Originally created 04/14/99

Local and area briefs



Head-on collisionkills driver, 30

LEXINGTON, Ga. -- A Wilkes County man was killed early Tuesday after he crossed the center line while driving and hit a tractor-trailer head-on.

Rodriguez Kelly Nunnally, 30, of Tignall, Ga., was driving a 1996 Ford Ranger on Georgia Highway 10 in Oglethorpe County at about 5:30 a.m. when he crossed the center line, striking Phillip Thornton, 42, of Washington, who was driving a tractor-trailer, according to the Georgia State Patrol. Mr. Thornton was uninjured.

A Georgia State Patrol spokesman did not know if Mr. Nunnally died at the accident scene.

Grand jury indicts truck driver

On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted a Utah truck driver jailed in Augusta since January when a California teen reported that the man had kept him in chains for nearly two months.

A Richmond County grand jury indicted Joseph D. Tregeagle, 51, on charges of false imprisonment, possession of a firearm during commission of a crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The first charge is punishable by one to 10 years in prison, and the weapon charges each carry a mandatory five-year sentence.

Mr. Tregeagle was jailed Jan. 13 after Jeremy Michael Kraft, 17, told Richmond County sheriff's investigators he had managed to free himself from inside Mr. Tregeagle's truck, which was parked at Castleberry/Snow Brands Inc. at 1621 15th St. in Augusta.

The California youth -- who later was returned to California to face murder charges -- reported that he had voluntarily hitched a ride from the trucker in Seattle in late November, but that Mr. Tregeagle kept him in chains as they crossed the country.

Mr. Tregeagle was once on California's death row for a murder conviction, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison and he was paroled in 1988.

Partridge Inn evacuated for fire

An early morning fire damaged the kitchen and second floor of Partridge Inn on Tuesday, and guests were evacuated for hours, authorities said.

The fire broke out on the stove at the Walton Way hotel at about 1:30 a.m. because of lack of maintenance and cleaning, Richmond County Fire Department spokeswoman Katrice Bryant said.

Eighty-four hotel guests were evacuated until about 4 a.m., Ms. Bryant said. The flames, which traveled through the walls to the second floor, were under control in less than an hour.

Partridge Inn's general manager was out of town Tuesday, and no one else at the hotel would discuss the blaze.

Officer's pay to cover repairs

Harlem City Council members have voted to take $620 from an officer's pay to cover costs for repairs to two police cars damaged in accidents involving the officer.

Officer Alan Baldwin has been in three vehicle accidents while at work in recent months, Police Chief W.O. Askew Sr. told the council Monday night. The two most recent accidents caused about $820 in damage, estimates show.

Officer Baldwin was investigating a car on U.S. Highway 78 on March 27 when his vehicle ran off the road, hit the curb and damaged two tires, Chief Askew said. New tires cost $120. While driving a new squad car April 5, Officer Baldwin caused about $700 in damage when the car hit concrete blocks, authorities said.

City Attorney Thomas Burnside III examined the city's insurance policy and said officials could withdraw up to $500 per incident from Officer Baldwin's pay.

The first accident occurred while Officer Baldwin was chasing a four-wheeler Jan. 27. In that incident, the police car was destroyed, Chief Askew said.

The driver of the four-wheeler was ordered to pay the damages in that case.

Singer to promote donations

Country singer Deana Carter will visit radio station WUUS-FM (107.7), 1305 Georgia Ave. in North Augusta, today to promote National Organ Donation Awareness Week.

Ms. Carter, who is known best for her hit song Strawberry Wine from the album Did I Shave My Legs for This?, is a spokeswoman for the National Kidney Foundation's Count Me in Campaign. She is making public appearances during National Organ Donation Awareness Week, which is next week.

She'll be interviewed and give an on-air acoustic performance at 9 a.m.

At 10 a.m., she'll hold a news conference on tissue and organ donation. The first 20 people who sign up to be donors will receive a donor card with her signature as a witness.

Ms. Carter, 34, is the daughter of Nashville, Tenn., studio guitarist Fred Carter Jr. She released her most recent album, Everything's Gonna Be Alright, in late 1998.

County's college fair Thursday

Columbia County high school students can take a closer look at about 80 colleges and universities Thursday during the county's spring college fair. Students are encouraged to attend with their parents.

The fair will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Greenbrier High School. Schools sending representatives to the fair include Georgia Southern University, Georgia Tech, Medical College of Georgia, Florida A&M University and the University of Georgia. Representatives from the Georgia Student Finance Commission will answer questions about programs such as the HOPE scholarship.

High school students can find out what colleges and technical schools offer, what they require, and what the students' financial needs will be if they attend a certain school, said Greenbrier High guidance counselor Michel Young.Volunteers sought for trash walkVolunteers are needed for the Peachy Clean Trash Walk scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon Saturday beginning at the Kroger parking lot adjacent to the Columbia County Government Complex in Evans.

Civic and youth groups are urged to participate. Breakfast, safety vests, trash bags and litter pickup sticks will be provided. Call Metro Augusta Clean & Beautiful at (706) 722-8192 to sign up or to get information.

Other sponsors are Kroger and the Columbia County Landfill.

Disabled may get tax break

COLUMBIA -- Eyeglasses, contacts and items that help the disabled would no longer be subject to sales taxes under a bill approved Tuesday by a House subcommittee.

That bill would reduce state sales collections by about $5.4 million, with $3.6 million of that break going to people buying glasses or contact lenses.

The rest of the sales tax break goes to people buying equipment for specially equipped vans or hydraulic lift equipment.