Across the region

Army Sgt. Mary Katzenberger's smile and backpack tell it all at her homecoming from a yearlong deployment in Iraq. Katzenberger, of Las Cruces, N.M., returned Friday after an 18-hour journey to Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga. The sergeant had been deployed alongside her husband with the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.

Flu claims victim this season in Georgia


ATLANTA --- Influenza has killed a woman in the Atlanta area, according to government health officials.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the 63-year-old woman died after contracting the flu in November, Georgia public health officials said. Overall, they say, school-age children are getting sick the most.

Georgia is the first state in the nation seeing significant seasonal cases of the flu.

Fatality puts state on watch for killer bees

ATHENS, GA. --- Georgia officials are on the lookout for killer bees in the state after a recent fatal attack in Albany.

University of Georgia bee researcher Keith Delaplane says it's probably only a matter of time before the Africanized honeybees -- commonly known as killer bees -- work their way up through the state.

Killer bees appeared in Georgia in October, killing the 73-year-old Albany man as he drove a bulldozer that disturbed their nest.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture suspects the bees came to Georgia after hitching a ride on a truck from Florida.

Agriculture officials have launched a sampling program to look for more killer bees in southern Georgia but haven't found any.

Schools will collect food in honor of King

COLUMBIA --- Schools in Columbia are collecting items for a food bank in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Honor the Dream Food Drive is gathering items through Saturday for the Harvest Hope Food Bank.

Students, parents and employees can drop off nonperishable food items at schools in Richland District One through Dec. 11.

Participating schools will be recognized at Columbia's annual King Day celebration on Jan. 17.

The 2011 Dream Keeper Scholarship winners also will be announced during that program.

State likely to extend its shrimping season

BRUNSWICK, GA. --- Georgia officials are considering an extension of the shrimping season in state waters past Dec. 31, which is its scheduled end.

It's probably a safe bet that Georgia shrimpers will get a few weeks added to their season. The Department of Natural Resources has routinely granted more time for the past 31 years.

The state's Shrimp Advisory Panel will meet the week of Dec. 13 to discuss an extension. Patrick Geer, the DNR's chief of marine fisheries, says he doesn't see any reason why one would be denied.

Historically, Georgia's shrimping season has been extended through mid- to late January.

National Guard might move unit to Macon

MACON, GA. --- The Georgia National Guard is considering moving a Forsyth-based battalion's headquarters to a renovated armory in Macon.

A Guard spokesman, Capt. Will Cox, says the 148th National Guard support battalion is one of three Georgia units that commanders might move to Macon.

An announcement could come before the end of the month.

The 148th is part of the 48th Infantry Brigade, which is already based at the Macon armory.

Forsyth Mayor Tye Howard says he hopes the 148th will stay in Forsyth. He says he's gotten phone calls and letters from concerned veterans and former National Guard troops who don't want to see the unit move.

Capitol flags lowered for legislator's death

ATLANTA --- Flags at the Capitol and other state offices are flying at half-staff to honor a state lawmaker who died last week.

Gov. Sonny Perdue ordered U.S. and state flags to be lowered Saturday in remembrance of state Rep. Tony Sellier, a Republican from Fort Valley who died Tuesday at age 65.

Sellier was first elected in 2006 and represented parts of Bibb, Crawford, Houston, Lamar, Monroe, Peach and Upson counties in District 136.

Sellier moved to Fort Valley in 1975 with Blue Bird Corp., which he served as manager of audit and special projects. Before retiring in 2006, he was corporate director of financial services.