Tuesday, July 14, 2009
President Barack Obama's choice to become the new surgeon general has ties to Macon. Dr. Regina Benjamin came here in the 1980's after receiving her doctor of medicine degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1984. She was also a member of the second class at the Morehouse School of Medicine. She served her internship and residency in family practice at the Medical Center of Central Georgia.
Representative Jim Marshall is suggesting that military bases look at becoming energy independent by building nuclear power plants. According to the Telegraph the proposal is included in the 650-page House Defense Authorization Bill. It asks for a study yo look at the feasibility of developing nuclear power plants on bases. The bill recently cleared the U.S. House of Representatives. Marshall says it comes as a response to the military's mandate to have clean, efficient, secure energy. No new nuclear plants have been built in the U.S. since a 1979 accident at 3 Mile Island Power Plant in Pennsylvania.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The Bibb County Commissions has adopted its 2010 budget. It goes into effect Wednesday. The budget is just over 115-million dollars and includes a probable tax increase. That translates into an additional 13 dollars a year for a 100-thousand dollar home.
A new state law could make hundreds of Bibb County students eligible for transfers. According to the Telegraph, House Bill 251 allows parents to move their children to different schools if those schools have space. The law goes into effect Wednesday and requires school systems to notify parents about the option. The law does not allow students to transfer to newly built schools. Nineteen Bibb County schools are on the list of eligible schools. So far 50 parents have requested information about transfers.
Monday, June 29, 2009
The Judicial Nominating Commission begins the task today of finding candidates to fill a vacancy on the State Supreme Court. The Commission, headed by former State Attorney General Michael Bowers will interview 38 candidates to replace Chief Justice Leah War Sears, who is stepping down. The commission expects to hold 20 minute interviews with each candidate and then make recommendations to Governor Sonny Perdue.
After two months of increases, gas prices in Georgia are expected to drop heading into the 4th of July weekend. In the last week the price for a gallon of gas has dropped 5 cents. Huge inventories and weak demand are the reasons for the decrease. Triple AAA has also predicted that 25-thousand fewer Georgians will take road trips over the holiday weekend.. More people are expected to fly, taking advantage of affordable plane tickets.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Macon City Council members met Wednesday to discuss changes to retiree health benefits. Changes such as withdrawing health insurance coverage for future retirees, charging retirees more for retirement health insurance and changing city policy for new hires, informing them at their time of hire that they won’t have city health insurance after they retire were proposed during the meeting. No action has been taken on any proposals because council members say they need more time. The changes will not affect current retirees but futures ones, which may cause workers to retire early. A change already made compels city employees to pay monthly premiums that will increase August 1st to about $113 per month. Next month, the council’s Employee Development and Compensation Committee meet.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Meanwhile, Fort Hawkins is getting a new visitors center. An empty service station on Emery Highway will also house an office, and classroom. Marty Willett is with the all volunteer Fort Hawkins Commission. He says the center will educate visitors and let them know of the fort's future plans. "How we want to keep archaeology going on in Middle Georgia forever. How we have plans to rebuild the fort. How we have plans to practice living history every day here." Willett says the commission will raise the money needed to renovate the new facility. The building was made available through a land swap involving the city, Mercer University, and a donation from the Peyton Anderson Foundation.
Agricultural experts say South Georgia's blueberry crop is in good shape. Originally they thought it would be a bad year, but yields are turning out higher than expected.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
A soldier with Georgia's 48th Brigade has died in Afghanistan. Sgt. John Blair of Calhoun died over the weekend after a grenade struck his vehicle. He was assigned to the brigade's 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry base in Lawrenceville. He's the fourth member of the 48th killed since soldiers began arriving in Afghanistan in May. More than 2-thousand members of the 48th based in Macon have been deployed to Afghanistan to help train the country's police and security forces.
Monday, June 22, 2009
A judge has sided with Macon-based Security Bank in a lawsuit. Former CEO Rhett Walker filed the suit alleging breach of contract after the bank failed to pay him more than 800-thousand dollars in severance pay. The bank claimed they could not pay him because the Federal Reserve deemed the money a "Golden Parachute" payment. The term is used to describe payments to executives of troubled banks. Walker claims the money was supposed to be paid months before the bank was deemed to be in troubled condition. Security Bank is currently under a cease and desist order from the FDIC and under federal regulation.
Federal regulators have shut down another Georgia bank. Southern Community Bank in Fayetteville will now be run by United Community Bank of Blairsville. The Federal deposit Insurance Corporation estimates that Southern Community bank's failure will cost the insurance fund 114-million dollars.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Officials say a federal cease and desist order against Colonial Bank will have no effect on day-to-day operations. The FDIC order imposes more federal oversight and management and requires the bank to take steps to increase capital and decrease problem loans. Colonial Bank has three branches in Macon and one in Warner Robins. Macon-based Security Bank has been under a similar order since April.
Last night strong storms moved through some parts of middle Georgia bringing high winds. In Washington County some people lost power after winds took down trees and power lines. Damage was also reported in Johnson, Peach, Monroe, and Bibb counties. Power has been restored to most customers.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The Macon Water Authority is celebrating an award from the American Water Works Association. The group named Macon as having the best tasting water in the nation. Macon Mayor, Robert Reichert says he's proud of their achievement. "I'm delighted for the Macon Water Authority that they have achieved this level of distinction where they are recognized nationwide as having the best tasting water in the country." Macon competed against other regional winners from across the country. Macon's water comes from the Ocmulgee River.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
In Houston County, officials have approved their 2010 budget. The nearly 108-million dollar's includes an increase in the general fund, meaning property taxes will go up. The new budget also includes several road improvement projects.
The Perry City council has adopted its new budget as well. Officials cut funds for a drug prevention program but ended up keeping a school officer originally scheduled to be cut. The cost of their new budget is just over 10-million dollars.
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is no longer operating in Middle Georgia. The mover comes after local MADD volunteers spoke out against Bibb County Sheriff, Jerry Modena, who testified on behalf of a friend convicted of driving drunk. The volunteers believe the state MADD office did not do enough to support their position. The work that used to be done in Macon will now be handled out of Atlanta.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The Warner Robins City council is looking at raising the mayor's salary. The ordinance would raise the mayor's pay from 100 to 125-thousand dollars a year. The move would also raise city council pay by more than 2-thousand dollars. The increase would not go into effect until January of next year. Current Mayor Donald Walker says he is against raising the mayoral salary during these trying times. The proposal would affect the new mayor who will take office in January. City elections will be held in November and Walkers says he is planning on running. Tax payers will have a chance to comment on the proposal before any vote is taken.
Some City council members in Macon want to shrink the size of that political body. Erick Erickson and Nancy White say 15 council members are too many. They prefer 11. They submitted a resolution to the council's ordinances and resolution committee. Their idea is to remove all but one of the citywide Post One seats. This would save 40-thousand dollars in salaries. Prior attempts to cut the size of city council have failed. In a separate resolution they're also asking that the city end partisan elections. Macon is the only city in the state that still holds them.
A new car dealership has opened in Macon. Kia Motors will replace the Saturn dealership at Hutchison Auto Mall. This is the second Kia dealership to open in Middle Georgia in the last few months. In October, Riverside Ford sold its Kia dealership to Jeff Smith Chrysler in Perry. The Korean Kia is currently building a new plant in the Columbus area.
Just one year ago, researchers at the University of Georgia predicted blueberries would emerge as a profitable fruit crop in Georgia. This year, high-gusting winds, cold temperatures, and flooding rains ruined nearly fifty percent of the harvest. In an already struggling economy, market demand for blueberries has also decreased, farmers are getting less money for the crop and quality is low. Despite these challenges, growers in Georgia’s southeastern blueberry belt remain optimistic. They’re already planning next year’s crop.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Following a recent reevaluation, property tax values in Bibb County are going up an average of 30-percent. Bibb County has not had an accurate reevaluation for several years, even though state law requires one. The state has fined Bibb County 500-thousand dollars because of that. The Board of Tax Assessors plans to send out notices to property owners on May 1, 2009. They will be given time to file an appeal. However, taxes may or may not go up. They are determined based on property values and local millage rates, set each year by local governments. The Board of Assessors will meet on Friday to approve the reevaluation,
Massive development approved despite resident's protests
The Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a major housing development at the corner of Bass Road and Rivoli Drive. The controversial project has angered neighbors who say the Founders Pond development is too large. The commission is asking developers to scale back the number of apartments, townhouses, and assisted living homes. More than 100 residents showed up at the meeting to voice their opposition.
Warner Robins switches from gas chamber to lethal injection
The City of Warner Robins has changed the way it euthanizes stray animals. Mayor Donald Walker says they originally planned to wait until the new shelter was opened to make the switch from the gas chamber to lethal injection. However, opposition from several people in the community caused them to make the switch earlier. Warner Robins has come under fire in the past for its use of the gas chamber. The City of Macon is also scheduled to make the switch in the coming months.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
State lawmakers have moved to restrict embryonic stem cell research in Georgia. The move comes after President Barack Obama lifted a ban on using federal money for that propose. A State Senate panel quickly approved the measure after a subcommittee approved it earlier in the day. The bill defines an embryo as a person and bans the destruction of an embryo for scientific research. Critics say it would inhibit a recently surging bio tech business in Georgia.
Attorneys for U.S. Seanator Saxby Chambliss are heading to Savannah to fight a subpoena by an attorney suing the Imperial Sugar Company. Attorney Mark Tate wants to question Chambliss about whether company executives asked him to help them avoid blame in the 2007 explosion at their refinery in Port Wentworth. Senate lawyers claim Chambliss is immune from being deposed under a clause in the Constitution which prohibits members of Congress from testifying about legislative business in business lawsuits.