Originally created 10/01/00

Across the area

Cable TV provider warns of outages

Cable television provider Comcast said programming might be interrupted briefly this week because of "sunspots" - a phenomenon occurring twice a year when the sun passes through the orbital plane of satellites that relay transmissions.

The interruptions, which usually last 10 to 15 minutes during the mid- to late afternoon period, will occur todaythrough Oct. 10. The TV screen will sparkle, turn to snow and then distort completely. The process then reverses.

The sun outages usually occur before the first day of spring and after the first day of fall. Broadcasts by local television stations are not affected unless the viewer is picking up the transmission via satellite.

Community plans political talk

A debate will be held Monday night to help voters get to know candidates who want to represent the Merriwether and Westside district.

Meet the Candidates, a political forum, will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at Merriwether Elementary School. Candidates running for sheriff, county council, school board and state and national offices from the district have been invited. The election takes place Nov. 7.

A panel will ask the candidates questions, and, if time permits, the audience also will get a chance.

GOP will hold party during debate

The Richmond County Republican Party will hold a debate party during Tuesday's televised debate between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore.

The party will begin at 8 p.m. in the Masters meeting room at Shoney's Inn, 3023 Washington Road. Local Republicans will be on hand to give visitors an idea of area sentiment on the presidential race, according to Dave Barbee, chairman of the Richmond County Republican Party.

Republicans from Richmond and Columbia counties are invited. Light refreshments will be served.

The first of three debates between the two candidates will begin at 9 p.m.

For more information, call the party headquarters at 737-3878.

Board revokes pupil's suspension

AUSTELL - The Cobb County school board Friday revoked the 10-day suspension of a sixth-grader who took a Tweety Bird wallet with a chain to school.

Ashley Smith, an 11-year-old at Garrett Middle School, said she is relieved. She said she likes all the support and attention she's been getting but was worried about having to make up 10 days of schoolwork.

Ashley was suspended Tuesday because the wallet's 10-inch chain violates the district's zero-tolerance weapons policy. A school spokesman said the chain could harm other pupils.

Ashley's father, Raymond Smith, appealed to the school board during a meeting in Marietta on Thursday night. He asked that school officials use "common sense" in applying the zero-tolerance policy.

But officials said the family had no right to an appeal. It's not yet known why the school board changed its ruling.

Arson determined in church fire

DARLINGTON - Investigators say arson is to blame for a church fire that resulted in $35,000 in damages.

Investigators say the fire that burned down True Holiness Church of Jesus Christ was intentionally set.

Police are asking the public for information that will lead to the arrest of those responsible. The state Arson Hotline also is offering a reward for information.

Two interstate wrecks kill six

ANDERSON - Two wrecks on Interstate 85 in Anderson County killed at least six people early Saturday.

Two people died when a car traveling north crossed the median at the 16-mile marker and overturned at about 5:30 a.m., Highway Patrol spokesman Lance Cpl. Dan Marsceau said.

Cpl. Marsceau said two others were taken to Anderson Area Medical Center.

Resulting traffic backed up on the southbound lane might be the cause for the second fatal accident, which occurred about an hour later at the 18-mile marker.

That accident involved two tractor-trailers and three other vehicles. At least four people were killed in that accident.

Traffic was detoured, and the Highway Patrol was investigating.

Second-grader suspended for gun

ATLANTA - A second-grader was suspended for five days for taking a rusty BB gun to school.

The gun, found in the 8-year-old's book bag, was unloaded. It had been given to him by a neighbor, said Gwen Rogers, principal of Collier Heights Elementary School.

The boy took the gun to school because classmates teased him, Ms. Rogers said.

"He talked about how the children were talking about him, (saying) he was ugly and he didn't look good in those clothes," Ms. Rogers said. "He said he didn't bring it to hurt anybody but to show them, `Hey, I have a gun."'

The boy showed the gun to classmates at a bus stop Friday morning, Ms. Rogers said. The classmates reported the gun when they arrived at school. It was unclear whether the boy would face charges.

Student charged in fatal wreck

ATLANTA - An 18-year-old has been indicted on vehicular homicide charges in a wreck that killed two of his classmates.

Makiri Duckett, who was a senior at Riverwood High School when the wreck happened in August 1999, faces 12 felony counts, the Fulton County district attorney's office said Friday.

Police said Mr. Duckett was driving fast and trying to get around other cars on Interstate 285 when he crashed into another car, killing Tiffany Smith of Fairburn and Stephanie McLoyd of Union City, both 17.

Insurers seek higher rates

COLUMBIA - Four companies want to increase their premium rates for homeowner and renter insurance, depending on location throughout the state.

South Carolina Farm Bureau filed a request with the state Insurance Department for a 3 percent to 24 percent overall increase. Auto-Owners Insurance Co. asked for a 3 percent to 13 percent increase for dwelling fire policies throughout much of the state. Companion Property and Casualty wants a 10 percent overall increase along South Carolina's coast. And State Farm Fire and Casualty asked to revise its policies with the minimum of a 9 percent increase for some policies up to a 54 percent increase for at least one policy.

Those affected by the increase have until Oct. 18 to request a hearing on the proposal.


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