Originally created 08/08/99

Across the area



Augusta motorist killed in accident

An auto accident Saturday morning in Mississippi claimed the life of an Augusta woman.

Hazel Haskell, 61, was driving three passengers on Interstate 59 north of Laurel when her car struck an abandoned vehicle on the shoulder of the highway at about 6 a.m., according to the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

One passenger suffered serious injuries, and two other passengers suffered minor injuries.

Ms. Haskell may have fallen asleep behind the wheel, said Sharon Sabrine of the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

Aiken considers lenient terms

The City of Aiken might offer a sentencing alternative to all first-offenders who get pulled over for driving infractions inside the city limits.

That would expand a program started six months ago for youthful drivers, who can avoid a first traffic ticket by taking an eight-hour defensive-driving course and performing community service.

The payoffs for the city are safer drivers, fewer accidents and cleaner streets and parkways. The community service required is two hours of picking up litter.

City Manager Roger LeDuc said the program has been successful despite a slow start -- it took three months to gather 12 first offenders under age 25 for the initial class.

Municipal Judge Charles E. Simons III favors opening the program to all first-time offenders, regardless of age, when it is verified they have had no previous charges. Exceptions would be people charged with driving recklessly or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Others recommending expansion of the program are City Solicitor Richard L. Pearce and Wendell Edwards, the employee who is administering it.

The proposal is expected to come up Monday at City Council's work session.

Restaurant damaged by fire

A fire caused moderate damage to Los Hermanos restaurant in south Richmond County on Saturday, said Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department officials.

The fire started at about 4:30 p.m. in the kitchen of the Mexican and Puerto Rican food restaurant at 2960 Old Highway 1.

The cause of the blaze was an electrical short in the kitchen, Capt. Tommy Willis of the fire department said.

The kitchen area suffered the worst damage, while the rest of the restaurant had smoke damage throughout.

Authority orders watering ban

MARIETTA -- The state's second-largest water provider, the Cobb-Marietta Water Authority, has called for outdoor watering bans in five metro Atlanta counties.

The directive affects 600,000 households and businesses. It bans outdoor watering between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. each day.

The authority is the wholesale provider to all of Cobb and Paulding counties and portions of Cherokee, Douglas and north Fulton counties.

In north Fulton, the city of Mountain Park is the only area affected. In Cherokee County, the cities of Waleska, Canton and Holly Springs have all complied and issued watering restrictions.

Roy Fowler, general manager of the water authority, said it will be up to local governments to enforce the ban; punishments typically range from a $50 fine for the first offense, $100 for the second and disconnection for the third offense. In Cobb County, fines could be as high as $500, a county water system spokesman said.

Concert ruled out at raceway

FAYETTEVILLE -- A Superior Court judge has halted an Aug. 28 concert to benefit Habitat for Humanity after Coweta County officials complained that the venue, Senoia Raceway, was not zoned for concerts.

An expected crowd of 10,000 would cause major problems with traffic, sanitation, food inspection and security, said Coweta County Attorney Mitch Powell.

Promoters said attendance of 10,000 at the Southern Fried Music Festival would have raised $100,000 for Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for the poor.

Judge Paschal English signed a temporary restraining order Friday that stops producer Sean Owen from putting on the event. He scheduled another hearing for Aug. 25.

Mr. Owen said he would try to have the court order overturned. He said he read the zoning laws and saw no prohibition against concerts.

The order had to be signed in Fayette County because that's whereMr. Owen lives, Mr. Powell said.

Scheduled to play were rock bands the Screamin' Cheatah Wheelies, Soul Miner's Daughter and Bare Jr.; blues acts Jimmy King and the Sons of the Blues; and country musicians Ken Mellons and Southern Gold.

Advance tickets were $12.

Bogus tickets flood market

ATLANTA -- Officials at Lakewood Amphitheatre say hundreds of concertgoers have been cheated with fake tickets this summer.

General Manager Clay Schell said the counterfeiters show up at sold-out concerts to hawk their wares and are doing a booming business.

At the two recent Phish concerts, staffers stopped 750 people with fake tickets. At Jimmy Buffett shows, 600 Parrotheads were turned away. About 300 people bought bad Dave Mathews Band tickets, and 275 people trying to see the rapper DMX were ripped off instead.

Lt. Mike Smith of the Atlanta police vice squad said it appears a ring out of New York is selling the fakes. Seven people were arrested at the Mathews concert July 28, and most were from New York, he said.

"We're still investigating, and we're trying to determine where the tickets are being printed," Smith said. "We've had conflicting stories, but we think they're bringing the printer here and doing them in a hotel room."

Suit alleges rat found in syrup

EASLEY -- Those pancakes may never be the same.

An Easley couple is suing Bi-Lo Inc. and a New York-based food manufacturer after allegedly finding a three-inch rodent inside a bottle of Bi-Lo brand syrup.

Michael David Marchbanks, his wife and their children started to eat their pancakes March 7 when he noticed hair in the syrup.

"I have totally lost my trust in national food chains," Mr. Marchbanks said. "I can't eat anything out of a can or a bottle. It was the most disgusting thing I've ever been through."