Originally created 01/05/03

Across Georgia



Police say SUV driver rammed car into station

ATHENS -Police didn't have to go far to investigate after a man used his sport utility vehicle to ram another car through a wall of the police station in what the police called a fit of road rage.

Stephen Burton Mills, 48, of Hull, was charged with aggravated assault and criminal damage to property, Lt. Richard Norton said.

The other driver, who was not identified, told officers Mr. Mills rammed his car repeatedly from behind on a nearby street, and he went to the police station for help.

A final shove pushed his car into the wall, which partially collapsed. The nose of the vehicle narrowly missed a $100,000 driving simulator used to train police and bus drivers in hazardous conditions.

State prison system could grow even more

ATLANTA -Georgia's prison system is one of the fastest-growing in the nation, and although 8,000 beds have been added in four years, the state is considering adding at least one more institution within two years.

Georgia has the 10th-largest prison population in the nation, with about 47,000 inmates, but the sixth-largest prison system, said Brian Owens, a Georgia Department of Corrections spokesman.

Conference center's manager pays city back

MARIETTA -A company that runs Marietta's troubled city-owned hotel and conference center reimbursed the city Friday, but local officials said they were shortchanged.

The Marietta Conference Center has lost more than $5 million since its 1996 opening. Marietta officials said Sentry Hospitality owed the city $455,795. A year-end audit indicated that Sentry overcharged the city for anticipated marketing expenses and operating fees.

Sentry is the same company that is planning to open a resort in Lincolnton, Ga., in 2004, according to its Web site.

Benefits run out for jobless Georgians

ATLANTA -Unemployment benefits for 13,000 Georgians ended Dec. 31 after Congress recessed for the holidays without another extension into the new year.

An additional 25,000 are in their final weeks of unemployment pay, state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said.

Atlanta was fourth in the nation in job losses during the 12 months up to November - a total of about 30,000. More than 85,000 jobs have been lost since the city's economic boom hit a wall in 2001.