eyewitness news at 11, 3-7-13

11:52 PM, Mar 7, 2013   |    comments
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They may just be good old boys... But they're expected to bring possibly the biggest boom in business Byron has seen in years.



Hello, everyone.

I'm Frank Malloy.

Leah Johnson is off tonight.

As Peach County...gets a taste of Hazard County at the Dukes' Georgia reunion this weekend... More than 50 thousand visitors are anticipated.

That's the number organizers are tossing around..

Saturday, seven of the show's original cast members are scheduled to sign autographs at the Middle Georgia raceway.

With that lineup...plus the car show... Restaurants on exit 149 are stocked up for diners... And the owner of the closest convenience store says coolers are packed.

And for visitors who haven't make hotel plans yet... They're probably going to have to hit up some spots out of town... Byron hotel owners say they've been booked up for about a month for the weekend.

<its not just going to be good for us. Its going to be great for the city of byron and this whole little area here. Im sure Warner Robins and Macon will reap some of the benefits, as well.>

Looking for the lineup of events?

Check out the Dukes of Hazard Georgia Reunion story...at 13wmaz-dot-com.

Central Georgia eagerly anticipates a few big weekends in a row...

Bowden Golf course is getting in the game... grooming its fairways for the Cherry Blossom Golf Tournament next weekend.

25 acres are being painted with something that's a substitute for overseeding.

It comes from a South Carolina based company called Geoponics.

Bowden will take about 250 gallons ...And Geoponics is covering the cost to the tune of about 14 thousand dollars.

And Tournament golfers will notice not only more green...but also an upgraded snack bar.

<nathan Cafferelli, General Manager, Bowden: The goal is to get these one timers back, over and over again, and see the work that we've been for the last couple of years. >

The Cherry Blossom tournament is next weekend... on the 16th and 17th.

Dates for the festival...are the 15th through 24th.

A schedule for that one too...also on our website.

Then next month...those of you music fans up for a short drive north... Can get your music fix... To the sounds of the Dave Matthews band and Sting.

They''re both performing during a three-day music festival at Centennial Olympic Park.

The NCAA Big Dance Concert Series runs April 5th through 7th... But the headliners take the stage on the last night... Along with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

Best part is...all three nights are free.

Sting is returning to America on the heels of a tour through Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

And the Dave Matthews Band is coming off a first spot Billboard Music high...back in September with their album, "away from the world".

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals has had a solid release with last year's The Lion, The Beast, and the Beat.

Last year's NCAA Big Dance Concert series, held in the big easy, showcased Jimmy Buffett, Kiss, and The Black Keys... It attracted more than 140 thousand fans.

Atlanta is hosting the men's Final 4 this year..

The Atlanta Falcons scored a touchdown in their quest for a new home.

A tentative deal has been approved to develop a new one-billion-dollar stadium.

The N-F-L team will cover about 800-million dollars of the cost for the new stadium.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says Atlanta residents don't have to worry about covering the rest.

<"It's very important that we point out that that 200-million dollars will be funded overwhelmingly by people who do not live in Atlanta or Georgia. So about 85 percent of that hotel/motel tax is paid for by visitors. It's also important to point out that neither the city of Atlanta or the state of Georgia will serve as a backstop for that 200 million. So the sole backstop for that will be the hotel/motel tax revenue.">

If approved by the Atlanta city council, the new stadium will be located near the Georgia Dome.

Georgia lawmakers have less than an hour to pass any bills... Still lingering in their branch of the legislature.

Today, is what's called crossover day.

If a bill doesn't pass either the house or the senate by the end of today...it's dead for the year.

Here are a few of the action items legislators have moved on.

The senate has voted to ban Georgia law enforcement agencies from setting minimum waiting periods before they act on a reported missing persons case.

That's senate bill 13.

It will now go to the house.

lawmakers on the house side...approved a plan to lower grade requirements for those seeking HOPE grants to attend the state's technical colleges.

They voted 169 to 1 today...to approve the plan and send it to the senate.

The bill would return the qualifying grade point average to 2.0.

Again....that applies ONLY to technical colleges.

And...the Georgia senate has approved a bill to require nurses to report alleged professional violations by their colleagues. Senate bill 13 would also require nursing agencies to notify the state anytime a nurse is fired or asked to resign for disciplinary reasons.

That will now cross over to the house.

The Senate also approved changes to a tax credit program that provides scholarships for children to attend private schools.

State senators voted unanimously to support the changes, which include a reporting requirement on the average household income of recipients

and requires eligible students to have attended public school for at least six weeks with a few exceptions.

Under the system, people can receive state tax credits by giving nonprofit scholarship providers donations of up to $1,000 for individuals and up to $2,500 for married couples.

And on the house side... The highly publicized Safe Carry Protection Act made it through.

That allows people to carry weapons to bars and churches....if the property owners allow it.

People would also bring firearms to most parts of a college campus...excepting dorms....and sports events.

The bill applies to people who have Georgia Weapons licenses...and that means they've been fingerprinted...passed a background check..and a mental health check.

That bill now goes to the senate.

Meanwhile, a new study suggests that tougher gun laws could lead to fewer gun deaths.

States with the most gun laws have a lower rate of firearm deaths.

That's according to researchers at Boston Children's Hospital.

They found states with the most laws have 40 percent fewer firearms deaths compared to states with the least laws.

Similarly, researchers found states with more gun laws had fewer firearm-related suicides.

Authors of the study acknowledged that they showed only an association between more laws and fewer gun-related deaths.

They say the research did not actually prove that more firearm laws translate into fewer deaths.

The study comes as lawmakers look for ways to reduce gun violence.

Two pitbulls attacked a 70-year-old man in a wheelchair this afternoon in south Macon.

According to a police news... Around 1 o'clock....the man was passing by a home on Putnam Street. That's between Houston Avenue and Broadway. Police say two pit bulls attacked him....biting his hand.

A neighbor ran the dogs off and the victim went to the Medical Center for serious injuries to his hand.

The dogs' owner was cited for failure to restrain and failure to inoculate the animals.

Police did not identify the victim...or the dogs' owner.

In another attack...this one deadly... authorities say this African lion yesterday killed a 24-year-old female intern inside a cage at an exotic cat sanctuary in California.

Officials say the lion -- a five-year-old, 350-pound cat named Cous Cous -- was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy who arrived to help.

The founder of the sanctuary, called Project Survival Cat Haven, says their thoughts and prayers are with the victim and her family.

Animal enthusiast, trainer, and host Jack Hanna voiced his questions about the death.

<So I know what these animals can do. When I see a lion in the wild can take an animal out in less than 10 seconds. So this is a wild animal and sanctuaries are very important in this country. And my understanding is this is a nice sanctuary, I've never been to this sanctuary. But again, the question goes back to as you just asked, would an intern be in there by herself with a lion? Everybody is waiting to hear that answer.">

Project Survival said it would investigate whether safety protocol was followed.

Two of Macon's former Mayor's say they're willing to do it all over again.

Incumbent Macon City Mayor Robert Reichert and former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis, both made their announcements this morning.

The two mayors are joining Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart in running for the position in July.

Both Reichert and Ellis have won in the city and they hope their messages will resonate county wide.

< Reichert -- The message is that only when we work together and collaborate together are we going to be successful. And I think I have led a successful effort thus far and I think I am the candidate with the right skill sets and combination of talents that can lead us forward in the future.

Ellis -- One city. One future as we move forward. Obviously, I do have a world view of things, and I think that's good that we think globally and act locally, and that's what all my energies on focused on this race.>

At least four other people are thinking about joining the race: Al Tillman...a community activist... Charlie Bishop...a former county commission chairman...Joe Allen, a current county commissioner .... and businessman David Cousino.

He's run unsuccessfully for both mayor and county chairman.

Qualifying in the county races...is scheduled for late April.

The next presidential election is more than three years away, but pollsters are already looking at possible match-ups.

If Hillary Clinton and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie squared off -- Clinton would win.

That's the findings of a new survey from Quinnipiac University.

The survey also indicates Clinton would top Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, last year's G-O-P vice presidential nominee.

If Vice President Joe Biden and Christie ran against each other in 2016 -- the poll finds that Christie would win.

The poll isn't considered scientific...and none of those we mentioned have actually declared an intent to run... Though Clinton's the only one who's said she doesn't consider it an option right now.

Coming up next.. One lady's tale... of remarkable honesty after she found more money than most make in a month.

< That's your opinion...my opinion I want to do the right thing...hopefully if it ever happen to me...hopefully someone will turn the money back in to me.>

What would you do? Some folks answered that question today too.

Stay with us.

<you had some people telling you you should have kept the money...that's right...what do you say to them? That's your opinion...my opinion I want to do the right thing...hopefully if it ever happen to me...hopefully someone will turn the money back in to me.>

Seven thousand dollars in cash could have been hers.

Instead...an Atlanta airport parking employee surrendered the envelope full of cash she found near her job...and made sure it got to the rightful owner.

Pamela North Holloway found the envelope full of cash on the street as she was boarding a shuttle to her job at an airport parking lot.

Police were able to return the money to a doctor in Alabama thanks to information on the envelope.

So today... after our Atlanta sister station, WXIA first reported that... Jerry Carnes had a chance to ask some folks on the street: What would you do?

<standup-- Our honesty test takes us to the atrium of Hartsfield-Jackson airport...we've got a wallet with 100...and a phone number...we're going to leave it out here in the open...and see what happens. 27:11

We told Atlanta police officers what we were doing...as well as the handful of travelers who noticed we were up to something.

Bite-- We were thinking that there probably wasn't too many honest people around here. 9:58

We were about to find out.

With our camera partially hidden a good distance away...we left our wallet in the middle of the atrium floor.

It took a few minutes for Joan Sharkey to notice it...and deliver it to an Atlanta police officer.

Bite-- You didn't even look inside at the money...No...I wouldn't...You wouldn't? It's not my wallet...so. 1:54

And that's how it went MOST of the day...with one exception.

Time after time...we watched as travelers did the right thing.

Bite-- You didn't want $100? I was being honest. 13:29

One man knows what it's like to lose your belongings.

Bite-- You had a phone stolen? I left it in a car and somebody kept it so...trying to change my karma. 9:15

Then...we saw this...we left our wallet on an atrium bench...watch as this woman places her purse and a newspaper beside the pile of cash.

She slips the inside the newspaper...then walks away.

Bite-- Did you pick up a wallet? I'm going to turn it in over here...okay it's mine.

The wallet was still tucked inside the newspaper.

Bite-- Where is it? Right here...thank you. 20:52


Then...came Wanda Lee...an airport employee anxious to find the wallets owner.

Bite-- Ever tempted to keep any thing...no come on...I like my job. 25:57

Sometimes surrendering money can be a bonus.


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