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Rants & Raves

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 4:51pm

Comments from readers:

WHY IN THE WORLD did The Chronicle change the format for the Mini Page? Please go back to the old way; the new way is for the birds.

JOHN KERRY SAID that if we don’t pass the Iran deal, our currency will stop being the reserve currency of the world. Why would he say this unless he realizes the dollar is soon to collapse and be worthless?

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Cooler, wetter winter might be ahead for Augusta

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 4:40pm

A strong El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean could signal a wetter, cooler winter than normal for the Southeast, Georgia’s top climatologist said. It could also mean less possibility of a late tropical storm, Hurricane Danny aside, State Climatologist Bill Murphey said.

The El Niño weather pattern is preventing a normal upwelling of cooler water in the Pacific, resulting in extremely warm sea surface temperatures, and that could affect the U.S. weather in the coming months if previous El Niño patterns are a guide, he said.

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Dow Jones drops more than 530 points

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 4:16pm

NEW YORK — Growing concerns about a slowdown in China shook markets around the world on Friday, driving the U.S. stock market to its biggest drop in nearly four years.

The rout started in Asia and quickly spread to Europe, battering major markets in Germany and France. In the U.S., the selling started early and never let up. Investors ditched beaten-down oil companies, as well as Netflix, Apple and other technology darlings. Oil plunged below $40 for the first time since the financial crisis, and government bonds rallied as investors raced into hiding spots.

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Paine College gets new police chief

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 3:47pm


Paine College has appointed a new interim police chief and campus safety director.

Leroy Morgan Jr., was introduced to the campus as its new police chief during the opening conference for faculty and staff help on Aug. 3. He takes over for Joseph Nelson who recently left to become chief of police at South Carolina State University.

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Guilty verdict in brutal assault

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 2:42pm

It took a Richmond County jury only minutes Friday to convict Ronnie Lee Jones of aggravated battery and rape in a brutal assault on a woman a year ago today.

On the anniversary of perhaps the most horrible day of her life, the woman who still bears the scars from being dosed with gasoline and set on fire saw justice done to the man who assaulted her.

Jones, 31, had tried to convince the Richmond County Superior Court jury that what happened in the early morning hours of Aug. 22, 2014, at his father’s garage was an accident that the victim caused.

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Aiken jailer charged in wife's death did not appear in court

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:43pm

AIKEN — Matthew Jordan Blakley, a former Aiken County jailer arrested in June and charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of his wife, did not appear in an Aiken County courtroom Friday and might be excused again for a second scheduled appearance Oct. 2.

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Sego Middle School locked down after report of gun on campus

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 12:35pm

A prank call by a Sego Middle School student about a gun on campus led police to lockdown the school earlier today.

Communications Specialist Israel Butler said the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office received a call stating a gun was on the campus. The school was immediately put on lockdown while police searched for possible weapons.

After an investigation, police determined the call came from a student’s cellphone. That student has been identified and will be punished, Butler said.

The school remained on a soft lockdown for the rest of the day as a precaution.

Shark bites boy off SC coast

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 11:41am



MURRELLS INLET, S.C. — Officials say a 15-year-old boy is being treated for injuries to his hand and leg after being bitten by a shark on the South Carolina coast near Myrtle Beach.


Assistant Chief J.R. Haney of the Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District says the youth was bitten off Garden City Beach on Thursday and taken to a hospital.


In a statement, the hospital says an emergency room physician confirmed that the injuries were shark bites. The boy was expected to be released from the emergency room later Thursday.

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Coyote with rabies found in Columbia County

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 11:08am

A coyote found Thursday in the Knob Hill Farm Road area of Columbia County has tested positive for rabies, the county Health Department said.

Because this area consists of both rural pasture land with livestock and suburban communities, the health department will be distributing a letter to homes in the area alerting residents of possible warning signs.

The neighborhoods include homes on Knob Hill Farm, Pryor Drive and Bryant Cove.

Private road paved, Ga. mayor arrested

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 9:55am



JEFFERSON, Ga. -- The mayor of Nicholson was released from the Jackson County Jail Wednesday after posting a $10,000 bond on a felony theft charge alleging he used tax money to pave a private road.

But the investigation into Mayor Ronnie Maxwell’s spending habits isn’t over, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

After Maxwell was charged with theft, the GBI announced agents are continuing to examine the “financial expenditures of Maxwell.”

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Marijuana prices vary across US

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 7:27am


ATHENS, Ga. -- If you’re looking for low-cost marijuana, head west.

But the far north is where you’ll find the highest prices, University of Georgia graduate student Mingshu Wang found after he set out to learn how cannabis prices vary across the United States.

Wang is from China, where pot is strictly illegal, even for medical use, and he’s been fascinated by the changing legal landscape he’s seen in the United States over the past few years, he said.

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UGA chaplain program under fire

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 7:17am


ATHENS, Ga. -- A group that advocates the separation of church and government has called on University of Georgia President Jere Morehead to abolish the position of UGA football team chaplain, now held by UGA football coach Mark Richt’s brother-in-law.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation also accused Richt of using his “public office” to raise money for a Christian ministry.

Richt raised funds in 2014 for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at a gala event in the Butts-Mehre Building, the headquarters of the UGA Athletic Association, the group charged.

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Columbia County charter school plan faces rejection again

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 11:07pm

The group behind Colum­bia County’s proposed arts-infused charter school is bracing for its second rejection in two years from the State Charter Schools Com­mis­sion.

Board members of the Co­lum­­bia County School for the Arts have been informed that the commission’s staff is recommending that their petition be denied at the commission’s meeting Wednesday.

Todd Shafer, a founding member of the charter school group and a school leader, said the board was hoping to delay the commission’s
vote and address its concerns.

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Man with gun robs Augusta gas station

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 9:16pm

A man wearing a black and green ski-mask robbed an Augusta gas station late Wednesday night, fleeing with an unknown amount of cash.

Richmond County sheriff’s deputies were called to the Circle K gas station off Peach Orchard Road at 11:26 p.m. regarding an armed robbery in progress, according to an incident report. The clerk said a black man walked into the store and pointed a gun at her while demanding money.

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Augusta attorney Timothy E. Moses withdraws from federal practice

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 8:58pm


An Augusta attorney who admitted he cheated his former law firm partners voluntarily withdrew his name from the roll of attorneys permitted to practice in the federal courts of the Southern District of Georgia.

Timothy E. Moses submitted his letter Tues­day, just days before a scheduled show cause hearing in the Augusta federal court. Moses was summoned to appear in court after the judges learned why he was facing professional disciplinary action.

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Study finds funding needs to increase to $800 million for Savannah River Site project

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 8:53pm

A new study commissioned by the federal Energy Department found that the U.S. could save $400 million a year if it disposed of weapons-grade plutonium at a New Mexico nuclear waste repository instead of converting the surplus material into mixed-oxide fuel at Savannah River Site.

The report, released Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists, was produced by the Red Team, a group of industry experts assembled by U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz to evaluate cost projections and alternatives to the MOX project.

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Motorcyclist killed in wreck near Grovetown

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 8:12pm

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the victim in one reference.


A motorcyclist was killed about 7 p.m. Wednesday in a wreck at Kettle Creek Drive and Wrightsboro Road near Grovetown.

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Five things to watch in Augusta-area high school football

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 5:07pm

After a long offseason of players lifting weights, learning schemes and going through preseason practice, the work gets put to the test for many area high school football teams Friday with the start of the 2015 season. Here’s a quick primer of what to watch for this year:

1. Familiar faces in new places

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First Unit 3 Shield Building panels placed at Plant Vogtle

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 3:45pm

Plant Vogtle is raising its shield.

Georgia Power announced this week that the $14 billion expansion of Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Ga., marked another milestone – the installation of the first six individual steel panels to Unit 3’s shield building, an enclosure that houses the reactor’s containment vessel.

The shield building includes more than 160 steel panels, each of which can weigh more than 10 tons and be filled with concrete, Georgia Power said in a news release.

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Security tighter at Regal Cinemas, including at Augusta movie theater

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 2:30pm

Augusta moviegoers might be subject to bag searches after a new policy change at Regal Cinemas.

The major theater chain, which owns Regal 20 on Agerton Lane, recently posted signs at locations explaining the change.

The sign on the door of Regal 20 states, “For the safety and comfort of all our guests: Backpacks and bags of any kind are subject to inspection prior to entry to this facility.”

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