Georgia News Roundup
May 10, 2013 02:05 PM | 639 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Savannah police offer boat safety class for teens

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The Savannah-Chatham County police marine unit is offering a boating safety class aimed at teenagers who will soon be required to complete such a course to legally operate a boat in Georgia waters.

The free class is being held May 18 at the police department's Metro Training Center at the Savannah Mall. It's open to anyone age 12 and older.

A couple of deadly and high-profile accidents on state waterways prompted Georgia lawmakers this year to approve requiring boating safety classes for anyone born since 1998. Gov. Nathan Deal signed the measure into law last month.

The safety class requirement kicks in at the beginning of next year, when it will essentially affect boat operators age 16 and younger.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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MARTA to hold public budget proposal hearings

ATLANTA (AP) — Metro Atlanta's public transit system plans to hold public hearings to present its proposed budget for the 2014 fiscal year.

The MARTA budget hearings are set for various locations on May 14 and 16. After the public hearings, the full board will vote on the final budget before the new fiscal year begins on July 1.

The draft budget includes $426.9 million for operations and $430.5 million for capital programs, including $141.1 million for debt service. MARTA says the budget proposal will preserve existing service and will avoid a previously projected 25-cent fare increase.

MARTA general manager and CEO Keith Parker says the proposal is a "road map" to transform the agency for long-term fiscal sustainability.

Online: MARTA

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Georgia officials warn against leaving kids in hot cars

ATLANTA (AP) — As temperatures begin to rise, officials from six state agencies are reminding Georgians to never leave children unattended in vehicles.

At a press conference Thursday, officials demonstrated how quickly the temperature can rise inside of a closed vehicle. Authorities urge Georgians to never leave children unattended inside of cars, to call 911 if they see a child left unattended, and to store car keys in areas where children can't get to them.

Bobby Cagle of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning says more than half of all vehicle-related heatstroke deaths in children are caused by people who have accidentally left children in the car. Cagle says about 30 percent are linked to children getting into hot cars on their own.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Accused serial rapist apprehended outside Atlanta

DULUTH, Ga. (AP) — A man accused of raping at least five women inside a vacant apartment outside Atlanta is facing several charges.

Authorities say 23-year-old Joseph Tyler Sivonda was taken into custody at a Duluth apartment on Thursday by Gwinnett County police detectives, sheriff's deputies and U.S. Marshals.

Gwinnett County police Cpl. Jake Smith said Sivonda faces rape, aggravated sodomy and armed robbery charges.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Sivonda is accused of hiring female escorts online and arranging to meet them at an apartment complex northeast of Atlanta. When the women arrived, Sivonda is accused of pulling out a handgun and forcing the women into a vacant unit at the complex, where police say he sexually assaulted them.

Gwinnett County Jail records do not indicate whether he has an attorney.

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Dancers fight zoning change aimed at Atlanta strip clubs

ATLANTA (AP) — An Atlanta zoning board has sided with adult entertainment workers who showed up at a city meeting to oppose proposed changes aimed at shutting down the clubs where they work.

CBS Atlanta reports that dozens of dancers attended Thursday's zoning meeting at City Hall. After more than an hour of heated debate, the zoning board denied the motion to recommend rezoning for the area.

The controversy involves clubs on Cheshire Bridge Road. Residents in the neighborhood say the strip clubs are bringing down property values and contributing to home and car break-ins and other crime.

Danniell Granger, a dancer at Onyx, said that if neighbors don't like the activity, they don't have to come to the clubs and they should just move.

Information from: WGCL-TV.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Search for missing race fan widens to 2nd campsite

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — The sister of a Georgia man last seen in a campground outside Talladega Superspeedway says the search has expanded to another campground near the track after a tip from another race fan.

Searchers have been using tracking dogs, boats, aircraft, and four-wheelers in an attempt to find 28-year-old Nicholas Bower of Villa Rica, Ga.

Bower came to the NASCAR race at Talladega with his girlfriend, but went missing from the South Park campground outside the raceway on Saturday night. There's been no indication of foul play, but authorities say they don't know what happened.

The search shifted to the West Park campsite after a race fan called in a tip placing Bower in that area around midnight, his older sister Bridget Chambers told the Anniston Star.

The South Park campsite is located between turn one and turn two. The West Park site is situated near turn four.

Bower had "never done anything remotely like this," his girlfriend Jennifer Boesch said a news conference this week.

"I'm asking everyone to check all your tents, vehicles, RVs, everything. Then double check," Boesch said.

Bower is described as a 28-year-old white male, 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 185 pounds.

Talladega County Sheriff Jimmy Kilgore described the case as a unique one, the Daily Home newspaper of Talladega reported.

"Every case is different, but I've never really had one quite like this," Kilgore said.

"Please keep this family and all the searchers in your thoughts and prayers," the sheriff added.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Coastal Georgia college announces expansion plans

HINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Armstrong Atlantic State University plans to expand its Armstrong-Liberty Center in the south Georgia community of Hinesville.

The school announced the expansion plans this week.

The Savannah Morning News reports that the university has partnered with the city of Hinesville to build a new classroom and laboratory building downtown.

Armstrong President Linda Bleicken said the building is a much-needed facility. She said the partnership with the city will allow for new educational opportunities in the region for students of all ages, including military members, their families and other adult students.

Hinesville Mayor James Thomas Jr. said the project means that more high school students from the community will have a chance to attend college close to home.

Officials said groundbreaking could begin as early as the fall.

Information from: Savannah Morning News, http://www.savannahnow.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Sept. 23 trial scheduled in Brunswick mass killing

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — A judge in coastal Georgia has set a September trial date for a Brunswick man charged with beating his father and seven others to death inside a mobile home nearly four years ago.

Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Scarlett said in an order Thursday he plans to begin the trial of Guy Heinze Jr. on Sept. 23, The Brunswick News reported. The timetable in the judge's written order sets aside several weeks for picking a jury. Attorneys on both sides would start questioning prospective jurors Aug. 19, with final jury selection tentatively set for the day the trial begins.

Heinze, 25, faces the death penalty if he's convicted of murder in the Aug. 29, 2009, killings of his father, Guy Heinze Sr., and seven members of an extended family who shared a mobile home in coastal Glynn County just outside of Brunswick.

Also killed were 44-year-old Rusty Toler Sr. and his four children — Chrissy Toler, 22; Russell D. Toler Jr., 20; Michael Toler, 19; and Michelle Toler, 15. The other victims were Rusty Toler's sister, Brenda Gail Falagan, 49, and Chrissy Toler's boyfriend, Joseph L. West, 30.

Heinze was arrested six days after he called 911 and sobbed as he told an operator: "My whole family is dead."

Prosecutors say Heinze beat the victims to death with a blunt weapon, but have never given a motive for the slayings.

Heinze has pleaded not guilty.

Information from: The Brunswick News, http://www.thebrunswicknews.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Savannah man fatally stabbed in dispute with siblings

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Police in Savannah say a man has died after being stabbed during a dispute with his siblings.

Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan police spokesman Julian Miller says 43-year-old William Graham was fighting with his sister Thursday and Graham's 29-year-old brother, Emmanuel, intervened. Miller says the brothers began fighting and William Graham was eventually stabbed during the altercation. He was taken to Memorial University Medical Center and was pronounced dead.

Emmanuel Graham was questioned by police and Miller says their investigation indicates his older brother was the aggressor. It was unclear what the siblings were arguing about before the stabbing.

Miller says police and the Chatham County District Attorney's office is investigating the incident.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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