ASK MAYOR MILLER: Mall deal, trash issue, crime fighting and blight fight

The CCJ regularly interviews Macon-Bibb’s Mayor Lester Miller. Send your questions to [email protected].


Macon-Bibb County Mayor Lester Miller sat down with the Center for Collaborative Journalism to discuss the Macon Mall project, garbage collection issues, commercial blight, Shot Spotter technology and combatting violence. Here is a transcript of that interview on October 7, 2021.

Macon Mall could include future casino, hotel

CCJ: [00:00:17]  Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for joining us for our October edition of Ask Mayor Miller. Since our last session, you announced that big $100 million a public private partnership for Macon-Bibb County to take over the Macon mall. Can you explain how that will work from acquiring the property to the renovations and the new amphitheater and the relocation of the county offices to the property?

Mayor Miller: [00:00:42] Sure, it’s a it’s a very intriguing project that I’ve been fortunate to have been working on for about a year and a half now, even before I got to be mayor.So it’s one is very near and dear to my heart. As you may remember, I’ve got significant contacts and to that area, but you know it is other being complicated. Basically, Hull, who owns the property will be given one half of that property to the Urban Development Authority, Macon-Bibb County/Urban Development Authority free and clear right now. That would enable us to go ahead and start doing work over there to do the amphitheater there. And we’ll have access, actually. We’ll have joint ownership of the remaining part of the property for $1 a year, with the hopes of owning the entire property free and clear out six years. That’s important because it allows us to keep a lot of the property on the tax digest to earn money. And a lot of that is your all parcels, which are more valuable to that. But at the same time, it allows us a 15 to 18 acre site to build our amphitheater. The amphitheater is going to be very unique. We have about 10,000 seating capacity there, which would make us the second or third largest in Georgia right now, dependent on the capacity, but the best thing about it is not going to cost any additional monies. And I know we said that a lot of people kind of raised an eyebrow and say, you know, how can this not cost me any money? Well, it’s very simple. We’re getting this property for free, costing us zero. Urban development is going to sell some bonds on the open market, the revenue bonds. Those bonds are going to be paid by rents from the mall. The mall currently has about 20-something tenants now. It’s profitable, even though it’s not full, and certainly with the government involvement in there, things will get less expensive for the mall. And on top of that, our plan is to bring at least five departments that we have, that we’re paying rent elsewhere. For example, we pay the transit authority at the Terminal Station for three separate departments, about $450,000 rent. We move those people out of that, those departments out of there into the mall. That’s $450,000 we can pay ourselves. We were planning on paying up to $400,000 for Board of Elections on their new build-out site at the current Westgate Mall. Now, there’s no longer need to build an additional 20,000 square feet on there because we’ll be moving them into the mall and they will have about 35,000 to 40,000 square feet, which will be doubling or multiplying the current space they have there. So that rent will go to Urban Development Authority. So when you can pay yourself that money or pay the Urban Development Authority, which is a quasi authority, those funds will go into one account and that will be used to pay for the bonds that come due each year for the amphitheater. So we’re expecting to pay for those completely out of the rent rolls from the Macon mall.

CCJ: [00:03:29] Can you talk about which of the departments from Terminal Station will be moving?

Mayor Miller: [00:03:33] Well, we’ve we’ve discussed several those, including the Planning and Zoning, as a potential. Safebuilt to put those together. Economic, the ECD, Economic Development Commission. Possibly would go there. We know the Board of Elections will go there. We’re considering moving a couple of the others as well. We’re going to move code enforcement here. They’re already being built downstairs. I expect to be moved in the next 30- 60 days. Frees up $100,000-something that we spend there. The tax assessors will be moving from their building into a new building, probably in the next several months. They will probably be located in the building right behind the courthouse that we just recently purchased, which will put them next to the Tax Commissioner’s Office within a short view. So we’re trying to consolidate folks that have a common relationship. At the same time, trying to save money for Macon-Bibb County.

CCJ: [00:04:23] You mentioned the out parcels. It’s my understanding. Does that include the Chucky Cheese building and the O’ Charley’s buildings?

Mayor Miller: [00:04:32] O’ Charley’s is owned by Hull, by the mall. It would be one of those properties that’s part of the transaction after five years. Yeah, the Firestone there. I think it’s a Firestone there as well as Staples there. Those are good rental properties that Hull continues to get rent from. Chuck E. Cheese is owned by a third party. There’s been quite a bit of interest in, you know, someone purchasing or leasing Chuck E. Cheese. Within an hour, I think, of our announcement three of the parcels had potential offers or whatever tenants on there, and we’ve had a lot of activity.Matter of fact, when I went to the BID meeting over there, the Eisenhower BID, there was four different realtors there that were representing retailers that were interested in going to the The Big Lots area over there across the street as well as the other area over there by Heaven’s restaurant, so we’re getting a lot of activity over there. A national chain has reached out about the potential of leasing O’Charley’s. I’m not at liberty to say who that is right now, but certainly there’s been some interest there and we’ve had a lot of interest on retail on inside the mall. We’re also be working on some sizable space for film and art as it relates to Middle Georgia State University and Central Georgia technical college. So we’ve got a lot of things going on. And that’s the I think the most important thing I can say about the mall is it’s going to have to be a very diverse use, meaning we’ve got to have some education there. You’re going to have to have some governmental departments there, restaurants, retail, sports and entertainment. We’re still considering a strong possibility of pickleball court there, and we’ve been meeting with people about that. If we can make that happen, we’d probably the largest in the nation for an indoor pickleball court, so certainly brings a lot of tax revenue in. It’s a very popular sport. It’s going to be here to stay.

CCJ: [00:06:08] Would that take one of the big anchor stores that’s currently vacant?

Mayor Miller: [00:06:12] It would probably take something like Belk’s, for sure. We’ve got some other potential possibilities for a new business coming along there with a hotel attached to it. Depends on what happens this Legislature. We’ll see what happens on that answer.

CCJ: [00:06:25] So there’ll be a just a wide variety of different retail, office, recreation, right?

Mayor Miller: [00:06:32] It’s this is going to be a governmental departments, retail, sports and entertainment and retail property. We represent about 40 to 50 percent of that. Okay.

CCJ: [00:06:46] “Depends on the next legislative session” that sounds like you’re holding out for a casino?

Mayor Miller: [00:06:52] I never said that, but I can tell you there have been strong interest in Macon-Bibb County being one of the players in the casino world, so we’ll see what happens this legislative session. There’s no secret that they’re considering Macon-Bibb County as a potential site. Savannah, Augusta, Columbus, your normal Atlanta, so we’ll see what happens in that area, but certainly not anything I’m necessarily advocating for. But if it does come to Macon, I’m going to want to know where it’s going to be at, so, to have the largest impact that we would need it to have.

CCJ: [00:07:19] Have there been any discussions with some of the native tribes from here?

Mayor Miller: [00:07:25] There has. I met with the Creek Nation myself, but I’ve also I’ve met with several casino operators, owners from across the country. Last year, you know, it stalled in the legislature and didn’t make it there. We’ll see what happens this year, but all indications seems to suggest that, seems to suggest there’s going to be something happening this year. So we’ll we’ll see whether it’s, you know, racetrack they’re looking forward, I think two racetracks going to be in Georgia and they’ll have four casinos from what I’m understanding right now. So other thing I mentioned about the amphitheater is we, uh, we’ve had people reach out to us already wanting to buy skyboxes, want to look at VIP suites, reserving those, and we’ve had a couple of people who’ve been interested in and paying upwards of $200,000 – $250,000 for naming rights for the amphitheater. So I think we’re going to get some some very good momentum out of that and we’re looking to break ground in February.

Trash issues linger, changes coming

CCJ: [00:08:20] Also from Twitter. Can we get an update on the trash and recycling situation?

Mayor Miller: [00:08:49] Well, I think there are certainly still issues. Are we having less complaints than we had previously? Yes. When we gave 20 percent to a different company, we’ve had great success in that particular area. The challenge has still been workforce. We met with, I’ve met with all the mayors, I think, in the state of Georgia. We recently met in Columbus with 15 mayors just last week. The number one issue, they’re having – trash. Crime’s always an issue, but the trash was the one thing that stuck out in everybody’s mind. Columbus is having a very serious problem with trash, and other communities are as well, so it’s still something it’s not unique to Macon-Bibb County. I expect to still have those challenges over the next couple of months. I do believe either next week or the week out there, we’ll be making another announcement to give a more update on what we’re going to do in the trash situation, how we’re going to assume control over certain areas of the trash and how are we look to move forward over the next couple of years? So it’s something that I think is going to be best for our community. It may cost us a little money, but it’s going to be best for our community to get the service that we think we need. But it’s still going to be a challenge for a couple of months until people truly get hired and get trained. Most of the complaints we get people, maybe the trash gets picked up on one side of the road and not the other. And the reason for this is simply that there’s more trash at people’s houses during COVID. And we have we become a very cluttered society at home and people are buying things and bringing them home because you can’t really eat out a lot of places. You can’t go into a fast food restaurant, eat a lot of places, so you take it home with you and it piles up. So what they’re having to do is about halfway through the day when used to, they could go the whole route before they had to dump. They only get about two thirds of the route through, and they have to fill their trucks up completely and have to go to an offsite storage place, which is outside of Macon-Bibb County. And if you can imagine doing that and having to travel to a place like the mall or Twiggs County at Warner Robins, it’s going to eat the rest of your day up. So the good intentions is we’re going to come back tomorrow morning. First thing, I’m going to get the other half of that street. But what happens is you move on to the next day or you have an inexperienced driver that doesn’t know to go back. And we’ve seen things like that happen. Cul-de-sacs happen. Recycling gets skipped because it’s an every other week, type of thing. So it’s just something that’s managing now because you have employees, is not properly trained and it’s still insufficient employees to cover the job.

CCJ: [00:11:06] What would you suggest residents do if their trashed is missed, or…

Mayor Miller: [00:11:12] Well, first I’d say that if your trash is supposed to be picked up on Wednesday, there’s no need to call us on Wednesday night. I’d wait two days to give them time to cycle it through for the trash. After that point in time, you’re probably going to have a hard time getting in touch with waste. Feel free to send us an email, Do See, Click, Fix, so we become aware of the problem. We’ll let them know that it’s been missed and they’ll put it on the schedule. Been really good about when we get information in from the customer to immediately go out there to take care of it. But a lot of times we don’t get the information. If you say it’s been a week before your trash got picked up and that’s an issue, or they skipped you. Maybe they don’t know they skipped you and they’re going back the next week and you suffered a several days without it. So I tell people to give at least 48 hours. We’ll still apologize for that. It’s something we don’t want to happen. They have no contract right with the third party provider. We know your trash says online that you’re supposed to be picked up on Wednesday, but that’s that’s a best case scenario. You’re not guaranteed to have your trash picked up even once a week. There’s no contract that you have with the company. Bibb County has a contract with the company to provide a service. They’re still going to pick up the same amount of trash, whether they pick it up twice a month or four times a month. But but quite honestly, we want a weekly service. We want them to do their job. We understand there’s a challenge, but there’s quite, you know, quite simply. There’s not a lot we can do about it right now. The waste company owns the cans. They literally could stop picking up tomorrow and take your can and nothing you could do about, or we could do about it. You’d have no place to put your can, you know, your trash at. So right now, we’re just kind of making, making some general changes, and I think things are getting better, but we still have the complaints. That’s something we have to deal with.  This time next year, we’ll forget this ever happened, and I’ll be glad when those times come. But for right now, it’s a constant struggle from a day to day basis. But things are getting better unless you’re the person who’s trash didn’t get picked up. You know, so seven out of 10 people I talked to, their trash maybe had been late a couple of times, but never completely missed. But there’s two or three people that you have that’s really been missed. And I understand. They’ve had a problem with back door service. And that’s where you have a elderly or disabled person who they actually have to get out of the truck and go to the house and pick it up because they can’t pull the can out there because they haven’t been properly marked in the past. And the new drivers, certainly all they have is an address and they see cans out there on the side. They don’t know that they’re supposed to look at the arrows and go to someone’s back door to pick up the trash, so certainly that has been a challenge. It’s something we’re trying to address, but we’re we’re just like everybody else. We’re trying to make the best of a bad situation and we’re going to get through it. But I do think it’s going to continue for another couple of months for inconsistent services. People talk about refunds all the time and and I hear that. But the problem with the refunds, as we discussed before, we have no way of knowing one who has picked up. We inherited the situation from the previous administration and I’m not faulting them. But basically, if they can miss 10, 20, 30 or 1000 households, I wouldn’t know who got missed. I wouldn’t know who to get a refund to. It’d be hard to prove who to give the money back to. And at the same time, you really only pay $11 a month for your trash and your recycling. That’s about $2 and something a week. You can’t find anybody picking up a trash and recycling. Take it out of Bibb County for that kind of money. It’s simply, you know, the market doesn’t bear that. Right now, it probably costs a lot more. I know it costs a lot more than we even charge the customer to do the service their providing now, probably two times as much. So that’s really the only update I can provide. But I do think that you’ll, there’ll be more to come in the next couple of weeks that you’ll hear from me on that one.

Is Shot Spotter cost justified with deputy shortage?

CCJ: [00:14:41] Now of course, a lot happened in the last county commission meeting because you were trying to clear the agenda so that you could take a break when we had some rising in the COVID numbers. We had another question from Twitter. Why should the county be spending money on the ShotSpotter technology if there aren’t enough Bibb County Sheriff’s deputies to respond to the calls. The person says that they hear, the deputies hear shots while they’re answering calls, but nobody’s available to check on them.

Mayor Miller: [00:15:12] Well, it’s not all about going to the shot when it’s fired. It’s about collecting the evidence. A couple of things to be clear this is ARP money, money that’s not used to hire deputies because we would hire   everyone that we could. But we also need to collect it.  Right now, people may show up with a gunshot wound at the hospital, but there had never been a 9-1-1 call. So we never would have got a call about that incident or know where it happened at. ShotSpotter will take care of that situation. It’ll also rule out a bunch of unnecessary calls or wild goose chases for deputies so they can use your time more wisely. For instance, if you get a call from your house and you’re eight blocks 10 blocks away from the shots being fired, you don’t know where it’s at. You think it’s in your backyard because you heard that. And we may send an officer on that call directly into the line of fire and putting them in harm’s way. So this is a protection for the officer, as well. But at the same time, if we have several people within several blocks away from each other, make this call, we send four officers, five officers, three officers. This ShotSpotter will know exactly where to go, where the shot was fired at. The other important thing about ShotSpotter is the sheriff asked for it. It’s a technology that our sheriff who’s trying to fight crime in Macon-Bibb County asked for, and the funds were available for that through the American rescue money. The other thing is we have a system called NIBIN. That NIBIN system is a national ballistics system that we have, that we don’t use it very often, but it can be very, very helpful in solving crimes and perhaps deterring future crime. And what that is, say there’s no deputies working that night, so you had zero. But the ShotSpotter tells you that that 12 shots took place in Unionville. Well the next day, when you do have officers there, when you have your shift that are worked out. You can go directly, exactly where that shot was fired at. And they’re shell casings there. You can collect those shell casings and run it through the NIBIN system that may tell you that it was that gun was used in a murder or somewhere else. Or it may tell you that that gun has been used in a crime that happened on this area there, and you can go back to a camera or these, these shots could be hooked up to camera systems that will actually turn in the location. Perfect example we’ve had people ask for this system over in Pendleton Homes. Why come we can’t have a system that when we hear shots, there’s a camera that takes a picture or films, whoever’s making these shots or we have constant need and for four shots being fired over in our area and a police may not can get there in time. So this way they will allow you to hook us a system up like this with a camera with a ShotSpotter to turn the camera in the direction so you can capture the person who’s doing the shooting. At the same time, it’ll tell you whether somebody is out in the woods, target practicing or whether someone’s actually there committing a crime. And it could save a life. You think about somebody who gets shot in the a main artery or leg, and the person that just shot them is certainly not going to call the police or call an analyst. You’re sitting at your house, you hear shots a lot or you don’t know if it’s a backfire or a firework. You don’t even call 911. The person bleeds out. This way, if there’s a shot fired and we’ve got the capability of going there, then we can probably save that person’s life. It could be your family member, so it makes a lot of good sense to do that. This is a a four year trial period is going to cover 90 percent of all the crime, the shootings in Macon-Bibb County. No matter what miles, square miles you say it’s covering. So that’s that’s one of the fallacies of some arguments that I heard that day, “well it’s only going to cover seven or nine miles.” Well, nobody said they were perfect squares. They can go all lights right here, and we’re pretty smart about that. And we got the data gathered and we see were most all the shots are fired in Macon-Bibb County, and we’re trying to solve those issues. Pretty much every violent crime that you had that resulted in a death will be in that issue. I mean, in that area. So I’m certainly, you know, I’m in favor of the ShotSpotter. The sheriff has been asking for it for a while. They never had the money to do it. This protects officers. It protect lives, and we heard from all 14 forums. I bet we heard people hear gunshots and we want to know where they’re coming from. And this is a way to make that happen.

CCJ: [00:19:08] You mentioned cameras. Are plans still progressing to have cameras, speed cameras in, near schools?

Mayor Miller: [00:19:15] Oh yes, we are. The schools are some of the signs of art going up. I’m not sure if you’ve seen any of those or not. The signs are there. DOT has to approve those things. The school system has approved it. There’s a process. So we’re going through that process. The equipment is ready to be installed and we’re doing it on so many schools at a time. So you’ll start to see those in the next couple of months and we’ll have the trial period that we talked about. Been some delays, but that’s basically delays because of pandemic related. So certainly they’ll be going up. We’ll get some money off those this year. We can tie these cameras to that as well as school cameras. We can actually a lot of times people commit crimes, they run through schools. Believe it or not, they’ll go through a school, a schoolyard for crimes. And with these ShotSpotter and things like that, you can actually hook them up to school cameras so you can catch someone running from a scene through a schoolyard. So we think that’s going to free up, you know, officer time as well. So you don’t have anybody there shooting radar at the different schools. And this be another way to kind of save money and save officer time.

Macon Violence Prevention update

CCJ: [00:20:10] And what is the update on the Macon Violence Prevention Program?

Mayor Miller: [00:20:15] Making Violence Prevention program last Tuesday, we had our strategic planning. We had about 35 people there for the Strategic Planning Call. Vision Institute is putting putting all the data that we talked about that day with our goals, objections and action items. We’ll receive that report, hopefully by the end of next week. We’re going to use that report to, to as a catalyst for these community grants that we’ve been talking about for a while. You know, next week we’re going to ask the commission to appropriate $2.5 million to a foundation to vet out each neighborhood proposal we get or nonprofit or whatever proposals we get on the Macon Violence Prevention initiative that we’ve been discussing. They’ll vet those out and we’ll use that money to do so. So that strategic plan is going to be very important in that because basically, you’re going to have to read the strategic plan. You’re going to look at the goals, the objectives, the action items, and you’re going to have to when you apply for that proposal for that money, you got to let us know what you’re trying to accomplish and how we’re going to measure that and it will be vetted out. When I talked about doubling down, that’s what I’m talking about. We want to get things at work and if they were going to double down and give more money the next time. So we’ll let a foundation vet those out on a regular, consistent basis every year. And for the next four to five years, we’ll have sufficient funds to take care of these needs for the community.

CCJ: [00:21:28] And those were American Rescue Plan funds as well.

Mayor Miller: [00:21:31] That’s correct. Those, those were initially American Rescue plans, but they’ll probably, we’ll probably use some general fund money because we actually paid ourself back for at least 12 million of the 25 million dollars that the county lost during the pandemic. So they don’t come out of general fund money, but is all the same purpose.

How is the blight fight going?

CCJ: [00:21:47] And what about your development of the commercial blight plan that you had? I notice there’s a building on Montpelier that’s just been all spruced up and I checked and there are no plans to open it up or put a business there. They’re just making it look nice to comply. So how is that going? Are the fines coming in? Is it helping with code enforcement? How would you say that progress is?

Mayor Miller: [00:22:13] I think we’ve made great progress. We have more blight tax this year than we’ve had in the previous three years combined. I mean, we have more money coming in, but what we have noticed, and our code enforcement can verify this when we give them addresses and look at. Now we’re starting to see some type of work done, whether it’s painting, whether it’s boarding up, whether it’s cleaning up the property for for overgrown, or trees down or grass. They’re making an effort now, but at the same time they’re paying additional taxes. You know, people thought you could just go board a place up and you’ll get out of having the place demolished or declared a violation of code enforcement. That can only work for a period of time. You know, you can only board a house up for one year, so a house is not going to stay boarded up three or four years anymore, any longer. So we’re starting to see some great results. We’ve all, we reached an agreement with the the owner of the Baconsfield fiasco over there, and it’s going to become something valuable. They’ve got financing available for it. I believe it’s going to be some there. We understand that the, uh, the vacant building may be owned by the same owner over on Thomaston Road will be coming down very soon. They’re waiting on permits from the from the Georgia Power and other utilities they have there. We understand that building is coming down. We’ve seen three or four other buildings that were completely removed. One, a couple in Bloomfield that I know of and one in Houston.  And  we have two or three on our blight list this time that will be taken down as well. So we’ve been very good success. You know, some people do try to work the system, but we got their attention ’cause before they didn’t do anything. And when you go by these places and you see some difference is better than the eyesore it had before. It may, I suspect at least the one we’re talking about, now that something’s been done to it, I suspect they’ll probably get an offer, maybe have a use for that because, you know, if it’s out of sight, out of mind. I’ve seen a lot of houses that have been covered up. But if you start seeing some type of activity, then you get some interest, a spark to sell these homes. And certainly our commercial has done real well. We want to continue to double down on that. We’ve increased our code enforcement effort on that because it creates a lot of capital for Macon-Bibb County. And what we’ve heard from the surrounding businesses is working. So can we have some more of it? So we certainly are going to do that and it helps to collect that money as we go as well.

CCJ: [00:24:24] I know you budgeted for, I believe, five extra code enforcement boots on the ground. Are they in place yet?

Mayor Miller: [00:24:30] I think I think J.T. Ricketson has hired at least five of those. You know, we have about four or five that are post certified as well in his department, so they can do other duties as well. So that’s always a plus. And certainly you want to have, when you go into those situations in some of those neighborhoods where you have maybe squatters at homes or businesses, you want to make sure you have somebody that’s well prepared. So I think the code enforcement will probably continue to grow. I can see us hiring more people there in the next budget cycle because we learned that it can be a very valuable tool, whether it’s going into inspect cameras at bars and nightclubs or convenience stores, whether it’s perhaps monitoring the people who are soliciting funds on the side of the interstate, whether it’s commercial light or a residential blight or, you know, keeping things in code, whether it’s, you know, we’ve got this tire ordinance and that we just recently discussed and we’ve got a, we’ve got an amnesty period coming up now we’re going to collect all these tires. Code enforcement is increasing their responsibilities, this can be a very good tool to help probably curb the use and the need for as many officers that we have. So we are going to be able to develop some of those to lighten the load on the sheriff. So we don’t require as much deputies.

Bibb deputy shortage update

CCJ: [00:25:41] Anything else you’d like to add?

CCJ: [00:25:43] No, I do want to say something about the deputies there because people are always talking about that. We did this $40 million incentive for four sheriffs over a 10 year period of time where users were using some efforts to retain the officers that we have. So far we have seen a lot of officers who were prepared to leave at the end of the year at least suggest they’re going to stay here. They would recall their paperwork. So, if we can ever get to a point where we can hire more officers and not have more officers leave, we’ll stabilize. We’re starting to see that. Several months ago, I think, one of your fellow media representatives interviewed me about the homicide rate in Macon-Bibb County, and at that time we were on a trajectory to increase or have more than we had last year. We’ve had one in the last, what, 80 days. (*See editor’s note at bottom.) And one of those was justifiable so we really haven’t had any and we’ve had two that were dismissed from earlier in the year because they weren’t homicides at all. So we’re showing a decrease in some violent crime which is very encouraging. Nothing I’m trying to take personal responsibility for but I think the more we have these conversations, the more our community is active about getting out the word of this not being acceptable. The more we do in technology and the more boots on the ground, as far as people engaged, I think the less likely we’re going to have these homicides. I’m very confident the MVP program. I’m very confident that the MVP program is going to be successful. All across Georgia we know, it’s been reported several times, that other organizations, or communities are starting to ask questions about ‘How are y’all doing that? And, how did you fund it? What are some of your basic principles?’ And they’re starting to take interest over there. So I really do think we’re going to get a handle on crime without the need of hiring 200 officers and that’s very encouraging. Having said that, we still need a more police presence and better response times and we’re working on that. We’ve had a lot of conversations with the sheriff and we want to make sure response times are as good as we can get ’em in the environment. That’s the number one complaint that we hear. Not necessarily that someone’s crime doesn’t get solved, but it just takes too long to get an officer there. And that’s something that we can’t, we can no longer tolerate, so we’re looking at other ways to combat that.

*Editor’s note: This interview took place on Oct. 7, 2021. Three other homicides have been reported in Macon-Bibb County between then and date of publication, Oct. 15.