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Alliance Defending Freedom attorney speaks in Augusta about preserving religious liberty

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 9:53pm

Ken Fletcher is the first to admit that religious freedom has been tested throughout the course of history.

“The 1960s were a struggle, as many views began to shift in the United States,” said Fletcher, the senior director of leadership development at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). “In fact, it seems like every decade has had varying degrees of tests … But I believe this current time has presented our biggest challenge in terms of preserving religious freedom.”

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Mayor: Local 'My Brother's Keeper' initiative has community focus

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 8:08pm

Inviting Rotary Club of Augusta members to attend a Thursday summit on becoming a “My Brother’s Keeper” community, Mayor Hardie Davis said the White House initiative won’t become another example of “big government” in Augusta.

“This is not another big government program that is going to tax or require those of us to create some new government office,” Davis said. “It is, in fact, a White House initiative that’s asking mayors to lead the charge of pooling resources in their community … where mayors have recognized that we cannot let our children fall by the wayside.”

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Law license for Augusta lawyer reinstated

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 6:26pm

The Georgia Supreme Court has lifted the suspension of the law license of Augusta attorney Christopher Nicholson.

The suspension was temporarily ordered on Dec. 22 when Nicholson did not respond to the State Bar of Georgia’s notice of investigation. The state’s highest court lifted the suspension on Jan. 15, finding Nicholson has now made an adequate response.

The reason behind the investigation is considered confidential unless the Supreme Court ultimately rules some form of public discipline is necessary.

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Bipartisan leadership for Augusta delegation

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 5:35pm

ATLANTA -- The entire legislative delegation met Tuesday to organize for the current two-year term in office, voting unanimously to re-elect Rep. Wayne Howard chairman.

Howard, an Augusta Democrat, has held the post for several sessions. Rep. Barbara Sims, an Augusta Republican was elected vice chairwoman, and Sen. Harold Jones, a freshman Democrat from Augusta, won the post of secretary.

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Bodies identified as missing couple

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 3:25pm

McRAE, Ga. - The Telfair County sheriff says the bodies found Monday are a missing Georgia couple and the suspect has been charged with murder and robbery.

The car belonging to the pair, who were reported missing after traveling to meet a person claiming to sell a classic car has been found in a lake, and two bodies were found nearby, authorities said Monday.

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Palace Malice winding up training in Aiken

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 1:47pm


Horse racing fans only have a few more days to see Palace Malice in action at the Aiken Training Track.

Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell said his prized colt will work 3/8 of a mile Friday morning and will be shipped to Florida on Sunday. A light jog is planned for Saturday.

The public is invited to watch him work at the training facility on Two Notch Road.

Palace Malice’s daily breezes and gallops begin at 8:30, but Campbell said the afternoon walking and grazing sessions have been canceled.

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Georgia execution set tonight

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 12:50pm



A Georgia man whose lawyers say he is intellectually disabled and who has come within hours of execution three times in recent years is scheduled to die tonight unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes.


Warren Lee Hill, 54, is set to be put to death at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson. Different courts have intervened with temporary reprieves at the last minute on three previous occasions.


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CSX train carrying chemicals derails near Allendale, S.C.

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 9:08am

MARTIN, S.C. — A CSX train carrying chemicals derailed in Martin about 2:40 a.m. Tuesday and hazardous-materials teams are working the scene near the Archroma plant, which has been evacuated.

Allendale County sheriff’s Lt. Steven Robinson, who is serving as the public information officer at the staging area nearby, said they have reports of two people being injured.

“They were taken first to Allendale County Hospital and then to Doctors Hospital in Augusta,” he said.

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SC teacher faces student sex charge

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 01/27/2015 - 9:04am

CLOVER, S.C. — A former Clover High School teacher has been arrested and charged with sexual battery of a student and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The York County Sheriff’s Office told local media outlets that 24-year-old Michael Landreth was arrested Monday afternoon.

The charge states that the incident involved a student who was 16 or 17 and did not involve aggravated force of coercion.

Clover schools spokesman Mychal Frost said principal Mark Hopkins learned last week about inappropriate behavior involving a teacher and a student.

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Cross Creek High School evacuated following bomb threat Monday

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 11:02pm


A Richmond County school was evacuated Monday after a custodian found a bomb threat written on a bathroom stall.

According to a statement from the Richmond County Board of Education, the message was found at Cross Creek High School and reported to administrators. The building was evacuated while the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit conducted a search.

Nothing unusual was found and no students were harmed. Deputies and school board safety officers later allowed students and faculty back in the building.

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Closed-door personnel matters dominate commission meeting

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 10:48pm

Personnel matters involving city lawyers and human resources occupied Augusta Commission members and the mayor for hours Monday, though no formal action resulted.

At one point, general counsel Andrew MacKenzie and staff attorneys Kenneth Bray, Jody Smither­man and Kayla Cooper were sent out from a closed-door session.

Commissioner Marion Williams, who has questioned MacKenzie’s performance and salary disparities among law office staff, said before the session that he wanted to be sure the commission and mayor could discuss the lawyers without their being present.

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Drugs found in inmate's locker during random search

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 10:13pm


Sixteen grams of marijuana were found in an Richmond County Correctional Institution inmate’s locker last week, deputies say.

Richmond County sheriff’s deputies were called to the institution at 2314 Tobacco Rd. on Thursday in reference to drugs being discovered, according to an incident report.

Correctional Officer William Davis told deputies while conducting a random search on a locker belonging to inmate Sedewick Shaw, 54, he found three small bundles of marijuana in plastic wrap and stuffed into a rubber glove.

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Group blasts hospital over in-house McDonald's

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 9:59pm


The McDonald’s restaurant inside the Children’s Hospital of Georgia is part of a “misaligned” relationship that includes apparently tying the rent the restaurant pays to the hospital to sales and allows McDonald’s to make a “McDelivery” to the sick kids, according to a physician group and documents obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.

The children’s hospital was declared among “the six worst public hospital food environments” by the Physicians Committee for Re­spon­sible Medicine, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.

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Shooting incident led deputies to stolen vehicles, drugs

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 9:40pm


A shooting incident late last week led deputies to two stolen vehicles, according to a sheriff’s office report.

Just before 3 a.m. Friday, Richmond County sheriff’s deputies were called to the Super 8 motel at 2136 Gordon Highway in reference to shots fired.

Deputies found 19-year-old Stephen L. Carpenter suffering from a wound to his right arm. After searching the area, they found 28-year-old Stephen Ray Anderson, who fled on foot before deputies arrived on scene. Anderson was found in the same area with a 9mm semi-automatic and a .38 Special-caliber revolver.

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Budget cuts likely for library system

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 8:40pm


A reduction in hours might not be the only change at Richmond County libraries as officials look to redirect money without sacrificing services.

The Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System Board of Trustees was told by Director Darlene Price on Monday that even with reduced hours it will have to look within its budget to make cuts to fix funding problems.

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Legislation pushes for VA leader accountability

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 8:32pm

Willie Glover, a National Guard soldier awarded an honorable discharge for his service in the Persian Gulf War, sometimes wishes he had died overseas so he wouldn’t have faced the “unbearable” pain of navigating the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system.

During two weeks of rain, military records show, the Aiken County veteran cracked five vertebrae in his neck and injured his right wrist in April 2001 after he slipped and fell on a wooden walkway while working security at a U.S. base in Bosnia.

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Sheriff's nephew pleads guilty to trafficking marijuana

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 7:36pm

A second nephew of Co­lum­bia County Sheriff Clay Whittle who was caught in a truck carrying marijuana pleaded guilty Monday.

Walter Taylor Hensley, 23, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to trafficking marijuana.

Though the crime carries a mandatory minimum five-year prison term, Judge Daniel J. Craig sentenced him to 10 years on probation under the First Offender Act.
Hensley was arrested with his cousin, Kenneth A. Whittle, and James D. Hurt on Sept. 20, 2013.

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Savannah River Site holding public info sessions in Augusta

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 7:33pm


A public information session to educate residents on projects at Savannah River Site is Wednesday.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy site in Aiken County will present four information sessions on the site, according to a news release. Participants can choose to attend two of four sessions, each lasting 45 minutes, on nuclear materials management, waste management, environmental monitoring and restoration and the Savannah River National Laboratory.

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Police urge caution in meeting online buyers, sellers

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 7:18pm


Shopping sites, like Craigslist, that connect sellers with buyers are pretty safe locally, police say, but they ask the public to use caution when meeting a stranger.

A Marietta couple, Bud and June Runion, recently went missing after going to meet a man in McRae, Ga., who responded to Bud Runion’s ad seeking a 1966 Mustang. The couple’s vehicle was found in a lake on Monday and two bodies were located nearby, according to police.

Ronnie “Jay” Adrian Towns, 28, turned himself into authorities Monday after police in Telfair County issued a warrant for his arrest.

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Augusta man's confession after 12 years ends with prison time

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/26/2015 - 6:51pm

An Augusta man who surrendered to the sheriff’s office and confessed to a previously unreported child molestation pleaded guilty Monday.

Joseph R. Clark, 40, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to rape and other sexual assault charges. Judge Daniel J. Craig imposed the mandatory minimum 10-year prison term and added a 20-year probation sentence to be served after Clark is released.

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