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Tough Talk By Bibb County Judge Goes Viral

Apr 2, 2016

A Bibb County judge's tough-talk to at-risk children has gone viral. As of Friday evening, roughly 150,000 people have viewed the 10-minute discussion by Superior Court Judge Verda Colvin to about 20 kids in a Bibb County courtroom. GPB Macon's Michael Caputo spoke with Judge Colvin about her motivation to give the difficult speech to these children.

Michael Caputo: So what program brought you in these 20 or so kids together in that courtroom a couple of days ago. 

Grant Blankenship / GPB

 

While tornado watches are set to expire into Friday evening, The National Weather Service is investigating what, if any, of the wind damage that came from storms that hit Georgia early Friday morning was caused by tornadoes.

 

In all, the National Weather Service issued seven tornado warnings in Georgia between 3 a.m. and noon Friday.

Each week journalists Leah Fleming of GPB Macon and Charles Richardson, editorial page editor at The Telegraph talk about the issues on the minds of Middle Georgians. 

Leah Fleming

We've got music, Frankenstein and an imaginary rabbit all in Middle Georgia this month. 

Local harpist Betsy Fitzgerald and Jackie K. Cooper, film critic for the Huffington Post share their lists of what to do this month!

Here are Betsy’s items for this week's show:

Vintage Vegas

Presented by Macon Pops

Private Funds Hire Off-Duty Public Patrols

Apr 1, 2016
Grant Blankenship / GPB

Bill Fickling sat on his front porch in the Ingleside neighborhood of Macon.

 

He pointed beyond the cherry blossom trees, well-known to those who live in the city. Through the woods is a house.

 

“The burglars were actually using that as a hide out, apparently that house is vacant,” said Fickling.

The Problem of Part-time Legislators

Mar 31, 2016

The Georgia General Assembly's work is done. Legislators must now run for re-election. Well, most of them. More than a dozen are actually going to retire. Among them Nikki Randall of Macon. So why are they leaving? And is it because of the salaries these part time lawmakers get?  To answer that question GPB Macon’s Michael Caputo brought in Chris Grant a political science professor for Mercer University. 

Michael Caputo: So these are supposed to be part time jobs. Are they really part time jobs? 

Trevor Young / GPB

There’s been a tremendous backlash in the conservative faith community after Governor Deal announced he will veto the “religious liberty” bill. Our panel of insiders discusses how the governor came to his decision and what supporters of the bill plan to do next to give the measure new life.

Georgia Playlist: Musician Chuck Leavell

Mar 28, 2016
Bob Nichols / U.S. Department of Agriculture

Last week's trip to Cuba was historic for Barack Obama.  He's the first American president to visit the country in almost a hundred years, and another American racked up a first in Cuba over the weekend.  Georgia musician Chuck Leavell performed with the Rolling Stones in Havana on Friday.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

Communities in Georgia often spend public dollars on sports facilities with economic development in mind. Think a new major league baseball stadium in Cobb County. But not every sports-centric development is that large. In Macon, for example, money was poured into a new tennis complex.

Macon-Bibb County has taken the adage spend money to make money to the tennis court. About $1 million  from a 1 cent sales tax increase for special project went to renovate the county’s John Drew Tennis Center.  

Gov. Deal Vetoes 'Religious Freedom' Bill HB 757

Mar 28, 2016
David Goldman / AP

Governor Nathan Deal has vetoed the so-called Religious Freedom bill, saying that he wants to keep Georgia "a welcoming state."

Wikimedia Commons

The 2016 Georgia legislative session is over. State House Speaker David Ralston (R- Blue Ridge) yelled out Sine Die! and pounded the gavel from his perch in the House chamber, officially ending the General Assembly session around 12:30 early Friday morning.

Sine Die Another Day

Mar 25, 2016
Branden Camp / AP

On this Sine Die edition of “Political Rewind,” our panel of insiders takes a look at what happened during the final frantic hours of the legislative session.

Pat Sullivan / AP

UPDATE: A short time ago, The House passed Rep. Scott Holcomb’s Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act. The chamber gutted a Senate bill, SB 304, and attached Holcomb’s measure to it. It passed on a unanimous vote. It now needs to go back to the Senate for approval.

“I am a rape survivor,” Lisa Anderson stated as she stood at a podium inside a crowded room at the Georgia Capitol.

2016 Georgia Legislative Session Comes To An End

Mar 23, 2016
Branden Camp / AP Photo

This year’s Georgia legislative session has ended. Thursday’s Sine Die concluded with both chambers working just past midnight followed by the traditional tossing of confetti-like paper into the air, an energetic spectacle that climaxes with state officials leaving behind a literal mess for someone else to clean up.  

 

 

Religious Liberty

 

Mercer University

Macon poet Anya Silver says her poetry has helped her come to terms with mortality. Silver’s life could have taken a much different turn. She was first diagnosed with an aggressive and lethal form of breast cancer when she was 35 years old and pregnant. It didn’t stop her. She continues to teach English at Mercer University, and she's a writer. Her poetry earned her a spot as one of last  year's Georgia Author of the Year award recipients.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

When it comes to guns, Marciarea Torney-Daramanu is sure of one thing.

“With my kids now? When they get of age to own a gun I will make sure they are trained to use a gun,” she said.

She didn’t always feel this way. On a rainy day she shows me into her kitchen in her home in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Macon. She points to a magnet on her refrigerator.

“This is my son right here,” Marciarea said.

The photo is Stacy K. Johnson, Jr., Marciarea’s son. He’s holding his children.

“He’s the one that got killed right there,” she said.

Crime, Cops & Community: Battling Public Distrust

Mar 20, 2016
Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department

Savannah has one of the highest murder rates in Georgia. And last year that number went up by nearly 70 percent. But a spike in crime doesn't happen overnight. City leaders blame years of corruption in the police department. They say it’s bred public distrust. Now they’re working to get it back.

Leah Fleming / GPB Macon

There is always something to do in Middle Georgia, but this month there's an abundance of things to do!  It's Cherry Blossom festival time in the cherry blossom capital of the world.  Macon is all pink and ready to celebrate spring with a host of events. 

March 19 | 3:00 PM - Cherry Street @ Third Street 

Presented By GEICO And 41 NBC/WMGT

Candidates for a host of local elections in May are all lined up.  Qualifying ended earlier this month.  Let the stumping begin.  Each week journalists Leah Fleming and Charles Richardson talk about the hot topics on the minds of Middle Georgians.  See the video from the studio!

HOT TOPIC #1:

In Macon Bibb the mayor’s race between incumbent Robert Reichert and former commissioner Lonzy Edwards is underway.  Who is Lonzy Edwards and what are his chances against a very popular incumbent?

HOT TOPIC #2:

Pedestrian Deaths In Georgia Spike

Mar 17, 2016

The number of pedestrian deaths has risen in Georgia.  

The state Office of Highway Safety confirms that last year the number of people hit and killed by cars increased by 21 percent from 2014. Office Director Harris Blackwood: 

'We had a terrible year last year,' said Harris Blackwood, the director of the Office of Highway Safety. 'There's no other way to describe it. We went back to levels we hadn't seen since 2008'

Tennessee Surf Rock With Repeat Repeat

Mar 15, 2016
Grant Blankenship / GPB

Repeat Repeat started its life as surf rock from high atop the Cumberland Plateau. East Nashville, Tenn. to be exact.

WGN America

A new TV series called “Underground” premieres Wednesday night on WGN America.  It tells the story of a slave escape from a Macon, Georgia plantation in the late 1850s.

Actor Aldis Hodge of “Straight Outta Compton” stars in the series. We talk with him about how he prepared to take on the role. 

A Rural Hospital Needs Tax Dollars to Ward Off Closing

Mar 9, 2016

The hospital in Sandersville - Washington County Regional Medical Center - serves thousands of people in east central Georgia.

 

But, like so many hospitals in rural Georgia, it runs in the red. That's because of a combination of poor management decisions and struggles common to health care facilities in less populated areas.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

Anthony Ponder has been cutting hair for most of his life. He has also spent a lot of time in prison. Ponder lost his equipment the last time he was incarcerated. A pair of Macon churches have set him up with gear again. In return he is cutting hair on Sunday mornings for other men who like him are getting back on their feet.

"I was told that my father was a barber. My father got killed when I was seven years old but I often heard that he was a barber. Maybe that stuck in my head that I wanted to be like my father.”

 

In this session, Col. Bruce Hampton recorded at Capricorn Studio.

Col. Bruce is a legend of Georgia music who has been unafraid to wave his freak flag high since the 1960s. In this interview with Chris Nylund and Jared Wright of the Field Note Stenographers music collective, Col. Bruce introduces us to the numerology of Southern humidity and gives us a glimpse of the weird heyday of a late 60s music boomtown called Macon. A note, in this first story, Gregg is none other than Gregg Allman.

In this month's preview of music coming to Macon, we look forward to the holy drone of Lobo Marino, to a tsunami of surf punk from Repeat Repeat, a show from a godfather of lo-fi recording, and to a visit from a veteran of the deep soul scene. With the Field Note Stenographers. 

    

Paying for Crumbling Stormwater Systems

Feb 23, 2016
Grant Blankenship / Georgia Public Broadcasting

 

Clay Murphey, a project manager for Macon Bibb County, walked through an eight-foot-high stormwater culvert under a busy intersection. As sloshed through three inches of water, Murphey ran a hand along a jagged crack in the dusty red brick.

"This is the stuff we're concerned about. These large cracks," Murphey said. “You got seepage that's coming from above. That shouldn't be happening. Everytime you're seeping, you are washing away the mortar that's holding this brick in place.”

Then Murphey pointed down to brick rubble lying in the water.

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