Thursday, March 24, Eyewitness News at 6

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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.

RIGHT NOW A MAJOR FIRE IS GUTTING THE OLD ATLANTIC COTTON MILL ON MAILEY AVENUE.
THAT'S BEHIND THE KROGER ON PIO NONO AVENUE.
VANESSA RUFFES IS AT THAT FIRE... SHE'S JOINING US NOW BY PHONE WITH AN UPDATE.
WE'LL CONTINUE TO UPDATE THIS STORY TONIGHT ON 13WMAZ DOT COM AND EYEWITNESS NEWS AFTER THE BASKETBALL GAMES.

BIBB COUNTY IS FACING A 12 MILLION DOLLAR BUDGET DEFICIT FOR NEXT YEAR.
THAT'S ACCORDING TO COUNTY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER STEVE LAYSON.
COMMISSIONERS ARE SPLIT ON HOW TO BALANCE THE BUDGET.
SOME SAY... THE ONLY OPTIONS WOULD BE LAYOFFS AND BENEFIT CUTS FOR EMPLOYEES.
BRITTINY BARBER BREAKS DOWN THEIR BUDGET DISCUSSION.
<< AS BIBB COUNTY COMMISSIONERS DISCUSSED THE FIVE YEAR FINANCIAL PLAN AND NEXT YEARS BUDGET... THEY REALIZED THE BALANCING ACT WILL TAKE WORK
Lonzy Edwards: Bibb County Commissioner: "I don't think there's any alternative to looking at employees contributions to our pension, employees contributions to our insurance program, and ultimately we may have to end up getting leaner and meaner in terms of the workforce we have.."
COMMISSIONER LONZY EDWARDS SAYS HE WANTS TO FOCUS ON BENEFITS AND POSSIBLE PERSONNEL CUTS....NOT ON RAISING TAXES....
THE COUNTY HAS 870 EMPLOYEES AND FACES A 12 MILLION DOLLARS BUDGET SHORTFALL NEXT YEAR.
54 PERCENT OF THE BUDGET PAYS EMPLOYEES SALARIES.
Elmo Richardson, Bibb County Commissioner: "We're asking department heads to take a real good close look at personnel, staffing levels."
ALSO ON THE AGENDA... IS GIVING EMPLOYEES A 4 PERCENT COST OF LIVING INCREASE.....OR RAISES AIMED AT PUTTING SOME GROUPS OF EMPLOYEES....ON PAR WITH THOSE IN OTHER COUNTIES.
Elmo Richardson: "The employees for the county have any increase for I guess almost three years now."
Lonzey Edwards: "There's not enough money to put in place a pay plan that we started looking at a year or two ago. There's not enough money to put in what all of us would love to do in the best case senario and that is give our employees as much money as they deserve."
OFFICIALS SAYS SHERIFF'S DEPUTY'S MAKE MUCH LESS THAN THOSE IN NEARBY COUNTIES.
Elmo Richardson, :"I believe we have about 25 vacanies in the Sheriff's department currently.... WE hire them we train them and then they go somewhere else."
BUT EDWARDS SAYS THE COUNTY CAN'T PAY INCREASES.
Lonzy Edwards: "I don't think we do anything until the economic climate of our community improves. Until we see some improvements in sales tax revenue, until we see some growth in our digest there are just some things I don't see we can afford."
BRITTINY BARBER 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.>>
COMMISSIONERS ALSO DISCUSSED POSSIBLY PARKING TAKE HOME CARS FOR SOME COUNTY EMPLOYEES.
THEY SAY WITH GAS PRICES RISING... IT MAY BE ONE WAY TO SAVE MONEY.

HOUSTON COUNTY PROSECUTORS SAY THE DEATH OF 47-YEAR-OLD JONI (JONNY) CLEMENTS LAST MONTH... WAS A "MURDER FOR HIRE".
ONE OF THE THREE MEN ACCUSED... 53-YEAR-OLD ROBERT SYBERT... IS BACK IN THE HOUSTON COUNTY JAIL TODAY AFTER BEING DENIED BOND.
VANESSA RUFFES WAS AT HIS HEARING THIS MORNING... AND EXPLAINS WHY PROSECTORS SAY HE HELPED PLAN CLEMENTS'S DEATH.
<<
Nats Hartwig "Your honor, this case is a cold-blooded, premedidated, murder for hire."

53-YEAR-OLD ROBERT SYBERT BROKE DOWN INTO TEARS THURSDAY MORNING AT HIS BOND HEARING...
PROSECUTORS SAY HE DIDNT JUST HELP MURDER 47-YEAR-OLD JONI CLEMENTS...
THEY SAY HE HELPED PLAN IT.

Hartwig "It wasn't a happenstance event this was something that was planned out and premeditated."

FEBRUARY 8TH... CLEMENTS WAS FOUND SHOT TO DEATH INSIDE HER WESTWOOD DRIVE HOME.

MONDAY... POLICE ARRESTED HER HUSBAND -- JAMES CLEMENTS... ROBERT SYBERT... AND HIS SON -- 29-YEAR-OLD RICHARD SYBERT.

Hartwig "We believe these three individuals knew each other and had communicated about these crimes before it occurred."

HOUSTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY GEORGE HARTWIG SAYS RICHARD SYBERT IS ACCUSED OF SHOOTING THE MOTHER OF TWO.
BUT HE SAYS ROBERT SYBERT DROVE HIS SON THERE... WAITED AND DROVE HIM BACK. HE SAYS SYBERT ALSO OWNED THE GUN USED..

Nats, Walker "There are serious questions about his capacity to have been involved in this crime."

SYBERT'S ATTORNEY... RUSSELL WALKER... ARGUED THURSDAY... HIS CLIENT MAY HAVE NOT FULLY KNOWN WHAT WAS GOING ON.
HE'S ASKED THAT SYBERT UNDERGO A MENTAL EVALUATION.

Walker "Not only is he developmentally disabled... and has been since birth... but he recently had two strokes."

NATS

MEANTIME... THE 53-YEAR-OLD IS BACK IN JAIL... AFTER A JUDGE RULED HIM A FLIGHT RISK... AND DENIED BOND.
BECAUSE THEY CALL IT A PLANNED KILLING....PROSECUTORS PLAN TO ADD MALICE MURDER... TO THE FELONY MURDER AND BURGLARY CHARGES ALL THREE DEFENDENTS FACE.
VANESSA RUFFES 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> D-A GEORGE HARTWIG SAYS 55-YEAR-OLD JAMES CLEMENTS COULD HAVE HIS BOND HEARING NEXT WEEK.
HE SAYS RICHARD SYBERT... WAS ARRESTED IN JACKSONVILLE FLORIDA AND IS AWAITING EXTRADITION TO GEORGIA.
THAT COULD TAKE A FEW WEEKS... TO A FEW MONTHS... HE SAYS.
HE PLANS TO SEEK THE DEATH PENALTY FOR SOME -- IF NOT ALL OF THE DEFENDENTS..

ONE PERSON WHO'S BEEN CLOSELY INVOLVED IN THE ATLANTIC MILL PROJECT IS JOSH ROGERS OF HISTORIC MACON...WHO'S BEEN AT THE FIRE SCENE FOR MORE THAN AN HOUR.
HE JOINS US BY PHONE.
WE'LL CONTINUE TO UPDATE THIS STORY TONIGHT ON 13WMAZ DOT COM AND EYEWITNESS NEWS AFTER THE BASKETBALL GAMES.

A RALLY IN ATLANTA DREW THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE PROTESTING A LAW THAT COULD CRACK DOWN ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IN GEORGIA.
AMY AUBERT MET UP WITH A GROUP FROM CENTRAL GEORGIA... AND EXPLAINS WHY THEY SAY... THIS COULD BE THEIR ONLY BIG CHANCE TO SPEAK OUT.
<<
Nats

BEFORE THE SUN CAME UP THURSDAY MORNING... FORTY CENTRAL GEORGIANS STARTED THEIR DAY... BY PUTTING A PROTEST... ON POSTERBOARD.

Juan Flores, Warner Robins: "We just want to come out of the shades, and tell them that we can, we can help this country to be more strong, to be more succussful and everything."

JUAN FLORES SAYS MORE THAN 20 YEARS AGO... HE CAME TO THE U-S SEARCHING FOR WHAT HE CALLS... THE AMERICAN DREAM.

Juan Flores: "Here... if you work and go forth, you can make it happen."

BUT TODAY... HE'S FIGHTING TO KEEP THAT DREAM ALIVE.

Juan Flores: "Really it's like, help us, help us."

HE SAYS THEY'RE PROTESTING A LEGISLATION THAT WOULD BE SIMILAR TO A LAW PASSED LAST YEAR IN ARIZONA FIGHTING ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.

IN RED SHARPIE... ADRIANA CORONA SPELLS... "WE WANT THE AMERICAN DREAM TOO"....

Adriana Corona, Perry: "We're gonna make a change and we're gonna get into those governors and they're gonna be like 'ya know what, let's think about this, let's not do this anymore."

SHE'S NOT THE ONLY ONE... WHO'S HOPING THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY NOTICES.

Miguel Angel Huerta, Perry: "They think that we're just a few people, and we're spread out, we're not, we're together."

Amy Aubert, Eyewitness News: "The 40 people that met here this morning say it's important for communities all over Georgia to come together to protest House Bill 87."

Juan Flores: "We are here already, so why not take the chances again."

THE GROUP SAYS THE LAW COULD LEAD TO RACIAL PROFILING... AND WOULD FORCE HARDWORKING PEOPLE TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY.
THEY SAY... THEY'LL SPEAK UP... UNTIL IT'S STOPPED.

Juan Flores: "There's always a little light at the end of the tunnel, the hope is there."

AMY AUBERT... 13 WMAZ... EYEWITNESS NEWS.

>> MACON STATE REPRESENTATIVE ALLEN PEAKE IS A SPONSOR OF HOUSE BILL 87.
HE AND FIVE OTHER REPUBLICAN SPONSORS RELEASED A STATEMENT THAT SAID THEY'RE TRYING TO SAVE JOBS...AND TAX DOLLARS FOR WORKING GEORGIANS.
THEY WROTE IN PART...."TODAY SEVERAL HUNDRED SUPPORTERS OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION DESCENDED ON THE GEORGIA STATE CAPITOL.... TO RAIL AGAINST LEGISLATION AIMED AT ENFORCING THE RULE OF LAW IN GEORGIA.
THIS KIND OF PROTEST ONLY BOLSTERS OUR RESOLVE TO SEE HOUSE BILL 87 SIGNED INTO LAW."

HERE'S THE LATEST ON A MAJOR MACON FIRE.
AS WE TOLD YOU EARLIER ...THE OLD ATLANTIC COTTON MILL BUILDING OFF VINEVILLE AVENUE...CONTINUES TO BURN.
VANESSA RUFFES TELLS THAT US THAT MACON-BIBB FIREFIGHTERS ARE STILL POURING HUGE AMOUNTS OF WATER INTO THE OLD BRICK MILL. SHE SAID THE FLAMES ARE LOWER NOW THAN AN HOUR AGO...BUT THE FIRE IS FAR FROM OVER.
VANESSA SAYS MUCH OF THE BUILDING'S INTERIOR IS GUTTED...AND ONE OF THE MILL'S TWO TOWERS HAS COLLAPSED.
SO FAR...NO REPORT OF INJURIES...AND NO WORD ON THE CAUSE.
WE'LL UPDATE THAT STORY ONLINE...AT 13WMAZ.-DOT-COM...AND HAVE MORE AT EYEWITNESS NEWS AT 11.

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