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Jones County Schools Reject 'Race to the Top' Funds

The Jones County school board has voted unanimously to reject federal "Race to the Top" grant funds that Superintendent William Mathews says would have required the district pay teachers based on merit.

"To look at a teacher and say 'Well because your numbers did this we're going to give you something and because your numbers didn't we're going to deny you', it's just not founded in research," Mathews said.

The district stood to gain nearly $1.5 million in federal funds under the grant over the next four years, according to Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza. That included an original allocation of $573,265, and about $900,000 in additional funds the state planned to give them, to cover merit pay costs and bring the district up to a $1.3 million base.

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Jones, West Laurens Advance In State Softball

Jones County and West Laurens both won two games Thursday in the GHSA State Softball Elite Eight in Columbus, Georgia.

Jones County shut out Creekview 8-0 behind the masterful pitching of Kristen Carr.

JC then put ten runs on the scoreboard in crushing Kell 10-3 Thursday night.

Jones County will play in the winner's bracket Friday night at 7 PM in Columbus.

West Laurens scored a run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 8th inning to beat Ringgold 2-1 Thursday afternoon.

The Lady Raiders won another one run game Thursday night edging Allatoona 3-2.

The two wins puts West Laurens into Friday's winner bracket game at 5 PM.

The tournament runs through Saturday with state champions being crowned Saturday afternoon.

Other games involving Central Georgia teams on Thursday:

Allatoona 3  Perry 2

GAC 9  Dodge Co. 0

Prince Avenue 5  Johnson Co. 2.  

In Some Places, Halloween Comes Early

Many Central Georgia communities, including Macon and Warner Robins, will hold trick-or-treat activities on Saturday, Oct. 30.

But depending on where you live, little ghouls and goblins could be visiting on Friday or Sunday nights.

In Forsyth, Halloween comes a little early on Friday, Oct. 29.

Children were already getting in the Halloween spirit on Wednesday at Forsyth United Methodist Church.

They dressed up in costumes, visited a 'spooky room', and made themed crafts.

And that's just the beginning for children in Forsyth.

Pre-kindergarten children in the city will have the chance to trick-or-treat with their schools at participating businesses in the downtown area Friday morning.

Elementary school kids will have the same opportunity Friday evening from 5:30-7:30.

 According to Mayor Tye Howard, all children are invited to trick-or-treat in Forsyth on Saturday, Oct. 31. 

Community Celebrates Terminally Ill Child's Birthday

About 50 kids came out to Idyll Acres ranch in Jones County on Saturday to help celebrate Landon Childs' sixth birthday.

It's a very special birthday for Childs, since he wasn't expected to live past age five.

Childs suffers from a terminal genetic disease that causes his brain and central nervous system to deteriorate, said Lisa Whidby, Childs' mother.  She says doctors say kids who suffer from the disease normally die before their sixth birthday. 

Idyll Acres Ranch owner Lewis Smith decided to give Childs a birthday party at his ranch.  He opened the celebration to the public.

Kids at the party got the chance to ride horses and chowed down on some barbeque.

Whidby says she's grateful he's lived to enjoy another birthday.

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Marshall, Scott Clash in GPB Debate

13WMAZ will re-broadcast Sunday night's Eighth Congressional District debate tonight at 5:23 p.m., right after Eyewitness News at 5.

Central Georgia congressional candidates questioned each other and fielded questions from journalists at Sunday's Atlanta Press Club debates in Atlanta.

13WMAZ's Frank Malloy moderated the meeting between incumbent Democrat Jim Marshall and Republican challenger Austin Scott.

Scott says the economy takes top priority and he wants the government to do more to create private sector jobs.

He said, "Stop the discussions about cap and trade." That's the proposed plan to limit greenhouse-gas emissions and allow companies that exceed the limits to trade with each other for credits.

Marshall says he supported efforts like the stimulus bill and thinks efforts to prevent economic collapse are working. Now, he says he wants government to back off on spending. 

Floyd Griffin, Johnny Grant Vying Over District 25 Seat

It's been 12 years since Floyd Griffin held Georgia's District 25 Senate seat, but the Milledgeville Democrat wants to take it back.

To do that, Griffin will have to defeat incumbent Republican Johnny Grant, a Milledgeville businessman who has held the job for six years.

Since leaving the seat in 1998 to run for lieutenant governor, Griffin has served a term as mayor of Milledgeville and worked in Barack Obama's 2008 campaign.

Griffin wants his old Senate seat back now, primarily because he says he doesn't like how Republican incumbent Johnny Grant's done the job.

"The main thing is that our senator," Griffin says, "every time a factory closed, he would always, 'I didn't know anything about that' and he never gave the intention of fight for it."

Middle Georgia Schools To Get $15M From Race to the Top

Four Middle Georgia school systems will get a total of more than $15 million from the Race to the Top grant during the next four school years.

Bibb, Jones, Peach and Pulaski schools will benefit from the federal school-improvement grants. Bibb will get the largest chunk, more than $13 million.

According to the state Department of Education, Peach will get nearly $1.2 million, Jones about $570,000 and Pulaski about $338,000.

The Bibb County district says Superintendent Sylvia McGee and other representatives from Bibb County attended a meeting at the Georgia Department of Education about the grant.

They say allocations for the 26 participating districts are based on the federal Title I formula, which counts the number of needy children in the district.

According to the GaDOE, that means Bibb County will receive $13,297,398 during the next four years.