Eyewitness News at Six Sept. 9, 2013

10:08 PM, Sep 9, 2013   |    comments
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Today...long lines...and long waits...for early voting at the Bibb County Board of Elections.

It's more fallout from the glitches that occurred after election officials...put hundreds of voters into the wrong districts.

Randall Savage explains what they're doing to ensure an accurate vote...and why.

It may be a few days late... But Bibb elections offices are checking people's addresses against their district maps to make sure they're voting in the right races.

On August 28th...Bibb election officials notified the Secretary of State's office that some voters were listed in the wrong districts...and being issued the ballots.

That night.. The state election administration manager Erica Hamilton instructed Bibb officials to check people's addresses....against their county district maps....before handing them ballots.

Veronica Seals of the county election office told us that they started that procedure...last Friday.... September 6th.

That's more than a week after the Secretary of State's office advised them to do that.

Last Thursday.. The 5th....When we went to the Board of Elections office..Officials were not checking address on the map. They were checking voter identifications..as usual...then issuing voting cards.

The new procedure means it's also taking longer for voters to get checked in and voter cards issued.

Doug Haygood stood in line about 40 minutes.

< Doug Haygood, Early Voter: They said they wanted to check my street address was in the district that I was voting in and it was.>

Ty Ivey stood in line about 41 minutes before getting his ballot. Some of it was spent checking his district.

< Ty Ivey, Early Voter: The gentleman went back and checked it on the map to make sure the voting district was right.>

Nikia Trice spent about 40 minutes in line as well.. And election officials checked her address on the map as well.

< Nikia Trice, Early Voter: I provided my drivers license and then she looked up some records, I guess to see what district I was in to make sure I was in the right area. And Then I was given my card, and I was able to vote.>

Randall Savage.. 13 WMAZ Eyewitness News.

Meanwhile today...amid early voting...and the voting districts confusion.....the board of elections' phone system was down.....for the second time in just over a week.

Calls to the board's office went to voice mails or were transferred to the main county switchboard.

People were told the phone system was down.. And would be back up in a few minutes.

But the problems persisted throughout the day.

When we visited the office today....election officials declined to explain.

A follow-up on a story we brought you last week...

Last Friday.... 21-month-old Andrew Moody died after falling into a lake in the Hampton Lakes subdivision.

Captain Clark of the Sheriff's Department tells us the investigation is ongoing - but he does NOT expect charges.

The boy's grandfather, Mike Lewis, sat down with reporter Anita Oh today.

He told us how he'll remember the young toddler.

little andrew was just a ball of fun and energy. He was blond hair blue eyed. He had the most infectious smile you could ever see, he never met a stranger. as I told the family, he's just in heaven now chasing butterflies. He's just running free chasing butterflies. He just brought so much life to everybody around him>

Andrew's funeral will be held at the Church of God of Prophecy on Houston Road in Macon this Thursday at 11 a-m.

The state's highest court will hear arguments tomorrow over where Bibb County ends and Monroe County begins.

The Georgia Supreme Court's decision... Will affect properties and the people who pay taxes near the Bass Pro Shop in North Bibb County.

Back in January, a judge ruled several hundred yards of land were part of Monroe County.

That adds up to millions in tax dollars. The lower court also said, the Secretary of state's office had to accept a county map drawn in 2009 by a surveyor...and said Bibb county had no way to object.

Monroe County filed a petition...asking the court for further action...that would have made Kemp sign off on the map.

But Bibb County says... Its officials didn't get proper notice. They filed an emergency motion that was denied...and then took it a step further with an appeal to the state Supreme Court. The Secretary of State's office is also a party to that appeal.

That lands the argument in before the bench tomorrow. Hearings are scheduled for 10 a.m.

A former Warner Robins businessman... and Robins Air Force base official ... will serve at least 8 years in prison after he admitted to child molestation.

Shelley Simmons pleaded guilty today in Houston County Superior Court.... to four counts of child molestation.

Prosecutors said those four counts.... involved four different young victims.

Simmons asked for 30 days before reporting to prison... because his wife recently fell and hurt her hip.

But Judge George Nunn ordered him to prison immediately.

Nunn sentenced Simmons to 20 years and Simmons will serve at least eight in jail.

"the judge sentenced him to twenty serve eight in the penitentary the state appreciates that sentence and believes it's a fair sentence"

"he gave us eight and i'm pleased by that because he very easily could have gotten the ten given the crimes in which he has admitted">

Simmons was a prominent businessman in the International City... and was a longtime announcer for Warner Robins High School football.

If Simmons serves all eight years he'll be 92 when he is released.

Party of six? How about dinner for eight?

If you've ever eaten at a restaurant with a large group of people, you've probably seen a mandatory tip amount on your bill.

But now, the IRS has decided those automatic gratuities won't be counted as tips, but as taxable income.

Tom George talked with some local restaurants on how the new policy will impact them.

Excuse me! Right this way!>

At Molly's café downtown, the key to a good tip is good service.

< That's your incentive ... The happier you make the customer, the better they tip >

Instead of an automatic gratuity for large parties, Molly's leaves their tips entirely up to customers, no matter how many are in a group.

< I feel like a service tip should be earned and not given, so if they get good service, then we leave that up to the customer to leave whatever tip they would prefer >

A couple doors down at Lemongrass Thai Bistro, there is a required gratuity, 20 percent for parties of 6 or more... Manager Drew Kitchens says that ensures servers get paid fairly on big checks.

< And they work hard for their tips as a general rule. I think there's a common misunderstanding in the general public that that's really how they make their money, that's really how they pay their bills.>

Next January though, instead of counting those automatic gratuities as tips, the IRS will begin classifying them as service charges .... Which are treated as regular, taxable wages.

That's led some larger chains to consider phasing out automatic tips altogether.

Right now, it's up to the employer how servers report tips.

Lemongrass pools all tips and divides them among staff. But managers still want more information about the change.

< It's definitely something that I think that every restaurant should be really deeply looking into.>

Molly's won't have that issue, though, anything above minimum wage is free for servers to keep...

< Take the kids out, take the family out, buy something for your grankids, it's nice to be able to reach into your pocket and do that. >In Macon, Tom George, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the IRS issued its ruling last year in order to clarify how to treat automatic tips after seeing an increase in restaurants using the policy.

Thanks to special eyewear, some students at Northeast High School today found out...what it would be like to be behind the wheel...and under the influence.

The Children's Hospital along with the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute hosted a rollover simulation event.

Students got a feel of what it is like to drive drunk by strapping on vision impairment goggles.

They were also shown a roll-over simulation that showed the importance of seat belts.

driving drunk you shouldn't do it...its real difficult...it messes up your vision...just dont do it...i say dont do it at all...i wouldnt ever drive drunk>

The highway safety events will continue through Wednesday...ending with a public Child Passenger Safety check event from 1:30-3:30pm at the Northway Church on Zebulon road.

Parents can stop in...and have the experts inspect their car seats...to make sure they're installed properly...and that their kids are riding safely.

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