Fulton blaze raises questions about fire services

FAIRBURN -- A deadly house explosion in south Fulton County is raising questions about the county's ability to fight fires, and whether it has enough fire trucks.

Fulton County Fire and Rescue's nearest fire station to the blast on Aug. 27 had no working fire engine that day.

As a result, the Fulton County department sent an ambulance to the explosion and fire. Fire trucks from elsewhere arrived later to put out the blaze.

Fulton Fire Chief Larry Few said four other fire departments had been notified ahead of time that Fulton would need help if a fire broke out in that area of the county.

Few said he's applying for a $1.3 million federal grant in hopes of paying for three new engines.ROME -- Crews have begun work to clear the site for a new 1.4 million-square-foot Lowe's distribution center, which is expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the region.

The Rome New-Tribune reported that one house has already been demolished in preparation for the project.

Officials said during a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday that the project will bring 600 jobs to the region within three years. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's administration called the announcement "the largest job-creation project for the state" since the governor took office in January.ATLANTA -- A tally by the Georgia Food Industry Association finds that 97 cities and counties throughout Georgia are set to hold Sunday sales referendums during the November general election later this year.

The group said the votes represent about 2.5 million Georgians.

Food industry association president Kathy Kuzava commended city and county leaders for giving residents the option to vote on the issue.

The new law, passed earlier this year and signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal, allows local leaders to ask voters to decide whether to permit grocery and convenience stores to sell alcohol on Sundays. Georgia had been one of just three states that prohibited Sunday retail alcohol sales.PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A Georgia man has admitted to his role in a kickbacks scheme that prosecutors say cost the Navy $7 million to $20 million.

Patrick Nagle pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery at a change-of-plea hearing on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Providence. He will be sentenced March 1.

The 51-year-old Marietta resident is a former executive at Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow, a defunct company with offices in Rhode Island and Georgia that had Navy contracts. He's accused of making payments on invoices that were inflated by two subcontractors given Navy work by his firm over an 11-year period.

Nagle has agreed to cooperate with investigators. He faces up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.ATHENS -- An official of the Athens Downtown Development Authority says parking tickets for metered spaces are being issued in downtown Athens at an average of 95 a day after 6 p.m., a sign that many people don't know the meters' hours have been extended.

Since July 1, meters in downtown Athens operate until 10 p.m. Parking now costs 75 cents an hour instead of a quarter.

The Athens Banner-Herald reported Executive Director Kathryn Lookofsky says the first ticket will be forgiven for those unaware of the change.

Authority Chairwoman Erica Cascio suggested letting people with Clarke County tags park free at metered spaces, but the idea was rejected. She said the additional parking cost is hurting bars and restaurants.-- From wire reports