Originally created 10/17/01

Across the area



Warehouse fire closes highway

WRENS, Ga. - An out-of-control fire at an oil company's warehouse in Wrens caused the shutdown of U.S. Highway 1 for several hours Tuesday, authorities said.

No one was injured, but the warehouse at M.B. Jones Oil Co. on South Main Street was completely destroyed. The loss is estimated at nearly $300,000, CEO Henry Jones said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Georgia Fire Marshal's Office, and the state Environmental Protection Division was on the scene to oversee the cleanup.

U.S. 1 was reopened at about 2 p.m. after firefighters had extinguished most of the flames, authorities said.

Police arrest swordsman

An Augusta man was arrested Tuesday night after he attacked Richmond County sheriff's deputies with a sword. None of the officers was injured.

Police received a call about 7:30 p.m. saying a man was walking on Broad Street with a 3-foot sword, said Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Jackey Klaus. Officers found the man, William Henry Boyd, sitting in front of the White Elephant Cafe in the 1100 block of Broad Street, he said.

When two deputies approached Mr. Boyd, he pulled the sword from its sheath to keep them away, according to an incident report with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. The report states the officers used pepper spray to subdue the suspect, who still refused to give up the sword.

The deputies then tried to disarm him by striking him on the hands with batons. That's when Mr. Boyd swung the sword at the officers, the report states. Lt. Klaus, who arrived at the scene a short time later, struck Mr. Boyd with a baton while the other deputies rushed the suspect and subdued him.

Mr. Boyd, 43, of the 2000 block of Boykin Road, was treated for cuts and bruises at the scene. He faces charges of aggravated assault on a police officer.

Officers catch man suspected in rape

Police on Tuesday arrested a man suspected of raping a woman early Friday and of being involved in a shooting in August.

Charles H. Hankerson, 47, of the 3100 block of Eagle Rock Road, was apprehended about 6 p.m. Tuesday in the 1700 block of 15th Street. Mr. Hankerson is accused of raping a 20-year-old woman at his residence after a party Thursday night.

He is also a suspect in the shooting of Darryl L. Richardson, 24, who was shot in the left leg Aug. 28 in the 1500 block of Wooten Road.

Jury convicts man in March stabbing

An Augusta man who stabbed another was convicted of aggravated assault and weapon charges Tuesday.

A Richmond County Superior Court jury found Gregory S. Fabris, 21, guilty of the March 8 assault on Mamuka Ardoteli after an argument. Mr. Ardoteli had to undergo surgery to repair a gash that left his intestines exposed.

According to Mr. Ardoteli, the argument stemmed from him throwing Mr. Fabris out of his apartment the night before the stabbing, in addition to a disagreement over money.

A sentencing date hasn't been set for Mr. Fabris.

Jury indicts parents in child cocaine case

The parents of a toddler said to have been fed crack cocaine were indicted Tuesday on a child abuse charge.

A Richmond County grand jury issued the indictment accusing Demetria C. Wright, 32, and Larry U. Epps, 51, of cruelty to children. The parents of Devon Epps are accused of causing excessive physical and mental pain by allowing the baby to ingest and absorb cocaine between Feb. 1 and June 7.

The 6-month-old baby was removed from his parents' custody, and they were arrested after Devon tested positive for cocaine June 7. The child is now in the custody of his aunt Sandra Epps Daniels.

Police seek two men in pair of robberies

Richmond County authorities are looking for two men who victimized an elderly Hephzibah man.

Donald Morgan, 68, who is physically handicapped, has been robbed twice at his home in the 2900 block of Willis Foreman Road.

On Monday, Mr. Morgan was approached by two men on his front porch and asked for a cup of water. While Mr. Morgan went for water, one man went into the house and took his wallet and $400 cash.

One of the suspects is suspected to be the man who robbed Mr. Foreman of $1,000 in January.

The suspects are described as clean-cut white men in a light-gray Dodge pickup truck. One is 5 feet, 7 inches tall with brown hair, and the other is 5 feet, 10 inches tall with light brown hair.

Agency receives grant to cover flood risks

The Richmond County Emergency Management Agency announced the receipt of a $135,601.25 state grant Tuesday to reimburse the city for flood-prone property acquisitions. The check will be presented by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to local EMA Director Dave Dlugolenski and Mayor Bob Young at 11:45 a.m. today at the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building.

Two teen-agers admit to arson, vandalism

AIKEN - Two of the three teens who police say set fire to a greenhouse and tried to burn four buses at Midland Valley High School pleaded guilty Monday.

James C. Sellers, 17, and Wesley A. Matthews, 18, pleaded guilty to malicious injury to personal property and third-degree arson as they admitted destroying the greenhouse and breaking windows at the school Feb. 23.

The teens were sentenced to the youthful offenders division of the South Carolina Department of Corrections for no more than five years for the property crime and to prison for an additional five years for the arson charge.

They also received five years' probation from Circuit Judge William Keesley. The judge ordered them to obtain their high school diplomas and enter post-secondary education after release.

Solicitor Barbara R. Morgan said the third teen arrested, 16-year-old Brandon Dyches, still awaits trial.

Augusta group wins traffic-safety grant

A local traffic safety group has received a $74,000 state grant for the fourth-consecutive year, members announced Tuesday.

Safe Communities Coalition of Augusta, which operates under the Richmond County Board of Health, advocates against traffic injuries and deaths through community education and research. The group operates primarily through grants, including the state grant from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

The group also is waiting to officially receive another $50,000 grant from the insurance company Allstate, said the coalition's chairman, Ralph Herndon.

Commissioners approve new enterprise zone

A tax incentive district for south Augusta was approved unanimously by Augusta commissioners Tuesday in an effort to revitalize the mixed residential and commercial area.

Commissioners gave the final approval to the Rocky Creek Enterprise Zone, which is bounded roughly by Milledgeville Road, the Bobby Jones Expressway and Richmond Hill Road, and includes parts of Gordon Highway, Deans Bridge and Lumpkin roads. Unemployment inside that area is more than double statewide averages, and census data show its population has dropped off as much as 14 percent.

An enterprise zone is a designated geographic area that is suffering from underdevelopment and general economic distress. The Enterprise Zone Employment Act of 1997 allows cities to encourage private investment within these areas in the form of exemptions from municipal ad valorem taxes.