Originally created 09/07/00

Across the area



SPECIAL
Thief sought

Columbia County Sheriff's investigators are looking for this man in connection with a rash of thefts from soft drink machines during the past month. This photo was taken at a McDuffie County motel. If you have information, call Investigator Brian Jones at 541-1044.


RICHMOND COUNTY
Embattled teacher wins back license

HEPHZIBAH - A former Hephzibah High School math teacher and track coach, fired this summer for allegations of sexual misconduct against a student, won a hearing before an administrative law judge to keep his teaching license.

Richmond County school board members voted June 15 to fire Alphonza Griffin after a two-day trial dealing with allegations that he made former student Lakesha Williams perform oral sex on him when he drove her home.

In January, during a hearing before the Richmond County Superior Court, Mr. Griffin was acquitted of sexually assaulting the student, who graduated last year and is now a private in the Army at Fort Gordon.

School board members said they fired Mr. Griffin because of violations of school policies.

After the school board hearing, the state Professional Standards Commission sought to revoke Mr. Griffin's teaching license. But an administrative law judge ruled Aug. 31 that Mr. Griffin can keep his license, his attorneys said Wednesday.

"He will be able to teach in the state of Georgia or anywhere else," said his attorney, Katrina Breeding.

Mr. Griffin is seeking a seat on the Richmond County school board, running against incumbent Andrew Jefferson and newcomer Bernard Harper in District 4.

AUGUSTA
Beating leaves soldier critical

A Fort Gordon soldier found savagely beaten and left for dead in her Augusta home remained in critical condition Wednesday at Doctors Hospital.

Sgt. Marni Glista, 21, a Seattle native, was found unconscious and barely breathing inside her home at 3310 Oak Ridge Drive on Tuesday. She apparently had been attacked as she returned to the brick, ivy-covered house from Food Lion grocery store.

Her parents and in-laws traveled to Augusta, but were told very little by police, military officials and doctors, said her sister Wendy Knopp, of Pullayup, Wash. Sgt. Glista's husband, Jason Glista, also an Army soldier, returned to Augusta from Kuwait, where he had been deployed last weekend, she said.

Richmond County Sheriff's investigators refused to comment on the incident Wednesday. Investigator Wayne Bunton, who has been assigned to the case, released a preliminary report to reporters late Wednesday, but it said only that the victim was found "suffering from a variety of injuries" and was hospitalized.

Fort Gordon officials also would not release information, saying the investigation was in the jurisdiction of the sheriff's department.

AUGUSTA
Border Bash football party set

Augusta will throw a party this Friday for Georgia's meanest dogs and South Carolina's feistiest fowl.

The seventh annual Border Bash will be held on the eve of the football game between the University of Georgia and the University of South Carolina.

The pre-game bash will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Riverwalk Augusta's Eighth Street entrance. Admission costs $3, and activities planned include appearances by the team mascots, Hairy Dawg and Cocky, and a concert by the Swinging Medallions.

An afternoon golf tournament will be held between members of the Augusta Bulldog Club and the Gamecock Club at the River North Golf Club. All proceeds from the events will be donated to Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center.

The game will be at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at William-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

For more information, call (706) 721-9177.

NORTH AUGUSTA
Officials investigate house fire

Fire investigators with North Augusta Department of Public Safety will resume their search today for the cause of a late-night fire that nearly gutted a North Augusta residence.

About 40 firefighters responded to a fire at 121 Alta Vista Ave. at about 10:30 p.m. The fire had burned through the floor and the ceiling of the one-story frame house and took about 15 minutes to extinguish, Lt. Tim Pearson said.

The house is believed to have been vacant, and no other structures in the neighborhood were threatened.

GEORGIA
Racial complaint cites sorority

ATHENS - The University of Georgia suspended the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority Wednesday, pending an investigation of a racial discrimination complaint.

A member of the sorority told university officials that a black student was denied admission because of her race during recruitment for the fall semester, said Richard Mullendore, vice president for student affairs.

The unidentified sorority member also said she suffered retaliation from the campus chapter after she filed the complaint.

Under the interim suspension, the sorority cannot conduct social or recruitment activities.

GEORGIA
Water ruled safe after toxic spill

MONROE - Officials at the state Environmental Protection Division have declared the water in the Walton County water treatment system safe to drink.

The county had been under a bottled water advisory for two days, while officials tried to determine whether chemicals that spilled during a train derailment Sunday had contaminated the water systems.

All public schools and many private ones in Walton County were closed Tuesday, as were many restaurants that couldn't serve tap water or use it for washing dishes. Schools reopened Wednesday.

GEORGIA
College vows to fix traffic woes

ATHENS - University of Georgia officials are vowing to fix the nightmare traffic jams that followed the school's opening football game Saturday, which left some people sitting in traffic for more than four hours.

The problem was created in part by a new plan that allows people to park on campus only with an athletic parking pass - obtainable for the most part by donating $1,100 to the athletic association.

In addition, a system to shuttle fans back to the East Campus parking area from Sanford Stadium broke down when the buses got stuck in the gridlock.

Authorities are suggesting using more officers in the area for traffic direction, working with other law enforcement agencies to coordinate traffic flow and using more exit routes as ways cut down on standstill traffic after games.

SOUTH CAROLINA
Teen faces adult trial in beating

ORANGEBURG - A 15-year-old mildly retarded boy accused in the beating death of his 2-year-old cousin will be tried as an adult, a Family Court judge says.

William Davis, of Orangeburg County, is competent to stand trial as an adult, Judge Maxey Watson ruled Tuesday. William is accused in the July 1 beating of Oqunisha Davis.

Testimony showed that, in addition to being mildly retarded, the teen-ager has a learning disability and reads at a second-grade level.

Investigators think William beat the girl because he was frustrated she had been ill and was left in his care. The toddler had bruises over her body and a broken right arm, prosecutor Laura McCann said.