Local Update - February 13, 2007

Slain soldier's body returned to Barnwell

A local soldier makes a homecoming today, but it won't be a happy one.

Chief Warrant Officer Jason Defrenn's body returns home today. The Barnwell soldier was killed in Iraq.

His family is preparing for his funeral.

His body arrives at 10:30 this morning at the Barnwell airport.

Visitation is Thursday night at Dyches funeral home.

The funeral is Friday afternoon at 2 o'clock at First Baptist Church in Barnwell.

Defrenn died when his helicopter crashed north of Baghdad.

Gang seminar held at Glenn Hills Middle

The number of gangs in Augusta is on the rise, and members are getting younger and younger.

Last night, parents learned more about this problem at a gang seminar at Glenn Hills Middle School.

Officers say the numbers are growing because sixth, seventh, and eighth graders are being recruited.

How can parents help?

Experts say by getting involved with their children.

"It's absolutely essential," Lt. Scott Peebles told News 12. "I mean it has to be done, and if they don't, they could end up visiting their child in jail or even worse visiting them graveside."

Experts also say parents should pay attention to how their child dresses, who they hang out with, and where they go.

It also helps when educators, law enforcement, and parents work as a team.

Rash of car thefts

You might want to keep an extra eye on your car. News 12 has learned of a string of car thefts all over Augusta. Seven people reported car thefts this weekend.

Investigators say if the owner notices what's happening, the way most react puts them in danger.

They say rather than chasing the thief down, you should stay put and call 911.

There have been roughly 2000 car thefts in the past year.

All of these recent reports happened between noon and 11 p.m. in every region across Augusta, from homes to even the lot near the sheriff's department.

Technology Days

Technology Days are back at the Savannah River Site, and the two-day event starts today as part of National Engineers Week.

It's being held at Fort Discovery in downtown Augusta.

You can stop by today and Wednesday from 4:30 until 7:30 at tonight. It's free to get in.

News 12 will have an exhibit set up, so stop by and talk with members of StormTeam 12.

Commission rethinks trimming bus schedule

The city's budget is off balance again, with cuts taking a toll on Augusta's transit routes.

Now commissioners are rethinking trimming the bus schedule.

Yesterday they met in committee with the transit director to discuss overcrowding. Riders complain that they have to stand or sit on the floor.

No final decision was made, but the committee agreed they need to make some changes fast. They say the conditions are becoming a liability and inconvenience.

The committee is considering cutting some administrative staff positions or using some of the surplus sales tax money to pay for more buses.

They'll meet again in two weeks.