Originally created 08/05/98

Local and area briefs



Public can watchfloor installation

The public is invited to watch today as workers begin the next phase of installing a $1 million ice floor in the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.

A continuous pouring of concrete -- covering a grid of cooling pipes that allows the floor to be chilled to 16 degrees -- will begin about 6 a.m. and last until approximately 7 p.m.

To view the pouring, enter the arena at the Seventh Street doors next to the box office.

"Follow the rope and drapes, and it will take you right to it," said civic center general manager Pat Cumiskey.

After the new layer of concrete sets for 28 days, it will be ready for making ice. Once complete, the ice floor will be the home playing surface for the Augusta Lynx East Coast Hockey League team, which begins its inaugural season in the arena Oct. 15.

Former caseworker arraigned

A former child welfare caseworker was arraigned in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, where she pleaded not guilty to 17 counts of extortion.

Tarcia Linette James, 30, of 2862 Conniston Court, is charged with taking $1,445 in kickbacks from foster parents while she was a caseworker for the Augusta Department of Family and Children Services.

The payments were made between September 1995 and July 1996, according to court documents. Ms. James was fired from her DFCS job in May 1997.

A trial date has not been set. If convicted, Ms. James could be sentenced to 20 years in jail and fined $250,000.

Devices speed up CSX trains

CSX trains running through several Augusta-area towns will be moving faster, thanks to improvements in tracks and crossing devices, the railroad announced Tuesday.

Twenty-two locations where the rails cross roads in Harlem, Grovetown, Thomson and Camak will be affected by the increased speeds. CSX engineers have spent the past year improving the tracks and making changes to the crossing devices.

Police seek suspect in robbery

The Aiken Department of Public Safety is looking for the second of two men they believe tried to rob a Wendy's fast-food restaurant on Richland Avenue last month.

Two men entered the restaurant through the back door July 24 at 11:30 p.m. but were unsuccessful in obtaining any money. Nathan Hamilton, 22, of the 400 block of Water Oak Drive, Windsor, was arrested July 30 and charged with attempted robbery.

Police still are looking for Maurice D. Wise in connection with the robbery attempt. He is described as black, 21, 5 feet 7 inches tall, and 160 to 175 pounds. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Dwayne Courtney at (803) 642-7620.

Accused men plead not guilty

Two South Carolina men arrested and charged in Augusta with having nearly a pound of cocaine pleaded not guilty Tuesday in federal court. They face prison sentences as long as life without parole.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge W. Leon Barfield will consider Friday whether Demond Trevino McFadden and Demond Keith Pearson should be held without bond until their trial. Mr. McFadden and Mr. Pearson, along with Christopher Lavar Williams, were indicted on federal and state charges last month. They are accused of trafficking in cocaine in Georgia and South Carolina on June 12 after they were allegedly found in possession of just under a pound of cocaine.

In federal court, Mr. McFadden, 24, of Kingstree, S.C., and Mr. Pearson, 23, of Orangeburg, S.C., face charges of conspiracy and possession and distribution of cocaine. In Richmond County Superior Court, they and Mr. Williams, 20, of Vance, S.C., face arraignment on charges of trafficking in cocaine Aug. 14. The federal charges against Mr. Williams were withdrawn by federal prosecutors.

Turtles get day in court

ATLANTA -- The turtles got their day in federal court, and got what they wanted -- a chance to plead their case.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a decision to dismiss a lawsuit seeking more protection for the sea turtles along Florida's Volusia County coast.

The appeal was filed by Shirley Reynolds and Rita Alexander on behalf of the loggerhead and green turtles.

The lawsuit, which alleged that Volusia County had not done enough to protect the animals under the Endangered Species Act, was dismissed in December 1996 by U.S. District Judge Anne C. Conway.

Court of Appeals Judges Joseph Hatchett, Paul Roney and Thomas Clark remanded the case to District Court for trial. The judges also ruled the lower court abused its discretion by not allowing the endangered leatherback sea turtle to be added to the lawsuit.

Missing man's campsite found

WESTMINSTER -- Officials have found the campsite of a Westminster man reported missing in the Sumter National Forest during the weekend.

Mack Webb's campsite appeared to have been vacant for several days, Oconee County Emergency Preparedness Director Henry Gordon said Monday. Mr. Webb, 45, had been camping alone in the forest near the North Carolina line since Wednesday.

"At this point, we don't suspect foul play," county Sheriff James Singleton said. "There are some slits in the tent, but we don't know if he cut the tent to let air in or if it was vandalized."

State, local and federal authorities searched the forest and the Chauga River for six hours Monday, using all-terrain vehicles, a kayak and an airplane. Deputies were talking to Mr. Webb's friends to determine if anyone had seen him or knew where he might have gone, Sheriff Gordon said.

County medical examiner resigns

CHARLESTON -- Charleston County's embattled chief medical examiner has resigned, saying she no longer could perform the job as she was supposed to.

Sandra Conradi, who has been under fire from local coroners, said she had no choice but to leave after 15 years.

Ms. Conradi and Charleston County Coroner Susan Chewning have disagreed about who signs death certificates and orders autopsies. Ms. Conradi has said that suspicious deaths are better probed by medically trained professionals instead of coroners, who are not required to have more than a high school diploma.