Across the region

Panel disputes deal for harbor dredging


COLUMBIA — The Savannah River Maritime Commission said Monday that South Carolina’s environmental agency improperly approved a water quality permit for dredging the Savannah River.

The unanimous vote to declare the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s decision invalid likely sends the issue to court. The commission, created in 2007 to represent South Carolina’s interests in the river channel shared with Georgia, also asked Attorney General Alan Wilson to handle the case on its behalf.

The move comes four days after the board approved a compromise on a permit application from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deepen about 35 miles of the Savannah River, allowing supersize ships to reach the Savannah port. Staffers rejected the application in September, citing unacceptable harm to endangered sturgeon and fragile marshes. The compromise was worked out with Georgia officials shortly before the board was set to hear the corps’ appeal.

In a statement, DHEC said it respects the commission’s vote but feels comfortable issuing the permit.

Overhaul sought in measuring students

ATLANTA — Georgia is asking for a massive overhaul of how it measures student achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind law, according to documents released Monday.

The state is requesting that it be allowed to include science, social studies and foreign languages – rather than just math and reading – in its calculation of which schools pass muster. Georgia also wants to stop rating schools as simply passing or failing by using a five-star system and colored flags to indicate whether a school is making gains.

Georgia school Superintendent John Barge said the state wants to expand data used to determine how students are performing. Federal law calls for using standardized tests, attendance and other factors, but Barge said the state wants to count Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, SAT and ACT test scores, as well as put more focus on attendance.

In other news

FEDERAL PROSECUTORS are planning to release more details today about the four suspected members of a Georgia militia who are charged with plotting attacks with toxins and explosives against unidentified government officials.

A DORAVILLE, GA., POLICE officer on his way to investigate a home invasion was killed Monday when his vehicle was struck by an SUV going the wrong way on Interstate 20.