Eyewitness News at 6: June 6, 2013

9:44 PM, Jun 7, 2013   |    comments
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    Hello everyone.  Thank you for joining us. 
    I'm Leah Johnson.
   And I'm Frank Malloy
  We begin tonight with breaking news from Bibb County schools..
    A plan to close one Bibb County elementary school...and change grade levels at two more...is on hold for the coming school year.
   Just a few minutes ago....the Bibb County board of education voted 6 to 1 to put that plan on the shelf for now.
   Administrators planned to close the Barden Elementary and send its students to Burghard Elementary.
    They also intended to rearrange grade levels at the King/Danforth and Jones elementary schools.
    But some parents weren't happy with those changes.
    Today...interim superintendent Steve Smith it's not fair to families to make that change just two months before the start of a school year.
     School board members said they could make the budget cuts they needed...without those changes.
  Tom George is at that meeting...and he'll have more on eyewitness news at 11.

  Furloughs for about 15-thousand Robins Air Force Base employees start July 8th.
     They'll have to take up to 11 unpaid days through the end of September.
     It's a result of the across the board federal budget cuts known as the sequester.
     The 21st Century Partnership says the furloughs equal a 20-percent drop in pay for the rest of the fiscal year... for those workers.
     They estimate the reduction will have a 50 million dollar impact on Central Georgia's economy.
     The Robins employees will feel the pinch... And the Partnership says... so will many others.
     As Lorra Lynch Jones tells you... They're organizing a fair to help. 
21st Century Partnership CEO Bob McMahon didn't have to say that to businessman Wayne Lowe at the organizations quarterly meeting.
Lowe already knows the affects of military spending cuts in the past year.
"We've seen a decrease in military contracts, which equates to them moving out of the local community."
And out of his office spaces. He owns 300-thousand square feet of it... And says in the last year... A third became vacant.
"That equates to about 500 employees no longer in the Middle Georgia area."
Lowe says he saw another sign of a weakening economy at his car dealership last week. That's when Robins furlough notices went out.
"It was a like faucet being cut off. We had no business for three days."
Chief Operating Officer of the 21st Century Partnership.. Chrissy Miner.. Believes people are spending less ahead of the furloughs... and need help planning.
That's why the partnership planned SHARE.
"Which is Sharing Help Assistance and Resources for Everyone, and let me underscore everyone."
She says everyone... Believing fewer dollars spent by 15-thousand Robins employees... Will take a bite out of other people's budgets too.
The June 15th SHARE event will combine regional community resources...
"Looking at your mental health, your financial strength, planning for future cuts in your budget."
All of it with the hope of keeping the community on track.. Ahead of what could be a financially tough few months for thousands.
Lorra Lynch Jones.. 13wmaz.. Eyewitness News.>
  The SHARE event is Saturday June 15th at the Galleria Mall Conference Center in Centerville.
     It's free and again... Open to everyone... Not just Robins employees.
     It starts at 10 and runs until 2 p.m.
     We can connect you to more information.
     Look for the links inside this story on our website... 13WMAZ-dot-com.
   This afternoon.... Warner Robins city council started their line-by-line look at Mayor Chuck Shaheen's proposed budget.. and it included some surprises.
     We previously reported that city employees will receive a price of living increase....according to Shaheen'sbudget plan.
 But council members found out.... that's not entirely true.
     Jennifer Moulliet joins us now from the newsroom to explain... Jennifer.
     Leah... There was some confusion about the adjustment in pay today... And for the past week.
     I think most of it may have come from the fact that officials including the mayor were calling it a cost of living increase... Or COLA.
     Keep in mind that payroll is close to 78 percent of the city's budget.
     Take a look inside the meeting today. 
"All employees get the three percent increase. Not everyone. Okay then this is not a COLA this is a pay scale or a grade adjustment. I guess you could use either term sir. I thought COLA meant everyone, cost of living for everyone so I think it makes a difference in how we're implementing it ."   
    The city did a pay study last year... Bill Harte... Warner robins' chief financial office....r explains the purpose.
"The pay study was supposed to equalize our pay scale or make our pay scale more fair what's being proposed in this budget is a three percent increase in that pay scale. If we have an employee that's at the max or over the max in the pay scale they may not receive any increase ."
     In other words...  Not everyone is getting a raise.
     It depends on which pay grade you fall into.
     If you're already at where the study says you should be making... You won't receive a raise. 
There was also an adjustment to employee benefits... Each employee will pay a little more for insurance... an adjustment that saved the city 900-thousand dollars according to Harte.
     Warner Robins police department is adding two transportation officers and four detectives... Which is three more positions than last year.
     Public works asked for funding for upgrades.
   As it stands now... The budget is balanced... And Council plans to vote on it at their next scheduled council meeting.
     Warner Robins council's next meeting is Monday... June 17th.
     You can find the city's proposed budget on the city's website.... Www dot w-r-g-a dot gov. 
 A Houston County judge declined to set bond today for 25-year-old Arkebia (Ar-KEY-Bee-YA) Albury.
She's accused of driving over her four year-old son after police say she shoplifted at Belk's in Centerville.
    Judge Edward Lukemire says her failure to appear in court for previous cases makes her a risk. 
    He says  Albury should not be released to live with other family members....who may be witnesses in her trial.
    Albury's lawer brought a plaque to court from a Macon Housing Authority group that had named Albury...parent of the year....back in April.
    Prosecutor Ed Winters says the boy has a skull fracture, brain swelling, injuries to his chest cavity...and more.
"I have been informed that they may attempt to take the child off life support tomorrow.  But because of the swelling of the brain they are not sure whether this child will survive."
    Her lawyer... Larry Fouche (foo-shay) said Albury wanted to attend those previous court hearings...but didn't have the money to pay court fines.  
     He said all those fines are now paid.
 Murder charges against a Macon mother accused of killing her young son will stand
     Twenty four year old Jameshia Reid had a commitment hearing this afternoon....she's charged with the murder of three-year-old Jakarie Reid.
     Magistrate Judge Barbara Harris says she will not dismiss the charges.
     An autopsy shows that Jakarie Reid was beaten to death.
     Reid's lawyer Brett Steger says the boy could have hit his head when passing out.
     Detective David Patterson says police believe Jakarie was beaten with a hanger and fish tank net.
     He says that four neighbors say they could hear a woman beating a child....one even says he drove by and saw it happening.
    Steger says the toddler had a heart condition...had two heart surgeries...and had one coming up. 
    His mother remains in the bibb county jail...without bond.
  Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke says he plans to re-indict Tracy Jones.. one of four people charged with the October murder of her co-worker Gail Spencer.
    Cooke says he will add more charges against Jones.
    That means the legal proceedings against her would start over...something Bibb County Superior Court Judge Tillman Self does *not* want.
         Self wants the trial scheduled for summer 2014.
     Members of Spencer's family were in court  this afternoon.
    Jones and Spencer were co-workers at the law office of Macon attorney Calder Pinkston.
     Investigators say an embezzlement scheme led to Spencer's murder.
    Last month, co-defendant Michael Brett Kelly pleaded guilty to the charges against him and was sentenced to life.
    As part of the plea deal, Kelly must testify against Jones and the other two co-defendants.
    ...Keith Dozier and Courtney Kelly remain in the Bibb County jail.. charged with felony murder.
   D.A. Cooke says the next opportunity to re-indict Jones will be July 9th.
 The best school bus drivers in Georgia put their driving skills to the test in a state competition.
     The annual school bus road-eo took place in Kathleen, Today.
    Video Journalist Claudia Taylor shows us what it takes for the competitors to drive their way to the nationals.

" We've go 63 competitors this year.  This is the largest competition that the foundation has had. It is the first ever propane school bus rodeo."
" We have 12 stations.  Each one is scored... critiqued.  It's very tough. There's a possible 750 points you can get on the driving range. They have a back up alley... a parallel park...they have a forward serpentine... a backward serpentine.  They have to cross a railroad.  They have to do a student pickup. It takes about 20 minutes for each driver to go through and it's scored very very tough. "
" What we're looking for in a good driver is consistency and being able to put safety first and prior to this they do a whole lot of training to get to this point."
" We spend a lot of time preparing for it... a lot of studying.  When you get to this point... a lot of competition out here."
"I like the challenge it brings.  It makes you brush up on your driving skills and whatever I can do to drive that bus safely to get those kids to and from school. "
" It's very important for our drivers.  They learn from this.  They practice for this thing throughout the year. It enhances their driving skills and just makes them a better and safer driver.  "
  1st and 2nd place winners will compete in the national competition in Tulsa, Oklahoma... in July.
   The 1st place winner also won a cash prize of 500 dollars.
  The Macon Volunteer Clinic celebrates ten years of providing free health care and dental services to uninsured people in Bibb County. 
     And so is the clinic's Medical Director. 
     Dr. Lynn Denny says it's taking care of patients here that drives her as a doctor. 
     One of her patients...Angela Alexander says  Dr. Denny changed how she took care of her health. 
     But for the doctor..she says it's about making sure people have basic care. 
  The clinic is funded solely by grants and donations....and they treat 850 Central Georgians.     
 If you need primary care or dental care and you are uninsured in Bibb County...you can contact Macon Volunteer Clinic at 755-1110. Again that's 755-1110


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