News for Tuesday, March 20, 2007

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State briefs

Construction worker drowns

after backing machine into pool

•SANDY SPRINGS - A construction worker drowned Monday when he backed the earth-moving machine he was driving into a swimming pool, trapping himself underwater for close to an hour, authorities said.

House adds brain train study funds to budget

ATLANTA - After weeks of coming up empty-handed, backers of the proposed Georgia Brain Train gained support Monday from House budget writers.

The Appropriations Committee earmarked $500,000 in the midyear budget to update an existing study of the planned commuter rail line linking Atlanta and Athens via Gwinnett and Barrow counties.

The state funds would come from a larger pot of money intended to go to another commuter rail project between Atlanta and Lovejoy in southern Clayton County.

"If commuter rail is an option for the future, we need to know which one is more viable,'' said Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, the committee's chairman. "We don't know that answer.''

Several years ago, the Lovejoy line jumped ahead of the Atlanta-to-Athens route on the state's passenger-rail planning schedule. It had secured a funding commitment from Congress, and there was less freight traffic along the Lovejoy rail corridor to get in the way of passenger trains.

But with far more ridership projected for the Atlanta-to-Athens project, business and political leaders from the counties that lie along the route have been pushing for state and federal funds to get the project moving.

They formed the Georgia Brain Train Group last year to pitch the line as a way to link college campuses from the University of Georgia to Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville to Emory University and Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

After Gov. Sonny Perdue didn't include money for commuter rail in his budget request, Brain Train backers began lobbying budget writers in the House and Senate to include the project in their spending plans.

"We've got a study in place that's six years old and needs updating,'' said Rep. John Heard, R-Lawrenceville, a member of the Appropriations Committee and supporter of the Brain Train. "Once we get that done, we'll have a strong argument, pro or con, if the route through Lawrenceville is the right one to run.''

Rep. Mike Coan, R-Lawrenceville, another member of the budget panel, said he's still not convinced that the Brain Train would be a good investment for the state. But he praised the work of the project's backers in convincing the House to approve the study money.

"They've done a good job,'' he said.

In other developments related to the midyear budget, the House committee came to the rescue of Georgia's PeachCare program but took some big chunks out of Perdue's spending priorities.

Following through on a commitment the governor announced last week, the panel put $73.7 million in the spending plan to plug a looming federal shortfall in PeachCare.

But the committee also lopped $8 million off of the $13 million Perdue recommended in January for his Go Fish Georgia initiative and cut $16 million from the next installment of the governor's land conservation program. Perdue is seeking $50 million for open-space preservation.

Overall, the committee's version of the midyear budget would increase state spending for the fiscal year ending June 30 by about $730 million over the current $18.7 billion budget.

The full House is due to take up the midyear budget today.

Johnson works his way into victory lane

HAMPTON - "I can't say that I've driven a race car that hard before."

A pretty day to play

Sewage tunnel to cost $54M

LAWRENCEVILLE - Construction could soon begin on a sewage tunnel big enough for a subway in southern Gwinnett.

Iraq War part of larger battle for freedom

Demonstrators and the media have been reminding us of the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. This may the beginning of the fifth year of this war, but it is only one skirmish in a conflict with a lengthier past and a long future. Pundits, politicians and protestors who want to isolate Iraq from the rest of the world war, of which it is just one part, suffer from tunnel vision.

Hard racing

Gladiators shoot into first place

DULUTH - It was a mob scene when Mike Vigilante popped a puck past Florida goalie Craig Kowalski.

Boy, 3, drowns in poolSister saved by lifeguards

BUFORD - A 3-year-old boy drowned and his sister nearly drowned Sunday at an indoor playground pool at the Bogan Park Aquatic Center, officials said.

OBITUARIES

BUFORD

PRICE, PHIL

Phil Price, age 61, of Buford, died Sunday, March 18, 2007. Arrangements by Tapp/Tim Stewart Funeral Home and Crematory, 201 Morningside Drive, Buford, Georgia 30518, 770-945-9345. Please sign online guest registry at www.stewartfh.com.*

SLATON, EULA

Eula Pace Slaton, age 82, of Buford, passed away Monday, March 19, 2007. Funeral arrangements will be announced later by Tapp/Tim Stewart Funeral Home and Crematory, 201 Morningside Drive, Buford, Georgia 30518, 770-945-9345. Please sign online guest registry at www.stewartfh.com.*

DULUTH

WAGNER, MEG

Meg Wagner, age 58, of Duluth, GA, passed away March 18, 2007. Arrangements by Crowell Brothers Peachtree Chapel Funeral Home, Norcross, GA, 770-448-5757.*

DUNWOODY

COLE, PAULA

Mrs. Paula Cole, age 40, of Dunwoody, GA, passed away March 17, 2007. Service and Arrangements will be announced later by Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory of Buford, GA, 770-932-1133, www.flaniganfuneralhome.com.*

FLOWERY BRANCH

DERMIRE, A.J.

Mr. A. J. Dermire, age 71, of Flowery Branch, GA, passed away March 18, 2007. Service and Arrangements will be announced later by Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory of Buford, GA, 770-932-1133, www.flaniganfuneralhome.com.*

GILLSVILLE

JACKSON, PEGGY

Evans Funeral Home, Jefferson, Georgia, announces the death of Mrs. Peggy Joyce "MeMaw" Jackson, age 69, of Gillsville, GA, passed away on Sunday, March 18, 2007. Arrangements by Evans Funeral Home, Jefferson, GA, 706-367-5467.*

LAGRANGE

SINGLEY, ELO

Elo "T." Singley, 84, of LaGrange, died Monday, March 19, 2007 at Hospice LaGrange. Mrs. Singley was born August 29, 1922 in Atlanta, GA, daughter of the late Alvin Bentley and Lillie Azalee Flynn Bentley. She had lived in LaGrange for the past 25 years and was a homemaker. Survivors include her children and their spouses, David H. and Sara Singley, Jerry W. and Pam Singley, Sr., Brenda and Ronnie Nichols, and Steve J. and Marsha Singley; grandchildren, Darcey Singley Rogers and her husband, Myron, Darby H. Singley, Jerry W. Singley, Jr. and his wife, Laura, Shelley Connor, Chris Nichols, and Cody N. Singley; and great grandchildren, Nicholas Connor, Jack Singley, and Casey Singley. Graveside funeral service will be held 1:00 P.M. Wednesday, March 21, 2007 in Eternal Hills Memory Gardens, Snellville, GA. The family will receive friends at the funeral home this evening from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. Arrangements are by Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, 1010 Mooty Bridge Road, (706)884-8636.

LAWRENCEVILLE

CUNNINGHAM,

BRETT

Brett Cunningham, age 17, of Lawrenceville, GA, died March 17, 2007. He is survived by Parents, John & Tammy Cunningham; 3 Brothers, Chad Cunningham, Tanner Cunningham & Miles Cunningham, all of Lawrenceville; Paternal Grandmother, Betty Cunningham of Cumming, GA; Maternal Grandparents, Leonard & Willette Wilson of Decatur, GA; Uncles and Aunt, Glenn Cunningham of Cumming, GA, Mike and Kellye Wilson of St. Joseph, MI, & Phillip Wilson of Suwanee, GA; and several cousins. As a young man Brett participated in scouting through the Lawrenceville First United Methodist Church and later attended Central Baptist Church. He grew up playing sports in the Lawrenceville Youth Association and then attended Central Gwinnett High School where he lettered in both football and wrestling. Brett was a scholar athlete, a member of the National Honor Society, and was voted "Most Mellow" by his classmates who loved him dearly. He enjoyed skateboarding, music and playing the drums. A Memorial Service will be held Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 4:00 PM at Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula, GA. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Georgia Fire Fighter's Burn Foundation, 2575 Chantilly Dr., Atlanta, GA 30324. Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, LLC, 120 Scenic Hwy., Lawrenceville, GA 30045, 770-963-2411, www.wagesfuneralhome.com .

EDWARDS, ISAAC

Isaac Crawford Edwards, Jr., age 89 of Lawrenceville, passed away on Sunday, March 18, 2007. He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Ruby Knight Edwards. He is survived by his son & daughter in law, Gerald & Kay Edwards of Toccoa, GA; sisters, Arvilla McGaughey of Dacula, Virginia Driskell and Mary Still, both of Lawrenceville, GA; grandchildren, Emily Slate and her husband, Benny and William Edwards and his wife, Heather; great grandchildren, Molly Slate, Haley Edwards and Autumn Edwards. A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 11:00am at Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel with Elder Ken Still officiating. Burial will be at Gwinnett Memorial Park in Lawrenceville. In lieu of flowers, the family request donations be made to Lawrenceville First Baptist Church, Building Fund, P.O. Box 265, Lawrenceville, GA 30046. The family will receive friends on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 from 4:00p.m. to 7:00p.m. at Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, 770-277-4550.

WINDSOR, SARA

Sara Lorena Windsor, age 98 of Lawrenceville, GA, passed away on Monday, March 19, 2007. She was preceded in death by her husband of 42 years, William F. Windsor and her daughter, Betty Marie Windsor Sewell. She is survived by her grandson, Steve Sewell of Marietta; grandson, Randy Sewell and his wife, Becky of Snellville; granddaughter, Donna Hilton and her husband, Eddie of Lawrenceville; great grandchildren, Jody Sewell, Tim Sewell, Benny Hilton, April Sewell Frick, Jessica Sewell, Barry Hilton, Ashley Sewell Worthey; great great grandchildren, Timmy Sewell, Jolie Sewell and Jacob Sewell. She and her husband worked in the Highland Bakery in the Little Five Points area of Atlanta and later were part owners of the Old King Cole Bakeries in Sandy Springs and Atlanta before retiring to Newborn, Georgia. She was a member of Shiloh Baptist Church in Farrar, Georgia in Jasper County. Funeral services will be held at Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel on Wednesday, March 21, 2007 at 1:00 P.M. with Rev. Danny Sorrells officiating. Interment and graveside services will be at 3:00 P.M. at Shiloh Baptist Church in Farrar, Georgia. The family will receive friends on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 from 6:00 P.M. til 8:00 P.M. at Wages & Sons Gwinnett Chapel, 1031 Lawrenceville Highway, Lawrenceville, 770-277-4550.

TUCKER

SUTTLES, DREW

Drew W. Suttles, Jr., 70, of Tucker, died Monday, March 19, 2007. Arrangements are pending with Bill Head Funeral Homes and Crematory, Lilburn/Tucker Chapel, 770-564-2726.*

WINDER

CONNER, SHERRY

Sherry L. Conner, age 57 of Winder, died Monday, March 19, 2007. Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 300 Simonton Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045, 770-962-3100. Please sign online guest registry at www.stewartfh.com .*

Grayson announces board appointments

GRAYSON - The Grayson City Council announced appointments for its city boards and

officers Monday night during its regular monthly meeting.

Don't let language cause any problems

"No problem." That was my reply, and it was the truth. I had been asked by a caller to provide some information, I provided that information and was happy to do it. It was not a problem. Not at all.

Fisherman rescued after water rises

NORCROSS - Gwinnett County firefighters rescued a man who was almost swept downstream while fishing in the Chattahoochee River on Monday.

Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Thomas Rutledge said the department's Swiftwater Rescue Team was called about 1:18 p.m. to help a man believed to be about 40 years old escape fast-moving waters.

Rutledge said the fisherman was in an area of the river south of Jones Bridge Park in Norcross when the waters picked up and the man was swept down the river near Fulton County. Rutledge said the man was not wearing a life jacket.

"The man was fishing in the river alone when the water began to rise," Rutledge said. "We believe he may have been in the water approximately one and a half to two hours."

Panthers, Cone top Eagles in Athens

ATHENS - Zach Cone plans to be the next Parkview Panther to star at UGA's Foley Field.

He's off to a good start.

The junior, who has already committed to Georgia, had three hits and two RBIs at Georgia's home field to help Parkview beat Collins Hill

6-3.

Cone found hits in a variety off ways. His great speed helped him beat out an infield single to drive in the first run of the ball game in the top of the first inning. Then Cone ripped a single to right in the third. He later came around to score on Theo Asher's double.

With UGA head coach David Perno watching what may be his next prized center fielder, Cone ripped a triple to right field to give the Panthers (7-2) a two-run lead and effectively put Collins Hill away.

"He was excited about coming up here and playing on this field," Parkview head coach Chan Brown said. "He has a lot of ability, he has a little bit of learning to do, but he's going to be a great player for Parkview in the next two years and a good player for Georgia. He's a kid that God gave some talent to and he is just progressing."

GHSA moves '08 football finals to Dome

The Georgia High School Association wrapped up its Executive Committee meeting on Monday with several noteworthy decisions, including the switch of the state football title games to the Georgia Dome in 2008 and the elimination of ties in state finals.

Terminix to bring 200 jobs with new sales center in Norcross

NORCROSS - Terminix on Monday opened a new sales center in Norcross that will bring nearly 200 new jobs with average compensation packages worth almost $40,000 to Gwinnett County.

Winder woman attacked at home

WINDER - A 71-year-old woman was hospitalized after being attacked in her Winder home Friday, according to a Winder police press release.

Georgia's season ends at Air Force

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - Jacob Burtschi scored 21 points and Air Force won its school record 25th game, a 83-52 blowout of Georgia in the second round of the NIT on Monday night.

sports calendar

Baseball

March 24: The Auburn Dixie Youth baseball and softball teams will host their opening day March 24. Activities provided by Braves Around Town. Activities are only for Auburn Dixie Youth players and their siblings only. For more information call 678-887-5702, e-mail auburndixieyouth@yahoo.com or online at www.eteamz.com/auburndixieyouth.

Neighbor wakes up couple after seeing house on fire

SNELLVILLE - A neighbor is credited for waking a couple Monday morning as their home burned.

UGA women roll in Sweet 16

MINNEAPOLIS - Maybe Georgia was saving its offense for the second round.

CON reform gets stuck in House panel

ATLANTA - A House committee Monday approved two narrowly focused bills that would change Georgia's law governing where hospitals and doctor-owned outpatient centers can be built.

But the panel became bogged down over a more comprehensive measure being pushed by Gov. Sonny Perdue and put off a vote until at least Wednesday.

The debate over whether to overhaul the state's Certificate of Need law has been among the most complicated and - at the same time - most emotional to wrack the General Assembly this year.

Early in the session, House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, appointed a special committee to concentrate solely on the flurry of CON bills being introduced.

The dispute has pitted doctors seeking the right to own and operate outpatient surgery centers without going through the cumbersome CON process against hospital officials who have warned that allowing such centers to proliferate would threaten hospitals' financial viability and, thus, reduce patients' access to health care.

"Thousands of doctors across Georgia today are able to perform the miracles they perform because ... hospitals have the resources to provide them the tools,'' said Kurt Stuenkel, CEO of Floyd Medical Center in Rome and co-chairman of a coalition of hospitals opposing major changes to the CON law.

Stuenkel addressed a rally of nearly 300 doctors, nurses and other health care workers organized by the coalition on the steps of the Capitol.

Later Monday, many packed a legislative office building to watch the special committee approve two of the three CON bills brought forward by Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, the panel's chairman, by identical 6-3 votes.

One of the measures would set up a new category of hospitals within the CON law to allow Illinois-based Cancer Treatment Centers of America to open a small hospital for cancer patients in Georgia.

The other would declare general surgery a single specialty, a change in the law that would let general surgeons open outpatient centers without going through CON.

Most of the discussion Monday focused on the cancer center legislation, a bill supporters have pitched as an economic boon to the state that would bring in patients from out of state for the different treatment approach the company offers.

Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Garden City, the bill's sponsor, said the new category the bill would create under CON - "destination acute-care specialty hospital'' - would include requirements to prevent the planned hospital from competing with existing hospitals in Georgia.

He said the hospital would be limited to no more than 50 beds and at least 65 percent of the patients would have to be from out of state. Also, at least 3 percent of the hospital's annual adjusted gross revenue would have to go toward care for indigent patients.

"They'll lose their CON license if they don't follow this,'' Stephens said. "This is a very fair bill.''

But Rep. Judy Manning, R-Marietta, said that indigent-care guarantee compares poorly to many hospitals across the state.

"Three percent is such a pittance,'' she said. "Most of our sales taxes are more than that.''

But Stephens argued that 3 percent is adequate since the vast majority of patients with the resources to travel to the hospital from out of state would not be indigent.

The committee agreed, however, to amend the bill to ensure that all of the 3 percent commitment would go to indigent Georgians.

Both bills the committee approved on Monday are contained within Perdue's comprehensive bill.

But the committee couldn't get through the 106-page measure because members were called away to other legislative business.

"It's a complex issue,'' said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, a member of the special panel and one of the legislature's strongest advocates for reforming the CON law. "We have to make sure the language is right.''

The committee won't have much time when it resumes consideration of Perdue's bill. After today, Day 29 of the 40-day session, only one legislative day will remain for House bills to reach the floor in time to be taken up by the Senate this year.

Day 30, known as Crossover Day in the General Assembly, is set for next Tuesday, after a weeklong recess.

"I expect it to happen,'' Scott said.

Vigil to be held for teen17-year-old shot, killed during robbery at home

LAWRENCEVILLE - A candlelight service will be held tonight for a Lawrenceville teenager shot and killed Saturday night during an apparent robbery.

Montoya lets NASCAR know his name

HAMPTON - Colombia is in the house.

Police reports

Armed men rob Snellville restaurant

•SNELLVILLE - The New China Wok at 3335 Centerville Highway in Snellville was robbed Friday, police said.

According to a police report, two young, black men entered the store about 10 p.m. each armed with semiautomatic guns.

One of the men demanded an employee give him money from the register while the second pointed a gun at the other employees.

The men took about $700 from the register and $400 and a cell phone from employees.

Prep Roundup: Mill Creek takes first place at Brookwood Invitational

MONROE - Shawn Yim shot a 77 to lead the Mill Creek Hawks to first place in the Brookwood Invitational at the Monroe Golf and Country Club.

Isaac Edwards, Jr.

Isaac Crawford Edwards, Jr., age 89 of Lawrenceville, passed away on Sunday, March 18, 2007. He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Ruby Knight Edwards. He ...

Sara Windsor

Sara Lorena Windsor, age 98 of Lawrenceville, GA, passed away on Monday, March 19, 2007. She was preceded in death by her husband of 42 years, William F. Windsor and ...

Sherry Conner

Sherry L. Conner, age 57 of Winder, died Monday, March 19, 2007. Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 300 Simonton Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045, 770-962-3100. Please sign online guest registry at www.stewartfh.com ...

Drew Suttles, Jr.

Drew W. Suttles, Jr., 70, of Tucker, died Monday, March 19, 2007. Arrangements are pending with Bill Head Funeral Homes and Crematory, Lilburn/Tucker Chapel, 770-564-2726.

Peggy Jackson

Evans Funeral Home, Jefferson, Georgia, announces the death of Mrs. Peggy Joyce “MeMaw” Jackson, age 69, of Gillsville, GA, passed away on Sunday, March 18, 2007. Arrangements by ...

Elo Singley

Elo “T.” Singley, 84, of LaGrange, died Monday, March 19, 2007 at Hospice LaGrange. Mrs. Singley was born August 29, 1922 in Atlanta, GA, daughter of the late ...

Phil Price

Phil Price, age 61, of Buford, died Sunday, March 18, 2007. Arrangements by Tapp/Tim Stewart Funeral Home and Crematory, 201 Morningside Drive, Buford, Georgia 30518, 770-945-9345. Please sign online ...

Eula Slaton

Eula Pace Slaton, age 82, of Buford, passed away Monday, March 19, 2007. Funeral arrangements will be announced later by Tapp/Tim Stewart Funeral Home and Crematory, 201 Morningside Drive ...

A.j. Dermire

Mr. A. J. Dermire, age 71, of Flowery Branch, GA, passed away March 18, 2007. Service and Arrangements will be announced later by Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home ...

Brett Cunningham

Brett Cunningham, age 17, of Lawrenceville, GA, died March 17, 2007. He is survived by Parents, John & Tammy Cunningham; 3 Brothers, Chad Cunningham, Tanner Cunningham & Miles Cunningham, all ...

Meg Wagner

Meg Wagner, age 58, of Duluth, GA, passed away March 18, 2007. Arrangements by Crowell Brothers Peachtree Chapel Funeral Home, Norcross, GA, 770-448-5757.

Paula Cole

Mrs. Paula Cole, age 40, of Dunwoody, GA, passed away March 17, 2007. Service and Arrangements will be announced later by Junior E. Flanigan of Flanigan Funeral Home and Crematory ...