Originally created 02/16/99

Across the area



Student, 19, dies after crashing car

A Burke County High School senior died at Medical College of Georgia Hospital early Monday after apparently losing control of his car and slamming into a pole on Georgia Highway 56 in Waynesboro, Ga.

Kyle Martin Joyce, 19, was driving eastbound on Georgia Highway 56, also called East Sixth Street in Waynesboro, just before midnight Sunday when he hit the curb near Chaucer Road, Waynesboro police said.

He lost control and slid into a pole, police said. Mr. Joyce was taken to MCG, where he died early Monday. Blood-alcohol tests were being performed Monday, authorities said.

Fire chief's driver gets reassigned

Augusta Administrator Randy Oliver asked Richmond County Fire Chief Ronnie Few on Monday to reassign his driver to a firefighting squad -- just as a recent management efficiency study suggested.

Chief Few has been under criticism since the management study this month recommended an administrative assistant -- whom Chief Few called a "swing person" -- be moved to firefighting because the fire department needs at least 10 more firefighters.

The assistant works wherever the chief asks him to -- firefighting, report delivery and driving Chief Few around.

Chief Few agreed to reassign the assistant to fire suppression, Mr. Oliver said.

Man injured in drive-by

A Hephzibah man was shot in the hip Monday night during a drive-by shooting, and investigators searched south Augusta looking for the gunman.

Ralph Lee Jr., 24, was near the intersection of Willis Foreman and Windsor Spring roads shortly after 9 p.m. when three or four men riding in a large gray car drove by him and fired shots, said Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Steve Tovar.

Mr. Lee pulled a gun and fired shots into the air, trying to scare them off. He had been shot once in his upper leg and hip area. He was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where he was reported in good condition later Monday night.

Roommate helped, woman says

The girlfriend of an Aiken County man shot to death over the weekend told sheriff's officials that her boyfriend was choking her when a third roommate intervened and shot him, according to a sheriff's report made public Monday.

Teresa Riddlesperter, 28, of the 100 block of Morning Glow Lane, told investigators she and her boyfriend, Peter Gunn, had been drinking and were arguing just after 1 a.m. Friday. She said Mr. Gunn threw her down in the bathroom and was choking her when roommate James Howard McMenamin ordered him to stop.

When Mr. Gunn wouldn't stop, Mr. McMenamin shot him in the buttocks, an injury that later killed him, sheriff's officials said. Mr. Gunn died Sunday at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.

Mr. McMenamin, 20, who was charged with manslaughter, was held without bond Monday at Aiken County Detention Center.

Traffic signals to be turned on

New traffic signals at Wrightsboro and Barton Chapel roads will be turned on this morning. Warning strobe lights will be used to make drivers aware of the signal, according to an announcement from the Richmond County Public Works Department.

Police probe restaurant theft

Aiken County sheriff's officers were investigating a theft Monday at the Subway Sandwich Shop at Interstate 20 and South Carolina Highway 19.

Two men and two women entered at 3 p.m., ordered sandwiches and ate them. When they finished, one of the men walked through an employees-only door, entered a back office and removed more than $1,000 from a desk, according to police reports.

The man told an employee who saw him that he was looking for the rest room. Then the four people left the restaurant.

Britons get honorary citizenship

A delegation of men and women from England received honorary certificates of citizenship Monday from Augusta officials.

At an Old Government House event, Mayor Bob Young gave 17 members of the Friends of Oglethorpe group certificates of Augusta citizenship. The group hails from British Gen. James Oglethorpe's childhood home of Godalming in Surrey, England.

Gen. Oglethorpe founded Augusta and Savannah more than 250 years ago.

The Friends of Oglethorpe group began its relationship with Augusta and other Georgia cities in the early 1980s. Its primary function is to promote tourism and forge friendships between Georgians and Britons.

House approves tobacco measure

ATLANTA -- Georgia lawmakers Monday overwhelmingly approved legislation that will set the stage for the state to begin collecting its share of a $206 billion national tobacco lawsuit settlement.

The state House voted 153-9 to require small tobacco companies that are not part of the national settlement to establish escrow accounts to pay legal claims brought by the state or individual smokers.

Four companies -- Philip Morris, Brown & Williamson, R.J. Reynolds, and Lorillard -- entered the November settlement between the tobacco industry and 46 states.

"The purpose is to be sure these other companies who aren't parties to the (national) agreement don't take advantage of those companies that are parties to it," said Darrell Robinson, spokesman for Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker. "It's to keep a level playing field."

Georgia will receive $4.8 billion under the settlement to be paid over 25 years. The state's first payment of $58.9 million is expected late this year.

Gov. Roy Barnes has said the money should go toward health care, but he hasn't laid out specifics.

Private school plan rejected

ATLANTA -- Georgia Senate Democrats on Monday shot down a GOP plan to help some low-income students attend private schools, but they approved money for "educational care teams" to aid failing schools.

Under the Democratic bill, approved unanimously, local school boards could ask the state to send a team of educators to help improve underperforming schools. The measure calls for $2.5 million a year to fund at least four regional care teams.

"This will have the largest impact of any legislation we pass dealing with our school districts which are failing our children," said state Sen. Richard Marable, D-Rome, Senate Education Committee chairman.

Students with family incomes at or below twice the federal poverty level would have qualified. The measure also would have applied only to schools that scored below the 40th percentile in national reading, math and science tests for three straight years.