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Updated: Fri, 18 Jul 2014 01:16:15 EST

US--Offshore Drilling-Air Cannons

AP NewsBreak: Obama opens East Coast to oil search

ST. AUGUSTINE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Obama administration has approved the use of sonic cannons to explore for oil and gas off the Eastern Shore.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Friday formally approved guidelines for using air cannons in the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Delaware.

Energy companies could buy new oil and gas leases and begin drilling in 2018 if they find profitable reserves.

The guidelines are meant to protect endangered whales and other creatures from the loud noises and increased vessel traffic, but the government's environmental impact study estimates that more than 138,000 sea creatures could be harmed.

The decision opens an area of the Eastern Seaboard larger than two Californias to exploration for the first time in decades.


Body, gunshot victim found near burning building

(Information in the following story is from: WSB-TV,

CLARKSTON, Ga. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a chaotic scene east of Atlanta after finding a man wounded by gunshots and a dead body outside a burning building.

Police and firefighters were called to the apartment building in Clarkston early Friday morning.

Authorities say most of the building was on fire when they arrived to find the wounded man, who was taken to a hospital.

Authorities tell WSB-TV that a body was also found outside the building. It wasn't immediately clear whether that person was shot or killed in the fire.

DeKalb County fire officials said a third person -- a pregnant woman -- was injured while jumping to escape the flames.

Fire officials say they do not know the conditions of the two people who were injured. The apartment building was destroyed.


Atlanta man drowns in Montana river

COLUMBUS, Mont. (AP) — An 81-year-old Atlanta man drowned after being thrown from a raft into the Stillwater River in south-central Montana.

The Stillwater County sheriff's office says the man had been fishing with at least two other people when he and a woman were thrown into the water at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

The pilot was unable to pull the man back onto the raft before reaching an area of rough water called the "Beartooth Drop" about three miles south of Columbus.

Emergency responders recovered the man's body about a mile downstream. The woman was able to swim to safety.

The sheriff's office says the man had been coming to Montana for about 20 years. His name was being withheld while family members were notified.


Georgia city to dissolve its police department

(Information in the following story is from: The Augusta Chronicle ,

WASHINGTON, Ga. (AP) — The city council in the east Georgia city of Washington has decided to quit funding the police department.

The action came during a Thursday night council meeting, with a 4-3 vote.

The Augusta Chronicle reports that for several weeks, council members and Mayor Ames Barnett had been debating the idea of closing the department in an effort to balance the city's budget.

Barnett said some employees will be hired by the Wilkes County Sheriff's Department, which will take over patrolling the streets of Washington along with troopers from the Georgia State Patrol.

Following Thursday's meeting, the department was set to close effective Friday.

Washington is about 100 miles east of Atlanta.


University of Georgia announces record fundraising

(Information in the following story is from: Athens Banner-Herald,

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — University of Georgia officials are marking what they call the best fundraising year in the school's history.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports that donors set the fundraising record in new University of Georgia President Jere Morehead's first year in office.

University fundraisers received gifts and pledges for $126.4 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30. That's up 8 percent from the previous years.

Officials say the number of donors also increased. Large and small gifts came from nearly 57,000 contributors, up 4 percent over the previous year.


Atlanta-based tea company relocating to Seattle

ATLANTA (AP) — An Atlanta-based premium loose-leaf tea company has announced plans to relocate to Seattle after being acquired by Starbucks.

Teavana President Annie Young-Scrivner told the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Thursday that the company is moving to Seattle to help the company ramp up growth.

Starbucks bought Teavana for $620 million two years ago and Young-Scrivner says the company will begin relocating later this year. She says many of the company's 99 employees will move to Seattle within the next two years.


EPA grants to fund restoration of Atlanta creek

ATLANTA (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding more than $179,000 to three groups working to restore an Atlanta watershed.

Officials said in a statement Thursday that the Center for Watershed Protection, Inc. the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Inc. and Environmental Community Action, Inc. are being given about $60,000 each to restore the Proctor Creek Watershed.

Officials say the Center for Watershed Protection will make plans for reducing pollution through a community-based water monitoring program.

The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is expected to implement a water quality education program and community organizing initiative involving citizens collecting water samples and conducting assessments.

Environmental Community Action is expected to create a plan to reduce flooding and improve the creek's water quality while revitalizing low-income neighborhoods nearby.


South Ga. woman sentenced in embezzlement scheme

WAYCROSS, Ga. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a south Georgia woman has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from her former employer.

Authorities said Thursday that 46-year-old Angela Diane Griffis of Hoboken was sentenced to 57 months in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling more than $400,000 from her former employer.

Prosecutors say Griffis was employed as the office manager of a pediatric medical practice group in Waycross and embezzled from the company over the course of nearly six years. Authorities say Griffis prepared fraudulent checks and electronic transfers to her own accounts and made fraudulent entries in her employers accounting records.

Griffis has also been ordered to pay more than $406,500 to the company.

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