Eyewitness News at 6 Sept. 19, 2013

9:42 PM, Sep 19, 2013   |    comments
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Our top story at six....a murder investigation in Laurens County.

13WMAZ's Tom George spent much of the day talking to people in the area...

He's back in our newsroom now to tell us what he found out.

Lorra, It all started around 6 this morning when Mike Whittle was found dead after apparently being shot.

Whittle lived in a trailer on Howard Road near the Laurens-Dodge County line.

His family believes he was shot somewhere else...and dumped on the ground... just a few feet from his front door.

Around 8:15, deputies arrested 22-year old Jesse Rowland and charged him with Whittle's murder.

I spoke with Whittle's family who say yesterday was his 51st birthday.

The family had dinner.

But they say there was no sign that anything was wrong... until they got the call this morning.

Whittle's son Andrew says he heard from people that Rowland may have been the suspect,

....he tracked Rowland down.... and blocked him from getting away... by hitting his car

Andrew says he called 911 and held Rowland there until deputies arrived.

Sheriff Bill Harrell wouldn't verify that...but the state patrol confirmed that Andrew Whittle and Rowland were involved in a collision.

According to his father...Mike Whittle's body has been taken to the crime lab in Atlanta. Lorra?

Investigators in Laurens County are still working the case and looking for a possible motive.

They said there could be more arrests.

A power plant that has been running for 31-years in Monroe County ... Has been a big problem for the small town that lives around it.

That's if you ask some of the people who live there.

Now it faces some problems of its own... Including a string of lawsuits.

Macon attorney Brian Adams says the law suits were filed yesterday.. on behalf of Monroe County residents and former residents... against Plant Scherer in Juliette.

The lawsuits are seeking damage... claiming that the plant knowingly released toxic and cancerous pollution.

The coal-fire power plant is based in Juliette... and majority owned by Georgia Power.

Also named in the lawsuits... is Vulcan Materials... a nearby quarry.

Adams says around 145 people are suffering long-term health damage.

Judy Le talked to one resident concerned about his health ...

There's a constant stream of white smoke peeking through the trees in Juliette. And for some ... It's a deadly reminder

<isaac redding, resident - ain't a day go by i don't think about it and that's the truth, especially with what's going on with this plant up here>

Isaac Redding's greatest fear .... Is getting cancer

<my brother died from cancer, my mom died from cancer, my brother in law fied from cancer>

He blames Plant Scherer for the deaths. According to Enviornment Georgia ... That coal-fired power plant emits the most carbon in the nation.

<standup - he's not surprised plant scherer leaves a huge carbon foot print. That's because he used to work at the plant for two years and he's seen it first hand>

<you see the coal dust in the air, you blow your nose, it comes out of your nose, you know what i'm saying. It's everywhere>

Plant Scherer is just one of the reasons why Georgia is ranked 8th in the country for producing the most carbon pollution from its power plants.

<plant scherer actually produces more carbon than the state of maine>

It's a fact Redding has come to accept ...

<it stays in the back of everybody's head in juliette georgia, that plant and what it's doing to us>

He's lived four miles from that plant his entire life... Breathing in air that he believes will diminish his health

Judy Le 13wmaz eyewitness news

Georgia Power owns part of Scherer.

The spokesman Mark Williams declined comment on the lawsuit but said...

"Georgia Power meets all applicable federal and state air emissions regulations and Georgia Power and Plant Scherer comply with all standards for air and water quality."

He also said that studies show Plant Juliette does not release harmful levels of pollutants.

When the Bibb County school board met today... a familiar face.... was back in his old familiar seat.

You may remember Ron Collier from an ongoing story we've been covering on Eyewitness News.

Today... he delivered a district financial update to board members... his first since returning to work.

Last year... Collier filed a suit claiming that Superintendent Romain Dallemand removed him from his job as district CFO ... because he refused to sign off on misuse of school funds.

He settled his whistleblower suit against the Bibb County School District last week.

As part of the settlement... Collier got his job back... And the district agreed to pay him 100-thousand dollars.

At that same meeting... the school board voted to approve two proposed charter schools.....that supporters say... Will raise the bar on public education for grades K through 8.

A spokeswoman for the Macon Charter Academy... Say they plan to bring the international baccalaureate program to Bibb County's lower grades... and act as a feeder for the program at Central High School.

The school will feature extensive Spanish instruction.

Students... and all staff would wear uniforms.

They board also voted to approve plans by the Academy for Classical Education... Led by former Bibb educators Laura Perkins and Esterine Stokes.

Both schools would start up in the fall of 2014.

Musician Edwin McCain.... whom you may know for his songs "I'll Be" and "I Could Not Ask for More"... makes his way to Macon's Cox Capitol Theatre.. in October.

McCain has been touring for the last 20 years.

A lot of it was spent with Hootie and the Blowfish and its front man.. Darius Rucker.

He'll perform on Thursday, October 24th.

His latest album, Mercy Bound, was recorded in Los Angeles and features guitarist Warren Haynes, who worked as a longtime guitarist for the Allman Brothers and founded Govt' Mule.

General tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the concert.

Macon's own vocalist and guitarist Darin Curtis opens the show.

You may remember him from the local rock band, Homeless Hill.

These are Olympians in motion you see behind me...

That's right...

Athletes from all over the state are in Warner Robins this week... competing in the Georgia Golden Olympics.

This year is NOT a qualifying year for the national Golden Olympics.

Most athletes say they turned out just for the practice and fun.

Video journalist Claudia Taylor went to the track and field competition....to meet some of the senior stars.

The Georgia Golden Olympics will run through Saturday at various places in Warner Robins.

The track and field competitions will take place at McConnell-Talbert Stadium.

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