Originally created 02/06/01

Across the area



RICHMOND COUNTY
Teen gets charged in molestations

A 16-year-old Grovetown resident was arrested early Monday morning and charged with aggravated child molestation, a Richmond County sheriff's major said.

William Daniel Bryson, of the 5100 block of Parham Road, was charged as an adult after a 7-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister told their mother the teen had sexually molested them, Maj. Ken Autry said.

The suspect was charged with felony aggravated child molestation and child molestation, according to jail records. He was transferred to Augusta's Regional Youth Detention Center.

RICHMOND COUNTY
Unattended iron starts house fire

An unattended clothes iron caused an early morning fire Monday at a house on Franklin Street, an Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department captain said.

Firefighters were called to the residence of Michael Lewis, 1710 Franklin St., at 2:40 a.m. to battle the fire that almost destroyed the one-story house, Capt. Tommy Cox said.

Occupants had ironed Sunday evening, gone to bed and left the iron on, Capt. Cox said. They awoke to find the house burning and filled with smoke. No one was injured in the blaze, he said.

AIKEN COUNTY
SRS security audit nears end

Federal inspectors soon will conclude a routine audit of security at Savannah River Site.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Independent Oversight and Performance Assurance has been conducting the audit since Jan. 8, said Bill Taylor, a department spokesman at the federal nuclear-weapons site.

About 30 auditors are assessing the site's security programs, ranging from its computer-security efforts to its procedures for the transportation and handling of classified material, Mr. Taylor said.

"It's a very thorough review," he said. "Every site periodically has to go through this."

Auditors are scheduled to present their initial findings to SRS officials this week, Mr. Taylor said. A more detailed report will be published in coming months.

AUGUSTA
Man charged in robbery of store

Police arrested a man early Monday and charged him in connection with Sunday night's armed robbery of the Kroger Supermarket at 2801 Washington Road.

Cecil Earl Johnson Jr., 55, was arrested at his residence in the 2300 block of Barton Chapel Road at 6:45 a.m. He is charged with armed robbery, possession of a firearm during commission of a crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, said Richmond County Sheriff's Office Investigator Richard Roundtree.

A witness provided police with a tag number of the vehicle that was seen leaving the parking lot after the robbery, Investigator Roundtree said.

About 9 p.m. Sunday, a man pulled out a handgun and demanded money from a Kroger cashier, police said.

RICHMOND COUNTY
Agency offers lead-detection test

Lead-detection testing will be offered throughout February by the Richmond County Health Department's office at 950 Laney-Walker Blvd.

Lead poisoning is a widespread problem, especially among children. The most common cause is exposure to deteriorating lead-based paint or lead-contaminated soil and dust in or near homes built before 1978.

The health department's Childhood Lead Poisoning Program provides educational information about lead poisoning and detection, help with identifying children at risk of lead poisoning, and assistance with tracking and analyzing lead screenings.

The tests are free to residents targeted in a coupon mailout in Augusta's 30901 and 30904 area codes. The $12 fee can be waived or reduced according to income. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, contact the health department at 721-5900.

NORTH AUGUSTA
City votes today in GOP primary

North Augustans will vote today in the Republican primary for the city's three city council seats.

Challenger Harry Weigle is running against incumbent council members Arthur Shealy, Pat Carpenter and Phil Mottel in the at-large primary. The three winning candidates likely will face no opposition at the city's April 24 general election because there are no Democratic candidates.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the following locations:

Nancy Carson Library, 135 Edgefield Road; North Augusta Public Safety substation at Five Notch Road; North Augusta High School, 2000 Knobcone Ave.; North Augusta Middle School, 725 Old Edgefield Road; Hammond Hill Elementary School, 900 W. Woodlawn Ave.; St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church, 471 W. Martintown Road; First Baptist Church of North Augusta, 602 Georgia Ave.; North Augusta Community Center, 101 Brookside Drive; and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 1002 Carolina Ave.

AUGUSTA
Paine holds annual conference

Paine College will kick off the 20th annual Conference on the Black Experience today. The first sessions will be at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Paine College Odeum on Druid Park Avenue.

The three-day conference's theme is "Race: Old Wine in New Bottles." It will include presentations from faculty members from American University, the University of Alabama, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and Paine. The sessions are free to the public. For more information, call Dr. Leslie Pollard at (706) 821-8281.

GEORGIA
Former first family attends eventATLANTA - Former President Bush and Barbara Bush attended installation ceremonies Monday for a new chairmanship of neuroscience named in their honor at Morehouse School of Medicine.

Dr. Peter MacLeish, the director of the school's Neuroscience Institute and chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, was named to the endowed chairmanship. It was endowed with a $1.5 million gift from the Farish Foundation of Houston.

Dr. MacLeish, who joined Morehouse in 1995, received his doctorate from Harvard Medical School. He also was an ophthalmology professor at Cornell University Medical College and helped establish the neurobiology laboratory at Rockefeller University.

The Bushes are honorary co-chairmen of the Morehouse School of Medicine's endowment campaign. The ceremony was held at Sisters Chapel at Spelman College.

RICHMOND COUNTY
Teacher charged in forgery scheme

A Tubman Middle School teacher arrested last week now faces racketeering charges in what authorities say was a counterfeit check scheme.

A warrant was issued Monday against Geraldine Ferrell Burton, 36, of the 3400 block of Monte Carlo in Augusta, who is being held in the Richmond County jail without bond. She is charged with four counts of theft by deception and two counts of negotiating bad checks. She was arrested at the school Thursday after her students left for the day, Richmond County District Attorney Danny Craig said.

Mr. Craig said she and a cohort - who also is being held without bond - are under investigation for several check-forging schemes in the area. It has been going on for at least a year, and could involve as much as $100,000 or as little as $20,000, he said.

Marilyn McDonald, 42, faces two counts of negotiating bad checks. Mr. Craig said she used two false checks to buy a Mercedes.

In an incident report that Mr. Craig indicated could be the tip of the iceberg, the owner of C-K Food Store on Deans Bridge Road told Richmond County sheriff's deputies he cashed three checks - two payable to Ms. Burton, one to Ms. McDonald - totaling $1,190 between June 30 and Oct. 14. All three came back as having no existing bank.

Neither Richmond County schools Superintendent Charles Larke nor school system spokesman Donnie Porter could be reached for comment late Monday.

AIKEN COUNTY
Man dies after car strikes tree

GRANITEVILLE - An Aiken County man was killed instantly Sunday when his car veered off Ascauga Lake Road and hit a tree, South Carolina Highway Patrol spokesman Cpl. R.K. Hughes said.

Epifanio Ortiz Lorenzo, 41, of Graniteville, was traveling south on Ascauga Lake Road near Chalk Bed Road when he drove his 1994 Mercury four-door off the right shoulder. The car crossed back over to the left side of the road, striking a tree on the passenger side, Cpl. Hughes said.

Mr. Lorenzo, who was originally from Mexico, was wearing his seat belt, officials said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Deputy Coroner Daryl Ables said Monday.

Mr. Lorenzo was traveling 70 mph in a 50 mph zone, Cpl. Hughes said. Officials are waiting on results from a toxicology report, he said.