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McDuffie hires ex-Effingham administrator

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 2:26pm


SPRINGFIELD, Ga. -- Former Effingham County Administrator David Crawley has taken a job with McDuffie County.

Crawley will serve as county manager.

Crawley has been working as Springfield’s public works director since he left his position with the county.

He was forced out of his Effingham County job in May of 2013 by three commissioners amid controversy over the county audit.

The chairman and two other commissioners all said there were no major audit issues and no significant problems with county operations.

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Motive mystery in mountain lion story

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 12:19pm

Police said a man accused of lying about an escaped mountain lion has failed to provide a motive for the fabricated story.

Billy J. Lunsford, 55, was arrested Monday on charges of providing false information to a public safety officer after he said his black, domesticated mountain lion was stolen from Aquarium Pets on Richland Avenue West.

Aiken Public Safety spent several hours Sunday searching for the mountain lion, which he described as being 3 feet tall, weighing 100 pounds and wearing a dog harness.

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Woman handcuffed after profanity

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 12:17pm

A North Augusta woman is facing charges of disorderly conduct after telling children to stop squeezing the bread on Monday.

The children’s mother told North Augusta police she overheard Danielle Christine Wolf, 22, of Seymour Drive, using profanity and telling her children repeatedly to stop “squishing the bread” at Kroger, 1284 Knox Ave., according to a police report.

Wolf admitted to police she made the comments.

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Truck driver killed in McDuffie County

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 12:03pm


A Louisville, Ga., man was killed in McDuffie County on Monday night when his tractor-trailer collided with a similar vehicle.

Authorities identified him as Jason Wright, 40.

Police said the accident occurred about 10:40 p.m. when Aniel Ortiz Bofill, 28, ran the stop sign at the intersection of the Thomson Bypass and Wrens Highway. Bofill’s semi was then hit by an approaching tractor-trailer, killing Wright.

It is the intersection’s third fatal accident since the bypass was completed about four years ago.

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Georgia Medicaid surge leads nation

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 11:50am


Federal figures show Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare enrollment jumped 16 percent since October; the highest percentage increase among states that rejected the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The Georgia jump greatly exceeds that of the second-highest increase among non-expansion states ‑ 9.5 percent in Montana.

Expanding Medicaid involves extending enrollment in the government program to many low-income people who had not previously been eligible.

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Williams death: Hollywood reacts

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 8:47am

SAN FRANCISCO — He was the funniest guy in the room, something that made it all the harder for friends and fans to accept that beneath that reservoir of frenetic energy and seemingly endless good humor resided demons so dark they could push Robin Williams to suicide.


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Atlanta house fire kills 3

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 8:02am



ATLANTA — Three people died in a house fire overnight in southwest Atlanta.


A neighbor tells WGCL-TV that a lightning bolt woke her and may have caused the fire. The fire broke out just after 2 a.m. at the brick, split-level ranch home on Revere Road.


The area west of I-285 is about 11 miles southwest of downtown Atlanta.


Crews remain at the scene on Tuesday morning. Names of the individuals have not been released.

County residents decry new tax increase at public hearings

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:19pm

A few hundred Augusta residents held back little in voicing their displeasure with a 1.75-mill property tax increase city commissioners are proposing to fill a deficit and provide employees a $500 salary boost.

Citing their own fixed incomes, evidence of rampant government waste and the loss of residents to other counties, few showed any support for Augusta’s first tax hike in seven years.

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New alternative school principal won't seek student busing

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 11:16pm


The new principal of Richmond County’s alternative program said he will not pick up where his predecessor left off in fighting to secure transportation for the school’s students.

Greg Thompson said there appears to be no financial or logistical option to make a bus route possible and that that the effort must come from the superintendent’s cabinet or Board of Education – not the principal’s office.

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Teacher plans to make history "personal"

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 10:36pm


If Cross Creek High School history teacher Lauren Beck had any first day jitters, she didn’t let anyone in her first period class know it.

As Beck reads off the school syllabus and details classroom rules, she speaks confidently, making eye contact with her students as she walks around the front of the classroom. She cracks jokes, keeping her recitation of the rules lighthearted.

“This is the most boring thing you’ll do here for the rest of the year,” Beck said. “I promise.”

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Augusta Commission, Utilities reach $290,000 settlement with contractor Pittman Construction

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 9:11pm


The Augusta Commission agreed Monday to pay $290,000 to settle a claim that Augusta Utilities caused a delay in the ongoing widening of Bobby Jones Expressway near Deans Bridge Road.

Utility Director Tom Wiedmeier said contractor Pittman Construction was getting ready to work at the site near the Augusta Fire Department administration when it found city sanitary sewer and water lines in the way.

“We scrambled to get our stuff out of the way, then they filed a claim against us for delaying them,” Wiedmeier said.

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PTSD can lead to heart disease

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 9:00pm


Post-traumatic stress disorder can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and it is not just combat veterans at risk, doctors said Monday.

Dr. Steven S. Coughlin, an adjunct professor of epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health and a former epidemiologist for the Department of Veterans Affairs, provided an overview of PTSD and the risk of heart disease. The effects of PTSD can have adverse effects on a number of systems that can affect the cardiovascular system, he said.

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Coroner requests funds to cover transportation costs, employee salary

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 8:51pm


In an effort to mitigate the economic impact of an absent medical examiner, Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen is requesting additional funding to help float transportation costs and pay for a part-time employee.

The proposal, which calls for $30,000 generated from the department’s agreement with Georgia Regents Medical Center Tissue Donor Services, will go before the Augusta Commission on Aug. 19.

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Police arrest man in mountain lion case

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 8:50pm

A North Augusta man is in custody after police say he filed a false report of a missing mountain lion in Aiken on Sunday.

Billy J. Lunsford, 55, was arrested Monday evening on a charge of providing false information to a public safety officer after he said his black, domesticated mountain lion was stolen from Aquarium Pets on Richland Avenue West, according to Aiken Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jake Mahoney.

Lunsford was arrested by the North Augusta Department of Public Safety before being turned over to the Aiken Department of Public Safety, Mahoney stated.

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Comedian Robin Williams dead in apparent suicide

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 7:23pm


SAN RAFAEL, Calif. — Robin Williams, the Academy Award winner and comic supernova whose explosions of pop culture riffs and impressions dazzled audiences for decades and made him a gleamy-eyed laureate for the Information Age, died Monday in an apparent suicide. He was 63.

Williams was pronounced dead at his home in California on Monday, according to the sheriff’s office in Marin County, north of San Francisco. The sheriff’s office said a preliminary investigation shows the cause of death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.

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Arrest warrant obtained for man who reported missing mountain lion

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 5:57pm

Police are seeking a North Augusta man they say filed a false report of a missing mountain lion in Aiken on Sunday.

The Aiken Department of Public Safety has obtained an arrest warrant for Billy J. Lunsford, 55, on a charge of providing false information to a public safety officer after he said his black, domesticated mountain lion was stolen from Aquarium Pets on Richland Avenue West, according to a news release.

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Augusta goat maintenance program delayed another day

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 4:37pm

Yet another delay has slowed the start of Augusta’s program to use goats to maintain area detention ponds.

Engineering Director Abie Ladson said the planned deployment of several goats to a Hephzibah pond Monday was held up after a shelter intended to house the goats at the site fell apart late last week and a new one had to be built.

The start of the pilot program was first announced for last Thursday, but delayed by veterinary care city officials said the goats had to receive.

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Poultry operation eyes Aiken County

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 3:15pm



A new poultry farm could be coming to Aiken County.

Buffie’s Poultry Farm is planned for a site 35 miles east of downtown Aiken, provided it receives a state agricultural permit. The farm site in Salley also sits 35 miles north of downtown Barnwell.


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Douglas County football player dies

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 2:50pm


DOUGLASVILLE, Ga. — A Georgia high school football player is dead after drinking too much fluid during practice.

Relatives of 17-year-old Zyrees Oliver had him removed from life support early Monday in a hospital in Marietta. He had no brain activity.

Oliver was declared dead a short time later. He played football at Douglas County High School west of Atlanta.

Relatives say the youth complained of cramping during football practice on Tuesday. Aunt Tammy Chavis says the teen drank two gallons of water and two more gallons of Gatorade.

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Streamline rules, lawmakers told

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 1:35pm



ATLANTA -- Rules requiring shampoo and dish-washing soap to be in locked cabinets to protect teenagers at private, state-licensed facilities are among those listed Monday as in need of change.

A legislative committee created to study the issues heard from a handful of facilities executives and the former head of the state’s welfare agency who now runs a trade association for the facilities.

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