Originally created 02/28/01

Across the area



MCDUFFIE COUNTY
Police charge man in high-speed chase

THOMSON - A week after a man fled a traffic stop and punched a Richmond County sheriff's deputy, Walter Vance Davis was captured in McDuffie County on Tuesday after a high-speed chase down a dirt road, authorities said.

Mr. Davis, 31, of Thomson, had been wanted on drugs, weapons and obstruction charges since Feb. 20, when police found methamphetamines, marijuana, illegal pills, a .357 Magnum revolver and a 12-gauge shotgun inside a car found off Belair Road in Columbia County after a chase from Richmond County.

Acting on a tip, authorities found him Tuesday morning at a convenience store in Mesena in eastern Warren County, driving a white Chevrolet pickup truck, Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Allan Rollins said. Another chase ensued.

Three cars driven by Warren County Sheriff Joseph Peebles, one of his deputies and a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent chased him down Foster Sprouse Road, a one-lane dirt road that runs parallel to Interstate 20, McDuffie County sheriff's Sgt. Mike Hobbs said.

The truck crossed the county line and was brought to a halt by a blockade of McDuffie County deputies, Sgt. Hobbs said.

About 15 grams of methamphetamines and several handguns were found inside the pickup, police said. Mr. Davis is being held in the McDuffie County jail and is charged with possession of methamphetamines, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and traffic violations.

AUGUSTA
Judicial site selection delayed

A selection committee appointed to consider 10 different sites for a new judicial center decided to forgo making any recommendations on a final location until Monday.

The committee, which met for the first time Tuesday, appeared to be largely in favor of a proposed site in the 600 block of Greene Street, adjacent to the current city municipal building. Although the committee did not strike any of the 10 downtown sites from consideration, some were seemingly discounted, including a Reynolds Street location and a proposal for the 500 block of Broad Street. More detailed cost estimates will be provided at the committee's next meeting, when the final endorsement is made.

The site committee's members are expected to come to a consensus in time for a recommendation to go before Augusta commissioners for approval at the Tuesday commission meeting. The $40 million judicial center is slated to be funded to the tune of $20 million during the next five years with money raised through the special purpose local option sales tax.

PENNSYLVANIA
Man faces court in fatal stabbings

The man charged in the stabbing deaths of a Pennsylvania gas station attendant and Dorothy C. Street, of Dearing, Ga., during a bloody weeklong crime spree earlier this month will appear in a Centre County court today.

A preliminary hearing for Eric Jerome Fant, 37, of Memphis, Tenn., on first-degree murder and robbery charges in the death of Avinash Kaushal is set for 1 p.m. in the Centre County Courthouse in State College, according to an assistant in Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar's office.

Mr. Fant is accused of slashing Mr. Kaushal, 50, to death in Snow Shoe, Pa., on Feb. 11, three days after Ms. Street was hacked to death on her back doorstep in Dearing as she was unloading groceries.

Mr. Fant also is charged with a machete attack in Sweetwater, Tenn., on Feb. 10 on a store clerk who survived.

He was arrested in Warren County, N.J., on Feb. 11 in a stolen car and later extradited to Pennsylvania, where court officials sent him to Warren State Hospital for psychological evaluation.

AUGUSTA
Speaker will detail grave research

The Augusta Genealogical Society will present Alexia Helsley of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, who will discuss ways to record cemetery information and the need to preserve grave markers during Cemetery Documentation and Preservation.

The session begins at 7 p.m.Thursday in the fourth-floor tower of Washington Hall at Augusta State University. There is no admission charge. For more information, call 722-4073.

GEORGIA
Classroom bill heads to governor

ATLANTA - The Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to spend $468 million building new classrooms needed to reduce teacher loads and to replace aging schools.

The spending plan now goes to Gov. Roy Barnes for his signature because it cleared the House last week without objection. Mr. Barnes proposed the plan as a way to reach the reduced class size mandated in his education-reform law enacted in 2000.

The governor initially asked legislators to earmark the $468 million for class-size reductions, but he agreed with the demands of rural lawmakers that $100 million of the total be allocated for general school construction statewide which won't be limited to growing communities.

GEORGIA
Bill aims at teen-driver training

ATLANTA - A state-sponsored driver training video would be added to the rush of ideas aimed at teen drivers under a bill introduced in the Senate on Tuesday.

Sponsored by Sen. Jack Hill, D-Reidsville, and others, the bill would create a video and manual of tips for parents teaching their children to drive. The materials would be distributed to schools, parents and students, and the video would be broadcast regularly on public television.

No cost estimates were available for the video Tuesday, but backers said the dollar figure probably would be minimal.

Last year Sen. Phil Gingrey,R-Marietta, sponsored a bill that was reintroduced this year with the backing of Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor that would impose a driving curfew on teens, limit the number of passengers they could carry and up the training required for them to get a license.

GEORGIA
Woman hurt in downtown shooting

SAVANNAH - A bystander was shot in the knee while she talked with a friend on a Savannah porch Monday morning.

Rose Mary Cutter, who reportedly is in her 50s, was in fair condition at Memorial Health University Medical Center after suffering one gunshot wound.

Gunfire erupted in a group of people gathered on West 34th and Jefferson streets about 11:30 a.m., Savannah police said.

Ms. Cutter was not with the group but was on a porch when she was shot in the back of the knee. The group quickly dispersed. No arrests were made.

RICHMOND COUNTY
Deputy returns to work

Cleared by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Richmond County Sheriff's Office's internal affairs, the road patrol deputy who shot an armed man in the thigh earlier this month went back to work Tuesday, Sheriff Ronnie Strength said.

Deputy Troy Moses, 32, had been on administrative leave with pay since Feb. 15, when he confronted Myron Lamont Ford, 29, near a Captain D's off Deans Bridge Road. The deputy was working a special-duty assignment at the restaurant when he heard a gunshot and went looking for its source.

According to police accounts, Mr. Ford tried to flee, ignoring orders to halt. At some point, authorities said, he stopped running and turned around and pointed a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun at the officer. Deputy Moses fired several shots and hit Mr. Ford once in the upper left thigh.

Mr. Ford was treated and released from Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

Sheriff Strength said his office spoke with the GBI last week and was told the bureau found no evidence of wrongdoing on Deputy Moses' part. The investigation has not been finalized, according to the GBI's Thomson post.

Mr. Ford - who has been diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic, according to his mother - remains in the Richmond County jail on assault and weapons charges with bond set at $32,150.

COLUMBIA COUNTY
Board to announce tenant

Columbia County Development Authority Assistant Secretary Bryan Quinsey said Tuesday that officials are expecting an announcement from the anchor tenant of the proposed Horizon North Industrial Park within the next two weeks.

Of course, he's heard that before.

"I've heard it since the second day I started working here ... yet we still don't have that announcement yet," he said.

County leaders agreed to a public-private partnership to develop 260 acres near Chamblin Road and Interstate 20 as the Horizon North Industrial Park in September. But the deal hinges on an announcement from a prospective business that would build a 100,000-square-foot plant on a 32-acre parcel off Lewiston Road.

AUGUSTA
Construction to close street

Starting Thursday, road construction will close off part of Greene Street for approximately one week. Traffic officials advise that motorists detour around the closing, which is between First and Second streets, along Broad and Telfair streets.