Across the area

RICHMOND COUNTY

Man in hospital after truck flips into canal

A 24-year-old Gainesville, Ga., man was taken to the hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries after driving his vehicle into the Augusta Canal late Tuesday.

Edward Puckett was driving a Toyota Tundra south on 10th Street when police say he disregarded a stop sign, crossed Walker Street and took a 30-foot plunge into the canal. The truck landed on its roof in about five feet of water.

Three other passengers in the car -- Jennifer Burkhalter, 29, of Augusta; Kristin Cave, 27, of Augusta; and Jess Logan, 30, of Augusta -- escaped unharmed, said Richmond County sheriff's Cpl. Brandon Reeves.

Cpl. Reeves said Mr. Puckett will be charged with failure to stop for a stop sign, improper movement on a roadway and DUI pending the results of the toxicology test. The driver told police he had been at a bar.

Meeting to focus on special needs children

The Richmond County school system's Parent Advisory Committee will hold a meeting for parents with special needs children from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Barbara Ball, of The Berry Center Inc., and Wink O'Neal, of Trinity Hospice Community Bereavement Center, will speak about adult day care and bereavement support. The meeting will be held at Bayvale Elementary School, 3309 Milledgeville Road.

For more information, call Cassandra Stone or Jessica Ebron at (706) 826-1132.

Concert will benefit soldiers, Toys for Tots

The Warren Road Elementary Nutrition Advisory Council will stage a concert from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 4 to benefit the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots.

A Jingle Bell Rock! will feature 10 to 15 musical acts, including Richmond County schools Superintendent Dana Bedden. Anyone who brings an unwrapped toy will receive a free bowl of chili. Donated toiletries will be accepted for troops in Iraq.

AIKEN COUNTY

4 face drug charges after investigation

Aiken County investigators arrested four men Tuesday morning at a home in Clearwater, seizing drugs, guns and money, after a monthlong investigation.

Quiton Daniels, 19, of Wagener, is charged with possession of crack cocaine; Charles Davis, 53, of Detroit, is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia; Julius Brown, 25, of Augusta, is charged with possession of crack cocaine and possession of marijuana; and Kevin Tanksley, 27, of Augusta, is charged with possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, according to the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators with the sheriff's office, along with SWAT, served a search warrant on Westside Drive in Clearwater, where they found crack cocaine in pill bottles, hydrocodone, several firearms and several hundred dollars in cash.

Public Safety officer suspended after arrest

A North Augusta Department of Public Safety officer was arrested Tuesday on a charge of unlawful neglect by a legal custodian.

Sgt. Travis W. Redd Sr., 38, of the 200 block of Ashley Circle, North Augusta, was arrested after being accused of pinching a child on the chest with both hands while in a car Nov. 20, according to the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

Sgt. Redd has been with the North Augusta department for 10 years. He has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of an investigation. He was being held Tuesday at the Aiken County Detention Center.

Officer wants review of suspension, demotion

A North Augusta Department of Public Safety officer received a five-day suspension as the result of an investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, according the city of North Augusta.

Robbie Bell was suspended without pay and had his rank reduced from lieutenant to officer, according to records released to The Augusta Chronicle . He has requested a review of the suspension and demotion.

The officer was accused of using excessive force during a June 2007 arrest.

Advance voting for runoff ends today

More than 3,600 Richmond County residents have cast ballots so far in advance voting for Tuesday's runoff election.

On Tuesday, 1,711 voters cast ballots at the three sites, bringing the two-day total to 3,629. Last week, 2,262 ballots were cast in early voting.

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, today is last day for advance voting in both Richmond and Columbia counties.

Richmond County residents may vote between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Board of Elections office, Henry Brigham Recreation Center at 2463 Golden Camp Road or Warren Road Recreation Center at 300 Warren Road.

Columbia County residents may vote between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Board of Elections office in Evans.

Country club site will be auctioned Jan. 29

The auction date of the North Augusta Golf & Country Club has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Jan. 29, according to real estate firm J.P. King, which will auction the property.

A price for the 135-acre property is not listed on the firm's Web site. Members were notified of the auction by mail Nov. 18.

Ga. nets record pass rate on writing test

Nearly nine out of 10 Georgia high school students passed the state's writing test this fall.

The state released data Tuesday showing 89 percent of the 106,000 11th-graders who took the test in September either met or exceeded standards. That's up from 88 percent last year.

This year's pass rate is the highest the state has seen. The test includes a two-page composition on an assigned topic.

Students must pass the two-hour test to earn a high school diploma. Students can retake the test if they do not pass it the first time.

Roads Report

Crews will be resurfacing the southbound lanes of Richland Avenue between York Street and Vaucluse Road on Monday, according to Jeff Terry, of the South Carolina Department of Transportation. There will be some lane closures and detours in the area. Mr. Terry said workers hope to complete the construction by Monday night.