Across the area

John Curry/Staff
Gas prices topped $2 on Friday in Augusta.

Mail carriers will take food donations today

Letter carriers will participate in the nationwide Stamp Out Hunger food drive today.

People are asked to leave nonperishable foods in a sturdy bag next to their mailbox before their regular mail delivery time.

Deadline is Monday for plane pull fundraiser

There is still time to sign up for the May 30 plane pull fundraiser sponsored by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta.

Teams of 20 will compete to see which team can pull a Boeing 727 plane 12 feet in the shortest time. The plane weighs 155,000 pounds without fuel.

Monday is the deadline to register a team. To compete, businesses must pay a $1,000 fee. Nonprofits, schools, churches and community clubs must pay a $500 fee. Proceeds will go to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta. For more information or to register, call (706) 724-5901.

Early voting will begin Monday on tax package

Early voting begins Monday in Richmond County for the June 16 special election, which is a referendum on the proposed $184.7 million special-purpose sales tax package.

Polls will be open at the Board of Elections office at the Municipal Building, 530 Greene St., room 104, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through June 12.

Advance voting will be from June 8-12 at the Henry Brigham Recreation Center at 2463 Golden Camp Road and Warren Road Recreation Center at 300 Warren Road. Polls will be open at those locations from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The voter registration deadline is May 18.

Murder-suicide victims had lived in Augusta

Two women who died Wednesday in a Statesboro murder-suicide appear to be former Augusta residents.

Office personnel at Glenn Hills High School confirmed that Naumbyia German, 26, attended the Augusta school.

Investigators say Ms. German was killed by roommate Kiona Thais Lively, who then took her own life.

Augusta Chronicle archives indicate Ms. Lively gave Augusta as her hometown in a 2006 listing of Georgia Southern University graduates.

Gas prices start climbing

An increase in gas prices has already started before the summer driving season , according to officials with AAA South.

In Augusta, the average for regular Friday was $1.99, according to AAA's fuel gauge report Friday morning. That's up from $1.95 on Thursday. A month ago, Augustans were paying an average of $1.82.

"This is pretty typical to see slight upticks in retail gasoline prices, especially as we get closer to Memorial Day weekend," said AAA South spokeswoman Jessica Brady.

What's behind the increase is the change to summer blends, which have more additives and, therefore, are more expensive, Ms. Brady explained.

The price of gas is still a bargain compared with last year. On May 8, 2008, the average price in Augusta was $3.53 for a gallon of regular gasoline, according to AAA.

Elmore's mother criticizes media

Two days after a grand jury cleared two Richmond County sheriff's deputies in December's fatal shooting of Justin Elmore in the Cherry Tree Crossing complex, his family issued a statement criticizing police actions and the news media.

In a letter delivered Friday to The Chronicle, Mr. Elmore's mother, Dora Ward, said the sheriff's office "abused their authority, and the media portrayed false information to justify the murder of my son."

Read Dora Ward's statement here. (PDF format)