Top stories in Middle Georgia from January-March

December 25, 2012 

January

4: William David “Billy” Ramsbottom Jr., a Macon businessman, pleaded guilty to one count of fiduciary theft and was sentenced to 15 years on probation. In exchange for the plea, an additional 46 counts of fiduciary theft by taking and two counts of theft by taking were dismissed. Ramsbottom admitted embezzling more than $500,000.

5: A plan to merge two Middle Georgia College and Macon State College was revealed. The merger was later approved, and a combined Middle Georgia State College will open to students in 2013.

17: Country singer Merle Haggard, 74, was hospitalized in Macon for more than a week with pneumonia. Haggard had been scheduled to perform at the City Auditorium.

19: Don Faulk, The Medical Center of Central Georgia’s chief executive officer for 15 years, announced plans to retire.

24: A German auto parts manufacturer announced plans to build a $39 million plant in Dublin. The company, Erdrich Umformtechnik GmbH & Co., expected to open in 2013 and create 178 jobs.

27: P. Allen Golson, chief executive officer for Coliseum Health System in Macon, was killed when the twin-engine plane he was piloting crashed in central Florida. His wife was injured in the crash.

February

10: Macon police dropped rape charges against seven Northeast High School teens, saying that the 16-year-old special-needs student who leveled the charges made false statements in the case. The girl was charged with a felony, making false statements to law enforcement, as well as a misdemeanor, falsely reporting a crime.

21: A federal judge set a $25,000 bond for Wilcox County Sheriff Stacy Bloodsworth and ordered the sheriff to resign immediately. Bloodsworth was indicted along with his son, a jailer and a county jail inmate earlier in February. He was accused of violating inmates’ civil rights by assaulting them and conspiring with the other men to lie about how the inmates was injured.

23: Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, announced he would retire in June. McMahon was the last commander of the center, which was dismantled under an Air Force Materiel Command restructuring.

24: Five people were convicted in one of the first federal cocaine distribution cases in Middle Georgia to be linked to a Mexican drug cartel. A federal jury found the defendants guilty on drug charges related to distribution of drugs in Baldwin and Bibb counties.

27: Master Sgt. Shannon W. Blanton and Tech. Sgt. Ruben Martinez at Robins Air Force Base were awarded Bronze Star Medals for their service during a six-month deployment in Afghanistan. It was the second time each received the honor.

March

1: Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich visited Macon, speaking to about 300 people at Hephzibah Children’s Home.

6: Houston County voters opted to continue a six-year special purpose local option sales tax. Commissioners estimated the continuation of the SPLOST would generate about $155 million that would be used for economic development, public safety, water and sewer improvements, transportation and recreation.

Robins Air Force Base announced it would lose 83 military positions under the Air Force’s budget-cutting efforts, and that the Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve would be eliminated.

7: The Bibb County school board approved the controversial Macon Miracle, Superintendent Romain Dallemand’s plan to improve the county’s public schools.

8: Acting legend Clint Eastwood spent several days in and around Macon while filming baseball scenes for the movie “Trouble With The Curve.”

9: Lithonia Lighting, Bleckley County’s largest employer, announced it would close within six months, leaving its 400-plus employees jobless.

19: Fire gutted the popular downtown Forsyth restaurant Grits Café, drawing firefighters from neighboring counties to help extinguish the flames. No one was injured in the fire, which was later ruled accidental.

30: T.D. Jakes, the well-known bishop of the Potter’s House church in Dallas, Texas, gave a sermon in Macon as part of his “Let it Go” speaking tour.

-- Compiled by Beth MacFadyen

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