Originally created 02/03/05

Across Georgia



No shadow in sight for a groundhog in love

LILBURN - The groundhog known as Gen. Beauregard Lee rolled out of his bed Wednesday morning, emerged into the rain and predicted an early spring.

Not only did Beau not see his shadow, he also brought a surprise: his new girlfriend.

The mystery lady, who will remain nameless until a contest bestows her with a moniker, has been dating Beau off and on during the past six weeks.

Game ranchers hope the couple will produce a successor for Lee, who may soon be hanging up his weather vane.

Old age could force him into retirement before the next Groundhog Day rolls around, said Art Rilling, the founder of Yellow River Game Ranch, where Beau lives.

At 15, Beau has lived the life of at least five groundhogs, which have a life expectancy of only two to three years.

Sheriff is barred from acting against rehires

ATLANTA - A federal judge on Wednesday banned Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill from taking personnel action against any of the deputies he fired on his first day in office.

But U.S. District Judge Charles A. Moye Jr. did not restore the rank or jobs of the deputies. Judge Moye scheduled another hearing on the case for Feb. 23.

The sheriff has been mired in controversy since his first day in office, when he fired 27 employees without warning or cause Jan. 3. The employees - mainly deputies - have been allowed to return to work, but were demoted.

Sheriff Hill, who was at the hearing, said the judge's decision is not hindering his efforts to reorganize his department.

House wants building named for Coverdell

ATLANTA - The newly Republican state House voted Wednesday to name a state office building for one of its heroes, the late U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell.

Mr. Coverdell, who was a Republican senator from 1992 until his death in 2000, was formerly a state senator and director of the U.S. Peace Corps.

The measure would add his name to the Legislative Office Building, which is across the street from the Capitol and houses most state lawmakers. It passed 121-47 and now heads to the Senate.

Democrats who opposed the name change said it was an inappropriate honor because Mr. Coverdell opposed the office building when he was in the Legislature.

The building was converted to legislative offices in the mid-1980s.

House Democratic Leader DuBose Porter suggested adding a former Democratic senator, Zell Miller, to the name. But he pulled his amendment after Republicans asked him to. Still, some Democrats said the building shouldn't be named for someone of either party because it houses all legislators.