Originally created 11/17/99

Across the area: Squirrel shorts out city's north side



A squirrel caused the north side of Aiken to lose power for nearly 30 minutes Tuesday.

About 38,000 South Carolina Electric and Gas customers lost electricity at 4:15 p.m. when a squirrel on a line tripped out three circuits, spokeswoman Mary Green Brown said. Power was restored at 4:38 p.m.

Most of the north side of town was affected, said Aiken Public Safety Department Captain Tom Galardi. The incident occurred on Hampton Avenue, he said.

Officers were dispatched immediately to direct traffic at downed signals, Capt. Galardi said. There were no major traffic problems, he said.

AUGUSTA

Man arrested in attack on woman

An Augusta man was arrested after a woman was attacked in her home Sunday, police said.

Edward Gordon Jones, 18, of Ironhorse Drive, was arrested Monday and charged with criminal attempt at aggravated sodomy, armed robbery and burglary, according to police reports.

Just before midnight Sunday, an Augusta woman was sleeping in the bottom bunk of her son's bed with her son lying next to her. She had left her front door unlocked, police said. Someone tapped her on the shoulder, and she awoke to find a naked man standing over her, holding a fork wrapped in a napkin. The woman screamed "No!" and handed him money from her pocket.

According to police reports, the intruder tried to sexually assault her but she yelled again. He ran out the back door. Within minutes, police said, they stopped Mr. Jones in the complex because he reportedly matched the description of the attacker.

CLEARWATER

County offers car seat inspection

Aiken County is sponsoring a child car seat inspection from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the Bi-Lo parking lot of Clearwater Shopping Center.

Car seats will be inspected by trained inspectors from county government and the Tri-Development Center. Those without car seats might be eligible to receive free ones. The event is part of the county's "Buckle-Up Aiken County Campaign."

For additional information, contact Aiken County administrator's office, 642-2012.

AIKEN

Breakfast to mark Farm-City Week

The Aiken Farm-City Committee is holding a Farm-City Week breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Friday at Newberry Hall. Tickets cost $8 in advance and $9 at the door and can be purchased from Gibson Solomons in the Farm Services Administration at Suite 600, 1555 Richland Ave.

The guest speaker will be Hal Harris, a Clemson extension agricultural economist. Additional comments will come from area farmer Ralph Fox and Economic Development Director Fred Humes.

National Farm-City Week originated in 1955 to foster understanding of the interdependence between rural and urban residents. Farm-City programs have expanded to more that 15,000 communities in the United States, Canada and several other countries.

AUGUSTA

Concert to start Empty Stocking

The 1999 Empty Stocking Fund gets under way at 3 p.m. Nov. 28 with a benefit concert featuring The Augusta Concert Band at First Baptist Church on 3500 Walton Way.

Those interested in attending the free concert are asked to reserve tickets by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to: The Augusta Chronicle, Empty Stocking Fund Benefit Concert, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Seats also can be reserved by visiting The Chronicle offices at 725 Broad St. Written requests for seats must be received before Friday.

Donations for the Empty Stocking Fund will be collected during the concert. Seating for ticket holders begins at 2:30 p.m., and any remaining seats will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis at 2:45 p.m. For information, call 823-3443.

AUGUSTA

Housing authority gets drug grant

Augusta Housing Authority received a $610,555 drug elimination grant Tuesday, the city's share of $261 million awarded nationwide.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo awarded the grants to 891 housing authorities, saying the money would be used to fight drug abuse and gangs in public housing and privately owned housing subsidized by HUD.

Georgia cities received a total of $8.9 million.

GEORGIA

Six-vehicle accident kills one

DECATUR -- An accident involving six vehicles, four of them tractor-trailers, killed one person and shut down a section of Interstate 285 on Tuesday.

The northbound lanes of I-285 were closed at about 8:45 a.m. after the accident near the Memorial Drive exit in DeKalb County, said Konswello Monroe, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. She said some of the drivers trapped on the highway were allowed to use an on-ramp to exit, but the lanes remained closed hours later.

DeKalb County police spokeswoman Mikki Jones said one person was killed, but no identification was immediately available. She did not know what caused the pileup.

The accident involved two tanker trucks, two other tractor-trailers, a van and a pickup. The van was crushed between two of the trucks.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Firefighter charged in arson

LAURENS -- A Laurens County volunteer firefighter has been charged with setting a fire earlier this month that he then helped extinguish.

Robert Joshua Lee Simmons, 19, of Mountville was charged with third-degree arson in connection with the Nov. 6 fire at a corncrib; he was released on a $10,000 bond.

Mr. Simmons reported the fire and then responded, Laurens County fire coordinator Larry Hall said. The corncrib sustained very little damage, Mr. Hall said.

A bale of hay underneath the structure was used to ignite the blaze. But the owner of the building said there was not supposed to be any hay at that location, Mr. Hall said.