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Obama announces effort to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:36pm

Some Augustans with ties to Cuba reacted with elation Wednesday over President Obama’s move to re-establish diplomatic ties between the United States and the island nation.

Twenty-six-year-old Chris Blanco, an Augusta native, used one word when describing Obama’s decision.


For Blanco, the thought of an affable relationship between the two countries “is something I dreamed would happen in my lifetime.”

Blanco’s father, Max, was born in Cuba in 1957 before fleeing the country in 1961.

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Deadly drag race between car, motorcycle leads to prison term

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:03pm


Rodney Kelly and Kyterian Jones wanted to see which was faster, Kelly’s souped up Chevrolet Monte Carlo or Jones’ motorcycle. The race ended tragically with two dead, one injured and Kelly in a prison cell.

On Wednesday, Kelly, 26, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to vehicular homicide and serious injury by a vehicle for the July 28, 2013, death of 23-year-old Marcus Kelly and the broken leg sustained by 17-year-old Jerome Gilmore.

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Augusta man acquitted in shooting case

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 4:46pm


An Augusta man accused of aggravated assault and weapon charges was acquitted Tuesday.

A Richmond County Superior Court jury found Kenneth L. Anderson, 23, not guilty at the conclusion of a trial that stretched over two weeks.

Anderson was charged with aggravated assault in the Nov. 17, 2013, shooting of Xavier Alvin on 15th Street. Alvin was left paralyzed from the waist down.

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McDuffie school system closes after influenza outbreak

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:38pm

One day after closing an elementary school due to excessive absences caused by an outbreak of influenza, strep infection and stomach viruses, the McDuffie County School System has decided to close all seven of its schools, according to its superintendent.

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Two men in custody after investigation

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:39am

Two men were arrested Tuesday following a narcotics investigation in the parking lot of Taco Bell on Washington Road.

Joshua Brooks Woodward, 22, was charged with possession of methamphetamines with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, according to Richmond County Sgt. Michael McDaniel.

Robert Harrison Wagner, 32, was charged with magistrate court bench warrant.

A bond amount has not been set for Woodward, while Wagner’s bond is $175.


Columbia County commission passes vote to stormwater utilty fees by 2017

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 1:14am


Columbia County commissioners voted Tuesday to implement a series of increases to the county’s stormwater utility fee, more than doubling the current fee by 2017.

The measure passed 3-2, with Chairman Ron Cross and newly seated District 3 Com­mis­sioner Mack Taylor voting against the fee increase.

The other commissioners voted in favor of the increases with reluctance, they said, seeing no alternative to stanching losses in the stormwater utility budget, which dipped into $4 million in reserves this past year to address infrastructure repairs.

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Hannah, Cain, others sworn in to RCBOE positions

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:19pm


Augusta resident Charlie Hannah and incumbent Board Chairwoman Venus Cain were among those sworn in as Richmond County Board of Education members Tuesday, adding a new face to the board’s makeup.

Cain and Hannah, alongside incumbents Frank Dolan, Jack Padgett and Alex Howard, recited the oath with Probate Judge Harry James, with each promising to “faithfully discharge” their duties as school board members. Cain and Hannah faced opposition for their seats, while the others were unopposed.

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City approves $2.8 million for Hyde Park relocations

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:39pm

Decades after their neighborhood was marked with warning signs, residents of Augusta’s Hyde Park were promised Tuesday that they would finally be relocated to new homes.

Augusta Commission members voted 10-0 to use $2.8 million in sales taxes, which had been dedicated to engineering projects that are now covered by Transportation Investment Act funds, specifically for the relocation effort.

About 70 homeowners and renters remain in the south Augusta neighborhood, which will be leveled for a city detention pond.

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Darius Rucker records song written by father of Augusta childhood cancer patient

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:08pm


As their son battled childhood cancer, Augusta parents Turner and Tara Simkins kept their hearts set on limitless possibilities.

They faithfully prayed. Family, friends and strangers surrounded them with love. And their son, Brennan, never gave up hope.

Their story – one met with highs and lows – inspired a song recently recorded by country music singer Darius Rucker. The song – Possibilities – is being released online today as a holiday promotion for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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Sony hackers threaten theaters showing 'The Interview'

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:42pm


NEW YORK — Theaters began to cancel showings of the upcoming Sony comedy The Interview on Tuesday after hackers made threats against businesses showing the film while making references to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Department of Homeland Security said that there was “no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters,” but that it was still analyzing messages from the group.

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Flu is here but might not look like flu

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:20pm

There is definitely some illness spreading through Augusta and making people miserable.

Whether it is because of an unusual presentation of flu is a matter of dispute, but doctors say it could point toward a protective effect from this year’s flu shot even though it is not well-matched to the predominant strain circulating in Georgia and nationwide.

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Prison terms imposed for armed robbery conspiracy

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:08pm


The final defendant in an armed robbery conspiracy was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Saintwain R. Roberts, 25, was sentenced to six years and five months in prison for his role in the Oct. 10, 2013, robbery of the Family Dollar on Central Avenue. Roberts and Jaron Jermaine Wallace, 23, who was sentenced to six years and six months, both testified against their co-defendant Johnny Lee Weaver, a career criminal with a lengthy criminal record in Florida.

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Officials urge caution while shopping during holidays

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 7:06pm


Police are asking the public to be cautious while doing holiday shopping to avoid becoming the victim of a crime.

ATMs and shopping center parking lots are two prime locations for crooks, according to authorities. Police said criminals search parking lots for unlocked doors and easily accessible items.

Richmond County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michael McDaniel said leaving purses, packages and presents visible in a vehicle increases the odds of theft.

“All you really have to do is take that extra 10 seconds and secure your things in the trunk and lock it,” he said.

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Empty Stocking Fund donations

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 6:56pm

Previously acknowledged: $74,079.94

In honor of William, Gray, Lee,Jr., Mary Ellis, Alden and Benjamin $300

In memory of Mrs. Henrietta “Hankie” Fishback $100

Jim and Bill Rooks $50

In memory of Lynn Wilson $25

Nathaniel and Elaine Kruskol $25

In loving memory of Juanita and Wesley Widner $100

In loving memory of Heath Moore, Ruth and Jim Dover, Cathy and Marion Hawk and Pat Hardaway $100

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Aquinas, Washington County drop from No. 1 in final football rankings

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 2:43pm


Late playoff defeats kept Aquinas and Washington County from being wire-to-wire No. 1 teams.

Ranked at the top spot for the entire season, the Irish fell to third in Class A and and the Golden Hawks finished second in Class AAA in the last Georgia Sports Writers Association high school football polls of the 2014 season.

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North Augusta library creates holiday display, re-exhibits Nativity after outcry

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 2:28pm


A Nativity scene taken down at Nancy Carson Library in North Augusta over concerns about religious diversity has been put back up as part of a larger display after public outcry.

The scene, which was on the reception desk at the library, was removed last week after the director of the Aiken-Bamberg-Barnwell-Edgefield Regional Library System deemed it inappropriate.

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McDuffie County school enacts emergency closure because of illnesses

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 1:45pm


Maxwell Elementary School in McDuffie County will be closed from Wednesday through Friday this week after “conversations with the Department of Public Health” and excessive absences due to influenza, strep infections and a stomach virus according to a news release and the school’s principal.

Maxwell Principal Donna Bennet said 17 percent of the school’s students were absent or released from school early due to illness when the decision made, and that the percentage has increased since then.

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1-year delay possible at Plant Vogtle, watchdog says

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 9:17am


ATLANTA — Finishing two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle might take almost a year longer than expected, a government monitor said Tuesday in testimony that raises the possibility of a delay costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

An analyst for the Public Service Commission, Steven Roetger, said the timeline for finishing the work is trending almost a year longer than currently scheduled. The first new reactor was supposed to be running by late 2017, followed by the second in late 2018.

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Georgia Avenue reopened after man threatens to harm himself near bridge

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 10:54pm

Parts of Georgia Avenue and Center Street were closed for nearly 90 minutes Monday night after a man threatened to harm himself near the 13th Street Bridge in North Augusta.

After more than an hour of negotiation by the North Augusta Department of Public Safety, when the man had barricaded himself in a car, officials were able to take him into custody without incident, at which time he was transported to a local medical facility for evaluation, according to Lt. Tim Thornton.

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Hyde Park relocations, audit questions return to Augusta Commission agenda

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 9:09pm

A decades-old issue won’t evade Augusta’s outgoing mayor and three Augusta Commission members today at the final meeting of 2014.

The agenda features several items related to the beleaguered Hyde Park relocation project, where residents are slowly being moved out to create a city detention pond.

Leona Street resident Valarie Brown said her elderly mother doesn’t believe that she will be relocated after watching several elderly friends die before the process was completed, nearly 20 years after the area was first reported to be contaminated.

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