Originally created 04/17/99

Area briefs: Schools to review abuse-grab claim



Columbia County interim school Superintendent Tommy Price said Friday that he intends to review further an allegation that a paraprofessional at Westmont Elementary School mishandled a pupil during the school's lunch period.

The pupil's mother, Sonia Rodriguez, filed an incident report Wednesday with Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

Ms. Rodriguez said Friday that she filed the complaint after her 9-year-old son went home Monday complaining that his arm hurt. He told her that Mary Rebecca Henderson, 57, of Thomas Drive in Martinez, had grabbed his arm to move him from one lunchroom seat to another, she said. A paraprofessional is a teacher's aide.

No criminal charges have been filed.

After the initial complaint, other pupils made statements of previous incidents about Mrs. Henderson, said Mr. Price. However, Principal Wanda Richardson's report found insufficient evidence that Mrs. Henderson had done anything wrong, Mr. Price said.

Still, he said, he intends to meet with the parties involved, including parents, and then determine what action needs to be taken.

On Friday, Mrs. Henderson's husband said she would have no comment.

Gunmen rob house remodelers

Three men were robbed at gunpoint Thursday afternoon while remodeling a house in south Augusta.

At about 3 p.m., Curtis Harper of Tignall, Richard Babcock of Martinez and Donald Mayo of Dearing were working on a vacant house on 2328 Basswood Drive when two men entered the house.

One of the robbers had a semiautomatic pistol. He told the workers to lie on the floor, police said. The victims were told to hand over their wallets or be shot. The robbers tied the workers' arms behind their backs and bound their feet with shoestrings.

The robbers stole an undisclosed amount of money, police said. They escaped by stealing Mr. Harper's 1986 Ford Ranger with a black camper shell, along with the tools that were in the truck.

One of the workers, who freed himself by cutting the strings against the edge of the kitchen counter, called police from a neighbor's house.

One robber was described as black, about 6 feet tall, wearing blue jeans, a green shirt, a yellow hat and sunglasses. The other was described as black male and about 6 feet tall. Both were said to be in their mid-20s.

Cleanup delayed until May 1

The"Peachy Clean Trash Walk" scheduled for this morning has been postponed until May 1, according to Lillian Katherine Blanos of Metro Augusta Clean & Beautiful.

Volunteers are to meet 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.

Contact Metro Augusta Clean & Beautiful at 722-8192 to sign up or to get more information. Other sponsors are Kroger and the Columbia County Landfill.

Break-ins near camp probed

CAIRO -- A camp for troubled youths from metro Atlanta was controversial even before two break-ins at neighboring homes.

After the robberies, some residents of the southwest Georgia city of Cairo are outraged.

Three youths were charged with breaking into the home of Karen Lovett near the south Georgia camp operated by Uplift Inc., a Decatur-based agency that works with troubled teens under a state license.

Officials in Grady County, which has no zoning laws, said there was nothing they could do to prevent Uplift from using the land as a camp. But state officials have now barred Uplift from bringing youths there, at least until it applies for a permit to do so.

Police say Jeremy Brett Burton, Boston Jermain Thompkins and Randy Dorsey Grindle, all 17, sneaked out of the camp early April 3 and broke into two nearby homes. They are accused of stealing blank checks, guns, knives and fishing equipment.

Scott Newberry, chief investigator for Grady County Sheriff's Department, said the boys dropped some of the items, leaving a trail back to the leased property seven miles north of Cairo where a group of Uplift teens had been camping.

Statue honors late war veteran

CHARLESTON -- It took 53 years for James L. Day to receive the Medal of Honor for heroism during the World War II battle at Okinawa.

Last year, Mr. Day was presented the nation's highest military medal by President Clinton. Mr. Day died in October.

But on Thursday, he was lauded again. Aboard the aircraft carrier Yorktown, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society accepted a bronze statue depicting Mr. Day's heroism in 1945.

Mr. Day was a corporal in May 1945 when he rallied his squad and the remnants of another unit to hold a critical position on Sugar Loaf Hill on Okinawa. Soon, most of his fellow Marines were killed or wounded.

For the next three days, he almost single-handedly withstood wave after wave of Japanese soldiers.

MADD opposes student shuttle

CLEMSON -- Plans for a late-night shuttle service at Clemson University are being criticized by the president of South Carolina's chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The purpose is to lessen the impact of drinking and driving on the university community, said students Craig Story and Kendra Worley, who helped put the Safe Ride proposal together.

A Clemson student recently was killed in what the Highway Patrol said was a drunken-driving wreck.

However, Harold Watson, MADD's executive director in the state, said the Safe Ride idea could encourage underage drinking.

"The largest number of students that are going to take advantage of it are underage and not supposed to be drinking in the first place," he claimed.

The shuttle service could start this fall.

Officers charged in drug case

TIMMONSVILLE -- A lieutenant and Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer and his nephew have been arrested on federal drug charges after a six-month investigation, authorities say.

Lt. Jimmy Lee Hampton and Levester McKithen were charged with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and cocaine.

The investigation began in October following a tip to Special Agent Kin McKenzie of the State Law Enforcement Division.