Eyewitness News at 6, 3-18-13

10:53 PM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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     <   I just knew I had to get away from it.             >

     An escape just in time...a truck driver acts quickly to get out...  as his truck catches fire in Peach County....

    Hello everyone.

     I'm Frank Malloy.

     And I'm Leah Johnson.

     We'll get back to that story in just a moment....

     But first.. A tornado watch.. lingering over parts of Central Georgia.

     For the very latest... Let's check in with chief meteorologist Ben Jones.

     A truck driver says he's lucky to be alive after making it out before his concrete truck was destroyed by fire.

Tom George went to Peach County to talk with that driver James Foster... To get his story.


For this trucker ... It started as a routine trip...

< I had just left Reynolds, my home terminal going to North Carolina... >


But his run carrying concrete stopped early on Highway 49 when he heard a noise...

< I was driving, and I heard a loud boom ... >


That's when he decided he needed to pull over...

< I just figured I had a busted airline, but as soon as I got the truck stopped smoke started boiling out from under there and one of those other truck drivers said that he saw a small fire under the cab >


So he tried to get out on the driver's side...

< I couldn't get out because the flames were too high, there were flames coming out the air conditioner vents before I got out of it.>

< He says he was able to hurry up and get out of the passenger within a just a few seconds, but if he'd waited just a few minutes longer. This is all that was left of the entire front cabin.>


Luckily, he was able to far away enough to stay safe, and even snap some photos ...officials arrived soon after and began clearing the scene, which blocked traffic northbound between Fort Valley and Byron for about an hour...

< After I got out and after they got the fire out I was shook up some but I'm feeling a little better now.>


No one knew exactly what caused the fire ... And since the driver was safe, they won't need to investigate ... Just move on... And count their blessings.

< I'm just glad to be alive ... Thank the Good Lord.>


In Peach County, Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

     13WMAZ asked the Department of Transportation if they plan to investigate further.

     The agent we talked with said... since no one was hurt... and no one else was involved... the case seems to be closed.

     One Crawford County man believes some of his neighbors aren't paying their fair share of taxes.

     Eddie Still says they're avoiding paying the full amount of property taxes... by living in storage buildings.

     Lorra Lynch Jones shows you his evidence... and explains why the county says... it's not enough.

So far Eddie Still knows of six... Six storage buildings he believes the owners call home.

<they have all the amenities of home. They have air conditioning and everything else.>

Pictures taken by the county tax assessor show a fancy front porch and carport on this one... Heating and air on most... Plumbing on some.. And upgrades on others.

<it has a dish, and this one also has an outdoor shower.>

He says property records show they're being taxed as cabanas or guest houses... If they're being used as primary residences.. They should be taxed at the higher rate on homes.

{***SOT FULL***}

<I know the economy is bad and everything, but it's not fair to the rest of the taxpayers in the county.>

<crawford County manager Pat Kelly says they are aware of this issue. They've looked into it, but the question for him is what can they do about it?>

<We have gone to the property owners and asked whether they are living in it. The individuals say they are not. We're kind of stuck there.>

Kelly says it's not a violation to attach plumbing or electricity to these with permits. It's only a problem if people live in them full time... And proving that would be difficult.

<that's a tough job for a small county with limited resources.>

And according to his calculations.. Not cost effective.

He says if the county labeled these homes instead of sheds... The net gain would be about two-hundred dollars each.

<it would be difficult to explain why were spending thousands to collect hundreds.>

In Crawford County, Lorra Lynch Jones, 13wmaz, Eyewitness News.

     Eddie Still plans to take his complaints to the county commissioners meeting tomorrow at 7 p-m.

     County manager... Pay Kelly... says when people apply for storage building permits... The county already requires them to certify that the building will not be used as a primary residence.

     Kelly says they put that measure in place last year.. When complaints about this issue started coming in.

     Sir Elton John will perform this Wednesday in Macon as planned.

     That's after he canceled a performance in Alabama last Friday for medical reasons.

     Today... His publicist responded to phone calls from 13WMAZ.

She told us the singer will proceed with his concert as scheduled.

     She noted that, Sir Elton held a concert Saturday night in Memphis as planned.

     His website shows tickets for the 8'o'clock concert at the Macon Centerplex are still available.

     Voters will cast ballots tomorrow on whether to continue SPLOSTs in four counties.. Monroe... Jones... Crawford and Washington.

     Monroe and Jones will be voting on SPLOSTS for education...or as some people call it - the E-SPLOST.

     Monroe County wants to raise up to 29-million dollars over the next five years.

     Jones County is looking to raise up to 16-million dollars.

     In Washington County...the SPLOST would fund health and safety needs.

     They hope to raise almost 19-million dollars over the next 6 years.

    Crawford County voters will also decide on an Education Splost..

     For more information on the SPLOSTS ....and when and where to vote....check the SPLOST web article at 13-wmaz-dot-com.

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