Originally created 11/04/99

Across the area: Food, money mount in charity drive



Volunteers for Columbia County's fifth annual It's Spooky to Be Hungry food drive gathered Wednesday at Golden Harvest Food Bank to learn the results of their labor.

During the Halloween weekend, more than 400 volunteers collected more than 15,000 pounds of food and $8,000 for the food bank.

Columbia County resident Evelyn Browne launched the Halloween-themed food drive in 1995 with only three neighborhoods.

This year, more than 30 neighborhoods participated.

With the money and food collected, Golden Harvest will be able to serve 35,000 meals to the hungry.

AUGUSTA

Equal opportunity board to meet

The Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity will hold its last board of directors meeting of 1999 in Augusta today, with the Human Relations Commission as its host.

The panel was created to administer the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Act and also is responsible for enforcing the Georgia Fair Housing Law. Part of its mission is to inform Georgia residents and parties involved in providing residential housing about the rights and responsibilities involved.

The meeting will begin at 11 a.m. on the eighth floor of the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building.

RICHMOND COUNTY

State sets meeting on road plans

A public information meeting to discuss Richmond County road improvements by the Georgia Department of Transportation will be from 4-7 p.m. Monday at Augusta Sheraton Hotel.

The plans call for improvements to Bobby Jones Expressway from north of Scott Nixon Memorial Drive to south of Wheeler Road, and to an area around Walton Way Extension, Davis Road and Interstate 20. Richmond County residents are urged to ask questions and make comments about the project.

The meeting will be in the PGA Room West at the hotel, 2651 Perimeter Parkway.

AUGUSTA

Police search for suspectPolice scoured the Augusta Canal on Wednesday searching for a man who jumped into the river trying to escape police.

Rodney Eric Strickland continued to elude police as they searched the river and homes of his family and friends to ensure that he got out of the river alive. Mr. Strickland plunged into the river off the walkway bridge at the corner of Milledge and Lake Shore roads at about 1 a.m. Wednesday, said Chief Deputy Ronald Strength of the Richmond County Sheriff's Department. Police suspect Mr. Strickland was heavily intoxicated.

Police had detained Mr. Strickland and Dana Kennedy, 20, of Woodsedge Drive, because they had been arguing on the bridge. The couple ran when police discovered both had outstanding warrants. Ms. Kennedy was caught and charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer, police said.

Mr. Strickland jumped onto the rail and into the river. The search resumed when daylight broke, but as of late Wednesday night, Mr. Strickland wasn't found.

COLUMBIA COUNTY

Agency issues sprinkler advisory

Because of the expected freezing temperatures, the Columbia County Emergency Management Agency reminded residents to be diligent in setting their automatic sprinkler systems to manual operation.

That will keep water from accumulating and freezing on the streets and sidewalks in the morning.

AIKEN

Robbery information requested

AIKEN -- The Aiken County Sheriff's Department is investigating a Wednesday night armed robbery at a local country store.

Two men walked into Eubank's Country Store, 3551 Wagener Road, with handguns drawn at about 7:15 p.m., sheriff's Lt. Michael Frank said. They demanded money from the clerk, who then gave them money from the register, he said.

The men ran out of the store and got into a vehicle. There were no injuries, Lt. Frank said.

Both men were wearing white baseball caps pulled down over their heads and bandanas over their faces. They were both described as black, 20 to 30 years old, 6 feet tall and weighing 160 to 180 lbs. They were wearing dark clothes and had black hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff's office at (803) 642-1761 or (800) 922-3211, or Aiken County Crime Stoppers at (803) 642-1798. Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.

AUGUSTA

Group to aid homeless veterans

The Uptown Division of Augusta Veterans Affairs Medical Center will hold a "stand down" for homeless veterans Saturday.

The operation will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the ball field behind the Uptown Division off Wrightsboro Road.

The Salvation Army will serve breakfast, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 649 and the Military Order of the Cootie will provide lunch.

"Our stand down will offer homeless veterans and their families a respite from the street," said Andy Davis, VA homeless veterans program care manager, in a news release. "We will feed and clothe them, while offering health screenings and medical care, job counseling and housing referrals."

In the military, a stand down gives soldiers a break before returning to combat. Saturday's event is part of Stand Down 2000, the U.S. Department of Veterans' campaign to reach some 100,000 homeless veterans and their families at 200 such community events across the country.

The VA estimates one in three homeless adults is a veteran.

GEORGIA

House speaker seeks 14th term

ATLANTA -- Tom Murphy, who has served as Georgia House speaker for 25 years, isn't ready to call it quits yet.

Even though he said last month that he was leaning against trying for a 14th term as speaker, the Democrat from Bremen said Tuesday he will seek re-election next year.

"I will offer one more time for election and one more time for speaker -- that is if the voters and the (House) members will have me," said Mr. Murphy, 75.

He said he will probably throw in the towel after the 2002 legislative session, but he wants to oversee the reapportionment of legislative districts after the 2000 census.

About two-thirds of lawmakers have asked him to stay on for a special session on reapportionment during the summer of 2001, he said.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Man charged in charity scam

GREENVILLE -- A Florida man has been accused of bilking churches of more than $10,000 by claiming he represented a charitable foundation.

Thomas W. Richardson of Miami has been charged with obtaining money under false pretenses, Greenville sheriff's Sgt. Mike Brown said.

Mr. Richardson used fake documentation to identify himself as the head of the "Richardson Foundation," which used its own money to help churches build day care centers and homes for the disadvantaged, investigators said.

According to warrants, Mr. Richardson told the churches they must pay a processing fee before they could get the money.

He allegedly received more than $10,000 from churches and congregation members that was not used for the purposes he claimed.

Mr. Richardson also has been charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Drug paraphernalia case closes

MYRTLE BEACH -- Two local shops have been fined and put on probation for selling and offering for sale drug paraphernalia, U.S. Attorney J. Rene Josey said.

Boulevard Beachwear Inc. and Red Hot Shoppe Inc., each of which pleaded guilty to the charges in June, now have been sentenced to five years' probation, Mr. Josey said Wednesday.

A judge also fined Red Hot Shoppe $32,000 and Boulevard Beachwear $24,000 for selling bongs and water pipes in 1998.

Federal law outlaws the sale of items intended to aid in the sale or consumption of drugs.