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Cost overrun for reactors predicted

ATLANTA — A state monitor said he believes Southern Co. will exceed its $6.1 billion budget to build a first-of-its-kind nuclear plant, according to a report released Thursday.

The warning from nuclear engineer William Jacobs Jr. was his most blunt assessment yet on the possibility that Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power will need more money to construct two more nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle, a problem that plagued the industry during the last round of nuclear construction years ago. The 2.4 million customers of Georgia Power ultimately pay for the cost of building the nuclear plant.

“In my opinion, the Company will need to request an increase in the certified cost and a change in the certified schedule to a later completion date,” said Jacobs, who was hired by the state’s Public Service Commission to monitor construction progress.

Jacobs said the amount of the increase will depend on progress made at the construction site and the outcome of negotiations between Southern Co. and other firms over costs related to change orders and licensing delays. Southern Co. executives recently acknowledged the project was seven months behind schedule, though they said a new timeline had not been finalized.

Medal for Marine sets new standard

MARIETTA, GA. — A U.S. Marine from suburban Atlanta has become the first Georgian to receive a Purple Heart under new rules designed to honor military members who suffer brain injuries.

Monroe Seigle, a Marietta native and a senior at Kennesaw State University, was given a Purple Heart during a ceremony Wednesday at Dobbins Air Force Base.

Seigle is the first Georgian to receive the honor since the Department of Defense’s 2011 decision to change the criteria to specifically include concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries, officials said.

Seigle was injured by an improvised roadside bomb while on duty in Iraq in 2006. He suffered a concussion.

No indictment in suspect’s shooting

ATLANTA — The Union City officer who shot a 19-year-old man last year said he had to move his family because of threats while waiting on the decision of his case.

Officer Luther Lewis spoke Thursday after a grand jury decided a day before not to indict him after he fatally shot Ariston Waiters on Dec. 14.

“I’m separated from my job. Separated from my family,” Lewis said.

Union City police officials said Lewis was justified in his actions, saying in a statement released in January that Waiters “grabbed the officer’s service weapon” as he was being handcuffed.

“The whole thing took about 30 seconds, from start to finish,” Lewis’ attorney Al Dixon said. “Officer Lewis was in a struggle for his life.”

The mother of a teenager shot to death by a police officer broke down crying as she learned that the officer will not be indicted.

WSB-TV reported that the grand jury reached its decision after 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Police have said Waiters was shot after a struggle for the officer’s weapon. Waiters’ relatives dispute the account. An autopsy showed Waiters died of two gunshots to the back.

Candidate charged in kidnapping plot

ANDERSON, S.C. — State Law Enforcement Division agents have arrested an Oconee County sheriff’s candidate and charged him with plotting to kidnap a retired judge.

A warrant states that James Bartee solicited someone to abduct retired Circuit Judge James C. Williams Jr. to prevent him from appearing at a hearing in Anderson.

The warrant says evidence was obtained by audio recording.

Bartee is a 54-year-old retired U.S. Secret Service agent. He was arrested in Anderson where Circuit Judge Cordell Maddox was holding a hearing on an action. Williams had questioned Bartee’s eligibility to run for sheriff.

Williams contends Bartee should be removed from the June 12 primary ballot because he is not certified as a law enforcement officer in South Carolina.

Bartee was released on bail and told reporters he is innocent.

In other news

THE BOARD THAT runs South Carolina’s environmental agency decided Thursday not to consider a request to allow deeper dredging in the Savannah River. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control board will wait for the state Supreme Court to rule on a lawsuit between environmentalists and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Justices will hear arguments Tuesday.


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Commissioners seek attorney general's opinion on SPLOST

Two Augusta commissioners are seeking an opinion from Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens on the city's disbursement of sales tax proceeds to non-profits.
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