Originally created 07/24/02

Across the area



Fort fire station project delayed

New security restrictions and project changes will delay the completion of Fort Gordon's new fire station until mid-September, Army officials said Tuesday.

Fort Gordon officials sent out notification Monday that a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for Tuesday had been "postponed indefinitely." The facility, near Barton Field, originally was to have been completed in late April, said Jim Parker, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District. The corps administers military construction programs on Army bases.

However, security restrictions after Sept. 11 set the project back about 10 days while access for contractors was being arranged and restored, he said.

Also, about $74,000 in modifications were approved, bringing the project cost to $2.85 million and extending the construction time by about 80 additional days, he said.

Now the estimated completion date is Sept. 15, he said.

County might revalue tax assessments

The Richmond County Board of Assessors is scheduled to meet today to consider a revaluation of all taxable property in the county, a move that, if approved, would affect about 55,000 property owners.

There are more than 75,000 parcels in Richmond County, Chief Appraiser Sonny Reece said. Every three years the city is audited by the state to ensure that all properties are assessed at 100 percent of market value.

The last time the county did a total revaluation was in 1999, which also was the last year local governments received an automatic increase because of reassessments, Mr. Reece said. Since then, assessment increases have been offset by a corresponding decrease in millage. State law requires local governing bodies to give public notice that taxes will increase and hold three public hearings.

If approved, notices will be mailed to affected property owners Aug. 2, Mr. Reece said.

Man held in shooting faces murder charge

An assault charge against an Augusta man has been upgraded to murder after the victim's death last week, almost four months after the shooting.

Bernard Starks, 52, has been in jail, unable to post bond on charges of aggravated assault and weapon violation. Police say he shot Alvin L. Cummings on March 16.

Mr. Cummings, 56, was shot in the arm and back at a 12th Street boarding house. He died July 14 at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

Mr. Starks was charged with malice murder Friday. He is scheduled for a bond hearing later this week in Richmond County Superior Court.

Prisoner is indicted over April slaying

An Augusta man jailed since a fatal shooting in April was indicted Tuesday on charges of murder and weapon violations.

The Richmond County grand jury issued the indictment accusing Rufus Owens Jr., 27, of malice and felony murder, use of a firearm during the commission of a crime and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Mr. Owens is accused of shooting 26-year-old Anthony Campbell Jr. on April 21 at Mr. Campbell's Harford Street home.

Mr. Owens has convictions for possession of cocaine in 1992 and 1995.

Reduced charges filed in roommate's stabbing

An Augusta woman accused of stabbing her roommate to death in May was indicted Tuesday on a reduced charge of manslaughter.

Kirby D. Roland, 19, initially was charged with murder in the May 4 death of 42-year-old Johnny Henderson. But the Richmond County grand jury's indictment against Ms. Roland accuses her of voluntary manslaughter and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime.

Mr. Henderson bled to death in his Wylds Court home. Investigators say Ms. Roland stabbed him in the shoulder with a butcher knife.

She has been held without bond since her arrest.

City administrator hires public-relations official

The director of public relations for the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau has accepted a similar job working for City Administrator George Kolb, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Peggy Siegler has been hired to serve as the city's new assistant administrator, a newly created position responsible for overseeing public and media relations efforts for the city. Mr. Kolb included funding for the job as part of the 2002 budget, saying he expects it to help city officials encourage public buy-in to city initiatives, such as future revenue bond issues and possible tax increases.

Ms. Siegler has worked for the CVB since September 1999. She earned her master's degree in public administration from Augusta State University in May.

Parked motorist is robbed at gunpoint

A man parked at Laurens Street and Hampton Avenue was surprised by a gun-wielding robber who got into his car Tuesday morning shortly after midnight.

Aiken police say they believe the robber was impaired by alcohol and drugs.

"Give me everything you got 'cause I'm hungry!" the robber was reported to have said, according to an Aiken Department of Public Safety report.

Four gold rings, including one in the shape of a dollar sign with a diamond in it, and $300 were taken.

The victim pointed police to a home on the 2800 block of Eutaw Street, where they found Darrin Darrell Holston, 26.

Mr. Holston was charged with armed robbery and simple larceny less than $1,000 after a gold ring was found in his possession.

Police charge woman with electricity theft

A North Augusta woman was charged with stealing electricity by taking a neighbor's power meter and using it at her house, a police report stated.

Deidra Ann Williams, 28, of Chalet North Court, was charged with theft of current. Police met with a South Carolina Electric & Gas official who said a meter stolen from a house on Chalet North Court was being used at Ms. Williams' home. To use the power meter, the suspect had to break the lock on the meter box and rig it, police said.

Police investigate dogs' suspicious death

Autopsies have been ordered on two dogs after a caustic substance was apparently poured on the animals in an Augusta neighborhood, authorities said.

The two animals had to be euthanized after their owners found them. An unknown substance had eaten away at their skin. The dogs lived outside behind two residences on the 3600 block of Jonathan Circle.

Sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry said an investigator has been assigned to the case, and autopsies should reveal the kind of substance used to poison the animals.

County picks principal for Riverside Middle

Don Putnam won't have far to walk when he takes over as principal of Riverside Middle School, but he will have some pretty big shoes to fill.

Mr. Putnam, who has been assistant principal of the school for the past four years, was selected to headRiverside by the Columbia County Board of Education at Tuesday night's meeting. He will replace Dr. Sandra Carraway, who was recently named principal of Greenbrier High School. Riverside Middle was named a National Blue Ribbon School this year.

"I feel as though I have been a part of the planning and implementation process during my four years there, and I plan to carry on where Dr. Carraway left off," Mr. Putnam said.

Riverside Middle has 55 faculty members and a pupil population of 850.

Mr. Putnam taught sixth-grade social studies, language arts and science for five years at Evans Middle School, and was a guidance counselor for four years at Riverside Middle before becoming assistant principal.

School-supply drive scheduled for Saturday

The Aiken County Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism is sponsoring a school-supply drive through Saturday to benefit children of low-income families.

Donation bins have been set up at the following locations: Aiken County Recreation Center, U.S. Highway 1, Graniteville; Harrison-Caver Park, South Carolina Highway 421, Clearwater; Aiken Wal-Mart; Kroger, University Parkway and Silver Bluff Road locations; Aiken Regional Medical Centers; SRP Federal Credit Union; Heritage South Federal Credit Union. For more information, call (803) 663-6142.