News 12 This Morning Local Update - October 18, 2006

Midnight fire destroys mobile home

There's nothing left of a mobile home in Burnettown that went up in flames just before midnight Tuesday.

The fire started in the 100 block of Dummy Line Road.

Nobody was hurt, but the trailer was used as a storage unit.

Still no word on how it caught fire.

Elementary school custodian charged with child molestation

A local elementary school custodian is behind bars, charged with child molestation.

Dean Gossett worked at Diamond Lakes Elementary School.

Richmond County investigators say there's videotape proof that put him in jail.

They received a tape showing Gossett taking nude pictures of a 14-year-old girl.

The incident happened nearly four years ago.

Investigators say the suspect knew the teen, but won't say how.

Her parents were unaware of the incident until they were notified by authorities.

"The investigation is still very new," said Lt. Scott Peebles. "We're conducting search warrants and following up on other angles to ensure that this is not the only victim."

Investigators will not confirm if the two were seen having sex in the tape.

No bond has been set for Gossett.

City administrator presents proposed budget to commissioners

Augusta commissioners are deliberating on next year's budget.

City administrator Fred Russell presented his proposal Tuesday.

His plan to fix the $6 million deficit includes a .34 percent millage rate increase.

That's about a $12 increase on a $100,000 home.

The proposal also calls for around a million dollars in cuts from the recreation department, $1.6 million in job cuts, and about $700,000 from the city transit service.

Commissioners are expected to finalize the budget by next month.

Augusta November ballot longest in decades

The general election is only three weeks away, and prepare yourself---the ballot is long.

It's a total of three pages printed out, and about ten on the electronic voting machine.

You will have to decide on nine constitutional amendments and state referendums before you can even vote for the mayor of Augusta.

It's one of the longest ballots in Augusta's history, because up until last year, all of the judicial races have been on the July ballots instead of November's.

To avoid lines at the poll you can review a sample ballot here.

Columbia County sample ballots are available here.

Georgians don't need photo ID to vote

Letters are on their way to Georgia voters.

The state election board approved a letter to inform more than 300,000 voters that they don't need a photo ID to vote on November 7.

The board also approved radio and TV ads to be broadcast statewide.

The action follows a mass mailing that incorrectly advised people they would need a photo ID to vote.

Coming Up

New corporate headquarters fill a vacant spot in the old Wal-Mart plaza off Bobby Jones Expressway.

Thursday at 6:45, find out who's bringing more business to the area.

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