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Monday, June 20, Eyewitness News at 11

7:58 PM, Jun 20, 2011   |    comments
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GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US..
I'M FRANK MALLOY..
AND I'M LEAH JOHNSON..THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT 11.

A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO MISSING MONEY AT MACON ANIMAL CONTROL IS MOVING FORWARD.
AN ANAYLSIS OF FINANCIAL INFORMATION SHOWS MORE THAN EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS WENT MISSING.
AS ELEANOR LISSITZYN EXPLAINS... COUNCIL MEMBERS SAY THEY DON'T KNOW IF IT'S SLOPPY ACCOUNTING..OR SOMETHING ELSE..BUT THEY SAY THE MESS NEEDS TO BE CLEANED UP.
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THE CITY'S INTERNAL AUDITOR SAYS EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS IN CASH WENT MISSING FROM MACON ANIMAL CONTROL IN A TEN MONTH PERIOD... BEGINNING LAST JULY...
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AUDTIOR STEPHANIE JONES SHARED HER FINDINGS WITH THE MACON CITY COUNCIL APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE MONDAY. HER REPORT CITED THE DEPARTMENT FOR THINGS LIKE A CASH ONLY-SYSTEM WITH NO MANAGEMENT OVERSIGHT... AND LITTLE ACCOUNTABILITY.
stand up: "The Macon Police Internal Affiars is conducting a criminal investigation to try to determine how $18,000 went mising from animal control according to mayoral spokesman Clay Murphey.
The Department's Director Jim Johnson and his administrative assistant are being investigated. As a result of the investigation, Murhphy says on June 13 they were placed on administrative leave. They will remain on leave until the investigation is completed."
COUNCILMAN TOM ELLINGTON SAYS THE CITY MAY NEVER KNOW WHERE THE MONEY WENT.
"Given the financial controls that were in place at the time, I'm not sure if were ever going to be able to get a full explantion."
COUNCILWOMAN LAUREN BENEDICT SAYS THE ACCOUNTING PROBLEMS SEEM TO BE WIDESPREAD... AND SUSPICIOUS.
SHE SAYS AFTER EXAMINING THE AUDITORS REPORT... IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN CLEAR TO MANAGEMENT THAT MONEY WAS MISSING.
"It seems to me when you're the director of a department, the buck stops with you."
THE AUDITOR'S REPORT INCLUDES NINE RECOMMENDATIONS TO STOP MONEY FROM GOING MISSING IN THE FUTURE.
CITY OFFICIALS SAYS THEY ARE IN THE PROCESS OF IMPLEMENTING THEM.
STD>>DIRECTOR OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS KEITH MOFFETT SAYS THE CITY IS IN THE "PLANNING STAGES" OF MAKING CHANGES RECOMMENDED BY THE AUDITORS REPORT.
THE RECOMMENDATIONS INCLUDE THINGS LIKE INSTALLING A SYSTEM TO TAKE CREDIT CARDS... AND TEACHING MANAGEMENT HOW TO USE THE DEPARTMENT'S FINANCIAL SOFTWARE SO THEY CAN KEEP TRACK OF EMPLOYEES WHO HANDLE MONEY.

HOUSTON COUNTY HOMEOWNERS WILL NOT PAY HIGHER TAXES THIS BUDGET YEAR.
THAT'S IF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS APPROVE THE CHAIRMAN'S 51 MILLION DOLLAR BUDGET.
TOMMY STALNAKER WILL PRESENT THE HIGHLIGHTS AT A PUBLIC MEETING TOMORROW NIGHT.
HE SAYS IT INCLUDES A TWO-PERCENT COST OF LIVING INCREASE FOR ALL COUNTY EMPLOYEES.
THIS WILL BE THE FIRST TIME IN TWO YEAR'S THEY'VE RECEIVED IT... ALTHOUGH THEY WON'T GET A MERIT INCREASE.
THIS WILL BE THE THIRD YEAR THAT'S BEEN SUSPENDED.
STALNAKER SAYS HIS BUDGET DOESN'T CALL FOR ANY FURLOUGHS OR LAY-OFFS.
IT ALSO DOES NOT INCLUDE NEW JOBS.
Tommy Stalnaker, Houston County Commission Chairman: "There is no tax increase in this budget. The taxes will be maintained at the current level. We are getting very, very little additional new dollars through taxes."
THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BUDGET IS TOMORROW NIGHT AT 6 P-M AT THE HOUSTON COUNTY ANNEX OFF CARL VINSON PARKWAY.
YOU CAN HEAR MORE OF STALNAKER'S COMMENTS ON HIS BUDGET... BY LOOKING FOR THIS STORY ON 13-WMAZ. DOT-COM.

HOMEOWNERS IN WARNER ROBINS CAN EXPECT AN INCREASE IN TAXES AND UTILITY FEES AS A RESULT OF THE BUDGET APPROVED TONIGHT BY CITY COUNCIL..
MAYOR CHUCK SHAHEEN SAYS THE TAX INCREASE AMOUNTS TO ABOUT TWO DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS A MONTH... ON A 100-THOUSAND DOLLAR HOME.
THE FEE INCREASE FOR SEWER AND WATER WILL BE ABOUT 10 CENTS PER DAY FOR EVERY HOMEOWNER.
SHAHEEN SAYS DESPITE THE INCREASE... THE COST OF LIVING IS STILL LOW IN WARNER ROBINS.
Chuck Shaheen, Mayor of Warner Robins: "Its still the lowest in the state. Our millage rate, is still the lowest in the county as well. It's still a great place to live and to build a house, and to live as a citizen of Warner Robins, because of our very professional services that you provide at a very nominal rate."
FINANCE DIRECTOR BILL HARTE SAYS THE UTILITY FEE INCREASE WILL HELP PAY FOR A NEW WATER TREATMENT PLANT... THAT'S EXPECTED TO COST ABOUT 30-MILLION DOLLARS.
ABOUT 200-THOUSAND DOLLARS OF THE UTILITY FEES WILL BE TRANSFERRED TO THE GENERAL FUND... AND USED TO BALANCE THIS YEAR'S BUDGET.

MACON MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT AGREES WITH N-DOUBLE-A-C-P MEMBERS WHO ARE PROTESTING A CONFEDERATE FLAG OUTSIDE THE DODGE COUNTY COURTHOUSE.
THAT'S ACCORDING TO SPOKESMAN CLAY MURPHEY.
TODAY... THE MACON NAACP CHAPTER ASKED WHITE OFFICIALS AND CANDIDATES TO SPEAK OUT ON THE FLAG ISSUE.
MURPHEY SAYS THE MAYOR WILL DO THAT.
ACCORDING TO MURPHEY... REICHERT SAYS THE FLAG IS APPROPRIATE IN SOME PLACES SUCH AS A CONFEDERATE CEMETERY... BUT NOT APPROPRIATE IN OTHER PLACES.. LIKE OUTSIDE A COUNTY COURTHOUSE.
THE FLAG WAS PLACED AT A WAR MEMORIAL IN EASTMAN... AND COUNTY COMMISSIONERS HAVE REFUSED TO REMOVE IT.

DROUGHT CONDITIONS IN GEORGIA ARE AFFECTING HOW MUCH WATER RUNS THROUGH GEORGIA'S RIVERS AND STREAMS.
THAT'S ACCORDING TO STATE SCIENTISTS.
BRIAN McCULLUM WITH THE GEORGIA WATER SCIENCE CENTER SAYS THE OCMULGEE RIVER HAS ABOUT 40 PERCENT LESS WATER IN IT THAN THE AVERAGE FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR.
HE SAYS LACK OF RAINFALL IS THE MAIN REASON FOR THE DEFICIT... BUT FARMERS PUMPING RIVER WATER FOR IRRIGATION ALSO ADD TO IT.
MARK WYZALEK (wise-LICK) WITH THE MACON WATER AUTHORITY SAYS THE CITY BUILT THE LUCAS LAKE RESERVOIR TO HANDLE THIS TYPE OF SHORTAGE.
HE SAYS THE WATER AUTHORITY FILLED THE LAKE IN ANTICIPATION OF THE DROUGHT.
Mark Wyzalek, Macon Water Authority
"Because we foresaw an opportunity for a drought occuring this year, we decided to make sure the reservoir was as full as possible. Right now, we've got a little bit over 5.4 billion gallons of water in that reservoir."
WYZALEK (wise-LICK) SAYS 5-POINT-4 BILLION GALLONS IS ENOUGH TO SERVE THE 150-THOUSAND MACON WATER AUTHORITY CUSTOMERS FOR A COUPLE HUNDRED DAYS.
THERE'S ALSO A STATE-WIDE WATER RESTRICTION IN EFFECT.
FOR INFORMATION ON WHAT THAT INCLUDES... LOOK FOR THIS STORY ON OUR WEBSITE 13 WMAZ-DOT-COM.

TODAY'S 13WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL QUESTION ASKS... ARE YOU TRYING TO CONSERVE WATER DUE TO THE DROUGHT?
SO FAR 68 PERCENT OF YOU SAY YES.
32 PERCENT OF YOU SAY NO.
VOTE NOW... LOOK FOR THE QUESTION ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE HOMEPAGE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.

TWO LARGE WILDFIRES IN SOUTHEAST GEORGIA ARE CLOSE TO BEING CONTAINED.
A STATE FORESTRY SPOKESWOMAN SAYS ONE FIRE IN WARE COUNTY AND ANOTHER IN CHARLTON AND BRANTLEY COUNTIES ARE SURROUNDED BY CONTAINMENT LINES.
BUT A SPOKESWOMAN FOR THE GEORGIA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY SAYS STRONG WINDS COULD PUSH THE FIRES BEYOND THOSE PROTECTIVE BUFFERS.
THE TWO FIRES HAVE BURNED SEVENTY SQUARE MILES... MOSTLY TIMBERLAND.. OUTSIDE THE OKEFENOKEE SWAMP.
BOTH SPREAD QUICKLY LAST WEEK... BEFORE RAIN THIS WEEKEND SLOWED THEM DOWN.

SOME MEDICAL SCHOOL GRADUATES TRADED IN THEIR SHORT COATS FOR LONGER VERSIONS TODAY.
THE MEDICAL CENTER OF CENTRAL GEORGIA HONORED ABOUT 40 FUTURE DOCTORS IN ITS FIRST WHITE COAT CEREMONY.
CHIEF ACADEMIC OFFICER MARCIA HUTCHINSON SAYS TODAY KICKED OFF THE 10 DAY ORIENTATION BEFORE RESIDENTS START THEIR SPECIALTY TRAINING... AND WORK WITH REAL PATIENTS.
MERCER GRADUATE CHRISTOPHER INHULSEN (EN-HEL-SON) SAYS A LOT OF HARD WORK AND DEDICATION HELPED HIM GET TO THIS POINT.
CHRISTOPHER INHULSEN:
"I didnt expect to have this sort of a ceremony normally at the beginning of medical school they have a white coat ceremony but when you start residency alot time you just show up and start working, but to be able to have everyone here and sort of recognize, its an accomplishment."
THE RESIDENTS AND FELLOWS WILL START THEIR SPECIALIZED TRAINING ON JULY 1ST.
TODAY'S CEREMONY WAS THE FIRST ONE AT THE MEDICAL CENTER.
THEY'RE TYPICALLY HELD AT ACADEMIC HOSPITALS.

IF YOU PLAN TO HEAD TO THE MOVIES NEXT MONTH TO CHECK OUT ONE OF THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS LIKE "TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON" OR THE LAST FILM IN THE "HARRY POTTER" SERIES... ONE BIBB COUNTY THEATER SAYS THE FILMS WILL LOOK BIGGER AND SOUND BETTER.
THAT'S BECAUSE THE AMSTAR 16 THEATER ON ZEBULON ROAD IS BRINGING AN IMAX SCREEN TO ONE OF ITS THEATERS.
THEY SAY MOVIE-GOERS WILL GET A BETTER QUALITY OF PICTURE AND SOUND FROM THE GIANT SCREEN AND IMPROVED SOUND SYSTEM.
MANAGER WESLEY CLARK SAYS THIS WILL BE THE ONLY IMAX THEATER IN CENTRAL GEORGIA.
Wesley Clark, "Being able to experience it for the first time and have an opportunity that before this time wasn't a close by opportunity, you would have to drive a fair distance to get to another Imax location, but know folks can drive down the street and enjoy Imax.
THE GRAND OPENING OF IMAX WILL KICK OFF WITH A MIDNIGHT SHOWING OF TRANSFORMERS ON JUNE 28TH AND THEN HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS IN JULY.
TICKETS FOR IMAX MOVIES WILL COST 5 DOLLARS MORE....THAN FOR THE AMSTAR'S REGULAR SCREENS.

THE SUPREME COURT HAS SIDED WITH CORPORATE WAL-MART IN A GENDER DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT THAT WAS WORTH BILLIONS.
THE REJECTED LAWSUIT WAS FILED BY 6 WOMEN... AND BOTH SIDES SEE TODAY'S RULING AS A VICTORY FOR BIG COMPANIES AND A LOSS FOR CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS.
DANIELLE NOTTINGHAM EXPLAINS.
(PKG)
The Supreme Court says women who want to sue WalMart for gender discrimination cannot do it as a massive group.
What would have been the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in U-S history started with Betty Dukes... and five other female employees.. who accused the retail giant of giving men more money and better promotions than women.
Their lawyers argued it was a company-wide policy.. and all women who worked for WalMart should be part of a class action lawsuit.
(Betty Dukes, Plaintiff, Wal-Mart case)
18:03:16 INDIVIDUALLY WE JUST DONT HAVE THE RESOURCES TO BE UP AGAINST SOME OF GREATEST CORPORATIONS OF AMERICA***
The justices all shot down the class action case in this form... saying Walmart's one and a half million female employees held different jobs at 34-hundred stores nationwide.. and they had little in common but their sex and this lawsuit.
(Danielle Nottingham, Washington, DC )
BRIDGE: But the court spilt five-to-four on another part of the decision.. the four liberal justices were in the minority saying the women should be given another chance to re-file their claim.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the opinion for the majority - the court said there was "no convincing proof" WalMart's policies triggered widespread discrimination.
(Theodore Boutrous Jr., Wal-Mart's lawyer)
THE COURT SAID THE EVIDENCE WAS WORLDS AWAY THAT WALMART HAD A POLICY OF DISCRIMINATION THAT'S CORRECT WE'RE VERY GLAD THE COURT THREW THIS CLASS ACTION SUIT OUT.
Betty Dukes plans to fight on.
(Dukes SOT) I STILL BELIEVE WE PREVAIL - WE WILL JUST DO IT IN OTHER FORMATS*****
But without the class-action suit there's no longer of billions of dollars at stake.. and court watchers say that takes pressure off WalMart to settle.
SOME CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS DON'T AGREE WITH THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION AND WANT CONGRESS TO PASS AN ACT THAT WILL REDUCE WAGE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN.

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IT'S TIME TO TAKE A LOOK AT WHERE YOU LIVE.
IT'S A FEATURE ON 13 WMAZ DOT COM THAT SHOWCASES NEWS AND EVENTS SPECIFIC TO YOUR COMMUNITY.
TODAY WE ARE LOOKING AT THE WARNER ROBINS PAGE. ANITA CLARK BLOGS ABOUT THINGS TO DO IN MIDDLE GEORGIA THIS SUMMER. SOME OF THE PLACES SHE MENTIONS IS WILD ADVENTURES IN VALDOSTA, THE MASSEE LANE GARDENS IN FORT VALLEY AND THE JIMMY CARTER MUSEUM IN PLAINS GEORGIA.
TO READ MORE OF WHAT YOU CAN DO THIS SUMMER IN MIDDLE GEORGIA, HEAD TO ANITA'S BLOG ON OUR WARNER ROBINS PAGE.
AND FOR MORE NEWS AND EVENTS IN YOUR COMMUNITY..HEAD OVER TO OUR "WHERE YOU LIVE" FEATURE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.

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