Originally created 11/07/02

Across the area



Teen with knife faces charges

A Cross Creek High School student was arrested on a felony weapons charge Wednesday after a classmate saw him with a knife and told the principal, police said.

Daniel Christopher Wirsu, 17, of Burning Tree Lane, Augusta, was charged with having a weapon in a school safety zone, Richmond County Investigator Ken Rogers said.

An investigation showed the teen brought the pocketknife to school because he had been threatened by several classmates, police said. Mr. Wirsu told police he would have let school officials know about the threats, but he didn't have time because administrators don't let students inside until the bell rings.

Mr. Wirsu was in the Richmond County jail on Wednesday afternoon on a $1,050 bond.

Man pleads guilty in molestation trial

On the day his trial was expected to go to a jury, a Batesburg man pleaded guilty to charges of child molestation.

Jean Ray Merritt, 47, was facing at least 45 years in prison on three molestation charges stemming from his abuse of an 11-year-old girl. Her mother was an acquaintance of Mr. Merritt.

His victim testified Monday, the first day of the trial.

Mr. Merritt pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and one count of lewd act on a minor.

Circuit Judge William Keesley sentenced Mr. Merritt to 20 years in prison.

The charges came after a June 13 incident in which Mr. Merritt forced himself on the girl just before her mother came back from an errand and other incidents in a two-year period, prosecutors said.

Sewer work closes Meadowbrook Drive

Meadowbrook Drive will be closed at Loftwood Drive from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today as workers install a new sewer line.

Motorists are asked to use Brookshire Road as a detour.

Meetings focus on bike, pedestrian plan

Two community meetings to discuss the Augusta Regional Transportation Study's regional bicycle and pedestrian plan will take place today in Augusta and Columbia County.

The first meeting will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Julian Smith Barbecue Pit. The second meeting will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

The planning process for the bicycle and pedestrian plan is now at the project selection phase. The public will be asked for input on the projects to be included in the plan.

Empty Stocking Fund applications available

Applications for The Augusta Chronicle's Empty Stocking Fund are available. They may be picked up at these locations during regular office hours: The main newspaper office at 725 Broad St.; the Aiken office at 123 Pendleton St.; and the Columbia County office at 4143 Columbia Road.

Applicants must explain in detail how the money will help them and why they need help.

They also must provide a street address and some other verifiable information.

Applications with a post office box must include a street address.

Old Frog Hollow area plans Saturday reunion

A reunion for the old Frog Hollow neighborhood will begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at American Legion Post 63, 1 Milledge Road.

The reunion will feature barbecue, dancing and music by the Flashbacks. The cost is $12 at the door.

The reunion is open to the public. For more information, call Harry Rowland at (803) 279-9521.