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Drought declaration covers most of state

ATLANTA - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared 146 of 159 Georgia counties a primary disaster area because of production losses due to prolonged drought and high temperatures.

The governor's office said Thursday that the designation is in response to Gov. Sonny Perdue's request last month.

January 03, 2009 | Associated Press | State, National


Ancient cremation pit found on Ossabaw

SAVANNAH - Exposed by erosion at the edge of a crumbling bluff, the pit discovered beneath 2 feet of sandy dirt at first appeared to be a grave just long and deep enough to bury a human body.

An excavation by archaeologists on Ossabaw Island revealed something more puzzling - just a few small bones, apparently from fingers or toes, mixed with charcoal, bits of burned logs and pottery shards more than 1,000 to 3,000 years old.

January 03, 2009 | By Russ Bynum Associated Press writer | State, National


State cuts gas tax 4 cents

ATLANTA - Georgians can celebrate a reduction in the state's gasoline tax as they welcome in the New Year. But it will mean less revenue for transportation projects.

The state tax was lowered by 4 cents per gallon to 14.6 cents starting Thursday. Georgia's gas tax is adjusted twice a year based on the average price of gas. When that average price dips - as it has in recent months - the tax goes down as well. Gov. Sonny Perdue rescinded an executive order he issued in June that froze the tax as prices skyrocketed over the summer.

January 02, 2009 | Associated Press | State, National


Insurance industry gets tax break from state

ATLANTA - Georgia's budget woes aren't stopping the state from ringing in the new year with a hefty tax break for the insurance industry.

January 01, 2009 | By Shannon McCafferty Associated Press writer | State, National


Accused killer sues public defender system

ATLANTA (AP) - A man who faces a possible death sentence for a killing almost three years ago filed suit Wednesday against officials of Georgia's public defender system, claiming he has been denied representation for eight months.

January 01, 2009 | Associated Press | State, National


Sunday liquor sales issue to resurface

ATLANTA - Georgia's slumping economy could breathe new life into an effort to permit alcohol sales on Sunday in the state, supporters said.

State Sen. Seth Harp said he will reintroduce the Sunday sales measure in the legislative session set to begin Jan. 12.

January 01, 2009 | By Shannon McCaffrey Associated Press writer | State, National


Economy, drought top Georgia news in 2008

ATLANTA - The vast economic crisis has left scores of Georgia's houses empty, its banks shuttered and sent thousands of its residents searching for jobs even as its unemployment rate balloons to heights not seen since Ronald Reagan was president.

December 31, 2008 | By Greg Bluestein Associated Press writer | State, National


State told to find homes for foster kids

ATLANTA - State child welfare officials have to do a better job of finding permanent homes for 500 children who have been in foster care for three years or more.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob issued an order Monday as part of the settlement of a lawsuit to reform foster care systems in Fulton and DeKalb counties.

December 31, 2008 | Ass | State, National


Sex offenders must turn over online info

ATLANTA - Privacy advocates are questioning an aggressive Georgia law set to take effect Thursday that would require sex offenders to hand over Internet passwords, screen names and e-mail addresses.

Georgia joins a small band of states complying with guidelines in a 2006 federal law requiring authorities to track Internet addresses of sex offenders, but it is among the first to take the extra step of forcing its 16,000 offenders to turn in their passwords as well.

December 30, 2008 | By Greg Bluestein Associated Press writer | State, National


Power back on after explosion

SAVANNAH - Power has been restored to downtown Savannah after an underground electrical explosion rocked the city.

Georgia Power spokesman Jeff Wilson said the company is still investigating the cause of the Monday morning blast. He said it could take a few weeks to determine what happened.

December 30, 2008 | Associated Press | State, National


Feds could take courthouse shooting case

ATLANTA - Courthouse gunman Brian Nichols avoided a death penalty when a Fulton County jury failed to return a unanimous sentence, but local prosecutors are encouraging their federal counterparts to bring additional charges in hopes that Nichols could still face lethal injection.

Federal prosecutors would face higher legal standards to pursue death charges against Nichols based on the fact that one of his four victims was a federal agent. And the U.S. Attorney must first begin the lengthy process of getting approval from the Justice Department.

December 30, 2008 | Associated Press | State, National


No injuries in Savannah explosion

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - An explosion in underground electrical cables blew off manhole covers and started several fires in downtown Savannah Monday morning, prompting police to evacuate several stores and restaurants, many of which were without power. No injuries were immediately reported, police said.

Police received calls around 8:49 a.m. reporting that manhole covers had been blown off at the an intersection in the heart of the downtown district, said department spokesman Gene Harley. About an hour later, firefighters had put out three separate fires where the covers blew off.

December 29, 2008 | Associated Press | State, National


Gas prices tumble across state

ATLANTA - Gasoline prices across Georgia are at their lowest level in nearly five years, and may continue to fall.

AAA Georgia said Monday, the statewide average price for a gallon of regular is $1.53, down 20 cents since last month.

December 29, 2008 | Associated Press | State, National


Savannah businesses being evacuated

SAVANNAH - Police are evacuating businesses in downtown Savannah after an apparent underground explosion.

Businesses on Bay and River streets are being evacuated after the explosion at 8:45 a.m. Monday that police said blew off three manhole covers.

December 29, 2008 | Associated Press | State, National


Judge sentences courthouse shooter to life

ATLANTA (AP) - A judge on Saturday sentenced the man who killed four people in a brazen courthouse escape to multiple life sentences with no chance of parole and hundreds more years on more than fifty charges.

Brian Nichols, 37, was found guilty last month of murder and dozens of other counts for the March 2005 rampage that led from a downtown courthouse to an Atlanta neighborhood and ended with his capture the next day in a suburban county.

December 28, 2008 | By Greg Bluestein Associated Press writer | State, National


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