Originally created 07/24/01

Across the area



AUGUSTA
Vacant-house fire called suspicious

An early-morning fire Monday on Norfolk Street is under investigation as suspicious in part because of how advanced it was when firefighters arrived.

Capt. Thomas C. Cox, of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department, said the vacant, single-story house was consumed in heavy smoke and fire when firefighters arrived shortly before 6 a.m. They spent 15 to 20 minutes putting it out, he said. The building was severely damaged.

The fire is under investigation because the building was unlocked and the fire was large and occurred in the early morning, Capt. Cox said.

"Most of the time in a case like this, it's had a little help," he said. "But it could very well turn out to be an accident."

AUGUSTA
Man with handgun robs motel

A man armed with a semiautomatic handgun robbed the Sunset Inn, in the 3000 block of Washington Road, early Monday, according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

About 1:20 a.m., the robber asked the desk clerk for a room. He then stepped around the counter, pulled a gun from his waistband and demanded money from the cash register, Lt. Jack Francisco said.

The gunman forced the clerk into an adjoining apartment and ran away with the cash.

He is described as black, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 165 pounds, with short hair and buckteeth. He wore a blue shirt and black pants. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office at 821-1080.

AUGUSTA
Two beating suspects arrested

Richmond County authorities have arrested two suspects accused of beating up and trying to rob a pedestrian late Sunday night.

Rodriquez Santez Nelson, 17, and Michael Jermaine Holmes, 27, are each charged with aggravated assault. Mr. Nelson, of the 1900 block of Harrison Road, also was booked on a felony charge of robbery by force. Mr. Holmes, of the 1000 block of Fuller Street, was charged with criminal attempt robbery by force.

Ronny Gibbs told police he was walking in the 1900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard shortly before midnight when two men approached him and asked for money. When he told them he had none, one man hit him in the face with his fist and the other hit him in the back of the head with a brick.

One assailant also hit him on his back and arm with a stick or a pole, Mr. Gibbs told police. He sustained bruises and swelling from the attack.

AIKEN COUNTY
Killian gets administrator's job

Aiken County's nearly yearlong search for a new administrator is over.

Fairfield County's interim administrator, Clay Killian, accepted the job Monday morning, Chairman Ronnie Young said. Mr. Killian will report to Aiken on Nov. 5, he said.

"It's been a long process, and hopefully, this will be best for the county," Mr. Young said.

Some council members said they chose Mr. Killian because of his outstanding record, his fairness and his detachment from Aiken County politics.

Mr. Killian said he gave his 90-day notice to Fairfield County on Monday.

The new administrator reportedly will receive $95,000 a year, an increase equivalent to the cost-of-living rise for county employees, and a three-year contract renewed annually for an additional year to keep a continuous three-year contract, county sources said.

EDGEFIELD
Council votes to fire officer

An Edgefield police officer who was on probation in the altering of a time card was fired Monday, Mayor John Pettigrew Jr. said.

The town council unanimously voted to terminate Officer Roger Burgess' employment, who was suspended without pay for the second time this month after officials learned he had been driving his personal vehicle without insurance and with an expired driver's license.

Mr. Burgess' driver's license was suspended July 12 after a South Carolina Highway Patrol officer discovered he had no insurance. The mayor said he later found out that Mr. Burgess also had apparently operated a patrol car with an expired driver's license.

Earlier this month, officials suspended Mr. Burgess without pay, demoted him and placed him on probation for what they said was his role in altering former Officer Angela Ramey's time card. She was fired and Chief Mack Ryans, who officials say also was involved, was suspended without pay for two weeks. He will retire Aug. 31.

The town hired two new police officers Monday, and it is accepting applications for chief of police until Friday, Mr. Pettigrew said. He said he expects to have a new chief in about a month.

ALLENDALE COUNTY
First Steps doles out cash

ALLENDALE, S.C. - Allendale County First Steps awarded more than $171,000 Monday in contracts to local organizations.

Allendale County schools, Low Country Healthy Start and the Allendale County Library will partner with First Steps to offer services to improve school readiness.

"Today is very rewarding for our county's partnership board and the First Steps staff," said Jannie Harriot, the executive director of Allendale County First Steps Partnership.

AIKEN COUNTY
Gun play results in shooting

WAGENER - A Gaston man was shot in the upper right thigh after he and a few friends were " playing around" with their handguns at Pools Mill Hunt Club in Wagener on Saturday, a police report said.

Robbi Robinson, of the 500 block of Irvine Juniper St., said he and friends were playing with their guns by shooting them into the ground when he got shot about 8 p.m., according to the Aiken County Sheriff's Office report.

Mr. Robinson was taken to Aiken Regional Medical Centers for treatment. The report said he wasn't sure whether the bullet came from his gun or another's. The report also said some alcohol had been consumed by the group prior to the shooting.

AUGUSTA
Airport complaints solicited

The Augusta Metro and Columbia County chambers of commerce are collecting letters and e-mails from passengers who have experienced delays, cancellations and customer service problems at Augusta Regional Airport.

Representatives from the chambers, the airport and the Air Service Task Force will take the complaints to an Aug. 10 meeting in Atlanta with customer service personnel from Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a Delta Air Lines subsidiary.

Chamber officials are asking that passengers provide complete descriptions of problems and include their name, their flight, the day and time the incident occurred, and their daytime telephone number.

The information can be mailed to Air Service, Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 1837, Augusta, GA 30901-1837. The information can be e-mailed to info@AugustaGaUSA.com or sent by fax to (706) 821-1330.

GEORGIA
Hawk found with West Nile virus

ATLANTA - A hawk picked up in DeKalb County tested positive for West Nile virus Monday, health officials said.

The bird is the second confirmed case of West Nile in Georgia. Earlier this month, a dead crow found in Lowndes County, near the Florida line, tested positive for the virus.

No humans in Georgia have contracted the virus.

The hawk was picked up near an intersection in heavily populated suburban DeKalb County. A man reported the dead bird to health officials when his dog wandered over to it, said Barbara Joye, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Public Health.

The report came on the same day a north Florida man tested positive for West Nile in that state's first-known human case. The man is from Madison County, which borders Georgia.

West Nile is carried to humans and birds by mosquitoes from other birds. It can cause encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, and has been blamed for nine deaths in New York and New Jersey since 1999.

GEORGIA
Man kills his two sons, himself

WATKINSVILLE - An Oconee County man fatally shot his two sons and then killed himself Monday morning as his wife and two stepchildren were sleeping in another part of the family's home.

Howard Ronald Dozier, 58, shot 5-year-old Jonathan and 10-year-old Christian in the bedroom the boys shared, said Jim Fullington, assistant special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Athens office.

Mr. Dozier "was having some personal crises and struggles," Agent Fullington said, declining to elaborate.

Mr. Dozier's wife and two teen-age stepchildren were asleep and were not injured, he said. Police do not expect to file any charges, Agent Fullington said.