Originally created 04/08/00

Across the area: Bubble blowers to face off

Wal-Mart stores at 260 Bobby Jones Expressway and 3209 Deans Bridge Road will hold Dubble Bubble bubble-blowing contests for children 12 and under today at 11 a.m.

Dubble Bubble officials will measure the width of the bubbles to determine the winners. Contests are being held at 2,500 stores nationwide.

Six finalists will be flown to Arkansas for a blow-off. The national winner will receive a $10,000 U.S. savings bond, a trip to Disney World and a $50,000 donation in the winner's name to the Children's Miracle Network.


Two men rob girl near Dairy Queen

A teen-ager was waiting for her boyfriend outside a Dairy Queen on Friday when two men got into her car, pulled a knife and robbed her of her purse, two rings, a Fossil watch, $5 and her car keys, according to Richmond County Sheriff's Department.

Investigator Jo Ann Nutter said one of the men opened the passenger door and asked to borrow a lighter while the 17-year-old was parked outside the fast-food restaurant near the intersection of Washington and Fury's Ferry roads just after 8 p.m. One of the men got into the front seat, and the other got in the back. One pulled a knife, and they ordered her to drive to the back of a shopping center, Investigator Nutter said.

The victim told police the men rode away in an older-model, light-blue car.

The robbers are described as white, thin and wearing baggy clothing. One had a thin goatee and a mustache.

Anyone with information about the incident should call investigators at (706) 821-1020.


Cotton broker pleads to fraud

STATESBORO -- Former cotton broker David Prosser pleaded guilty Thursday to defrauding nearly 100 farmers of thousands of cotton bales worth $4.5 million to $5.5 million and losing the money in the futures market.

"I sold cotton I had no authority to sell," Mr. Prosser told U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr, who will conduct a presentencing investigation that could take three months.

Mr. Prosser, 46, owner of the defunct Sea Island Cotton Trading Co., pleaded guilty to 32 of 84 federal charges of mail and wire fraud, and money laundering.

Joel Ozburn, special agent with the Internal Revenue Service in Augusta, testified that Mr. Prosser sold the farmers' cotton without their permission and used the money to invest in cotton futures, betting that the price of cotton would go up.

"The price of cotton was going down rapidly during that time," Special Agent Ozburn said. The farmers' money had to be used to pay Mr. Prosser's market losses and commodities brokers.


Superintendent sues over firing

ATHENS -- Former Clarke County School Superintendent Lucian Harris is suing the school board to get his job back, claiming the board members who fired him violated the state's open meetings law.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Superior Court, says board members illegally discussed Mr. Harris' job status in private prior to the Jan. 6 vote to fire him. It asks that Mr. Harris be reinstated.

The Athens-Clarke chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, state Rep. Keith Heard, D-Athens, and the three board members who voted against the firing also have asked the state attorney general's office to investigate the termination.

The five board members who voted to fire Mr. Harris have said they discussed his job performance in one-on-one discussions prior to Jan. 6, but they do not believe those discussions violated the open meetings statute.

Board attorney Terrell Benton did not comment on the lawsuit.


Governor names choice for board

ATLANTA -- Gov. Roy Barnes said Friday that R.K. Sehgal, chairman of the Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism board, is his choice to replace Randy Cardoza as commissioner of the agency.

Mr. Cardoza, who is resigning at the end of the month, has accepted a position at Beers Construction Co. in Atlanta.

"One can only guess how many jobs Randy has singlehandedly brought to Georgia," Mr. Barnes said in a statement. "I'm sure it's in the thousands, and I know Georgians everywhere are grateful for his hard work and dedication."

He said Mr. Sehgal will be "a great diplomat for Georgia to business leaders everywhere." The governor's choice must be confirmed by the board.


Corps seeks dam builders

EMERSON -- The Army Corps of Engineers is looking for workers who helped build the Lake Allatoona dam 50 years ago.

The Corps, which oversees the dam, is planning a June 9 celebration of its 50th anniversary and wants workers to take part.

The $30 million dam was approved by Congress in 1941 but was delayed by World War II. Construction began in 1946 and was completed in 1950.

The company that built the dam, National Constructors, is no longer in business, and no records of its workers exist.


Fraternity house closes for work

ATLANTA -- The Kappa Alpha fraternity house at Emory University has been closed by chapter alumni because of behavior problems and damage to the house.

Fred Neely, president of the Kappa Alpha House Corp., which operates the house, said the building needed extensive repairs inside and out. The house was closed last month. "We're going to open up in another year," he said.

The Emory chapter of Kappa Alpha continues to operate, but members have found housing elsewhere.

Meanwhile, a group of Emory students met with college officials Thursday to discuss action against the fraternity concerning a photograph published in a 1999 college yearbook. Taken at a Halloween party, the photo appears to show a white student wearing blackface makeup, officials said.

The chapter is already on probation because of a separate incident, said Bridget Guernsey Riordan, assistant to the senior vice president for campus life. She declined to disclose further details.


Earthquake shakes lake area

SALEM -- Homes and buildings near Lake Jocassee were shaken by an earthquake that measured 2.7 on the Richter scale.

Duke Power Co. spokeswoman Lilly Blue said the tremor was recorded Thursday at dams around the lake. There was no damage reported at the Oconee Nuclear Station, and Oconee County officials received no damage reports.

"This was large enough to rattle a lot of dishes, but I don't think it would cause any damage," said Pradeep Talwani, a geophysics professor at the University of South Carolina and director of the state Seismic Network.

Paul Orr, owner of Hoyett's Grocery and Tackle near Lake Jocassee, said customers felt the quake.

"People here at the store heard a loud boom, and the store shook a little bit," Orr said. "Everyone thought it was an explosion."

South Carolina is considered a moderate earthquake area because of an 1886 quake that caused extensive damage in Charleston and was felt as far away as Virginia.


State AAA credit rating renewed

COLUMBIA -- Standard & Poor's Corp. will renew South Carolina's AAA credit rating.

The rating can affect the interest rate the state must pay to borrow for public schools, roads and other projects. The better the rating, the lower the rate and the less taxpayers may have to pay to cover the costs.

Standard & Poor's cited the state's growing economy in its March 24 credit profile.


Senate approves retirement bill

COLUMBIA -- The Senate has approved a bill that would allow state employees to retire at 28 years of service instead of 30.

The bill approved Thursday was sent to the House and would let state employees retire two years earlier. But employees who do so would receive about 4 percent less in benefits.

The House has approved similar language.


Disclosure fine levied

COLUMBIA -- The State Ethics Commission has fined York Glover $2,000 for failing to file a campaign disclosure when he was a candidate for a seat on the Beaufort County School District in November 1998.

The fine announced Friday is on top of a $600 late-filing penalty.

The commission said it would suspend the $2,000 fine if Mr. Glover paid the late-filing penalty and filed the disclosure report within 45 days of receiving the order.


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