Originally created 02/13/98

Local and area briefs



KendrickLakeside High senior named STAR student

Kendrick Kay, a senior at Lakeside High School, was named Columbia County's STAR Student on Thursday at a reception held by the Harlem Woman's Club.

Kendrick, the son of Kenneth and Nora Kay, could not attend the reception. Guidance counselor Mae Guinn, who spoke in his place, said he was in Philadelphia representing Georgia at the American Junior Academy of Science national meeting.

Kendrick chose chemistry teacher Steve Ellerbee as his STAR teacher.

"Mr. Ellerbee is, in short, lively, interesting and motivational," he wrote in the prepared statement read by Mrs. Guinn. "Students retain the motivation he instills in them."

Canal to learn about funds in April

Augusta Canal Authority expects to learn by mid-April if its newest request for federal transportation dollars will be approved.

The city of Augusta, working with the authority, has a pending request for $896,600 to restore and reopen the aging locks at the canal head gates along the Savannah River in Columbia County.

The grant would come from the Intermodal Surface Transportation Enhancement Act, which generates $25 billion a year through the 18.3-cent federal gas tax. If approved, the city must provide $224,150 -- or 20 percent -- in local matching funds, said Glenn Coyne, the canal authority's executive director.

The canal master plan was financed with $300,000 in ISTEA money. Later, more than $1 million was allocated for bike trails and other improvements. Most recently, Columbia County was awarded $753,600 to restore historic buildings at the old Lock and Dam in Evans.

Man gets life for prison rape

A Hephzibah man serving a life sentence for murder received a second life sentence this week for taking a woman hostage and raping her at knife point inside a state prison.

Rudolpho Garcia, 39, never testified in a two-day Chatham County Superior Court trial to deny the woman's testimony about what happened Oct. 22, 1995, when she went to visit him at the Coastal Corrections Institution in Port Wentworth.

Mr. Garcia did not ask for leniency from Judge John E. Morse Jr. "I wish you could get this over with, 'cause I'm hungry," he told the judge.

Judge Morse then sentenced him to life, consecutive to his sentence for a 1995 conviction in the execution-style murder of 31-year-old Michael Nipper of Richmond County.

Mr. Garcia previously had been convicted of aggravated assault and kidnapping following a hostage situation and a standoff with police at the Albion Kaolin Co. in Hephzibah in 1989. He was sentenced to five years in prison and five years probation, but was paroled Dec. 24, 1993.

Man jailed on robbery, other charges

A former Glenn Hills High School student on the run from police since December was arrested this week on money-snatching charges.

Thomas Byrd, 20, of the 2800 block of Lumpkin Road, faces charges of robbery by force and disorderly conduct in addition to charges of marijuana possession, obstruction of an officer and shoplifting in a separate incident.

Police say he stole $60 from a student at the high school Dec. 19 when he tried to sell him a watch. He is now in the Richmond County jail.

Party dancer convicted of molestation

It took a jury just 30 minutes to convict an Augusta man who danced at children's parties of three counts of child molestation for assaulting three adolescents.

The Richmond County Superior Court jury found Leon Marcellus Rowe guilty of the charges, which could bring life in prison plus 40 years. Mr. Rowe, 20, of the 1400 block of Chestnut Street has been held in jail since his arrest in August.

During the two-day trial, victims who were 12, 13 and 14 years old when assaulted testified against Mr. Rowe, who performed at the 13-year-old's birthday party last year. Mr. Rowe denied any wrongdoing in testimony Thursday.

A sentencing date has not been set yet.

Weaker mastectomy bill passed

ATLANTA -- The Senate gutted legislation Thursday that would have provided women with a guaranteed length of hospital stay after undergoing mastectomies.

Senate critics said lawmakers had no business determining the hospital stays of cancer patients.

The Senate amended the bill to say insurance companies could provide coverage with a minimum length of stay for mastectomies if they wish.