OUR TOP STORY TONIGHT... FORMER WARNER ROBINS COUNCIL MEMBER JOHN WILLIAMS IS IN FEDERAL CUSTODY AFTER BEING ACCUSED OF VIOLATING PROBATION.
AS WE REPORTED LAST YEAR - WILLIAMS FACES FEDERAL CONSPIRACY CHARGES... CONNECTED TO HIS ROLE IN AUTO PURCHASES BY THE CITY OF WARNER ROBINS.
HERE HE IS LEAVING THE FEDERAL COURTHOUSE LAST YEAR WITH HS WIFE....ELNA.
TODAY....WILLIAMS ENTERED THE U-S DISTRICT COURT IN MACON...IN SHACKLES AND HANDCUFFS.
HE'S ACCUSED OF VIOLATING HIS PROBATION... BY LEAVING THE STATE WITHOUT PERMISSION LAST MONTH.
PROSECUTOR TAMARA JARRETT SAID WILLIAMS DROVE TO SAINT AUGUSTINE FLORIDA TO BAIL A WOMAN NAMED *STORMY SMITH*.. OUT OF JAIL.
SHE SAID WILLIAMS IS HAVING AN AFFAIR WITH THE WOMAN.
FEDERAL MAGISTRATE JUDGE CHARLES WEIGLE ORDERED WILLIAMS HELD... ON 20 THOUSAND DOLLARS BOND.
JARRETT SAID PROSECUTORS ALSO BELIEVE WILLIAMS IS HIDING ASSETS. HE SAYS HE DOESN'T HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY FOR A LAWYER...BUT FEDERAL PROSECUTORS SAY HE OWNS FOUR RENTAL PROPERTIES
WEIGLE SAID....QUOTE...."THERE ARE A LOT OF MATTERS I FIND DUBIOUS AND STRANGE IN THIS CASE."
THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE ALSO SUGGESTED THAT WILLIAMS WAS NOT TAKING THE FEDERAL CASE SERIOUSLY.....SAYING HE'S ACCUSED OF VIOLATING PROBATION FOR AT LEAST THE SECOND TIME.
HE TOLD WILLIAMS...."THIS IS A U.S. DISTRICT COURT, NOT A PLAYGROUND."
WILLIAMS' WIFE TESTIFIED THAT STORMY SMITH IS THE GRANDDAUGHTER OF FAMILY FRIENDS. PROSECUTORS DID NOT SAY WHY SHE WAS JAILED IN FLORIDA.
A WARNER ROBINS HOTEL CAUGHT FIRE ON THANKSGIVING DAY.
NEARLY FOUR MONTHS LATER...THE LA QUINTA INN IS STILL CLOSED...AND ITS FUTURE IS UNCERTAIN.
AND AS JUDY LE FOUND... SOME PEOPLE SAY THEY'RE STILL TRYING TO SETTLE SOME UNFINISHED BUSINESS.
A FIRE RAVAGED LA QUINTA INN IN WARNER ROBBINS THANKSGIVING DAY ... FOUR MONTHS LATER...SOME PEOPLE SAY...THEY'RE STILL FEELING THE BURN.
OWNER OF NINA BELLE'S TREATS...CHARLES NITTERRIGHT...PROVIDED LA QUINTA INN WITH TWO VENDING MACHINES.
nitterright - :53 we've been without them since the fire on nov 25th. those are machines that can make us money. but we can't get into get them or use them or anything like that 102
HE SAYS THE TWO VENDING MACHINES WILL COST HIM TEN-THOUSAND DOLLARS TO REPLACE.
nitterright - 244 its not my fault that the fire happened. i should be compensated 248
NITTERRIGHT SAYS HE ALREADY CONTACTED FRONTIER ADJUSTERS AND THE HOTEL'S INSURANCE COMPANY...AM TRUST.
NAT: :57 well i havent seen a dime yet...:59
AFTER WAITING TWO HOURS...THE MANAGER SHOWED UP ALLOWING NITTERRIGHT ACCESS TO HIS VENDING MACHINES.
MEAHWHILE...THE HOTELS FORMER MAINTENANCE SUPERVISOR... JESSIE KIDD......SAYS IT TOOK HIM EIGHT TO TEN WEEKS TO RECEIVE UNEMPLOYMENT.
kidd - 204 i even called the owner a couple of times questioning him about the pay from the insurance company,. covering us for part of that time we were off. but that never did happen. 216
HE SAYS HE'S ONE OF FIFTEEN EMPLOYEES WHO DID NOT RECEIVE SALARY COMPENSATION DURING THE WEEKS AFTER THE FIRE.
gina belcher, manager - 240 as far as i know, everyone's got it. because they called me about it. and i am concernd about them too 245
INSURANCE AGENT...DAVE COLMANS...SAYS THERE IS NO STATE LAW IN THE INSURANCE CODE THAT REQUIRES A HOTEL TO HAVE INSURANCE.
SOT: to be compensated, people have to have home/renters insurance
NITTERRIGHT DOESN'T HAVE INSURANCE FOR HIS VENDING MACHINES...BUT HE'S READY TO TAKE ACTION.
nitterright 425 IF THE INSURANCE COMAPNY ISN'T GOING TO PAY FOR IT...WE'RE GOING TO COURT 430
JUDY LE...13 WMAZ...EYEWITNESS NEWS
MANAGER GINA BELCHER SAYS THERE ARE NO PLANS SET TO REPAIR OR REOPEN THE LAQUINTA.
SHE SAYS THE OWNER IS TRYING TO SETTLE THE CASE WITH HIS INSURANCE COMPANY.
A JONES COUNTY MURDER SUSPECT JUST ARRIVED AT THE JONES COUNTY JAIL.
SHERIFF BUTCH REECE SAYS PAMELA MOSS ARRIVED AT THE JONES COUNTY JAIL JUST AFTER 5-30.
EARLIER TODAY... SHE WAS RELEASED FROM A WAYNE COUNTY HOSPITAL... AFTER APPARENTLY OVERDOSING ON PRESCRIPTION PILLS MONDAY NIGHT.
MOSS IS ACCUSED OF KILLING A HENRY COUNTY BUSINESSMAN LAST WEEK...AT HER HOME IN THE RIVER NORTH COMMUNITY.
TODAY....INVESTIGATORS CONFIRMED THE BODY FOUND BEHIND MOSS' HOME SUNDAY NIGHT IS THAT OF DOUG COKER..
REECE SAYS INVESTIGATORS USED COKER'S MEDICAL RECORDS TO CONFIRM THE BODY WAS COKER.
SHERIFF REECE SAY MOSS BOUGHT BLEACH AROUND THE TIME OF COKER'S DEATH... HE SAYS POLICE FOUND RECEIPTS IN HER HOME AND SAYS SHE LEFT THE NATURAL GAS ON INSIDE HER HOME FOR SEVERAL DAYS.
REECE SUSPECTS SHE WAS HOPING TO CAUSE AN EXPLOSION.... THAT WOULD COVER UP EVIDENCE.
A MAJOR DEPARTMENT STORE WILL CLOSE IT'S MACON MALL LOCATION IN OCTOBER.
AUSTIN LEWIS TELLS US MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE CLOSING....AND SOME BELK CUSTOMERS ARE REACTING.
Austin Lewis, Eyewitness News: I'm here at the Belks at the Macon Mall. The department store announced today that it will be closing it's doors to shoppers in October. This is the second major department store that's announced it will be closing at Macon Mall in just four months.
Sears announced in December that they would close because of poor holiday sales.
According to a press release, Belks says they are closing this location down because of the economic climate in Macon. They also say they think it's in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.
The nearest Belks for Macon shoppers will be at the shoppes at River Crossing. I talked to several customers who were shocked by the store's closing.
Tracey Rivers, Macon: 00:46 I was just surprised and shocked because it seems like it's very busy usually when we're in there. I think a lot of people come to this Belks. So, it's just kind of sad.
Linda Merrell, Montezuma: 01:46 If you're looking for something, you can almost come in and get it, you know, alot of times you found a lot of good bargains and mostly I started thinking about the employees. I'm just so sorry.
One customer told me she thiks people aren't consdiring shoppers on this side of town.
Gladys Gibson, Macon: 01:50 The people here really needs the Belks close to the one's over on this side, it's like they're not considering the better stores over in this area and they're going to other areas to put the better stores
The company said in a press release that associates can apply for openings at Belks at River Crossing and Centerville. Austin Lewis 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.
>> BELK HAS BEEN AT THE MACON MALL SINCE 1976. THE CLOSING WILL NOT AFFECT THE BELK STORES AT THE SHOPPES AT RIVER CROSSING AND IN CENTERVILLE.
THE CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL IS STILL GOING STRONG IN MACON... AND IT'S CONTINUING TO LURE OUR 13WMAZ STAFF DOWN TO CENTRAL CITY PARK.
TONIGHT... WE FIND LORRA LYNCH JONES TAKING IN THE FUN... LORRA... HOW'S IT GOING OUT THERE?
lorra talks about the festival at Central City Park
THANKS LORRA... WE'LL CHECK BACK IN WITH YOU A LITTLE LATER.
MACON MAY SOON GET A SECOND SITE ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY'S NATIONAL PRIORITY LIST.
THE AGENCY SAYS THE SOIL AT ALLIED INDUSTRIAL PARK IN SOUTH MACON IS CONTAMINATED WITH CHEMICALS.
CANDACE ADORKA REPORTS THAT PUTTING THE SITE ON THE FEDERAL LIST COULD HELP GET IT CLEANED UP.
INDUSTRIAL AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN CLIFFARD WHITBY SAYS THE ALLIED INDUSTRIAL PARK IS MORE THAN 400 ACRES OF ECONOMIC POTENTIAL.
"Actually these were the old dorms of the military..."
BUT HE SAYS THAT'S TOUGH WHEN THE AUTHORITY-OWNED LAND CARRIES THE STIGMA OF BEING CONTAMINATED.
"if it didn't have the environmental issues associated with it, this would be a valuable site for us to be marketing to prospects.."
S/U "The US Navy used to manufacture weapons here back in the 40s and 50's, then provate companies took over manufacturing metal products up until 1981. The EPA says overtime, a metal cleaner called trichloroethlyne seeped into the soil and into groundwater."
"It's not good for the fish or the ecosystem of the creek if the TCE makes it to the creek."
E-P-A PROJECT MANAGER DONNA SEADLER SAYS THEY'LL INVESTIGATE HOW FAR AND HOW DEEP THE CONTAMINATION SPREAD... THEN COME UP WITH A CLEAN UP PLAN.
"In the past we did pump and treat of a lot of groundwater systems where they would pump it out treat it and put it back in."
THEY PROPOSED PUTTING THE SITE ON THE PRIORITY LIST MARCH 15... AND FOR THE NEXT TWO MONTHS... THE E-P-A WANTS TO HEAR FROM THE PUBLIC.
"Whether it's from a resident who lives nearby or someone who used to fish in Rocky Creek or still fishes in Rocky Creek, we're open to all perspectives."
WHITBY SAYS CLEANING THE SITE COULD TAKE A DECADE... BUT IT'S WORTH IT TO KEEP RESIDENTS SAFE... AND TO DEVELOP THE AREA TO ITS FULL POTENTIAL.
CANDACE ADORKA 13 WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> ALLIED INDUSTRIAL PARK WOULD BE THE SECOND SITE IN MACON ON THE NATIONAL PRIORITY LIST.
THE ARMSTRONG WORLD INDUSTRIES PLANT... NEXT TO ALLIED INDUSTRIAL... MADE THE LIST LAST YEAR.
WITH SEVERAL HOURS TO GO UNTIL THE MIDWAY CLOSES... LORRA'S STILL OUT IN THE CENTER OF THE CHERRY BLOSSOM ACTIVITIES.
LET'S CHECK BACK IN.
DON'T FORGET... YOU CAN KEEP UP WITH THE CHERRY BLOSSOM CALENDAR BY VISITING 13WMAZ DOT COM.
WHILE YOU'RE ENJOYING THE CHERRY BLOSSOM FUN THIS WEEK.. THERE'S SOME 3-D ART.. YOU CAN REALLY GET INTO..
ALL CALIFORNIA ARTIST TRACY LEE STUM NEEDS.. IS A SIDEWALK.. AND SOME CHALK.
IT TOOK STUM 3 DAYS .. WITH SOME HELP FROM HER ASSISTANT.. TO COMPLETE THE 3-DIMENSIONAL "CHERRY BLOSSOM BRIDGE."
YOU'LL FIND THE DISPLAY IN FRONT OF THE GEORGIA SPORTS HALL OF FAME DOWNTOWN.
SOME PEOPLE GOT INTERACTIVE WITH THE ART.. WHICH STUM SAYS.. IS THE GOAL..
TO SEE A TIME LAPSE OF THE CREATION PROCESS.. JUST GO TO 13 WMAZ DOT COM.
LOOK FOR THIS STORY ON THE HOMEPAGE.
TODAY'S 13WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS... WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL?
SO FAR 15 PERCENT OF YOU SAY THE STREET PARTY.
17 PERCENT OF YOU ENJOY CENTRAL CITY PARK.
6 PERCENT PREFER THE TUNES AND BALLOONS.
24 PERCENT CHOSE THE FOOD.
AND 38 PERCENT OF YOU SAY YOU CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF THE TREES.
VOTE NOW... VISIT 13WMAZ DOT COM AND LOOK FOR THE QUESTION ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE HOMEPAGE.