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Ben Harbin will leave Legislature to become lobbyist

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 7:29pm

Ben Harbin, who has represented Co­lum­bia County in the Georgia Legislature for 20 years, said Monday he would resign next month to take a position with Southern Strategy Group, a Columbia-based lobbying group with offices in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina and At­lanta.

Harbin, 51, said that he’s not happy about leaving office in the middle of his term, but that he has to place the needs of his family first.

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Sheriff's Office to present Pride and Progress program

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 4:24pm

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office will present a special program for the community at Tuesday night’s monthly meeting of Pride and Progress.

The program beings 7 p.m. at the University Medical Center South, 3121 Peach Orchard Road, Room 201.

Pride and Progress is a nonpartisan community organization.

Rabid bats caught in south Augusta

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 4:16pm

The Richmond County Health Department issued a warning Monday after four rabid bats were caught in south Augusta. All were euthanized and tested positive for rabies.

The bats were found in the area of Brown Road, Old Waynesboro Road and Ridgeland Acres subdivision, according to a news release.

Officials urge pet owners in the area to make sure their animals have up-to-date vaccinations given by a registered veterinarian.

If a pet comes in contact with a rabid animal, residents are asked to contact the Richmond County Health Department at (706) 667-4234.

USC Aiken names finalists for men's basketball coaching position

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 3:30pm


USC Aiken has announced the four finalists for its vacant position of head men’s basketball coach.

The finalists are Steven DeMeo, Joey Higginbotham, Jason Taylor and Mark Vanderslice. Pacers athletic director Randy Warrick said last week he’d like to hire a coach by mid-July.

Higginbotham (Mount Olive) and Taylor (Anderson) are head coaches in the Southeast Region and are familiar with USC Aiken. Mount Olive defeated the Pacers in the 2014-15 season opener. Higginbotham led his squad to the Elite Eight in 2015 and owns a 143-60 overall record in seven seasons.

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Palace Malice pointing for Saratoga

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 2:27pm

Palace Malice is headed for Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and hopefully some better racing luck.

The 5-year-old son of Curlin is shipping from Belmont Park on Tuesday and is scheduled to breeze in Saratoga on Friday, Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell said Monday.

Campbell hoped that Palace Malice, the 2013 Belmont Stakes winner, would run in a prep race over the July 4 weekend, but those plans have changed.

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Beech Island man faces charges

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 1:40pm

A Beech Island man is facing charges after he assaulted a Richmond County man at his home Sunday evening after an argument over a cellphone, police said.

Jason Stephen Russo, 36, was booked into the Richmond County jail Monday morning on a charge of aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime.

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2 sought on child molestation warrants

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 1:38pm


Police are asking the public’s help in the search for two men wanted in connection with child molestation warrants.

Justin Leach has active grand jury arrest warrants for aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation and enticing a child for indecent purposes.

Zhivago Montell Jones, of Waynesboro, Ga., has active grand jury arrest warrants for aggravated sexual battery and two counts of child molestation.

Jones is known to frequent the Plantation Road area of Augusta.

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Vigil for Thomson student tonight

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 9:58am


A vigil is set for 8 o’clock tonight for Kori Elaine Penna, 17, the Thomson High School student killed Friday in a two-vehicle wreck in McDuffie County.

Students, friends and family will meet at the “Rock” in front of the school on White Oak Road to remember her. A funeral is scheduled Wednesday.

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Court upholds Augusta murder conviction

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 9:11am

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Augusta man was fairly tried and convicted of murder in 2012.

The court unanimously affirmed Earnest Earl Dailey Jr.’s murder conviction in Richmond County Superior Court for the February 2012 killing of Jermaine Little, 32.

Little died in the hospital four days after Dailey slugged him in the head with a table leg. According to court testimony, Little was walking to the IGA on Greene Street for cigarettes when he was accosted by Dailey.

Dailey, 41, is serving a sentence of life in prison.

SC teen hiker falls, dies

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 8:23am

PICKENS, S.C. — A Simpsonville teen has died after he fell from a trail in Table Rock State Park in Pickens County.

Coroner Kandy Kelley said in a statement that 16-year-old Jonathan Michael McKenzie died after he slipped Sunday afternoon on the trail at Mills Creek Falls.

Kelley says McKenzie fell about 50 to 60 feet.

An autopsy was scheduled in Greenville.

Smoking not extinguished in bars, restaurants

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 7:47am


ATLANTA -- Ten years ago, the Georgia Legislature passed a law prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants. It was promoted as a way to improve “the health, comfort and environment’’ of Georgians.

The law, still in effect, has some exemptions, including allowing smoking in an establishment if it prohibits entry to anyone under age 18.

Despite the 2005 law, a recent study from Georgia State University found some surprising results on smoking.

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Lightning strikes Columbia air passenger

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - 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

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - 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

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - 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

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - 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

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - 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

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - 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

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - 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

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - 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

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - 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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