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Can Firefighting Reform Be Randy Parker’s Legacy to Firefighting? How a Macon Firefighter’s Death Might Serve as a Siren Call for Change

By Dave Oedel

A 46-year-old firefighter from Macon-Bibb County, Georgia, Lieutenant Randy Parker, died on Wednesday evening, February 11, 2015, after he plunged through the floor of a small, burning brick ranch home at 2320 Fairview Drive in south Macon. Parker left a wife and two children. Those eulogizing Parker at Macon’s City Auditorium on February 16 described him as a loving father, husband and church member, and an enthusiastic, well-liked, hardworking firefighter.

Macon-Bibb Fire Chief Marvin Riggins eulogizing Lieutenant Randy Parker at Macon's City Auditorium on February 16, 2015.

Macon-Bibb Fire Chief Marvin Riggins eulogizing Lieutenant Randy Parker at Macon’s City Auditorium on February 16, 2015.

Parker’s death is a profound tragedy for his family and the community too.

If there is any solace in Parker’s loss, it may be that it gives us the opportunity to rethink firefighting policies, practices, decision-making, economics and culture – characteristics that are typical of firefighting not only in Macon, … Continue Reading

Saving Lives and Costs in Hancock County: Governor Deal’s Proposal to Improve Rural Health Care in Georgia

By Senator David Lucas, Georgia Senate District 26

Hancock County, which is in my Georgia State Senate District 26, shut its hospital down fourteen years ago, in 2001, the first in a wave of rural hospital closures in Georgia. Unfortunately, Hancock County is still paying $644,000 annually in debt service for the former privilege, now a continuing burden, of having had access to that long-closed hospital.

Today, Hancock County’s county seat, Sparta, lies about 63 miles away from the regional medical center in Macon. Although there is some emergency treatment in Hancock County, opportunities for more complex diagnosis and care are lacking there.

Constituents of mine in Hancock County are at risk of dying unnecessarily from lack of access to state-of-the-art health care. A possible case in point involved a nine-year-old boy who flipped a golf cart in Hancock County, but died within about 45 minutes, … Continue Reading

Banning the Criminal Background Box in Bibb: Tillman’s Proposal Passes Macon-Bibb Commission by a 6-3 Vote

February 22, 2015 Edition 2, Opinion No Comments

By Alan Wood of Georgia Watchdog

One piece of news from Macon-Bibb this past week may prove to have a lasting impact on many people looking for employment.  It will not magically solve the high unemployment rate in Macon-Bibb County, but it might help level the playing field for a good percentage of job seekers.  Macon-Bibb commissioners voted 6 to 3 in favor of the “Ban the Box” proposal last Tuesday, February 17, 2015.  The box this refers to is the one found on employment applications asking about criminal records.  It’s important to note that this would only apply to applicants applying for governmental jobs in Macon-Bibb, and not for private sector employment, or for state or federal jobs.

For people looking for employment who do not have a squeaky-clean record, finding gainful employment can be a daunting task.  I personally know someone in this boat.  Although he asked to remain anonymous, he did consent to including his story for this article.

He said that he had applied to hundreds of jobs both in the private and public sector.  He got to the final step in the hiring process … Continue Reading

Update on Telfair County’s Classic-Car Craigslist Killing: The Former Coroner Speaks Up, No Gun Found, Family Mostly Mum, No New Arrests

By Dave Oedel

I first spoke with Raford Horton on February 10, 2015, when I visited Telfair County to explore the setting, cause and meaning of the killings of retirees Bud and June Runion. As reported nationally, as well as in this local newsweekly, the Runions were lured to Telfair County on Thursday, January 22, 2015, in hopes of having their Craigslist ad answered in Bud’s quest for a 1966 Ford Mustang to match the one that he bought upon his release from service in Vietnam. But the Runions found no Mustang in Telfair. Instead, they met single bullets to their heads. Their bodies ended up lying some yards apart in Telfair’s piney woods.

Raford Horton has seen something of death in Telfair County, having served as its coroner from 2000 to 2008. Horton might have examined the bodies of the Runions himself, except that … Continue Reading

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