Originally created 11/21/02

Across the area



City changes defense plan

The Augusta Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to reorganize the city's Office of Indigent Defense.

The vote allows it to cost-effectively comply with a Supreme Court ruling that requires municipalities to offer court-appointed attorneys to the indigent, even when they are being prosecuted for crimes that don't carry a jail sentence.

The changes are being funded immediately. The city spent $284,000 over its 2002 budget to make sure it was in compliance. Continuing under the city's current program of contracting lawyers would cost more than $1.8 million next year, officials said.

The newly expanded office will have a 2003 budget of $1.3 million, which will pay for a senior attorney, two staff attorneys and two investigators. Two staff attorneys also will be reclassified.

Man faces additional charges in drug cases

A Martinez man being held Wednesday at the Grovetown Department of Public Safety on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine will face additional drug charges. Narcotics officers found equipment for a meth lab at a house in Richmond County, police said.

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office found the equipment at a home in the 3800 block of Belair Road, Lt. Robert Partain said. Police discovered several chemicals used to make methamphetamine, in addition to methamphetamine oil, which is a byproduct of the drug, he said.

Thomas John Johnson, 24, will be charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, police said. Mr. Johnson was arrested Tuesday in Grovetown after he crashed his 1991 Chevrolet pickup into a ditch at about 8 a.m. on Harlem-Grovetown Highway. Grovetown officers reportedly found items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

Grovetown authorities learned about the Richmond County house Tuesday when Mr. Johnson gave an address different from the one listed on his driver's license, officials said. Mr. Johnson was charged with possession of a controlled substance, manufacturing methamphetamine and several traffic violations, officials said.

Police say stolen auto was trashed, burned

Richmond County authorities are investigating a vehicle arson Tuesday afternoon on Floyd Street.

At about 3 p.m., police found a 1986 Toyota Corolla that had been burned and abandoned, according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report. They tracked the vehicle identification number and found that the Corolla had been reported stolen, the report stated.

A resident on Floyd Street told police that on Friday she saw two men break the car's windows and on Saturday saw four other men running away from the burning vehicle, the report states. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the sheriff's office at 821-1080.

Man charged with firing gun into air

An Augusta man was being held at the Richmond County jail Wednesday, charged with firing a revolver on Molly Pond Road on Tuesday night.

Jermaine Marcell Jones, 22, of Gordon Highway, is accused of pointing the gun at Willie Edward Trice at 3:40 p.m. after Mr. Trice told him that the police were looking for him, according to a report at the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. Mr. Jones fired one or two shots into the air and ran away, the report stated.

Police caught Mr. Jones in the 900 block of Molly Pond Road. He was charged with discharging a firearm near a public street or highway, pointing a gun at another and giving a false name and date of birth to a law enforcement officer.

Empty Stocking Fund applications available

Applications for The Augusta Chronicle Empty Stocking Fund are available.

They may be picked up at the following locations during regular office hours: the main newspaper office, 725 Broad St.; the Aiken office, 123 Pendleton St.; and the Columbia County office, 4143 Columbia Road.

For information on the Empty Stocking Fund, call (803) 442-4444, Ext. 3340.

Applicants must explain in detail how the money will help them and why they need help. They also must provide a street address and other verifiable information.

Burglar makes off with sandwich fixings

An Aiken woman returned home Tuesday and discovered that someone had raided her kitchen and taken $9 worth of food, including the ingredients for a ham sandwich.

The burglar took bread, ham and mayonnaise, along with a pack of hot dogs, from the house in the 300 block of Freiday Lane. Amanda Cheatham returned home at about 3:30 p.m.

An Aiken Department of Public Safety officer found a back window unlocked, a report stated.

Republicans to hold victory celebration

The Republican Party of Columbia County is holding a "Thank the Voters" Victory Celebration from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday.

The event costs $15, or $25 per couple at the door. It will take place at the Belair Conference Center, 4083 Belair Road, behind the Hampton Inn Suites.

For more information, call Anthony Brown at 210-8022.

College fair set for ASU athletic complex

The CSRA Education Cooperative will hold a college fair from 4 to 7 p.m. today at the Augusta State University Athletic Complex on Wrightsboro Road.

Representatives from Aiken Technical College, Augusta State University, Augusta Technical College, Central Michigan University, Devry Institute of Technology, Limestone College and Southern Wesleyan University, among others, will speak with prospective students.