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Columbia County voters approve renewal of education sales tax

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 11:45pm

Columbia County voters overwhelmingly approved a renewal of the local education sales tax Tuesday, providing officials with a reliable source of revenue to fund improvements in the county’s rapidly growing school system.

Turnout was light for the special election to approve the next five-year round of the education special local option sales tax (ESPLOST), with less than 6 percent of registered voters casting ballots.

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Frantom, Harris head for April 14 runoff in District 7

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 11:43pm

The District 7 special election isn’t over yet, with Sean Frantom and Louis “Hap” Harris heading for an April 14 runoff.

With all votes counted Tuesday, Frantom garnered 866 votes, or 43.72 percent, to Harris’ 723 votes, or 36.5 percent.

Neither received the more than 50 percent of votes needed to win outright, while third-place finisher Sonny Pittman garnered 391 votes, or 19.74 percent.

“I wish it had been a different result, but it was still a great result,” said a glowing Frantom, development director for Ronald McDonald House.

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Clinic for moms at Evans High puts accent on proper tackling

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 11:03pm

Elisabeth Townley yelled out “One, Two!” as she got her feet into ready position on the football field.

A group of 87 area moms learned footwork and other techniques in five different drills teaching proper tackling Tuesday night. At Evans High School, current and former Atlanta Falcons spoke about proper equipment fitting and concussion awareness inside the school as part of the team’s Moms Football Safety Clinic. Later, the women went outside to continue their Heads Up training.

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Frantom, Harris to face off in runoff

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 9:29pm

Sean Frantom and Hap Harris will face off in a runoff for the Richmond County District 7 commission seat on April 14th.

Frantom lead with 866 votes, or 43.72 percent of the vote. A few percentage points shy of the majority needed to avoid a runoff. 

Hap Harris had 723 votes for 36.5 percent. 391 Sonny Pittman supporters came out, falling just short of 20 percent of votes cast. 

Turnout in the eight precincts was reported as 13.61 percent, with 1,981 ballots cast. 

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Former Edmund Burke Academy headmaster dies in car wreck

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 7:56pm

William Brent Cribb, former headmaster at Edmund Burke Academy, died Tuesday in a car accident near Milledgeville, according to Baldwin County Coroner John Gonzalez.

Cribb, 40, served as a technology and business teacher, coach, assistant headmaster and headmaster at Edmund Burke Academy from 2004 to 2013. In July of 2013, Cribb joined the staff of the Georgia Independent Schools Association, where he served as vice president.

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PSC delays vote on Vogtle hike

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 4:59pm

ATLANTA -- No decision came Tuesday when the Georgia Public Service Commission postponed consideration of Georgia Power Company’s request to increase the budget and extend the schedule for construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro.

The commission had it on its agenda for its regular administrative session but put it off for two weeks until its April 2 meeting.

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Teen sex suspect has hearing

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 3:42pm


The case against an Augusta businessman accused of sex with a teen will continue after a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

A Columbia County magistrate judge ruled there is enough evidence against Randy Houston Mercer, 57, to proceed with prosecution of the case in Superior Court.

Mercer, of Downing Street, was arrested Feb. 20 and charged with aggravated child molestation, computer pornography, enticing a child for indecent purposes and sexual exploitation of a child. He is being held in the Columbia County Detention Center without bond, according to jail records.

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Jack Craig named new manager for Savannah River Site

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 3:04pm


The U.S. Department of Energy has named a new manager for Savannah River Site, according to the site’s public affairs office.

Jack Craig will replace Dave Moody who is retiring from the Energy Department in June and was manager at SRS for five years. Craig has served as director of the environmental management consolidated business center in Cincinnati, Ohio since 2004.

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1 dead in bus wreck on Ga.-SC line

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 7:23am

HARDEEVILLE, S.C. — One person has died and three others were hurt in a wreck involving three cars and a bus on a bridge at the South Carolina-Georgia state line.

Jasper County Coroner Martin Sauls says the name of the victim in Monday afternoon’s wreck has not been released while relatives are notified.

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Suspect sought in Stevens Creek Road theft totaling thousands of dollars

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 03/17/2015 - 1:19am

Deputies are searching for a suspect accused of taking $1,200 worth of hair extensions, among other items, from a victim’s home Monday, police say.

Around 9:52 a.m., a 37-year-old victim arrived home to find two flat-screen televisions, two laptops, clothing and hair extensions missing from her residence on the 1000 block of Stevens Creek Road.

Deputies noticed scratches and pry marks on the patio door, where the suspect was believed to have gained entry.

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Augusta Commission District 7 candidates' voting records analyzed

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 11:38pm


They want your vote today, but three candidates seeking the District 7 commission post don’t always go to the polls themselves.

The Augusta Chronicle looked into the voting records of interim Commissioner Louis “Hap” Harris, retired mortgage banker Sonny Pittman and charity Development Director Sean Frantom going back to 2000.

The records, which don’t specify how someone votes but whether they participate, revealed Harris voted 88 percent of the time, missing the fewest – five elections – of 40 opportunities.

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VA program to resolve health care delays not effective, reports find

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 11:26pm


A Department of Veterans Affairs program started in November to resolve nationwide delays in care lacks consistent guidelines and effective management, including in Augusta, where more than 1,700 patients wait longer than a month for appointments, reports show.

A report the Veterans of Foreign Wars delivered to Congress this month found just 19 percent of veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or had to wait more than 30 days for an appointment have been offered “Choice Cards” to receive care from private doctors.

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Columbia County voters to consider renewing education sales tax

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 10:41pm


Columbia County voters will have one issue before them on the ballot in today’s special election: whether to renew the countywide 1 cent sales tax to support schools.

If approved, the education special purpose local option sales tax referendum will renew collection of the tax starting in 2017, with the expectation that it will fund about $140 million in improvements and additions to Columbia County’s rapidly growing school system.

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Turnout expected to be light in Augusta Commission District 7 race

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 10:34pm


Turnout will be key, but likely still very low in today’s special election to fill an unexpired District 7 term on the Augusta Commission.

Only 113 voters, fewer than 1 percent, of the district’s approximately 14,557 registered voters cast early ballots during 15 days of advance voting at the municipal building.

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Man pleads guilty in friend's shooting

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 9:49pm


An Augusta man accused of shooting a friend’s ear opted to plead guilty Monday instead of pressing ahead with a jury trial.

Dominique D. Ellis, 27, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to terroristic threats and a weapons charge in exchange for a sentence of three years in prison followed by seven years on probation.

Ellis had only been out of prison for eight months when he got into an argument with Jacquail Albright and shot him the morning of Nov. 29.

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Murder trial for Augusta teen Jeremiah Kelly set to begin

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Mon, 03/16/2015 - 9:35pm


A jury will begin hearing testimony Tuesday in the trial of an Augusta teen accused of murder.

Jeremiah E. Kelly has pleaded not guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to charges of murder, aggravated assault and weapon violations.

Kelly was 15 and William H. Clark was 16 when they were arrested in the Aug. 3, 2012, fatal shooting of Anthony Dewayne King, 30.

Two people with King when he was shot in the chest said two young men armed with weapons advanced on King’s vehicle, a Cadillac Escalade, that night on Crawford Avenue.

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