Originally created 01/18/06

Across the area



Battalion will return to fort

More than 300 members of Fort Gordon's 63rd Signal Battalion, which has been deployed for a year abroad, will return home Thursday, the post's public affairs office said.

Families are expected to greet the soldiers at noon on post at Gym 3.

The unit has been deployed since January 2005, serving in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. The unit previously deployed for a year in February 2003.

An official "welcome home" ceremony will be held Jan. 27 at Alexander Hall. The unit is part of the 93rd Signal Brigade.

Commission backs bill on annexation limits

Columbia County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to lend their support to a bill pending in the Georgia Legislature that could limit annexation by cities.

The commission's 5-0 vote in favor of House Bill 962, the Fair Annexation Act, comes in light of Columbia County looking to pursue the idea of incorporating the Evans-Martinez area and then consolidating it with the county government.

Commission Chairman Ron Cross said the bill's introduction is unrelated to that effort. Officials for Columbia County's two cities, Harlem and Grovetown, have said in the past that a consolidation would hurt their ability for growth by cutting off annexation possibilities.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Doug Holt, R-District 112, is "to establish state policy regarding annexation; to provide that no municipality may annex property in which certain services are provided by the county or which is included in the county's comprehensive zoning plan unless the county consents,'' according to a December pre-filed summary on the Georgia General Assembly's Web site.

Downtown dispute ends in man's death

An altercation in downtown Wrens at about noon Tuesday left one man dead and two facing murder charges.

According to Wrens Police Chief David Hannah, the incident began as a "verbal altercation" between Samuel Damon Tremble, 30, and Donyeal Lammoris Lane, 22, at U.S. Highway 1 and King Street.

The cause of the argument is under investigation, Chief Hannah said, but he added that several witnesses saw the two men "scuffling" over a handgun.

"It was then that the second suspect (Travis Jermaine Walker, 25, also of Wrens) pulled up and tried to break up the fight," Chief Hannah said. "It was determined that this suspect had a weapon in his vehicle."

Moments later, several shots were fired, Chief Hannah said, and Mr. Lane and Mr. Walker fled the scene.

Mr. Tremble was pronounced dead at 12:30 p.m. at Jefferson Hospital. Both suspects are in custody.

Teen faces charges of molesting 4-year-old

Richmond County sheriff's deputies have charged a 13-year-old Augusta boy with a sex crime against a 4-year-old, officials said Tuesday.

Capt. Jack Francisco said Bryan Budgett, 13, of Amsterdam Drive, was charged as an adult Saturday with aggravated child molestation.

Capt. Francisco said the teenager is accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with the child while behind a locked bedroom door.

The teenager was sent to the Regional Youth Detention Center on Mike Padgett Highway, the captain said.

Deputies arrest man over counterfeit discs

Richmond County sheriff's deputies have arrested a man who they said was selling counterfeit CDs and DVDs at an Augusta shopping center, officials said Tuesday.

Capt. Jack Francisco said Charlie Castillo, 23, of Walden Drive, was charged with unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted material.

The captain said Mr. Castillo was selling the counterfeit discs at Southgate shopping center Saturday in the parking lot, after previously being told not to come back to the shopping center.

Authorities seized 73 DVDs and 314 CDs. Capt. Francisco said he did not know the titles of the discs.

Mr. Castillo was indicted on the same charge in December, stemming from an incident in June.

More than $1,000 in cigarettes are stolen

North Augusta police are investigating a burglary at a supermarket where more than $1,000 in cigarettes were taken, a police report states.

A witness told North Augusta public safety officers that at 12:40 a.m. Monday, he saw two men break into the front window of Publix in the 300 block of East Martintown Road and later leave and run toward Plaza Place Apartments.

A manager told police that about 30 cartons of Marlboro Lights and 25 cartons of Newport cigarettes valued at $1,550 were missing.

Wife says her husband threatened to kill her

North Augusta police arrested a man after his wife said he threatened to kill her and that she had to hide in the bathroom for her own safety, a police report states.

Jeffrey Dean Bottoms, 38, of Summit Commons Court, was charged with criminal domestic violence, according to the North Augusta Department of Public Safety.

Officers were dispatched to the home at about 7 p.m. Sunday, where someone called saying Mr. Bottoms was wielding a shotgun and was loading it.

Police found Mr. Bottoms on the front porch, drinking an alcoholic beverage. He denied any disorder and said he was gathering his belongings to leave, putting his gun and ammunition in his truck.

Police found Jeanie Goodwin-Bottoms, 42, locked in a bathroom inside.

She told police that Mr. Bottoms threatened her, grabbed his gun and loaded it, saying he would kill her and anyone else who walked inside.

Deputies say man bit wife during argument

Richmond County sheriff's deputies arrested a man accused of assaulting his wife and biting her in an argument over the keys to an SUV, a police report states.

Freddie Cooper, 38, of the 1600 block of Emory Street, was charged with battery under the Family Violence Act, Richmond County jail records state.

Latonya R. Cooper, 35, told police that at 8:51 p.m. Monday, she was arguing with Mr. Cooper about their 1997 Mercury Mountaineer.

She said Mr. Cooper punched her, grabbed her left arm and twisted it behind her back before biting her hand to get her to release the keys.

Armed robbery reported at convenience store

Richmond County sheriff's deputies are investigating an armed robbery by a woman at a convenience store in Augusta's Harrisburg neighborhood, a police report states.

A worker at The Corner Store, in the 500 block of Eve Street, said a woman with a ponytail and wearing a ski mask pointed a gun at her at 8:19 p.m. Monday.

The woman said, "Don't be stupid, give me the money," according to the victim. The victim said she handed the money to the woman, who then left in a white Honda Civic west on Battle Row.

57-year-old reports being robbed at inn

Richmond County sheriff's investigators looked into a report of an Augusta man that was robbed over the weekend, a police report states.

The 57-year-old man told sheriff's deputies that at 12:22 a.m. Sunday, at the Relax Inn in the 1300 block of Gordon Highway, a man came into the hallway and demanded he empty his pockets at gunpoint.

The man then ordered the victim to walk away. The man took two Visa credit cards and $240, the report states.

Subway clerk reports weekend robbery

A clerk at a Walton Way sandwich shop said her store was robbed over the weekend, a Richmond County sheriff's report states.

The clerk at Subway in the 1800 block of Walton Way said that at 9:47 p.m. Sunday, two men wearing gloves and masks pointed handguns at her and demanded she open the cash register.

The clerk said the men took some money and then ran out of the store.

Augusta attorney has law license suspended

An Augusta attorney's law license was suspended Tuesday, more than two years after he pleaded guilty to a federal crime.

The Georgia Supreme Court issued an order suspending Travers W. Paine III's license until he completes a federal probationary sentence. The suspension will run for at least 20 months.

Mr. Paine, a former Augusta city council member, pleaded guilty in December 2003 in U.S. District Court in South Carolina to a reduced charge of obstruction of a federal audit.

He was sentenced in November 2004 to three years' probation, fined $250,100 and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service.

The 20-month suspension was recommended by the special master who mediated Mr. Paine's disciplinary case.

Aiken voting office will close for training

The Aiken County Voter Registration & Elections office will be closed for training Jan. 25-28.

The office will reopen Jan. 30 at 8:30 a.m. For additional information, call 642-2028.

Aiken After Hours will feature 50 businesses

About 50 businesses will take part in Aiken After Hours from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday in downtown Aiken.

Participating businesses range from restaurants to art galleries and antiques shops. For more information, call (803) 641-9094.

- From staff reports