Originally created 08/27/99

Across the area: HUD denounces cut in funding



WASHINGTON -- A report Thursday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development denounced a proposed $1.6 billion cut that would cost Georgia $40 million, including $2.06 million in Augusta.

Augusta's funding is the fourth-largest amount of HUD money in Georgia. Additionally, 226 fewer families would get needed HUD programs such as housing vouchers, said spokeswoman Debbie Pickford.

The House Appropriations Committee approved a $1.6 billion cut in HUD's budget in July. The full House is expected to vote on the issue in September. The committee prioritized spending under tight budget constraints, said Elizabeth Morra, a committee staff member.

Cuts at Augusta Housing Authority would make it harder to maintain public housing, and waiting lists for housing would grow longer, said Richard Murray, administration director for the authority.

Court upholds death sentence

ATLANTA -- A federal appeals court Thursday upheld the death sentence of Alexander E. Williams IV, condemned for the 1986 kidnapping, rape and murder of a 16-year-old Beech Island girl in Richmond County.

Mr. Williams, who was 18 at the time of the slaying, was convicted of accosting Aleta Carol Bunch, a high school student and part-time model from Beech Island, at an Augusta area shopping mall parking lot.

He forced her to accompany him to a secluded area, where he raped and killed her, then took her jewelry, pocketbook and automobile.

After arguing that his defense lawyer was ineffective, Mr. Williams won a new hearing, and the latest appeal argued his second lawyer also was ineffective.

In a 2-1 ruling, 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judges R. Lanier Anderson III and Ed Carnes upheld a district judge's finding against Mr. Williams.

Judge Rosemary Barkett dissented, saying Mr. Williams had the right for a jury to hear mitigating circumstances that his first lawyer failed to present during the sentencing portion of his trial.

Additional funding requested

ATLANTA -- Georgia's Board of Juvenile Justice on Thursday put the stamp of the department's new commissioner on its budget request for next year, asking for more money to explore alternatives to locking up every child who runs afoul of the law.

The department's $255.9 million budget proposal includes $2.1 million to double the number of community corrections units scattered throughout the state from 14 to 28, nearly $737,000 to standardize the operations of the existing 14 units and about $678,000 to hire 11 more workers to help move nonviolent children out of detention centers into less restrictive environments.

City to seek help with cleanup

Augusta city officials will seek financial assistance from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to remove waste tires from a bankrupt, abandoned scrap metal yard off Gordon Highway.

Mayor Bob Young said Thursday the city will apply for grants from EPD's statewide fund to remove and dispose of scrap tires.

The Augusta site is the former Goldberg Brothers recycling business, which declared bankruptcy last year. Augusta has also received a $200,000 federal Brownfields Grant to finance an environmental site assessment of the property.

Cedar Creek water called OK

An order to boil water was lifted Thursday for residents in the Aiken County subdivision of Cedar Creek. Test results arrived Thursday and found the water suitable for consumption, according to the New Ellenton Public Works Commission.

Residents were told Thursday that their water was suitable for drinking. They had been asked to boil their water this week until test results were received on water purity. The utility commission took the precautionary step after a water line broke last week.

Repairs were made Monday and the line was flushed, but the water still had to be checked for contaminants under state and federal regulations. No other problems have been reported, utility officials said.

Red Cross volunteers honored

On Thursday, the Augusta chapter of the American Red Cross honored its volunteers, celebrated its move into the newly renovated Sacred Heart School and installed its new board members at its annual meeting at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel Augusta.

"The obvious highlight was the move to the new building," said outgoing board Chairman Bryan Batson. "It's like night and day."

The project took more than 18 months from the planning stages through renovations. Because of his work with the renovation project, Sonny McGee was one of the recipients of the volunteer service award.

Jack Patrick, former president of Augusta Technical Institute, was honored with the award as well because of his leadership in raising corporate sponsorship of the Boot Scoot Boogie Bash by 50 percent.

The Mary Lou Reynolds award, the organizations highest recognition, went to Hal Edwards, president and general manager of WAGT-TV Channel 26.

Plant receives quality award

An east Augusta manufacturer was honored Thursday by Underwriters Laboratories with certification from the International Standards Organization that rates engineering, production and quality control functions.

General Chemical Corp. has worked toward the certification for 14 months, said plant manager Don Dudley. The certification assures consistency in product quality by establishing strict raw material and process standards.

Fewer than 15 percent of manufacturers nationwide earn the designation, Mr. Dudley said.

The plant, which manufactures sulfuric acid, was the site of a release of sulfur trioxide in November for which the company later agreed to pay $26,000 in fines. The company since has maintained an excellent safety record and voluntarily is improving the plant's gas burner system to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions more than what is legally required.

Men afraid to testify in smuggling

SAVANNAH -- Foreign sailors held in jail as witnesses in an immigrant smuggling case told a federal judge through their interpreter they fear for their lives and their families if they testify.

The eight sailors, who have not been charged, are being held as material witnesses in the case against seven men accused of smuggling 132 Chinese into Savannah two weeks ago. The immigrants were hidden in the hold of the Prince Nicolas.