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Governor Deal tours Blue Bird plant

Governor Nathan Deal visited Fort Valley on Thursday to tour the Blue Bird bus factory.

They are not only creating buses, Deal says, they are doing important work in creating jobs.

Now that Georgia has the highest unemployment rate in the country, the governor says job creation is crucial.

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Eco-friendly, profitable alternatives to corn

Fort Valley State researchers were looking for an alternative to corn.

And thanks to 2.5 million dollars in federal grant money, they may have just found it.

"We were making bio diesel out of [corn] and the prices were sky rocketing, so definitely we needed a crop that can supplement corn," said researcher Dr. Hari Singh.

The alternatives are tropical plants like Napier grass, giant reed plants, and Forage Sorghum.

These plants can feed livestock and make bio fuel, two common uses of corn.

"Most of the farms you have some prime land and then some part of the farm is left without any use," said Dr. Bharat Singh, a lead researcher.

He says these grasses can be grown on that leftover land.

Which means farmers can make a profit making bio fuel, without touching their primary crops.

Blue Bird sold to Texas company

Peach County's largest employer will soon have new owners.

A Texas company, Hennessey Capital Acquisition, says it has reached a deal to buy the Blue Bird Corporation in Fort Valley.

Hennessey says they'll purchase all of Blue Bird's outstanding stock from the investment company that now owns it. Counting cash stock purchasing and taking over Blue Bird's debt, Hennessey says the deal is worth nearly $500 million.

President and CEO Phil Horlock will remain in charge at Blue Bird, according to the news release.

Horlock, tells us the founder, Albert Luce got the inspiration for it many years ago from his young daughter, as she waited for a school bus one day.

Peach County water park still going up

A developer is going ahead with plans to build a water park in Peach County.

Peach County Commissioners voted Thursday to put $300,000 they've budgeted towards the building of a roadway for a new water park.

The park is set to be built near the intersection of Highway 41 and Lakeview Road.

Elizabeth Hartwell, a manager at Monkey Joe's, likes the idea of the park coming.

"It's exciting because usually, you have to travel and traveling with kids is not that fun, if you have any, so a water park local, I think it'll be great," Hartwell said.

Since her business also caters to children, she expects to reap the benefits.

"A lot of people don't know about Monkey Joe's and it is word of mouth here in the community," she said, "I think business will increase actually, so I think it's a good idea that they approved this."

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Byron girl's military care packages ready for send off

After weeks of preparation and hundreds of donated items, a 9-year-old Byron girl's military care packages are ready for their big send off.

We first told you about Alyssa Skinner, who collected the packages for her own birthday, last month.

Since then, the donations have poured in from across Central Georgia.

It takes a lot of thought to put together a care package. What exactly to put in....

"There's chips. There's sunglasses. There's razors," Skinner said.

And just where to put all of them.

But it's the amount of compassion stuffed into every one of 9-year-old Alyssa Skinner's bags that makes them so special.

"I decided to make 103 care packages for the military," she said.

200 high school students do 'ice bucket challenge'

At Peach County High School, some students and teachers didn't have any trouble cooling off.

They participated in what they call "Middle Georgia's largest ice bucket challenge."

About 200 students and teachers were soaked thanks to the Peach County Fire Department.

The school's Future Farmers of America Club were challenged by the Newton County High School chapter.

Members of the club took $1 donations from students who wanted to participate.

The club then matched the total they received from students, ending with around $400 being donated to ALS research.

The challenge was then passed on to Perry High School, Crawford County High School, and Warner Robins High School.

One student whose family is affected by ALS, says she's glad she did the challenge.

State approves Byron-Peach Charter High School

The Old Byron Elementary School, now being used by community groups and Central Georgia Technical College, is getting new life. Come next August, it'll be known as the Byron-Peach Charter High School.

Board chairman Roy Lewis said it's been about two years in the making. Lewis said they are a state charter, not a local charter, because the Peach County School Board voted to deny their application.

"The school is funded solely through state funds and grant programs. The state will give you about $5,200 per student," said Lewis.

That $5,200 would pay for teachers salaries, utilities, administrators and other support staff, but the school will have to pay for renovations.

Among other things they've found asbestos and that the building needs new floor, ceiling tiles, and paint. The charter plans to apply for federal grants that help charters get started and by fundraising.