Originally created 05/06/02

Across South Carolina



State expands judge's plea-accepting power

GREENVILLE -In a cost-saving measure, Greenville County's chief magistrate has been given statewide jurisdiction to take misdemeanor guilty pleas from defendants in prison.

Chief Magistrate Diane Cagle already has visited Perry Correctional in Pelzer to take pleas. Her work helps clear case backlogs, and it cuts the costs of transporting inmates from prison for outstanding warrants.

Capt. Billy Cunningham, a spokesman for the Greenville County Sheriff's Office, said the van that transports prisoners has driven almost 200,000 miles in less than three years.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean H. Toal said Chief Magistrate Cagle's program will be used as a model for the rest of the state.

Authorities map out biker week controls

MYRTLE BEACH -Officials and law enforcement agencies will use visible and invisible techniques to monitor and control upcoming biker festivals this month.

Police plan high-tech, computer-aided analysis to study motorcycle crashes, party hot spots and other problems.

The Harley-Davidson rally runs May 16-19. The Memorial Day Bike Festival, attended by predominantly black bikers, is set for May 24-27.

Since February, rival gang clashes involving Hells Angels, Pagans and Mongols members have killed five in the area.

Experts will revisit oyster reef experiment

HILTON HEAD ISLAND -Scientists and environmental volunteers will return today to see whether the artificial oyster reef they built in July has had any takers.

The reef, located in the marsh off Pinckney Island, is made of 300 30-pound bags of oyster shells. It's part of a state project to bring oysters back to several waterways along the coast.

The reef is a joint effort of the state Natural Resources Department and Environmental Action Volunteers, a group based in Sun City-Hilton Head.

Democratic senator addresses convention

COLUMBIA -U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, often mentioned as a candidate in the next presidential race, told the South Carolina Democratic Convention that it is time for a "new era of American optimism."

Mr. Edwards gave the keynote speech at the state party meeting Saturday.

"People in this country are hungry for principled, passionate leadership," he said. "They're looking for leaders who don't wake up in the morning and put their finger in the air and say, 'Which way is the wind blowing today; what do the overnight polls show?"'