News Midday Update: 'Blue Jean Bandits' charged in north Ga.; businesses step up to save Athens’ July 4 fireworks; NASA engineers inspect floating object, shuttle protrusion

The Dawson County Sheriff's Office says five people have been charged as the so-called "Blue Jean Bandits" suspected in a foiled burglary attempt at a clothing store.

Four men and a woman ranging in age from 17 to 42 were arraigned Thursday in Dawson County Magistrate Court. The charges range from burglary to conspiracy to commit theft, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and giving false names to police.

They are suspected in a burglary attempt Tuesday morning at a store at the North Georgia Premium Outlets.

The suspects were arrested after a seven-hour manhunt in northeast Georgia.

Sheriff's Sgt. Tony Wooten says the same store was hit three weeks earlier in a similar burglary in which an estimated $20,000 of designed jeans were stolen.

Associated Press

Businesses step up to save Athens’ July 4 fireworks

News of the possible cancellation of Athens’ annual 4th of July fireworks celebration sparked the city’s business community to raise $13,000 in two days to save the event.

On Monday, the city thought it would have to scrap the show after a prospective donor backed out of a sponsorship deal. The Athens-Clarke Commission had already shaved the money from its budget last week to cut costs.

The effort began on Tuesday, and by Wednesday at 1:15 p.m., the goal had been met.

In all, 14 Athens donors chipped in to pay for the event. The sponsorships still must be approved by the county manager’s office before the show is a done deal.

Associated Press

NASA engineers inspect floating object, shuttle protrusion

NASA engineers were trying to identify an object that floated away from Discovery and were analyzing a protrusion found on its rudder today, one day before the space shuttle was scheduled to land.

The two issues were noticed after a routine test of the spacecraft’s flight control systems and steering jets.

The astronauts reported to Mission Control that they observed a rectangular object, about 1 to 1 feet long, floating away from the tail of the shuttle around the right wing. They also reported seeing something sticking out from the left side of the shuttle’s rudder.

‘‘We see a little bump kind of sticking out,’’ shuttle pilot Ken Ham said.

Initial speculation by engineers was that the floating object could be something from the payload bay or a piece of ice. They said the protrusion might be a small piece of thermal insulation sticking out.

The astronauts sent down video and photographs for engineers to review.

‘‘We’ll take a look,’’ Mission Control said.

Discovery’s heat shield was expected to be given formal clearance for landing during the mission management team’s meeting this afternoon. Discovery is scheduled to land at 11:15 a.m. Saturday in Florida.

Associated Press


— We'll bring you the latest information on the search for a man who disappeared Thursday afternoon while swimming in the Ocmulgee River off Arkwright Road.

— The new Lanford Library in south Bibb County is set to open Saturday. We'll give you a sneak peek, complete with photos and video.


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