Originally created 08/15/98

Across the area



EPA completes cleanup of soil

A short-term cleanup of lead-contaminated soil at a south Augusta residence was completed Friday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which financed the project with federal Superfund dollars.

The contamination was found at the Hyde Park residence of Hattie Elam on Walnut Street. Although tests were conducted on many properties, hazardous levels of lead were found only at the Elam residence.

The cleanup began in June after lead and cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls -- or PCBs -- were detected in the soil. The materials likely originated from rainwater runoff from nearby scrap metal yards, officials said.

Robbery suspects being sought

Columbia County authorities are looking for two men who tried to rob a convenience store Friday morning.

One suspect, described as a black man wearing blue jeans, a dark blue shirt and a light blue ski mask -- entered the Dixie Quick Stop about 10:20 a.m. and demanded money from a bread delivery man at gunpoint, said sheriff's Capt. Rick Whitaker.

The robber then turned the gun -- described as a nickel-plated revolver -- on the store clerk, who turned and fled through the back door, Capt. Whitaker said.

At that point the robber ran away, accompanied by another black man, and disappeared into a wooded area behind the store.

Although sheriff's officers searched, they could not find the two, Capt. Whitaker said.

Cable purchase being hastened

Comcast Corp., the fourth-largest domestic cable company, will acquire controlling interest of local cable provider Jones Intercable sooner than originally anticipated, the company announced.

But local customers should not expect any changes, Jones Intercable executives at the Englewood, Colo.-based company said Friday.

Comcast is expected to buy controlling interest in Jones Intercable by the first quarter of 1999, for $700 million, instead of by the end of December 2001.

Comcast agreed to buy interest in Jones Intercable from Bell Canada International Telecom Holding, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BCE Inc., in May.

Comcast manages and operates cable networks and wired and wireless telecommunications, and has ownership in satellite provider Primestar. Jones Intercable has 1.4 million cable customers in 17 states.

Voter registration drive slated

A voter registration drive will be held from 3 until 8 p.m. Tuesday at Wal-Mart on Deans Bridge Road, according to the Richmond County Board of Elections.

Atlanta growth rate down a bit

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Regional Commission reported that 1,800 fewer people moved to the metro Atlanta area in 1997 than in the previous year, perhaps the first sign that the rapid growth of the past two decades is slowing.

Even fewer people will come next year, predicted Bart Lewis, chief demographer for the ARC, the official planning agency for 10 counties in the region.

Still, it will be a while before Atlantans notice they have more elbow room. Each year of the '90s, about 69,100 people moved to the metro area -- 12 percent more than the 61,788 in each year of the 1980s.

In 1997, Henry County grew the fastest, with a 6.6 population jump. Cherokee County was second at 5 percent, Gwinnett had 4.1 percent, and Fayette County was fourth at 3.8 percent.

Secretary of defense plans visit

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE --Secretary of Defense William Cohen and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Michael Ryan plan to visit the 347th Wing based near Valdosta on Monday.

The men want an update on the wing's combat capabilities and to see living conditions on the base, said 1st Lt. DeDe Halfhill, a spokeswoman for the 347th Wing. It will be Mr. Cohen's first trip to Moody.

Mr. Ryan recently said he wants to adjust deployment tactics, creating several quick-response teams that could leave a base and be in combat almost anywhere around the world in just a few hours.

Mr. Cohen and Mr. Ryan also want to see base housing and medical facilities, responding to problems the Air Force has had keeping personnel.

Brig. Gen. Gene Renuart took command of the 347th Wing on July 20, moving to Moody from Spangdalhem Air Base in Germany.

Accidental shooting kills man

SUMTER -- A Baltimore man died seeking help after his 5-year-old granddaughter accidentally shot him in Clarendon County.

Mingo McCray, 60, bled to death Thursday outside a home in Davis Station. The bullet entered his right thigh just above the knee and hit a major artery, according to the coroner, who ruled the death accidental.

Mr. McCray and his wife had been visiting family and friends in South Carolina since last week. Police said the granddaughter found the .38-caliber gun on the bed.

The bullet pierced Mr. McCray's leg and lodged in the footboard.

Mr. McCray tried to get to his car to go for help, but died outside.

Starfish gathering puzzling

CHARLESTON -- Scientists still do not know why dozens of starfish are congregating on the sands at Folly Beach, but they say there is no cause for concern.

More starfish dotted the shore Thursday where local residents reported seeing dozens of them on the beach earlier in the week.

The starfish are alive and some are vigorous, said Pearse Webster, a state Natural Resources Department wildlife biologist.

Impersonator could be back

BELTON -- Anderson County deputies wonder if the police impersonator in a black Mustang who pulled people over four years ago but never was caught has returned.

In the latest case, deputies are looking for a man who pretended to be an officer when he pulled over a Belton woman on her way to work. The woman said he was driving a black Ford Mustang and had a flashing blue light on his dash when he pulled her over Thursday morning, Capt. Dale McCard said.

The white man, about 30 years old with clean-cut hair, wore a gray uniform and a hat similar to that worn by state troopers, Capt. McCard said. It wasn't until he left abruptly when another car approached that the woman realized he was not an officer.

The woman said the license plate on the Mustang was 349-XAL, but investigators had not found the owner, Capt. McCard said.