Across the region

Teachers agree to cheating penalty


ALBANY, GA. — School officials in Dougherty County say the first four teachers to appear at administrative hearings in connection with a test-cheating scandal have agreed to 60-day suspensions without pay.

The deals were made Tuesday, as the first tribunals of teachers in the district began. The tribunals give the teachers and administrators a chance to appeal losing their jobs. More tribunals are planned for this month.

The contracts of about two-dozen teachers and two principals in the southwest Georgia district weren’t renewed after they were named in Gov. Nathan Deal’s report on test cheating.

A state investigation released last December concluded at least 49 educators in Dougherty County were involved in cheating in some way during standardized testing in 2009.

Macon-Bibb votes for consolidation

MACON, GA. — Voters have approved the consolidation of Macon and Bibb County’s governments after years of debate.

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert said the vote means that Macon and Bibb County “have embraced the future and set out to be a more unified community.”

Georgia lawmakers this year adopted legislation that would set up a transition team to decide how city and county departments would merge.

Biotech facility breaks ground

COVINGTON, GA. — Gov. Nathan Deal says phamaceuticals and biotechnology company Baxter International Inc. has broken ground on a manufacturing plant in Georgia that’s expected to create hundreds of jobs.

Deal gathered with company executives on Wednesday to break ground for the plant in the Covington area, southeast of Atlanta.

Baxter executives have said the plant and related expansions represent a $1 billion investment expected to create more than 1,500 jobs over the next five years.

The Georgia operation will include warehouse and distribution facilities. It will involve the manufacturing of plasma-based therapies that treat chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

Man is accused of fouling dialysis

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — A man suspected of pouring bleach into water used at a dialysis clinic where he worked was seeking revenge after the firm had suspended him, the local sheriff said Wednesday.

Deputies in Lexington County said Donald Foster III, 49, was arrested Wednesday and charged with attempted murder and second-degree burglary. He was scheduled to face a bond hearing today.

Sheriff James Metts said Foster had been suspended without pay on July 2 after it was discovered that he was luring elderly clients of the firm and providing them with prescription narcotic painkillers. Foster was an equipment technician and also worked in patient care at Fresenius Medical Services, the sheriff said.

Metts said Foster returned to the clinic the night of July 7 despite being told to stay off the property. He said Foster sneaked past a cleaning person and poured the bleach into a holding tank so it would contaminate the water supply for the dialysis machines.

Attorney’s billing leads to discipline

COLUMBIA — A South Carolina attorney has been publicly reprimanded for asking a public defender agency to compensate him for more than 24 hours of work in one day.

The state Supreme Court said Wednesday that Sumter lawyer Charles Thomas Brooks III submitted nearly $62,000 in expenses to the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense for work representing various clients over more than two years.

But the court says Brooks’ invoices contained many errors, and that some that asked the commission to pay Brooks for more than 24 hours of work in one day.

As part of an agreement with disciplinary officials, Brooks has agreed to repay the commission and complete an ethics program.

Medal of Honor museum planned

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — A $100 million museum honoring the nation’s Medal of Honor recipients will be built at a South Carolina military attraction.

Officials announced Wednesday the museum will be built on land at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant. The non-profit foundation plans a massive fundraising drive. The museum will replace a smaller museum now on board the World War II aircraft carrier USS Yorktown.

The museum will eventually be accompanied by a new hotel and a conference center. Officials also say they will spend an additional $2 million upgrading the USS Yorktown.