Eyewitness News at 6, 1-9-13

6:59 PM, Jan 9, 2013   |    comments
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     A chemical spill...sends an odor spreading across much of South Central Georgia... And raises contamination concerns.

     Good evening, everyone.

     I'm Frank Malloy.

     And I'm Leah Johnson.

     That's our top story tonight on Eyewitness News at Six.

     Cordele Police say the spill came

from the Drexel Chemical Company on Cape Road early this morning.

     It's a substance called (DIE-meth-oh-ate) dimethoate. That's an ingredient for insecticide.

     About 40 drums of it were dumped after the chemical overheated.

     Now the authorities say that dimethoate itself is not hazardous... But it can make some problems for people with certain health issues.  Much more on that in a moment.

     Right now...the most noticeable affect is the odor, which...according to WALB Tv...has traveled as far as Eufala Alabama.

     Fire rescue chief Ray Lunsford says the first heads up something was wrong...came from someone who was overwhelmed by the smell while walking his dog.

<Basically , when they arrived on the scenes,they found a bunch of 55 gallon drums had released their lids under pressure. And they were in a vat. A warming vat. The company had put the drums in the warming vat, and they evidently had gotten too hot and built up too much pressure, but they did release the lids on them, and release the chemicals. So there was a very pungent odor in the air.>

     And that's exactly what people who lived in the area noticed first.

< You know downwind, in town you can smell it. It smelled like a skunk to me. You know it didn't smell like no chemicals or anything, it just smelled like a skunk.. >

    Now the fumes alone...aren't toxic for most people. They mostly affect people who already have respiratory problems.

     Leah explains.

<frank, today we talked to representatives from Crisp Regional Hospital.

They say they saw 2 people who had medical complaints related to the smell from the chemicals. 

One person close to the site of the chemical spill complained about dizziness and nausea.

The patients have been treated and sent home. 

The hospital has a protocol that they followed for such situations where large numbers of people may be effected.  They usually go out and set up tents so they can handle things if a large number of people are affected.

In this case, the tents weren't needed.

 According to Melinda Adkins.. the Nursing Director for the ER, possible side effects from breathing in organo phosphates such as dimethoate (DIE-meth-oh-ate) can include:

respiratory irritation to severe respiratory problems, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and other abdominal issues, low heart rate, low blood pressure, vision problems, sweating, and diarrhea.

  She said in those cases... the hospital would usually treat the individual symptoms.

In the case of the two people seen today... They send the patients home once those symptoms improve. 

     Now today... Fire chief Lunsford told us that smell was just an after-effect.

     The actual spill was cleaned up by about 8 this morning.

     Macon police are trying to figure out how a missing 63-year-old man...ended up dead in a ditch.

     The man's body was found just about an hour ago in a back yard on the 800 block of Corbin Avenue...off Riverside Drive.

     You can see that area in this iPhone video sent by 13WMAZ's Jennifer Moulliet.

     Police said he is Robert Odom...who lived a few doors away from the yard he was found in.

He had been missing for several days.

     So far... there's no word on his cause of death.

     Today, we've learned more about the death of an 18-month-old girl back in November.

     Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones is calling it a homicide...and says "multiple, blunt-force trauma" caused it.

     Back on November 7th, father Antwon Davis...and Amanda Davis, were charged with killing Breazia <Bree-ASIA>.

     EMT's said the little girl was unconcious when they found her at the Forest Hill Road apartment and took her to the hospital...she later died there.

     The couple has been in the Bibb County jail ever since.

     Family members told us...the child lived in Florida...but was in Macon visiting her father at the time of her death.

     Police in West Virginia are investigating a fatal shooting of a Kathleen man outside Lewisburg.

    According to a police report... Police were told to stop a red truck Driven by Jimmy Hamlin Junior after he got into a domestic dispute.

 It was reported that he had been drinking and armed.

     A police report says around 4:30 Monday... Officers stopped Hamlin And noticed he was carrying a rifle.

     Officers say he made a hostile action and officers fired at him.. Killing him.

Two State Troopers and one Lewisburg Police officer were put on administrative leave following the incident.... a standard procedure in these cases.

    Hamlin's obituary from Hart's Mortuary says he was an avid hunter and Georgia bulldogs  fan.

     It says he loved Andy Griffith and the Atlanta Braves.

     Hamlin's family declined to speak to us, but said they'd be releasing a statement later.

     Some central Georgia school districts say a proposed law that would give guns to administrators... would NOT make schools safer.

     They told Katelyn Heck why they think campus security should stay in the hands of trained officers... Not educators.

Many agree... Keeping schools safe is a top priority... But opinions differ when it comes to how to do that.

State Representative Paul Battles from Cartersville... says giving firearms to administrators would help protect students.

He pre-filed a bill that would give each school district the choice to arm and train administrators.

<no classroom teacher would be permitted, not a coach, or anyone, it has to be an administrator. After selected by the school board, would be required to go through the same training as any other peace officer would, and that is doing all the background checks, evaluations, the carry permit, and then would have to go through the mandate peace officers course.>

Houston Superintendent Robin Hines says... If legislators pass the bill... His district won't be on board.

<we're in the school system and we run schools and our safety plans do a really good job and our people take it very seriously. We're fortunate where we haven't had these types of things, where, while tragic, are rare, and I don't believe that educators need to be part of the militia.>

Monroe Superintendent Anthony Pack says he would rather slowly add more officers at schools as funding becomes available.

But Battles says that's not an option for all school districts.

<every system that I've talked with said 'we're strapped; we're having cuts every year.'>

However... each school district would have to pay for the guns and the training for each administrator that chooses to participate.

Katelyn Heck 13WMAZ Eyewitness News

         Another legislator... Representative Charles Gregory from Kennesaw... Filed four other bills dealing with gun-owners rights.

   One of them would give people the right to carry a gun onto college and technical school campuses.

     So tonight on 13WMAZ-dot-com, we asked you to share your opinion...on weapons in the hands of school employees.

    So far, 64 percent of you support the idea.

     36 percent of you...say no.

   To vote now on that question right now....go to 13WMAZ-dot-com. 

     You'll find it on the right side of the home page once you scroll down.

     Monroe County won the latest round in its lengthy border dispute with Bibb.

     Monroe County Commission Chairman Mike Bilderback was in the courtroom when Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Amanda Lee said she'll issue order supporting Monroe

     She said she would order Secretary of State Brian kemp to accept surveyor Terry Scarborough's finding that set the Monroe-Bibb line several hundred yards north of the current line.

     Lee says she'll sign the order next week. It would shift millions of tax dollars from Bibb to Monroe County.


  Bilderback says he's cautiously optimistic with the judge's decision...but won't celebrate until the order is final.

     Meanwhile...Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart says neither Bibb commissioners nor their attorney were aware of today's court hearing.

     He says Bibb will take immediate action to intervene prior to the judge issuing her ruling next week.

     Hart says Judge Lee dismissed the Monroe County suit last September.

     Secretary Kemp's office declined comment until the judge issues her ruling...next week.

     A hundred dollar cap...on the gifts Georgia lawmakers can take from lobbyists.

     That's what some on a special state senate committee are proposing...but the bill would have to clear both chambers of the General Assembly before any changes happen.

     It they approve it...No gift could exceed the cap...no matter how many individual lobbyists or groups contributed.

     The Senate is expected to vote on that proposition Monday.

     The state of Georgia is collecting more money from your taxes.

     Today... the Governor's Office said tax collections jumped 10 percent in December... compared to the same time period a year ago.

     Georgia took in about 1.7 billion dollars in december From personal income tax and sales tax.

     While the increaseS in tax collections are larger than those seen recently, they are in line with trends in the national economy.

     Tax collections are viewed as a rough measure of local economic health. The more money that people earn and spend, the more money that Georgia's state government collects.

     Butler's city council voted not to reappoint its police chief of 22 years this week.

     The City Clerk said Chief Michael Peacock was removed by a unanimous vote by council and the mayor pro tem.

     The clerk says the city's attorney advised city officials not to comment on the firing.

     Attorney Tom Richardson, who handled the matter for the city, said Peacock was not reappointed for "performance issues."

     He said, about a year and a half ago, city officials gave Peacock a list of problem areas to work on...and he didn't progress sufficiently.

     Macon State College no longer exists ... But it's not going away either.

It's merged with Middle Georgia College to create Middle Georgia State College.

Tom George stopped by the campus in west Macon to find out how staff and students are adjusting to the new name.

Try calling Macon State today ... And you'll hear something different...


< Thank you for calling Middle Georgia State College, this is Ariah speaking>

{***SOT FULL***}<Nancy Stroud, Middle Georgia State College, can I help you?>


Staff members answer phones by its NEW name... Middle Georgia State College

< It's like when you get married, sometimes you still use your old name, and I'm sure that'll happen to us now, but we'll get it changed. >


It's all part of the decision to merge Macon State with Middle Georgia College, to create Middle Georgia State College.

<it sounds more .. You know a little more oomph in it.>

< Middle Georgia just makes it sounds a bit bigger and more connected with other institutions moreso than Macon State which sounds more limited.   >

< You got West Georgia, you got North Georgia, Middle Georgia should be kind of big too.>


But what's in a name? ... For the school, it means changing everything from hoodies ... To the letterhead ... To new signs on campus ... And new sports jerseys ...

<never worn a purple jersey for baseball before, so that'll be interesting for the new season.>


While they've changed some things already, it's not all happening at once.

< For example our plant operations grounds people wear uniforms that say Macon State College until they need to be replaced and then they'll be replaced with Middle Georgie State College, so >



For now though, many say they're on the Knights bandwagon, and hope it will lead the school to become a university in the next few years.

< At the end of the the day, we're all going to be, it's going to take us closer to becoming a university,  and everybody wants that on their resume, that I went to a university instead of a college.>



In Macon, Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

     Under the new system, the former Macon State will be one of the new college's five campuses ...

     Thanks for joining us.  We'll be back tonight at 11.

But remember... The news is always on at 13WMAZ.com...and on your IPAD ap. Download it from the AP store now.

The evening news is up next.

Have a safe night everyone.e other locations are in Cochran, Dublin, Warner Robins, and Eastman.




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