Originally created 03/29/03

Across the Southeast



Senators approve education package

ATLANTA -The Georgia Senate passed Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue's education package Friday, which would overturn key provisions of his predecessor's overhaul, but the chances of it passing the Democrat-controlled House remain slim.

"I think that's something that the House leadership is going to have to decide," said Mr. Perdue's floor leader, Sen. Bill Stephens, R-Canton. "This bill will help school systems, and they should pass it on its merits."

But Rep. Bob Holmes, D-Atlanta, the chairman of the House Education Committee, repeatedly said he does not support Mr. Perdue's changes and said the legislation will have a tough time in the House.

Flag-changer says design was mistake

ATLANTA -State Rep. Larry Walker said he and fellow Democrats erred in 2001 when they changed the state flag.

The Perry Democrat who helped lead the charge to adopt the new flag two years ago has introduced legislation to replace it with one that closely resembles the pre-1956 flag.

"In retrospect, we made a mistake," Mr. Walker said. "If we had gone with the pre-1956 flag in 2001, we wouldn't be here today."

Bill provides for meningitis warning

ATLANTA -College students would be given warnings about meningitis and instructions for getting a vaccine under a bill passed by the Georgia House on Friday.

The bill's sponsors originally wanted to require vaccines against meningococcal disease for all college students, but lawmakers complained it would cost too much. There are no known side effects from the vaccine.

Doctors say college students are at special risk for contagious diseases because they live in close quarters.

Leader wants King Day to replace holiday

GREENVILLE, S.C. -The chairwoman of the Greenville County Council says she favors creating an "MLK Civil Rights Day" that would not cost any tax money.

Chairwoman Phyllis Henderson and Councilwoman Xanthene Norris met with reporters Thursday to talk about recommendations a residents' committee made on whether or how to create a holiday honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Ms. Henderson, who opposes creating an additional holiday, said an option to eliminate an existing holiday and add a King holiday "represents a fair and reasonable compromise."

Veterans use hearse in health care protest

COLUMBIA -A white hearse with a U.S.-flag-draped coffin was parked outside the Statehouse on Friday as military retirees protested what they say are broken promises of lifetime health benefits.

The red letters on the side of the hearse read: "The government answer to health care for retired military veterans."

Retirees are supposed to be able to receive health care services at military installations, said Jim Gunn, a retired Marine and the chairman of the Coalition of Retired Military Veterans.

"But there's never any space," he said.

That forces retirees to rely on TriCare, which supplements Medicare for retirees older than 65, he said.

"That only covers 20 percent over and above what Medicare doesn't pay," he said.

Cleaning business moves closer to SRS

COLUMBIA -A company that cleans radioactive clothing is moving from a Columbia neighborhood to an industrial park in Barnwell County.

UniTech Services Group Inc. will move its operations to a building in Snelling and expects to begin operations in early May.

About 100 employees work in the operation.

UniTech plans to tear down the current building and decontaminate the site. UniTech plans to sell the property to the city of Columbia in a process that may take a year. The move will put UniTech closer to its principal client, the Savannah River Site.