Eyewitness News at 11, October 9, 2012

11:22 PM, Oct 9, 2012   |    comments
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  Good evening.
   Thanks for joining us.
   I'm Frank Malloy.
   And I'm Leah Johnson.
   This is Eyewitness News at 11.
  We begin with an update on a story we first told you about at 6...
    Macon police say they will hold a news conference tomorrow morning to discuss the death of a woman found in her home Saturday.
   Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones says police are calling the death of 58-year-old Gail Spencer "suspicious."
   According to Jones, firefighters found Spencer's body around 3-30 Saturday morning at her home on Stinsonville Road.
    They went to the house after friends reported the woman missing.
     Jones says her car was also missing...
     Late this afternoon... a car matching the description of that missing vehicle was found in the parking lot of Porterfield Baptist Church in south Macon.
    Jones described the car as a silver 2004 Acura Integra T-S.
    Macon police would not confirm if the car belonged to Spencer or if it's part of the investigation.
     The coroner says autopsy results should be back tomorrow.
People living in the Pleasant Hill community say they're looking forward to seeing changes that the Georgia Department of Transportation has been planning for years. They say they're tired of waiting and want to see results sooner than later.
 Tonight... G-DOT presented an update on the project that some residents say.... wasn't an update at all.
"My overall concern is that it is taking too long for this entire project to get started."
A project that promises to revamp Macon's Pleasant Hill community and highlight the area's historic charm. But longtime Pleasant Hill resident Peter Givens says the Georgia Department of Transportation is giving them the run around.
"We started talking with Georgia DOT in 2005. This is now 2012, close to 13 and we haven't had any physical work done at all."
The department's project manager, Clinton Ford presented an update on the plans Tuesday night in front of council and residents at City Hall.
"The community has signed off on authority on several of the options, the design, the vacant lots where these historic homes will be relocated to."
Although the plans are laid out.. they're not set in stone just yet.
"The things that we're doing on this project is actually a new venture for us. Our department has never picked up historical homes and relocate them and rehabilitate them. So, we're trying to deliver in the most timely and effective manor."
"Things are just not taking place like they should. We need to constantly push Georgia DOT to get things done. They keep coming up with reasons why their bureaucracy won't allow it to be done in a timely manner.  What we call a timely manner is not what they call a timely manner."
Concerned residents got a chance to voice their questions and concerns following the report from G-DOT. Along with many residents who attended, councilman Rick Hutto too expressed concern over the timeliness of the project.
"And it's just frustrating to know that ten years ago we asked these questions, six months ago when we were getting ready for this meeting, we asked these questions and now we're asking again the exact same questions."
But Givens says he's committed to seeing this project through and will continue to do what he can to make sure the people of Pleasant Hill receive the kind of results that everyone can be proud of.
"We're passionate about this and we're going to continue to push to try and make this thing happen as soon as we possibly can."
   According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, mitigation project funding for the Pleasant Hill venture is estimated to cost around ten million dollars. 
The city of Macon could take over around 60 miles of state roads from the Department of Transportation.
The DOT offered around 212-thousand dollars a year for the city to inherit some of their responsibilities including mowing the right of way, guardrail replacements, and emergency services.
Public Works Director Richard Powell says this will require more staffing, but could not say how many more people would be needed.
The city attorney says this would also mean Macon would have all of the liability for those areas.
Keith Moffet in the administrative office says this is not the best deal for the city, but Macon employees already have to do some of the work because the DOT is falling behind.
The contract will go before full council next week.
  Change could be on the way for people living in a west Macon Apartment complex.
    A federal inspector will visit Macon Garden Apartments next week to follow up on complaints about living conditions there..
     We first brought you this story last month about problems including mold, non-working a/c units and holes in the walls of several units.
     Tenants now report they have gotten letters from the property manager about a HUD inspection that will take place next week.
      We were able to get a copy of the note... and it said "you must have your apartment home in clean and good condition." 
     Some apartment rooms are plagued with cockroaches and gaping ceilings. 
     A HUD spokesperson says that the last time the complex was inspected it received a score of 35 out of 100.
    If you drive on Centerville Road in Byron...you probably notice construction in full swing on the Peach Regional Medical Center. 
     The hospital could be adding a whole lot of green to Peach County and the rest of Central Georgia.
     Austin Lewis has more on how this hospital could bring more cash to Peach County. 
 Construction is well underway at the new site of the Peach Regional Medical Center... off Centerville Road in Byron.
     Nancy Peed, the C-E-O says they're not just buidling a bigger hospital.
"We will add another 132 jobs those are really good jobs that are hard to come by so we are excited to be able to add that to our community."
According to the Middle Georgia Regional Commission...the average annual income of those jobs will be just over $50,000 dollars a year.
The agency says that will add more than 3 point 8 million dollars a year...in state and local taxes....over its first 10 years.
In the very first year...they say....they'll add just over 370-thousands dollars to the tax base.
Robert Smith, Middle Georgia Regional Commission: "The county and the city would benefit from increased sales taxes, property taxes and revenues of that nature."
     Rocco Corso is getting ready to open his Italian restaurant next week..just a few miles from the hospital. He's hoping for his own piece of the economic pie. 
Rocco Corso, Co-owner Mama Mia: "I could see more lunch crowd, you know doctors, nurses... more patients, patients family that are coming to visit them I could see that boosting my business being in the location that I am."
    And hospital officials say the new space means not only more jobs...but better health services.  
Elbert McQueen, Vice President Central Georgia Health System: " The patient experience is gonna be greatly enhanced it will be greatly enhanced... an emergency room, a larger emergency room than what we currently operate."
Peed says they expect to complete construction...and open doors to the new hospital...in the summer of 2013.
Austin Lewis 13WMAZ Eyewitness News. 
    Peed says they aren't  looking to hire only doctors and nurses...they're also hoping to add pharmacy positions, secretarial positions,  and maintenance crews.
   Starting next week, Bibb county will begin a massive overhaul of the technology system in each of its schools. 
  District director of technology, Tom Tourand, says right now, the district's technology infrastructure is the worst he's seen in 40 years. 
  Each of the schools need new equipment, new wiring, and software upgrades among other improvements. 
   Tourand estimates the district-wide tune-up will take about 2 years, and cost at least 45 million. 
     About 40 million will come from a penny sales tax and federal funds. Tourand says it'll parents, students and staff should notice the difference. 
"First of all we'll have a reliable database for all the email systems so your systems will be more reliable. Students will have access to things so they can actually learn at school they can use their own devices then they can take it home and keep learning."
  The upgrades will start with a complete overhaul of Northeast high school. 
   Tourand says by Thanksgiving, the school will have all new hardware, even new security cameras, and updated systems. 
    Northeast's upgrades will be the template for all other schools.  
  Health officials in Florida are reporting that a person has died from fungal meningitis...
  If the Centers for Disease Control confirm it...it would bring the number of deaths from tainted steroid injections to a dozen..
   Teresa Garcia has more.
 George Cary and his family are in mourning.. and in fear.
"We are focused on keeping ourselves together right now and healing ourselves."
Cary's wife, Lillian died last week of a stroke... she was diagnosed with fungual meningitis after receiving an injection of tainted steroids.  george received similar injections, and is awaiting test results to see if he is also infected.
(sot - heather andrus/daughter)
"I think right now the grief and disbelief that this could happen are still there."
On Tuesday, New Jersey became the tenth state to reporting an infection.  119 cases have been confirmed by the centers for disease control... 11 of them, fatal.
ron barbe of tennessee is also awaiting test results... he received two injections of the steroid for back pain last month.
"Started this morning ... slight stiff neck and headache."
Officials in tennessee say they've identified a second fungus in the vials of tainted steroid - a fungus most doctors would never normally see.  the CDC says 13,000 people received the potentially contaminated drug,  those patients are being told to watch for symptoms for three months... one patient developed the disease six weeks after his injection.
George Cary is watching and waiting...  and wondering why there isn't more oversight of the medical industry.

"Perhaps the message is, 'Wake up, America.'"
 A warning that comes too late for his wife.
 Here in central Georgia..all but one of the 184 patients exposed to a tainted batch of medication at a Macon clinic have been notified.
     That's according to Michelle Hodge.. administrator at the Forsyth Street Ambulatory Surgery Center.. Where the patients received the medication.
     She says that number dropped from the previous 189.... because that figure included some patients who had received multiple injections.
     Dr. David Harvey District Health Director the Macon clinic one of many that received tainted shipments of steroid injections.     
     A Massachusetts pharmacy is suspected of supplying them... And Harvey says they've since closed down. 
"The FDA is looking seriously at all the compounding companies again, I understand or they're under pressure to anyhow.  This company that compounded this medication has shut down, has bascially stopped producing, recalled all their products, even though only 3 viles of one medication have been identified as potentially hazardous."
  Again the latest number show 119 cases of meningitis across the country.. 
 It was finger lickin' good time at the Georgia National Fair..as judges got a taste of some of the best chicken dishes around...the Peach State
   The focus of this year's Cluckin' Good Chicken contest was casseroles...
   Dishes were judged on their appearance..ease of preparation and of course..taste..
   The dish that caught the eyes and the taste buds of the judges this year..was the Fiesta Spinach and Artichoke Casserole...prepared BY 8Karen Slaughter of Warner Robins.
   Organizers say over the past few years..they've decided to focus on a different type of chicken dish each year...
   Last year it was barbecue chicken.

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