Across the area

Land may be added to site of new Wal-Mart

Columbia County planning commissioners agreed Thursday night to allow more than an acre to be added to a site where a proposed Wal-Mart shopping center will go near Grovetown.

The extra space would allow the development to have four additional lots along Lewiston Road that could be sold as out parcels to businesses whose names have not been released. One of the extra parcels would include a small retention pond.

The proposed development is planned near the intersection of Lewiston Road and Interstate 20. With the four additional lots, the site would have a total of 17 lots on about 62 acres. The planning commission originally approved a preliminary plat in August.

Augusta aims to raise rates for public transit

To help squeak through a tight budget year, Augusta's city government wants to raise rates and cut services for Augusta Public Transit, which loses an estimated $4 million per year.

The city is proposing to eliminate Saturday bus routes, increase fares from $1 to $1.50, increase monthly passes from $50 to $55 and eliminate transfers, requiring $1.50 be paid each time a bus is boarded.

A hearing on the rate hike will be held Dec. 18 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at May Park Community Center, 622 Fourth St.

Biochem project lands pupil in competition

A Lakeside High School pupil will compete this weekend in Atlanta for a $3,000 science prize.

Should Jason Meixiong pass the regional portion of the 2008 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, he then will compete for a $100,000 grand prize in New York. The Lakeside High senior is one of 96 regional finalists to compete in the event at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Nearly 1,900 students entered the contest.

Jason entered in the field of biochemistry with a project that could have applications for cancer treatments, according to a news release from Siemens.

Chambliss to attend Columbia County rally

Columbia County Republicans will play host to a Get Out the Vote Rally on Saturday with guest Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Held at the Columbia County GOP headquarters, 4150 Washington Road, Evans, the event runs from 12:30-2 p.m.

Mr. Chambliss is embroiled in a runoff against Democrat Jim Martin. The election is Dec. 2. The rally will offer barbecue and other refreshments.

For information, call (706) 955-2012 or (706) 833-4731.

Georgia party leader to attend celebration

The Columbia County Democratic Party will play host to an Obama Celebration this evening.

Held at the Fort Gordon Officers Club, the event runs from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. The featured guest will be state Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kidd. The celebration, which is open to anyone, also includes dinner, dancing and a DJ. Dress is semi-formal.

Tickets are $30 at the door. For information, call Ms. Fitzpatrick at (706) 231-1513.

Man paroled in wreck that killed his friend

A Hephzibah man convicted of vehicular homicide in the death of a friend was paroled this month.

Ronnie C. Whisnant, 52, was released on parole last week, according to a notice from the State Board of Pardons and Parole. Mr. Whisnant will be supervised for about a year by a parole officer, and then four more years by a probation officer.

Mr. Whisnant was convicted in Richmond County Superior Court of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

He crashed his vehicle on Dec. 15, 2005, on Old Waynesboro Road. Dwight A. Dodson, 55, whom Mr. Whisnant described as his best friend, was thrown from the vehicle.

2 sought in break-in at police department

Authorities in Aiken County and Perry, S.C., are looking for two Wagener men who are accused in a Nov. 13 burglary at the Perry Police Department.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Michael A. Hutto, 19, of the 100 block of Knob Hill Circle, and Daniel E. Conder, 29, of the 1000 block of Shealey Drive, according to an Aiken County Sheriff's Office news release. Both are wanted on charges of burglary-second degree and grand larceny, more than $1,000.

According to the release, both men are accused of forcing open the front door to the department and taking an assault rifle and a set of digital scales from a storage room.

The men also are accused of unsuccessfully trying to take a 1,500-pound safe, which was found unopened in front of the department.

Mr. Hutto is described as white, 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 150 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.

Mr. Conder is white, 6 feet tall and 180 pounds with brown hair and green eyes.

Anyone with information can call (800) 922-9709 or (888) CRIME-SC.

Pupil, 14, charged with threat to kill teachers

An Evans Middle School pupil was arrested this week after being accused of threatening to shoot two teachers.

The eighth-grader became angry Wednesday when his teacher told him to complete his assigned work, according to a police report. He told his teacher, "I hate all language arts teachers and I want to shoot them in the head."

The 14-year-old, who was not identified because of his age, then threatened another teacher before he was taken to the principal's office, according to the report.

Charged with making terrorist threats, the teen was transported to the Richmond County Youth Detention Center, Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said. He was later released to his parents' custody, Capt. Morris said.

Aiken man dies in gas poisoning in Michigan

WHITE RIVER TOWNSHIP, Mich . --- Michigan police say a charcoal grill in a car apparently generated enough carbon monoxide to kill two Grand Valley State University students, including one from Aiken.

The victims are 26-year-old Douglas William Ward, of Aiken, and 20-year-old Amber Rose Brown of Montague, Mich.

Members of Ms. Brown's family found them dead inside the vehicle Wednesday night in a wooded area of Muskegon County's White River Township, about 50 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

Both students last were seen Sunday by friends on campus. Police say Ms. Brown called someone Monday to say she was going camping on wooded property owned by her family.

The two might have fallen asleep while the grill was in operation.