Across the area

Man is indicted in fatal accident


The driver in a May wreck that resulted in two fatalities in Columbia County has been indicted on two counts of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

A Columbia County grand jury also indicted Christopher Brandon Newman, 25, on a count of serious injury by vehicle, driving with excessive blood alcohol concentration, reckless driving and an open container violation, according to court documents released Thursday.

Police say Mr. Newman, of the 6100 block of Harlem-Grovetown Road in Harlem, was driving on Harlem-Grovetown Road near Young Drive about 3 a.m. May 13 when his Dodge Quad Cab truck left the road and hit a pine tree.

Mr. Newman's brother, Cameron Newman, 23, of Harlem, and Mr. Newman's fiancee, Mallory Jason, 19, of Martinez, were killed in the wreck. Sara Boykin, a passenger, was injured.

Residents oppose rezoning at meeting

Dozens of residents attended the Columbia County Planning Commission meeting Thursday to show their opposition to a rezoning request made in part by Superior Court Judge James G. Blanchard.

Judge Blanchard, Joe Blanchard and Billie June Morgan are seeking to rezone about 27 acres along Blanchard Road near Blanchard Woods Park from a light-density residential zoning to commercial and professional uses.

Opponents filled the Evans Government Center auditorium, with several asking planning commissioners to deny the request because of concerns about increased traffic and loss of quality of life for area residents.

Planning commissioners tabled the request to their Dec. 6 meeting because the judge and his family were unable to attend Thursday's meeting because of a previously scheduled trip.

A rezoning application for the land did not indicate specific development plans for the tract.

Board of education interviews law firms

The Columbia County Board of Education interviewed four law firms Thursday to provide it with legal representation next year.

The firms were Fletcher Harley & Fletcher; Fulcher Hagler; Hull Towill Norman Barrett & Salley; and Bill Fleming, who currently represents the school board.

School board members plan to award the contract, which would go into effect in January, at their Dec. 11 meeting.

Take a Soldier Fishing seeks boats for event

Sunday's Take a Soldier Fishing event at Thurmond Lake has plenty of soldiers, but not enough boats.

"Right now, we have about 60 volunteers with boats, but we have over 150 soldiers signed up to fish," said Beda Johnson, the director of Columbia County's Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The event, which will run from about 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Wildwood Park, is sponsored by the American Bass Anglers Association. Although the event is set up as a tournament, it is also a way to say thanks to servicemen and women who enjoy fishing.

Anyone who has a boat and is willing to donate their time and gasoline can call (706) 447-7677 or (706) 951-4189, Ms. Johnson said.

Police impersonators rob man outside motel

A man told police he was robbed early Thursday by three men who said they were police officers outside the Riverside Inn on Fifth Street.

The victim said the men approached him and asked whether he wanted "a good time," according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report.

They told the victim to follow them, and when they reached the hotel's laundry room, they said they were arresting him for prostitution, the report states. The man said his cash, cell phone and pickup were stolen, along with other items.

Historic homes will be open for tours

Five area historic homes will present a Historic Holiday Candlelight Tour on Nov. 23-25.

Included are the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson, the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, Meadow Garden: Home of George Walton and the 1797 Ezekiel Harris House, all in Augusta, and Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site in Beech Island.

The tours will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 23 and 24 and from 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 25. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $5 for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Children younger than 5 get in free.

Tickets may be purchased at the sites on the days of the tour or in advance from Historic Augusta Inc. For more information, call Historic Augusta at (706) 724-0436 or visit

Boating safety course is open to families

A boating safety course will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Martinez Fire and Rescue headquarters, 3910 Desoto Drive in Martinez.

The course, conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, is designed for the whole family and includes discussion of boat handling, types and performance of various boats, boating regulations and laws (for Georgia and South Carolina), emergency procedures, navigation, personal watercraft operation and area-specific safety issues and equipment for your boat.

Completion of the course satisfies both Georgia and South Carolina mandatory boating-education requirements. Tuition is $35 for an individual, $50 for a family.

Call John VanOsdol at (864) 391-2170 or e-mail to get more information or to make a reservation.

Food donations will be accepted at lunch

A lunchtime benefit for two area food banks will be held Monday at an Evans restaurant.

The Garlic Clove Italian Eatery will provide lunch from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. in exchange for a donation to the Golden Harvest Food Bank and Columbia County Cares Food Pantry. Donations will be used to help feed the needy during Thanksgiving.

Items to be served include baked ziti with meat sauce, tortellini with an alfredo sauce, lasagna and chicken Parmesan. Local television, radio and print media celebrities will be joined by some government officials to serve patrons. The Garlic Clove is at 4461 Washington Road in the Wal-Mart shopping center.