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Augusta city administrator's SPLOST proposal excludes many non-government entities

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 9:06pm

Non-government organizations such as Paine College and Symphony Orchestra Augusta are excluded in City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson’s proposal for the Nov. 3 sales tax referendum.

The decision whether to include them remains hotly contested among Augusta commissioners and the groups will be presenting their requests to the commission Tuesday.

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Augusta man accused of rape denied bond

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 3:29pm


Bond was denied Friday for an Augusta man accused of beating and raping an ex-girlfriend.

Christopher Davis, 46, was on bond for a prior attack on the woman when he was arrested earlier this month for the sexual assault. The deputy who met with the victim at a hospital on July 20 reported she was covered with bruises, abrasions and cuts.

The woman told the officer that she broke up with Davis after he attacked her on June 22, punching her in the face with closed fists.

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AT&T purchase of DirecTV cleared by FCC, will be biggest pay TV provider in US

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 3:25pm

NEW YORK — AT&T’s $48.5 billion purchase of DirecTV is set to close after winning approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

The Justice Department had already cleared the deal, which will create the largest provider of cable or satellite TV in the U.S., with 26.4 million cable and satellite TV subscribers.

That’s more than Comcast as well as a bigger Charter, which is seeking government approval to buy Time Warner Cable.

Suppliers of TV are buying one another as video from Internet competitors like Netflix gets more popular and costs rise for channels.

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Richmond County Sheriff's Office body camera policy now in effect

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 3:23pm


The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has finalized its body camera policy, which lays out when officers are required to record interactions with the public.

The sheriff’s office administration has been working on the policy since May, but it officially went into effect on Monday. Officials said training on the cameras will begin next week, but due to budget constraints, all officers will not immediately be outfitted.

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Water main break sends BOE employees home

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 3:22pm


Richmond County Board of Education employees have been sent home for the day after a water main break.

Board of Education spokesman Israel Butler said the water main break occurred in the basement.


Augusta-area teachers benefit from Kroger's classroom supply giveaway

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 2:54pm


As Cindy Folger made her way through a line of 25 volunteers handing out classroom supplies Friday, she thanked each person who dropped paper, tape, markers and disinfectant wipes into her bag.

She described their service to the community as invaluable.

The sentiment was shared among the 1,000 to 1,500 educators who received more than $20,000 of instructional materials during Kroger’s annual Teacher Supply Giveaway at Westside Comprehensive High School in Augusta.

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Children left alone escape Augusta house fire; mother charged

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 1:54pm

An Augusta woman has been charged after her home caught fire while her three young children were home alone.

The oldest child, 10, told firefighters and police that he was asleep on the couch in the North Carolina Avenue home when he woke to smoke around 11 p.m. He woke his siblings, ages 3 and 4, and got them out of the house.

When firefighters arrived, the children were outside and heavy fire was coming from the home. The children were not injured.

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Warren Road Bridge reopens to limited traffic

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 1:12am

The Warren Road Bridge over Interstate 20 is now open for lightweight vehicle traffic, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Barricades were removed Thursday night, and weight limit signs have been posted. The structure is cleared for vehicles of less than five tons, which means no large trucks until further repairs are completed, according to a statement from DOT official Kyle Collins.

Both regional and state bridge inspection engineers evaluated the overpass, near mile marker 198, after a commercial truck carrying an excavator hit the bridge on July 14.

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Another probation company hit with civil rights lawsuit

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 8:06pm

Another private probation company with contracts in Georgia has been hit with a civil rights lawsuit.

The sixth federal lawsuit against a for-profit company overseeing misdemeanor probationers was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Brunswick against Providence Commu­nity Corrections.

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Kroger to give away more than $20,000 in classroom supplies

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 7:41pm

Kroger’s Atlanta Division will show its support for Augusta-area educators on Friday by giving away classroom supplies valued at more than $20,000 at Westside Comprehensive High School on Patriots Way in Richmond County.

Teachers are invited between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to pick out items for their classrooms. Educators with a Georgia or South Carolina teacher ID can receive up to $40 in free supplies on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last.

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Augusta codes enforcement division joins planning department in new downtown office

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 7:30pm

Though the transition isn’t complete, Augusta is one step closer to having a “one stop shop” downtown for all planning and development needs.

On Thursday, the city’s Codes Enforcement division moved out of a converted scale company building in south Augusta to the newly-remodeled Augusta Muncipal Building. They join planning and development staff members who moved there earlier this year.

“So far, so good,” said Roy Publico, a city codes inspector for eight months. “It’s a little brighter than the old building; more modern.”

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Vandalized pro-LGBT church seeks money to boost security

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 7:18pm


The Metropolitan Com­mu­nity Church of Our Redeemer has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to pay for security cameras and to print informational materials after vandals spray-painted the church Tuesday.

The incident was the second in three weeks; on July 2, a rainbow flag was stolen from a flagpole on the church’s property. On Tues­day, the vandals painted Scrip­ture references condemning homosexuality across the church’s front door and on the steps, along with the words “Burn,” “Lies” and “You’ll burn.”

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Augusta indictment prompts more VA accountability reforms

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 6:46pm

A Senate panel this week advanced legislation that would make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs secretary to fire corrupt or poor-performing employees, not just top officials.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability Act of 2015 seeks to expand on a law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama last year that gave VA secretary Robert McDonald firing authority over senior executives.

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Richmond County Sheriff's Office holds day camp for kids

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 6:39pm

To about 100 Augusta children, Thursday was an opportunity to splash in the water and meet a robot, but to adults it was an opportunity to reverse the perception of police.

“It was a good day for kids to realize we (are a positive role model),” said Richmond County sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Gilliland. “We want the kids to realize we’re not the bad guys. We’re not here to take them to jail.”

It was the third year the sheriff’s office has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club to offer children a day of fun and an opportunity to meet police officers.

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Prosecutor: Sandra Bland's autopsy revealed no evidence of homicide

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 4:21pm

DALLAS — The autopsy of a woman who was found dead in a Texas jail revealed no injuries that would suggest she died in a violent homicide, authorities said Thursday.

Waller County prosecutor Warren Diepraam discussed details of the autopsy of 28-year-old Sandra Bland, who authorities say was found hanging in her jail cell on July 13.

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Evans family searching for adoptive parents for Chinese orphan

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 1:33pm

Less than 48 hours after arriving on a plane from China, 6-year-old Noah had adapted to his four-week “vacation” with the Drafts family. He made his bed Wednesday morning without being asked and easily interacted with the family’s five other children although he speaks no English.

Noah’s vacation from a Chinese orphanage is much more than a foreign exchange trip or a sightseeing tour of the United States. It’s his chance to find a new family.

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Woman gets life sentence in fatal River Watch Parkway crash from 2013

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 1:30pm


On the third anniversary of Amelia Hiltz’s death, the woman responsible was sentenced to life in prison.

Monique Sullivan, 34, apologized Thursday for the horrific crash on the River Watch Parkway that killed Hiltz, nearly killed Maureen Floyd and Kevin Mollenhauer, and altered the lives of the survivors and those who rushed to aid the victims.

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Air-conditioning units stolen from Augusta homes during heat wave

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 1:14pm

As the heat wave continues to hit Augusta, so is a spate of air conditioner thefts.

Since July 8, at least three police reports have been filed about stolen window units.

“I think it’s safe to say these units aren’t being sold for scrap metal,” Richmond County Lt. Allan Rollins said. “It’s been an extremely hot summer, and people seem to be doing whatever it takes to stay cool. It’s an unfortunate situation.”

The reported crimes have come from the 2700 block in Cardigan Court, 3900 block in Wrightsboro Road and 2200 block in Wheeless Road.

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June unemployment rises slightly for Augusta metro area

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 10:43am


Job losses from the end of the school year drove up the metro unemployment rate to 6.9 percent in June, the Georgia Department of La­bor reported Thursday.

The jobless rate was 6.6 percent in May and 7.9 percent in June a year ago.

The number of jobs in Augusta decreased by 2,400, mostly in education and health services, state government, manufacturing and construction. Despite the losses in June, the Labor Department reported that the metro area has 5,500 more jobs than in June 2014.

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Car crashes into pond in Columbia County

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 8:17am

The driver of a car that plunged into a pond off Hardy McManus Road early Thursday escaped without injury.

Emergency crews were called to the scene of the single-car accident about 6:30 a.m. near Woodruff Road, according to Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

Morris said the driver, Darien Churchville, 22, of Evans, told deputies she dozed off behind the wheel of her 2003 Toyota Corolla while traveling eastbound on Hardy McManus Road. She was startled awake when her car left the road.

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