Tuesday, January 3, Eyewitness News at 6

11:44 PM, Jan 3, 2012   |    comments
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HELLO EVERYONE AND THANKS FOR JOINING US....I'M LEAH JOHNSON..
AND I'M FRANK MALLOY.
THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX...

OUR TOP STORY TONIGHT... AS TEMPERATURES DROP... MANY OF YOU WILL TURN UP THE HEAT TO KEEP WARM.
BUT... DON'T FORGET TO STAY SAFE AND CHECK THE BATTERIES IN YOUR SMOKE DETECTORS.
JENNIFER MOULLIET SPOKE WITH ONE FIREFIGHTER WHO SAYS A SMOKE DETECTOR SAVED HIS LIFE.
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THE NIGHT OF MARCH FIFTH TWO-THOUSAND-NINE CHANGED RECO STEPHENS' LIFE... HE SAYS AROUND TEN THIRTY HIS HOUSE CAUGHT ON FIRE.

Leiutenant Reco Stephens: "My house was totally damaged all of our clothing our furniture pictures things that you just can't get back."

STEPHENS... A LIETENANT WITH THE MACON-BIBB COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT... SAYS HE'S NO STRANGER TO A FIRE'S DESTRUCTION..... AND HE'S BEEN CALLED OUT TO MANY FIRES.

Leiutenant Reco Stephens: "I felt vulnerable I had no where to go I remember my son asking me dad what are we going to do and I didn't know what to tell him."

HE SAYS AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM IN HIS CAR SPARKED THE BLAZE IN THE GARAGE... AND IT SPREAD THROUGH THE HOUSE.
BUT A FAMILIAR BEEP SAVED HIM.

Leiutenant Reco Stephens: "I really didn't know that it was my smoke detector because I've never heard my smoke detector before I know that sounds crazy yes I've checked smoke detectors before but I just didn't think it would happen to me."

HE SAYS THE HIGH PITCHED SOUND IS MEANT TO CATCH YOUR ATTENTION.

Leiutenant Reco Stephens: "That's a valuable piece of equipment that whenever it goes off you need to investigate."

HE ENCOURAGES EVERYONE TO CHECK THEIR SMOKE DETECTORS ONCE A MONTH BY PRESSING AND HOLDING THE BUTTON ON THE FRONT FOR THREE SECONDS. nats

IT'S A SMALL STEP THAT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.
Leiutenant Reco Stephens: "I'm a believer, living witness that if it wasn't for that smoke detector I probably wouldn't be here talking to you now."

JENNIFER MOULLIET 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> STEPHENS SAYS EVERYONE IN GEORGIA SHOULD HAVE A SMOKE DETECTOR AND IF YOU'RE NOT SURE HOW TO REPLACE OR CHECK YOURS... THEY WILL COME OUT AND DO IT FOR YOU.
TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE MACON-BIBB FIRE DEPARTMENT YOU CAN CALL 478-751-9213.
AGAIN... 751-9213.

THE MERCURY DIDN'T CLIMB VERY HIGH TODAY... AND IT'S STARTING TO DROP AGAIN.
FOR THE LATEST ON THE FRIGID TEMPERATURES... LET'S CHECK IN WITH CHIEF METEOROLOGIST BEN JONES IN THE WEATHER CENTER.
THANKS BEN.. WE'LL TALK WITH YOU AGAIN IN JUST A FEW MINUTES.

STAFF MEMBERS AT ONE MACON SHELTER ARE PREPARING TO OFFER HOT MEALS AND BLANKETS TO HELP KEEP PEOPLE WARM TONIGHT.
... These are the mats that we give out to people who come in that we don't have beds for..
THE SALVATION ARMY ON BROADWAY LAST NIGHT HOUSED CLOSE TO TWO HUNDRED PEOPLE WITHOUT A WARM PLACE TO SLEEP.
DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR PEGGY STEELE SAYS THEY EXPECT TO BE FILLED TO CAPACITY AGAIN TONIGHT DUE TO MORE SUB-FREEZING TEMPERATURES.
STEELE SAYS THEIR EMERGENCY SHELTER HAS 120 BEDS... 50 MATS AND PLENTY OF WARM BLANKETS.
"In this really cold weather, of course it brings in a lot of people who might stay in their car or somewhere else but when it's really cold, you want a safer, warmer place."
STEELE SAYS THEY HAVE A MEN'S SHELTER AND A WOMEN AND CHILDREN'S SHELTER.
THEY'RE OPEN EVERY NIGHT OF THE YEAR WITH CHECK IN AT 4PM.

PLUMBERS ARE ALSO GEARING UP TO SEE MORE CALLS COME THEIR WAY BECAUSE OF THE COLD WEATHER.
HEATH VICKERS... OWNER OF MR. ROOTER PLUMBING IN MACON.... SAYS YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF THE PROBLEMS COLD WEATHER CAN CAUSE FOR YOUR PIPES.
HE ALSO OFFERD UP A FEW TIPS FOR HOMEOWNERS.
FIRST... INSULATE OR WRAP TOWELS AROUND YOUR FAUCETS AND EXPOSED PIPES.
OPEN CABINET DOORS TO ALLOW HEAT TO CIRCULATE AND KEEP PIPES WARM.
SECURE WINDOWS... CRAWL SPACES AND BASEMENT DOORS.
ALSO... YOU WANT TO REMOVE GARDEN HOSES FROM OUTDOOR FAUCETS...
AND KEEP FAUCETS RUNNING AT A CONSTANT DRIP OR TRICKLE.
FOR MORE TIPS... JUST LOOK FOR THIS STORY AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.

BIBB COUNTY WORKERS CAN EXPECT TO SEE SOME CHANGE IN THEIR PAYCHECKS THIS SPRING.
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS PASSED A NEW EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION PLAN.
IT RECLASSIFIES SOME POSITIONS AND PUTS BIBB COUNTY MORE IN LINE WITH WHAT OTHER COMMUNITES PAY FOR THE SAME JOBS.
CANDACE ADORKA REPORTS SOME COMMISSIONERS SAY IT IS THE FAIR THING TO DO.
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STARTING MARCH FIRST...THERE WILL BE A NEW PAY SCALE FOR BIBB COUNTY EMPLOYEES.
SOME WORKERS MAY GET A SMALL INCREASE IN PAY AND BENEFITS...... WHILE OTHERS MAY SEE MORE THAN A THOUSAND DOLLARS EXTRA .
HERE ARE THE THREE BIGGEST JUMPS...
PEOPLE ON THE TRADES AND CRAFTS SCALE... LABORERS... CUSTODIANS... TRUCK DRIVERS... THEY GET THE LARGEST PERCENTAGE INCREASE OF 4 POINT 4 PERCENT... ABOUT 830 DOLLARS A PERSON.
THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT GETS A 4 POINT 3 PERCENT BUMP OR 12-HUNDRED-5 DOLLARS APIECE.
APPOINTED OFFICIALS LIKE THE COUNTY ENGINEER AND DEPARTMENT HEADS GET MORE THAN THREE THOUSAND A PERSON ON AVERAGE... AND THATS JUST OVER 4 PERCENT THAN THEY MAKE NOW.
COUNTY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER STEVE LAYSON SAYS THE NEW SCALE MAKES BIBB COUNTY MORE COMPETITIVE IN ATTRACTING QUALITY JOB CANDIDATES.
"a third of our employees are goign to qualify for retirement in the next five years. it's imperative that we look at what we want our organization to look like moving forward, do we want to be competitive with the market."
THE NEW SCALE ALSO PLAYS A ROLE IN THE EMPLOYEE TRANFERS THIS SUMMER FROM CITY TO COUNTY.
ABOUT 140 POSITIONS WILL BE TRANSFERED AS PART OF A NEW SERVICE DELIVERY AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY AND COUNTY.
COMMISSION CHAIRMAN SAM HART SAYS SOME OF THOSE CITY EMPLOYEES MAKE UP TO 2 DOLLARS MORE AN HOUR THAN COUNTY EMPLOYEES WHO DO THE SAME JOB... BUT THE NEW SYSTEM EVENS THINGS OUT.
"it reconciles that to the point where they're close enough not to be a morale issue.
COMMISSIONER LONZY EDWARDS WAS THE ONLY COMMISSIONER TO VOTE AGAINST THE NEW SCALE.
HE SAYS HE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT HOW TO PAY THE EXTRA MILLION DOLLARS IT WILL COST EACH YEAR.
"We may be committing to expend money that we simply dont have and the result I think is we may very well be forced into raising taxes again this year."
OVER THE LAST 40 YEARS... COMMISSIONERS HAVE TWEAKED THE PAY SCALE AND ADDED COST OF LIVING AND OTHER PAY INCREASES.... BUT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THEY'VE ADOPTED A BRAND NEW PAYSCALE IN AT LEAST 4 DECADES.
CANDACE ADORKA 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> COMMISSIONERS ALSO REVISITED THEIR DECISION TO TREAT EMPLOYEES TRANSFERRING FROM THE CITY AS BRAND NEW HIRES.
NOW... THE MIDDLE GEORGIA REGIONAL COMMISSION AND THE COUNTY ACTUARY WILL LOOK INTO TRANSFERRING RETIREMENT BENEFITS THAT WORKERS EARNED WITH THE CITY TO THE COUNTY.
THEY HOPE TO HAVE THAT REPORT IN THE NEXT MONTH OR TWO.

GEORGIA'S TOP AGRICULTURE OFFICIAL SAYS CONGRESS HAS TO FIX THE NATION'S IMMIGRATION SYSTEM... TO MAKE SURE FARMERS HAVE ENOUGH WORKERS.
AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER GARY BLACK RELEASED A REPORT... ON THE AVAILABILITY OF FARM WORKERS AFTER THE STATE LAUNCHED A CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.
SOME FARMERS SAY THE NEW LAW DROVE AWAY FOREIGN WORKERS...AND CAUSED A LABOR SHORTAGE.
BLACK SAID A FEDERAL GUEST WORKER PROGRAM IS TOO CUMBERSOME FOR MANY FARMERS TO USE.

IN AN EFFORT TO INSPIRE AND EDUCATE YOUNG PEOPLE IN MACON... A FORMER MAYORAL CANDIDATE HOPES A TEAM AND A MISSION CAN WORK TOGETHER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
PAUL BRONSON JOINS ME NOW TO TALK ABOUT HIS VISION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN 2012.... AND IT INVOLVES THE COMMUNITY CENTER AT THE OLD MILLER MIDDLE SCHOOL.

1. WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE ARE YOU LOOKING TO HAVE AS PART OF THIS TEAM?

2. TALK ABOUT YOUR NEED FOR MENTORS AND MALE ROLE MODELS..

3. WHERE WILL THE MONEY COME FROM TO SUPPORT THIS PLAN?

4. DO YOU HAVE SUPPORTERS NOW?

5. HOW CAN PEOPLE GET INVOLVED?

MONROE COUNTY SCHOOLS COULD SEE SOME BIG CHANGES AS EARLY AS NEXT SUMMER.
LAST MONTH SUPERINTENDENT ANTHONY PACK PROPOSED TO THE SCHOOL BOARD...CONSOLIDATING THE TWO MIDDLE SCHOOLS...
BRITTINY BARBER HAS THE DETAILS...
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nats: "if the plan went through as we're proposing...
MONORE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT ANTHONY PACK... WANT TO CHANGE THE STRUCTURE OF THE DISTRICT...
pack: "There's usally some transition issues for 6th graders when they're going to middle school."
TO HELP... HE'S PROPOSED COMBINING THE COUNTIES TWO MIDDLE SCHOOLS... THEN HOUSING 7TH AND 8TH GRADERS AT BANKS STEPHENS MIDDLE... MOVING 9TH GRADERS OUT OF THE FRESHMAN CAMPUS IN THE OLD MARY PERSONS HIGH BUILDING--- TO HUBBARD MIDDLE.. AND PUTTING SIXTH GRADERS IN THERE IN THEIR PLACE...
nats
SINCE THE PRESENTATION.. PACK SAYS HE'S GOTTEN ALMOST 100 QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS FROM PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY
pack: The majority is concerNed about change if want to be honest.and more of it relates to adults i think."
Brittiny BArber: "Several parents I spoke with would not go on camera but they said they had questions and concerns about the proposal...."
Pack: Probably the biggest problems that we've heard in people's minds are what are you going to do about transportation because it will require some transporation than what are you going to do about special needs students that are in specific groups.
PACK SAYS HE AND SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS WILL ADDRESS THOSE QUESTIONS AT A PUBLIC HEARING ON THURSDAY...
HE SAYS WITH ABOUT 29-HUNDRED STUDENTS JUST IN PRE-K through 8TH GRADE... A CHANGE LIKE THIS COULD HAVE A BIG IMPACT.
Anthony Pack: "If they don't like it and it's not what we want to do for our community then we don't do it, but if it does prove to be a viable option for our community and for our stakeholders then it's something we need to consider."
BRITTINY BARBER 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS
>> THURSDAY'S MEETING STARTS AT SIX O'CLOCK IN THE GYM AT BANKS STEPHENS MIDDLE SCHOOL...
PACK SAYS THEY'LL ANSWER QUESTIONS AND HEAR FEEDBACK FROM THE COMMUNITY.. HE SAYS THEY ALSO PLAN TO SAY EXACTLY HOW MUCH MONEY THIS COULD SAVE THE DISTRICT...

IT'S TIME TO TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR PICTURES... SUBMITTED TO OUR 13WMAZ DOT COM GALLERIES
THESE ARE FROM THE NATURE'S BOUNTY GALLERY
THIS VIEWER SUBMITTED THIS PICTURE OF A SPECTACULAR WINTER SUNSET IN BYRON GA
AND THE CAPTION ON THIS PICTURE READS: THE MOST GORGEOUS RAINBOW I HAVE EVER SEEN!
SEND US YOUR PHOTOS...LOOK FOR *PHOTO GALLERIES* UNDER FEATURES IN THE MENU BAR ACROSS THE TOP OF OUR HOMEPAGE...

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