Originally created 03/14/03

Across the area



Man is sought in sex assault

Aiken County authorities are looking for an Aiken man wanted in connection with the sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl, police said Thursday.

Charles Lamar Brock, 35, of the 100 block of Midway Circle, is wanted on one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, said Capt. Michael Frank of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

Capt. Frank said the incident occurred March 8.

Mr. Brock is described as black, 6 feet 1 inch tall, 220 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He may also have a beard, the captain said.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mr. Brock is asked to call the sheriff's office at (800) 922-9709.

Individuals also can call South Carolina Crime Stoppers at (866) 882-7463. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward up to $1,000.

Fatal accidents lead to reduced speed limit

The speed limit on Berckmans Road, Lake Forest Drive and Lombardy Court in Augusta will be reduced effective today.

The new limit on Berckmans will be 35 mph. It's being changed because of the number of fatal accidents that have occurred in the downhill curve north of Wicklow Drive, according to an Augusta Public Works and Engineering Department news release.

The change on Lake Forest and Lombardy will be to 25 mph and is in reaction to unlighted street conditions, the number of pedestrians using Lake Forest in the evenings and motorists who drive through the area as a cut-through, the release states.

Shelter renovation will shut down Elliott Park

Elliott Park in Augusta will be closed today through Monday as workers renovate a shelter at the site.

The park, located at 2027 Lumpkin Road, will not reopen until Tuesday, according to the Augusta Recreation and Parks Department.

Delayed report gets company fined $1,000

Kendall Healthcare Products Co. paid a $1,000 fine and agreed to provide better employee training after its workers failed to report a release of ethylene oxide last fall in a timely manner.

According to a consent order negotiated between the company and Georgia's Environmental Protection Division, the release occurred at 8 a.m. Oct. 16, but EPD wasn't notified until 11:28 a.m..

State law requires immediate notification to EPD's Emergency Operations Center whenever a reportable quantity of a hazardous substance is released.

Kendall, which operates a sterilizer system at 1430 Marvin Griffin Road in Augusta, agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and provide training to ensure all its employees are fully aware of reporting requirements, the order said.

Manager reports calls from horror movie plot

Managers at Blockbuster stores aren't finding humor in the creepy phone calls that mirror the plot of a horror movie.

Just like the movie The Ring, a person calls and whispers, "You have seven days." In the movie, the person answering the phone dies in a week.

That's why manager Christina Sosa of the Wrightsboro Road store became paranoid enough to call police Wednesday night. She said a man called 10 times.

"They've been calling the other Blockbusters, too," Ms. Sosa said. "The last few times, they say 'One more day."'

Richmond County authorities are working to trace the calls, Ms. Sosa said. The manager said she she intends to press charges unless it turns out to be a prank from her friends.

Police arrest suspect in stolen car chase

North Augusta police arrested an Augusta man after he led authorities on a brief chase in a stolen car Thursday morning.

The incident occurred at about 1 a.m. when officers attempted to stop a 1991 Buick Century driven by Christopher Tyrone Collins for running a red light at Georgia and Buena Vista avenues, according to a report at the Department of Public Safety.

Police pursued the vehicle onto Victoria Drive, Clifton Avenue and finally Georgia Avenue, where the driver and the passenger exited the Century and ran, the report states. Mr. Collins was apprehended by officers after he jumped the rear fence of Best Friends Child Care Center on West Clifton Avenue.

The owner of the Century, Jeanie Anne Carroll of Augusta, was not aware of the car was stolen, the report states. Mr. Clifton said he was the lookout while the other man stole the car. He was charged with several traffic violations, resisting arrest and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Air Force pilot goes to jail for speeding

An Air Force pilot from California was taken to jail Thursday on charges that he drove 29 mph over the speed limit through an Augusta work zone.

Kevin Jack Goodman, 20, of Pomona, Calif., was charged with speeding 84 mph in a 55 mph zone. He was pulled over on Bobby Jones Expressway at Wheeler Road at 2:45 a.m. Thursday, a jail record states.

Mr. Goodman spent four hours in the Richmond County jail before he was released on a personal recognizance bond.

Man is charged with pointing gun at wife

An Augusta man was charged late Wednesday with terrorizing his wife with a gun and abusing his daughter.

Christopher Michael LeBlanc, 42, of Abelia Drive, was charged with child cruelty, pointing a gun at another and obstruction.

Deputies arrived to the domestic call at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and couldn't get the wife to talk at first. She later said her husband had warned her to tell officers he was asleep or he would kill her.

The woman told police she was arguing with Mr. LeBlanc earlier about a divorce. She said he grabbed her by the hair and caused her to drop their 17-month-old daughter before he put a gun to her head, a sheriff's report states.

Officers found a 32-caliber revolver cocked and loaded in a back bedroom, the report states. Officers later struggled with the suspect and had to wrestle him to the ground.

Suspect is sought in purse theft, assault

Richmond County authorities were looking for a man Thursday who stole an Augusta woman's purse at Governor's Place Apartments and then attacked her.

Paula Davis Churchville, 43, required 21 stitches to her head at St. Joseph Hospital on Wednesday after the incident at the complex off Wrightsboro Road, a sheriff's office report states. Ms. Churchville said she was walking toward her vehicle at 9:26 p.m. when a man grabbed her purse, causing the bag to fall to the pavement.

The thief picked up the purse, then struck her several times on the head with an unknown object. The man was last seen running on Wrightsboro Road toward the Augusta State University Athletic Complex, the report states.

Ms. Churchville's purse contained $21 in cash, a cell phone, credit cards, a wallet and a driver's license. Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call the sheriff's office at 821-1080.

Center will hold walk for multiple sclerosis

The Augusta Multiple Sclerosis Center will present the Multiple Sclerosis Walk 2003 with registration beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday at Lake Olmstead.

The walk will begin at 9 a.m. from Lake Olmstead Stadium.

Sponsors for the event include Walton Rehabilitation Hospital, MCG Health System, The Augusta Chronicle, WAGT-Channel 26, radio stations 99.5 WKXC and 98.3 WSLT, First Choice Medical, Procter & Gamble and Communication Support Services Inc.

The 3.1-mile walk circles Lake Olmstead and will feature food, entertainment and more.

Walkers and volunteers are still needed. If you are interested in participating in MS Walk 2003, call (800) 344-4867 or www.nmssga.org.

Breakfast is planned for Democratic Party

The Richmond County Democratic Party breakfast will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Piccadilly Cafeteria, 3110 Washington Road.

Thom Tuckey will be the guest speaker. The cost is $6 at the door. For more information, call Leon H. Meyer at 733-0190.

Volunteers offer free income tax assistance

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance workers are offering free income tax help from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays and 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through April 15 at the Riverview Park Activities Center, 100 Riverview Park Drive in North Augusta, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Monday and Tuesday through April 15 at the H. Odell Weeks Activity Center, 1700 Whiskey Road in Aiken.

Bring a copy of last year's tax returns, W-2s and 1099 forms. The tax help is offered to people of all ages, and there is no charge for the service.

For more information about North Augusta's tax assistance, call 442-3877; for Aiken, call 642-7630.

Damage to car gets youth minister arrested

The youth minister of a local church was arrested Thursday after being accused of damaging a woman's car on Grayling Court.

Claude Lamar Harris Jr., with the New Life Church of God in Christ, was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass afterboth rear tires of a Toyota Camry owned by Tanya R. Moody were flattened Monday night, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office report states. A witness stated that before 11 p.m. he spotted a man squatting behind the Camry.

When the man saw the witness, he ran down the street and got into a black Jeep Cherokee. Ms. Moody said the Jeep belonged to Mr. Harris, with whom she has had several disputes, the report states.

Mr. Harris, 22, of Boars Head Road in Martinez, was being held at the jail Thursday on $2,050 bond, officials said. The youth minister was recently charged with reckless conduct during a Feb. 5 fight at Merrick Place Apartments on Skinner Mill Road.

Aiken police seek man who robbed at ATMs

Aiken Public Safety officers are looking for a man who held a woman and her two small children at gunpoint at the Wachovia ATM on Laurens Street on Thursday night .

A man with a handgun approached the woman and the children in her car at 7 p.m. and demanded money. She gave him an undisclosed amount, but he wanted more, said Sgt. David Turno of the Aiken Department of Public Safety.

When she was unable to give him more from the ATM, he got in the car with her and made her drive to the free-standing ATM on University Parkway in the Kroger shopping center, he said.

After she was unable to get any more money from the second machine, he made her drive up the street toward the University of South Carolina Aiken, where he got out of the car and ran.

No one was injured.

Late Thursday night, authorities from Aiken Public Safety and the Aiken County Sheriff's Office had set up a perimeter near Gregg Avenue and were using bloodhounds to track the man.

Remedial course is in sight for freshmen

As early as next fall, Richmond County freshmen may have to take a remedial course if they fail to meet the standards of a state standardized test.

The Richmond County School Board voted Thursday to require all incoming freshmen who fail to meet the standards of the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test to be placed in a study skills class.

Board members said they want to be sure that all freshmen have the academic skills they need to move on to the next grade level.

The board did not vote to approve a requirement for a freshman academy in all of the county's 10 high schools.

"We're not going to pressure principals into doing something they can't do," Superintendent Charles Larke told the board.

The academy concept was designed to keep first-time ninth-graders together in the same setting for their core classes.

Schools will be given the flexibility to implement portions of the program.