Across the Area

Gas mistakenly put in kerosene pump


A thousand gallons of gasoline was mistakenly put into the kerosene pump at Pumpkin Center near Harlem early Sunday morning, Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker said Tuesday night.

Fire crews were ensuring that the kerosene pump can't be used, but some customers had already pumped from the tank, she said.

It is believed that three customers pumped a total of nine gallons, Tucker said. One of those customers discovered that it was gasoline and notified the store, which notified authorities. The customer had pumped four gallons, leaving five gallons unaccounted for.

"Every effort is being made to locate those two customers, including call-outs in that area, looking at store video, etc.," Tucker said.

Anyone who pumped from the kerosene tank should not use it, she said. If gasoline is used in kerosene heaters, an explosion will likely occur.

Transplant patient's rash clears up with treatment

PITTSBURGH - The nation's first double hand transplant recipient has left a Pittsburgh hospital after medicine cleared up a rash that signaled he might be rejecting his new hands.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center spokeswoman Amy Dugas says 58-year-old Jeff Kepner, of Augusta, was discharged Monday from UPMC Montefiore hospital.

Kepner received the hands at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in May and went home in October.
He was hospitalized last week after he developed the rash on both hands. Dugas says the rash went away after doctors applied an ointment to suppress his immune system.

Kepner, a former pastry chef, lost his hands and feet a decade ago to a bacterial infection. 

Guest will speak about father's heroism in war

Zvi Bielski , the son of Zus Bielski, whose heroism during World War II was featured in the 2008 film Defiance, will speak at 7:30 p.m. today  at the Augusta Jewish Community Center, 898 Weinberger Way, Evans.

Zus Bielski and his brothers Tuvia and Asael established a haven for Jews in a Polish forest in the early 1940s.
The makeshift village eventually sheltered more than 1,200 Jews.

The group led one of the largest Jewish resistances during the war, said Rabbi Zalman Fischer of Chabad of Augusta, which is sponsoring the program.

All three brothers have died, but Zvi Bielski, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., continues to talk about the experiences of his father and uncles.

The event is free but reservations are required. Call (706) 722-7659 or e-mail

Police seek sex offender who fled supervision

Richmond County authorities have asked for the public's help in locating a fugitive sex offender.

Investigator Charles M. Mulherin says that Anthony Alexander Burns, 29, has fled from the supervision of the sheriff's office and the Augusta Probation Office. According to Mulherin, Burns has threatened law enforcement in the past and should be approached with caution. The sheriff's office has warrants on file for his arrest.

 Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office at (706) 821-1080.

High winds expected for Augusta, Aiken

A wind advisory is in effect from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today for the Aiken and Augusta area. Gusts as high as 40 to 45 mph are expected, with average sustained winds between 30 and 35 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

High winds can make driving more difficult for "high-profile" vehicles such as RVs.

Recent rainfall and saturated soil means the windy conditions could cause some trees, such as pines or dead trees, to fall, said Pam Tucker, Columbia County Emergency Services director.

Four bomb threats called to 3 schools

At least four bomb threats were made against three Richmond County schools Tuesday.

According to Richmond County sheriff's reports, the first call, involving Hephzibah High School, was received about 8:20 a.m. A male caller said, "Bomb Hephzibah High School bomb," and hung up.

The second call came in about 9:20 a.m., and the male caller told dispatchers that bombs were at Cross Creek High School and Spirit Creek Middle School.

The final call, about 12:30 p.m., was from a male caller who said 18 bombs were at Hephzibah High School.

Authorities responded to each call but found no evidence of explosive devices.

Woman accused of tax fraud appears in court

A Waynesboro, Ga., woman accused of preparing fraudulent tax returns for refunds totaling more than $90,000 made her first court appearance Tuesday.

Charlene Hughes was indicted last week on a charge of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver.

Hughes was allegedly involved in the preparation of 25 tax returns in 2006 and 2007 that contained false W-2 information about employers and wages.

Police seek armed man who robbed Pizza Hut

An armed man robbed the Pizza Hut restaurant on Georgetown Drive on Monday night.

The robber ordered an employee to give him cash from the safe and the register and fled, a Richmond County sheriff's report says.

A second employee in the restaurant locked himself in the freezer when he saw the armed man arrive.

The robber is described as black, about 5 feet 7 inches tall and 150 pounds. He covered his face with a camouflage bandana.

$32,000 in jewelry, cash taken from home

A burglar used a ladder to climb into a 60-year-old woman's bedroom window and steal about $32,000 in jewelry and cash Monday.

The victim told police she arrived at her home in the 900 block of Heard Avenue to find a ladder at her bedroom window, according to a Richmond County sheriff's report.

The burglar had smashed the window, ransacked the home and taken jewelry, including a $2,000 gold bracelet and a $3,000 Bucherer watch.

Sheriff's Lt. Tony Walden said it was the second burglary in that area recently, and he has ordered crime scene technicians to examine the home.

Alzheimer's advocates laud Perdue's efforts

Two hundred Alzheimer's disease advocates looked on Monday as Gov. Sonny Perdue was recognized for his efforts to change regulations at personal care homes.

Bruce Fletcher, Alzheimer Association board chairman from Augusta, presented the governor with a crystal award for his service.

Those who visited the Capitol were there to lobby their legislators for continued funding and bills that would ease the care of homebound patients.

Former Brave to speak for Boys & Girls Club

Dale Murphy, a former Atlanta Braves All-Star and two-time National League Most Valuable Player, will speak at the 23rd annual Steak & Burger Dinner, the largest annual fund-raising event for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Augusta.

The event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. March 25 at Augusta State University's Christenberry Fieldhouse.

Murphy will provide a motivational speech, and guests will dine on hamburgers while club members are served steak. Dinner tickets cost $100.

The event raises funds to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Augusta and the 3,000 youth they serve each year.