News In Brief - February 12, 2008

Mecklenburg County student wins spelling bee

No York or Chester county students placed in The Charlotte Observer Regional Spelling Bee on Monday.

The contest winner was Molly Crawford, a Mecklenburg County student. The runner-up was from Stanly County, N.C., and the third-place student was from Cabarrus County, N.C.

Chester, Clover, Fort Mill, and York schools all had one student competing, as did St. Anne Catholic School in Rock Hill.

Molly won the chance to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May in Washington, D.C.

Fort Mill shooting victim in fair condition

Yen Nguyen, the store clerk who was shot during last week's Fort Mill convenience store robbery, has been upgraded to fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said Monday. She had been in critical condition late last week at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

Nguyen was shot in the stomach Wednesday night during an armed robbery at John Boy's Valero convenience store, police said. Former Fort Mill mayor Charlie Powers, a bystander, was shot in the face during the robbery. He was treated and released Wednesday night.

Police have not made an arrest in connection with the shooting.

Rock Hill man thrown from Jeep still critical

Wesley McDonald, an 18-year-old Rock Hill man thrown from a Jeep on Saturday afternoon, remained in critical condition at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte on Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

McDonald was riding in the back of a 2000 Jeep Saturday afternoon when it ran off Porter Road south of Rock Hill and struck a tree. McDonald, who was sitting on the rear floorboards, was ejected.

The driver, David Harvey of Rock Hill, and a passenger, Kenneth Willimas of Lancaster, were not ejected. Their condition was unavailable Monday.

The S.C. Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.

Fort Mill schools set 2008-2009 calendar

FORT MILL -- The Fort Mill school board Monday night adopted a 2008-2009 school calendar designed to conform with the calendars of the other three York County school distircts.

The school year for students will begin Aug. 20 and end June 5.

The winter holiday for students will begin Dec. 22. Students will return to school on Jan. 5. Spring break will begin April 10 and students will return to school April 20.

Crews battle smoldering fire using air drops

PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. -- A helicopter dumped thousands of gallons of river water onto a gutted sugar refinery on Monday, trying to douse a smoldering fire that burned more deeply and stubbornly than officials first thought.

But after hours of work, officials made plans to bring in a private fire suppression team to extinguish the blaze at the Imperial Sugar plant, where six workers died and two remained missing after an explosion Thursday.

White smoke wafted from the ravaged plant area after each drop. Then the helicopter headed back to the Savannah River, returning every two minutes or so with more water to dump on sugar smoldering in silos at temperatures of up to 4,000 degrees.

Port Wentworth Fire Chief Greg Long said a fire suppression team from North Carolina would arrive today. The company specializes in putting out oil and silo fires.