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Bumper Peanut Crop Could Cut Prices

ATLANTA (AP) - A big peanut harvest is likely to reduce prices on peanut butter and other products for consumers stinging from high grocery prices.

U.S. farmers expect to bring in two-thirds more peanuts this year than they did in 2011. Armond Morris farms 1,000 acres in south Georgia, and he says farmers are getting more peanuts off each acre this year than last, when many peanuts dried up in the ground in unusual heat and drought.

That sent prices skyrocketing, which prompted farmers to plant more peanuts. Then they had almost perfect weather.

As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts this year's harvest will be about 3 million tons, compared with last year's roughly 1.8 million tons.

Experts say that means peanut butter prices could fall 10 percent or more.

Prison Guard Pleads Guilty in Inmate's Beating

A Macon state prison guard pleaded guilty Wednesday to violating an inmate's civil rights for his part in a 2010 beating.

Emmett McKenzie, 31, of Montezuma, is a former sergeant at the prison in Oglethorpe. He pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.

A news release from the U.S. Attorney's office in Macon says McKenzie told the inmate, "Don't mess with my officers," watched another officer punch the handcuffed man and throw him to the ground and then walked away as the beating continued.

The U.S. Attorney's office says McKenzie told his Macon State Prison supervisors about the beating, but they took no action to stop the assault.

He faces up to five years in prison. McKenzie is the third officer to plead guilty in the case, according to a news release.

The beating happened in December 2010 during a wave of lockdowns at four Georgia prisons as inmates went on strike for better work and living conditions.

Vienna Council Reduces Police Pay Raises

Council members in Vienna voted to reduce potential pay raises for their seven police officers Monday night.

Gail Bembry, City Administrator for Vienna, told 13WMAZ that the officers will still be entitled to pay raises in the fiscal 2012-2013 budget year, but not what was first budgeted.   

"We still intend to implement pay increases for the officers. It will not be as large as first proposed," said Bembry. 

Bembry told us the total line item decrease for the Vienna Police Department will be $60,000.

Royals Run Past Macon County for Win

Royals Run Past Macon County for Win

Bleckley rushed for 355 yards, 203 of them in the second half, and forced five Macon County turnovers in a 51-0 road win Friday.  Tij'ea Randall had his first 100-yard rushing game and scored twice.  Tavon Ross also had a pair of touchdowns, rushing for 100 yards on seven carries.  Ken Hughes had 82 yards on 12 carries including a four-yard touchdown run.

The Royal defense held an opponent under 100 total yards for the second straigh week, limiting Macon County to 68. BCHS hosts Taylor County October 19.  Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

Emergency Unemployment Benefits Go into Effect for Georgia

People who've been out of work for a while may be able to get more unemployment benefits soon.

The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that it will send out notices outlining how to file for benefits to those eligible for the additional Emergency Unemployment Compensation.

The E-U-C program was established in 2008 and allows benefits for those living in states where the three-month seasonally adjusted unemployment rate averages at least 9 percent.

The compensation is available to people who have used up all levels of emergency compensation and who no longer qualify for regular unemployment benefits.

Georgia's emergency unemployment insurance program goes into effect beginning Sunday.  The state's unemployment rate averaged just above nine percent for June, July and August.

Sales Tax Holiday This Weekend

If you're looking to go green at your home or maybe just to save a little money, this weekend you're in luck.

The State of Georgia is allowing you to do both with a tax free holiday on energy efficient products.

From Friday through Sunday you can get a break on the sales tax.

Here's some of the products that qualify: Air conditioners, dishwashers, refrigerators and dehumidifiers.

The products must come with the Energy Star label or meet the Watersense criteria and cost $1,500 or less.

Home Depot is just one of the many stores in Central Georgia where you can purchase those products.

Appliance Specialist Dawn Musgrove says Energy Star and Watersense appliances save you energy and water, which also saves you money.

Top Southern Barbecue Festival Returns in November

Top Southern Barbecue Festival Returns in November

One of the South's gems lies within the  event Vienna, Ga. awaits all year. Mouths begin to water before even arriving on the event grounds: one of Georgia's largest barbecue events is near.

Since 1982, the Big Pig Jig brings folks of all kinds for one thing everyone has in common: the love for food. 

This year, the annual event is set for November 1-3. What started off as a bet on who could make the best pig became what is now a barbecue contest, festival, and arts and crafts fair all rolled into one.

Named one of the Top 500 Festivals and Most Extraordinary Events by Travel Agent Magazine and Tom Clynes, author of "WILD PLANET!" respectively, the event in South Georgia has even drawn Discovery Channel to list it among the Top 10 in Barbecue Contests.

According to the Big Pig Jig website, the festival has had such success that Dooly County Chamber gave out over $16K in prizes in 2010.

The full schedule has not been announced yet.