Originally created 02/10/00

Across the area: Employee disarms would-be robber



An attempted armed robber let down his guard near his victim for a moment Tuesday and found himself staring down the barrel of his own gun.

At about 9:15 p.m., Michael Grant, an employee at Ethan Stores at 2940 Inwood Drive, walked to the side of the store and saw a man standing beside the business's trash bin, Chief Deputy Ronald Strength said.

The man, who was wearing a black ski mask, pulled out a weapon and told Mr. Grant to give him all his money, Chief Deputy Strength said. Mr. Grant told the man, who police said was 18-year-old Lynn Haynes of the 2900 block of Inwood Drive, that his money was in his nearby car.

After Mr. Haynes went to the car to find the money, Mr. Grant attempted to grab the gun from the suspect, Chief Deputy Strength said. After a brief struggle, Mr. Grant took the gun and forced Mr. Haynes to wait in the store while the sheriff's department was notified.

Mr. Haynes faces charges of attempted armed robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and kidnapping, Chief Deputy Strength said.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Park fined over drinking water

A Richmond County mobile home park must pay $150 in fines and take immediate steps to bring its drinking water system up to current health standards, according to Georgia's Environmental Protection Division.

Byron Trailer Park, an EPD consent order states, failed to collect and submit for analysis required water samples during the months of December 1998 and June, July and September 1999.

The site's operator also failed to maintain proper records and failed to maintain Public Water System Certification, which is required under state law, the order states.

The operator of the park, Benjamin Barnard, agreed to pay fines totaling $150 and take immediate steps to correct the record-keeping deficiencies and obtain certification to operate a public water system.

The park's owners also are required to notify residents of the deficiencies, according to the order.

AUGUSTA

Media specialist wins award

Brenda Newberry, media specialist at Cross Creek High School, will be honored today by state school Superintendent Linda Schrenko for winning the Richard T. Farrell Teacher Merit Award.

The award is given each year to an educator involved in the development and use of creative teaching methods that interest pupils in history.

Mrs. Newberry received $1,000 and an engraved plaque for her accomplishments.

AUGUSTA

Navy concert tickets go quickly

The Augusta Chronicle has given away 2,600 tickets for the free performance of the U.S. Navy Band and Sea Chanters Chorus at Bell Auditorium on Feb. 18.

Because of the heavy demand for tickets, The Chronicle no longer will be able to give out complimentary tickets.

Doors will open at 6:45 p.m. for ticket holders. If seats are available, people without tickets will be admitted at 7:15 p.m.

This is the 75th anniversary for the U.S. Navy Band tour.

AIKEN

Group gives computers to college

The Bank of America Foundation on Wednesday donated 108 Pentium I computers to the University of South Carolina Aiken for student development initiatives.

The contribution is worth an estimated $200,000.

"An investment in education will ensure a brighter future for these students, their families and the nation," said Ed Dolby, president of Bank of America Carolinas. "Through this contribution, we are placing a high priority on meeting the needs of the future generation."

BARNWELL COUNTY

Two arrested in auto theft ring

BARNWELL -- Sheriff's deputies arrested two more Barnwell County men Tuesday in connection with operating a chop shop.

Terry Williams, 36, of Williston, is being held at the county detention center on two counts of receiving and possessing stolen vehicles. Police also charged Chris Ferneyhough, 38, of Barnwell, with one count of receiving and possessing stolen cars.

The investigation continues, and more arrests are expected, Sheriff Joey Zorn said.

Police arrested the group's ringleader, Richard Peterson, on Monday. Authorities say they believe the Barnwell County man, who owns Auto Image/Barnwell Paint and Body, was working with someone in Florida who would steal the vehicles and have them sent to Mr. Peterson's shop on Dunbarton Boulevard.

So far 14 vehicles, worth an estimated $400,000, have been recovered.

GEORGIA

Burned poultry plant reopens

CLAXTON -- Claxton Poultry, the largest employer in Evans County, reopened Tuesday after an arson fire that caused an estimated $3 million in damage.

Although the extent of the damage was less than originally feared, company officials said Friday's fire could result in a slight delay in a planned expansion into Waycross.

No layoffs are anticipated during repairs to the plant's chicken sizing, cutting and deboning areas, company President Jerry Lane said.

No one was injured seriously in the blaze, which caused the evacuation of about 400 of the company's 1,500 employees.

A reward of up to $20,000 is being offered by the state insurance and fire commissioner and Claxton Poultry for information on the fire, which investigators have ruled to be arson.

The Claxton plant processes about 1.3 million chickens and up to 5 million eggs per week. An expansion plans for 1,100 workers to be hired in Waycross.

SOUTH CAROLINA

State attracts movies, money

CHARLESTON -- Last year was a record year for lights, camera and action in South Carolina as the film industry spent more than $60 million statewide, according to the South Carolina Film Office.

Big-budget films such as The Patriot and The Legend of Bagger Vance were among seven feature films made in South Carolina. There were 57 film projects, state officials said.

Although the total amount is relatively small -- the $60 million is only half the budget of the Berkeley County School Board, for instance -- the money is pure income for the state.

In 1998, film productions brought about $24 million into the state. The state Film Office spent about $462,000 last year to lure productions.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Marriage bill passes committee

COLUMBIA -- A bill to allow covenant marriages, which are more difficult to dissolve, has been approved by a South Carolina Senate committee.

The bill is patterned after existing laws in Louisiana and Arizona and is supported mainly by conservatives who want more thought to go into marriages.

Couples still would follow the current process to get married, but those who chose a covenant marriage would take premarital counseling and would have to wait 30 days after applying for a marriage license instead of the current 24 hours.

State law does not require a blood test, but couples entering into a covenant marriage would submit the results. Marriage pamphlets also would be distributed when couples file for their license.

The couple also would agree to pre-divorce counseling and a separation period of two years before divorcing. Currently, couples must be separated for one year.

Couples married prior to the act can apply to have their marriage changed to a covenant marriage.

AUGUSTA

Man fails in robbery attempt

A masked man who tried to rob a hotel front desk late Wednesday not only left empty handed, but also gave his would-be victims a good laugh.

According to police, two clerks in the middle of shift change thought they were victims of a practical joke when a white man in his early 20s wearing camouflage pants, a black ski mask, a black hooded jacket and black gloves entered the Quality Inn at 1015 Clausen Road just after 11 p.m. Pointing a small bottle of mace at them, he held out a plastic bag and told them to fill it with cash.

They told him he must be joking, police said.

When he said he was serious, they told him the cash was in the back. It was then he sprayed the mace and darted through a door leading behind the desk. Police said the women ran and locked themselves in a back room, where they phoned authorities.

When officers arrived the man was gone. The mace, which was contained in a small leather case, couldn't have been very potent because the room was habitable just minutes after the incident, Richmond County sheriff's Deputy Anthony Hyatt said.