Originally created 05/01/06

Across South Carolina

Toddler seen on tape with guns, cocaine

NORTH CHARLESTON - North Charleston police are investigating whether drugs and guns seen on a homemade video are real.

Several men are seen in the video with what appears to be an assault rifle and rocks of crack cocaine. A toddler is seen walking among the men.

Police Chief Jon Zumalt said it's not clear whether the weapon or drugs are real, but he said the images still are disturbing.

The video shows a half-dozen men outside an apartment. After one man reveals a handful of white, soaplike rocks, the camera pans back and reveals a toddler standing on the garbage-strewn ground.

A man hits the child on the head and the boy walks about as others in the group taunt him.

"What is a baby doing out there in the middle of that?" Chief Zumalt asked.

Investigators are still trying to identify the child and some of the men on the tape, Chief Zumalt said. Police will consult with prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

Jasper still fighting for project on river

COLUMBIA - Jasper County officials say in court filings that the State Ports Authority has no plans to build a terminal on the Savannah River and is trying to block local efforts to develop an 1,800-acre site.

County Administrator Andrew Fulghum said Friday that the county is concerned the state will acquire the site just to prevent the county from going ahead with its $600 million development deal with Seattle-based SSA Marine.

Last week, the Ports Authority asked the court to force the county to drop its efforts to condemn the land owned by the Georgia Transportation Department.

In its response to that request, Jasper County's attorneys argued that, unlike the county, the Ports Authority does not have the necessary "firm plan in place to condemn the land ... for a public use."

"We don't intend to let SPA stop our progress or to just sit on the land until they eventually come up with a plan of their own," Jasper County Council Chairman George Hood said in a statement Friday. "We will seek legal proof that they even have an economically viable plan for developing this property."

The Ports Authority had no comment on the county's recent filing, spokesman Byron Miller said.

Earlier this month, the Georgia Transportation Department rejected the Ports Authority's $9.3 million cash offer for the proposed port property.

Short overnight trip concerns York panel

YORK - Fellow council members are questioning why York City Councilman Charles Johnson attended an out-of-state conference in December in nearby Charlotte, N.C., and stayed the night at the city's expense.

According to documents obtained under the state's Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Johnson spent $200 on the hotel room and split a $45 lunch with the city manager, who also attended the National League of Cities conference.

Mr. Johnson said he stayed overnight because a doctor had restricted his driving since he suffered a stroke in May 2004. Mr. Johnson said if his hotel bill becomes an issue, he will reimburse the city. York is about 35 miles from Charlotte.

The city policy requiring council approval for out-of-state travel was created in 2002 after former Mayor Roddey Connolly was sentenced to two years of probation on a misconduct-in-office charge that stemmed from travel expenses he charged to the city's credit card.


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