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.

Gunman robs local restaurant

Employees of a local restaurant were robbed at gunpoint Friday night just as they were about to close, police said.

A black male brandishing a revolver entered Yin Yin Restaurant in the Big Tree Shopping Center on Washington Road around 10 p.m. and ordered an employee to open the cash register.

The suspect took an undisclosed amount of money from the drawer and left, said Richmond County Sheriff's Department Investigator Scott Peebles.

Investigator Peebles said that there were five people in the restaurant at the time of the robbery, but no one was harmed.

The robber was wearing a dark blue or black stocking cap and a light blue athletic jersey over a white tank-top shirt.

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 suspects, Capt. Whitaker said.

Jury deadlocks in homicide case

After a jury struggled all day to reach a verdict in an Augusta homicide case but remained hopelessly deadlocked, a Richmond County judge declared a mistrial.

Prosecutors will have to re-try the case against 21-year-old Pheotis Upshaw, charged with murder in the March 26 slaying of 23-year-old Ephilleus Harris.

Jury members deliberated 2 1/2 hours Thursday, returned Friday at 9:30 a.m. and paused only for lunch, but were unable to reach a unanimous decision by 5 p.m.

The prosecution contends Mr. Upshaw of the 1900 block of Walker Street killed his longtime friend after the two argued at Mr. Harris' Hunter Street apartment.

Mr. Upshaw's defense countered that the men had a fistfight, but someone else joined in the fight and shot Mr. Harris.

Mr. Harris was shot in the back and head. Mr. Upshaw has been held without bond since his arrest several days after the slaying.

Man survives gunshot to head

A Waynesboro man was recuperating at the Medical College of Georgia on Friday night after being shot in the head at a hotel, police said.

Antwon Walker, 18, was shot by an unidentified person with a handgun around 5 p.m. while he was in a room at the Deluxe Inn on U.S. Highway 25, just north of Waynesboro, said Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey.

Mr. Walker was in critical condition at the medical college as of 10 p.m. Friday.

Sheriff Coursey said that witnesses reported seeing a man walk into Mr. Walker's room, shoot him and then leave. He added that there were conflicting stories as to the cause of the shooting.

Police have no suspects and are still investigating, Sheriff Coursey 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 to 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. Cohen and Mr. Ryan also want to see base housing and medical facilities.