Originally created 01/12/00

Across the area: Officers search for masked robber



A masked robber with a gun and an accent held up an Aiken convenience store and video poker place Tuesday afternoon.

The robbery at Aces & Eights, 1217 Edgefield Highway, occurred just after 3 p.m., sheriff's Lt. Michael Frank said. An employee told authorities that the man walked into the store and demanded a waist pouch from the clerk. The robber took the money and ran behind the business, Lt. Frank said.

The robber was described as white, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall, wearing dirty green coveralls and a knit hat. He spoke with an accent, witnesses said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Aiken County 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 up to a $1,000 reward.

AUGUSTA

PTA meeting, game night set

Sego Middle School has scheduled a PTA meeting and game night at 6:30 Thursday. Games for pupils, popcorn, drinks and door prizes will be available.

The general PTA meeting starts at 6:30 p.m., followed at 6:45 by the workshop "Fostering Parental Involvement with Your School," and at 7:40 by another workshop, "Challenges During the Middle School Years."

AUGUSTA

Group seeks Korean War veterans

The Korean Association of Augusta is still looking for veterans of the Korean War or their families to honor in an event Jan. 18 at Bell Auditorium.

Veterans or their survivors must provide verification of service, either with separation papers (form DD 214) or any other document showing proof of service in Korea during the war. Participation is not limited to those people who live in the Augusta area.

Contact Julie Wahman at 798-6020, Ext. 224, by noon Friday.

SAVANNAH RIVER SITE

Crews plan controlled burns

Savannah River Natural Resource Management and Research Institute will initiate annual controlled winter burning programs later this month on selected parcels at Savannah River Site.

Controlled burns are used to reduce wildfire hazards and enhance wildlife habitat, said Ron Shurney, fire management officer. Periodic burning reduces the chances of wildfires interfering with site operations.

Depending on weather, crews say they hope to burn undergrowth on about 15,000 of the site's 200,000 acres during the next three months, Mr. Shurney said.

Eliminating undergrowth is especially important to maintaining habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker sometimes found at the site.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Dam meeting to require invitation

A Feb. 1 meeting planned by U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood to discuss the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam will be an "invitational working meeting" rather than a public meeting, his spokesman said Tuesday.

Mr. Norwood's office is calling targeted individuals and companies affected by the planned decommissioning of the 63-year-old dam to calculate a total direct economic impact of the closure.

Although the meeting is not public, the information gathered from those invited will be used in public meetings, said John Stone, Mr. Norwood's press secretary. Interested parties should contact the congressman's local office at 733-7066.

Augusta Mayor Bob Young is holding a public meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 20 at Julian Smith Casino to compile residents' opinions on the issue.

The Army Corps of Engineers, citing $7 million in needed repairs and other factors, has proposed removing the spillway gates and decommissioning the structure, which would lower water levels at Riverwalk Augusta.

THOMSON

Man, teen-ager arrested in fight

A 15-year-old and a 21-year-old man were arrested after a fight Saturday during a Thomson High School basketball game, according to the school's principal.

Principal Robert Smith would not release details of the incident, except that the juvenile is a pupil at the county's alternative school and the 21-year-old is not a student.

McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall did not return a telephone call left at his office Tuesday, and Investigator Larry Attaway had no information about the incident.

THOMSON

GBI probes excessive-force charge

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is seeking answers in a case of alleged excessive force involving officers with the Thomson and Warrenton police departments.

GBI Special Agent Martin Moses said the two officers have been under investigation since the Jan. 3 incident.

Thomson police Chief John Hathaway said Thomson Sgt. Jared Land has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. Chief Hathaway did not know the name of the Warrenton officer, and Warrenton Chief Jim McClain could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Chief Hathaway said the incident involved a car chase that began in Thomson and ended in Warren County. After the chase, the suspect fled on foot. Chief Hathaway said the suspect told Chief McClain that both officers used excessive force after detaining him. As a result, Chief Hathaway turned the case over to the GBI.

The suspect was charged with felony with a vehicle, fleeing and eluding an officer, reckless driving, obstruction of an officer and failure to maintain a traffic lane, Chief Hathaway said.

GEORGIA

Child hurts hand; teacher charged

DECATUR -- A DeKalb County teacher accused of smashing a child's hand in a door has been arrested and charged with aggravated battery.

Tanya Pilate, 31, was accused of smashing the 7-year-old's hand in a door at Toney Elementary School on Jan. 5, breaking two of the girl's fingers. WSB-TV reported that Ms. Pilate ordered the girl to leave the room because she was disruptive, then closed the door on the girl's hand when the child tried to re-enter the room.

Ms. Pilate was arrested Monday and remained in jail Tuesday, said Mikki Jones, a spokeswoman for DeKalb County police.

Robert Tucker, personnel director for the DeKalb County school system, said the matter is under investigation. He declined to comment further.

Ms. Pilate has taught second grade at the school for two years, school officials said.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Faulty spray valve spurs oven cleaner recall

WASHINGTON -- The manufacturer of Easy-Off oven cleaner voluntarily recalled 50,000 cans of the product Tuesday after receiving reports that a faulty spray valve has caused skin and eye burns, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

For more information, consumers can call Reckitt & Coleman at (888) 993-3389 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday and between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Health Department to close Friday

The Richmond County Health Department's Broad Street facility will close Friday so that staff can move equipment and furniture to open the new clinic off Laney-Walker Boulevard. The new clinic will open at 8 a.m. Jan. 25.

But with a number of people reporting flu-like symptoms, the health department still is urging residents to come in for flu shots.

The Broad Street facility and the dental and TB clinics will close so that staff can move about 2,000 boxes to the new clinic building, said Danny Starling, director of facility management. The South Augusta clinic at 2416 Windsor Spring Road will be open throughout.

Flu shots will still be available at Broad Street today and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Shots will be available at the south Augusta clinic from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and until 6 p.m. Thursdays. The shot is free for those with Medicare and Medicaid coverage and $10 for others.

AUGUSTA

Robber targets beauty supply store

Richmond County investigators were looking for man late Tuesday wanted in the afternoon armed robbery of an Augusta business.

At about 5:35 p.m., two employees were walking out of the back door Beautician Supply Inc., 3130 Wrightsboro Road, with the night deposit when a man jumped out from behind a nearby trash bin, Investigator Thomas Sheppard said.

The man pulled out a small-caliber revolver and took the money from the employee before running into a nearby wooded area, Investigator Sheppard said.

The suspect is described as black, 5 feet, 3 inches tall, approximately 15 to 18 years old, and wearing a white turtleneck shirt and blue jeans. Anyone with information should call the Richmond County Sheriff's Department at 821-1080.

AUGUSTA

Coroner identifies 85-year-old

The Richmond County coroner identified an the 85-year-old woman Tuesday whose body was found in a house fire Monday night.

Margaret Freeman was pronounced dead at 7:40 p.m. at her Summerville home that was destroyed in the fire, Coroner Leroy Simms said.

"The cause of death is pending what the crime lab tells us," he said. "I sent the body to the crime lab in Atlanta. No foul play is suspected."

The woman was found in the kitchen by firefighters. Ms. Freeman was the only person in the house.

The cause of the fire at 2474 East Ave. was under investigation Tuesday, fire officials said.