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Woman dies in fire at nursing facility

TUCKER, GA. — A woman who died in a fire at a DeKalb County assisted living facility was apparently smoking near an oxygen tank.

Officials said the two-alarm blaze started around 3 a.m. Tuesday at the Meadowbrook Nursing Home near Tucker. DeKalb County Fire Chief Edward O’Brien said the blaze was contained to one room on the second floor of the two-story building, and was doused by the facility’s sprinkler system. The DeKalb County Medical Examiner identified the woman who died as 64-year-old Laura Barrett.

A second person was taken to a local trauma unit and a third was hospitalized and treated for smoke inhalation, O’Brien said.

Man sent to prison for drug smuggling

ATLANTA — A 25-year-old man has been sentenced to serve more than four years in federal prison after he was convicted of bringing heroin into the country from Guatemala with the intent to distribute it.

Federal prosecutors said Kenneth Lewis Martin, a naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Guatemala, was sentenced Tuesday. He pleaded guilty to the charges against him in November. U.S. District Judge Willis B. Hunt Jr. sentenced Martin to serve four years and two months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Prosecutors said Martin arrived in Atlanta on a flight from Guatemala City in May 2012. He claimed a piece of checked luggage from the baggage carousel. Customs agents who checked his luggage found 2.5 kilograms of heroin hidden inside

Weather network to keep operating

ATHENS, GA. — A statewide weather network’s financial picture has improved in the months since it planned to end operations in 2011 because of a loss of state funding and key personnel, its administrator said this week.

The Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network has more than 80 stations that record weather data such as rainfall, air and soil temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction.

The University of Georgia network had planned to end operations in July 2011, but funding from an unnamed donor allowed it to keep operating.

Chambliss to speak at UGA graduation

ATHENS, GA. — The University of Georgia said U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss will be its spring commencement speaker.

UGA’s commencement ceremony is set for 7 p.m. May 10. UGA officials said the ceremony will also recognize Mary Frances Early, the university’s first black graduate, who will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Chambliss, a Republican from Moultrie, is set to retire next year after serving two terms in the U.S. Senate. He previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He earlier announced that he would not be seeking a third term, opening up what will likely be a fierce primary among the state’s top Republicans interested in the seat.

Chambliss is a 1966 graduate of UGA. He serves as vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Ex-cop accused of trashing evidence

COLUMBIA — A former South Carolina police officer faces charges that he destroyed evidence related to a decades-old murder case, authorities said.

George Ralph Bobo, 53, was arrested Tuesday by the State Law Enforcement Division and charged with obstructing justice and misconduct in office, Solicitor Walt Wilkins said.

Bobo recently resigned as Mauldin’s police chief but was previously an officer in Simpsonville. It was there in 1984 that authorities discovered the body of 20-year-old Cassandra Johnson in a wooded area. She had been stabbed multiple times.

Bobo is accused of destroying physical evidence related to Johnson’s case between March 2000 and January 2012, when he left the department. Wilkins wouldn’t say what the evidence was he doesn’t know a motive.

Board agrees to halt student prayer

PICKENS, S.C. — The Pickens County School Board has given final approval to changing its policy on prayer at its meetings.

The panel voted 3-2 on Monday night to end the practice of having students lead prayer before the meeting. Instead, the board will open its regular public meetings with a nonsectarian invocation given voluntarily by a board member.

The policy also forbids the mention of the name of Jesus. One board member abstained from the vote.

Several months ago, the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened to sue the school district unless it stopped student-led prayer at its meetings.

– Associated Press


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