eyewitness news at 11, 10-31-13

5:45 PM, Nov 1, 2013   |    comments
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<it's hard enough to try and think about the next day. What am I going to do tomorrow? That's the one good thing about school they do feed you, but when you come home what are we going to do?>

     How problems with the food stamps program... Will affect one Central Georgia family...

     Hello, everyone.

     I'm Frank Malloy.

     We'll get back to their story in just a few moments.

     First our top headline this Thursday night..

     Macon's US Attorney has re-opened an investigation into the mysterious death of Kendrick Johnson.

     The decision comes months after the  Valdosta 17-year-old was found in a rolled up gym mat at his high school in January.

     Lowndes County investigators closed the case in May...calling it a freak accident.

     But Johnson's parents disagreed... Saying their son was murdered.

     A private pathologist was hired by the family to do a second autopsy....but that just added to the mystery.

     He found the teen's organs had been removed, and the body stuffed with newspaper instead.

     A south Georgia judge ordered authorities to release surveillance video to the Johnson family on Wednesday...

     That footage shows their son entering the school gym before he died.

     Today....Michael Moore...the U-S attorney for Central Georgia...says he personally reviewed key documents in to the case...

     And he says there are questions that need better answers.

<what was the cause of Mr. Johnson's death? Second, was Mr. Johnson's death the result of a crime? Third, if Mr. Johnson's death was the result of a crime, who committed it? Fourth, if a crime in fact was committed, who has the jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those responsible?>

Moore asks anyone with specific information on Johnson's case to call his office...

478-621-2701. That number again, 478-621-2701.

    An update on the case of a 25-year-old...charged with shooting both his grandparents in their heads.

     Joshua Cook remains in Jail after Judge Edward Lukemire denied him bond...and ordered a psychiatric evaluation.

    District Attorney George Hartwig said alcohol fueled Cook's attack on his grandparents in Warner Robins on October 20th.

    Investigators say Cook got angry at his grandmother and shot her with a handgun...then shot his grandfather.

     Both Rosalin and Thomas Livingston survived the shots.

    Arguing against bond...Hartwig noted that Cook also faces assault charges in Sumter County from a separate case last year.

   Cook is charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon.

   He remains in the Houston County jail.

     In Forsyth... Many friendly little ghosts and goblins are already haunting the square.


    That's where we find 13WMAZ's Katelyn Heck...in the midst of the spooktacular festivities.


<katelyn talks about downtown forsyth trick or treating>



    Thanks Katelyn.. We'll check in with you a little later in the show.

     Loft living's been a growing trend in downtown Macon for the past decade or so

... And now the developers of the Dannenberg lofts hope that a grocery store will offer tenants the same convenience downtown dwellers find in bigger cities.

     The retailer is Ocmulgee Traders.

      It's described as a full-service grocery...that will offer specialty meats, cheeses, and fresh produce....as well as everyday items.

     It'll be the anchor store in the project...which will also feature a gym.

     Developers say downtown renters have been asking for a place to shop for daily conveniences.

< "This grocery store is a full-service grocery store with everything you would find..  you're not going to have 9 varieties of peanut butter, but you can get in, zip out, get what you want." >


About 65 apartments are being built over the businesses. The Dannenberg building is at Poplar and Third Street.

    It's been more than a year since Superior Court Judge Howard Simms was caught at a Bibb County road block....after drinking and driving.

    An officer smelled alcohol on Simms' breath. 

    The judge blew a point-oh-8 on a field sobriety test.. which is legally drunk.

    But the officers allowed Simms to drive himself home.

    The officers involved were reprimanded...and Simms later went to treatment for alcoholism.

    Simms sat down with Kenny Burgamy to talk about that night and what he has learned since.

<Kenny Burgamy interviews Judge Howard Simms about his drunk driving incident and going to treatment for alcoholism>

    Tonight on Eyewitness News at 11, Judge Simms answers the critics who say he should have suffered more professionally, and offers advice for people struggling with addiction.

    To watch the full interview, look for the story on 13 wmaz-dot-com.

Problems with Bleckley County DFACS.... have one mother of two worried about feeding her family. She says if something doesn't change soon, her benefits will end today.

<you may wanna eat something...and there's nothing in there>

Sadie Mims has been using food stamps to feed her family for three years. But come November 1st, that will all change.

<beautiful days, but hard times >

The problems started October 4th. That's when the mother of two got a letter from Bleckley County DFCS saying she would stop receiving benefits at the end of the month because she missed her interview to renew them.

<no one ever called, so I called. But I've been on hold for over an hour...almost two hours. So a couple of days later after trying to do the renewal over the phone I get a letter in the mail .>

She was then told to call a toll-free number that told her...to call her local office again.

<so I stopped by the office to check on mims case, but as you can see the lights are off and no one's home. >

<when you come up here you don't ever get to speak to nobody.>

Monica James says she's in the same predicament as Mims..and has waited even longer to get someone on the phone.

<sometimes you hold for three to four hours. Sometimes you have to hang up and call back. Sometimes it takes a week. >


Mims is now down to a few packs of meat. She doesn't expect that to last past Tuesday.

<it's a hurtful feeling. It makes you feel like less of a mother knowing that your children are going to bed with no food.>

Re-applying could delay her food stamps by an entire month. She says she tries not to think that far ahead.

<it's hard enough to try to think about the next day. What am I going to do tomorrow? That's the one good thing about school. They do feed you, but when you come home...what are we gonna do?>

In Cochran...Kristen Swilley...13 WMAZ Eyewitness News.

Kristen Swilley also tried to reach Bleckley County D-FACs....and spent THIRTY minutes on hold.

They....and the state Department of Human Services in Atlanta...did not call us back....or respond to emails.

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