Originally created 12/30/98

Across the area



Display brought in $32,000 for charity

The annual Fantasy of Lights holiday display, which ran Dec. 4-26 at Pendleton King Park, raised about $32,000 for Easter Seals of East Georgia.

The success of Fantasy of Lights, which featured more than 500,000 lights and 110 displays, ensures that it will be staged again in 1999, Easter Seals officials said.

"It gets bigger and better every year," said Sheila Thomas, who will take over as the organization's president in 1999. Current President Avys Billue is retiring.

Admission to the exhibit was $5-$7 per car, $10 for vans with 10 or more passengers and $25 for buses.

School receives recycling grant

Augusta Preparatory Day School in Martinez is one of four schools in Georgia to receive a $1,000 grant to start up a recycling program.

The grant is managed through the Georgia Recycling Coalition and funded by the Weyerhaeuser Co. Foundation.

Weyerhauser, one of the world's largest integrated forest product companies, grows and harvests timber, manufactures, distributes and sells forest products, and deals in real estate construction and development.

Dry year ends for part of state

Although rain drizzled across parts of the state again Tuesday, Georgia is reaching the end of what has been a dry year for the western half of the state.

Some areas in the eastern half have had abundant rainfall this year. Athens, Augusta and Savannah all have a rainfall surplus, according to the National Weather Service. Through Tuesday, Augusta had received 48.53 inches of rain, 4.42 inches more than the normal of 44.11 inches.

But Columbus has recorded only 33.19 inches of rain so far this year, more than 17 inches below normal, the weather service said.

Atlanta's rainfall deficit for the year is more than 4 inches. The average annual rainfall there is 50.77 inches.

Jim Noffinger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, said the rainfall shortage in Atlanta wasn't "terribly significant."

Slain math teacher's car found

DECATUR -- DeKalb County police have recovered the car of a math teacher from Mays High School who was found shot to death in a field just outside Decatur.

DeKalb detective Sgt. Lisa Reese said investigators checked the 1990 Chrysler Imperial for fingerprints and other evidence Monday. She said the car belonging to Calvin Carson was found far away from his body, but she would not specify the location.

Mr. Carson, 49, left his south DeKalb home at about 7:15 p.m. Dec. 21 to run errands and never returned. He taught math at Mays for 16 years and had worked for the Atlanta school system for 28 years.Police:

Worker's car hit suspect

SNELLVILLE -- A store employee who gave chase in his car ran over a teen-ager suspected of shoplifting three pairs of sneakers, Gwinnett County police said.

Police charged the employee, Jeffrey Alan Carroll, 36, of Norcross, with aggravated assault, and Danvakius Mitchell, 17, of Decatur, with shoplifting after the Sunday incident that began at the Sports Authority store on U.S. Highway 78 between Snellville and Stone Mountain.

Mr. Mitchell was in good condition Monday at DeKalb Medical Center with stitches, bumps and bruises.

Police said Mr. Mitchell took three pairs of shoes worth $330 and fled. Employees gave chase, including Mr. Carroll, who jumped into his car and went after Mr. Mitchell, hitting him with his car, police said.

Zoo now houses sturgeon, llama

COLUMBIA -- Riverbanks Zoo has welcomed two additions.

A short-nosed sturgeon and a llama are the first of their species to live at Riverbanks, said Ed Diebold, director of animal collections.

The sturgeon, on loan from the Natural Resources Department, gives the zoo a chance to showcase an endangered fish with a habitat in South Carolina.

"Freshwater ecosystems in the Southeast face a number of threats, and hopefully, seeing these fascinating creatures ... will give visitors a new appreciation of the need to conserve our aquatic resources," Mr. Diebold said.

The llama, a 3-year-old male born at the Utica (N.Y.) Zoo, was brought in as a crowd-pleaser. Zoo officials hope it will become a fixture in the renovated Riverbanks Farm.

Officer suspected in theft fired

LIBERTY -- A police officer charged with stealing a $450 ring from a downtown jewelry store while investigating vandalism has been fired.

Chief Robert Griffin issued a petty larceny charge Monday against patrol Officer Christian Childs, 22, who was released on bond.

An employee at Kelley's Watch & Jewelry Repair reported that Officer Childs took the ring.

Three to vie for Senate seat

COLUMBIA -- Three candidates will try to replace Democratic state Sen. Jim Lander when he leaves his 18th District Senate seat next month to become state comptroller general.

Rep. Andre Bauer, R-Chapin; Democratic Union County Council member James Kollock; and former Sen. Tommy Pope, D-Newberry, all filed Tuesday for the Senate seat covering Saluda, Newberry, Lexington and Union counties.

County has lots of bad bridges

COLUMBIA -- Charleston County has 10 of the 20 worst bridges in the state, according to the AAA Carolinas auto club.

The report, based on inspections and traffic counts, rates the Interstate 85 bridge over Gray's Creek in Spartanburg County as South Carolina's worst bridge. It topped the list for the third straight year.

The next four are in Charleston County, including the Grace Memorial Bridge over the Cooper River.

The 20 worst statewide carry more than 3.6 million vehicles per week and average 44 years old. However, none is in danger of collapsing.

The report says 22 percent of the state's bridges are substandard, classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The national average is 30 percent.

Spartanburg County had the most substandard bridges with 69, including six in the state's worst 20. Calhoun County had the fewest with two.