Georgia News Roundup
May 05, 2014 10:00 AM | 1776 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
National Arson Awareness Week highlights car arson

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens says his office investigated nearly 40 vehicle arsons in 2012 that caused more than $400,000 in property damage.

Hudgens says he's offering that statistic and others as part of National Arson Awareness Week, which runs May 4 through 10. The theme of this year's National Arson Awareness Week is vehicle arson.

Hudgens says the United States Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association noted an average of more than 14,735 vehicle arsons annually in the past decade, which accounted just over a quarter of all annual arsons. Hudgens says the crime also costs about $169 million yearly in property damage on a national level.

Hudgens says Georgians with information about arson may call a 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-800-282-5804.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Trial looms for ex-UGA coach in Ponzi scheme

ATLANTA (AP) — Pretrial proceedings are expected to begin Monday in the trial of former University of Georgia football coach Jim Donnan, who was accused of running a pyramid scheme.

An 85-count federal indictment charged Donnan and Gregory L. Crabtree of Proctorville, Ohio with conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud. Prosecutors have said the pair ran the scheme through GLC Limited, Inc., a West Virginia-based company that dealt in closeout merchandise.

Authorities have said Donnan convinced high-profile college coaches and former players to invest $80 million in the company. The money from new investors was continually needed to pay the company's expenses and other investors.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports Crabtree pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit fraud in the sale of a security.

Donnan has denied intentionally misleading investors.

Information from: Athens Banner-Herald, 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Georgia officer working funeral procession hit by car

ATLANTA (AP) — Authorities say a metro Atlanta police officer working off-duty as a funeral procession escort was struck and injured by a driver on Interstate 85.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the Gwinnett County officer was trying to stop traffic Sunday afternoon at Interstate 85 and Georgia 400 when he was hit. Police say the officer was on his motorcycle when the collision occurred.

The injured officer was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. Officials say his injuries appeared to be non-life threatening.

Gwinnett County police say the officer was performing an approved off-duty job. His name was not immediately released.

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Report: Many interstate lights dark in Atlanta

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta officials say budget cuts are the reason nearly half the streetlights have been allowed to go dark on interstate highways within the city limits.

WSB-TV reports city officials say 40 percent of 8,000 streetlights on the city's freeways aren't working. The city of Atlanta is responsible for keeping those lights on, but officials say they haven't had the money because of budget cuts since 2008.

The office of the Atlanta Public Works commissioner says the problem is already being fixed. Lights on Interstate 75 from downtown to the Atlanta airport are burning again. Officials say crews will turn on more lights in the next month on I-85 in midtown.

Officials are proposing $1.5 million in the next city budget to fix more streetlights by the end of 2014.

Information from: WSB-TV, 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

UGA making it tougher to graduate with honors

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — The University of Georgia is making it tougher for students to graduate with honors.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports university officials voted in late April to raise the grade-point averages required for honor graduates. UGA officials say 40 percent of the class of 2014 will graduate with honors this week — nearly double the percentage from 15 years ago.

Under the new standards, students will be required to have a grade-point average of 3.6 to graduate cum laude, compared to 3.5 now. Magna cum laude grads will need a 3.75 average, up from 3.7. The 3.9 grade-point average required to graduate summa cum laude will remain the same.

Current students shouldn't have to worry. The changes don't take effect until December 2018.

Information from: Athens Banner-Herald, 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Army troops from Fort Gordon deploy to Mideast

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A company of the Army's network communications specialists is heading overseas for its fifth deployment to the Middle East.

The Augusta Chronicle reports members of the 518th Tactical Installation Networking Company said goodbye to family and friends Sunday during a send-off ceremony at Fort Gordon. The troops will spend the next nine months providing communication support at telecommunication outposts for U.S. and coalition forces in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

It's been barely a year since troops from the 518th returned home from their last overseas tour. About 125 soldiers returned to the Augusta Army post in March 2013.

Information from: The Augusta Chronicle , 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Man suspected in Valdosta slaying arrested in Florida

VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP) — Police say a man suspected in a fatal shooting over the weekend in south Georgia has been arrested in Florida.

WALB-TV reports 18-year-old Brian Levon Charlton-Simmons has been charged with malice murder in the slaying outside the Park Chase Apartments in Valdosta.

Police found Rufus Howard Ellis III shot inside his car. Ellis was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police say they quickly identified Charlton-Simmons as a suspect and issued a regional lookout. He was arrested and jailed in Hamilton County, Fla., about two hours later. It was not immediately known if Simmons had an attorney.

Information from: WALB-TV, 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Alabama sheriff: Grand jury to review dog bite death

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — An east Alabama sheriff says a grand jury will review the death of a woman who was attacked by pit bulldogs.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says the owner of the dogs isn't currently charged with a crime.

But that could change after grand jurors consider the death of 20-year-old Katie Morrison. Jones says that review will occur later.

Lee County coroner Bill Harris says the Smiths Station woman died Saturday at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

Authorities say Morrison was playing with the dogs and their owner in a yard on Monday when one attacked her as she knelt down to pick up something. Investigators have said two other dogs joined in the attack.

The coroner says Morrison suffered a severe head injury, lacerations and multiple puncture wounds.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

Georgia, Alabama men killed in motorcycle crash

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Two men are dead after a motorcycle crash in southeast Alabama.

Alabama state troopers say 46-year-old Jimmy Lee Walker of Columbus, Ga., and 33-year-old Timothy Lewis Rakestraw of Phenix City died when their motorcycles collided.

The Dothan Eagle reports the crash happened Sunday on U.S. 231.

Troopers say a tire blew out on Walker's motorcycle, which collided with the other one.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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