Originally created 07/18/02

Across the area



Theft at utility brings arrest

Investigators from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday recovered two vehicles and a trailer that had been stolen from Santee Cooper, the state-owned electric and water utility.

Late Tuesday, they arrested the man they say is responsible - Elton James Hardy, 18, of the 400 block of Wagener Road.

Lt. Barney Eagerton said Mr. Hardy was caught on a security video taking the items from the utility's building at 392 New Holland Road between Friday and Monday.

A Chevrolet truck, an all-terrain vehicle and a trailer, worth about $75,000 in all, were found in woods off Nautilus Drive in Aiken County at about 11 a.m. Wednesday, Lt. Eagerton said.

Mr. Hardy was in the Aiken County Detention Center on a simple larceny charge Wednesday, but Lt. Eagerton said more charges are expected.

Lt. Eagerton said Mr. Hardy also is a suspect in at least two other burglaries at the utility in the past two months.

Edgefield warden's secretary wins award

The warden's secretary at the Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution was honored on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. as one of five recipients of the Attorney General's Award.

The award for excellence in administrative support was given to Mary R. Beth by Attorney General John Ashcroft. Ms. Beth was one of the first employees to arrive at the facility in July 1997 and has worked for all three wardens assigned there.

Auto parts officials ask for investigation

Officials at Advance Auto Parts have asked North Augusta police to investigate the theft of nearly $12,000 by an employee, an incident report states.

A loss prevention officer for the North Augusta store interviewed one of the managers about forged return slips totaling $11,624, the report stated. The slips were allegedly forged between April 30 and July 13.

The manager who was questioned was fired, but no arrest has been made in the case.

Father, son in hospital after head-on wreck

The conditions of a father and son involved in a head-on collision near Wagener did not change Wednesday.

Andre Nikita Davenport, 3, remained in critical condition at Palmetto Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia, a spokeswoman said.

His father, Andre Davenport, 36, remained in fair condition at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, a spokeswoman there said.

The two, along with two other passengers, were hit by a vehicle Monday driven by 75-year-old Edith Bodie near Wagener on South Carolina Highway 39.

Ms. Bodie later died from her injuries.

Passenger Bobby McCollum, 39, remained in good condition Wednesday at MCG. Mr. Davenport's brother Larry Davenport, 32, was released from Palmetto Richland on Monday.

Leaders of drug ring get longer sentences

Two inmates who helped orchestrate a gambling and drug smuggling ring inside the Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution received extra time in prison for their roles, U.S. Attorney for South Carolina J. Strom Thurmond said Wednesday.

David Crews, 42, had pleaded guilty and testified against his co-conspirator Jorge Gonzalez-Vasquez, 40, who was convicted earlier this year. Ten years were added to Mr. Crews' sentence this week, which means he won't be eligible for parole until 2038, Mr. Thurmond said.

Mr. Thurmond said another inmate, Thurman Ford, 54, was sentenced to two years, six months for making telephone calls to family members of inmates to aid in collecting profits from the drug selling.

The extra time for Mr. Ford means he won't be eligible for parole until 2011, Mr. Thurmond said.

Police seek man who robbed gas station

Police were looking for a man who robbed a gas station clerk at gunpoint Wednesday.

At about 6:15 p.m., a man - armed with a small handgun and wearing a T-shirt over his face - walked into the Exxon on Walton Way, Richmond County sheriff's Sgt. D.A. Harris said. The man took money from the clerk andran behind the gas station. Witnesses said they might have seen the robber entering a light-green vehicle, he said.

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

Police investigate morning mugging

Police are looking for a man who robbed and attacked an Augusta man early Wednesday.

Clinton M. Stiler told police he was in the 1900 block of Battle Row when someone attacked him from behind, according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report. The assailant hit Mr. Stiler with an object, injuring the right side of his head, the report states.

The attacker then demanded his money and ran. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the sheriff's office at 821-1080.

Pawnshop records lead to teen's arrest

Authorities charged an Augusta teen with burglarizing a Hephzibah home after a stolen television set was sold to a local pawnshop.

Timothy Bernard Robinson Jr., 19, was charged in connection with the June 25 burglary at a Mickey Drive home after police checked pawn reports and found that the stolen set had been sold to A1 Pawn Shop.

On June 25, Waltraud Sullivan returned home and found that someone had broken a kitchen window to get inside and steal a television, a computer and keyboard, a camera and jewelry. The resident said the stolen items had a value of nearly $5,000.

Mr. Robinson, of Meadowbrook Drive, was charged with felony burglary and remained in the Richmond County jail on Wednesday night.

Former councilwoman endorses replacement

Former Councilwoman Susan Giddings, who had pledged neutrality in the District 2 race to replace her on Aiken County Council, submitted a letter of endorsement to The Augusta Chronicle on Wednesday.

She backs bank representative and Woodside Plantation resident Scott Singer in her letter to the editor. He is running against office manager Libby Bland for the seat.

Ms. Giddings said in her letter that she could no longer remain silent.

"Repeatedly I have been questioned as to my position in this election, and I continue to be asked whom I support," she wrote in her letter. She added that she didn't expect Mr. Singer "to be influenced by 'politics as usual."'

SRS job-retention group awarded grant

A group created to minimize the effects of downsizing at Savannah River Site will be in business for another year, although its interim director says it will need more funding to have a significant impact.

The Department of Energy announced a $300,000 grant Wednesday for the Savannah River Regional Diversification Initiative. John Cunningham, who heads the office, said the money will pay salaries for the small staff and subsidize an image-building campaign for the area.

The initiative's office, housed at Aiken Technical College, has assisted with job creation, job retention and entrepreneurial development efforts since its establishment in 1993.

It and all other DOE Office of Worker and Community Transition locations received the same amount.

Condition improves for boy in accident

A boy sent to the hospital after a head-on collision was upgraded to fair condition Wednesday, a spokeswoman at Medical College of Georgia Hospital said.

Juston Sowell, 14, had been riding with others in a truck bed when the truck hit a car head-on July 11 on Belvedere-Clearwater Road.

The wreck killed the driver, Ashton Groomes, 15, and his brothers Drew Batchelor, 11, and Brandon Batchelor, 14.

Two other boys did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

No information was available Wednesday from MCG officials on the only adult in the truck, Michael Batchelor, 34.

Woman reports stalker in her neighborhood

A 50-year-old Augusta woman says she is the victim of a stalker and is asking the police for help.

A white man, 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighing about 240 pounds, has been following the woman while driving a white pickup in her Meigs Street neighborhood, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report states. The stalker also has threatened to harm the woman, the report states.

Anyone who is able to identify the man is asked to call the sheriff's office at 821-1080.