Originally created 01/26/03

Across Georgia



Woman is charged in indecisive shoplifting

COLUMBUS -A woman accused of shoplifting $2,100 in clothing tried to change her mind when she saw a police officer.

Charles Etta Neely, 48, of Atlanta, was charged with felony theft by shoplifting and providing false information.

Detective Roderick Graham said Ms. Neely put several expensive pieces of clothing in a bag at Dillard's last week. When Ms. Neely spotted him, she bent over, placed the bag on the ground and walked away.

When confronted, she said she was going to steal it but changed her mind.

Barbecue grill helps extinguish bigger fires

LEXINGTON -In volunteer fire departments across Georgia, sparking a barbecue pit can be almost as important as fighting fires.

Barbecues raise much-needed money for equipment and training, said Salem Volunteer Fire Department Chief Carl Young. That money can nearly double the annual income used to operate the department.

"Our firefighters have to meet the same training criteria as paid, career firefighters," said Oconee County Fire Chief Bruce Thaxton. "The only difference between our firefighters and career firefighters is that our guys don't get paid."

Schoolchildren paint cards for soldiers

ST. SIMONS ISLAND -Pupils in the fourth and fifth grades have finished making cards to send to U.S. troops overseas.

The St. Simons Elementary School pupils are participating in Operation Heart to Heart, a nationwide project sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

The pupils completed their paintings last week, offering messages of appreciation and encouragement.

Principal Melinda Cook said the cards make the children think about what it means to serve one's country.

Former juvenile judge is cleared of DUI

SAVANNAH -A former juvenile court judge has been found innocent of driving under the influence.

Judge Juan Ayala, who stepped down from the juvenile court bench after the incident, was charged with two counts of DUI stemming from an Oct. 20 fender-bender in which his black Ford Mustang was rear-ended.