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SC names its top teacher

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 8:28am

COLUMBIA— A Sumter High School teacher has been named South Carolina’s Teacher of the Year.

State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman announced the selection of Suzanne Koty at a banquet in Columbia on Wednesday night.

Koty teaches English and the International Baccalaureate course called Theory of Knowledge.

She receives $25,000 and the use of a new BMW for a year.

The other four finalists receive $10,000.

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Ga. teacher faces student sex charges

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 8:25am

VALDOSTA, Ga. — A Georgia high school teacher has been arrested and charged with having sexual contact with her male students.

The Valdosta Daily Times reports 42-year-old Phoebe Chapman turned herself in to authorities Tuesday. Investigators say rumors surfaced in March that Chapman had sexual contact with students at Lowndes High School, where she is a career and technical instruction teacher.

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Vehicle arsonist sought in south Ga.

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 8:22am

ALBANY, Ga. — Georgia fire investigators are on the hunt for a serial arsonist who has been setting cars on fire.

WALB-TV reports three vehicles have been set on fire this week in Albany. On Tuesday, someone set fire to the gas tank cap of a truck. The gas cap melted and fire damaged the paint. The fire was almost identical to two other vehicle fires about ten minutes away.

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UGA tuition outpaces HOPE aid

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 8:11am


ATHENS, Ga. -- The expense of a college education remains on a steep upward trend.

The combined annual cost of tuition and fees at the University of Georgia has more than tripled in the past 15 years. With a 9 percent tuition hike going into effect next fall, UGA undergraduates will shell out a total of $11,610 for two semesters, about twice what it cost in 2007.

The declining value of the HOPE Scholarship is also helping drive up the cost of attending UGA.

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Georgia prison-based drug ring busted

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 7:53am

 SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Described as a high-ranking leader of a 3,000-member white supremacist prison gang, Christopher Henry has spent the last three years inside Wilcox State Prison.

 But 36-year-old Henry’s imprisonment inside the medium security facility within the city limits of tiny Abbeville, Ga., has done little to hinder his ability to run a large-scale drug operation outside the prison system.

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Cost estimate for MOX facility at Savannah River Site swells to $47.5 billion

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 7:00pm

The cost estimate to finish building and operating the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility at Savannah River Site has swelled to $47.5 billion, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration.

A second option for plutonium disposition, called downblending, was estimated to cost $17.2 billion in a report released to Congress on Wednesday, according to the NNSA, a semi-autonomous branch of the U.S. Department of Energy that manages the MOX facility.

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Augusta man previously convicted of manslaughter faces new charges involving firearms

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 4:51pm


An Augusta man previously convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a neighbor was indicted this week on new charges of reckless conduct and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

According to the indictment returned Tuesday by the Richmond County grand jury, Johnny Dinh, 23, is accused of endangering the safety of others Feb. 1 when he fired a shotgun in the air at a home on James Drive.

Dinh is also accused of possessing a 12-gauge Mossberg that day and a 25-caliber Beretta. As a convicted felon, Dinh is not allowed to have any firearm.

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Azziz talks family, legacy in last address

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 4:17pm

The thing that got to Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz as he gave his last State of the Enterprise address Wednesday was talking about his kids and what they had been through over the last nearly five years.

“Most off all, my gratitude goes to my family. My wife, Cindy, my children, Ashlee, Jonathon and Mallory for their love and support,” Azziz said, choking up. “For their belief in the vision and the righteousness of our mission, for their belief that we were doing the best for our community. To them, thank you.”

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April showers easing rainfall deficit in Augusta area

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 3:01pm

A particularly wet month is helping to drastically drop the rainfall deficit in the Augusta area.

At the end of March, the Augusta area was looking at more than 2 inches of rainfall deficit for the year, but as of Wednesday that number had dropped to 0.48 inches below normal.

“It’s looking good precipitation wise and moisture wise over there,” state climatologist Bill Murphey said the of deficit.

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Woman, 94, dies from March traffic injury

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 2:25pm


An elderly woman who crashed her car into a home last month died earlier this week, Coroner Mark Bowen confirmed Wednesday.

Virginia Rivers Carpenter Long, 94, died Monday at Georgia Regents Medical Center, where she has been hospitalized since the March 8 crash.

Richmond County sheriff’s deputies and state troopers arrived at 2914 Walden Drive to find Long’s Toyota Camry wedged into the corner of the single-story brick home.

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I-16 wreck near Savannah kills 5 Georgia Southern students

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 12:24pm


ELLABELL, Ga. — Authorities in Georgia say five people are dead after a tractor-trailer failed to slow down and smashed into stop-and-go traffic on Interstate 16 west of Savannah.

Sgt. 1st Class Chris Nease of the Georgia State Patrol said the deadly collision happened early Wednesday as an unrelated crash about a mile up the highway was forcing traffic to slow down. He says a tractor-trailer slammed into an SUV and a car before colliding with the back of a tanker truck.

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Ga. attorney general won't fight Supreme Court ruling if it allows gay marriage

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 12:06pm




ATLANTA – Georgia’s top lawyer said Wednesday that he would not fight if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in June that gay marriage is a right and that state bans are unconstitutional.

Attorney General Sam Olens was responding to a reporter’s question during a speech to the Atlanta Press Club.

The nation’s highest court is expected to rule soon on one of the country’s most volatile issues. It’s trying to set a national position after conflicting decisions by various federal courts have created confusion.

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River Glen homicide victim named

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 9:53am

Coroner Mark Bowen has identified a man who died at Riven Glen apartments Tuesday after what police said appeared to have been a beating.

The victim was identified as Leonel Vasquez-Calvo, 51, homeless.

Police responded to the apartment complex at 201 E. Telfair St., and discovered Vasquez-Calvo with injuries consistent with a beating. He was pronounced dead at the scene about 1:30 a.m.

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Gov. Deal signs failing schools bill

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 7:48am

ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a bill authorizing a state takeover of what he calls “chronically failing schools,” setting up a vote on a constitutional amendment needed to enact the new policy.

To the cheers of legislators as well as charter school students and their parents from the Utopian Academy for the Arts in Clayton County, Deal said Tuesday in the Capitol that his actions are aimed at implementing an Opportunity School District to turn around failing schools.

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Burke, other schools discard Blue Bell ice cream

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 7:42am



Authorities say Georgia schools are not required to discard Blue Bell ice cream products, but some school systems — including ones in Burke and Richmond counties — said that they are doing so.

Three Burke County public schools had Blue Bell ice cream products, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

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Emory employee charged in student fee thefts

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 7:39am

ATLANTA — A former Emory University employee is facing federal fraud charges in connection with about $317,000 in student fees and tuition stolen over a two-year period.

WSB-TV reports Brenda Michael is accused of setting up a PayPal account to divert student funds into her own account, affecting about 185 students taking classes at the Emory University School of Nursing.

Michael’s attorney, Parag Shah, said she will enter a guilty plea later this month.

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Apollo 13 astronaut, flight director to speak at GRU

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 11:35pm

Two men noted for their roles in the Apollo 13 moon mission will speak at Georgia Regents University’s Maxwell Theatre on Saturday as part of the school’s alumni weekend.

James Lovell Jr., the mission’s commander who uttered the phrase “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” will be joined by flight
director Gene Kranz as they discuss the roles they
played in guiding the spacecraft safely back to Earth after an onboard explosion, according to a news release.

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Injuries, failures reported on Augusta VA elevators

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 11:26pm

Augusta’s Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center had to call in contract mechanics 260 times last year to repair broken and stuck elevators that records show trapped 25 passengers and injured two others.

Reports obtained by The Augusta Chronicle last week under the Freedom of Information Act show four of the local VA’s 34 elevators at its downtown and uptown locations failed inspection during a weeklong visit in late March by mechanics from Bayline Lift Technologies of Norfolk, Va.

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Augusta man arrested for aggravated assault

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 9:44pm

An Augusta man is in police custody on charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and burglary in the first degree.

Antwone Marquese Scriven, 27, was arrested Tuesday afternoon after allegedly breaking into a home in the 200 block of Caldwell Drive and taking clothes and shoes from a victim’s closet, according to an incident report from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

Scriven allegedly struck a female victim in the face and stole 30 pairs of Air Jordan sneakers. The shoes are valued at $4,200.

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Columbia County commissioners resolve zoning issues with Lights of the South

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 9:37pm

The lights on Louisville Road will be on again this Christmas season.

Columbia County Commission members voted Tuesday to approve a rezoning of property that clears the way for Lights of the South to operate this holiday season.

The rezoning approval, however, is subject to property owner Benjamin Bell’s compliance with several stipulations invoked by county planning officials, including providing proof of proper permitting for some existing structures and ponds.

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