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Aiken inmate dead in cell

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 1:38pm

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has been called to investigate the death of an inmate Friday at the Aiken County Detention Center.

An Aiken County sheriff’s new release states that deputies were serving meals around 11:30 a.m. when they discovered the inmate, 31-year-old Derek D. Simpkins, unresponsive in his cell.

Onsite medical responders performed life saving measures on the inmate until emergency medical responders could arrive. The responders pronounced him dead.

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Reports: Gurley season over; presidential pardon sought

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 1:17pm


The Todd Gurley case continues to grow interesting.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Friday afternoon that his University of Georgia suspension will likely last all season.

Someone familiar with the NCAA investigation of the possible violations by the running back told the AJC that it’s a “significant” case of the sale of memorabilia and that Gurley is unlikely to be cleared to return to the field this season.

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SC jail nurse faces inmate sex charge

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 9:31am

LEXINGTON, S.C. — A nurse who worked at the Lexington County jail has been charged with having sex with an inmate.

Lexington Sheriff Lewis McCarty said in a statement Thursday that 42-year-old Selena Patreace Brown of Irmo was charged with three counts of sexual misconduct with an inmate.

Brown is accused of having sex with an inmate being held at the jail in June, July and August.

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Burned body in Ga. park identified

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 8:39am

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. — Police say the burned body of a woman found in a metro Atlanta park has been identified as a northwest Georgia woman.

Authorities say a couple walking their dog in a Gwinnett County park found the body of the woman, later identified as 26-year-old Lauren Taylor of Dalton.

Gwinnett police Cpl. Ed Ritter said the body was found Wednesday morning on the pathway next to a pavilion in Deshong Park, east of Stone Mountain.

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UPDATE: Gas leak closes Hephzibah Middle

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 8:27am

Hephzibah Middle School will be closed for the remainder of the day after a gas leak was discovered Friday morning.

Students were transported to Hephzibah High School while officials determined the cause of the leak. Dee Griffin, spokeswoman for the Augusta Fire Department, said the smell is coming from a leaky valve on the roof of the building.

SLED investigates ex-Aiken deputy

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 8:06am


The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating an Aiken County detention center deputy who was recently fired for policy violations.

The allegations of misconduct go back to September, but the sheriff’s office didn’t make the information public until Thursday, through a news release.

The release stated that the deputy, who will not be identified during the investigation, was terminated and all information was turned over to SLED to determine whether any of the violations were considered criminal acts.

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DNA leads to church copper thief suspect

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 7:21am

COLUMBIA— Richland County deputies say DNA led them to a man who stole copper from four churches.

Sheriff Leon Lott said in a news release that 52-year-old Stephen Brown did about $33,000 in damage to the churches when he stole the copper in 2010 and 2011.

Deputies found DNA evidence at all four churches and recent testing matched the DNA to Brown.

Brown is charged with four counts of transporting stolen metals and four counts of damage and theft to real property over $5,000.

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Augusta female stunned, arrested after attempting to punch officer

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 10:05pm

A 37-year-old female was stunned and arrested Thursday after police say she tried to punch a Richmond County sheriff’s deputy.

Approximately 2:16 p.m., deputies attempted to stop Jennifer Maxine Williams, of Augusta, who was seen pushing a Bi-Lo grocery cart – containing two dogs and groceries – down Wrightsboro Road, according to a RCSO incident report.

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Grovetown High educator Kim Buchanan selected as Columbia County Teacher of the Year

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 10:05pm

Stepping out of her new BMW 320i Thursday evening, Kim Buchanan struggled to put what she was feeling into words after being named Columbia County’s Teacher of the Year.

“It’s a lot to take in,” said Buchanan, who teaches the art of expression and rhetoric as an AP Language Arts teacher at Grovetown High School.

Buchanan said it was strange being honored by her peers, but she knew this morning she would be facing the same challenges as the day before, teaching class after class of 11th graders.

“I’m just Mrs. ‘B’ to them,” she said.

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Coughing man causes Ebola scare in Columbia County

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 8:33pm

A Columbia County man was cleared by health officials Thursday afternoon after causing a scare when employees at the Columbia County tag office thought he may have the Ebola virus, according to Columbia County emergency management director Pam Tucker.

“The gentleman had been in another country and officials at the tag office became very concerned when they saw him coughing,” Tucker said. “They thought he may have contracted the virus while in Africa.”

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Faces of Survival: Sonya Hurlbut

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 8:10pm

Sonya Hurlbut was there for her daughter as she was being treated for cervical cancer in 2008 when she thought maybe she should schedule a checkup for herself.

Hurlbut wasn’t one to go to the doctor, she said, and it had been a while since she had been seen by one.

The nurse who administered her mammogram saw something suspicious on the X-ray. She took three mammograms to be sure. The doctor discovered the tumor on her chest wall, where it was hard to see.

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City looks to water, garbage revenue to cover budget request

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 7:44pm

Augusta commissioners will venture into uncharted territory as they consider increasing the franchise fee charged against water, sewer and garbage revenue to fund some $1.6 million in pay increases at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

Interim Administrator Tameka Allen and Finance Director Donna Williams said staff will present options for increasing the fee, which has remained at 3.5 percent of gross revenues for many years, at a Friday commission retreat.

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School board candidate says he will enact changes if elected

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 5:47pm


James Swanagan Jr. has observed the Richmond County School System from the perspective of a parent and later as a school bus driver.

Now Swanagan said he wants to enact change from the position of an elected official.

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UGA's Gurley suspended

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 5:32pm

ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia suspended star tailback and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Todd Gurley indefinitely from competition because of an ongoing investigation into an alleged NCAA rules violation, the school announced late Thursday afternoon.

A source confirmed the investigation is looking into Gurley accepting extra benefits for memorabilia and/or autographs.

Bruce Feldman, of Fox Sports 1, first reported the details of the alleged violation.

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Martinez couple completes 6-month journey on Appalachian Trail

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 4:48pm

At a time when their peers struggle with mountains of college coursework, James Rittwage and Elizabeth Smith decided to climb mountains of their own.

Their trek led them on a journey to rival the best of senior trips. After six months and 2,185 miles, they had hiked the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

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Two top school administrators leaving Richmond County Board of Education

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 3:57pm


Two Richmond County Board of Education cabinet members have given notice they will be leaving the school system.

Deputy Superintendent Tim Spivey said he is retiring Oct. 31 after a 33-year career in Richmond County. Chief Human Resources Officer Norman Hill also submitted his resignation effective Nov. 5 after six years with the system.

The district had a shift in its top leadership this year with Superintendent Angela Pringle taking office Sept. 4.

However both Spivey and Hill said their moves had nothing to do with the recent leadership change.

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Resource center opens to help Savannah River Site retirees with health benefits

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 2:55pm

For former Savannah River Site workers, help has arrived to navigate the complex process of health care benefits and reimbursements.

The Savannah River Site Retiree Resource Center opened last month in Aiken to assist former SRS employees prepare and file benefits-related forms. The SRS Retiree Association created the support system in partnership with the Lower Savannah Council of Governments.

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Ga. lawmakers review power plant changes

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 2:45pm

ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers heard contrasting views Thursday on how the state could meet proposed rules limiting carbon emissions from power plants.

President Obama’s administration has proposed a 30 percent cut in carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants by 2030, one of the most significant actions to curb the key gas linked to global warming. Federal officials are still accepting comments on the plan and have not adopted a final version.

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SC Supreme Court stops same-sex marriage license

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 12:36pm

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s Supreme Court ordered probate judges across the state to stop taking application for marriage licenses Thursday, saying it wants to give a federal judge time to rule on a case taking on the state’s ban on same-sex unions.

The court’s order just before noon ended a whirlwind week of legal maneuvers and disappointed dozens of gay couples who went to probate court offices in Charleston County and Richland County after a U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday appeared to open the door for gay marriages in the state.

No licenses were issued.

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Asphyxia killed Kia plant worker

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 10:51am


WEST POINT, Ga. — A coroner says preliminary results of an autopsy show that a worker killed at the Kia Motors assembly plant in west Georgia died of asphyxia after materials fell on him.


Troup County Coroner Jeffrey Cook said it appears the worker’s breath was cut off due to the weight that was on him.


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