HELLO EVERYONE AND THANKS FOR JOINING US.
I'M LEAH JOHNSON..
AND I'M FRANK MALLOY.. THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX.
THE CITY OF MACON AND BIBB COUNTY ARE BOTH CONSIDERING WHETHER TO LIMIT THE NUMBER OF PLACES WHERE YOU CAN SMOKE.
BIBB COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN SAM HART SAYS HE'LL ASK HIS BOARD NEXT WEEK IF THEY WANT TO PUSH FOR A SMOKING ORDINANCE LIKE THE ONE MACON IS CONSIDERING.
MACON MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT VETOED A PROPOSED ORDINANCE IN APRIL.
AMONG HIS REASONS... HE SAID THE CITY AND COUNTY SHOULD ACT TOGETHER...SO MACON BUSINESSES AREN'T HURT.
HART SAYS... HE AGREES.
Sam Hart, Bibb Commission Chairman: "I think it makes a tremendous amount of sense to have one that covers the whole county if we have one. So I would be willing to approach the subject with the commissioners at our next meeting. No commissioner at this point has brought it up in terms of sponsoring such an activity but we need to consider it."
MEANWHILE...BACKERS OF A MACON SMOKING ORDINANCE... SAY THEY'RE READY TO TRY AGAIN.
AS LAUREN DISPIRITO EXPLAINS... SUPPORTERS OF TOUGHER LIMITS ON SMOKING ARE MAKING CHANGES.....AND SAY THEY'RE STEPPING UP EFFORTS TO GET THEIR ORDINANCE PASSED.
BUT SOME OTHER COUNCIL MEMBERS SAY THEY'RE UNHAPPY WITH HOW THE REVISIONS WERE MADE.
PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SEE SMOKING BANNED IN MACON'S PUBLIC PLACES SAY THEY'RE NOT GIVING UP.
Nats tv ad "but I was wrong, I didn't quit"
WEDNESDAY... THE BREATHE EASY MACON COALITION... DISCUSSED PLANS FOR NEW TV ADS... RADIO SPOTS... AND MORE.
COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKS PRESIDENT AND CEO GREG DENT SAYS THE GROUP... WHICH PARTNERS WITH BREATHE EASY... SPENT FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS SUPPORTING A BAN SO FAR... AND IS PREPARED TO SPEND AS MUCH AS 20 THOUSAND MORE.
Greg Dent, President of Community Health Works: "I think it's important for people to know we're not going anywhere. This is an important issue the dangers of second-hand smoke are real, and we believe it's time for the city of Macon and Bibb County to address those dangers."
CITY COUNCILWOMAN LAUREN BENEDICT SAYS SHE WANTS COUNCIL TO PASS A REVISED VERSION OF THE ORDINANCE THAT MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT VETOED LAST MONTH.
WITH THE REVISIONS... SHE SAYS PEOPLE COULD SMOKE IN PUBLIC PARKS... EXCEPT WITHIN TWENTY-FIVE FEET OF A PLAYGROUND.
IT WOULD ALLOW SMOKING IN PARKING GARAGES... AT LEAST TEN FEET AWAY FROM ENTRANCES AND EXITS.
Lauren Benedict, Macon City Council: "We have to make compromises and frankly these are compromises we would have been willing to make earlier had they been issues that were brought to our attention."
SUPPORTERS SAY THEY EXPECT TO FILE THE REVISED ORDINANCE WITH CITY COUNCIL BY FRIDAY. COUNCIL PRESIDENT PRO TEM JAMES TIMLEY SAYS HE DOESN'T SUPPORT THE SMOKING RESTRICTIONS...AND SAYS COUNCIL MEMBERS WHO REVISED THE ORDINANCE HAVE BEEN SECRETIVE.
James Timley, Macon City Council President Pro Tem: "Very much so it's I mean you know it's clandestine, you know it's the kind of thing that they don't want any opposition"
IF INTRODUCED... FULL COUNCIL COULD VOTE ON THE REVISED ORDINANCE BY THE END OF THIS MONTH.
JAMES TIMLEY SAYS HE'LL DECIDE FRIDAY WHETHER TO PUT THE REVISED ORDINANCE ON NEXT WEEK'S COUNCIL AGENDA.
THE MACON GENERAL EMPLOYEE PENSION BOARD INCHED CLOSER TO A DEAL WITH THE CITY THIS AFTERNOON...
THE CITY AND BOARD HAVE BEEN NEGOTIATING HOW QUICKLY MACON WILL HAVE TO PAY ON THE NINE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS IT OWES.
BOARD MEMBER LAUREN BENEDICT SAYS... FOR ABOUT ELEVEN MONTHS...STARTING IN JULY 2010....MACON WASN'T PUTTING ENOUGH MONEY INTO THE FUND.
THE PENSION BOARD VOTED TODAY TO OFFER A PAYMENT PLAN THAT WOULD REQUIRE MACON TO PAY ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS UP FRONT.
THE CITY COULD CHOOSE TO FINANCE THE REST OVER FOUR YEARS.
THE CITY INTIALLY OFFERED NO UP FRONT MONEY... AND A FIVE YEAR FINANCING PLAN.
BENEDICT SAYS THE LATEST OFFER IS A GOOD DEAL FOR BOTH SIDES.
"It was really about finding a comprimise that while made sure the that the fund is fully protected, but at the same time doesn't strap the city's budget so much that we can't provide necessary services to our residents."
CITY COUNCIL STILL NEEDS TO VOTE TO ALLOW THE MAYOR TO ACCEPT THE DEAL.
THAT MUST HAPPEN THIS MONTH... OR THE CITY RISKS LOSING STATE FUNDING.
MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT SAYS HE'S CONFIDENT THE CITY WILL AGREE TO THE COMPROMISE.
WARNER ROBINS MAYOR CHUCK SHAHEEN SAYS HE SLASHED 900-THOUSAND DOLLARS FROM HIS 2012 BUDGET.
THE CUTS WOULD BALANCE THE BUDGET... WHICH WAS IN THE RED WHEN HE FIRST PRESENTED IT TWO WEEKS AGO.
ACCORDING TO A DRAFT OF THE REVISIONS... SHAHEEN CUT 10-PERCENT FROM EVERY DEPARTMENT'S TRAVEL AND BUSINESS MEETING EXPENSES.
HE ALSO CUT ABOUT 212-THOUSAND DOLLARS FROM THE POLICE DEPARTMENT.
COUNCIL MEETS FOR A BUDGET WORK SESSION TOMORROW AT CITY HALL... AT 5:15.
THE STATE'S CLIMATOLOGIST SAYS MOST OF GEORGIA IS IN EXTREME DROUGHT... AND THINGS WILL ONLY GET HOTTER AND DRIER IN COMING WEEKS.
HARDEST HIT ARE THE STATE'S FARMERS...LIKE THOSE IN DOOLY COUNTY...WHERE RAINFALL IS ABOUT SEVEN INCHES BELOW NORMAL THIS YEAR.
AS AMY AUBERT SHOWS YOU... ONE FARMER SAYS.. THE DROUGHT MEANS MORE LABOR AND SHELLING OUT BIGGER BUCKS TO KEEP THE GREEN... ON THE FARM.
Nats, tractor rolling through.
WITH THE GEORGIA HEAT HITTING CLOSE TO TRIPLE DIGITS...
...FARMER EDDIE GREEN SAYS... THEY'RE WORKING DOUBLE TIME.
Eddie Green, Unadilla: "We're behind with the planting, because I spend probably a third to a half of each day just lookin' after the irrigation systems that are runnin' on the farm, when I really need to be in the field devoting all of my resources to gettin' the crop planted."
BECAUSE OF THE DROUGHT... GREEN SAYS... HE HASN'T PLANTED A SINGLE COTTON SEED.. AND NOW... HE'S ONLY GOT ROUGHLY TEN DAYS LEFT.
Eddie Green: "We're fastly runnin' out of time to put a seed in the ground and havin' any resonable expectation of harvesting a respectable crop."
HE'S HAULING THESE PIPES... TO NEARLY 80 ACRES OF FARMLAND... TO IRRIGATE THE DRY DIRT... BEFORE HE CAN PLANT THE SEEDS.
Eddie Green: "If we don't receive any rainfall, we'll lay the pipe back out, and water this field again."
IT'S A PROCESS HE SAYS HE USED GROWING UP... BUT NOT THE ONLY SYSTEM... ON HIS FARM.
Nats, turning irrigation on
FOR CROPS ON 475 ACRES... GREEN MAKES IT RAIN.
Nats, irrigation system on corn
THAT LEAVES ABOUT 80 ACRES... LEFT IN THE DUST.
Eddie Green: "Both of these stalks are out of the same field, the stalk in my right hand was just slightly out of reach of the center pivot irrigation system."
KEEPING THE FARM GREEN... HE SAYS... COSTS 10 TO 12 THOUSAND BUCKS for a planting season... AND THAT'S JUST FOR COTTON AND PEANUTS.
Eddie Green: "I have neighbors in this area and one close friend that have no irrigation at all. And although I need rain badly, I don't need it as bad as they do."
AMY AUBERT... 13 WMAZ... EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> MEANWHILE... A GROUP THAT REPRESENTS GEORGIA FARMERS WILL PRAY TOMORROW FOR RELIEF FROM THIS SPRING'S TORNADOES, WILDFIRES AND DROUGHT.
THE GEORGIA FARM BUREAU HAS SCHEDULED A PRAYER SERVICE THURSDAY FOR GOOD WEATHER.
IT HAPPENS AT 12-30 PM AT ITS HEADQUARTERS ON BASS ROAD IN NORTH MACON.
THE GROUP SAYS GEORGIA AGRICULTURE SECRETARY GARY BLACK WILL TAKE PART.
PRIMARIES FOR THIS YEAR'S MACON CITY ELECTIONS ARE LESS THAN TWO MONTHS AWAY AND THE FIELD OF CANDIDATES IS ALREADY FILLING UP.
RANDALL SAVAGE AND FORMER MACON MAYOR GEORGE ISRAEL JOINS US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THIS YEAR'S RACES.
THERE'S A NEW PLACE IN CENTRAL GEORGIA WHERE SOME CARS CAN FUEL UP.. FOR FREE
(MAH-JEE) MAGE SOLAR IN DUBLIN OPENED A CHARGING STATION FOR ELECTRIC CARS..
IT GIVES DRIVERS OF CARS LIKE THE CHEVY VOLT... A PLACE TO BOOST THEIR BATTERIES.. AND DRIVE FOR ABOUT 50 MILES BEFORE USING GAS.
THE SOLAR PANEL COMPANY BUILT THE STATION FOR THE PUBLIC TO USE FOR FREE.
C-E-O JOE THOMAS SAYS HE HOPES TO SHOW PEOPLE THE POSSIBILITIES OF SOLAR POWER.
Joe Thomas: "Pull in, plug up and start charging their vehicles here on campus, and so this is something we just put out here so people can understand some of the things that are in place in the solar industry and how people are using solar in everyday life around the United States and around the world.
THE CHARGING STATION'S GRAND OPENING HAPPENS TOMORROW AT MAGE SOLAR ON INDUSTRIAL BOULEVARD IN DUBLIN.
IT STARTS AT 2 P-M.
WE'RE SHARING YOUR GRADUATION PHOTOS.
THIS FIRST PHOTO IS FROM THE PAULDING COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION... THIS WAS TISHONDRIA ON HER BIG DAY. THE CAPTION SAYS HER ENTIRE FAMILY WENT TO THE CEREMONY... AND THEY ARE ALL VERY PROUD OF HER.
THIS NEXT PHOTO IS OF CHASEN AND ASHLEY ON THEIR GRADUATION DAY.
SEND US YOUR PHOTOS...LOOK FOR *PHOTO GALLERIES* UNDER FEATURES IN THE MENU BAR ACROSS THE TOP OF OUR HOMEPAGE...
THANKS FOR JOINING US.... WE'LL BE BACK TONIGHT AT 11.
BUT REMEMBER...THE NEWS IS ALWAYS ON AT 13WMAZ.COM !
THE EVENING NEWS IS UP NEXT.
HAVE A SAFE NIGHT EVERYONE.