Originally created 01/25/02

Across the area



Senior center setup changes

University Hospital officials announced Thursday that the hospital will part ways with St. Joseph Hospital on a senior activities center, allowing each institution to develop its own program.

The Resource Center on Aging, a nonprofit, joint program created 10 years ago by University and St. Joseph, currently offers 6,500 senior citizen members a mixture of social activities and health services.

University's proposed Seniors Club will remain in the same building the center occupied in Daniel Village. St. Joseph's new Senior Advantage program will relocate to the hospital.

University spokeswoman Rebecca Sylvester said many of the screenings, social functions and classes would remain the same but would be offered through the hospitals.

Officials said they expect the change to occur Feb. 1 but added that current members were offered dual membership through the end of the year.

At University's board meeting Thursday, officials announced that the hospital ended last year with a $20.8 million surplus, - $2.3 million more than budgeted.

City panel will study lengthening bar hours

An Augusta Commission subcommittee has been formed to study the pros and cons of extending the permitted hours of alcohol sales for local bars and restaurants. The Finance Committee voted to form the subcommittee Thursday, in lieu of approving an ordinance that would extend hours from 2 to 4 a.m. Monday through Friday.

The subcommittee, which will receive some input from business owners and city officials, is considering the effect extending hours will have on excise tax revenues against the increased cost of public safety. Several commissioners appear to be in support of a one-year pilot program to study the impact longer hours will have on revenues and expenses.

Commissioners in support say those increased revenues from excise taxes may be a viable way to offset increased property taxes or business taxes needed to balance the city's budget. The Richmond County Sheriff's Office has argued that increased hours will cause a rise in crime, offsetting any tax revenues with an increased cost of public safety.

Elementary school principal leaves

North Columbia Elementary School Principal Linda Moehlman will be spending her last day at that school today.

She submitted her resignation Jan. 18.

"It came as a little bit of a surprise," said Columbia County school Superintendent Tommy Price, who said Ms. Moehlman listed "personal reasons" for her resignation.

Ms. Moehlman has been principal at the 475-pupil school for the past five years. With Assistant Principal Elizabeth Harley in her first year of administration, Mr. Price said he will place Phyllis Means - director of elementary programs for the school system - at the school until a permanent replacement is found.

Lawmaker endorses magistrate candidate

AIKEN -Sheridan "Danny" L. Lynn Jr., a candidate for one of Aiken County's open magistrate positions, received a second round of support this week from Sen. Tommy Moore.

Mr. Moore, D-Clearwater, wrote a letter praising Mr. Lynn, a former police officer from North Augusta, to Gov. Jim Hodges on Wednesday. The letter asked Gov. Hodges to appoint Mr. Lynn to the judgeship. Mr. Moore wrote a similar letter to Mr. Hodges last year, which led the Democratic governor to recommend to the Senate Mr. Lynn's appointment.

Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, has blocked Gov. Hodges' recommendation from being read, according to Mr. Moore's letter. Mr. Ryberg has said he wants the position filled by Jackson Mayor Pat Sullivan.

The part-time judgeship handles bond and after-hours court.

Man with knife robs woman in parking lot

Authorities were searching for a man Thursday in connection with an armed robbery outside a grocery store Wednesday night.

About 8:39 p.m., a man armed with a knife demanded money from 52-year-old Mary L. Holmes as she sat in the passenger side of a car in the parking lot of Food Lion on Windsor Spring Road. The man took Ms. Holmes' purse and drove away in a silver two-door vehicle, the report states.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office at 821-1080.

Man gets 20 years over bank robbery

A Savannah man was sentenced to more than 20 years in federal prison Wednesday and ordered to pay more than $115,000 in restitution for robbing a Bamberg, S.C., bank, a federal prosecutor said.

Eric Leonard Gadsen, 26, was part of a gang of bank robbers who in 1997 robbed 16 banks in Georgia and South Carolina, U.S. Attorney for South Carolina J. Strom Thurmond Jr. said.

Mr. Gadsen was sentenced in a Columbia federal court by Judge Cameron Currie for robbing Bamberg's Enterprise Bank in November 1997, Mr. Thurmond said.

The judge gave Mr. Gadsen 20 years for using a firearm during the robbery and four years for the robbery, Mr. Thurmond said.

Mr. Gadsen was already serving time for another bank robbery, so Wednesday's sentence makes his time to be served 30 years and six months, Mr. Thurmond said.

Bill targets police power over immigrants

AIKEN -A bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, would clarify the arrest powers local and state law enforcement officials have over illegal immigrants.

The senator's bill, now before the Senate's Judiciary Committee, would give state and local police express powers to arrest and detain anyone who has violated federal immigration laws.

Attorney General Charlie Condon has said a legal loophole exists in regard to the arrest powers. Mr. Condon has said federal law allows such arrests, but only if authorized by state law.

Merriweather residents meet about new school

Merriwether residents opened their wallets and signed away their time Thursday night at a meeting designed to jump-start community action toward building its own high school.

More than $500 was collected, and volunteers offered to serve on various committees, which will research how the area can get funding for a high school or more classrooms for Merriwether Middle School.

Incorporating the area is the only way to achieve the community's goals, said resident Kathy Sullivan, who has a son at Strom Thurmond High School. Others attended the meeting because they said they feared being left out of the incorporated area, if if the effort proved successful.

The group will meet again in three weeks.