Originally created 11/28/98

Across the area



Woman killed in traffic accident

An Upstate woman was killed Thursday in an Aiken County traffic accident.

Betty B. Stephens, 48, of Laurens, S.C., died instantly after she collided head-on with another vehicle on South Carolina Highway 19 north of Aiken, said Cpl. T.M. Bell of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Ms. Stephens' vehicle was struck by a Toyota Camry driven by Sue H. Brown of Greer, S.C. Ms. Brown crossed the median into incoming traffic and hit Ms. Stephens head-on, Cpl. Bell said.

The driver of the Camry was taken to Medical College of Georgia, where she was listed in stable condition Friday.

Charges are pending the results of medical and blood-alcohol tests, Cpl. Bell said.

Express offers free bus rides

The Aiken County Best Friend Express will provide public bus transportation for shoppers Saturdays beginning today.

The buses will run between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Regular routes will run at special times, and schedules are available from the Council on Aging and the Aiken County Transit Office. The service will continue Dec. 5, 12 and 19.

For route and schedule information, call (803) 648-6493 or (803) 642-1525.

Support group holds orientation

An orientation meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday for a support group for grandparents raising grandchildren.

The group, Second Time Around, meets at the Family and Parenting Resource Center, 3970-B Columbia Road in Martinez.

The center works with families, individuals, schools, agencies and churches to provide parenting information. There is no charge. Call 863-3843 for information.

Chitlin' Strut set for today

SALLEY -- The 33rd annual Chitlin' Strut will be held today, capping a week of related activities.

A pancake breakfast will be held at the Dean Swamp Masonic Lodge at 7 a.m. today. The Chitlin' Strut parade will begin at 10 a.m., and chitterling eating should start around 11 a.m.

Entertainment includes performances by bands, a hog-calling contest, a dance contest, a carnival, arts and crafts, and an exotic-animal petting zoo.

Gospel music groups also will provide entertainment from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Salley Baptist Church.

Hit-and-run victim identified

SUWANEE -- Gwinnett County police Friday identified the body of a hit-and-run victim as that of a 45-year-old Alabama man.

The body of Aron Canada of Birmingham was found Thursday under a guardrail on Interstate 85 about a mile north of Suwanee, said police Sgt. Joy Horton.

Police have not yet identified the suspect's vehicle.

Woman suspected of vandalism

FORT BENNING -- A 55-year-old Florida woman caught inside the U.S. Army's School of the Americas is suspected of vandalism that authorities say may amount to thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Willa Elam of Palm Bay, Fla., illegally entered the school's building sometime Thanksgiving evening, according to a statement from the public affairs office at Fort Benning, the headquarters for the school. She was discovered at about 11 p.m.

"An inspection of the building revealed the suspect wrote anti-U.S. Army School of Americas slogans on the walls," said the statement released Friday.

Ms. Elam was charged with criminal trespass, damage of government property and unlawful entry. She was issued a summons to appear later in federal court.

Environmental park planned

COLUMBIA -- Planners envision a new 270-acre park as an environmental classroom where people can learn how urbanization affects surface water.

Saluda Shoals Park won't be just a pretty place to take a walk or launch a canoe if the Irmo-Chapin Recreation Commission gets its way.

Under the proposal, two ponds would collect runoff from the Saluda River and Rawls Creek, and visitors could log on to computers in an environmental center to check on nutrients, toxic contaminants and algae, said professor Dan Tufford of the University of South Carolina.

The school's environmental health sciences department has applied for a $240,000 federal grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to fund the pond project.

Man charged in bank robbery

TRAVELERS REST -- A man who identified himself as Satan to authorities has been charged with robbing the Bank of Travelers Rest.

Jerry Scott Guthrie, 21, was charged with armed robbery in Wednesday's incident, arrest warrants show.

A man armed with a handgun entered the bank and handed the teller a demand note. The suspect fled and was captured near the bank after a brief chase. The money and the gun were found in Mr. Guthrie's car, according to the warrant.

Three die in house fire

GREENVILLE -- A woman and two grandchildren died in a Thanksgiving house fire, but a third child escaped by jumping out a window.

Linda Gail Burkett, 52; Jason Welch, 13; and Jesse Devon Welch, 16, died in Thursday morning's blaze in the City View neighborhood, Greenville County Deputy Coroner Kent Dill said.

All three died of smoke inhalation and were pronounced dead at the scene, Mr. Dill said. They were found on the floor and apparently had been trying to escape, he said.

Jason's twin brother, James, jumped out of a second story window.

He was in serious condition at Greenville Memorial Hospital.