Eyewitness News at 11, 7/17/12

10:48 PM, Jul 18, 2012   |    comments
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< NATS FULL 10 SECONDS >

WITH THE CEREMONIAL 21 GUN SALUTE... FOLDING OF THE COLORS... SONGS, PRAYERS....HUGS AND TEARS...AND PLENTY OF RED WHITE AND BLUE...EATONTON SAYS GOODBYE TO ERICA ALECKSEN.

GOOD EVENING.

I'M FRANK MALLOY..

AND I'M LEAH JOHNSON..

WE'RE REMEMBERING A 21-YEAR-OLD WIFE...DAUGHTER...AND SOLDIER WHO DIED IN A ROADSIDE BOMBING IN AFGHANISTAN LAST WEEK.

TODAY...PEOPLE TURNED OUT TO GREET HER BODY AS IT RETURNED TO GREENSBORO'S AIRPORT.

THEY LINED THE STREETS TO EATONTON....AND THEN PACKED A METHODIST CHURCH FOR AN EMOTIONAL FUNERAL SERVICE.

WE HAVE MUCH MORE ON TODAY'S EVENTS... AS A COMMUNITY PAYS TRIBUTE.

BEFORE WE GET TO OUR SPECIAL COVERAGE... HERE'S BEN JONES TO CHECK THE FORECAST.

13W-M-A-Z WAS THERE AS SPECIALIST ERICA ALECKSON WAS CARRIED HOME FROM GREENE COUNTY.

THE PATH HOME FROM EATONTON BEGAN AFTER NOON TODAY -- PUSHED BACK BY A RAIN DELAY.

HERE'S A LOOK AT THAT FINAL JOURNEY.

NATS:

Aboard this charter plane lies a soldier who paid the ultimate sacrafice. To salute Army Specialist Erica Aleckson's bravery - friends and even strangers marched with american flags near the tarmac to welcome her home for the last time.

With meticulous steps from fellow army soldiers in front of a silent crowd, Alecksons's flag draped casket was lowered from the plane. Nearby stood her family with hands over their hearts and tears in their eyes.

SOT: The situation is tough but it kind of eases the pain because everyone, even people that didn't know her is out supporting her and acknowledging the fact that she was fighting for us.

NATS: Left, right, left, right, left.

People from Eatonton and beyond also paid their respects to the fallen soldier. They lined several streets through town followed by even more people waiting at Aleckson's visitation. Aleckson's sister in law says the family is deeply thankful for the support the community is showing for their loved one.

SOT: Thank you for being there and thank you for supporting us through this time. You know it's a very difficult time for the whole family and we just want to say that we appreciate everything that they've been there for.

THE MOTORCADE BEARING ERICA ALECKSON'S BODY...HER FRIENDS AND FAMILY...ARRIVED AT FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH.

THERE...PEOPLE FILED INTO CHURCH....FOR MORE THAN THREE HOURS....TO PAY THEIR RESPECTS.

THE 2 HOUR SERVICE FEATURED WARM FAMILY MEMORIES....PRAYERS AND PRAISE...AND MILITARY HONORS.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS....OF THAT FUNERAL SERVICE.

ERICA ALECKSON WAS AN ARMY SPECIALIST WITH THE 978TH MILITARY POLICE BRIGADE. SHE AND FIVE OTHER SOLDIERS DIED LAST WEEK WHEN THEIR ARMORED VEHICLE STRUCK A ROADSIDE BOMB IN WARDAK...AFGHANISTAN.

SHE WAS A GRADUATE OF PUTNAM COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL....AN EXPERT DRIVER....AND MECHANIC.

AS WE GO TO BREAK... WE LEAVE YOU WITH SOME MEMORABLE IMAGES FROM TODAY.

SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS COULD BE IN PLACE BY THE END OF NEXT MONTH...AT A DEADLY RAILROAD CROSSING IN HOUSTON COUNTY.

THIS IS A FOLLOWUP TO A STORY WE FIRST BROUGHT YOU BACK IN MAY...AS WE COVERED THE DEATH OF A MOTHER AND CHILD AT THAT INTERSECTION.

NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAILROAD EMPLOYEES WORKED ON SITE PREPARATION TODAY AT THE IGNICO DRIVE CROSSING AT HIGHWAY 2-47.

RAILROAD SPOKESPERSON SUSAN TERPAY SAYS.. THE PROJECT TO ADD SAFETY ARMS HAS BEGUN.

WARNER ROBINS MAYOR CHUCK SHAHEEN SAYS.. THE PROJECT IS FOUR MONTHS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.

BUT PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN THE AREA...S AY THE UPGRADES CAN'T SOON ENOUGH... BECAUSE THEY FACE A DAILY SAFETY RISK IN THAT VERY SPOT.

Whether I see a traffic light or don't hear a train, I still look - there ain't no telling nowawadays, everybody's driving in their own little minds so you've got to drive for yourself and others.

A MEMORIAL NEAR THE SITE SHOWS WHERE DONNELLE REID AND HER INFANT DAUGHTER... KINSLEY... DIED WHEN THEIR CAR WAS STRUCK BY A TRAIN IN MAY.

THE STATE SAYS DURING THE LAST FIVE YEARS.. THERE HAVE BEEN FIVE ACCIDENTS AND FOUR DEATHS AT THE CROSSING.

THOSE LATEST DEATHS SET OFF PROTESTS AND VIGILS AT IGNICO DRIVE.

MORE CHANGES IN THE WORKS IN WARNER ROBINS.

MAYOR CHUCK SHAHEEN TOOK HIS FIRST TOUR OF THE LONG AWAITED... NEW LAW ENFORCEMENT CENTER TODAY.

HE SAYS ITS ON-TIME FOR A JANUARY 2013 COMPLETION.

LORRA LYNCH JONES GOT A FIRST LOOK.

<<nat sequence of construction

TWO YEARS AGO... MAYOR CHUCK SHAHEEN ENVISIONED THIS.

quick nat- construction

BUT FINALLY... HE CAN TOUCH IT.

Chuck Shaheen: (46:50) "This is the first site you'll see if this is your first time to Warner Robins. You see a beautiful looking building."

AT LEAST IT WILL BE... WHEN IT OPENS AT THE CORNER OF WATSON AND ARMED FORCES BOULEVARDS IN JANUARY.

nats up- construction

Lorra Lynch Jones, EWN: (4:55) "Shaheen says the LEC is the first building project for the city 1972, when City Hall was built. This also happens to be the location where the first Warner Robins Police Deparment was built in 1951."

quick nats- mehserle

ARCHITECT JIM MEHSERLE SAYS THE NEW ONE IS A MAJOR STEP-UP FROM THE CURRENT ONE.

Jim Mehserle: (45:40) "Weve been able to really work on each department and their efficiency and maximize that within the square footage of the building."

IT'S TWO STORIES. THE PUBLIC ENTRANCE... RECORDS DIVISION... EVIDENCE STORAGE... PATROL UNIT... AND SECURE SALLY PORT FOR BOOKING SUSPECTS... ON THE FIRST.

Jim Mehserle: (50:12) "These are roll down doors, and they shut these doors. When get the suspect out of the car, the suspect doesn't have anywhere to run."

THERE'S ALSO FOUR KENELLS FOR K-9'S.

Jim Mehserle: (44:32) "That's a new feature for our department."

nats- construction

UPSTAIRS.. A FORENSICS LAB COVERS THE MAJORITY OF THE FLOOR... PLUS SPACE FOR POLICE ADMINISTRATION AND DETECTIVES.

Shaheen: (42:10) "So when are they going to put the roof on this?"

MEHSERLE SAYS THAT SHOULD HAPPEN IN 30 DAYS... AND SO FAR...

Chuck Shaheen: (1:00) "On-time and on-budget. Were within our financial means."

THE COST ...ABOUT EIGHT MILLION.

nats-

STD>>

SHAHEEN SAYS HE CLOSED-ON FOUR-POINT-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS IN BOND FINANCING FOR THE LAW ENFORCEMENT CENTER THIS WEEK.

THAT MONEY WILL BE REPAID AS PENNY SALES TAX REVENUES COME IN DURING THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.

FORGET JOCKS... OR NERDS... ONE GROUP OF BIBB COUNTY STUDENTS HAS GOTTEN ANOTHER LABEL....LEADERS.

250 MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLERS ARE SPENDING THIS WEEK BECOMING EMPOWERED... AND LEARNING HOW TO BE RESILIENT.

IT'S BIBB COUNTY'S INAUGURAL CLASS OF THE ENVOY PROGRAM....RUN BY A MASSACHUSETTES GROUP CALLED THE EFFICACY INSTITUTE.

THE STUDENTS USE JUGGLING.. .RING TOSS... AND OTHER ACTIVITIES TO LEARN STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME CHALLENGES... THEN WHEN SCHOOL STARTS...THEY'R EXPECTED TO BE ROLE MODELS AND TEACH THEIR PEERS.

BARBARA LYONS WITH THE EFFICACY INSTITUTE SAYS A MAIN GOAL IS TO GET RID OF THE NOTION THAT ONLY A FW STUDENTS HAVE THE INTELLIGENCE TO BE SUCCESSFUL.

SHE SAYS IN A FEW YEARS, THEY HOPE TO HAVE A THOUSAND STUDENT ENVOYS.

So there's an opportunity here ot create a movement of young people organized around the idea that they could all have quality lives and organized around the idea that they could all work together to build that not only for themselves, but for the entire city."

THE PROGRAM IS PART OF SUPERINTENDENT ROMAIN DALLEMAND'S MACON MIRACLE STRATEGIC PLAN.

LYONS SAYS THEY'VE TRAINED 13-HUNDRED STUDENTS IN MEMPHIS... AND THOSE ENVOYS, AND THEIR SCHOOLS ARE PERFORMING BETTER.

THE DAYS OF SUMMER ARE DWINDLING... AND WITH PARENTS COUNTING DOWN UNTIL SCHOOL STARTS... STOCKING UP ON NOTEBOOKS, PAPER, PENCILS, AND CALCULATORS BECOMES THE TASK AT HAND.

WITH THAT IN MIND, TEAMS OF 13WMAZ EMPLOYEES WILL TAKE OVER WALMART SHOPPING CENTERS TOMORROW FOR OPERATION BACK TO SCHOOL.

("binders... paper... and pencils")

FOLKS CAN PICK UP A FEW EXTRA SCHOOL SUPPLIES AND TOSS THEM IN OUR DROP-OFF CARTS AT THE FRONT OF THE STORES.

ALL DONATIONS WILL GO TO STUDENTS IN THE COUNTY WHERE THEY'RE COLLECTED.

"It kind of just makes me proud to help because they might not know what to get and I'll just help them out to get to school and be successful in what they do

it can really help them learn a lot more than they have and get a lot of things that they need and stuff like that."

OPERATION BACK TO SCHOOL STARTS AT 11:30 TOMORROW MORNING AND RUNS UNTIL 7 P-M.

FOR A FULL LIST OF DROP-OFF LOCATIONS... HEAD OVER TO OUR WEBSITE AT 13-WMAZ-DOT-COM.

"It kind of just makes me proud to help because they might not know what to get and I'll just help them out to get to school and be successful in what they do

it can really help them learn a lot more than they have and get a lot of things that they need and stuff like that."

OPERATION BACK TO SCHOOL STARTS AT 11:30 TOMORROW MORNING AND RUNS UNTIL 7 P-M.

FOR A FULL LIST OF DROP-OFF LOCATIONS... HEAD OVER TO OUR WEBSITE AT 13-WMAZ-DOT-COM.

 

WHALES, SCHOOL BUSES, EVEN A DREAMLINER-- ALL SAILING ON THE WATER.

AND *ALL MADE OUT OF MILK CARTONS.

SEATTLE'S MILK-CARTON DERBY HAS BEEN AFLOAT FOR 42 YEARS...

ALL THESE HANDMADE CRAFTS ARE MADE MOSTLY OUT OF MILK CARTONS. BIG POINTS ARE GIVEN FOR CREATIVITY-- BIGGER POINTS FOR ACTUALLY STAYING AFLOAT.

ORGANIZERS HANDED OUT 10-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN PRIZES..

 

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