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Home building permits increase in Columbia County, decrease in Augusta

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 8:37pm


Area officials say Columbia County further defined itself as the region’s preferred living community last year, issuing more than three times as many home-construction permits as industry-heavy Augusta-Richmond County.

After a slow spring, new building permits for single-family homes surged 9 percent in Columbia County for an annual total of 1,185 units built, which is 100 more than the 1,085 houses constructed in 2013.

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Federal report on mismanaged projects makes example of MOX facility at Savannah River Site

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 8:30pm


A troubled plutonium conversion plant at Savannah River Site has become an example of unruly, mismanaged government projects needing reform, according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Department.

Construction of the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility could cost as much as $12 billion because of project planning failures when the idea was conceived, according to the report. The initial estimate of capital costs in 2001 was $1.1 billion for the plant, which is intended to create commercial nuclear fuel from weapons-grade plutonium.

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City parking ordinance update gets lukewarm reception

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 8:26pm

A request by Augusta’s Downtown Development Authority to update the city’s parking ordinance met a lukewarm reception Monday.

Interim deputy Administrator Steve Cassell, who’s been working closely with DDA Director Margaret Woodard on developing a parking management plan for downtown, said a need to update the ordinance was raised during two public hearings on parking the city held Dec. 9.

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Qualifying schedule set for 2016 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 5:52pm


The 2016 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship qualifying schedule is now available on the event’s Web site,

Registration for the event will begin Jan. 22 at the Web site.

The competition is open to boys and girls ages 7-15 who will compete in separate divisions in four age categories. Qualifying opportunities are available in all 50 states during the months of May, June, July and August.

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Sitel to cut 675 Augusta jobs

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 4:08pm

Tennessee-based Sitel announced Monday that about 675 jobs will be eliminated from the Augusta call center this spring.

The positions will be shed from the facility at 2115 Windsor Spring Road between March 9 and 31 at the end of an undisclosed client project, according to a corporate news release.

Sitel is actively working with government offices and local employers to seek out new opportunities and benefits assistance for the affected employees, the release said. Employees were given about 60 days notice.

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Man accused of attacking brother with 'samurai sword'

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 2:38pm


An Augusta man is accused of aggravated assault after he attacked his brother with “samurai sword” on Friday, according to a police report.

Bobbby Martin Law, 56, of Sprucewood Drive, is being held at the Charles B. Webster Detention Center on charges of felony aggravated assault and possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of a crime, according to Richmond County jail records.

About 3:28 p.m. Friday, sheriff’s deputies were called to Law’s home in the 3000 block of Sprucewood Drive, according to an incident report.

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Gov. Nathan Deal sworn in for second term

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 2:34pm

ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal recommitted to supporting criminal justice changes and alternatives to public schools Monday as he was sworn in for a second term in office, and said his mission for the next four years is “building upon the foundation we have laid.”

Deal’s swearing-in was held inside the House chamber after a rainy weather forecast canceled plans for an outdoor ceremony.

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Man charged with indecency for masturbating in store

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 12:52pm


A Hephzibah man was arrested Sunday after he was caught masturbating near the toy aisle of a Wal-Mart for the second time in less than a year, authorities said.

About 6 p.m. Sunday, an employee at the store at 3209 Deans Bridge Road told police she saw the man, later identified as Tareem Burgess, 32, of Pamplona Drive in Hephzibah, acting suspiciously.

She said Burgess walked around with his hands in his pockets and stopped to stare at women in the store. From security cameras, the employee saw Burgess masturbate on the toy aisle before leaving the store.

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Ga. lawmakers work to lower age for politicians

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 12:07pm

ATLANTA — A Georgia lawmaker believes people legally able to drink, vote and serve in the military should be allowed to run for a seat in the state Senate.

State Sen. Josh McKoon says he plans to introduce legislation this year lowering the minimum age for candidates from 25 to 21. McKoon says he was inspired by an 18-year-old elected to West Virginia’s legislature in November.

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Will Ga. hospital group go to bat for Medicaid?

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 8:35am


ATLANTA -- Unlike its counterparts in other states, the Georgia Hospital Association has not been seen as actively advocating for Medicaid expansion.

A number of states have expanded their Medicaid programs, making more low-income people eligible for benefits and thus helping hospitals financially by reducing their numbers of uninsured patients.

But expansion has gone nowhere in Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal and his fellow Republicans who dominate the General Assembly have made a point of blocking such a move, saying it would cost the state too much money.

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Slain Ga. cop funeral today

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 6:51am


HIRAM, Ga. — The funeral for a sheriff’s officer killed in a murder-suicide is planned at a church northwest of Atlanta.


Services for Cpl. Sam Driskell were to be held at 11 a.m. today at West Ridge Church in Dallas, Georgia.


The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been speaking with relatives, friends and neighbors to determine what may have prompted the shooting at the officer’s home in the Hiram area.


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Gov. Deal inauguration today

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 01/12/2015 - 6:46am



ATLANTA — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is set to begin his second term in office today with an inaugural ceremony in Atlanta.


An afternoon ceremony is planned inside the State Capitol.


The governor and first lady Sandra Deal were to start the day at a 9 a.m. prayer service at Mount Paran Church in Atlanta.


An inaugural gala is scheduled for Thursday night with entertainment by country music artist Alan Jackson and other Georgia musicians.


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