Across the area

USC Aiken sets goals for later

Dr. Thomas Hallman addressed on Wednesday the vision of the University of South Carolina Aiken into its 50th anniversary in 2011. The State of the Campus speech focused on developing campus life, including student body and academic culture, campus framework, partnerships and traditions, and campus pride.

"With our 50th anniversary only four years away, it is time for us to set goals for who we want to be in 2011," Dr. Hallman said.

Initiatives include creating an alliance among prekindergarten through 12th grade and Aiken Technical College, increasing the school's endowment and alumni contributions and increasing staff compensation to remain competitive with other state universities.

Animal shelter offers special adoption fees

Columbia County Animal Care and Control is offering special adoption fees through Friday in the hope of helping an overcrowding issue at the Appling shelter.

The facility's quarantine area, where animals must be monitored for seven days before being adopted, is overflowing, Pam Tucker, Columbia County's emergency services director, wrote in a Wednesday e-mail. When the animals in the area become adoptable and are moved to the shelter's kennel area, she said, there will be no more space for additional animals.

The facility, located off Columbia Road in Appling, will offer through Friday a $5 adoption fee for puppies and kittens and a $10 fee for dogs and cats.

Arson might be cause of fire, officials say

Richmond County fire investigators suspect arson is to blame for a fire in an abandoned house at 5064 Mike Padgett Highway on Tuesday afternoon.

The house did not have power, and there was no evidence of an accidental or natural cause for the fire, according Richmond County Interim Fire Marshal Lt. G.B. Hannan. He said several people appear to have been using the house based on items found at the scene.

Robber fires shots, takes money, knife

An Augusta man was robbed at gunpoint Tuesday night in the 400 block of Ellis Street, a Richmond County sheriff's report said.

The victim said a man fired two shots toward his feet then reached into his pockets and took $15 and a pocketknife. The robber then told the man to "go about your business," the report said.

Safety program kept sheriff's deputies busy

Richmond County sheriff's deputies made 771 speeding and 363 seatbelt cases during the Governor's Office of Highway Safety's Operation Zero Tolerance summer enforcement program, according to a press release.

During the program, which began Aug. 17 and ended Monday, there were 35 child restraint citations, 53 insurance cases, 87 DUI arrests, 17 drug arrests, 19 other felony arrests, 53 people arrested for outstanding warrants, 27 recovered stolen vehicles and 803 other traffic cases.

The next program will be Click-it or Ticket, beginning Nov. 12.

CSRA College Night helps area students

High school students will have an opportunity to meet recruiters from more than 140 colleges and universities and win scholarships totaling approximately $17,000 at CSRA College Night.

To qualify, students must be high school juniors or seniors and graduate with a GPA equal or above 2.5 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent). Students must attend CSRA College Night to register.

College Night will also feature seminars on writing college entrance essays, scholarships, financial aid and one specifically for student athletes. The event will be held from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at the James Brown Arena.

Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.

For more information, visit www.srs.gov, click on Outreach, then Educational Outreach Programs, then CSRA College Night.

Man with camcorder grabs girl for photos

A 16-year-old Aiken girl told police that a man with a camcorder grabbed her by the ankle, wanting to take pictures of her feet, an Aiken Department of Public Safety report said.

According to the police report, the victim was at Brushless Car Wash on Pine Log Road on Saturday vacuuming out her car when a man grabbed her ankle and tried to pull her out of the car.

The victim kicked loose, but the man grabbed her again. The girl began screaming and the man let her go, telling her to be quiet, that he only wanted to take pictures of her feet.

The man ran to his car, a gold mid size four-door. According to the victim, the man was carrying a VHS camcorder.

Officials respond to North Augusta fire

North Augusta fire officials responded to a fire at a residence in the 1700 block of Marion Avenue on Wednesday night.

Firefighters got the call at 7:33 p.m. and within an hour had extinguished the blaze, a dispatcher said. The house was inhabited, but those inside were able to escape without injury, authorities said.

Learn about Linux security at session

A computer expert will speak at Augusta State University during a workshop to highlight Linux security.

Bob Toxen will lead a session titled The Seven Most Deadly Sins of Linux Security at 9 a.m. Sept. 20 in the Jaguar Student Activity Center Butler Room.

Ghost walk of historic Summerville Cemetery

Hear stories of heroic deeds, tragic downfalls and noble lives and deaths directly from the people who experienced them during Walk With the Spirits, a haunted history tour of Augusta's historic Summerville Cemetery.

The walk will be led by a ghost guide and will include desserts from Poppy Seeds Catering. The tours begin every 30 minutes from 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 13 and 14 at the Summerville Cemetery on the corner of Johns and Cumming roads.

The cost is $15 for adults, $10 for children younger than 18 and $10 a person for groups. Reservations are recommended. To buy tickets or get more information, call (706) 724-0436.

- From staff reports