eyewitness news at 6, 8-9-13

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     Finally... Fireworks!  A different kind of Friday night lights... Brightening the sky in Warner Robins.

     Hello, everyone. I'm Frank Malloy.

     The third time was a charm tonight for the international city... After two rain delays struck out previous plans.

     In a few minutes, we'll check in live with Tom George... who watched along with a smaller crowd as they watched the show.

     First though... We're running down all the other stories that made news around Central Georgia and beyond today on this Friday...August 9th... in sight and sound...

< Most of us have logged on to a computer to connect with friends. But what Steven Martin posted on Facebook was anything but friendly. In his comments, Martin talked about becoming famous, and said he didn't care what he had to do to achieve those goals.

"i've never seen a case like this."

This week, Martin received the maximum sentence of five years, with the first two in confinement and the remainder on probation.

"we'll do anything and everything to protect our school children."

President Obama today defended the surveillance programs, exposed by Edward Snowden, but he did promise some changes.

"given the history of abuse by government, it's right to ask questions about surveillance."

Putin has signed legislation criminalizing public displays of homosexuality in Russia. The President today condemned that law, but said he opposes a US boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics next February in Russia.  The president said he hoped American gay athletes would make the point that the athletically inclined Putin would not soon forget...by winning gold, silver, and bronze.

"The main thing that I'm struck by is just the kindness of everybody here. And like, a genuine feeling that they really wanna help."

Melody McKinney found no shortage of loot or information at SHARE. It's a free event hosted by the 21st Century Partnership, providing resources for the community, especially those impacted by furlough.

"if we can help one person in middle Georgia, then that's great. If we can help a thousand people in Middle Georgia, irrespective of where they work, even better.

"

     And those are some of the stories...that made up your news on this Friday, August 9th.

     Tonight on Eyewitness News at 11.. our top story is one more than a month in the making.

     The City of Warner Robins finally...successfully launched its fireworks show...after it was scrubbed twice.

     13WMAZ's Tom George was there* as an array of colors lit the night... He joins us live from the soccer field...at the Little League Complex in Warner Robins.

     Hi, Tom.

    Tom George in Warner Robins, reporting from the Southeast Regional Little League Complex.  Thank you.

     Two years after construction was started...and a year after the building was close to ready... The new Dodge County jail is finally occupied by employees...and inmates.

     Sheriff ... Lynn Sheffield .. Today took us on a tour of the 40-year old jail in use up until a couple of weeks ago.

     That building's finally been retired...and exchanged for a new building just two miles down the street.

     That building has better facilities... Improved equipment and security...and holds twice the number of people as the old one.

     The sheriff says everyone was happy about the move...except some of the inmates.

<we took them out of their home. Most of them had spent a lot of time at that old jail. (laughs) >

     The sheriff's office used to have to send inmates to other counties when their jail was full.

     The upgraded building should eliminate that hassle.

     Peach county has a new fixture in its landscape too..      A new hospital opened its doors nearly a month ago... moving from Fort Valley to Byron.

      Staff at the Medical Center of Peach County... formerly the Peach Regional Medical Center.... say the new facilities and equipment make it easier to treat patients.

      Austin Lewis has more on this story.

Around lunchtime Friday...if you looked up into the sky...you may have seen a helicopter in Byron...

The Medical Center of Peach County's newly approved helipad was getting some use... as crews tested out landing on it. 

A helipad is a big change from where helicopters used to land.

<Ellen Terrell, Director of Community Engagement Medical Center of Peach County: Whenever a helicopter needed to land it had to actually do so in a field its so much nicer now to have an official helipad that's right here on the property that's steps away from our emergency room. >

The space in the emergency room... and other spots of the hospital... is something that some MCPC staff have to get used to.

<Dr. Robert Lee Nelson, Emergency Room Physicians at Medical Center of Peach County: We have so much space we kinda get lost finding our way around but it's working out better for the patients and the care that we can give to them.>

Finding the problems...is easier too. the X-ray machine...is a favorite at MCPC...the images taken from the machine....

get loaded from the machine...to the computer within seconds.

<Dr. Robert Lee Nelson, Emergency Room Physicians at Medical Center of Peach County: I think for me the X-ray equipment is a lot, a lot more up to date a lot more efficient and a lot easier to work with now we don't actually have X-ray film now everything is done by computer>

But they brought with them the same passion for patients.

< Terrell: it makes us do what we always done you know care for the citizens around Peach County and surround counties just helps us do it even better. >

They just now do their jobs in better digs.

Austin Lewis 13wmaz Eyewitness news.

     The new hospital has 25 private hospital rooms and a state-of the art operating room.

     It's not where they are...but what they wear...that researchers and Athletic Trainers at Georgia Southern University hope will protect their athletes health.

     They say six sensors placed inside a helmet... May be a key to responding quickly to head injuries.

     It's called HITS... Helmet Impact Telemetry System.

     The helmet sensors measure how hard a player gets hit... then sends the information to a computer.

     If a player takes a big blow... the system notifies the athletic trainers to check on them.

<we'll do a better job based on the data that we get at coaching our guys and getting them to not use their head. this is a great game, and i dont want the game to change. it's a physical game and that's one of the things that makes it so exciting. but we certainly want to protect these guys and make it safe.>

     The sensors only fit in certain models of Ridell helmets... and cost around 15-hundred dollars a set.

     Georgia Southern University bought 40 and the monitoring equipment... for a total of 75-thousand dollars for the entire system.

     Coaches can also use the system by synching it with game or practice footage.

     About 672-thousand Georgians are covered by state health care...and soon, they may have to deal with some changes in their coverage.

     Georgia is moving toward a single provider for its state employee health care plan.

     Officials with the Department of Community Health announced Friday that it has awarded the contract to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia.

     For years... The state offered the choice between Cigna and UnitedHealthcare.

     Both have been fighting the state in court... Defending their bids for the contract.

     The changes take effect January first...and could mean minor differences in the types of plans customers are offered.

     The state's health commissioner says Georgia will save an estimated 200-million dollars by going through with the change. 

     Another piece of news impacting those depending on state insurance.

     Georgia health officials have announced they will ban coverage of abortion in nearly all instances.

Under the policy...state insurance would only cover those procedures performed because the life of the mother is in danger.

 

  This decision achieves what state legislators did not early this year...when they didn't take action on a bill that would have done roughly the same thing this past legislative session.

     President Obama is trying to change the US government's image in the wake of the massive surveillance leak by former N-S-A contractor Edward Snowden.

     In a news conference today, he outlined new measures to increase transparency and restore public trust in government surveillance programs.

     These include working with congress to make improvements on telephone surveillance and including the legal reasons for why it's even necessary to listen in.

     He also says he understands why people question the government's motives.

<"Given the history of abuse by governments it's right to ask questions about surveillance, particularly as technology is reshaping every aspect of our lives. I'm also mindful of how these issues are viewed overseas because American leadership around the world depends on the example of American democracy and American openness." >

     After Edward Snowden leaked secret documents to the media, critics have said the N-S-A's domestic surveillance programs are overreaching.

     The president says Snowden can come back to the United States and make his case in court.

     Mr. Obama also says there were other avenues, through whistleblower protection, that Snowden could have taken.

     Several school systems in our area started back this week...with a couple more still to go.

     And while many of you have already loaded up on your child's basic needs... This is the weekend others have been waiting for.

     Here's some information to help you add up the discount on these Georgia tax holidays...

    Sales tax varies in each county....and in Bibb County it's 7 percent.

     That means if you buy a 900 dollar computer you can save 63 dollars.

     Certified Financial Planner Sherri Goss says tax free weekend is a good opportunity to teach kids how to be responsible with money.

     You can even make a lesson out of your shopping trip...by planning ahead....creating a budget..and making a list of what you need.

     Goss says savings do add up....especially if you look for deals.

     Some businesses even capitalize on the weekend...by offering special sales and promotions.

     But Goss also says, this isn't an excuse to go wild with the plastic.

<it's a habit of looking for those best prices and spending your money and stretching your dollar as wisely as you can. And so I agree with that person if that's what they are doing. I just don't think that's what most people are doing.>

     Tax free weekend continues through tomorrow...Tor a complete list of exempt items look for this story on 13WMAZ.com

     Thanks for staying up with us tonight.

     Eyewitness News Weekend Mornin' comes your way bright and early...at 7 a.m.

     As we say goodnight... Here's a look at the week that was...in all the places you call home.

     Have a great night, everyone.

 

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