<<opening for eyewitness news at six>>
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 AT SIX...
A THREE COUNTY DRUG INVESTIGATION LEAD TO THE ARRESTS OF 14 PEOPLE.
JONES COUNTY SHERIFF BUTCH REECE.. SAYS ONE OF THEM.. COULD BE THE BIGGEST METH SUPPLIER IN CENTRAL GEORGIA...
BRITTINY BARBER BREAKS DOWN THE YEAR LONG INVESTIGATION.
nats of news conference...
JONES COUNTY SHERIFF BUTCH REECE SAYS THEY'VE HELPED PUT ONE OF CENTRAL GEORGIA'S LARGEST DRUG SUPPLIERS BEHIND BARS...
Butch: "We've spent countless hours on mr. Nicholson. He was the head of this organization. We've seized over $150-thousand in Methamphetamine."
REECE SAYS LAST WEDNESDAY.. THEY ARRESTED 35-YEAR OLD CHADWICK NICHOLSON... WHO LIVES IN BYRON...IN CRAWFORD COUNTY...
Butch "From the information we have he was going to atlanta probably twice a month and bring in 10 to 12 lbs per month. During the search warrants we recovered $180,000 in cash, we have 8 weapons. WE have 16 vehicles."
13 -OTHERS WERE ALSO ARRESTED UNDER THE STATE RICO ACT-- WHICH TARGETS ORGANIZED CRIME...
Winters: "IT'S Different groups or different individuals working together to break the law in some organized way."
SEVERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES WORKED TOGETHER DURING THE INVESTIGATION... INCLUDING THE U-S MARSHAL.. AND F-B-I... ALONG WITH BIBB... JONES AND CRAWFORD COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICES..
Walker; "It's been along investigation and through that investigation the work has paid off."
SHERIFF LEWIS WALKER.. SAYS THE PEOPLE OF CRAWFORD COUNTY CAN NOW BREATH A LITTLE EASIER KNOWING THESE DRUGS AND WEAPONS ARE OFF THE STREETS...
butch: "We feel likE this will make a dent in the drug trafficking for a while here in middle georgia."
REECE SAYS NICHOLSON HAD TWO POUNDS OF METHAMPHETAMINE ICE WHEN HE WAS ARRESTED.. WHICH COULD BE ONE OF THE LARGEST SINGLE BUSTS IN CENTRAL GEORGIA...
BRITTINY BARBER 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
REECE SAYS THE INVESTIGATION CONTINUES... AND THAT MORE ARRESTS COULD COME.
HE SAYS THEY DON'T HAVE A TOTAL DOLLAR AMOUNT NETTED FROM THE BUST... BECAUSE THEY ARE STILL LOOKING INTO OTHER ASSETS.. FROM THOSE ARRESTED INCLUDING LAND AND BANK ACCOUNTS.
IN MACON... CRIME NUMBERS ARE UP FROM LAST YEAR... THANKS TO A JUMP IN THEFTS.
A CRIME STATISTIC REPORT RELEASED BY THE MACON POLICE DEPARTMENT SHOW THEFTS JUMPED 13 PERCENT IN 20-11.
THE REPORT SHOWS THAT IN 20-11.... NEARLY 600 MORE THEFTS HAPPENED IN THE CITY THAN THE YEAR BEFORE.
LIEUTENANT DAVID FREELAND SAYS MUCH OF THAT IS DUE TO COPPER AND METAL THEFTS AT VACANT HOMES.
Lt. David Freeland: "It's homes that are not being looked after very often, reports are being, like I said, taking a long time to get to us, so it's just an easier crime to commit. And also, a lot of people feel like they're not doing a whole lot wrong because they are taking stuff from a house or business that looks adandon."
THE REPORT ALSO SHOWS HOMICIDES... ROBBERIES... AGGRAVATED ASSAULTS... AND AUTO THEFTS WERE DOWN IN 2011.
AND THOSE CRIMES WERE ALL AT SOME OF THEIR LOWEST LEVELS IN YEARS.
HOMICIDES DROPPED BY NEARLY HALF FROM 22 IN 2010... TO 13 LAST YEAR.
LET US HELP YOU KEEP TRACK OF CRIME IN YOUR AREA.
JUST VISIT THE CRIME MAPS ON OUR WHERE YOU LIVE PAGES AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.
YOU'LL FIND THE LINK ON THE TOP LEFT SIDE OF THE PAGE.
CLICK ON THE ICON TO FIND OUT WHEN AND WHERE THE CRIME HAPPENED.
YU CAN ALSO KEEP TRACK OF WHAT TYPE OF CRIME IT WAS.... LIKE A ROBBERY OR HOMICIDE
FORMER MACON MAYOR C. JACK ELLIS SAYS THE CITY'S AFRICAN-AMERICANS SUPPORT BIBB SUPERINTENDENT ROMAIN DALLEMAND'S STRATEGIC PLAN.
THE PLAN INCLUDES A SYSTEM OF SPECIALTY SCHOOLS...THAT HE CALLS PORTFOLIO SCHOOLS... GRADUALLY MOVING TOWARD YEAR-ROUND SCHOOLING... AND TEACHING MANDARIN CHINESE TO ALL STUDENTS.
IT ALSO CALLS FOR CLOSING UP TO A DOZEN SCHOOLS... RESTRUCTURING BIBB'S GRADE STRUCTURE.... AND ELIMINATING 300 TEACHING JOBS.
ELLIS SAID IN A NEWS CONFERENCE TODAY THAT DALLEMAND CAME ON THE SCENE TO MAKE QUOTE... SERIOUS CHANGES.
HE SAYS THE CITY'S AFRICAN-AMERICANS....69 PERCENT OF THE MACON COMMUNITY... SUPPORT DALLEMAND'S PLAN. BUT HE DIDN'T CITE ANY EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THAT.
HE ALSO TALKED ABOUT CRIME IN THE CITY...AND THE SCHOOLS.
WHEN ASKED IF HE THINKS THE SCHOOL SYSTEM HANDLED RECENT RAPE ALLEGATIONS PROPERLY... ELLIS SAID HE UNDERSTANDS PARENTS CONCERNS ABOUT NOT BEING NOTIFIED.
BUT HE SAYS... THINGS CAN CHANGE.
C. Jack: "Let's not paint with too broad of a brush to condemn everything that happened with our school system to say it's not worthy of reform, it's not worthy of, if you will, becoming a better place for their children to learn."
ELLIS SAYS THE COMMUNITY NEEDS TO WORK TOGETHER IN THE SCHOOLS... HOMES... AND ADMINISTRATION.
OTHER SUPPORTERS OF THE SUPERINTENDENT'S PLAN INCLUDE ABOUT A DOZEN CHURCH LEADERS FROM AROUND BIBB COUNTY.
TODAY THEY MET AT THE BIBB COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION DOWNTOWN... TO PLEDGE THEIR SUPPORT FOR DALLEMAND.
nats :01 "I THINK WE ARE OFF TO A GOOD START."
PASTORS FROM ACROSS MACON MET TO DISCUSS WHAT THEY CALL.... A BROKEN SCHOOL SYSTEM... AND SAID DALLEMAND'S PLAN COULD BE THE SOLUTION.
THEY SAY MANY OF THEIR CHURCH MEMBERS HAVE CHILDREN IN THE SCHOOL SYSTEM AND THAT THEY WANT TO BE THE VOICE OF THE COMMUNITY.
REVEREND RONALD TERRY SAYS THE SYSTEM NEEDS A CHANGE.
Rev. Ronald Terry, New Fellowship Baptist Church: "We want the town the city the county the nation to know that we want a system that is first class that will be for every child, regardless if they're from north east south or west."
AFTER THEIR NEWS CONFERENCE.. THE CHURCH LEADERS HEADED UP TO DALLEMAND'S OFFICE TO ASK FOR A MEETING AND LEARN MORE ABOUT HIS PLAN.
DALLEMAND'S PLAN HAS A LOT OF PEOPLE IN MACON TALKING.
ONE PART OF HIS PLAN SAYS CHILDREN SHOULD LEARN TO SPEAK MANDARIN CHINESE STARTING IN THE THIRD GRADE.
TODAY'S 13 WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS...SHOULD ALL BIBB COUNTY STUDENTS LEARN MANDARIN CHINESE?
SO FAR ONLY 7 PERCENT OF YOU SAY YES
AND 93 PERCENT OF YOU SAY NO
TO VOTE NOW.. VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT 13 WMAZ DOT COM.. AND LOOK FOR THE WEB POLL QUESTION ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF OUR HOMEPAGE.
BIBB COUNTY'S COURTHOUSE COULD BE NAMED FOR A LONGTIME JUDGE...AND WORLD WAR II VETERAN.
LAST VETERANS DAY...WE INTRODUCED YOU TO 90-YEAR-OLD JUDGE J. TAYLOR PHILLIPS SENIOR JUDGE FOR THE STATE COURT OF BIBB COUNTY.
HE'S ALSO A FORMER MARINE...WHO SERVED IN WORLD WAR 2 AND KOREA.
THE BIBB COUNTY COMMISSION IS SCHEDULED TOMORROW TO DISCUSS WHETHER TO NAME THEIR COURTHOUSE AT SECOND AND MULBERRY STREETS...FOR PHILLIPS.
COMMISSIONER JOE ALLEN SAYS HE'S PROPOSED THE NEW NAME...AND CONTACTED HIS FELLOW COMMISSIONERS AND THE COUNTY'S JUDGES ABOUT THE IDEA.
MEMBERS OF THE BIBB COUNTY GREEN TEAM ARE HELPING OUR TROOPS CALL HOME.
THE GROUP PARTNERED WITH THE CELL PHONES FOR SOLDIERS CAMPAIGN... A NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT OFFERS DEPLOYED AND RETURNING TROOPS... FREE PHONES TO COMMUNICATE WITH THEIR FAMILIES... WHILE SERVING IN THE MILITARY.
THE TEAM BAGGED UP THE FINAL PHONES THIS MORNING AT THE BIBB COUNTY COURTHOUSE.... WHERE BIBB COUNTY EMPLOYEES DONATED THEIR GENTLY USED CELL PHONES.
THE GROUP WILL RECYCLE THE CELL PHONES... TO BUY CELL CARDS.
DEPUTY CHIEF DAVID DAVIS SAYS THEY COLLECTED CLOSE TO TWO HUNDRED PHONES.
Chief Deputy David Davis: "It's a way good donation it's a way to be environmentally friendly with the cell phones where they are recycled in a proper way and some money is made off of it to support soldiers."
EACH PHONE THAT IS COLLECTED WILL HELP PAY FOR TEN CELL CARD MINUTES.
BIBB COUNTY EMPLOYEES WERE ABLE TO OFFER TWO THOUSAND MINUTES OF AIR TIME.
WITH THREE PRESIDENTIAL CONTEST WINS UNDER HIS BELT... GOP PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL MITT ROMNEY'S IS IN THE SPOTLIGHT---AND SO IS HIS RELIGION.
THAT MEANS A LOT OF ATTENTION IS GOING TO THE MORMON FAITH.
ABOUT ONE PERCENT OF THOSE IN THE PEACH STATE ARE MORMON ACCORDING TO THE PEW FORUM ON RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE.
AUSTIN LEWIS WENT TO THE MORMON CHURCH HERE IN MACON -- AND TALKED TO SOME CHURCH MEMBERS ABOUT HOW THEY ARE HANDLING THIS NATIONAL INTEREST.
<< THIS CLASS HAS BEEN A REFUGE FOR DUSTIN WEATHERS OF GRAY---
TURNING THE PAGES OF THE HOLY BOOK---
AND TALKING WITH OTHER YOUNG ADULTS
HELPS HIM LEARN ABOUT HIS FAITH -- AND DEAL WITH WHAT HE CALLS MISCONCEPTIONS THAT HE FACED GROWING UP AS A MORMON
Dustin Weathers, Gray: everyone would say oh you're polygamists and when I was younger I used to get offended.
NOW HIS RELIGION---IS IN THE PUBLIC EYE---THANKS TO GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MITT ROMNEY.
Dustin Weathers, Gray: I do believe Mitt Romney running for office is a great thing, he's helping to raise awareness.
ROMNEY'S FAITH---IS ON THE NATIONAL STAGE--- AS WELL
Bishop Dennis Applebee, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: I think Romney being in the media, and the church being in the media, I think it is a very positive thing in general. Just because it allows more dialogue to be about the church.
BUT POLLS SAY NOT EVERYONE'S VIEW OF THE CHURCH...IS POSITIVE.
ACCORDING TO A NOVEMBER POLL FROM THE PEW FORUM ON RELIGION AND PUBLIC LIFE....
ONLY 18 PERCENT OF AMERICANS VIEW THE MORMON CHURCH IN A GOOD LIGHT.
27 PERCENT WERE NEUTRAL
AND 24 PERCENT HAVE A NEGATIVE VIEW....WITH MANY CALLING IT A CULT.
THE REST HAD NO OPINION.
Nyssa Hattaway, Macon: We aren't a cult, one of our foundation principles is free agency. You have a choice to choose whatever you are going to do. THE POLL SAYS ABOUT 33 PERCENT OF REPUBLICAN AND REPUBLICAN LEANING VOTERS DON'T THINK MORMONS ARE CHRISTIANS--
Dustin Weathers, Gray: We're Christian just like any other Christian religion, once people finally realize that, I think those misconceptions will slowly but surely disappear.
Austin stand-up: Mormons belive the churhc was restored by Joseph Smith in 1820.
They have many of the iconography of other Christian faiths---behind me is a portrait of Jesus Christ and his apostles.
I am holding the Mormon bible---which has both old and new testatments and an additional testament called the book of mormon.
And for other differences some mormons say just ask them about their faith.
Andrea Eay, Warner Robins: why don't you ask someone before you believe it.
AND THIS ATTENTION GIVES THEM THE CHANCE TO ADDRESS THOSE MISUNDERSTANDINGS.
Nyssa Hattaway, Macon: do you wear pants, and I'll say yes, I can wear pants, I'm wearing them right now.
Andrea Eay, Warner Robins: the more than one wife that's the one that most people say and we haven't practiced since like the 1800s.
IF ROMNEY WINS THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION....THE ATTENTION ON HIS FAITH IS LIKELY TO LAST THROUGH NOVEMBER...AND MAYBE BEYOND.
AUSTIN LEWIS 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS. >>
THE PEW RESEARCH POLL SAYS REPUBLICANS AND REPUBLICAN LEANING VOTERS...WHO DON'T APPROVE OF THE MORMON RELIGION---92 PERCENT OF THEM VIEW ROMNEY UNFAVORABLY.
HOWEVER... IN A GENERAL ELECTION 89 PERCENT OF THOSE SAME VOTERS WOULD SUPPORT ROMNEY OVER PRESIDENT OBAMA.
SOME PLANTS ARE ALREADY STARTING TO BLOSSOM HERE IN CENTRAL GEORGIA.
WARM WINTER WEATHER CAUSED MANY PLANTS TO POP UP EARLY... BUT THAT COULD MEAN THE FLOWER BUDS WILL HAVE A HARD TIME STAYING AROUND.
MACON STATE ARBORIST... DERRICK CATLETT... SAYS MANY EARLY BLOOMERS WILL STRUGGLE TO SURVIVE THROUGH THE SUMMER.
HE SAYS MANY PLANTS WILL PRODUCE FEWER BUDS... AND FLOWERS COULD START TO WILT SOONER THAN USUAL.
CATLETT SAYS HIS BIGGEST FEAR IS A LATE COLD SNAP IN MARCH... BUT COOLER TEMPERATURES IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS WOULD HELP SLOW DOWN THE EARLY GROWTH.
CATLETT SUGGESTS MOVING CONTAINER PLANTS TO A COOL, SHADY AREA.
HE ALSO SAYS PEOPLE SHOULD WAIT TO PRUNE ROSES AND OTHER PLANTS UNTIL LATE FEBRUARY OR EARLY MARCH.