Originally created 01/11/00

Across the area: Board will discuss arming officers



Columbia County school board members may finally approve arming school safety officers with guns.

The board meets today at the Evans Government Complex, with public participation beginning at 5:30 p.m.

In December, a majority of the board gave tentative approval to arming officers. Board member Debbi Brooks voted against the measure, and Chairman Ray Hicks abstained. A final vote could occur today.

The possibility of arming safety officers is an issue that has been discussed for several months.

Board members have been presented several drafts of a procedures and policies manual that would govern how the five safety officers would operate as a law enforcement unit.

Mr. Hicks, who said he's not sure how he will vote, has said he's had difficulty gauging public opinion on the issue, which has generated little public input at meetings.

AUGUSTA

Comment time on dam extended

The comment period for a draft report recommending the closure of the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam will be extended 30 days.

The Army Corps of Engineers, citing $7 million in needed repairs and the absence of the commercial river traffic for which the structure was built, has proposed removing the spillway gates and decommissioning the dam.

Because such steps would lower water levels along downtown Riverwalk Augusta, the matter has stirred concern over its impact on industries, waterfront homes and water supplies.

Augusta Mayor Bob Young has scheduled a public meeting on the issue for 6 p.m. Jan. 20 at Julian Smith Casino, and U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood will hold a similar meeting 8:30 a.m. Feb. 1 at Boathouse Community Center.

The comment period on the Corps' report was to expire Jan. 23 Corps spokesman Jim Parker said. Copies of the draft report will be available at the Jan. 20 meeting at Julian Smith Casino, he said.

GEORGIA

Speaker opposes age increase

ATLANTA -- Georgia lawmakers who want to raise the driving age to 17 will have to overcome a powerful opponent -- House Speaker Tom Murphy.

A bill introduced in the Senate by freshman Sen. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, would bar 16-year-olds from getting driver's licenses.

Supports of the proposal have pointed to deadly wrecks involving young drivers in traffic-clogged metro Atlanta. But Mr. Murphy told reporters Monday that driving is the only way many teens can get to school or work in rural areas that have no mass transportation.

"I've got serious reservations about raising the driving age myself," said Mr. Murphy, D-Bremen.

Gov. Roy Barnes said last week he supports raising the driving age. But he is not pushing legislation of his own and has not said he will get behind Mr. Gingrey's bill.

COLUMBIA COUNTY

Committee meeting scheduledT

he Columbia County Board of Commissioners will meet at 6:30 p.m. today at Evans Government Complex auditorium, Washington West Drive, Evans.

Other meetings this week include the Civil Service Committee Meeting, 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Evans Government Complex, Human Resources Conference Room; the Water and Sewer Services Committee Meeting, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Water and Sewer Services Conference Room; and the Planning and Zoning Committee Meeting, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Evans Government Complex auditorium.

All meetings are open to the public.

GLASCOCK COUNTY

Deputy to take sheriff's duties

Deputy Bryan Bopp will take over the duties of sheriff in Glascock County until a special election in March, after the death of longtime Sheriff James English on Sunday.

Sheriff English, who was 82, had held the office since 1957. He suffered a heart attack Sunday.

"He was a good man," said his secretary, Linda Usry. "A good, strong man. He kept Glascock County at what was probably one of the lowest crime rates in the state."

Qualifying for the special election, which will be held March 7, is Jan. 17-18. The winner will serve for the rest of 2000, then the winner of a regular election will take office.

Funeral services for Sheriff English will be Wednesday in Wrens.

AIKEN

Woman files suit over accident

An Aiken County woman injured in a 1998 collision with a sheriff's vehicle is suing the county for negligence.

Dorothy Williams filed the suit Monday in the Aiken County Court of Common Pleas, claiming she suffered serious injuries in the wreck Jan. 11, 1998.

According to the lawsuit, Ms. Williams was driving a pickup on Park Street when she began to turn onto Charleston Street. Her vehicle was struck by Deputy William C. Cole Jr. while he was attempting a left turn from Charleston Street onto Park Street, the suit says.

The patrol vehicle struck the truck in the driver's side.

"Plaintiff had the right of way and was where she had a legal right to be," the suit says. "Defendant failed to keep a proper lookout ... (and) sound the appropriate warnings when he became aware of the perilous situation."

Ms. Williams suffered permanent injuries, the suit says. She is seeking money for her injuries, as well as punitive damages.

A lawsuit represents only one point of view. Aiken County has 30 days to respond.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Man who tried suicide hospitalized

An Aiken man who tried to kill himself Sunday by running a car into a telephone poll was hospitalized and will face charges of unlawfully carrying a pistol in the vehicle, a sheriff's report stated.

A sheriff's deputy observed a broken telephone pole Sunday morning at Ascauga Lake Road and Trolley Line Road in Graniteville. When he stopped to investigate, witness Thomas Kinney flagged the deputy down, saying a man had tried to kill himself by running into the pole.

The deputy then spoke to William Tucker, 56, of the 300 block of Fairway Road, Aiken, who told the officer he was a threat to himself. After a search of Mr. Tucker's damaged vehicle, the deputy allegedly found a pistol.

The deputy took Mr. Tucker into custody and transported him to the emergency room at Aiken Regional Medical Centers for a mental evaluation.

AUGUSTA

Wal-Mart will sponsor theater seat

The campaign to replace the seats at the Imperial Theatre on Broad Street received a welcome corporate boost when Wal-Mart announced it would donate $1,000 to the cause.

Imperial Executive Director Gregory Goodwin said he wasn't sure if the retail chain was buying a single $1,000 seat on the floor or two $500 seats in the mezzanine.

Seat sponsorships at the theater range from $300 for a single seat in the balcony to $10,000 for a center orchestra row.

"So far, the private sector has really gotten behind us with this," Mr. Goodwin said. "We've been receiving checks in the mail every other day. Hopefully this will help get some corporate support on board."

The check will be presented at a wine and cheese gala being held by The Imperial Theatre on Thursday.

For more information on The Imperial Theatre's `Take a Seat' program, call (706) 722-8293.

GEORGIA

Four arrested in slaying

DULUTH, Ga. -- Gwinnett County police arrested four men early Monday in the slaying of 24-year-old Hieu Trong Hoang Tran outside a restaurant near Interstate 85.

Charged with murder were Albert Tran, 18, of Norcross, who is not related to the victim; brothers Mike Yat, 17, and Rick Yat, 18, both of Duluth; and Justin Lee, 19, of Duluth, said police spokeswoman Joy Parish.

She said investigators were looking into reports that the killing may have been gang-related.

The shooting happened at about 6:45 p.m. Sunday outside TGI Friday's.

The victim was leaving the restaurant with a group of people when they were confronted by another group in the parking lot, Ms. Parish said.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Airline will serve Upstate

GREER, S.C. -- Trans World Airlines is bringing its regional jet service to the Upstate.

Trans World Express will offer three nonstop flights daily to Lambert St. Louis International Airport from the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport starting Feb. 26, the company announced Monday.

It also will offer similar service at the Charleston Airport.