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2016 brings changes to Macon and Mercer

The transition into the new year brought with it many changes to the Macon area. Here’s what you missed while you were away.

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floodDonn Rodenroth, The Telegraph

Flooding in Macon Takes Over Ocmulgee River

Flash floods popped up in Georgia over the winter break with the Ocmulgee River cresting at nearly 28 feet in early December and lowering less than a foot by January. According to Liz Fabian at the Telegraph, cleanup crews gathered to remedy the damage a few weeks ago, focusing mainly on newly formed sinkholes.

The flooding impacted Amerson River Park, which was renovated last July.  Thanks to the efforts of on-site cleanup crews, the park has been reopened and damage to the river has been controlled.

Vandalism at Macon Mosque

The Islamic Center on Vineville Avenue was vandalized Dec. 12.  Profanities were marked into the windows of the mosque along with the word “terrorist.”  The graffiti was cleared within the week.  Following the vandalism, members affiliated with a nearby church gathered to show their support.  They held signs that offered sentiments, such as “we stand with our Muslim neighbors” and “just say no to intolerance,” 13WMAZ reported.

A quote by Papa Joe can be found at the new fountain in Tattnall Square Park.

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A quote by Papa Joe can be found at the new fountain in Tattnall Square Park. These flowers were placed there shortly after Hendricks’ death.

Mercer Icon “Papa Joe” Hendricks Passes

Dr. Joseph M. Hendricks, known by many as “Papa Joe,” passed away in December at the age of 81. Hendricks was an established faculty member at Mercer who served the university in many capacities.

Hendricks served as the director of religious activities and a professor of Christianity for many years. He was also instrumental in bringing the first black student, Sam Oni, to campus and started the school’s Upward Bound program.

“The soul of our university will forever bear the imprint of Papa Joe. His legacy will endure as long as students walk the halls of Mercer,” University President William D. Underwood said in a release.

The university held a ceremony for Hendricks at Newton Chapel Jan. 23.

Mercer’s Underwood Named “Middle Georgian of the Year”

The Telegraph named President Underwood Middle Georgian of the Year for 2015.  In naming him, the Telegraph considered “[Mercer’s] accomplishments and endeavors that, under his watch, have more than altered the landscape of the campus and the city around it.”  

The flourishing of Mercer’s sports program in recent years was an area the newspaper cited when making their decision, according to a story by the publication’s Joe Kovac Jr.

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Mercer to Help Restore Historic Capricorn Studio

On Dec. 10, Mercer announced its plan to partner with NewTown Macon, Sierra Development and Southern Pine Plantations to restore the historic Capricorn Studio downtown.

The building, once used to record the likes of the Allman Brothers Band and Elvin Bishop, will be revitalized to provide a music incubator where musicians can practice and showcase their work.

 “Mercer has invested heavily in making Macon the kind of place that is attractive to talented, creative and entrepreneurial young people. Having a vibrant cultural climate — including an active, engaging music scene — is a necessary component of achieving this goal,” Underwood said in a press release. “Through Mercer Music at Capricorn, we plan on putting this historically important facility back to work, not as a museum, but as a tool to reignite a vibrant music scene in Macon.”

Musicians looking to reserve a space in the incubator can direct their inquiries to NewTown Macon at music@newtownmacon.com.

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2016 brings changes to Macon and Mercer