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Stories of the century

This chronology of events in the period from 1900 to 1999 concerns local matters only, mostly in Macon or Bibb County (unless otherwise noted) but some in other Middle Georgia communities. It was compiled from a variety of sources over the years.

- Ed Corson

• 1900-1909

1900 - The census of Macon shows 21,661 - down 1,000 from 1890.

1900 - An annexation bill passes to bring in suburbs, but lawsuits stall a popular vote until 1904.

1900 - A Fifth Street bridge over the Ocmulgee is opened.

1900 - Jones County native James Augustine Healy, Catholic Bishop of Portland, the first African-American to achieve such a high post, dies in Boston at age 70.

1901 - Four Locomobile horseless carriages are sold here.

1901 - A cornerstone is laid for a new city synagogue

1902 - State Teachers and Agricultural College is founded in Forsyth; it would combine with Fort Valley High and Industrial School in 1939 to become what is now Fort Valley State University.

1903 - The Macon Auto Association is formed, with the initial purpose of lobbying for car races.

1903 - The steamship "City of Macon" is launched in Chester, Pa. The 390-foot craft operates between New York and Savannah.

1903 - The famous pacer Dan Patch sets world records for the mile and 2-mile at the race track in Central City Park.

1904 - Vineville and Hugenin Heights are annexed.

1904 - Congregation Sherah Israel, Macon's second synagogue, is organized.

1904 - The Knights of Columbus is organized in Macon with 60 members.

1905 - The faade of the Academy of Music (built in 1884) is removed and an office building constructed at the front. The renovated building is renamed The Grand Opera House.

1905 - The Masonic Home on the east bank of the Ocmulgee opposite the water works is opened on 100 acres donated by Sen. A.O. Bacon.

1905 - Gray replaces Clinton as the Jones County seat.

1906 - Five hundred black delegates gather at a "conference on grave racial issues" such as school funding, lack of blacks on juries, the "white primary," prison conditions and Jim Crow travel rules.

1906 - Macon's first movie theatre opens on Third Street. The Theatorium shows "The Great Train Robbery."

1907 - Local prohibition is voted in for Bibb County, supposedly closing all the saloons. But "blind tigers" selling illegal whiskey spring up around town. Enforcement would fall pretty much in abeyance as it became clear juries wouldn't convict.

1907 - Sunday comics pages begin to appear in the Telegraph.

1909 - The fire department gets its first motorized vehicles.

1909 - City officials announce that Poplar Street will be paved with Macon-made brick.

1909 - Cherokee Heights, Macon's first planned suburban neighborhood, is started by the Vineville Improvement Co.

•  1910-1919

1910 - The census shows population up to 40,665, thanks to annexation. After a "Greater Macon campaign," South Macon, Napier Heights and East Macon had voted themselves in.

1911 - Charles Henry Douglass, born in Macon's Unionville neighborhood, opens the Douglass Theatre next to his Douglass Hotel.

1912 - The Dempsey Hotel is completed and holds its grand opening.

1912 - The Morning Music Club is founded; the Macon Writers' Club followed in 1914 and the Macon Art Association in 1919.

1913 - A new high school is built, named by the board of education after Macon poet-musician Sidney Lanier.

1913 - On March 17, the levee protecting Central City Park breaks.

1913 - Cherokee Heights is annexed, the last annexation until the 1930s.

1914 - Judge Nat E. Harris of Macon is elected governor, the only one ever to come from Macon.

1914 - The four-story Katherine Court, Macon's first apartment complex, is built on Mulberry Street by Eli Elkan.

1914 - A Park Commission committee including Mayor Bridges Smith confers official names on the many small and large parks and squares of the city, most of them now forgotten.

1914 - The Rotary Club is established locally. Kiwanis follows in 1920, Lions, Jaycees and Civitans in 1921, the Exchange Club in 1923 and the Homosophian Club in 1926.

1916 - The new Terminal Station is opened in December. When train traffic peaked in 1926-1927, there were 49 arrivals and 49 departures daily.

1916 - Long awaited and feared, as it spread north and east from Mexico, the cotton boll weevil arrives at Cross Keys. It could not be controlled. This dooms the one-crop system; railroads and small towns die from its effects.

1916 - Passage of a strict state prohibition law (which Nat Harris refused to veto) causes 59 saloons to be padlocked in Macon alone, presaging the passage of a national prohibition law in 1919.

1917 - Camp Wheeler is built at Holly Bluff between Herbert Smart Airport and the Jeffersonville Road as a training camp for 30,0000 on land owned by Harry Stillwell Edwards and the Chamber of Commerce. (Shut down after World War I ended, it was reactivated in 1941.)

1917 - Telegraph editor-publisher W.T. Anderson introduces a page of news of the black community with a black editor; an innovation in its time, it would be discontinued in 1969 as a vestige of segregation.

•  1920-1929

1920 - Macon's population in the 1920 census is 52,000, about 57 percent white.

1920 - On Sept. 3, women register to vote in Macon for the first time.

1921 - Women having won the right to vote, a physician's wife, Mrs. Helen Shaw Harrold, is elected to Macon City Council.

1921 - St. Stanislaus Seminary, a Jesuit institution which opened in 1874 as Pio Nono College, burns to the ground. The land, sold to developers, becomes the Stanislaus Circle neighborhood.

1921 - Pilot International, a service club for businesswomen, is organized in Macon. It now has 25,000 members in 518 clubs.

1921 - After fund-raising for a year, Minnie L. Smith, a teacher at the Green Street Elementary School, opens the two-year Beda-Etta College in Pleasant Hill. (There was still no public high school for blacks.) It remained open until 1955, giving teacher training and business courses as well as a general high school curriculum.

1922 - Lawyer Viola Ross Napier is the first woman elected to the Georgia Legislature. She later serves as city clerk for 27 years.

1922 - Shirley Hills, the youngest of the city's neighborhoods later to win historic district status, is designed by Atlanta landscape architects, on land in the estate of A.O. Bacon.

1922 - WMAZ goes on the air with 50 watts of power from the steeple of Mercer's Willingham Chapel, started by a Mercer professor as a physics class project. It is the 2nd station in Georgia. (The Chamber of Commerce runs it from 1927-1935, then sells to commercial interests.)

1923 - The Lena Clemons Conservatory of Music and Arts is founded at the corner of Spring and Riverside, and provides professional training in music for blacks until World War II, when it becomes a USO center for black soldiers stationed in Macon and Columbus.

1924 - Mercer dismisses a professor of biology for allegedly teaching evolution.

1924 - Peach County, Georgia's youngest, is formed from parts of Houston and Crawford counties. It is home to the American Camellia Society and Massee Gardens, and what is now Fort Valley State University.

1925 - Macon City Auditorium opens, boasting the largest copper dome in the world.

1925 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 1920 vice-presidential candidate, seeking recovery from the ravages of polio at Warm Springs, writes nine guest columns exclusively for the Telegraph.

1925 - At year's end, Macon City Council announces plans for the city's first traffic signals, to be erected along Cherry Street.

1927 - A Macon Symphony is organized and plays for two years at the new city auditorium. In 1931-1935,1947-48,1957-1958 similar groups arise and perform under various auspices, but do not survive.

1928 - Wesleyan College moves to its new Rivoli campus way out in the northern suburbs; the Gothic building on College Hill becomes the Wesleyan Conservatory (which burns down in 1963).

1928 - An airplane crashes in downtown Macon on Cherry Street.

1928 - The T.J. Carling Foundation is founded with $200,000, becoming the second major charitable foundation to be founded in Macon and the first in this century.

1929 - Ingleside, Shirley Hills, Bellevue and Payne City turn down annexation.

1929 - On March 21-22, city employees (and later children) digging in the old Indian mounds find ancient human bones. The Smithsonian Institute begins an investigation which will eventually lead to the establishment of the Ocmulgee National Monument.

1929 - Luther Williams Field is built in Central City Park at a cost of $60,000. At the dedication, Baseball Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis throws out the first pitch. It is now the second-oldest ballpark in use in the nation.

•  1930-1939

1930 - The opening of Miller High School for girls, the city's second high school (both white), begins the era of segregation by sex which lasted into the 1970s and was still observed in homeroom assignments into the 1980s.

1930 - The Macon Telegraph buys the afternoon Macon News for an estimated $200,000.

1931 - Heavyweight W.L. "Young" Stribling loses by a TKO in the 15th in a bout for the world heavyweight title to Max Schmeling of Germany.

1931 - Regular air passenger service is inaugurated at Miller Field.

1932 - As the hold of the Great Depression tightened, Bibb Company employees take a "voluntary" pay cut to keep the plants open. City employees are paid in scrip. By 1937, the city has a $1 million debt.

1932 - With the help of the depression-era Works Progress Administration labor, waterfalls, pools and fountains are installed to make Washington Park, once an unattractive slope in front of Wesleyan College, into a gem.

1933 - As the Great Depression grips America, Mercer University announces it will accept cotton, corn and peanuts in payment for tuition.

1933 - Young Stribling is killed in a motorcycle accident at age 28.

1933 - Voters reject a city-county merger. In 1935, a "Greater Macon Bill" to consolidate the governments fails in the General Assembly. Another popular vote would not occur on the issue until 1947.

1934 - National prohibition having been repealed, the city passes an ordinance authorizing the sale of beer. Opposition is heavy and includes protests.

1935 - Local investors purchase WMAZ from the Jaycees.

1936 - Macon's first parking meters appear downtown.

1936 - Dr. D.T. Walton Sr. buys a building at the corner of Cotton and New Street containing his dental offices and other offices.

1939 - John Birch of Macon, a student at Mercer, charges professors in the religion department with theological liberalism. A trustee board acquits them. Later Birch graduates magna cum laude.

1939 - "Gone with the Wind" premieres in Macon, the Telegraph's Susan Myrick having gone to Hollywood to act as technical advisor to the filmmakers.

•  1940-1949

1940 - The population has reached 70,000.

1940 - Growing from a WPA project, the Booker T. Washington Community Center is planned and brought into operation by an interracial committee

1940 - WBML becomes Macon's second radio station.

1940 - John Birch leaves for China as a Fundamentalist Baptist missionary. As a captain in Army Intelligence, he would be killed by the Chinese communists in 1948.

1941 - Camp Wheeler is reactivated as a military replacement center with 740 buildings; until 1946 it employs as many as 2,000 local civilians.

1941 - Rep. Carl Vinson and the Macon Chamber of Commerce play a major role in successfully lobbying for the creation of an Air Depot at nearby Wellston Station, a hamlet with one general store, six homes and a tiny box of a depot. Construction begins in August, on 2,000-acres deeded by the Macon chamber, on a $15 million Army depot. The new city of Warner Robins appears first as a housing development at its gates and then spreads out. Over the years the base has become the largest single employer in Georgia and Warner Robins is the 8th largest city in Georgia.

1945 - The movie "God Is My Co-Pilot," based on Maconite Gen. Robert Scott's best-seller about his Flying Tiger and other exploits, has its world premiere in the Grand Theatre.

1946 - A successful courtship of postwar manufacturing industry for Macon begins, soon bringing the Georgia Kraft, Armstrong Cork and Allied Chemical plants.

1947 - Another vote on city-county consolidation fails, and the issue would remain dormant (but studied several times) until 1960.

1947 - Ingleside, North Vineville, North Highlands and Shirley Hills vote to be annexed into Macon, but the huge areas of West Macon, South Macon and Bellevue reject annexation and it would be 14 years before they are brought into the city.

1947 - On Jan. 31, a tornado touches down three times in Macon, causing an estimated $500,000 in damage.

1948 - Joe Gastin becomes Macon's first black police officer.

1949 - In March, the city legalizes Sunday movies and Sunday baseball.

1949 - Ballard Hudson is built on Anthony Road to serve all of the county's black high school students.

1949 - The Porter Trust, a foundation whose assets are today more than $9 million, is founded with a bequest of Coca-Cola and Bibb Mill stock from a Bibb Mills official who also gave his name to Mercer's former Porter Stadium, two Mercer dorms, and the Porter Auditorium at Wesleyan.

•  1950-1959

1950 - Bert Struby fights editorially for a city ordinance forcing the Klan to unmask, the postwar civil rights movement having triggered a resurgence of the KKK. City Council and Mayor Lewis B. Wilson refuse.

1951 - Macon's telephones are converted to the dial system.

1952 - Neva Jane Langley, a Wesleyan College student who later marries William Fickling Jr., is crowned Miss America.

1953 - WMAZ-TV goes on the air. It was preceded by 60 days by a UHF station, WETV, which folds after 22 months.

1953 - A tornado devastates the young city of Warner Robins.

1954 - Hamp Swain takes the air as Macon's first black disc jockey; Palmira Braswell is the first black female DJ.

1954 - In December, in the wake of the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, 42 black parents filed petitions with the board of education asking for immediate desegregation.

1956 - In the middle of the year, controversy begins over the routing of I-16 (Shirley Hills, N. Highlands and the Indian Mounds). It will surge again in 1960 over I-75's route through the Mercer area, slicing through Hugenin Heights and Pleasant Hill. For a time the controversies threaten that engineers would reroute I-75 from Forsyth to Perry and bypass Macon.

1956 - The Macon Youth Museum (later to become the Museum of Arts and Sciences) opens in temporary quarters in the Wesleyan Conservatory (which burned down in 1963).

1957 - Del Ward's long-running "Date with Del" begins broadcasting on WMAZ-TV.

1958 - Plans are announced to build Macon's first enclosed mall, Westgate, on Pio Nono Avenue.

•  1960-1969

1960 - The voters turn down city-county consolidation for the third time since the first vote in 1933.

1961 - On May 25, voters approve an annexation plan making Macon (temporarily) Georgia's third-largest city, as West Macon, South Macon, Bellevue come into the city, almost doubling its population and tripling its area. This also decreases the percentage of black people from the average of 42 percent which had persisted practically unchanged since the 1830 census, to 37 percent.

1961 - Twelve black youths led by William P. Randall (much later elected to several terms in the state legislature) took front seats in a Bibb Transit Co. bus and refused to move to the rear; their leaders were arrested and convicted.

1962 - A three-week bus boycott by black citizens follows the arrest of four ministers who sat in front seats, and District Judge William Augustus Bootle declares Georgia's separate seating laws unconstitutional. By the end of the year buses, city parks and public golf courses were (grudgingly) desegregated.

1962 - Construction begins on I-75 between Byron and Hartley Bridge Road; during the ensuing years I-475 is completed, then the I-75 crosstown link (in 1971) and I-16.

1962 - The Macon Peaches minor league baseball team features Pete Rose, who would go on to be the National League Rookie of the Year in 1963. Batboy Cam Bonifay is now general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1963 - The original Wesleyan college building, by now the Conservatory, on College Street, is destroyed by fire along with three apartment buildings. A post office is built on the site in a style imitating the classical lines of the original Wesleyan College building.

1963 - Mercer University voluntarily desegregates (the trustees approve it 13-5) by admitting a black African student. Mt. DeSales parochial school and Vineville Baptist Church also open their doors to blacks.

1963 - Entertaining the fourth petition on behalf of black students since 1954, the Bibb County school board votes 11-4 to stay segregated until federal courts order otherwise. Two weeks later, a suit was filed on behalf of 44 Negro children in U.S. District Court; it would not be fully resolved until 1982, but Judge Bootle issues an order to begin eliminating racially separate school systems.

1963 - With the intervention of the U.S. Department of Justice, 21-year-old Bert Bivins, (to be elected a county commissioner more than 30 years later) enters a federally funded vocational training program at all-white Dudley Hughes, a technical school.

1964 - Sixteen black students were admitted to the 11th grades of three Bibb County high schools.

1965 - The Second Street bridge across the Ocmulgee is opened, named for Rep. Carl Vinson.

1966 - Voters approve bonds to build a public college, to be called Macon Junior College. It opens its doors in 1968.

1967 - Lanier High School is destroyed by fire.

1967 - Macon's first Republican mayor, Ronnie Thompson, age 33, is elected

1968 - The $4.5 million Macon Coliseum opens with "Holiday on Ice."

1969 - Mayor Thompson blocks a Muhammad Ali fight at the Coliseum because of Ali's conscientious objection to military service.

1969 - Lake Tobesofkee (having been created in 1960 by Bibb County with the help of a federal loan by damming Tobesofkee Creek and flooding the adjacent swamp and farmlands) opens its first public recreation area, Flintrock Park.

1969 - A court-approved "freedom of choice" desegregation plan for elementary schools goes into effect with about 25 percent of the black students ending up enrolled in once all-white schools. The all-black schools remain all black.

1969 - The self-perpetuating Bibb county school board appoints its first black member, Dr. D.T. Walton, and then William S. Hutchings, who later runs for office when the board becomes elective and becomes the first black to be elected to a county-wide seat in Bibb.

1969 - Knight Newspapers buys The Macon Telegraph and The Macon News from Peyton Anderson, ending 55 years of ownership of the Telegraph by the Anderson family.

•  1970-1979

1970 - Judge Bootle orders integration of the schools. On Jan. 14, the U.S. Supreme Court agrees, ordering teacher transfers to achieve a 60-40 ratio by mid-February. Near-chaos ensues. Groups of both black and white students go on strike. Some 1,500 white students and adults march on the judge's house and the board of education with the tacit approval of city and state leaders. A citizens' rally at the Coliseum a few days later draws 4,000 whites. Nevertheless, high school esegregation begins in September with relatively few incidents as high school complexes bearing geographic names are formed. Five new private schools open in September.

1970 - On June 20 Mayor Thompson makes national headlines with a "shoot-to-kill" order to police, fearing riots and looting.

1970 - The lovingly restored and refurbished Grand Opera House, owned by Bibb County and leased to the Macon Arts Council, reopens as a legitimate theatre, music and dance venue with a gala.

1971 - On April 30, the Central of Georgia's Nancy Hanks, the last regular passenger service to Macon, makes its final Atlanta-Macon-Savannah run after 24 years of diesel service.

1971 - A grand jury complains that top cops are apparently in cahoots with gamblers and prostitution kingpins. This triggers a federal investigation in 1974-1975 that results in jail terms for five city detectives, an ex-police chief and the sitting Bibb sheriff.

1971 - A midsummer (pre-election) racial crisis erupts when a black city employee is shot by a white policeman. Mayor Thompson imposes a curfew 36 hours after several suspected fire bombings and wins his "Machine Gun Ronnie" nickname for firing a carbine in the air (heard over police radio) while accompanying a patrol. Thompson is elected to a second term.

1972 - Baconsfield Park, willed to the city by a Macon U.S. Senator for use by white people only, is sold to developers after lawsuits pointing out the illegality of such provisions. It becomes a shopping center and office park, to the distress of those who remember its beauty.

1972 - Dr. Bobby Jones joins the Mercer University Education department, which he later chairs, and is the first black to receive tenure at Mercer.

1972 - Opposed by the mayor, a proposed city-county merger charter is again turned down by the voters.

1972 - When Macon firefighters launch a "sick-out" in lieu of a strike, Mayor Thompson fires all 93 who walk out.

1972 - A U.S. postage stamp which honors poet Sidney Lanier has its first -day sale in Macon.

1973 - On Feb. 7, Macon is buried under 16 inches of snow.

1973 - The city takes over the bankrupt Bibb Transit Company, but in 1981 would hand it over to a newly created city-county Transit Authority.

1973 - Macon takes an industrial leap forward when YKK, Texprint and Geico came to Ocmulgee East Boulevard. Brown & Williamson arrives the following year, employing 2,000, lured by passage of a referendum giving it a tax break on its tobacco inventory.

1973-1974 - The Macon Whoopees bring professional ice hockey to Macon, but cannot survive the season owing to financial woes.

1974 - William P. "Billy" Randall Jr. and David Lucas are the first blacks to be elected to the Legislature from Bibb County since Reconstruction.

1975 - The $30 million Macon Mall opens after two years of construction, writing finis to downtown as a major retail center. Downtown has spent the next 25 years reinventing itself and gradually returning to economic viability.

1975 - Downtown's Lanier Hotel, opened in 1850, is torn down to make way for a parking lot next to Charter Medical Building on Mulberry Street.

1975 - Election of lawyer Buck Melton returns the mayor's office to the city's Establishment. (A black candidate, The Rev. Julius Caesar Hope, makes a strong showing and forces a runoff.)

1975 - In order to achieve racial balance, the present 15-member City Council is set up, with 10 of the 15 members elected from five districts, and five at large. Accordingly, five black aldermen, the first since Reconstruction, are elected.

1975 - The city also transitions to a strong-mayor, weak-council form of government. Previously, council ran the city departments through its committees; now its role would be purely legislative.

1976 - Consolidation is defeated again, resoundingly, in both city and county despite backing by Mayor Melton and the Chamber of Commerce. But voters do pass a 1 percent local option sales tax (paying off old debt and rolling back property taxes), and authorize bonds for $5 million to pave the county's remaining dirt streets and $7 million to build Mercer University's Medical School.

1977 - The Middle Georgia Symphony Orchestra gives its inaugural concert, presenting a cantata by Sidney Lanier along with the Macon Civic Chorale, founded in 1975, many of whose leaders are instrumental in organizing the symphony. It is renamed the Macon Symphony Orchestra in 1983.

1977 - Elvis Presley makes his fourth and last appearance in Macon, at the Coliseum, three months before his death.

1978 - A consent decree is finally signed bringing to an end eight years of contention over implementing the court order to desegregate elementary schools.

1978 - Southwest High School's basketball team, 28-0, is proclaimed national champion after winning its second consecutive state AAAA title.

•  1980-1989

1980 - On July 13, an all-time high temperature of 108 is recorded. The Coliseum is opened as a heat shelter; the heat leads to better provisions for cooling in low-income public housing.

1980 - Voters approve fluoridation after a contentious campaign, but lawsuits delay its implementation until 1982.

1980 - Albert Billingslea and William P. Randall are elected as the first black county commissioners.

1982 - Mercer's medical school receives accreditation.

1983 - On March 20, the first Cherry Blossom Festival, led by Carolyn Crayton as part of her local Keep America Beautiful program, is held to honor William A. Fickling Sr., who donated 120,000 Yoshino cherry trees to his city.

1983 - The afternoon Macon News ceases publication as a separate entity and is merged with The Macon Telegraph. The two papers had been under a single ownership since 1930.

1983 - Despite sitting out 32 games with an injury, Vince Coleman of the Macon Redbirds steals 145 bases, a modern record for organized baseball.

1984 - Terminal Station gains a new lease on life after a $3.1 million renovation, as the local headquarters of Georgia Power Co.

1985 - Reporters Randall Savage and Jackie Crosby of the Macon Telegraph and News win the Pulitzer Prize for their investigation of the way the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech handle scholarship athletes' academic deficiencies.

1986 - Temperatures over 100 degrees are recorded for 11 consecutive days in a period of extreme heat added to drought.

1987 - Willie Hill becomes the first African American elected to a citywide council seat and during the 1990s serves as council president.

1988 - The Peyton Anderson Foundation is launched with assets of about $40 million, planning to distribute $1.5 million annually to help finance community projects. This is a legacy of the late Telegraph publisher.

•  1990-1999

1991 - Minor league baseball returns to Macon, this time successfully, as the Macon Braves featuring Chipper Jones (the 1999 National League MVP) play their first season at a beautifully refurbished Luther Williams Field

1992 - President-elect Bill Clinton comes to Macon to campaign for Sen. Wyche Fowler, involved in a runoff, and plays saxophone with Central High School's band.

1993 - The Community Foundation of Central Georgia is started with initial grants of $250,000 each from the Peyton Anderson and Woodruff foundations, designed to give non-wealthy people a chance to leave bequests to benefit the community.

1994 - On the July 4 weekend, hurricane-turned-tropical-storm Alberto stalls above western Florida, Alabama and Georgia and causes extensive flooding in Middle Georgia communities, doing serious damage in Montezuma and Americus; Macon is drowned with 14 inches of rain that forces the Ocmulgee River out of its banks. Downtown Macon barely escapes being inundated and with the water treatment plant swamped, Macon has no running water for 19 days.

1994 - Mayor Tommy Olmstead resigns to become commissioner of the giant state Department of Human Resources.

1994 - By a narrow margin of 346 votes out of 36,052, local voters pass a 1-percent special local option sales tax to fund a Road Improvement Program with $105 million to match $190 million in state and federal money.

1995 - Andruw Jones of the Macon Braves is named Minor League player of the year.

1995 - As it did in 1993, Robins Air Force Base dodges the bullet. The Base Realignment and Closure Commission had placed the giant Warner Robins Air Logistics Center on its hit list, but then removes it after a unified community and political leadership made their points.

1995 - In October Carol Hudler becomes the Telegraph's first woman president and publisher.

1996 - Ice hockey returns to the Coliseum with the Macon Whoopee.

1996 - The Telegraph makes its debut on the World Wide Web.

1996 - The Georgia Music Hall of Fame opens.

1996 - The Georgia Board of Regents votes to give Macon College four-year status and change its name to Macon State College.

1997 - The Macon Mall completes an expansion increasing its size by 50 percent to 1.67 million square feet of leasable space.

1997 - Nora Kizer Bell, a philosopher who specializes in medical ethics, is named the first woman president of Wesleyan College, the world's first college chartered for women.

1997 - A beautifully restored Douglass Theatre is reopened as part of downtown Macon's renaissance as an arts, entertainment and tourism center.

1998 - David Bell, who had been serving as interim president, is named president of Macon State College. He and his wife are believed to be the only married couple both heading colleges.

1998 - The county's three for-profit hospitals merge to become more competitive with the entrepreneurially managed Medical Center of Central Georgia.

1998 - Bibb County voters overwhelmingly approve a $118 million bond issue for the first phase of a school improvement program pushed through by school superintendent Gene Buinger.

1998 - CAUTION Macon formed and zeroes in on perceived resident- and environmentally unfriendly aspects of road improvement program.

1998 - A Children's Museum for Macon, increasing the critical mass in the museum district downtown, moves nearer to reality as Midstate Children's Challenge Projects Inc. buys the former Heilig-Meyers furniture store at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Cherry Street .

1999 - Voters return to the polls to vote a special local option sales tax (replacing the road improvement tax) to fund the school facilities bonds voted on the previous year and an additional $65 million for a second phase of improvements.

1999 - Citizen protests force county commissioners to reconsider the school system budget and raise taxes to fund it fully.

1999 - The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame opens.

1999 - The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announces a pioneering $3 million Idea Fund grant for Macon community development.

1999 - Macon elects its first African-American mayor, C. Jack Ellis, and two-thirds-black City Council. Anita Ponder is elected council president.


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