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Thursday, January 12, Eyewitness News at 6

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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... A THIRD FIREFIGHTER.. DISCIPLINED FOR A HOAX SHOOTING AT A FIRE STATION... APPEARED BEFORE AN ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE TODAY...
PRIVATE JESSIE WHITE CHALLENGED THE FIRE CHIEF'S DECISION TO SUSPEND HIM FOR 10 DAYS... BECAUSE HE SAYS IT WAS TOO HARSH.
BRITTINY BARBER HAS MORE ON THE HEARING...
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on cam
MACON-BIBB COUNTY FIREFIGHTER JESSIE WHITE SAYS HE KNEW ABOUT THE PRANK THAT HAPPENED ON SEPTEMBER 18TH... BUT HE WASN'T INVOLVED IN PLANNING IT...
White. "I was just appealing my ten day suspension. I felt like it was kind of harsh on my actions in the prank that happened at fire station 108."
vo JUDGE ROBERT HERDON HEARD from WHITE... AND FIRE CHIEF MARVIN RIGGINS... WHO DEFENDED HIS DECISION..
Riggins: "Mr. white willingly admitted that he was aware of this prank being set up. They had been talking about it and he was aware that this was going on."
monitor
DURING THE HEARING RIGGINS PLAYED THE VIDEO... WHICH WAS POSTED TO YOUTUBE...
THE CHIEF POINTED OUT WHITE.. WHO YOU CAN SEE LYING ON THE FLOOR AFTER THE FAKE- GUNMAN ENTERED THE FIRE HOUSE...
WHITE SAYS HE PLAYED THE PART OF AN EXTRA... AND WAS LAUGHING DURING THE HAZING STUNT.
BUT HE SAYS IT WAS ALL PLANNED BY THE COMMANDING OFFICER... CAPTAIN STEPHANIE BURKE
White: "Chief Riggins, you know, he put her in a position, he felt that she was trustable to put her in a position to be a battalion chief, you know an acting battalion chief and a captain of a station and so I felt like it was ok to just follow her role.
vo WHITE SAYS HIS PUNISHMENT IS THE SAME AS OTHER FIREFIGHTERS... WHO WERE MORE INVOLVED.
BUT RIGGINS SAYS EACH FIREFIGHTER... WAS DISCIPLINED BASED ON THEIR ROLE.
Riggins:"Mr. White's discipline was not was not the same as everybody. It was not just one swoop. It was well thought out."
on cam
TWO FIREFIGHTER HAVE ALREADY HAD THEIR APPEAL HEARINGS...
JOSH BREWER WHO VIDEO-TAPED THE INCIDENT WAS DEMOTED AND SUSPENDED...
CHRISTOPHER HUGHES.. WHO SAYS HE BROUGHT THE GUN USED IN THE VIDEO... WAS FIRED.
BRITTINY BARBER 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS
>> WHITE SAYS HIS COMMANDING OFFICER.. CAPTAIN STEPHANIE BURKE TOLD HIM ABOUT THE PRANK... AND HE WENT ALONG WITH IT BECAUSE SHE SAID IT WAS OK.
THE CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE SAYS BURKE'S APPEAL HEARING IS SET FOR JANUARY 25TH.

COMMANDER OF THE WARNER ROBINS AIR LOGISTICS CENTER... GENERAL ROBERT MCMAHON... SAYS ROBINS IS TAKING A PROACTIVE APPROACH... WHEN IT COMES TO THEIR WORKFORCE.
THAT COMMENT CAME AT A ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION WITH REPORTERS TODAY.
HE CALLED THE MEETING TO EXPLAIN YESTERDAY'S ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT AN ADDITIONAL SIX HUNDRED ROBINS EMPLOYEES BECOMING ELIGIBLE FOR EARLY RETIREMENT OR EARLY SEPARATION PACKAGES.
MCMAHON SAYS IT'S A LOCAL INITIATIVE... BEING OFFERED TO EMPLOYEES IN THE 402ND MAINTANANCE WING.
THE 7-THOUSAND PEOPLE WHO WORK IN THAT WING... MAINTAIN AIRPLANES AND ELECTRONICS.
THEY'RE PRIMARILY BLUE COLLAR WORKERS. MCMAHON DESCRIBED THEM AS "TOUCH LABORERS."
General Robert McMahon, WR-ALC: (4:20) "The specific number of those that will be impacted and provided the opportunity to early retire or early seperate with an incentive, we don't have the numbers yet, because we don't know what the total impact will be based upon any force structure changes tahat might take place. This is simply a proactive approach, prudent move to make sure we have the authorities we need accomplish that which we need to do to take care of our work force."
PEOPLE IN THE 402ND WILL HAVE UNTIL JANUARY 29TH TO APPLY FOR THE EARLY OUTS.
THAT'S THE SAME DEADLINE FOR THE CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES... WHO'VE KNOWN SINCE NOVEMBER THAT THEY COULD APPLY FOR INCENTIVE PACKAGES.
238 PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY TAKEN THEM... AND LEFT ROBINS DECEMBER 31ST.
THE OTHERS WOULD LEAVE BY APRIL 30TH.
IN TOTAL... ROBINS SAYS 452 POSITIONS AT ROBINS WILL BE ELIMINATED AS RESULT OF DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CUTS AND WHAT THEY CALL "RESHAPING THE FORCE."
THE TERMINOLOGY AND ALL THE NUMBERS CAN BE CONFUSING.
LORRA LYNCH JONES BREAKS DOWN THE BIG PICTURE OF WHAT'S HAPPENING.
MCMAHON SAYS HE FEELS CONFIDENT THAT ENOUGH PEOPLE WILL ACCEPT THE EARLY-OUTS... TO AVOID FORCED JOBS CUTS.
HE SAYS HE'LL KNOW EXACT FIGURES IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS... AFTER PRESIDENT OBAMA ANNOUNCES HIS BUDGET.
TO HEAR MORE COMMENTS FROM MCMAHON.... LOOK FOR THE LINK INSIDE THIS STORY ON OUR WEBSITE 13WMAZ-DOT-COM.

WE ASKED OUR FACEBOOK FANS HOW THEY FELT ABOUT THE CUTS TO THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT.
JENNIFER COMMENTED... "IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO CUT DEFENSE AND CONTINUE TO POUR MONEY INTO ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS WHEN THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO IMPROVE LIVES, BUT ONLY TO MAKE THEM MORE DEPENDENT ON THE GOVERNMENT. LET'S MAKE IMPROVEMENTS IN THESE AREAS BEFORE WE CUT DEFENSE FUNDING."
WILLIAM WROTE... "I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW THE OTHER DEPARTMENTS ARE BEING CUT. IT SEEMS LIKE DEFENSE IS ALWAYS THE FIRST ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK."
AND KRISTINA REPLIED... "IF WE WOULD KEEP OUR NOSES OUT OF EVERYONE ELSE'S BUSINESS, AND QUIT GIVING MONEY TO EVERY THIRD-WORLD COUNTRY, WE WOULDN'T NEED A LARGER MILITARY IN THE FIRST PLACE. HAS NO ONE BOTHERED TO CONSIDER THE FACT THAT A LOT OF THIS DEBT IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN & IRAQ -- WARS THAT WERE NOT OURS TO BEGIN WITH!
WE NEED TO TAKE CARE OF AMERICA FIRST, THEN EXTEND A HAND UP TO OTHER COUNTRIES IF WE HAVE THE RESOURCES. RIGHT NOW WE DO NOT. IT IS NOT OUR JOB TO GET OTHER COUNTRIES OUT OF THE MESSES THEY PUT THEMSELVES IN!"
YOU CAN JOIN THE CONVERSATION... BY VISITING FACEBOOK DOT COM SLASH 13WMAZ DOT COM.

THIS SUMMER... FIVE CITY OF MACON DEPARTMENTS WILL MOVE TO BIBB COUNTY GOVERNMENT.
IT'S PART OF A NEW SERVICE DELIVERY STRATEGY. THAT'S THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY AND COUNTY THAT SETS OUT WHO PROVIDES WHAT SERVICES...AND HOW THEY'RE PAID FOR.
CANDACE ADORKA HAS MORE ON A NEWS CONFERENCE TODAY WHERE SOME EMPLOYEES HAD QUESTIONS FOR GOVERNMENT LEADERS.
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89 PEOPLE WHO NOW WORK FOR THE CITY OF MACON FULL TIME WILL HAVE A NEW EMPLOYER COME JULY FIRST--- BIBB COUNTY.
MAYOR ROBERT REICHERT AND COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN SAM HART SAY THEY WANT TO TREAT THOSE EMPLOYEES AS FAIRLY AS POSSIBLE.
"We do want to pledge our continuing cooperation and determination to have a good result especially for these loyal and dedicated employees who have been serving the citizens of Macon and Bibb county and are now transitioning to a different employer but performing the same function for the same people. So certainly they ought not to be punished in the process."
LAST MONTH COMMISSIONERS VOTED TO TREAT THE EMPLOYEES AS NEW COUNTY HIRES... MEANING THEY'LL UNDERGO A PRE-EMPLOYMENT SCREENING AND SIX-MONTH PROBATION. THEY WOULD ALSO LOSE ALL SENIORITY...AND BENEFITS.
BUT NOW THE COUNTY IS LOOKING AT WAYS TO TRANSFER THOSE BENEFITS...
JAMES HAND... A RECREATION EMPLOYEE OF 17 YEARS... WANTED MORE DETAILS.
"I do need some answers, is my sick leave gonna be gone? Vacation gonna be gone? Or my pay gonna be cut you know? You can't help but think about all that."
THOSE ARE THE KINDS OF DETAILS REICHERT AND HARD SAY THEY ARE IRONING OUT.
"I almost feel the same way before I came in because I still didn't get no direct answer so everybody is still working on it so i didn't get no direct answer."
IN ALL... 142 POSITIONS WILL BE TRANSFERRED.
THAT'S ROUGHLY 5 MILLION ADDED TO THE COUNTY'S PAYROLL... AND 5 AND HALF MONTHS TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO IT.
CANDACE ADORKA 13 WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
LAURA MATHIS WITH THE REGIONAL COMMISSION SAYS BY EARLY FEBUARY... THEY'LL HAVE A BETTER IDEA WHERE EACH EMPLOYEE WILL FALL ON THE COUNTY'S NEW PAY PLAN... AND HOW EACH PERSON'S CITY BENEFITS CAN BE TRANSFERED.
HART SAYS CITY AND COUNTY DEPARTMENT HEADS ARE WORKING ON OTHER PARTS OF THE TRANSFER... LIKE MESHING TECHNOLOGIES... SHARING MAINTENANCE RECORDS AND OTHER INFORMATION... AND LEGALLY TRANSFERING CONTRACTS ANDPROPERTY BY EARLY FEBUARY.

WE REPORTED TO YOU FIRST LAST NIGHT ABOUT DELHAIZE AMERICA---THE COMPANY THAT OWNS FOOD LION---CLOSING FOUR LOCAL FOOD LION STORES--TWO IN MACON AND TWO IN WARNER ROBINS.
AUSTIN LEWIS WENT TO THE TWO FOOD LIONS IN MACON TO TALK TO CUSTOMERS ABOUT THE GROCERY STORE'S CLOSING.
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BRENDA RAINEY OF MACON SAYS SHE IS A REGULAR SHOPPER AT THE FOOD LION ON THOMASTON ROAD---
SHE COMES ONCE A WEEK TO BUY MEAT AND OTHER GROCERIES -- AND WAS SHOCKED TO HEAR OF THE STORE'S CLOSING.
Brenda Rainey, Macon: Now I don't know where I am going to shop, now. I go to Kroger every now and then, but mostly I come to Food Lions every week to shop and I love Food Lion.
SHE SAYS THERE ARE OTHER STORES NEARBY--BUT SHE PREFERS FOOD LION.
Brenda Rainey, Macon: For the people that live in this area that shops here a lot, it's going to be really bad for us. I really hate it.
SIERRA WHITE OF MACON---ISN'T HAPPY ABOUT EITHER.
SHE COMES TO THE STORE ON HOUSTON ROAD...
SHE SAYS SHE IS WORRIED ABOUT LOSING ANOTHER BUSINESS TO THE ECONOMY.
Sierra White, Macon: It's another empty building over here. It's already so little, and things try to open up and work out but they end up kind of falling short. So in this area there's not a lot of stuff, you just have to go over to Hartley Bridge and it's just too congested.
AND WHITE ISN'T THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS THAT FOOD LION'S CLOSING COULD HAVE A BROADER IMPACT.
Richard Baker, Macon: Food Lion is one of the main stores here. When they move out, then the other stores may move out, because the food lion is one of the main anchor stores of this spot.
MANY OF THE SHOPPERS WE TALKED TO SAY THEY COULDN'T HELP BUT THINK OF THE PEOPLE WHO WILL BE OUT OF WORK.
AUSTIN LEWIS 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> THE COMPANY'S RELEASE SAYS THOSE STORES WILL CLOSE WITHIN A MONTH.
CORPORATE SPOKESWOMAN -- TENISHA WALDO -- TOLD US THAT EACH STORE EMPLOYS 35 TO 40 PEOPLE -- SO AROUND 150 WILL LOSE JOBS.

ONE CENTRAL GEORGIA MAN THANKED A NINE-ONE-ONE DISPATCHER FOR SAVING HIS LIFE AND MID GEORGIA AMBULANCE RECOGNIZED HER AT THEIR PRE-HOSPITAL SAVE AWARDS CEREMONY.
NATS :02 "CLAPPING"
JOHN STEVENS SAYS A NORMAL DAY ON THE GOLF COURSE... ALMOST TURNED DEADLY.
LAST MAY STEVENS HAD A HEART ATTACK ON THE GREEN... LUCKILY HE SAYS HIS FRIENDS DIALED 9-1-1 AND NITA BRYAN ANSWERED.
THE TWO-YEAR VETERAN DISPATCHER SAYS SHE WALKED THE TWO THROUGH C-P-R AND SAYS THEIR QUICK RESPONSE SAVED THEIR FRIEND.
BRYAN SAYS SHE DOESN'T CONSIDER HERSELF A HERO... SHE WAS JUST DOING HER JOB.

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.

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