Eyewitness News at 6, 1-30-12

7:03 PM, Jan 30, 2013   |    comments
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This video...from Adairsville in North Georgia... Where there are reports at this hour...of people trapped in homes and businesses.

Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us.

I'm Leah Johnson.

I'm Frank Malloy.

This is Eyewitness News at Six.

In Central Georgia...the picture is a bit calmer...but there are still some things to be aware of.

Chief Meteorologist Ben Jones... Tracking all that weather for us.

We have some power outages to report to you at this hour...

According to Georgia Power, as of 5:10pm, there were 1,200 customers...or households.. in the Central Region...in the dark.

700 of those are in Milledgeville, 500 in Macon.

The representative we spoke to wasn't able to give us an estimated time for getting power in those households back on.

Emergency management agencies are constantly preparing for severe weather situations, and in Macon, they've stepped into action.

Macon-Bibb EMA director Don Druitt activated his emergency operations center this morning when the national weather service issued a watch for much of central georgia.

Officials from police, fire, sheriff and public works departments gathered to monitor the weather...and other news that's coming in.

Druitt says their goal is to get safety information out to the public as quickly as possible, and also help coordinate emergency crews.

Druitt says the severe weather is timely-- because next week is emergency preparedness week. He says it's a good time to review what to do if emergency management sounds tornado sirens.

<when we go from a tornado watch to a tornado warning, we can activate 56 sirens here at the emergency center or the 911 center. If we do have a tornado warning we want people at that time to go to their safe rooms and take the appropriate action, cover themselves and protect their animals.>

Druitt says if you're caught outside when sirens go off, head to a low-lying area like a culvert or ditch.

Here in Central Georgia...we've been updating you on school closures today... Including the cancellation of all activities and practices in Bibb.


The inclement weather has also put a damper on Macon Mayor Robert Reichert's plans to layout the state of the city this year.

The State of the city address was originally scheduled for this afternoon at 1:30, but it's been put off until tomorrow.

Reichert is expected to discuss the city's economic development, his priorities for the year, and projects to be implemented before city and county governments consolidate.

Reichert will give his address at City hall.

In Jones County, Georgia... winds took down a tree on Creekside Road around three this afternoon.

Nobody was hurt...and no damage reported to any homes as a result, but the tree did take out a power line...and cause some outages...that Georgia Power crews were expecting to fix pretty quickly.

Now in Adairsville... About 60 miles north of Atlanta...The damage report, much more serious...and the governor has declared a state of emergency there...that's for Bartow County.

There are reports of people trapped in homes and businesses.

Video showed a funnel cloud roaring through the downtown area, flipping cars and demolishing a home.

Large sections of a manufacturing plant appeared to be destroyed.

Interstate 75 was closed in both directions, after the storm flipped cars onto their roofs and tossed them onto the shoulder.

This video is from the Campus of Berry College... In the North Georgia town of Mt. Berry...

You can see outdoor furniture overturned... A fence down... And some limbs strewn across the ground.

The weather's too rough to address any external damage to the buildings right now...but during the worst of it this morning, all students were evacuated to central hallways and storm-safe areas.

In Rome... High winds downed trees...but it was the rain that brought flooding.

A viewer sent this picutre to our sister station, WXIA.

Look at the ground there in this person's backyard...Totally saturated.

Roads flooded up there too... And, just like here, people are advised to stay inside if they can help it.

Now we'll continue to update you on where things stand... We'll also have another your full weather forecast...up in about 10 minutes...

And Ben will check in if anything further develops between now and then.

In other news tonight...Wilkinson County's sheriff says two high-school teachers facing child-molestation charges are accused of improper contact with the same 15-year-old girl.

One of those teachers, ROTC Sergeant Rodney Hunter appeared in court today.

But Wilkinson County Board of Education members told Katelyn Heck... The situation does not change their confidence in school safety.

Wilkinson County Sheriff Richard Chatman says 43-year-old ROTC Sergeant Rodney Hunter admitted to kissing a student on at least three separate occasions in his classroom.

<to the best of my knowledge, she was not a student in his classroom. During the time that this would normally would happen would be either early morning or late afternoon.>

Chatman says it was the same 15-year-old student involved in the child molestation charges against another teacher... Cornelius Jones.

School Superintendent Aaron Geter says a teacher first learned about the situation from another student.

<I don't know if they actually reported it to a faculty member... Maybe a faculty member overheard them say something. Kids, I don't want to call it gossip, but they gossip and rumors are spread all the time but there are things that, when it comes down to safety of kids, that we look into, whether rumor or gossip.>

Geter says the school administration told him Friday afternoon... Investigators with the sheriff's office then found video on school security cameras to confirm it.

But Board of Education Chairwoman Marjo Baisden says this doesn't undermine the school's safety procedures.

<educator's are like every body else. They're humans and they make mistakes, and these two people made a mistake>

<People make bad decisions whether professionally or personal, and when that happens you have to deal with and try to get back to normal as quickly as possible, but our schools are safe. We're very concerned and we're committed to making sure that we create an environment in our schools that's conducive to learning.>

Sheriff Chatman says no other teachers are under investigation at this time.

Katelyn Heck 13WMAZ Eyewitness News

Geter says both teachers submitted their letters of resignation... And the board should act on them at their next meeting in February.

Three days after fire gutted a Macon Church...the fire chief says...the investigation hasn't yielded any persons of interest.

Chief Marvin Riggins says...the fire that burned Reaching Souls Cathedral started in the churches sanctuary...but there were what he called multiple points of origin.

He said there was an open door at the Bethesda Road Church...and no signs of a break-in.

Accelerant-sniffing dogs found some kind of petroleum product that was used to set the fire...

<we have a few leads that we're working on at this time we don't have a people of interest per se from a suspect nature but we are following all the leads that come to us and talking to all of the people that were in and around the church >

Anyone with information on the fire can call the Arson Hotline at 1-800-282-5804. Again...that's 800-282-5804.

Nearly 50 percent of children in the United States suffer from untreated tooth decay... and other dental problems.

Dentists in the central Georgia area are teaming up for a national campaign called "Give Kids A Smile Day".

We talked to one local organizer about the free dental screening event in tonight's Hero Central Report.

Nine year old Desteny is a pro when it comes to taking care of her smile.

Her father makes sure she keeps up with regular dental visits.


SOT: she treats me nice and she doesn't hurt my teeth.


But not everyone has the same opportunity as Desteny to see a dentist. That's why a group of dentists in Central Georgia have teamed up for a special program called Give Kids a Smile.

SOT: It is part of the American Dental Association's Program to help get access to dental care to children who are usually not having access to care. The children that undergo chronic dental disease is still the number one cause of missed school days in the Middle Georgia community and we want to go something about that.

Dr. Shirley Fisher is one of several dentists on board to help. She says they'll have free dental screenings Friday at Middle Georgia Technical College from 9am to 2pm. Fisher says a down economy is a big reason why they're seeing more children in need.

SOT: Ever since 2009, children are really not getting the kind of dental care that they should and we are starting to see the effects.

As for Desteny.. She knows the importance of taking care of her teeth and has some helpful advice for anyone who may be nervous about seeing a dentist.

The free screenings will take place at Middle Georgia Technical College... Friday, February 1st... From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All screenings require an appointment.

To schedule one... Call Dr. Shirley Fisher at 478-929-5282.


SOT:Don't worry and you'll get through it fast.


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