Across Georgia

Griffin doctor chosen for Board of Regents


ATLANTA - Gov. Sonny Perdue has appointed Dr. Thomas Hopkins of Griffin to represent the 3rd Congressional District on the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents.

Hopkins, a former Air Force flight surgeon, practices orthopedic surgery and sports medicine in his hometown, where his father and grandfather were dentists. A frequent contributor to Republican candidates, Hopkins has also been active in civic affairs, including service as president of the Georgia Orthopaedic Society, the Griffin Rotary Club, the Georgia Health Strategies Council, and Governor's Physician Partnership as a Perdue appointee.

The Board of Regents sets policy for the 35 public colleges across the state, including tuition. Hopkins attended two of the schools, the University of Georgia and Valdosta State University, where he got his bachelor's degree. He received his medical degree from the private Emory University.

Labor commissioner might run for Senate

ATLANTA - Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said Friday that he's leaning toward a run for U.S. Senate.

The 57-year-old Democrat told The Associated Press he is strongly considering a challenge to one-term Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson. He'll announce his plans on Wednesday.

Thurmond would face an uphill battle in Georgia, which has voted reliably Republican in recent elections. But he said his experience as labor commissioner would serve him well if he decides to run, because jobs are a top priority for the nation.

"In thinking about what role I could play in helping some 15 million Americans at the end of this downturn who, as we begin to reach the point of recovery, find themselves unemployed ... obviously, the Senate offers me that opportunity," Thurmond said.

Isakson is seeking a second term and has $4.4 million in the bank for his re-election bid. He recently returned to the campaign trail after being hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat and a blood clot.

SCLC members decide not to sue colleagues

ATLANTA - A group that was opposing the ouster of two board members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has withdrawn a request seeking a judge to again intervene in the organization's troubles.

The Rev. Raleigh Trammell, of Ohio, and treasurer Spiver Gordon, of Alabama, were voted out of their positions last week by 19 board members concerned over allegations of financial mismanagement against the two men. Several other board members had planned to oppose the decision in Fulton County Superior Court, but changed their minds on Friday.

The group supporting Trammell and Gordon have sued the other members, claiming they inappropriately used more than $12,000 to sue board members.

The dueling factions are set to have separate board meetings hundreds of miles apart beginning Monday.

Spelman gets grant from ExxonMobil

ATLANTA - Spelman College will use a $1 million grant to increase the number of engineers who are black women.

Officials announced Friday that the historically black women's college got a grant from ExxonMobil. It will allow the college to offer scholarships to women interested in technology-related programs.

The college says six students majoring in a targeted science or math areas will be selected annually as ExxonMobil Scholars. In addition, they will receive mentoring, internships, research training and access to labs at Spelman and Georgia Tech.

The college is already ranked as one of the leading producers of black females who go on to earn doctoral degrees in science and engineering.

Investigators seeking cause for home blast

CALHOUN, Ga. - Investigators are digging through rubble to determine what caused an explosion that demolished one Gordon County home and sent debris flying up to four miles away.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine said Friday that the explosion in a Calhoun neighborhood was the worst he has seen in 16 years on the job.

No one was seriously injured in the blast, which happened about 4 p.m. Thursday. About 19 families have been displaced.

Oxendine said investigators suspect the blast was caused by a natural gas leak, but they have not made a final determination. Investigators were using cranes and other heavy equipment Friday to dig for clues in the basement of the demolished home.

A spokeswoman for Atlanta Gas Light did not return a call seeking comment.