Originally created 03/02/00

Across the area: Police seek money taken from school



Augusta Preparatory Day School officials and Columbia County Sheriff's Office are looking for more than $1,200 missing from the school's vault.

School officials reported the missing money to the sheriff's department Friday. School business manager Rebecca Susan Blair said the money had been placed in a plastic bag and left inside the school safe, according to a police report.

However, the money was discovered missing from the vault by Ms. Blair on Thursday morning. It is believed the theft occurred sometime between Feb. 14 and Thursday, the report said.

Police have no suspects, but the case is under investigation for theft by taking, according to the report.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Cigarette starts apartment fire

A cigarette left on a couch in a downtown Augusta apartment caused extensive damage and displaced 13 residents in the building early Wednesday morning.

At about 1:09 a.m., Richmond County Fire Department arrived at the two-story apartment building at 1232 Greene St., said Katrice Bryant, the department's public information officer. The fire originated in one of the upstairs apartments, Ms. Bryant said.

Residents were in the apartments at the time, but no one was injured, she said.

All four apartments in the building were damaged to some degree, Ms. Bryant said. Housing arrangements for the residents were being handled by the Red Cross.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Crime-lab relocation talks today

A public meeting will be today to discuss the proposed relocation of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab to land adjacent to the Phinizy Road jail.

Currently, the crime lab is on a smaller piece of property at the intersection of Eighth Street and Walton Way.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Butler Creek Club House on Phinizy Road.

Eighth District County Commissioner Ulmer Bridges and representatives from GBI and Richmond County Sheriff's Department will be in attendance.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Health center to hold open house

Richmond County Health Department will have an open house and dedication Saturday for its newest facility at 950 Laney-Walker Blvd.

State Sen. Charles Walker, Mayor Bob Young and other dignitaries will be in attendance at the dedication, which begins at 11 a.m.

After the dedication, the public is invited to a complimentary catered lunch buffet and a guided tour of the new facility.

For more information and reservations, call 667-4255.

RECREATION

Fishing tournament set at park

A.H. Stephens State Historic Park near Crawfordville, Ga., will hold a one-day fishing tournament March 18 on Federal Lake.

A $3 entry fee is required, and registration will be from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the park office. The competition will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A Georgia fishing license is required for each participant 16 and older, and a $50 cash prize will be offered for the largest fish caught. A limited number of johnboats are available for rental during the tournament at $10 apiece.

The tournament is the only day this year the 28-acre lake will be open to the public. For more information, contact the park office at (706) 456-2602.

AIKEN COUNTY

Man held in slaying attempt

An Aiken man is being held without bond at Aiken County Detention Center on charges of trying to kill another man outside a restaurant during the weekend.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Contrez Leon Bing, 21, without incident Tuesday at his Sassafras Road mobile home and charged him with assault and battery with intent to kill. He was wanted by police in the shooting of Travis Young, 21, of Trenton, outside Ree-Ree's Fish and Grill on South Carolina Highway 19.

Mr. Young was wounded with birdshot in the lower extremities, Lt. Michael Frank said. Police still don't know the motive.

Mr. Young was taken to Aiken Regional Medical Centers. He was arrested on unrelated misdemeanor charges after his release.

PLANT VOGTLE

Facility's high production cited

Plant Vogtle was one of the world's most productive nuclear-power plants in 1999, according to an industry publication.

Nucleonics Week rated the plant's two reactors among the world's top 50 in power generation for last year, announced Southern Nuclear Operating Co. The company operates the nuclear-power plant near Waynesboro, Ga.

The two reactors produced a total of more than 19.3 million megawatt-hours of power in 1999, the company stated.

The plant also received an "excellent" rating recently from the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations. The rating judges the plant's performance in operational safety and reliability.

GEORGIA

State predicts voter turnout

ATLANTA -- Secretary of State Cathy Cox predicted Wednesday that 38 percent of Georgia's registered voters will turn out for next week's presidential primary.

Ms. Cox said her prediction was based on historical trends and information from county election officials.

During the past 20 years, turnout in Georgia's presidential primaries has ranged from a low of 19 percent in 1996 to a high of 39 percent in 1988. Turnout is always higher in election years when no incumbent is on the ballot, Ms. Cox said.

More than 3.4 million Georgians are registered for the primary, which will be Tuesday along with primaries in 12 other states.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Man arrested on bigamy charges

PORT ROYAL -- A bigamy suspect arrested in Michigan is wanted by investigators who say a woman he married in this coastal town was one of several women he wed and then allegedly fleeced.

Bobby Joe Sexton, 60, was arrested Monday in Livonia, Mich., on bigamy and grand larceny charges and faces extradition to South Carolina, police Detective Lt. Alan Beach said.

Mr. Sexton married a Columbia woman in Port Royal last march but was already married to a woman he wed in Miami in December 1998, police said.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Senate OKs blood-alcohol level

COLUMBIA -- The state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would automatically declare drivers with a 0.10 percent blood-alcohol content legally intoxicated.

Some senators said the bill would deny people charged with drunken driving their right to a jury trial, but the measure passed on a unanimous voice vote after Sen. Brad Hutto introduced amendments to the bill.

Under current law, a jury can infer that a driver with a blood-alcohol content of at least 0.10 percent is under the influence. But a prosecutor must show that drinking actually affected the driver's ability to operate the vehicle safely.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Police charge man in fatal accident

The death of a 62-year-old Augusta woman after a crash on Gordon Highway has led to vehicular homicide charges against a teen-ager accused of running a red light.

Diane Ritto was pronounced dead at Medical College of Georgia Hospital just after 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to Deputy Coroner Grover Tuten. Less than half an hour earlier, she was turning from Tubman Home Road onto Gordon Highway when a motorist sped through a stop light and plowed into her door, he said.

Another woman in the car was taken to the hospital but was not seriously injured.

Deputies arrested James Lewis Gunn, 19, of Dearing. He is charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, running a red light and driving without proof of insurance.

Mr. Gunn, who was not seriously injured in the wreck, is being held in the Richmond County jail without bond.

RICHMOND COUNTY

Boy arrested over utility knife

A 14-year-old boy was arrested on felony charges Wednesday after being caught riding his bike across school property with a utility knife on his belt, according to Richmond County Sheriff's Department.

A campus police officer stopped the boy as he was pedaling past Sego Middle School, investigators said. The Butler High School student was carrying a lock knife with a wooden handle and a 4-inch blade tucked in a belt pouch, they said.

The pupil, whose name is being withheld because of his age, told police he did not intend to hurt anyone with the knife.

He was arrested at 4 p.m., charged with carrying a weapon on school property and taken to Richmond County Regional Youth Detention Center.