Across the area

Man is arrested on his way to meet with 'girl'

A 54-year-old Aiken man who thought he was meeting a 13-year-old girl for a sexual encounter was arrested Monday night by investigators, the Aiken County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.

Carroll F. McIntosh, of the 300 block of New Bridge Road, is in jail on charges of attempted criminal sexual conduct with a minor and criminal solicitation of a minor, according to a statement from the sheriff's office.

Mr. McIntosh was driving to Gun Range Road in Aiken to meet the girl when he was arrested by investigators during a traffic stop, the statement said. Mr. McIntosh, who thought he was chatting with the girl, was actually chatting with investigators from the sheriff's office.

Report of large fight leads to four arrests

Four people were arrested in Aiken on Tuesday night in what police described as a "neighborhood brawl" in the Crosland Park community on the city's north side.

According to the Aiken Department of Public Safety, shortly after 8 p.m. officers responded to a "large fight" involving as many as 40 people near the 700 block of Sommers Avenue. Police arrested Sonya Green, 18; Natrice Moment, 21; and Justin Lloyd Brown, 20. A juvenile was not identified. Some who ran from the scene dropped illegal drugs, according to authorities.

Ms. Green is charged with disorderly conduct; Ms. Moment is charged with simple assault and battery; and Mr. Brown faces simple possession of marijuana and resisting arrest, police said.

Police look for driver in fatal hit-and-run

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating a Tuesday morning hit-and-run that killed a 43-year-old bicyclist.

Noel E. Barrett, of 448 Audrey Drive in Beech Island, was struck from behind by a vehicle, Aiken County Coroner Tim Carlton said. The collision occurred just after midnight on Urquahart Drive in Aiken County, about seven miles south of North Augusta, the highway patrol said.

Mr. Barrett was wearing a dark shirt and gray jogging pants, and the bike had no lights, the coroner said. Lance Cpl. Trevor Clinton of the highway patrol said investigators are seeking a vehicle, possibly metallic green, and checking body shops in hopes of finding anyone who might have come in for repairs. They ask anyone with information to call (800) 768-1507.

Man pleads guilty to club shooting

The man accused of opening fire on a crowded dance floor a year ago and killing 18-year-old Stedmund D. Fryer has pleaded guilty.

Darion A. McNair, 19, pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter in Richmond County Superior Court. He was sentenced to 20 years, 10 of which he must serve in prison and 10 on probation. Mr. McNair was on trial for murder charges and for possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

On July 9, 2007, Mr. Fryer was shot and killed on a dance floor at Super C's nightclub on Tobacco Road.

Truck tire dislodges, striking, killing man

A highway contractor employee died Tuesday morning after being struck by a runaway tire on Bobby Jones Expressway on Monday afternoon.

Hugo Salazar-Blancas, 23, of Horton, Ala., was pronounced dead at Medical College of Georgia Hospital on Tuesday, said Mark Bowen, the Richmond County Chief Deputy Coroner. Mr. Salazar-Blancas was working a trash detail about 2:15 p.m. Monday when a tire reportedly dislodged from a moving tractor-trailer and struck him along the westbound lanes of Bobby Jones at the Laney-Walker Boulevard exit and Lovers Lane overpass.

The tire's impact knocked him about 40 feet from the impact site, Mr. Bowen said. Richmond County sheriff's officials located the truck later on Marvin Griffin Road, but Mr. Bowen said he was unaware of any plans to investigate the incident as a criminal matter. Mr. Salazar-Blancas worked for Lovin Contracting of Robbinsville, N.C., Mr. Bowen said.

Visitor's Bureau board gains more control

During a Tuesday meeting, Columbia County commissioners granted more control to the board of directors of the county Convention and Visitor's Bureau to run the organization.

Beda Johnson, the bureau's executive director, now will work directly for its board. She had technically worked for the county but was "leased" to the bureau, county attorney Doug Batchelor said. The move is more in line with state statutes determining the governance of such organizations, Mr. Batchelor said.

The commission also agreed to institute a pilot program to establish flexible working schedules for county employees through the remainder of the year in an attempt to save energy.

The commission also nixed a plan to close the county Animal Care and Control on Saturdays, wanting more detailed data on Saturday pet adoptions before deciding a course of action.

Aiken City Council passes smoking ban

The Aiken City Council has given final approval to an ordinance banning smoking in restaurants and bars.

The smoking ban ordinance, which passed on a 4-3 vote late Monday, prohibits smoking in enclosed public places, excluding areas that are at least 50 percent exposed to the outdoors. Businesses that violate the ordinance could be fined $10 to $25, and repeated violations could jeopardize an establishment's business license.

The vote Monday followed more than 21/2 hours of discussion, during which several residents and council members expressed opposition to the restriction, saying they believed business owners should be allowed to choose whether to ban smoking in their establishments.

Mayor Fred Cavanaugh and council members Beverly Clyburn, Lessie Price and Dick Dewar voted in favor of the ordinance. Council members Dick Smith, Jane Vaughters and Don Wells voted against it.

Ex-Senator pays full restitution to victims

Former state Sen. Charles Walker, of Augusta, has paid his full restitution to the U.S. District Court, officials confirmed Tuesday.

Mr. Walker paid $775,281.15 to the registry of the court on July 3, according to court documents, an amount that will go to his fraud victims. Mr. Walker, at one time one of the most powerful state political figures, was convicted in 2005 of mail fraud, tax crimes and conspiracy.

Federal prosecutors convinced a jury that Mr. Walker defrauded his newspaper advertisers, two Georgia hospitals, his campaign contributors and those who donated money to a charity he co-founded. He is serving a 121-month sentence. In May the U.S. Supreme Court refused to reconsider its rejection of his appeals. He has already paid $279,000 in fines and court fees.

Georgia, South Carolina miss magazine's best places list

Plymouth, Minn., near Minneapolis-St. Paul, won the top spot in Money magazine's list of America's Best Places to Live, its annual ranking of America's most livable towns.

No community in Georgia or South Carolina made the top 100.

The magazine used data on cities with a population of 50,000 to 300,000 people, excluding retirement communities, places that are more than 95 percent white and those with family income less than 85 percent of the state median. The magazine also screened out cities based on crime rates, population decline and shrinking employment.

The list and profiles of the top 10 will appear in the magazine's August issue, which hits newsstands Monday. You can view the list at www.CNNMoney.com/bestplaces.

COLUMBIA COUNTY

Lanes of two Columbia County roads will be closed much of this week for water utility installations.

- About 800 feet of the northbound lane on Cox Road will be diverted to the left-turn lane from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. today and Thursday, according to an e-mail from Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker. A tie-in for a new water line will be added to an existing water main starting just south of the Cox Road intersection with Grey Lane.

- A temporary lane closure of North Tubman Road at the intersection of Washington Road will be closed from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. today through Friday, according to another e-mail from Mrs. Tucker. Flaggers will be present to guide traffic in and out of the intersection while work crews install a new water main.

-- From staff reports