Eyewitness News at 6, 2-5-13

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<This is 13WMAZ Eyewitness News at Six>

Good evening and thanks for joining us.

I'm Leah Johnson.

 

 And I'm Frank Malloy.

Our top story tonight on Eyewitness News at Six... Governor Nathan Deal wants to help veterans rejoin the workforce... When they return from combat by creating a Gateway 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 State Technical College of Georgia says the school would help members of the military and veterans transition back into the workforce.

<shaw Blackmon, Board member of the state technical college of Georgia: "you know our nation's heroes have come back from serving this country and we want to take what they've already acquired, what they're already using and put that to work for them.> University system and technical system of georgia

Blackmon says Governor Nathan Deal set aside ten million dollars in next year's budget for the center... And he hopes they'll choose to bring it to the International City..

Hotel General Manager Ojash Shah says he hopes the school comes to the city... Because it would boost his business.

<ojash Shah, General Manager: " it will bring in a lot of people the hotels of course will do well the whole town in general will do well if and when the school does happen. >

<I think when you start talking about Middle Georgia and everyday is armed forces appreciation day it makes sense to locate it somewhere in middle georgia and across the street from robins air force base was an ideal spot >

The final details still have to be ironed out... like what courses or programs will be offered... But Blackmon says the biggest challenge is getting the State House and Senate on board.

In Warner Robins... Jennifer Moulliet 13WMAZ eyewitness news.

Blackmon says if the State House and Senate approve the Gateway Center... It could take several years to be put in place.

The Governor's office referred us to Mike Light at the Technical College System of Georgia... He said he's not sure when they'll decide on a location.

This morning...A Macon man stepped onto his front porch...and found it a fire.

Fire officials say someone threw a Molotov cocktail onto the porch of his South Macon home.

The man kicked the bottle off his porch...and the fire caused only minor damage.

But the numbers say Macon...has a big arson problem. Tom George looks into it.

A Tuesday morning fire marked the third suspected arson in Macon...in just over a week.

On Monday, firefighters put out a fire in vacant home at 3rd and Ash Streets...

And last week, a suspicious hit the Reaching Souls Cathedra, causing severe damage to the church.

Turns out that arson is far from unusual in Macon.

According to FBI statistics from 2011.... Macon has the highest arson rate among the state's large cities...with a rate almost three times higher htan Atlanta, and almost four times the rate of Savannah....

Macon-Bibb Fire Sgt. Ben Gleaton says although there was no pattern in the recent string of arsons, in his experience most are caused by "domestic issues." He says Macon's high number may be because local officials are more likely to report fires as arson. He says they tend to err on the side of arson to get the proper resources to investigate..

The recent arsons also come after a big Christmas morning fire that gutted a Macon woman's home.

< Now as you can see the Christmas Day arson was pretty big, but it wasn't alone. Just walking through the neighborhood, there are least several houses boarded up possibly by fire. It's why some residents say they're concerned. >

< 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?>

In the meantime, they say they'll just have to keep an eye out.

< I mostly mind my own business and I don't try to have any problems like that.>

< I mean it's real scary, the only thing you can do is try to keep to yourself and don't let too many people in your business cause people that let somebody in they business then they know what you got.>

In Macon, Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

Anyone with information into the fire should call the Georgia Arson Control Hotline at 1-800-282-5804. Again...that's 1-800-282-5804.

In less than six months, Macon and Bibb County voters head to the polls to elect a mayor and nine commissioners for the new consolidated government.

And the list of potential mayoral candidates continues to grow. The list includes Mayor Robert Reichert, Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart and former Mayor C. Jack Ellis.

Now comes community activist Al Tillman who said during the taping of this week's Close-Up program that he seriously considering running for the top spot.

< Al Tillman, Community Activist: I've been a person that has been a proven leader as far as bringing people together in this community. I have a valid concern for what's going on in our community. I don't bash. I don't turn against my brothers and sisters, and so, if we want something new and different, we've got to go out and fight and recruit for it.>

Tillman says he has more to offer the community than the other mayoral hopefuls.

You can catch Close-Up in its entirety at noon Saturday and six a.m. Sunday on 13 WMAZ.

Macon City Councilman Henry Ficklin testified before a federal grand jury investigating state Rep. Tyrone Brooks of Atlanta.

Brooks is president of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.. Ficklin is treasurer.

Ficklin says Brooks.. Not GABEO.. Is the target of the investigation.

< Henry Ficklin, Macon Councilman: GABEO has made it unequivocally clear and the Justice Department also made it clear to us that they were not investigating GABEO that they are investigating Tyrone Brooks.>

Brooks called the probe a personal attack because federal authorities are angry with him for his annual re-enactments of the 1946 lynchings on Moore's Bridge.

A white mob lynched two black couples at the Walton County bridge on July 25, 1946.

No one has been charged with the murders..

Brooks re-enacts the murders every year in hopes of getting federal officials to charges against anyone involved in the lynchings.

John Horn, first assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District in Atlanta, would not confirm nor deny a probe is under way.

Dodge County's sheriff says just a few minor details are all that's keeping him from opening the county's new jail...which has sat vacant for more than a year.

This was the building back in October of last year...

It's stood unoccupied for about 19 months.

The former sheriff told us...that was because of costs of finishing touches ...And hiring staff.

But new sheriff Lynn Sheffield says... The details are finally close to being squared away.

<we are making progress. There are some odds and ends to be taken care of. We are in the process of taking care of that. We anticipate that not taking more than a month at the longest. And then at that time, we'll hire additional staff and work on getting them trained. >

The Sheriff said... He expects to hire about 12-14 new people.

He hopes he can be set up in the new jail...sometime in April or May.

In today's 13 WMAZ web poll.. We're talking taxes.

W-2's are rolling in...and some of you are already counting on those refund dollars...or dreading writing out that check to Uncle Sam.

We asked today....when will you file your taxes?

40 percent of you say February.

And then we have a three way split... 20 percent each for March...April...and those of you early birds who've already submitted those taxes to Uncle Sam.

You can vote now... At 13WMAZ-dot-com.

This week...has a serious message as well.

It's officially Severe Weather Awareness Week...

Ben... What's today's focus?

In the meantime, we have another way for you to follow your weather.

Many of you have already downloaded our 13WMAZ Ap for you iPhone or Android device.

And recently...we also introduced our iPAD ap.

Of course, you can go online and read the news... But you can also *watch* it when you can't be in front of your TV.

You simply visit our homepage...and you see a red button...that you tap to watch our newscasts while you're on the go.

Imagine a big stack of steaming hot pancakes, melting with butter and dripping with syrup. Sound good?

What if we told you....one national chain is giving them away for free to some charitable customers?

Suzanne Lawler is at the iHop on Tom Hill Senior... Suzanne, what's going on?

Thanks, Suzanne. Save some for us.

Fun times ahead at this year's Cherry Blossom Festival.

Some rock coming to the stage this year at the big street party... We announced the lineup on Eyewitness News at Five...

That's right.. 38 Special is the street party headliner...

Ben, talk to us about the Cardiac café this year.

 

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