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Graniteville native was sold on law enforcement career early

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 7:25pm

EDITOR’S NOTE: This profile is part of an ongoing series on area law enforcement officers.



There’s just something about traffic enforcement that Lance Cpl. Brandon Rucker loves.

The 29-year-old South Carolina officer always wanted to be in law enforcement, but it was the traffic enforcement side, instead of investigation or other divisions, that seems to be his best fit.

In 2007 he took a position with the S.C. Highway Patrol in the Aiken County area of Troop 7.

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Goat project aimed at maintenance of retention ponds going to work Thursday in Hephzibah

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 6:49pm

Augusta’s pilot project using goats to maintain the city’s hundreds of detention ponds gets under way Thursday with the deployment of a small herd to a Hephzibah-area pond.

The goats will be transported from Augusta Animal Services to the fenced pond area mid-morning, Engineering Director Abie Ladson said, and monitored frequently to see how fast they work.

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Corps of Engineers' settlement won't change Thurmond Dam operations

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 6:11pm

Thurmond Dam won’t be required to report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the amount of pollutants it’s sending into the Savannah River, as a recent legal settlement ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to do for eight dams in Oregon and Washington.

The Corps, however, will continue to comply with South Carolina discharge permitting and monitoring requirements for pollutants. Only minor oil spills have been reported in recent decades at Thurmond Dam, according to Billy Birdwell, spokesman for the Corps’ Savannah District.

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Peanut butter manufacturer makes donation to Golden Harvest

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 5:51pm

A Tifton, Ga., peanut butter manufacturer donated 1,000 jars of peanut butter to the Golden Harvest Food Bank on Wednesday.

Bell Plantation made the donation to announce its partnership with an upcoming documentary on Georgia’s peanut butter industry by Hephzibah filmmaker Joseph Barnhart. Portions of the documentary “Growing Peanut Butter” will be filmed at Bell Plantation.

At a press conference at Golden Harvest, Mayor Deke Copenhaver encouraged the community to donate peanut butter – a food rich in protein – to the food bank.

Sheriff's office issues warning of Green Dot scam

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 4:51pm

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning Wednesday about callers scamming money from residents through Green Dot debit cards.

Sgt. Michael McDaniel said the office has received complaints from victims who received fraudulent calls requesting money. The callers claimed to be from a utility company, government agency or fundraising organization. The scammer tells residents to buy a Green Dot card to pay a bill, make a donation or pay a fine in lieu of an arrest.

Victims can notify the sheriff’s office at (706) 821-1020.

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Lengthy road closure caused by collapsed, antiquated sewer line

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 4:15pm

A road detour causing headaches for motorists traveling near Augusta’s medical district is entering its third month, but a city official says the end of construction could be near.

On the 1500 block of Wrightsboro Road, a collapsed sewer line near the Dart Container facility prompted the city’s engineering department to close the road in May. The detour has left drivers without an easy way to get around the Georgia Regents University medical campus.

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Another parent charged with leaving child unattended in vehicle

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 2:36pm

Another parent is facing charges after leaving a small child alone in an unattended, hot vehicle.

In the latest case, the father left the parking lot at Augusta Mall even though his 2-year-old son had been taken from the vehicle by a concerned bystander.

Tyrone Tyson Thomas, 27, of Girard, Ga., was booked into the Richmond County jail Tuesday on a charge of deprivation of a minor.

The incident is one of several locally in which children have been left unattended in cars.

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Tiger Woods ready to tee it up in the PGA Championship

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 1:41pm


LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Barely able to tie his shoes three days ago, Tiger Woods is ready to tee it up in the PGA Championship.

Woods caused the biggest sensation of the week Wednes­day afternoon simply by driving his silver SUV into the parking lot at Valhalla. He has never arrived so late for a major championship and had so little time to prepare – just nine holes at Valhalla, which he had not seen since winning the PGA Championship in 2000.

But at least he’s playing.

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State agency fines Barnwell

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 12:50pm



COLUMBIA — State regulators have fined the city of Barnwell $700 for malfunctions at its wastewater treatment facility and ordered the city to make improvements.


Specifically, the S.C. Department of Environmental Control found the site had discharged too much fecal coliform, exceeding the daily maximum. The fine was for the discharge on three days in June, July and January.


The environmental agency said the city had violated the Pollution Control Act and Water Pollution Control Permits Regulation.


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Bachelor's degree coming to Augusta junior college

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 11:45am


Georgia Military College has selected Augusta and three other campuses statewide to be the first to offer a bachelor’s degree, but the system’s president said the new program does not suggest that the junior college will become a full-fledged four-year institution.

Pending approval of its accrediting agency, GMC is targeting August 2015 to begin offering its new Bachelor of Applied Science degree at its Augusta, Milledgeville, Columbus, and Fayetteville campuses.

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Columbia County Commission approves SPLOST project list

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 11:39am


Columbia County commissioners approved a final project list for the 2017-2022 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax at their regular meeting Tuesday. The vote places the list on the Nov. 4 General Election ballot.

Should voters approve it, the five-year SPLOST is expected to raise as much as $144 million for infratructure and building projects throughout the county and in the cities of Harlem and Grovetown.

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SC test scores fall in all grades

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 11:32am

COLUMBIA— South Carolina’s elementary and middle school students posted worse overall scores on state-standardized tests last spring across all grades compared to 2013.


The Education Oversight Committee says students’ scores are disappointing, but a drop was expected as teachers transitioned to new benchmarks for what students must learn in math and reading.


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Columbia County students must show proof of residency

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 10:36am

At 8 a.m. Wednesday, Principal Stephanie Reese was busy dispensing smiles and hugs in the crowded lobby at Brookwood Elementary School.

The atmosphere was busy, but far from chaotic as Reese and her staff greeted familiar parents and children returning for the new school year. They also answered questions and directed the many newcomers to the school to their proper classrooms, or to the office for those who hadn’t registered yet.

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Memorial sought for Georgia toddler left in SUV

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 9:24am

MARIETTA, Ga. — Child safety advocates and others following the case of a Georgia toddler who died in a hot car are raising money in hopes of building a park in his memory.

Police have said 22-month-old Cooper Harris died after being left inside an SUV while his father was at work at a Home Depot office in suburban Atlanta. The child’s father Justin Ross Harris, who told police he forgot Cooper was in the car June 18, faces a murder charge.

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Famed Tech football at auction

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 8:00am


ATLANTA -- Earlier this year in a southern California storage facility, an aged leather football was pulled out of a box and handed to auction-house officials. Handling the dimpled leather, they immediately recognized the ball’s inscription and its significance.




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Fire damages south Georgia town

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 7:49am

JESUP, Ga.-- A Monday night fire destroyed half a city block and nine business, including a storefront church and a pet store, officials said.

The fire in the southeast Georgia town was reported about 8:40 p.m. on the roof of the Fair Haven Market thrift store and quickly spread to the other buildings as firefighters battled it, City Manager Mike Deal said Tuesday morning.

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Water main break floods Athens

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 7:44am

ATHENS, Ga. -- Part of downtown Athens turned into a raging, muddy creek Tuesday night after a 12-inch water main burst, flooding businesses on the east side of College Avenue between Clayton and West Broad streets.

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Savannah sees 24 shot in month

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 7:37am

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Police say 24 people have been shot in 21 incidents across Savannah over the last month.

“We are very upset that (the shootings) have taken place, and we are doing everything we can possibly do to work at finding the suspects or perpetrators responsible for them and to prevent them from happening in the future,” interim Savannah-Chatham police Chief Julie Tolbert said Tuesday afternoon.

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Dr. Steinfeld, former MCG president, dies

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 08/06/2014 - 6:59am


LOS ANGELES — Dr. Jesse Steinfeld, a former president of the Medical College of Georgia, who became the first U.S. surgeon general forced from office by the president after he campaigned against smoking, died Tuesday.


Steinfeld, 87, who was MCG president from 1983-1987, when he retired, died in a nursing home in suburban Pomona following a stroke he suffered about a month ago, said his daughter, Susan Steinfeld.


“He laid the groundwork for us to be better people and make the world a better place,” she said by telephone.


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