HELLO EVERYONE AND THANKS FOR JOINING US.... I'M LEAH JOHNSON..
AND I'M FRANK MALLOY.
THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT SIX...
THIS WEEK... CHUCK SHAHEEN BEGAN HIS THIRD YEAR OF WORK AS THE MAYOR OF WARNER ROBINS.
THE MIDDLE OF HIS FOUR YEAR TERM BRINGS SOME NEW FACES TO COUNCIL... ALONG WITH SOME MAJOR PROJECTS AHEAD.
HE'S JOINING LORRA LYNCH JONES NOW TO TALK ABOUT WHAT'S TO COME FOR WARNER ROBINS.
- How will the new council members change the dynamics of council?
- All three new council members ran on a platform of being able to work well as a group and present a good face for Warner Robins. You were new two years ago. What advice would you give to them?
- Two years into the job, how would you asses the city's progress? Your own growth in the position of mayor?
- You have a retreat for the council members and department heads coming in February. The last time you had one of these events was two years ago, where you laid out plans for reorganizing the city structure. That included hiring a public safety director and creating a position for a city spokesperson. Do you plan to revisit that with the new council?
- Building a new law enforecment center has monopolized a lot of the city's time in the past few years. That project appears to be underway. What's next?
- In December, you talked about asking a private company to take over the development of G-RAMP. How would that work and does the city have any interested parties?
A TRAIN HIT AND KILLED A MAN AS HE WALKED ON SOME RAILROAD TRACKS NEAR BONAIRE.
THE HOUSTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE SAYS THE VICTIM IS 41-YEAR-OLD FREDDIE MEEK JR. OF BONAIRE.
THE ACCIDENT HAPPENED ON THE TRACKS BETWEEN DAVIDSON ROAD AND AZALEA AVENUE AROUND NOON.
I N A NEWS RELEASE...THEY SAID HE WAS WEARING EARPHONES ...AND DIDN'T SEE OR HEAR THE TRAIN....WHICH STRUCK HIM FROM BEHIND.
Lt. John Holland, Houston County Sheriff's Office: The individual was walking southbound and based on the accounts of witness on the train and by standers the gentleman was distracted.
MEEK WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD AT THE SCENE .. LT. JOHN HOLLAND SAYS NO CHARGES ARE EXPECTED.
WE HAVE AN UPDATE ON A STORY WE FIRST BROUGHT YOU LAST FEBRUARY.
SINCE 2008... THE CITY OF MACON AND THE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY COUNCIL HAVE FORKED OVER BIG BUCKS... TO MAINTAIN FOURTEEN VACANT HOMES. THE CITY OPTED OUT LAST MARCH... AFTER RUNNING OUT OF FUNDS... LEAVING THE E-O-C TO PICK UP THE TAB.
BUT NOW... AS AMY AUBERT SHOWS YOU... THEY'VE COME UP WITH A NEW PLAN... TO GET THE HOMES OFF THE MARKET.
FOURTEEN MACON HOMES HAVE FRESH PAINT... AND A MAILBOX AT THE END OF THE DRIVEWAY... BUT BOARDED UP WINDOWS HIDE A NEVER-BEEN-LIVED IN INTERIOR.
THEY'RE PART OF A MACON AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY COUNCIL JOINT PROJECT TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE HOMES... FOR LOW-INCOME FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS.
BUT E-O-C EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JIMMIE SAMUEL SAYS WHEN THE ECONOMY TOOK A DOWNTURN IN 2008... SO DID THEIR ABILITY TO SELL.
Jimmie Samuel, Exec. Direc: "We had people waiting to be approved and almost overnight with these changes they were no longer eligible for a loan."
BACK IN FEBRUARY....MACON MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT TOLD 13WMAZ THAT THE CITY SPENT MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLARS IN UPKEEP AND MAINTENANCE FOR THOSE HOMES... PLUS TEN OTHERS. TODAY HE SAID....THEY ARE STILL A PROBLEM.
Reichert: "We can't find people to buy the houses and then they get vandalized, broken into, air conditioning units stripped and destroyed."
SAMUEL SAYS THE E-O-C SPENT SEVERAL HUNDRED THOUSAND ON MAINTENANCE...
Samuel: "Us, the city, there's no money. The income stream for making this whole project work was based on selling the houses."
THEY'VE RECENTLY FOUND A BUYER...
THE MACON HOUSING AUTHORITY PLANS TO PURCHASE THE 14 HOMES... AT 10 GRAND A POP... THAT'S A LOSS TO THE CITY OF ABOUT A 65 THOUSAND DOLLARS EACH...OR NEARLY A MILLION DOLLARS.
BUT REICHERT AND SAMUEL AGREE IT'S A GOOD SELLING PRICE....FOR HOMES WITH THOUSANDS IN DAMAGE...
Samuel: "Getting them back in the service, serving the clientle that we were meant to serve will go a long way."
THE MACON HOUSING AUTHORITY PLANS TO RENT THE HOMES TO LOW INCOME FAMILIES.
AMY AUBERT 13 WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> BOTH REICHERT AND SAMUEL SAY THERE WAS NO WAY TO PREDICT THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN...
ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT... LONNIE MILEY... SAYS AT ONE POINT THEY COULDN'T BUILD THE HOUSES FAST ENOUGH.
TWO LEGISLATORS EXPECT EARLY APPROVAL OF THE MACON-BIBB CONSOLIDATION PLAN WHEN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS IN ATLANTA NEXT WEEK.
STATE REPRESENTATIVES NIKKI RANDALL AND BUBBER EPPS TALKED ABOUT CONSOLIDATION AND OTHER TOPICS DURING THE TAPING OF THIS WEEK'S CLOSE-UP PROGRAM.
RANDALL... A DEMOCRAT... AND EPPS... A REPUBLICAN SAY THEY THINK THE BILL WILL MAKE IT THROUGH THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY THIS YEAR... WITH UNANIMOUS APPROVAL FROM THE SEVEN-MEMBER BIBB COUNTY LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION.Nikki Randall, Delegation Chair: As delegation chair, I'm proud of the work that we've been able to do and I think that we will come out with a product that we all can stand behind as a community and be proud of.Bubber Epps, State representative: I'm confident that we're going to get the best possible document out that addresses the needs of the entire city and county issues in a balanced that's fair to all.
RANDALL SAYS THE DELGATION HAS AGREED ON ALL MAJOR CONSOLIDATION ISSUES... BUT DECLINED TO COMMENT ON THE DETAILS.
A MACON BUSINESSMAN .. WHO ADMITTED STEALING MONEY FROM HIS BUSINESS PARTNERS... WON'T BE GOING TO JAIL.
CHIEF JUDGE PHIL BROWN SENTENCED BILLY RAMSBOTTOM JUNIOR TO FIFTEEN YEARS PROBATION AFTER HE PLEADED AS A FIRST OFFENDER TO ONE COUNT OF FIDUCIARY THEFT.
THE SENTENCE CAME AFTER SEVERAL OF RAMSBOTTOM'S VICTIMS....ASKED THE JUDGE NOT TO SEND HIM TO JAIL.
THAT GROUP INCLUDED FORMER ATLANTA BRAVES JOHN ROCKER AND RYAN KLESKO AND FORMER FALCONS PUNTER CHRIS MOHR.
THE GROUP WROTE BROWN THAT RAMSBOTTOM HAD AGREED TO REPAY THEIR LOSSES.
TOMORROW PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN EAST MACON.. CAN GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT A MAJOR ROAD WIDENING PROJECT ON JEFFSONVILLE ROAD..
THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION WILL HOLD AN OPEN HOUSE TO EXPLAIN.
BRITTINY BARBER FOUND OUT HOW SOME FOLKS IN THE AREA... FEEL ABOUT THE PLAN.
JOHN BARRON MOVED INTO THIS HOME ON JEFFERSONVILLE ROAD WITH HIS FAMILY.. IN 19-67..
Barron: "It's really a nice comfortable place to live...
HE SAYS SINCE ABOUT THAT TIME.. HE'S HEARD TALKS OF ROAD PROJECTS IN THE AREA...
barron: It's been on hold for so dog-gone long that most of us are sick and tired of waiting...
EVEN THOUGH THE PROPOSITION TO WIDEN JEFFERSONVILLE ROAD... WOULD AFFECT HIS LAND...
Barron: " The right of way is supposed to cut out a portion of this carport."
HE THINKS IT'S A GOOD IDEA...
BarrOn: "Oh I don't think it could do anything but improve the place."
THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION PLAN WOULD CHANGE JEFFERSONVILLE ROAD IN EAST MACON FROM TWO LANES.. TO FIVE... AND WIDEN A PORTION OF MILLERFIELD ROAD..
Nats of tools
JUST DOWN THE STREET... TONY GILBERT OWNS A BUSINESS..
Gilbert: "Basically what we do is we repair trucks. We haev a full truck shop."
GILBERT SAYS EVERY DAY... HE SEES THE TRAFFIC BACKUP ON JEFFERSONVILLE...
Gilbert: "Early in the morning the traffic gets bottled up bad. It probably gets 20 maybe more cars and pickup trucks every morning with people trying to get passed the red light."
MORE LANES WOULD MAKE HIS BUSINESS EASIER TO ACCESS HE SAYS... BUT HE'S STILL GOT SOME CONCERNS.
Gilbert;: "Exactly what they're going to do and how far they're going to go with the road."
BOTH MEN STILL HAVE QUESTIONS...
Barron: "What they plans are at this stage."
BUT THEY SAY THEY'RE SOLD ON THE IDEA THAT WIDENING THE ROADs... IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS AND THEIR COMMUNITY..
BRITTINY BARBER 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> THE MEETING IS SET TO RUN FROM FOUR UNTIL SEVEN TOMORROW NIGHT AT MOUNT MORIAH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH ON MILLERFIELD ROAD.
ALSO TOMORROW.. G-DOT WILL HOLD AN INFORMATIONAL SESSION ABOUT A POSSIBLE BRIDGE REPLACEMENT PROJECT ON STATE ROUTE 19... IN TWIGGS COUNTY... THAT MEETING IS SCHEDULED FROM FIVE UNTIL SEVEN AT THE TWIGGS COUNTY SENIOR CENTER.
WARNER ROBINS POLICE WANT TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR YOU TO GIVE THEM ANONYMOUS CRIME TIPS.
THEY LAUNCHED A SERVICE CALLED TIP SUBMIT... AND THERE ARE THREE WAYS TO USE IT.
POLICE SPOKESWOMAN TABITHA PUGH SAYS YOU CAN SEND IN A TIP USING THE ON-LINE FORM.. THAT'S AVAILABLE AT W-R-POLICE DOT ORG.
YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE "TIP SUBMIT" APP TO YOUR I-PHONE OR ANDROID... OR TEXT THE TIP TO THE WORD "CRIMES."
THE INFORMATION YOU SEND IN IS ROUTED TO SERVERS IN CANADA WHERE IT'S ENCRYPTED TO PROTECT THE TIPSTER... THEN SENT BACK TO WARNER ROBINS POLICE.
PUGH SAYS THAT MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR POLICE TO IDENTIFY THE TIPSTER.
Tabitha Pugh, Warner Robins Police: (19:58) "There's no way for us to open records it or anything like that, because it's another country. That's how it's secret and anonymously done because it is through Canada and not somewhere in the United States."
WE CAN CONNECT YOU TO MORE INFORMATION ON TIP SUBMIT... PLUS A STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL ON HOW TO USE IT.
LOOK FOR THE LINK INSIDE THIS STORY ON 13-WMAZ-DOT-COM.
THE SERVICE IS ALSO OFFERED IN GRAY AND JONES COUNTY.
TODAY'S 13 WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS... HAVE YOU EVER MADE A CRIME TIP TO LAW ENFORCEMENT?
SO FAR 70 PERCENT OF YOU SAY NO... YOU HAVEN'T.
AND 30 PERCENT SAY YOU HAVE.
VOTE NOW... LOOK FOR THE QUESTION ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE HOMEPAGE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.
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.