The EMA Community Blood Drive will be going on all day Thursday.
The semi-annual blood drive to support Shepeard Community Blood Center will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Evans Government Complex auditorium and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bloodmobile at the Roads and Bridges building on Columbia Road in Appling.
The blood center provides blood products to 21 area hospitals.
To donate, one must be at least 110 pounds, in good general health and be at least 17 years old. Those who are 16 years old may also donate with written parental consent.
Donors will receive free Chick-Fil-A biscuits and Firehouse Subs, cupcakes from Small Cakes Cupcakery and a T-shirt. First-time donors will get a Shepeard Community Blood Center duffel bag.
For more information, visit www.shepeardblood.org.
A Evans man was arrested Wednesday afternoon after leading Columbia County authorities on a chase.
Kenneth Allen Ringgold, 31, of Walnut Hill Drive, was charged woth forgery, fleeing and attempting to elude, hit and run, reckless driving, driving on the wrong side of the road and driving on a suspended license, according to Columbia County sheriff's lt. Andy Shedd.
Deputies responded to a call of a man trying to cash a forged check at Georgia Bank and Trust Co. at 4109 Columbia Road just after 3 p.m., according to Shedd. As they closed in on the man -- later identified as Ringgold -- the parking lot, he jumped into a Chrysler minivan and sped away west on Columbia Road.
Ringgold wass driving the damaged and smoking van that belonged to his mother into oncoming traffic and swerved and nearly hit a patrol car, according to traffic on the police scanner.
Because the Ringgold was driving so erratically, Shedd said deputies terminated the high-speed chase for safety reasons and continued to follow the van.
The van hit two vehicles on Columbia Road and sideswiped a car on Columbia Road at Belair Road. Ringgold turned the van north onto Belair Road, where he sped at 65-70 miles per hour.
Ringgold, driving without the left front tire, turned onto Pineland Drive and ran away. A postal carrier told deputies that Ringgold man ran behind a home on the 4400 block.
Deputies captured and arrested Ringgold a short time later in a wooded area between Pineland Drive and Belair Drive.
MACON, Ga. — Mike Guthrie smiled and hugged his players in the waning moments of Saturday night’s game.
The Augusta Prep head coach knew his team had played a great season and given it their all.
But it wasn’t enough for the Cavaliers, as they fell to Stratford 61-39 in the GISA Class AAA state title game at Mercer University.
“Coming in second’s OK for us,” Guthrie said. “We came a long way to get to this point. Having Michael (Downing) and the other group of seniors in there was a great accomplishment for them.”
The Cavaliers (20-8) struggled to score early, shooting 8 of 29 in the first half. A jumper by Danny Rosenblum in the last minute of the second quarter cut Stratford’s lead to 35-17.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure for these high school kids playing here in the championship game in a big arena, so our shots were awful in the first half,” Guthrie said.
“We talked about that in halftime, to relax it a little bit. Our shots were certainly more pressured than normal.”
Things weren’t much better out of the break, as Augusta Prep shot 6 of 22 to close out the game. The deficit grew as large as 23 as Stratford made 10 of 25 shots in the second half.
“Augusta Prep is such a good team,” Stratford head coach Jamie Dickey said. “They earned the right to be here, and we knew we had a big challenge on our hands. … Our defensive pressure really allowed us to get out in transition. We knew that if they played their style and their game, we were gonna be in for a battle.”
Quintez Cephus finished with 21 points and six rebounds for the Eagles, while Jonathan Hefner added 10.
Senior Rafay Chaudhary scored 12 points to lead the Cavaliers.
“Rafay’s played excellent in the playoffs,” Gutherie said. “He got us to this point of where we are, no question about that.”
When the Evans High boys soccer team played Greenbrier on Feb. 25, referee Pete Franz was yelled at by both sides. He explained his decisions to players and coaches and eventually flashed a red card.
It wasn’t anything he hadn’t done 999 times before.
The contest marked the 1,000th U13 or higher contest Franz has officiated, about half of them coming in Columbia County.
The game was the type the retired Army intelligence officer from Evans has come to enjoy the most.
“It’s two competitive teams with skilled players,” said Franz, who has been a referee for over 20 years. “They’ll bring a lot of emotions and spirit to the game. As a referee you really want to be challenged.”
Soccer has played a central role in Franz’s life.
“I was raised overseas in Germany so my father had a strong passion for soccer,” he said. “I had three kids and as they were growing up they just fell in love with the sport, so we became just one big soccer family.”
Franz said when being a daddy-coach stopped being cool, he still wanted to participate in the sport and decided to become a referee instead of just complaining about them. Being in the Army throughout that time raised its own challenges.
“I’ve deployed to Afghanistan three times and Iraq twice,” he said. “Every time I came back I almost had to start from ground zero. You’ve got to requalify on your testing, you’ve got to get back out there and get comfortable blowing the whistle.”
Things he learned in the Army, such as people skills and conflict resolution, helped Franz in his role as a referee.
“You’ve got to be a leader out there,” Franz said. “You have to set the example for these players and coaches. You keep your emotions in check so you can ask them to have some self-control.”
Starting out, Franz took offense when his calls were questioned, but his attitude evolved. Now he encourages discussion as long as it is done in a professional manner.
“Over the years you learn that sometimes these players and coaches just want to be acknowledged,” he said. “And sometimes they see things you don’t see, so you have to put your personal ego aside and say, ‘OK coach I hear you.’ I’m amazed by that simple gesture how much credibility that gets you.”
More than two years after Lacy Aaron Schmidt was convicted of murdering his 14-year-old friend, a Superior Court judge refused his request for a new trial.
Schmidt, 17, was 15 when he was charged with shooting 14-year-old Alana May Calahan in her home near Harlem on Jan. 31, 2011.
A year later, a jury convicted him of murder, theft and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Superior Court Judge Michael N. Annis sentenced Schmidt to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Annis denied the request for a new trial at a Thursday hearing in Evans.
Schmidt’s attorney, Mack Taylor, said Penelope Donkar, Schmidt’s trial attorney, was “ineffective.” Taylor argued that Donkar should have more vehemently pursued voluntary or involuntary manslaughter charges and that she had “no real strategy to get a voluntary manslaughter verdict and no clear strategy to get an involuntary manslaughter verdict.”
He said that the judge should have allowed the jury to consider those charges based on a statement Schmidt gave investigators while in custody that he was trying to “uncock” the gun when it just went off. That statement should have allowed the jury to consider involuntary manslaughter. Another possible theory suggesting Schmidt suddenly became violent in the heat of passion, which also should have allowed the voluntary manslaughter verdict.
Taylor quoted case law that says if the grade of homicide is unclear that the jury should have been instructed on them all and allowed to decide for themselves.
“There has to be some evidence,” Assistant District Attorney Natalie Paine argued in favor of upholding Schmidt’s conviction. “There was nothing said by Mr. Schmidt other than it was an accident.”
Donkar, who testified at the hearing, said Schmidt’s trial was her first murder trial. She said preparations for the trial “consumed” her.
Paine said that Donkar spent appropriate effort preparing for the trial and that she had evidentiary reasons not to seek a manslaughter charge.
“She was simply going where the evidence took her in this case,” Paine said.
Newspaper readers can earn their own award from the Georgia Press Association.
The state newspaper organization is offering a $250 cash prize to the winner of a social media contest that runs through the end of March, according to a press release from the association.
Georgia residents are encouraged to enter creative photos of themselves with their favorite association member newspaper including The Columbia County News-Times and The Augusta Chronicle. Entries should be posted on Instagram or Twitter with the hastag #ReadLocalGA.
A winner will be selected on April 1.
The purpose of the contest is to encourage support of local newspapers and increase interaction between readers and the association. The contest also is designed to encourage younger consumers to read newspapers and show them the importance of newspapers.
For more information, visit www.gapress.org.
Officials will break ground on Columbia County’s newest sporting and outdoor retail store Wednesday afternoon.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the Gander Mountain store will be at 1 p.m. on Mason McKnight Jr. Parkway, near Flowing Wells Road.
The 52,000-square-foot store will be the outdoor sports retailer’s fourth location in Georgia. Gander Mountain, based in St. Paul, sells hunting, fishing, camping, marine and outdoor lifestyle products and services. It has 131 stores in 24 states.
The store is expected to open in the fall.
A total of seven candidates qualified to run for five local seats for federal, state and county elections.
As of Thursday morning, only two of the local races were contested.
In the race for County Commission Chairman, incumbent Ron Cross will be opposed by local builder and political activist Jim Bartley. Both qualified with the Columbia County Republican Party, according to Elections Director Nancy Gay.
In the race for Commission District 1, two candidates qualified with the Republican Party to replace outgoing Commissioner Ron Thigpen. Doug Duncan, a vice president with Augusta staffing firm MAU Inc., will face Hafeez Chaudhry, a Martinez businessman and hotel developer.
Incumbent District 4
Commissioner Bill Morris
qualified with the Repub-lican Party on Monday. Gay said she was unaware of any candidates qualifying as Democrats. All candidates for county commission seats are required to qualify with their political parties.
In the nonpartisan county Board of Education races, the two incumbents qualified for their respective seats, Gay said. Kristi Baker qualified to retain her District 2 seat and Mike Sleeper qualified for District 3.
Qualifying all local offices will end at noon on Friday. Candidates for state offices must qualify with the Secretary of State’s office in Atlanta. The general primary election will be May 20. If needed, a run-off for the general primary election will be held July 22.
SUMTER, S.C. - If Augusta Christian head coach John Harris was pressed to come up with a motto to describe this year's squad, it might be, "You've just got to believe."
Entering the SCISA Class AAA state tournament as the upper fourth seed, the Lions defeated Wilson Hall, upset top seed Hammond and No. 2 Northwood before completing their improbable run to a state championship with a 59-53 victory over defending state champion Cardinal Newman on Saturday at the Sumter Civic Center.
"We believed," Harris said. "We believed no matter what seed that we landed into, we had to battle and we were able to make that run. We stayed together as a unit, all in, one game at a time. We believed from the beginning of the year. ... That was one of our team goals, to be the last one standing. It took perseverance, hard work - we've been working since May - and now we're reaping some of the fruits of our labor."
Junior guard Zach London came off the bench and provided a spark for the Lions, scoring 10 of his team-high 15 points in the first half as Augusta Christian (22-7) led 28-19 at the break. London hit two 3s in the opening quarter and added another in the third quarter after the Cardinals had pulled within five.
By the end of the quarter, the lead was back at nine, 41-32.
"Zach played extremely well," Harris said. "He shot the ball well in the first half, and he just did a good job."
The fourth quarter provided little drama as the Lions led by as many as 12. The Cardinals pulled within seven on three occasions before cutting the final deficit to six.
Jordan Dingle added 12 for Augusta Christian.
Cardinal Newman's Charles Smith had a game-high 19 points. Sam Lake had 15 points on five 3s for the Cardinals (19-10).
A registered sex offender is wanted in Columbia County for failing to properly register with authorities.
Kenneth Ray Straughn Jr., 36, is wanted for violating the sex offender requirements, according to Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.
Straughn pled guilty to child molestation in Columbia County in 2000.
His last known address was 313 Beech Lane in Grovetown. His whereabouts are unknown, but he is possibly staying in Richmond County.
Anyone with information about Straughn’s whereabouts should call the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 541-2800.