Valerie Bradley, 32
Bradley moved to Macon three years ago because of her husband’s job. She is frustrated by some of the attitudes she encounters.
“I would say probably the negativity of some people who maybe lived here and haven’t had a chance to kind of go out and maybe live somewhere else, come back and appreciate what a good place this is,” she said. “Granted, everywhere is not going to be perfect, but sometimes I get frustrated just hearing the negative comments of some residents and reading things online.”
Bradley grew up in a small town in Alabama and has lived in a range of different-sized cities.
“I think those experiences have made me realize ... this city is great little place, and I think sometimes hearing the negativity from people is a little bit frustrating.”
Jennifer Zimmerman, 55
Zimmerman has lived in Macon since 2000 and is involved in helping people learn to write. Zimmerman cited the public school system as her biggest frustration.
“My children came through the public school system and they had an absolutely fabulous experience. ... I don’t understand why that experience can’t be available to everybody. We know how to do it. We just don’t know how to make it happen for every single child in Macon, and I wish that were our biggest mission.”
John Toole, 90
Toole grew up in Macon and is a World War II veteran who retired from Robins Air Force Base. He is frustrated by what he sees as resistance to change.
“To sum it all up, there’s a mindset almost bordering on paranoia among some people in north Macon against anything progressive that is proposed,” he said.
For example, he mentioned opposition to widening Forsyth and Zebulon roads.
“Now that it’s done, would anyone in his right mind want to go back to the old two-lane road that existed? There was tremendous opposition to some of that, and it’s just so much better now. It’s just that these people have this frame of mind that for some reason they are against anything progressive and it really bugs me. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
Billy Charles Horne, 78
Horne has lived in Macon all of his life and deals in antiques and Macon memorabilia.
“Lack of community pride, which entails crime, the school system. Everything is completely different than when I grew up in the ’40s and ’50s,” Horne said. “I used to be really proud of Macon. When I’d go anywhere, I’d tell them I was from Macon and now you tell them you are from Macon and they want to know how you survive the week. It’s entirely different.”
Antowin Clowers, 29
Clowers, who has a bachelor’s degree in geography, works as a DJ.
“Lack of progress, like people are set in their ways. I feel like it’s still kind of segregated a little bit,” he said. “I don’t think there is enough jobs. I don’t think people value education that much here, and that also slows down progress. Macon is like a little bubble. ... Not really concerned with what’s going on outside in the world.”
Mark Grossnickle, 51
Grossnickle is a doctor who works in neuroradiology and moved to Macon 15 years ago on the recommendation of a friend who said Macon was one of the best cities in the Southeast for his field. He said he worries about the local economy.
“I think the biggest worry is Macon is just in a bit more of a recession than the rest of the country,” Grossnickle said. “I don’t think there is an abundance of jobs. I do not think the education system is preparing enough skilled workers to go out and get skilled, higher-paying jobs. I look at the patients I have to see every day and I look at their families and Macon needs an economic, educational kick in the rear to get going. That to me is a long-term liability.”
Judy Gay Heath, 66
She has lived in Macon all of her life and is frustrated by the trash she sees and people not taking care of their homes. She grew up in south Macon’s Lynmore Estates and said it’s hard to see homes that were kept up during her childhood slip into disrepair.
“The husband dies and the mother dies and the children die and you go by now and the weeds are knee deep. ... Just knowing how well this house was maintained for 35, 40 years and knowing that memory is gone,” she said. “Those people are not there. Nobody is taking care of it.”
Eddie Lamar, 64
Lamar grew up in east Macon and retired from Keebler/Kellogg. He said he grew up poor but also found something to do to try and make ends meet. He tries to motivate young people he meets to do the same.
“The biggest issue now is crime. We can do better as a people, as a whole,” he said. “It seems like not enough is being done. It seems like people are more interested in defeating one another than helping the city.”
My Vilayvong, 43
Vilayvong has lived in Macon for nine years and runs his own restaurant. He said his worries, which includes crime, are not specific to the Macon community.
“Just like everywhere else: crimes, taxes and the life and future of your children,” Vilayvong said. “(The things) normal, average working-class people worry about.”
Capt. Willie J. May, 67
May is a police precinct commander and has lived in Macon all of his life. He is worried about the economy and what the decline in property values and jobs means for crime and people’s sense of peace and tranquility.
“If you are in an environment where your world is that small and you’re not able to get outside of it because of the economic situation, that’s bad. ... If you live on the north side, it’s totally different than if you live on the south side. That bothers me,” he said. “I don’t hear gunshots or disturbance or nuisance in the neighborhood I live in just compared to this precinct and what people have to deal with day in and day out. It bothers me. I think everybody is entitled to the best quality of life possible.”