News 12 This Morning Local Update - September 19, 2006

Mayor residency challenge withdrawn

A residency challenge against Deke Copenhaver is withdrawn hours before a special hearing by his challenger.

Diane Moss sent a handwritten letter saying she has withdrawn her challenge because she "has been intimidated and threatened by our mystery mayor".

Moss had claimed Mayor Copenhaver lived in Aiken County in 2005 and was not eligible for the mayor's office.

The mayor showed News 12 his home, his driver's license, and his voter registration card.

No plan to appoint new District 4 commissioner

Augusta residents in District 4 have some complaints, but there's no one to hear them.

Three weeks ago, Keith Brown stepped down from the post after the Board of Elections disqualified him from running in November, saying he didn't meet residency requirements.

Commissioners have met several times since then and they'll meet today, but the clerk's office says a vote to fill the seat is not on the agenda.

"It's a very bad thing, we have no one to go to, no one to discuss any of the problems, nowhere to go for information about small business or anything," District 4 resident Ernestine James told News 12.

"They can take all the time and try to find someone that's going to work for us other than just sit there," said District 4 resident Bill Reynolds.

The governor could end up appointing someone if commissioners have not filled the vacancy by October 11.

A special election to fill the seat for the full term will be in November.

Larke says school board's focus skewed

The Richmond County School Board's focus has been skewed for the last eight months according to superintendent Dr. Charles Larke.

At a news conference yesterday, Dr. Larke claims that instead of putting children first, board members have been launching a campaign to remove him from office.

According to the agreement reached last week, Dr. Larke will step down October 31 as superintendent and will serve as a consultant until March 31, 2007.

The move allows him to retire with 40 years of service.

Deputy superintendent James Thompson will take over as interim superintendent until a new one is found.

Richmond County BOE District 3 special elections today

The special elections for the Richmond County Board of Education District 3 seat are today.

Voters in 10 precincts will elect the new board member.

The candidates are Lauretta Gordon and Alex Howard.

Only 60 people voted during the early voting period last week.

Polls are now open.

Two men in jail after drug sting

Two Richmond County men are behind bars, accused of trying to sell drugs to undercover investigators.

It's a transaction that led to gunfire at the Grovetown Food Lion Friday afternoon.

Anderson Kyler and Michael Garrett are in jail, but undercover officers say this isn't the first time suspected drug dealers from other areas brought their business to Columbia County.

Officers say in a year's time, they've made over 160 arrests. They tracked some of those deals from Aiken, Richmond, and McDuffie counties.

Friday's arrests led officers to over $3000 worth of cocaine.

Coming Up

Lowe's home improvement store is working overtime to get open.

But are they ahead of schedule?

Wednesday, we'll have the Buzz on the opening date and what you can expect inside.

That's on News 12 This Morning starting at 5:30.