Eyewitness News at 11, 2-5-13

10:50 PM, Feb 5, 2013   |    comments
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<if it had been me leaving my child somewhere, I'd have been locked up. So that's why I'm just.. Frazzled.>

A Jones County mother...sounding shaken after she says...her son spent more than six hours...alone on a bus...when he should have been in school.

Good evening, everyone.

I'm Leah Johnson.

And I'm Frank Malloy.

The mother of that child says... He has special needs...and can't tell her exactly what happened.

But tonight, she told 13WMAZ's Candace Adorka...she wants answers.

Marlene Porter says tuesday afternoon around 3:45, she opened her front door to find the Jones County Schools transportation director, the special needs coordinator, and the principal at Dames Ferry elementary school standing there.

They had her 10-year-old autistic son-- Aaron-- and they told her he'd been left on the school bus at the bus terminal since he was picked up at 6:30 A-M, until around 1 p.m.

I caught up with Porter outside the Coliseum Emergency Room.

She says she's still trying to process what happened.

<i'm still in shock, he's in there being evaluated to make sure he's ok, but other than that, I don't know what to think.>

Porter says typically, the bus driver is supposed to do a head count as the children get off the bus, but she says...officials told her the bus driver was in a hurry to see her husband in the hospital, and forgot Aaron buckled up on the bus.

He doesn't speak, so the bus driver only noticed him still on the bus when she got back. Porter says she's worried about her son who was diagnosed with A-D-H-D and severe autism.

<wehn he gets upset, he hits his head a lot, he's non verbal, he get's agitated real easily and him being confined to that seat all day long, I'm sure he sat there the whole 4, 5, 6 hours beating his head. They said when they found him he was real calm but I don't know... >

We've reached out to the school district, but have not yet heard back. Porter says district officials planned on reviewing the school bus tapes. Jones County sheriff's deputies were called to the scene. Sheriff Butch Reese told us his office will be investigating.

A convicted killer, sentenced for the deaths of two Mercer students in 1995... Will die by lethal injection on February 21st.

A news release from Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens

says Andrew Allen Cook's exhausted his appeals.

He was found guilty of killing Michele Cartagena and Grant Hendrickson with an AR-15 and a 9 millimeter handgun as they sat in their car near a Monroe County Lake.

Cook's father...an FBI agent for 29 years... Told the Monroe County Sheriff's department his son had confessed to him by phone about killing the students.

His case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court...which denied his request for further consideration.

Tonight... A Jones County homeowner returned from an errand to find flames shooting up behind her home.

Jones County fire chief Don Graham says it started with a trash fire behind a house on Shurling Drive.

He says a three car garage, an outhouse, and a pumphouse were destroyed, but no one was hurt.

<the homeowner actually ran to Macon for about 30 minutes to run an errand and the fire had already started. That's when she alerted us.">

The fire, which started just after 7 p.m., actually shut down Shurling Road for a while as crews worked to put it out.

Investigators do not yet know what caused it...but tell us they do not suspect foul play.

Not the case in Macon...where a small fire marked Macon's third suspected arson in a week.

Investigators say...the owner of this home on Capitol Avenue had a frightening wakeup call around 5:30 this morning.

Fire Captain Ben Gleaton says someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail onto the porch ... And it singed some of the property.

Molotov Cocktails are gasoline filled bottles...designed to create a fiery explosion.

The man kicked the bottle away before any more damage could be done.

Investigators say...this case is the third arson in about a week... To top off a fourth that gutted a whole house on Christmas morning.

Those numbers are cause for alarm...some people tell us.

< I want get an alarm system and all that cause like I said, you never know when it could happen. I could go out of town, me and family could come back, everything could be gone. They could take everything and burn the house down. That ain't cool, they burn the house down, they don't know if someone's up there asleep, then what?>

Sergeant Gleaton told 13WMAZ today... There's no pattern in the recent cases.

He also said that most arsons aren't a result of insurance fraud or random violence...but domestic issues. In other words...arguments between the arsonist...and the property owner.

But...he was careful to point out... High arson numbers can often be deceiving...because there's always the chance of possible over-reporting.

Comparatively though... Macon's numbers are high. Let's take a look at some statistics from the FBI...

which says... Per one hundred thousand people...there were 67 arsons in Macon in 2011.

That's compared to 28 in Atlanta...and 16 in Savannah.

So far *this* year, there's nothing to suggest the three cases reported are linked...

But if you know anything about any of them... You can call Crimestoppers at 1-877-68-CRIME.


A new fire station...to help the city of Perry... Respond to fires faster...is almost finished.

And that's why, members of the Perry city council say they're cancelling the city's Fire Impact Fee.

The fee costs those in a single family home more than 600 dollars...and were supposed to help with construction costs.

And with the project nearing finishing touches.. they say it's time for the fee to be removed.

The new station will improve emergency response time and help firefighters cover more ground in emergencies.

Bibb County students can now learn how to handle severe weather... And other emergencies... Through the Preparedness University...run by the Macon-Bibb EMA.

Every last Tuesday of the month... Kids will go through lessons on topics like tornadoes...heat... And CPR.

The EMA says the goal is to especially target students who are home alone during the day.

<I want to know how to protect myself from tornados, floods or earthquakes, or hurricanes.

gowan: And also it gives them important skills for the future as they go into the workforce, no matter what type of business or entity they end up working for, those businesses will have emergency management needs>

To sign up... You can call the Macon-Bibb EMA at (478) 832-6300.... Again.. 832-6300.

The class is free... Registration is now open and there is no deadline to join.

Thanks Ben. We'll talk to you again a little later in this newscast.

In less than an hour until National Pancake day 20-13 draws to a close.

Ihop restaurants across the country hold the event every year.

They dish out short stacks of pancakes for free, and ask people to donate whatever they can to charity. It can be any local charity, but this year in central georgia, the proceeds go to the Children's Miracle Network. It was a delicious way to do some good.

<some lady ahppened to not touch her pancakes and she gave me hers so I had 6 pancakes for free and I was pretty stuffed.>

<I think this is just, like, a good cause for the children and plus we get free pancakes.>

The event started in 2006, and since then the company says they've raised more than 10-million-dollars.

A Macon council member claims there is an ulterior motive behind proposals to switch to nonpartisan elections in Macon and Bibb County.

Republican state Senator Cecil Staton drafted six bills that would erase party lines for races like the coroner... Board of education... And all the seats in the consolidated government.

Councilman Henry Ficklin asked the city attorney to examine the legality of that... Since the consolidation bill passed in July...included partisan elections.

Attorney Judd Drake told him... The legislature has the authority to make the switch... But a judge will have to review it to make sure the move isn't meant as a way to undermine minority votes.

<we know that in Bibb County, by an large, most of the people who have been elected, African Americans, have all been Democrats. I can't remember any Republican African American being elected any time recently, so to change that process certainly is to dilute black voting strength.>

Staton's bills passed in the Senate last week... Representative Allen Peake says he supports the idea...and he will carry them to the House.

Supporters have told us...they think a non-partisan climate...will make it easier for voters to make issues-based decisions when they go to the polls.

Governor Nathan Deal wants to help veterans rejoin the workforce... By giving them a Gateway Center to help them transition back after combat.

And Warner Robins leaders hope their city can be home to the new center.

Monday night... Warner Robins City Council voted to give this piece of land... North of Russell Parkway... And Adjacent to Highway 247... to the state... With the hope of securing a spot for the state's new Gateway Center.

Shaw Blackmon... A board member for the Technical College System of Georgia says the school would equip those who have served... With competitive skills in civilian life.

<this actually would take the skills that they've learned in service and apply those to some sort of certificate or diploma or masters degree >

The Governor's office referred us to Mike Light at the Technical College System... He said he's not sure when they'll decide on a location...but construction could take several years.

Macon city council wants to put a hammer and nail to some projects in their city.

Tonight, members approved one-hundred-and-eighty thousand dollars in grant money... To help repair homes for the elderly and disabled.

A portion of that goes toward to year-round programs... Rebuilding Macon and the Economic Opportunity Council.

They help with projects like fixing floors and roofing.

Forty thousand will buy building materials for the Mission Serve Project.

Twelve college students from around the country will volunteer to spend a week repairing as many Macon houses as they can.

<so all of those minor home repairs help blighted neighborhoods because they make them better places to live, not just for the individual resident and the whole neighborhood itself.>

To find out how to get involved with these programs... You can contact Economic and Community Development at (478) 751-9190... That's 751-9190.



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