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Deadline looms for Georgia, Feds

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 4:12pm

Georgia is “waiting to hear’’ from the U.S. Department of Justice about what the federal agency plans to do after the June 30 expiration of the settlement agreement.

Frank Berry, commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, repeated a statement made earlier this year that Georgia would not meet a deadline for moving people with developmental disabilities out of state-run hospitals.

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Former Washington County star Gray headed to South Carolina

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 1:56pm


Former Washington County girls basketball star Allisha Gray is headed to South Carolina.

“Thanks to everybody who is telling me congratulations... So proud to officially be a Gamecock!!!,” Gray tweeted Friday.

Gray was provided with her release by the University of North Carolina on Tuesday morning to speak with other schools regarding a possible transfer.

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Aiken wreck kills motorist

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 1:05pm


One person is dead after a collision Friday morning on U.S. Highway 78 just outside Aiken.

South Carolina Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Judd Jones said the driver of a 2002 Honda Accord ran off the road, returned, crossed the center line and collided with a GMC pickup hauling a trailer about 9:10 a.m.

Deborah Greer, 57, of Aiken, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the coroner.

The pickup driver, identified as 33-year-old Jane McDonald, was taken to Georgia Regents Medical Center with minor injuries.


Cop fired; UGA player charges dropped

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 8:57am

ATHENS, Ga. -- Three charges against a Georgia football player, including DUI, were dismissed last month because the Athens-Clarke County Police officer who arrested him was fired from his job.

Outside linebacker Davin Bellamy was also charged in July 2014 with two other misdemeanors in the case: underage possession of alcohol and speeding.

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Wreck claims high school sweethearts

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 8:47am


DALLAS, Ga. — A pair of high school sweethearts who had been dating for two years died in a two-vehicle wreck just down the road from the high school they attended.


Multiple news sources report 18-year-old Janeal Priester and 17-year-old Nicholas Wright died in the crash Wednesday night. Two others were injured.


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How a florist helped catch suspect

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 7:59am

KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C. — Debbie Dills thought the black Hyundai next to her at a stoplight looked familiar — it had a South Carolina tag and a white decal on the front. Her heart raced when she saw the driver, the bowlcut-wearing white man who authorities say killed nine people in a black church in Charleston.


Police say her quick thinking helped bring 21-year-old Dylann Roof into custody after an intense, nearly daylong manhunt.


She called it a matter of “divine intervention.”


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Aiken woman shot dead Thursday

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 4:35am

An Aiken County man is in jail on charges that he fatally shot his wife during an argument at their Cooper Drive home Thursday.

Brana Vaughn, 36, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband, Edward Douglas Vaughn II, 38, was booked into the Aiken County Detention Center on a murder charge.

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Columbia County sheriff's deputies search Martinez mobile home where child died

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 8:14pm


Columbia County sheriff’s investigators combed through a Martinez mobile home Thursday where they suspect drugs were being manufactured and where a 5½-month-old boy died.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the home of Lexis Fay Russell, 23, and Jacob Drew Harris, 26, in M&M Mobile Home Park at 4222 Wheeler Road on Thursday afternoon, according to sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris.

Deputies arrived at the home about 4 p.m. and searched inside and outside, including a search of the trash bin in the backyard.

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Columbia County Fire Rescue extinguishes structure fire in Grovetown

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 7:21pm

Columbia County Fire Rescue extinguished a structure fire Thursday afternoon in Grovetown.

About 6:30 p.m., firefighters responded to Flint Equipment Co. at 1900 William Few Parkway, according to fire department officials.

Fire officials said there were no injuries.

Columbia County school officials plan rollback of property taxes

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 6:47pm


Columbia County school officials plan to roll back property taxes next month, but the impact on individual tax bills is expected to be small.

Schools Superintendent Sandra Carraway said school board members agreed last week while at their retreat in Savannah to set the school tax millage at 18.3 mills for the next year. The current rate is 18.59 mills, which was set in July 2013 when board members voted to raise the rate a full mill to compensate deep cuts in state funding to local school districts.

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Augusta churches issue call for prayer

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 3:54pm


Standing together Thursday in front of the Bethel AME Church on Crawford Avenue, five churches and the Augusta Interfaith Coalition issued a call for prayer and a citywide prayer vigil for 24 hours for families of the victims killed in Wednesday’s Charleston church shooting.

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Gunman robs Augusta fish market

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 3:43pm


Police are seeking a man who robbed a Tobacco Road fish market at gunpoint Thursday afternoon.

According to Richmond County dispatch, a masked man entered Hosanna Fish Market, 2763 Tobacco Road, at the Pinnacle Place shopping center, with a gun around 3:30 p.m. and demanded cash.

He was last seen running from the area. Police are setting up a perimeter to search for the bandit.

He was described as a tall black man in a gray jacket with dark pants.


Ex-prison worker indicted for inmate relationship

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 3:40pm


A former employee of the Augusta State Medical Prison has been indicted on charges linked to a personal relationship with one of the inmates.

The Richmond County grand jury returned an indictment Tuesday against Stephanie Nanette Lewis, 45. The indictment accuses her of violation oath of a public official, sexual assault against a person in custody, crossing guard line with drugs, trading with inmates and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

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Trenton, S.C. to celebrate 45th Ridge Peach Festival this weekend

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 3:33pm

TRENTON, S.C. — For the past 12 months, Billy and Beth Powell traveled the Southeast, visiting more than a dozen town festivals.

The Trenton, S.C., couple had one goal in mind: improving their own.

“We were looking for ideas on how we could better our annual Ridge Peach Festival here in Trenton,” Billy Powell said. “But after going to all these festivals, it became clear that what we have in our little town is very special. It’s truly one of a kind.”

This weekend Trenton will put on its 45th consecutive Ridge Peach Festival, a tradition that began in 1970.

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Georgia grapples with abuse of seniors

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 3:21pm


Before legislation was passed in 2012, GBI Director Vernon Keenan said he was not aware just how many elderly and disabled people were being abused and taken advantage of in Georgia.

The legislation made it illegal to operate an unlicensed personal care home, but the other issues it would bring to light continue to be exposed.

“We did not know the extent of the crimes against the elderly,” said Keenan, in the Thursday keynote address at the seventh annual Elder Rights Conference at Trinity on the Hill. “...We found out financial exploitation is pandemic.”

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Appeal hearing begins over Columbia County hospital decision

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 3:19pm

ATLANTA — Attorneys for the two hospitals that the state denied permission to build a Columbia County facility took turns Thursday attacking the winning application submitted by Georgia Regents Medical Center.

Doctors Hospital and University Hospital are appealing their denials last year by the Georgia Department of Community Health.

A hearing officer, Ellwood F. Oakley III, started the proceedings by pointing to eight three-ring binders on the table beside him, each containing hundreds of pages of evidence.

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Ga. below average on injury related deaths

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 3:02pm

ATLANTA -- Georgia has a lower rate of injury-related deaths than most states, a new report finds.

The state had a rate of 58.1 injury deaths per 100,000 people, slightly below the national figure of 58.4 percent, according to the report, released Wednesday by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44.

Georgia ranked 35th-highest among states for the rate of injury deaths, which include — among other things — drug overdoses, motor vehicle crashes and homicides.

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Fallen Sen. Pinckney advocate of the poor

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 2:02pm

COLUMBIA -- Sickle cell foundations across South Carolina are funded today is because of Sen. Clementa Pinckney’s efforts, according to Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland County.

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Suspect displayed apartheid-era patches

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 1:50pm

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Dylann Storm Roof drove around with a Confederate flag on his license plate — not exactly an unusual sight in the South. But on his Facebook page, he wore a jacket with the flags of the former white-racist regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia.


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River Watch wrong-way driver trial nears conclusion

Latest from The Augusta Chronicle - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 1:42pm


The jury in the River Watch Parkway wrong-way driver case is expected to begin deliberations Friday.

Monique Sullivan faces criminal charges including murder and aggravated assault in the Dec. 10, 2012, multivehicle crash that killed a young mother of two and nearly killed another woman.

Sullivan, 34, chose not to testify Thursday after the prosecution wrapped up its case in Richmond County Superior Court. Her decision, as the judge will instruct the jury, cannot be used against Sullivan because it is the state’s burden to prove guilt.

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