Students arrested in drug seizure
Three Greenbrier High School students were arrested Thursday after Columbia County Sheriff's Office conducted a random drug search of the campus and found drugs, alcohol and a knife in three cars.
One 16-year-old boy was charged with possession of a weapon on school property, and one was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of alcohol by a minor, said Capt. Steve Morris. Their names were not released because of their age.
The third student, Russell Minton, 17, of the 900 block of Windmill Lane, Evans, was charged with possession of marijuana and taken to Columbia County Detention Center, with bond set at $1,050, Capt. Morris said.
The arrests came after police began their search at about 11:45 a.m. Capt. Morris said that police dogs did not detect the drugs in the cars but that news of the search got out to students, who then informed school officials about the possibility of drugs in the cars.
He said such arrests have been more common this year because of greater cooperation from students.
Couple charged in house arson
A Graniteville husband and wife have been arrested on charges of setting fire to their own home, authorities said Thursday.
Clifford Widener, 40, and Bonnie Widener, 27, of the 100 block of Simms Street, were charged with second-degree arson.
Aiken County Sheriff's Office investigators said the Oct. 23 fire started in a closet. After an investigation, detectives determined the Widener couple set the fire, sheriff's Lt. Michael Frank said.
Mr. Widener was arrested Wednesday at a relative's home. His wife later surrendered. Mrs. Widener is free on bond; her husband was held at Aiken County Detention Center.
Arts festival begins tonight
The second annual Columbia County New Horizons Arts Festival begins today at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
The two-day event begins at 7 p.m. with a juried art show. It will be followed by a wine and cheese reception with a silent auction to raise money for the Friends of Columbia County Libraries.
On Saturday, the festival continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Besides the art exhibit, there will be a 50-vendor crafts festival and workshops for children.
For more information, call 863-7523.
Weekend craft show scheduled
The 11th annual West Town Craft Show will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in front of Kmart at West Town shopping center.
The event will include a variety of crafts, face painting, Christmas creations, quilts and florals, in addition to ornaments to benefit the homeless. Also planned are karate demonstrations and entertainment from the Evans Middle School band. Santa Claus also will be on hand.
For more information, call 855-1341.
News director charged in forgery
CHARLESTON - WCSC-TV's news director has been charged with using the station's money to pay his own credit card bill.
Donald Feldman, 52, was arrested Wednesday and charged with forgery. He is accused of altering a station check for $11,500 and submitting it to American Express Corp. to pay his personal account, according to police affidavits
Mr. Feldman, who had worked for WCSC for 15 years, stopped working at the station Wednesday, General Manager Rita O'Neill said. He was released on $125,000 bond Wednesday night.
Police found a plane ticket to Germany among his belongings when they searched his home Wednesday, Detective Sgt. Donald Daquigan said. Magistrate Jack Guedalia ordered Mr. Feldman to surrender his passport and undergo a mental evaluation.
Home almost lost over unpaid bill
BEAUFORT - An unpaid $6.20 tax bill nearly cost a 98-year-old woman her home.
Mary Williams' home in the Burton community was exempt from property taxes for years under the Homestead Act. But when Beaufort County reassessed property in 1998, her house ended up back on the tax roll and a bill was sent, county Treasurer Joy Logan said.
After Ms. Williams failed to pay the bill, the county sent her a certified letter, which was signed for by a relative. The county then put the house up for auction.
Ms. Williams had no idea she'd lost her house on a $300 bid until last week when Jasper Bowers and his wife showed up for it.
"I thought they were coming to fix the house," Ms. Williams said.
The Bowerses demanded to keep the house, but Ms. Logan voided the sale Monday, on the same day Ms. Williams prepared to plead her case to the county council.
Bronze statue gets new glasses
ATLANTA - It's an Olympic problem: how to keep Billy Payne from losing his glasses again.
The solution: bolt them to his face.
Or at least a bronze likeness of his face. Pranksters stole the spectacles off a statue of the Atlanta Games organizer in Centennial Olympic Park - for the third time.
So sculptors have fashioned another new pair. They bolted the glasses, costing between $500 and $600, to the statue's temples Tuesday and welded them in place.
State Christmas tree selected
COLUMBIA - This year's state Christmas tree is a 40-foot eastern red cedar from a Fairfield County pasture.
The tree is being donated by Robert A. Bankhead of Winnsboro, the state Parks and Recreation Department said Thursday.
Crews will arrive today to cut the tree from the pasture just south of the Fairfield-Chester county line and deliver it to the Statehouse on Monday.
It will be decorated by the Columbia Breakfast Optimist Club and the city of Columbia and lighted at the Governor's Carolighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Nov. 26.
Paper's police reporter dies at 27
CHARLESTON - Erik Neely, an award-winning reporter who often covered crime and courts for The Post and Courier, has died at age 27.
Mr. Neely had epilepsy, which might have contributed to his death Wednesday, the newspaper said.
"Erik was a shoe-leather reporter, the kind of guy who never liked to sit around the office getting stories over the phone," City Editor Daniel Conover said. "He wanted to see what he was writing about, meet the people in his stories."
Officials identify fire victim
A woman killed in a mobile home fire Wednesday has been identified as Edith Ann Haynes, 57, according to Richmond County Deputy Coroner Mark Brown.
Her body was found after flames gutted her mobile home off Travis Road at about 7:30 p.m. According to a neighbor and close friend, she had been living in unit 319 in Windsor Court less than a week before her death.
An autopsy was performed Thursday at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab in Atlanta, but Richmond County Sheriff's Department has not received the results, Investigator JoAnn Nutter said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department Investigator Lt. G.B. Hannan said the blaze appears to have started in a bedroom. Arson is not suspected, but it has not been ruled out, he said.
University building renamed
An Augusta State University classroom building was named Allgood Hall on Wednesday by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia in honor of Regent Thomas F. Allgood and his wife, Thelma "T" Ray Allgood.
The board's action formalized a request from Augusta State President William A. Bloodworth Jr. and faculty that the new $18 million building have the name of the former regent who, along with his wife, was killed in a plane crash Aug. 4.
"Tom Allgood was an alumnus of the institution," Dr. Bloodworth said. "And (Mr. Allgood) always took pride in the education that he received. He and his wife truly deserve to be memorialized."
During his tenure as a regent, Mr. Allgood pushed for funding for Augusta State, particularly for the school's classroom replacement project, which involves the construction of two buildings. The Phase I building will now be known as Allgood Hall.
Area man faces assault charge
A man arrested on his birthday Thursday after allegedly threatening to kill a man has been linked to a sexual assault that occurred a week ago, according to Richmond County Sheriff's Department.
Investigator JoAnn Nutter said a man brandishing a .38 pistol kicked in the front door of a home on the 200 block of Watkins Street at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, then held the gun to his former friend's temple and threatened to pull the trigger. The victim was also struck in the face with the gun, she said.
Deputies arrested Brandy Moody, 24, after he tried to flee, Investigator Nutter said. On Thursday, the 31-year-old victim in an attack Nov. 10 identified him as her assailant, she said.
In that incident, the victim was walking on the 400 block of Greene Street at about 7:30 p.m. when a man approached her from behind with a revolver, forced her into a church parking lot, sodomized her at gunpoint then robbed her of jewelry, police said.
Mr. Moody is charged with aggravated sodomy, armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, burglary and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. He is being held without bond at the Richmond County jail.
Roast fires up fund-raising effort
A roast of outgoing Richmond County Sheriff Charlie Webster helped Girls Incorporated of the CSRA break its fund-raising record in its 19th annual auction Tuesday night, according to the group's executive director.
Along with ticket sales, the auction raised close to $40,000 dollars for the after-school program, Laura Lasko said. In past years, the event has earned about $25,000.
Girls Incorporated is active in Richmond County and Burke County public schools. The programs are aimed at preventing violence, substance abuse and pregnancy. For more information about Girls Incorporated, call 733-2512.