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Fort Valley investigating break-ins, rapes


Peach County authorities are looking for a man they believe broke into at least five homes and raped two women.

All of the break-ins happened in the past week, within a couple of blocks of the Fort Valley State campus, according to Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese.

He said law enforcement has formed a task force to investigate, including the sheriff's office, Fort Valley police and Fort Valley State campus police.

"In my 20 years here, I've never seen anything like this," said Fort Valley Police Chief Lawrence Spurgeon.

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Peach crop hurt after cold temperatures

Middle Georgia Peach farmers were set to hit a high crop yield for peaches this year, but after temperatures got down to the twenties last Sunday, many are facing a loss.

13WMAZ's Paula Rotondo spoke to a Crawford County peach farmer about how his crop might be affected.

"We've certainly had some years where we've lost them all," says owner of Dickey Farms, Robert Dickey.

He says he's grateful their peach loss this year isn't as severe.

"Usually this time of year, the peaches have just passed blooming, and they're loaded with lots of fruit on the tree, but we had a freeze last Sunday morning that really hurt some of the blossoms on the trees," he says.

Dickey says the mid-20-degree temperatures left some trees with no fruit at all. He estimates his loss at about 25 percent.

Fort Valley State University president steps down

Ivelaw Griffith, the current president of Fort Valley State University, announced he's stepping down June 30, after less than two years on the job.

According to a University System of Georgia news release, Griffith became president in 2013.

The news release does not explain Griffith's departure.

But last year, Moody's Investor's Service gave Fort Valley State University a BAA 1 rating, which is considered medium.

BREAKING: 3 wrecks slow traffic on I-75 in Peach County

Traffic is moving slow this morning on I-75 in Peach County, due to 3 separate wrecks near the Highway 96 exit.

A spokesman with the Georgia State Patrol post in Perry tells 13 WMAZ that officers are investigating 2 accidents on I-75 Northbound, and a third accident on I-75 Southbound, all near the State Highway 96 on and off ramps.

The spokesman did not know how many cars were involved, or the number of people injured in those accidents.

The accidents are still being cleared, and the spokesman said traffic is flowing slowly in both directions on I-75.

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Crawford County man indicted for shootout with deputies

A Crawford County grand jury Wednesday indicted Rickey Eugene Smithey Jr. on 14 counts, including aggravated assault on a peace officer, aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit a felony and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.


District Attorney David Cooke announced the indictment during a Wednesday afternoon news conference. Cooke said the charges stem from a March 14 incident in which Smithey allegedly assaulted three Crawford County law enforcement officers and three civilians.

Fort Valley residents attend spring cleaning program

People in Fort Valley had a chance to get a jump start on their spring cleaning Saturday morning.

Fort Valley State University's Cooperation Extension held the Green Up Clean Up event to help people tidy up and recycle responsibly. FVSU's extension housing specialist Keishon Thomas explained the reasoning behind the event. She said, "In the cooperative extension program, we have a housing area and one of the things for the housing area is to obtain and maintain healthy sanitary housing. We wanted to make sure we brought the resources to the community rather than the community trying to search out and find. We figured if we put everything in a one stop shop kind of place that people would be able to partake in at least one or more of the stops."

Man shot by deputies released from hospital, arrested

The man injured during a shootout with Crawford County deputies on Monday has been released from the hospital.

After his release, Rickey Eugene Smithey Jr. was booked into Crawford County jail and charged with three counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer, according to a sheriff's office news release.

Smithey is awaiting his first court appearance.

Crawford deputies were called to Racers Gas Station at the corner of Olive Grove Church Road and Hwy 80 at about 7:53 p.m. after a 911 call about a disturbance involving Smithey, the news release states.

Deputies encountered Smithey and during a confrontation with him, Smithey took a semi-automatic pistol out of his pocket several times.

The deputy ordered Smithey to keep his hands off of the pistol and the suspect did not comply, according to the news release.