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Assembly slows at GM plant

Merck loses in Vioxx suit

A Texas jury awarded a woman $253.4 million for the death of her husband, who took the painkiller Vioxx, finding the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. liable for his death.

Jurors rejected Merck's argument that Robert Ernst, 59, died of clogged arteries rather than a Vioxx-induced heart attack that led to his fatal arrhythmia.

This was the first of thousands of lawsuits pending across the country.

Gwinnett Tech expands

Business and college leaders broke ground on Gwinnett Technical College's newest addition, the D. Scott Hudgens Jr. Early Education Center, which will open in July 2006.

The $6.7 million building will feature 14 classrooms, four indoor play areas, observation booths for training and three playgrounds. It will be large enough to house 220 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old, said Mary Beth Byerly, executive director for institutional advancement at Gwinnett Tech.

The building was funded through private donations, mostly from the Scott Hudgens Family Foundation. Any Gwinnett Tech student will be able to enroll their child in the program on an income-based payment program.

Commissioners withhold certificates of occupancy

Barrow County commissioners voted to allow a new development on Rat Kinney Road, but decided not to allow certificates of occupancy until June 2007.

Referencing a letter from the Board of Education that said a new development in the area would hurt the schools, commissioners allowed the 98-acre low-density residential subdivision only after deciding not to allow residents into the area until the schools could accommodate them.

An area attorney said the practice was illegal and urged commissioners to reconsider their decision, but they would not second a motion to do so.

Commissioners also approved a composting business on Barrow Industrial Parkway, a 51-lot subdivision on Tanner's Bridge Road, a subdivision on Lackey Road and commercial areas on Ga. Highways 211 and 124.

Kass can be reached via e-mail at arielle.kass@gwinnettdaiypost.com.