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Tuesday, December 27, Eyewitness News at 11

11:05 PM, Dec 28, 2011   |    comments
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GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US..
I'M FRANK MALLOY....THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT 11.

OUR TOP STORY TONIGHT - MACON CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS SPOKE OUT STRONGLY ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE COUNTY COULD BRING NEARLY 100 CITY EMPLOYEES ONTO THE COUNTY PAYROLL AS NEW HIRES..
COUNCIL MEMBERS VOICED THEIR OPINIONS AFTER DEPUTY REGIONAL COMMISSION DIRECTOR LAURA MATHIS BRIEFED THEM ON THREE DIFFERENT POSSIBILITIES INVOLVING THE MERGING OF SOME CITY DEPARTMENTS INTO THE COUNTY..
THE FIRST... A LEASE OR CONTRACT BETWEEN THE CITY AND COUNTY THAT WOULD STILL GIVE THE CITY CONTROL TO HIRE... FIRE... AND REASSIGN.
THE SECOND AND MOST CONTROVERSIAL OPTION INVOLVES TREATING THE CITY EMPLOYEES AS NEW HIRES.
THIS WOULD GUARANTEE EMPLOYMENT... BUT CITY OFFICIALS SAY THAT MEANS A 30-YEAR-VETERAN WOULD LOSE SENIORITY AND HAVE LESS STANDING THAN A COUNTY EMPLOYEE WITH JUST A FEW MONTHS EXPERIENCE.
OPTION 3 ACCORDING TO MATHIS WOULD TREAT CITY EMPLOYEES AS NEW HIRES WITH CREDIT FOR CITY SERVICE. THE COUNTY WOULD PROVIDE BENEFITS... RIGHTS... AND PRIVELEDGES... AND THE EMPLOYEE WOULD GET CREDIT FOR YEARS OF SERVICE.
AS AMY AUBERT SHOWS YOU - OPTION 2 IS THE CHOICE BEING FURTHER DEVELOPED RIGHT NOW AND THAT HAS MANY COUNCIL MEMBERS UNEASY.
<<Nats, Laura Mathis

DEPUTY REGIONAL COMMISSION DIRECTOR LAURA MATHIS LAYED OUT THE THREE CHOICES... BUT AS OF NOW... MATHIS SAYS ONLY ONE OF THEM... STARTING THE EMPLOYEES AS NEW HIRES... IS BEING FURTHER DEVELOPED.

Tom Ellington: "The takeaway potentially is that treating city employees that are transferring over fairly is difficult and so we're not going to treat them fairly because that's easy."

COUNCIL MEMBER TOM ELLINGTON SAYS HE HAS SERIOUS CONCERNS WITH THE WAY EMPLOYEES COULD BE TRANSFERRED.
HE'S NOT ALONE.

Lauren Benedict: "It's very rare that I would ever utter the words that I feel like I can speak for my fellow council members, but I feel like I can in that we were all shocked and we're very unhappy about the uproar that it's caused those employees."

Elaine Lucas: "We have to put ourselves in the place of our employees always. And think, how would I feel? If I'm just a commodity and I'm being shipped back and forth and I have no control, no say so, nobody contacts me, nobody asks me anything."


MATHIS SAYS RIGHT NOW... THEY'RE WORKING ON JOB DESCRIPTIONS AND PAY SCALES... BUT SAYS SHE'S STILL UNSURE OF WHAT OPTION THE COUNTY WILL DECIDE ON.

Laura Mathis: "I can certainly understand the city's position and the county's position. I get to be stuck in the middle going between them."

MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT CALLS LAST WEEK'S DECISION BY THE COUNTY COMMISSIONER'S A GLITCH IN AN OTHERWISE GOOD RELATIONSHIP.

Robery Reichert: "The county's decision I think was a little premature to rule out options 1 and 3 and to pursue only option 2 to find out more information about that."

MAYOR REICHERT SAYS A DECISION NEEDS TO BE MADE RELATIVELY SOON... BECAUSE WHICHEVER OPTION IS CHOSEN...IT WILL GO INTO EFFECT JULY FIRST.

AMY AUBERT 13 WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.>>
PARKS AND RECREATION DIRECTOR DOC DOUGHTERY - WHO WILL BE AFFECTED BY THE TRANSFER - TOLD 13WMAZ'S RANDALL SAVAGE HE'S ENCOURAGED BY WHAT COUNCIL SAID TUESDAY.

BASS ROAD IN MACON HAS SEEN BIG CHANGES OVER THE YEARS TRANSFORMING IT FROM A COUNTRY LANE TO A MAJOR ROAD
THOSE CHANGES HAVE ALSO LED TO AN INCREASE IN TRAFFIC OVER THE YEARS.
AUSTIN LEWIS REPORTS ON SOME OF THE TRAFFIC PROBLEMS PEOPLE TRAVELING ON BASS ROAD FACE EVERY DAY..
<< EARL AND SONIA BALKCOM HAVE LIVED OFF BASS ROAD MUCH OF THEIR LIVES.
THEY HAVE SEEN BASS ROAD TRANSFORM FROM AN EMPTY COUNTRY LANE...
Sonia Balkcom, Macon: (04:35) When I was a little girl, all of us, we'd run out to the front of the house to see a car go round the road.
...TO A BUSY MAIN ROAD.
Earl Balkcom, Macon: (02:15) It's almost a continuous stream of cars.
THE BALKCOMS SAY THEY HAVE WAITED---AS LONG AS FIVE MINUTES--FOR TRAFFIC TO CLEAR UP SO THEY CAN MERGE ONTO IT---BUT THEY SAY THEY ARE USED TO IT.
Sonia Balkcom, Macon: (01:49) Cause it will open up, you sit there long enough and the first thing you'll know it'll open up.
INCREASE IN TRAFFIC IS SOMETHING THAT OTHERS HAVE NOTICED.
Captain Charles Gunnels, Bibb County Sherriff's Dept.: (00:44) We have seen a 38 percent increase in the last four years.
CAPTAIN CHARLES GUNNELS OF BIBB COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT SAYS THAT'S BECAUSE IT'S A FEEDER ROUTE TO I-475 AND I-75.
Captain Charles Gunnels, Bibb County Sherriff's Dept.: (01:25) And also, it's a cut through, through Northside Drive to Rivoli to Bass to Zebulon, so it's definitely a major route in Bibb County and we have outgrown it.
HE SAYS THAT'S DUE TO A RISE IN NEW DEVELOPMENTS.
Captain Charles Gunnels, Bibb County Sherriff's Dept.: (03:36) We have Bass Pro Shop, We have the Bowman district, we have providence, we've seen a tremendous growth in that area.
AND MORE TRAFFIC...MEANS MORE ACCIDENTS.
Captain Charles Gunnels, Bibb County Sherriff's Dept.: (03:07) I would say the uptick in traffic accidents would be commeasurate with the amount of traffic on Bass Road, it's picked up tremendously.
GUNNELS SAYS WIDENING THE ROAD COULD HELP.
Captain Charles Gunnels, Bibb County Sherriff's Dept.: (05:34) it's a chokepoint at Bass and Rivoli, it's a chokepoint at Bowman and I-75, and we need to relieve those. I think more lanes and more dedicated turning lanes will do that for us.
THE BALKCOMS SAY THEY'RE NOT SURE THAT WILL IMPROVE THINGS.
Sonia Balkcom, Macon: (05:06) I don't want them to widen it and four lane itn and do all that kind of, because I think it would be that much worse.
BUT ONE THING THAT WOULD HELP RIGHT NOW...THEY SAY...WOULD BE DRIVERS SLOWING DOWN.
AUSTIN LEWIS 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.>> CAPTAIN GUNNELS SAYS HE HOPES EXPANDING BASS ROAD WOULD BE INCLUDED IN A NEW T-PLOST..
A T-SPLOST IS A SPLOST WHERE ALL OF THE MONEY COLLECTED FROM A ONE CENT SALES TAX IS SET ASIDE FOR TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS.
IT IS SCHEDULED TO BE VOTED ON IN JULY OF NEXT YEAR.

A MACON TEEN SHOT IN THE HEAD OVER THE WEEKEND IS NOW ON LIFE SUPPORT WHILE THE MAN ACCUSED OF SHOOTING HIM IS OUT ON BOND.
A POLICE NEWS RELEASE SAYS 18-YEAR-OLD QUINTAVIOUS HUTCHINGS IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION AT THE MEDICAL CENTER OF CENTRAL GEORGIA.
POLICE FOUND HUTCHINGS SHOT INSIDE A HOME ON ANTIOCH ROAD IN SOUTH MACON... JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT ON SATURDAY.
POLICE ARRESTED ZACHERY DEWAYNE GUYTON SATURDAY AFTERNOON ON CHARGES OF AGGRAVATED ASSAULT AND POSSESSION OF A FIREARM DURING THE COMMISSION OF A FELONY.
THE NEWS RELEASE SAYS GUYTON WAS RELEASED ON BOND MONDAY.
POLICE SPOKESWOMAN JAMI GAUDET SAYS GUYTON QUALIFIED FOR BOND BECAUSE THIS IS HIS FIRST AGGRAVATED ASSAULT CHARGE.

EARLIER THIS MONTH... THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD RECOMMENDED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BAN ALL NON-EMERGENCY CELL PHONE USE WHILE DRIVING.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE ALLEN PEAKE IS THE AUTHOR OF GEORGIA'S BAN ON TEXTING WHILE DRIVING..
HE JOINED US ON EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX TO TALK ABOUT WHY HE DOESN'T FORSEE A BAN ON CELLPHONE USE WHILE DRIVING IN GEORGIA..
Allen Peake:....the intent of the texting law was to make sure people didn't look away from the road which they do when they text. When people use their cell phone they at least are keeping their eyes on the road so I don't think you'll see the legislature ban cell phone use anytime soon.
EVEN THOUGH IT'S NOT A LAW... WE WANT YOU TO JOIN THE GREAT HANG UP AND PUT DOWN THE PHONE BEFORE YOU START UP YOUR CAR.
JUST VISIT 13WMAZ DOT COM... AND LOOK FOR THE BANNER ON THE HOMEPAGE.
AFTER YOU SIGN THE PLEDGE... WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU.
WE'RE LOOKING FOR STORIES TO SHARE DURING OUR GREAT HANG UP DAY ON THE LAST TUESDAY OF EACH MONTH.
JUST SEND AN EMAIL TO THE-GREAT-HANG-UP AT 13WMAZ DOT COM TO LET US KNOW YOU'RE INTERESTED.

WHEN IT COMES TO TECHNOLOGY... CUSTOMERS AND DEVELOPERS ARE ALWAYS LOOKING AHEAD TO THE NEXT GADGET OR WEBSITE.
BUT IT'S ALSO IMPORTANT TO TAKE A LOOK BACK AT IMPORTANT EVENTS AND MILESTONES.
C-NET'S KARA TSUBOI TAKES BRIEFS US ON THE NOTABLE TECH NEWS OF 2011... IN THE FINAL GEEK 13 OF THIS YEAR.
TRACK ONE: 2011 did not start with the happiest of tech news. In April, 77-million PlayStation Three users had their personal information compromised when the Sony network was hacked.


Ricardo Torres / Gamespot.com
"With this kind of information leaking, consumer trust is obviously very low right now."


TRACK TWO: On June 28Google kicked off the summer with the release of its own social networking site, Google Plus.


Rafe Needleman / CNET Editor-At-Large
"Google's Facebook killer! Well, not really."


TRACK THREE: While Google and its new product enjoyed a warm reception, another tech stalwart, Netflix, was going through turmoil. First the company raised prices then decided to split the movie rental business into two and then got caught in a PR nightmare.


Josh Lowensohn / CNET Writer
"They didn't do a very good job about telling people what was going to happen."


TRACK FOUR: On October 5th, the world lost a visionary when Steve Jobs, a co-founder of Apple died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.


MOS: "It's so sad."


Kara Tsuboi / ON CAMERA STANDUP
"Also in October, tens of millions of Blackberry users experienced a three-day service outage as its parent company, Research in Motion couldn't process email and instant message data."


Rafe Needleman / CNET Editor-At-Large
"If you're a Blackberry user, especially if you're a consumer right now, you've got to be questioning, do I stick with this product?"


TRACK FIVE: Finally, in November, the daily deal company, Groupon went public.


Rafe Needleman
"This is a good stock to buy today and sell tomorrow."


TRACK SIX: Groupon's success would be closely watched by other tech companies as they prepare to release their IPOs...like Zynga did in December.
OF COURSE... YOU DON'T HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE YEAR IN REVIEW TO GET ALL THE LATEST TECH HEADLINES.
JUST VISIT THE GEEK 13 PAGE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.
LOOK FOR THE LINK ON THE SCENE 13 PAGE.

TONIGHT'S FACEBOOK FAN OF THE DAY IS NICOLE STEEDLEY.
NICOLE... YOU'LL NEED TO EMAIL FAN OF THE DAY AT 13WMAZ DOT COM TO CLAIM YOUR COFFEE MUG.
NOW... GETTING INTO THE RUNNING FOR FAN OF THE DAY IS AN EASY THREE-STEP PROCESS.
ONE... VISIT FACEBOOK DOT COM SLASH 13WMAZ.
TWO... BECOME A FAN... AND THREE... GET IN ON THE CONVERSATIONS.
WE PICK OUR FAN OF THE DAY RANDOMLY.

WITH THE CHRISTMAS GIFTS ALL OPENED... AND MANY OF YOU ARE TAKING STOCK OF HOW THE HOLIDAY SHOPPING AFFECTED YOUR END OF THE YEAR BUDGET.
SO TODAY'S WEB POLL WANTS TO KNOW... HOW MUCH DID YOU SPEND ON HOLIDAY GIFTS AND MEALS?
SO FAR 36 PERCENT SPENT MORE THAN THEY PLANNED.
14 PERCENT SPENT LESS THAN PLANNED.
AND 50 PERCENT SAY THEY SPENT ABOUT WHAT THEY PLANNED.
VOTE NOW... LOOK FOR THE QUESTION ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE HOMEPAGE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.... FIRST MORNIN COMES YOUR WAY AT 5 A-M.
THE NEWS IS ALWAYS ON AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.
LETTERMAN'S NEXT.
HAVE A SAFE NIGHT EVERYONE.

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