A controversial subdivision plan gained Columbia County Planning Commission approval Thursday night, just a month after the panel unanimously rejected it.
Since then, the developer, Otis Askin, has agreed to various changes at the request of county planners. His plan for Kelly Acres on Clary Cut Road near Harlem was approved 4-1 by planning commissioners.
"We have come a long way from the original proposal," said Bill Williams, an attorney representing Mr. Askin. But not far enough for nearby residents.
"This development is still irresponsible," said Bill Trotter, an attorney representing residents along Clary Cut Road.
In other business, the commission unanimously approved a request to rezone 6.47 acres of a 37.21-acre tract on Lewiston Road from residential to commercial. Bill Coleman, an attorney representing property owner Oliver Owens, said he had met with nearby neighbors and assuaged some of their concerns about the property.
Two pupils arrested on weapons charges
For the third straight day, felony arrests were made in Richmond County schools Thursday after pupils were allegedly caught carrying blades. Both pupils made threats to use the weapons on other pupils, investigators said.
At 10:30 a.m. at Houghton Elementary School, police arrested an 11-year-old girl on a charge of carrying a box cutter in her coat pocket. The day before, she had a confrontation with another girl, Investigator JoAnn Nutter said, and a threat overheard by a teacher prompted a random search by a physical education instructor.
A 16-year-old freshman at Cross Creek High School was arrested at about 3:30 p.m. after students heard her threaten to use the 2'-inch blade on a fingernail clipper on another girl to defend herself, Investigator Scott Peebles said. The clipper was found in her pocket, he said.
Both girls were charged with carrying weapons on school property. The 11-year-old was held overnight at Sandersville Regional Youth Detention Center, and the 16-year-old was released to her parents.
Earlier this week, Calvin Mack, 17, was arrested at George P. Butler Comprehensive High School and charged with carrying a razor blade. A 14-year-old boy was arrested at Sego Middle School, accused of carrying a utility knife in a belt pouch.
Investigators look for robber
Richmond County Sheriff's Department was looking for a man Thursday wanted in an early-morning robbery.
The man walked into the ACE Convenience store, 1857 Gordon Highway, at about 8:50 a.m. and demanded that the clerk give him the money in the cash register, Chief Deputy Ronald Strength said. The acted as though he had a gun under his jacket but never made one visible to the clerk, Chief Deputy Strength said.
The robber took the money and ran west on Gordon Highway. He is described as black, 6 feet tall, weighing 200 pounds and wearing a tan jacket. He was wearing a camouflage scarf around his face, but investigators are looking at the surveillance camera to make out his face, Chief Deputy Strength said.
Street closes for dedication
The 900 block of Laney-Walker Boulevard, from James Brown Boulevard to 10th Street, will be closed from 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday for the dedication of the new health center.
Drivers are urged to use Walton Way as an alternate east-west route, the Public Works and Engineering Department said.
McCain breakfast rally set
A breakfast rally for Republican presidential candidate John McCain will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday at Golden Corral Restaurant, 227 Bobby Jones Expressway.
The guest speaker will be John Sours, chairman of Mr. McCain's Georgia campaign. He will discuss the GOP presidential candidate and answer questions. The meeting is open to the public.
For more information, call Karen Wright at 860-0130.
Riverside pupil wins spelling bee
A Riverside Middle School eighth-grader won the Columbia County spelling bee Thursday after six rounds.
Joe Fierstos, 13, took the countywide honor by correctly spelling "philosophize" and "rheumatism." Joe will now go on to compete at an area competition March 18. He could have a shot at the national spelling bee sponsored by Scripps Howard.
"I didn't think I was going to win," Joe said after the competition.
Runner-up Janine DeMichele, 11, a fifth-grader at Euchee Creek Elementary, will compete in Joe's place if he cannot make the competition.
Nineteen pupils competed in the countywide bee, which was conducted by Greenbrier Elementary School. Each county elementary and middle school was represented.
Magazine features area school
The April issue of Seventeen magazine, which features students from John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, is scheduled to hit newsstands today.
The school will be featured in the "School Zone" section of the magazine, which focuses on different high schools from across the country.
School Zone Editor Amy Fishbein, an alumna of Davidson, came to Augusta to interview students in December.
Child safety program scheduled
Parents and children will have a chance Saturday to learn how to prevent child abductions.
Elliott Sons Funeral Homes will hold "Escape School" at Goshen Elementary School, off Old Waynesboro Road. The program, created by former San Francisco police officer and author Robert Stuber, will educate adults and children about preventing child abductions and about steps children can take to survive abductions.
Mr. Stuber's method avoids frightening children during the sessions, Elliott Sons executives said.
Escape School sessions will be held at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. For more information, contact the funeral home at (706) 868-9637.
Fire exercise injures inmate
DAWSON -- An inmate was critically burned on his neck, arms and face during a fire training exercise for Terrell County prisoners.
Craig Layton was one of a group of Terrell County Correctional Institution inmates watching a house burn during the exercise Wednesday night in Parrott, a small town about 20 miles northwest of Albany.
The house had been doused with gasoline, and the inmates were to stand back and then check embers after the fire burned out, corrections officer Gerald Eason said. But Mr. Layton got too close, he said, adding that authorities do not know why Mr. Layton approached the fire.
Inmates at the minimum-security prison are often used to fight fires. Mr. Layton was taken to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany and transferred to Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta. He was in critical condition Thursday.