Eyewitness News at 6, 9-18-11

10:47 PM, Sep 18, 2012   |    comments
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Hello, everyone.

I'm Frank Malloy.

And I'm Leah Johnson.

Thanks for joining us...for Eyewitness News at Six.

Our top story tonight....Monroe County schools and the sheriff's office are investigating a potential terroristic threat.


They're still sorting through what they know...

but we're told it started with a list of names...and the possibility that someone might want to hurt the people on that list.

Judy Le has more.

I talked to one parent who says she received an automated call from the superintendent at around 1 p.m today about the terroristic threat...that allegedly happened yesterday.

She says when she received the vague message about the terroristic threat...she immediately thought it was about a gun. But assistant superintendent Jackson Daniel says no weapons were involved.

Samantha Eckelbarger...another parent...called to say the threat involved a list of students and staff...including her daughter. The list was allegedly made up by a ninth-grade boy...who listed people that he planned to harm.

She contacted the assistant principal...but didn't get any more information. She says her daughter was too afraid to go to school today.

According to the school's news release...the student who allegedly wrote the list was sent home yesterday at 2:45 pm and is also not in school today.


Samantha Eckelbarger says she asked permission to speak to the school board tonight...She said they told her she couldn't address the board until their next meeting.

She also said a sheriff's deputy will interview them tonight about the case.

the Monroe County sheriffs office says they will not release any more information at this time.

A Fort Valley woman died this morning in a fire that burned her apartment.

Rescuers were able to get 65-year old Charlie Mae Rogers out of the building, but Fort Valley Police Chief Lawrence Spurgeon says she was pronounced dead on the scene.

Spurgeon says none of the other apartments at the Valley Pines Complex appear to have damage and no one else was hurt.

They're still investigating the cause...but the chief says the fire...and the death...don't appear suspicious.

A small corporate jet hydro-planed off the runway at Herbert Smalls Airport this morning...and three people...survived.

The plane landed in the woods just off of Ocmulgee East Boulevard.

Austin Lewis has more on that story, including some remarkable pictures.

<Eddie Lamberth, Macon:It's hard to imagine that you know right there in that little old clump of woods right across from your house that there's an airplane of that magnitude that would cost that much money just sitting in the middle of the trees >

Eddie Lamberth says he was driving in his truck from the grocery store...when he notice someone standing on the side of the road.

<Eddie Lamberth, Macon: You know you really would have rode right by it and never even knew there was a plane in the ditch like that>

It turns out that jet came from Charleston to Macon...

<Lt. Sean Defoe, Bibb County Sheriff: As the jet attempted to land there was a pocket of water on the runway, um, once the jet landed at a normal speed it caught the pocket of water, hydraplaned went over the embankment and landed on the other side of the roadway Ocmulgee East Boulevard>

Lamberth says he didn't see or hear anything before the plane ended up on the other side of the road, but he did say two people were already outside of the plane and he and a few others tried to help the pilot who was still inside.

<Eddie Lamberth, Macon:the pilot was hung in there, and he was, he was awake and alert and all of that and we looked to see if we could get him out, but the stick had him pinned in too tight.>

Bibb County Sheriff's says the pilot was cut out of the plane...now all three of the passengers survived and two of them didn't have visible injuries. But for Lamberth...who saw the damage up close...he says it's a miracle they survived it.

<Eddie Lamberth, Macon: It could have been way worse than everybody just walking away with just minor injuries. I think every one of them was very lucky. They need to go play the lottery today, today is their lucky day. >

Austin Lewis 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

We now have the names of those who were on the plane...the pilot is Brian Landers, the co-pilot is Joel Perkins, and the passenger is John Dewberry who also owns the plane. All three are from the Atlanta area.

Our sister station WXIA in Atlanta reports that Dewberry is 47 years old...a prominent businessman...and a former Georgia Tech quarterback.

Again all of them survived.... Perkins was transported to the Medical Center with minor injuries.

The next time you log on to Bibb County's website...you're likely to see some big changes... and officials say that means easier access to information for the community.

Brittiny Barber has more on what's set to take effect tomorrow.

<our wesbite's very dynamic there's a lot of good information there. >

But even good things sometimes can use an upgrade....

Bibb County's Assistant IT director Grant Faulkner says they've been working for months to make their website more user friendly.

< We've got the information that we've had all along in here. We've just we're featuring it more prominently on the first page. >

That includes the available pets at Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare... Details of

< We've got good maps that you can get a lot of information including the location of parks, the park near you, you can look up a park based on what activities they have there. >

And they've worked it easier to use when you're away from your desk.

< We're put some bigger buttons on there to make it work a little bit better with ipads and smartphones and things of that nature. >

Faulkner says the changes go live Wednesday.... And he hopes they make it easier to get information.

< People were having difficulty finding where they would make any kind of payments so we're featuring that on the homepage so that's it's very obvious that you can pay tax bills, garbage bills, traffic tickets. >

And Faulkner says they'll continue to work to bring the things you need from the county government.. Directly to your fingertips.

Brittiny barber 13wmaz eyewitness news.

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Faulkner says they've also started to work with the city as part of the consolidation efforts.

He says that means working to bring the two websites together by linking back and forth with departments and activities.

Almost eight-hundred people filed into Vineville United Methodist Church in Macon today.

They gathered to celebrate the life of long-time Public Servant Frank Amerson.

Amerson spearheaded several projects for the Macon Water Authority during his 35 years as chairman.

He passed away Friday at the Medical Center of Central Georgia.

Folks at the funeral praised Amerson's work ethic and his devotion to the community.

<as an independent business man he did great things in the downtown area, built buildings that we still use and know today but he is best known, of course, for his role with the macon Water Authority, such a strong influence there, and literally taking it from a bankrupt organization to one that is the envy of the southeast.>

Frank Amerson was 83 years old.

We're back right after this.

It's a saying often heard in Warner Robins... Every Day in Middle Georgia is armed forces appreciation day.

But some may question if the community lives up to its claim.

In a recent instance... it most certainly did.

Lorra Lynch Jones explains how chance landed a stranded soldier in a patriotic town... Leading him to some unexpected help and a ride home.

Fresh off of 3 years in the Army and Fort Stewart... Soldier Frank Vann packed his dog and truck... And started the journey to Joplin Missouri on I-16.

He didn't get far. Vann's engine blew in the middle of the night.

<frank showed up here Saturday morning after sleeping the night in his car, along the interstate.

Katie Dobbins at 5 Star in Warner Robins noticed the young man after he sat in the dealership's lobby for hours.

<he just didn't have the money to pay the enormous bill to replace an engine in a vehicle.>

Realizing the 21-year-old soldier had few resources... Dobbins offered to take Vann and his dog into her home.

<there's always the unknown. But all of our men and women in the service, when they sign that contract, they're facing the unknown from the start. They don't know where their travels are going to be. I thought it was a very small risk to take, considering he's risked his life for us.>

<frank got a little extra help during his stay. The towing company reduced his bill by half. The folks here at 5 star cut the diagnostics bill on his truck in half, and the employees took up a collection, so he would have spending money while he was in town.>

After 5 days.. One problem remained. The soldier needed to get home.

<I received a call from Katie Dobbins a week ago Thursday.>

Morgan Law... President of the Chamber of Commerce... wanted to help.

<this guy is 21 years old, volunteered to go serve our country, in harms way in a very difficult position in Iraq during combat, and he was trying to get home.>

The folks at U-Haul quickly agreed to discount a trailer rental to haul the truck. Law made few calls about getting Vann a ride... Then decided it would be best to the job himself.

<15 hours, including stops for the dog and smoke breaks for him.>

Vann made it home... Thanks to enormous efforts by strangers in an unknown place.

<I think God works in mysterious ways, and he did end up in the right community.>

A town that always waves its stars and stripes.. And in the case... Proved its patriotism too.

In Warner Robins Lorra Lynch Jones 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

We tried several times to reach Frank Vann today... and the calls went directly to voice mail.

We hope to hear back from him in the next few days... And will let you know if we do.

Katie Dobbins showed us a message on her facebook page from him.

"It read, I'm sending a shout out to Katie Dobbins. The nicest person I've ever met. Thank you so much for all your help."

October 9th is the last day to register to vote in Georgia ... And Georgia's Secretary of State has been making the rounds at high schools encouraging young people to make sure to exercise their right to vote...

This morning, Brian Kemp met with students at Central High School in Macon ... Tom George found out how the youth vote among high school and college voters could play a role in this election.

With the presidential election less than 2 months away, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp visited Central High Tuesday encouraging students to register to vote.

{***SOT FULL***}

<what I want to do is educate our citizens and our young people that they do have this opportunity, they should take advantage of it, its very easy to do and that's what we're doing today. >

And for many students at Macon State College, 2012 will be their first election they cast a ballot.

{***SOT FULL***}

<i've been watching it ... The whole thing since last year cause this is my first year voting! >

{***SOT FULL***}

<I wasn't feeling too much of the comments that Mitt Romney was making>

<i'm still looking, but I'm leaning towards Obama I guess >

<I kind of want to like wait till the end to see where everybody stands but so far I'm kinda leaning toward Obama. >

<and I'm down in Macon and I mean like we don't really have like a big voice, so I just avoid the whole thing. >

<all in all, the vast majority of first time voters we spoke with at Macon State say this time around, they'll be supporting President Obama ... But across town at the Bibb County Republican Headquarters, they know it's an unphill battle with youth voters .. It's something they hope to change. >

<A lot of students are, tend to bend to counter anything their parents were, and sometimes it even feels naughty to be liberal. >

But no matter which side ....

<I would say that it's our future at stake, so whichever candidate you elect is going to directly affect our lives >

and young voters are doing their homework...

<it helps us to understand our country better, our election process better, and it makes us more enthusiastic about becoming adults. >

In Macon, Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

Most recent polls show President Obama with a big lead among young voters...such as a Fox News poll that showed him leading Romney by 25 points ...Among voters under 30.


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