Black leaders plan meeting on police
Local clergy and members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People plan to speak out today on concerns the community has about local law enforcement.
About 20 people, ministers and NAACP members, met at Liberty Baptist Church Monday night. The meeting was closed to the media, and those who attended refused to talk about what was discussed.
As they emerged from the small, predominantly black church on Anderson Avenue, the Rev. Alfred Walker, who pastors at Liberty Baptist and also serves as president of the Augusta chapter of the NAACP, said these are "critical times, and the community was tired of the mundane and routine concerning local law enforcement."
Local clergy members and the NAACP will hold a meeting at 12:30 p.m. today in front of the Augusta Municipal Building to discuss the community's concerns regarding the Richmond County Sheriff's Department.
Man pleads guilty to molestation
An Aiken man pleaded guilty Monday to charges of molesting a minor.
Wayne Williams, 33, entered four guilty pleas in Aiken County General Sessions Court to two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and two counts of a lewd act on a minor.
Circuit Judge Frank Eppes sentenced him to 20 years in prison on one count of criminal sexual conduct. Upon serving 10 years of the sentence, Mr. Williams will serve probation for five years.
On one lewd-act count, Mr. Williams received a consecutive 15-year sentence, which will be suspended during probation.
On the remaining counts, Mr. Williams received a concurrent 20-year sentence for criminal sexual conduct with a minor and a concurrent 15-year sentence for a lewd act on a minor.
Chemical concerns to be aired
Residents near two Richmond County chemical companies will be offered an opportunity tonight to discuss risks from chemical spills and concerns about the Board of Education's decision to build a new high school nearby.
The 6 p.m. public meeting, hosted by the Richmond County Local Emergency Planning Committee, will be held at Gracewood Community Center on Tobacco Road.
Refreshments will be served. Anyone may attend.
The program will include information about the chemical companies' safety and risk-management programs; a discussion of the Jan. 11 chemical spill at Amoco Polymers and the resulting evacuation; and ongoing concerns about the 98-acre school site, which is less than a mile from Amoco and PCS Nitrogen.
Fees up when campgrounds open
Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds at Thurmond Lake will open March 16, but patrons will pay higher fees this year.
"By law, fees charged at corps recreation facilities must be comparable to fees charged at other federal campsites or at state, county and private parks," said corps spokesman Jim Parker.
The increase this year will range from $1 to $4 per campsite, with individual campsite prices ranging from $8 to $18 per night. For more information, call 1-800-533-3478.
SRS surpasses cleanup goal
Savannah River Site met, and surpassed by several months, a self-imposed goal to clean 35 million gallons of ground water at the polluted TNX area.
That means the TNX ground water cleanup project could be completed earlier than expected and with possible savings, said Joao Cardoso-Neto, project team leader.
The water contains toxic solvents from years of industrial production at SRS. The solvents are removed when the water moves through a so-called air-stripper, where the pollutants change from liquid to vapor.
It's estimated that 5 to 10 percent of the water table beneath the 310-square-mile South Carolina plant is polluted.
High court upholds conviction
ATLANTA -- The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday upheld the malice murder convictions of a College Park woman who watched while her brother and another man bound two Austell girls with duct tape and slashed and stabbed them to death.
A Cobb County court sentenced Inez Ottis, 31, to life in prison for her role in the 1993 slayings of Bridgett Lashelle Lee, 15, and her half-sister, Britney Ikharia, 7.
The Supreme Court rejected arguments by Ms. Ottis' lawyers that the trial court improperly admitted gruesome photographs, hearsay statements and statements Ms. Ottis made to police after invoking her right to an attorney.
Letter campaign urged on car tax
COLUMBIA -- Some lawmakers want South Carolinians to write the General Assembly to urge elimination of the car tax system.
Republican Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler and legislators want people to support the proposal to do away with taxes on cars, trucks, commercial vehicles and boats over the next seven years.
Voters would have the final say on the legislation that would cut $700 million in taxes, but Mr. Peeler said it already has more than 60 sponsors in the House and Senate.
Bid to increase pay raise fails
COLUMBIA -- State employees came within five votes of getting a 3 percent pay raise during the House's first day of debate on the $4.6 billion budget.
The House Ways and Means Committee two weeks ago approved its version, including $23.5 million for a 2 percent pay raise for state employees. House members Monday voted 55-50 against increasing it to 3 percent.
The debate grew heated for a while, with Rep. Leon Howard, D-Columbia, saying Ways and Means Chairman Henry Brown, R-Hanahan, threatened to take it out on historically black South Carolina State University if he didn't withdraw the proposal.