HBO cameras to return downtown; Cal Ripken headed to Macon; Sheriff targets homelessness and the cows are coming!


Liz Fabian

A woman sifts through a suitcase at the corner of Spring Street and Riverside Drive.

Macon-Bibb County Commission meetings Tuesday delved into a host of issues and progress reports on a number of items of local interest:


Bibb County Sheriff David Davis has plans for a “first step” in helping people find a way off the streets.

Commissioner Elaine Lucas expressed reservations and wanted to hear specifics.

“What are you going to do, just arrest the homeless?” Lucas asked. “I will not support anything that deals with the homeless like we’ve done in the past – to run them off.”

During the Macon-Bibb Commission’s Operations and Finance Committee, Davis explained a $5,000 grant from the Peyton Anderson Foundation would be primarily used to transport the segment of the homeless population that is looking for a way back home.

Davis spoke of a recent meeting with local foundations and the Urban Development Authority to begin studying long-term solutions.

The grant would be spent on bus tickets and other means of transportation in the short term.

“Some people who are here are basically stranded,” Davis told the committee.

Commissioner Valerie Wynn mentioned the makeshift homeless camp at the corner of Spring Street and Riverside Drive.

“We do have to look at what are we going to do with these people camping out on Spring Street,” the sheriff said of the overgrown, littered vacant lot that used to be a convenience store.

“It’s their streets, too, whether they’re homeless or not,” Lucas said.

The committee voted to accept the grant.


Liz Fabian
The new Cal Ripken Field will be built at Tom Fontaine Field on Anthony Road next to Matilda Hartley Elementary School through the Macon Housing Authority’s Macon Athletics LLC.

Cal Ripken Field

They’re building it and he will come. It might be cliché to reference the “Field of Dreams” mantra but this line actually refers to building a first-class baseball field that is expected to lure a Hall of Famer to Macon for the grand opening.

Plans are well underway for the new Cal Ripken Field adjacent to Anthony Homes and Matilda Hartley Elementary School which will expand Tom Fontaine Field across from Henderson Stadium on Anthony Road.

“This has been three-dimensional chess to get this done,” said Jeff Battcher, league administrator of Macon RBI, which stands for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, which has been using Tom Fontaine park and making improvements to the property.

The short history is that Macon-Bibb County now owns Henderson Stadium after deeding over the Ed DeFore sports complex on Heath Road to the Bibb County School District.

The Macon Housing Authority will own the land for the new ballfield through its wholly-owned subsidiary Macon Athletics LLC which will lease the property to Macon Little League and the Boys & Girls Club

“We feel like this is a win-win on many fronts,” Macon Housing Authority attorney George Greer told commissioners.

Battcher said with only 20 reserved days on Cal Ripken Field, it will be available most of the time to the community, including Macon Little League.

Battcher envisions children from Anthony Homes and other Housing Authority properties using the fields.

“Just because you’re poor doesn’t mean you don’t have access to the best quality fields,” Battcher said.

Plans include building a synthetic field for baseball, softball and striped for soccer. There will be a total of four fields at the complex, which could also be used by the elementary school.

Macon Athletics will appear before the Macon-Bibb Planning & Zoning Commission next month to acquire a variance for the property. The school district has granted an easement for access, according to the P&Z application.

Although Little League representatives earlier had expressed concerns about the arrangement, they seem satisfied at the conclusion of the meeting that their teams would still be able to play at the park.

“Sounds like a wonderful collaborative effort,” Commissioner Mallory Jones said of the project.

Liz Fabian
HBO film crews are expected to shoot a production the first week in November near Second Street and Cotton Avenue between Cherry and Mulberry streets.

Macon moving pictures

The first week in November will bring a return of HBO to Macon for a film project.

Tuesday, Macon-Bibb assistant county attorney Michael McNeill told commissioners “Project Random” will be doing preparatory work in coming days around Second Street and Cotton Avenue between Cherry and Mulberry streets.

The cable network filmed along the same stretch of Second Street for HBO’s “Watchmen” pilot  in spring of 2018 and earlier this year crews spent a day at the Douglass Theatre.

“Watchmen” is about superheroes able to alter history while investigating a murder during the Cold War.

Although local officials have not released any further information about the nature of the latest project, HBO also renewed for a second season the late-night series “Random Acts of Flyness,” so perhaps the working title of the project might not be random afterall?

‘Til the cows come home

It’s not everyday the Bibb Commission deals with farm animals but the Operations and Finance Committee did Tuesday.

The Commission is considering allowing John R. Walker Sr. and Dennis A. Walker to graze cattle on 16 acres of county land along lower Poplar Street near the landfill for $600 per year.

The Walkers currently lease about 300 acres from the Macon Water Authority property nearby.

The county acreage, described in the meeting as “one step above swamp land,” is overgrown and has no other use at the present time.

The committee approved the resolution which now heads to the full commission.

Contact Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Fabian at [email protected] or at 478-301-2976.