Eyewitness News at 11, October 18, 2012

10:47 PM, Oct 18, 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.
  Our top story tonight.. Bibb county will be among the first areas to join a national program that brings computer and internet access to low income families. 
The announcement was made at tonight's school board meeting. 
Candace Adorka has the details of that program and other highlights from tonight's meeting. 
Connect to compete is a partnership between the federal communication commission and many non-profit groups and private companies. A thousand communities in 22 states will test out the program, and Bibb county is one of them.
 Families of students in 23 bibb schools could get high speed internet from cox cable
 for 10 dollars a month for 2 years. Typically it's 30 dollars a month. 
They can also get a computer for 150 dollars. 
Beverly blake, Macon's program director for the Knight Foundation, and Lynn Murphey with Cox communications surprised board members with the news thursday afternoon. They say they've been working to increasing technology access for Bibb Families for two years. 
"It is really something that Knight has long been supportive of to bring digital access to everyone in the community because we know if you don't have access to the internet and know how to use the tools, you're a second class citizen."
"It is absolutely remarkable that our community has been picked as one of the few pilots to actually trial this program and bring the service to our community"
To qualify, a family must have a student that is in the free lunch program, attends one of the 23 selected schools, and it only applies to families who don't currently have broadband service. For more details, look for this story on our homepage 13 wmaz dot com.  
Next, the board tackled discipline. District officials say tomorrow, parents should get this letter letting them know schools will be cracking down on weapons, drugs, and alcohol on campus. They've already started random searches in schools, and later, they may include canines in the search. Deputy superintendent of student affairs ed judie says schools will also get more strict with dress code violations and wearing gang colors. 
""Principals know their students. They have an idea and they've identified these students and then we also have a database if we have found in the past that students have been associated with gang activity then we're going to be looking for those students and looking to see what type of clothing they're wearing. It is zero tolerance for this"
The district says they're also addressing gaps in safety that the consulting firm safe havens international found last summer. 
Lastly, teachers got their chance in the spotlight. The board recognized each school's teacher of the year and selected five finalists for the district-wide teacher of the year. We'll have their names up on our homepage 13 WMAZ.com. Candace Adorka 13 WMAZ eyewitness news. 
  The five candidates for teacher of the year will have to go through interviews conducted by a selection committee. 
    Bibb County's teacher of the year will be announced at a formal gala on November 8th. 


     Five Houston County schools just received security upgrades... And a dozen more are in the process.
     About 800-thousand dollars from the education penny sales tax placed secure vestibules in the schools.
     They work by forcing visitors to come into the front office... When they enter through the front door of the school.
     People no longer have access through the main doors into the main hallways of the building.
     Those doors stayed locked around the clock.
     Principal at Perry Middle Thomas Moore says the feature helps keep strangers out... And parents say it puts their minds at ease.
"Oh my God Im glad, I'm glad. I think they're safe this way."
"Anything that will add security to your campus is a plus for you. You never know what's going to happen."
      Superintendent Robin Hines says the vestibules cost around 800-thousand dollars.
     In addition to that security measure... the system is also in the process of installing wiring... So more cameras can be added at school campuses.
Macon police today are looking for answers...in the suspicious death of 89-year-old Christine Cook. 
Spokeswoman Melanie Hofmann says they're investigating it as a homicide....until they know the cause of death.
Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones told 13WMAZ that police were called out to a home on Genal Lee Road about 1 this morning ...when friends asked authorities to check on Cook. 
     Jones says that's when they found her body.
    About two weeks ago and a little over a half a mile away...police say 58-year-old Gail Spencer was suffocated at her home. 
Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones says autopsy results on Cook could come in tomorrow morning.

Central Georgia has recorded its first West Nile death of the year.
That's according to Jennifer Jones with the North Central Health District.
She said the victim was a 65 year old Houston County man...who died Tuesday at a local hospital from West Nile complications.
Last week...the health district says three people in Houston County caught the virus this summer.
She said the man...was one of them. There's no word on where or when he got West Nile...which is usually passed on by mosquitoes.
Jones said the other two patients were treated at local hospitals...but she has no new information on their condition.

 According to Ed Defore...the Macon Water Authority has made a recommendation for a new chairman.
   The board unanimously asked Probate Judge Bill Self to appoint Kirby Godsey as the new chair...
   Godsey currently serves as chancellor at Mercer University...
    He was president and CEO at Mercer from 19-79 until 2006..
    He is also the author of several books.
    If approved...Godsey will replace  Frank Amerson ..who passed away last month.

  Richard Brewer, the CEO and President of Macon's Cherry Blossom Festival is resigning after just 4 months on the job.
  Festival officials say Brewer resigned to return to Charleston South Carolina....where his wife works...and his family lives. 
But just last week....Brewer sat down with our own Del Ward...for her latest Personal Profile. And he talked about his plans to bring a family atmosphere to next year's festival. 
"Well, you now, you cant think about having a festival without thinking family, and Cherry Blossom has always been about the family and we just want to grow that and move in that direction and I'm pretty family oriented, I love kids."
Some board members of the festival said they weren't even aware of the resignation until getting an e-mail from Chairman George McCanless.
   McCanless spoke with Frank Malloy by telephone this afternoon about the changes with the Cherry Blossom Festival.

   On November 6th... Incumbent for Georgia's 12th Congressional District John Barrow squares off against Republican state representative Lee Anderson.
     The 2th district covers a 19 county area in eastern Georgia.... Including Laurens, Truetlen and Wheeler Counties.
     We invited Mr. Barrow and Mr. Anderson for a debate... But Mr. Anderson declined.
     Instead... Barrow took questions from Randall Savage and Lorra Lynch Jones.
     Here's more of the interview we first showed you on Eyewitness News at six.
 You can watch Barrow's entire interview by clicking on the link on our website 13WMAZ-dot-com.
     His challenger.. Lee Anderson... Has committed to an interview with Randall Savage next week.


    A North Dakota man is nearly ten thousand dollars richer...thanks to a 20-year-old gallon jug of barbecue sauce...
     Mort Bank used to own a McDonald's franchise and held on to the sauce which was left over from a 19-92 Michael Jordan burger promotion.
 Banks say he believes the sauce was the last of its kind in existence.
   The McJordan sauce has an expiration date of December 8th, 19-92..so Banks doesn't recommend opening it up and using it.
    The winning bid for the sauce came from Jordan country..of course---Chicago.
    Banks say he plans to split the money with his daughter who helped him post the sauce on Ebay.

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