Thursday, March 24, Eyewitness News at 11

8:08 PM, Mar 22, 2011   |    comments
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<<opening for eyewitness news at eleven>>
GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US..
I'M FRANK MALLOY... LEAH JOHNSON HAS THE NIGHT OFF.

THE OLD ATLANTIC COTTON MILL NEAR PIO NONO AVENUE IS A COMPLETE LOSS TONIGHT AFTER A HUGE FIRE GUTTED THE BUILDING.
CREWS HAVE BEEN ON THE SCENE SINCE FOUR THIS AFTERNOON... AND SAY IT'LL BE HOURS UNTIL IT'S COMPLETELY PUT OUT.
VANESSA RUFFES BRINGS YOU MORE FROM THE BATTLE AGAINST THE BLAZE.
<<
NATS, fire hoses

FIREFIGHTERS ON LADDER TRUCKS ATTACKED FLAMES DEVOURING THE OLD ATLANTIC COTTON MILL.

Riggins "I was at 9 companies actively working out here. That's about 40 personnel."

THE THICK SMOKE BILLOWED HIGH INTO THE SKY... DRAWING CROWDS OUT OF THEIR HOME TO WATCH THE HISTORIC LANDMARK CRUMBLE.

Dallas Spires "It's been there much longer than I have"
Katherine Bowdry "I feel so sorry so sad."

CREWS HAD MORE THAN FLAMES TO CONTEND WITH... THE STRONG WINDS DISPERSED BURNING CHUNKS ACROSS STREETS... FORCING POLICE TO EVACUATE SOME NEARBY APARTMENTS AND CLOSE SURROUNDING ROADS.

NATS

Linda Walton "They were planning to turn it into lofts..."

THE BUILDING... WAS A PROJECT IN THE WORKS..
SOUTH CAROLINA COMPANY LANDMARK DEVELOPMENT WANTED TO CONVERT IT INTO LOFT APARTMENTS.
IT HAD SECURED 1.4 MILLION DOLLARS IN GRANT MONEY AND THE BACKING OF HISTORIC MACON TO DO IT.

Rogers phoner "a 13 million dollar project that would have created 106 lofts and would have created hundreds of local jobs and a quarter million dollars a year for local governments in property taxes."

NOW NO MORE... NATS...

ABOUT TWO HOURS INTO THE ORDEAL... FIRE OFFICIALS SAID THE BLAZE WAS ABOUT EIGHTY PERCENT CONTAINED... THE BUILDING NEARLY 90 PERCENT GONE.

BUT FIREFIGHTERS SAY PUTTING THE FLAMES COMPLETELY OUT WILL BE A TWO-DAY PROCESS.

Riggins "Looks like it's going to be a long night for us but at this point we've pretty well got it contained."

VANESSA RUFFES 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> MACON BIBB FIRE CHIEF MARVIN RIGGINS SAYS AT LAST COUNT... ALL CREWS AND RESIDENTS IN THE AREA HAD BEEN ACCOUNTED FOR.
FIRE INSPECTOR TOM MUSSELWHITE SAYS THE FIRE LIKELY STARTED AT A MAINTENANCE BUILDING NEXT TO THE MILL.
HE SAYS WORKERS WERE CUTTING METAL IN THERE WHEN THE BLAZE SPARKED.
MACON CITY OFFICIALS WANTED TO APPLY FOR A GRANT TO HELP WITH THE LOFT PROJECT AT THE MILL.
THE ATLANTIC COTTON MILLS LOFT PROJECT INITIALLY CAME BEFORE THE MACON CITY COUNCIL IN MID-2009.
CITY COUNCIL FIRST CHANGED THE APPLICATION AND THE CITY LOST THE FEDERAL GRANT. THEY APPLIED AGAIN AND FINALLY LANDED THE FEDERAL MONEY.
THE PROPERTY IS OWNED BY MERCER UNIVERSITY AND VALUED AT JUST OVER 345 THOUSAND DOLLARS.

THE U-S POSTAL SERVICE SAYS IT'S ELIMINATING 56 JOBS BY CLOSING A REGIONAL OFFICE IN MACON.
THIS WILL AFFECT THE SOUTH GEORGIA DISTRICT OFFICE ON COLLEGE STREET... BUT NOT THE MAIN MACON POST OFFICE IN THE SAME BUILDING. THAT'S ACCORDING TO SPOKESWOMAN NANCY ROSS.
THE CLOSING IS PART OF A NATIONAL EFFORT BY THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE TO CUT COSTS.
THEY SAY THE CHANGE WILL NOT AFFECT CUSTOMER SERVICE... MAIL DELIVERY... POST OFFICE OPERATIONS OR ZIP CODES.

PARENTS AND CHILD CARE PROVIDERS ACROSS THE STATE ARE WAITING TO HEAR GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL'S FINAL CHANGES TO THE PRE-KINDERGARTEN PROGRAM.
ONE CENTRAL GEORGIA DAY CARE DIRECTOR SAYS THE UNCERTAINTY... HAS AFFECTED SIGN UPS.
GREEN SAYS OPENINGS FOR HER GEORGIA PRE-K CLASSES USUALLY FILL UP FAST... BUT NOT THIS YEAR.
SHE HAS EIGHT PRE-K SLOTS LEFT... AND SAYS THAT MAY BE BECAUSE PARENTS DON'T KNOW EXACLTY HOW LONG THE SCHOOL YEAR WILL BE.
Judy Green, Director: "And they have to now find extra childcare or a school that goes longer, private school or something."
GOVENOR NATHAN DEAL SAYS CHANGES WOULD KEEP THE LOTTERY-FUNDED PROGRAM FROM GOING BROKE.
GEORGIA PRE-K SERVES 4-YEAR-OLDS .. FREE OF COST... BASED ON A LOTTERY SYSTEM FOR OPEN SPOTS.

LAYOFFS AND BENEFITS CUTS COULD LIE AHEAD FOR BIBB COUNTY EMPLOYEES.
COMMISSIONERS DISCUSSED THEIR FIVE YEAR FINANCIAL PLAN AND A $12 MILLION DEFICIT FACING THEM IN NEXT YEARS BUDGET.
ON THE TABLE AT THE SAME TIME ... A POSSIBLE PAY SCALE OR COMPENSATION PLAN FOR EMPLOYEES.
BUT MOST COMMISSIONERS SAY THE COUNTY NEEDS TO FOCUS ON BALANCING THE BUDGET... NOT GIVING RAISES. THE COUNTY HAS ABOUT 870 EMPLOYEES....
COMMISSIONER ELMO RICHARDSON SAYS THEY HAVEN'T RECEIVED A PAY INCREASE IN 3 YEARS.

THE PERFECT WEATHER SO FAR HAS ORGANIZERS OF THE CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL FEELING... IN THE PINK.
FOR EXAMPLE... MORE THAN EIGHT-THOUSAND PEOPLE TURNED OUT FOR SATURDAY'S "TUNES AND BALLOONS."
AS BOFTA YIMAM SHOWS YOU... THEY HOPE THE SUNSHINE WILL HOLD OUT FOR THE FESTIVAL'S FINAL DAYS.NATS "Deep fried till it's golden brown"

ROBERT RAMSING KNOWS ALL THE SQUIGGLES THAT GO INTO FUNNEL CAKE.

NATS "Simmer them rings till they get a form"

THE NORTH CAROLINA NATIVE SAYS HE'S SPENT MOST OF HIS ADULT LIFE WITH THE POWDERED DESSERT... TRAVELING MILES... TO SERVE UP HOT SUGARY PLATES AT FESTIVALS... LIKE CHERRY BLOSSOM.

Robert Ramsing
"Love meeting people, what's interesting is you make friends in the different towns."

WHILE ITS THE PEOPLE THAT MAKE THE TRIP SWEET... RAMSING SAYS MOTHER NATURE PLAYS A LARGE ROLE... IN HIS BOTTOM LINE.

Ramsing,
When it's a little cooler people eat the elephant cakes and the funnel ears a little better, we're doing very good."

RAMSING HOPES THE SUNSHINE SO FAR THIS WEEK... WILL MAKE HIS REVENUE SIZZLE. OTHER VENDORS AGREE.

Lucio Antonio, Ohio
"Selling more than what we've been doing the last past years."

LUCIO ANTONIO SAYS RAIN TYPICALLY SLICES BUSINESS BY ABOUT 30-PERCENT.

NATS Antonio "This is like 10 pounds"

ORGANIZERS SAYS HE'S ONE OF 200 VENDORS...20 PERCENT MORE THAN LAST YEAR.

STANDUP:
"Since Monday, hundreds of people have stood in line hoping to get a scoop of free Cherry ice cream. Karen Lambert with the festival says they've given out thousands of scoops so far. She credits the beautiful temperatures for the large turnout."

Karen Jordan Lambert, Cherry Blossom CEO
"I mean we offer quality events, but it comes down to the weather."

LAMBERT SAYS THEY DON'T HAVE FIGURES YET... BUT CROWDS SO FAR HAVE BEEN JAM-PACKED.
SATURDAY NIGHT'S STREET PARTY WILL HAPPEN RAIN OR SHINE. BUT SOME SAY WET WEATHER COULD DAMPEN THEIR PARTY.

Haley Nutt, Macon
"If it rains I'm probably not going to come out, cause you know, hair."

NATS sprinkle

RAMSING SAYS HE PLANS TO FOCUS LESS ON THOSE SPRINKLES... AND MORE ON THE SWEET KIND HE DISHES OUT.

BOFTA YIMAM 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS
LAMBERT SAYS ADVANCED SALES ARE UP FOR SATURDAY'S STREET PARTY.... BUT MOST PEOPLE PAY AT THE GATE.
FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF CHERRY BLOSSOM EVENTS... VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM AND LOOK FOR THE FESTIVALS LINK IN THE "DON'T MISS" BOX ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE HOMEPAGE.

RODEO'S USUALLY MEAN DUST AND MUD... BUT TODAY.. IT WAS ALL ABOUT GREASE AND GRIME.
15 HOUSTON COUNTY BUS DRIVERS SADDLED UP THEIR BLUE BIRDS FOR A RIDE IN THE RODEO.
LORRA LYNCH JONES PUTS YOU IN THE PASSENGER SEAT.
<<nats- stepping on board
nats- starting bus
FOR JIM FLANNAGAN... THIS COMPETITION IS A WELL WORN ROAD.
nats- (19:37) "I'm gonna shut the door here, so I can see."
HE'S ENTERED HIS NUMBER IN THE BUS RODEO... 17 TIMES... MAKING ADJUSTMENTS EACH TIME AROUND.
Jim Flannagan: (20:10) "Ok, that's better."
WHEN HE FIRST BUCKLED IN... HE SAID IT WASN'T SO TOUGH...
Jim: "Competition's gotten stiff over years."
HE SAYS THE TURNS... AND THE PEOPLE GOT SHARPER... BUT HE'S KEPT HIS GRIP.
nats-
FLANNAGAN QUALIFIED FOR THE STATE BUS RODEO SEVERAL TIMES... ONCE PARKING A SPOT IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION.
Jim: (26:47) " Feels pretty good. That's kind of weird to say, but the Lord's blessed me in all this time."
HE MANUERVED HIS WIDE LOAD THROUGH THE OBSTACLES....
TRYING TO PLEASE THE JUDGES....
Dave Jernigan, Judge: "Each line that they're over is points off."
FLANNAGAN OUTPACED SOME...
Dave Jernigan: "There's been one that mowed 'em all down."
AND HE MIGHT'VE STRUGGLED JUST A BIT WITH THE PARALLEL PARKING.
Jim: (25: 30) "I didn't do as good as I would've liked."
BUT THATS OK... BECAUSE THIS YEAR HE'S BACKING AWAY FROM THE PRIZE.. GIVING THE NEW KIDS ON THE BUS... A CHANCE TO WIN.. AND SOME ADVICE.
nats- giving advice
FLANAGAN SAYS HE'S SET HIS SIGHTS ON THE NEXT RODEO...
Jim: "If I'm still here, Lord willing."
HIS WHEEL'S ALREADY TURNING ON HOW TO RIDE OVER THIER FINISH LINE... IN FIRST PLACE.
nats-
STD
>> THE FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD PLACE WINNERS TOOK HOME A CASH PRIZE.
THEY WERE CLAY MONCRIEF... RICK LENO.. AND BILL SMITH.
MONCRIEF AND LENO WILL MOVE ON TO THE STATE COMPETITION IN JUNE... AT MCCONNELL-TALBERT STADIUM.

IT'S THE LAST WEEKEND OF CHERRY BLOSSOM... THE ENTERTAINMENT OPTIONS ARE OVERFLOWING IN CENTRAL GEORGIA.
HERE'S BEN WITH SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS IN SCENE 13.<<
ARE YOU READY FOR ANOTHER AWESOME WEEKEND IN MIDDLE GEORGIA?! WELL GET READY, 'CAUSE HERE IT COMES...

THE CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL ROCKS ALONG IN FULL FORCE WITH DAILY AWESOMENESS. PLUS SUPER SPECIAL EVENTS ARE HAPPENIN' ALL WEEKEND. ON FRIDAY NIGHT, CHRISTIAN MUSIC SUPERSTAR - MARK SCHULTZ - HITS THE STAGE OF SOUTHSIDE BAPTIST CHURCH IN WARNER ROBINS FOR THE ANNUAL PARTY WITH A PURPOSE. THIS CONCERT KICKS OFF AT SEVEN P.M.

THEN ON SATURDAY, START THE DAY WITH A LITTLE MORNIN' JAUNT WITH HUNDREDS OF YOUR CLOSEST BUDS AT THE CHERRY BLOSSOM ROAD RACE. THIS YEAR, THE RUN/JOG/WALK - WHATEVER YOUR LITTLE FEET DESIRE - WILL KICK OFF AT HOWARD HIGH SCHOOL OUT ON FORSYTH ROAD. WHEN YOU'RE FINISHED BURNING OFF ALL THOSE CALORIES, HEAD ON DOWN TO THIRD STREET PARK TO REFUEL AT THE INTERNATIONAL FOOD FAIR! PLEASE YOUR PALETTES WITH DISHES FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD! AND THEN STROLL ON DOWN THE WAY TO TAKE IN THE ARTS AND CRAFTS EXCITEMENT OF THE MULBERRY STREET FESTIVAL! TWO HUNDRED VENDORS WILL BE IN THE HOUSE - OR ON THE STREET, RATHER - DISPLAYING THEIR FANTASTIC WARES FOR YOUR VIEWING AND /OR SHOPPING PLEASURE.

AFTER THIS FULL DAY OF EXERCISE FOLLOWED BY FOOD AND SHOPPING - REALLY, COULD IT GET MUCH BETTER? - YOU'D BETTER GET THOSE DANCING SHOES ON, CAUSE IT'S TIME TO PAR-TAY! THE CHERRY BLOSSOM STREET PARTY ROCKS, ROCKS, ROCKS DOWNTOWN MACON! BIG BOI - ONE-HALF OF OUTKAST - IS HERE TO PLAY! AND COUNTRY CROONER JAMEY JOHNSON'S GOT MACON ON HIS MIND. BUT BOY DO I HAVE SOME HUGE NEWS FOR YOU! CHUCK LEAVELL? SONNY SPOON? STEVE MORETTI? YEAH, THEY'RE GONNA JAM!

THAT'S RIGHT, FOLKS! THE ALL-STAR PERFORMERS WHO TOGETHER RECORDED MACON'S NEWEST ANTHEM "A LITTLE MORE SOUL" ARE GONNA ROCK YOUR FACES OFF AT THE STREET PARTY!

IT'S A PARTY LIKE NO OTHER! COME GET A LITTLE MORE SOUL THIS SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE CHERRY BLOSSOM STREET PARTY. GATES OPEN AT FIVE - ADMISSION IS FIFTEEN.

NOW, YOUR SATURDAY'S NOT OVER YET! BRAGG JAM PRESENTS KEEPS THE NIGHT ALIVE AT THE COX CAPITOL THEATRE WITH A FEW MORE SUPERSTARS! AT TEN O'CLOCK, MR. BIG TIME COUNTRY UP-AND-COMER COREY CROWDER'S IN CONCERT. I'M TELLING YOU, PEOPLE, YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS IT! THEN AT MIDNIGHT, OCHA LA ROCHA - OCHA LA ROCHA, IT'S JUST FUN TO SAY - ANYWAY, OCHA LA ROCHA TAKES OVER THE STAGE. GET TICKETS AT THE DOOR OR YOU MAY WANT TO HEAD ONLINE TO COX-CAPITOL-THEATRE-DOT-COM AND GRAB 'EM IN ADVANCE - TICKETS ARE SELLING LIKE HOT PINK PANCAKES!

ALRIGHT, NOW FOR A QUICK REWIND BACK TO FRIDAY, WHERE THE DELTA SIGMA THETA SORORITY IS HOSTING THEIR ANNUAL BEAUTILLION.

CELEBRATE THESE YOUNG MEN AT THE MACON CITY AUDITORIUM THIS FRIDAY NIGHT AT SIX-THIRTY. BALCONY TICKETS WILL BE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR.

OH, MAMMA MIA, HERE WE GO AGAIN...

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY EVENING, THE MUSIC OF ABBA COMES TO LIFE AT THE GRAND OPERA HOUSE IN THAT MOST FAMOUSEST OF MUSICALS - MAMMA MIA! JUMP ONLINE TO THE-GRAND-OPERA-HOUSE-DOT-COM TO GRAB TICKETS OR CALL 301-5470.

AND WRAPPING THINGS UP, MERCER OPERA PRESENTS TO YOU A LITTLE CHERRY BLOSSOM MAGIC.

THREE CHANCES TO EXPERIENCE THE ENCHANTMENT - FRIDAY AND SATURDAY AT SEVEN THIRTY AND SUNDAY AT TWO THIRTY. FICKLING HALL ON THE CAMPUS OF MERCER UNIVERSITY IS THE PLACE TO BE...TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR.

NOW GET OUT THERE AND PARTY LIKE ITS CHERRY BLOSSOM TIME! SCENE THIRTEEN'LL BE BACK WITH MORE ENTERTAINMENT GOODNESS NEXT WEEK...BUT UNTIL THEN, MAY YOUR DAYS BE FILLED WITH FUN! BECAUSE THAT, GOOD PEOPLE, IS A WRAP.
>> FOR MORE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS AND EVENTS... GO TO 13WMAZ DOT COM AND LOOK FOR "SCENE 13" IN THE MENU BAR ACROSS THE TOP OF THE HOMEPAGE.

TIME FOR TONIGHT'S FACEBOOK FAN OF THE DAY.
AND OUR WINNER IS... TONY BROWN.
CONGRATULATIONS TONY... YOU'LL GET A 13WMAZ COFFEE MUG.
IF YOU WANT TO BE OUR FACEBOOK FAN OF THE DAY... IT'S EASY.
VISIT FACEBOOK DOT COM SLASH 13WMAZ AND CLICK THE "LIKE" BUTTON TO BECOME A FAN.
THEN... JUST JOIN THE CONVERSATIONS.
WE PICK OUR FAN OF THE DAY RANDOMLY.

UNITED WAY OF CENTRAL GEORGIA CELEBRATED AN AMAZING YEAR BY HONORING COMPANIES THAT HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THEIR 2010 CAMPAIGN WITH A CEREMONY IN MACON.
IT'S A STORY THAT COMES STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART.
MORE THAN AN HUNDRED VOLUNTEERS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS CAME OUT TO HELP CELEBRATE.
THE AWARD CEREMONY PAID TRIBUTE TO THE COMPANIES AND INDIVIDUALS THAT MADE A DIFFERENCE WITH THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS.
UNITED WAY SAYS THEY HAVE EXCEEDED THEIR FUNDRAISING GOAL OF THE 2010 CAMPAIGN BY RAISING MORE THAN FOUR MILLION... TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS.
GEORGE McCANLESS SAYS THE SUCCESS OF UNITED WAY WILL HELPS MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE CENTRAL GEORGIA COMMUNITY.
George McCanless, Campaign Chair "We're one of the few United Way's in the country that not only didn't experience a decrease but actually had an increase this year and so there are thousands of people in Central Georgia that will receive the benefit of everything that we've done"
UNITED WAY OF CENTRAL GEORGIA IMPROVES THE LIVES OF MORE THAN 100 THOUSAND LOCAL PEOPLE AND SUPPORTS 58 PROGRAMS OF 34 LOCAL PARTNER AGENCIES.

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