Eyewitness News at 6, 2-14-13

6:59 PM, Feb 14, 2013   |    comments
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The President today brings his message on education...to Georgia.

And... some other visitors travel south...


Macon showcases filmmaking talent from across the country and beyond.

Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us.

I'm Frank Malloy.

And I'm Leah Johnson.

This is Eyewitness News at Six.

It's Lights... Camera... action as the 8th annual Macon Film Festival starts rolling.

Organizers say it's grown since it started in 2005... with more films and a more diverse crowd.


Austin Lewis checked it all out and talked with filmmakers who travelled thousands of miles to see their work on the big screen.

The Macon Film Festival...means a big-screen debut for Canadian student Marcus Sullivan. Something he thought would have never happened...when he submitted his film...the Suicide Kid.

<Marcus Sullivan, Ottawa Canada: And what attracted us to this one is that there was a student category and in particular they accepted student features which is our niche>

Sullivan's film centers around a university student's video blog that takes a dark turn.

<various circumstances in his life lead him to a suicide attempt that he films and the failed suicide attempt because a viral youtube sensation and so he becomes a viral video star .... we see how through his video blogs the affect of online stardom.


Terrell Sandefur...a film festival organizer...says the event has grown to include movies from all over the world.

<Terrell Sandefur, Macon Film Festival: When we first started we really were focused on Southern films...now our special screens are coming in from wherever we chose they don't have to be anything to do with Macon or the state of Georgia. >

And Sandefur says what makes them stand out...is giving those behind the scenes...their chance in the spotlight.

<Marcus Sullivan, Ottawa Canada: We certainly have no names in the movie but they treated us as though we did.>

<Terrell Sandefur, Macon Film Festival: We are known as a filmmakers film festival a lot of film makers focus on their stars we have special guests that come in but our real focus are the filmmakers in action that have submitted and that have come to our festival >

And Sanderfur says more people want to spend the day at the movies...ticket sales have gone up an average of 30 percent each year.

Austin Lewis 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

Marcus Sullivan's film premieres Friday..

You can catch the 87 films at three locations.. the Cox Capital Theater... 567 Renewal and the Douglass Theater.

Bibb County schools says they're losing 53 jobs...in three programs aimed at improving learning...because their grant money ran out.

The district made that announcement just a few minutes ago...by news release.

They say the cuts mean the jobs in these programs will end June 30th.

Gear Up.... a program aimed at giving students and families resources to point them toward college success.

SIG...the school-improvement grant....aimed at raising student achievement in five struggling schools...

And the Instructional Coaches program...that hired educators to work with teachers in the classroom to help students learn.

The loss of the grants mean the system will not be seeing more than 4-point-2 million dollars in grants that they're now receiving.

The district says they'll try to find new jobs for those 53 people.

The release does not explain why the grants aren't being renewed...and school spokesman Donald Porter says they won't have any further comment on the matter tonight.

But the district says they plan meetings with the employees of those programs tomorrow...to explain the cuts.

Today in Atlanta... Governor Nathan Deal signed three bills... calling for nonpartisan elections in Bibb County.

The Governor's website says he signed senate bill 25.

That addresses the position of mayor and county commissioner seats under the consolidated city and county government.

Senate bill 30 Deals with all members of the Bibb County board of education.

Senate Bill 31...states members of the Macon-Bibb water authority would be elected minus party affiliation.

Those bills need approval from the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the Voting Rights Act... It reviews all changes to Georgia elections law.

If they meet justice department approval... People in Bibb county will elect leaders for the new consolidated government in July.

Macon Police Chief Mike Burns says they plan to buy 60 tasers for sergeants this year ....at a cost of around 94-thousand dollars.

After a police officer shot and killed a man outside a supermarket in December....council members discussed why more officers don't have tasers.

They say having tasers might reduce the need to use deadly force.

Burns says 25 tasers were approved in last year's budget... but a lack of SPLOST funds pushed them down the priority list.

In a council committee meeting this afternoon... Burns said...they'll discuss how to gradually buy more tasers for the entire force.

But he says they are just one tool for officers:

<burns: just like the pepper spray is. There's a certain range for it to be effective. Just like if you're too close, the taser isn't going to work, pepper spray isn't going to work. If you're too far away, neither one of them will work like they should.>

A Macon Council committee will discuss the taser purchase next week

The GBI is still investigating the fatal shooting of Sammie Davis Junior by officer Clayton Sutton.

Burns says it could be a few more weeks before the GBI releases their results.

Sutton remains on administrative leave. That's standard practice when an officer is involved in a shooting.

All week... We've been watching river levels in the area.. And even though the skies are clearing...that doesn't mean the water is gone quite yet.

For a look at where things stand...

let's check in with Chief meteorologist Ben Jones in our weather center this afternoon.


We've been keeping an eye on things... Particularly yesterday, as the Ocmulgee reached minor flood level... Then today... As one of our area's creeks peaked.

Earlier today... We sent meteorologist David Ernst out to the banks of the Echoconnee... Were he got a good look at what's happenening there.

< I'm standing here along highway 247 in South Bibb County, right next to the Bibb County... Houston County line. In fact, Houston county is about one hundred yards to my right. Directly behind me is the flooded Echoconnee Creek. Even though the flood waters never really threatened highway 247, I'm still 10 feet above those flood waters. We are seeing wide spread flooding of the low line areas surrounding the creek. It appears that the creek has crested. Earlier this morning we saw a reading of 15.96 feet. A flood stage is 15 feet, so we're just about a foot above flood stage. So, wide spread flooding of the low line areas. It's mainly agricultural areas behind me, but looking back there you can't even tell where the creek banks are supposed to be because there's so much water that has spilled outside of it. But the good news is we don't have rain in the short term forecast and the creek does appear to have leveled off. In fact it's slowly beginning to fall. Since the creek crested we've seen a drop of about a tenth of a foot. So should that fall rate continue we could look for the flood warning to expire between the next 12 to 24 hours and by that point the flood waters would have then retreated back into the banks of the Echoconnee creek so there's some good news there. As far as the flood threat goes, we will see it begin to subside. There's no rain in the short term forecast. For eyewitness news, I'm meteorologist David Ernst. >

President Obama visited the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur today.

The president is following up on his call for investments in early childhood education programs.

<And what's more I don't think you will find a working parent in America who wouldn't appreciate the peace of mind that their child is in a safe, high quality learning environment every single day. (applause) >

The school is on winter break but teachers and students showed up to greet the president.

The president also said he had to hurry back to Washington for his Valentines date with the First Lady.

He said he got her flowers... Not too difficult ... considering his entire back yard....is a rose garden.

Matters of the heart take center stage on Valentines Day.

But for this story... We're not talking about the one that you give your sweetheart... We're referring to the one that gives life..

Lorra Lynch Jones explains how caring for your heart could become more convenient in Houston County.

Doctors working on a patient in Houston Healthcare's Cardiac Catheter lab may have only minutes to save a life.

They often come here in the midst of a heart attack... Says nurse manager Ray Jones.

<we can open that artery and the goal is to do it as quickly as possible.>

He calls time critical...

<after 90 minutes, irreversable damage to the heart muscle can occur.>

In the past... Patients traveled to Macon for this procedure. Now... It's offered here... But space is limited with one lab.... And six recovery rooms.

Jones says they sometimes handle 17 patients a day... Or more than 1400 last year.

<it becomes a scheduling nightmare for us, if we don't have a place to put them.>

That's why they're in the process of an 8 million dollar expansion... Adding two cardiac labs and doubling the number of recovery rooms... Bringing care closer to many people's homes.

<I always equate it to having a fire house close to you. If your house is on fire, you want to have a fire house as close to you as you can have it. A fire department in Macon is fine if you're close to it. It's the same thing if you having a heart attack.>

It's under construction now... Scheduled for completion in about a year... And according to Jones... Holds the potential to save lives well into the future.

In Houston County... Lorra Lynch Jones... 13WMAZ... Eyewitness News.

Houston Healthcare is also working on a major expansion of its surgical... Endoscopy and pain clinic units.

That project has gotten the go ahead from the state's department of community health... But they're waiting on approval of the design before construction can begin.

Sharks... Catfish... And even a manta ray swam through the halls of the Children's Hospital today.

Suzanne Lawler shows you how professional fisherman Jonathan Herndon brought his skills bedside to spread some love and a little excitement this Valentine's Day.

Herndon will also appear this weekend at Bass Pro Shops giving seminars for their boat classic.


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