Across the area

Hospital will break ground on expansion

Doctors Hospital will break ground next week on a $55 million expansion that is the largest in the facility's history, CEO Shayne George said in a news release.

Doctors will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Dec. 12 on its three-story tower expansion, which should take about 21 months to complete. The renovation will include two new operating rooms for the Joseph M. Still Burn Center, 24 private rooms and 24 Intensive Care Unit rooms.

Elementary school returning to normal after heavy absences

Activities are returning to normal at Lewiston Elementary School, where 80 children were absent Monday, said Principal Mike Doolittle. He said he did not know if these absences were related to a highly contagious form of the stomach flu that kept 330 children out of school Friday. He said he will not know the reasons for Monday's absences until the children return to school with notes from their doctors.

He also said four staff members missed school Monday.

Ex-court clerk pleads guilty to stealing money; gets probation

A former court clerk accused of siphoning off public funds pleaded guilty Monday.

Mandy Rhodes, 30, was indicted in Richmond County Superior Court on charges of theft and violation of the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet accepted the negotiation plea that called for Mrs. Rhodes to plead guilty to theft, pay $21,114 in restitution and a $10,557 fine and receive probation.

Judge Overstreet imposed 10 years probation. Ms. Rhodes admitted that between June 2004 and June 2006 she stole from the Richmond County Civil and Magistrate Court clerk's office where she worked for 10 years.

McDuffie County robber might have struck at second bank

A man who robbed a bank in McDuffie County Monday morning appears to be the same person who robbed a bank in Watkinsville, Ga., hours later, Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry said Monday night.

The man who robbed a Regions Bank in Thomson about 11:40 a.m. strongly resembles the man who walked into an Athens First Bank and Trust branch on Epps Bridge Parkway about 3 p.m. and demanded money from a teller, Sheriff Berry said.

Anyone with information can call the FBI at (706) 722-3702.

Fund is established to provide funeral services for 2 children

Area residents interested in contributing to a memorial fund for two children killed at a south Augusta convenience store last week can do so at area Georgia Bank and Trust branches through Dec. 15.

The Shakayla and Jordon Hawes Memorial Fund is established to provide a funeral and burial, said organizer and radio talk show host Helen Blocker-Adams.

After funeral expenses are paid, Ms. Blocker-Adams said any remaining money will be donated to the United Way with specific requests to assist children's and women's non-profit abuse organizations.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Whole Life Ministries, 2621 Washington Road, Augusta.

Aiken-based scientist receives award for work at laboratory

An Aiken-based scientist with the U.S. Energy Department's Savannah River National Laboratory was honored recently as recipient of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' Robert E. Wilson award.

Dr. William Rhodes, a principal engineer with SRNL's Energy Security Directorate, was recognized for contributions to the nuclear industry spanning the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, Liquid-Metal Fast Breeder Reactor technology development, and leadership roles that promote the role of chemical engineers in the field of national energy security.

Youth mentoring to be topic of Aiken Tech's instruction series

The Workforce and Business Development Division of Aiken Technical College is offering classes that explore the benefits of mentoring by connecting youth to caring adults.

The class will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. The cost is $85. To register, call (803) 593-9954, ext. 1230.

-- From staff reports