eyewitness news at 6, 4-9-13

4:44 PM, Apr 9, 2013   |    comments
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Hello, everyone, and thanks for joining us.

I'm Leah Johnson.


And I'm Frank Malloy.

A group of central georgia students have gained national attention over the past week.. Just for organizing a high school rite of passage.

It started with these kids... Who organized an integrated prom.

Their school didn't host an official dance...and they tell us the privately organized event that serves as a prom... Excluded black students.

After we brought you this story...the school system publicly expressed support for the students' work...and announced plans to move ahead with a more inclusive event in the future.

The story also went national, appearing on network broadcasts, and in online publications like the Huffington Post.

Now that notoriety brought the Georgia Chapter of the NAACP to Wilcox County...

That's where we join 13WMAZ's Tom George tonight.

About 12-hundred Central Georgia students attend Starbase education programs at the Museum of Aviation each year.

It's a free Science and technology related course... Offered primarily to low income... Or Title one schools.

According to the Starbase director at the Museum... the opportunity could disappear.

Lorra Lynch Jones explains why Starbase may become the next victim of the budget ax.

Starbase instructor Dawn Pannell witnesses what she calls the "ah factor" almost daily.

<when I see a child learn something for the first time, they're just so surprised.>

Her classes inspire 5th graders in the areas of science... Technology.. Math and science.. Or STEM.

<we do a lot of hands on activities, so the kids are really involved and see the results right away.>

It's the intent of Starbase to produce results down the road... Hoping interest in STEM developed here morphs into future careers. Pannell says the military needs those types of thinkers.

<kids who are critical thinkers, analyzers, wanting to know how to solve problems.>

They're particularly important skills for central georgia's economy... Said Starbase director Wesley Fondal. He spoke by phone from a conference in Indiana.

<being that there are many defense companies in the area. Those companies are looking for people they can readily employ and not have to retrain them.>

Fondal says losing Starbase would likely hurt the pool of resources.

The government is considering erasing the programs budget line and moving its management away from the Department of defense.

<if it goes into another department, Im afraid it will disappear or go away all together.>

Pat Bartness.. Museum Foundation president... Says a move Could take away Starbase's core... Removing the military component. Fondal says the program would not be priority in another government agency's budget.

<it would be a big loss.>

And Pannell says its children...who stand to lose the most.

In Warner Robins Lorra Lynch Jones 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.>

Fondal and Bartness are encouraging people in the community to contact legislators about keeping Starbase in the federal budget.

It's been at Robins for 16 years.... offering the classes... Plus camps and mentoring in schools.

Starbase programs are also located on 75 other military installations throughout the country.

The search for a 24-year-old Warner Robins man who went missing in the Ocmulgee River...is over...ending with what searchers hope will bring closure to a family.

Aaron Cross' body was found just before 11 a-m today... Judy Le has more

After a nine-day search...the body of 24-year-old Aaron Cross finally surfaced

<sean defoe - DNR found him, along with some dog handlers approximately 500 yards from where he reportedly drowned>

It took 4 rangers...2 cadaver dogs and the combined efforts of the Macon-Bibb Fire department and sheriff's office to locate Cross

<cpt bob lynn, dnr - the body was partially submerged in some brush about 10 foot off the bank of the river>

The cadaver dogs alerted an area where Cross might be. Searchers continued to comb the river until his body was found and pulled from water at the canoe launch.

<lynn - last week it was cold, raining. Water temperatures didn't rise much which hindered the search>

Cross went to the Ocmulgee river with friends on April 1st. He went under in 60-degree while swimming back to the bank.

When Hazzard County came to Peach County this past March, success was in the driver's seat.

Now Historic Middle Georgia Raceway is looking ahead to next year's reunion *and* a really big event next month.

<Chris Jennings, Historic Middle GA Raceway: "Just over 53,000 people, I like to say we touched a lot of hearts, brought back a lot of memories with the Dukes of Hazzard show.">

(file vo from dukes reunion)

Fans lined up to make those memories - and brought everything from model cars to mailboxes in General Lee orange.

Track organizer Chris Jennings is already looking ahead to next year's reunion.. with hopes of bringing a little Bandit to the bash.

<Chris Jennings, Historic Middle GA Raceway:"We're looking at having Burt Reynolds and Sally Fields, we're in negotiations with contracts with them right now." >

<Chris Jennings, Historic Middle GA Raceway:"Smokie and the Bandit has a huge following, probably just as large if not larger than the Dukes of Hazzard.">

And speaking of large, the raceway is making big plans to go BALLISTIC.

Extreme Monster Truck Madness hits the track at the end of May.

<Chris Jennings, Historic Middle GA Raceway:"We are going to flip monster trucks in the air and do back flips with monster trucks, we're gonna be flippin' motorcross motorcycles 75 feet in the air.">

Jennings says having an event like this on an outside track offers more options.

<Chris Jennings, Historic Middle GA Raceway:"Don't have to worry about the fumes, there's plenty of room, the trucks and the drivers are going to put on the world's greatest monster truck show.">

Extreme Monster Truck Madness will be May 31st and June 1st.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids ages 10-2 and free for kids under 2.

They go on sale tomorrow - You'll find a link to get yours on our website.. 13wmaz-dot-com.

And save the date for next year's Hazzard Reunion - March 7th thru the 9th.

From food kitchens to church groups... Volunteers help a lot of organizations that otherwise wouldn't have the manpower...to do what they do every day.

This morning..Macon mayor Robert Reichert joined dozens of other U-S mayor in recognizing all those around Central Georgia...who give their time freely..

During a ceremony at City Hall...the mayor proclaimed a Day of Recognition of National Service..highlighting the work of more than ten groups who help make the community a better place.

The National Organization for Volunteerism says it not only honors volunteers but helps connect them with organizations that need help...and those who need their services.

<Phyllis Dorn/VISTA Grant Supervisor at CGTC..

"it's great to have VISTA and Americorps and all its programs recognized because they do so much for the community. And to have mayors across the country come together and recognized national service is wonderful. We just hope that more people will elect to serve their communities this way.

Volunteers for the foster grandparents program and the COPs program were also among those recognized today.

In our web poll tonight... We asked, how often do you volunteer in your community?

11 percent of you say... Every week...

And another 11 percent say... Every month.

13 percent say, yearly.

And 65 percent say never.

Keep voting... The poll's still up on the right side of our homepage.

One business in Perry is celebrating forty years of business today.

You might have heard of them... They have two locations... One in Perry and one in Bonaire.

It's Mcdonald's Western Wear and Horse Supply... and Jennifer Moulliet stopped by to find out their secret to success.

<i used to love sneakers until I came to be affiliated with these folks. >

Mr. Leon Allen says he bought his first pair of hunting boots at the Mitchell's shop over thirty years ago.

<and i've been coming back ever since. Back then all they had were boots now they have western shirts and blue jeans, I buy all my blue jeans here>

And he says although the merchandise has changed over the years... The service hasn't.

<good help, perseverance, caring,and we think customer service is first. >

Gwen Mitchell and her husband run Mcdonald's Horse Supply in Perry... But she says... she's not the owner... She's a team member.

And she says without the customer... You don't have a business.

Jennifer Langston remembers shopping at Mcdonald's as a child... And now she works there.

<they're a family boss, they're my second parents and that's how they appear to everyone whether you're the first customer of the day or the last customer after hours they're always giving you their all. >

<you start so very small and you just hope somebody comes by your house and buys something. And then you load up and go to the horse show and sit on the back of the pick up truck and try to sell some more.>

and as business grew... So did her shop... Mitchell eventually graduated from selling items out of her house to selling them at a store front.

They first opened up business in Bonaire... And a few years later opened another in Perry.

40 years later... Allen is still shopping for boots...

<he welcomes everybody in before they can say hello or kiss my foot or whatever. >


And Mcdonald's Horse Supply is still going strong.

In Perry Jennifer Moulliet 13WMAZ eyewitness news.

Congratulations to the folks at Mcdonald's Western Wear and Horse Supply... They're also the business of the month for the city of Perry.


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