PROPOSALS AT THE COVERDELL LEGISLATIVE OFFICE BUILDING IN ATLANTA.
THAT HEARING STARTS AT 2 P-M.

A BILL MOVING THROUGH THE HOUSE... COULD GIVE PEOPLE EASIER ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT MEETINGS AND RECORDS.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE... WHICH IS PUSHING THE BULL... SAYS THE LEGISLATION IS INTENDED TO "STRENGTHEN AND CLARIFY" SUNSHINE LAWS.
LORRA LYNCH-JONES TALKED WITH SOME PEOPLE IN WARNER ROBINS ABOUT WHY THEY THINK THE REVISIONS WON'T HURT... AND COULD HELP.
<<nats-
CO-PRESIDENT OF THE JEFFERSON HILLS NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION... JEANNIE DUNCAN... STARTED ASKING QUESTIONS AT WARNER ROBINS CITY HALL LAST JUNE.
Jeannie Duncan: (6:50) "I sent them e-mails. I mailed them certified mail. No one has come back to answer questions specifically."
DUNCAN'S GROUP WANTS INFORMATION ABOUT STALLED PROGRESS ON A CITY SPORTS COMPLEX IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD.
THEY SAY THE MET WITH THE MAYOR... BUT CAN'T GET SOLID ANSWERS ON MONEY SPENT OR WHY CONSTRUCTION STOPPED.
Jeannie Duncan: (9:20) "We deserve a right to know in the local government just like we deserve to know what's going on in Washington DC. There is no difference."
SHE SUPPORTS A PROPOSED REWRITE OF GEORGIA'S SUNSHINE LAWS... BELIEVING THAT COULD PROVIDE EASIER AND FASTER ACCESS TO INFORMATION.
(TAKE GFX)
HOUSE BILL 397 REVISES OPEN MEETINGS AND OPEN RECORDS LAWS.
IF PASSED... IT WOULD INCREASE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS FROM ONE-HUNDRED TO ONE-THOUSAND DOLLARS.
IT WOULD ALSO REQUIRE GOVERNMENT BOARDS TO RECORD MINUTES IN CLOSED SESSIONS... THAT COULD BE MADE PUBLIC IN A LEGAL CHALLENGE.
nats-
WARNER ROBINS COUNCIL MEMBER BOB WILBANKS BELIEVES GOVERNMENT SHOULD ONLY CLOSE THE DOORS TO CITIZENS... WHEN THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT BUYING REAL ESTATE... OR PENDING LEGAL MATTERS.
Bob Wilbanks: (:30) "Other than that, the people ought to know everything. I don't think you ought to be able to cloak anything under closed session, that the public needs to know about."
HE LIKES THE BILL AT FIRST GLANCE... AND SAYS WARNER ROBINS NEEDS MORE TRANSPARENCY.
nats-
DUNCAN AGREES.
Jeannie Duncan: (7:30) "If this is what it's going to take in order to get answers to our questions, but all means. Let it happen."
STD
>> THE BILL AFFIRMS THAT ALL VOTES MUST BE TAKEN IN PUBLIC... AND MAKES IT CLEAR THAT BOARDS CAN'T MEET IN SMALL GROUPS... TO AVOID POSTING PUBLIC MEETING NOTICES.
THE SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE GEORGIA FIRST AMENDMENT FOUNDATION... TOLD THE ASSOCIATED PRESS THAT SHE HAD NOT SEEN THE BILL YET... BUT HEARD IT COULD ACTUALLY "CREATE MORE COST... DELAY AND BURDEN FOR THE PUBLIC."

YOU CAN FUEL UP TO PLAY RIGHT NOW AT GRAY ELEMENTARY IN JONES COUNTY WITH THE N-F-L'S PLAY 60 CAMPAIGN.
YOU CAN LEARN FUN AND EASY WAYS TO EAT HEALTHY AND EXERCISE.
IF YOU WANT TO TAKE PART IN THE FREE EVENT... JUST HEAD OUT TO GRAY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL BETWEEN NOW AND 7-30.
EVENT ORGANIZERS SAY YOU SHOULD STRIVE TO GET 60-MINUTES OF PHYSICAL PLAY OR EXERCISE IN EVERY DAY.

TODAY'S 13WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL QUESTION ASKS... DO YOUR KIDS GET ENOUGH EXERCISE?
SO FAR 68 PERCENT OF YOU SAY NO.
AND 32 PERCENT OF YOU SAY YES.
VOTE RIGHT NOW... LOOK FOR THE LINK TO THE WEB POLL QUESTION ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE HOME PAGE IN THE "DON'T MISS" BOX.

A STATE JUDGE TODAY HEARD A SECOND DAY OF TESTIMONY....ON WHETHER THE BIBB-MONROE COUNTY LINE IS IN THE RIGHT PLACE.
BRITTINY BARBER WAS IN ATLANTA TODAY... SHE'S JOINGING US BY PHONE WITH AN UPDATE.
LAWYERS ON THE CASE SAY TOMORROW SHOULD BE THE THIRD...AND FINAL...DAY OF TESTIMONY.
JUDGE JOHN SHERRILL IS EXPECTED TO MAKE A RECOMMENDATION TO GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE BRIAN KEMP....WHO'LL DECIDE WHETHER TO KEEP THE CURRENT LINE....OR MOVE IT.

THIS WEEK... PEOPLE IN BALDWIN COUNTY CAN LISTEN TO THE DETAILS ABOUT PROJECTS THAT WOULD BE FUNDED BY A PROPOSED SPLOST.
THAT'S JUST ONE OF THE STORIES YOU'LL FIND ON THE MILLEDGEVILLE PAGE OF THE WHERE YOU LIVE SECTION AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.
THURSDAY NIGHT AT SEVEN... THE BALDWIN COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND THE MILLEDGEVILLE CITY COUNCIL WILL PRESENT THOSE PROJECTS... AND THE PUBLIC WILL HAVE A CHANCE TO ASK QUESTIONS.
THE PRESENTATION WILL HAPPEN AT DIGITAL BRIDGES ON WEST HANCOCK STREET NEXT TO THE CAMPUS THEATRE IN MILLEDGEVILLE.
EARLY VOTING BEGAN YESTERDAY... AND VOTERS WILL HEAD TO THE POLLS TO DECIDE ON THE SPLOST TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY.
FOR MORE STORIES FROM YOUR AREA... VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM AND USE THE "COMMUNITY NEWS" SECTION ON THE HOMEPAGE TO SELECT WHERE YOU LIVE.
THEN CLICK ON "MORE NEWS" TO HEAD OVER TO THAT PAGE.

WE'RE SHARING YOUR PHOTOS FROM THE 13 WMAZ DOT GALLERIES.
THESE PHOTOS ARE FROM THE ARENT MY KIDS THE CUTEST GALLERY. HERE'S A PHOTO OF CALLIE SHEA HAVING FUN AT THE BEACH. AND HERE'S A PHOTO OF ELIANA SWINGING AT THE PARK. SEND US YOUR PHOTOS... LOOK FOR PHOTO GALLERIES UNDER "FEATURES" IN THE MENU BAR AT THE TOP OF OUR HOMEPAGE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.


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