Eyewitness News at 6: June 17, 2013

5:49 PM, Jun 17, 2013   |    comments
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Hello, everyone, and thanks for joining us.

I'm Frank Malloy.

Leah Johnson is off tonight.

The public outcry over a possible leadership shake-up leads our news tonight.

Last week...both the chief of police...and the fire chief in Cochran...were told they'd soon be out of work in two weeks.

But today that's on hold...possibly for good.

Tom George explains why in tonight's top story.

Frank...when the news first came out.... We in the Eyewitness Newsroom took several phone calls from people living in Cochran.

Some of them told us.... they were concerned about the future of their community...without the two veteran chiefs...who have more than 35 years of service between them.

But today... When I went to Cochran... I found that, for now, their jobs may not be on the chopping block.

It all began last Thursday when longtime Cochran Police Chief Key McGuire got some surprising news... which he shared on Facebook...

"after 20 years of dedicated service to the City of Cochran and the Cochran Police Department, the city manager calls me into his office under the pretense that that we were going to go over the budget, and tells me in two weeks he is going to do away with job."

Fire Chief Glenn Lord, just a few weeks from retirement benefits got the same news.

Both jobs would be eliminated... And the city would hire a Public Safety Manager. City Manager Ray Gibson said that would save 50 to 70 thousand dollars.

< The budget situation in Cochran is, we've got a tight budget. We don't have a lot of reserves, if any, We're trying to do a lot of infrastructure. We can't do those if we don't have the reserves to do that. >

Once word got out, many in Cochran were upset, and rallied to keep the chiefs.

< I mean he's been around for a long time, and I just don't agree with one person taking the whole job over.>

< People have done a good job for you. You don't do those kind of things to 'em, it's just not right...>

The city manager says the response was overwhelming...and mostly negative. He understands their concerns.

< A lot of it's been directed that I'm a hateful person from out of town. My heart's in this community. I may not live in this community, but I do want the best for the City of Cochran.>

It's why he and interim mayor Willie Basby set up a task force to find ways to fix the budget...most likely without cutting the two jobs.

Now the City Manager says they'll decide at their July meeting how the task force will be set up, but say they're open to ideas. I spoke with both chiefs, but they said they couldn't talk about it. Frank?

Cochran will also be getting a new mayor in July. Michael Stoy is a former President of Middle Georgia College. Gibson says the mayor will be involved in whatever decision they make on the budget.

Today....there are no answers from the Department of Justice...about when, or how, the Macon-Bibb elections might happen.

Those elections were scheduled for July...but they've been delayed.




Last Monday... County Attorney Virgil Adams filed a letter to the D-O-J... Giving them one week to make a decision on whether the election ballots will include party identification.

That deadline... Is today.

Adams' letter said the county might then ask a federal judge to step in and allow Macon-Bibb to go ahead with elections this year.

During the General Assembly...State legislators voted to take party labels off the ballots... and moved the election to July.

Last mont....the Department of Justice put the elections on hold ... until legislators answered how they made that decision.

Adams didn't say if or when...the county might file a federal suit.

We now have new information on a murder investigation in Bleckley County.

Back on June 9th... A man was reported missing...a day after, a body was found, dumped on Cook Road...near the Dodge County line.

The GBI lab identified the victim as 33-year-old Dazmon Sanders... A Cochran native who had moved to Atlanta.

The state Department of Corrections says he's been convicted of drug charges five times since 1997....and served four prison terms.

The Bleckley County Sheriff's Office has accused two people, Magic Fuller, 18.... And Printess Stanley, 25... of robbing and killing him.

They are being held without bond in the Bleckley jail...both charged with felony murder.

The Sheriff's Office says they expected more charges against the two

Warner Robin department occupied three gas stations today...while investigating alleged illegal gambling.

A Bi-Lo convenience store...at green street and houston road...Was one of them.

A sunoco gas station on Green Street is also being investigated...

As well as the Davis Food Mart on Davis Drive.

According to Warner Robins Police officer Lance Watson...

All three stores are suspected of paying illegal cash payouts....to customers using video gamblng machines.

Under state law...the customers can play for store credit...but not cash prizes.

This spring, Governor Nathan Deal signed the bill into law that changed how gambling machines are regulated.

The Georgia Lottery Corporation now oversees video poker machines and keeps a portion of their profits for the HOPE scholarship program.

The goal is to crack down on illegal gambling by making it easier to identify what authorities call "rogue" machines.

Legally, operators can only offer store credit or merchandise prizes from video gambling machines.

Warner Robins police say the three stores being investigated in town were operating independently...they were NOT part of the lottery program.

The CEO of a major Georgia based restaurant chain found himself faced with accusations...that he forced a former housekeeper to perform sex acts with him in order to keep her job.

The major evidence...an audio recording authorities say the woman made in secret.

Now, a Cobb County Superior court judge has said Waffle House chief Joe Rogers' privacy was violated when he was taped without his knowledge.

Rogers attorneys told the Marietta Daily Journal... They hope the judge's ruling against including the evidence...will lead the court to dismiss the charges.

The Daylily Festival in Jones County last week brought in 14-thousand dollars. Judy Le tells us all of that money is going to revitalize the downtown area..

Five years ago ...Paige Childs opened up Treasures by the Tracks. Since then ... she's been hoping to open another door ...

<we have an antique front door that we want refinished >

Her current door doesn't fit the look of historic downtown Gray.

<just because you want to do something doesn't mean you're going to get it done asap. And as you can see, I do get a little side tracked>

Childs runs an antique shop and cafe. Any bit of money goes toward renovations. Her last big fix-up ... Was the awning in front.

<i thought the colors were nice, warm and inviting>

To make that happen... she received a $500 façade grant from Gray Station Better Hometown. They award at least four grants a year to downtown businesses.

<having half of that paid, made it affordable for me>

<standup - the façade grants add uniformity and charm to the downtown area. That means they're phasing out roof shingles and metal doors like these. Anything that reminds people of residential or industrial areas>

A business to model the changes after ... Is Kema's Bookstore.

<you kind of have to know about it. It's word of mouth. And you go online to fill out the application. I don't think it's ever been a competitive process in the past>

That's a three quarter glass door. It's not exactly the one Childs is dreaming of ...

<it's got that mailbox slot it in which we wont even be able to use but I just like the look of that>

Until Childs gets her application together... She'll be swinging through the same old door.

Judy Le 13wmaz eyewitness news

The grants are funded by events like the Daylily Festival. The two-day festival brought in nearly three times as much money this year as in year's past.

Lawyers whose clients DID NoT get jobs at Georgia's KIA plant...argue the automaker should be more transparent about how people are hired.

They're asking for records related to the hiring process to be made public.

That's after four people who applied for jobs at the plant in West Point...claimed they were being discriminated against...because they belonged to a union.

The filed an Open Records act request from the state's QuickStart Program, in the Department of Economic Development.

When the agency turned down their request...they sued.

Kia executives say hiring practices are trade secrets...and are nobody else's business.

The Georgia Supreme Court heard the case today.

No word on when the justice's might rule.

The professional finish line has been crossed for a group of Mercer graduates today...and it's been a long road filled with hard coursework and challenging hours.

Medical school graduates received white coats...In a ceremony at the Medical Center of Central Georgia this afternoon

Nearly thirty new doctors took part in the celebration at MCCG...

Marking the beginning of residencies.

For the next year, the doctors will work under established M D's...or continue working through internal programs at the hospital

<we expect great things. We expect them to learn all that they can. We expect them to teach as they go along. We expect them to care for our patients in the best way possible, and to give a word of encouragement whenever it's needed. Sometimes, that might be all that's needed.>

This is MCCG's third white coat ceremony...

Following a tradition started by Columbia University in 1999

NASA's astronauts are used to breaking boundaries... But the newest crop of program recruits has found a different way to do that.

Of the eight chosen, half are women.

According to nasa, it is the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected for a class.

The group was picked out of more than six-thousand applicants.

NASA says the new candidates will help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then to mars.

They will report for duty in August at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Summer vacation often means camp for kids... But forget the tents, smores, and the great outdoors.

One opportunity in Macon has its campers humming a different song.

More than 30 students are fine-tuning their skills at The Otis Redding Singer..Songwriter Summer Camp in Macon

The camp is named...of course...for the Macon R & B legend, who died more than 40 years ago in a plane crash.

The students are learning everything from how to play instruments like the piano to singing from their diaphragm.

Students get to write and record their own songs....and no topic is off limits.

For many of them...music is a lifestyle.

< I love it and I was singing ever since I was 3 years old. It feels right, and I love music. I love listening to music. If I didn't have music...I couldn't imagine a world without it really >

If you're interested in participating in next year's summer camp....you can visit the Otis Redding Singer/Songwriter camp Facebook page.



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