Eyewitness News at 6: June 4, 2013

9:52 PM, Jun 4, 2013   |    comments
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 Good evening.
   Thanks for joining us.

   I'm Frank Malloy and I'm Leah Johnson.

A victory for some folks in Twiggs County after the highest court in Georgia upheld a ruling in favor of Dry Branch homeowners battling a man thousands of miles away to keep their homes .. Tom George joins us with more.
That's right ... This has been going on for around a year and half, people in Dry Branch have had to hire laywers, go to court, and live in fear of losing their homes.. But with Monday's ruling, it's finally over....
"It's cozy though ... It is cozy though, I love it."
Mary Casteen never thought that the Georgia Supreme Court would have to tell her that the place she's lived for 50 years ... Is her home...
"There's a peace over it that I didn't have before .. Nobody can come take it, that nobody can come in and say 'it's mine."
"For the last year and a half, she and almost 50 others on Old Gordon Road in Twiggs County battled in court with a Colorado man.
Allan Evans claimed his ancestors owned the land... and that he was the true property owner."


Last year, the Twiggs Superior Court ruled against Evans, saying his claims had "no foundation in fact" after he failed to show any proof.
And Monday, the Supreme Court agreed ... unanimously.
"This was a serious threat that we experienced, lived through it and prevailed, and we all thank God and we all thank our attorney."
"The case was dismissed with prejudice, which means that Allan Evans can no longer file any other lawsuits against the homeowners."
Evans was ordered to pay a total of $100,000 in lawyer's fees.
Although people in Twiggs aren't sure if they'll ever get that money, lawyer Randall Harrison says he may hire lawyers in Colorado to force Evans to pay.
It was a case unlike any other Harrison has handled.
"We were dealing with somebody that wasn't trained and yet he was an adversary of a different type, and I don't wish to have this case again."
And for people along old Gordon Road.... it means never hearing again from a man they say hurt their community.
"I think he was just trying to get something for nothing, and thought he could beat the law I guess."
"We're done with him, we're done with him, the only thing we have to say to him is good riddance."
In Dry Branch, Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.
Now that 100,000 dollars including all the lawyers in this case. It was also a few banks and other companies that owned land in addition to the residents.  Casteen says many of the residents hired lawyers as a group, and so far she's paid around $350, but they told me at this point, it'd be nice to get the money, but they're mostly just happy to move and not have this man bothering them anymore.
 Thanks Tom, we tried to reach Allan Evans by phone in Colorado, but he did not returned our calls.

 The heat is on in Central Georgia...the pools are open in Macon...but only half of the usual amount.
   The city opened three of its six pools this afternoon...
   One of those is at the Booker T-Washington Center on Monroe Street.
   Leah Johnson joins us live from the pool with more on where kids can cool off this summer.
In addition to the pool here at Booker T-Washington..
   The East Macon pool on Ocmulgee East Boulevard and the Memorial Park pook off Second Street are open.
    The Bloomfield pool and the one at the Frank Johnson Recreation Center are expected to open some time this summer.
   Both need repairs.
   The Freedom Park pool will remain closed all summer.
   Joining me now to talk about the pool situation is  Bibb County spokesman Kevin Barrere.

  After a Macon policeman shot and killed a man in a grocery store parking lot last year.. some officials wanted tasers issued to all officers.
     During this week's Close-Up program, Interim Police Chief Mike Carswell discusses tasers and when officers should use them. Since the shooting.. Carswell says the department has increased the number of tasers from twenty to eighty and  he hopes to soon have tasers for all officers on patrol.
     But before they can use tasers.. Officers must be shot with one...to feel what it's like.
 That order came from Carswell.. Who took one in the chest himself.
" Mike Carswell, Interim Police Chief: We're going to carry it so it's going to be part of our equipment going out, so everybody going to be tased. So I went down there and watched them while they did the tasing and that thing puts out a little pain. So I figured if we're going to tell them that carry it and be tased  then I need to do the same thing. So I went along with Major Grabowski and Capt. Woodford and let them know that the command staff will do just what we ask them. We got tased also."
     Carswell says the effects of a taser last about a minute.. And that gives officers time to handcuff and arrest suspects.
     You can catch Close-Up at noon Saturday and six a.m. Sunday on 13 WMAZ.    
Four Bibb County Schools might look  different come fall.
And parents can speak out at a series of public hearings about the possible changes..
Elise Brown met some parents who are upset about the possible closing of Barden Elementary
"The teachers love their kids and care for them."

Nine year old Niya Holley says she loves Barden Elementary.
But come fall she could be attending Burghard Elementary....which is less than a mile away.
By closing Barden..... the school district could save more than five hundred thousand dollars.
Holley's mother says this is a problem.

"I have an old saying if it ain't broke don't fix it."
"I think that it's a very good school and I don't think that the merger...i think it's more about the budget than it is about the kids. So I feel that we need to put the kids in consideration."
Charlene Smithers says she has started a petition, plans to protest Friday and will be at a public hearing next week.
"We're gonna have as many people that we can do come in and speak with mr. Smith, the superintendent, and the school board."
Smithers isn't the only one with concerns. One mother wheels her kids to and from school each day.
"I'm worried that it could be some problems. There's a lot of violence and gang activity down in that area. And with me in a wheel chair, walking two small children, it could be pretty serious. Just walking to this one I had someone try to set my hair on fire."
In addition to these possible changes.....Jones and King/Danforth Elementary schools could be reconfiguring......
that means King/Danforth might house third to fifth graders and Jones could have PreK to 2nd Grade.
King/Danforth already has a reading lab...a newer wing for 4th-5th graders and is already close to Appling Middle School. 
Plus they say Jones has Pre-K playground equipment.
In Macon, Elise Brown 13WMAZ Eyewitness.
The Bibb County school district referred questions on the matter to Suzanne Griffin Ziebart....who HAD BEEN filling in as acting superintendent. But she was unavailable for comment.
The first public hearing on reconfiguring Jones and King/Danforth is tomorrow.... Wednesday at 6:30 pm at Jones Elementary at 2350 Alandale Drive, Macon.
And next Tuesday the 11th...there's a hearing on the Barden school closing...also at 6:30.
 Another person has his eye on the Mayor's seat in Warner Robins.
    City council member Daron Lee joined the race during his announcement this afternoon.
   Lee says his term with the council and educational background make him the man for the job.
    He says if he wins .... he would seek federal grants to restore blighted neighborhoods.
     He says he would also build a health clinic on the north side of town... and start a public transportation service for the city.
" Daron Lee, City Council, Warner Robins: I do believe those who are without public transit should have a way to reach the federal programs being provided.  For example... the unemployed having public transit to the department of labor, and those who are seeking higher education to have transportation to the technical college and universities in this area."
    Others who have entered the race are clergyman and former firefighter Randy Toms, businessman Chuck Chalk, city councilman Mike Brashear... and public works director Joe Musselwhite.
   Mayor Chuck Shaheen has not said if he'll seek a second term. Shaheen was at Darron lee's news conference this morning..He told Lorra Lynch Jones that Lee invited him so he showed up.

It's been two months since Forsyth contracted Advance Disposal to pick up city trash. With the move comes a few changes that Judy Le says not every one is happy with.
Residents pay $15 a month instead of $20 for one day pickup and recycling. 
"I certainly would worry if I had something that would be smelly."
The one-day pickup was an easier adjustment than Sarah Weaver thought She's lived in Forsyth for 23 years and now... Her biggest problem is 
"The grass clippings, the leaves, the limbs."
When garbage pickup was twice a week... The city allowed residents to leave bulk waste on the side of the street. Advance Disposal requires bagged trash.
"We were going to have to pile it up and and use a pitch fork to rake it into the trash bag."
"Advance disposal picks up about 123 tons of trash a month. To put it into perspective, that's about 18 full grown elephants."
Advance Disposal has one truck that runs a single route. Recycling is Tuesday. If you live east of hwy 41 ... Garbage pickup is on Wednesday. The West side is scheduled for Thursday
"About the 1500 residential homes we pick up in forsyth, we've got about a 30 percent rate of recycling."
The efficiency saves the city money. It used to cost Forsyth over $600,000 to maintain this service. 
"The city came along and picked it up and put it on their truck. No complaints."
After 40 years of city pickup....this kind of change for Weaver means a little extra effort.
Judy Le 13wmaz eywitness news.
Each house is given an 18 gallon recycling bin and a 95 gallon container for trash. Pick-up lasts all day.


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