Originally created 01/08/98

Local and area briefs



Commission drops Norwood probe

A complaint against U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood in the final days of the 1996 congressional election has been dismissed by the Federal Election Commission.

Democratic challenger David Bell complained to elections officials that Dr. Norwood forced an employee of his family's Augusta fabric shop to work for his re-election campaign.

"This type of attack symbolizes the worst of our current campaign system," said Richmond County Republican Party Chairman Dave Barbee. "Mr. Bell made an outlandish accusation just days before the election, knowing that the FEC would take over a year to investigate and dismiss the groundless charges."

Federal officials dismissed other charges filed by Mr. Bell claiming that Dr. Norwood solicited campaign donations from minors.Jury continues deliberationsA Richmond County Superior Court jury returns to deliberations this morning since it was unable to reach a verdict Wednesday in the case of an Augusta man accused of assaulting a deputy at the county jail.

The jurors deliberated more than three hours Wednesday before the judge sent them home for the night. They are deciding whether or not Jason Damon Hankerson, 20, committed felony and misdemeanor obstruction of a law enforcement officer Oct. 26 when he got into two scuffles with Richmond County Sheriff's deputies at the county jail.

Mr. Hankerson is also awaiting trial in an unrelated case. He and his brother Boise Eugene Hankerson, 19, face charges of aggravated assault and robbery in connection with drive-by shootings on July 3 and 6.

Collision causes fuel spill

Columbia Road near Appling was blocked for almost eight hours Wednesday after a collision between a sport utility vehicle and a tanker truck loaded with about 2,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel.

The Chevrolet Blazer driven by Jerry A. May, 28, of Warren Court, North Augusta, crossed into the eastbound lane and collided with the fuel truck, driven by Daniel Beckworth, 24, of Stapleton, Ga., said Columbia County Sheriff's Deputy Doug Stacy.

The crash caused the fuel truck to overturn, blocking both lanes.

Mr. May was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where a spokeswoman said he was in critical condition. Mr. Beckworth refused any treatment, Deputy Stacy said.

Mr. May was charged with driving with an open container and driving on the wrong side of the road. Other charges may follow, Deputy Stacy said.

Aiken seeking accreditation

AIKEN -- The Aiken Department of Public Safety is attempting to comply with 369 standards required to achieve accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc.

A team of assessors from CALEA will be in Aiken beginning Jan. 24 to examine the Public Safety Department's policy and procedures, administration, operations, and support services. The accreditation is similar to one received by the Columbia County's Sheriff's Office.

Department employees and the public are invited to offer comments at a public information session in the Municipal Courtroom at Public Safety headquarters at 251 Laurens St. on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. Or, make comments directly to the assessment team by calling (803) 642-7679 on Jan. 27 between 1 and 5 p.m.

Appearances at the public hearing and telephone comments are limited to 10 minutes and must address the Public Safety Department's ability to comply with the assessment agency's standards. A copy of the standards is available at Public Safety headquarters or by calling Capt. Richard Abney at (803) 642-7620.

Written comments can be sent to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc., 10306 Eaton Place, Suite 320, Fairfax, VA 22030-2201.Wrongful-death hearing setA hearing will be held in Barnwell County on Jan. 30 in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the Aiken County Sheriff's Office regarding a woman shot to death by her husband in 1994.

Circuit Judge William Keesley, who will be in Barnwell County that week for Court of Common Pleas, scheduled the hearing for 2 p.m. at the Barnwell County Courthouse.

The judge met with attorneys in the case Tuesday in Aiken to discuss pretrial matters. The hearing will consider motions for summary judgment prior to the Feb. 9 trial date in Aiken County.

The suit was filed by Steven Arthurs as personal representative for the estate of his sister, Deborah Arthurs Munn. Mrs. Munn was shot to death by her estranged husband, John Munn, after he broke into her trailer in Gloverville in October 1994.

The suit claims the sheriff's office failed to respond to pleas from Mrs. Munn and other family members prior to the shooting.

Candidate seeks parole change

ATLANTA -- Rejecting as too extreme the popular theme of abolishing parole for most Georgia criminals, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Steve Langford on Wednesday proposed abolishing parole only for those who commit crimes against children.

Mr. Langford, D-LaGrange, said he will push legislation this session to force child abusers, child molesters and others who commit crimes against children to serve 100 percent of their sentences. He estimated the proposal would cost about $7 million.Care costs more than thoughtCOLUMBIA -- A proposal to keep sexually violent predators in mental health facilities is more costly and controversial than it appears, South Carolina's mental health director says.

Under a bill sponsored by Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, sexual offenders identified as violent predators would be committed to the Mental Health Department for an undetermined time after completing their prison sentences.Westinghouse fined for plantCOLUMBIA -- The company formerly known as Westinghouse Electric Corp. has been fined $13,750 by federal regulators for problems at its nuclear fuel plant near Columbia.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission levied the fines Wednesday for the June 23 and Aug. 25 failure of controls designed to prevent a nuclear chain reaction. The NRC said Westinghouse did not investigate adequately and make prompt corrections. regulators said. The company has 30 days to pay the fine or contest it.

Mother of Year credits mom

LATTA -- The woman selected as South Carolina's 1998 Mother of the Year says her own mother receives much of the credit.

"My mother lived with me after I moved to town," Dorothy Jean Vereen George said. "She was a tremendous help."

The announcement was made at a Latta Rotary Club meeting Tuesday night by Mona Ruth Davis, head of the selection committee.