News for Friday, January 13, 2006

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George Erickson

George “Sonny” Erickson, age 56 of Sugar Hill, died Thursday, January 12, 2006. Arrangements by Tapp/Tim Stewart Funeral Home and Crematory, 201 Morningside Drive, Buford, Georgia 30518 ...

Jeremy Taylor

Jeremy Taylor, age 33, of Lilburn, GA passed away on Thursday, January 12, 2006 after a long illness caused by Spina Bifida. He grew up in Clairmont Baptist Church and ...

Charles Griffeth

Charles H. Griffeth, age 89 of Loganville, GA, passed away on January 11, 2006. Arrangements by Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, Inc., Lawrenceville Chapel, 770-963-2411, www.wagesfuneralhome.com.

Danny Remion

Mr. Danny Steven Remion, age 25, of Bogart, passed away on January 12, 2006. Arrangements by Evans Funeral Home, Jefferson, 706-367-5467.

Ernest Brinkley

Ernest Reid Brinkley, age 87 of Loganville, died Thursday, January 12, 2006. Arrangements by Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 670 Tom Brewer Road, Loganville, Georgia 30052, 770-466-1544.

June Denny

June Denny, beloved and devoted Mother, age 78 of Lawrenceville, Georgia, went home to be with the Lord, Thursday, January 12, 2006. Arrangements by Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 300 Simonton ...

Thelma Stubblefield

Thelma Stubblefield, age 76 of Sugar Hill, died Thursday, January 12, 2006. Arrangements by Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 300 Simonton Road, Lawrenceville, GA 30045, 770-962-3100.

Mary Mitchell

Mary A. Mitchell, age 83 of Snellville, GA died Thursday, January 12, 2006 after an extended illness. Arrangements by Hamilton Mill Memorial Chapel, 770-945-6924, www.hamiltonmillchapel.com.

Winford Cooper

Mr. Winford Lamar Cooper, age 74, of Braselton, passed away on Thursday, January 12, 2006, after an extended illness. Arrangements by Evans Funeral Home, Jefferson, GA, 706-367-5467.

Charles Green

Charles T. Green, Jr., age 75 of Dacula, formerly of Duluth, died Thursday, January 12, 2006. He is survived by: Wife, Bobbie Green; Daughter and son-in-law, Gail and ...

Jessica Ralston

Mrs. Jessica Leslie Ralston, 40, of Grayson, GA, died in an automobile accident in Clayton, GA, on January 11, 2006. Arrangements by H.M. Patterson & Son, Arlington Chapel, 173 Allen ...

No. 1 Parkview wrestlers roll past Jefferson

LILBURN - Parkview, the top-ranked team in Class AAAAA, had no trouble defeating Jefferson 62-12 in a dual wrestling meet on Thursday.

Letters to the Editor

In response to "Bufton a class act," Column by Will Hammock, Sports, Jan.12.

Bufton works hard, shows character

I have had the opportunity to read the column Will Hammock wrote about Wesleyan basketball coach Bill Bufton. I am glad that someone has the vehicle to make these sentiments public as the rest of us do not.

Ignoring nuclear threat from Iran is ... flirting with disaster

With most of the American press firmly against the war in Iraq and many media types portraying President Bush as a bumbling fool, the danger we all face from Iran is being shrouded in a fog of partisan bitterness.

Man steals dog

LAWRENCEVILLE - A woman was outside walking her dog at Wesley Place Apartments on Sunday when someone stole the animal at gunpoint.

Getting to Know ... Chris Davis

Chris Davis is a legend in the local swimming community. The 1969 graduate of Druid Hills High has been co-owner and operator of SwimAtlanta since he opened the first facility in 1977. He has coached many of the top swimmers in the county since that time.

In this latest installment, Davis talks with staff writer Corey Clark on a variety of topics, ranging from how SwimAtlanta got started to Amanda Weir to his best vacation.

Georgia Gwinnett College anticipates $1M to begin staffing

dave.williams@gwinnettdailypost.com

ATLANTA - Officials at Georgia Gwinnett College on Thursday welcomed Gov. Sonny Perdue's proposal to earmark $1 million in next year's state budget to begin staffing the state's newest four-year college.

But political leaders say much more money will be needed soon to make the school ready for the enrollment growth that will accompany its conversion from a satellite campus.

"This is an exceptional situation,'' said Rep. John Heard, R-Lawrenceville, chairman of Gwinnett County's House delegation. "The (state university system Board of) Regents, in a rush to get it in, haven't budgeted adequate costs to get a new college up and running.''

The $18.6 billion 2007 budget that Perdue unveiled on Wednesday includes $1 million to hire 15 faculty members at the college off Collins Hill Road in Lawrenceville, formed by the governor and General Assembly last year out of the former Gwinnett University Center, a satellite for the University of Georgia and Georgia Perimeter College.

The spending plan also authorizes $2 million for the county to build a library branch in Hamilton Mill.

County wrestlers headed to duals

Everyone's healthy and wrestling well for Parkview, so there should be no excuses for the Panthers on Saturday.

Gladiators rally only to fall in shootout

GREENVILLE, S.C. - After working hard to tie the game before the end of regulation, the Gwinnett Gladiators fell 5-4 in a shootout on the road at Greenville on Thursday.

Police briefs

Wife charged with battery

DACULA - A discussion about divorce turned violent last week when a Dacula woman was arrested, accused of punching her husband.

Police: Man grew $800K worth of pot

TUCKER - Firefighters checking apartments for gas leaks stumbled upon an indoor pot-growing operation in Westwood Apartments this week, according to police.

Wet feet no problem for Barrow teacher

BRASELTON - When she was growing up, Barbara Greyson's shoes were wet. A lot.

Big jump seen in local foreclosures

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett properties in foreclosure jumped to 570 in January - the highest total in four years.

Jennings' effort fuels 15-3 North girls

Fans probably won't hear her during North Gwinnett basketball games. They may not even notice her play, more steady than flashy.

Air bag kills infant in middle Georgia car wreck

HAZLEHURST, Ga. (AP) - An infant was killed by an air bag that deployed during a car wreck, the Georgia State Patrol said.

In brief

local

SSA's Nyhof an All-American

• Jill Nyhof, a member of the Suwanee Sports Academy's Juniors 18s volleyball team, has been named a PrepVolleyball.com All-American. The site honors the top 150 players in the country and Nyhof, a senior at Northview, made the list.

Nyhof, a Birmingham Southern signee, led Northview to the Class AAAAA state title last year.

Board of Education appoints two new principals

SUWANEE - The Gwinnett Board of Education started off the new year by appointing two new principals. At the first meeting of 2006, board members discussed the quality of its school administrators in the present and the future.

Sports calendar

Baseball

Jan. 14: Berkeley Baseball Academy is holding a pitchers and catchers clinic with professional scout for the New York Yankees and former minor league pitching instructor Joe Caro from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Jan. 14. The clinic is for players age 10 to 18, costs $75 and includes a video analysis and personal evaluation checklist. To reserve a spot, call 770-441-2242.

Buford, Suwanee want to start visitors bureaus

LAWRENCEVILLE - Hotel and restaurant operators could have more of a say in how tourism dollars are spent in two northern Gwinnett cities, if a measure passes the General Assembly this year.

Quietly, quite a leader

Baker's 25 not enough for Georgia against No. 1 Vols

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Candace Parker scored a career-high 26 points and had 10 rebounds Thursday night and No. 1 Tennessee remained undefeated with a 94-85 victory over No. 13 Georgia.

House OKs revamped voter ID bill

ATLANTA - A revamped version of last year's law requiring Georgia voters to show a photo ID at the polls cleared the House on Thursday over objections from Democrats who said it would erect an unfair barrier to the elderly and minorities.

The bill, which passed 110-64 and now goes to the Senate, was designed by Republican legislative leaders to make it easier for voters who don't already have a government-issued photo ID to get one.

The photo ID law the GOP-controlled General Assembly passed last year, prompting Democrats to walk out of the House chamber in protest, required voters without a passport or driver's license to pay a fee to obtain a state-issued photo ID.

Other than a program involving one roving bus, it also limited availability of those IDs to state Department of Driver Services offices.

But a federal court judge issued a temporary injunction last fall prohibiting the state from enforcing that law. As a result, Republicans brought out a new version of the legislation this week - the start of the 2006 session - offering to provide the IDs free at all 159 county registrars' offices.

"It makes some positive changes to the current ID bill," said Rep. Mickey Channell, D-Greensboro, one of 10 rural Democrats - all white - who voted for the bill.

During a debate that has raged for nearly a year, Republicans have pitched the photo ID requirement as a surefire way to prevent fraud at the polls.

But Democrats, who took up most of the more than four hours the bill spent on the House floor Thursday, argued that it is not needed because there haven't been any reported instances in Georgia of voters misrepresenting themselves at the polls.

A parade of Democratic speakers also declared that mandating photo IDs would have a disproportionate impact on elderly and minority voters.

House Democratic leader DuBose Porter of Dublin even labeled the measure the "How to Make it Harder for your Elderly Mother to Vote Act of 2006."

He said many seniors no longer have valid driver's licenses or were born without birth certificates, one of the documents the bill requires people to show their registrar to get a photo ID.

"We're putting a different standard on a group of people to do something that's a fundamental right in this country," Porter said.

Rep. Winfred Dukes, D-Albany, and other black Democrats charged Republicans with trying to keep black voters away from the polls because they tend to support Democratic candidates.

"You are attempting to perpetuate your own power and ability to control this state ... by depriving Georgians of their constitutional rights," he said.

But freshman Rep. Melvin Everson, R-Snellville, who this week became the first black Republican in more than a century elected to the General Assembly in a contested race, said fraud is the real source of disenfranchising honest voters in Georgia.

Everson won his seat last summer in a special election when the photo ID law passed last year was still in effect and said there were no problems with it.

In his first speech on the House floor, he countered Democratic arguments that the law isn't necessary by comparing the photo ID to a smoke detector.

"I don't wait until the house has burned down before I put in a smoke detector," he said. "This is a protective measure."

With Republicans determined to pass the bill quickly and send it to Gov. Sonny Perdue, the Senate is expected to take it up today.

Teachers from Buford, Gwinnett are state finalists

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett's Teacher of the Year has made her county and her school district proud by being selected as one of the best educators in the state.

Police say prisoner kills himself with concealed gun

HARTWELL - A man arrested after a domestic dispute pulled a concealed gun and shot himself in the stomach in the back of a Hart County Sheriff's patrol car, authorities said.

Rockdale fears Gwinnett rezoning could dirty drinking water

Special to the Post

jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com

CONYERS - Rockdale County officials are concerned about a Gwinnett County rezoning request that would let an auto salvage lot expand near the Big Haynes Creek watershed, which includes Rockdale's water reservoir.

SEC opens informal inquiry into Home Depot's vendor returns

ATLANTA (AP) - The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an informal inquiry into how The Home Depot Inc., the nation's largest home improvement store chain, records credits it receives from vendors for defective merchandise, a company spokesman said Thursday.

OBITUARIES

BUFORD

FRITSCH, DAVID

Mr. David Fritsch, age 56, of Buford, GA, passed away January 10, 2006. Funeral service will be held on Friday, January 13, 2006 at 12 noon at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, Flowery Branch, GA. Interment Broadlawn Memorial Gardens, Buford, GA. Arrangements by Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory of Buford, GA, 770-932-1133, www.flaniganfuneralhome.com.

HARTLEY, RUBY

Mrs. Ruby Grace Hartley, age 89, of Buford, GA, died Wednesday, January 11, 2006. Funeral Service will be held Friday, January 13, 2006 at 11:00 A.M. at First Baptist Church, Buford. Rev. Wayne Johnson and Rev. G. Stephen Wood will officiate. Interment will follow in Hillcrest Cemetery, Buford. The Family will receive friends on Thursday, January 12, 2006 from 3 - 5 and 6 - 9 P.M. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to First Baptist Church Buford Building Fund. Mrs. Hartley was preceded in death by her Husband, Roscoe M. Hartley; Parents, Charlie and Eva Marshall; Sister, Irene Puckett. Surviving are Daughters and Sons In-law, Eleanor and Ronald Chesser, Buford, Joan and Ted Dyar, Buford, Linda and Stanley Rolin, Buford; Grandchildren, Stacy and Shannon Rolin, David and Trina Johnson, Sherrie and Dee Wiggins, Lisa and Jeff Gilleland, Mark and Kay Rolin, Janet Otts, and Debra and Doug Turner; Great Grandchildren, Derek Wiggins, III, Heather and Drew Otts, Blake and Ryan Braswell, Matthew and Jenna Rolin, Deanna Turner, Whitney and Luke Rolin, Zachary, Spencer and Cameron Hutchins; Several Nieces and 1 Nephew; Special Caregiver, Hazel McKinzie. Mrs. Hartley was a lifelong resident of Buford. She was a member of First Baptist Church, Buford where she taught G.A.'s and Sunday School for many years, an active member of the W.M.U., The Chancel Choir and The Silvertones Choir. She was a member of Abundant Life Fellowship, a member of the Carrie Stringer Methodist Circle. She was well known for her "Chocolate Pies". She was a loving Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, and Friend. Hamilton Mill Memorial Chapel, 770-945-6924, www.hamiltonmillchapel.com.

PHILLIPS, EMMA LENE

Emma Lene Phillips, age 77 of Buford, formerly of Smyrna, GA, passed away on Wednesday, January 11, 2006. She was a loving Wife, Mother, Grandmother and was like a Mother to many. She is survived by her Husband: L.A. Phillips; Son and Daughter-in-law: Steve and Sandra (Sikes) Phillips of Duluth, GA; Daughter and Son-in-law: Joy (Phillips) and Ralph Sharp of Norcross, GA; Daughter: Jill (Phillips) Southerland of Lawrenceville, GA; Grandchildren: Stephen & Shellie (Henderson) Phillips, Stanford Phillips and his fiance, Lindsey Malecki, Phillip Stroud, Brittany Southerland, Samantha Phillips, Brannan Southerland, Blake Southerland, Savannah Phillips, Madison Sharp; and many nieces and nephews. Also surviving: Joe & Carrie Crump, and her caregiver and friends, Stacey & Warren Terrell and Alton Grose. She was preceded in death by her grandson, Tyler Stroud and her 7 brothers and sisters. Emma Lene and L.A. would have celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary on January 31, 2006. Emma Lene was born in Huntsville, Alabama. She was a member of Campus Church of Christ. She worked for Northwest Exterminating for over 35 years. She was a co founding member and president of L.A.C.E. (Ladies Association for Christian Education) and served as president several times. She was a Ladies Bible Class Teacher at Smyrna Church of Christ for 25 years. She was a former member of the Board of Directors at Smyrna Hospital. She was chairman of several committees with the Georgia Pest Control Association. She was a past president of the PTA at Campbell High School. She also taught Math and English at Ider High School. A funeral service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 14, 2006 at the Campus Church of Christ. Her remains will be placed in state at the church at 12 Noon. Minister Jody Vickery and Minister Mike Cagle will officiate. Interment will follow in the Georgia Memorial Park Cemetery, Marietta, GA. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to L.A.C.E., c/o Greater Atlanta Christian School, P.O. Box 4277, Norcross, GA 30091-4227. The family will receive friends on Friday from 1-3 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. at Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, 770-277-4550.

LAWRENCEVILLE

PEARCE, SR.

ALFRED JOHN

Al Pearce was born in his family's humble brick home on February 28, 1914, in Trafford, Pennsylvania. Al was the fifth child of Sarah Martha Williams Pearce and Thomas Charles Pearce. Later, they would have one more child. In 1920, the Pearce family moved a short distance to Pitcairn, Pennsylvania, a place that Al would call home for the next three decades. After graduating from Pitcairn High School in 1932, Al worked in the family business, Pearce & Son Funeral Home, and later lived in Rhode Island and Washington DC seeking work during the Great Depression. By 1940, he was back in Pitcairn where he started courting Louise Estelle Hulick and they began a long loving relationship. They were married on January 24, 1942. On June 1, 1942, Al reported for duty in the United States Army Air Corp (later to become the Air Force) and began his service to his country in World War II. The war would take him to Greenland, North Africa, South America, and for a longer stay in Burma, where he contracted malaria. His first child, a son was born on November 30, 1942 and they named his Alfred J. Pearce, Jr. After the war, Al enrolled at California State Teacher's College in California, Pennsylvania, and earned his bachelor's degrees in Industrial Arts and Geography in 1949. He accepted his first teaching position, teaching industrial arts, in Sykesville, Pennsylvania. In Sykesville, Al and Louise's second child, also a son, was born on May 27, 1950. They named him James Thomas Pearce. Their third and last child, a daughter named Jane Louise Pearce (Williams), was born on December 31, 1952 in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, where Al was teaching industrial arts. Since Jim had been suffering with asthma since birth, the family moved to California in 1956, where Al resumed his teaching career. He later worked for the San Bernardino County Planning Department for ten years. During his years in California, Al was a Sunday school teacher for many years at the First Presbyterian Church in San Bernardino and a cub and boy scout leader in the old Arrowhead Area Council. The family moved to Gastonia, North Carolina in 1968, where Al resumed his teaching career in industrial arts at Cherryville Middle School and later at Highland Middle School. He retired from teaching in 1979 and he and his wife, Louise, returned to California for Louise's health. Louise passed away on October 1, 1988. Al moved back to the south shortly there after. Due to declining health, Al lived with his son Jim and Jim's wife, Cyndy from late 2000 until his passing. Throughout his life, Al Pearce was a solid provider for his family and well respected in the communities he and Louise lived in. He was a 32nd degree Mason in the Lodge of Perfection, located in North Versailles, Pennsylvania. His life-long hobby was woodworking. He was also involved in coin collecting and tracing family genealogy in the later part of his life. Al Pearce, age 91, passed away on January 11, 2006, and is interred with his wife Louise in the Desert Lawn Cemetery, in Calimesa, California. Al Pearce is survived by his three children: Alfred Pearce, Jr., James Pearce (married to Cyndy) and Jane Williams (married to Kirk); five grandchildren, David Pearce, Sharon Pearce, Andrew Ledford, Tommy Pearce, and Marie Williams; and one great granddaughter, Loren Pearce. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: The Peachtree Christian Hospice, 3430 Duluth Park Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096, 770-232-7727. Arrangements by Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory of Buford, GA, 770-932-1133, www.flaniganfuneralhome.com.

LITHONIA

WOODARD,

MARGARET

Mrs. Margaret Vance Tyson Woodard, age 93, of Lithonia, GA passed away on Wednesday, January 11, 2006. She was preceded in death by her husbands, Mr. Clarence Woodard and Mr. Edwin Oscar Tyson, and son, Donald Tyson. She is survived by her: Sons and Daughters-in-Law: Richard and Luen Woodard, Sugar Hill, GA, Mark and Lissy Woodard, McDonough, GA; Daughters and Sons-in-Laws: Becky and Derick Jenkins, Monroe, GA, Brenda and David Garmon, Duluth, GA; Daughters-in-Law: Pat Tyson, Athens, GA, Frances Tyson, Locust, NC; Grandchildren: Mark and Denise Tyson, Ashville, NC, Scott and Amy Tyson, Charlotte, NC, LeAnn and Kevin Jones, Woodstock, GA; 12 Grandchildren; 7 Great Grandchildren. Mrs. Woodard was born in Atlanta, Fulton County, GA. She attended Girls High School in Atlanta, GA. She was a homemaker. She was a member of Grant Park United Methodist Church in Atlanta, GA. She was a loving mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. Funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 2:30 p.m. at Level Creek United Methodist Church, Suwanee, GA with Rev. Michael Martin officiating with remains placed in state at 1:30 p.m. Interment in Church Cemetery. The family will receive friends at Level Creek United Methodist Church one hour prior to service. Arrangements by Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory, Buford, GA, 770-932-1133, www.flaniganfuneralhome.com.

LOGANVILLE

WALDROUP, EVELYN

Evelyn Nora Waldroup, age 91 of Loganville, GA, died January 11, 2006. She is survived by her sons, Jack Belcher of Loudon, TN, Sidney Belcher of Loganville, Charles Belcher of Summerton, SC, Collins Belcher of Bremen; 18 grandchildren, 33 great grandchildren, 5 great great grandchildren. Visitation with the family will be held Friday, January 13 from 1 until 5pm at the funeral home. The remains have been cremated. Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, Inc. Snellville Chapel, 770-979-3200, www.wagesfuneralhome.com.

SNELLVILLE

SALTAMACCHIO,

JEFFREY

Jeffrey Edward Saltamacchio, age 27, of Snellville, Georgia passed away January 9, 2006 at his home in Tallahassee, Florida. Jeff is survived by his Mother, Pat Saltamacchio of Loganville, GA; Father and Step Mother, Ray and Brenda Saltamacchio of Eatonton, GA; Brother, Ryan Saltamacchio of Loganville, GA; Grandparents, Joe and Cookie Saltamacchio of Lawrenceville, GA, Carson and Thelma Rogers of Snellville, GA; and many Aunts, Uncles, Nieces and Nephews. A private family memorial service will be held Friday, January 13, 2006 at the Tom Wages Funeral Home in Lawrenceville, GA. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Jeff's memory to the "National Mental Health Association" at http://www.nmha.org. Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, Inc., Lawrenceville Chapel, 770-963-2411, www.wagesfuneralhome.com.

SUGAR HILL

STUBBLEFIELD,

THELMA

Thelma Stubblefield, age 76 of Sugar Hill, died Thursday, January 12, 2006. Arrangements will be announced later by Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 300 Simonton Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045, 770-962-3100.

SUWANEE

DODGE, TIFFANY

Miss Tiffany Dodge, age 31, of Suwanee, GA, passed away on Wednesday, January 11, 2006. She is survived by her: Mother and Step-father: Lynn and Scott Lane, Suwanee, GA; Father: Damon Dodge, Sebastian, FL; Brother and Sister-in-Law: Clifton and Christie Dodge, Buford, GA; Nephew: Trevor Dodge, Buford, GA; Fiance: Jeff Homan, Suwanee, GA; Grandmothers: Jeri Baker, Orlando, FL, Glenna Dodge, Orlando, FL; Several Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. Miss Dodge was born in Orlando, Orange County, FL. She was a graduate of Buford High School, Class of 1993. She was employed with Wal-Mart in Duluth, GA. She was of the Baptist Faith. Memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. in the Chapel of Flanigan Funeral Home with Rev. Sue Earls officiating. The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Friday from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Arrangements by Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory, Buford, GA, 770-932-1133, www.flaniganfuneralhome.com.

WINDER

FLOYD-JONES,

JULIET

Juliet Saunders Floyd-Jones, age 90 of Winder died January 11, 2006. Arrangements by Smith Funeral Home, Winder. (770)867-4553.

MANDERS, JOHNNY

Mr. Johnny Manders, age 57, of Winder, GA, died January 12, 2006. Funeral arrangements will be announced by Carter Funeral Home of Winder, 770-867-1361.

Cussing like a sailor can be hazardous to career

Navy Lt. Bryan D. Black, a U.S. Naval Academy faculty member, thought he was just shooting the breeze when he told a midshipman that getting on a battleship turned him on.

Such was the sentiment, at least, though the language was saltier than the Chesapeake Bay, where an inspired Black was serving as safety officer on an oceanographic cruise aboard a "yard patrol craft." Unfortunately for Black, among the midshipmen was at least one sensitive woman. He also made some other equally spicy comments about his ex-wife, of whom he apparently is no longer fond, that were overheard by, but not spoken in front of, female midshipmen.

Now he faces a special court-martial and three criminal charges.

I can't write what Black specifically said, but suffice it to say I've heard worse walking the half-block from my office to Groucho's Deli without need of smelling salts.

Not so for Samantha Foxton, apparently, who complained that Black's remarks bothered her. He apologized. At that point, Black thought the matter had been put to rest, as did the first investigating officer, who recommended that Black receive a letter of reprimand and counseling.

That sounds reasonable, but these are not reasonable times. Once Foxton's female superior, Lt. Cmdr. Michelle Whisenhunt, caught wind of Black's rich commentary on the seductive powers of seafaring vessels, the freefall began. Whisenhunt conducted her own investigation, interviewing only women, and now Black is charged with (1) failure to obey a lawful general order or regulation; (2) conduct unbecoming an officer; and (3) indecent language.

His court-martial is unusual even by today's strict sexual harassment standards, according to Black's attorney, Charles Gittins, who says Black is being sacrificed on the altar of victim advocacy to appease critics still complaining about previous service academy scandals. Other recent trends and events also have conspired to make Black's timing as unfortunate as his vocabulary. Perfect storms sink more than ships.

Black's case surfaced last fall at the same time that U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a member of the Naval Academy's Board of Visitors, was asking academy leaders why sexual harassment persists after years of studies, surveys, investigations and recommendations. (Hint: Years of studies, surveys, investigations and recommendations that pose women as victims and men as abusers? Just a thought.)

Under such pressures, Naval Academy superintendent Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt has announced a zero-tolerance campaign against sexual harassment. Last week, Rempt urged midshipmen and staff to attend for the third consecutive year a production of "Sex Signals," an adults-only play, ironically billed as realistically graphic, about how mixed signals between men and women can cause misunderstandings.

County's first-time jobless claims soar in December

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett's first-time claims for unemployment benefits more than doubled last month, the state Department of Labor said.