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Death of Blythe man found in Thurmond Lake accidental, officials say

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 4:59pm


The death of a Blythe man whose body was found in Thurmond Lake last week was an accident, Lincoln County Coroner Paul Reviere said Tuesday.

An autopsy performed Monday revealed that 36-year-old Wayne Patrick Mravlja died in an apparent drowning. Boaters found his body about 4 p.m. July 11 nearly 100 yards offshore near a small island in the Chamberlain’s Ferry boat landing area.

He was pronounced dead at 5:10 p.m., Reviere said.

Roger Bettis' 2010 rape conviction for brutal attack at MCG in Augusta, reversed on appeal

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 4:56pm


An Augusta man convicted of attempted rape and other crimes in a brutal attack in a hospital women’s restroom is entitled to a new trial, the Court of Appeals of Georgia has ruled.

In a July 10 opinion, the appellate court reversed Roger Bettis’ 2010 conviction and 95-year prison sentence because, it said, the trial judge didn’t follow the proper procedure to determine whether Bettis could represent himself at trial.

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Democratic nominee seeks investigation into governor's office for intimidation allegations to derail 2010 campaign probe

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 3:51pm

ATLANTA -- Jason Carter called for an investigation of Gov. Nathan Deal’s office at a news conference Tuesday.

Carter, the Democratic nominee hoping to unseat Deal, said the governor’s top two aides intimidated Holly LaBerge, head of the ethics commission, attempting to derail her inquiry into Deal’s 2010 campaign. Deal’s re-election campaign denies any wrongdoing, claiming Carter’s argument is simply an “election-year attack.”

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Carter blasts Deal over memo

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 2:32pm

ATLANTA — Democrat Jason Carter is seizing on a memo written by the head of the state ethics commission in which she says an attorney for Gov. Nathan Deal threatened her agency during its investigation of ethics complaints against the governor.

Carter, who is running against Deal, told reporters Tuesday it was “clear now that there is a pattern of intimidation and interference on the part of the governor’s office.” He renewed his call for a state investigation.

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4 sentenced in Ga. massage case

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 2:27pm



MACON, Ga — The owner and several employees of a middle Georgia massage parlor have been sentenced on prostitution, conspiracy and money laundering charges.


"The Telegraph of Macon" reports the former owner of Soft Hands Massage and Spa, 51-year-old Hyeon Chae, has been sentenced to three years in prison and is ordered to spend another three years on probation.


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Phinizy environmental research nonprofit changes name

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 1:54pm


An Augusta environmental research nonprofit has a new name.

Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy changed its name to Phinizy Center for Water Sciences to better emphasize its primary research and education areas, according to a news release from the organization.

“This new name encompasses dedication to the mission of using unbiased science to find solutions for water quality issues and providing water-based environmental education,” the nonprofit said.

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'Walking Dead' get Ga. studio

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 9:57am

ATLANTA — A studio is constructing a 15-foot-high wall around a neighborhood in the small town of Senoia, creating an enclosed set to film new episodes of the AMC show “The Walking Dead.”

Senoia Mayor Larry Owens said the city council this month approved plans for the wall, which will enclose an area that includes about four brownstone town homes plus about a half-dozen additional residences.

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Snake knocks out Myrtle Beach power

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 9:51am

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — People in Horry County who might have been late for work can blame the snake.

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports a snake got into an Horry County Electric Cooperative substation early Tuesday and came in contact with an electronics circuit. Power was cut to almost 2,000 customers.

Officials say the power went out about 1:15 a.m. and was restored about an hour later.


SC strip clubs in trouble

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 9:49am

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The prosecutor in Horry County is asking a judge to close five strip clubs, saying they have a reputation of prostitution and lewdness and are offensive to public decency.

The owner of one of the clubs says a shutdown would hurt tourism.

Prosecutor Jimmy Richardson filed separate civil complaints against each of the clubs last week, The Sun News of Myrtle Beach ( reported. The request seeks a temporary order to close the clubs until a hearing can be conducted to permanently close them.

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Big gator wanders out of Hilton Head surf

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 8:52am


HILTON HEAD ISLAND — An alligator wrangler says he hopes authorities allow him to relocate a huge gator lassoed on Hilton Head Island.


The Island Packet of Hilton Head reports the 12-foot gator estimated to weigh 800 pounds wandered out of the surf Monday.


Officials think the alligator could be 45 years old.


It took two men 40 minutes to snare, rope and tape the alligator as a crowd of about 100 people watched.


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Feds to review Ga. Medicaid backlog

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 07/15/2014 - 8:36am



ATLANTA -- A federal agency says it will review Medicaid eligibility and enrollment processes in Georgia and six other states due to “a substantial backlog of pending applications.”

The July 9 letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not indicate how much of a backlog Georgia has or the reasons for it.

The Georgia review will also cover the state’s PeachCare program for uninsured children.

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Commissioners expect action on reducing Augusta's animal shelter kill rate

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 9:52pm

Facing public outrage, three Augusta say they hope to see action Tuesday on reducing the city’s animal kill rate and its policy for working with animal rescue groups.

First, the agenda items must get unanimous approval to be added. The issues came to a head Thursday, after the agenda was finalized, when an Augusta Chronicle editorial called on readers to relay their concerns about Augusta Animal Services Director Sharon Broady’s unwillingness to work with rescue groups, even when healthy young animals seem to be being needlessly slaughtered.

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Augusta man has 'peace of mind' in pursuit of career with GI BIll after military service

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 8:26pm


Of all the benefits the GI Bill provided Stephen Safford, it was peace of mind that the Georgia Regents University senior said he found most rewarding.

The former Fort Gordon soldier, who served in the Army from 2006 to 2008, said that along with tuition assistance, the federal aid paid for living expenses, such as rent and food, and helped him focus on the career he wanted to pursue.

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Preachers pray for Trinity CME Church's survival

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 6:49pm


They stood on the steps of the boarded-up church, linked hands and asked out loud for God to protect the sanctuary behind them.

With their eyes squinted shut, they prayed that Trinity CME Church’s storied past would be enough to save the vacant building from an uncertain future.

“Losing this church building would be like ripping the heart out of somebody,” said CME Presiding Elder Jetson Maness. “This building is where Georgia CME got its roots. We need to keep it here and thriving.”

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Augusta woman sexually assaulted at knife-point

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 6:28pm

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is seeking an unidentified man they say sexually assaulted a woman at knife-point Sunday.

The woman said that about 10 p.m., she was walking toward her apartment at the Madison on the Green complex when she was attacked, according to a sheriff’s office statement.

She broke away and made it back to her apartment, where she called 911.

The assailant is described as black, about 6 feet tall and 170 pounds, with shoulder-length dreadlocks. He wore red gym shorts, a white T-shirt and white shoes.

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Savannah River Site oversight board calls for broader scope in German waste assessment

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 6:14pm


A federally appointed Savannah River Site oversight panel is challenging the environmental assessment being prepared for proposed shipments of German nuclear waste.

The assessment does not go far enough into analyzing potential delays to existing missions at the South Carolina site, the risks of terrorist attacks or the impact of long-term nuclear waste storage on citizens of Aiken and surrounding communities, according to the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board.

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Augusta sees third-driest summer since 1871; Rainfall expected this week

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 07/14/2014 - 5:43pm


Rain this week might make the grass a little greener, but it likely won’t be much help against the increasing rainfall deficit.

For the past 30 days, the Augusta area has seen less than half an inch, making it the third-driest for the period since 1871, Georgia climatologist Bill Murphy said Monday. That makes it 4 inches below normal.

“It is starting to get a little more dry across the state, especially in Augusta,” Murphy said.

So far this year, Augusta is 2.97 inches below normal.

Rainfall is in the forecast for each day this week except Thursday.

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