Originally created 06/20/00

Across the area



RICHMOND COUNTY
Tax board hires new chief appraiser

The Richmond County Board of Tax Assessors hired a new chief appraiser Monday.

The board chose E.W. "Sonny" Reece II, a former employee of the appraiser's office, as chief appraiser contingent on the board and Mr. Reece reaching an agreement on salary. The salary range for that position is from $47,299 to $75,677, according to board Chairman Bill Lee.

Mr. Reece was one of three finalists for the job that was vacated when the board fired Harrison Sears in November.

AUGUSTA
17-year-old arrested in shooting

An Augusta man was taken into custody early Monday morning, authorities said, after he allegedly shot and wounded another man several hours earlier.

Jarvis M. Butler, 17, of First Avenue, was arrested at his residence in the shooting and wounding of Travis M. Thompkins, 20, of Harlem, at 1:16 a.m. Monday, said Maj. Ken Autry of the sheriff's department.

According to witnesses who saw the incident on the 2000 block of Boat Drive, Mr. Butler accused Mr. Thompkins of beating Mr. Butler's mother before shooting him in his left side, Maj. Autry said.

Mr. Butler was arrested by investigators several hours later and charged with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

GEORGIA
Youths injured in bus accident

MARIETTA - A tour bus carrying a church youth group rear-ended a tractor trailer on Interstate 75, causing minor injuries to 27 people.

The wreck north of Atlanta backed up traffic for nearly two hours Sunday. The bus was returning a church group of teen-agers home to Mississippi after a weekend retreat in Jasper, 50 miles north of Atlanta, said Sgt. M.L. Hathaway of the Marietta police.

The bus rammed into the back of the tractor trailer while it was stopped in traffic because of road construction, police said. The driver was cited for following too closely.

The injured were taken to three area hospitals. Police did not release the name of the bus driver or the tour bus company, and it was not known what church the youths belonged to.

GEORGIA
Teens will judge highland cows

EATONTON - Four teen-agers from Putnam County already have proved themselves best in the nation when it comes to sizing up dairy cows. Now, they're competing for the title of world champs at a contest in Scotland.

The middle Georgia county's Future Farmers of America team took first place in the state and national dairy-judging competitions last year. On Saturday, they will compete against 45 other teams, most of them European, during Scotland's Royal Highland Show.

During competition, teams have only a few minutes to look over four cows. Then, they must rank the animals from best to worst and explain their reasoning to the judges.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Report: Sewage spilled into river

SIMPSONVILLE - Water treatment plant officials here say half of the 250,000 gallons of raw sewage that spilled onto the plant's grounds earlier this month might have reached the Reedy River.

State officials initially characterized the spill at the Lower Reedy Treatment Plant as "a minor event" and said there was no evidence any of the sewage entered the river.

But Western Carolina Regional Sewer Authority has submitted a report to state environmental officials showing fecal coliform bacteria levels up to 160 times the normal threshold in the river near the plant.

A faulty circuit breaker tripped repeatedly, causing sewage to back up and spill onto the plant's grounds. Since then, a new breaker has been installed and a temporary ditch built to divert spills directly into a nearby storage lagoon.

Mickey Corbett of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control said he doubts much sewage actually reached the river and that most of the spill was absorbed on the ground.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Rescue volunteer dies in wreck

CLOVER - A volunteer on the Clover Rescue Squad died Saturday after the driver of the truck he was riding in lost control and hit two trees.

Christopher Wade Miller, 18, of Clover, was pronounced dead at the scene Saturday night. The driver of the vehicle, Robert Dover, 55, of Clover, was airlifted to a Charlotte, N.C., hospital.

Mr. Miller, who graduated from Clover High School last month, had been elected sergeant by his fellow volunteers at the Bethany-Santiago Fire Department, where he spent countless hours assisting the Clover Rescue Squad.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Court: Licenses can be revoked

COLUMBIA - The state Revenue Department can revoke video gambling licenses for a location where licenses previously have been taken away, even if two separate businesses are involved, South Carolina's Supreme Court says.

The justices, in a 4-1 decision Monday, said the Revenue Department had authority to revoke the licenses held by Gateway Enterprises Inc.

Gateway leased a Columbia location previously operated by George Vinovich.

A judge upheld the revocation of Mr. Vinovich's video gambling licenses in May 1996. Gateway Enterprises leased the same location less than two weeks later and obtained licenses for machines there.

The Revenue Department then cited Gateway for violating a prohibition against operating video gambling machines at a location where licenses had been revoked.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Essay wins dad special trip

LADSON - This is one Father's Day gift David Phalon won't return.

His 17-year-old stepdaughter, Sara McDonald, won Mr. Phalon a trip to Round Rock, Texas, to meet Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.

Sara's essay on "Why My Dad Is My Hero" won a national contest sponsored by Major League Baseball.

"I never really thought I had a chance," said Sara, a senior at Fort Dorchester High School who beat out about 500 competitors. "But I just wrote it from the heart."

"This is unreal," said Mr. Phalon, a baseball fan who has a shelf in the family room with baseballs autographed by Joe DiMaggio, Roger Clemens and Ted Williams.

"It's tear-jerking to read what my daughter wrote," Mr. Phalon said. "She means a whole lot to me."

In her essay, Sara wrote: "He is the father I'd always prayed for, and in his eyes, I'll always be his little girl."

While in Texas, Mr. Phalon will take batting practice against Mr. Ryan and his minor league team, the Ryan Express.

AUGUSTA
Police seek kidnapping suspect

Police are searching for an Augusta man wanted on a kidnapping charge after a woman complained he locked her in the trunk of his car and drove around for an hour.

Cornelius Howard, 29, crossed paths with the woman at the Smile gas station at 3950 Wrightsboro Road on June 11, police said. After a confrontation, the woman told police he forced her into the trunk of his car and drove around until letting her out on Damascus Road.

Authorities have issued arrest warrants and a State Court bench warrant for Mr. Howard on charges of kidnapping and simple battery.

He is described as 6 feet, 1 inch tall, weighing 285 pounds. He has a light complexion and had a beard, mustache and braided hair. He might be driving a tan Buick Regal with a Georgia license plate, police said.

Anyone with information can contact the Richmond County Sheriff's Department at 821-1080.