Garbage hauler pleads innocent
The owner of the company that holds the largest contract to haul city garbage pleaded innocent Friday to a charge of cheating the city out of money.
Kester Uzochukwu, the owner of CSRA Waste Inc., was arraigned Friday afternoon in Richmond County Superior Court on a charge of theft of services. His earliest possible trial date is March 4.
Mr. Uzochukwu was indicted last month. He is accused of instructing employees to mix trash from private customers with trash collected from residences and businesses that are covered by the city's $6 million contract. All of the trash was then taken to the landfill and deposited free. Landfill fees are charged for any trash not covered by the city's contracts.
Mr. Uzochukwu, 54, is free on bond while awaiting trial. On Feb. 5, a motion before commissioners to drop the city's contract with CSRA Waste, which has 70 percent of the city's garbage service contract, failed.
Theft of services is a felony punishable by a maximum 10-year sentence.
'Chandelier' makes boy spelling bee champ
Tutt Middle School pupil Josh Barrett took the title of 2002 Richmond County Spelling Bee winner Thursday at Glenn Hills Middle School.
Josh correctly spelled "chandelier" to win. He was one of 47 pupils from the county's elementary and middle schools who vied for the title. William Myers, a pupil at C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School, was named as the county alternate.
In March, Josh will compete in the District Spelling Bee sponsored by The Augusta Chronicle.
Police seek man who robbed store
Investigators are searching for a man who robbed a clerk at gunpoint late Thursday at a package store on Old Waynesboro Road.
According to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report, a man wearing blue jeans and a black ski mask held up the cashier at KC Package Shop at about 9:45 p.m. Police said the man walked into the store, brandished a small, silver semiautomatic handgun and fired it one time through the counter.
The man left with a $15 bottle of Seagrams Gin and some money, police reported.
Two teens charged in Food Lion fire
Two teens, ages 17 and 14, were arrested and charged with third-degree arson Thursday after they reportedly set fire to a cardboard display in an aisle of the Food Lion supermarket on Windsor Spring Road.
The 14-year-old, whose name was not made public because he is a juvenile, was released into the custody of his parents, who live on Johnathan Circle. Richard Moss, 17, also of Johnathan Circle, was booked into the Richmond County jail. Deputies with the sheriff's office said it is not clear whether the two suspects are related.
Firefighters were sent to the store about 6:30 p.m. The cardboard display, which advertised collectible items with the New World Order wrestling logo on them, had been set on fire in the middle of an aisle, said Lt. G.B. Hannan, an arson investigator for the Richmond County Fire Department.
By the time firefighters arrived, a Food Lion employee had put the fire out with an extinguisher, he said.
Blood center will open to make up shortage
Because of Thursday's cold and rainy weather, blood donations were lower than usual at Shepeard Community Blood Center's "Show Your Heart Blood Drive." To make up for the shortage, all Shepeard locations will be open today.
The blood center's west Augusta office, located at 112 Davis Road, and the Aiken office at 1019 Pine Log Road, will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donors also may give blood at the Aiken Mall from noon to 5 p.m.
To donate, you must be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds.
Only 64 units of blood were donated at Thursday's drive, 86 less than the 150 units typically collected at the annual drive.
SRS tax evasion probe yields 3 more arrests
AIKEN -A spokesman with the South Carolina Department of Revenue confirmed this week that three arrests have been made in the most recent investigation of tax evasion at Savannah River Site.
The three arrests were made at the end of January and are connected to four similar arrests made in July, according to the revenue department's Danny Brazell.
Jesse Clay Trowel Jr., 43, of Pastel Drive in Hephzibah was arrested Jan. 24.
Margie Thomas, 47, of Springfield, S.C., and Pamela Powell, 32, of Dry Branch Road in Aiken, were arrested Jan. 25.
Mr. Trowel is charged with five counts of tax evasion. He is accused of filing fraudulent tax returns from 1997 to 2000 and submitting falsified W-4 forms claiming exemption from state withholdings.
Ms. Thomas is accused of two counts of tax evasion, allegedly failing to file state returns for 1998 and 1999. Ms. Powell is charged with one count of tax evasion. She is accused of underreporting her 2000 taxes.
Schools' safety plan to get honor from state
The Wilkes County School System will be recognized by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency for its safety plan.
GEMA officials will publicly commend the school system for its school safety plan at the system's monthly board meeting, to be held at the Wilkes County Board of Education at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Boosters put off hiring of auditor
Board members in the Midland Valley High School Band Booster Club met this week, but they made no immediate plans to hire an auditor, as promised at a Jan. 22 meeting.
A small group of parents had asked for the audit because of record-keeping questions that dated back to 1999.
The board's decision, club President Daryl Glover said, was an economic one. He said an auditor could cost as much as $3,000 and still not answer the questions the parents have.
"But if the ladies want to have an audit, we would agree to it if they came up with the money, Mr. Glover said."
The booster club is a registered nonprofit organization in good standing with the Secretary of State's office.