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BC-GA--Georgia News Digest, GA



Estimated read time: 6-7 minutes

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The state at 3:30 a.m.

If you have a news tip or question about the Georgia AP news report, the Atlanta bureau can be reached at 404-522-8971. Please email stories of state or regional interest to apatlanta@ap.org.

TOP STORIES:

KIDNAP-VICTIM RESCUED

ATLANTA —A federal prosecutor said agents were still looking for more suspects in the abduction of a North Carolina prosecutor's father as a judge denied bond Tuesday for five people arrested last week. Frank Arthur Janssen was taken from his home in Wake Forest, N.C., on April 5 and rescued five days later when FBI agents raided an Atlanta apartment. By Kate Brumback. Sent: 742 words.

COLLEGE TUITION-GEORGIA

DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Tuition is going up for Georgia students at all 31 state colleges and universities under a budget plan approved Tuesday by the state Board of Regents, including the largest increase of $372 more per semester for Georgia Tech undergraduates. Tuition costs have increased every year since at least 2002 at Georgia's state campuses. While the Board of Regents kept the rate of tuition increases at 2.5 percent for 27 campuses, students at the system's four research universities will see costs increase more. By Kathleen Foody. SENT: 464 words.

VIDALIA ONION BATTLE

REIDSVILLE, Ga. —A Georgia judge Tuesday refused to intervene in a legal battle between a prominent Vidalia onion farmer and the state's agriculture commissioner over a new regulation aimed at keeping unripe onions from reaching store shelves. Following a hearing in rural Tattnall County, part of the 20-county region where the famously sweet onions are grown, Superior Court Judge Jay Stewart denied a request by farmer Delbert Bland to stop the commissioner from enforcing the new rule prohibiting Vidalia onions from being packed for shipping before the last full week of April. An Atlanta judge struck down the regulation last month, but Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black says it's still in effect while state attorneys file an appeal. By Russ Bynum. SENT: 532 words, photos.

EARNS-COCA-COLA

NEW YORK — Coca-Cola, the world's biggest beverage maker, said Tuesday that the amount of soda it sold globally fell for first time in 15 years. The drop in the first quarter was offset by stronger sales of its noncarbonated drinks that include Minute Maid, Powerade and Dasani bottled water. Overall volume rose 2 percent, an improvement from the 1 percent increase the previous quarter. By Candice Choi. SENT: 569 words, photo.

STATE HEALTH INSURANCE

ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Community Health announced Tuesday that it is looking to increase the number of companies participating in the State Health Benefit Plan and will offer more coverage options for state employees, including HMOs, beginning next year. Department officials said they offered invitations to companies to increase the number of providers administering the insurance plan. SENT: 205 words.

AARON'S-PROGRESSIVE FINANCE

ATLANTA — Furniture leasing company Aaron's has agreed to buy online rent-to-own finance company Progressive Finance Holdings for $700 million in cash in a bid to turn around its business even as it cut its first-quarter outlook. Meanwhile, Atlanta-based Aaron's also said it rejected a takeover offer from Vintage Capital Management, its second largest shareholder, for $30.50 per share, a 1 percent premium on the stock's closing price Monday. Aaron's says the offer is not in the best interest of shareholders. SENT: 350 words.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG RING

GULFPORT, Miss. — A Georgia doctor charged with involvement in a prescription drug ring wants a separate trial from other defendants. Dr. Sanjay Sinha, 49, of Woodstock, Ga., and three Mississippi men were indicted in March on federal charges of illegally distributing painkillers. The doctor is accused of visiting casinos, befriending casino employees and writing them prescriptions for hundreds of pills, prosecutors said. SENT: 315 words.

BAT FUNGUS

CLAYTON, Ga. — The man-made Black Diamond Tunnel in the northeast Georgia mountains is the state's largest known winter shelter for some of Georgia's 16 bat species. WABE Radio reports that it's also the latest site in the state to fall victim to white-nose syndrome. The fungal disease has killed more than 6 million bats in the eastern half of the U.S. since it arrived from Europe in 2006. Almost immediately upon pushing off into the flooded tunnel in a small Jon boat, Katrina Morris, a bat specialist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, points to dead bats floating in the chilly, rippling water. By Michell Eloy and Dan Raby, WABE Radio. An AP Member Exchange. SENT: 1,000 words.

AROUND THE SOUTH:

DAM SAFETY

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A group urged Alabama to create an inspection program for the hundreds of dams across the state, most of which they say go unregulated. Association of State Dam Safety Officials project manager Mark Ogden said at a news conference Tuesday that Alabama is the only state without a dam safety program. Tom Woosley, manager of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Safe Dams Program, said that state created its program after a 1977 dam failure flooded a Bible college and killed 39 people. SENT: 276 words.

KEMPER-TECHNOLGY SALE

JACKSON, Miss. — Southern Co. says it has signed a deal with a state-owned Chinese coal and energy company to work together to develop coal technologies, based in part on the coal gasification and carbon capture technology that Southern subsidiary Mississippi Power Co. is deploying at the $5 billion Kemper County power plant. The deal signed April 8 calls for Atlanta-based Southern to work with Shenhua as well as government agencies and universities. By Jeff Amy. SENT: 546 words.

ALSO:

— PLANE-CABIN SMOKE — Smoke reported in cabin of Delta Air Lines jet at Atlanta airport.

— BURNED BODY RECOVERED — Clayton County police investigating death of missing DeKalb County man found in woods.

— TREE TOPPLED — 2 women rescued after tree falls through roof of metro Atlanta home.

— INACCURATE MAMMOGRAMS-CONVICTION — Ex-Ga. radiology technician pleads guilty to entering inaccurate mammogram results.

— FALLING GLASS-DOWNTOWN — Glass falls from downtown Atlanta office building, no injuries reported.

— GEORGIA GOVERNOR — Spokeswoman: Deal campaign to run TV ad from now until the primary in statewide buy.

— VETERANS COURTS — Gov. Nathan Deal signs law creating veterans' court divisions.

— FOOD STAMP ERRORS — GA given 30 days to respond to overdue food stamp applications or submit corrective plan.

— STUDENT SLAIN — Police investigate killing of college student south of Atlanta.

— HABITAT FOR HUMANITY-GUNFIRE — Habitat for Humanity official says gunfire, safety concerns scaring away potential homeowners.

— HIGH WINDS-GEORGIA — Winds gusts up to 40 mph expected across state; wind advisory covers north and central Georgia.

— DOG FIGHTING — 1 plans to plead guilty in large Alabama dog fighting case; another seeks pre-trial diversion.

— ZOO ATLANTA-BONGO — Endangered eastern bongo gives birth to third calf at Zoo Atlanta.

SPORTS:

BBN--BRAVES-PHILLIES

PHILADELPHIA — Rain gave a pair of depleted bullpens a little boost. Tuesday night's game between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies was postponed by inclement weather, allowing both managers to rest their weary closers an extra day. A makeup date wasn't announced. It's expected the game will be played when the Braves return to Philadelphia on June 27-29. By Rob Maaddi. SENT: 418 words, photos.

The AP.

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The Associated Press

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