GOOD EVENING AND THANKS FOR JOINING US..
I'M FRANK MALLOY..
AND I'M LEAH JOHNSON.. THIS IS EYEWITNESS NEWS AT 11.
THE PROPOSED CONSOLIDATION OF MACON AND BIBB COUNTY HAS CROSSED THE GOVERNOR'S DESK... AND IT'S HEADED TO VOTERS THIS SUMMER.
GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL TOLD US HE SIGNED THE BILL CALLING FOR A REFERENDUM ON CONSOLIDATION.
IF VOTERS APPROVE... IT WOULD CREATE A NEW GOVERNMENT FEATURING NINE COMMISSIONERS AND A MAYOR.
Nathan Deal, Governor: It's just a matter of allowing the voters the option of as to what they think is most appropriate, and we're seeing movement in that direction in various parts of the state. This will give the folks in Bibb County and the City of Macon the opportunity to that decision for themselves.
GOVERNOR DEAL HAS BEEN ON A TWO-DAY TOUR OF THE STATE SIGNING BILLS APPROVED BY THIS YEAR'S GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
TODAY HE STOPPED AT THE MUSEUM OF AVIATION TO SIGN LEGISLATION ALLOWING ACTIVE SERVICE PURPLE HEART RECIPIENTS TO BUY LICENSE PLATES SAYING SO.
AS THE VOTE FOR MACON-BIBB CONSOLIDATION OFFICIALLY HITS THE BALLOT... ONE GEORGIA COUNTY HAS MARKED 16 YEARS SINCE THEY MADE THE MOVE.
BRITTINY BARBER TAKES A LOOK A WHAT THAT MERGER MEANT TO LAW ENFORCEMENT IN AUGUSTA-RICHMOND COUNTY... AND HOW THEY MADE IT HAPPEN.
ON JANUARY FIRST 1996... CHIEF DEPUTY SID HATFIELD SAYS THE AUGUSTA POLICE DEPARTMENT AND THE RICHMOND COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE BECAME ONE..
Hatfield: "At midnight when we started, consolidation to be effective we knew where we needed to be and who was able and capable to be there."
THE CONSOLIDATION PACKAGE LOOKED A LOT LIKE THE MACON-BIBB PLAN ON THE TABLE.. NAMING THE SHERIFF AS THE TOP COP.
Hatfield: "By design and by structure, we knew that we were going to take all the Augusta Police Department men and women and merge them with all the all the Richmond county sheriff's office meN and women and we planned for that."
Brittiny Barber: "Much like in Macon and Bibb County, Richmond county ran the jail. That's one of the process that transitioned easily over since there wasn't much change. but some of the other processes needed a little work."
HATFIELD SAYS THOSE ISSUES CAME FROM OFFICERS OUT IN THE STREETS.. WITH MINOR PROBLEMS THEY DIDN'T ADDRESS IN PLANNING STAGES.
nats of steve talking.
THE MERGER DID ALSO RAISE SOME QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS..
Strickland: "Prior to consolidation I was a sgt on the road patrol in the Augusta Police department.
CAPTAIN STEVEN STRICKLAND SAYS ONCE CONSOLIDATION PASSED... THEY FACED NOT ONLY WORKING FOR A NEW BOSS.. BUT ALSO A LEARNING CURVE... ON HOW THINGS WORKED IN THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE
Strickland: "There was a little bit of nervousness, of kind of starting over in a way and trying to learn a new way of doing what we had been doing."
AS WITH MOST CHANGES... STRICKLAND SAYS IT WAS A GRADUAL PROCESS.
Strickland: "Once it passed, REgardless of what your opinion was at the time the majority of the guys for the police department we just said ok this is what's going to happen and we worked and we learned and we conformed and it's worked out great for the majority of us."
HATFIELD SAYS IT TOOK ABOUT A YEAR AND HALF... TO WORK OUT THE KINKS
Hatfield: "WE knew visually people were still going to see the old police car, the old sheriff's car, but we wanted them to understand the concept that it was all the same, so by priority we just chose the things that we felt most important we chose the things that the leadership brought to us."
BUT HE SAYS INTENSE PLANNING HELPED MAKE THE TRANSITION EASIER TO BARE.
Hatfield: We met with anybody and everybody that we thought could be contributing factors to helping us design, reconstruct, reorganize totally reorganize law enforcement."
BY BREAKING DOWN THE BORDERS... THEY SAY THEY UNITED TOGETHER.. TO KEEP THE PEOPLE SAFE IN ALL 323 SQUARE MILES OF RICHMOND COUNTY.
BRITTINY BARBER 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS
>> CHIEF DEPUTY SID HATFIELD SAYS CONSOLIDATION HAS ALSO SAVED THE COUNTY MONEY.. BECAUSE THEY AREN'T DOUBLING SERVICES OR BUYING TWICE AS MANY TOOLS.
TOMORROW NIGHT ON EYEWITNESS NEWS... WE'LL BREAKDOWN THE NUMBERS.. TO SHOW IF THEY'RE REALLY SAVING MONEY.
THE MACON-BIBB CONSOLIDATION VOTE IS SET FOR JULY 31ST.
A FEDERAL JUDGE SET JOHN WILLIAMS FREE... UNTIL SENTENCING.
A JURY FOUND THE FORMER WARNER ROBINS CITY COUNCIL MEMBER GUILTY ON THREE COUNTS TODAY.
WILLIAMS SHOWED NO REACTION TO THE VERDICT AS HE LEFT THE COURTHOUSE.. WITH HIS WIFE... SON AND DAUGHTER.
HE DID NOT WANT TO COMMENT.. NOR DID HIS ATTORNEY... TINA HUNT.
JUDGE MARC TREADWELL SET HIM FREE ON HOUSE ARREST... BECAUSE HE DOESN'T THINK HE'S A FLIGHT RISK OR DANGER TO THE COMMUNITY.
U-S ATTORNEY MICHAEL MOORE SAYS THE JUDGE WILL DECIDE ON HIS SENTENCE IN THE NEXT 90 DAYS.
Michael Moore, US Attorney: "Mr. Williams has been released pending that day, at least on a temporary basis. He is under some very stringent conditions set by the magistrate court, by Judge Wiegle, then Judge Treadwell continued those conditions, so he will have some requirements he will have to fulfill, to keep him under close watch, until the court calls him back in."
MOORE SAID TWO OF THE CONVICTIONS... EXTORTION AND TAMPERING WITH A WITNESS CARRY A MAXIMUM OF TWENTY YEARS IN PRISON.. EACH.
LYING TO FEDERAL OFFICER CARRY'S A MAXIMUM OF A FIVE YEAR SENTENCE.
A JACKSON WOMAN DIED TONIGHT AFTER A HEAD-ON COLLISION IN MONROE COUNTY.
MONROE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE SPOKESWOMAN ALLISON SELMAN-WILLIS SAYS IT HAPPENED JUST AFTER 6:15.
SHE SAYS 27-YEAR-OLD NICOLE GOBER WAS DRIVING ON HIGHWAY 42 WHEN A PICKUP TRUCK CROSSED THE CENTER LINE AND HIT HER CAR.
SELMAN-WILLIS SAYS 38-YEAR-OLD FLOYD KECK OF JACKSON WAS DRIVING THE TRUCK.
GOBER AND HER INFANT DAUGHTER WERE TAKEN TO THE HOSPITAL... WHERE GOBER WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD.
NEITHER KECK NOR THE CHILD WERE INJURED IN THE ACCIDENT... ACCORDING TO SELMAN-WILLIS.
THE MONROE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE IS STILL INVESTIGATING.
AN EASTMAN WOMAN SAYS SHE REFUSES TO BE A VICTIM AFTER SOMEONE SHOT HER TWICE IN THE BACK.
65-YEAR-OLD P-J LANDIN WAS SHOT AROUND 11 MONDAY NIGHT... WHILE SHE WAS SITTING ON HER PATIO.
SHE SAYS SHE DIDN'T SEE HER SHOOTER... AND SHE DOESN'T KNOW WHY ANYONE WOULD WANT TO HURT HER.
ACCORDING TO A POLICE REPORT... ONE NEIGHBOR SAW A MAN... ABOUT 6 FEET TALL AND A 190 POUNDS RUNNING FROM THE SCENE...
POLICE ARE STILL LOOKING FOR THE SHOOTER.
LANDIN SAYS SHE WAS OUTSIDE FOR ABOUT 5 MINUTES SMOKING A CIGARETTE WHEN THE SHOTS WERE FIRED.
"I was sitting here, but the trajectory of the bullet was... when I got up, I put my cigaretteout to go in the house, they were aiming for my head, so my response is loser, you missed me."
LANDIN SAYS THE BULLETS REMAIN IN HER BACK... ONE NEAR HER SPINE.
SHE SAYS SHE PLANS TO GO TO A TRAUMA UNIT SOON TO GET THEM OUT.
BIBB COUNTY SCHOOLS SAY A WEAVER MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER IS ON PAID LEAVE DUE TO ALLEGED INAPPROPRIATE CONDUCT WITH A STUDENT.
PARENTS WERE TOLD ABOUT THE INCIDENT BY LETTER TUESDAY.
THE LETTER DOESN'T DESCRIBE THE CONDUCT OR WHEN IT HAPPENED... BUT SAID THE DISTRICT LEARNED ABOUT THE MATTER LATE MONDAY.
DAVID GOWAN... THE DISTRICT'S RISK-MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR SAYS... THE TEACHER WAS PUT ON PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE TUESDAY.
HE WOULDN'T IDENTIFY THE TEACHER OR GIVE THE STUDENT'S AGE OR GRADE.
THE BIBB COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE IS INVESTIGATING THE INCIDENT.
FOLKS PACKED THE MACON CITY AUDITORIUM TONIGHT WAITING TO HEAR THEIR FAVORITE TUNES FROM COUNTRY STAR MERLE HAGGARD.
KATELYN HECK SPOKE WITH THE MUSIC ICON AND HIS FANS... AND THEY TOLD HER WHY TONIGHT'S CONCERT HOLDS A SPECIAL MEANING.
MERLE HAGGARD SAYS HE FELT ALMOST 100% WHEN HE WARMED UP AT THE MACON CITY AUDITORIUM.
THE COUNTRY ICON GOT SICK AND HAD TO CANCEL HIS LAST SHOW IN CENTRAL GEORGIA....
(SOT: i was really disappointed when they told us he wasnt coming out)
(SOT: i was sad but i was also worried about his health)
BUT AFTER A FULL RECOVERY FROM PNEUMONIA AND OTHER HEALTH ISSUES... HE DECIDED TO MAKE HIS WAY BACK TO MACON.
(SOT: i had some sort of hay fever and i got close to macon and it started healing up, must be something about this town)
FOLKS LINED UP OUTSIDE... ANXIOUS TO SEE THE OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE TAKE THE STAGE.
(SOT: i just love all of his music, i grew up listening to merle haggard)
(SOT: merle is my hero, i just love all of his music, he's just a great artist)
HAGGARD PUT TOGETHER A LINEUP FULL OF PEOPLES FAVORITE HITS...
HE EVEN SLIPPED A NEW SONG INTO THE PLAYLIST... A HIT CALLED MAGIC MAMA THAT HE WROTE DURING HIS STAY AT THE HOSPITAL IN MACON.
(SOT:i wrote it but john anderson will actually record the song, its kind of a sexy song.)
(NATS: magic mama from malibu... had a swingin back door and an ocean view)
HAG SAYS HE STILL HAS A FEW MORE HITS UP HIS SLEEVE BEFORE SETTING DOWN HIS GUITAR FOR GOOD.
(SOT:it depends on my health if everythings good then ill keep on keepin on you know, its my desire to keep goin)
HE SAYS HE PLANS TO MAKE CENTRAL GEORGIA A REGULAR STOP ON THE REST OF HIS TOUR SCHEDULES.
13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS
>> HAGGARD SAYS HE PLANS TO SAIL FULL SPEED AHEAD THROUGH THE REST OF HIS TOUR... WHICH WRAPS UP IN DECEMBER.
YOU CAN WATCH HIS FULL INTERVIEW ON OUR WEBSITE AT 13WMAZ DOT COM.
TONIGHT'S FACEBOOK FAN OF THE DAY IS STEPHEN DAWSON.
STEPHEN... YOU'LL NEED TO EMAIL FAN OF THE DAY AT 13WMAZ DOT COM TO CLAIM YOUR COFFEE MUG.
YOU'RE NO MORE THAN THREE STEPS AWAY FROM BEING IN THE RUNNING FOR FAN OF THE DAY.
FIRST... GO TO FACEBOOK DOT COM SLASH 13WMAZ.
THEN... BECOME A FAN.
AND FINALLY... JOIN THE CONVERSATIONS.
WE PICK A RANDOM FAN OF THE DAY MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY.
THE GEORGIA STATE FAIR WILL BEGIN FRIDAY AFTERNOON.... FOR ITS FIRST YEAR UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.
AND SETUP IS ALREADY UNDERWAY AT CENTRAL CITY PARK.
VENDORS AND ORGANIZERS ARE PUTTING TOGETHER RIDES... AND TENTS FOR FOOD AND OTHER ACTIVITIES AT THE FAIR.
IN ADDITION TO LOTS OF RIDES THIS YEAR... MUSICAL ACTS INCLUDING GINUWINE AND THE BELLAMY BROTHERS WILL TAKE CENTER STAGE.
BUT ONE VENDOR WE TALKED TO SAYS SHE HOPES THE FOOD WILL BE THE MAIN ATTRACTION.
Shirley Betancourt, Brendan, FL: The food, it's got to be the food, I know when I went to fairs before I had to always go get something to eat
THE FAIR STARTS FRIDAY AND RUNS THROUGH MAY 6TH.
TODAY'S 13WMAZ DOT COM WEB POLL ASKS... WILL NEW OWNERSHIP IMPROVE THE GEORGIA STATE FAIR?
SO FAR... 65 PERCENT OF YOU SAY NO... IT WON'T.
AND 35 PERCENT THINK THE FAIR WILL DO BETTER UNDER ITS NEW OWNERS.
VOTE NOW... VISIT 13WMAZ DOT COM AND LOOK FOR THE QUESTION ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE HOMEPAGE.