Originally created 05/07/99

Area briefs: Mail carriers plan annual food drive



Augusta-area mail carriers will be carrying more than boxes and envelopes Saturday -- they'll be hauling things such as peas and carrots and chicken soup.

Saturday is the seventh annual National Letter Carrier's Food Drive, the largest one-day food drive in the nation. Last year, carriers in Aiken, Columbia and Richmond counties collected more than 89,000 pounds of food to distribute to the needy.

Anyone wishing to donate food to the drive should leave nonperishable food beside their mailboxes for the letter carrier to pick up. Barrels to collect donations will be placed in post offices for people with post office boxes.

"We're really after canned meats and vegetables and fruits and especially baby food," said Stephanie Green, community education coordinator for Golden Harvest Food Bank. "But anything nonperishable is a great benefit."

Golden Harvest Food Bank serves a 24-county region, with 18 Georgia counties and six South Carolina counties. Donations will go through the food bank and be distributed to pantries in the region, Ms. Green said.Sheriff's office plans open houseColumbia County Sheriff's Office will hold an open house Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in recognition of National Police Week.

Hourly tours of the sheriff's office, 911 center and Columbia County Detention Center will be offered at the facility on County Camp Road in Appling as part of the week-long celebration. Hourly demonstrations by the bike patrol division, K9 unit, and vice and narcotics have also been planned.

For more information, contact Rick Whitaker, captain of the Community Services Division of the sheriff's office, at (706) 541-3981.

Teen dies after being shot

A 19-year-old Sandersville student died last weekend after an accidental shooting, police said.

Jamilah Chandler died at Washington Regional Medical Center on Monday after the shooting, officials said.

Tennille Police Department is handling the case but Chief Lamar Evans was the only person who could release details and he was not in Thursday.

Residents rally around officer

WAYCROSS -- About 300 residents turned out for a rally to support Sgt. Jaki Johnson, who was demoted from her job as commander of the State Patrol post and reassigned.

Her assignment to the Perry post was announced last Friday, two days before she would have completed her one-year probationary period as commander of the southeast Georgia post.

Sgt. Johnson was appointed commander on May 1, 1998, becoming the patrol's first female post commander. She joined the patrol in 1980 after beginning her law enforcement career 24 years ago as an Athens police officer.

"It was strictly a management personnel decision based solely on the working test and her job performance," said Gordy Wright, a Department of Public Safety spokesman in Atlanta.

Sgt. Johnson said her community service may have led to the demotion.

"My supervisor called it, `the last straw,"' Sgt. Johnson said. "My job description calls for me to be involved in the community. I've done this my whole career. He told me I was the `antithesis' of positive leadership. If I've done wrong, tell me what I've done wrong."

Woman dies in garage fire

COLUMBUS -- A 55-year-old woman died in a fire that was sparked when a water heater blew up in her garage.

Firefighters found the body of Carole Dudley in a hallway in her home after the fire Wednesday.

Muscogee County Deputy Coroner Ricky Weeks said severe burns on her hands, arms and face indicated she was in the utility room when the fire started.

"How and why she wandered back in the house, we'll never know," he said.

Mr. Weeks said Ms. Dudley had a history of bronchial asthma. An exact cause of death has not been determined.

Two committed under sex law

COLUMBIA -- An Anderson County man and a Georgetown inmate have been committed under South Carolina's sexually violent predators law, officials say.

Danny Gayland Williams, 45, and Frank Mitchell Gaster, 53, will be committed to the state Mental Health Department for confinement and long-term treatment.

Mr. Williams, of Anderson, has six convictions for sexual offenses and was recently released from prison.

Mr. Gaster, formerly of Johnsonville, has been in prison since 1988. He has been convicted twice of sex crimes involving minor females.

Clemson, administrator cleared

CLEMSON -- A federal jury in Spartanburg has cleared Clemson University and a school administrator of charges that they discriminated against a black associate professor.

Romando James claimed he was discriminated against five times between 1985 and 1996, when the university rejected his applications for promotion to full professor.

School officials said Mr. James was not promoted because he failed to meet requirements set out in the faculty manual, particularly requirements regarding scholarly publication.

"The trial produced no evidence that professor James was denied promotion because of his race. It produced abundant evidence that professor James failed to meet the requirements for promotion," Clemson President Constantine W. "Deno" Curtis said in a prepared statement.

Mr. James, who is tenured, claimed in his suit that the guidelines in the faculty manual are flexible, and that white professors had been promoted despite failing to meet them.

Ethics commission names chief

COLUMBIA -- The chief investigator at the state ethics commission, Herbert R. Hayden Jr., will become its new executive director.

Mr. Hayden, 54, will take over on July 1 from Gary R. Baker, who is retiring in June after 23 years as executive director. Mr. Baker, 54, said Thursday he planned to spend more time writing books, developing his publishing business and doing some consulting. Mr. Hayden, who also was the agency's assistant director, has worked there since 1988.