Across the area

Accused thief still in hospital

A woman accused of stealing a car and then wrecking it at a downtown Augusta intersection Thursday remained in good condition Friday at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Tomeka Rolland, 18, of Gilbert Manor, faces a theft charge and several traffic violations, according to Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Robin Ashmore. She is accused of stealing the car from a home on Ridge Run Drive in Hephzibah, Investigator Ashmore said. According to a sheriff's report, the car's owner, Bryan Parker, 22, had left his car running in his driveway in order to warm it up when it was stolen.

Mr. Parker later spotted the suspect on R.A. Dent Boulevard and he pursued her to Dugas Street, where she alledgedly drove through a stop sign and was struck by another vehicle. Police say she then handed her baby girl to someone in the gathering crowd before trying to elude police.

Reopening event is planned for gardens

Augusta will reopen the gardens at the former Georgia Golf Hall of Fame site on Reynolds Street today, with a grand opening scheduled for 10 a.m.

The gardens will be free to the public and open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The area will be staffed by the city's Parks and Recreation Department during the open hours, the department's director Tom Beck said. Mr. Beck said department employees have hauled away eight dump-truck loads of dead plants and debris from the gardens.

Workers have not concentrated on replanting any horticultural areas where plants died during the summer heat and drought because it would cost more than $100,000, Mr. Beck said.

No pupils injured in school bus accident

No one was injured in a Friday afternoon accident involving two school buses, which were full of pupils, at Columbia Middle School.

Sandra Carraway, the Columbia County school system deputy superintendent, said the accident occurred shortly before 3 p.m. when a driver released the air brakes of one bus, causing it to roll back into another bus.

"There was no indication that either bus was harmed," Dr. Carraway said.

Mayor will speak at center's fundraiser

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver will deliver the keynote address at a Friday gala and fundraiser benefiting New Bethlehem Community Center and its variety of social service programs.

The gala, to be held at Ma Fannie's restaurant (formerly BL's) at 1117 Laney-Walker Blvd., begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20 per person and can be purchased at Bethlehem Community Center, at 1336 Conklin Ave., or by calling (706) 722-0086.

Program will focus on bacterial sampling

The Sierra Club's Savannah River chapter will meet at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 3501 Walton Way Extension.

Dr. Jason Andrus, an Augusta State University microbiologist, will present a program on stream bacterial sampling and the Richmond County Adopt-A-Stream program, including results of recent tests in local waterways. The public is welcome to attend.

Speaker will discuss dementia at lunch

Dr. Suzanne Smith, the director of the Memory Disorder Clinic at Medical College of Georgia, will discuss "Clinical Diagnosis: Dementias" at the January lunch and learn program held by the Augusta Alzheimer's Association.

The program will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Medical College of Georgia Alumni Center at 919 15th St.

R.S.V.P. by calling Dr. Shirley Poduslo at (706) 721-0609.

Art institute offers courses during winter

The Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art is taking registration for its winter quarter studio art classes and workshops, which begin Monday.

Classes are available for all ages in a wide variety of media, including drawing, printmaking, painting, ceramics, photography and sculpture. Tuition assistance is available.

To request a free catalog of class listings or a scholarship application, call the institute at (706) 722-5495 or visit www.ghia.org.

Canal center has new hours during winter

The Augusta Canal Interpretive Center is operating on its winter schedule through March 31.

The center's hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Petersburg Boat tours will be offered at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 3 p.m., weather permitting. Special group charters for other days and times can be arranged with advance notice.

Call (706) 823-0440, ext. 4, for information and reservations.

-- From staff reports