Georgia News Roundup
June 20, 2013 04:25 PM | 1797 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Georgia cyclist pitted against bus, car in commute race

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A cyclist is set to face off against a car and a bus during the fifth annual dump the pump challenge.

Savannah City officials say the challenge is part of a national event designed to show that alternative means of transportation can be convenient, cheaper and are better for the environment.

Savannah Bicycle Campaign member Jen Colestock will represent the city's bicycle commuters. Chatham Area Transit Board Member and daily bus commuter Bill Broker is slated to represent bus commuters, and City of Savannah Management Services Bureau Chief Sean Brandon will drive a car.

Officials say a recent study has shown that rates of car ownership are declining among young adults. Officials say cyclists competing in the challenge have won each of Savannah's past dump the pump competitions.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


UGA to dedicate new residence hall

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — The University of Georgia plans to dedicate a new residence hall.

A ceremony is set for June 27 in front of the new Rutherford Hall. University President Michael Adams plans to preside over the dedication ceremony. Attendees will have a chance to tour common areas and a student room in the residence hall after the reception.

The new dormitory stands on the site of a previous one that had the same name and had been built in 1939. The new residence hall has 261 beds, 100 more than the previous one, and is 80,000 square feet bigger.

The new building echoes its predecessor with monumental stairs leading from the Quad, signature columns, subtle arch work, Georgia brick details and traditional window design.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Man killed in interstate wreck identified

FORSYTH, Ga. (AP) — Authorities have identified a man who was killed in a Monroe County traffic accident as a 42-year-old Conyers man.

Monroe County Sheriff's spokeswoman Allison Selman-Willis says Christopher Vesely lost control of the Lincoln Towncar he was driving on I-75 and was struck by a tractor trailer Tuesday night. Willis says Vesely's car then hit the median and was struck by a second tractor trailer.

Officials say the man was pronounced dead on the scene, and it's unclear what led to the crash.

The accident is under investigation.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Police officer returns to force after knife attack

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — A police officer wounded in a near-deadly knife attack nearly six years ago has returned to the force in northeast Georgia.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports that Courtney Gale was sworn in again this week as an officer with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

She was reinstated as a sergeant, the rank she held when authorities say a man stabbed her a dozen times in December 2007.

Though Gale returned to the job in a civilian capacity in February 2012, Tuesday marked a major milestone in her grueling road to full recovery.

Information from: Athens Banner-Herald,

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Alligators on the move in the Macon area 

MACON, Ga. (AP) — This year is shaping up to be a busy year for alligators in the Macon area, which is on the northern end of the reptiles' range in Georgia.

An alligator found this week is the third one this month, The Telegraph reported.

Abundant rain during mating season could explain the multiple gator reports, authorities said.

In the latest case, someone spotted a gator near an Interstate 75 exit ramp around 2 a.m. Wednesday and called 911. Two eyes were glowing from the tall grass off I-75 near Hartley Bridge Road.

Jason Clark of Southeastern Reptile Rescue was called to the deal with the animal.

Clark had already captured two nearly 10-foot gators earlier in the month.

On June 2, one slithered under the deck of a vacant home on Bloomfield Road in south Macon.

Nine days later, Hosie Mackey had one in his backyard on Kiernan Drive in east Bibb County.

The alligators are being found about 75 miles southeast of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Information from: The Macon Telegraph,

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Georgia's jobless rate up slightly to 8.3 percent 

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia labor officials say the state's unemployment rate increased to 8.3 percent in May.

The Georgia Department of Labor announced the seasonally adjusted rate early Thursday, saying it was up one-tenth of a percentage point from 8.2 percent in April.

The rate increased because more job seekers entered the labor force looking for work, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. He said there was also a slight increase in layoffs, many of which were temporary.

"Despite the slight increase in the unemployment rate, Georgia employers continued to create jobs for the fourth consecutive month, giving us the largest number of jobs we've had since December 2008," Butler said. "And, it's very encouraging that the number of construction jobs has increased for the third consecutive month."

The May jobless rate was down eight-tenths of a percentage point from 9.1 percent in May a year ago.

But the number of layoffs rose by 4,238 -- or 9.9 percent -- to 46,882 in May, officials said. The increases came mostly in temporary layoffs in manufacturing, accommodations and food services, educational services, and health care and social assistance.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Alabama-based construction firm opens Georgia office

COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — A large Alabama construction firm with a history of building projects in the Columbus area has opened its first office in the west Georgia city.

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports that Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie recently opened the office on Front Avenue in Columbus.

Keith Johnson, the firm's regional vice president, said in a statement that it made sense to have a Columbus presence, considering the work the company has done and the city's potential for growth.

The contractor has had a hand in building the Muscogee County School District headquarters and the Columbus Citizens Service Center on Macon Road, as well as the Columbus State University Student Recreation Center. It also is the primary contractor for the ongoing Eagle & Phenix Mill condo and loft apartment project.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens elected to leadership role in national group

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's top lawyer has been elected to a leadership position in a national group of attorneys general.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens was elected chair for the Southern Region of the National Association of Attorneys General on Wednesday. His election by his fellow southern attorneys general came during the organization's national meeting in Boston.

As chairman for the region, he will serve on the group's executive committee and will be in charge of coordinating the agenda for his region.

The group's southern region includes 13 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Gov. Deal receives DeKalb CEO indictment

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has received the indictment of DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis and must now form a commission to determine whether he should be suspended from office.

Deal was given the indictment in a letter from DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James Thursday morning.

The 15-count indictment accuses Ellis of trying to extort campaign contributions from companies and their employees. The indictment also alleges that Ellis instructed the county's director of purchasing and contracting to prevent certain companies from getting business because they didn't respond to his solicitations and didn't contribute to his campaign.

Ellis has said that he has done nothing wrong.

Deal now has 14 days to assemble the three-person commission.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Bond set at $75,000 for driver in fatal crash that killed jazz musician Ben Tucker

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Bond has been set at $75,000 for a Texas man charged in a crash that killed Savannah jazz musician Ben Tucker.

Robert William Martin, of Spicewood, Texas, was initially denied bond in the June 4 crash that killed 82-year-old Tucker, who was riding a golf cart at the time of the crash. Investigators have said evidence from an air bag control device in the car Martin was driving showed he was traveling at about 90 mph two seconds before the crash.

Martin has been charged with vehicular homicide, racing and reckless driving. A judge previously denied bond for 52-year-old Martin saying his lack of connections to the local community was a cause for concern.

Martin's attorney says has promised that his client will return to Chatham County for court dates.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Severe egg allergy? There's now a flu shot for you 

By Mike Stobbe, AP Medical Writer

ATLANTA (AP) — People with serious egg allergies may no longer have to worry about flu shots.

A federal advisory panel on Thursday said a new vaccine that's made without eggs is an option for adults with severe allergies. Current flu shots are made from viruses grown in eggs and could trigger allergic reactions in some cases.

The new Flublok vaccine is made with cell technology, which is used for other kinds of vaccines. It was licensed in January by Protein Sciences Corp.

Officials don't know how many Americans skip flu shots because they're allergic to eggs.

About 1 in 66 children have egg allergies, though most kids outgrow them. The new vaccine is not an option for kids. So far it's licensed only for adults ages 18 to 49.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Jury recommends death for Florida man who killed Georgia teen 

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — Jurors have recommended death on Thursday for a Florida Panhandle man convicted of killing a teenage Georgia girl on vacation with her family.

A Walton County jury voted 12-0 that Steven Cozzie, 23, should die. Circuit Judge Kelvin Wells will make the final decision sometime in the future. Cozzie was convicted last week of first-degree murder, sexual battery, aggravated child abuse and kidnapping.

Authorities say Courtney Wilkes, 15, was found dead in Seagrove Beach a day after she went missing in June 2011. She and her family had been visiting from Lyons, Ga.

Courtney's mother, Toni Wilkes, addressed the media after the recommendation.

"We feel relieved. We feel vindicated. We feel this is the penalty he should have gotten," Wilkes said. "It doesn't relieve our circumstances, but today may be the first day of our healing."

The Northwest Florida Daily News reports that witnesses connected Cozzie to Courtney, and he was arrested shortly after her body was found.

Cozzie had been hanging around the condominium where the Wilkes family was staying two years ago when he asked Courtney to take a walk with him. Courtney's mother allowed her to go.

On a secluded nature trail nearby, Cozzie wrapped his shirt around Courtney's neck and began choking her. He then dragged into a dry cypress swamp, where he raped her and then beat her to death with a heavy piece of lumber.

Earlier this week, Cozzie's family members tried to convince jurors that he should receive a life sentence rather than the death penalty. They described him as a mentally challenged young man who had been physically, emotionally and sexually battered inside and outside his home for most of his life.

Information from: Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.),

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


Newnan man pleads guilty in Internet fraud scheme 

NEWNAN, Ga. (AP) — Officials in the U.S. Attorney's Atlanta office say a Coweta County man has pleaded guilty to charges associated with an internet fraud scheme.

Authorities Thursday said 71-year-old Randolph Wayne Hill falsely advertised that his company could deliver tons of chemicals used in farming and other industries to customers around the world.

Officials say Hill claimed in March and April 2008 that he could deliver 120 tons of fertilizer chemical to farmers in Suriname — a nation north of Brazil. Authorities say the farmers paid hill $60,000 for chemicals they never received.

Officials say Hill offered to supply a Cartersville-based company with 160 tons of chemicals used to fireproof fabric. Authorities say the company paid Hill nearly $200,000 for materials they never received.

Hill's sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


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