Originally created 08/17/00

Across the area



RICHMOND COUNTY
Woman files suit in daughter's death

The mother of a girl struck by a vehicle as she crossed the street to reach her school bus has filed suit against the car's driver and the Richmond County Board of Education.

Janet Moody filed a Richmond County Superior Court lawsuit Aug. 8, seeking unspecified damages. In addition to the school board, the mother of Melissa Moody named Guald A. Meriweather as a defendant.

According to the lawsuit, Melissa was struck by Mr. Meriweather's vehicle as she crossed Perimeter Parkway on Nov. 4. The lawsuit alleges the school board was negligent and exposed the child to unnecessary risk of injury by requiring Melissa to cross the street to board the bus. According to the lawsuit, the bus first passed on the side of the street closest to the Moody home and then turned and returned to pick the child up on the opposite side of the street.

A lawsuit represents only one side of a dispute.

AUGUSTA
Group offers kidney screenings

The National Kidney Foundation of Georgia will conduct a Kidney Early Evaluation Program screening Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the A.R. Johnson Health Occupation High School, 1324 Laney-Walker Blvd.

The program seeks to identify people at high risk of developing kidney disease; screen them for blood pressure, diabetes and early signs of kidney disease; and educate them about treatment.

Screening will be conducted for anyone older than 18 who has high blood pressure, diabetes or a first-degree relative with high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney failure.

AUGUSTA
Higher school enrollment expected

Officials from Richmond and Columbia county schools are projecting morepupils will be enrolled this year, but first-day-of-school totals don't tell the whole story, they say.

This year, Richmond County officials are projecting enrollment of 36,237 pupils. Enrollment in June was 35,167, and enrollment last October was 36,165.

Columbia County officials are estimating 18,878 pupils in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Last year, during the fourth-day enrollment count, there were 18,243 pupils enrolled in Columbia County schools. During the 1998-99 school year, there were 18,237 pupils.

Richmond County Deputy Superintendent Gene Sullivan said Richmond County's enrollment had decreased in previous years.

"It's going to fluctuate and start going back up because there's growth in south Richmond County," Mr. Sullivan said. "Last year, we lost about 500 kids .ƒ.ƒ. over the previous year."

School officials say the October count is the most accurate figure. With school starting on a Friday - to fit in 180 days and days for bad weather - officials say several pupils are likely to wait until Monday to begin.

COLUMBIA COUNTY
Residents, officials discuss act

Columbia County residents met with government officials Wednesday night to discuss the implementation of a recently approved statewide green space act in Columbia County.

Cheryl Zimmerman was among about 50 residents who attended the meeting at the Evans Government Center to voice her opinion on how the money should be used.

"I'd like the green space to be all along the river," she said.

Judy Gordon asked for the protection of watershed areas. "It helps with flooding," she said. "And that's low maintenance use, too."

The plan, called the Georgia Greenspace Act, was presented as a first this year by Gov. Roy Barnes and aims to provide grants to 40 rapidly growing counties for protection of natural resources.

Columbia County should receive approximately $570,000 if certain guidelines are met by Nov. 30. Harvey Young of the Georgia Greenspace Commission attended to let residents know that public input is needed.

He said the act requires each county to strive to preserve 20 percent of its land mass as green space. But the implementation process is up to each county.

AUGUSTA
Animal shelter seeks donations

The CSRA Humane Society will hold a pet shower and donation drive Sunday at its new facility at 425 Wood St., behind Lake Olmstead Stadium.

Visitors are asked to donate kitten and puppy food, blankets, towels, toys, grooming supplies, cat litter, litter boxes, pet carriers and pet beds. A complete list of items needed to stock the shelter can be found at the organization's Web site, www.csrahumane.org.

Visitors can tour the facility from 1 to 3 p.m.; refreshments will be provided. The shelter is open to the public each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 228-4555.

RICHMOND COUNTY
Ex-boyfriend convicted of arson

An Augusta man was convicted of arson Wednesday for setting fires at the only two exits of his ex-girlfriend's mobile home while she was inside.

A Richmond County Superior Court jury convicted David Walker, 36, of first-degree arson, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Robin C. Green-Brown testified that she received a number of harassing telephone calls from Mr. Walker in the early morning hours of Sept. 18. Unable to go back to sleep after the calls, she got out of bed, smelled gasoline and then saw flames at her front and back doors. She rushed through the back door and saw Mr. Walker standing there with a piece of burning paper in his hand, she testified.

A sentencing date for Mr. Walker has not been set. He has been held in jail pending trial since his arrest in September.

HARLEM
Sewage spills into creek area

About 12,000 gallons of sewage from Harlem's sewer system spilled last week in the Sandy Run Creek area, between U.S. Highway 278 and Stone Street, Harlem Public Works Superintendent Jim Raley said.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources was notified, and the affected lines were treated. The ground surface area affected by the spill also was treated.

Sampling sites have been selected to monitor the stream for a minimum of a year, Mr. Raley said.

All lines are now flowing freely.

AIKEN
Juvenile strikes counselor

A counselor at a troubled-boys home in Aiken needed five stitches after a juvenile resident struck him in the mouth, authorities said Wednesday.

The 44-year-old counselor told sheriff's officials that two boys at Winner's Circle Group Home had a problem with authority. One of the boys, 15, hit the counselor in the mouth Tuesday night and split his lip, authorities said. The other boy, also 15, tried to join in the fight but was restrained by a counselor.

The counselor drove himself to University Hospital in Augusta, where he was treated and released, a sheriff's report stated. Charges are pending against the boy, whose name was not released because of his age.

GEORGIA
Site invites report threats

ATLANTA - Pupils can report threats of school violence anonymously through a new Internet site established by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

The Georgia School Safety Zone site provides a channel for reporting potential problems and provides safety information and youth resources directory for pupils, parents and schools.

The site, www.ganet.org/inthezone, tells readers that they are "a critical part of the school safety community" and advises the user to call 911 if the information is urgent or needs to be read immediately. It also says school violence information can be called in to a statewide hot line at (888) SAY-STOP.

The site has boxes that users can fill out asking for the name of the school, city or county location, what is happening, who is involved and how authorities can obtain more information.

GEORGIA
Aaron named to ports board

ATLANTA - Baseball's home run king, Hank Aaron, and two others were named by Gov. Roy Barnes on Wednesday to the board that oversees Georgia's ports.

Mr. Aaron, 66, of Atlanta, is a senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves. During his career as a player, he hit 755 home runs, more than anyone in baseball history.

"One of the main jobs of the Georgia Ports Authority is to help develop awareness of Georgia ports around the world," said Mr. Barnes' press secretary, Joselyn Butler. "Few people in Georgia are better known around the world than Hank Aaron."

Also named to the board were Glennie Cox Bench, 37, of Bainbridge, a vice president of Southwest Georgia Oil Co.; and Curtis Farrar Jr., 56, of Douglas, an attorney.

Mr. Barnes reappointed Thomas J. Dillon, 73, a Savannah attorney, to the board.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Seniors improve ACT scores

COLUMBIA - High school seniors taking the American College Test entrance exam had higher scores than last year, and sophomores who took the preliminary ACT scored higher than the national average, state education officials said.

The average composite score for South Carolina seniors was 19.3 on the ACT's 36-point scale - an increase of two-tenths of a point from the previous year.

This was the third consecutive year of improvement for South Carolina students, up from 18.9 in 1997, 19 in 1998 and 19.1 in 1999. During that time, the national ACT average remained at 21.

State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum said improvements on both the ACT and the PLAN, the preliminary ACT test, are significant.

South Carolina sophomores' average score of 16.7 on PLAN's 32-point scale compares with the national average of 16.6.