NEW! News 12 This Morning Local Update

August 31, 2006

Beck makes his case

Augusta Recreation and Parks director Tom Beck is telling his side for the first time to city leaders after allegations that he treated some of his employees unfairly.

Beck and the department are being investigated after a group of employees came forward claiming he harassed them and showed favoritism in hiring and promotions.

They say Beck hires and promotes his friends who are not qualified for jobs and overlooks tenured employees.

Beck denied this and all of the allegations yesterday.

The investigation is not complete. City leaders now want to hear from the HR department and then meet with Beck again next week.

Kendrick qualifies

Businessman Steven Kendrick qualified in the Augusta mayor's race at the Board of Elections office yesterday morning.

He's one of four men who've announced they are running, but the first to officially file the paperwork.

MCG turns away non-emergency Medicaid patients

Roughly 9,000 Medicaid patients are getting phone calls this week canceling their appointments, effective on September 1.

All this after MCG was not able to reach a contract agreement between two managed care companies also expected to take over on that date.

While they declined to comment on camera, MCG officials say under the current contract, they stand to lose another $2 to 3 million a year, and they have to look out for the best interest of all their patients.

In a statement released to News 12, Dr. Rhonda Medows, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health, had this to say:

"I discussed with Mr. Snell, the CEO of MCG Health, the importance of not interrupting patient care and the option of continuing care as a non-participatory provider during his negotiations.


"I see that he has chosen instead to put the contract before the patient."

Larke under fire for writing salary advance checks

Richmond County's superintendent is back under fire, this time for allegedly writing $600,000 in advanced salary checks to employees who requested it.

Dr. Charles Larke says they were emergency payment advances for things like rent, medication, and funerals.

The school board is investigating the claims, but Dr. Larke says they had full knowledge about them, and even approved them.

"I complained about it to board members that I thought it was being abused," Dr. Larke said. "And I've complained about it to my staff, they can attest to that...that I've gotten tired of all these long, sob, sad stories."

"If he's done this and the board has not been involved and had no information, don't try to put the blame on the school board," said school board member Ken Echols. "We had no knowledge of it."

Larke says he made a statement in a letter to the school board that he would only grant two payroll advances per employee per year.

Echols says if Larke did sign off on money that was not approved by the board, it could be grounds for termination.

Two arrested after police chase

Two people are in custody this morning after a driver failed to stop at a traffic light in North Augusta.

Now public safety officers are looking for a third person.

Last night police were led on a chase along the Aiken-Augusta Highway.

It ended at Tacky Tony's Fireworks shop at the corner of East Buena Vista Avenue and Martintown Road.

The driver of the pick-up will be charged. Police say he was out on bail on weapons charges.

Man wanted in hit and run

Richmond County deputies want your help finding another dangerous driver, wanted in a hit and run.

Investigators say Carlos Pimentel hit a man on Walker Street last Tuesday.

His vehicle was found at a local paint and body shop.

Pimentel is wanted for hit and run, driving with a suspended license, and following too closely.

He also has outstanding warrants.