Across the area

TRAFFIC BRIEFS

Third woman in fatal wreck dies in hospital

The third victim of a deadly wreck that occurred Sunday near Metter, Ga. has died.

Jamie Carter, a 22-year-old Georgia Southern student, was pronounced dead Wednesday at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, a hospital spokeswoman confirmed .

Two Lakeside High School graduates - Jessica Fulmer, 21, and Melissa Eustice, 20 - also died as a result of the wreck. The driver of a Toyota 4Runner, believed to be Ms. Eustice, lost control of the sport utility vehicle and it flipped repeatedly, ejecting the three women, according to Georgia State Patrol.

Georgia State Patrol troopers have said they are searching for the driver of a white passenger car believed to be connected to the wreck.

Man is killed after being hit by vehicle

Burke County sheriff's officials were investigating a case late Wednesday in which a man was fatally struck by a vehicle.

A Burke County sheriff's dispatcher said his office received a call at 9 p.m. about a vehicle striking a man on Georgia Highway 305 in the Gough community. Burke County Coroner Betty White could not be reached for comment. No other details about the victim's identity or the case were available .

Road work will cause lanes to be closed

Drivers should expect lane closures beginning next week at Fort Gordon as crews continue work at the intersection of Chamberlain Avenue and East Hospital Road, according to a news release.

There will be single lanes open in each direction at the intersection from Monday to Wednesday while crews work on a storm drainage system, the release states. Work on the area began in December and is expected to be complete by June at the latest. The project will widen Chamberlain Avenue and East Hospital Road and replace a traffic light, the release states.

Bill would combine rural transit systems

ATLANTA --- Soon, people in rural Georgia could hop a transit van and zoom across the state or to neighboring cities.

A bill recently introduced in the Senate aims to coordinate the state's 103 rural transit systems into a single statewide network to save money and improve service.

"A lot of these people don't realize they have public transportation out there in their back yards," said Butch McDuffie, a former president of the Georgia Transit Association and director of Athens Transit.

The rural systems usually consist of vans taking people to work, ferrying the elderly or transporting the handicapped. The federal government provides nearly all of the money for operations, $177 million yearly, channeled through state agencies like the departments of Labor, Human Resources, Community Health and Transportation.

Senate Bill 402 would create one board to make them all work together, according to its author, Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons.

CRIME BRIEFS

Mother indicted in fatal stabbings of 2 children

An Augusta mother accused of fatally stabbing her two young children Nov. 29 was indicted Tuesday by the Richmond County grand jury.

Jeanette Michelle Hawes, 22, of the 2500 block of Lumpkin Road, was indicted on two counts each of malice murder, felony murder and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime. Police have said the victims, 1-year-old Jordan Hawes and 3-year-old Shakayla Hawes, were stabbed to death in the bathroom of a gas station on the corner of Lumpkin and Richmond Hill roads.

Police charge men with car break-ins

Police arrested two men Wednesday morning who are accused of breaking into cars at several Augusta apartment complexes.

Darius Smalley, 21, of Lennox Street, and Demarius Smith, 20, of Fairway Drive, are each charged with six counts of entering an auto, and more charges are anticipated, according to Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Greg Newsome.

The break-ins occurred Tuesday and Wednesday at Woodcrest Apartments on Woodcrest Drive, Marks Church Commons at Bowdoin Drive, Bradford Pointe Apartments on Sterling Ridge Drive, Vintage Creek Apartments on North Leg Road and Merrick Place Apartments on Skinner Mill Road, according to a sheriff's office news release.

Officer says suspect confessed to killing

ANDERSON, S.C. --- A police officer testifying in the trial of a man charged with killing a 27-year-old woman he met at a mall in Anderson says the defendant confessed to suffocating her after she begged for her life.

Raymondeze Rivera is on trial for the murder of Asha Wiley in December 2006.

Prosecutors have said they would use a conviction to try to get the death penalty for Mr. Rivera in the killing of Kwana Burns less than a week later.

Deputies make arrests in dog-fighting case

COLUMBIA --- Richland County deputies say they think they busted a dog-fighting operation in its beginning stages.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced Wednesday that three men had been arrested and faced charges ranging from dog-fighting to ill treatment of an animal and drug possession.

Deputies seized eight dogs, videos on how to train dogs to fight and baiting equipment from two Richland County homes.

AREA BRIEFS

Wild-game tasting event set for March

Augusta West Rotary Club and outdoorsmen from the Augusta area have teamed up again to raise money for Alzheimer's research by organizing the region's largest wild-game tasting event.

Club volunteers will hold the seventh annual A Taste of Something Wild at the Julian Smith Barbecue Pit on Milledge Road from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 15.

Attendees will be able to sample dozens of wild game dishes, from venison, duck, wild pig, quail, fish and exotic meat. Entertainment will be provided by Eryn Eubanks & The Family Fold. Proceeds from the $45-per-ticket ($40 in advance) event will be donated to the Augusta Alzheimer's Association and other Augusta West Rotary Club charities. The event is one of the largest Rotary Club fundraisers in the Augusta area. For tickets or more information, call the Augusta Alzheimer's Association at (706) 731-9060 or (800) 272-3900 or visit www.alz.org/georgia.

EDUCATION BRIEFS

Regents pass MCG resolution

ATLANTA --- A resolution calling for an expansion of medical education in Georgia, including a new Medical College of Georgia campus in Athens, unanimously passed the Board of Regents on Wednesday.

The resolution, the closest the regents have come to endorsing the report of consulting firm Tripp Umbach, includes an enrollment goal of 1,200 for MCG by 2020, up from 745 now.

The resolution also explicitly endorses the establishment of an MCG branch in Athens "no later than 2010, utilizing in large part the property currently owned by the United States Navy in Athens, which is intended to be transferred to the University System of Georgia."

Columbia County pupils to get break

Columbia County pupils will be out of school on a midwinter break next week.

Schools in the county will be closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Personnel at county facilities, area Family Y's and several A Child's World day care facilities said they are not offering additional programs for the break.

While the children are out of class Wednesday, instructors will be participating in a Teacher Professional Learning Day.

IN OTHER NEWS

THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT of Education has ordered more than two-dozen school districts to stop serving beef supplied by a California slaughterhouse under federal investigation for mistreating animals. Georgia Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox says 28 districts so far -- none of them in the Augusta area -- have pulled the meat after the U.S. Department of Agriculture alerted state officials that it could be tainted.

-- From staff and wire reports