A troubled early-voting cycle is almost over in Macon and Bibb County....with long lines...and more problems.
Just in the past half-hour... The Board of Elections announced that more than 74 hundred people voted in advance to pick the first mayor...and county commission....for the consolidated government.
They also said 90 people cast ballots in the wrong races...because they were given the wrong ballots.
That's three times more people than the board said earlier.
Early voting officially closed at 5:30 p.m. . . But that doesn't mean the day's business is done.
We head to the central offices now on Pio Nono Avenue... Where Judy Le's been keeping tabs.
While things may be winding down now ... People I spoke to earlier were pretty worked up. One man compared his wait to an idle mule in a barn ....
In order to cast a ballot ... You have to be willing to wait.
<too long. And hour and 15 mins>
<last election I just basically breezed in, breezed out>
And there was no special treatment for mayoral candidates either ... Like c. Jack ellis ... Who waited outside for 45 minutes
<c. Jack ellis, mayoral candidate - well, I wanted to wait with the rest of the citizens. I wanted to experience what they were experiencing. (ok, ill take 10 more peoples) I'm number ten, my lucky number. I'm ten (walks in) >
The voting is going slow...because poll workers are double checking addresses with districts to make sure there is no confusion. This came after hundreds of voters were placed in the wrong districts last month...and more than 30 cast ballots for the wrong commission races.
<mary becker, voter - i was not in my right district or what I thought was my district. I used to be district 2, now i'm in district 9>
To get to a polling machine ....voters first had to sweat it out in the 90-degree weather. The lines slowly moved because some called it quits ...
<tom sebastian, voter - I guess the sun was too hot>
Voters who made it past the first line ... Continued their wait inside. More people were waiting than voting. For much of the day...the 25 polling machines were empty or used by just a handful of voters at a time.
<(mary becker, voter) i didn't want to stand in line on vote day, but I had to stand in line anyways because they're checking the districts.>
This is the first election for the macon-bibb consolidated government. One mayor and nine commissioners will be elected. Despite the long wait-times ... Voters kept rolling in
<i need to vote. I just need to>
Long lines won't stop these voters from having a say in their government
Judy Le 13wmaz eyewitness news
Election day is tuesday.
A little more on those incorrect votes.
The board of elections says they affected all nine districts.
But in a news release....they say they expected that to have...quote...minimal impact on the outcome.
Once again...they said they expect Tuesday's big vote to go smoothly.
As we told you yesterday....the georgia secretary of state will send out staff members to polling places...to keep an eye on the voting process.
The Chief Constable for the Houston County Sheriff's office faces charges of pandering... And violating his oath.
51 year old Warren Scott Hicks is accused of delaying a civil process after a woman told officers Hicks offered to delay evicting her in exchange for sexual favors.
Hicks was released from jail after posting 10-thousand dollars bond.
Anyone with information on this incident can call the Houston County Sheriff's Office at 478-542-2085.
More than a year and a half after former Bibb School superintendent Romain Dallemand rolled out his Macon Miracle ... Much has changed in the Bibb county school system.
A key component of his school-improvement plan...was a proposal to teach Mandarin Chinese to all students...in every grade.
Today, Elise Brown got a look at where that stands now.
Frank, today.... Romain Dallemand no longer sits in the superintendent's office.
\ Interim superintendent Steve Smith holds his job...while the district looks for a permanent superintendent.
Mandarin Chinese courses remain however.
They're provided by the Confucious institute...which brings over native speaking teachers from China.
And they include instruction in both reading and writing.
Deputy superintendent Jane Drennan says it's also helping with math.
<they have been doing some counting and using their dot cards, which are used in the regular classrooms, so that theres kind of a natural transition and a little bit of support in the math area but also learning chinese at the same time. >
How are the teacher's salaries funded?
The Confuscious institute pays for 14 educators, Frank...That's because of the budget cuts. It also pays for their transportation.
Any way to know what the future holds when a new superintendent takes over?
That remains to be seen... But the staff we spoke to said...students seem to enjoy their classes...and have actually become very attached to their Mandarin educators.
Learning lessons and building relationships.
One teacher says students stop her and say -WOAH-EYE-KNEE...which means I love you....Frank.
Elise Brown, in studio B. Thank you.
The Houston-Peach branch of the American Association of University Women...will give away hundreds of books...to Kay Road Elementary school students in Byron.
It's part of the Reading is Fundamental program... or R-I-F.
The national organization lost funding from Congress a few years ago...but it recently got a gra
nt from Macy's.
Austin Lewis talked to the women behind our local RIF as they get ready for the big giveaway.
<Jane Winston, AAUW, Volunteer for RIF:And it's like Christmas every time>
Margaret Matthews garage...may not be Santa's workshop...but she's still come bearing gifts to Byron.
Books...that they haven't been able to give...in two years.
<Margaret Matthews: Congress cut all the funds for the federal part of the RIF program which is a federal program and since then we could not afford to go back now we are very excited because we got a grant from Macy's >
They sort the 570 books by grade level...
And then Matthews puts them all not in a red sack...
but a big box.
<matthews: if third grade comes there could be third graders in there that are reading on fourth and fifth grade level there will also be some that are reading on second grade level and we will have books when each class comes that will be appropriate for all levels.>
And each student gets to choose what book they want.
<Jane Winston, AAUW, Volunteer for RIF:Oh very important, very important to have had a teacher pick out a book and say here this is the one you are going to read it's not nearly the same as saying wow I want that one, I get to chose that one and I want to read it. >
The work they do now...will make it easier on Tuesday at Byron's Kay Road Elementary School...to help students pick their books
<Margaret Matthews, RIF Coordinator: This is very important to the child to absolutely have ownership that it is, theirs, they write their names in it, they hug it. >
Because if books take you to a new world..then Matthews says for students...the world is theirs.
Austin Lewis 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.
Kay Road Elementary students will get the special book delivery on Tuesday morning.
Blame the weather.
Recent rains and heavy flooding in central Georgia is bringing some unexpected guests...
So how do you keep them off your property?
Well...there's one major attraction out here with me... You'll find out in this story from Anita Oh...just what that might be.
It seems like any other street... In any other neighborhood...
Until the neighbors start seeing bears.
<barbara lentz, bear lakes resident: i've seen 5 or 6>
Barbara Lentz has lived in the Bear Lake subdivision in Warner Robins for a decade now.
Last year, she got an unexpected visitor...
<barbara lentz, bear lakes resident: I started yelling bear and ran through the house and when I came out, the little white dog was nose-to-nose at the fence between em with the bear>
A state wildlife expert told me there are around 300 black bears in Central Georgia.
He says that number hasn't gone up...but the number of sightings has.
That's because the recent rain and flooding is causing bears to look for food in other places..
<dan murray: neighbor: i've seen them come out of the forest, and get into people's garbage and it's quite funny because you can see a trail of garbage as they lead themselves back into the forest again>
<most of the bears coming out of this neighborhood are coming out of these woods behind me... But wildlife experts say the bears aren't looking to harm anyone, they're just looking for food and water>
People in the Bear Lake neighborhood say they're not worried.
<dan murray: neighborhood: I don't think there's much concern for the bear population in our neighborhood. The best thing to do is just leave them alone, and they'll leave you alone and also take care of your garbage so it doesn't look appetizing to the bears in our neighborhood>
The state Department of Natural Resources says there's never been a bear attack reported in Georgia.
But... there are still ways to keep your property bear-proof.
- keep all your garbage containers clean and sealed
-if you see a bear, leave it alone. it will eventually go away on its own
-don't leave pet food containers outside, and keep all bird feeders clean as well
For Bear Lake residents... There's just one tip they keep in mind.
<barbara lentz: if you don't bother animals, they probably aren't going to bother you>
Warner Robins. Anita Oh. 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.
If a bear has become a regular guest in your garbage, call the DNR office at 478-825-6354. That number again....478-825-6354.
As we told you earlier... more than 74 hundred people voted in advance to pick the first mayor...and county commission....for the consolidated government.
That's according to the Bibb Board of Elections.
We've also learned... the board says 90 people cast ballots in the wrong races...because they were given the wrong ballots.
THat's three times as many as previously thought.
Now today...as early voting wound down...lines... got longer.
we rejoin Judy Le down at the elections office on Pio Nono Avenue to see if the crowd has dwindled any in the past 20 minutes.
We'll update you on any final counts we get at 13wmaz-dot-com.
Thanks for joining us. We'll be back tonight at 11.
But remember... The news is always on at 13WMAZ.com.
The evening news is up next.
We leave you with a recap of this weeks in our segment... This is home.
Have a safe night everyone.