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Lightning strikes Columbia air passenger

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 6:33am

COLUMBIA — Officials say lightning struck a female passenger who was getting off a plane at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

Multiple media outlets report an airport spokeswoman says the woman, whose identity hasn’t been given, was traveling on an American Airlines flight Saturday.

Airport officials say the plane was traveling from Hartford, Connecticut; to Charlotte, North Carolina; when it was diverted to Columbia due to bad weather.

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Hot weather, high water at Thurmond Lake attracting big crowds

Sun, 06/28/2015 - 11:14pm

First came spring rains that filled Thurmond Lake to the brim. Then came hot weather that on many days has filled campgrounds, beaches and boat ramps to capacity.

Ideal conditions for boating, fishing and swimming at Thurmond Lake have kept park rangers on their toes, especially on weekends. In May, user fees at Army Corps of Engineers’ campgrounds, day-use areas and the visitor center at Thurmond Dam were up 25 percent compared with 2014, said recreation chief manager Chrissy Alford. April fees were up 12 percent.

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Unsolved homicide: Jason Larry Toomer's 1999 death remains a mystery

Sun, 06/28/2015 - 8:25pm

In broad daylight, an early 1980s model Olds­mobile drove by the home of Jason Lar­ry Toomer and several shots were fired.

Two bullets struck the 26-year-old, killing the Augusta resident on March 13, 1999.

More than 16 years later, Toomer’s death remains one of two unsolved Richmond County homicides from 1999.

“He had enemies back in his high school years, but he thought he had put all of that to rest. Something like this, it hurts your heart,” Toomer’s relative, Edward Anthony, told The Augusta Chronicle after the shooting.

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Bubba Watson wins Travelers in a playoff

Sun, 06/28/2015 - 7:05pm

CROMWELL, Conn. — Bubba Watson made an 8-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole Sunday to outlast Paul Casey and win the Travelers Championship for the second time.

Casey had overcome a three-stroke deficit with five to play, tying Watson at 16-under 264.

But Casey lost his chance at the title while playing the par-4 18th for the third time, when his third shot from a greenside bunker flew over the green and landed on the cart path.

Watson, meanwhile, hit his 160-yard approach just to the right of the hole.

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Pardon Our Mess: Utility markings

Sun, 06/28/2015 - 6:47pm

WHERE: Across the Au­gus­ta area

WHAT: Painted lines and symbols marring sidewalks and roads

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE: All utilities, including Augusta’s utilities department, must mark all of their underground lines before anyone is allowed to dig. It is a state law.

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Shoplifiting suspect swapped tags, report says

Sun, 06/28/2015 - 2:56pm

A Wrens woman arrested Sat­urday is accused of changing the prices of items before buying them at an Augusta business.

Sherese Monique Simp­son, 30, switched price tags on four dresses at Wal-Mart on Deans Bridge Road and used self-checkout to pay for them, according to a police report.

Simpson was detained by store security after leaving the store and was taken to the Charles B. Webster Detention Center. She is charged with misdemeanor theft by shoplifting.

6-year-old injured in attempted home invasion

Sun, 06/28/2015 - 2:47pm

Deputies are searching for two men accused of an attempted home invasion in Hephzibah early Saturday.

The suspects were identified as Emory Wilson, 25, and Venturi Wilson, 28, police said.

Two black men tried to break into a home in the 4100 block of Markwalter Road, according to a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office report. Deputies responded to the home about 12:23 a.m.

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3 people injured in Atlanta shootings

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 4:19pm

ATLANTA — Three people, including a 14-year-old girl, were injured in two shootings in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward.

Atlanta police said they do not believe the shootings are connected.

Officer Ralph Woolfolk told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ( ) that authorities responded to a shooting around 2:40 a.m. Saturday. Police found a 14-year-old girl with a wound to her right leg.

Authorities said they believe the girl was hit by a stray gunshot and suffered minor injuries.

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Canine from Florida named World's Ugliest Dog

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 2:53pm

PETALUMA, Calif. — A 10-year-old mutt named Quasi Modo, whose spinal birth defects left her a bit hunchbacked, is the winner of this year's World's Ugliest Dog contest.

The pit bull-Dutch shepherd mix and her owner took the $1,500 prize Friday night, besting 25 other dogs competing in the contest that applauds imperfection, organizers said.

Quasi Modo was abandoned at an animal shelter before being adopted by a veterinarian in Loxahatchee, Florida, according to her biography posted on the contest's website.

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Woman, 69, dead following wreck on Walton Way

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 11:54pm


An Augusta woman was killed in a wreck on Walton Way late Friday.

Mary Ann Lacek, 69, of Bell Drive, died when her 2005 Isuzu Rodeo was struck as she entered the intersection of Walton Way and 11th Street, Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen said.

Lacek, who had to be extricated from the vehicle, was taken to Georgia Regents Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 8:38 p.m.

Her body will be sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Atlanta for an autopsy on Sunday.


City of Augusta worker arrested after funds go missing

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 9:49pm


An administrative assistant with the city of Augusta’s Fleet Management department is accused of theft by taking after more than $66,000 was reported missing.

Patricia Lee Ystenes, of North Augusta, was booked into the Charles B. Webster Detention Center on a charge of felony theft by taking, according to jail records. She has since been released on bond.

According to a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office incident report, an investigator met with city Finance Director Donna Williams last week in reference to the theft.

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Vehicle pursuits in Augusta area usually end with arrest

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 8:48pm

You can try to run from police, but recent numbers show that vehicle pursuits in the Augusta area likely won’t end in your favor.

This week, The Augusta Chronicle analyzed 125 Richmond County vehicle pursuits that happened between January 2014 and June, finding that law enforcement either lost sight of the suspect or called off the chase just 15.2 percent of the time.

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Georgia Regents' men's basketball team stays with recruiting formula

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 7:40pm

Georgia Regents coach Dip Metress stayed true to his recruiting philosophy for this year’s class.

The 12th-year Jaguars coach likes bringing in mostly high school players to the program. For the upcoming season, Metress signed six prep players and a senior transfer.

“We’re building around the guys we have coming back,” Metress said. “We’re going to be young at spots, but I’d rather be young and talented.”

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Obama delivers eulogy for slain state Sen. Clementa Pinckney

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 4:49pm

CHARLESTON, S.C. — President Obama delivered a passionate discourse on America’s racial history Friday in his eulogy for a state senator and pastor, slain along with eight other black churchgoers in what police called a hate crime.

“What a life Clementa Pinckney lived!” Obama said to rounds of applause and “amens.” “What an example he set. What a model for his faith. And then to lose him at 41. Slain in his sanctuary with eight wonderful members of his flock.”

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ATC scholarship deadline Wednesday

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 2:26pm

The Aiken Technical College Foundation will award more than $75,000 in scholarships for the 2015-16 school year, and applications are needed by Wednesday.


According to a news release, the foundation will award 25 $1,000 scholarships to graduating seniors enrolling at ATC this fall as part of the college’s Within Reach initiative. The initiative is a joint effort between ATC and the Aiken County Public School District to increase the number of Aiken County students enrolled in college.


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New Walton Way traffic light test begins

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 1:54pm


A new Walton Way traffic signal will go into flash mode starting Tuesday.

The new light at Walton Way and D’Antignac Street will remain on flash until July 7. Then it will become fully operational, allowing for weather and if testing goes according to plan, according to a Department of Transportation release.

Pedestrians and motorists are urged to be aware of the new light.


Court OKs same-sex marriage

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 10:08am

WASHINGTON --  Same-sex couples won the right to marry nationwide Friday as a divided Supreme Court handed a crowning victory to the gay rights movement, setting off a jubilant cascade of long-delayed weddings in states where they had been forbidden.

"No longer may this liberty be denied," said Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The vote was narrow — 5-4 — but Kennedy's majority opinion was clear and firm: "The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry."

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Bank moving out of Wells Fargo Building

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 9:46am

For the first time in its 48-year history, the bank building at 699 Broad St. might not have a bank branch in it.

Wells Fargo announced plans to shut down its first-floor branch by November and remove signs from the 17-floor tower known as the Wells Fargo Building.

The San Francisco-based banking giant cited “customer preferences” as the reason for closing the downtown Augusta branch.

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FBI joins church fire probe

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 9:08am

WARRENVILLE -- The FBI joined other police agencies investigating a fire that destroyed a predominantly black Aiken County church early Friday.

Midland Valley firefighters were called to Glover Grove Baptist Church on Project Road in Warrenville about 3:30 a.m. The fire, which was fully involved when they arrived, took about an hour to extinguish, according to a sheriff’s office news release. No one was injured.

When the Rev. Bobby Jones arrived at the scene, it was already a total loss.

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Child put in trash can; Ga. teacher fired

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 7:38am


MARIETTA, Ga. — Education officials have voted to fire a Georgia special education teacher accused of putting a student with autism in a trash can.


Local media report the Cobb County School Board on Thursday voted to terminate 45-year-old Mary Katherine Pursley’s contract for the 2015-16 school year.


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