Eyewitness News at 6, 5-2-13

5:52 PM, May 2, 2013   |    comments
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Challenges for firefighters... and challenges for employees who depend on the Pactive plant to support their families.



Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us.

I'm Frank Malloy.

And I'm Leah Johnson.

About 50 people will have to file for unemployment after a fire destroyed much of the south Bibb county factory yesterday.

Others... have a little more reassurance.

Some will get paid by Pactiv Until further notice... According to Fred Mooney... The company's operations manager.

Katelyn Heck has more.

about 50 temporary employees also worked at pactiv... They were hired by Resource... An employment services agency. They met today and some of them told me they plan to file for group unemployment.

<that particular staffing agency, they had a recruiter actually in-house, onsite at Pactiv and their actual office was destroyed and they have nowhere to meet. that's a new staffing agency to this area.>

erica talley with the department of labor says she hasn't had much contact with the pactiv company, but she did say they told her that they plan to send a representative in the next few days to talk with employees and develop a plan.

<the sense that I got is that they are very eager to assist their employees and trying to find out what services we can potentially provide to them>

Since employees have been told they will be paid until further notice, they can't file for unemployment. But Talley says there are other ways the department of labor can help.

<searching for a job. We can help them with preparing a resume. We can provide information on training and education programs, short-term and long-term.>

Talley says she won't have anymore information until she meets with the Pactiv representative in the next few days.

Katelyn Heck 13WMAZ Eyewitness News

Those 50 Resource employees are in addition to the 240 Pactiv workers at the plant.

We were unable to reach anyone at Resource's office in Atlanta for comment.

The fire at the Pactiv Plant is contained.

But firefighters spent day targeting "hot spots" in the heavily damaged building.

Austin Lewis talked to them about what's next.

Firefighters hosed down...pounds and pounds of paper from Pactiv Plant.

<Captain Phillip Gordon: Well paper has a tendency to hold heat we just more or less saturated it and make sure it doesn't flame up. >

Crews rolled it out from inside...it's part of the process of containing those hot spots.

<Assistant Chief Shane Edwards: We are just having to work through the barrels of paper it was a lot of paper from one end of this plant to the other side that was stacked and basically we are not going to get into a hurried job>

This comes after a long day fighting the fire Wednesday morning.

A fire that left a heavily damaged building but no injuries.

And presented its own challenges to firefighters

<Assistant Chief Shane Edwards: This plant is very large so you're talking over 500 feet to get to the fire source, >

The day after...it's about watering the tons of paper....and determining what might have caused the blaze.

<Assistant Chief Shane Edwards: Our fire investigators we have a team of investigators on the scene. They are currently still in the investigation mode they are trying to determine what happened and when it started and where it started. >

Firefighters continue to make sure every chance for a spark is gone here...to make it safe to go back here and rebuild.

Austin Lewis 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

A few employees gathered at the Ansa Automotive building just across the street from Pactiv.. that's according to Fred Mooney... Pactiv's Operation Manager.

The company has declined to comment any further today on the fire... their employees or their plans.

Yesterday... We ran a follow-up story to last year's controversy about prayer at Houston County graduation ceremonies.

Superintendent Robins Hines agreed to do an interview with 13WMAZ on the issue.

It was his first.. Since the Freedom from Religion Foundation... filed a complaint with the district about religious themes at graduation last year.

The issue struck a chord with many of you. You've left more than 400 comments about this on our Facebook page.

Many of you have also called the school board.... Sent emails or left messages for Robin Hines.

After the interview aired... Hines told us our story was unbalanced... And didn't fully represent his views.

We reviewed our stories on-air and on-line.. And agree... The story deserves clarification.

Here's Lorra Lynch Jones.

Hines said his main point was this---

<as far as religion is concerned, as actors of the state, we're mandated to be religion neutral. That's what our school system intends to do.>

In other words... Houston County Schools will follow federal law.

In 1962, the Supreme Court stated that school-sponsored prayer violates the First Amendment.

In past years.. Hines admitted the ceremonies violated the law... By including prayers and gospel music.

He called that wrong.

He says going forward... Houston County will do it the "right" way.

Last year's controversy played a role in the change of policy.

But Hines denied it's a direct response to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's complaints.

In the interview . Hines referred to the organization only when asked about it by our reporter.

<would you like for them to contact you, or is that something you don't even think about?

Hines: I don't think about that. That's not even in my thought process.>

We also omitted this from Hines: ... He said that students themselves are entitled to freedom of expression.

Individuals will still be able to pray or include religious references in their graduation speeches.. If they choose.

<the students involved in that will certainly be able to express themselves in any way they see fit.>

But Hines emphasized that their graduation ceremonies are focused on honoring student achievement.

Last night's story also stated that "several Houston families" complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation about last year's graduation ceremony.

The complaint was filed by a North Carolina man attending his niece's graduation here.

In your on-line comments to us... Many of you asked about the identity and purpose of the FFRF.

According to their website... They are "freethinkers"... who protect the separation of church and state.

Their website prominently bears the logo of the Atheist Alliance International.

You can view all of our reporting on this issue by looking for the links inside this story on 13WMAZ-dot-com.

The Georgia State Fair kicks off today at Central City Park in Macon.

This year's fair is much shorter than last year's - 4 days compared to 10.

The gates opened about 2 hours ago, and as you can see, the crowd is xxxxxxxx.

The fair runs tonight until 10 p.m... Friday 4pm til midnight.. Saturday 10am to midnight.. and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.

Ticket prices are: $7 for adults.. $5 for kids ages 5-12.. $5 for seniors.. kids 4 and under and free.

Every day is armband day.. those will cost you $20.

But parking is free.

Frank, Leah?

First Presbyterian Day School in Macon surprised one of its retiring teachers today.

We first introduced you to David Walton last year.

And today...Elise Brown was there as students and staff celebrated the 5 decade career of Mr. Walton.


Wow is right. Seventh grade English teach David Walton wasn't expecting to see an auditorium filled with students, faculty and loved ones Thursday morning.

But that's what happened....they were there to celebrate him...

Walton says it was emotional.

<it brought back tears of joy. Tears of just thinking about all that has happened. And just realizing that I have had a small part in these childrens...these young peoples lives. >

14-year-old Summer Sanders says Walton has played a big role in her life.

< he makes English fun. Right before I got into his class I didn't really like English and now it's one of my favorite subjects. He inspired me to take honors English this year in ninth grade.

Sanders says.....Walton isn't just an English teacher to her.

<he's like a grandfather to me. I've always loved him and even though I'm not in his class I still talk to him and just to see him cry made me kind of upset.>

Walton's even had the pleasure of teaching his own grandson.

<it's been an honor to watch him grow and mature during his seventh grade year.>

In addition to singing and kind words...the ceremony showcased a slide show...with a look at Walton's life.

It included a performance that's become famous among students....a clip of him reciting Lewis Carroll's poem....Jabberwocky.

In college.... he promised a teacher he would share it with students.

<Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe: All mimsy were ye borogoves; And ye mome raths outgrabe>

Walton says he loves the job that he's been doing for five decades.

<I knew when I was in middle school that I wanted to be a teacher. And as such it's in your genes I suppose you could say. >

I'm Elise Brown, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

Walton taught 50 years in all....Eight years in Bibb County schools and 42 at First Presbyterian.

He says he plans on taking full advantage of his retirement by slowing down... but not too much.

The Rolling Stones kick off their 50 and Counting world tour tomorrow night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

When they hit the stage..Central Georgia's own Chuck Leavell will be with them..

I got a chance to chat with Chuck via satellite...about the tour and the band.

Chuck also told me about one surprise for Stones fans.

Tonight at 11...we'll hear how much of role Chuck plays when it comes to the music.

You're looking live at a picture from Central City Park in downtown Macon.. where the 2013 Georgia State Fair is well under way.

This year's fair is 4 days long.. from today through Sunday.

And tonight... A quick update on closures for the filming of 'need for Speed' as production rolls on tonight.

If you're going to be out this evening...or swinging through downtown in the very early morning...take note.

Parts of Poplar Street... Near Dunlap Park, and near Fifth and Sixth Streets... Are already closed. They'll open back up around 7 in the morning.

From Midnight until about 2 a.m.... Part of third street will close too.

And from 2 a.m. Until 7 a.m....add parts of Second Street Lane...and Mulberry Street to that.

Production's supposed to wrap this week.

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.

Have a safe night everyone.



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