Originally created 01/18/00

Across the area: Broken valve left some without water

A broken water line and valve left about 50 residences in south Augusta without water from midnight Saturday until Sunday afternoon, Augusta Utilities Director Max Hicks said Monday.

Waterworks employees repaired a break in a 6-inch pipe at Blueberry and Nannette streets at around 3 a.m. Sunday. But further repairs were needed when a valve blew off an 8-inch pipe, and service was not restored in the Fernwood Subdivision off Lumpkin Road until 3:30 p.m., Mr. Hicks said.


Event to honor Korea veterans

The 50th Anniversary of the Korean War will be commemorated today at the Bell Auditorium. Korean master craftsmen, artists and performers will share their native culture through dances, martial arts and visual arts.

An event titled Korea to Comes You will honor U.S. soldiers who served during the Korean War between June 1950 to 1953.

The Korean American Cultural Foundation and the President of Korea have dispatched a delegation of Korean Dignitaries and 100 students from five Korean Universities to attend today's event.

Doors open at 5 p.m. and the ceremony begins at 6, with performances afterward. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted at the door.


Court: Case should be heard

COLUMBIA -- A former state trooper who says Public Safety Director Boykin Rose and former Highway Patrol chief Col. James Caulder libeled him should have his day in court, the state Court of Appeals said.

The court Monday said a lower court "erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Rose" in the case of Lt. J.A. Fleming Jr.

Lt. Fleming said he was libeled by Mr. Rose and Col. Caulder in a news release the agency issued April 6, 1994, that grouped him with four troopers involved in a Horry County van accident three years earlier.

Lt. Fleming says he informally met with one of the troopers involved, Jerry Cobb, and then briefed Col. Caulder about the meeting. But an administrative inquiry by the agency recommended that Lt. Fleming be suspended for five days for failing to interview Trooper Cobb fully.

The release said Lt. Fleming and others had set a "deplorable example."

Lt. Fleming tried to delay the release, the decision said, until he could clear himself, but he could not.

The court did affirm summary judgment for Mr. Rose and Col. Caulder as to intentionally inflicting emotional distress on Lt. Fleming or to inhibiting his right of due process.


Alleged scheme dupes residents

ROCK HILL -- A fraudulent investment scheme has bilked more than 540 residents of more than $1 million, police say.

The scheme, called "The Writing Team" or "Friends Helping Friends," requires each participant to contribute at least $2,000, police said. It is the largest such scam local investigators have seen, Chief David Fortson said.

Police suspect the project is a pyramid scheme in which new investors are used to pay off early investors. Authorities learned of the project Sunday but think it has been operating in the area for several months, Capt. Charles Cabaniss said.

Many investors think they eventually will get a $16,000 payoff if they recruit others to invest, Capt. Cabaniss said. Only about 25 of the hundreds of residents involved have received the cash, he said.

Authorities do not know where the project started, although something similar has been spotted in California, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and North Carolina, Capt. Cabaniss said.

There have been no arrests, and police have no suspects.


Woman named to film office

COLUMBIA -- A woman who has been location manager for The Patriot and other films in South Carolina has been named to run the state's film office.

Mary Morgan Kerlagon's appointment was announced Monday by Commerce Secretary Charles Way.

"With more than 17 years' experience in the motion picture industry, she will give South Carolina the extra edge it needs to build on our success as an attractive location for film and television productions," Mr. Way said.

Ms. Kerlagon managed the location shooting in South Carolina for Mel Gibson's movie on the Revolutionary War.

"I personally chose South Carolina for its beautiful vistas and its flexibility to be a tropical jungle, historic battlefield or romantic beach," she said.

She has also handled location work in South Carolina for Forrest Gump, G.I. Jane and White Squall.

Mr. Way said Ms. Kerlagon will work as a consultant for the state until May, when her contract with Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks SKG is completed for the new movie The Castaway with Tom Hanks.


Timber theft rises in state

ROCK HILL -- Investigating timber thefts in South Carolina has become as important as investigating forest fires, the state Forestry Commission says.

Five years ago, the commission focused on arsons, said law enforcement chief Mike Heath. Now detectives spend as much time looking for thieves as they do looking for fires.

"Timber is worth a lot of money. A load of timber could be worth anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500, " Mr. Heath said.

In the past six months, the department has investigated 56 cases of timber theft, Mr. Heath said. The stolen wood was valued at $640,000.

"Our biggest problems are probably in the coastal region, but thefts in the Piedmont seem to be picking up," he said.

Most timber rustlers simply trespass onto private property and cut the logs, Mr. Heath said. Some also try to scam landowners into selling logs for prices below market value, he said.

"They are just like any other con artist. They go after the most vulnerable -- the elderly or absentee landowners," Mr. Heath said.


Club focuses on state's sprawl

GREENVILLE -- Combating urban sprawl and obtaining new rules for environmental regulation of businesses are priorities for the Sierra Club in South Carolina this year.

Dell Isham, executive director of the organization, said he thought several of the group's proposals could become law this year.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control needs new rules to regulate businesses, Mr. Isham said.

"Every company should have an environmental record," he said. "If you have a bad environmental record, you shouldn't get another permit to pollute."

George Fletcher, chairman of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, said DHEC should continue to promote economic growth in order to protect the state's economy.

The Sierra Club also is concerned about urban sprawl.

"More and more we are seeing conflicting land-uses and an inability of communities to plan their own destiny," Mr. Isham said.


Collision injures deputy, man

A Columbia County sheriff's deputy and another man were injured in a head-on collision near Phinizy on Monday night.

Deputy William Eric Ligon was driving south on Ray Owens Road toward Highway 150 when a van drove into the deputy's lane, Sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said.

The accident occurred shortly after 9 p.m. as the deputy was responding to a call on Marshall Road.

Both vehicles appeared to have been totaled, Capt. Morris said.

Deputy Ligon and the van driver -- who had not been identified late Monday night -- were taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital. The extent of their injuries was unknown, but both were conscious at the scene, Capt. Morris said.

Another deputy driving ahead of Deputy Ligon swerved to avoid a collision with the same van just before the accident occurred, Capt. Morris said. It was not clear what caused the van's driver to move into the wrong lane, he said.

The Georgia State Patrol was called to investigate the accident.


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