Eyewitness News at Eleven July 17, 2013

11:01 PM, Jul 18, 2013   |    comments
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Our top story tonight - Bibb County students will get a little longer summer break..The Bibb County School Board tonight decided to start the school year for students on August 5th... Instead of August 1st.

Board member Wanda West said a survey of teachers by superintendent Steve Smith indicated the teachers needed more time to prepare for the students. The original schedule gave teachers just one day to prepare their classrooms and hold open houses for students and parents..

everything has to do with budget but the important piece here is that we must support teachers to prepare for the students to return.>

The new schedule means students will attend classes for 176 days instead of 178 in the new school year..

The school board also passed a new budget tonight..

The budget adds 6 counselor positions and 20 contingency teachers.

The teachers will be hired as needed throughout the school year.

Taxes will not be raised to fund the budget.

The district found 2 million unused dollars in last years budget which will go towards this year's budget..

When interim Bibb County school superintendent Steve Smith asked the public to grade his district....the majority give it a big F.

That's part of a recent School....Home...and Security survey....released today.

More than 12 hundred people took part in the online survey...and about half were parents. But school employees...students..and others in the community also answered questions.

The bottom line....was a failing grade for the district as a whole.


51 percent of the respondants flunked the Bibb school system..

41 percent said the district deserved a C and less than 1 percent gave Bibb schools an A.


But....when the survey asked people about their own schools...the scores were much higher.

More than 60 percent gave their local school an A ....Or B.

The public also gave district leaders several priorities to focus over the next school year.

They included...


Improving safety and discipline.

Improving technology

Cutting class size and

Getting finances and a budget in order.

Meanwhile an outside agency gave Bibb County schools accreditation but with a warning.

The school board this afternoon heard a report from Advance-ED.

They visited several Bibb schools for four days in April and May.

The agency gave the Bibb school district accreditation and a to-do list.

That list includes improving leadership...and governance...which got the lowest grades from the outside agency.

Advance-ED asked the district to make improvements...within the next two years.

Tonight... the six candidates for Mayor of the Macon-Bibb consolidated government met at city hall for a debate.

The NAACP hosted the event... And asked WMAZ's Randall Savage to participate as a panelist.

The group was asked to answer ten questions... Dealing with topics from public safety... To managing the budget.

Here's what some of the candidates had to say about their plans to reduce crime in the community.

Bishop: it is the sheriff's responsibility as far as crime in bibb county is concerned. The only thing we can do is write some laws that will help him do his job. We can legislate. We can also make sure that he is given the priority at budget time.

Ellis: in addition to creating a relationship and working with the police department, we need to get the community involved in working on this. Crime prevention is the key, so I want to work on the crime prevention side of this more than anything else, and not just locking everyone up but trying to prevent children from getting locked up, working with our school system, working with our other partners in the community

Reichert: deterrence... That's your youth programs, alternatives, trying to steer youth away from gangs, drugs, and violence, intervention, that's your law enforcement, you work with your law enforcement as we talked about earlier, but finally you have rehabilitation, so you have aggressive prosecution that is coordinated between state and federal.>

The candidates were also asked about bringing jobs and economic growth to Macon-Bibb.

hart: we've got to have a balanced approach that looks at education, looks at crime, and also have to build a relationship so we don't see our community as an island, we have to look regionally

cousino:we need to incorporate our riverfront, get the armicorps engineers in here getting that river dredged out, do a ten mile stretch. think of what the economic would be here in macon, georgia when that river has the ability to bring boats up and down it.

allen: these incentives need to be given not to these big corporations we're going to chase all over the world to bring them here to get regular people jobs at 9 or 10 dollars an hour. We need to find these individuals downtown with closed up stores. Lets give those individuals incentives where we can not just give people a job, where we can put them to work.>

To watch more of the candidates' responses to these and other questions... You can look for this story on our website 13WMAZ dot-com.

Two men were sentenced to life without parole after being convicted today of murdering a friend.

28-year-old Matthew Pike....and 30-year-old William Slaton were convicted of killing Justin Klaffka of Warner Robins last year...and dumping his body in the Ocmulgee River.

A Houston County jury deliberated for about four hours before finding Pike and Slaton guilty on all seven counts against them....including felony murder

Judge Katherine Lumsden sentenced the pair to life without parole.

Prosecutors said Pike and Slaton were angry because Klaffka told authorities about an armed robbery they were involved in.


District Attorney George Hartwig said that a third suspect, 36-year-old Daniel Slaton, struck a deal with prosecutors for a 30-year prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated battery.

He testified at this week's trial against the two men including his brother, William Slaton.

One person died and a firefighter was injured when flames raced through a house fire near Gray's Historic District this morning.


It fire started around 930 this morning....at a home on East Clinton Street.

Fire Chief Don Graham says the home was in flames when they arrived.

He says 9-1-1 told them that an elderly woman was trapped inside a bedroom.

Firefighters broke in to rescue 80-year-old Sarah Clements...but she later died at a hospital.

Travis Touhy was one of several men....who broke into the burning home.

Travis Touhy, Jones County Firefighter: You try so hard to get the person out and you train to save people and when you find out that it couldn't work in your favor it is saddening. >


Assistant Fire Chief Bill Wright was taken to the Medical Center of Central Georgia..

Chief Don Graham said Wright was probably overcome by the heat.

A spokesman for the State Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner said the fire started in the kitchen of the home...

He also said there was no working smoke detector in the house..

The head of an agency that delivered social services...to thousands of people in Macon and Bibb County...died this afternoon.


Jimmy Samuel was the long time executive director of the Macon Bibb Economic Opportunity Council.

Coroner Leon Jones said he died this afternoon at the Medical Center of Central Georgia from an undisclosed illness.

His agency ran Bibb County's winter fuel assistance program...and ran the local Head Start.

The EOC was also a lead group in the Promise Neighborhood coalition...put together last year to improve schools...and quality of life...in some Macon neighborhoods.




<he was in the trenches each and every day. Not only did he do it because it was his profession, he did it because he had a big heart. He had passion and compassion for people who were less fortunate.

Reichert: his common sense approach to issues and economic was great, but I think his greatest accomplishment was probably in the program of Head Start.>


Funeral arrangements are not yet set.

Jimmy Samuel was 64.

Welcome back.

It's time to take a look at some of the stories making headlines across our nation... on this Thurday... July 18th.


The parent's of trayvon martin spoke for the first time publicly since the verdict of not guilty was handed down this past saturday.

On CBS This Morning... Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin talked about the shock they felt from the verdict... and the message it sends.

" It's sending out a terrible message to young teenagers. Travon was walking too slow, so should they be walking too fast. so, I don't think teenagers in whole know what to do now"

Benjamin Crump... attorney for the family... says they will wait to see what the justice department decides... before they pursue a civil suit.

"the U-S Supreme Court doesn't even allow the police to pursue people based on race, so this is an issue we need to know so we can know what to tell our children."

Fulton said that they initially did not think the case was about racial profiling... and said the blame should be placed quote "on the responsible adult" who was chasing a kid.

Florida Governor Rick Scott gave sympathy for the family... but said he agreed with a task force he commissioned that says they do not need to make a change to the law.


There were hearings in Washington today on the IRS scandal to target certain political groups trying to gain exempt status.

Republicans tried to link the white house to the scandal... but democrats say the administration had nothing to do with it.

Inspector General J Russell George was grilled by lawmakers a report he released detailing the targeting.

The report released in May said unfairly targeted conservative groups... and delayed their requests for tax exempt status.

Although democrats say liberal groups were also targeted... new findings show that only liberal groups with words such as progressive or blue in their names were flagged.

One IRS agent who worked at the office processing the requests... was not happy with the process... saying the requests she sent were delayed by washington.


(SOT-Elizabeth Hofacre/IRS Agent)

"my frustration primarily was I had to sit on them and wait for guidance from DC."


Detroit is now the largest city in the nation to file for bankruptcy.

The city has seen a steady decline in population and auto manufacturing... Leaving the city finances ravaged.

The city feared the filing for months... and belive this could mean laying off employees... Selling assets... And scaling back on basic services such as trash pickup that have already been slashed.

Between 2000 and 2010... Almost a quartermillion people have left the motor city.

In the 1950s it reached 1 point 8 million... And now barely stays above 7 hundred thousand.

Businesses have also fled the city... Leaving it to rely on state backed bonds to meet payroll for its employees.


And those are some of the stories making headlines this Thursday July 18.

A judge has granted an injunction to halt the execution of Warren Lee Hill.

Hill is on death row for beating an inmate to death in 1990.

His attorneys that the law prohibiting the release of where Georgia gets its lethal drug supply... Is unconstitutional.

Our sister station... WXIA... Was in court today... As attorney's made their arguments.

I do not believe that Mr. Hill will feel any pain. Even though GBI medical examiner dr. Jacqueline martin doesn't believe he will, legally the issue is still undecided about whether condemned murderer warren lee hill could feel pain, if the drug used to kill him is contaminated. Today, his attorneys argued to fulton county superior court judge gail tuson that no one could know for sure because a new state law that went into effect July 1st keeps information about the drug... Where it comes from... And who administers it a secret. His lawyers called a pharmacy expert who said partially censored documents about the drug used don't justify its purity. I would justify my life that this drug as described in this document does not meet acceptable standards. Hill

s attorneys argued that keeping the drugs true content a secret violates his constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment. It could have come from china, in fact given the history that we've documented in this case ti probably did come from china, in a factory where they produce pesticides. State attorneys say that doesn't matter since Hill will probably be unconscious only a few seconds after receiving the injection. We're not talking about whether or not this person is going to wake up with an illness, we're talking about killing a person, so whether or not there is a contaminant in it, whether or not you can go into shock is absolutely irrelevant.

Attorneys for the state say they will appeal to the highest court in Georgia.

They claim the law is designed to prevent groups from retaliating against companies and people who participate in executions.





























































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