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Arrest after Georgia toddler dies

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 7:34am

VALDOSTA, Ga. — A south Georgia man has been arrested and charged with murder in the death of a 2-year-old boy.


Local media report that 31-year-old James Michael Smith of Valdosta was arrested Thursday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office.


Authorities say Smith called 911 on June 11, and the toddler was found unresponsive at his home. Authorities say Smith was caring for Parker Bledsoe at the time. The child was taken to a hospital, where he later died.


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Augusta woman accused of forging checks from Alzheimer's patient

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 9:46pm

Deputies are searching for an Augusta woman accused of forging checks from an elderly Alzheimer’s patient.

Schiquita Jones, 31, is accused of stealing several checks from 87-year-old Louise Garrett, forging Garrett’s signature and then cashing the checks, according to an incident report from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. Jones is wanted on charges of fourth-degree forgery and 14 counts of theft by taking, the report stated.

The amount stolen totaled more than $2,000.

According to Garrett’s son, Jones is the caretaker for his mother.

Wheatley named permanent Grovetown police chief

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 6:10pm

Scott Wheatley was named the Grovetown Department of Public Safety chief Thursday.

Wheatley had served as the interim director of the department since April 28 after former Chief Gary Jones was terminated.

“It’s exciting,” Wheatley said.

Mayor George James said that the interviewing panel chose Wheatley from other applicants and city council members agreed.

“Scott has been with the city quite a while, held about every position in that department,” Jones said. “He’s well-versed there.”

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GRU announces national search for police chief

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 5:56pm


Georgia Regents University will conduct a national search to replace retiring public safety chief William McBride, but it won’t complete an internal investigation in which he was involved, officials said.

In a statement Thursday, the university announced that Maj. Gene Maxwell and Maj. Earnest Black will continue to lead the department while it works with the University System of Georgia’s Safety and Security Division to identify candidates for the position.

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Augusta attorney installed as president of young lawyers' group

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 4:04pm


An Augusta area attorney has been named president of the state’s Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia.

John R.B. “Jack” Long was installed as the 69th president during the bar’s annual meeting on June 19. Georgia Supreme Court Justice Keith Blackwell swore in Long.

Long graduated from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University and was admitted to the bar in 2006.


Navy veteran convicted of malice murder, given life in prison in death of his 17-month-old niece

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 3:38pm


A jury found a Navy veteran and the father of eight children guilty of malice murder Thursday for the death of his 17-month-old niece.

Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sentenced Jerome Hughs, 37, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Hughs had been free on bond since his arrest on murder charges following the Feb. 27, 2013, death of Kaidence Alexander. On Thursday, he was taken back into custody.

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NSA director praises Augusta's partnerships to grow cyber sector

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 3:31pm


The chief of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command praised Augusta’s growing cyber sector and its initiative to support a military and civilian defense speciality that’s increasingly important to national security.

“If you look at what is resident in this area, you have a strong educational end. You have a very talented workforce, both civil and on the government side. You’ve got government centers of excellence in cyber, signal and intelligence,” said Adm. Michael Rogers.

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Sentinel Offender Services, a for-profit, private probation company, is hit with another civil rights lawsuit

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 2:56pm

A traffic stop that led to a woman’s false arrest and imprisonment in Richmond County is the basis for a new civil rights lawsuit against Sentinel Offender Services.

The Richmond County Superior Court lawsuit on behalf of Lasaundria J. Walker was filed Thursday, joining 14 others against Sentinel, the largest private probation company operating in Georgia and the for-profit firm contracted by the State Court in Augusta.

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Four arrested in spate of vehicle break-ins at Forest Hills Racquet Club apartment complex in Augusta

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 1:12pm


Four men have been arrested on charges of breaking into more than 20 vehicles at the Forest Hills Racquet Club last week.

Police were called to the apartment area of the neighborhood off Walton Way on Thursday morning after several residents found that someone had broken into their vehicles overnight and stolen money, purses and other valuables.

According to Lt. Pat Young, the men burglarized 21 vehicles, the majority of which were left unlocked.

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Supreme Court ruling keeps health insurance subsidies for thousands in Georgia and 33 other states

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 10:46am

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of the Affordable Care Act, preserving thousands of subsidies for people in the Augusta area who used them to purchase health insurance.

The Court ruled 6-3 in favor of allowing the subsidies to be provided in the 34 states, including Georgia and South Carolina, that had refused to set up their own state exchanges and instead enrolled people through the federal marketplace. That would have affected 412,000 people in Georgia who had received subsidies, some quite substantial, to help them afford their monthly premiums.

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Man charged in fatal accident

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 10:23am

One man is dead and another is facing charges after a collision between a motorcycle and car Wednesday evening at the intersection of Washington Road and Alexander Drive.

Ronald Lovett Jr., 51, of Augusta, was pronounced dead at Georgia Regents Medical Center less than an hour after the 10 p.m. crash, according to Chief Deputy Coroner Kenneth Boose.

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Supreme Court upholds health care law

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 10:14am

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court sent a clear message Thursday that President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is here to stay, rejecting a major challenge that would have imperiled the landmark law and health insurance for millions of Americans.

Whether you call it the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, or in the words of a dissenting justice, SCOTUScare, Obama's signature domestic achievement is, as the president himself put it, "reality."

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Business surge for Dixie Outfitters

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 7:05am

ODUM, Ga. -- States from Alabama to South Carolina and retailers from Amazon to Wal-Mart are folding their Confederate flags in the wake of the June 17 deaths of nine worshipers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

But Dewey Barber is sticking with the image on the T-shirts and vehicle tags his workers turn out at Dixie Outfitters in Odum, and that kept everyone busy filling a surge in orders and fielding calls Tuesday.


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Storms level mobile homes near Atlanta

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 6:52am

ATLANTA — Dozens of people are without homes in Fayette County after a storm took down trees and toppled homes at a mobile home park in Tyrone.

WSB-TV reports storms came through the Pines Mobile Home Park Wednesday. A Fayette County Fire and EMS spokesman says more than 25 mobile homes were damaged and power was knocked out.

About 60 people were displaced Wednesday night.

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Beech Island woman wanted for prescription fraud

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 9:22pm

A Beech Island woman was able to obtain 60 Oxycodone pills through a fabricated prescription, police say.

About 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Richmond County deputies responded to the Kroger in the 3400 block of Wrightsboro Road, where pharmacy employees said Tamika Smith, 34, had received Oxycodone with a fake prescription from a stolen prescription book.

Kroger employees say Smith came to the walk-up window, received the pills and then left. Employees later learned the prescription book had been stolen from an office in Evans.

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GRU public safety chief to retire June 30, who has been on administrative leave pending an investigation

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 6:05pm

Georgia Regents University public safety Chief William McBride will retire at the end of the month, officials confirmed.

On Wednesday, employees in the public safety division were advised that he would step down from his position on June 30, the last day of the fiscal year, GRU spokeswoman Kelly Jasper said.

McBride has been the subject of an internal investigation at the university and was put on administrative leave June 1. Officials have not released any details of the investigation despite repeated inquiries.

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Downtown Augusta restaurant Solé opening soon

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 4:59pm


A new sushi restaurant and tapas bar is days away from opening downtown.

Owners of Solé Augusta at 1033 Broad St. are awaiting their final licensing before opening the restaurant, which will serve sushi, burgers, grilled entrees, salads and a range of speciality cocktails, wine and craft beer. The newest addition to downtown’s growing restaurant district is expected to open as soon as early next week, said owner Jay Klugo, a Clemson, S.C., restaurateur.

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Augusta grandmother wins $750,000 on Georgia Lottery scratch off

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 4:02pm

An Augusta grandmother won $750,000 on the instant game Giant Jumbo Bucks, Georgia Lottery officials announced Wednesday.

Jenny Youngquist, 58, won the top prize June 19 while shopping at Super Express on the 2500 block of Peach Orchard Road.

“I think we’re going to buy a new house,” Youngquist said.

Youngquist, who works in human resources, purchased the ticket, then went grocery shopping before scratching the instant ticket in the store’s parking lot.

She is a grandmother of three.

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Keep Confederate flag at South Carolina Capitol, Graniteville lawmaker says

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 3:52pm

COLUMBIA — State Rep. Chris Corley, of Graniteville, isn’t falling into line with this week’s political push to move the Confederate battle flag from display on the Capitol grounds.

Corley, 34, who has a law practice in Augusta, said the Civil War started in South Carolina and the state’s history cannot be ignored.

“There were countless young men like my ancestors who didn’t own land, didn’t own slaves,” said Corley.

“They were really kind of yeoman farmers, so almost slaves themselves, who had to go and they had to fight and they had to die.”

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Death for Boston bomber

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 2:20pm

BOSTON -- Moments before a judge sentenced him to death, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev broke more than two years of silence Wednesday and apologized to the victims and their loved ones for the first time. "I pray for your relief, for your healing," he said.

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