Repair work will keep part of Pleasant Home Road closed today and will shut down three ramps at the Interstate 20/Bobby Jones Expressway interchange all weekend.
A section of Pleasant Home Road between Washington Road and River Watch Parkway is closed while workers repair railroad tracks in the area, and motorists are urged to use Fury's Ferry Road instead. The section, along with Claussen Road, also was closed Thursday.
At the I-20/Bobby Jones interchange, workers will close the three ramps while they repair the bridges. On Bobby Jones, northbound drivers will not be able to exit onto westbound I-20, in the direction of Atlanta, and southbound motorists will not be able to exit onto eastbound I-20, in the direction of Columbia. Eastbound drivers on I-20 will not be able to get onto northbound Bobby Jones.
High school loses mercury
Police investigating how a small amount of mercury ended up on the ground near the Greenway entrance Wednesday have discovered more than a pound of the substance missing from North Augusta High School.
Officials with the Department of Health and Environmental Control were summoned to the Greenway after two spots of the silvery-white metallic element were found on an asphalt path about 30 to 40 yards from Pisgah and Five Notch roads at about 11 a.m., according to a police report.
The area was closed off because of the poisonous nature of the element, said Lt. Tim Pearson of the North Augusta Department of Public Safety. The spills were cleared up by evening, and the area was reopened.
An officer following up on the investigation visited the high school Thursday and was told by a teacher that 1 1/2 pounds of mercury was missing from a chemical closet between Rooms 415 and 417, a report said. One bottle that had been three-quarters full contained only a drop. Another three-quarters-full bottle was missing altogether, the teacher told police.
Police were investigating whether the two incidents were connected Thursday.
I-20 will not be able to get onto northbound Bobby Jones.
The repair work also will slow traffic and cause congestion, so drivers are urged to avoid the interchange if possible. The repair work begins at 7 p.m. today and continues until 5 a.m. Monday.
3 men join transportation board
COLUMBIA -- The state Transportation Commission has three new members.
Bob Harrell, B. Bayles Mack and Eugene C. Stoddard began serving their four-year terms Thursday.
Mr. Harrell, of Charleston, is the father of House Ways and Means Chairman Bobby Harrell. The elder Mr. Harrell succeeds Arnold S. Goodstein to represent the 1st Congressional District.
Mr. Mack succeeds Bobby T. Jones representing the 5th Congressional District. A partner in the Mack, Mack and Freeman law firm of Fort Mill, Mr. Mack previously served as a transportation commissioner from 1979-83, 1987-91 and 1994-96.
Mr. Stoddard, a Gray Court farmer and businessman, succeeds V. M. "Mat" Self for the 3rd Congressional District. Mr. Stoddard served as a state representative from 1971 to 1998.
Mercury finding prompts inquiry
Investigators were trying to determine Thursday how a small amount of mercury got on the Greeneway at North Augusta on Wednesday.
Officials with the Department of Health and Environmental Control were called out to the Greeneway after the silvery-white metallic element was discovered Wednesday on an asphalt path, about 30 to 40 yards from Pisgah and Five Notch roads, said Lt. Tim Pearson of the North Augusta Department of Public Safety.
The area was closed off because of the poisonous nature of the element, and DHEC officials were called in to assess the situation, Lt. Pearson said.
The mercury was cleared up by evening, and the area was reopened.
County's STAR student selected
Augusta Preparatory Day School's Griffin Reid was named Columbia County's STAR student Thursday at a ceremony sponsored by the Harlem Woman's Club.
"I knew I did well on the SAT, but I was surprised to be named STAR student," Griffin said.
He chose his former kindergarten teacher as his STAR teacher.
"I thought it would be appropriate to start at the beginning when selecting my STAR teacher," Griffin said. "After all, if you have a horrible teacher to begin with, it turns you off to the rest of your school career."
"I am extremely shocked and honored that Griffin selected me as his STAR teacher," Ms. Jones said. "It is the highlight of my career."
Other STAR students were: Derrick Calkins, Harlem High; Sean Coleman, Augusta Christian; Justin Friel, Lakeside High; Adam Sanders, Greenbrier High; Andy Scukanec, Evans High.
Agency seeks money for projects
ATLANTA -- Georgia's transportation superagency is seeking almost $15 million in federal money to pay for projects in metro Atlanta, including buses powered by natural gas.
Members of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority will go to Washington later this month to lobby for the money.
Catherine Ross, executive director of GRTA, was to address members of a U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday to put in the request, which includes:
$12.8 million to purchase 60 compressed natural gas buses for a proposed regional bus system.
$400,000 to complete a regional transit study. Gov. Roy Barnes has included $600,000 for the study in his state budget recommendation.
$1 million to integrate current and proposed Intelligent Transportation Systems, which will guide express bus operations.
GRTA also will ask for a $650,000 grant from a program established as part of the Transportation Equity Act in 1998. The program is intended to help local communities develop new transit and bike and pedestrian trails.
College given grant for center
COLUMBIA -- Benedict College was awarded a $1.2 million federal grant to help build a business development center.
The money from the U.S. Commerce Department will aid in the construction of the predominantly black college's $2.5 million Economic Development and Technical Assistance Center.
The new building will house several programs, including a business incubator with room for 14 developing minority businesses and a one-stop shop for financial consulting and business advice.
"This facility will provide some start-up firms with space at below-market rent to give them a chance to get going," Benedict President David H. Swinton said.
The center also will have a $1.2 million revolving-loan fund to provide small-business loans, he said.
DHEC settles pollution lawsuit
COLUMBIA -- The board at the Department of Health and Environmental Control has approved a settlement that ends a lawsuit by an Upstate utility that had challenged pollution standards.
The Western Carolina Regional Sewer Authority approved the agreement earlier this week.
The authority had sued DHEC over standards that limited discharges into the Reedy River.
DHEC had stopped approving sewer permits in southern Greenville County because of concerns about discharges into the stream.
Western Carolina has agreed to install equipment to treat phosphorus before it is discharged into the river.
"The agreement will not compromise any environmental protections," said Alton Boozer, chief of DHEC's water bureau.
Western Carolina also has agreed to participate in studies on ways to improve conditions in Lake Greenwood, downstream from the Reedy River.
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