Across the area

Missed votes uphold result


Aiken County election officials missed counting some votes Tuesday night, but they say the District 25 Senate results are still the same: Shane Massey narrowly defeated Rep. Bill Clyburn.

Stuart Bedenbaugh, the executive director of the Aiken County Registration and Elections Office, said the staff didn't realize that one electronic voting machine had two cartridges and counted only one. The second cartridge was secure the whole time, he said, but wasn't counted until Wednesday.

The new votes changed the Aiken County results only slightly, with Mr. Massey finishing with 2,882 votes there, and Mr. Clyburn pulling in 3,135. Overall, Mr. Massey won the most votes in the four-county district, with 7,153, or 50.51 percent of the vote. Mr. Clyburn received 7,003 votes, 49.45 percent. There will be no automatic recount because the difference is greater than 1 percent, Mr. Bedenbaugh said.

Authorities look into two high school fires

Local authorities are jointly investigating two fires at area high schools during the past two days.

On Tuesday, a 15-year-old Butler High School student was charged with felony arson after being accused of setting a small fire above a ceiling tile in the east stairwell of the school. Preston Looper, of Augusta, was charged with first-degree arson, according to Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Tony Walden.

Emergency crews were called to the school about 9 a.m. when the fire was discovered by a student. It was extinguished and caused only minor damage to the tile, authorities said.

A second school fire was reportedly set Wednesday inside a trash can at Hephzibah High School about 12:55 p.m. The fire caused only minor damage to the can. Authorities said there were no suspects as of Wednesday.

Man who had weapons at school is still in jail

An Augusta man remained in jail late Wednesday after being arrested on a charge of possessing a weapon on school property.

Zabian Deshawn Howard, 19, of Brayton Street, was arrested at 2:45 p.m. Monday, according to a Richmond County sheriff's report. Police said Mr. Howard was standing near the Butler High School entrance when school police warned him to leave the property "since he was not a student," the report states.

After frisking Mr. Howard, police found a pair of brass knuckles and a loaded .38-caliber handgun. Police say they also found six .38-caliber rounds of ammunition. Mr. Howard also was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and criminal trespass, jail records showed.

Scam suspects elude county authorities

Columbia County authorities say they are seeking two men wanted in connection with a scam targeting elderly residents.

Authorities say Thomas Anthony Riley and Tommy Martin Carroll have been posing as Georgia Power, cable company or utility employees, or offering painting or paving services. One of the men tries to lure residents to a remote area of their property while another robs the home, said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.

Mr. Riley and Mr. Carroll were last seen driving a gray 1999 Dodge Dakota extended cab pickup displaying South Carolina tag 715 VKF or possibly a white Thomas Auto Sales dealer tag with red lettering, according to a sheriff's office news release. The men might be seen in the Murphy Village area of North Augusta, police said. Anyone with information on their whereabouts should call Staff Sgt. Mike Cullinan at (706) 541-4024 or (706) 541-2800.

Children can learn baby-sitting skills

The American Red Cross of Augusta will hold baby-sitter training courses from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 28 at the Columbia County Library, 7702 Evans Town Center Blvd.

The course is for ages 11 to 15 and teaches skills necessary to provide safe and responsible child care.

To register, call the Augusta Chapter at (706) 724-8481.

Invitational will have 12 high school bands

The Academy of Richmond County's Purple Pride Marching Band is sponsoring its second annual Garden City Band Invitational from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday.

The Garden City Invitational will feature 12 Georgia and South Carolina high school bands and Fort Valley State University as a special guest band. The event costs $10 and will be held at Richmond Academy's football stadium. Tickets can be purchased at the school, Kirkwood Music on Augusta West Parkway, Hair Depot on Deans Bridge Road and Big City Music on Wrightsboro Road. Call band director Arthur Wright at (706) 737-7152.

-- From staff reports