Eyewitness News at 11, August 13, 2012

11:27 PM, Aug 13, 2012   |    comments
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The Macon Police Department will head up initiatives to curb teen and youth violence.
  The city originally discussed making the Mayor's office the lead agency for the initiative...but several council members felt the police should take charge.
 Council member Virgil Watkins says the city is looking to hire a coordinator for the program.
That person will work for the police department and will look for new ways for officers to interact with kids in the community.
< They can go talk to civic groups, churches, if parents need tips they can talk to parents. I want them to get more involved with the youth out there that are gang members or have the potential to become gang members
there's much more that can be done, JOBs programs, actually mentoring, there's a whole plethora of ideas and programs that other communities have initiated to reduce the amount of youth that are joining and involved in gangs. I'm very interested in our city beginning some of these programs. Some of them have shown a lot of success. I don't care who runs it as long as we have a concerted effort that we're going to do better and we're actually going to be 21st century and productive about it >
Watkins says the city set aside around 60-thousand dollars to fund the program, but he also plans to find grant money to add to the budget.

The public safety committee met with Macon police department members behind closed doors to discuss an officer with 11 complaints filed against him last year.
Councilman Virgil Watkins says the officer.... Josh Sanderson racked up 70 complaints since 2006.
Sanderson... Who was named the 2011 uniformed officer of the year... Joined the police department in 2001... According to the Police Department's website.
Watkins says the officer's history of complaints was one of the highest on the force.
<well one complaint is too many, but every citizen that we have contact with, they have the right to complain. Once they've filed a complaint, then we thoroughly investigate it, and it goes before a disciplinary board to either sustain a complaint or not sustain it.>
Watkins could not say how many of those 70 cases were dismissed or resulted in disciplinary action.
Last year, the Macon Police Department had one-hundred-and-four complaints from citizens, and one-hundred-47 from within the department.
Police Chief Mike Burns says training and counseling are provided to officers with multiple complaints.
He hopes this year's numbers will reflect that additional effort.


Early runoff voting started today and will last all week. Judy Le talked with some voters about their reasons for heading to the polls.
The Board of Elections off Pio Nono Ave opened its doors at 8:30 a.m to jump start early runoff voting. 
Both young and old...steadily dropped by to cast a ballot. Among them...is 100-year-old...Annie Wray...who has voted for what seems like a lifetime. 
<Ever since I got old enough to vote and I don't know when that was or what day >
And it was an equally important decision for 80-year-old James Smith Jr...a disabled veteran...to vote early...despite an injured leg
<Well, I have to eat and I have to go vote when it's time. If I put it off tomorrow, I might even feel worser you know.>
According to the Board of Elections Director...Elaine Carr...runoff voter turnout is known to be low. In 2008...there was about a 5-percent turnout compared to 2010...where that number almost quadrupled. But it's not an upward trend. For some...the reason to cast a ballot is simple.  
<To make sure we got the right person in.>
<Because we want people who are going to take care of Macon, Ga>
Across Central Georgia...people will be voting on 18 different races. Here in Bibb County and several other counties....there's the Senate District 26 Democratic race that pits Miriam Paris against David Lucas. Wray has been a longtime supporter of Lucas.
<Because they've been nice to me and to folks in Macon, Ga  >
 It's what's on the ballot that brings out the vote. 
Judy Le...13wmaz...Eyewitness News. 
You can contact your local Board of Elections for polling times and voting locations.
For a list of races on the ballot next Tueday... look for this story at 13WMAZ-dot-com.

          A political blog post has caused controversy in the District 139 House race between Democrats Patty Bentley and Tom Coogle.  Tom George spoke with both candidates about the post that accuses one candidate of playing the race card.
<I feel that there is no need for character assassination or name calling this campaign season.>

Democratic candidate Patty Bentley spoke out today at a news conference after after an blog written by her opponent Tom Coogle's campaign manager... Keith MacCants... accused her of making race a campaign issue.
<Somehow I felt that I need to put this out there and let people know what's going on down here because if youre going to win this race, you're going to win on the issues, not just vote for me because i'm black or vote for me because I'm a black woman.>
In his blog...Peanut Politics...MacCants wrote that Bentley...along with retiring Representative Lynmore James....were quote "telling voters and county/city officials that district needs to be, it has to be represented by  a black, not a white."  He said he heard that from....his sources in Vienna.

The district is 57% African American and James has endorsed Bentley....who's running for the seat he held for 20 years.

James said he's represented everybody in the district fairly....and Bentley said she'll do the same.
<It hurt my feelings, but I'm a big girl, I'll get over it. It's not about me, it's about the people of this district, so I will be fine.  But I just want to make sure the people of this district know that this race is not about color>

<Let the nay sayers say what they want to say .. Like I said, ask my constituents what I've done for them.>

Bentley's opponent Tom Coogle distanced himself, saying that his campaign manager's blog is independent of his campaign, and that he wants to focus on the issues.
<Keith's opinions are his own, and in my opinion, I only want to focus on moving District 139 forward and improving the state of affairs in this district>

Both candidates agree ... Not race.... But jobs will be the defining issue, and voters will decide that in the runoff on August 21st.  In Fort Valley,  Tom George 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.>


It's back to business for students in Bibb county as they kick off the 2012-2013 school year.
Candace Adorka spent the morning at Heritage Elementary, where parents and teachers say back to school day is always full of emotion.
<take a left anf go down the hallway>
<all of our students coming in, they look eager to get ot class, not tears we had no students with tears, some parents with tears>
<everytime you're gonna have butterflies about the whole situation. So I think I was excited. --You have butterflies or the kids had?-- I had butterflies too. I just dropped her off so she began to cry.>
<this is their first year at Heritage. So we're kinds getting adjusted to a new school.  But as far as the school itself when I came to open house, it seemed to be a real pleasant place. They're really excited, and I'm excited as well.>
<i'm really nervous for James Tanner I just don't want him to be scared or wanna come home or want him to do good, you just as any mom you're nervous for your child.> 
   Principal Jennifer Sadler says just like the rest of the schools in the district, Heritage Elementary faces many changes this year. 
For instance, schools are open an extra 30 minutes... teachers are using new standards that match 47 other states... and primary grade students across the district will start learning Mandarin. 
   25 chinese graduate students are in the district ready to implement that initiative. 
Candace Adorka spoke to the Mandarin teacher at Heritage Elementary. 
The Mandarin initiative is part of the Macon Miracle strategic plan.
After the plan was presented, some parents questioned the wisdom of teaching Chinese versus Spanish, among other concerns, but Principal Sadler said all the parents in her K-3 grades are now on board.   
 Bibb County added more than 15-hundred students since this time last year.
     Kimberlyn Carter.. Head of the districts' Welcome Center....says as of this afternoon 25,457 students were enrolled.
     As Brittiny Barber shows us.. Some of those kids missed out on the  first day of school because of long lines to register. 
  The first day of school brought dozens of parents to the Bibb County Schools Welcome Center.
<i'm just thinking he's going to miss the whole day because the lines so long.>
Sheila Rouse had an issue with her grandson's enrollment.. And spent a couple of hours in line.. Since the Welcome center is now the district's central contact point for parents.
<when they tell you to go to the Welcome Center, they're telling us like the Welcome Center is like next door. The Welcome Center is a long ways and you have to get a way out here   >
     Some were frustrated with the new process... While other practiced a little patience.
<they were open the whole weekend. They were very polite but they're being frustrated because no one's understanding that they're doing what they need to do to try to get every student in school    >
<WE've had some glitches, but for the most part I am happy to report  most of the schools have reported very smooth transitions. Children are just coming in and going to class >
   Carter says they faced some challenges will learn from them... To improve on the registration and transfer process in the future.
     Brittiny Barber 13wmaz eyewitness news.

  Carter says in the last week.. 15-hundred adults have come in to the Welcome Center to get kids ready for this school year.
     That number doesn't include those who showed up today.


  Police say a deadly shootout near Texas A and M happened after the gunman was served an eviction notice around noon today.
 Police say 35-year-old Thomas Caffall...ened fire from inside an off-campus house near the football stadium
     Three people including Caffall and the constable serving the notice were killed in the shootout...along with a man who police described as a bystander.
      Three other law enforcement officers and a woman were hurt in the shooting.


  A judge today set 650 thousand dollars bond for a former Houston County probation officer accused of killing his girlfriend.
 Judge Tripp Self set the bond...after Russell holt pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in houston county superior court.
      Self denied bond at an earlier hearing in May.... saying Holt was a risk to flee the country.
      The prosecution asked Self to deny bond again.... Arguing that Holt may intimidate witnesses. They say he's aggressive... and has sudden mood changes.
          Today he said he no longer felt Holt was a flight risk and granted him bond... saying Holt cannot leave his house except in a health emergency. 
<"We're pleased I mean he has the opportunity now, if he can meet the stringent conditions and the high bond amount. He has the opportunity to go home and anybody that's lived in the county jail wants to leave, so we're happy that he has the chance. The judge has given us the key to the jailhouse door now we just have to open it.">

Holt is accused of killing 27-year-old Jessica Wolfe back in March.
   Wolfe, who worked in the Houston County District Attorney's office, died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. 
   She and Holt were dating at the time of her death.
   For now...Holt remains in the Houston County jail.

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