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macon.com Midday Update: New Orleans prepares for Gustav on Katrina anniversary; Clayton County scrambles to keep accreditation; Georgia man seeking to get molestation charges dismissed

With a new storm threatening to cause chaos in New Orleans all over again, a horse-drawn carriage brought the last seven unclaimed bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims for entombment at a memorial site today during ceremonies marking the disaster's third anniversary.

The ceremonies were tinged with a recognition of how much the city has rebuilt since Katrina's floods, as well as fear that another disaster could be looming.

"We look ahead to a better day, as we also prepare ourselves for another threat," Mayor Ray Nagin said as he helped guide a gleaming coffin into a mausoleum.

Tropical Storm Gustav was swirling near Jamaica today after being blamed for 67 deaths in Hispaniola. Forecasters said it could hit the Louisiana coast early next week as a major hurricane and city and state officials were preparing for possible weekend evacuations - the first in the state since Katrina hit in 2005.

About 200 people attended the ceremony. Many rang hand-held bells at 9:38 a.m., the time that levee breaches that inundated the city are believe to have begun. Preparations for Gustav forced cancellation of other Katrina memorials Friday.

The National Guard was scheduled to begin convoying into New Orleans, while some nursing homes and hospitals planned to start moving patients further inland and the state began moving 9,000 inmates from coastal lockups.

An evacuation order for New Orleans was likely, Nagin said, but not before Saturday Meanwhile, residents of areas further south could be told to leave starting Friday, Gov. Bobby Jindal said. Mississippi and Texas officials were also eyeing the storm's path, and making preparations of their own.

Associated Press

Clayton County scrambles to keep accreditation

Clayton County school officials are scrambling to salvage the district's accreditation as parents jam phone lines of neighboring counties' schools looking for a way to yank their children from the troubled district.

The 50,000-student district is slated to lose its accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on Monday. Clayton County officials have said they will appeal SACS' decision within the required 10-day period.

SACS spokeswoman Jennifer Elgart says the district will have accreditation during the three-month appellate process but that won't start until the appeal is filed. The national accrediting agency announced its decision Thursday.

SACS officials said the district failed to meet all but one of the nine mandates outlined in a scathing February report.

Associated Press

Georgia man seeking to get molestation charges dismissed

Lawyers for a man charged with kidnapping, molesting and killing a 6-year-old girl say his charges should be dismissed because the grand jurors who indicted him were not diverse enough.

The lawyers tried to convince the Glynn County Superior Court Judge to dismiss the indictment by arguing Hispanics were underrepresented among potential grand jurors. They also want the trial moved to another county.

David Edenfield, his wife, Peggy Edenfield and their adult son, George Edenfield, are accused of kidnapping, molesting and strangling the Hispanic girl in 2007 in their trailer at a mobile home park.

Associated Press

WHAT'S COMING UP ON MACON.COM

- We're expecting a photo of Georgia's new mascot Uga VII to be released today. Come back later today to get a look at the new top dog.

- We'll tell you about the parade in downtown Eatonton honoring Vincent Hancock, the recent Olympic gold medal winner.

VISIT US AGAIN SOON

We invite you to check out our Web site again next week for the Midday Update. Monday through Friday, Online Editor Beth MacFadyen will bring you timely information about what Telegraph staffers are working on, plus news we think you need to know immediately. Send feedback to bmacfadyen@macon.com

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