Across the Area

Beech Island teen dies in Aiken County wreck


A Beech Island teen died Wednesday night after a crash on Silver Bluff Road near Town Creek Road.

According to a statement released by the Aiken County coroner, Steven A. Burleson, 18, was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.

A 17-year-old passenger, Austin Paige McNamee, also of Beech Island, was in the 1998 Ford Mustang driven by Burleson. She was transported to the same hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries.

According to witnesses Burleson was traveling at a high speed on Silver Bluff Road when another vehicle was attempting to make a right turn onto Silver Bluff Road.

It was the 15th fatal crash in Aiken County in 2010, Coroner Tim Carlton said.

Woman charged with assault with vehicle

A woman suffered a broken leg and shattered teeth Thursday when she was deliberately struck by a car.

The victim was arguing with the car's driver Byronda Williams, 25, around 3:30 a.m. when Williams reportedly began choking her. The victim fought back and was allowed out of the car, but Williams came back and struck the victim as she was walking along Glenn Hills Drive, a report states.

Williams pulled the victim -- who was bleeding heavily -- out of a ditch and back into the car, then dumped her outside the apartment of an acquaintance, a report states.

The acquaintance drove the victim to Medical College of Georgia Hospital for her injuries, which included "multiple abrasions and contusions," a report states.

Williams was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault with a motor vehicle.

Kimberly-Clark plant machinery catches fire

Machinery at the Kimberly-Clark plant in Beech Island caught fire Thursday, but caused only minimal damage, fire officials say.

The fire was reported around 10:30 a.m., and arriving firefighters found smoke filling the second and third floors of the plant on Old Jackson Highway, said Beech Island Fire Chief Justin Craven.

The Kimberly-Clark fire brigade had already knocked down a majority of the fire before first responders arrived, Craven said. No injuries were reported.

Man, 23, drowns while swimming with friends

A 23-year-old man drowned at a pond in the Canoochee area of Emanuel County on Wednesday.

According to a news release from the Emanuel County Sheriff's Office, Lashoun Brown was swimming across a local farm pond with two of his friends when he grew fatigued and unable to stay afloat. His friends tried unsuccessfully to rescue him. The incident remains under investigation by the Emanuel County Sheriff's Office, but there was no indication of any foul play, the release states.

Moody's credit rating helps city sell bonds

Thanks to an upgraded credit rating from Moody's Investors Service, the city of Augusta sold $8 million in taxable revenue bonds Thursday with a 3.1 percent interest rate, about 2 percent lower than expected.

The bond will fund the first phase of the city's ambitious redevelopment plan for the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods, a project tied to the downtown trade, exhibit and event center, with debts paid back by Augusta's $1-a-night hotel fee.

Moody's raised the city's rating by two tiers -- from A1 to Aa2. The lower interest rate means that about $500,000 will go into inner city projects rather than interest payments, according to Diane McNabb, the city's independent financial advisor.

The bonds are being issued through the city's Urban Redevelopment Agency.

Housing and Community Development Department Director Chester Wheeler told the board Thursday that -- combined with private investment and other funding sources -- the project is expected to generate $99.3 million in economic development to rebuild the inner city.

Wheeler said about $16 million more in taxable bonds will be issued for future phases of the plan.

New council set up to revamp state tax code

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has named two people, including a McDuffie County businessman, to a new council that will look at overhauling the state's tax structure.

Cagle tapped D.E. "Skeeter" McCorkle, of Dearing, and Bradford Dickson, of Sandy Springs. McCorkle is the president and chief executive officer of McCorkle Nurseries.

The Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness will look at updating the state's tax code.