Wednesday, June 8, Eyewitness News at 11

7:28 PM, Jun 9, 2011   |    comments
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GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US..
I'M LEAH JOHNSON..THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT 11.

THE BIBB COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS VOTED WEDNESDAY NIGHT TO APPROVE AN INCREASE IN THE MILLAGE RATE.
PROPERTY OWNERS WILL NOW PAY ABOUT TWELVE MILLS... THAT'S A TWO MILL INCREASE.
ELEANOR LISSITZYN HAS BEEN FOLLOWING THIS STORY TODAY... SHE'S JOINING US NOW WITH MORE.
LEAH... HERE'S HOW THE NUMBERS BREAK DOWN...
A MILL IS ONE DOLLAR OF TAXATION FOR EVERY THOUSAND DOLLARS WORTH OF PROPERTY.
IN THE STATE OF GEORGIA PEOPLE ARE ONLY TAXED ON FORTY PERCENT OF THE VALUE OF THEIR HOME.
FOR EXAMPLE... UNDER THE 2010 MILLAGE RATE A HOMEOWNER WITH A HOUSE VALUED AT ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS PAID ABOUT FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS IN PROPERTY TAXES TO THE COUNTY.
NOW THAT THE RATE HAS INCREASED TO ABOUT TWELVE MILLS.... SO THAT THE SAME HOMEOWNER WILL PAY ABOUT FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DOLLARS IN PROPERTY TAXES... AN EIGHTY DOLLAR INCREASE.
BIBB COUNTY CHAIRMAN SAM HART SAYS THE INCREASE WAS NECESSARY TO HELP THE COUNTY COVER A THIRTEEN MILLION DOLLAR BUDGET SHORTFALL.
HART SAYS THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS EXHAUSTED ALL OTHER OPTIONS BEFORE FINALLY DECIDING TO BITE THE BULLET.
"We cut twenty seven positions, we didn't fund twenty seven positions, we asked and postponed things that we could do in future years."
HART SAYS THE BOARD DECREASED THE MILLAGE RATE BY TWO MILLS THREE YEARS AGO... BUT ALWAYS INTENDED TO ADD IT BACK ON.
HE SAYS WITH LEFTOVER SPLOST FUNDS DWINDLING... NOW IS THE TIME TO RAISE THE RATE.
"What we've been able to do is maintain the same level of service to this community because we had excess SPLOST funds. Those funds have been exhausted. And as we promised we are putting those two mills back on."
HART PROJECTS THE RATE INCREASE WILL RAISE AN ADDITIONAL EIGHT AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS.
BUT EVEN WITH THE INCREASE... HE SAYS THEY'LL STILL NEED TO TAKE TWO MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE COUNTY'S RESERVE FUNDS TO BALANCE THE BUDGET.
IN AN EFFORT TO BALANCE THE BUDGET.... HART SAYS THEY ALSO CUT THREE MILLION DOLLARS IN COSTS... BY DOING THINGS LIKE NOT FILLING EMPTY POSITIONS.

MEMBERS OF THE FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN SANDERSVILLE CONTINUE TO SALVAGE PIECES OF THEIR PAST AFTER THE CHURCH'S SANCTUARY BURNED LAST WEEK
JENNIFER MOULLIET (MOO-LAY) SHOWS YOU SOME OF THE MEMORIES THAT REMAIN.
<<
Barry Pendry, Church Deacon: "We will rise from the ashes."
BARRY PENDRY SHOWS THE HEART AND STRENGTH OF THE FIRST CHRISTIAN CONGREGATION.
Barry Pendry, Church Deacon: "It's just a building that burned its not the church, the churches are the people."
AND THEIR FAITH HAS NOT FALTERED...
Jennifer Moulliet, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News: "I'm standing in the prayer garden where the congregation had service on sunday, and Barry Pendry says they could have it here again."
Barry Pendry, Church Deacon: "This is where we will have our services for the immediate future. A lot of the other churches in the community have offered their sanctuaries for our use in case we need them, also there's the option possibly if we have a nice day we can have an outdoor service."
THE SANCTUARY IS DESTROYED BUT THE PEWS THAT ARE AS OLD AS THE ORIGINAL CHURCH... BUILT BEFORE 1907 WERE SAVED AND THEY WILL BE SENT TO ATLANTA TO BE RESTORED.
Joy Pendry, Church Historian: "All the materials will be taken to a humidifying chamber and be dehumidfied and hopefully some of the things will be able to be salvaged."
ANOTHER MEMORY SURVIVED
Joy Pendry, Church Historian: "This particular photograph was made in the 1930's and it shows the interior of the sanctuary as it would have looked on an easter sunday."
PENDRY SAYS SHE BELIEVES THE BELL TOWER SAVED THE SMOKE FROM DESTROYING EVERYTHING INSIDE.
Joy Pendry, Church Historian : "That took a lot of the heat out of the building, it served as a chimney its where all of the smoke escaped"
AND AT THE END OF THE DAY SHE SAYS ITS NOT IMPORTANT WHERE YOU PRAY.
Joy Pendry, Church Historian: "It doesn't matter wherever they say to go to worship is where we will be to worship if its outdoors or indoors if its in the social hall or in another location away from our original plan that's where we will be."
JENNIFER MOULLIET 13 WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS
>> THE FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMUNITY SAYS THEY'RE THANKFUL FOR THE SUPPORT FROM OTHER CHURCHES IN THE COUNTY.
THE STATE FIRE MARSHALL BELIEVES THE FIRE WAS STARTED BY A HEAT GUN THAT WAS BEING USED IN THE CHURCH'S ATTIC... BUT THEY'RE STILL INVESTIGATING.

MORE THAN A YEAR AFTER FIRE DESTROYED THE TWIGGS COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY... THE COUNTY PLANS TO REBUILD AND NEARLY DOUBLE ITS SIZE.
THE COUNTY PLANS TO USE A 1.2 MILLION DOLLAR STATE GRANT AND NEARLY 600 THOUSAND DOLLARS IN INSURANCE PAYMENTS TO REBUILD.
LIBRARY BOARD CHAIRMAN EARL ((DEN - ARD)) DENNARD SAYS THE COUNTY IS NEGOTIATING TO BUY LAND ON MAIN STREET... ABOUT A BLOCK AND A HALF FROM THE OLD SITE ON ASH STREET.
HE HOPES THEY CAN BREAK GROUND ON A NEW BUILDING THIS FALL.
Candice Gray, Danville: it's really really small maybe one shelf one large shelf has books for kids and one small table with like three chairs at it so not all the girls were able to sit down and read a book"
DENNARD ((DEN - ARD)) SAYS IT TOOK LONGER THAN EXPECTED TO GET GRANT MONEY FOR A NEW LIBRARY... BECAUSE STATE LAWMAKERS HAD TO APPROVE THE MONEY IN THE BUDGET.

PHIL WALDEN JR ...THE SON OF CAPRICORN RECORDS FOUNDER... THE LATE PHIL WALDEN... DIED TUESDAY.
THE ATLANTA AREA LAWYER AND FATHER OF FOUR DIED IN AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT IN ATLANTA.
HIS COUSIN... JESSICA WALDEN... CONFIRMED HIS DEATH... AND SAYS ATLANTA AUTHORITIES ARE NOT RELEASING ANY FURTHER DETAILS UNTIL THEY INFORM ALL MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY...
WALDENS' FATHER MANAGED AND PROMOTED SEVERAL MUSICAL ARTISTS.... INCLUDING OTIS REDDING ...AND THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND...

THE GEORGIA MUSIC HALL OF FAME CLOSES SUNDAY... BUT IT'S SEEING AN ATTENDANCE BOOST IN ITS FINAL DAYS.
AS ITS FIFTEEN YEAR RUN IN MACON WINDS DOWN... DOZENS OF PEOPLE VISITED THE MUSEUM FOR THE LAST TIME TODAY.
PEOPLE STOPPED BY TO CHECK OUT THE GUITARS... RECORDS... AND OTHER MEMORABILIA.
MOST OF THE ITEMS WILL MOVE TO THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARY ONCE THE MUSEUM CLOSES.
VISITORS INCLUDED CENTRAL GEORGIA SCHOOL GROUPS AND PEOPLE TOURING FOR THE FINAL TIME.
OTHERS CAME FROM ACROSS THE STATE TO GET THEIR FIRST AND LAST LOOK AT THE MUSEUM.
Mark Howington, Hogansville: "That's the thought that came to my mind, it's about to close down and I want to get in here and see it before a piece of history is gone."
Ana Luwig, Sacred Heart, "Normall we come in July of or the end of June, but I pushed it up, you know, I didn't want to miss an opportunity this being the last week."
Savannah Mckleroy: Makes it so sad because all these Georgia singers are in here but some people some people have never gotten a chance to see them
TOBY GRAHAM WITH UGA'S LIBRARY SAYS.... UNTIL A DECISION IS MADE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE COLLECTION.... IT'LL BE STORED AT THE SPECIAL COLLECTIONS LIBRARY.

JUST AS UNCERTAIN AS THE FUTURE OF THE COLLECTION... IS THE FUTURE OF THE MUSIC HALL OF FAME BUILDING.
MAYORAL CANDIDATE AND FORMER TWO TIME MAYOR OF MACON C. JACK ELLIS... HELD A NEWS CONFERENCE TODAY TO DISCUSS HIS IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE.
HE SAYS HE'D LIKE THE 43 THOUSAND SQUARE FOOT BUILDING TO BE CONVERTED INTO A ONE-STOP-SHOP FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
Mayoral Candidate C. Jack Ellis: "The highest and best use for this building in my opinion, that it should be converted into a , an economic development incubator if you will. When I say incubator I mean the place where all of our economic development activities will be begin."
ELLIS SAYS HE'D LIKE TO SEE THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE... PLANNING AND ZONING... INSPECTION AND FEES AND OTHER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT RELATED ENITIES MOVE IN TO THE BUILDING.
HE SAY HE WOULD ALSO LIKE TO USE PART OF IT FOR A MACON MUSIC HALL OF FAME.

MACON POLICE SAY AN ABANDONED TRUCK GOT IN THE WAY OF A NORFOLK SOUTHERN TRAIN.
IT HAPPENED ON A SET OF TRACKS NEAR NORTH PIERCE AVENUE LAST NIGHT.
POLICE SAY THE TRAIN STRUCK A BLACK 2003 FORD F-150 THAT WAS ABANDONED ON THE TRAIN TRACKS.
ACCORDING TO A NEWS RELEASE... THE DRIVER OF THE TRUCK...18 YEAR-OLD BRIAN MAY TOLD OFFICERS HE HAD BEEN DRINKING ALL DAY AND WAS LOCKED IN THE GATE AT AMERSON WATER PARK ON RIVERVIEW DRIVE.
MAY SAID HE WAS DRIVING ALONG THE TRAIN TRACKS SEARCHING FOR ANOTHER CROSSING TO EXIT THE PARK.... WHEN HIS TRUCK GOT STUCK ON THE TRACKS.
HE SAID HE WAS ABLE TO GET OUT BEFORE THE TRAIN COLLIDED WITH HIS TRUCK.
MAY WAS ARRESTED AT THE SCENE FOR VEHICULAR VIOLATIONS AND CHARGED WITH THEFT AFTER DEPUTIES FOUND STOLEN ITEMS IN HIS TRUCK.

GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL HAS ASKED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO DECLARE 22 COUNTIES... INCLUDING TWO IN CENTRAL GEORGIA... AS DISASTER AREAS BECAUSE OF DROUGHT CONDITIONS.
DEAL'S PROPOSAL TO THE U-S SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE INCLUDES TELFAIR AND WHEELER COUNTIES.
IT SAID THE DROUGHT HAS CAUSED EXTENSIVE DAMAGE TO CROPS... AND THAT THE STATE'S U-S-D-A STATE EMERGENCY BOARD HAS CONFIRMED LOSSES IN 22 COUNTIES AROUND GEORGIA.
A DISASTER DESIGNATION WOULD ALLOW FARMERS IN THOSE COUNTRIES TO APPLY FOR EMERGENCY LOANS AND OTHER BENEFITS.

PEOPLE IN SOME EASTERN ARIZONA TOWNS ARE EVACUATING AS A MONSTER WILDFIRE THREATENS THEIR HOMES.
THE FIRE IS NOT CONTAINED... AND THE HEAT AND WIND THAT ARE FEEDING IT REFUSE TO LET UP.
KENDIS GIBSON HAS MORE FROM LOS ANGELES.
<<The second largest fire Arizona has ever seen is now advancing on the towns of Eagar and Springerville...and thousands have been ordered to leave.
(SOT RESIDENT)
"It's a very scary situation. And I have a 2-year-old. The air has turned hazerdous."

Flames have charred more than 389-thousand acres in the last 11 days...and crews have been hard pressed to contain any of it.

(nat pop: 18:01:30 weather's the big enemy)
Fire Chief Stephen Miller is on the front lines where crews are battling record heat and wind gusts of up to 35 miles an hour.

:31 - :34
(SOT: Stephen Miller/Fire Chief)
18:00 "If it got here in this grass area where we're standing it would move extremely fast."

His crews are digging a 10-mile fire-line through heavily forested areas with few roads.
Brutal work...in hopes of saving hundreds of homes.

(SOT: )
"This is not a fire that people can attack directly. Everybody's been using an indirect strategy, trying to make use of natural barriers...lakes, rivers, roads, dozier lines...trying to just get out in front of this fire and stop it, and it's been very challenging."

The biggest challenge...burning embers that have a 90 percent chance of starting new spot fires in this bone-dry forest.

To that end, firefighters are hitting the flames from above with water and retardant.

And that little bit of dampening may be the best they can do since what they need most...rain...is still no where in sight.

>> INVESTIGATORS ARE LOOKING INTO WHETHER THE BLAZE WAS SPARKED BY AN UNATTENDED CAMPFIRE OVER THE MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND.

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LETTERMAN'S NEXT.
HAVE A SAFE NIGHT EVERYONE.

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