Eyewitness News at 6, 8-5-12

6:05 PM, Sep 5, 2012   |    comments
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What if you came home to this? A tree...covering your yard...and the entrance to your own home...with only one way to get inside...*through* the brush.

And what if you're a renter?

Who's responsible for clearing the way?

We'll have A look at that situation in just a few minutes.

Good evening and thanks for joining us...

I'm Leah Johnson.

And I'm Frank Malloy. This is Eyewitness News at six...

First our top story tonight...

Officers with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation searched an area in North Peach County today.

Special Agent in charge... Rodney Wall says it's part of a Twiggs County homicide investigation.

 

 

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They used ground penetrative radar to look for something in the soil in an area located on Sherwood Boulevard... That's off of Highway forty-one... near the Bibb County line.

Officers would not comment on which case it involved or when it happened.

An update on the double homicide story we first brought you last week...

A man police called "a person of interest" in last week's double homicide in east Macon.. is in jail tonight.

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Macon police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet says Rodney Lanier Lowery was questioned last night about the shooting deaths of 26-year-old Antonio Fluellen and 25-year-old Deundra Emory.

Both men were killed Thursday night at a home on Cowan Street.

According to the jail's website, Lowery is being held for a probation violation.

He is NOT charged in connection with the fatal shootings.

Police have not released any more information on the investigation.

One Macon family is waiting for something to be done about the tree that has taken over their entire yard and blocked them from getting into their home on Woolfolk Road.

And hoping no one gets hurts in the meantime.

<Anita Thorpe, Macon: "So I'm just trying to get something done because it's clearly a safety issue here. I have a 12 year old son and I'm concerned for him climbing in and out of the bush, coming home from school, going to school, so it's been almost 24 hours and nothing is done." >

This is what Thorpe's house looked like when she left Tuesday afternoon.

But when she returned..

She came home to this. The massive tree in her front yard apparently split right down the trunk and covered the yard.. Her car in the driveway.. And even part of the street.

Thorpe says she called the city of Macon.. and that they came, but didn't remove the tree.

Steve Pettis, Assistant Director of Public Works responded to our inquiries by e-mail:

"It appears to be a private tree that fell off private property and not the responsibility of the City of Macon. We secured the part of the tree that was in the street with traffic barrels but chose not to do any cutting because of the possibility the tree would roll back and damage the house. Our supervisor states it needed a professional tree service to do this removal properly."

Thorpe and her family, including her 12 year old son, have to climb through the tree just to get into the house.

They also called the home owner... Patrick Harris... who lives in Gwinnett County.

He told us by phone that he is trying to get someone out there as soon as possible and that he knows it's a danger to the people who live there.

Harris says because the tree didn't hit the house itself...his homeowners' insurance does not cover the tree removal.

Thorpe just wants it taken care of before someone really gets hurt.

<Anita Thorpe, Macon: "If one of these branches gives out, this branch is coming down on the porch, just like I said, one of my vehicles, it's just something waiting to happen, instead of someone clearing the danger, it's just something waiting to happen." >

Harris said many tree removal companies told him they couldn't come right away because their teams are along the gulf coast helping with clean-up from Hurricane Isaac.

A consolidation task force meeting today marked the first steps toward the Macon and Bibb County merger.

Katelyn Heck spoke with members of the panel about their goals over the next 16 months.

The15-member consolidation task force laid down their foundation of policies...

...Like calling for a simple majority to pass a vote.

The team also agreed to allow the Middle Georgia Regional Commission to host their future meetings and coordinate with public firms and subcommittees.

<not only do they have good facilities in which to meet, they've got good resources as far as staff to be able to do some research for us>

The transition group will also partner with the Carl Vinson Institution of Government with The University of Georgia to decide which tasks they should tackle first.

<whichever that's deemed to be the most time-consuming, we're going to start there and try to get those out of the way first>

Bibb County Chairman Sam Hart says their conversations should start with creating a joint budget... While Macon Mayor Robert Reichert suggests getting a jump-start on employee health benefits.

<getting that all on the same policy is going to take some time and that's just one example of the kinds of things we're going to have to go through.>

Members agree that through each of those steps... community members will have the opportunity to stay involved.

<it certainly will be open to the community and each member of the task force are also very involved in the community and any community citizen has the right to contact one of the task force members to express any concern or ask any questions.>

They will meet every third Wednesday of the month at 3:30.... But Hart says the bulk of the work will take place in subcommittees.

{***SOT FULL***}

<i think we're going to have to meet a little more often than monthly to get the vast amount of work that needs to be done accomplished.>

Committees will be assigned during the next meeting on September 19th.... The public can attend all of their meetings.

Katelyn Heck 13WMAZ Eyewitness News

Reichert and Hart both signed up for the finance and facilities committees. Other groups include technology, human resources, and laws.

A consolidation task force meeting today marked the first steps toward the Macon and Bibb County merger.

Katelyn Heck spoke with members of the panel about their goals over the next 16 months.

The15-member consolidation task force laid down their foundation of policies...

...Like calling for a simple majority to pass a vote.

The team also agreed to allow the Middle Georgia Regional Commission to host their future meetings and coordinate with public firms and subcommittees.

<not only do they have good facilities in which to meet, they've got good resources as far as staff to be able to do some research for us>

The transition group will also partner with the Carl Vinson Institution of Government with The University of Georgia to decide which tasks they should tackle first.

<whichever that's deemed to be the most time-consuming, we're going to start there and try to get those out of the way first>

Bibb County Chairman Sam Hart says their conversations should start with creating a joint budget... While Macon Mayor Robert Reichert suggests getting a jump-start on employee health benefits.

<getting that all on the same policy is going to take some time and that's just one example of the kinds of things we're going to have to go through.>

Members agree that through each of those steps... community members will have the opportunity to stay involved.

<it certainly will be open to the community and each member of the task force are also very involved in the community and any community citizen has the right to contact one of the task force members to express any concern or ask any questions.>

They will meet every third Wednesday of the month at 3:30.... But Hart says the bulk of the work will take place in subcommittees.

<i think we're going to have to meet a little more often than monthly to get the vast amount of work that needs to be done accomplished.>

Committees will be assigned during the next meeting on September 19th.... The public can attend all of their meetings.

Katelyn Heck 13WMAZ Eyewitness News

Reichert and Hart both signed up for the finance and facilities committees. Other groups include technology, human resources, and laws.

How would you like to get a break on your property taxes for ten years?

Some home and business owners in Macon will get a chance to do just that.. Under a new city program.

It's called Enterprise Zones.

Brittiny Barber takes us to one of the two pilot areas.

A spray bottle.. Brushes and flat irons... All tools of the trade for Beverly Pitts.

< I enjoy it because I love people and the interaction with people. >

For 28 years she's worked in the beauty industry.... Now the head Hairlines Beauty Salon.. which falls just inside one of the city's new enterprise zones.

<the basic goal of the enterprise zone is to spur development >

Wanzina Jackson with the Economic and Community Development Department says they've targeted two areas in the city.

The first in south Macon within the boundaries of Broadway and Houston Avenue.

The other on the east side.. Near Jeffersonville and Millerfield Roads.. And Pitts' salon.

< The way that we actually determined the two pilot areas was number one to look at the statistics, looking at the numbers, looking at what type of redevelopment had been done on those particular areas >

Jackson says to quality you must meet certain criteria.

Homeowners can increase the value of their property five times the lands value.

Business owners like Pitts.. Can increase the property value.. Or add five new full-time employees.

< We've got space in fact we've got for additional stylists here and i'd love to have some new people and as well benefit the area where we live. >

And getting a break on her property taxes.. Sounds like a wonderful idea Pitts says.

< I think it's a win win as well. We win by getting the tax break but we are also able to employ people so that's still a benefit all the way around. >

For Jackson.. She hopes the benefits of this new incentive... Can help boost the economy and revitalize key areas of the city.

Brittiny barber 13wmaz eyewitness news.

Wanzina Jackson says they plan to send out information packets to home and business owners in designated areas in about 30 days... And they'll also have public information sessions.

If you want to find out more about the enterprise zones you can call the Economic and

Community Development Department at (478) 751-7190 .

That number again... 751-7190.

The Macon Water Authority has released its report on a sewage spill that dumped about 46-hundred gallons of waste into the Ocmulgee.

According to the MWA's laboratory director, water samples indicated no impact from the minor spill.

The MWA says it monitors the Ocmulgee River weekly.

The sewage spill was noticed by Roland Neel, whose home faces the river on South Pine Knoll Drive. The water authority says at least 4,680 gallons spilled from the time the pipe burst until crews fixed it.

To qualify as a "major spill" that would trigger mandatory water testing and other precautions, MWA says the spill would have to be ten thousand gallons. A loss for the music community and music lovers alike today...

A Georgia music legend died this morning.

He is Joe South, a singer and songwriter whose work hit the charts in the 1960s and '70s.

Bill Lowery...whose Lowery Music Company published South's work says he died this morning in city just outside of Atlanta.

Joe South recorded songs like "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" and "Games People Play" ...Which won two Grammies...

He also wrote hits for others such as "Down in the Boondocks" and "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden."

As a guitar player... he recorded with artists ranging from Eddie Arnold and Aretha Franklin...to Bob Dylan.

Joe South was 72.

Georgia College and State University has a new man at the helm.

Steve Dorman is wrapping up his second day at president of the institution. Candace Adorka has more.

Here in the heart of Milledgeville is Steve Dorman's new home... Well, at least professionally. The South Carolina native spent the last 6 years as the dean of the College of Health and Human performance at the University of Florida. And before that, he was at Texas A&M, chairman of the Department of Health and Kinesiology. Georgia College and State univirsity is a Liberal Arts school, but dorman say his health background still fits.

<my undergraduate degree is form a Chirstian Lberal arts institution so it actually works, I have that background personally, and in addition to that, many of the things we offer in health and human performance at Florida are things that will work well in a public liberal arts institution like this, they correlate very well. For example, things like our health education program, our recreation, parks and tourism program, really they have a liberal arts basis for those degrees." >

A little about Dorman-- he's 55, has been married 32 years, and has three grown children. HE says picking GCSU was a family affair.

<got to looking at the information online, looking at the university online, we found out what a wonderful place this is as far as the faculty, the staff, and students and its something that the more we looked at it, the more drawn we were to the position.>

Now Dorman has only been in the position a couple days. He jokes he's still trying ot figure out how to turn on the computer, but he says he'll spend the next few weeks on a listening tour, lerning what faculty and students would like him to tackle.

<one would be diversity and th other would be recucling on campus.>

<the buses are starting to help but I think the biggest thing they need to add is more places to park, easier transport on and off campus and things like that.>

<not only bring more diversity to this campus but kinda enhance the diversity that we do have. I would like to see a more inclusive campus>

For now dorman says he plans to listen, learn and get into the GCSU spirit.

Reporting in Milledgevile, Candace Adorka, 13WMAZ Eyewitness news.

Dorman is taking over for interim president Paul Jones, who has been filling in the past year.

He led a transition team to help Dorman ease into the position.

 

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