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Updated: 27 min 32 sec ago

Reward offered for tire slashing suspect

Sun, 1/25/2015 12:10 AM

Grovetown authorities say a reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in connection to a recent tire slashing spree.
Grovetown Department of Public Safety Chief Gary Jones said a $1,000 will be awarded to anyone providing information that leads to the arrest of the person responsible for slashing 22 tires in Pepper Hill subdivision on the evening of Jan. 14.

Jones said someone in a red Kia Soul was seen on video surveillance cameras of several residents cutting 22 tires belonging to nearly that many residents at about 8:30 p.m.

In some cases, the Kia driver didn’t get out of the vehicle. He just opened the door, leaned out and cut tires, Jones said.

“A witness saw a red Kia Soul leaving the area at a high rate of speed,” Jones said.

Officers have run down leads on registered owners of Kia Souls in the area and have been disseminating information via social media, flyers and other methods to identity the suspect.

Anyone with information about the identity or whereabouts of the suspect should call the Grovetown Department of Public Safety at (706) 863-1212.

Categories: Local

School board to vote on rezoning Tuesday

Sun, 1/25/2015 12:10 AM

County residents will have one last chance to voice their concerns or support for a massive school rezoning plan at a public meeting on Tuesday.

School board trustees will be presented a final version of the rezoning plan at their regular meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Board of Education office, 4781 Hereford Farm Road in Evans.

Although the plan has been revised slightly since it was first proposed in November, schools Superintendent Sandra Carraway said the plan to be handed to the board will be the same one presented at a Jan. 20 public forum at Greenbrier High School. Carraway said that board members have the power the make changes at the meeting on Tuesday, or accept the plan as it is for a vote.

Trustee Mike Sleeper has said he would like to see some changes on part of the plan, which could affect up to 200 Greenbrier High School students destined to be shifted to the Lakeside High School zone. The county’s proposal exempts 53 rising seniors from the rezoning, if they can provide their own transportation. The other 147 rising freshmen, sophomores and juniors would have to move to Lakeside next fall.

That part of the plan has been met with much vocal opposition from Greenbrier High families who would be affected by the move.

Sleeper said he intends to make a motion on Tuesday that would allow any current students to stay at Greenbrier and complete their high school career. Rising freshman would still be expected to move to Lakeside.

Sleeper said he thinks it is a reasonable compromise to phase in the rezoning for those high schools over a few years, because it does not affect that many students.

“It’s not critical to the point where we can’t let those students continue where they started,” Sleeper said.

Other board members, however, have been reluctant to express support for that change. None have openly opposed it either, saying they would make up their minds when presented with the plan on Tuesday.

The rezoning proposal is the most extensive one ever proposed in Columbia County, involving shifts at 21 schools and moving about 2,000 students over a four-year period. The immediate impact will be felt for most next school year when an estimated 900 children will be shifted to schools across the county. School officials said the county’s exploding growth has flooded some schools with new children while leaving some schools with unused capacity.

Carraway said the plan is designed to make the best use of the county’s current resources while preparing for more growth in coming years.

Categories: Local

Police Blotter

Sun, 1/25/2015 12:09 AM

The following accounts were taken from Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident reports:

Woman stalked after profile post

An Evans woman told authorities Monday that she’s been stalked since someone put up an online profile of her.

The 41-year-old woman said someone created a profile of her on and the person who did it is harassing her. The profile, under the username HighDollar39, includes of a photo of her in a swimsuit and personal information including her e-mail address.

On Jan. 18, the woman said she received e-mails from an unknown iPhone account. She was upset by the content of the e-mails because the sender started asking her to meet. He wrote, “By the way got your e-mail from someone you did hook up with he say it was a good time and I should pay top dollar for it.” He also wrote more explicit messages and said she could use the money for her car payments.

Friend steals an iPod, sells it

An Appling man said Monday a friend stole and sold his iPod.

The 24-year-old man said a friend while a friend was at his home two days earlier, he stole the man’s fifth generation iPod Touch. He said his friend then sold the iPod to GameStop. The man said he received an e-mail alerting him that his friend had disabled the iPod on Jan. 17.

The man confronted his friend, who said he found the iPod at the man’s house and took it to GameStop because he didn’t know it belonged to the man.

Woman reports a fraud check

An Evans woman called authorities Wednesday after she received a fake check and instructions to forward some cash.

The woman said she received an e-mail about making extra money as a mystery shopper at Wal-Mart. The woman filled out an online application and received a $2,355 check in the mail on Wednesday. She said the check looked suspicious. The woman called the financial institution the check was written from and was told the check was fraudulent and not to cash it.

Included with the check were instruction for the woman to cash the check, then buy four separate MoneyPak cash cards at four different locations. She was then to send the PIN numbers from the cards to a man named Michael Edwards at two different e-mail addresses.

The woman didn’t follow the instructions, but wanted to report the scam because her Social Security number was included on the online application. She also contacted the Social Security Administration, where a fraud alert was put on her number.

Categories: Local

Grovetown takes county wrestling championship

Sun, 1/25/2015 12:08 AM

After a night of tough, competitive wrestling across the board, it was the Grovetown High School Warriors who were crowned at the Columbia County Wrestling Championship Tuesday night.

After downing Evans 37-27, the Warriors toppled Greenbrier 40-37, winning the bragging rights in the county for a second consecutive year.

Originally slated to be a true county meet, the Lakeside Panthers had to withdraw from the competition because many of their wrestlers were too ill to compete.
“It was very disappointing to have to miss last night’s match,” said Lakeside coach Johnny Castro, who expects his team to be healthy enough to compete in the Region 2-AAAAA Individuals which begin on Friday at Northside, Warner Robins.

Grovetown second-year coach Jeremy Davis was proud of what his team was able to accomplish.
“I told the boys in practice the other day, it’s one thing to win it once, but it’s even harder to win it twice,” Davis said.

All three matches weren’t decided until the latter stages. The Knights overcame a 38-24 deficit before coming back to beat Greenbrier 40-38 in the opening match. At 160 pounds, Gavin Pence beat Tyrone Abero 12-1 to get the Knights within 38-28, Teddy Wolford pinned Roshod Nixon at 170 pounds to close the gap to 38-34, then Jay Allen finished it off by pinning Breylen Jordan in the 182-pound tussle for the win.

Leading Evans 30-24, Grovetown’s freshman 170-pounder Shamar Cofield battled Wolford for three periods, winning 10-6, extending the lead to 33-24. Allen outpointed Miles Leake to close the gap to 33-27 and Evans could have tied the match with a pin, but Grovetown’s Greg Rodgers beat Zaire Harris 9-0 in the 195-pound category to seal it.

“We ended up losing a kid at 152, David Bandlow in the Greenbrier match, that gave us three holes to fill in the Grovetown match,” said Evans’ coach Rich Davis. “Head-to-head out of the 10 matches wrestled, we did very well. I can’t complain. They were some tough matches. It’s probably a testament to how hard Grovetown works and how hard everybody in the area works that the matches are evening up like that.”

In the final competition of the night, the Wolfpack’s Caleb Diprete decisioned Asa DeBuck 5-0 in the 132 weight class and their lead was 25-12. Grovetown junior Zach Nevard pinned Christian Corulli at 145 pounds which began a run of five consecutive wins – including a forfeit – at which point the Warriors held a decisive 40-25 lead. A Jarod Hudson pin of Leake and forfeit at 195 pounds and 220 pounds, respectively, brought the Wolfpack within three points.

The match played out like the Warrior coaches hoped it would.
“We started in a spot where their lineup was stronger and we knew we had to be patient and when we got to our strong part of the lineup we were going to gain some of that ground back,” said Warriors’ coach Nathan White. “Luckily, the guys who were supposed to win, won.”

Greenbrier coach Gralyn Harris would have liked to have seen his team pull out wins from their close losses, but noted the type of competition they were facing.

“I saw a lot of good heart in Grovetown and good heart in Evans,” Harris said. “We have good heart too, but we’re still putting some of these things together as a team.”

Categories: Local

Georgia Supreme Court hears Vein Guys dispute

Sun, 1/25/2015 12:07 AM

ATLANTA — A years-long dispute between the widows of two Augusta-area doctors over ownership of the Vein Guys practice they shared made its way to the Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The 2010 death of the first surgeon, Dr. Keith Davis, led his partner, Dr. Steven Roth, to offer to buy out his widow.

The dispute about price and terms was still going on three years later when Roth and four employees died in the fiery crash of his new jet near Thomson-McDuffie County Airport, triggering its own set of

In the meantime, the widows have sued each other, and Lori Davis was cited three times with contempt of court for missing a hearing and ignoring a court order to restore the company Facebook page after one of her attorneys instructed the site to remove

“This is a very, very profitable vein care practice, heavily advertised,” said John Bell, Lori Davis’ attorney, noting that Roth paid himself $1.5 million one year before figuring the profits.

The surgeons had separate practices and formed the Vein Guys on the side to market a novel treatment for varicose veins that Roth developed, eventually adding three other offices and doctors, including Davis’ brother.

The founders signed an agreement splitting everything equally and, in case one died, giving the surviving partner the right to buy out the widow within 90 days.

Lori Davis objected to having the firm’s accountant determine what the business was worth and complained about other aspects of the transaction, but a local judge ruled against her in every instance.

The court concluded that the business arrangement was ended in September 2011.

Now the Supreme Court must decide whether Lori Da­vis should get half of the profits generated between the date of her husband’s death and the settlement date.

“She dragged this out for years. … Should the practice be giving them 50 percent of every dollar made from the work of other people in all that time?” asked James Elli­son, an attorney for Mary Anne

None of the seven justices challenged either lawyers’ arguments, so there is no hint as to how they will decide the case.

The justices asked only one question during 40 minutes of oral arguments between the widows’ lawyers, requesting one to speak up.

Categories: Local

Reward offered for information about attempted kidnapping

Sun, 1/25/2015 12:07 AM

A reward is being offered for information about an attempted kidnapping last week.

A $3,000 reward will be given to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest in connection with the incident near Grovetown on Thursday, according to Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

A 43-year-old man called authorities just after 2:30 p.m. and said two men tried to force him inside his Tudor Branch subdivision home. He said he arrived home and took some food into the garage before walking back to his car in the driveway, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident report.

He said a man wearing a ski mask pointed a black handgun at him and demanded that he go inside his home. The man refused the gunman’s commands and tried to ease out of the garage, according to the report.

The gunman called the man by name as he continued to demand that he go inside the house. A second man in a ski mask backed into the man’s driveway in a white Chrysler four-door sedan.

The driver got out carrying zip ties and demanded the man go inside, according to the report.

When the man told the would-be kidnappers, “I’m not going in the house,” they got into the car and drove away.

He took a photo of the car in his driveway, then called 911.

A deputy saw the car on Columbia Road near Belair Road and turned on his lights and sirens to stop the car. The driver didn’t stop and continued on Belair Road toward Interstate 20, according to the report.

The car then hit the trunk of a patrol car with the passenger side mirror at Oakley Pirkle Road, where a deputy was waiting for the car to pass.

The deputies lost sight of the car as it headed toward Richmond County.

Authorities found photos of the two wanted men on surveillance cameras at the Grovetown Wal-Mart, where they purchased ski masks shortly before the incident, according to sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

Anyone with information about the identity or whereabouts of the wanted men should call the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 541-2800.

Categories: Local

Martinez man arrested after incident in Grovetown

Sun, 1/25/2015 12:05 AM

A Martinez man was arrested Monday afternoon in Grovetown on charges of driving under the influence, possession of a shotgun, obstruction of law enforcement and attempting to elude sheriff’s deputies.

Ray­mond Majzer, 34, of Morehead Drive, was seen trespassing on the 400 block of Railroad Avenue around 5:30 p.m., according to an incident report from the Grovetown Police Department.

When deputies arrived, Majzer fled in a gold Kia towards Dodge Lane. After a brief chase, Majzer pulled over but refused to exit the vehicle. A deputy pulled Majzer from the vehicle and placed him under arrest, according to the report.

Deputies found a sawed-off shotgun on the floorboard and shotgun shells in Majzer’s pockets.

The suspect told deputies he needed to be hospitalized because he was on drugs. When asked what drugs, Majzer said “all kinds,” according to the report.

Categories: Local

Commissioners settle lawsuit, appoint board members

Sun, 1/25/2015 12:03 AM

Columbia County commissioners approved on Tuesday the settlement of a lawsuit brought by homeowners over storm water damage to their property.

The 2012 lawsuit brought by Frederick A. Merrill III and Laurie E. Merrill, claimed the county had failed to adequately maintain the storm water drainage system of streets in the Hampstead neighborhood, which backs up to their home at 3579 Granite Court in the Barrington

The Merrills claimed that as a result of the county’s negligence, their property had flooded more than once beginning in 2004.

The Merrills claimed that despite informing the county of the problems in 2007, the county failed to address the storm water issues.

The lawsuit was filed after another flooding incident in August 2012, which the Merrills said resulted in significant damage to their property.

The Merrills dropped their lawsuit last month after agreeing to an out of court settlement, said County Attorney Chris Driver. The county agreed to pay the Merrills $180,000, Driver

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners voted to approve appointments of several individuals to 14 county boards.

Except for the county Development Authority, the appointments will run through the end of 2015.

Those appointed Tuesday were:

Categories: Local

Authorities arrest man who rammed Walgreens, Sprint stores

Fri, 1/23/2015 1:31 PM


Two men, one believed to have crashed into a Martinez drug store last week, were arrested early Sunday.

Tomas Perez Jr., 27, of Riverdale, Ga., is charged with crashing a stolen truck into the Walgreens on Furys Ferry Road at Evans to Locks Road early Friday, according to Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris. At about 4:20 a.m., he crashed a Ford F-150 through the front entrance and left without taking anything. Morris said the vehicle was stolen from Maaco Paint and Body, 3759 Martinez Boulevard, where it was being repaired for Garner Auto Sales. The truck had a tag on it from a black van reported stolen from Riverdale, Morris said.

About 30 minutes later, a deputy spotted the truck at the Circle K in Appling. The deputy attempted a traffic stop but the vehicle sped away.

Morris said deputies pursued the vehicle westbound on Interstate 20 until the driver stopped and ran into the woods around mile marker 177 in McDuffie County. He wasn’t immediately found.

At about 2 a.m. Sunday, a deputy saw two suspicious vans – one black and one white – on Hightower Drive in Martinez. When the deputy attempted a traffic stop, both vans sped up. When he turn on his lights, the white van, driven by Perez, pulled to the right, while the black van sped away.

The deputy followed the van to the entrance of Tudor Branch subdivision on Columbia Road. The driver – Perez’s partner Darian Deandre Postell, 24, of Lexington Drive in Augusta – jumped out and ran, Morris said. The van left the road and hit a tree. Postell ran, but was caught by a sheriff’s office tracking dog. The van was reported stolen in Riverdale, Ga.

In the meantime, Perez drove the white van into a Sprint Foods store on Flowing Wells Road in Martinez and stole cigarettes and lottery tickets. But no alarm sounded.

Richmond County sheriff’s deputies apprehended Perez as he tried to steal a Mercedes from Car Max on Mason McKnight Junior Parkway in Richmond County, Morris said. On the way to Car Max, deputies noticed the Sprint had been burglarized. A check of the video surveillance footage revealed Perez as the burglar. He also matched the man shown in video surveillance footage from the Circle K in Appling shortly after the Walgreens was damaged, Morris said.

The Sprint was burglarized at 2:07 a.m. and Perez attempted to steal the car from Car Max at 2:35 a.m. Morris said investigators believe Postell was an accomplice in the Walgreens burglary.

Perez is being held in the Charles B. Webster Detention Center without bond on theft by receiving and second degree burglary charges. He also faces burglary, criminal damage to property and criminal attempt to commit burglary in Columbia County, Morris said.

Postell was charged with theft by receiving stolen property, failure to maintain lane, driving without a license, fleeing and attempting to elude, failure to obey traffic control devices and will obstruction of law enforcement. He’s being held in the Columbia County Detention Center without bond, according to jail records.

Categories: Local

Grovetown woman dies in Wednesday wreck

Thu, 1/22/2015 9:17 AM

A Grovetown woman was killed and a man was seriously injured in a single-car wreck Wednesday afternoon.

Kellie Alesha Shipley, 36, of VFW Road, was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:18 p.m. by Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins.

Shipley was driving a GMC Envoy south on Old Louisville Road near Old Augusta Road when the SUV went off the right side of the road at about 1:30 p.m.

She over-corrected, veered across oncoming lanes and off the left shoulder, according to Columbia County sheriff’s Deputy Bobby

The SUV flipped over at least twice, ejecting Shipley and her passenger, Maurice Grant, 38, also of VFW Road in Grovetown.

Shipley was thrown about 35 feet from the vehicle. Collins said she died from blunt force trauma.

Grant was taken to the Georgia Regents Medical Center with serious injuries. A hospital spokeswoman said she had no information available about his condition Thursday morning.

Bradford said Shipley and Grant were not wearing seat belts.

Categories: Local

One dead and another injured in single car crash near Grovetown

Wed, 1/21/2015 2:48 PM

A woman died and a man was seriously injured in a single car wreck Wednesday afternoon.

An SUV traveling south on Old Louisville Road near Old Augusta Highway went off the right side of the road at about 1:30 p.m. The driver over-corrected, veered across oncoming lanes and off the left shoulder, according to Columbia County sheriff's Deputy Bobby Bradford. The SUv flipped over at least twice ejecting the driver and passenger.

Authorities didn't initially know who was driving the SUV, the man or woman. Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins, pronounced the woman dead on the scene at 2:18 p.m. Her name is not being released pending the notification of her next of kin, Collins said.

The man, whose name was not immediately known, was transported to Georgia Regents Medical Center with serious injuries.

It did not appear the woman was wearing a seatbelt, Collins said.


Categories: Local

A roll in the park

Wed, 1/21/2015 12:24 AM
Categories: Local

Happy birthday, Angel

Wed, 1/21/2015 12:21 AM
Categories: Local

Fired Atlanta fire chief speaks at Martinez church

Wed, 1/21/2015 12:20 AM

Kelvin Cochran believes God has been preparing him all his life for the storm he is in now.

On Jan. 6, Cochran was fired after seven years as Atlanta’s fire chief for distributing his self-published book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?, to employees, which some say makes anti-gay, discriminatory statements. His firing has sparked debate over religious freedom.

At Abilene Baptist Church on Sunday evening, Cochran spoke about the blessings of suffering he found through his own life story, and what he believes is God’s purpose for the controversy that surrounds his firing.

Cochran said he studied the word “suffering” and learned there is a difference between self-inflicted suffering, which is intended to discipline, and God-inflicted suffering. The latter is what he feels he is experiencing.

“I am not going through this because of something I have done,” he said. “I am going through this because of something that (God) is doing in the body of Christ and in my life.”

Cochran said he was born into poverty. When he was 5, his father left his mother for another woman. The family could no longer afford public housing and moved into a rundown, shotgun house. He and his three brothers shared a bed, as did his two sisters.

“I remember how terrible it was to be poor,” he said.

When a neighbor’s home caught fire, he decided he wanted to be a firefighter, he said.

In 1981, he became a firefighter. He served as fire chief of Shreveport, La., before becoming Atlanta’s fire chief in 2008. In 2009, he was appointed to the head of the U.S. Fire Administration, the highest-ranking fire official in the nation. Only 10 months into that job, Mayor Kasim Reed asked him to return as At­lan­ta’s fire chief, and he did.

Cochran said the idea for his book came as he was leading a Bible study that explored the idea that men still suffer the consequences of Adam’s choices in the Garden of Eden.

He said the question God asked Adam, “Who told you you were naked?” kept coming to mind, so he researched the word “naked.”

“Nakedness is a condition of the flesh where people feel condemned and deprived,” Cochran said. Being clothed, he said, is the state of
salvation people receive when they have accepted Christ.

“That book is not about sexuality,” Cochran said. “But you can’t talk about Christian men overcoming the stronghold of condemnation unless you talk about sex, because men have a challenge in that area. You can’t talk about sex unless you talk about
God’s purpose for sex, which was procreation, to multiply.”

Cochran said he believes he is suffering the consequences of standing up for what he believes. “I believe God is going to use my life to demonstrate publicly the consequences for standing on his word and standing on the values that he has embraced in his holy book, the Holy Bible,” he said.

Categories: Local

Current Events

Wed, 1/21/2015 12:18 AM

Pet food drive

Donations of dog, cat, puppy and kitten food accepted at Animal House, Boots, Bridles and Britches, Grovetown Farm & Garden, Vineyard Wine Market, Martinez/National Hills animal hospitals and Wild Birds Unlimited or call for pick up; benefits local rescue groups; (706) 863-2067,

Hospice help

Volunteers sought for Hospice Advantage’s Georgia office, 2824 Hillcreek Drive; training provided; flexible hours; (706) 651-9841,

Replace the Roof

Fundraiser for CSRA Humane Society’s shelter; mail donations to P.O. Box 14667, Augusta, GA 30919 or bring to the shelter, 425 Wood St.; gifts of $50 or more eligible for Roof Fund T-shirt;

Art display

Through Feb. 3, Savannah Rapids Park Visitors Center, 3300 Evans to Locks Road; works by Susan Porterfield, Denise Howard, Sharon Fausnight, Linda Lavigne and Charlie O’Neal; free


6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays through April 8, West Town Community Church, 779 N. Belair Road, Evans; $15 registration fee; child care provided; (706) 855-5008,

Business website workshop

Free Workshop: How to Build or Improve Your Website 9:30-11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, Southern Wesleyan University Business Technology Center, 802 E. Martintown Road Suite 101, North Augusta; Alan Jones, presenter; North Augusta Chamber of Commerce and local SCORE chapter, hosts; register online; (803) 279-2323,,

Hospitality meeting

Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau January hospitality meeting 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, Holiday Inn, 441 Park West, Grovetown; Symbiosis Makes Sales, topic; Scott Johnson, Columbia County administrator, speaker; reservations required by Jan. 19; (706) 447-7677,

Grand opening

Marshall Square Retirement Community grand opening 3-5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, Marshall Square Retirement Community, 850 Ronald Reagan Drive, Evans; resort-style senior living center; welcoming business leaders, Chamber of Commerce members and the community; hors d’oeuvres, dessert bar; music by Bill Karp; tours; free;

Nature trip

Augusta-Aiken Audubon field trip to Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and Tybee Island; meet 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive, Hardeeville, S.C.; birding Savannah NWR and the beach at Tybee Island North Beach; all day trip, eating lunch at a local restaurant; free, open to the public, beginners welcome; Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead;

Summer camps

How to Find and Fund Summer Camps and Enrichment Programs 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, Augusta-Richmond County Public Library, 823 Telfair St.; learn about local, state, national, international, specialty and family camps; tips on financing summer camps; held by J L J Resources Inc.; free; (706) 210-2547,

Chili Cookoff

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, Evans Towne Center Park, 7016 Evans Town Center Blvd., Evans; $5, ages 12 and younger free; admission includes samples of chili, soup/stew and cornbread cookoff contestants’ products; music, wheelchair basketball expo, raffles, contests; (706) 364-2422,

Atlanta Braves autographs

2015 Atlanta Braves Country Caravan Autograph Signing 3:30-5 p.m Saturday, Jan. 24, Academy Sports, 4210 Washington Road, Evans; giving fans opportunity to interact with Braves players, coaches and broadcasters before the new season kicks off in April;

Merle Haggard

Country music legend in concert 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, Columbia County Exhibition Center, 212 Partnership Drive, Grovetown; $22.50, $67.50; tickets available online;

SRS Information Pods

Wednesday, Jan. 28, Jaguar Student Activities Center, 2500 Walton Way; poster displays 5 p.m., registration 5 p.m., first come first served; presentations 6-8 p.m.; participants may attend two of four presentations - Nuclear Materials Management, Environmental Monitoring and Restoration, Waste Management and Savannah River National Laboratory; free

Gospel music

The Dixie Melody Boys Quartet 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, Bethesda Baptist Church, 5793 Old Augusta Highway, Harlem; featuring gospel legend Ed O’Neal; free, love offering taken; (706) 556-6818,

Get the Dirt Out

Introductory class for Savannah Riverkeeper volunteers; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, Enterprise Mill, Cotton Room, 1450 Greene St.; Dr. Frank Carl, instructor; how the general permit for erosion and sediment control for construction projects is supposed to work; (706) 826-8991,,

Phinizy Swamp

Phinizy Center driving field trip of Phinizy Swamp Nature Park 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, 1858 Lock and Dam Road; driving trip; free for Phinizy Center members, fee for others; open to the public, beginners welcome; Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead;


Free Community Workout of the Day 9:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, CrossFit Augusta, 4408 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; open to all levels of fitness; no CrossFit experience necessary; coaches on hand to help anyone new to CrossFit; free;


Augusta Archaeological Society meeting Thursday, Feb. 5, Big Daddy’s Bar & Grill, 4045 Jimmie Dyess Parkway; Christopher Moore, archaeologist with Savannah River Archaeological Research Program at SRS, speaker; Early Hunter-Gatherer Tool Use and Animal Exploitation in the Southeast: Protein Reside and Microwear Evidence from the CSRA, topic; dinner on your own 6:30 p.m., program 8 p.m.; free; (706) 829-1615

Iron Chef

Sierra Club Iron Chef Social Event 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, The Acorn Restaurant at Red Oak Manor, 410 N. Louisville St., Harlem; sample and rate appetizer, soup and entree selections prepared by three local chefs; meal also includes salad, dessert and coffee, tea or lemonade; $25;,

reNew & Brew

A celebration of reinvention 7-11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, Snelling Center, 3165 Washington Road; auction of items donated to Goodwill Retail Stores that have been reinvented by local artists, decorators and designers; highlighting individuals who have reinvented themselves with the help of Goodwill’s education and training programs; menu by culinary students from Helms College; $75 and up;

Bird watching

Augusta-Aiken Audubon Field Trip to Jackson Boat Landing 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, meet at Kathwood Ponds, Silver Bluff Audubon Sanctuary, Silver Bluff Road, Jackson; looking for woodland birds; open to the public, beginners welcome; Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead; free;

5K run/walk

9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, Lakeside High School, 533 Blue Ridge Drive, Evans; 3.1 mile course, mostly flat, one hill; $20; register at or run day registration 8 a.m. in Lakeside cafeteria; benefits Lisa Meitin Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance


10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, Columbia County Exhibition Center, 212 Partnership Drive, Grovetown; premier women’s event featuring shopping, entertainment, fitness and fun; free;

Zoo trip

Sierra Club: Orchids and the Riverbanks Zoo 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia; eat lunch in Columbia, then view orchids and spend the afternoon at the zoo; zoo admission $13.95;,

Celebrity basketball fundraiser

Cecil Herrin and The Michael Douglas Youth Foundation presents The Harlem Legends 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, Greenbrier High School, 5114 Riverwood Parkway, Evans; Men Get Breast Cancer Too! Celebrity Basketball Show; The Harlem Legends vs. The Cecil Herrin Breast Cancer Warriors; tickets available at Wrightsboro Road SunTrust Bank, Village Deli, Evans Fitness Club Express and the high school; supports men with any type of cancer; benefits Trinity Hospital of Augusta; $20-$50; (706) 799-9465, (678) 630-8843,

Brick Pond Park field trip

Augusta-Aiken Audubon field trip to North Augusta Brick Pond Park 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, meet in North Augusta Municipal Building Center Street parking lot, 100 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; looking for ducks and woodland birds; list of observed birds to be submitted for Great Backyard Bird Count; open to the public, beginners welcome; Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead; free;

Civil War Roundtable of Augusta

6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 16, Snelling Center, 3165 Washington Road; supper by Edgar’s $12; the Rev. Robert Fain, rector of Church of the Good Shepherd, on the Episcopal Church and the Civil War from union to separation to reunion; open to anyone interested in the history of the American Civil War; annual dues $25 or $40 per couple; (706) 736-2909,,

Sierra Club meeting

6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta, 3501 Walton Way Extension; program about State of Maine and Acadia National Park by Richard Dillenbeck with pictures by Ed McCranie; refreshments; free, open to the public;

Trail hiking

Sierra Club Horn Creek Trail Hike 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, Horn Creek Trail, Lick Fork Lake Road, Edgefield; moderate hike for 5 miles; free;,

Storybook Brunch

VIP seating 8:30 a.m., general seating 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, First Baptist Church of Augusta fellowship hall, 3500 Walton Way; hearty breakfast followed by a parade of storybook characters including princes, princesses and action heroes; autographs and photographs with characters; children encouraged to dress as favorite storybook character; souvenir storybook for each child; tickets required for all attendees; (706) 650-BURN (2876)

Birding trip

Augusta-Aiken Audubon Field Trip to Lovers Lane 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, meet at Popeyes, 450 Walton Way; looking for winter residents; open to the public, beginners welcome; Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead; free;

Yard sale fundraiser

Held by Augusta South Rotary Club and Aquinas High School; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, March 7, Aquinas High School, 1920 Highland Ave.; space rental $25, deadline to reserve March 1; large items for sale; leave items to be donated at Catholic Social Services; doors open 7 a.m. for set up; (706) 840-2087,

Catalyst Quartet

Symphony Orchestra Augusta: Catalyst Quartet 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 6, Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center, 7022 Evans Town Center Blvd., Evans; “energetic and finely burnished, playing with earthy vigor”; Bank of America Columbia County Music Series; $15.74;

Clarks Hill field trip

Augusta-Aiken Audubon field trip to Clarks Hill 9 a.m. Saturday, March 7, meet at Thurmond Lake Welcome Center, parking lot overlooking lake, 510 Clarks Hill Highway, Clarks Hill, S.C.; looking for waterfowl and small birds; carpool around area checking below dam areas and the lake; trip goes into afternoon, bring lunch or snacks; open to the public, beginners welcome; Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead; free;

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

10 a.m. Saturday, March 7, Hire Grounds Cafe, 3179 Washington Road; celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday with book readings, cookies and fun; free

Nature trip

Augusta-Aiken Audubon field trip to Merry Brickyard Ponds; 9 a.m. Saturday, March 14, meet at Popeyes, 450 Walton Way; looking for waterfowl; open to the public, beginners welcome; Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead; $4 fee to enter brick ponds;


11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 22, Evans Towne Center Park; 7016 Evans Town Center Blvd.; celebrating Columbia County’s art, music, dance and heritage; performances by Columbia County Choral Society, Musical Theatre Workshops, Company of Job, Columbia County Orchestra Association with finale featuring excerpts from Columbia County Ballet’s Roar of Love; $5 March 21, free March 22; (706) 312-7194,,

Half marathon

One of the nation’s newest half marathon race series, Race 13.1; 7 a.m. Sunday, April 26, Evans Towne Center Park, 7016 Evans Town Center Blvd., Evans; half marathon, 10k and 5k;

ARC 1965 reunion

50 year reunion 7-11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, Julian Smith Casino, 2200 Broad St.; (706) 364-7830,


Christian singles

6:30-10:30 p.m. Saturdays, Ballroom Dance Center, 525 Grand Slam Drive, off Evans-to-Locks Road; dance lessons 6:30-7:30 p.m., dance 7:30-10:30 p.m.; refreshments; Augusta Christian Singles; $8 members, $10 others; Barbara Nash (803) 640-2075,

Eyeglass help

Financial assistance for qualifying Grovetown residents’ eyeglasses; Grovetown Lions Club; Grovetown Lions Club Eyeglass Program, P.O. Box 248, Grovetown, GA 30813

Farmers market

4:30-7 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 30, Columbia County Amphitheater, 7022 Evans Town Center Blvd.; Evans Towne Farmers Market; cooking demos and vegetable gardening education;,

Fire information

Advice on fire dangers for Columbia County residents; presented by Georgia Forestry Commission, Columbia County; (706) 556-3962

Food pantry

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday, 1959 Appling Harlem Highway, Appling; Columbia County Cares Food Pantry; (706) 541-2834

Hospital classes

Variety of classes each month; Doctors Hospital; (706) 651-2450,

Live wrestling

First Saturday every month; doors open 7:30 p.m., belltime 8 p.m., Patriots Park Gymnasium, 5445 Columbia Road, Grovetown; $10 front row, $7 general admission, 5 and younger free;


4:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Mindbody Stress Reduction Programs, 4210 Columbia Road Suite 4A, Martinez; Mindfulness and Expansive Meditations;experience deeper awareness and stress reduction through guided meditations; $15, $5 students with ID; (706) 496-3935,


MOMS Club of Augusta meets 10 a.m. first Wednesdays (except December); chapter includes Augusta, Martinez and North Augusta; e-mail for location;,


Columbia County Orchestra and Columbia County Youth; weekly meetings; musicians needed; information can be found online;

Public speaking

7 p.m. Mondays, University Hospital Education Wing, third floor, room 3; Riverwalk Toastmasters Public Speaking and Leadership Club; Sharma Pogula (706) 855-1081,


Barbara C. Beazley Memorial Scholarship, sponsored by The Columbia County Foundation for Children; must be a Columbia County resident and intend to enroll or are currently enrolled in a college or technical school; applications available from school counselors’ offices and online; grants are need-based; deadline to apply and submit documents May 30;


Fort Gordon’s Survivor Outreach Services, for families of deceased soldiers; (706) 787-4767,


• Grovetown Senior Center; volunteer drivers to deliver meals to shut-ins needed; (706) 210-8699

• Regency Hospice; training provided; Nancy Browning (706) 868-4422

• Golden Harvest Food Bank; help sort donations; (706) 736-1199

• Safe Kids East Central Georgia; help with events; lead programs that teach safety to children and teens; training provided; (706) 721-7606

• Columbia County Library, Evans; (706) 863-1946,

• American Cancer Society Augusta chapter; drivers for Road to Recovery program, which provides transportation to cancer patients, needed; (706) 731-9900

• Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), 4210 Columbia Road Suite 13A, Martinez, for ages 55 and older; (706) 868-0120 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday

Wine tastings

4:30-6:30 p.m. Fridays, 1-6 p.m. Saturdays, Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; (706) 922-9463,

Women vets

11 a.m. first Saturdays; The Women’s Veterans Club; $24 per year; April Starks (706) 868-5601

Writers group

6:30 p.m. third Mondays, Georgia Military College, 115 Davis Road; CSRA Writers Group; free, open to the public; for a critique, bring eight copies of up to 10 pages of work (double-spaced); (706) 836-7315

Zumba classes

6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Mondays, Evans Christian Academy, 213 S. Old Belair Road, Grovetown; $5 per class; (706) 364-3565,

Categories: Local

Security changes for Fort Gordon visitors coming in spring

Mon, 1/19/2015 11:09 PM

Tighter security measures requiring background checks for civilians entering Fort Gordon won’t be implemented until spring, according to a base spokesman.

Until more details are announced, visitors using the post’s recreation facilities, dinner theater or visiting a family member can continue to show a driver’s license at the visitor control center, said Fort Gordon’s Public Affairs Officer J.C. Mathews.

“It is no different than yesterday or last month or last summer,” he said.

In November, the Army announced changes that will limit public access to its installations. Visitors without a Department of Defense identification card will be required to undergo a background check or have an authorized escort while on the post.

Fort Gordon has been working to complete background checks on Defense Department contractors since the announcement, Mathews said. In late January or early February, checks will be conducted for non-DOD individuals and vendors conducting business on the post.

Mathews said the post is trying to maintain its connection to the community while following the Army directive.

“When the policy was first changed, we knew this would change a lot of peoples’ lives and routines they have become accustomed to,” he said.

For large public events such as the Oktoberfest and July Fourth festivals, Mathews said Fort Gordon exceptions to the background check mandate are likely, but that has not been confirmed and he had no other details.

Until Fort Gordon implements background checks for general visitors, Mathews suggested allowing extra time to get a pass at the visitors center at Gate 1 off Gor­don Highway at Jimmie Dyess Parkway.

Categories: Local

Wind spreads yard fire to house

Mon, 1/19/2015 10:39 PM

A Martinez man escaped unharmed when his outbuilding and house caught on fire Monday afternoon.

Freddy Jones of 1326 Collins Drive was burning leaves in his backyard when wind picked up his controlled burn, spreading it across his back yard and onto the structures. Jones tried to extinguish the blaze himself but could not.

“I got it stopped in different areas then it was too much – got water on the side of the shack and the blaze was going up over there ... said, ‘I can’t stop it now,’” Jones said.

“It was a controlled burn that went south,” said Columbia County Fire Battalion Chief Anthony Lovett, who said the shed fire was pretty much down when they arrived just after 3 p.m.

“The wind took it down and brought it back around. They had it under control a couple of times and the wind picked up and it got back away from them.”

The fire destroyed Jones’ shed and caused damage inside the home as well as charring in his entire backyard.

Categories: Local

Texas owners looking to sell Tracy-Luckey plant

Sun, 1/18/2015 12:14 AM

The Texas company that has owned a piece of Harlem history since 2010, is planning to sell the Tracy-Luckey plant.

San Saba Pecan LP, a Texas-based pecan orchard and processing operation, purchased Lucky Lady Pecans, Gifts & More, also known as Tracy-Luckey Co., in January 2010.
Keith Shahan, the company’s chief financial officer and acting CEO, said this week that the Harlem plant, which was founded in 1937, no longer fit with San Saba’s business strategy.

“The fact is that we are actively seeking a buyer right now,” Shahan said. “We have been for quite a while.”

Shahan said he could not discuss potential buyers or any current negotiations. He also denied that the company had any immediate plans to shut down the plant if a buyer could not be found.

Shahan said the plant, which employees about 50 workers, would remain open for now.

“Shutting down a plant is always an option, but it is worth a whole lot more if it is a going concern,” he said. When reached for comment, Ruth Tracy, the former CEO, declined to discuss the plant’s status.

Tracy, the granddaughter or Tracy-Luckey founder Francis Tracy, parted ways with the company earlier this month, but did not want to discuss the circumstances of her departure. She had been with the company for 29 years.

Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper said news the plant was being shopped to other buyers was a surprise, but not completely.

Culpepper said after they bought Tracy-Luckey, San Saba officials came to Harlem with plans to build a new cold storage facility on the property, but that plan never came to fruition. He said it seemed their interest in the plant waned after that plan fell through.

“They talked about making an investment and they never did,” he said.

Culpepper said the company has a long history of being an integral part of the city and that founder Francis Tracy, who also served as mayor of Harlem, was a very generous benefactor over the years.

“He did an awful lot for the city, especially during the prosperous years,” he said.

Categories: Local

CMFA Chilly Chili Cook-off set for Saturday

Sun, 1/18/2015 12:12 AM

One of Champions Made From Adversity’s most popular events is back for its fourth iteration on Saturday.

The CMFA Chilly Chili Cook-Off returns to Evans Towne Center Park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with proceeds going to the organization that helps advance the lives of those with physical disabilities through sport and leisure activities.

Admission is $5 and children under 12 get in free. Admission includes the traditional chili tasting, but there will be more for those who go to sample this year. In addition to the chili category, two new categories for soup and stew and cornbread have been added.

“We will also have a showmanship winner which will be based on decorating their 10x10 cook area and we will have a people’s choice award based on funds raised at each booth by the spectators voting for their favorites by putting money in their jar,” said Kelly Garcia, CMFA event organizer and office manager.

In addition to the food, there will be a live performance from the Center Stage Dance Academy, a wheelchair basketball expo and a free-throw contest. There will be a photo wall and also a photo contest.

Professional credentials are not needed to participate. Anyone with a chili recipe can enter.

“Anyone can go to to register to volunteer or cook,” Garcia said.

“This cook-off is the only fundraiser that CMFA does each year so it it very important to our organization so that we can continue to provide sport and leisure activities to persons with physical disabilities.”

Categories: Local

Mixed-use development proposed near Grovetown

Sun, 1/18/2015 12:11 AM

A mixed-use project is in the works near Grovetown.

The 12-acre development at the corner of Baker Place Road and William Few Parkway would consist of retail, professional office space and townhomes woven into a community interconnected by streets and sidewalks, said property owner and local dentist Dr. Andrew Allgood, who purchased the land in June.

“There’s just nothing close by,” Allgood said about the need for such services in the area. “I figure we’re going to be drawing a pretty big radius with all the rooftops that are around. That is really where most of the support will come from.”

Allgood’s first step in the project, named Warrior’s Walk, is rezoning approval at today’s Columbia County Planning Commission meeting.

Allgood seeks to pull
about 12 acres from the Hidden Creek subdivision near Grovetown High School and create his own development.

Allgood said he would like to provide retail shops, small restaurants and a nice convenience store on the 4-acre portion designated for commercial use. Businesses, such as a pawn shop or tattoo parlor, would be
prohibited from the development.

On an additional 2.5-acre section, Allgood wants to add medical and veterinary centers, professional offices and a day care facility.

The remaining 5.5 acres would be reserved for 44 townhomes and a playground and park.

The county’s planning staff has recommended approval with certain conditions, including that the developer screen dumpsters follow design guidelines approved by planning officials and meet with the Engineering Division to discuss traffic-calming measures.

After planning commissioners vote today, the final say will come from the full county commission in February.

If the rezoning is granted, Allgood said he envisions breaking ground on the project several months later.

“There’s still a lot of hoops to jump through,” he said.

Allgood said his own
dental practice would remain in its current location on Furys Ferry Road in Martinez.

Through talking with physicians and others in the medical field about possibly locating on the property, Allgood said he knows the demand is there.

Categories: Local
Top headlines

Train derails near Allendale

MARTIN, S.C. - A CSX train derailed in rural Allendale County early Tuesday, leaking chemicals, sending two rail employees to an Augusta hospital and evacuating a nearby industry.
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