Local Update - April 12, 2007

Teenager arrested for arson

Investigators have who they believe is behind an arson case in Augusta's Harrisburg community, and he's only 16 years old.

The young man is charged with three counts of arson.

Investigators are currently only linking him to the fires on Watkins Street and are still investigating whether he had anything to do with the one on Broad Street two weeks ago.

Investigators made the arrest after tips from neighbors.

They are also questioning the suspect's friend, who was convicted of arson in 2000.

He tells News 12 he gave the suspect a lighter but had nothing to do with setting the fires.

Man wanted in Daniel Street murder

Richmond County investigators are working to find a murder suspect on the run in the area.

They say Lavardes "Chicago" Lockhart shot 53-year-old Freddie Jones in the 1000 block of Daniel Street.

They say Lockhart shot Jones twice in the head in front of someone else's home.

Investigators tell us Jones ran a catering business, and he may have been in the area to deliver food to the elderly.

Investigators say Lockhart is armed and dangerous. If you have any information, call the sheriff's office.

Technology connects local law enforcement agencies

Area police agencies will soon be connected with a new way to fight crime.

Homeland Security money will now help bridge Georgia and South Carolina.

IntelliNET combines different information from different counties into one database. That means evidence, addresses, nicknames, and any leads investigators may have are available to any law enforcement agency across the area.

What takes weeks will soon take seconds.

The $1.4 million grant is going to Columbia, Richmond, Edgefield, Burke, and Aiken counties, as well as the Aiken and North Augusta departments of public safety.

They expect it to be in full effect within a year.

Carolyn Usry passes away

Former Augusta councilwoman Carolyn Ursy has passed away.

Usry was a member of the Coliseum Authority in 2003. She served as a council member in Augusta before consolidation.

She is also known as the woman behind Fat Man's.

A viewing will be held tonight for Mrs. Ursy, and funeral services will be held tomorrow.

Platt's Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

Columbia County Pre-K program in jeopardy

Columbia County's Pre-K program is hanging on by a thread.

The school board is planning to vote whether or not to keep the program in 2008. Chairman Regina Buccafusco says the factors threatening the program are the county's growth and constant money pulled from the county, even though it's state funded.

The program has just 320 slots. Buccafusco says it may be time to pass it back to the daycares.

"It's a great program for sure, but in the private sector they're the same certified teachers, it's the same exact curriculum, so I think that if the private sector can handle it," she said. "Let them handle it and free up some of our classrooms."

Tuesday night (March 10), board members addressed parents' concerns about a lottery drawing for the program. Some believe it was rigged.

The board will have a special meeting tomorrow to report findings of an investigation into the Pre-K lottery.

McDuffie County BOE meeting tonight

The McDuffie County school board will meet tonight at 6 o'clock, and as usual in their meetings, they are allowing time for public comment.

Some board members say they've received complaints after an audit turned up evidence of misspent money which has since been repaid.

McDuffie Co. BOE Meeting
Thursday, April 12
6 PM at McDuffie Co. BOE