Across the Area

Aiken schools prepare for another budget cut


Aiken County schools will see another 2 percent cut in state funding for this school year.

Comptroller Tray Traxler said during Tuesday's school board meeting that he estimated the cost at $1.4 million, although the state Education Department has not given a detailed amount since the cut was announced by the Legislature last week.

The school district has eliminated more than $9 million from this year's budget and expects another $9 million to $12 million in cuts for next school year.

Columbia County plans to use fewer portables

More Columbia County pupils will be inside a school building next year, officials say.

"We're going to have a lot more portables available, empty," Superintendent Charles Nagle said during a Tuesday school board meeting.

With Stallings Island Middle School opening this school year and Grovetown High School opening in August, officials estimated that the school system will use 50 fewer portables. The board set classroom space allocations during the meeting.

Schools that might continue to use portables next year include Cedar Ridge, Grovetown, North Harlem and South Columbia elementary schools, Grovetown Middle and Lakeside High.

But some teachers at those schools share classrooms, which will reduce the need for portables, Assistant Superintendent Robert Jarrell said.

Nominees sought for science teacher honor

The CSRA Environmental Science Education Cooperative is seeking nominations for its annual award for the area's Outstanding Environmental Science Teacher for the 2008-09 school year.

The award, which includes a $500 prize, is given to the teacher who best uses environmental concepts in the classroom and encourages others to be environmental stewards.

Nominations are open to teachers of any grade level and subject and include public, private and home school teachers. Teachers can nominate themselves or be nominated by a peer, principal or member of the cooperative.

Nominations are open through Tuesday. An awards ceremony will be held April 23 at the Augusta Canal Interpretive Center. For details, visit or call Chuck Niemeyer at (706) 792-7761.

2 men facing drug charges denied bond

Two Aiken County men arrested in February and charged with trafficking marijuana appeared in court Tuesday.

Columbia County Chief Magistrate Bobby Christine denied bond for Isaac Lamont Lewis, 31, and Rufus Rukhan Hamilton, 30, at a preliminary hearing.

Columbia County authorities arrested Mr. Lewis, of the 1300 block of Hampton Avenue, and Mr. Hamilton, of the 700 block of Oriole Street, on Feb. 27.

Police say they found 400 pounds of marijuana, worth about $250,000, in a Flowing Wells Road storage unit rented by Mr. Lewis.

Investigator arrested for DUI is suspended

A Richmond County sheriff's investigator arrested last week on drunken driving charges was suspended Tuesday after appearing before the sheriff's review board.

Investigator Tim Tobias faces 10 days' suspension and 12 months' probation, Sheriff Ronnie Strength said. He was also ordered to undergo counseling and may not drive a government vehicle until the program is finished.

Investigator Tobias was cleared by the District Attorney's Office earlier this month in the fatal November shooting of Joseph Gooden Jr., 26, during a restaurant holdup.

Man who hit window with vacuum sought

Authorities are searching for a man they say smashed a woman's car windshield with a vacuum cleaner Sunday.

Kindel Lashawn Moore, 22, is wanted on charges of criminal trespass and terroristic threats and acts, according to Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Tess Alexander-Brunson. Mr. Moore was involved in an argument with a woman in the 3000 block of Collier Road when he picked up a vac uum cleaner from a trash pile and struck the victim's windshield, a sheriff's report said.

Anyone with information on him is asked to call the sheriff's department at (706) 821-1080.

3rd man charged in robbery denies guilt

The trial began Tuesday for an Augusta man accused of taking part in a 2007 burglary that turned into a shootout. A son and nephew have already been convicted in the case.

Clarence A. Tanksley, 48, pleaded not guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to charges that include armed robbery and aggravated assault.

Because of prior criminal convictions Mr. Tanksley faces a life sentence plus 45 years in prison - the same that his son Jordash A. Tanksley is serving - if he is convicted.

Clarence, Jordash and Derrell L. McNair, who was 15 at the time, were accused of the July 30, 2007, burglary and robbery of the F.A.M.E. clothing store on Wrightsboro Road.

3 people sentenced in string of robberies

People who robbed banks in Waynesboro and Louisville, Ga., and a payday loan shop in North Augusta were sentenced Tuesday to prison terms.

U.S. District Court J. Randal Hall sentenced Christopher M. Walker to 140 months, Georgeann M. Nixon to 60 months and Leonardo D. Hardwick to 219 months. A fourth person, Kellington T. Chandler, was sentenced earlier to 120 months in prison.

Each of the four played roles in the June 26 armed robbery of Regions Bank, the June 30 armed robbery of Quick Cash in North Augusta and the July 7 armed robbery of the Southern Bank in Waynesboro.

Men face drug charges after downtown chase

North Augusta police said they arrested two men on drug charges late Monday after a chase through downtown.

Mickey Ryans, 33, of Hephzibah, and Christopher James, 34, of Augusta, were taken to the police station where officers found three bags of marijuana, empty bags and a set of scales in their vehicle. Mr. James was issued a ticket for driving under suspension and resisting arrest.