Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us.
I'm Frank Malloy.
And I'm Leah Johnson.
This is Eyewitness News at Six.
Tonight's top story...a former Commander in Chief gets ready to take on a new role in education..
President Jimmy Carter made a stop in Macon today... to accept a position on Mercer University's Board of Trustees..
<You have time for a couple questions? Who do you represent? WMAZ>
13WMAZ's Randall Savage and Tom George were the only television reporters on hand to speak with the nation's 39th president.. who's still busy at the age of 88.
He discussed several issues.. including some advice for our current President.
< SOT outcue -- correcting the problem >
And the former president wasn't the only Carter whose name came up during our conversation.
His grandson James Carter made headlines this fall when he uncovered Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's remarks that he was not concerned about 47 percent of the people.
The video was a blow to Romney.
<James Carter was born, his parents were living in the White House, and he was born the first month I was president, so he's one of the White House babies, he grew up the first four years living the White House, but James is master of researching the intricate mechanisms of Internet all its aspect and so he was able to see some little snippets of Governor Romney's 47 percent speech and he finally mastered the entire process and identified the recorder of that speech and made it public through Mother Jones magazine as you know, so I would say that if anybody in the nation caused President Romney to have serious troubles during his campaign, it would be my grandson James. >
< So when he asked me if I would serve as a trustee, I was very doubtful about it, so I thought about it, I never have been trustee of anything else except the Carter Center and so forth and I'm not on any boards of corporations and things like that, but because of my interest in a great university that serves Middle Georgia, and because I've seen the remarkable progress that's been made in the last six years under Bill Underwood, I was willing to take a chance. >
The Mercer Board of Trustees meets twice a year.
Carter will join 44 other trustees on the board, including Mercer alum Nancy Grace.
Trustees serve a five year term, but because Carter was elected to fill a unfinished term, he will serve for the next four years.
Mercer music students have reason to celebrate a new accomplishment for their program.
The McDuffie Center for Strings now has a new home in the Bell House... On College Street.
Renovations for the facility is funded through a 1.5 million dollar grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation.
Violinist and founder... Robert McDuffie took a tour of the facility with his students today.
He says he's happy that the foundation will allow the center to be located in downtown Macon.
< I think it's a testament to their own belief in the city of Macon, that they've reached this far down college street. Again, it shows their confidence and their own mission.>
McDuffie says the new center will open by August 2013.
Some Macon officials want to cut down wait times for early voters after last week's long lines at the Bibb Board of Elections.
Council member Elaine Lucas proposes adding one or two more polling places... And at least one more Saturday.
She ran her ideas past State Representative Tyrone Brooks from Fulton County.
Brooks says he wants to change the early voting period back to 45 days instead of 21.
Lucas says she thinks many voters got discouraged by the long lines... So she's drawing up a resolution asking Bibb County to make changes before next year's elections.
<this impacts citizens on a personal level, it impacts people on a level that guarantees them access to the voting process, anmd so I think it's just real important and I think the county commissioners owe it to the citizens to implement something that's going to help all citizens to participate.>
If Macon city council passes Lucas' resolution...it still needs approval from county commissioners.
A couple accused of killing an 18-month-old girl ...will be held without bond.
The girl's father, 20 year old Antwon Davis and her stepmother 36 year old Amanda Davis are charged with felony murder.
Today they made their first court appearance before magistrate judge Jane Reeves... who listed the charges... and said there would be no bond.
Bibb County coroner Leon Jones said Antwon Davis' daughter, Breazia, was unconscious Wednesday when EMTs brought her to a hospital.
She died later that day.... and the couple was arrested Thursday.
Jones said authorities are not releasing the girl's cause of death... but that she showed clear signs of trauma.
More than 20 Bibb County students were charged with crimes this week in more than a dozen incidents.
That's according to a news release from the district.
They include three assaults on teachers, two students accused of obstructing campus police officers and one fight that led to two girls being pepper sprayed.
The teachers were assaulted at Rutland High School on Tuesday, Elam Alexander Academy on Wednesday and Weaver Middle on Wednesday.
Students were accused of obstructing officers at Howard High School on Monday and Ballard-Hudson Middle on Wednesday.
The two girls were pepper-sprayed by campus police after a fight at Westside High School Monday.
Also, six students face charges after two separate fights at Northeast High School on Thursday.
No serious injuries were reported in any of the fights.
A smoky lunchtime fire displaced several families from an East Macon apartment building.
It happened around noon at the Kingston Apartments on Boulevard, off Old Clinton Road.
Fire Sergeant Ben Gleaton says the fire probably started from a electric heating unit in a closet.
It burned two units and caused smoke damage to several other units.
It took firefighters about two hours to put out the blaze.
Gleaton says no one was injured.
<Renay Wingfield: At night when everyone goes to sleep I just go in my little corner in there and cry and just pray. >
Renay Wingfield says she and her family are squatters living in a vacant Macon home....but they have no choice after her husband lost his job and their apartment.....
The father in this family says they've been homeless ever since he got laid off.
A Macon pastor who lives next door to the family is trying to help them find the money to get back home.
We went to the home to meet the family who says their only choices are squatting or living on the streets.
<Andrea Wingfield: it started raining so we came in on the porch and I seen the door was cracked so we walked right in >
For Andrea Wingfield... Keeping a roof over his family's head has been a challenge. With no other option he says.... He and his wife ignored the sale sign posted in front of this Macon home and moved right in.
<Andrea: This is not something that I wanted to do. This is not something as being a man that I wanted to take my famiyl through.>
<Renay Wingfield: At night when everyone goes to sleep I just go in my little corner in there and cry and just pray and ask God to help me and to help me to be strong and help me get through this and I know he will. >
The wingfields say they never thought that they would ever be squatters... living in a house that's not theirs. But Andre says after losing his job this is the life that he, his wife and children are forced to live now.
<Renay Wingfield: For dinner we have food that we cook on a propane heater and it also heats up the hous>
The family also shares this mattress.. and use black trashbags for curtains... and suitcases for all the clothes that they own.
<Andrea Wingfield: I didn't want my family to be homeless I didn't want them to be living in an abandoned house I didn't want them to have go through and see me struggle like I've been struggling. I want something better for my kids and I want them to see their father be something better. >
The Wingfields say making things better for their children is always on their mind.
<Andrea Wingfield: They tell me daddy it's okay you did your best so as long as they know I am doing my best really that's all that matters to me so this is I will keep going for them. >
The Wingfield's story inspired an action by a neighbor...who smoothed things over with the property owners.
<and asked them if they would give me just a moment to help work with this family and help get them out of this situation.>
So the Wingfield are staying in this Macon home until...they can get the help to get out.
<Renay Wingfield:Some might look at me and say you know oh that's terrible but I got good spirits and I know that something good is going to happen.>
The Wingfields are a family of seven... the other three children are older and were in school when we did our interview.
For more information on how you can help this family... go to our wesbite and look for this story... 13WMAZ.com.