eyewitness news at 11, 8-15-13

9:50 PM, Aug 15, 2013   |    comments
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   Hello, everyone. I'm Frank Malloy.

   Rain making waves across Central Georgia tonight, closing down schools in two districts.

   Here's a look at the downpour... In the thick of it early this afternoon.

   Now these are paved roads, and they were already a mess.

   Dirt roads... in even worse condition.

   Some of them have become just too muddy to travel on... Particularly in Laurens and Johnson Counties.

   In Laurens County... Superintendent Rob Johnson says... Both teachers and students will stay home tomorrow... That's Friday, August 16th.

   In Johnson County... Patrice Tanner with the school district tells us... Students will not have class... And staff should plan to report at 9:00 a.m.

  Laurens County and Johnson County are the only ones in Central Georgia...that have reported school closures.

  We've also received word from Headstart in Johnson County... That they will be out tomorrow as well.

  So tomorrow...not only will the rain continue... But there's a chance we're going to see more of it!

  Chief Meteorologist Ben Jones has your First Forecast in the Weather Center.

     And while weather's been one of our top stories today... we pause tonight to look at some of the other news making headlines in your world... On this Thursday, August 15th.

     In other news...the Bibb Board of Elections has scheduled a hearing to discuss whether consolidated commission candidate Al Tillman lives in District 9.

     Macon Councilman Henry Gibson filed the complaint last week.

     He says Tillman moved into Heaton Place Apartments, across Bloomfield Road, only 200 yards from his own home just so he could challenge James Timley for the seat.

     Board of Elections member Ronnie Miley said today an open meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 20, at 10 a.m. at the board offices.

     According to Vice Chairman Steve Allen, Henry Gibson and Al Tillman will both have an opportunity to present their cases.  The five member board will then vote on the matter.

     Tillman has previously said, he followed all the necessary procedures to be an official candidate.  He also called the complaint a distraction.

     James Timley has commented that he believes Tillman moved into District 9 because he didn't feel comfortable facing off against the candidates running in District 8.

     When the September 17th election to fill those seats in the consolidated government happens, voters will also choose a Mayor.

     Tonight, the League of Women Voters held a forum for citizens of Macon-Bibb to meet the candidates.

     It was the second forum of the day, with an earlier one this morning at the Douglass Theater.

     Six candidates have qualified... But there were seven panelists there this evening at the Macon City Auditorium. .

     The league decided to invite write-in candidate Anthony Harris.

     All seven were allowed to give a little background on their ties to the city... And what the new position means to them.

     One of the questions tonight centered around the most important objective for the candidates if they become the new mayor... And how each would accomplish it.

     The candidates gave very different responses... Ranging from what the mayor does... To ideas to boost the economy of the area.

<hart: often we reach a consensus, but we don't do anything. I want somebody who has a history of making things happen.  So I think as we move forward we have to make sure we have a person who can do that, who has a history and a track record of making things happen.

 Ellis: A mayor is a generalist, he knows a little bit about a lot of things and not a whole lot about nothing.  Therefore he surrounds himself with, he or she but in this case he, surrounds himself with the best people he can possibly find.  He's not a manager, that's why we hire city managers.

Riechert: Business and industry is not going to come into your community if they feel threatened by either the political instability or the financial instability.  Before they invest tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars in you community, they want to feel like there is political stability and there is financial stability and the taxes aren't going to go up. 

Allen:  We have to work with people that want to work with us. I'm tired of hearing things that we've got to do now, why haven't we done em in the past.  I mean we should have already done these things and we wouldn't be talking about these things now. It's up to you folks, to be involved.   We can't do it alone, we can stand up here, I'm not just using the word I... It's we.

Harris: it's a no brainer to me, we're worried about a Cherry Blossom festival and we're worried about things that Macon doesn't have deep roots in.  Cherry Blossom just came around in what '82?  It's fairly new, brought to us by a lady who's not even from Macon.  Little Richard was from Macon, Sidney Lanier was from Macon.  The art is the way to kill these problems.

Cousino:   And that's what a mayor needs to do, is be out there be a working Mayor, being a mayor that is out front.  Not sitting behind a desk or pushing pencils, that's what your managers do, that's what your other people do in the administration that's underneath you.  You're out there to represent everybody, and that's what I will do.

Bishop: We need to be honest with the tax payers, we need to move the county forward.  I think that we need to find out how much the government's going to cost us and we need to tailor our spending around a financial plan. Nobody's talking about a financial plan, we've got to have a financial plan.  It's your money that's being spent and we don't want it squandered and wasted.>

     Each candidate was given 90 seconds to respond to each question.

     You can hear more from the candidates on our website at 13 wmaz dot com.

     A Houston County teacher has been out of the classroom...since she was arrested two days ago on child cruelty charges.

     Warner Robins police arrested Theresa Umbarger... A teacher at Lake Joy Elementary... Tuesday... For a situation last week.

     They say it didn't involve any students...but rather, her 3 year old granddaughter.

     A neighbor called police.. after seeing the child walking down the street around 11-30 at night... With no clothes on.

     When police arrived... The child came to the door... and said her grandmother... was asleep.

     Her mother... Amber Umbarger... was not home.

     The report says when the officer finally woke her...Theresa Umbarger was highly intoxicated...and became "belligerent".

     When we went to the house today... Theresa Umbarger was at home... Out of jail on a 5-thousand dollar bond.

     Umbarger told us she was drinking that night... but wasn't drunk.

     She said her granddaughter had been asleep... But had woken up and wandered out the front door without her knowledge.

     As for her standing with the school system... Houston County Superintendent Robin Hines said Umbarger has not been back to work since the arrest.

     He said they're already trying to a hire a permanent replacement... Although she has not been fired.

     Hines said the school system's attorney is still gathering facts on the case.

     Perry police say they arrested four prostitutes and five suspected pimps at Central Georgia hotels yesterday.

     They say the arrests came out of a sting aimed at finding victims of human trafficking, juvenile prostitutes and their pimps.

     During the sting, Perry police, Macon and Atlanta FBI offices, Georgia Department of Corrections and Atlanta area law enforcement worked together.

     They say they didn't find any minors involved. Instead, officials found four adult females and five males at Perry-area hotels.

     All five men were charged with pimping, the women with prostitution.

     All eight were taken to the Houston County jail.


     The cockpit voice and flight data recorders have been recovered from the wreckage of a deadly U-P-S cargo plane crash in Alabama.

     Flames in the plane's tail section kept officials from getting to them until today.

     The so-called black boxes are being sent to Washington to be examined.

     The airbus jet went down yesterday near Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport...just a half-mile north of a runway.

     The pilot and co-pilot were killed after the plane broke into pieces and burned.

    The black boxes could help investigators determine why there was no distress call before the crash.

    The Monroe County School system now has stricter requirements for enrollment.

    Wednesday was the first day of school in Monroe, and they saw a significant increase in the number of new students.

    Valerie Mercer, Chief Technology Officer for the system, says they had several parents who showed up with invalid proof of residence.

    In an e-mail to parents, the school board stated that they want to make sure Monroe County taxpayers are not paying for students who live in other counties.

    The school system now requires two of the following: a gas, water or electricity bill, a most recent mortgage statement, closing documents if home was just bought, signed lease, or a current homeowner's insurance policy.

    All items must be in the name and address of the parent or guardian.

    Parents and guardians will also be required to sign an Affidavit of Residency, which can be used for prosecution if the school system discovers that information was falsified.

    The e-mail also states that the school system reserves the right to verify residence, including multiple home visits if needed.

     The Bibb County Board of Education is moving ahead...with restructuring its leadership after a year in transition.

     Members voted tonight to fill new positions within the school district... And told us why these steps are important to everyone the system touches. 

     The board filled the Deputy Superintendent of School Improvement and redesign position.

     That is Sylvia Hooke.  She will assume the position Suzanne Griffin-Ziebart held...before she served several months as acting superintendent before interim Steve Smith took the reigns.

     Other jobs filled included the executive director of capital programs...the director of assessment...accountability....evaluation and research...as well as the executive director of technology.

      West says filling these position is a significant step.

<wanda West: This is important as  we bring together this team and it's also important as we begin to move forward on our five year facility study. >

Interim Superintendent Steve Smith...also brought information to the board about charter schools.

Smith says two...Macon International Charter Academy...and the Academy for Classical Education will make a presentation at the next board meeting on September 19th.

     Imagine being able to do your dream job, working with one of the country's most highly trained groups of crime-fighters.

     That dream became a reality for an 11-year-old Georgia girl who's battling bone cancer.

     Mary Tankersley, from the Atlanta area, got a chance to learn what it's like to be an FBI agent today.

     That's because one special agent heard her story during a radio-thon...

     And when she mentioned she wanted to be an FBI agent when she grows up, he went to work making it happen, at least for a day.

     Mary was quite shy about talking...but she lit up when officials talked about one thing in particular she would be learning.

< What do you think? Kind of like CSI? NCIS...that's my favorite.>

     The agent who reached out to Mary was a pediatric nurse before his FBI career...and that he's always been inspired by kids like Mary... Who conquer, instead of complain.


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