Originally created 01/07/97

Area News Briefs



Suspect surrenders following shooting

A woman surrendered in connection with the shooting of another woman at a trucking company Monday morning, but authorities are still searching for a motive.

Doris Norris was shot about 7:45 a.m. Monday in the parking lot of Doris Trucking at 1532 Gordon Highway. The suspect was apparently visiting another employee of the trucking company when Ms. Norris was shot, Investigator Jim Gordon said.}

Ms. Norris, who was shot once in the upper arm with a small-caliber pistol, was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where she was treated in the emergency room and released about 11:30 a.m., a hospital spokeswoman said.

Around 2 p.m. Monday, Elizabeth Sims Grier, 36, of the 2500 block of East Kensington Drive, came to the Richmond County Sheriff's Department and turned herself in, Investigator Gordon said.

She was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Jury to hear murder charges

A Richmond County Superior Court jury begins hearing evidence Tuesday in the trial of two men accused in the Oct. 11 slaying of James Jackson III.

Mr. Jackson, 25, was standing near a window of a south Augusta apartment when he was struck twice by gunshots fired through the window. Darrick Collins, 25, of the 2400 block of Nordahl Drive, and Kenny Passmore, 25, of the 2400 block of Carrington Court, Hephzibah, were arrested. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges of felony murder, malice murder and use of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

On Monday a jury was selected to hear the case, expected to last two days. Mr. Collins and Mr. Passmore have been held without bond since their arrest a day after Mr. Jackson was killed.

Strip club owner denied appeal

Superior Court Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet denied James Fenimore's request Monday for permission to appeal the judge's decision that keeps his exotic dance club closed on Sunday.

Richmond County filed suit against Mr. Fenimore in November after an officer cited Mr. Fenimore twice for violating a county ordinance that requires exotic dance clubs to close on Sundays. Judge Overstreet granted the county's request for an injunction against Mr. Fenimore, the owner of Jim's Playhouse, formerly T.J. Smiles.

In an order signed last week, Judge Overstreet rejected Mr. Fenimore's argument that the county ordinance violated free speech at the Gordon Highway club.

Black farmers claim prejudice

ALBANY - Black farmers told Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman on Monday that white-dominated county committees grant the bulk of agricultural loans to influential white "good ol' boys," leaving very little to help them succeed.}

About 35 black farmers, some from South Carolina, Florida and Alabama, aired their complaints at the first of 13 regional hearings before a U.S. Department of Agriculture "action team" that Mr. Glickman created in response to a pending lawsuit and publicity over alleged discrimination.

The farmers also complained about excessive red tape, delays in processing loan applications and insensitive bureaucrats.

"USDA has an obligation to treat its customers with fairness and equality," Mr. Glickman said. "In some cases USDA has done a good job at that, in some cases it has done a bad job. How we treat our customers is more important than anything we do."

Agriculture officials announced last week that they will suspend farm loan foreclosure sales until pending cases are reviewed for possible discrimination.

Attorney: NAACP suit dropped

COLUMBIA - A lawsuit alleging that South Carolina's NAACP President William Gibson misused the civil rights organization's money was dropped after the death of his accuser, a lawyer says.

Lawyer Hemphill Pride, who represented Eugene Montgomery in his suit against Mr. Gibson and two other state NAACP officials, said Monday that the lawsuit was dropped after Mr. Montgomery died last year.

Mr. Montgomery, who died in April, was treasurer of the Orangeburg County NAACP branch.

The lawsuit, which was filed in February 1995, claimed Mr. Gibson used funds from the state branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for his personal benefit.

That same month, he was removed as chairman of the NAACP's national board following allegations that he mismanaged the organization and misused its funds.

Mr. Gibson has denied wrongdoing.

German official praises plant

GREER - Germany's defense minister praised the mix of German technology and American spirit at the BMW plant he toured with South Carolina's governor.

Volker Ruehe, who is on a weeklong trip to the United States, toured the plant Monday and had lunch with Gov. David Beasley.

Although most of Mr. Ruehe's visit has focused on defense-related industries, he talked trade with Mr. Beasley, saying he hopes for U.S. investment in Germany.

"We hope for more, of course it has to go both ways," Mr. Ruehe said. "German investment here is also of interest in Germany."

South Carolina is home to more than 100 German manufacturing companies, said BMW spokesman Robert Hitt. More than 50 are in Spartanburg County, he said.

Study credits prenatal program

GREENVILLE - A prenatal care program aimed at pregnant teen-agers has reduced the number of newborn deaths in Greenville County and has nearly cut in half the number of underweight babies, a study shows.

The Greenville Hospital System's Teen Pregnancy Program, which started in 1989 with 1,000 teen moms, provides free prenatal care and classes, nutrition counseling and help with school or family problems.

"We are extremely excited about it," said Lena Warner, director of nursing for medical clinics. "Whenever we do some intervention we will see better outcomes for the baby."

The study followed 922 program participants and 311 nonparticipants from 1990-93 with similar pregnancy histories. The girls' average age was 16 and nearly 90 percent were unmarried.

Nearly 22 percent of the teens who did not take part in the program had underweight babies compared with 12.2 percent of the moms who took part. In addition, 2.2 percent of the participants' babies died after birth compared with 3.5 percent of nonparticipants.

State's tallest building sold

COLUMBIA - The tallest building in South Carolina has been sold for $42.4 million in a government auction.

Prudential Insurance Co., the lone bidder Monday, also will spend $2.3 million for overdue property taxes on the 25-story AT&T Building, across from the Statehouse.

Prudential lawyers said the purchase would have almost no effect on tenants, including parts of the Budget and Control Board and the state Revenue Department.

Prudential, which holds the mortgage, foreclosed on the property after Capital Center Associates defaulted on a $45 million loan.

There also is a $2.5 million outstanding loan from NationsBank and a $6 million note from Leo Eisenberg & Co. of Kansas City.

Governor unveils budget today

COLUMBIA - Gov. David Beasley is scheduled to release his $4.6 billion executive budget today, focusing on education and budget reforms.

Budget writers estimate $216 million in new revenues. But the current spending plan obligates much of that for ongoing expenses.

The release of Mr. Beasley's budget will launch five months of legislative debate. From here, the House will consider and approve the spending plan. Then the state Senate does the same, and the two bodies compromise.

The new fiscal year begins July 1.

- Compiled by Mike Hill