Originally created 08/17/99

Area briefs: Woman killed in I-20 car wreck



A woman died late Sunday in a wreck on Interstate 20 East near McDuffie County.

Leola Thomas, 76, of Thomson died after the car in which she was a passenger ran off the highway and crashed into a tree, according to the Georgia State Highway Patrol. The driver lost control of the vehicle.

Five people were in the car. The other passengers were sent to Medical College of Georgia Hospital for treatment. Conditions on the patients were not available.

The case is under investigation, according to officials with the Thomson office of the highway patrol. Although it rained before the accident, officials did not know if the weather or slick road conditions contributed to the accident.

Men sentenced in drug possession

Four men were sentenced to prison without possibility of parole Monday for conspiring to possess methamphetamine. The men had pleaded guilty to the federal charge.

Robert Alan McDonald Jr. received the longest sentence, 20 years, even with the federal prosecutor's recommendation that Chief U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. drop below the mandatory federal sentencing guidelines. Mr. McDonald, who had two prior felony convictions, had faced 292 to 265 months in prison.

Judge Bowen sentenced Christopher Alvin Murray to six years in prison, David Higgenbothem to six years, and Stephen Edward McKinney of Texas to 15 years.

The men were arrested and charged in February 1998. Police said they brought methamphetamine from Texas and Florida for distribution in the Augusta area.

Ex-hospital official gets 15 years

James E. Dahlman, the former chief financial officer at Wills Memorial Hospital in Washington, Ga., was sentenced to 15 years in prison for taking nearly $195,000 from the hospital.

Mr. Dahlman remains in Wilkes County Jail but will be transferred to the state prison system soon, said Sheriff's Chief Deputy Mark Moore.

Mr. Dahlman, who worked with the hospital through a professional management firm, pleaded guilty to violating the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and two counts of theft by taking.

Wilkes Superior Court Judge E. Purnell Davis sentenced Mr. Dahlman to 15 years in prison and 20 years probation, and he was ordered to $194,338 restitution.

Primary for House seat today

AIKEN -- Voters in S.C. House District 81 go to the polls today to elect a Republican candidate to run for the seat in the South Carolina legislature held by the Rudy Mason, who died while in office.

Aiken businesswoman Katherine Kling, Aiken City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem Robert S. "Skipper" Perry, and former science teacher Rebekah Sutherland are seeking the Republican nomination.

If none of the three wins a majority of the votes cast, a runoff will be held Aug. 31.

The winner will face independent petition candidate Scott Singer in the special election Oct. 5.

Graham to attend reception

AIKEN -- Third District Congressman Lindsey Graham will be the guest at a reception by the Aiken County Republican Party at the Aiken Municipal Building at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Cost is $25 per person. Reservations may be obtained at Aiken County Republican Party, P.O. Box 761, Aiken, SC 29802, or by calling Diane Giddings at 641-9631.

Legal help offered to poor

Low-income people in need of legal assistance for civil legal problems can speak with representatives of Georgia Legal Services Program in the following counties this month:

Burke County on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Community Action Agency, 567 W. Ninth St., Waynesboro.

McDuffie and Glascock counties Wednesday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the McDuffie Human Development Center, 810 White Oak Road, Thomson.

Jefferson County on Monday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Jefferson County Department of Family and Children Services, U.S. Highway 1, North, Louisville.

Jenkins County on Aug. 25 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Jenkins County Department of Family and Children Services, 618 Gray St. Ext., Millen.

Wilkes, Taliaferro and Lincoln counties Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Wilkes County Courthouse, Commissioner's Board Room, 23 E. Court St., Room 222, Washington.

Screven County on Aug. 25 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Equal Opportunity Authority, 209 E. Ogeechee St., Sylvania.

Warren County on Friday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Warren County Department of Family and Children Services, 224 N. Legion Drive, Warrenton.

Washington County on Monday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Washington County Department of Family and Children Services, 1124 S. Harris St., Sandersville.

Appointments may also be made to speak to a representative on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling Georgia Legal Services Program at 721-2327 or toll-free 1-800-248-6697. The office is located at 811 Telfair St., Suite 202, Augusta.

Children drown in lakes

EATONTON, Ga. -- Two children, including a 16-month-old boy, drowned in Putnam County lakes during the weekend. The deaths were the second and third drownings in the area in a week.

The toddler, Dakota Gramling of Eatonton, was discovered floating in Lake Sinclair on Saturday afternoon by his parents, who had lost track of him at their lake house.

Two hours later, 13-year-old Heather Nicole Gibson of Covington drowned in Lake Oconee while swimming in 12 feet of water near her parent's lake home.

On Aug. 7, 11-year-old Brittney Zak drowned in Lake Oconee after being struck by a rope and an inner tube being towed by her mother's personal watercraft.

Condon: School crimes rise

COLUMBIA -- The opening bell in South Carolina schools is more of a warning bell for state Attorney General Charlie Condon, who says the first three months of school consistently show a jump in school-related crimes from the previous year.

As a result, Mr. Condon said Monday he would try to do even more to curb such crimes. His latest proposals include a student essay contest to solicit ideas on how to prevent school crime and a manual for school officials to help teach them more about crime and the legal issues surrounding what steps they can take to prevent it.

Mr. Condon said he also would sponsor an annual conference for teachers.