Originally created 06/02/01

Across the area



COLUMBIA COUNTY
Blaze at business injures firefighter

A fire at an Evans pool business early Friday left one Martinez firefighter with minor injuries and caused leaks in several chemical storage containers.

The fire was reported at 6:55 a.m. at Carefree Pool Inc. in the 4300 block of Washington Road, according to Pam Tucker, Columbia County's emergency services director.

Mrs. Tucker said the fire started in a storage room in the business, which contained pool chemicals such as chlorine and hydrochloric acid. All of the chemicals were removed from the building. The leaking containers were sealed in larger containers by the Columbia County Hazardous Materials Response Team.

Mrs. Tucker said one firefighter, Vinnie Vizzari, received a minor burn to his face while battling the blaze, which caused fire and smoke damage to the storage room and some hot tub covers. She said the chemicals were secured before there was any threat to the public.

AUGUSTA
Wife gets jail time in shooting

Annettee Evans probably faced a probation sentence Friday until she informed the judge that she would never pay restitution to her former husband, the man she shot in the head when she suspected he was cheating on her.

Ms. Evans, 55, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to a charge of aggravated assault. She admitted she shot Keith Evans in the head while he was asleep Jan. 4.

Mr. Evans didn't realize the pain he experienced in his head was caused by the path of a .22-caliber bullet until Ms. Evans told him Jan. 16 what she had done - the day Mr. Evans called sheriff's officers after Ms. Evans did about $5,000 in damage to his van.

Mr. Evans told Judge Albert M. Pickett on Friday that he wanted Ms. Evans, whom he has since divorced, to get probation instead of a prison sentence so she could pay him for the van's damages. Ms. Evans refused the offer Friday, even after Judge Pickett noted she could have killed Mr. Evans.

"He's here," she said.

Judge Pickett sentenced Ms. Evans to 20 years in prison.

AIKEN
SRS security agency gets bonus

The company that provides security for the Savannah River Site is getting the maximum bonus possible for its work at the nuclear weapons complex.

Wackenhut Services Inc. will receive a bonus of $1.5 million for its effort, said Greg Rudy, the U.S. Energy Department's manager for the Savannah River Operations Office.

Wackenhut was evaluated by an outside observer in the areas of safety and security, technical capability and performance, community, state and regulator relationships, cost effectiveness and corporate perspective.

AUGUSTA
Robbers kidnap Sonic employee

An off-duty employee at Sonic Drive-in in Augusta was abducted during an armed robbery at the eatery early Friday, but she was released unharmed at a nearby gas station, authorities said.

Two men wearing masks and carrying semi-automatic handguns entered the Sonic Drive-in on Peach Orchard Road just after midnight as the restaurant was closing, said Maj. Ken Autry with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. The robbers told two women inside to hand over the money from a register and a safe, which they did.

An off-duty employee was waiting outside, heard her co-workers scream and began running away across the parking lot, Maj. Autry said. A third suspect, who was outside, grabbed the woman, forced her into a car, drove her to a nearby gas station and dropped her off, the major said.

The two robbers were able to get away with an undetermined amount of cash. Investigators were looking at the possibility the third suspect was captured on the video camera outside the gas station, but no arrests were made by Friday afternoon, Maj. Autry said.

AIKEN
Senators divide over magistrate

The appointment of a part-time magistrate for Aiken County is dividing the county's senatorial delegation.

Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, wants the governor to appoint Jackson Mayor Pat Sullivan to the position. But Sens. Tommy Moore, D-Clearwater, and Nikki Setzler, D-West Columbia, have chosen Sheridan Lee "Danny" Lynn of North Augusta.

Mr. Ryberg said Thursday that he was sending Mr. Sullivan's name to Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges for appointment. Later that day, Mr. Moore said he and Mr. Setzler would be recommending Mr. Lynn.

Whomever Mr. Hodges appoints must be approved by the Senate.

Republicans control the Senate 24-22, and Mr. Hodges could face a battle if he chooses Mr. Lynn, unless Republicans choose not to get involved in a summary court judgeship.

Mr. Ryberg said he will contest any nominee other than Mr. Sullivan whose name is sent to the Senate by the governor.

BEECH ISLAND
Home burns in kitchen mishap

An Aiken County man forgot his breakfast on the stove Friday morning, causing a fire that destroyed part of his mobile home, fire officials said.

Bill Johnson, of 2750 Storm Branch Road, was frying breakfast about 10 a.m. when he got a telephone call and walked in his bedroom, Beech Island Volunteer Fire Chief Leon Henderson said. While he was talking, he forgot about the pan on the stove. When he returned to the kitchen, he saw that flames had erupted, the chief said.

The fire spread quickly to the living room and through the attic. Officials said flames were visible through a hole near the roof when they arrived. Mr. Johnson made it out safely. His dog was rescued by firefighters shortly after.

The flames were under control in about 15 minutes, Chief Henderson said.

AIKEN
Ground broken for new Aiken Prep School

Construction of the new Aiken Preparatory School officially began Friday when the school community gathered at the new site in Hitchcock Woods to turn ceremonial shovels of dirt.

Actual construction is not scheduled to begin until sometime this summer and is expected to be completed by the 2002-03 school year.

The multimillion-dollar project will in clude a lower-school building, an upper- and middle-school building and media center, administrative building, gymnasium, 300-seat theater, dining hall and athletic fields.