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Eyewitness News at 6: June 3, 2013

9:30 PM, Jun 3, 2013   |    comments
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Our Top Story at Six..
Bibb County schools welcomed a familiar face as their new interim Superintendent ... And he's already got a full plate.
Tom George was there as Steve Smith took the oath this morning.

It was new day at Bibb County Schools ...

but the new leaders is hardly a new face...

Steve Smith was sworn in as the county's interim Superintendent, taking over for acting leader Suzanne Griffin Zeibart, who replaced outgoing Superintendent Romain Dallemand ... After a quick celebration, Smith says he has work to do, including a looming 18 million dollar budget shortfall.
"If some steps had been taken about four years ago, but that's all the past. We're going to focus on the future and look for ways that we can make a better system with the least financial impact on the system."

Smith also talked about getting feedback from teachers to solve the county's problem, including losses of teachers and higher class sizes.
" I don't believe in large class sizes. Places I've been in the past, we've worked to reduce it, but see you're working against a difficult situation. If you don't have the money, you can't very well do it, but my goal is to reduce the teacher-people ratio and I can't tell you how that will be done, but we'll start that process very quickly."

But while there's things Smith hopes to change, he says he'll look at some of Superintendent Dallemand's initiatives like the Macon Miracle as well.

"I think there's a lot of the Macon Miracle that has a lot of merit to it. They're many of the same things people are being done in many other school systems across the state."

But while board members joked that Smith was being "borrowed" from retirement, he hopes to make an impact in his short term of a year.
" I hope a year from now when my period of time is over, and we have the new Superintendent in here, we can truthfully say we're working together in partnership between the home, the school, and community."

In Macon, Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.
He formerly worked in the Bibb county school sas a teacher and principal at Central High School.
Later...he previously served as Superintendent in Pulaski and then Lowndes Counties. He stepped down last year.
He's said he won't apply for Bibb County's permament position.
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  Here's an update to a story we brought you last week.
   The Bibb County sheriff's office says they've cited a dog owner...after an attacked that seriously injured a woman last week.
    They say 20-year-old Amber Tripp was cited on two counts of failing to restrain her pitbulls... and two counts of failing to inoculate them.
   Those dogs reportedly escaped their pen last week while Tripp was on vacation.
   A Bibb County deputy shot and killed those pit bulls after they attacked Tripp's neighbor....69-year old Margaret McNicholas.
   She suffered wounds to the face...neck....legs and arms.
   Both charges against Tripp are misdemeanors... The sheriff's office says she was served just over two hours ago.
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  The GBI is looking into the death of a Taylor County man..who was found outside a home in Reynolds.
  Investigators say the body of 58-year-old Richard "Buddy" Bell was found Sunday morning at 1500 Macon Road.
   They say it appears a vehicle struck Bell...and he died sometime between Saturday night...and 8 a-m Sunday.
    The GBI says it is interviewing witnesses...but so far..no one says they saw Bell get hit.
   Anyone with information can call the GBI at 706-565-7888...again that number is 706-565-7888.
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  Warner Robins police say a homeowner shot a man who broke into his home.
    Police say around 1-30 Sunday morning.. 36-year-old Ronald Burnett was found unconscious on the ground outside of a house in the 200 block of Thomas boulevard.
     He was pronounced dead at the Houston Medical Center from a gunshot wound to the chest.
   Officers say Burnett tried to break into the house and was shot by 32-year-old Travis Lucas.
     Neighbor Danielle Haring says she heard at least six gunshots.... but thought it was from a couple of streets away.
     When she realized it was her neighbor's home and saw police.... she says she went outside to check things out.
"I seen them do CPR on the guy that got shot. They got him in the ambulance and continued CPR. There had to have been at least 30 police officers running around with assault rifles. It made me alittle worried because I wasn't sure if they caught the guy or what was going on."
  Homeowner Travis Lucas has not been charged.
  Georgia is a stand your ground state.... Which means you can use deadly force in self defense... Or to stop an intruder.
   Warner Robins police say they're still investigating.
anyone with information on the case can call 478-302-5387. That number again... 478-302-5387.

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  Warner Robins city employees will get a 3-percent raise.. if Mayor Chuck Shaheen gets his way.
     He included the cost of living increase in his 2014 budget.
     The Warner Robins council held its first public hearing on the budget this afternoon at city hall.
     No one from the public spoke at that hearing.
     Shaheen said the budget is balanced... With no new increase in property taxes.
     He made his case for why 600-thousand dollars should go toward that pay raise.
"Just last week we had firemen that pulled someone out of fire, saved a persons life. We had three other policeman that had to go to check on person who as shot yesterday morning. Last week, we had three policeman go through a swamp to recover two bodies in an airplane. I work with them everyday. I see what they do down in the tax office, public works and utilities. I don't know what's a the best way to reward them other than a salary increase."
     Shaheen said some council members are hesitant to approve the salary increase.
     Judy Le will have more on the budget tonight on Eyewitness News at 11. 
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   Our web poll questions asks...Do you think your local government spends its money wisely?
   So far 91 percent of you say no..
   To vote now... Visit 13WMAZ.com.
   Look for the question on the right side of the homepage.
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    One way to cool off is to take a dip in the pool.
   Three of Macon-Bibb County's Public pools will open tomorrow.
   Crews have been draining the water out of the pools, pressure washing the inside, then refilling them just in time for the summer.
   Pools at East Macon Park on Ocmulgee East Boulevard..  Memorial Park on Woodland Drive in Macon..  and the Booker T. Washington Center located on Monroe Street will all open tomorrow.
   Two other parks and recreation pools are expected to open within a few weeks.
   According to Bibb County spokesman, Kevin Barrere... the pool at Freedom Park will not be open this summer because extensive repairs are needed.
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    Just when we thought it was over... The Independence Celebration in Warner Robins will go on.
     The city... A civic group... Businesses and part of the Band of the Air Force Reserve pulled together to make it happen.
     Lorra Lynch explains why they didn't want the star spangled concert to fade into memory.
The fireworks last boom last year... Was supposed to be the last Warner Robins Independence Celebration.
The concert's sponsor... Air Force Reserve Command... felt budget cuts... Forcing its band to disband.
But some locals said... the show.. It must go on.
"We need to come together to make this happen."
Allen Tatman lead the charge.
He's president of the Civitan Club... Lights the concerts fireworks display.. and attended the first show 31 years ago.
"Kind of lost track of time."
Mayor Chuck Shaheen thinks he was there, too.
"I can't remember. I'm sure I was. I was just a mere child 31 years ago."
Foggy memories aside.. Shaheen and Tatman agreed the city's flagship event shouldn't be history.
Council pledged 30-thousand in support... Businesses donated 55-thousand.
"Not one business told us no."
They recruited 70's band... Stillwater... And singer Bobbie Eakes. Both with Warner Robins roots... and a desire to help. 
"This is our hometown. This our town and we want contribute, too."
They'll perform alongside a portion of the Band of the Air Force Reserve. 
Some of them still stationed at Robins.
"With all the sequester going on, they were not able to fund it. That's ok. We've told them this year, we are here to honor them."
So July 3rd... Roll out your picnic blanket... And wave old glory.
The Independence Concert plays on.
In Warner Robins Lorra Lynch Jones 13WMAZ Eyewitness.
  As always.. The concert will be free.
     Gates at McConnell-Talbert Stadium open at 6 p.m.
     The concert starts at 8 p.m.
     Tatman promises the largest fireworks display in the event's history.
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   The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously upheld a ruling supporting Twiggs County landowners who were sued by a Colorado man trying to take their homes.
  Allan Evans sued the landowners for more than 400 acres in Dry Branch... claiming his ancestors owned the land and it was rightfully his.
 Evans went to court in Twiggs County last August without a lawyer, and was unable to provide any proof his family actually owned the land or produce deeds to any of the properties.
 Last November, the Superior Court ruled Evans would have to pay 100 thousand dollars in legal fees and was banned from filing any other lawsuits against residents.
Attorney Randall Harrison says he'll meet with the landowners to make sure the ruling is enforced.

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It's getting close to dinner time....and some Americans  may take for granted what's on our dinner table.
Elise Brown was the Macon Coliseum today where volunteers at the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church packaged mobile meals for Stop Hunger Now..
"It wasn't until I went to Africa and I realized how little people had.
 They packaged 30,00 meals or more than 30,000 meals. There's six meals in every celophane packet and so there's four ingrediants that go into it. It's regular rice, and a soy flour which is the protein componant, a dehydrated vegetable blend and a vitamin flavoring packet. And the bags get weighed and melted, closed and boxed up.  
 "It was fun. It feels like I'm helping and making a difference in the world.
These meals they packaged today, I'm not exactly sure where they are going yet. We have partners on the ground in 38 countries currenty, that's primarily Central America, the Caribbean, a lot after Haiti, that was obviously a large need there, subsaharan Africa and a scattering throughout Asia. 
We won't have as many hungry people in the world."
Stop Hunger Now's vision is to have a world without hunger.
To date... they have packaged more than 100 million meals according to their website.
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 The Children's Miracle Network ended strong this weekend ... 
    This year's celebration raised more than 620 thousand dollars.
     The Children's Hospital of Central Georgia will use the money to buy equipment and other items that will help them treat patients and families. 
     And the traditional end of the day....Myself, and Suzanne Lawler and Y 96's Lea Fountain vgot pied in the face... Several times.... to close out a great CMN Celebration.

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