Page 1

Champs and milestones, Sports year in review — Sports, 9A

Volume 136, No. 37

Quote of the Week

“We’re certainly counting our blessings.”

child places in national contest — News, 3A

WEDNESDAY, January 2, 2013

1 Section/ 16 pages/ 75 cents

Injured pedestrian dies Police, solicitor to consider charges against 24-year-old driver jonathan vickery Staff Writer

— Lisa Firmender, On $10,000 donation.

hit, said Ward. Ward said Sandifer’s death “will be ruled accidental.” Sandifer was struck just before 11:30 a.m., Dec. 22, after he “entered a clearly marked pedestrian zone in front of Walmart,” said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. Gantt said Sandifer had just exited the store from a shopping trip. That’s when Brittany Hoover, 24, of Allendale, struck Sandifer with her 2003 GMC. Sandifer fell and hit his head on the pavement after being struck.

The pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle in the Walmart parking lot the weekend before Christmas has died. Bulletin Board Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward confirmed 70-year-old Kenneth Sandifer of Bamberg died Dec. 28 at 8:01 a.m. Sandifer died at Georgia Barnwell Primary School Health Sciences University will hold meetings Jan. 8 at Medical Center from injuries 7:30 a.m. and Jan. 15 at 6:30 he sustained when he was p.m. for parents of children (ages 3 years old by Sept. 1, 2013) interested in their child being in the Montessori program for the 2013-14 school year. Parents only need to attend one meeting, which will be held in the school’s auditorium. The meetings will share the purpose of a Montessori education and the application process All applications including child’s certified birth certificate, S.C. shot record, social security card and two current dated proofs of your residence must be turned in to Phyllis Martin in building #1 registration office by March 15, 2013, to be eligible 2012 File photo for the lottery drawing. Survivors walk the initial lap of the Relay for LIfe walk in Weather Forecast 2012 carrying a banner.

(News, 2A)

Montessori meetings

He was unconscious and not breathing for a while, and by-standers performed first-aid measures until emergency medical personnel arrived, Gantt said at the time. Hoover has been charged with failure to use caution, though there is no word as of press time whether Sandifer’s death will result in more charges against her. Gantt said his department plans to meet with the solicitor this week to discuss the case and determine if criminal charges will be filed A Bamberg man leaving Walmart has died of his injuries after being struck by a car. against Hoover. Photo by: Susan C. Delk /Managing Editor

Gearing up for a life or death fight susan c. delk Managing Editor

Although Relay for Life is held in April in Barnwell County, there are many months of preparation that have to occur for the event to be successful and the Relay team is looking for a few good members. A kick-off celebration will be held Thursday, Jan 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the Edisto Room of SouthernCarolina Alliance to provide information on opportunities. The celebration will pro-

vide information on how to volunteer, become a sponsor, find out how to join or start a team and more. There will be food, fun and prizes at the event. Survivors can also register to take part in the 2013 Relay. Each year, more than 4 million people in over 20 countries take part in events such as this where they raise funds and awareness to save lives from cancer, according to This year’s Relay For Life will be held at Veterans Memorial Park, April 26, 2013, beginning at 7 p.m.

Relay is an organized, overnight community fundraising walk where teams of people camp out around a track and members take turns walking around the track. There is always food, games and activities as well as entertainment. From the survivors lap to the luminary service, there is an opportunity to help in many capacities throughout the event. For additional information on Barnwell County’s Relay for Life, log on to or email the Event Chair Teresa Sanders at rtrts4@

Wed., Jan. 2 Cloudy, 30% chance of rain High 61 Low 40

Last week January - June 2012 was reveiwed. In this week’s edition, we review July - December 2012.


In the midst of the summer

heat and Independence Day Thurs., Jan. 3 Cloudy, 50% chance of rain celebrations, a deal to sell the Barnwell County Hospital High 49 Low 36

Fri., Jan. 4 Partly sunny High 54 Low 30

Sat., Jan. 5 Sunny High 53 Low 31 Weather provided by the National Weather Service

What’s Inside OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A BUSINESS/ COMMUNITY........6A SPORTS..............9-11A CALENDAR/TV ......12A CLASSIFIEDS....13-15A

seemed to be dying. After the asset purchase agreement to sell the BCH to Dobbs Equity Partners, LLC, expired June 30, Barnwell County Council met three times in July to discuss the sale without any action. However, a July 24 meeting of the BCH Board brought news that the deal with Dobbs was no more. As the deal ended, improvements came to the hospital, including a contract change which brought new doctors. On the crime front, several cases made headlines, including the murder of Blackville resident Ronnie Rashawn Thomas July 14. The accused killer, Brandon Davis, was apprehended July 17 at the BP gas station in Barnwell. Davis along with his girlfriend and codefendant Sharena Mayes were both denied bond by the magistrate judge. Also in July, Barnwell County Councilman Harold Buckmon was arrested for criminal domestic violence. The charge was dropped in November by the S.C. Attorney General’s office. A body found in the woods behind Hagood Avenue Baptist Church was identified as that of Ryan Caudill, who went missing April 29. A

cause of death has never been determined. July also brought new leadership with the hiring of Mike Shumaker as the city of Barnwell’s parks and recreation director. Dr. Tom Siler also officially began his duties as Williston District 29 superintendent. As Shumaker and Siler began, longtime Barnwell County Museum board director Anne Hagood retired after 36 years. She was honored July 15 for her service by residents.


The reports, a result of South Carolina’s waiver from some provisions of No Child Left Behind, issued a letter grade

As Barnwell County’s students prepared to return to class following summer to all state school districts and break, three employees of schools based upon student the school bus maintenance achievement and graduation rates. R e sults varied f r o m district t o dist r i c t w i t h W i l liston District 29 earning an shop in Blackville were given ‘A,’ Barnwell District 45 pink slips after the shop earning a ‘D,’ and Barnwell was closed by the S.C. De- District 19 earning an ‘F.’ August was a deadly partment of Education. The shop was shared by all the month as a series of shootpublic school districts in the ings occurred in Barnwell and Blackville. county. In the city of Barnwell, All three public school districts also received their Nathan Lee Johnson was federal report card Aug. 2. killed at the Ramblewood

Trailer Park following an early morning altercation Aug. 25. Roland James Cromwell Jr. was arrested for the murder. Across the count y, t w o m u rd e r s occurred in the town of Blackville in a week’s time. Anthony Black died Aug. 29 from wounds he received after being shot Aug. 21 behind his home. No suspects have been arrested. Just six days later, Leon Brown died after he was shot at a home on Davis Street in Blackville. Arbre Bernard Robinson and Tracy Maurice Davis were arrested for the crime. The county also experienced two attempted murders, including one in the small town of Kline after a woman was shot at in her car. The other happened in Barnwell following an argument between Jeremy Joseph Hammonds and James Badger III that escalated. After Badger shot Hammonds in the buttocks, Hammonds retrieved a gun and shot at Badger. Hammonds was arrested, while a warrant was issued for Badger.

Following the ending of a plan to sell the Barnwell County Hospital to Dobbs Equity Partners, LLC, Dobbs filed a $2 million claim against Barnwell County. The company claimed the county owed “administrative expense claims,” though the claim was later dropped.


Barnwell County sought a deal with a new company to sell the hospital. A letter of intent with Resurgence Management Company, out of Atlanta, Ga., was signed. Employees of the Barnwell County Administrative Building moved back into their offices after a year of renovations were completed. Barnwell County saw its first traffic fatality of 2012 after James Henry Carroll Sr. wrecked into a parked tractor trailer on S.C. 64 during Labor Day weekend. A trio of defendants in an armed robbery case were convicted during the Sept. 6 general sessions court. Barnwell residents Kevin Christopher Brown, 23, Roosevelt Kadeem Workman Jr., 21, and Jamaal Terrell Riley, 19, were found guilty after a jury deliberated for six hours. A fourth person, Jermaine Jaqua Priester, also of Barnwell, is charged in the crime as well. He will face his charges at a later date. See YIR, 16A

B-H girls get revenge over W-E — Sports, 1B

Volume 136, No. 38

Quote of the Week “The transition has gone smoothly.”

— Jay Ragley, With the combining of bus maintenance shops

( 3A)

Bulletin Board

Relay for Life Kick-off Kick-off for the 2013 Relay For Life will be Thursday, Jan. 10, at the SouthernCarolina Alliance Business Center ’s Edisto Room at 6:30 p.m. Those interested in having a team or who would like more information are welcome to come. Relay will be held April 26, 2013, at Veterans Park. For more information on Barnwell County’s Relay event, visit their Facebook page at or www.

Legislative workshop - 10A

WEDNESDAY, January 9, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Blackville Bankruptcy officer arrested saga continues

susan c. delk Managing Editor

The sale of the Barnwell County Hospital and the bankruptcy hearings are continuing. In December, BCH filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy court for an order from the court authorizing them to be able to substitute a new purchase agreement for the one previously approved. The new agreement to purchase the hospital assets is with Resurgence Management Company (RMC). The original agreement, filed September 30, 2011, would have sold the hospital to S.C. Regional Health Systems, (Dobbs Equity Partners). RMC is the Georgia-based group now seeking to purchase the county hospital. The new agreement was approved Nov. 26, 2012. Barnwell’s motion says

the BCH has been unable to implement the approved plan due to the refusal of RHS to consummate the sale in the original purchase agreement. Substituting the new purchase agreement for the old one - that is sometimes allowed if only minor changes have been made. Those objecting to the substition say the changes made to the purchase agreement are not minor and the agreement should not be simply substituted. RHS (Dobbs), the Department of Health and Human Services and Don Alexander have all objected to the substitution for various reasons. DHHS contends that the new APA is “inconsistent with Medicare law” in that BCH will transfer their Medicare provider status to RMC but RMC will “not take any liability related to Medicare cost reports” for certain periods. They will also not take

liability for any “overpayment…in connection with Medicare.” Alexander’s motion is objecting to the substitution based on an appeal still waiting to be heard in a previously filed lawsuit. Alexander’s suit suggests Barnwell County Hospital board members were holding dual offices when they voted to approve the sale of the hospital as well as when they voted to enter bankruptcy and approved both APAs, thus rendering the votes unlawful. The bankruptcy court has already heard arguments on the dual office holding and held that the dual office holding provisions had not been violated. Alexander filed an appeal June 5, 2012, but no hearing has been scheduled. His objection claims the outcome of the appeal may affect the bankruptcy. See BCH, page 10A

jonathan vickery Staff Writer

A Blackville police officer has been relieved of his duties following an arrest for driving under the influence. Russell Zorn, 25, of Barnwell, was arrested Jan. 5 by the South Carolina Highway Patrol and charged with driving under the influence, first offense, and having an open container of alcohol. The charges stem from a traffic stop shortly before 11 p.m. for speeding on Hwy. 781 in Aiken County, said Lance Cpl. Judd Jones of the S.C. Highway Patrol. The arrest led to his termination from the Blackville Police Department after working there for 10 months. “He’s been discharged from his duties,” said Blackville Police Chief John Holston. Zorn graduated from the criminal justice academy Dec. 21, 2012. Holston called the incident “regrettable,” but said this

Russell Zorn type of behavior “will not be tolerated” in his department. “I’m going to hold all of our officers and employees to the same standards as the citizens we serve,” said Holston. “We’re given a sacred trust to enforce laws impartially.” Zorn, who is the son of the late Barnwell County Sheriff Joey Zorn, was initially released to the Aiken County Detention Center but has since been released on bond.

Celebrating freedom for 150 years David Purtell Staff Writer

Weather Forecast

Wed., Jan. 9 Mostly cloudy High 66 Low 53

Thurs., Jan. 10 Mostly cloudy High 70 Low 52

Photo by: David Purtell/Staff Writer

Area locals take part in the celebrations Jan. 1 at Second Baptist Church in Barnwell.

Fri., Jan. 11 Partly sunny High 72 Low 52

Student now charged in making a threat

Weather provided by the National Weather Service

What’s Inside OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-4B CALENDAR..............5B TELEVISION.........6B CLASSIFIEDS.....7-9B

Instead of returning to school after Christmas break, a Blackville-Hilda High School student has been charged following a bomb threat last month. Jessie Scandel Pisa, 18, of Barnwell, was charged Jan. 7 with disturbing a school and making a bomb threat/giving false information about bomb threat, first offense, said Barnwell County Sheriff Ed Carroll. The charges stem from a Dec. 17 incident at BlackvilleHilda High School where Pisa is accused of typing a threatening message on a graphing calculator. It read, “Whoever is reading this...there is a bomb in the school,” stated a press release from Barnwell District 19. No bomb or bomb making materials were found. Charges were not filed immediately following the incident due to the investiga-

See FREE, page 10A

Williston to lose leader Carter to take job in Georgetown

jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Sat., Jan. 12 Mostly sunny High 75 Low 54

The annual Emancipation Day celebration was held Jan. 1 at Second Baptist Church of Barnwell. Community members and leaders came out to remember President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation made 150 years ago during the Civil War. The executive order declared slaves in Confederate states to be “forever free” and was a major step toward the end of slavery in America. Rev. McKinley Neal led the ceremony, which included music, speeches and Second

Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Phillip Thomas delivering a riveting message. Thomas said “great progress” has been made within the African-American community, but that much work still needs to be done. He said, “We have to invest in our children,” and he stressed that young people need to know about the hardships of the past. We “cannot let the struggle be forgotten,” he said. State Rep. Lonnie Hosey was on hand and said people need to let him know what’s going on in the community so he can make the most of his position.

David Purtell Staff Writer

Jessie Scandel Pisa tion and Pisa being placed in “a facility” for evaluation, said Carroll. Pisa was issued a $1,000 bond for the disturbance charge and a $5,000 bond for the bomb threat charge on Jan. 7. He was released to the Barnwell County Detention Center, said Blackville Magistrate Judge Jimmy Gantt. BCDC confirmed Pisa posted bail Tuesday, Jan. 8. Pisa is restricted from returning to any BlackvilleHilda Public School property, said Gantt.

Williston’s Town Administrator is leaving to take a job in Georgetown. The coastal city has offered Chris Carter a job as its city administrator, and he said he plans to accept it. “I’ve spent most of my career in a town of that size,” Carter said. Before Williston, Carter was in Hendersonville, N.C., which is still where he has his home. He said he plans to move to Georgetown once everything is settled. Carter said he interviewed with the city in early December, and that it looked like a good career move. Georgetown Mayor Jack

Scoville confirmed that the city has offered Carter a job, but said city council still needs to vote on the hiring at its next meeting, Jan. 17. Carter said he is set to begin his new job Feb. 7. Carter has been the town administrator in Williston since Dec. 1, 2010, and said he has enjoyed his time Chris Carter there. “I wish I could take the people with me,” he said, “They’ve been wonWilliston has experience derful.” with interim administraWilliston Mayor Tommy tors as they hired interim Rivers said the town will Jim Duckett when longcontact the S.C. Municipal time administrator Scott Association for help finding Neely left to take a posian interim administrator to tion with SCANA. fill the void while the search Carter ’s last council for a full-time replacement meeting with the town moves forward. will be Monday, Jan. 14.

‘Eye of the tiger’ A-f boys win — Sports, 1B

Volume 136, No. 39

Quote of the Week “I would love to have an SRO in every school, ... (but the) “schools are strapped (for money) just like the county.” — Sheriff Ed Carroll, On security in public schools.

News, 2A

Bulletin Board

Stew begins to heat up Salkehatchie Stew is begining to work on its 2013 production. They are inviting area residents to attend the opening auditions/signups Friday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. at the USC Salkehatchie Conference Center in Allendale. Plans for this year’s production will be discussed. The auditions/signups are open to anyone interested in any phase of the production from acting to working in the box office. People who have worked on or seen a previous production are asked to come and share their ideas. For more information, email your contact information to or or call 803-686-1569 or 803842-3370 and leave a message.

workshop helps teachers — News, 9A

WEDNESDAY, January 16, 2013

Quad alliance renegotiated jonathan vickery Staff Writer

It was an alliance in jeopardy, but talks to renegotiate the Quad County Park Agreement seem to be back on track after a meeting last week. Officials from Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell and Hampton counties convened at the Brandt Building in Allendale Thursday, Jan. 10, to discuss renegotiating the split of tax revenue from new industries under the agreement. Carl Gooding, chairman of the Allendale County Council, said the agreement has benefited all counties with more than one billion

dollars of investment, while also promoting regionalism. “It’s the way I hope we can stay,” said Gooding before entering a nearly two-hour closed session. “We need to come up with a plan we can all live with.” The current percentage split is either 97-1-1-1 or 4020-20-20, depending on the dollar amount of the new industry’s investment, with the host county retaining the largest percentage. Barnwell County asked the other counties to consider changing the agreement because residents didn’t like the fact that a majority of the revenue is sent elsewhere. Emerging back into open session, the four counties were united on most of the terms to include in the draft

of a new agreement. All counties agreed to a 70-10-10-10 split for further development in the four counties. It does not touch any industries under the current agreement or expansions at those sites. “I’m happy about this meeting tonight, that four counties can come together and make some progress on this agreement,” said Sabrena Graham, Hampton County administrator. Likewise, Barnwell County Council Chairman Freddie Houston said he’s happy with the new split because “the hosting county will be Photo by: Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer able to keep the bulk of the revenue.” Barnwell County Councilmen (from left) Keith Sloan, The one area of contention Joe Smith, Lowell Jowers, Barnwell County Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. and Councilmen Freddie Houston and See QUAD, page 10A David Kenner talk after the quad-county meeting.

Renovations begin

Thurs., Jan. 17 Rain likely, 70 % chance High 60 Low 40

Photo by: David Purtell/Staff Writer

Renovations and demolitions continued this week at the old Reid’s Shopping Plaza. Crews began removing asbestos at the end of last week and began removing facia and some brick work this week. The old bank building near Dunbarton Boulevard will be torn down later this week. The remodeled center is expected to house an O’Reily Auto Parts, a Family Dollar and a Tractor Supply.

Events honor Dr. King A variety of events will unite area residents to honor the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: On Thursday, Jan. 19 at 11 a.m. in Massachusetts Hall Auditorium, Voorhees College will celebrate the life and times of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with James Edward Holiday, pastor of Bushy Pond Missionary Baptist Church in Norway. For more information, contact Teesa Brunson, director of communications, at (803) 780-1194 or In observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday holiday, the African American Culture Center will sponsor the second annual Dr. MLK Unity March on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m. in front of Simpson United Methodist Church of Allendale. The walk will proceed up Memorial Avenue to the grounds of the Allendale County Courthouse where a brief program will be held. For more information, contact Wilda J. Robinson, president of the Culture Center Board, at (803) 584-3289 or (803) 646-2177. The Barnwell-Blackville Branch of the NAACP will host a Martin Luther King Jr. program Sunday, Jan. 20, at 3 p.m. at Tabernacle Baptist Church (3076 Dexter St., Blackville). The speaker will be Dr. Herman L. Wallace. Williston Community Service Club will host their annual Martin Luther King Jr. walk in downtown Williston on Monday, Jan. 21. The walk will start at 10 a.m. in front of the Williston District 29 district office and go to the Clubhouse. Transportation will be provided for those who are unable to walk. Questions and comments can be directed to Kenneth Bryant at (803) 645-2580, Judd Bing at (803) 530-4684, or Ronald J. Brown at (803) 541-2799. The Allendale County Democratic Party will host the second annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Allendale-Fairfax High School (Hwy. 278 E., Allendale). The cost is a donation of $15 per person or $100 for a table of eight. For more information, contact Allendale County Democratic Party Chairperson Willa Jennings at (803) 584-2998, (803) 6860042 or staff The People-Sentinel

Fri., Jan. 18 Partly sunny High 55 Low 37

Sat., Jan. 19 Mostly sunny High 58 Low 37 Weather provided by the National Weather Service

What’s Inside OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-4B CALENDAR..............5B TELEVISION..........6B CLASSIFIEDS.....7-10B

One arrested in home invasion susan c. delk Managing Editor

Weather Forecast

Wed., Jan. 16 Mostly cloudy High 76 Low 53

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Only one arrest has been made in a Jan. 5 Williston home invasion. Steven Dana Montrell Jenkins, 23, of Country Park Manor, Barnwell, has been charged with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of Steven D. Montrell Jenkins armed robbery, one count of possession of a weapon during a violent crime, two counts of pointing and presenting a firearm, two counts of assault in the first degree and three counts of petit larceny, according to his arrest report. Williston police were dispatched to a home on Elko Street shortly before 10 p.m. Two people were in the home playing video games at the time of the invasion, a 17-year-old black male and a 14-yearold black male. Both were assaulted according to the police report, one requiring medical attention. Two armed black males entered the home, each wearing all black with bandanas See ARREST, page 10A covering their faces. A third

Relay kick-off celebrated Organizers celebrate past work; look to future

David Purtell Staff Writer

Relay for Life in Barnwell County had its kick-off celebration Thursday, Jan. 10, at the SouthernCarolina Alliance Business Center. The event served as a welcome for members, new and old, and an information session for anyone interested in joining the organization, which raises money for cancer research and is sponsored by the American Cancer Society. This year’s event will be April 26 at Veterans Park in Barnwell. Teresa Sanders is heading up the event in the county and talked about the great opportunity Relay for Life offers. Sanders said she wants teams to get registered early

Photo by: David Purtell/Staff Writer

Relay for Life in Barnwell County had its kick-off event Thursday, Jan. 10. This year’s Relay will be April 26 at Veterans Park in Barnwell. Those interested in forming a team are urged to sign up. A team captains meeting will be held Jan. 28 at the Barnwell Public Library. this year. The first meeting for team captains is Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Barnwell Public Library. Each team is encouraged to come up with its own family-friendly theme, Sanders said. Stephanie Reely, with the American Cancer Society, said Barnwell’s Relay for Life was a “small and mighty group” last spring and raised $27,000. She said the goal this year is $30,000. “I think we’re going to blow past that,” Reely said.

Also during the event, Preston Fields, a local cancer survivor, talked about his battle with prostate cancer. He said the ACS let him know he wasn’t alone in his fight and that his ordeal taught him to look at people differently and do the things he knows are right. Anyone interested in joining Relay for Life should visit www. or contact Sanders at or Reely at stephanie.

W-E girls rally for victory — Sports, 1B

New business offers ole’ time customer service — News, 2A

Volume 136, No. 40

WEDNESDAY, January 23, 2013

No criminal charges

Quote of the Week

“It’s a pretty big honor and an opportunity to be a part of history.”

Driver cited in fatal accident The driver who hit a pedestrian in the Walmart parking lot last month will not face criminal charges for his death, say officials. According to Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt, the solicitor’s office does not plan to seek criminal charges against Brittney Hoover of Allendale. On Dec. 22 the 24year-old driver struck Kenneth Sandifer, a 70-year-old Bamberg resident, with her 2003 GMC as he entered a “clearly marked pedestrian zone” on his way back to his vehicle, said Gantt. The impact caused Sandifer to fall and hit his head on the pavement. He later died Dec. 28 from his injuries at Georgia Health Sciences University Medical Center, according to Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward. A search of Hoover’s phone records yielded no proof she was talking on the phone or texting at the time of the accident, said Gantt. “We have to prove intent,” said Gantt of why no criminal charges of homicide or reckless homicide were brought against Hoover. Hoover is still charged in traffic court with failure to use caution as she drove through the parking lot.

— Marine Gunnery Sgt. Tim Easterling,

jonathan vickery Staff Writer

On dancing with Michelle Obama

News, 2A

Bulletin Board

Learning Conference scheduled Barnwell County First Steps and Aiken Barnwell Head Start will host the “Bridging, Understanding and Learning Conference 2013” on Saturday, Jan. 26, from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at Barnwell Primary School. The free conference is for parents, early care and education professionals, local partnering agencies and the broader community to overcome educational barriers and strengthen Barnwell County’s system for quality early childhood development. To register and for more information, call (803) 284-3160.

Teen charged in murder

Wed., Jan. 23 Sunny High 54 Low 33

Thurs., Jan. 24 Sunny High 57 Low 38

Fri., Jan. 25 Mostly cloudy High 61 Low 37

Sat., Jan. 26 Sunny High 51 Low 27 Weather provided by the National Weather Service

What’s Inside

Circus comes to town

The Wonderland Circus made its first appearance in Barnwell County this year at Macedonia Elementary School in Blackville, Thursday, Jan. 17. Fire jugglers were one of the acts during the performance at MES. The circus will also make a stop in Barnwell on Friday, Jan. 25, at 6:30 p.m. in the Guinyard-Butler Middle School gym. The circus performance is Barnwell Primary School’s annual fundraiser for the BPS Parent Teacher Organization. There will be a variety of acts, including trampoline, chair balancing and hand balancing, clowns, foot juggling, trapeze, illusions, poodles and music. Concessions and souvenirs will be for sale. Advanced tickets can be purchased at the BPS office #2, and cost $3 for students and $4 for adults. Tickets at the door cost $4 for students and $5 for adults.

Walk honors King and his legacy jonathan vickery Staff Writer

A message of unity marched through Williston as more than 150 residents honored the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Togetherness is strength,” said Rev. Sheldon Ray in his prayer. He was one of several to motivate the crowd during a program following the annual community walk Jan. 21. Ferlecia Cuthbertson, the president of the Community Uplift Program in Williston,

said she hopes local organizations can work together more in the future to better serve the community. That way “we don’t leave any gaps,” she said. It’s especially important to reach the young people – who are the future – to realize the importance of King’s message. “We need to help them recognize what they’re out of school for,” said Kenneth Bryant, the president of the CSC. Edgar Brown recited King’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” which brought great applause from the crowd. “He was a dreamer

with a vision of equality,” said Brown. “It’s a good thing to honor Dr. King and keep his dream alive,” said Doris Young, who attended the walk. “My prayer is that this community can come together in love, unity and brotherhood.” To keep the dream of unity going involves standing up for what is right. “We’ve got to get off the stool of doing nothing,” said Ron Brown, the treasurer of the CSC. “Dr. King made his choice. What will yours be?” asked Nakeisha Baxley, the interim principal of Kelly Edwards Elementary School.

More than 150 people joined the walk through Williston during the annual community walk honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday, Jan. 21. Participants stopped throughout the route to pray for area businesses.

jurisdictions investigation. United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated 14 defendants from a multi-jurisdictional investigation have been found guilty and sentenced to a combined 107 years in prison plus one mandatory life sentence. After numerous guilty pleas and a trial, the members of the Low Country trafficking ring received the following sentences: Earl Daniels (mandatory life), Gabriel McMillian, “G-Mack”,

(262 months), Christopher Antonio Davis, “PT”, (210 months), Harry Decarter Wright, “Harry-O”, (90 months), Reginald Reshea Jenkins, “Birdman”, “Bird”, (120 months), Marc Anthony Williams, “Mo”, (108 months), Charles Williams, “Pete Rock”, (100 months), Anthony Dave Green, of Barnwell, (120 months), Lashaver Sintel Green, “Slugger”, (78 months), Jerome Grant, “Freaka”, (45 months), Kennedy Mitchell, “Big Six”,

(15 months), Venson Tyrone Jones, “Roanay”, of Barnwell, (51 months), Dominique Lenard Eady, “DtheG”, (30 months), and Marcus Witherspoon, “Spoon”, (63 months), all from the counties of Hampton, Allendale, Barnwell and Aiken. Defendants were convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, money laundering and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.

Photo by: Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Two local men in drug ring convicted

OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-4B susan c. delk EDUCATION............5B Managing Editor CALENDAR/TV .........6B CLASSIFIEDS.....7-10B

A 15-year-old Barnwell teen is charged with attempted murder after allegedly shooting a man Jan. 15. The male juvenile, whose name has not been released, is accused of shooting 33-year-old Yahanan Hakim Caldwell shortly before 6 p.m. in front of the Woodmont Apartments across from Walmart in Barnwell, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. Two bullets “grazed” the victim, one on his outer arm and one on his head. Caldwell was transported to the Barnwell County Hospital where he was “checked out by medical staff and released shortly after,” said Gantt. He said, based off of witness testimony, it was determined Caldwell “was shot because he was wearing a blue bandana” – a possible sign of being involved with a gang – though Gantt said he could not confirm the shooting was gang related. The Barnwell Police Department is working to track down more witnesses to help “get the full picture,” said Gantt. The Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team was called in to help apprehend the suspect after he fled to See SHOOTING, page 10A

jonathan vickery Staff Writer Photo by: Susan C. Delk /Managing Editor

Weather Forecast

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Two Barnwell men were convicted Jan. 16, in federal court on drug trafficking charges totaling more than 170 months (14 years) combined. Anthony Dave Green and Venson Tyrone Jones, both of Barnwell were convicted along with a host of other defendents after a multi-

Evidence presented during the trial and sentencings demonstrated that these defendants participated in a multi-million dollar cocaine and crack distribution ring operating in Hampton, Barnwell, Allendale and Aiken counties. Cocaine was transported from Atlanta, Ga., and most of it converted to crack cocaine prior to sale.  In addition to law enforcement’s seizure of cocaine, See DRUGS, page 10A

Hawks soar over devils in rematch — Sports, 1B

Volume 136, No. 41

Quote of the Week

“Donations to help fix the stage are always welcome.” — Linda Alsept, On the decaying stage at WEHS.

(News 3A)

Bulletin Board

Correction In last week’s edition of The People-Sentinel, a front page story reported that a 15year-old was being charged with attempted murder in a Barnwell shooting. The headline read, “Teen chargedwith murder”. We want to clarify that the headline for that story should have read, “Teen charged with attempted murder”. This 15-year-old was charged with attempted murder as the victim was injured but not killed when grazed by two bullets. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Waffle Supper

Willie’s Hardware is business of month — News, 3A

The Blackville Civic Club will host their annual waffle supper fundraiser Monday, Feb. 4, from 6-8 p.m. in the Blackville-Hilda High School cafeteria. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children. They can be bought at the door or in advance from Willie’s Hardware or Blackville Town Hall.

WEDNESDAY, January 30, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Two suspects still at large Men still sought in 2012 attempted murder jonathan vickery Staff Writer

An attempted murder suspect eluded police last week following a multi-agency search. Barnwell police officers and Barnwell County sheriff’s deputies joined forces Jan. 23 to set up a perimeter around several neighborhoods behind the Huddle House on Dunbarton Boulevard after a deputy spotted James Edward Person at a residence. Person is one of two sus-

pects wanted in connection to a shooting at the Jimbo’s convenience store Jan. 29, 2012, that sent one man to the hospital. “We tried to corner him in,” said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. The Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office’s dog team had a “positive trail for a long time,” but eventually lost it. “It’s hard to keep a positive trail due to contamination,” said Barnwell County Sheriff Ed Carroll. About an hour and a half into the search, Person was reported to be in the Patterson Mill Road area, but was

not apprehended. “It was not successful,” said Carroll. “We’ll get him sooner or later,” added Gantt. Person is described as a 46-year-old black male, approximately 5-foot nine-inches tall, weighing 190 pounds. His alleged accomplice in the shooting, Steven Dewayne Simmons, 29, of 12 Carroll St., Blackville, is described as a 5-foot-7-inch black male, weighing 145 pounds, according to authorities followJames Edward Person ing the shooting. Both Person and Simmons have warrants for attempted crime. Anyone with information on murder and possession of a weapon during a violent the location of Person and Sim-

Toe to Toe - Horse to cow

Wed., Jan. 30 Showers and thunderstorms 80% chance of rain High 78 Low 44

Photo by: Susan C. Delk /Managing Editor

Alexis Stephas, center, riding Once You Go Black, won the 4-year-old amateur finals Thursday evening at the James Brown arena in Augusta, Ga., during the annual Augusta Cutting Horse Futurity. Once You Go Black and Stephas scored a 218 to secure the victory. As Alexis Stephas won the 4-year-old amateur finals on Thursday evening, Jan. 24, others emerged to claim victory in the finals, including a back-to-back champion. In the open finals, Craig Thompson carved his way

staff The People-Sentinel

Fri., Feb. 1 Sunny High 58 Low 29

into Augusta history Saturday, marking 223.5 on Mc Im With The Band to become the first since the 1980s to win consecutive Futurity Open titles. Thompson became just the third rider in the 34-year history of the Augusta Futurity to win back-to-back Futurity Open titles, joining Larry Reeder (1984-85) and Buster Welch (1987-88).

First hearing held Sat., Feb. 2 Sunny High 58 Low 33 Weather provided by the National Weather Service

Juvenile charged in non-fatal shooting jonathan vickery Staff Writer

What’s Inside

Editors note: No cameras were allowed in court and only OPINION.................4A limited information was available due to the suspect’s age.

ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A A 15-year-old charged in EDUCATION.........9A a non-fatal shooting had SPORTS...............1-5B his first court appearance CALENDAR/TV........6B Jan. 23. The Barnwell teen apCLASSIFIEDS.....7-10B

mons should call the Barnwell Police Department at (803) 259-1838 or dial 911.

BHHS student expelled jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Jan. 31 Sunny High 56 Low 31

Steven Dewayne Simmons

peared before Judge Dale Gable on the charges of violating his probation as well as new charges of attempted murder and unlawful possession of a pistol. His name is not being released due to juvenile confidentiality laws. The juvenile is accused of shooting 33-year-old Yahan-

an Hakim Caldwell in front of the Woodmont Apartments the evening of Jan. 15. Caldwell was treated at the hospital after two bullets “grazed” him, but was released a short time later, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. Judge Gable decided to “continue all matters” related to the two new charges pending further investigation and report to the court. The juvenile will be detained by the Department of Juvenile Justice until another hearing, she said. The probation violation is not related to the recent charges. Rather, it is in response to the juvenile violating terms of his probation, including missing school and being a “behavior problem at home,” said

Edward Golden, the director of the local DJJ office, to the court. The judge also granted a request by Assistant Solicitor Serena McDaniel to appoint the juvenile a Guardian ad Litem since his mother is a witness in the case. “It puts you in a difficult position by being a witness and guardian,” said Judge Gable to the juvenile’s mother. “This is extra protection for your child.” Kelley Brown, the juvenile’s public defender, agreed the appointment of a Guardian ad Litem would be in her client’s “best interest.” Currently, the solicitor’s office has no plans to charge the juvenile as an adult. “It is my intention to handle this as a juvenile matter,” McDaniel said.

The Blackville-Hilda High School student accused in a bomb threat last month has been expelled. The Barnwell District 19 School Board unanimously approved to expel 18-yearold Jessie Scandel Pisa during their Jan. 14 meeting. “He was expelled and referred to adult education for a GED,” said Superintendent Dr. Teresa Pope. On top of the school punishment, Pisa is also facing criminal charges after allegedly typing a message on a graphing calculator Dec. 17 stating there was a bomb in the school. No bomb or bomb-making materials were found, but the school was put on lockdown while authorities searched the school and Pisa’s home. Pisa, who is out on bond, is charged with disturbing a school and making a bomb threat/giving false information about bomb threat, first offense.

Daddy/daughter Sweetheart Ball set For the third year, the city of Barnwell Recreation Department will host a Daddy/Daughter Sweetheart Ball. The ball will be held Feb. 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Guinyard-Butler Middle School. Activities will include a dinner buffet, dancing, a take home craft and songs. Registration is limited and is on a first come, first serve basis at Barnwell City Hall. The cost is $20 per couple and $5 for each additional child. For more information on this event, call the Parks and Recreation Department at (803) 259-3317. File Photo


“This ought to be an ongoing project.”

W-E STUDENTS GO ‘RED’ - NEWS, 11A — Freddie Houston, On repairing county buildings.

(News, 10A)

Volume 136, No. 42

WEDNESDAY, February 6, 2013

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

Haley at JDA Gov. Nikki Haley shared an important message with students at Jefferson Davis Academy last week. “You can either be a leader or a bully,” said Haley to the students Friday, Feb. 1. Though JDA hasn’t had any major issues with bullying, Jane Hunter, one of the heads of school, said they invited Haley as a way to be “proactive.” The child of Indian immigrants, Haley knows what it’s like to be bullied from her childhood in Bamberg. “No one knew whether we were black or white,” said the governor. Haley encouraged students to speak out if they are being bullied or see someone who is. Students also watched a video featuring state figures, including USC head football coach Steve Spurrier and Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney. Their message was simple: “Cool kids don’t bully.” Hunter said she appreciates the governor taking the time to share the important message. “It’s an important topic everybody needs to hear.” While important, Haley’s message was also timely since the school’s character trait for February is kindness. That’s why Anna Griffith, current Miss JDA, and Blakely Johnson, former Miss JDA and current JDA ambassador, presented Haley with a plaque for coming and “presenting kindness in our world,” said Hunter. Photo by: Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer Haley also answered questions from the students and quizzed them Governor Nikki Haley, right, hugs Jefferson Davis Academy student Georgia Anne Craig as students line the on state trivia, such as what is the state drink. The answer is milk. school’s entrance in anticipation of Haley’s visit. School co-Headmasters Eve Hogarth, in red jacket,and “I’m proud of how hard you work,” said Haley, who also took photos Jane Hunter, behind Haley, greet the visiting dignitary to their school. with each class. “You are going to be successful.” jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Haley seeks information from community Original Six Foundation makes plans for Barnwell County Day Laura j. Mckenzie Publisher

Usually when a governor comes to an event, he or she takes the spotlight. But when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley came to Barnwell County Friday morning, she came not as a leader, but as a listener. Gov. Haley and members of the Original Six Foundation met with community leaders – local, regional and state – to determine the needs and desires of Barnwell County residents. “How do we go and lift up the rural areas?” asked Haley, a Bamberg County native, at the beginning of the invitation-only gathering. “How can we make Barnwell County the best it can be?” The Original Six Foundation was

started by Haley and named for her family – her three siblings and her parents, according to the foundation website. Its mission is “to serve as a catalyst for change by uniting public, private and civic leaders, and resources to identify and address the challenging issues facing South Carolina’s communities with the purpose of leaving the communities feeling empowered and positively impacted.” The forum of over 60 attendees met for two hours in the auditorium at the Edisto Research Center in Blackville. Local participants included elected and administrative leaders from county and municipal governments, business, health and social service agencies, and schools. State representatives from areas such as employment, alcohol and drug abuse, education, transporta-

tion as well as Original Six Foundation members also participated. While the participants discussed issues in nine small groups for the better part of an hour, Gov. Haley quietly moved from table to table, listening and taking notes on an iPad. A representative from each table of participants then read to the group what they determined to be the top issues that needed focus in Barnwell County. Those issues included rural health care/hospital, jobs, infrastructure, schools, taxes and crime prevention. Many of the issues dialed back to the reduction in money from both state and federal sources and how the Photo by: Laura McKenzie/Publisher reduced funding is impacting the community. Gov. Nikki Haley sits with local leaders in one of nine small groups during a breakout session to learn what Barnwell County needs the See HALEY, 12A most during her Feb. 1 visit to the area.

Third pedestrian struck in Walmart parking lot Pedestrian hit in crosswalk, sustains minor injuries David purtell Staff Writer

Another pedestrian was hit by a car in front of Walmart Friday, Feb. 1. Around 3:30 in the afternoon, 71-year-old Charles Lloyd Banks hit Fletcher W. Tyler, also 71, with his van in the crosswalk in front of the store, according to the police


report. The report says Tyler had scrapped knees and was taken to Barnwell County Hospital for treatment. Banks told police he was turning and didn’t see Tyler. A witness told police he saw the accident and that Banks was not driving fast. After watching video of the accident, police decided not to charge Banks. This is at least the third case of a pedestrian being struck by a car near the entrance to the big-box store in the past several months. One accident, Dec. 22, led to the death of a Bamberg man. Kenneth Sandifer, 70, died Dec. 28 from injuries suffered after he was hit by a car driven by 24-year-

What’s Inside

Dry conditions, fire, wind not a good mixture

old Brittany Hoover of Allendale. In that case, Hoover was cited with failure to use caution. Kayla Whaling, a Walmart spokeswoman, said Walmart owns the parking lot and is concerned about pedestrian safety. She said the company has requested an increased presence from local law enforcement at the Barnwell store to help deter speeding and unsafe driving. Whaling also said customers need to be cautious while walking through the parking lot. She added the company is looking at putting more signs up to indicate pedestrian crossing in front of the Photo by: David Purtell/Staff Writer store. She said the company was Brush fires like the one above have singed parts of Barnwell County over the past few weeks. The above fire started in the Curtis Drive area. See HIT, 12A See story on 12A.


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A CALENDAR..............9A SOCIETY..............6-9A T E L E V I S I O N . . . . . . . . . 5 B Wed., Feb. 6 S P O RT S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 - 4 B Sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....8-10B High 68 Low 42

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Feb. 7 Rain likely - 60% High 63 Low 42

Fri., Feb. 8 Mostly cloudy High 65 Low 43

Sat., Feb. 9 Mostly sunny High 62 Low 39

D-O girls cruise to playoff win — Sports, 4B

Daughters take a spin with dad — News, 11A

“We ought not to forget the past.”

— Rev. Donald Goode, On remembering the history of African-Americans.

(News, 12A)

Volume 136, No. 43

WEDNESDAY, February 13, 2013

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

Williston loses leader Williston D-29 Chairman loses his cancer battle jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Friends remember Calvin Melton as a man who served, right up until his death Feb. 6 following a long battle with cancer. “When I think about Calvin, I think about service,” said Williston Mayor Tommy Rivers. “He’s been an asset for Williston and is going to be missed.” Born in Alabama, Melton spent a majority of his 61 years of life serving the residents of Williston, including 35 years with the Williston Fire Department – 27 as chief. “He was a mentor to the entire department and truly one that served Photo by: Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer from the heart,” said Milton WidWilliston’s 1950s era firetruck transports former Williston Fire Chief Calvin Melton’s casket to the Williston ener, Williston’s current fire chief. Barnwell County Fire CoordinaCemetery for the Feb. 9 graveside service, which included Fireman’s Honors. The funeral procession drove tor Timbo Williams credits Melton under a large American flag suspended between two ladder trucks. Melton died Feb. 6.

with helping him get to where he is today in the fire service. The two were trained and certified together for firefighting. “He loved us and we loved him,” said Williams. Recalling Melton’s passion for firefighting, Widener remembers one extremely cold night where Melton radioed to fellow firefighters to slow down on the way to a structure fire due to icy road conditions. Next thing they knew, Melton was “hollering for someone to get him” because he flipped his vehicle at the intersection of highways 781 and 78 – a story Melton and fellow firefighters would later laugh about. Melton’s passion helped the department become what it is today. “He was dedicated, sometimes maybe too dedicated, to the Williston Fire Department and was instrumental in making it grow and making it better,” said Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward, a good friend and colleague of Melton for many years. He credits Melton as one of the people who encouraged him to run for coroner. Scotty Richardson, the vice-chairSee MELTON, 12A

Local state representative arrested on DUI charge Associated Press The People-Sentinel

A local state representative acknowledged Feb. 6 that he faces a drunken driving charge from a stop along Interstate 77 last October. Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark and whose district covers a small section of eastern Barnwell County, told The Associated Press that a sheriff’s deputy stopped him in Chester County after the South Carolina-Georgia football game in Columbia. He said he was headed to Charlotte, N.C., after the Oct. 6 night game - which the Gamecocks won 35-7 - “to spend time with my family and go to church the next day.”

The police report states Sellers was stopped shortly after 1 a.m., Oct. 7, on a stretch of highway that runs through Richburg. “I’m not hiding from anything. I’m not running from anything,” said Sellers, a 28-year-old rising Democratic star who’s been featured in Time’s “40 under 40” list of politicians and interviewed on national TV news shows. Sellers, elected in November to his fourth term, said he’s going through the process like anyone else charged with a first-offense driving under the influence. “I was booked like anybody else,” he said. “The officers were cordial. I believe and hope I was cordial and respectful. I understood they had to do their job. I’m not running from that fact.”

He said he did not submit to a Breathalyzer test, which results in an automatic license suspension. He paid a $997 cash bond, according to court records. He said he had a provisional license that allowed him to drive to work until his license was fully reinstated last month. He’s requested a jury trial. Sellers’ comments came after WIS-TV (Columbia) promoted a segment to be broadcast Feb. 7 on a legislator who broke the law. The stamped date on the police video shows December 2011. But Sellers said the date is wrong, and he has no criminal record. “I’ve had traffic tickets,” Sellers said. His license has been temporarily suspended in the past for not paying the tickets, he said, but

Kline man shot, woman facing charges Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

A Monday evening shooting left one injured and one facing charges. Elizabeth Rose Harley, 53, of 76 Tabby Lane in Kline, is facing charges for shooting an unnamed man who resided at the same residence.


Dispatchers notified Barnwell County Sheriff’s deputies of the call as well as emergency medical personnel. From information being passed between dispatch and EMS personnel on the scene, the male victim was said to have been shot in the back and had limited or no movement below the waist. The victim was transported to MCG in Augusta, Ga., in serious

What’s Inside

condition. Barnwell County Sheriff Ed Carroll said he had no update on the victim’s condition as of press time. Carroll said the investigation into what transpired prior to the shooting is still under investigation, although alcohol was involved. He expects charges to be filed after a second interview with Harley, which was scheduled after press time.


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A CALENDAR..............9A SOCIETY..............1-3B S P O RT S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 - 7 B Wed., Feb. 13 T E L E V I S I O N . . . . . . . . . 8 B Rain, 90% chance CLASSIFIEDS.....9-11B High 62 Low 40

then he quickly paid. Sellers, a 2005 graduate of Morehouse College, was still in law school when he first won office at age 22. He graduated from the University of South Carolina Law School in 2008. As news of his arrest spread, supporters took to social media, Twitter especially, to offer words of encouragement. Sellers referred other questions on the case to his attorney, House Judiciary Chairman Greg Delleney, R-Chester. Delleney said he could not comment on a pending case. “This has not affected my ability to legislate one bit,” Sellers said. “I’ve been railing against injustices, and I’ll continue to Bakari Sellers mug shot from arrest do so.” Oct. 7.

Celebrating the President

Photo by: Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Linda Fennell’s second grade class at Macedonia Elementary School received a reply letter from President Barack Obama. See story on page 12A.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Feb. 14 Sunny High 61 Low 36

Fri., Feb. 15 Sunny High 63 Low 36

Sat., Feb. 16 Mostly sunny High 56 Low 29

D-O girls suffer heartbreaking loss — Sports, 1B

Zumba changes lives — News, 11A

“They can still go to that same center and utilize computers.” — Adrienne Fairwell, On reduced services at the Allendale DEW office.

(News, 10A)

Volume 136, No. 43

WEDNESDAY, February 20, 2013

CT premiers 2013 play

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

4-county agreement does not get a vote County Council postpones vote due to wording Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Photo by: Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

In a scene from Circle Theater’s spring production of “Don’t Cry for Me Margaret Mitchell,” cast members celebrate the completion of a script rewrite to “Gone with the Wind.” jonathan vickery Staff Writer

What happens when three sleep-deprived men, surviving only on bananas and peanuts, are stuck in an office for a week to rewrite the “Gone With the Wind” script? This may sound like the open-

ing of a great joke, but it’s actually the plot of Circle Theatre’s newest play, “Don’t Cry for Me Margaret Mitchell.” The play tells this mostly true story of how the bestselling novel became a major motion picture. “This is the flip side of it most people don’t know,” said Chrissy Holliday, the play’s director and selfproclaimed “Gone With the Wind”

fanatic. “It’s a lot of fun.” The laughs start after David O. Selznick (played by Jason Holliday) stops filming of the movie and fires the writer and producer because he hates the script. He offers Ben Hecht (Alex Cone) $15,000 to help him rewrite the script in just seven days. See PLAY, 12A

Among the line items of the Barnwell County Council Feb. 12 meeting was the third reading of the ordinance to execute and deliver a master park agreement for the new quad-county industrial park. BCC has been working with councils from Allendale, Bamberg and Hampton counties to renegotiate the revenue split between the host county and the other counties. Council did not approve the ordinance but rather postponed its third reading until a future meeting. Councilman Keith Sloan specifically asked about the clause in the ordinance concerning the payment to SouthernCarolina Alliance. In previous agreements, SCA received a flat fee with each industry placed into the park agreements. In this agreement, SCA will receive 5 percent of the park revenues and it will be payable by the host county prior to the allocations to the other counties. The ordinance also states the counties may review the amount set to SCA every three

years and can amend the amount given to SCA by the “unanimous consent of the counties.” Having to get all four counties to agree to change the amount paid to SCA was what concerned Sloan. Sloan was also concerned about the wording of some of the property descriptions, which included the town of Snelling. Barnwell County Attorney J.D. Mosteller said if the town of Snelling does not agree, the property description must be changed or the entire agreement would be void. As the answers to some of the questions raised could not be determined, Council Chairman Freddie Houston asked Barnwell County Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. to send word to the other councils about the concerns so they did not think Barnwell County was not going to approve the ordinance. The new agreement also lays out which industries are included in each agreement. In the first agreement, Bamberg County’s Masonite property is included, totaling just more than 45 acres, as well as Tobul Accumulator Inc. which is approximately 16 acres. Barnwell County’s Horsehead Corp., totaling 71 acres, is included in the second agreement. In the proposed third agreement, Allendale County’s SRE property, totaling just more than 60 acres, as well as ECycling International SC, LLC, are listed as well as Speaks See BCC, 12A

D19 depletes reserve fund to finish year jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Cuts are coming to Barnwell District 19 after budget amendments approved during their Feb. 4 meeting wiped out their reserve funds. The board unanimously approved the amendments, which are the result of lower-than-expected tax revenue and higher costs. In order to cover these costs, the disPhoto by: Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer trict is depleting their fund balance Barnwell District 19 board members along with Superintendent Dr. Teresa (reserves) by using $962,293, which Pope and Rebecca Grubbs (right), the district finance director, discuss is $716,746 more than originally the budget amendments during their Feb. 4 meeting. planned. Their total amended bud-

Blackville faces shortfall David purtell Staff Writer

The Town of Blackville is facing a budget shortfall and has to find areas to save money for the rest of the fiscal year. At a morning workshop, Saturday, Feb. 16, Town Administrator Ian Kaiser said Blackville has collected $75,000 less in property tax revenue than it had at this point last fiscal year. Blackville’s fiscal year ends in


June, and the town is at risk financially of not making it to the end, Kaiser said. The first plan the town is working on to save money is adjusting the payroll structure for police officers. For the current fiscal year, Blackville budgeted for $6,000 in overtime pay for the police department, but it has already spent nearly $12,000. Since January, the town has been short two patrolmen, and other officers have to work overtime to fill the void.

What’s Inside

Officer Russell Zorn was fired after a DUI arrest in Aiken. Another officer has been unable to work due to a hand injury. The plan would actually increase officer salaries to account for the average overtime pay. But because the average amount of overtime, instead of the full amount, is used in the equation the town could save $12,500. To eliminate the buildup of overtime pay, the town is looking at using compensatory time – meaning


ARRESTS...............5A CALENDAR..............7B CLASSIFIEDS.....9-11B OPINION.................4A SOCIETY..............6-9A Wed., Feb. 20 S P O RT S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 - 4 B Sunny T E L E V I S I O N . . . . . . . . . 8 B High 59 Low 34


get is $6,432,233. “We don’t have a fund balance going into next year,” said Rebecca Grubbs, the district’s finance director. She said a majority of the amendments are due to adjusting for “misstated” tax revenue on their original budget. They originally stated their tax revenue would be $1,700,561, but in reality it is $1,147,321, according to the amended budget. Increased costs from the state for fringe benefits and retirement account for most of the remaining $181,000 in amendments. Funding positions such as the technology coach and nurse, which were once

paid for with grants that have since run out, make up the rest, said Grubbs. Superintendent Dr. Teresa Pope said a dwindling revenue pool has also hurt districts across the state, including theirs. “Every year we seem to be getting less,” she said. With a bleak outlook for next year and no reserve funds to back them up, Pope and Grubbs agreed on a solution, though it’s not one they look forward to. “We’ll have to make some cuts in programs and personnel,” said Pope, who wishes she could “do more, not less.” See D19, 12A

And the vault comes down...

Photo by: David Purtell/Staff Writer

Work continues at the old Reid’s Shopping Center to make way for several new businesses, including a Tractor Supply, O’Reilly Auto Parts and Family Dollar. Last week, the remainder of the old vault was taken down after the bank building was leveled.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Feb. 21 Fri., Feb. 22 Mostly sunny/rain in evening Rain, 60% High 61 Low 46 High 55 Low 52

Sat., Feb. 23 Rain, 60% High 66 Low 50

Blackville honors Business — News, 9A

Salk wins double header — Sports, 1B

“We’re big on trying to expose our students to the career they could have.” — Cathy Smith, career development facilitator WEHS.

(Page 9A)

Volume 136, No. 45

WEDNESDAY, February 27, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

WRS ordered to pay $800K Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Williston Rescue Squad Inc. has agreed to pay the United States $800,000. The payment is to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by making false claims for payment to Medicare for ambuPhoto by: Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer A Williston Rescue Squad ambulance is shown during a January 2012 lance transports, the Justice Department announced Monday Feb. 25, incident.

according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release. Medicare reimburses providers only for non-emergency ambulance transports if the patient transported is bed-confined or has a medical condition that requires ambulance transportation. The settlement resolves allegations that WRS billed Medicare for routine, non-emergency ambulance transports that were not medically necessary and that Williston

created false documents to make the transports appear to meet the Medicare requirements. Barnwell County Councilman Lowell Jowers said the settlement should not have any impact on Barnwell County doing business with WRS. Jowers said the “top three” managment people at WRS had been replaced since the incidents occured See WRS, 10A

One killed in first fatal wreck of 2013 jonathan vickery Staff Writer

A rainy Tuesday morning crash led to Barnwell County’s first traffic fatality of 2013. Thomas Dale Cook, 55, of Rossville, Ga., the driver of a 2005 Ford truck, died after his truck and a Local Motion bus collided at the intersection of highways 304 and 70, near the town of Hilda, said Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward. The truck then came to rest against a grove of trees.

The two-vehicle accident occurred just after 8 a.m. Feb. 26. The Local Motion driver, 53-yearold Darlene Kwarteng of Bamberg, was injured and transported to the Barnwell County Hospital after the bus flipped on its side, said Sgt. Bob Beres with the S.C. Highway Patrol. Lisa Firmender, the executive director of Generations Unlimited, which runs Local Motion, said Kwarteng has been released from the hospital. She has some bruises, “but she’s ok,” said Firmender, who expressed her condolences to Cook’s family. There were no passengers in the

bus at the time of the wreck, added Firmender. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts, Beres said. While details are limited, Beres said the wreck happened as the truck was heading east on S.C. 70 and the 2010 Chevy bus was heading south on S.C. 304. Cook was believed to be in the area working at the new Family Dollar store site in Denmark, said Ward. The wreck remains under investigation by the SCHP and their Photo by: Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer multidisciplinary accident investi- A Generations Unlimited Local Motion van sits on its side after being gation team. involved in a two-vehicle crash which resulted in one fatality Feb. 26.

Service awards top event

BCC and BCHB approve settlement Barnwell County Council and the Barnwell County Hospital Board held back-to-back meetings Friday, Feb. 22 to approve a settlement agreement with S.C. Regional Health Systems, LLC. In the BCC meeting, all members of council voted to approve the settlement agreement after a closed session. Details of the agreement are still unknown as of press time. The document still must be approved by the Bamberg Hospital board whose meeting was after press time, said Attorney Stan McGuffin with Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. McGuffin represents Barnwell County in the bankruptcy case. Bamberg County Council and RHS have already approved the agreement, he said. Council also approved a third and final reading of the ordinance to amend the hospital pension plan ordinance and to ratify the sale of the hospital. During public comments, (Ret.) Judge Rodney Peeples spoke to council asking them to split the two items instead of keeping them tied into the same ordinance. He said the two needed to be separated because someone may not agree with one but may agree with the other and that would affect how the person voted. Council took no action to separate the two measures. Council also discussed a hospital litigation matter and a contractual matter with the Williston Rescue Squad during its closed session. No details were given or votes taken on either issue when council returned to open session. The contract Barnwell County has with WRS does not expire until June. In the BCHB meeting, after another closed session, the board returned and voted to also give their approval of the settlement agreement with RHS. This time, the vote was not unanimous. Board member Richard Meyers was the lone vote against approving the agreement. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Photo by: Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Members of the Big 7 Association surround Tiquan James and the Boys and GIrls Clubs of Southern Carolina Director Jeteseya Dennis after receiving an award for helping to found the club. the community while raising funds for local seniors to attend college. “It’s all about service and giving back,” said William E. Smith, the th The Big 7 Association’s 19 master of ceremony for the Satannual Scholarship Banquet urday, Feb. 23 banquet, before the was a time to honor some of the annual awards were bestowed. individuals and groups serving The Together Sisters of Blackville, jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Williston Community Service Club, Tri-County Ladies of Excellence and Edwin Felton received the community service awards. “There can never be too many groups working See BIG 7, 10A

Murder charge tops bond hearngs at general sessions seeking a reduced bond. Arbre Bernard Robinson, 29, of Williston, appeared before Judge Jack Early Monday, Feb. 25. Robinson is one of two men accused in Amid pleas and bond hearings, a the Aug. 27, 2012, murder of Leon Blackville murder suspect appeared Brown in Blackville. in General Sessions court this week Investigator Kenneth Bamberg jonathan vickery & David Purtell Staff Writers


What’s Inside

with the solicitor’s office said Robinson has already violated his probation, which he received for a 2010 resisting arrest charge. The murder charge gives “probable cause” of further violation, he said. Laura McCann, Robinson’s attorney, told Early how Robinson has


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some financial hardships. Early said he could not do anything about the $150,000 bond previously issued for the murder charge, but did reduce the $90,000 bond for the probation violation charge. Early continued the probation

violation charge until the murder charge is disposed of. A bond hearing for an attempted murder case was also heard during the opening session. An active duty solider charged See COURT, 10A

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Feb. 28 Mostly sunny High 56 Low 32

Fri., March 1 Partly sunny High 53 Low 33

Sat., March 2 Partly sunny High 52 Low 31

Warhorses battle in soccer tourny — Sports, 1B

New doctor welcomed — News, 9A

Barnwell County Day — News, 3A

Volume 136, No. 46

WEDNESDAY, March 6, 2013

BCH must pay $625,000 to RHS Original claim was for nearly $2 million Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

While the sale of the Barnwell County Hospital is slowly moving forward, the financially hurting entity will now have to pay out $625,000 to settle claims made in bankruptcy court by S.C. Regional Health Systems, LLC. The settlement agreement, structured through arbitration with Barnwell and Bamberg counties, BCH and Bamberg Memorial Hospital, effectively delivers $625,000 to RHS and Dobbs Equity Partners, LLC, upon its approval by the bankruptcy court. RHS/Dobbs’ original administrative claim totaled $1,819,000. The claim arose out of the original asset purchase agreement (APA) and a consulting agreement BCH signed with RHS/Dobbs when RHS/Dobbs intended to purchase

BCH’s assets as well as purchase the Bamberg hospital. The APA was executed Sept. 29, 2011, and the consulting agreement was signed Nov. 28, 2011, and was amended Dec. 21, 2011. When the purchase was not completed by June 30, 2012 as stipulated in the APA, BCH and BCC sought a new buyer. The agreement was reached as the “parties desire to avoid the costs and uncertainties of litigation,” the document states. It also states the parties have negotiated in “good faith” and believe they have reached an “equitable and reasonable settlement.” As for payment to RHS and Dobbs, within five days of the execution of the agreement, BCH will have to deposit $350,000 into an escrow account. Furthermore, within 30 days of the settlement’s effective date or the closing of the new APA, whichever is earlier, BCH is to pay RHS an additional $275,000. The payments go back to the claim RHS and Dobbs filed in See BCH, 10A

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Schools celebrate BHM

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Jakeran Cuthbertson (center with mic) along with Camille Wallace (left), Kaiden Davis and Alyric Buckmon from the Williston Headstart portray various African-American leaders during Kelly Edwards Elementary School’s African-American Heritage Celebration, Thursday, Feb. 28. Cuthbertson was portraying Barnwell County Rep. Lonnie Hosey (D) District 91. The program also included musical performances from students in various grades showing the progression and importance of music to African-Americans throughout history. Other schools across the county also celebrated Black History Month throughout February with programs and special activities.

D19 faces mid-year deficit; votes for bond jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Anticipating a budget deficit, the Barnwell District 19 School Board is seeking a general obligation bond, not to exceed $765,000, to get them through this school year. “There is a concern about ongoing cash flow,” said Frannie Heizer, a bond lawyer with McNair Law Firm in Columbia, to the board during a special-called Thursday, Feb. 28 meeting. Superintendent Dr. Teresa Pope Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer blames the deficit on increased Frannie Heizer explains the details of a general obligation bond to the costs, such as state-mandated raises, Barnwell District 19 school board. and decreased funding. “There are

a number of things that happened in years past that didn’t happen this year,” she said, including $250,000 in stimulus funds for electricity. Depleting their fund balance (reserves) to cover budget amendments last month didn’t help the district’s financial outlook either. This included nearly $600,000 less in tax revenue due to a “mistatement” on their original budget when a number was added twice and just recently discovered, said Pope. Other than major cuts, Pope said the $765,000 bond is their only option now to get them through the end of the current fiscal year – the end of June.

Pleas fill court session David purtell & jonathan vickery Staff Writers

Burglary, drug offenses, and assault charges were among the many cases heard during the February term of Barnwell County’s General Session Court, which began Feb. 25. Anthony Auletta, 23, of Williston, pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail or a $300 fine. Lenora Buckmon pled guilty to making false statements and misrepresentation, first offense. She was sentenced to three years and a $2,000 fine suspended upon $500 payment and five years probation and $16,258 restitution.


Jonathan Lee Chavis, 25, of Blackville, pled guilty to receiving stolen goods. He was sentenced to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine suspended upon five years probation, 100 hours community service and $10,568 in restitution. Thomas Adam Costagliola, 33, of Fountain Inn, pled guilty to possession of less than one gram of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail with credit for time served. Ricardo D. Daniels, 32, of Barnwell, pled guilty to unlawful carrying of a pistol, which violated his probation. He was sentenced to one year in jail with credit for time served. Gary Davis, 43, of Orangeburg, pled guilty to two counts of forgery (less than $1,000) and one count of

What’s Inside

receiving stolen goods (less than $1,000). He was sentenced to three concurrent sentences of 30 days each with credit for time served. Leroy Deshawn Dickerson, 26, of Barnwell, pled guilty to two charges of manufacturing and distributing controlled substances and one charge of manufacturing a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 10 yeas in prison suspended upon completion of five years of probation, $500 fine, 100 hours community service and restitution of $3,740. Webster Fleming, 24, of Bamberg, was found to be in violation of his probation, which was revoked in full and converted to a civil judgment.


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“It’s something we have to do,” said board chairwoman Evelyn Coker, “not anything we really want to do.” Heizer said the bond would allow the district to borrow up to 8 percent of the accessed value of all taxed property in the district. She recommended paying it back over 10 years, if not sooner. Paying back the bond would mean an increase in the debt service millage for District 19 residents. This type of millage varies from the operation millage, which the board already raised for the current year, in that it has no limits to how See D19, 10A

Late school board member’s son, two others, file for seat jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Three candidates are vying for the seat on the Williston District 29 School Board that was held by the late Calvin

Melton. Charles Melton is one of the candidates running for the seat which was held by Melton’s father for 10 years until his death Feb. 6. Katina O’Neal Brown and James Broxton Jr. are also running for the seat. This special election will be held April 9 with the regular school board election. Two other seats will appear on the ballot as incumbents Doris Young and Chris Rivers seek re-election to their seats, which are being challenged by Tom Caldwell and Mike Hutto. Two seats in Barnwell District 45 and Barnwell District 19 will also be up for grabs April 9. Residents wishing to vote in the election have until March 9 to register at the Barnwell County Voter Registration and Election office or online at

Weather Forecast

Thurs., March 7 Sunny High 61 Low 34

Fri., March 8 Sunny High 64 Low 35

Sat., March 9 Sunny High 65 Low 41

March 17

BHS finds aim after slow start — Sports, 1B

Volume 136, No. 47

WEDNESDAY, March 13, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Williston man still missing Volunteer team does not locate Spencer Strong Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Easter block party celebrates the season An Easter Block Party drew more than 200 people to the Hilda Depot March 9, while revealing the true meaning of Easter. The free event was the mission project for the joint DiscipleNOW youth weekend of Hilda First Baptist, Blackville First Baptist and Double Pond Baptist churches. It included food, an egg hunt, games and activities, live music, and a Bible skit on the real meaning of Easter – Jesus dying on the cross for people’s sins. Above and right: Children enjoy parachute games and an Easter egg hunt during the party. Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Williston police are still searching for a young man who apparently walked away from home last week. Spencer Allen Strong, 23, has been missing since March 6 from 40 Roy Street. On Tuesday, March 12, S.C. State Law Enforcement Division joined the search using a helicopter. On Saturday, March 9, a Search Tactics and Rescue Recovery team arrived in Williston to help with the search. The group searched from just after 9 a.m. until after 5 p.m. but did not find Strong. Strong was last heard from around 3 a.m. March 6 when he was playing an on-line game and told a friend (in California) that he was about to kill

Spencer Allen Strong, 23 himself, Investigator Rodney Pruitt of the Williston Police Department said. He apparently left home on foot near that time and has not been seen since, he said. Pruitt reminded those who may be searching for Strong to be vigilant in preserving any evidence that may be found in a search. They should not “move or disturb” anything they find, Pruitt said. See MISSING, 10A

Shooting, wreck sends Celebrate one man to hospital Barnwell Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

While intermittent showers moved through Barnwell County emergency medical personnel were kept busy with multiple calls across the county. At approximately 9:45 p.m. Monday, March 11, emergency personnel were called to assist a victim with a gunshot wound on

S.C. Hwy. 3 near Red Oak Road. Barnwell County Sheriff’s deputies were also dispatched to the scene. According to communications of EMS, Barnwell County dispatch and a medical flight team, the victim was a male, approximately 25 to 30 years-of-age who had sustained a gunshot wound to the right front region of his head. EMS said this victim had also been the driver in a motor vehicle accident.

EMS said the car had hit a utility pole. The flight team flew the victim to Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia due to rainy weather conditions at the time in Augusta, Ga. Calls to the BCSO were not immediately returned March 12, so the victim’s condition was unknown as of press time. It is also unknown if any suspects have been arrested in this incident.

investment is less than $20 million, 97 percent of the revenue goes to the host county, whereas only 40 percent goes to the host county if the investment is more than $20 million. During the Thursday, March 7 meeting in Barnwell, the concerns were not over the split, but rather with other aspects of the deal. Barnwell County Councilman Keith Sloan said one of their concerns is over the clause in the new agreement concerning payment to SouthernCarolina Alliance – an organization which helps recruit industries into the counties. The agreement establishes a 5 percent off-the-top fee, instead of a flat rate in previous agreements. Sloan said he has no problem with the 5 percent, but with a state-

ment saying the percentage can only be amended by a “unanimous consent” of the counties every three years. “That gives me a little bit of heartburn,” said Sloan. “I think we ought to have a right” to change it if a county isn’t satisfied with recruitment of industries in their county. This led to some discussion about changing the wording to “majority” instead of “unanimous.” Alzena Robinson, the chairwoman of the Bamberg County Council, said there may be times one county gets more industry than others, but encouraged her counterparts to express their concern by calling another joint meeting to discuss their concerns. “If we’re a team, we’re a team.”

Councils work together to finalize Quad County deal jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Following some concerns over the proposed new Quad County Park Agreement, Barnwell County sat down last week with their colleagues from the other three counties to hammer out a deal. Barnwell, Allendale, Bamberg and Hampton counties have been renegotiating the tax revenue split for some time and previously agreed to a new 70-10-10-10 split. This leaves the host county to keep 70 percent of the revenue from a new industry or expansion, while each of the other three counties receives 10 percent. The current split depends on how much money is invested. If an


What’s Inside


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Staff The People-Sentinel

Gov. Nikki Haley is scheduled to attend the Original Six Foundation’s Barnwell County Spring Fling health and job fair this Saturday. Haley is set to arrive near the beginning of the fair according to her weekly schedule. The day will feature events starting at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will include health screenings and job information. The event will be held at the Barnwell High School. Health Fair At the event there will be free medical, dental, eye, chiropractic and diabetic screenings as well as information about health programs and Medicaid eligibility, according to a press release from the organization. Also, there will be free flu and tetanus vaccinations, and the Tdap will be given. Job Fair The job fair will focus on resume building and job training opportunities. Workshops will be held throughout the day, and local employers will be on hand to meet potential employees. Children The youngsters will not be left out as there will also be fun activities for children of all ages. A soccer ball, basketball or jump rope will be given to the first 200 children who complete four health screenings. The sponsors will also raffle off five bikes at the end of the day. Anyone who receives a health screening will be elligible for the drawing for the bikes. Haley began the Original Six Foundation in 2011 as a way to help the state’s counties with the highest high employment rates.

See QUAD, 10A

Weather Forecast

Thurs., March 14 Sunny High 61 Low 35

Fri., March 15 Sunny High 66 Low 43

Sat., March 16 Partly sunny High 73 Low 47

Joyful victory for lady warhorses — Sports, 1B

Center nears completion — News, 2A

“I still don’t want you to go.”

— Naomi DeFrenn, On Virginia Mills’ retirment.

(Society 6A)

Volume 136, No. 48

WEDNESDAY, March 20, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Haley in town for special day David purtell Staff Writer

Barnwell residents came together while Gov. Nikki Haley was in town Saturday, March 16, celebrating Barnwell County Day. The event, a combination health and job fair, along with plenty of activities for children, brought hundreds of people to Barnwell High School throughout the morning and afternoon. The free event was organized by the Haley’s Original Six Foundation – started in 2011 as a way to help counties with high unemployment. At the health fair, people were able to take advantage of free screenings and vaccinations. They were also able to receive information on what types of medical care and help are available in Barnwell County. The job fair provided people with resume help, vocational and technical school information, and job-search workshops. Other area resources in the educational and job fields were represented at the fair. Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer There was a baby shower for exGov. Nikki Haley (center left) looks on as Ny’Tavia Price, 6, shoots hoops with Laquarius Rice, 9, and Alexis pecting mothers, and people could Tilley, 8, during the Barnwell County Day Spring Fling March 16 at Barnwell High School.

register to vote or donate blood. Haley spent much of the day visiting with people, posing for photos and thanking volunteers. She also played basketball with children and handed out books. “What a great day in Barnwell County,” Haley said. She said it was a great day because the community got involved. “All because it’s neighbors helping neighbors,” she said. Haley said this was the first step in a continuing partnership to help bring jobs to the county. She said it’s good for people to have access to many different agencies in one place, and that although her ultimate goal is jobs, health is a top priority too. “We can’t do anything if people aren’t healthy,” she said. Michelle Jones, who attended the event, said it was “awesome.” She really liked the free screenings and said it was a “good community gathering.” State Rep. Lonnie Hosey said it was a fantastic turnout and applauded the governor’s efforts. He said he hopes the event will bring See DAY, 10A

Missing Williston man’s body found in pond Discovery by fisherman follows multiple searches over 11-day span Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Contributed photo

Spencer Strong

Although one local family is grieving, the discovery of their missing family member may help bring some closure. Spencer Strong’s body was recovered from the Williston Town Park’s pond Sunday, March 17, Williston Investigator Rodney Pruitt said. Strong, 23, had been missing for 11 days and numerous searches turned up no clues. S.C. Law Enforcement Division, a professional search and rescue team, local law enforcement and

family and friends had conducted numerous searches for Strong. “All the water around here (Williston) had been checked numerous times,” Pruitt said, but noted Strong’s body was submerged so it would not have been visible during the searches. According to a statement issued by Pruitt late Sunday evening, a call from a fisherman came that day around 2 p.m. “Preliminary indications are that this is the body of the recently missing Spencer Strong,” Pruitt said at the time. “There were no apparent indications of foul play noted at the scene,” he said.

Shootings leave one dead Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Two shootings in Barnwell County left one dead and one in stable condition. Charles Chandler of Peacock Street in Williston died of a gunshot wound to the head, Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward said. Chandler was shot March 11, Barnwell County Sheriff Ed Carroll said. At approximately 9:45 p.m. March 11, Barnwell County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a wreck scene on S.C. 3 at Red Oak Road. Once on scene, it was


ered the driver also suffered from a gunshot wound. According to communications of EMS, Barnwell County dispatch and a medical flight team, the victim was approximately 25 to 30 years-of-age and had sustained a gunshot wound to the right front region of his head. EMS also said the victim’s car had hit a utility pole. The flight team flew the victim to Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia due to rainy weather conditions at the time in Augusta, Ga. Carroll said the case remains under investigation and a reward is being offered.

What’s Inside

Strong disappeared from his Roy Street home in the early morning hours of March 6 and had indicated that he was going to kill himself to an online friend. Pruitt said the autopsy revealed the cause of death as drowning but the manner of the death had not been determined pending results from toxicology and other tests. He said the coroner would determine the manner of the death after the results were available which could take between 30 to 45 days. Pruitt said the autopsy did not indicate any other significant injuries to Strong. Strong is the second young man

Easter rides into town

Just two days later, March 13, a Barnwell man was shot in the abdomen. Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt said Zachary Lynwood Thomas was in stable condition after being shot at his Hagood Avenue home around 9 p.m. Thomas answered a knock at his door where several individuals asked for another person. Thomas told them the person they were asking for was not at the home and shut the door. The same scenario occured several times. In a subsequent knock, the in-


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to go missing in Williston before being found in water. Just over a year ago, Daris Brown also went missing for 11 days before being found at the town’s wastewater treatment facility in a retention pond. In the Brown case, one arrest was made just before Brown’s body was discovered. Pamela Shante Priester, 33, of Williston, was arrested for obstruction of justice in the case of Daris Brown’s disappearance. Her case is still pending. Pruitt said it was a “freaky” coincidence but did not think there was any connection between the cases.


Pic here

Susan C. Delk /Managing Editor

Easter is set to ride into town March 31. For a complete listing of Easter egg hunts see our Community Calendar on page 5B.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., March 21 Mostly sunny High 63 Low 38

Sat., March 23 Fri., March 22 Cloudy/chance of showers Cloudy/chance of showers High 59 Low 39 High 60 Low 42

Resilient Horses Sports, 1B

“One thing I just can’t understand is being the poorest town in the county and paying the most.”

Easter is Sunday, March 31

— Kelvin Isaac, Blackville Councilman on the rising costs in Blackville.


Volume 136, No. 49

WEDNESDAY, March 27, 2013

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

No candidates, yet superintendent hired Replacement hired in 16 days jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Sixteen days after Superintendent Roy Sapough announced his plans to retire, the Barnwell District 45 school board has hired his replacement. In a special-called March 21 meeting, the board unanimously hired J.H. “Jay” Grissom, a 23-year educator from North Carolina, effective Sept. 1. He will replace Sapough, who announced March 5 his plans to retire due to health issues. While boards sometimes use outside help in seeking new superintendents, as District 45 did five years ago for Sapough, board chairman Chad Perry said they didn’t see the need to spend in excess of $50,000 for a search firm. “That’s a teacher,” said Perry of the expense.  Instead, the board looked at two

candidates they considered five years ago for an assistant superintendent job, a position they did not pursue after the economic downturn. “One search kind of netted us two searches,” said Perry. Grissom was contacted after Tim Hopkins, the other candidate who was the number two candidate behind Sapough five years ago, declined, said Perry. “Everything kind of fell into place,” said Perry. “I look forward to what he’s going to bring to our community.” A District 45 public statement said Grissom comes “highly recommended” by three superintendents, including Sapough. The two were principals in Jackson County (N.C.) Public Schools before Sapough came to Barnwell. Sapough said he is sad to leave Barnwell, but is confident Grissom will continue to move the district

Board hires new leader without disclosing candidates jonathan vickery Staff Writer

J.H. “Jay” Grissom Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

See D45, 12A

The transparency of Barnwell District 45’s 16-day process to hire a new superintendent is in question after details were not released until after the board hired Jay Grissom. The board unanimously approved the hiring of Grissom March 21, just 16 days after Roy Sapough announced his plans to retire as head of Barnwell County’s largest school district. The hiring followed several special-called meetings where the board met in closed session for “personnel” matters. While the board is not bound to any set timeline when hiring a superintendent, they never made their intentions known to the public as they said they would in a March 5 statement. “Later this month, the board will discuss and announce publicly its plans for selecting Mr. Sapough’s successor,” read the statement, which was given to The People-Sentinel. The process the board followed in hiring Grissom, who board chairman Chad Perry said was a candidate five years ago for an assistant superintendent job, was mostly held behind closed doors. The board did not fill the assistant superintendent’s position in 2008 due to the bad economy but did proceed with interviews at the time. Following Sapough’s retirement announcement, Perry said they considered several options, including See HIRE, 12A

Williston interviews administrator applicants David purtell Staff Writer

Williston interviewed three candidates for the open town administrator position during a special-called meeting, Monday, March 25. No action was taken after the interviews, which were held in closed session, and council members said they weren’t any closer to making a decision. The candidates were Kenneth Cook, Rose N. Dobson-Elliott and current Barnwell County Council member Keith Sloan.

Before retiring, Cook was the human resources director for the city of Aiken. Before that, he was superintendent of public works and assistant public works director for Aiken, according to his resume. Dobson-Elliott has been the county administrator for Bamberg and Hampton. She was also the deputy county administrator in Jasper, according to her resume. Sloan has been doing accounting work for Williston for the past few years. Some of his duties include: • Reconcile and/or review all checking account statements for accounts to ensure accuracy of ac-

count balances. • Process required manual journal entries to record financial data of the town and make necessary corrections to data entered into the books via accounts payable and payroll automated systems. Review financial reports for submission to managers and/or council for reasonableness and accuracy. • Review, on a test basis, processed accounts payable and payrolls for accuracy, compliance with proper accounting procedures. • Review quarterly statements. • Provide assistance to mayor/ town council in budgetary mat-

ters. In an email, interim administrator Roger LeDuc said Sloan was being interviewed to possibly “extend his contract to include day to day oversight of the departments and other issues that may develop on a daily basis …” Asked about a possible conflict of interest if Sloan takes on administrative duties – since he is a county council member – Mayor Tommy Rivers said all of that would have to be “investigated.” He said Sloan was getting his chance to make a “pitch” to council. When asked about the situation

Passion for Easter

Barnwell County’s unemployment rate spikes Sarita Chourey Morris News Service

As South Carolina’s unemployment rate edged up from 8.6 percent to 8.7 percent from December to January, Aiken, Edgefield and Barnwell counties suffered more significant jumps. Barnwell’s jobless rate swelled from 14.1 to 15.3 percent, while Aiken County’s jobless rate rose from

8.3 to 9 percent, and Edgefield grew from 9.5 to 9.8 percent. However, Barnwell’s rate of 14.1 in January of this year is still less dire than it was during the same month one year ago. In January of 2012, Barnwell’s unemployment rate was 16.4 percent. The nation’s unemployment rate remained lower than South Carolina’s but grew by 0.1 percent to reach a January rate of 7.9 percent. Marion County registered the

March 22, Sloan would only say the interview was to discuss his contract with the town. After the meeting, LeDuc said there probably won’t be any other candidates and there is no timeframe for making a decision. The next announcement in the process will probably be at council’s regular meeting April 8, he said. Williston’s former administrator, Chris Carter, left in early February to take the same job in Georgetown. LeDuc, the administrator for Edgefield, has been working part time in Williston to fill the void until a new hire is complete.

highest unemployment rate at 19.2 percent, while Barnwell ranked fifth worst. Lexington County had the lowest rate at 6.8. South Carolina’s non-farming jobs shrunk by nearly 34,000 from December 2012 to January 2013, settling at 1,839,400. The statewide job losses from December to January are typical, according to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce, due to seasonal layoffs, among others.

Newspaper team receives several state awards The People-Sentinel was recently recognized as being amongst the best newspapers in South Carolina. The newspaper was awarded third place in General Excellence in its circulation category of weekly newspapers. This wasn’t the only award the staff of The People-Sentinel received. In the Short Story category, managing editor Susan C. Delk won second prize for her story “Lost dog more than just a pet for


woman,” and staff writer Jonathan Vickery won third prize for his story “Memorial visit brings honor to attendees.” For Series of Articles, Jonathan Vickery also won third place for his “2012 Crime Series”. The awards were presented during a Saturday luncheon at the South Carolina Press Association’s annual convention held this year in Greenville on March 22 and 23. “We always strive for excellence and I am extremely proud of our

What’s Inside

staff for these awards,” said publisher Laura J. McKenzie. “The General Excellence award is truly a staff award and shows what a great team of individuals can produce. Individually, Susan and Jonathan’s work is outstanding and I am glad they received the accolades they truly deserve.” “The People-Sentinel is making a difference in the lives of our readers. We thank the judges and the S.C. Press Association but, most of all, we thank our readers,” said McKenzie.


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David Purtell/Staff Writer

Jesus (played by Marshall Smith) heals a blind man (Jimmy Tyner) during the annual Passion Play at Hagood Avenue Baptist Church Sunday, March 24. The play, which chronicles the life of Christ from birth to resurrection, had three shows over the weekend and performed in front of a packed house each night.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., March 28 Sunny High 62 Low 33

Fri., March 29 Sunny High 65 Low 37

Sat., March 30 Mostly sunny High 67 Low 43

An Eggcellent good time...

Volume 136, No. 50

WEDNESDAY, April 3, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Probation agent arrested A S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon agent has been arrested after allegedly providing a cell phone to a local inmate. Tyson Maurice Milhouse, 37, of Orangeburg, has been charged with one count of furnishing or attempting to furnish a prisoner with contraband and misconduct in office, according to a press release by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).  Milhouse is accused of furnishing a cell phone to an inmate at the Barnwell County Detention Center sometime between January 15 and March 4, states the release.  Milhouse, who has been suspended without pay from his job, was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.  Pete O’Boyle, the spokesman for the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon, said the status of Milhouse’s future with the department is pending the outcome of their investigation. “As soon as we determine whether the charges are substantiated we’ll make a determination on his employment,” he said. The case will be prosecuted by the Second Circuit Solicitor’s Office. If convicted, Milhouse could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for the felony contraband charge, and up to 10 years for the Common Law misconduct charge.  jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Worshipers ‘bear the cross’ through town

Robert Pagett holds the wooden cross during the fifth station of the March 29 Stations of the Cross. More than 40 residents journeyed to eight stations (local churches and the courthouse), which each signified a different event of Jesus Christ’s time between his condemnation to die on the cross and his resurrection. “It’s important the community knows there are still people who want to walk in the steps of Jesus,” said Rev. Mark Watford, the pastor of Seven Pines Baptist Church and president of the Barnwell County Ministerial Association, which sponsored the event.

Editor’s note: No law enforcement agency could provide a booking photo of Milhouse despite requests to SLED, Barnwell County Detention Center, and S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon.

School board elections to take place April 9 jonathan vickery Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again; time to head to the polls to select school board candidates. Seats on all three of Barnwell County’s public school districts will be on the April 9 ballot. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In Barnwell District 45, incumbents Chad Perry and Rhett Richardson are running unopposed for two seats. Perry, who has served for six years, is the board’s current chairman, while vice-chairman Richard-

son is seeking his second term. In Barnwell District 19 (Blackville-Hilda Public Schools), three candidates, including incumbent Jameka Hagood, are vying for two seats. Also running are Carroll Jones Priester, a former assistant principal, and Willie Felder, who previously served on the board for 33 years. Williston District 29 has three seats on the ballot – two regular seats plus the unexpired term of the late Calvin Melton, who died Feb. 6. For the two regular seats, incumbents Doris Young and Chris Rivers are seeking re-election, while being challenged by Tom Caldwell and

Plaza begins to take shape

Mike Hutto. Melton’s seat has two candidates – Charles Melton, the eldest son of Calvin Melton, and Katina O’Neal Brown. Five of the six candidates attended a March 28 public forum in the district auditorium, which was hosted by the District 29 Teacher Forum. Brown was attending an out-of-town education conference, but provided her written responses to the pre-selected questions asked of all candidates. “Don’t forget to go vote,” said Kia Valentine, a member of the teacher forum.

District 29 candidates Doris Young, Chris Rivers, Charles Melton, Mike Full candidate profiles for all con- Hutto and Thomas Caldwell answer pre-submitted questions during a tested races can be found on page 3A. forum hosted by the District 29 Teacher Forum March 28.

Supreme court hears BCH case Sarita Chourey Morris News Service

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

The Family Dollar store sign was hung last week and exterior painting began on two stores. O’Reilly Auto Parts and Family Dollar are expected to have their grand openings June 1.


What’s Inside

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

If the S.C. Supreme Court rules that Barnwell County officials violated the state prohibition against holding dual offices, there could be a do-over of the Barnwell County Council election. That was “the very worst case” raised by attorney Keith Babcock during arguments before the high court Tuesday. Justice Donald Beatty asked him what would happen if the court sided in his favor. In response, Babcock suggested this scenario: “They vacated their council position, and there needs to


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be new elections for the council of Barnwell County who would then be able to put people in on the Barnwell County Hospital Board.” He also suggested that the actions that the Hospital Board had since taken should be struck down. The key question was whether members of the Barnwell County Council violated conflict of interest laws that bar officials from holding dual positions when they appointed themselves to serve on the hospital board, April 26, 2011. On Tuesday, both sides laid out their arguments in front of the S.C. Supreme Court. Babcock, arguing that the law barring dual office holding had been violated, represented: Don Al-

exander, Carolyne Williams, Georgia Fields, William “Bob” Dixon, Colonel Joe H. Zorn Jr., Melanie Wright, and (Dr.) M.O. Khan. Attorney Pete Kulmala represented those on the opposing side: Freddie Houston, David Kenner, Keith Sloan, Lowell Jowers Sr., Joe Smith, Harold Buckmon, and Travis Black. They’re named individually and in their capacity (at the time) as members of Barnwell County Council, according to court records. Travis Black’s term on council ended in January of this year as he did not seek re-election. Jerry Creech now sits on council in DisSee COURT, 10A

Weather Forecast

Thurs., April 4 Rainy High 53 Low 48

Fri., April 5 Cloudy High 60 Low 44

Sat., April 6 Mostly sunny High 70 Low 46

Although all eyes are on Augusta, Ga., this week with the annual Masters Golf Tournament, this past weekend saw local golfers take to the Sweetwater Country Club course. The event was a fund raiser for the El Bab Shrine Club.

Volume 136, No. 51

WEDNESDAY, April 10, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Motions approved for hospital jonathan vickery Staff Writer

The sale of the Barnwell County Hospital appears to be nearing fruition after a bankruptcy judge approved two motions this week. Judge David Duncan gave oral orders Monday indicating the court’s approval of the substitute asset purchase agreement and approved the settlement motion with Dobbs Equity. The first motion allows the court to substitute the new asset purchase agreement with Resurgence ManageJonathan Vickery/Staff Writer ment Company instead of the old agreement with Dobbs. The second motion approved the $625,000 settlement with RHS (Dobbs) after a deal fell through last year to sell the hosForeground from left: Poll workers Shannon Moody and Elnora Greene help school board candidate Katina pital to Dobbs. BCH Board Chairman and BarnO’Neal-Brown check in to vote April 9 in Williston while Betty Moody helps Bernard Walters prepare to vote. well County Councilman Lowell Walters is a teacher at Williston-Elko High School. School board election results were released after press time. However, results can be found on our website, Jowers said the news is long awaited. “We can move forward,” he said of selling BCH to RMC, an Atlanta, Ga.-

Voters choose next school board candidates

based healthcare management and consulting firm. Jowers, who hopes to have everything finalized by mid-May, said Judge Duncan’s ruling culminates a two-year process of trying to improve the county’s healthcare situation. This included a lot of opposition to the bankruptcy and sale. Don Alexander is one of those who has been vocal against the bankruptcy. He served on the BCH board until April 26, 2011, when Barnwell County Council replaced the board with themselves. ‘It’s a sad day in Barnwell County,” he said. Alexander said he was not against privatizing the county-owned hospital, but disagreed with how the process was handled, including the bankruptcy and secrecy. “It was an illegal and improper approach,” he said. “Government should operate openly and for benefit of the people.” While the court has made their See HOSPITAL, 10A

Man sentenced two years after wreck David purtell Staff Writer

A Williston man was sentenced April 2 in Barnwell County Court for the death of his cousin. Eric Eubanks, 21, offered a plea of guilty to one charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Jonathan Myers of Barnwell. The plea was part of a deal brokered between Eubanks’ lawyer and the solicitor’s office. Eubanks was originally charged with reckless homicide. Eubanks offered a plea because he felt he could not win a jury trial,

his lawyer, William Kemp, said. Circuit Court Judge Jack Early sentenced Eubanks to five years probation including one year under house arrest. Eubanks will only be able to leave his home for work and to do his 300 hours of public service, which was part of his sentencing. He will also have to submit to random alcohol and drug tests. Myers died April 27, 2011, at the scene of a two-car accident. He was driving a 2002 Ford F-150 south on Moonlight Road three miles south of Williston. Eubanks was driving a 2005 GMC pickup north on Moonlight Road. The two cars ended up

in a head-on collision. Eubanks and Myers were not wearing their seatbelts. Myers died of severe chest trauma. What remains unclear is how the accident happened. Eubanks has stated he does not remember the moments leading up to the accident. The passenger in his vehicle, Alesia Scarborough, has also maintained she doesn’t remember. Both spent time in the hospital after the accident. The passenger in Myers’ vehicle, Lauren Frederick, suffered multiple broken bones, brain injury and was hospitalized for months. No alcohol or drugs were in-

Williston man faces 15 years Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Julius Cuthbertson, 32, of Williston, was sentenced to 188 months (15 years and 8 months) imprisonment, to be followed by five years of supervised release in Federal Court, an April 8 court release stated. Cuthbertson previously pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Chief United States District Judge Margaret B. Seymour of Columbia imposed the sentence. Evidence presented at the earlier change of plea hearing established that a little after midnight on June 23, 2009, an officer with the


liston Police Department was on routine patrol when he noticed a person driving without wearing a seatbelt. The officer activated his blue lights to initiate a traffic stop of the vehicle. The vehicle continued down the road a short distance and then pulled into a residence before stopping. The officer recognized the residence as being one where a shooting had occurred only a month earlier in May 2009, wherein Cuthbertson had been shot.  Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer found Cuthbertson to be the driver. Cuthbertson did not have a driver’s license in his possession and investigation revealed that Cuthbertson’s license had expired while he was in state prison on a previous charge.  Cuthbertson was placed under arrest and a search revealed a

What’s Inside

fully loaded Hi-Point .380 caliber handgun with an obliterated serial number in Cuthbertson’s waistband and a bag of crack cocaine, approximately 1.14 grams, in his pocket.    Cuthbertson, who was released from state prison in February 2009 after serving a 10-year state sentence for shooting two individuals, is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms and/or ammunition. This prohibition is based on his prior state convictions for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature (where he shot an individual), malicious injury to personal property, and assault and battery with intent to kill (two separate counts for shooting two individuals).  


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volved and there was no sign of speeding, according to officials. An officer who interviewed Eubanks at the hospital after the accident reported Eubanks told him he may have been playing “chicken” with Myers, but Eubanks later said he had no recollection of ever saying that to the officer. The tragedy in the case is not only were the two men cousins, they were also best friends. Pastor Charlie Morris of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church read a letter on behalf of Myers’ family, many of whom were in attendance. The letter said Myers “loved life” and would do anything he could to help

someone. Bill Frederick, Lauren’s father, told the court his daughter survived “by the grace of God,” and that the two families had not seen any remorse nor received an apology from Eubanks. The families, once very close, have been torn apart since the accident, Kemp said. Eubanks’ father, Charles, spoke of his son’s and Myers’ long friendship. He held up a picture of the two together when they were both one year old. “Eric lost his best friend,” he See WRECK, 10A

Williston hires “applicant A” as assistant town admin David purtell Staff Writer

Williston is one step closer to filling its vacant town administrator position. Council members voted unanimously to hire “applicant A” as assistant town administrator during the regular council meeting Monday. Council did not immediately release the person’s name because the individual had not yet been notified. Council discussed the hire in closed session, then held the vote in open session. The new hire will work with interim administrator Roger LeDuc for several months before becoming the town’s next administrator, LeDuc said after the meeting. LeDuc said the person will be learning the job before taking the reins. The town interviewed three candidates for the job at a March 25 special-called meeting. The candidates were Kenneth Cook, Rose N. Dobson-Elliott and current Barnwell County Council member Keith Sloan. Before retiring, Cook was the human resources director for the city of Aiken. Before that, he was superintendent of public works and assistant public works director for Aiken, according See HIRE, 10A

Weather Forecast

Thurs., April 11 Mostly cloudy/chance of rain High 85 Low 63

Fri., April 12 Partly sunny High 81 Low 47

Sat., April 13 Sunny High 74 Low 47

Spring Sports Special Section Pages 1-8C

“We had to take a hatchet to our budget because we were overspending.” — Teresa Pope, On D19’s upcoming budget.


Volume 136, No. 52

WEDNESDAY, April 17, 2013

4 Sections/ 28 pages/ 75 cents

Close election requires recount jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

At left, Naomi DeFrenn, director of the Barnwell County Voter Registration and Elections office, takes a look at one of the tallied vote lists from election programmer Dan Packer, Results were so close in one Williston D29 school board seat race, a recount was initiated. Mike Hutto was certified as the winner in the close D29 race along with clear winner, Doris Young. Charles Melton won the unexpired D29 term seat which was previously held by Melton’s father, the late Calvin Melton.

The adage “Every Vote Counts” was true in last week’s school board elections where just four votes separated the second and third vote getters in one race. In the race for Williston District 29’s two regular seats, incumbent Doris Young won with 556 votes while her colleague Chris Rivers lost his bid for re-election by four votes. Newcomer Mike Hutto received 518 votes, edging out Rivers’ 514 votes. That small margin led to a recount Monday by the Barnwell County Voter Registration and Election Commission, which validated Hutto as the winner. “When the difference between the number

of votes received by the winning candidate and the losing candidate is 1 percent or less, a recount must be ordered,” said Naomi DeFrenn, director of the Barnwell County Voter Registration and Elections office. DeFrenn said this shows “every vote matters and every vote counts,” however only 11.32 percent of registered voters in the county went to the polls – 1,560 of 13,778. She encouraged voters to always exercise their right to vote. Tom Caldwell’s 109 votes were not enough to earn him a seat in the regular election. Newcomer Charles Melton also joins the board after winning a special race for an unexpired seat with 558 votes. The seat was previSee RESULTS, 8A

Police seek information after hit-and-run Editor’s note: This story involves the mother of The People-Sentinel staff writer Jonathan Vickery. Jonathan’s first-hand recollection are in italics of a breaking story no reporter wants to discover. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

I was preparing to wind down for the night after just getting home from a fundraising kickoff for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Carolina. My dad was watching television and mama was out walking our dog, Polar.

Plans for a restful evening came to a crashing halt when a dispatcher toned out paramedics and firefighters to a wreck involving a pedestrian at the intersection of Main Street and Marlboro Avenue – just a block from my house. Mama. “Could it be her?” Grabbing my keys and phone, I raced to the back door where, to my

relief, Polar was sitting on the top step, unhurt, his leash trailing behind. Mama was nowhere in sight. My worst fears began to take hold. I had to get to the scene. Once there, my heart dropped as I saw my mom sitting in the middle of the roadway. It was just after 8:30 p.m. when Sharon Vickery was heading home from a late evening walk with the family dog, Polar. She entered the crosswalk at the corner of Marlboro Avenue and Main Street and headed east down Main Street toward her home just a little more than a block away.

That is when Vickery was hit. According to witnesses, the vehicle hit Vickery, stopped in the roadway and even backed up a short distance. But then, the driver of the SUV changed gears and sped off. Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt said details are lacking in the incident. According to witness statements, Gantt said a dark colored SUV type vehicle was traveling west on Main Street towards downtown. The vehicle did not stop for the red light at the Marl-

boro Avenue and Main Street intersection and proceeded to make a left turn. At that point, Sharon Vickery was already in the crosswalk, carrying a flashlight. Gantt said no debris was found at the scene to indicate the type of damage that may have been caused to the vehicle. Gamtt was taken by ambulance to Georgia Regents University (formerly MCG) in Augusta, Ga., where she was treated for a gash

residents in the county who have signed up. The approximately five-and-a half hour disruption led to the transfer of all 911 calls to Bamberg County, though they also can partner with Allendale County. Several administrative lines were eventually brought back up, said Carroll, who sent two of his dispatchers to Bamberg to assist with the call volume and called in another one to Barnwell.

While their emergency plans went as smooth as possible, “I didn’t like the idea of people being without 911 service,” said Carroll, adding how dispatchers were always able to communicate and send out police, firefighters and paramedics. The sheriff commended everyone from a variety of agencies and companies for their “great teamwork” in working together to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

“My dispatchers did a fantastic job,” he said. Carroll said this is the first time their entire system has been wiped out, though they’ve had a few mechanical problems in the past. Kelly Communications is working on a solution to try to prevent this from happening in the future, said the sheriff. Sign up for free CodeRED weather alerts at

See HIT, 8A

Storm disrupts county’s 911 system jonathan vickery Staff Writer

As storms rolled through Barnwell County Thursday evening, April 11, lightening knocked out 911 phone lines. Barnwell County Sheriff Ed Carroll said service to all 911 and administrative lines went down around 6:30 p.m. after lightening

knocked out their main and backup phone system. He said they had a spare, but had to wait for officials with Kelly Communications and AT&T to fix it. Social media and a CodeRED message was utilized to update residents on the problem. CodeRED is a free service through Barnwell County Emergency Management that provides emergency weather updates to approximately 8,000

Masters brings joy, creates memories for fans David purtell Staff Writer

How do you describe a trip to Augusta National Golf Club during Masters week? Here’s a hint: it doesn’t take too many words. “Euphoric” is how first-time visitor Kurt Gies described it. Gies was there with his brother, Eric, and mother, Jimie, who in December was in intensive care in a hospital. But on Wednesday the Daytona Beach, Fla., native walked all 18 holes at Augusta during the final practice round before the tournament began Thursday. She even


met NFL Hall-of-Fame receiver Lynn Swann and got to hold his Super Bowl rings. The trip was a celebration for both Kurt, a Navy veteran who served before and after 9/11, and his mother. Eric, an investor living in New York, said he’s been to Augusta several times and has played the course three times. He was able to get tickets for his brother and mother this year as a present for her 80th birthday. Kurt said coming to the Masters had been a lifelong dream. After seeing the famous Amen Corner (holes 11, 12 and 13), he said, “I almost started crying.” Over on the par 3 course where

What’s Inside OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............1-3B CALENDAR..............4B SPORTS...............5-6B CLASSIFIEDS.....1-5D TELEVISION.........6D

the annual par 3 contest was going on, sisters Trudi Young and Elizabeth Burnette were relaxing on a hillside enjoying the gorgeous spring day. Both are Augusta natives and attended the Masters growing up. They said there have been plenty of changes over the years. Young pointed out how the course has become more fan friendly and said today there are a lot more restrooms and concession stands spread across the grounds. Burnette remembered how you used to be able to just walk up to the gate and buy a ticket the week of



David Purtell/Staff Writer

Weather Forecast

Wed., April 17 Mostly sunny High 83 Low 61

Thurs., April 18 Partly sunny High 82 Low 62

Fri., April 19 Cloudy/50% chance of rain High 80 Low 55

Sat., April 20 Partly sunny High 72 Low 47

BHS aims for playoffs — Sports, 1B

Autism awareness Month — News, 3A

“Students are at the forefront of all we do.”

— Dr. Rachel Wall, D29 director of instruction and federal programs.

(News 2A)

Volume 137, No. 1

WEDNESDAY, April 24, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Haley announces SRR partnership David purtell Staff Writer

David Purtell/Staff Writer

Above: Gov. Nikki Haley takes time to chat with students during her tour of the school April 17. At left: Haley, along with local school superintendents and David Olson with Savannah River Remediation, announce plans for a partnership between the schools and SRR to help the county’s schools save energy, streamline processes and increase efficiency.

Barnwell County School districts are getting free help from Savannah River Remediation in order to cut cost and improve education. Engineers with SRR will work with the county’s schools to save energy, streamline processes and increase efficiency. Money saved will go toward helping advance student’s education. The announcement came April 17 at the Barnwell County Career Center. The county’s three district superintendents, Gov. Nikki Haley and SRR officials were in attendance. Engineers will utilize Six Sigma techniques in the school system. Six Sigma is a common practice throughout the business community that uses tools and strategies to cut costs and improve quality.

Engineers will instruct school staff on Six Sigma practices and tour the districts’ facilities to find ways to save energy and lower expenses. Barnwell District 45 Superintendent Roy Sapough said the partnership is a perfect example of how the community can help improve education. “Schools can’t do it by themselves,” he said. Williston District 29 Superintendent Tom Siler said he looks forward to finding ways to reduce utility costs. “That probably is one of our biggest concerns just because of the age of our buildings,” he said. Blackville District 19 Superintendent Teresa Pope said the money saved can be used in many ways. She said reducing class size and improving technology are priorities. Haley said the partnership is a See SRR, 10A

Relay for life - fighting for a cure Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Not everyone who is battling cancer has family and friends to rely on. And as the Barnwell County Relay For Life kicks off April 26, organizers are asking residents to come out and help survivors celebrate. Everyone benefits from hearing the cheers during the survivor’s lap, Teresa Sanders, event chair said. What is Relay?

Simply put, Relay For Life events are where communities across the globe come together to honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that has already taken too much. It is the signature fundraising event for the American Cancer Society, according to their website. “The funds you raise truly make a difference in the fight against cancer – just ask one of the nearly 14 million cancer survivors who will celebrate another birthday this year,” accord-

ing to their website. At this year’s event in Barnwell County, more than 25 teams are expected to pitch their tents along the walking track at Veterans Memorial Park in front of the Barnwell County Airport. Opening ceremonies will take place at 7 p.m. which will be followed by the opening laps including the survivor’s lap. Survivors will also be treated to

and be more reliable. Carroll said the money could come from the remainder of a $195,000 reimbursement he gave the county last year. However, Councilman Keith Sloan wanted to use the reimbursement for the upcoming annual payment for the 9-1-1 system they

bought after moving the 9-1-1 center, like they did last year. He suggested looking at other ways to fund the system. County attorney J.D. Mosteller told council there is a potential for litigation against the jail if the current system gives the wrong photo of someone arrested.

See RELAY, 10A

Celebrate Remember Fight Back April 26, 2013

Council approves new jail monitoring system jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Barnwell County Council granted a request from the sheriff to purchase a new jail monitoring system. The $28,000 system was one of

the improvements Sheriff Ed Carroll wanted after assuming control over the Barnwell County Detention Center from the county earlier this year. “It’s causing some major problems,” said Carroll about the current system. The new system would tie into the one at the sheriff’s office

Local restaurant evcauated Just after 4 p.m. April 20, a caller who identified himself as being with the U.S. Army, called the Original House of Pizza restaurant in Barnwell and told them to evacuate the building because he was coming to confiscate it, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. Gantt said the restaurant was evacuated. “It was treated just like a bomb threat.” Although no suspects have been arrested, he said his department is treating the call as a “terroristic threat.” He has called in other agencies including state and federal resources. Anyone with Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer information can call CrimeStopPatrons and employees of the Original House of Pizza stand outside pers at 1-888-CRIME-SC or www. the restaurant as law enforcement work to make sure the building is or text TIPSC to safe. CRIMES (274637).


What’s Inside


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Councilman Jerry Creech made a motion to approve the request using the reimbursement money, saying, “He doesn’t ask us for much.” The motion was seconded by Harold Buckmon and unanimously See COUNCIL, 10A

Tasting Blackville one thrill at a time

Children of all ages enjoyed the huge inflatable slide in Blackville during the annual Taste of Blackville festival held this past weekend. Susan C. Delk /Managing Editor For more photos, see page 10A.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., April 25 Fri., April 26 Partly sunny/chance of rain Sunny High 77 Low 50 High 77 Low 52

Sat., April 27 Partly cloudy High 78 Low 57

See page 3A for more photos

Volume 137, No. 2

WEDNESDAY, May 1, 2013

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

Fire destroys Williston store Early morning blaze found by police Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

In the early morning hours of April 27, Willsiton firefighters got a call they never want to get - a fire in a large commercial building. Firefighters got the call around 3:30 a.m. when a police officer drove by and saw fire coming out of the roof of the Price Wise in downtown Williston. In all, five departments, including Williston, Elko, Long Branch, Blackville and city of Barnwell, responded with equipment, manpower or both. Williston Fire Chief Milton Widener said when his department arrived, the fire seemed to be in the rear of the building near a cardboard box compactor. He sent in teams to fight the fire but a front plate glass window shattered, sending oxygen to the fire which quickly spread throughout the building. Although the investigation is continuing, Widener said they believe the cause of the fire is probably electrical in nature. One Long Branch firefighter was taken to the hospital but was released a short time later, said Long Branch Chief Andy Hogg. Mayor Pro-tem Wanda Matthews said her biggest concern is for the employees of the store, some of which have no transportation to be able to See FIRE, 12A

Susan C. Delk /Managing Editor

The Price Wise food store in Williston caught fire and burned April 27. The building was formerly home to Bolen Brothers’ Red & White and is still owned by Eugene Bolen.

Store provided more than just groceries jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Flames destroyed the Price Wise building Saturday, but not the memories many have of the iconic Williston grocery store. “It’s been a hub of the town for many years,” said Mayor Tommy Rivers. Brothers Eugene, Myron and Kenneth Bolen opened the grocery store in 1958 at its present Main Street location as Bolen Brothers Red & White. It sat on the site of Contributed by Marisa Schumpert the old Williston Hotel, which Tick Porter holds his great niece, Marisa Schumpert, 4, in front of the they purchased for $10,000, said newly completed store building in June 1958.

Bankruptcy nearing end Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Written orders were filed in the Barnwell County Hospital bankruptcy case April 18, approving the substitution of the asset purchase agreement. The decision also included denying several motions presented to the court by those seeking to keep BCH out of bankruptcy. The orders state, “after careful consideration of the applicable law, arguments of counsel, and evidence submitted, the Court grants the Substitution Motion and approves the Settlement Application.” BCC and BCHB can now move


forward with the sale to Barnwell County Hospital Acquisitions Group. In his orders, Judge David Duncan ruled against Don Alexander and a group of seven participants of the Barnwell County Pension Plan. Court documents indicate Mary Valliant, CEO of the hospital, testified at the April 8 hearing. She stated the hospital currently owes “about $2.2 million to vendors.” She also testified the hospital has funds on hand to operate for three more months and at that point would need Barnwell County to supply additional operating funds. Her financial projections included using the HITECH funds the hospital has received as well as extra monies

What’s Inside

OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-9A SPORTS...............1-4B CALENDAR..............6B Wed., May 1 TELEVISION.........7B Partly sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....8-12B High 76 Low 58

“It got wider and things got even more busy,” said Schumpert, eventually reaching 12,000 square feet. Myron ran the meat counter, Eugene was over the groceries, and Kenneth ordered the produce. “They were hardworking, selfmade men,” said Denise Elkins, Myron’s daughter. “They taught me a work ethic.” Through all the changes and growth, Myron said it was important for them to keep a “good family atmosphere” for the customers, such as Rita Driggers Creech. “My mama and daddy would go See STORE, 12A

James Brown celebrated

coming in from seized income tax refunds from individuals who owe money to the hospital. Also during the hearing a representative of BCH Acquisitions Group testified the group is ready to finalize the sale and would have between $4 and $8 million dollars of capital funds available when they take ownership. Last year, Regional Healthcare Systems filed a claim with the court because their APA was not finalized. The $1,819,000 claim was sent to mediation. A settlement whereby BCH will pay RHS a total sum of $625,000 was agreed upon and was approved by the court.


Myron. It was a larger, more modern store than their previous location down the street, which was started by their father, Denzel Bolen, in 1949. The extra space and self service style was needed after the population boom from the Savannah River Site, said Marisa Schumpert, Eugene’s daughter. They eventually needed even more space and added on twice over the years, taking the building from 60 feet wide on the front to 120 feet. They accomplished this by purchasing adjacent lots – a house owned by Dr. Blanchard and a lot owned by George Crouch.

See COURT, 12A

David Purtell/Staff Writer

Above, the young James Brown, (Tony Wilson) and the Golden Ages band, perform during the James Brown Tribute held April 27.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., May 2 Mostly cloudy/chance of rain High 73 Low 55

Sat., May 4 Fri., May 3 Mostly cloudy/chance of rain Partly cloudy High 72 Low 52 High 73 Low 53

BHS celebrates regional title — Sports, 1B

Locals pray for town, nation

— News, 3a

Volume 137, No. 3

WEDNESDAY, May 8, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

SRS funding still an issue

Salk is first to graduate

David purtell Staff Writer

Hundreds of employee furloughs at the Savannah River Site may be avoided if committees in Congress sign off on a $79 million reprogramming request. If committees in both the House of Representatives and Senate approve request, the Department of Energy will be able to transfer money from another project to SRS, which was hit hard by the $100 million in cuts after the sequestration process began in March. There is a May 22 deadline for the funds to be made available or the

furloughs will begin June 1. More than 2,000 SRS employees have already been put on a 32-hour work schedule, but 900 of those could face full furloughs if the money is not received in time. Rep. Joe Wilson said in a statement Saturday the reprogramming request had been submitted to both chambers of Congress. Wilson has been pushing hard for the funds to be made available. He has sent two letters to the White House Office of Management and Budget urging action on the issue. He also held a town hall meeting in Aiken Friday to discuss See SRS, 10A

Local man sought

Barnwell p o l i c e a re searching for a man they say committed multiple crimes including criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gannt said warrants have been issued for Clement Antonio Fenty, 23, of Ramblewood Trailer Park, Barnwell, for criminal sexual conduct with a minor, second Clement Antonio degree, with a victim between 11 and 14 years“Tony” Fenty of-age. The incident happened between May 1, Mugshot provided by the BPD 2012 and, August 1, 2012. The crime was said to have been committed in an apartment at the Litchfield Apartment complex. The second charge, assault and battery first degree, stems from an incident on May 5, 2012, when Fenty is accused of “nonconsensual touching” of a then 13-year-old. This also happened at the Litchfield Apartment complex. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Fenty is asked to call the BPD at (803) 259-1838. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

USC Salk is the first among area colleges to hold graduation ceremonies. Above: Jacquelyn Gunnells of Barnwell receives her Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies during the May 6 commencement at USC Salkehatchie in Allendale. At right: The ceremony also included several awards presentations, including the Outstanding Contribution to the Community award to Allendale resident Anne Rice for her work with several organizations. Pictured behind Rice is Barnwell resident Miles Loadholt, who is a member of the USC board. Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Memories of mom keep daughters moving forward jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Mother’s Day will “never be the same” after the recent death of her mother, but Nancy Chisolm hopes others will cherish their moms and the time they have together. “She was everything, my world,” said Chisolm of the late Margie Ann Lee. “Over half of me went with her” when she died Feb. 24. Family was really important to Lee, who was married to husband Lee Edward Lee for more than 28 years. She had two daugh-

ters, Chisolm and Jamie Odom, and one granddaughter, Ja’Kyla Brown. “She always tried to get her family together,” said Chisolm, who will always remember last Mother’s Day when she and her sister treated their mother to lunch at Ryan’s. Lee also loved her students at the Aiken/Barnwell Regional Head Start Center, including those at Macedonia Elementary, where she volunteered and worked for more than 20 years. “Those kids looked up to her,” said Chisolm, recalling how Lee dressed as various holiday characters, like the Easter Bunny.

Chisolm will always cherish the memories she has of her mother, known to many as MargAnn. “The biggest thing we’re going to miss is her smile, her words of encouragement,” said Chisolm. Even when breast cancer and other issues like kidney failure affected her health, Lee tried to encourage others and would call or send cards to people. “She was very outgoing, a people person,” said Chisolm, adding how her mother kept the nurses laughing. Chisolm hopes to carry on her mother ’s legacy of encouraging and helping others by eventually starting a non-profit to support

those experiencing health issues and purchase stuffed animals for children. Near the end of her life, Lee wrote inspirational letters to her loved ones and encouraged Chisolm, who is a beautician, to further her education, something she hopes to do soon. From her hospital bed, just before her death, Lee had one final message for her loved ones. “She said she was going to be leaving us and wanted us to know she loved us, but God loved us best,” said The late Margie Ann Lee pictured Chisolm. with her children when they were See MOM, 6A younger.

Suspect still on the run after traffic stop turns into manhunt jonathan vickery Staff Writer

A routine traffic stop turned into a multi-agency search last week after the driver ditched his car and ran. It all started around 10:25 a.m. May 1 as a Barnwell police officer attempted to pull over a white Toyota Camry “travelling east on Main Street at a high rate of speed,” said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. After the driver, an unidentified black male, refused to stop, a car chase ensued that eventually


turned into a foot chase after the subject “pulled up in a driveway (on Calhoun Street), jumped out of his vehicle and took off on foot” through several people’s property and into some bamboo off Allen Street, said Gantt. A number of officers and Barnwell County sheriff’s deputies surrounded the area and the sheriff’s office’s bloodhounds were called out to search the area. “A search was made, however he was not apprehended at that time,” said Gantt. As an “abundance of caution,” nearby Guinyard-Butler Middle and Barnwell Primary schools were placed on lockdown during the search, which ended around

What’s Inside OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............8-9A SPORTS...............1-4B CALENDAR..............6B TELEVISION.........7B CLASSIFIEDS.....8-10B

12:30 p.m. Gantt said there was never any indication students were in danger. The suspect is described as a 6-foot-1-inch to 6-foot-3-inch tall black male with a shaved head, weighing approximately 280 pounds. Police located his flip flops at the scene and later found his white T-shirt during the search, he said. Gantt said they have contacted the person who sold the Camry, which had a paper tag, and have “people of interest,” but as of press Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer time the suspect has not been located. He could face a number of A Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office tracking dog leads his handler and charges when caught, including a city of Barnwell police officer during the hunt for a driver who led police on a chase then dumped his car and escaped on foot. failure to stop.


Weather Forecast

Wed., May 8 Mostly sunny High 78 Low 57

Thurs., May 9 Sunny High 83 Low 58

Fri., May 10 Mostly sunny High 85 Low 62

Sat., May 11 Cloudy/chance of rain High 88 Low 55

off to the races in track finals — Sports, 1B

Remembering Zeta — news, 3A The Fishing Rodeo returns May 18 from 8 a.m. until noon at the Barnwell DNR office on Dunbarton Blvd.

news, 2A

Volume 137, No. 4

WEDNESDAY, May 15, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Hospital, county hit with federal lawsuit

Olympians compete

Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Susan C. Delk /Managing Editor

Athletes and their student buddies begin the 2013 Barnwell County Special Olympics held at WillistonElko High School May 13. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Students from Barnwell and Allendale counties joined forces to compete in the Special Olympics held this year at Williston-Elko High School. Athletes and their student buddies strolled along the walking track at the practice field for the opening ceremony.

What today is known as the Special Olympics began in the 1950s and early 1960s, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver saw how unjustly and unfairly people with intellectual disabilities were treated. She also saw that many children with intellectual disabilities didn’t even have a place to play. She decided to take action. Soon her vision began to take shape, as she held a summer day camp for young people with intellectual disabilities in her own

backyard. The goal was to learn what these children could do in sports and other activities – and not dwell on what they could not do. From those humble beginnings, just last month the Special Olympics program welcomed its onemillionth registered athlete. See additional photo can be found on page 5B and on our Facebook page,

A federal lawsuit was filed against Barnwell County and its hospital May 2 after the death of a patient, Josehpine Workman, at Barnwell

County Hospital Oct. 9, 2009. The suit, filed by Workman’s son Kendrick Workman in U.S. District Court in Aiken, alleges numerous “egregious Constitutional violations.” He is asking for damages with the amount to be determined by a jury. Court documents state, “These Constitutional claims are allegations of intentional and/or delibertly indifferent action by the defendants.” Court documents allege Josephine Workman entered the Barnwell County Hospital to have an elective surgical procedure but began having chest pains before being taken to surgery. Although medications were administered to Workman, the pains persisted. She was still taken into surgery for what is normally a two-hour procedure. Workman was in surgery for four hours and died on the operating table, according to the suit. The suit alleges that the hospital, Dr. Majeed Kaun, Aubrey DeWaine Thomas, CRNA, Michael Collins, Mary Valliant, Alexander Altman and other individuals to be named, made policies which put the financial gain of performing surgeries above patient care and safety. According to court documents, at the time of the surgery, Altman was the CFO of the hospital, Valliant was the CEO, COO and/or Director of Nursing/Medicine/Operations, Thomas was a certified nurse anesthetist and Collins was a licensed nurse. The unnamed individuals refer to persons who are believed to have had policymaking authority over the hospital’s employees during that time. The suit maintains their identities will be revealed during the “discovery process” of the case. The patient rating of a “4” given by the nurse anesthetist indicatedWorkman’s condition was “life-threatening” because of the chest pains. In a deposition, Thomas said he did not want to perform the surgery because of Workman’s chest pains. He also said he went to Dr. Kaun with his concerns but Kaun said they were going to See SUIT, 10A proceed.

Barnwell cocaine dealer gets life in prison Staff

Barnwell native, Terrance Lamar Wiggins, 33, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on May 9 in federal court. Wiggins was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and being a felon in possession of a firearm in December. Court evidence showed Wiggins dealt in hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, acted as a leader in his

drug distribution organization, and obstructed justice. Evidence presented at trial and at the sentencing showed Wiggins distributed hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from 2005 until he was arrested in 2012. During that time, Wiggins regularly purchased as many as ten kilograms at a time and utilized others to distribute the cocaine in an around Barnwell. On March 28, 2012, local, state, and federal authorities raided Wiggins’ trailer in Barnwell. There, they found Wiggins and cocaine, along with scales, a bag-sealer, sealing bags, and five kilogram cocaine

wrappings. Additionally, officers found a loaded Glock .45 caliber pistol sitting on the bed, a loaded SKS assault rifle under the bed, a loaded pistol-grip shotgun in the living room under the couch, and another rifle in an outbuilding. Officers also found hundreds of thousands of dollars hidden throughout the house - in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator, in the laundry room, in a secret hiding place behind the fireplace, in a pillowcase, and under the tub in the bathroom. More cash was found that the defendant had stashed at

his relatives’ houses. All told, officers recovered $741,257. The case was investigated primarily by the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office, the State Law Enforcement Division, and the Drug Enforcement Administration as part of the interagency Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force’s continued efforts in and around Barnwell County. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jay N. Richardson and Special Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey B. Wall.

Terrance Lamar Wiggins

SCA celebrates regional economic success Commerce secretary says relationships translate into jobs for region/state Laura j. Mckenzie Regional Publisher

Economic and political leaders from six counties came together May 9 to celebrate the success of economic development in the region. It was an annual event that was more upbeat than in recent years. SCA president Danny Black said 2012 was a “ground-breaking year” with over $101.2 million in capital investment and the creation of 291 jobs in the counties of Allendale, Barnwell, Bamberg, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper. It was also an expansion year with Colleton and Jasper counties joining the SouthernCarolina Alliance.


These included five new announcements and three major expansions by industries to infuse money and provide jobs. Black told those assembled that the SCA has had “175 face-to-face meetings” with prospects in the last year. He said the addition of Colleton and Jasper counties enables the region to “speak with a stronger voice”. Black also said, “We must be proactive in preparing our people” to fill the jobs industry has to offer. Adding his voice to those comments were South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Robert M. Hitt III. Hitt said he understands and is familiar with the needs of this

What’s Inside

region since his grandparents lived and ran a newspaper in Bamberg County. A former newspaperman himself, Hitt said, “I look at all parts of the economy” when considering economic opportunity. “We are one of the few states in the Southeast that is growing,” said Hitt. “Twenty years ago we were a textile state. Now we are an automotive, aeronautics, agribusiness, and complex manufacturing state.” He said, “The world we live in is a relationship world.” He said Gov. Laura McKenzie/Publisher Nikki Haley and his office have worked hard over the last two-and- Speakers at the SouthernCarolina Alliance annual regional celebration half years to establish and cement May 9 included (left to right) SCA President Danny Black, S.C. Secretary of Commerce Robert M. Hitt III, USC-Salkehatchie Dean Dr. Ann See SCA, 10A Carmichael, and SCA Vice Chairman Carl Gooding.


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-4B CALENDAR..............5B Wed., May 15 CLASSIFIEDS.....7-10B Sunny TELEVISION.........9B High 88 Low 62

Weather Forecast

Thurs., May 16 Mostly sunny High 88 Low 63

Fri., May 17 Partly sunny High 87 Low 63

Sat., May 18 Mostly sunny High 87 Low 65

TEAM Zeta Fundraising Events - Page 10A

Volume 137, No. 5

WEDNESDAY, May 22, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Hundreds avoid SRS furloughs DAvid Purtell Staff Writer

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Sieni Wallace (left) wraps her arm around her father, Greg, as he holds her fishing pole while Jaden Barrett enjoys fishing with his godmother, Julie Simmons. This was the first time fishing for both youngsters.

Fishing Rodeo reels in fun for over 200 Jonathan Vickery Staff Writer

The return of the Youth Fishing Rodeo hooked the first fish for many of the more than 200 children who converged upon

the Barnwell Fish Hatchery. That was true for four-year-old Sieni Wallace of Barnwell, who caught a catfish. “I had a good time,” said Wallace, 4, as she fished while sitting in the lap of her father, Greg. Ramona Bravo said it’s great to

have family-friendly events where she can take her 6-year-old daughter, Nancy. “I love it,” she said of watching Nancy catch fish. “It’s great to have the kids involved and parents involved See FISH, 10A

Hundreds of Savannah River Site employees will stay on the job now that Congress has approved additional funding for SRS. On May 15, committees in both the House of Representatives and Senate approved a $79 million reprogramming request from the Department of Energy. The DOE can now take money from another project and immediately use it for SRS. There was a May 22 deadline for funds to be made available in order to avoid furloughs for up to 900 employees at the nuclear site starting June 1. More than 2,000 SRS employees are already on a 32-hour work schedule because of across-theboard cuts in federal funding since

sequestration began in March. SRS lost $100 million after the automatic cuts went into effect. In a statement released May 15, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., said, “The Congressional approval of SRS’s reprogramming request is a tremendous victory for the people of Aiken County, Barnwell County, the Palmetto State, and our nation.” Wilson pushed hard for the funds to be made available. He sent two letters to the White House Office of Management and Budget urging action. He also held a town hall meeting in Aiken May 3 to discuss the issue. More than 300 people were at the meeting. “I commend the House and Senate for taking action quickly to ensure that our nation’s nuclear facilities are capable of completing vital missions with an appropriate workforce,” Wilson said.

Memorial honors those killed in action Jonathan Vickery Staff Writer

As millions prepare to enjoy a day off and three-day weekend, a group of locals gathered at Veterans Memorial Park to remember those who gave their lives so others can enjoy such freedoms. Salkehatchie Chapter 828 of the Vietnam Veterans of America and Marine Corps League Detachment No. 1227 hosted the May 18 ceremony dedicating a monument to Barnwell County military service personnel killed in action in all wars and conflicts since World War I. “It’s a small recognition for those who gave so much,” said Danny Black with the VVA. “Freedom isn’t free.” The Barnwell High School JROTC presented patriotic wreathes in front of the monument – one for each of the wars represented – while Tim Moore read the 55 names on the monument, including Solomon McGrady. He was killed in World War I. McGrady’s great nieces, Debra Heyward and Gloria Allen of Barn-

well, were at the dedication and said it means a lot to have their great uncle forever remembered. “I’m proud,” said Heyward after seeing the monument, which was donated by Barnwell District 45. “We thank everyone who did this for us,” added Allen. Horace and Katie Crawford, of Barnwell, were also in attendance to remember their friend James Miller, who was killed in Vietnam, and neighbor George Buggs, who was killed in Iraq. “It’s beautiful,” said Katie of the monument. S.C. Rep. Lonnie Hosey, a Vietnam Veteran himself, called the monument “a great thing for our community” because people do not always remember those who give their all. “I pray we never forget the ones that gave all,” prayed Bill Strickland, chaplain of the VVA, during the invocation. Moore, citing how May 18 was Armed Services Day, also thanked the soldiers who continue to fight for our freedom.

View the list of names on page 9A.

Living Literature

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Barnwell High School JROTC color guard presents colors during a dedication ceremony of the monument commemorating service personnel from Barnwell County killed in wars since World War I. The dedication was held May 18 at Veterans Memorial Park in Barnwell. IN CHARACTER Blackville-Hilda High School seniors stand motionless at the Blackville Community Center May 15, representing characters from nonfiction and fictional literature, including (L to R) Malcom X, Pharaoh, Cleopatra and Rosie the Riveter. The students were ‘on display’ for two 90-plus minute sessions while visitors toured and snapped pictures. David Purtell/Staff Writer


What’s Inside


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-3B EDUCATION.........4B Wed., May 22 CALENDAR..............5B Chance of Thunderstorms CLASSIFIEDS.....7-10B High 82 Low 62

Filing deadline is Friday for Kline Town Council vacancy Special election set following Clark resignation DAvid Purtell Staff Writer

The deadline to file for the vacant Kline Town Council seat is this Friday, May 24, at noon. Cleatrice Clark resigned from the council April 12. If two or more people file for the

seat, a special election will be held July 9. If only one person files, there will not be an election unless a write-in candidate gets on the ballot. After the filing deadline, there will be a two-week period for writein candidates to have their name put on the ballot. There is no filing fee.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., May 23 Isolated Thunderstorms High 86 Low 63

Fri., May 24 Isolated Thunderstorms High 87 Low 60

Sat., May 25 Mostly sunny High 84 Low 59

Blackville’s A.D. receives top award — Sports, 1B

Blackville bids administrator farewell — News, 3A

“We want to be as conservative as we can but provide the services we need.” — Shirley Kitchings, On D45’s budget.

(News, 2A)

Volume 137, No. 8

WEDNESDAY, May 29, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

County Council asks for end to opposition

JDA’s Class of 2013

Members of Barnwell County Council are asking the opposition in a current civil case regarding the future of Barnwell County Hospital to “step aside.” In an Op-Ed letter signed by all but one member, they accuse the attorney and the people he represents of “attempting to undermine efforts to secure the future of healthcare for Barnwell County citizens.” The letter says legal costs for the county have already passed $300,000 since the saga began two years ago. The letter also says each month that passes without closing the sale of the hospital costs taxpayers nearly $100,000. The key question in the case is whether members of the Barnwell County Council violated conflict of interest laws that bar officials from holding dual positions when they appointed themselves to serve on the hospital board. Two years ago, Barnwell County Council removed all the councilappointed members of the Barnwell County Hospital Board. Council members then appointed themselves to fill the empty seats. The case has made it all the way to the state Supreme Court, which heard arguments in early April. A final decision has not been reached. A lower court ruled in favor of county council, saying the situation was not a case of dual office holding. Former hospital board chairman Don Alexander, along with Carolyne Williams, Georgia Fields, William “Bob” Dixon, Colonel Joe H. Zorn Jr., Melanie Wright, and Dr. M.O. Khan brought the suit to have county council’s actions overturned. They are represented by local attorney Keith Babcock. On county council’s side, current members Freddie Houston, David Kenner, Keith Sloan, Lowell Jowers Sr., Joe Smith and Harold Buckmon are named in the suit. Former council member Travis Black, who did not seek re-election when his term ended last year, is also named in the suit. Regarding the sale of the hospital, current efforts by the council are aimed at sealing an agreement with See HOSPITAL, 10A Atlanta-based Resurgence ManDavid purtell Staff Writer

David Purtell/Staff Writer

Twenty students graduated from Jefferson Davis Academy May 24. The private school was founded in 1965. For additional graduation times see the education page, 5B. For additional JDA graduation pictures see page 10A.

SRS workers return to full work schedules David purtell Staff Writer

Employees at the Savannah River Site returned to their normal work schedules beginning this week, according to an email to workers from Savannah River Nuclear Solutions

President Dwayne Wilson. Over 2,000 employees at the nuclear site have been on 32-hour work schedules since April due to automatic cuts that took effect in March because of sequestration in the federal government. And hundreds were facing full furloughs beginning June 1 unless additional

funds were found. Originally, SRS was looking at $100 million in cuts, but two weeks ago committees in Congress and the White House Office of Management and Budget agreed to allow the Department of Energy, which oversees SRS, to take $79 million from other projects and put it

toward SRS. The process is called “reprogramming.” In the email, Wilson said he had received notification that the additional funding will be available no later than this week. “Thus, we will immediately begin the process to return employees to their normal work schedules,”

Wilson said in the email. Employees will finished last week on the 32-hour schedule. “Now we can all get back to doing what we do best, providing exceptional services and expertise in nuclear materials management and environmental cleanup for SRS and our nation,” Wilson said.

Holiday weekend fire destroys home jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Firefighters from four departments battled a Sunday fire in a home on Manville Avenue in Barnwell. No injuries were reported.


What’s Inside

A Memorial Day weekend cookout sent one house up in flames Sunday afternoon. Joe Moody was inside his house at 132 Manville Avenue in Barnwell when he heard a noise. He soon realized flames were coming from his propane gas grill, which he had just set on self-cleaning mode after grilling a steak. “It was like a flamethrower going up the house,” said Moody, who called 911 just before 1 p.m. Barnwell City Fire Chief Tony Dicks said the propane tank blew its valve off and was venting, or releasing gas, in an effort to relieve pressure. While this is a safety feature, the grill was next to the house. “It blew


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-4B CALENDAR..............6B Wed., May 29 CLASSIFIEDS.....7-10B Sunny TELEVISION.........9B High 89 Low 63

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

State Park reopens swimming area Boaters and swimmers alike took advantage of the Barnwell State Park’s facilities over the holiday weekend. The park recently reopened a swimming area for visitors. The swimming area is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. See page 10A for a complete story.

See FIRE, 10A

Weather Forecast

Thurs., May 30 Mostly sunny High 88 Low 63

Fri., May 31 Mostly sunny High 90 Low 64

Sat., June 1 Mostly sunny High 88 Low 65

Graduation times:

Local grocery chain sold to Bi-Lo, 2A

June 6 Barnwell High School - 7:30 p.m. June 7 Williston-Elko High School - 7 p.m. Blackville-Hilda High School - 8 p.m.

Blackville murder; no suspects, 16A The Longest Day - fundraiser for Alzheimers, 2A

Barnwell County’s

Volume 137, No. 9

WEDNESDAY, June 5, 2013



2 Sections/ 32 pages/ 75 cents

Council violated dual office law S.C. Supreme Court overturns lower court’s previous ruling Sarita Chourey Morris News Service

The S.C. Supreme Court has spoken. Now it’s up to a circuit judge to figure out how big a shakeup last Wednesday’s decision will bring for Barnwell County. Reversing a lower court, the justices ruled that members of Barnwell County Council had violated the state prohibition against holding dual offices by serving on the hospital board and council simultaneously. During oral arguments before the

Supreme Court in April, an attorney suggested that a new county council election may be ordered. Past hospital board decisions might also be thrown out. The conflict started two years earlier, when all seven sitting council members, Freddie Houston, Lowell Jowers, Harold Buckmon, Keith Sloan, David Kenner, Travis Black and Joe Smith, voted to replace hospital board members with themselves. This was done because the original hospital board objected to the county council’s plan to take the hospital into bankruptcy. Buckmon later left the board, as did

Committee pleased The decision by the S. C. Supreme Court last week is being well received by a local committee that has been fighting for several

Laura McKenzie & Susan C. Delk


years to keep healthcare local. “We …. conclude that Barnwell County Council members who also serve as Barnwell County Hospital Board members were dual office holding,” the S.C. Supreme Court Justices wrote May 29. On April 26, 2011 members of Barnwell County Council replaced all their appointed sitting Hospital Board members with themselves. Since that time these men have ushered the hospital into bankruptcy and led the way to sell it. Dual office holding is considered illegal under the South Carolina constitution. (Ret.) Judge Rodney Peeples has been representing the Save our Hospital Committee at no charge since its inception more than two years ago. He said during that time there have been many ups and downs in the fight to “save” the Barnwell County Hospital. As some former hospital board members and residents filed suit against BCC, Dec. 20, 2011, the Save our Hospital Committee joined the fight backing those filing the suit. “Obviously, I was very pleased,” Peeples said of the Supreme Court’s decision. Peeples said he and his group are not against the hospital being sold, but they are against the county “giving away” the hospital or “paying someone to take it,” which he said has been the case with the two different buyers attempting to purchase the hospital. One sale fell through that resulted in the county paying out $625,000 to the potential buyer. The sale to a second buyer is still underway but may be impacted by the Court’s decision. Peeples said the committee has been trying to protect taxpayers and residents who seek healthcare at the local hospital. Peeples argues the BCC has not upheld its duty to taxpayers, efforts which he says has been spearheaded by council members Keith Sloan and Lowell Jowers. While the council has accused supporters of the hospital of wasting taxpayer money on legal fees, Peeples contends the council has either wasted or given away millions of dollars through their decisions as county councilmen or hospital board members. According to Peeples, these efforts include: council members “micromanaging the hospital to its detSee SAVE, 16A riment,” the courting of buyers

Black, who did not seek re-election to county council last year. Ousted from the hospital board were: Don Alexander, Catherine Mack, Kiffany Perlote, Steve Sloan, Jerry Martin, Richard Myers and Carolyne Williams. Alexander, along with several others, brought the lawsuit against council. Alexander was represented by attorney Keith Babcock, who argued successfully that the law barring dual office holding had been Jonathan Vickery/ Staff Writer violated. Babcock also represented Williams, Georgia Fields, William Barnwell County Council members in April 2011 were, from left, Harold “Bob” Dixon, Colonel Joe H. Zorn, Buckmon, Lowell Jowers, Keith Sloan, Travis Black, Freddie Houston, David Kenner and Joe Smith. See COURT, 16A

Council mum

Hospital sale timeline

Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

September 2009 - Barnwell, Allendale and Bamberg counties enter into an intergovernmental agreement with a healthcare consulting firm. March/April 2011 - Barnwell County Hospital Board disagrees with Barnwell County Council’s intentions to send Barnwell County Hospital into bankruptcy along with Bamberg and Allendale counties. April 26, 2011 - BCC appoints themselves to serve as BCHB members and approves to move forward with a contract with Healthcare Management Partners to sell the hospital and take it through Chapter 9 bankruptcy. July 13, 2011 - Allendale and Bamberg counties pull out of the tri-county deal. August 2011 - HMP is relieved of duties and county takes up partnership with Dobbs Equity Partners. August 2012 - BCH/BCC moves forward with sale to Resurgence Management Company.

Most Barnwell County Council members are remaining silent after the S.C. Supreme Court handed down an opinion May 28 indicating

they are guilty of dual office holding. But their attorney, Pete Kumala, said the fight is not over. He said the BCC did not disagree with the opinion that those members serving on the council and on the hospital board were holding two offices, but they did disagree that it was against the law. Kumala has argued in Circuit Court and in front of the Supreme Court that members serving in both capacities are serving in a “vertical relationship” which does not lead to any accumulation of powers and is not against the law. He said from here, council will possibly decide what the next step will be. He said the options are: file a rehearing request with the S.C. Supreme Court or wait until it is remanded down to the Circuit Court level and proceed from there with depositions and possibly a trial. He said the Supreme Court decision did not indicate what, if anything, the consequences would be - that would be left for the Circuit Court to decide. When reached for comment on the decision, Councilman Keith Sloan said, “It’s being reviewed by our attorneys and (we’ll) see where we go from here.” Councilman Freddie Houston reiterated Sloan’s comment that council is waiting on legal advice. Councilmen Lowell Jowers and Joe Smith said they had no comment. Councilman Harold Buckmon was the most vocal on the decision. “It just confirmed what I’ve known for quite a while,” Buckmon said, adding council could have fixed the situation in the past but didn’t. Buckmon rectified his position on the hospital board when he appointed Kenneth Myers to serve in his place in 2012. “We’ve lost a lot of money” that could have helped fix the hospital’s situation, Buckmon said. “It’s a mess right now,” and there’s some things that are going to be overturned, he said. This kind of thing “hurts the taxpayers; we are supposed to protect the taxpayers,” Buckmon said. Councilman David Kenner said he would need to review the documents before making comment. Former Councilman Travis Black could not be reached for comment. The final current councilman, Jerry Creech, joined council after the suit was filed and is not listed in the suit actions. However, he also sits on the Barnwell County Hospital Board and decisions made by the Circuit Court may affect his service as well.

Teacher being investigated Jonathan Vickery Staff Writer

A Barnwell Elementary School teacher is under investigation for possible “test security violations” by the State Department of Education and State Law Enforcement Division. The investigation stems from allegations sixth grade teacher Stacey Wilson did not follow protocol when administering the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS) test March 19


and 20. “We are taking a look at their test administration procedures,” said Jay Ragley with the Department of Education (DOE). He added how it was “not a scheduled review,” as they sometimes conduct with school districts. The DOE released several documents to The People-Sentinel pertaining to the case, including the district’s original letter advising of the possible violations, the DOE’s response, and the teacher’s response. District 45 Testing Coordinator

What’s Inside

Kim Rhoad submitted a test security violation action form online to the state department March 27 explaining how two students told school administrators Wilson talked on the phone, told a student to “indent” in their essay, and rolled her eyes after reading a student’s essay. School officials then interviewed all students who were tested in Wilson’s class and asked them to write a summary about their testing days and if anything See TEACHER, 16A


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS............9-12A CALENDAR............13A Wed., June 5 CLASSIFIEDS...13-15B Mostly cloudy/rain 40% TELEVISION.......16B High 85 Low 68

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Man killed, left in the street

A Blackville man’s body was discovered near the intersection of Dewitt Street and Oak Avenue May 30 after residents reported hearing a gunshot. See page 16A for the complete story.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., June 6 Mostly cloudy/rain 50% High 84 Low 67

Fri., June 7 Partly sunny/rain 60% High 86 Low 69

Sat., June 8 Partly sunny/rain 40% High 88 Low 68

scoring a runaway victory — Sports, 1B


Volume 137, No. 10

WEDNESDAY, June 12, 2013

Sale of hospital uncertain

Class of 2013 Staff The People-Sentinel

The tears and the rain fell during graduation services last week. Each public school was forced to hold graduation exercises inside due to rains from Tropical Storm Andrea pummeling the area. Barnwell High School held their ceremony Thursday evening in the school’s gym. Diplomas were issued to 126 students during the ceremony at BHS. More than $2,965,472 in scholarships have been awarded the 2013 class, and 102 students were accepted to either a twoor four-year school and eight are committed to joining the military. Williston-Elko High School had 70 students graduate Friday evening. Williston graduates earned more than $425,726 in scholarships, and 55 students have been accepted into either a two- or four-year school. Four students have pledge to join the military. Blackville-Hilda High School closed out the year Friday evening as 62 seniors graduated. Thirty-eight of those students have been accepted into either a two- or four-year school. Three have chosen to join the military. See pages 4 - 5B for additional graduation pictures. Also, visit our Facebook page for more graduation pictures, thepeoplesentinel.

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Cautious about telling a county council what it can and cannot do, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge David Duncan said he needed more time to decide whether to halt the sale of the Barnwell County Hospital. After a nearly two-hour hearing which started at 10 a.m., Duncan said he would put some more thought into the arguments and revisit the state Supreme Court decision before issuing a decision later in the day. By 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, his order was not yet announced. The group fighting the sale, led by former hospital board chairman Don Alexander, filed an emergency motion to stop the impending transaction, scheduled for Wednesday. “Once the sale goes through, it will be much like an egg broken,” said Keith Babcock, the attorney representing Alexander. He emphasized that last month’s S.C. Supreme Court decision that found members of the County Council had violated the constitutional prohibition against dual office holding had invalidated the Hospital Board’s past actions toward selling the hospital. “They had no authority to do what they did,” said Babcock, adding that halting the sale scheduled for Wednesday amounts to “enforcing the law in South Carolina.” But during Tuesday’s hearing, the federal judge had reservations about granting a dismissal outright. “I have a real concern about ... enjoining a municipality from doing what it wants to do,” said Duncan. Arguing in favor of allowing the sale to proceed, attorney Stanley McGuffin said the Supreme Court’s decision left to door open to allowing the past actions of the Hospital Board to stand. He also took exception to the timing of his opponents’ latest push, noting that “here we are, 24 hours before the sale,” when they could have challenged it long ago. McGuffin pointed to the levels of support for the sale - that the creditors had voted to approve it, and the last two prospective purchasers also said they wanted the transaction to take the form of a bankruptcy sale. He also criticized his opponents’ “broad” reading of last month’s Supreme Court decision. Members of the county council appointed themselves to replace See COURT, 10A Sarita Chourey Morris News Service

Susan C. Delk/Managing Editor

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

David Purtell/Staff Writer

Bomb found in home, Hilda man arrested jonathan vickery Staff Writer

A Blackville man is under arrest after authorities found a bomb in his home, which is near the town of Hilda. A pipe bomb was found and “rendered safe” at the rear door of 25-year-old Nicholas Roland Holcomb’s residence at 2869 Hwy. 304, Blackville. State Law Enforce-

ment Division’s (SLED) bomb unit executed a search warrant June 5, according to the arrest warrant. SLED spokesperson Kathryn Richardson said her agency assisted at the request of the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office. “It was a joint investigation,” she said. A bomb technician with the Federal Bureau of Investigation also assisted, according to a spokesperson See BOMB, 10A

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer Mug shot provided by the Barnwell County Detention Center

Home of Nicholas Roland Holcomb which was raided by SLED last week.

Jobs, jobs, jobs... Haley announces 95 jobs coming to Williston area through expansions Staff The People-Sentinel

Two Williston industries announced an additional 95 jobs for Barnwell County during a news conference at Williston Town Hall Tuesday. National Beverage Screen Printers Inc. (NBS) will expand its existing operations in Barnwell County with a $2.5 million investment, David Purtell/Staff Writer Gov. Haley stands with town officials, flanked by Dayco and NBS representatives and local economic which is expected to generate 80 development officials, to make the official announcement for two industry expansions in Williston. new jobs.


What’s Inside


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-2B CALENDAR..............6B Wed., June 12 TELEVISION.........7B Sunny/High heat index CLASSIFIEDS.....8-10B High 95 Low 73

Dayco Products LLC, which makes automotive parts, is making a $2 million investment, which is expected to generate at least 15 new jobs in the area. “South Carolina has consistently provided us with a great place to do business with a skilled workforce. We appreciate all the support we’ve received from state and local officials,” said Tom Green, director of North American Operations for Dayco Products. See JOBS, 10A

Weather Forecast

Thurs., June 13 Mostly sunny High 96 Low 74

Fri., June 14 Sunny High 90 Low 65

Sat., June 15 Sunny High 90 Low 66

Sluggers score at last bat — Sports, 1B

Tractor Supply Opens — News, 2A

“We want to explore educational and fun activities.” — Jeteseya Dennis, On Boys & Girls Club’s summer camp.

(News, 2A)

Volume 137, No. 11


WEDNESDAY, June 19, 2013

2 Sections/ 16 pages/ 75 cents

County completes long awaited hospital sale


jonathan vickery Staff Writer

The Barnwell County Hospital has been sold and some employees are out of the job. The finalizing of the hospital sale to Resurgence Management Company occurred June 12, according to a press release from Atlanta, Ga.based RMC. The People-Sentinel has received unconfirmed reports of approximately 30 employees being laid off. RMC CEO Philip Eastman confirmed not all former BCH employees were hired by RMC, saying their Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer staffing budget only allowed them to The local hospital is no longer owned by the “Citizens of Barnwell offer a set number of positions. “UnCounty,” as this sign displays. fortunately, we didn’t have availabil-

ity for everyone,” said Eastman in a June 14 phone interview, though he wasn’t sure how many. “There’s always some adjustment of employees” during a sale, said BCH Board Chairman Lowell Jowers, who is also a Barnwell County Councilman. Staffing changes are mentioned in the asset purchase agreement that was signed last year by all parties involved with the sale. Section 7 explains how RMC has “absolute discretion” in determining its staffing needs, but will give “hiring preference” to former BCH employees if they meet certain qualifications. BCH CEO Mary Valliant said not all employees applied for jobs with RMC, but added they are still interviewing for some positions.

The sale culminates a more than two-year process that originated with Barnwell, Allendale and Bamberg counties trying to form a new regional hospital. That deal fell through and, in the end, Bamberg County Hospital closed, Allendale Hospital remained independent and BCH entered bankruptcy. “Despite our best intentions, Barnwell County could not afford to underwrite the losses at Barnwell County Hospital,” said Jowers in the release. “Our options were limited - close the hospital or find an experienced operator; we selected Resurgence Management Company as the successful bidder to purchase and operate our hospital.” See SALE, 8A

Council reacts to sale At least three of the Barnwell Susan C. Delk Managing Editor County Council members are cited about the future of the former Barnwell County Hospital. Councilman Keith Sloan said he is “very relieved that it is over. (There were) some very unnecessary delays, which were to the detriment to the hospital and the county taxpayers, which were put in the way of this closing.” But he said he was “very excited about the future of healthcare in the county.” Sloan said BCH has provided outstanding care through the years and he believes the new owners, Resurgence Management Company and Philip Eastman, will continue that tradition. Because the hospital had been in financial trouble for years, there were only two decisions that could be made: “Sell it or shut it down,” he said. “None of us on council wanted it to close,” Sloan said. “I think it is a good thing for the county, for the citizens. What we had was not sustainable.” Councilman Lowell Jowers, who was also the chairman of the BCH Board, said he is also “excited about seeing what changes are going to be made” at the hospital. “I think it’s going to be a better hospital,” he said. Councilman Freddie Houston said he thinks the hospital will become a “tremendous asset” to the community now that it has new ownership. “I’m excited to have the hospital in the hands of people who are capable,” he said. Houston said he was glad council held true to its goal of selling the hospital even though there were obstacles along the way. He added that he hopes residents realize the new ownership is going to work to provide quality healthcare services to the county. See REACTION, 8A Houston said he is “not aware of any

Man shot

Firefighters from seven departments battle an early morning house fire on Robertson Circle In Hilda June 18. See the full story on page 8A. Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Pedestrian injured crossing street jonathan vickery Staff Writer

jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Details are limited as a man recovers from a gunshot wound to his chest. Witnesses reported hearing shots fired in the area of Bush Street and seeing a man “stumble” before he got into a white SUV around 2 p.m., June 17, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. The victim was then dropped off at the Barnwell County Hospital. “We don’t really know what happened,” Gantt said. The victim was airlifted to a Columbia hospital, though his condition is unknown as of press time, said Gantt. Anyone with information in the case should call the Barnwell Police Department at (803) 259-1838 or Crimestoppers at 1-888-274-6372.

Family safe, but homeless after fire


Carl Edward Sapp is recovering in the hospital after being struck by a car while crossing the street Friday night, June 14. The accident happened around 10 p.m. as the 45-yearold Barnwell man was crossing Marlboro Avenue near Allen Street. He walked in front of a 2002 Toyota pickup truck, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. Speed is not considered a factor and the truck’s driver, 41year-old Gordon Dickinson of Barnwell, was not found to be at fault. Sapp “did contribute” to the accident as “he was crossing outside of a crosswalk in dark clothing,” said Gantt. Sapp was airlifted to Georgia Regents Medical Center (formerly MCG) in Augusta, Ga. He has had one surgery for broken bones, including his hip and leg, and suffered lacerations,

What’s Inside

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Pedestrian Carl Sapp was hit Friday night while trying to cross Marlboro Avenue. said Gantt. Denise Parrish, a hospital spokesperson, said Sapp is in “good condition” as of June 18, which means he has stable vital signs and is conscious. No charges have been filed in the accident. This accident comes two months after another pedestrian


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-7A SPORTS...............1-2B CALENDAR..............3B Wed., June 19 TELEVISION.........4B 40% chance of storms CLASSIFIEDS.......5-8B High 90 Low 68

was struck a block away on April 10. Sharon Vickery was walking her dog around 8:30 p.m. when an unidentified dark-colored SUV hit her in the crosswalk at the intersection of Main Street and Marlboro Avenue. The driver fled and Vickery was taken to the hospital for a head injury.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, “Pedestrians—people who travel by foot, wheelchair, stroller, or similar means—are among the most vulnerable users of the road.” In 2010, more than 4,200 pedestrians were killed in traffic deaths, and another 70,000 were injured. “With numbers like these, it’s critical that you understand the risks and learn how to stay safe,” states Whenever you’re walking, keep these tips, according to, in mind: • Cross the street at a designated crosswalk. • Be careful at intersections where drivers may fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians while turning onto another street. • Increase your visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing retro-reflective clothing. • It’s safest to walk on a sidewalk, but if you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., June 20 Mostly cloudy High 90 Low 68

Fri., June 21 Mostly cloudy High 88 Low 67

Sat., June 22 Sunny High 90 Low 69

Child hears for first time — News, 8A

Angels come back swinging — Sports, 1B

“Small businesses like this are the backbone of the community.” — BCC Chairman Freddie Houston, On the expansion of Carroll’s Welding and Industrial Service, LLC.

(Page 3A)

Volume 137, No. 12

WEDNESDAY, June 26, 2013

2 Sections/ 16 pages/ 75 cents

WRS contract set to expire June 30 Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

David Purtell/Staff Writer

Children learn swimming basics with annual Rotary program Lisa Zissette, right, teaches children how to do the basic crawl stroke at the Days Inn pool in Barnwell during the annual FINS summer swimming program, organized by the Barnwell Rotary Club, June 20. Colleen Goodman, whose three children were in the program, said she’s glad there are people in the community willing to teach children the basics of being comfortable and safe in the water. Her 12-year-old son, Jaden Daniels, was getting his first swimming lessons and was already gliding easily across the pool.

Due to the timing of the sale of the Barnwell County Hospital, emergency medical transportation could be in for a change. The current county contract with Williston Rescue Squad for the provision of medical transportation services is set to expire June 30. The asset purchase agreement governing the sale of the BCH to Resurgence Management Company stipulates RMC “shall operate or arrange for emergency and non-emergency medical transportation in Barnwell County.” That will take place if the county has “terminated its existing contract for medical transportation without ongoing payment obligations.” RMC took control of the hospital June 12. The current contract with WRS, originally signed June 2, 2010, and renewed each year up to three years, expires the last day of the month unless an extension or new contract is signed by Barnwell

County Council. County officials say they are working to extend or renew the current contract with WRS to prevent any lapse in service. Barnwell County Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. said he is in “constant contact” with WRS Director Phil Clarke about the situation. Prior to the sale of the hospital, WRS was set to receive $932,950 from Barnwell County for providing medical transportation services in the county for the coming year. The purchase agreement also deems the county will pay a subsidy to RMC for the emergency medical transportation services for two years at the current contract rate. In years three, four and five the county will pay less than 25 percent or $225,000. Williams said “more than likely” the county will contract with WRS before the contract expires, but he did not have a date when a contract will be signed. At their April 9 meeting, council unanimously approved the annual 2 percent increase for WRS but no contract was signed. WRS owns mostly all the am-

Contract facts Barnwell County has paid the following amounts to WRS over the past three years: 2010-2011






If Barnwell County renews the WRS contract, the company is scheduled for an additional 2 percent increase for the coming year making the contract $932,950, according to the 2013 - 2014 county budget. bulances, and the buildings which house the ambulances, throughout the county. Phone calls to Clarke were not returned as of press time.

Teen sought in three attempted murders jonathan vickery Staff Writer

A 17-year-old Barnwell man is wanted by the Barnwell Police Department on three counts of attempted murder. Dustin Williamson, 17, is suspected in the attempted murder of 24-year-old Wesley Depores Hanberry of Denmark, Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt said. “He is not to be approached and is to be considered armed and dangerous,” said Gantt. Christopher Andrew Fuller, 19, of 274 Elberta Circle, Barnwell,

was arrested June 20 in connection to the shooting and charged with attempted murder. He is being held at the Barnwell County Detention Center. The charges stem from a June 17 shooting in the area of Bush Street where witnesses “saw one man (Hanberry) holding his stomach area and get in a white (Ford) Expedition,” said Gantt. Hanberry was dropped off at the Barnwell County Hospital and airlifted to a Columbia trauma center for treatment to a gunshot wound to his stomach. “It was a through and through wound,” Gantt said, adding Hanberry is “conscious.”

Hello? Trucks snag phone lines

At the time of the June 17 shooting, Williamson was already wanted for two counts of attempted murder and “a host of other charges” in connection to two March 13 incidents, said Gantt. He is accused of shooting Zachary Lynwood Thomas in the abdomen after breaking down the door of his Hagood Avenue home around 9 p.m., according to police. Police said Williamson then went to the Litchfield Apartment Complex and fired four rounds into the air before striking Christopher Neal with a pistol, causing the 24-yearSee SOUGHT, 8A

Dustin Williamson


Christopher Andrew Fuller


Fireworks display is this weekend

SCE&G workers pull phone cables off a FedEx tractor-trailer after it snagged low-hanging wires a little before noon on Monday, June 24, in front of the Carolina Lodge on Dunbarton Boulevard in Barnwell. A Seckinger log truck pulled down the wires Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. just down the street in front of the Tractor Supply store. No one was hurt in either incident, but the driver above stayed inside his truck due to concerns the wires were live. It was determined the wires were phone cables, Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt said. AT&T Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer responded both times to fix the wires.


What’s Inside

The city of Barnwell and the Barnwell County Arts Council have joined forces to provide an evening of food, music and fireworks to kick off the Fourth of July holiday. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at Veterans Memorial Park. Billed as a “great family-friendly concert,” Mark Griffitt and John Rutland of Loose Stone will perform at 7:15 p.m. A professional fireworks display will occur just after dusk. Residents are encouraged to bring their own chairs and picnic items, but food vendors will be available. People are also encouraged to bring a radio and tune to 90.5 FM within a half-mile of the park to listen to patriotic music during the fireworks. Music before and after Loose Stone’s performance will be provided by Gary Brantley of Mobile DJ Services.


ARRESTS...............3A OPINION.................4A SOCIETY..............5-7A SPORTS...............1-3B CALENDAR..............4B Wed., June 26 TELEVISION.........5B Partly sunny, T-S 40% CLASSIFIEDS.....6-8B High 90 Low 72

Weather Forecast

Thurs., June 27 Mostly sunny, T-S 30% High 90 Low 73

Fri., June 28 Partly sunny, T-S 40% High 90 Low 72

Sat., June 29 Partly sunny, T-S 40% High 90 Low 72

Happy July 4th!

Volume 137, No. 11

WEDNESDAY, July 3, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

County extends WRS contract

Celebrating Independence

Contract to continue on month-to-month basis Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

County medical transportation services were continued Friday as the county signed a month-long contract with their current pro-

vider, Williston Rescue Squad. The previous contract, originally signed June 2010, was set to expire June 30. Barnwell County Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. said the onemonth contract, signed June 28, will ensure medical transportation services within the county through the end of July. The “month to month” basis contract is in place until the new owners of the former Barnwell County Hospital have transportation services in place. “Folks at the hospital are looking at some options,” Williams said, but did not elaborate as to what options the owners are considering. The asset purchase agreement governing the sale of the BCH to Resurgence Management Company stipulates RMC “shall operate or arrange for emergency and non-emergency medical transportation in Barnwell County.” RMC took control of the hospital June 12. The purchase agreement also deems the county will pay a subsidy to RMC for the emergency medical transportation services for two years at the current contract rate. In years three, four and five the county will pay less than 25 percent or $225,000. Barnwell County will pay $77,745 per month for the service.

4 WRS employees agree to settlement Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Youth watch in awe as a colorful array of fireworks blast in the air, signaling the end of the city of Barnwell’s June 29 Independence Day Celebration at the Veterans Memorial Park. Besides fireworks, the annual event included food, games for children and live music by Loose Stone. See pages 2 and 3A for more photos from the event.

County to receive state funds to repair courthouse jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Despite a veto by Gov. Nikki Haley, $100,000 is coming for renovations to the Barnwell County Courthouse. State Rep. Lonnie Hosey of District 91, which represents most of Barnwell County, said he put the money in at the request of Barnwell County Council in order to fix some problems. “I consider our courthouse to be a landmark in our county,” he said of the circa 1879 building. However, the money was among 81 vetoes issued June 25 by Gov. Haley. “Although many courthouses


require maintenance and repair, upkeep of these buildings is the responsibility of the counties. We should not support this earmark,” wrote the governor in her letter to legislators. “It’s condescending when you look at cuts to the local government fund,” said Hosey, referencing the state money allocated to municipalities each year. The $100,000 – and several other vetoed projects – were saved after the House and Senate overrode them. The House voted 95 to 21 in favor June 26, while the Senate voted 29 to 13 on June 27, according to www. Hosey said it took a “cross section of support” from Republicans and

What’s Inside

Democrats to save this money. “I really appreciate them for doing that,” he said. “A number of areas in the budget did not get that support.” Barnwell County Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. said the money is appreciated because “we haven’t been able to put enough in our budget to do maintenance on our older buildings.” He said this money could help with gutter work and waterproofing the building so moisture won’t come through the walls. Hosey and Williams agreed the money is not enough to completely take care of all the problems, but “$100,000 starts the process,” said Hosey, who said it could take $2 million.


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-3B EDUCATION.........4B Wed., July 3 CALENDAR/TV.........5B Cloudy/ 60% showers CLASSIFIEDS.....6-8B High 88 Low 72

Four Williston Rescue Squad employees have agreed to pay settlements in the ongoing investigation into Medicare fraud at WRS. United States Attorney Bill Nettles, with the U.S. District of South Carolina, announced Thursday the government has reached settlements with three Emergency Medical Technicians and one Paramedic that transported patients who clearly did not need ambulance transport for weekly dialysis treatments. The settlements ranged from $2,000 to $5,000 and were based on the individuals’ ability to pay, the release states. For their part in the fraud case, Tina Rigdon, paramedic, was ordered to pay $5,000. Emergency Medical Technicians Theresa Rhinehart, Joseph Griffin and Merisa Zorn were ordered to pay $2,000, $3,000 and $4,000, respectively. The settlements indicate each employee transported patients, who they knew did not require ambulance transportation, to and from dialysis facilities. Rigdon participated in the transportation of these patients during the period from Jan 1, 2008 through Nov. 25, 2011. Rhinehart transported patients during the period from March 2003 through Nov. 25, 2011. See WRS, 10A

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Demolition complete

The Price Wise grocery store was demolished last week, two months after fire ravaged the 55-year-old building. The Williston store should be rebuilt in the coming months, say owners.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., July 4 Partly sunny High 89 Low 71

Fri., July 5 Mostly sunny/40% showers High 89 Low 73

Sat., July 6 Mostly sunny/30% showers High 91 Low 73

Ponytails head to state playoffs — Sports, 1B

Local Firefighters honored — News, 3A

“This noise ordinance passed by the county is unenforceable...” — Pickens Williams Sr., On consideration of a county noise ordinance by Barnwell City Council (Page 2A)

Volume 137, No. 12

WEDNESDAY, July 10, 2013

D.R. Williamson now wanted for Blackville murder jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Dustin Robert Williamson is now wanted for murder in addition to three counts of attempted murder in connection to several violent crimes across Barnwell County. The 17-year-old is wanted for the May 30 murder of Roger Lee Isaac, 47, in Blackville at the corner of Dewitt Street and Oak Avenue, according to a press release from the State Law Enforcement Division. Williamson is also wanted for three shooting incidents, the most recent on June 17. He is accused of shooting 24-yearold Wesley Depores Hanberry of Denmark in the vicinity of Bush Street in Barnwell. Hanberry was airlifted to a Columbia trauma center for treatment to a gunshot wound to his stomach, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt.

Williamson’s alleged accomplice in the June 17 shooting, Christopher Andrew Fuller, 19, of 274 Elberta Circle, Barnwell, was arrested June 20 and released to the Barnwell County Detention Center. Barnwell police also have warrants out for Williamson in connection to two March 13 incidents. He is accused of shooting Zachary Lynwood Thomas in the abdomen after breaking down the door of the man’s Hagood Avenue home around 9 p.m. Police said Williamson then went to the Litchfield Apartment Complex and fired four rounds into the air before striking Christopher Neal with a pistol, causing the 24-year-old Barnwell resident to bleed from his head. According to SLED, Williamson is known to keep a pistol in his front waist band concealed by his shirt plus a High Point .40 caliber weapon. The June 17 shooting took place with a .45 caliber weapon. Williamson is described as a 5’11”

2 Sections/ 16 pages/ 75 cents

Williston council to change in fall black male, weighing approximately 160 pounds with black hair and brown eyes, according to the SLED release. While his last known address is 136 Cherry Road, Barnwell, he may be in the Aiken area. “Williamson has ties to Newark, N.J. and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., but does not have the financial means to get to either location at this time,” states the release. He could be driving a silver 2010 Chevrolet Equinox with S.C. Tag JBU 865, which is registered to Sandra and John Williamson, according to the release. Tips leading to Williamson’s arrest could mean a cash reward of up to $1,000. Anyone with information on Williamson’s whereabouts should call the Barnwell Police Department at (803) 259-1838 or Crimestoppers at 1-888274-6372. You can also text “TIPSC plus your message” to CRIMES (274637).

Williston Town Council is goDavid purtell ing to look a lot different in the Staff Writer fall. Mayor Tommy Rivers along with two council members did not file for re-election before Friday’s noon deadline. Also, Councilman Jason Stapleton filed to run for mayor. Mayor Pro Tem Wanda Matthews and Councilman Jerry Holmes did not file for re-election. Dwayne Cagle, Chris Rivers and Shawn Eric Moody filed to run for the three at-large council seats. The election is set for Sept. 10. Chris Rivers was previously on the Williston District 29 School Board before losing his re-election bid in April. Mayor Rivers said he decided to step down because it’s time to pass the reins to the younger generation. He has been mayor for 20 years. Holmes, who has been on council for 20 years, reiterated the mayor’s comments. He said he felt he’s done good things for the town and it’s time to pass the baton. He said when he joined council the town was in the red and now has a $1 million surplus. It’s time to “give some new blood the opportunity” to add on to what I’ve done, he said. Whether an election will be held is up for debate in Williston. Interim Administrator Roger LeDuc thinks an election is not necessary since there is no opposition, but town attorney Tom Boulware has always insisted elections be held to avoid any possible conflicts. The election would cost the town about $2,000. Over on the Barnwell City Council, current councilmen Benjamin Duncan, District 3, and Robert Pattillo, District 5, filed for re-election while J.T. Atkinson, District 1, did not. William B. Dozier filed to run for the District 1 seat. No one else filed to run for any of the three seats up for election this year, though people can still do a write-in campaign.

RMC officials to ‘unveil’ new name of local hospital Laura J. mckenzie Publisher

Barnwell County’s hospital will be getting a new name this week. Mary T. Valliant, CEO of RMC Barnwell Healthcare Inc., announced the “unveiling” of the facility’s new name will be held at the Barnwell County Library on Thursday, July 11, at 7 p.m. The event, which is open to the public, was originally scheduled to be held on the front lawn of the

hospital. The venue changed to the Barnwell County Library due to recent thunderstorms and the threat of more bad weather. RMC Healthcare recently purchased the hospital from Barnwell County. A naming contest was held with hospital and local public officials selecting the name in a meeting held last week. They have been keeping the new name a secret until David Purtell/ Staff Writer Thursday’s announcement. Philip Eastman III, president Josh Roberts and The Hinges performed an acoustic concert June 28 at the Circle Theatre in Barnwell. The of RMC, is scheduled to be the band’s concert delighted an audience of about 60 people in the small theatre. Ed Lemon Jr. (far left), son speaker for the event. of Barnwell Mayor Ed Lemon, is a guitarist in the band, which formed in 2005 in Columbia.

Acoustically delightful

Former local newspaper publisher remembered WEESIE FICKLING Contributor

It was late December 2006 when I received a phone call from my friend Bob Harris. “Just asking a favor of you, and there is no rush as far as I know. Will you please drop by the house and interview me so that, when the time comes, you can take the article to the newspaper? Since you wrote one about Kathy, I thought you might help me out, too!” And so, that time has come. Even though the obituary would contain much of the same information, it was important to Bob Harris that the following be submitted to The People-Sentinel after his passing. Throughout our visit, it was

Bob Harris


What’s Inside


actually work getting this interesting gentleman to focus on himself, to speak of his accomplishments and awards of appreciation from various clubs and organizations. Somehow our conversation always drifted back to his late wife, Kathy Dobson Harris. Robert Chatham Harris was born June 26, 1925, in Elkin, N.C. This only child of Edwin and Lucy Chatham Harris graduated in the Class of 1942 from Elkin High School. Bob was one of 42 graduates. For one year this young man studied journalism at the University of North Carolina. After dropping out of school, Bob became a mail carrier earning 85 cents per hour. On Dec. 23, 1943, Harris entered the Army Corps where he

served as a radio operator on B24 bombers. In 1946, Bob returned to UNC for a period of three years earning a BA in journalism. At The Hartsville Messenger he became their news and sports editor for a five year stint. It was on to The Camden Citizen for six months employment before being contacted and hired by Ben Davies Jr., of The Barnwell People-Sentinel. In 1954, Harris moved to Barnwell and boarded with Julian and Gladys Bush on Hagood Avenue. By this time Harris was the News and Sports Editor for the Barnwell People-Sentinel. He purchased the building on Main Street located between the newspaper office and the Barnwell Methodist Church - a great business move! The year was 1956 when Bob

married the beautiful auburnhaired Kathylyn Dobson. He later adopted her two sons, Eddie Furman (Scooter) and David Dobson giving them the Harris name. Stephen Worth (Teebo) Harris was later born to this couple. In 1970 Bob and Kathy bought the Barnwell People-Sentinel and The Williston Way from Davies. They also, printed for The Allendale County Citizen, The Hampton County Guardian, plus the weekly papers from Aiken, Columbia, and the Savannah River Plant news. Yes, Bob and Kathy were cocaptains of their newspaper in every sense of the word. Bob hailed her expertise with a news segment dubbed “a la Barnwell CounSee HARRIS, 8A

Weather Forecast

OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-7A SPORTS...............1-2B Thurs., July 11 E D U C AT I O N . . . . . . . 3 B Wed., July 10 CALENDAR..............4B Mostly sunny, 40% T-storm Partly sunny, 50% T-storm High 89 Low 73 CLASSIFIEDS.....6-8B High 89 Low 72

Fri., July 12 Showers, 70% T-storm High 86 Low 70

Sat., July 13 Showers, 60% T-storm High 87 Low 70

Williston retires Jersey — Sports, 1B

Scouts sail into adventure — News, 2A

“We have got to make preparations to try and head it off.” — Williston Mayor Tommy Rivers, On gang activity in the county.

(Page 2A)

Volume 137, No. 13

WEDNESDAY, July 17, 2013

2 Sections/ 16 pages/ 75 cents

‘Southern Palmetto Hospital’

Hospital renamed Laura J. mckenzie Publisher

Palmetto trees dot the landscape around the campus of Barnwell County’s hospital and now those trees will be a vital part of the branding for the facility. “Southern Palmetto Hospital” is the new name unveiled by hospital officials Thursday evening, July 11, at an event held at the Barnwell County Library. Known previously as Barnwell County Hospital, the facility was recently sold by the county to Resurgence Management Company. The new owner, seeking a new future for the politically and legally embattled facility, held a naming contest and invited the public to participate. “This new name for our hospital emphasizes the broader community participation in our future,” said Mary Valliant, hospital CEO. “We have new ownership, a new

beginning and now a new name, but with continued community participation.” Mayors Edward Lemon of Barnwell, Mike Beasley of Blackville and Tommy Rivers of Williston, County Councilman (and current hospital board chairman) Lowell Jowers and hospital employees Jenny Mayo and Sherry Donaldson were on the selection committee which considered 82 submissions. They turned over their top three picks to Philip Eastman, president and CEO of Resurgence Management Company, who made the final decision. This panel of judges didn’t know who submitted each entry and worked with just the potential hospital names. But it was a hospital employee who actually came up with the winning entry. Chasity Still, 32, of Barnwell, a radiological technician who has worked at Laura McKEnzie/Publisher the hospital for 10 years, said she came up with the name because of RMC CEO Philip Eastman, County Councilman Lowell Jowers, naming winner Chasity Still and Chief of Staff Dr. Bryan Burnett reveal the new name of Southern Palmetto Hospital at an event held at the Barnwell See HOSPITAL, 8A County Library on July 11.

Manhunt nets suspect David purtell Staff Writer

An hours-long manhunt in Barnwell ended with the capture of a burglary suspect July 10. The suspect, 17-year-old Houston Bryant, faces one charge of first degree burglary, one charge of second degree burglary, two charges of grand larceny and two charges of malicious injury to property, according to Tenille Smith with the Barnwell County Detention Center, where Bryant is being held. Bryant is accused of breaking into a Barnwell home July 7 and stealing more than $10,000 worth of jewelry, electronics and personal items. Warrants state he also broke into the Morris Quick and Easy convenience store July 10 and stole at least $2,000 worth of lottery tickets. The property damage charges stem from his

cies searched a field and woods off Ellenton Street (Hwy. 278) late into the evening using search dogs and a helicopter. Police lined Hwy. 278 between the Original House of Pizza and the intersection with Wellington Road while other officers searched for Bryant. The search area was bounded by Hwy. 278 on the west, Wellington Road on the north, Lake Drive on the east and the Colony Apartments complex on the south. During the search, Wellington Road was closed to traffic between its intersection with Hwy. 278 and Lake Drive. Bryant was caught shortly after 9 p.m. in the woods, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. Law enforcement left the scene around 9:30 p.m. Houston Bryant The Barnwell Police Department, breaking glass doors at each location, sheriff’s office and the State Law Enaccording to the warrants. forcement Division worked together Multiple law enforcement agen- during the search.

Friends for Life Aidan, William and Nathan Anderson pet Roxie, a terrier mix, at the newly opened Friends for Life Center in Barnwell July 13. The boys want a dog and came with their mom Susan to look at animals available for adoption.

Jonathan Vickery/ Staff Writer

Water, water, and watermelon David purtell Staff Writer

Recent heavy rains haven’t dampened the spirits of South Carolina’s watermelon producers as over 200 growers attended the annual Watermelon Field Day July 11 at the Clemson University Edisto Research Center. Dr. Gilbert Miller, a horticulturalist who led the event, said the facility, located west of Blackville off Hwy. 78, has had 22 inches of rainfall since April 1 – twice the historical average for the same time period. He said the intense rainfall has led to plenty of disease


in this year’s watermelon crop. He said some crop yields have been cut in half. Watermelon, which is 92 percent water, has long been a staple crop in South Carolina. In 2012, the state produced 285 million pounds of watermelon, which accounted for 7 percent of the total U.S. production (3.9 billion pounds), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Tony Keinath, a vegetable pathologist at the Clemson University Coastal Research and Education Center in Charleston, said this year’s growing season has seen the

What’s Inside

David Purtell/Staff Writer

Even watermelons, which are 92 percent water, have been impacted by downpours in recent months as See Water, 8A discussed by growers during the Watermelon Field Day held in Blackville.


ARRESTS...............5A CALENDAR..............4B CLASSIFIEDS.....5-8B OPINION.................4A SOCIETY..............6-8A Wed., July 17 SPORTS...............1-3B Hot, 30% chance T-storms TELEVISION.........4B High 91 Low 72

Weather Forecast

Thurs., July 18 Hot, 20% chance T-storms High 93 Low 73

Fri., July 19 Mostly sunny High 92 Low 73

Sat., July 20 Mostly sunny, 30% rain High 92 Low 73

Barnwell softball collides with opposition — Sports, 1B

The Big 7 receives donation — News, 2A

“People need to be vigilant and check the bills.” — Todd Gantt, On counterfeit bills.


Volume 137, No. 14

WEDNESDAY, July 24, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Officer injured during chase jonathan vickery Staff Writer

A multi-agency search ensued for three suspects last week after their vehicle struck a Williston police officer’s patrol car. The accident happened just before 2 a.m., Friday, after an officer tried to make a traffic stop. The car, however, did not stop, said Williston Police Chief Roger Kaney. As the car fled down Hwy. 39 toward Springfield, it struck Greg Culp’s patrol car head-on as he was coming off Peacock Street to join the chase, said Kaney. Culp was taken to the hospital

Fisherman found dead jonathan vickery Staff Writer

The body of an “avid” Williston fisherman was found early Thursday morning, July 18, in the Edisto River, a day after he left to go fishing. A i k e n C o u n t y C o ro n e r Tim Carlton said the body of 81-year-old John Champy Sr. was recovered from the river around 4 a.m. “His body and the boat he was operating were found approximately two miles upriver from the Veterans Road boat landing,” he said. The discovery came after friends and concerned residents went to look for Champy when he did not return from a fishing trip Wednesday, July 17, said Carlton. After locating his vehicle at the boat landing, “a search ensued for Mr. Champy” with the assistance of the Williston Rescue Squad and Department of Natural Resources, Carlton said. Champy’s death is considered accidental after an autopsy in Newberry determined he died from “asphyxiation due to drowning,” said Carlton, adding how no other trauma or injuries were found. “No foul play is suspected at this time,” said the coroner. Besides his love of fishing, Champy is remembered for his service to his country in the Korean War, to Williston United Methodist Church, community and his family, according to his obituary on page 7A. Champy is survived by his wife of 57 years, Jackie Champy; daughter, Sharon C. (Wayne) Gleaton of Williston; sons, John C. (Sheryl) Champy Jr. of Beech Island, F. Alan (Melissa) Champy of Snelling; and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


but was released the same day. “He’s feeling good,” Kaney said, but is waiting to hear from the doctor when he can return to work. The suspects’ car, which was reported stolen out of Springfield, fled the scene before crashing again a couple miles down the road by the recycling center on Spur Branch Road. Three black males ran from the vehicle into the nearby woods, Kaney said. Dog teams from the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office and State Law Enforcement Division, as well as a SLED helicopter, searched the Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer wooded area along Hwy. 39 for A SLED helicopter assists local ag e n ci e s i n th e se arch fo r A Williston police car sits out of commission after being struck head-on during a chase. See CHASE, 10A suspects.

Simmons arrested on charges of attempted murder jonathan vickery Staff Writer

An attempted murder suspect is in jail on charges related to a January 2012 shooting. Steven Dewayne Simmons is charged with attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime after being arrested July 13 by the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office, according to his booking report. Police have been searching for the 30-year-old Blackville resident

since a man was shot Jan. 29, 2012, in the parking lot of Jimbo’s convenience store in Barnwell. Barnwell County Sheriff Ed Carroll said Simmons was “taken into custody without incident” and released to the Barnwell County Detention Center. Police are still searching for Simmons’ alleged accomplice, James Edward Person. He is described as a 46-year-old black male, approximately 5-foot 9-inches tall, weighing 190 pounds, according to earlier reports. The BPD and BCSO searched

for Person earlier this year after a deputy spotted him Jan. 23 at a residence behind Huddle House in Barnwell. About an hour and a half into the search, Person was reported to be in the Patterson Mill Road area, but he was never apprehended. Person has warrants for attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Anyone with information on Person’s whereabouts should call the Barnwell Police Department at (803) 259-1838 or dial 911.

Steven Dewayne Simmons

Up close and personal with big trucks, boats and tractors Children and their families enjoyed a morning at Fuller Park while checking out the heavy equipment on hand for the “Touch a Truck” event, July 20. Children had smiles on their faces as they sat in the driver’s seat of several vehicles, from a fire truck to a bull dozer. There was even a monster truck and a Department of Natural Resources boat. The event is meant to allow children to see the vehicles that serve the community and meet the people who operate them.

Bryce Thompson, red shirt, shows his excitement while sitting in a DNR boat as Grayson Thompson sits in the captain’s chair. The pair are joined by Grayson’s mom, Martha Thompson (pink shirt) and aunt Trudy Cheek.

David Purtell/Staff Writer

High school team wins world title Win separated by three ounces jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Two Barnwell teens reeled in the title of 2013 High School Fishing World Finals champions July 20, along with thousands of dollars in scholarships and prizes. By just three ounces, the Barnwell County Career Center Youth Bass Team of Trevor Jeffers and Hunter Bragg beat out 132 other teams from 20 states at the finals last week on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Ark. It was presented by The Bass Federation.

What’s Inside

“It just means a lot to be able to come out here and go out winning, and never have to worry about, hey, we lost by three ounces,” said Jeffers, the son of David and Crystal Jeffers of Barnwell. “Just to know we won; it’s the best feeling in the world and it’s something we will never forget.” “We tried hard and fished hard. It means a lot to me, to the school,” said Bragg, the son of Robby and Gloria Bragg of Barnwell.


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-3B CALENDAR..............4B Wed., July 24 TELEVISION.........5B Sunny/ heat index 103 CLASSIFIEDS.....6-9B High 94 Low 73

See FISH, 10A Trevor Jeffers and Hunter Bragg with their winning catch.

Contributed photo

Weather Forecast

Thurs., July 25 Partly sunny/40% rain High 92 Low 72

Fri., July 26 Mostly sunny/30% rain High 91 Low 71

Sat., July 27 Mostly sunny/40% rain High 90 Low 72

Dixie basball gets hits in state tourney — Sports, 1B

grocery store may soon reopen — News, 9A

Tax free weekend starts Aug. 2

Volume 137, No. 15

WEDNESDAY, July 31, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Chase nets three suspects Tax free weekend begins Four invade home, then lead police on chase David purtell Staff Writer

Susan C. Delk/Managing Editor

Tax free weekend is approaching. Area stores are stocking up on school supplies as well as back-to-school clothing. See page 3A for details on free school supply give-a-ways as well.

Three men are in jail and police are still looking for another suspect after an attempted robbery and police pursuit July 23, according to Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. Tiquan Shurod Jenkins, Isaiah Sharif Russell and John Willis Garrett were each charged with attempted armed robbery and possession of a firearm during a violent crime, Gantt said. They are being held at the Barnwell County Detention Center. The police report states four male suspects went to the home of Alex Hayward Jr. on Carokee Lane in Barnwell at 8:10 p.m. and knocked on the door. When Hayward’s daughter answered the door the men said they were looking for “Willie.” She denied them entry and closed the door, but as she walked away the men entered the residence and began yelling ask-

Tiquan Jenkins

John Garrett

ing where “Willie” was. She told police one of the men had a pistol. Hayward told the men to leave, and while at the door one of the suspects pulled out a “chrome revolver” and told Hayward to give him his money. Gantt said he thinks the suspects went to the wrong home but decided to try and rob the residents anyway. The police report states Hayward and his daughter told police who

Isaiah Russell

“Willie” is, and that police were able to contact him. Hayward closed the door and the men left. His daughter told police the suspects left in a beige Chevy Tahoe. Barnwell Police put out a description of the vehicle to other law enforcement agencies. At 9:50 p.m., a Barnwell County Sheriff’s deputy saw a vehicle matchSee CHASE, 10A

EMS contract extended through August jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Rescue squad services are secure for another month after the extension of the Williston Rescue Squad contract with Barnwell County.

The contract was set to expire t o d a y, b u t B a r n w e l l C o u n t y Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. said a one-month extension has been signed. This locks in medical transportation services through the end of August. The month-to-month contract is in place until the new owners

of Southern Palmetto Hospital, formerly Barnwell County Hospital, have transportation services in place. Williams said the hospital has requested proposals for medical transportation services, though more details were not made public of the now privately owned

facility’s plans. Resurgence Management Company purchased the hospital June 12. The asset purchase agreement governing the hospital sale stipulates RMC “shall operate or arrange for emergency and nonemergency medical transportation in Barnwell County.”

The purchase agreement also deems the county will pay a subsidy to RMC for the emergency medical transportation services for two years at the current contract rate – $77,745 per month. In years three, four and five the county will pay less than 25 percent or $225,000.

100 students participate in iTEAMS summer camp jonathan vickery Staff Writer

School may be weeks away, but there was plenty of learning going on last week as 100 young minds from area school districts converged at USC Salkehatchie. The S.C. Governor ’s School for Science & Mathematics held iTEAMS (Innovation, Technology & Entrepreneurship Among Middle Schoolers) summer camps across the state. A $41,400 donation from Savannah River Nuclear Solutions provided the camp at USC Salkehatchie at no cost to the rising seventh and eighth graders from Barnwell, Allendale and Bamberg

counties. Divided into six groups, students spent three-and-a-half days experiencing the adventure of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship through three hands-on, teambased challenges: Creating video games, mobile apps and developing cyber security. “I encountered some obstacles, but I overcame those obstacles with the help of my team and teachers,” said Kristen Ulmer, a rising seventh grader at Williston-Elko Middle School. Her group created a computer game about cyber security featuring a shark and other underwater creatures. The week culminated July 25 with students presenting their projects before school officials, family

members and a panel of judges. “You are really inspirational, amazing students,” said Kim Bowman with the GSSM during the closing ceremony. “You’re making really big, really exciting things happen.” In the end, Team Touch Tech won the competition with their invention of My Multi Touch, a programmable remote control with a thumbprint sensor that detects the individual user and automatically loads their profile and preferences. The team performed a live skit about their product and designed a commercial using computer software. They also came up with

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Local students Danielle Edwards, Chloe Towne and Emily Williams See CAMP, 10A perform a skit for their product demonstration during the camp.

Towns may not hold elections for council, mayor David purtell Staff Writer

There may not be any elections in Barnwell and Williston this year, which means new council members and a new mayor could assume power without receiving any votes. Barnwell City Council had a special called meeting Tuesday night, after press time, to discuss the issue, and Williston Town Council is having one today at 6 p.m. To read what happened in Barnwell, check our website at

| The reason for the debate is every candidate on both ballots is running unopposed, and no write-in candidates filed to be on the ballot before the July 19 deadline. According to state law, if no one files as a writein candidate, then the person who filed during the regular filing period must be declared the winner. In Williston, Mayor Tommy Rivers has decided to step down after 20 years at the helm. Current councilman Jason Stapleton is up for re-election but is running for mayor. Council members Wanda Matthews and Jerry Holmes are also

What’s Inside OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-3B CALENDAR..............4B TELEVISION.........5B CLASSIFIEDS.....6-9B

stepping down. Three new faces are running for at-large council seats in Williston. The three – Chris Rivers, Dwayne Cagle and Shawn Eric Moody – will be awarded the vacated council seats if there is no election. Over on Barnwell City Council, current councilmen Benjamin Duncan, District 3, and Robert Pattillo, District 5, filed for re-election while J.T. Atkinson, District 1, did not. William B. Dozier filed to run for the District 1 seat. No one else filed to run for any of the three seats. In the past, both Barnwell and Williston always held elections even


when candidates were unopposed. Why? Because both have the same attorney, Thomas Boulware, who has always insisted on holding elections even when they may not be necessary. But at the July 8 Williston council meeting, interim town administrator Roger LeDuc told council members the election is not necessary. Boulware said at the meeting that he insists on holding elections to avoid any conflict. Asked Tuesday about the situation, Boulware said he couldn’t comment about it because it deals with his clients, the municipalities.

The incentive for not having an election is to save the towns a couple thousand dollars each. Even if elections – scheduled for Sept. 10 – are held and someone decides to run a write-in campaign the day of the election, it wouldn’t matter because the law states the votes can’t be counted. State Law 7-13-190(e) states: When no person has filed a declaration to be a write-in candidate pursuant to this section, the candidate who filed for the office must be declared the winner by the authority charged See ELECTIONS, 10A

Weather Forecast

Wed., July 31 Mostly cloudy High 88 Low 71

Thurs., August 1 Mostly cloudy High 88 Low 72

Fri., August 2 Mostly sunny High 90 Low 73

Sat., August 3 Sunny High 91 Low 73

Teams gear up for fall football — Sports, 1B

400 backpacks given out — News, 3A

School calendar! Look for your copy inside! Barnwell County’s


School Calendar

The People-Sentinel A Product of

Volume 137, No. 16

WEDNESDAY, August 7, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

No elections; new officials As no opponents file for office, local municipalities vote to forgo election

David Purtell/Staff Writer

Summer ending with a splash

It was a wet and wild day at Fuller Park Friday as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Carolina held the last day of their summer program. Children from the Barnwell, Blackville and Allendale clubs laughed and yelled as Barnwell Fire Chief Tony Dicks sat atop a fire truck and drenched them with the water cannon. They played on the slipand-slide, flew down the water slide and lined up for ice cream.

David purtell Staff Writer

There will not be an election held this year for Barnwell City Council and Williston Town Council after both bodies voted on the issue last week. The candidates who filed to run in both elections will be awarded council seats without receiving any votes. And yes, it’s legal. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, current councilman Jason Stapleton will become mayor of Williston in October. And the town will also have three new councilmen - Chris Rivers, Dwayne Cagle and Shawn Eric Moody. In Barnwell, current councilmen Benjamin Duncan and Robert Pattillo will retain their seats for District 3 and District 5, respectively. Newcomer William B. Dozier will be awarded the seat assigned to District 1. The man who currently holds that seat, J.T. Atkinson, did not file for re-election. Barnwell City Council voted unanimously not to hold the election during a special-called meeting July 30. The consensus among the council members was it’s the “safest” thing to do given what the law says. Williston Town Council held a meeting July 31 and voted 4-0 against holding the election. Mayor Tommy Rivers and Jason Stapleton recused themselves from the meeting to avoid any conflict of interest. Councilman Jerry Holmes, who is not running for re-election this year, was not at the meeting. Section 7-13-190 of the South Carolina state law allows municipalities to not hold elections when candidates on the ballot are running unopposed. In fact, the law says if no person has filed to be a write-in candidate then the candidate who filed during the normal filing period must be declared the winner by the authority in charge of the election - the county Voter Registration and Election Office. All candidates on the ballot in both towns are running unopposed and no one filed as a write-in candidate before the July 19 deadline. Even if there were an election - originally scheduled for Sept. 10 for both towns - the law says the votes cannot be counted. The law conflicts with what has always been part of the American democratic tradition: You can vote for whom you want when you want. That was part of the discussion during the Barnwell meeting. “It used to be that you could write-in the day of election,” Mayor Pro Tem Pickens Williams Sr. said. “Well that’s the way the (U.S.) constitution reads,” Mayor Ed Lemon replied. “You still can, if you hold the election,” Naomi DeFfrenn, Barnwell County elections director, said. But in this case, those votes wouldn’t be counted. See VOTE, 10A

Local schools are not making the grade Half of the county’s public schools fail latest test

jonathan vickery Staff Writer


Two of Barnwell County’s three school districts – and half of their schools – did not meet the state’s educational expectations on their federal report cards, according to letter grades released

Aug. 1 by the State Department of Education. All three districts saw a drop from their 2012 grades, though Williston District 29 still earned the highest marks locally with an 85.7 (a ‘B’). Barnwell District 45 earned a 61.7 (‘D’) and Barnwell 19 received a 43.6 (‘F’), – both below the state’s expectation of a “C” or higher. This was the second year South Carolina schools and districts received letter grades under a federal

waiver from certain parts of No Child Left Behind. They replace the “all or nothing” system of Adequate Yearly Progress where just one missed objective meant a school did not meet AYP – the same as one who missed multiple objectives. District grades are calculated using school grades, which are based on student achievement and graduation rates. It sets Annual Measureable Objectives that need

See complete stories from each county school district on page 9A. to be met by all students and any subgroup with 30 students or more per school. This year, the annual measureable objective increased from three to five points. Therefore, a school could have the same average as last year and still not earn the same grade as last year.

Credit can be lost if a school does not have the mandated 30 students in a subgroup. Subgroups are broken down by gender, race, students with disabilities and students receiving subsidized meals. See GRADED, 9A

Recreational businesses discussed for area jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Local city, county and economic development leaders met July 30 to discuss how to attract recreational businesses to Barnwell. The meeting came at the request of Barnwell County Councilman Jerry Creech. He wants to give residents, especially the young people, things to do so they will stay here. “There’s an outflow of young people


from all three counties around here,” he said of Barnwell, Bamberg and Allendale. Unlike the bowling alley, skating rink and multiple drive-in movie theaters his generation had growing up in Barnwell County, Creech said, “We’ve got nothing for our youth to do.” He’s spoken with owners of nearby businesses, like the Aiken bowling alley, about possible partnerships and what it takes to open a recreational business.

What’s Inside OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-3B CALENDAR..............4B TELEVISION.........6B CLASSIFIEDS.....7-9B

He said funding and finding the right location – most likely in the city of Barnwell – are crucial. “We’re not going to do anything without funding,” said Creech. He suggested four possible ways to approach this: private ownership with tax breaks, county ownership and lease, getting grants, or charging interest to an industry in a 50-50 partnership. Jason Thomas with Strategic Cap-


Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Local leaders gathered July 30 to discuss ideas for bringing recreational See FUN, 10A businesses to Barnwell County.

Weather Forecast

Wed., August 7 Partly sunny High 92 Low 71

Thurs., August 8 Partly sunny High 93 Low 73

Fri., August 9 Partly sunny High 90 Low 72

Sat., August 10 Mostly sunny High 91 Low 73

Back-toschool bash — News, 9A

Tigers tackle devils in scrimmage — Sports, 1B

They have been selling out on Tuesdays...

— Michael Shumaker Barnwell Farmers Market.

(News, 2A)

Volume 137, No. 17

WEDNESDAY, August 14, 2013

One dead; two injured

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Time to hit the books JDA students are first to return to class

Police search for suspects after two Barnwell shootings A Barnwell man is dead and two others are injured after two separate shootings over the weekend. Police and EMS were dispatched Aug. 10 around 1 a.m. after an unresponsive man was discovered on the ground in front of a Clinton Street home near the Maple Glen Apartments. “He was bleeding and not breathing” and was declared dead when EMS arrived, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward identified the victim as 31-yearold Artist Weathersbee. He died of “one gunshot wound to the chest,” said Ward. In statements to police, several individuals said they heard three gunshots 30 to 40 minutes before Weathersbee’s body was discovered, but did not call 911, said Gantt. No suspects have been named, but Gantt said they are following some leads. Later the same day, gunshots rang out just before 11:30 p.m. at the Big T Night Club on Marlboro Avenue after a fight inside the club. As two male victims were leaving in a car, the unidentified suspect, who also had gone to his car, “fired a number of rounds inside the vehicle,” said Gantt. Both victims were hit once. A club security guard shot at the suspect, though it’s unclear if he was hit. The suspect fled the scene and has not been caught as of press time. The victims were treated at Southern Palmetto Hospital – formerly Barnwell County Hospital – one was shot in the hand and the other in his side. They have both been released, said Gantt. Gantt said they have the name of a suspect, but can’t release it right now since the case has been handed over to the State Law Enforcement Division. Anyone with information should call the Barnwell Police Department at (803) 259-1838 or Crimestoppers at 1-888-274-6372. jonathan vickery Staff Writer

David Purtell/Staff Writer

Carolyn Shealy with Jefferson Davis Academy, greets students on their first day back to school Tuesday. Barnwell County Public Schools begin classes Monday, August 19.

Grant money pouring in David purtell Staff Writer

Two local towns have received more than $1 million for water projects in the past few months. The city of Barnwell has been awarded Community Development Block Grant funds for the Hagood Avenue water project. The grant – federal dollars distributed by the state Department of Commerce – totals $484,907 and

will go toward replacing the sewer line along Hagood Avenue and Colonial Drive. Also, fire hydrants will be placed in the Colonial Drive and Oak Lane area, and the Peach Tree Gardens Road and Elberta Circle area in order to meet state code. Currently, there is one hydrant serving Peach Tree Gardens and Elberta, one on Oak Street and two on Colonial Drive. Construction will begin next year.

Blackville has also been awarded $469,000 in CDBG funds for its water system. The town has received nearly $1.5 million in various grant funding this year. In June, Blackville was awarded a $350,000 infrastructure grant from the state for its wastewater treatment plant. The town has also received the $500,000 grant for phase two of the South Boundary revitalization project. Construction for the project is also scheduled to begin next year.

Kidnapping leads to wreck jonathan vickery Staff Writer

A kidnapping suspect is in jail after allegedly breaking into an apartment and taking three children including two of his own. It all started around 4 a.m. Aug. 9 with what Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt described as a “parental kidnapping.” Demontay Markeith Payne, 24, of 25 Wingo Estates Road, Barnwell, is accused of kicking in the door of an apartment at Litchfield and taking three children, ages one, four and six, said Gantt. Payne was later spotted by a Barnwell County sheriff’s deputy on Emerald Lane, but jumped out of his car and ran on foot. A chase ensued and ended with the sheriff’s bloodhounds locating Payne in a trailer at the Wingo Estates off Hwy.


Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Above, two white City of Barnwell Dodge Chargers sit after being damaged in the search for Demontay Payne. 300. “He was apprehended without Carroll said Payne is charged with incident,” said Barnwell County failure to stop for blue lights and Sheriff Ed Carroll. driving under suspension. Gantt said The children were also found safe Payne faces a charge of malicious at a nearby residence where Payne See ARRESTS, 10A left them, said Gantt.

What’s Inside OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-3B CALENDAR..............5B TELEVISION.........6B CLASSIFIEDS.....7-10B


17-year-old murder suspect captured jonathan vickery Staff Writer

A teenager accused of shooting four people, one fatally, during a three-month crime spree in Barnwell County has been captured in northeastern Pennsylvania. Dustin Williamson, 17, was arrested Aug. 6 in Tobyhanna, which is in the Pocono Mountains, said U.S. Marshal Martin Pane. Williamson is accused of fatally shooting Roger Issac in the face May 30 in Blackville. Williamson is facing a murder charge in Issac’s death. He’s also facing three attempted murder charges after allegedly shooting and wounding two people in March and a fourth person in June, all of which took place in the city of Barnwell, according to Barnwell County authorities. He was also wanted on charges of armed robbery and weapons offenses. Through a tip, the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force tracked Williamson to northeastern Pennsylvania. He was caught by U.S. marshals working with Pocono Mountain Regional Police officers in Tobyhanna. “He was taken without incident,” said Blackville Police Chief John Holston. “The coordination and cooperation demonstrated by law enforcement in this case ensured that an extremely dangerous and unpredictable fugitive was taken off the streets,” Pane said in a statement. Williamson has been extradited to South Carolina where “he will answer to all the charges in Barnwell County,” said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. A bond hearing will take place today at 11 a.m. in Barnwell. The Associated Press contributed to this story. Dustin Williamson

Weather Forecast

Wed., August 14 Mostly cloudy/T-storms High 84 Low 71

Thurs., August 15 Cloudy/T-storms likely High 81 Low 69

Fri., August 16 Mostly cloudy/T-storms High 82 Low 70

Sat., August 17 Mostly cloudy/T-storms High 82 Low 70

Streets, Yards flood with heavy rains — News, 3A

Football Friday nights are here! Special Preview of local teams

Volume 137, No. 18

WEDNESDAY, August 21, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages + Tab/ 75 cents

Williamson extradited; denied bond

Dustin Williamson was denied bond last week on multiple charges, including murder. Multiple law enforcement agencies had been searching for the 17-year-old Barnwell teen since naming him a suspect in a three-month crime spree. He was captured Aug. 6 in Pennsylvania by the U.S. Marshals and extradited back to Barnwell County. “Considering all things, I’m going to do a no bond on all charges,” said Magistrate Judge Lawson Holland during Williamson’s Aug. 14 bond hearing. Williamson is also facing possession of a weapon during a violent crime charge in the shooting death of Roger Isaac in Blackville. He’s facing three counts of attempted murder plus charges of armed robbery and possession of a weapon during a violent crime in three separate incidents in the city of Barnwell. Speaking to the victims and their families in the courtroom, Judge Holland said, “He will not get out.” Williamson will remain in jail until his case is heard. No court dates have been released as of press time. jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Timeline March 13: Zachary Lynwood Thomas is shot in his abdomen around 9 p.m. after someone broke into his Hagood Avenue home. A little while later, Christopher Neal is struck in the head with a pistol at the Litchfield apartments. Williamson was later named a suspect in both cases. May 30: Roger Lee Isaac is fatally shot at the corner of Dewitt Street and Oak Avenue in Blackville. June 17: Denmark resident Wesley Depores Hanberry is shot in the stomach near Bush Street in Barnwell. June 20: Christopher Andrew Fuller, Williamson’s alleged accomplice in the June 17 shooting, is arrested. Aug. 6: U.S. Marshals arrest Williamson in northeastern Pennsylvania. Aug. 13: Williamson is extradited back to Barnwell County.

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Dustin Williamson is escorted into the courtroom by deputies Aug. 14.

Monsoon season? Brandon Wiggins was arrested Friday at this home on Clinton Street.

Wiggins arrested

Susan C. Delk/Managing Editor

The rains fell Monday, and they kept falling. Most areas of the county are reporting between four and six inches of rain that fell after noon Monday, resulting in major but isolated flooding around the county. The rising waters prompted local officials to put out “water on road” signs, but some areas had to be completely blocked off. The intersection of Bombay and Berry streets just off Dunbarton Boulevard in Barnwell, was completely immersed for hours after the rain stopped. See page 3A for more flood pictures. Also, visit our Facebook page for sights from around the county.

School bells ring

David Purtell/Staff Writer


What’s Inside

Brandon Wiggins


County approves first step for $10 million bond jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Joshua Saxton, power school coordinator at Macedonia Elementary, directs students as they enter the school. Barnwell County’s three public schools began classes Monday. See more back-to-school photos on page 10A and on The PeopleSentinel’s Facebook page.

Susan C. Delk The man Managing Editor accused of murdering Artist Weathersbee was arrested Friday at a Clinton Street home. Brandon Lamar ‘Brad’ Wiggins, 29, was “arrested without incident,” according to Barnwell City Police Chief Todd Gantt. Gantt said his office, along with the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office served an arrest warrant along with a search warrant at 1731 Clinton Street around 2:30 p.m. “He (Wiggins) was in the residence at the time” of the search, Gantt said. Wiggins faces charges ranging from one count of murder to

Barnwell County Council approved the first step in acquiring $10 million in installment purchase revenue bonds for two projects - a new wing on the jail and paying off renovation costs on the administration building. Council discussed the installment purchase plan during their Aug. 13 meeting as an option to alleviate the problems with the Barnwell County Detention Center’s old wing and pay off costs associated with the renovation of the administration building. “We’re trying to be proactive and solve a problem before it becomes a problem,” said Councilman Keith Sloan. Under the plan, the county would


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“make incremental payments” annually for up to 25 years before the property is fully theirs, said Michael Kozlarek, a public finance attorney representing the county. He said this is a “permanent” financing plan that replaces the general obligation bond the county took out two-and-a-half years ago to pay a contractor for renovations to the administration building. It does not impact the county’s debt service, he said. Barnwell County received $1.7 million from a settlement over flaws in the construction of the building, which did not fully cover all costs. The remaining $3.4 million from the original bond along with attorney’s fees would be rolled into the new bond. The $18,959,180 plan includes $8,539,180 in interest over 25 years, though Brent Robertson with Mer-

chant Capital said it could be paid back sooner with less interest. “I love seeing the debt go away early,” he told council. Robertson presented council with a repayment plan based on the county’s current financial outlook. It does not account for any changes, such as new industry or millage increases, that could bring in more revenue. “The county can get the money (for the payments) from any number of sources,” he said, including funds that will be freed up in the coming years from hospital and rescue squad payments. Barnwell County Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. said a new wing is needed at the jail because the old one is a “bad situation waiting to happen.” He encourages anyone to tour the jail and see the See COUNTY, 10A

Weather Forecast

Thurs., August 22 Partly sunny High 86 Low 70

Fri., August 23 Mostly sunny High 89 Low 70

Sat., August 24 Mostly sunny High 87 Low 69

Blue devils fall — Sports, 1B

Whatever we do, we want to cover everybody.

— Tommy Boyleston, On contributed fees for the Barnwell County Career Center.

(News 3A)

Volume 137, No. 19

WEDNESDAY, August 28, 2013

Committing to fight

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Two face charges in Florida jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Two Barnwell County residents are facing Florida charges for the firebombing of a carport in Florida earlier this year. James Cohen Williams, 23, of Blackville, was arrested “without incident” by the U.S. Marshals Aug. 15 in Barnwell County. He is being held at the Barnwell County Detention Center until he is sent back to Florida to face charges of arson, possession of a firebomb and burglary, said Dep. Amanda Lyons with the U.S. Marshals. This comes after the July 6 arrest of 23-year-old Crystal Bolen by the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office. The Barnwell resident faces the same charges as Williams. Williams and Bolen are two of five people the Holmes County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office says firebombed a carport in February, according to a HCSO incident report.

Allie Padgett pledges to join the fight to end cancer. See story on 10A.

James Cohen Williams

Crystal Bolen


ACT scores dip slightly in county, nation jonathan vickery Staff Writer

As South Carolina’s graduating class saw improved scores on the ACT college entrance exam, Barnwell County followed the national average with a slight dip. All three of Barnwell County’s public schools saw gains in English, though composite scores varied. Barnwell High and WillistonElko High schools’ composite scores each dropped a half point or less. Blackville-Hilda High School remained at their 2012 score of 15.2,

according to data released Aug. 21 by the State Department of Education (SDE). On the state level, the mean composite score was 20.1 for public students and 20.4 for all students. The national average was a little higher at 20.9 for both public students and all students. Performing well on the ACT – or on the SAT – is important for entrance to South Carolina colleges. SAT scores have not yet been released for 2013. The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam designed to measure the academic skills that

It’s almost that time of year again. Election filings are now open in Blackville, Hilda and Kline but the filing period ends Friday, Aug. 30. In Blackville, three council seats will be up for grabs. In Hilda and Kline, two seats will be filled in each town. Residents who wish to run for one of the at-large seats in Blackville can file with the town clerk for a filing fee of $75. Kline and Hilda do not require a filing fee for their council seats. All elections are scheduled for Nov. 5. Voters need to register by Oct. 5 to be eligible to vote. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Labor Day closings All local governmental offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 2, in observance of the Labor Day holiday. The People-Sentinel office will also be closed and we will have early deadlines for submissions for the Sept. 4 edition. Classified line ads and legal ads are due by Thursday at noon. Display ads and society announcements are due Thursday by 5 p.m. Church news, community calendar items, obituaries and letters to the editor are due by Friday at 8:30 a.m.


What’s Inside

ACT results

Legislative wrap-up held

Filed yet?

are taught in schools and is used as an indicator for success in firstyear college courses. The SAT is an implied learning test that measures State mean composite 20.1 how students think based on their National mean composite 20.9 experiences both in and out of the classroom setting, states a SDE BHS 18.9 press release. Scores are from students who WEHS 17.7 graduated in 2013, regardless of when they took the test during BHHS 15.2 their high school careers. The ACT includes four subtests: English, eight more students take the test. mathematics, reading, and science scale, according to the release. Participation was also down reasoning. Scores are reported in each of those as well as the overall state-wide. BHS and WEHS were See ACT, 10A composite score using a 36-point no exception, though BHHS had

Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Education, local revenue and pending state bills topped the list of concerns for area politicians at the legistlative wrap-up Monday. The Barnwell County Chamber of Commerce hosted the event at the Barnwell County Library. Senator Brad Hutto, Rep. Lonnie Hosey and Barnwell County Councilman Freddie Houston took to the podium to let residents know about some accomplishments and to forecast what will be on tap for the coming year. Educational issues topped the question and answer session. Dr. Tom Siler, Williston D29 superintendent, said 75 percent of children in Barnwell County live in poverty and he questioned Senator Hutto on the voucher bill that may be considered next session. Hutto said the bill doesn’t have support in the Senate. He said people deserve a choice in schools but it should be within the public school system.


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-4B CALENDAR..............5B Wed., August 28 TELEVISION.........6B Mostly sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....7-10B High 92 Low 71

Susan C. Delk/Managing Editor

Rep. Lonnie Hosey spoke to a large crowd of constituents during the legislative wrap-up event. Senator Brad Hutto and Councilman Freddie Houston also spoke. Parents have a choice to send their children to a private school if they want, he said, but they should pay for that choice, not taxpayers. When you base school funding on the value of local property it is highly inequitable, Hutto said. South Carolina can put qualified, enthusiastic teachers in every classroom but those teachers often move on to better districts because they are paid more in the urban

areas than in rural areas. “We need to hold harmless those good districts while bringing everyone else up. We shouldn’t fund the private school system until we adequately fund the public school system,” Hutto said. Houston said bill H3265 is aimed at revamping the property tax exemption rules which could greatly See WRAP-UP, 10A

Weather Forecast

Thurs., August 29 Mostly sunny High 94 Low 72

Fri., August 30 Mostly sunny High 890 Low 71

Sat., August 31 Mostly sunny High 89 Low 72

WarHorses smother hawks — Sports, 1B

Back to school — News, 3A

“To me, it’s jobs.”

— Joe Wilson, On funding for local projects.

(News, 2A)

Volume 137, No. 20

WEDNESDAY, September 4, 2013

Not guilty

2 Sections/ 16 pages/ 75 cents

Tragic holiday; 2-year-old drowns

Jury clears Davis of 2012 murder charge Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

The Labor Day holiday weekend turned tragic Sunday afternoonwhen a child lost her life. Just after 6 p.m., Niasia Washington, 2, drowned in a relative’s above ground pool on St. John Road near Kline, said Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward. “The child climbed up the steps (of the pool) and fell in,” he said. According to Barnwell County dispatch and Williston Rescue Squad transmissions during that time, an ambulance was dispatched around 6:10 p.m. to St. John Road for a possible drowning. Kline Fire Department first responders were also called to the scene. Dispatchers notified EMS and first responders that CPR was in progress. One EMS unit came from Hilda while a second, from Blackville, also proceeded to the scene. At 6:32 p.m., the first ambulance arrived at the residence. Within nine minutes, the ambulance began transporting the child to the hospital. The ambulance arrived at Southern Palmetto Hospital (Barnwell) at 6:53 p.m. Washington was pronounced dead at Southern Palmetto Hospital at 7:14 p.m., Ward said. The incident is under investigation by the Barnwell County Coroner’s Office as well as the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office, said Barnwell County Sheriff Ed Carroll, but they are awaiting autopsy results. An autopsy, as required by law, will be performed in the coming days, Ward said. Ward said at this time, he did not expect any criminal charges would be filed. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

In the August term of General Sessions court last week, Tracy Davis was found not guilty of murdering Leon Brown last year. The jury took less than two hours to return the verdict Thursday. Davis was accused of gunning down Brown during an armed robbery at 148 Davis St., Blackville, on Aug. 27, 2012. During the trial, the time leading up to Brown’s death was described as a robbery that went bad. Davis did not take the stand to testify, but Aubrey Bernard Robinson, who is also charged with murder in the death of Brown, did testify. From testimony given in court, Robinson, a cousin and a female went to Columbia Aug. 26 to purchase a pound of marijuana from Leon Brown. After returning from Columbia,

Susan C. Delk/Managing Editor

Tracy Davis (white shirt) enters the courtroom during his trial last week. Robinson said his cousin decided he wanted to purchase more marijuana, possibly four pounds. Robinson set up the deal for the following day. He testified Brown was to come to his cousin Leon Mack’s house in Blackville with the drugs.

On Aug. 27, Tracy Davis called Robinson and they talked about each having money problems. Robinson said, “He (Davis) wanted me to find somebody we could rob.” See TRIAL, 8A

Police pull man from truck submerged in pond A Williston Police officer is being credited with saving one man from drowning. Tommy Chambers, 26, averted death Saturday night in part thanks to Officer Joey Patsourakos. Patsourakos said he heard a Barnwell County Sheriff’s deputy call to dispatch saying he had found a truck submerged upside down in a pond. Patsourakos said he and his partner in Williston decided to go and help the deputy until other help arrived, as the wreck was just outside Williston. Once on the scene, Patsourakos said other law enforcement arrrived as well. He said he offered to go in and make sure no one was in the truck. The water was between three feet to five-and-a half feet deep, he said. Because the truck was upside down, Patsourakos said the cab of the truck was fully submerged. He put his face into the water next to the truck’s window to see if anyone was there. He also used his arm to “sweep” around to check. Finding no one, he returned to See SAFE, 8A the surface. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Rescue contract continued County administrator Pickens Williams Jr. confirmed the county’s contract with Williston Rescue Squad has been continued. Williams said the month-tomonth contract for emergency medical transporation services has been paid for the month of September. Williams did not elaborate as to when Southern Palmetto Hospital may embark on their own emergency transportation contract. He also did not know who the now privately owned hospital may contract with for those services. The county’s three-year contract with WRS ended June 30. Just prior to the contract ending, Barnwell County signed a month-to-month contact with WRS to continue providing the same transporation services as it had been contracted to do for the last few years. Under the hospital sale agreement with Resurgence Management, the new owners are to establish a contract for emergency medical transporation services for the county, but as of press time there has been no word when they may sign a contract. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor


What’s Inside

Susan C. Delk/Managing Editor

Fundraiser brings vendors to town M.O.P.S., Mothers of Preschoolers, held their first fundraiser at Gail Reyes Senior Center Saturday. The event brought in vendors, many of whom had preschool children of their own. M.O.P.S will hold weekly meetings in the area starting later this month.

Blackville short one candidate jonathan vickery Staff Writer

There’s a shortage of candidates for one town council race after filing ended Friday. Incumbents Steve Jowers and Allen Harrison were the only people to file by the Aug. 30 deadline for the Blackville Town Council; however, there are three seats to fill. Russ Reed did not seek reelection. “That seat has to be filled,” said


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-7A SPORTS...............1-4B CALENDAR..............5B Wed., Sept. 4 TELEVISION.........5B Sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....6-8B High 90 Low 71

Naomi DeFrenn, the director of the Barnwell Voter Registration and Elections office. She added there are two outcomes that could happen – both of which involve an election. The first would involve putting Jowers, Harrison and any write-in candidates on the Nov. 5 ballot and letting voters pick three. According to state law, anyone interested in being a write-in candidate must declare with the town hall their intention to run within 14 days of the filing deadline – or Sept.

13, she said. If no one files to run during this period, Jowers and Harrison would be declared winners of their seats. However, an election will be held to fill the third seat. “We will have to have an election for a write-in,” said DeFrenn. Things aren’t quite so complicated in the county’s other races. In Hilda, incumbent H. Chris Delk is seeking re-election, while See FILING, 8A

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Sept. 5 Sunny High 93 Low 68

Fri., Sept. 6 Mostly sunny High 89 Low 67

Sat., Sept. 7 Partly sunny High 86 Low 67

lady devils score tennis win — Sports, 3B

Volume 137, No. 21

WEDNESDAY, September 11, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Never forget Murder charge dropped Robinson pleads to drug charge; set free After his co-defendant was found not guilty of a 2012 murder, Arbre Bernard Robinson had his murder charge dropped. The 30-year-old Williston man was charged in the Aug. 27, 2012, shooting death of Leon Brown in Blackville. The solicitor’s office offered Robinson a plea deal for a lesser first offense drug possession charge. This was in response to his co-defendant, Tracy Maurice Davis, being found not guilty by a jury last month at the Barnwell County Courthouse. “Unfortunately we didn’t have quite enough evidence in the case to bring a conviction,” said Jack Hammack, an assistant solicitor, about the jury’s verdict. The trial’s outcome combined with Robinson’s cooperation is what led the solicitor ’s office to offer Hammack a plea deal. “He was helpful and jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Candidate files for Blackville’s open seat

File photo

Above is the American flag that was flown into Barnwell County by retired Sgt. First Class Dana Bowman during a ceremony which brought the Patriot Flag to Barnwell County in 2010. Barnwell Fire Department will have a similar American flag flying today in the city of Barnwell in honor and remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

PINK photo op Area breast cancer survivors and their families are invited to a special group photo shoot on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 10 a.m. The exact location will be announced once participants sign up. The photo will be featured in The People-Sentinel’s Oct. 2 Pink Edition honoring those who have battled this disease. More than 40 survivors and their family members came out last year to form a pink ribbon around the Sundial in downtown Barnwell. We are also compiling “In Honor Of” and “In Memory Of” lists of those who’ve had breast cancer. If you’re interested in being a part of the photo or adding names to the lists, please contact staff writer Jonathan Vickery at (803) 259-3501 or A form is also available online at to add names to the lists. jonathan vickery Staff Writer

did come forward and admit his role,” said Hammack of Robinson. During Davis’ trial, Robinson testified he and Davis hatched a plan to steal drugs from Brown during a drug deal Robinson had set up. He admitted to grabbing a trash bag full of marijuana, while Davis held a gun at Brown. Robinson said he then ran to Arbre Robinson his car, but Davis was the one who shot Brown. Hammack said Robinson was sentenced to five years in jail, suspended upon the time he’s already served – roughly a year. He has been released.

David purtell Staff Writer

The empty slot on Blackville’s election ballot has been filled. Fred Orr, a former math teacher at Blackville-Hilda High School and long-time resident of the town, filed as a write-in candidate for the at-large seat last week. Orr is looking to the fill the void left by Councilman Russ Reed, who is not running for re-election. In a press release, Orr said, “Before the council seat was left without a candidate, I never considered running for public office. But after prayer and reflection, I believe that I must take this opportunity to step forward and offer my service and dedication in helping the mayor and town council with their continued efforts to improve the town

of Blackville.” The release also says Orr graduated from Brookland-Cayce High School and earned both a B.S. and a M.A.T. from the University of South Carolina. He has seminary degrees from Trinity Theological Seminary and Andersonville Baptist Seminary. “Job creation and support of affordable, safe housing by groups such as the Blackville Community Development Corporation will be top priorities for me,” Orr said. The election will be held Nov. 5. Council members Allen Harrison and Steve Jowers are running for re-election and currently have no opposition. Anyone wishing to run for office has until Friday to file as a writein candidate with the town clerk. There is no filing fee for write-in candidates.

Fred Orr

Rivers steps down after 25 years of service David purtell Staff Writer

Williston Mayor Tommy Rivers is a good man. That sentiment was repeated by friends, family, colleagues and residents during an open house Sunday honoring Rivers, who is leaving office this month after 25 years of service. He was first elected to town council in 1988, and before that served on the school board. His last official council meeting was Monday night. People flooded the town’s fire department to celebrate the man who has led the small community since 1993 – when he replaced former mayor Buddy Brady.


Rivers shook hands and gave hugs as familiar faces voiced their appreciation for his commitment to the town. Rivers was humble when talking about his career, saying most of his success is due to the great people he’s worked with over the years. “Williston doesn’t have a lot of assets, but we have the best people in the world,” he said. When Rivers, 72 with a sharp wit and soothing smile, was first elected mayor, the town was running a deficit. Today, Williston has a $1 million surplus in its reserve fund. Rivers said the secret to the town’s success over the last two decades was a stable town council that worked together and bonded as friends. “We were very close,” he

What’s Inside

said. Two of those council members, Wanda B. Matthews and Jerry “Tuna” Holmes, are also leaving council this month. “Tommy is like a father,” Holmes said, “We tried to do what was right for Williston.” Matthews said Rivers is her “friend, pharmacist and mentor.” Things weren’t always easy, Rivers said, and a lot of times council had to do things that were unpopular. ”But you still have to do what you think is right,” he said. Rivers said his proudest accomplishment is the walking trail – built out of an old railroad bed that runs through the heart of town. He also


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-5B CALENDAR..............6B Wed., Sept. 11 TELEVISION.........7B Sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....8-10B High 92 Low 66

David Purtell/Staff Writer

Mayor Tommy Rivers, right, received a plaque from the State House of See RIVERS, 10A Representatives honoring his years of service to the town.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Sept. 12 Sunny High 92 Low 69

Fri., Sept. 13 Sunny High 89 Low 66

Sat., Sept. 14 Partly sunny High 84 Low 61

Blue Devils level vikings — Sports, 1B

First day of Fall, Sept. 23

Volume 137, No. 22

WEDNESDAY, September 18, 2013

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

Motorcycle wreck kills two Husband and wife take final ride together Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

A Sunday evening motorcycle ride ended in tragedy for one Barnwell couple. David and Carolyn Honor Lee, of Meadow Lane, both died of head trauma after their motorcycle collided with a deer shortly before 8:30 p.m., said Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward.

David, 56, was the driver, and he and his wife, Carolyn, 57, both were wearing their helmets when the crash occurred, said Cpl. Sonny Collins with the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The couple was driving a 2013 Kawasaki motorcycle south on Reynolds Road when the crash occurred near the intersection of Freedom Road. The couple struck a deer and lost control of the motorcycle, Collins said.

According to their obituaries, the Lees had three children and two grandchildren with another on the way. Both were avid motorcycle riders with the Carolina Voyager Association. Both were also members of Seven Pines Baptist Church. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. today. The crash remains under investigation by the SCHP. The intersection where the fatal collision occurred Sept. 15.

SRR layoffs hit 465 workers across region Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

More than 460 people found out last week they no longer have a job at Savannah River Site. Interim SRR President and Project Manager Stuart MacVean issued a statement Thursday indicating the layoffs. “Continuing fiscal challenges require Savannah River Remediation (SRR) to realign its workforce in order to continue safe management of the liquid waste at the Savannah River Site,” MacVean said in the statement. “In order to achieve this re-

alignment, SRR is conducting an involuntary separation program (ISP) to separate approximately 465 employees,” he said. According to the statement, employees were selected for the layoffs based on “forecasts of staffing levels needed to safely support projected scope without the necessity for rehiring of separated employees or backfilling of the positions of separated employees.” Those issued pink slips had their final day of work that day as SRR paid them for two weeks in lieu of working, said Dean Campbell, the public affairs manager for SRR. Campbell said although the

company keeps data on where employees live, that information was not used in determining who would be laid off. Campbell did not release how many of the 465 workers were from Barnwell County. Campbell said severed employees will also receive a severance payment equal to one week’s pay for each full year of eligibility service up to a maximum of 26 weeks. Their medical coverage can be continued under the DOE Displaced Worker Medical Benefit Program (DWMBP) or Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Outplace-

ment services are available to all employees through the State of Georgia Department of Labor and/or the State of South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, MacVean said. ISP employees who meet plan eligibility requirements can elect to retire under the Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC Multiple Employer Pension Plan and receive associated retirement benefits. ISP employees who are eligible will receive a Preferencein-Hiring for positions with DOE and its contractors, MacVean said. “I regret that we have to take this step, but I encourage you to

Primary PTO funds embezzled jonathan vickery Staff Writer

The treasurer of the Barnwell Primary School Parent Teacher Organization is accused of using hundreds of dollars in organization funds for personal use. Briana Marie Johnson, 28, of 194 Hidden Valley Trail, Barnwell, was arrested Aug. 29 by the Barnwell County Sheriff ’s Office. She is charged with embezzlement. The arrest came after the school performed a routine check and balance on the PTO’s checkbook at the start of the school year, something they do several times a year. “It didn’t balance,” said BPS Principal

Donna Selvey. “Once we suspected anything, we immediately turned it over to the sheriff’s office.” The PTO’s checkbook was balanced before school ended in June, she said. Surveillance cameras at area banks, ATMs and stores revealed Johnson, who was in charge of the PTO’s checkbook and debit card account, withdrew money and wrote checks for personal use, the report states. These charges and withdrawals occurred over the summer, said Selvey. “These withdrawals were not authorized or used for Barnwell PTO,” states a BCSO incident report.

After her arrest, Johnson admitted to using the debit card several times and writing two checks for personal use – one in the amount of $650 and one for $200. She purchased food at McDonald’s as well as clothes and other items from Walmart, states the report. When Johnson was arrested, she turned over the checkbook and debit card to the arresting officer, the report states. Johnson was released to the Barnwell County Detention Center. In light of the incident, Selvey said they are adding more checks and balances to try and prevent this from happening again. This includes having two people sign off on any transfer of funds, she said.

Briana Marie Johnson

jonathan vickery Staff Writer


What’s Inside

Municipal field set David purtell Staff Writer

Stabbing sends two to hospital Two people are in custody after a stabbing last week following an argument over a cell phone. Barnwell police were called to Lot B1 at the Country Park Manor on Sept. 10 around 9:12 p.m. for a fight in progress. When police arrived, they found two men with wounds, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. A 26-year-old man was stabbed at least once on the backside of his upper left shoulder area. He was airlifted to an area hospital, said Gantt. The other victim, a 17-year-old, was transported by EMS to Southern Palmetto Hospital, formerly Barnwell County Hospital, for a “cut above the right eyebrow,” Gantt said. Both victims were injured by a third individual during an argument over a cell phone, said Gantt. Renaldo Kennard Owens, 30, of Barnwell, was arrested Sept. 13 by the BPD and charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during See STAB, 12A a violent crime, said Capt. Wayne

avoid the distractions that these workforce changes can cause. Together, we have accomplished much since SRR took over as the SRS Liquid Waste contractor in July 2009. We ask that you continue to focus on achievement of this critical mission, and watch out for each other’s safety. The safety of each of us is important to your family and co-workers, and it is important to our management team,” MacVean said. Campbell said this was a planned reduction in force and it has been discussed publicly since May. After the layoffs, Campbell said SRR employs about 1,700.

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

The filing period for write-in candidates has closed for the Blackville Town Council election. Council members Steve Jowers and Allen Harrison have declared their intention to run for re-election, and Councilman Russ Reed has decided not to seek re-election. Former Blackville-Hilda High School teacher Fred Orr filed as a write-in candidate. The election is Nov. 5 and the ballot will look like this: Voters will be asked to choose three people to fill the three at-large council seats. Jowers and Harrison will have their names on the ballot, but Orr’s name will not be on the ballot. Those who want to vote for Orr will have to write his name in. The ballot will have three spaces where voters can write in a name.

Last day to register to vote is Oct. 5. For more information, visit

An ambulance leaves the scene with a patient as police investigate.


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A CALENDAR.............10A SPORTS...............1-5B Wed., Sept. 18 T E L E V I S I O N . . . . . . . . . 7 B Mostly sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....8-12B High 81 Low 60

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Sept. 19 Mostly sunny High 83 Low 61

Fri., Sept. 20 Mostly sunny High 87 Low 65

Sat., Sept. 21 Partly sunny High 86 Low 66

local runners compete at invitational — Sports, 4B

“We want to get them active and moving.” — Pam Rush, On the East Smart Move More campaign.

(News, 2A)

Volume 137, No. 23

WEDNESDAY, September 25, 2013

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

Shooting injures two

Chamber awards

Backyard party ends in violence Renee McHenry, right, receives the Small Business award for Barnwell Veterinary Clinic.

Latrecia Hicks, left, receives the Large Business award for Dayco. The awards were presented by Rhonda McElveen. Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

A late-night party in Barnwell turned into chaos Sunday after gun shots rang out, injuring two men. Shortly before 2:30 a.m., bullets were shot from outside an 8-foottall fence covered with black plastic surrounding the yard at 60 Camelia St. where a party was going on, David purtell according to Barnwell Police Chief Staff Writer Todd Gantt. At least four shots were fired, and a 30-year-old North Charleston man at the party was hit in the back. He was taken to the trauma center in Augusta. A 59-year-old Barnwell man was hit in the chin with a possible ricochet. He was treated for a minor wound and released from Southern Palmetto Hospital in Barnwell. Gantt said people at the party claimed they heard five shots, but only four shots have been confirmed. No arrests have been made, but Gantt said police are looking at possible suspects. He added that evidence is being sent to the State Law Enforcement Division.

Virus closes JDA The Light of the Lamb won the Community Service award. Accepting the award were Leon Hutto, right, and Ryan Bragg. jonathan vickery Staff Writer

The Barnwell County Chamber of Commerce recognized three businesses and organizations that make Barnwell County a better place to live Sept. 23. “For us to be successful it’s going to take a combined effort of all those involved,” said Angie Boyles, the chamber’s director. “Nobody can do it alone.” During their annual meeting, the chamber bestowed three awards, including the 2013 Community

Barnwell County Chamber of Commerce Director Angie Boyles, center, gave out door prizes during their annual meeting.

Service Award to Light of Lamb Outreach Ministries and Thrift Store. Barnwell Veterinary Clinic was named Small Business of the Year, while the Large Business of the Year award went to Dayco Products, LLC. The Community Service Award goes to a person or group whose volunteer efforts have helped improve the quality of life. Rhonda McElveen, a chamber board member, said this year’s winner “truly exemplifies those qualities.” Light of the Lamb supports a variety of organizations, including Axis 1, the Legion Ministry soup

kitchen and Ashleigh Place for Girls, as well as assisting victims of fire. “This group of individuals enjoys helping people in the community and we certainly appreciate their efforts,” said McElveen. Leon Hutto with Light of the Lamb gave all the glory to God for the award and the success of their ministry. “We truly believe we’re all blessed with abundantly more than we need,” he said. “We never know when we’re going to fall on hard times.” Barnwell Veterinary Clinic has See AWARDS, 12A

Jefferson Davis Academy is closed for two days after a number of students became sick with some type of virus. The decision came Sept. 23 after 21 children became ill with what Jane Hunter, one of the heads of school, said appears to be a stomach virus. After speaking to the Department of Health and Environmental Control on whether they should close, the administrators and board of the private school decided to close all day on Sept. 24 and 25. “Our children’s health is first and foremost,” said Hunter of the closure. DHEC was notified Monday and the school is working with the agency to investigate the outbreak. DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley said primary symptoms reported are fever and vomiting; but some students also reported body aches. It is always advisable during illness outbreaks to pay close attention to frequent hand washing, as well as coughing into the crook of your sleeve --- not your hand,” said Beasley. Anyone with symptoms should contact their health care provider, he said. As officials at the school in Blackville work to clean the school, students should not return to school until they have been free of fever for 24 hours. “This is mandatory in order to stop this outbreak,” according to a letter on the school’s website. The school will reopen Thursday and all sports events, including Homecoming festivities Friday, are still on schedule, states the letter. jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Scary car wrecks keep first responders busy

School bus rear-ended

Mother injured, child unharmed after crash David purtell & Jonathan vickery Staff Writers

A woman and her child are lucky to be alive after their car crashed into the back of a logging truck Saturday morning. Erica Creech, 36, of Barnwell, was driving south on Red Oak Road around 8:35 a.m. when her 2004 Dodge sedan slammed into the back of a logging truck driven by 36-year-old Bruce Grubbs of

Olar, said Lance Cpl. Judd Jones of the S.C. Highway Patrol. It occurred about one mile west of Highway 3. The truck had a flat tire and was moving about 10 mph when the Dodge crashed into logs hanging off the rear of the truck, Red Oak Fire Chief Joe Gaines said. The driver was ejected from her vehicle, but was able to stand up before being taken away in an ambulance, Gaines said. Her child was in a child safety seat in the back of the

car and was unharmed. Creech was transported to Georgia Regents Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., with “nonlife threatening injuries,” said Jones. A log went directly through the vehicle on the passenger side, Gaines said. “If somebody had been in the passenger side they wouldn’t be here today,” he said. Creech is charged with driving too fast for conditions.

A bus accident interrupted Barnwell Primary students ride home on Sept. 24. At least six students were transported to Southern Palmetto Hospital by ambulance. EMS transmissions to Barnwell County dispatch center indicated the students were being transported for spinal injuries. The extent of those injuries remained unclear as of press time. The accident occurred shortly after 3:30 p.m., when a green Ford Crown Victoria rear-ended school bus Number 3 which was stopped at a bus stop on U.S. 278 near Kline. Children who were not injured were released to their parents through the school. Further details of the crash were not available as of press time. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

David Purtell/Staff Writer

David Purtell/Staff Writer

A Barnwell County Sheriff’s Deputy looks into the car which struck the back a of loaded log truck, Sept. 21.


What’s Inside OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A CALENDAR..............9A SPORTS...............1-5B TELEVISION.........7B CLASSIFIEDS.....8-12B


Emergency crews work to removed injured students from Barnwell School bus number 18 after it was rear-ended.

Weather Forecast

Wed., Sept. 25 Mostly cloudy High 77 Low 62

Thurs., Sept. 26 Mostly cloudy High 77 Low 60

Fri., Sept. 27 Sunny High 83 Low 58

Sat., Sept. 28 Sunny High 81 Low 57

Think Pink

Volume 137, No. 24

WEDNESDAY, October 2, 2013

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

Breast cancer survivors, center, are joined by family, friends and caregivers during our annual PINK survivor photo shoot.

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Hope for a cure: why we Think PINK Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

As with many things, it began as a simple idea – to help raise

have lost the fight. Across Morris Communications and Morris Publishing Group, the message is the same, we are asking you to help us end this terrible disease. Breast cancer affects every race of women and can also affect men. Breast cancer doesn’t care how old you are, how much money you have or what you do for a living. It doesn’t care if you have a large family or if you are flying solo. It doesn’t care if you will be the first in your family or the twentieth. But we care. We care that today, and throughout the years, we make strides to end this killer ’s advance into so many families. Mothers, daughter, sisters, grandmothers,

awareness about breast cancer. Now, six years later, we stand as a company, spreading the messages of hope each October. There are profiles on survivors, articles on breast cancer research and the development of new treatments and therapies. There are articles on what our neighbors across the county and across the world are doing to help fight this disease. There are also pages to remember those who

aunts, cousins or friends, every one knows someone who has battled cancer and more often than not, it’s breast cancer. Not one of us alone can end this disease, but together we can work to stop it in its tracks. Our retired, former executive vice president for Morris Communications and Morris Pubishing James C. “Jim” Currow knows all too well the fight many are going through - his wife fought this disease. It was his vision we bring to life in pink each October, raising awareness and funds. Come walk through our PINK pages and find stories of hope and inspiration as we take one more step in the fight against breast cancer.

Blackville man acquitted of murder killed jonathan vickery Staff Writer

State and local authorities are investigating the shooting death of a man recently acquitted of murder. Officers were called to Sparrow Circle in Blackville around 10:30 p.m. Friday night for a shots fired call. When they arrived they found a man lying in the road,

bleeding from his face and head, said Blackville Police Chief John Holston. B a r n w e l l C o u n t y C o ro n e r Lloyd Ward said the victim, 29-year-old Tracy Maurice Davis of Blackville, was dead of an apparent gunshot wound by the time EMS arrived. Ward confirmed Davis was the man a jury found not guilty last month of the 2012 murder of Leon Brown in Blackville.

Holston said there are no suspects at this time, but the State Law Enforcement Division is investigating with the assistance of his department. Thom Berry, public information officer with SLED, would only confirm his department had been asked to assist in the investigation. He could not estimate a timeline of when additional information would be available. Tracy Davis, center, during his September murder trial.

Starting the day with prayer SCA receives grant for marketing Area students took part in the annual ‘See you at the Pole’ ceremonies across the county. Williston-Elko students gathered on the front lawn of the high school Sept. 25 as the sun began to rise. See additional pictures on page 12A.

Susan C. Delk/Managing Editor


What’s Inside


OPINION.................4A SOCIETY..............10A ARRESTS...............11A SPORTS...............1-6B CALENDAR..............7B Wed., Oct. 2 TELEVISION.........7B Sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....8-12B High 85 Low 58

Laura j. Mckenzie Regional Publisher

SouthernCarolina Alliance is planning to set up an opportunity fund to invest in the marketing and infrastructure of the SCA’s

six-county region. SCA President and CEO Danny Black told the board of directors that the money is coming from an Opportunity Grant allotted by the South Carolina General Assembly. “We’re thrilled to get the funding,” said Black. The money will be used for economic development marketing and creation of infrastructure in Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties. Black said the SCA has been See SCA, 12A allotted $475,000 from the state,

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Oct. 3 Mostly sunny High 84 Low 63

Fri., Oct. 4 Sunny High 87 Low 64

Sat., Oct. 5 Mostly sunny High 86 Low 65

(W-H) Devils outmuscle warhorses — Sports, 1B

D45 Teacher of the year announced — News, 2A

Volume 137, No. 25

WEDNESDAY, October 9, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Four-legged friends blessed

1,400 furloughs jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Rev. Robert Horn of the Holy Apostles Church sprinkles holy water on “Harry Windsor”, held by Debbie Enger, as Harry’s brother “William” waits his turn from the lap of owner Marie Lee. Their brother “Dudley” also came to the event with his owner, Jane Enbler (center.) They were among eight dogs and four cats that were blessed at the Oct. 6 Blessing of the Animals event at Darnell Park in Barnwell.

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Approximately 1,400 Savannah River Remediation employees are furloughed until further notice. Employees were notified through a message last week about the furloughs - or an involuntary unpaid leave of absence - which are the result of the government shutdown. “As you are probably aware, the annual funding for the Federal Government expired at midnight on September 30. Although the Department has been able to fund some continued activity for this contract following that date, the continued lapse in appropriations is having a significant impact on continued operations requiring us to make certain employment decisions. Therefore, some Savannah River Remediation employees will be furloughed until further notice,” states the message from SRR. Only around 360 employees will remain during the furlough period “to maintain liquid waste facilities in a safe and non-operating mode,” continues the message. It is unclear how long furloughs will last as funding depends on government appropriations.

Local building could be donated for recreation Headed by a county councilman, group aims to bring activities to county jonathan vickery Staff Writer

The owner of a local building may be interested in donating it to be used for a recreational business. That was one topic discussed during the Oct. 1 recreation meeting at the SouthernCarolina Alliance office – the second in recent months. It’s part of a campaign spearheaded by Barnwell County Councilman Jerry Creech to offer residents more things to do. Several county, town and economic development officials were in attendance. Creech said someone is interested

in donating a 10,000 square foot building in Barnwell to someone who would open up a recreational business, such as a bowling alley or skating rink. No other details were provided. “We want to focus our attention on one of them, the one that’s most feasible,” said Creech. Robert Dutcher, who owns Strikehouse Bowl in Aiken, was also at the meeting. He said he is “very interested” in coming to Barnwell County but is not sure now is the right time. “There’s profit to be made if there’s money to be spent,” he told the group. Barnwell Parks and Recreation

Director Mike Shumaker said he doesn’t think it’s a good idea to focus on one place or type of business, especially since money is tight for many people. Instead, he suggested utilizing existing resources, such as the school-owned Hagood gym in Barnwell, and promoting events in the county that are free or low cost. Dr. Bob Brookover with the Clemson University International Institute for Tourism Research and Development discussed the findings of a tourism survey they did for the county. It includes suggestions for Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

See RECREATION, 10A Recreational meeting brought together ideas and local leaders.

No details in shooting death

Stapleton takes helm David purtell Staff Writer

Williston Town Council has a new mayor for the first time in two decades. Jason Stapleton will lead his first council meeting Monday. Stapleton, 36, was sworn in as mayor Oct. 1 during a small, short ceremony at town hall. He takes over for Tommy Rivers, who led the town for 20 years before deciding not to run for re-election this year. Stapleton is a life-long resident of Williston and graduated from David Purtell/Staff Writer Williston-Elko High School. He Jason Stapleton was sworn into office as the mayor of Williston and his wife, Tiffany, have two during an Oct. 1 ceremony. Stapleton’s wife, Tiffany, held the Bible as See MAYOR, 10A Barnwell County Clerk of Court Rhonda McElveen issued the oath.


What’s Inside


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-5B CALENDAR..............6B Wed., Oct. 9 TELEVISION.........7B Mostly cloudy CLASSIFIEDS.....8-10B High 70 Low 56

Details are still limited in the Sept. 27 shooting death of a man recently acquitted of murder. Tracy Maurice Davis was found lying in the road bleeding around 10:30 p.m. after Blackville police officers responded to Sparrow Circle for a shots fired call. The 29-year-old, who was acquitted a month prior by a jury in the 2012 murder of Leon Brown in Blackville, was pronounced dead at the scene. The State Law Enforcement Division is handling the case, but has not released any new details or named any suspects. “Our investigation is still underway,” said Thom Berry, a SLED spokesman. Berry said a case file report will be done to report their findings after their investigation is complete, but will not be released at that time. Once the case is closed, the file becomes a public document, he said. Although requested, an incident report completed by the Blackville Police Department at the time of the incident, has not been made available as of press time. jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Oct. 10 Partly sunny High 74 Low 55

Fri., Oct. 11 Mostly sunny High 78 Low 56

Sat., Oct. 12 Mostly sunny High 83 Low 56

w-e stops h-k-t — Sports, 2B

fire prevention fun — News, 10A

“We knew with all the support given to us that we wanted to pay it forward”

— Angel Brabham, On the upcoming fundraiser.

(News, 2A

Volume 137, No. 26

WEDNESDAY, October 16, 2013

Blackville plant closes doors

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

Walking for a cure

jonathan vickery Staff Writer

A promise of 212 jobs has disappeared after the closure of NK Newlook in Blackville. The manufacturer of store fixtures and retail interiors announced two years ago they were moving operations from Miami, Fla., to the former Allied Air building in Blackville. With that they promised 212 jobs over five years. The company employed approximately 65 people in the spring; however, the recent loss of a contract with a major client, Pandora Jewelry, forced them to lay off everyone and close. “We had hoped for bigger and better things,” said Marty Martin, the director of the Barnwell County Economic Development Commission. Messages left on the company’s website and voicemail were unreturned as of press time. NK Newlook is in the process of selling its equipment and vacating the building by Nov. 1. The building and land, which the company bought from the EDC, are being deeded back to the EDC after failing to live up to its agreement on an economic development grant it received for cleanup and renovation costs. While he would have rather seen the jobs come in, Martin said the building is a “significant asset”, and is one of two the EDC owns that are vacant. He said two companies have already looked at the 353,000 sq. ft. building. “We’re still working round the clock to get someone in the buildSee CLOSED, 12A

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Walkers show their support of breast cancer awareness during the Community Uplift Program’s annual walk. jonathan vickery Staff Writer

A sea of pink dotted Williston’s Main Street Saturday morning as children, adults and even a dog raised awareness about breast

cancer one step at a time. It was part of the Community Uplift Program’s third annual Breast Cancer Awareness Walk. “We want to try and increase the awareness,” said Etoya Myrick, the event’s organizer. Health is one of the focus areas for the girls’

mentoring program, which also includes education, spirituality and personal development. With one in eight women diagnosed with the disease, Elisa Clifton with Healthwise Family See WALK, 12A

Reids to be rebranded as BI-LO in 2014 David purtell Staff Writer

Reid’s grocery store in Barnwell will become a BI-LO next year, the new owner of the supermarket chain announced last week. Bi-Lo Holdings, LLC, parent company of the BI-LO and Winn-Dixie grocery store chains, announced in May that it had entered into a definitive agreement with Delhaize Group to acquire all of the stores in the Sweetbay, Harveys and Reid’s supermarket chains from Delhaize David Purtell/Staff Writer Although the Barnwell Reid’s store recently received some exterior for $265 million. The sale is set to close before the end of the year. upgrades they will also get a new nameplate in 2014.

There are 11 Reid’s stores in the Midlands and Lowcountry regions. At the time of the sale in May, store officials said over 800 employees were working for the Reid’s chain. Stores will be renamed BI-LO in 2014, a release states. “Pending regulatory review, Bi-Lo Holdings intends to retain all storelevel associates within the stores being acquired and operated,” the release says. Reid Boylston, director of Reid’s and founder of the supermarket chain that bears his name, said, “I have been offered a position with Bi-Lo and, hopefully, we will implement the meat, produce and scratch

deli programs which have made Reid’s stores unique into the Bi-Lo format.” Boylston opened the Barnwell store in 1972. In 1998 Delhaize purchased the store and expanded the chain to its current status of 11 South Carolina stores associated with the Food Lion brand. Besides Barnwell, stores are located in Aiken, Batesburg, Cayce, Hampton, Langley, New Ellenton, Orangeburg, Saluda, St. George and Walterboro. The Sweetbay chain will become Winn-Dixie and the majority of the Harveys stores will keep their name.

Newspaper sells building to area church The People-Sentinel is on the move! The People-Sentinel publisher Laura McKenzie announced this week the building that currently houses the Barnwell newspaper has been sold to Bethany Baptist Church. The 12,780 sq.ft. building and 1.58 acre lot at 9988 Dunbarton Boulevard in Barnwell was owned by Morris Publishing Group, LLC. In the next few months the newspaper will be moving to their new location in the shopping center at 10499 Dunbarton Blvd., next to Tractor Supply. “We’re excited about the sale and think this is a great move for all of us,” said McKenzie. “This was a “win-win” arrangement, providing for a new home for Bethany Baptist Church and the opportunity for The People-Sentinel to right-size itself in the Barnwell business community.” Bethany Baptist Church Pastor Robert L. Altman said he and his congregation are excited. “We needed room and had been exploring building but couldn’t find the property we wanted.” He said a People-Sentinel staffer came into the Light of the Lamb Thrift Store in Barnwell to make a purchase and, during a conversation, a connection was made that the building might be available. “After that, it was a connection after connection. This process has taken almost a year.” Bethany Baptist is currently located about four miles east of Barnwell on Hwy. 70 and serves a multi-cultural congregation of over 206, said Altman. Susan C. Delk/Managing Editor “We hold three services on Sunday to accommodate everyone – at 9:15 a.m., From left are Outreach Director Ryan Bragg, Trustee Adam Altman,Todd Teems Jr., Pastor Robert L. 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.” Altman, Leon Hutto, Barnwell Newspaper Group Regional Publisher Laura McKenzie, James Raber, Youth The current sanctuary can acSee BUILDING, 12A Development Director Brett Bodiford and Secretary Cynthia Key. commodate about 150 people. A Staff The People-Sentinel


What’s Inside


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-5B CALENDAR..............6B Wed., Oct. 16 TELEVISION.........7B Mostly sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....8-12B High 82 Low 61

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Oct. 17 Mostly cloudy High 82 Low 57

Fri., Oct. 18 Partly sunny High 80 Low 54

Sat., Oct. 19 Partly sunny High 79 Low 53

Red Ribbon Week Oct. 23 - 31 special section inside

Hawks race for homecoming win — Sports, 1B

Volume 137, No. 27

WEDNESDAY, October 23, 2013

Girls’ home employee arrested

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

A howling good time

David purtell Staff Writer

An employee at a group home in Blackville has been charged with embezzlement. Shannon Keller Doak, 38, of Barnwell, was arrested Thursday and faces one felony charge of embezzlement of public funds, according to a press release form the State Law Enforcement Division. The warrant states that between May and September of this year, Doak stole $18,500 from her employer, the Ashleigh Place Group Home in Blackville. Shannon Keller Doak According to the warrant, Doak created a fictitious employee and then cashed checks in the fake employee’s name. She used the money for personal needs. The warrant says Doak had administrative duties at Ashleigh Place, a state funded group home for young girls. The charge carries up to 10 years in prison and fines in proportion to the amount embezzled. Doak was booked and released on a personal recognizance bond. SLED conducted the investigation at the request of the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office.

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Doctors, Lawyers and Indian Chiefs performs for the crowd at the Oct. 17 Third Thursday event in downtown Barnwell. The Circle was packed with people, including Kristina and Alex Etheredge. The Etheredges, along with their dogs, Liberty and Lucy, all dressed in Halloween costumes.

Halloween events abound around county Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

or-treat in Barnwell and Williston from 6 to 8 p.m. Those trick-or-treating in Blackville will get an hour head start as Trick-or-treating children will the fun begins at 5 p.m. The Together Sisters will also fill the streets next Wednesday host their annual Halloween party as they celebrate Halloween. Children will be able to trick- at the Blackville Community Cen-

ter during those times. From trunk-or-treating to trick-or-treating and fall festivals, plenty of Halloween fun is planned in Barnwell County over the next week. Look for complete details in our Community Calendar, 9A.

D19 skirts intent of FOIA

One item was removed but board votes on issue not listed on agenda jonathan vickery Staff Writer

The Barnwell District 19 School Board did not fully disclose their reasons for meeting in closed session last week, even after issuing a revised agenda. The first agenda, issued by D19 Oct. 10, called for a closed session during which the board would be presented with an “audit report” as well as a student appeal. After questioning Superintendent Dr. Teresa Pope about the legality of discussing the audit report during closed session, a

revised agenda was issued Oct. 11 excluding the audit discussion completely. According to the revised agenda for their Oct. 14 meeting, the board was supposed to discuss a student appeal in closed session. When they reconvened in open session, the board unanimously approved the resignation of an elementary school employee. They also voted to place one student in the alternative school for the remainder of the school year. “Acting on the resignation without adding it to the published agenda is a de facto amendment of the agenda and illegal,” said Jay Bender, a FOIA expert and attorney for

Hospital opens new offices

the S.C. Press Association. The state’s Freedom of Information Act states that before a public body, such as a school board, votes to enter into closed session they must state the “specific purpose of the executive session.” This was not done concerning the employee matter. When questioned on why the employee matter was not listed on the agenda, Pope said they were informed about it too late to amend the agenda. Pope was referring to a new state law which prohibits an agenda from being amended within 24 hours of the meeting, including during the meeting.

Suspect sought in murder Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Phil Eastman, center, along with (l to r) Jodie Bessinger, Mary Valliant and Dr. Charles Mann, cut the ribbon opening the new physical therapy center and Dr. Mann’s office, across from the hospital.


What’s Inside

“I didn’t want to wait a whole month,” said Pope. She said she didn’t realize the board was going to vote on the resignation and it was not discussed during closed session. She said she merely handed out the resignation letter to the board members. The employee was granted an extended medical leave by the board last month, an issue that was stated on their September agenda, but the employee has since retired. The audit report Although the board was scheduled to See D19, 12A

Blackville Police Chief John Holston said an arrest warrant has been issued in the Tracy Maurice Davis murder. Holston told Blackville mayor and council members of the warrant during their regular meeting, Oct. 21. Davis, 29, who was killed Sept.


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A CALENDAR..............9A SPORTS...............1-5B Wed., Oct. 23 TELEVISION.........6B Sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....7-12B High 73 Low 39

27, had been acquited of the murder of Leon Brown shortly before his death. Officers were called to Sparrow Circle in Blackville around 10:30 p.m. Sept. 27 for a shots fired call but when they arrived they found a man lying in the road, bleeding from his face and head, Holston said at the time of the murder. At the time of Davis’ death, Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward

said Davis died of an apparent gunshot wound. The S.C. Law Enforcement Division has been investigating Davis’ death with the assistance of local law enforcement. SLED Spokesperson Thom Berry would only confirm the investigation into Davis’ murder is “open and ongoing.” David Purtell contributed to this story.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Oct. 24 Sunny High 68 Low 42

Fri., Oct. 25 Sunny High 65 Low 36

Sat., Oct. 26 Sunny High 63 Low 37

“You don’t need to be drinking, driving and texting at the same time.”

— EMT to WEHS students, At crash simulation.

Volume 137, No. 28

WEDNESDAY, October 30, 2013

Sports, 1B Runners compete at Regionals

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

News, 10A Community honors Quattlebaum

News, 11A Simulated wreck teaches lessons

Aiken man killed in wreck

News, 10A

Gourd People return

An Aiken man lost his life on SRS property early Monday morning. Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward said Daniel D. Ramseur, 26, of Whitemarsh Dr., Aiken, died after wrecking on S.C. 125. Lance Cpl. Judd Jones of the S.C. Highway Patrol said Ramseur was traveling south when he lost control of his 2003 Chevrolet. The vehicle struck a power pole and flipped, landing on its roof. Ramseur was wearing a seatbelt but was pronounced dead at the scene by Ward. Ward said the accident remains under investigation by the SCHP and his office. Toxicology test are pending, Ward said. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Council election Tuesday The election for Blackville Town Council will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the community center. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and residents from the town’s three precincts will vote at the community center. Three council seats are up for grabs. Current council members Steve Jowers and Allen Harrison are running for re-election. Councilman Russ Reed decided not to run for re-election. Fred Orr, a former math teacher at Blackville-Hilda High School and long-time resident of the town, filed as a write-in candidate. His name will not be on the ballot and will have to be written in by voters who want to see him on council. David purtell Staff Writer

Daylight savings time ends As Halloween passes, residents need to remember to set their clocks back Saturday night before going to bed. Daylight saving (savings) time ends Sunday, Nov. 3. But the federal government doesn’t require U.S. states observe daylight saving time, which is why residents of Arizona, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico won’t need to change their clocks this weekend. Staff The People-Sentinel

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

The Ivy Garden Club has once again brought back the Gourd People to Williston. President Peg Sutherland comes up with the ideas and this year’s theme revolves around the town. There is a fireman, two town employees changing a light bulb, pictured above, a cheerleader and Power Ranger at the library and two employees at Edisto Gas. There is also a gathering of Garden club ladies, a mother taking a baby for a stroller ride, a doctor and nurse, a country band and of course Elvis stopped by. The gourds are hand painted and members meet and put them together. The club has also decorated the town with beautiful wagons of mums and pumpkins.  

Student test scores vary across region The State Department of Education recently released data for three tests. The following articles give a glimpse into how Barnwell County’s three public school districts performed on the 2013 SAT, Advanced Placement exam, and End-of-Course Examination Program. Visit and click on the Research Portal tab for more detailed results from your school.

Fewer take AP exams in county jonathan vickery Staff Writer

As more students took the Advanced Placement (AP) exams statewide this year, fewer took the test in Barnwell County. The exams are graded on a scale of 1-5, with a score of 5 demonstrating the highest level of performance. A score of 3, 4 or 5 typically earns students college credit at most institutions of higher learning, according to a S.C. Department of Education press release. While the number of local test-takers was down, the percentage of students earning a score of 3, 4 or 5 increased. At Barnwell High School, all eight of their AP students earned a 3, 4 or 5. They also reached 100 percent last year, according to data. Williston-Elko High School saw a higher percentage – 35 percent – of students receive one of the top three scores. This compares with only 22 percent in 2012, though the school had 38 fewer AP tests taken this year. No students earned a 3, 4 or 5 at See AP, 12A

SAT test scores drop in county jonathan vickery Staff Writer

All Barnwell County schools saw a drop from their 2012 SAT results. According to data from the State Department of Education, Williston-Elko High School had the smallest decrease in their composite score on the college admission test. They dropped 25 points from 1262 in 2012 to 1237 in 2013. Barnwell High School was close behind WEHS with a difference of 26 points – down from 1418 in 2012 to 1392 in 2013. Blackville-Hilda High School saw the largest drop with a difference of 88 fewer points than in 2012. The school’s composite score was 1237 in 2012, but dropped to 1149 this past year. No Barnwell County schools met or exceeded the state average of 1436. The national average was 1498. Composite scores are calculated using the mean scores for three tests – critical reading, math, and writing. In South Carolina, the average critical reading score was 484, math was 487, and writing was 465; compared to the national average for all schools of 496, 514, and 488. Though no area schools met these state averages for the mean scores, Barnwell High came the closest. Their scores were within 22 points in all three areas, including three points on math, according to data. WEHS was next with their scores of 414 for critical reading, 430 for math, and 394 for writing. Mean scores for BHHS were 383 See SAT, 12A

EOC test scores jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Results on the 2013 End-ofCourse Examination Program varied by subject and school. The EOCEP provides tests in high school core courses and courses taken in middle school for high school credit. EOCEP test results count for 20 percent of each student’s final grade in that course – algebra, biology, English and U.S. History, according to a State Department of Education press release. Statewide, passage rates for all subject areas experienced increases while the average scores for English and Algebra experienced slight declines this year, according to data. Those trends varied in Barnwell County’s three See EOC, 12A

What’s Inside

OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A CALENDAR.............5B SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-4B CLASSIFIEDS.....7-12B

Wed., Oct. 30 Mostly sunny High 79 Low 57

Thurs., Oct. 31 Partly sunny High 81 Low 64

Fri., Nov. 1 Cloudy High 80 Low 56

Sat., Nov. 2 Mostly sunny High 74 Low 44

Ahoy, Matey!

Learn why pirates invaded the school on 8A and find Halloween pictures on 9A

Volume 137, No. 29

WEDNESDAY, November 6, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Woman dies in house fire Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

A Barnwell woman was found dead inside her home after the Barnwell Fire Department responded to a house fire Friday morning. Donna Dempsey, 56, of Berry Street was pronounced dead at the scene of the fire, Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward said. Autopsy results later revealed Dempsey died of “smoke inhalation,” Ward said. The fire, reported at 10:45 a.m., was discovered by Dempsey’s fiancé, Ward said.

Multiple agencies are investigating the fire and Dempsey’s death, including local fire and police as well as state agencies. Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt said the investigation, which includes the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, is “very premature” but there was “no indication” of arson at this time. A team from the S.C. Fire Marshal’s office was also on the scene Friday. Barnwell Fire Chief Tony Dicks said the Fire Marshal’s Office was there merely to research the fire and its origins to learn how to better educate the public about fire safety.

Gantt said it was “protocol” to call in SLED when a death occurred during or because of a fire. SLED spokesman Thom Berry would only say his agency had been “requested to investigate the incident” and did not provide any other details. Dicks said when his department arrived on the scene, they were directed to the back of the home where a door was unlocked. Inside, Dicks said his firefighters found “intensive heat” but the fire had burned itself out. Once Dempsey’s body was dis-

Susan C. Delk/Managing Editor

Two people embrace outside the home where Donna Dempsey’s body See FIRE, 10A was discovered shortly after firefighters arrived on the scene.

Blackville election turnout low for three council seats

Leaders still in place at DTC jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Turnout was low in the morning hours of voting during the Blackville Town Council election Tuesday. Just 14 people had voted in Blackville’s first precinct shortly before noon. Voting for the town’s three precincts was held at the community center. Three council seats were up for grabs. Council members Allen Harrison and Steve Jowers ran for re-election. Fred Orr, a former math teacher at Blackville-Hilda High School, filed as a write-in candidate. Councilman Russ Reed did not run for re-election. David Purtell/Staff Writer Check our website,, for results.

The leadership of Denmark Technical College is still in place, although reports to the contrary have surfaced in recent days. The DTC Area Commission convened during a special meeting Tuesday to discuss actions they took Friday in an emergency meeting. Tuesday’s meeting came at the request of the S.C. Technical College System. “The Commission wishes to announce to its students, stakeholders and the public that Dr. (Joann) Boyd-Scotland remains the president of Denmark Technical College,” states a release handed out after Tuesday’s meeting. This follows Friday’s meeting where The (Orangeburg) Times and Democrat reported the commission approved to have three of its members run the school after See DTC, 10A Boyd-Scotland, Interim Vice

Allendale set to get 125 manufacturing jobs Contributed S.C. Governor’s Office

Louis Hornick and Company, a leading manufacturer and importer of window coverings and home textiles, last week announced plans to establish its new manufacturing facility in Allendale County. The $2.5 million investment is expected to generate 125 new jobs over the next three years. The announcement was made at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C. “Every aspect of this venture is


geared toward offering the most options to our retail partners and manufacturing the highest quality products the American consumer demands and deserves. We aren’t just building a facility - we are moving to South Carolina,” said Louis “Tripp” Hornick III, chief operating officer of Louis Hornick and Company. “We appreciate the exceptional support we’ve received from state and local officials.” Louis Hornick and Company will establish its new manufacturing facility in an existing 103,000-square-foot building, located on 28 acres in Allendale. The company plans to begin

What’s Inside

operations by November 2013. “It’s exciting to see a leading manufacturer, like Louis Hornick and Company, choose South Carolina as the location for its new operations. We celebrate the company’s decision to invest $2.5 million and create 125 new jobs in Allendale County,” said Gov. Nikki Haley. “Companies want to go where they will be successful. Louis Hornick and Company’s decision to start new operations here in South Carolina is a testament to our state’s pro-business climate and thriving manufacturing industry,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-7A EDUCATION.........8A SPORTS...............1-4B Wed., Nov. 6 CALENDAR..............5B Partly sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....7-9B High 72 Low 57

The window covering manufacturer has specialized in producing curtains and draperies for 96 years. In South Carolina, Louis Hornick will be manufacturing in a highly automated cut sew packaging process. A diverse collection of window covering fabrics will be manufactured at the Allendale facility. The new plant will also be a supplier to Walmart stores. “As a 40-year supplier to Walmart, we thank them for taking the lead on supporting U.S. manufacturing, and we could not be more pleased to continue to work together,” said Louis

Hornick II, chairman and CEO of Louis Hornick and Company. “This is a great day for Hornick, South Carolina and America.” “Louis Hornick’s decision to open a factory in South Carolina shows that revitalization of U.S. manufacturing is possible,” said Michelle Gloeckler, senior vice president of Home at Walmart. “This is a great illustration of what can be accomplished when business leaders, government officials and companies work together.” The announcement follows WalSee JOBS, 10A

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Nov. 7 Mostly cloudy High 76 Low 47

Fri., Nov. 8 Sunny High 65 Low 42

Sat., Nov. 10 Mostly sunny High 68 Low 45

Horses circle wagon for playoff victory — Sports, 1B Turkey trot brings out Enthusiasm — News, 2A

Volume 137, No. 30

WEDNESDAY, November 13, 2013

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

Fire death ruled a homicide

Suspects have criminal past

Two men arrested in murder of Barnwell woman Two men have been arrested and face multiple charges in the murder of Donna Dempsey. Michael Paul Buckmon, 36, of Barnwell and Matthew Bolen, 23, of Williston have been arrested and both are charged with murder, first degree arson, first degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and conspiracy, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt. Dempsey’s body was discovered after her fiancé, Loy Mitcham Sr., reported a fire in Dempsey’s Berry Street home around 10:45 a.m. Nov. 1. The initial results of the autopsy revealed the Michael Paul Buckmon 56-year-old woman died of smoke inhalation. “It was further determined that she had a blunt-force injury to her head,” said Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward in a press release. By the time firefighters arrived, the fire had burned itself out, though Barnwell City Fire Chief Tony Dicks said there was still “intensive heat” inside the home. Court records show an address of Berry Street for Buckmon. Buckmon was arrested Sunday and Bolen was arrested Monday in Anderson County. Matthew Bolen Arrangements were being made to bring Bolen back to Barnwell County, Gantt said. Anyone with any information on this case is asked to contact Detective Glen Rice or Captain Wayne Martin with the Barnwell Police Department at (803) 259-1838. Anonymous tips can be made by calling South Carolina Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC (1-888-274-6372). Gantt said the crime is still under investigation by his department with the assistance of the State Law Enforcement Division. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

While both men accused of murdering Donna Dempsey have criminal histories, Michael Paul Buckmon’s is extensive and particularly violent. Most notably, Buckmon was found guilty by a jury Jan. 14, 1999, of murdering Minh Chapman at the China Express restaurant in Barnwell during an attempted armed robbery. Chapman was the manager of the restaurant where she was killed in her car in the parking lot. Buckmon was serving a life sentence for that murder when his sentence was reversed by the S.C. Supreme Court. Solicitor Strom Thurmond Jr. said Buckmon’s conviction was reversed because the Supreme Court did not feel there was sufficient evidence to convict Buckmon on the charges of murder and armed robbery. The Supreme Court opinion states, See CHARGE, 11A

Contributed photo

Donna Dempsey with her two dogs, Billy and Butter Bean, who also perished in the fire that took Dempsey’s life.

Blackville voters elect new council member

Veterans salute

Blackville Town Council will have a new member after an election day that saw a small number of voters come to the polls. Fred Orr, a write-in candidate, received 97 votes and will join council Nov. 18. A total of 151 ballots were cast out of a possible 1,576 in Blackville’s three precincts. Orr, a former math teacher at Blackville-Hilda High School, decided to run for council after it was announced that Councilman Russ Reed would not seek re-election. Orr has said he will focus on job creation and will support the development of affordable, safe housing in the community. Current council members Steve Jowers and Allen Harrison ran for re-election and received 103 and 105 votes, respectively. They both will retain their council seats. There were three seats up for grabs in the election. David purtell Staff Writer

Worker killed Veterans and former military members salute as Peter McAteer plays “Taps”. David Purtell/Staff Writer

David purtell Staff Writer

Veterans shared their stories and were honored during a ceremony on the Williston-Elko High School football field Friday. Students listened as active duty and former military members spoke about why they chose to serve, the lessons they learned and the skills they gained. Army Staff Sgt. Osceola Pryer, a 2000 graduate of WEHS, said he joined the military because he


wanted to follow in his older brother’s footsteps. Osceola deployed to Kuwait in 2004 and Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2010. He is scheduled to go back to Afghanistan next year. “I’ve grown to love it,” he said, adding there are good and bad memories. “I guess I do it to ensure that my kids will be safe and you all (will be safe).” Pryer said not everyone who serves becomes a veteran. You must be deployed for at least six months to earn veteran status, he said. He told the students “You can learn

What’s Inside OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-8A SPORTS...............1-5B CALENDAR..............6B TELEVISION.........7B CLASSIFIEDS.....8-11B

a lot from the military.” Katina Williams served in the Navy and said the discipline and respect she learned are invaluable. “I am grateful for the experience,” she said. Williams said she went around the world while serving and saw places she never imagined going to, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan to name a few. There are young people in Williston who lack discipline who should join the military to learn


A construction worker was killed while tearing down a building in Martin. Around 11:30 a.m. Nov. 7, a contractor with Warlock Atlantic “suffered severe injuries as the result of being struck by construction debris” as he helped with a demolition project at Archroma’s (formerly Clariant) site in Martin, according to a statement by Archroma. He was transported to the Allendale County Hospital, but was pronounced dead that afternoon, the release continues. “We have been in contact with the proper authorities following the accident and our hearts go out to the family and loved ones as well as friends and co-workers of the deceased contractor,” states the release. The accident is under investigation by the S.C. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the release states. Lesia Kudelka with S.C. OSHA said investigations generally take about eight weeks and looks for “violations that may have in any way contributed to the accident.” Work is currently not being performed at the demolition site though arrangements are being made to restart demolition in the near future, said Tricia Marlow, a representative for Archroma. The contractor’s name has not been released, though a call to the Allendale County Coroner’s office has been made for the information. . jonathan vickery Staff Writer

See WEHS, 11A

Weather Forecast

Wed., Nov. 13 Sunny High 49 Low 24

Thurs., Nov. 14 Sunny High 58 Low 39

Fri., Nov. 15 Partly sunny High 65 Low 505

Sat., Nov. 16 Mostly cloudy High 67 Low 55

A-f sacks Hemingway, advances in playoffs — Sports, 1B

“We want to extend that opportunity to the young men of Blackville.” — Jeff Schwab, On bringing a Boy Scout troop to the town.

(News, 2A)

Volume 137, No. 31

WEDNESDAY, NOvember 20, 2013

2 Sections/ 20 pages/ 75 cents

Donaldson murder trial begins David purtell Staff Writer

The murder trial of Sammie Lee Gerrick is happening this week at the Barnwell County Courthouse during the November term of General Sessions Court. Gerrick, of Blackville, is charged with murder in the death of Tyrone Anthony Donaldson. Gerrick was with Donaldson the day he was last seen alive, July 21, 2011. Donaldson’s body was found Aug. 4, 2011, in a wooded area off Sunshine Road outside of Blackville. Sammie Lee Gerrick enters the court room during his murder trial this week. Gerrick is accused of killing On Tuesday, a State Law EnDavid Purtell/Staff Writer Tyrone Anthony Donaldson July 21, 2011. forcement Division forensics

agent testified about finding Donaldson’s buried body. Jurors also heard testimony from witnesses and watched a recording of police interviews with Gerrick describing what happened the day Donaldson disappeared. Gerrick told police he last saw Donaldson at the Junior Food Mart in Blackville the afternoon of July 21. But in another interview, Gerrick talks about taking Donaldson’s white Honda Civic to Orangeburg. Gerrick told police he was asked to move the car. Gerrick, 40, is the only suspect charged with murder in the case. Judge Jack Early is presiding over the case.

Recreation group wants Arrest made in to see YMCA in county ‘Big T’ shooting David purtell Staff Writer

The push to bring more recreational activities to Barnwell County made positive strides last week, according to Barnwell County Councilman Jerry Creech. Creech said he is optimistic a YMCA will be built in the county. He said before the meeting he thought, “Can it happen?” but now thinks it’s just a matter of time before the groundbreaking begins. But he stressed that the whole county will have to get behind the project if it is to become a reality.

Money will have to be raised to construct a building to house the YMCA, Creech said. He said a possible location is next to the Gail Reyes Senior Center on U.S. 278. Creech said there is a lot of backing for the project and people he talks to about it are 100 percent in favor of it. The meeting was held at the SouthernCarolina Business Center with representatives from various groups, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Carolina, the YMCA of Augusta, Generations Unlimited, schools and churches. Creech said it will be “something positive for Barnwell County if we

jonathan vickery Staff Writer

can pull it off.” Another meeting is planned for Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. the Gail Reyes Center. The public is encouraged to come and provide input.

Deer jumps through Axis 1 Center window jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Even deer are seeking out the Axis 1 Center of Barnwell for help. Around 8 a.m. Nov. 14, employees at the substance abuse treatment and prevention services center reported seeing three deer run from the CVS parking lot across the street. One crashed through the front window, but made it out after making a mess of the office, said Ferlecia Cuthbertson, who is typically sitting at her desk beside the window. However, Cuthbertson was running late that morning because she had to take her oldest son, who missed the bus, to school. She was originally mad about being late because “How can the PTSO president sign their child in late?,” Cutherbertson quipped. Anger turned to thankfulness as Cuthbertson arrived to work and saw the deer run into her office. “It was completely divine intervention,” she said of her being out of the office at that time. “We’re so glad you’re son was late,” Axis 1 Executive Director Cheryl Long said to


An arrest has been made in a threemonth-old shooting of two men at a Barnwell club. Benjamin Badger III, 28, of 164 Badger Circle, Martin, was arrested Nov. 15 by State Law Enforcement Division agents. He is charged with two counts of attempted murder, which carries a penalty upon conviction of up to 30 years without parole, according to a SLED press release. Badger is accused of shooting a number of rounds inside a blue Crown Victoria that Benjamin Badger III was attempting to leave the Big T Night Club on Marlboro Avenue. Derrick Bernard Smalls was shot in the left shoulder, while Benjamin Antione Jenkins’ left hand was struck. The victims were treated at Southern Palmetto Hospital and released, said Barnwell Police Chief Todd Gantt after the shooting. Initial reports said the shooting followed a fight inside the club. Badger was booked at the Barnwell County Detention Center, but was transferred back to the Allendale County Detention Center on charges there.

Wreck sends two to hospital, one by air

Contributed photo

The remnants of the window a deer broke through at Axis 1. son. While it’s not unusual for people to stop by unannounced, Long said this was the first time a deer has dropped in. No one was hurt, but the deer made a mess of Cuthbertson’s office, which she said she had just cleaned up the day before. It’s unclear exactly why the deer visited Axis 1, but the center offers a variety of services for residents.

What’s Inside

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Axis 1 has been serving Barnwell County since 1973. In addition to substance abuse treatment and prevention, the center operates a food bank and thrift store, plus helps the Eat Smart Move More initiative, which Cuthbertson coordinates. They always welcome volunteers and donations, especially to their food bank which is experiencing a shortage in donations lately, just no deer, said Long.


Susan C. Delk/Managing Editor

A two car wreck on S.C. 37 in the late afternoon hours of Nov. 19 has sent two people to area hospitals. One driver was taken from the scene to a landing zone in Williston to be flown to a trauma center with “multi-trauma/shock injuries,” according to EMS transmissions. The second person was taken by ambulance to Georgia Regents University. As of press time, there are no details as to the identity or extent of the injuries of the drivers or if any charges will be sought. See page 10A for an additional photo.

Weather Forecast

Wed., Nov. 20 Mostly sunny High 61 Low 43

Thurs., Nov. 21 Mostly cloudy High 66 Low 50

Fri., Nov. 22 Partly sunny High 71 Low 52

Sat., Nov. 23 Partly sunny High 73 Low 42

Volume 137, No. 32

WEDNESDAY, November 27, 2013

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

Hospital surgeon murdered Dr. Mann remembered

One charged with murder jonathan vickery Staff Writer

jonathan vickery Staff Writer

The body of a missing Barnwell doctor has been found in an Augusta, Ga., creek and a suspect is in custody. According to a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office press release, investigators identified 22-year-old Glenn Vincent Riggs II as being involved in the Nov. 21 disappearance of Dr. Charles Henry Mann III. Riggs is charged with murder and robbery by force. “Subsequent to Riggs being Glenn Vincent Riggs II taken into custody it was learned that Dr. Mann had been murdered while at Riggs’ residence, located on the 2600 block of Dublin Drive,” continues the release. Dr. Mann’s body was later located in Spirit Creek at Willis Foreman Road, the release states. There has been no indication of the motive or why Dr. Mann was in the Augusta area at the time of his disappearance. See FOUND, 11A

Those who knew Dr. Charles Mann remember the Barnwell surgeon as a caring, positive individual. That’s why news of his murder over the weekend has been hard to swallow. “I’m still in shock,” said Mary Valliant, CEO of Southern Palmetto Hospital (formerly Barnwell County Hospital), where Mann worked as a general surgeon since March. “He just didn’t deserve to die like this.” She last saw Mann Thursday night, Nov. 21, at a hospital-sponsored health fair he led in Williston. She recalls talking about their children before she left around

7:30 p.m. Later that night, Mann was reported missing. His body was found Saturday in an Augusta, Ga., creek, a day after his car was found abandoned in a wooded area. “I really hoped we could find him,” said Valliant. Not only was he a “highly recommended” surgeon with more than 27 years of experience, but Valliant said he always stayed positive. “I have nothing but wonderful things to say about him,” said Valliant, who often found the doctor reading his Bible when she went to his office. That sentiment was echoed by his patients, including Felicia Hol- Facebook page. man. “He is a good person and an Tonya Hammet remembers awesome surgeon. He was so good Mann’s bedside manners, someto me when I had my surgery,” Hol- thing “that man wrote on The People-Sentinel’s See DOCTOR, 11A

Gerrick convicted of murdering Donaldson David purtell Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: In last week’s story, we misstated Sammie Lee Gerrick’s age as 40. Gerrick was 40-years-old when the murder took place. He is now 42. A Blackville man was sentenced to life in prison after a jury convicted him of murder last week. Sammie Lee Gerrick, 42, was found guilty Thursday afternoon of murdering Tyrone Anthony

Donaldson in July 2011 after a fourday trial at the Barnwell County Courthouse during the November general sessions term. The jury deliberated for about 50 minutes before delivering the verdict shortly after 1:30 p.m., and Circuit Court Judge Jack Early gave Gerrick a life sentence without the chance of parole. Gerrick, however, maintained his innocence when he addressed the court before his sentencing. He said he was “overwhelmed” by the verdict and that “Tyrone

was nothing but a friend to me.” Gerrick said he’d been outsmarted by two men he claims had a hand in Donaldson’s death after a drug deal went bad. But Judge Early told Gerrick he was outsmarted only by himself after continuously lying to police and investigators for over two years about what happened July 21, 2011, the day Donaldson was last seen alive. “God have mercy on your soul,” Early said, “You’ll need it.” Donaldson, who lived in Black-

ville and was 40 when he died, picked up Gerrick from the Bamberg County Jail that July day after putting up half of Gerrick’s $6,600 bail. The other half was put up by Maurice Williams. Williams testified in court that Gerrick had promised to pay the men back immediately. But that never happened. Assistant Deputy Attorney General Creighton Waters, who prosecuted the case along with Jason Anders, told the jury Gerrick never had the money to pay the men back. He said it was the first lie in

a “string of lies” that Gerrick would use to try and save himself. The lies prove Gerrick’s guilt, Waters said Waters depicted Gerrick as a desperate man who needed money to pay his bills and probation fines. He said Gerrick knew Donaldson had money and lured him into a trap. Witnesses testified seeing Gerrick and Donaldson together the afternoon Donaldson was reported missing. Joe Thomas told the jury he saw Gerrick driving away from Blackville toward Sunshine See GUILTY, 11A

Donaldson’s family feels justice was served jonathan vickery Staff Writer

After more than two years of waiting, Tyrone Donaldson’s family has justice in his murder. “We can rest now and my brother can rest,” said Tonya Bracey, Donaldson’s sister. She was referring to the guilty verdict rendered Nov. 21 by a jury against Sammie Lee Gerrick in her brother’s July 2011 murder. Gerrick was sentenced to life in prison without parole. “We’ve waited two years for this,” said Bracey. “We prayed and


God delivered.” Family members, including Donaldson and Bracey’s mother, visited his grave after the verdict. “She said, ‘I told you God was going to handle it,’” recalls Bracey of her mother. While the verdict brings some peace, it doesn’t erase the hurt which is especially strong around the holidays, brought on by the loss of Donaldson. He’ll also never watch his five children grow up. Donaldson’s 7-year-old daughter wanted to come to court to ask Gerrick why he murdered her father, said Bracey. Bracey said they learned a little more during the trial about the

What’s Inside

motive. She said Gerrick, a schoolmate of Donaldson, started coming around after Donaldson received money following his wife’s fatal car crash. “It’s just greed,” said Bracey of Gerrick, who she said sat in the courtroom “nonchalant like he didn’t have a care in the world.” Though he’s gone, Bracey said she’ll always remember her brother’s “smile, his wisdom and his words of advice.” She thanks the community, including her friends, co-workers and church family, for their support and prayers over the past two years. “Continue to pray for our This file photo shows Tyrone Donaldson’s family after they learned family,” said Bracey. he had been murdered in 2011. Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer


OPINION.................4A HOW TO COOK A TURKEY................6-7A SOCIETY.............8-10A SPORTS...............1-3B Wed., Nov. 27 CALENDAR..............6B Rainy CLASSIFIEDS.....8-11B High 53 Low 28

Weather Forecast

Thanksgiving Sunny High 47 Low 26

Fri., Nov. 29 Sunny High 52 Low 28

Sat., Nov. 30 Sunny High 55 Low 34

faith and devotion fuels team — Sports, 1B

Christmas classic gets new spin — News, 2A

Tree lightings

Tree lightings will take place Thursday, Dec. 5, on the Circle in Barnwell at 5:30 p.m. Williston’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting service will be Saturday, Dec. 7, at 5:30 p.m.

Volume 137, No. 33

WEDNESDAY, December 4, 2013

Christmas season begins

2 Sections/ 16 pages/ 75 cents

Doctor was strangled While many questions remain, new details have emerged as to how a Barnwell doctor found dead in an Augusta creek died. Richmond County (Ga.) Coroner Grover Tuten said Dr. Charles Mann died as a result of “manual strangulation with blunt force injuries.” The Barnwell surgeon’s body was found Nov. 23 in Spirit Creek in Augusta. The discovery came a day after Mann’s car was found in a wooded area off Old Louisville Road in Augusta. Glenn Vincent Riggs II is being held in the Richmond County Jail on charges of murder and robbery by force. “Subsequent to Riggs being taken into custody it was learned that Dr. Mann had been murdered while at Riggs’ residence, located on the 2600 block of Dublin Drive,” states a press release from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. A RCSO incident report states Riggs admitted to killing Mann and robbing him of $22 and a laptop computer. He then disposed of Mann’s body in the creek, which he led authorities to. A report states the doctor was lured to the Riggs’ residence but The People-Sentinel was unable to verify before deadline the reason the doctor went there. Mann was a general surgeon at Southern Palmetto Hospital in Barnwell who lived in Barnwell County during the week and traveled home to his family in Kathleen, Ga., on weekends. He was last scene in Barnwell County Nov. 21 at a hospital-sponsored health fair. The public is invited to remember Mann during a memorial service Thursday evening, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m. in the Barnwell County Public Library’s community room. jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Barnwell man found dead in Yemassee A possible drowning was reported Monday in Hampton County, and authorities from at least three agencies are investigating. The body of Terry Thomas Lott, 68, of Barnwell, was found in the waters of the Combahee River around 4 p.m. Monday, Hampton County Coroner Ernie Washington Sr. said. Lott was found by one of his fishing buddies. Lott reportedly had medical conditions and there were no signs of foul play, Washington said. A pending autopsy at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston should determine if Lott died from drowning or other causes. According to the coroner’s report, Lott and a friend were fishing out of Riverside Landing, near Hwy. 17A in Yemassee, and Lott dropped his friend off to fish from the bank upstream while Lott continued on in the boat. The fishing partner later found Lott floating in the water, said Washington. The death is currently under investigation by the Hampton County Coroner’s Office, the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Michael Dewitt Hampton County Guardian

David Purtell/Staff Writer

Top: The Snelling community came together Sunday night outside the town hall to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season. Family and friends held candles while singing Christmas songs. After the tree was lit, everyone stepped inside town hall for some drinks and food. A “Merry Christmas” display is outside the fire station this year. Bottom: Residents of Kline came together Sunday evening at the town hall to celebrate the Christmas season as well. Singing, praise and fellowship were part of the program. Rev. Joseph Abram Jr. delivered the message. Mayor William Cave thanked everyone for coming out, and former mayor Bob Rimes talked about how the Christmas program and tree lighting has become a tradition in the community. After the tree was lit, folks gathered inside town hall for a meal.

Unemployment Contract extended for Siler rate dips again The Williston District 29 school board is happy with the progress of second

Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

year Superintendent Dr. Tom Siler. The board voted and approved a contract extension for Siler until June 30, 2017. The also granted him a salary increase of 2 percent, five additional vacation days annually and upon separation from the district granted Siler payment of up to 45 days of unused vacation leave. The salary increase is equal to the increase other district employees received this year, said Board Chairman Scotty Richardson in a press release after the meeting. Richardson said, “The school board is pleased with the very good job that Dr. Siler has done in terms of the budget, his emphasis on increasing student achievement, and the renewed focus on literacy.”


Chairman Richardson gave particular credit to Dr. Siler’s vision for moving the district forward in technology and his candid and forthright review of facility upgrades, which will provide a high return on the community’s investment—the success of district students in Tom Siler post-secondary education and the workplace of the 21st Century. The release states, under Siler’s leadership, Williston-Elko High School’s ELA HSAP passing scores increased by 7 percent, and Math HSAP scores increased by 5 percent. Significantly, there was a “closing of the gap” for free/ See SILER, 8A reduced lunch

What’s Inside OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-7A SPORTS...............1-3B CALENDAR...........4-5B TELEVISION.........7B CLASSIFIEDS.....6-8B


Barnwell County and South Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped in October. For Barnwell County’s August rate was 13.2 percent while in September the rate dropped to 12.4 percent. This is the lowest rate in five years for the state. South Carolina’s unemployment rate declined significantly to 7.5 percent in October from 7.9 percent in September. In South Carolina the number of unemployed persons was 162,613, falling approximately 7,457, while those employed increased 3,465 to a level of 1,994,349. There are strong indicators showing a recovery is taking place. • In January 2011, 1.931 million people were employed in South Carolina – today there are 1.994 million people employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. • South Carolina job growth in manufacturing has almost doubled the national average since January 2011, according to the BLS. • The last time the statewide rate was below 8.0 percent was in September 2008, according to S.C. DEW statistics. Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

Weather Forecast

Wed., Dec. 4 Partly sunny High 74 Low 57

Thurs., Dec. 5 Mostly cloudy High 76 Low 61

Fri., Dec. 6 Partly sunny High 80 Low 59

Sat., Dec. 7 Cloudy High 69 Low 57

Barnwell allStars’ title hopes end — Sports, 1B

Water tower comes down — News, 3A

“Everything was focused on Common Core.”

— Tonya James, On D19 Collaborative Planning Day.

(News, 2A)

Volume 137, No. 34

WEDNESDAY, December 11, 2013

County Christmas

2 Sections/ 16 pages/ 75 cents

Inmate found dead in cell Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

A Barnwell inmate was pronounced dead Dec. 5 afternoon after being found unresponsive in his cell. Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward issued a press release Thursday evening stating inmate Anthony Boatwright, 28, of Blackville, died at Southern Palmetto Hospital. Ward said Boatwright was found unresponsive in his cell around 2:33 p.m. and was transported to the hospital. Boatwright was pronounced dead at 2:47 p.m., Ward said. There were no signs of trauma, but an autopsy was performed Saturday to determine the cause and manner of death. On Tuesday, Ward said he is still waiting for toxicology results before issuing a cause of death. Boatwright had been serving time since July 25, the release indicates. According to court records, he was in jail facing burglary and larceny charges. Boatwright’s death is being investigated by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division and the Barnwell County Coroner ’s Office.

Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Superintendent passes evaluation jonathan vickery Staff Writer

David Purtell/Staff Writer

Top: Santa and Mrs. Claus ride into Barnwell during the city’s annual Christmas parade Dec. 7. Bottom: Williston Town Council members, along with Elko Town Council members, wave to the crowd while Williston Town Administrator Kenny Cook drives the tractor during the annual Christmas Parade Saturday. See more pictures and read about all of last week’s Christmas events on page 8A.

Slain doctor remembered by coworkers and friends

Superintendent Dr. Teresa Pope aced her annual performance evaluation, though her overall rating dropped six points from

last year. Pope received 577 out of 625 points for an overall rating of 91. This was a slight drop from the 97 Pope received last year. The board discussed the evaluation in closed session during their regular Dec. 9 meeting. Afterwards, they released a compiled evaluation form with all board members’ scores tallied together. “She’s working really hard with what we have,” said Chairwoman Inell Waring in a phone interview. The board graded Pope on five categories: Dr. Teresa Pope professionalism, relationship with the board, community relationship, educational leadership, and business and finance. Each member awarded up to 25 points per category for a possible total of 125 points each. Pope’s highest marks came in the community relationship category with 120 of the possible 125 points. Pope said this is an area she’s worked hard in because it’s important for the district to work See POPE, 8A


David purtell Staff Writer

ers of Mann, who’d been working did for me.” After the memorial service, at the hospital since the spring, Valliant said the hospital staff is were at the memorial. Valliant said Mann worked doing well and coming together Dr. Charles Mann III was re- in the ministry and was always as a “family.” She said everyone membered as a kind and caring willing to lend a helping hand. is staying strong. man during a public memorial She said he would stop by her Mann’s body was found Nov. service Thursday at the Barn23 in an Augusta creek after well Public Library. he’d been missing for two “I haven’t talked to a patient Mary Valliant, CEO of Southdays. An Augusta man, Glenn who didn’t tell me how ern Palmetto Hospital where Vincent Riggs II, has been arMann worked, spoke at length rested and charged with murmuch they liked him.” about the general surgeon. dering Mann. “I haven’t talked to a patient - Hospital CEO Mary Valliant Pastor Darrell Morgan spoke who didn’t tell me how much at the memorial and said those of Dr. Charles Mann they liked him,” Valliant said, who knew Mann should “obadding that Mann always serve the memories that we spoke highly of the hospital office every day before he left have about him.” staff. Prayers for Mann’s family and asked her if she needed Mann lived in Kathleen, Ga., anything. -- he had a wife and son -- were but stayed in Snelling during the “I found him to be a very kind offered. week while he was working. “I’m going to miss him,” Valman,” She said, “I’ll always be About 20 friends and cowork- grateful for that man; what he liant said.


What’s Inside


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-7A SPORTS...............1-4B CALENDAR...........5B Wed., Dec. 11 TELEVISION.........7B Sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....6-8B High 59 Low 31

The People-Sentinel completed our long awaited move last week. Though some difficulties with phone and internet were experienced, we are up and running at full speed once again. If you tried to reach us during the outage, we do apologize. An open house and ribbon cutting for our new office is in the works and we will post the information as soon as possible. Our office at 10481 Dunbarton Blvd. Barnwell, will remain open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Dec. 12 Sunny High 57 Low 27

Fri., Dec. 13 Sunny High 57 Low 43

Sat., Dec. 14 Cloudy/showers High 65 Low 47

Hawks beat horses in rematch — Sports, 1B

graduates d.a.r.e to be drug free — News, 2A

“We’re very interested in reducing carbon footprint.”

— Rev. Brendolyn Jenkins Boseman, with the Green Way Group (News, 3A)

Volume 137, No. 35

WEDNESDAY, December 18, 2013

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

County Council breaks law, twice Two secret meetings held with a quorum attending discussing economic issues David purtell Staff Writer

Members of Barnwell County Council broke the law twice in late November, it was revealed during the regular meeting Dec. 10. Council Chairman Freddie Houston said council meant no ill intent when a majority of members met on Nov. 22 and Nov. 27 to discuss the future of the Barnwell Economic Development Commission without notifying the public or media, which is required by the Freedom of Information Act. Last week, The People-Sentinel

received an anonymous letter that said county council had held two meetings without notice to the public. Before the Dec. 10 meeting started, The People-Sentinel asked Houston about the meetings and he said he would discuss it in open session. Houston said he set up the Nov. 22 meeting with SouthernCarolina Alliance President and CEO Danny Black and emailed council members asking if they wanted to come. He said he got one response – from Councilman David Kenner. But when he arrived at the meeting, Houston said, there were three other council members there: Kenner,

one, and had no idea other people, including council members, were going to be involved. Since at least four council members were present at both meetings, there was a quorum and the public should have been notified. Houston said the public was not notified because he did not plan on there being a quorum and did not know how many council members were going to be at the meetings until he arrived at each meeting. Both meetings went ahead even though they were in violation of the law. The FOIA law states public bodies must give at least 24-hours notice before any called, resched-

Joe Smith and Harold Buckmon. Houston then tried to set up a second meeting, this time with EDC Executive Director Marty Martin. Houston said Martin told him he would get back to him about a meeting date. Then, on Nov. 27, Houston said he was about to leave his home to go to a funeral when he got a call asking if he was coming to the meeting at the EDC building. When he got to the EDC building, councilmen Keith Sloan, Joe Smith and Jerry Creech were already there along with Marty Martin and EDC Chairman Pete Grady. Houston said he thought he was going to meet with Martin one-on-

EDC property future uncertain as towns meet

uled or special meeting. The notice must include the agenda, date, time and place of the meeting. “I’m saying this to the public and I’m saying this to the media: sometimes you can’t help it but there’s no excuse,” Houston said about breaking the law. “I don’t ever try to back down from a responsibility that the council has and myself as chairman. But I will always make every effort to contact the public, the media, and let you be aware of every meeting we have.” After describing how the illegal meetings came about, Houston See LAW, 11A

Frosty to the rescue!

In breaking news just before press time, Barnwell City along with Blackville and Williston town councils each announced they will hold a special-called meeting Wednesday, Dec. 18. Each council’s agenda for the meeting was sent out Tuesday, Dec. 17, and states council will go into closed session to hear legal advice on “donated property.” Williston and Blackville councils will meet at 5 p.m. at their respective town halls. Barnwell City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. at city hall. When asked for specific details about the meeting, Blackville Mayor Mike Beasley said the meeting will deal with “donated property,” but he said he couldn’t discuss further details until after the meeting. Williston Mayor Jason Stapleton said he was unable to provide any details prior to the meeting. Attempts to reach Barnwell Mayor Edward Lemon were unsuccessful before press time. The towns all have property inside their limits that is controlled by the Barnwell Economic Development Corporation, part of the Barnwell Economic Development Commission. Barnwell County retains ownership of those lands, said Barnwell County Attorney J.D. Mosteller. These meetings come on the heels of Barnwell County Council’s recent discussions as to the future of the EDC. See MEETINGS, 11A David purtell Staff Writer

One shot, one arrested jonathan vickery Staff Writer

Just hours after a man was shot in the neck, Blackville police officers made an arrest in the case. Julious Tilley, 27, of 358 Robinson St., Blackville, was arrested Dec. 10 by the Blackville Police Department on charges of attempted murder and possession of a firearm in commission of a violent crime, according to a press release from Blackville Police Chief John Holston. Tilley is accused of shooting 33-yearold Jeremiah Pryer of Blackville once Julious Tilley in the neck around 6:15 p.m. He was found by officers lying on the ground outside the residence of 20588 Solomon Blatt Ave., said Holston. Pryer was airlifted to MCG in Augusta, Ga., with non-life threatening injuries, said Holston, but has since been released. Prior to being transported, Pryer identified Tilley as the shooter. Tilley was transported to the Barnwell County Detention Center. Holston said the investigation is still ongoing.


Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

Frosty and his firefighting pal were spotted in Barnwell with their decorated truck. The Una 1 truck are part of a display in the yard of Tony Dicks, Barnwell City’s fire chief. Dicks purchased the fire truck and restored it several years ago.

Boatwright remembered informed Boatwright was found in his cell. A large family of eight children all together, five boys and three girls, Boatwright set himself apart through music. He enjoyed singing particularly rapping and writing poetry, Williams said. Boatwright loved children, Williams said. Williams said Boatwright suffered from high blood pressure. He said when he visited his brother, he “always complained of head and chest pains.” Williams said he had been in jail alongside his brother before and when Boatwright complained of chest pains, detention center staff “put him in a room with cam-

Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

The 8 th amendment requires prison authorities to provide a system of ready access to adequate medical care for inmates. One man is wondering if the care his brother received was adequate. Anthony Boatwright, 28, was found unresponsive in his cell Dec. 5. Boatwright had been in the Barnwell County jail since July 25. Elliott Williams, Boatwright’s brother, said even though his brother had been in trouble, he was a “very kind person. He would give his shirt off his back for anybody.” Williams and the entire family have been in shock since being

What’s Inside

OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY..............6-9A SPORTS...............1-4B CALENDAR..............5B Wed., Dec. 18 TELEVISION.........8B Sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....9-12B High 61 Low 29

See DEATH, 11A


Thurs., Dec. 19 Sunny High 68 Low 48

Anthony Boatwright

Weather Forecast

Fri., Dec. 20 Mostly sunny High 73 Low 54

Sat., Dec. 21 Partly sunny High 76 Low 59

Volume 137, No. 36

WEDNESDAY, December 25, 2013

2 Sections/ 24 pages/ 75 cents

EDC ‘donates’ land to towns

Unto us...

David purtell Staff Writer

The Barnwell County Economic Development Corporation handed over property it managed to three towns in the county and one private company. Four property deeds filed with the Barnwell County Clerk of Court’s office show the corporation, part of the EDC, “donated” land it managed in Blackville, Barnwell city and Williston to the respective municipalities. Land located near the Barnwell County Airport was given

to the South Georgia Tissue company, a private company that was supposed to build a plant - but never did - on the property. The documents are signed by Vernon “Pete” Grady, the corporation’s president and chairman of the EDC. The documents were signed Friday, Dec. 13, and filed with the Barnwell County clerk of court Monday, Dec. 16. Councils for the three municipalities each held special-called meetings Dec. 18 so council members could be informed of the situation. Each council went into closed session to hear legal advice from their attorney, and none of the councils took any action following the closed sessions.

It seems the EDC gave no indication to county council about their plans. Council Chairman Freddie Houston said he did not know what was going on when asked about the situation Dec. 17. Houston, and county attorney J.D. Mosteller, have said the county’s ordinance for the EDC states council must vote to give away land managed by the EDC. On Dec. 17, Houston said county council had been contemplating a new economic plan whereby the county would give control of EDC managed property to SCA and let EDC Executive Director Marty Martin continue to manage the land -- but under the authority of the Alliance.

Council recalls EDC board after donations Jonathan Vickery/Staff Writer

This nativity scene, constructed out of gourds, was featured at the Williston United Methodist Church Nativity Festival Dec. 14 and 15.

EDC board fires employees to ‘protect’ them When Barnwell County Council met on Friday, Dec. 20, they dismantled the board of Economic Development Corporation and effectively fired its executive director Marty Martin and his deputy Sonja Hiers. But actually, Martin and Hiers had been technically unemployed since Dec. 4 in a move by the EDC’s board to protect them from what they knew was a brewing storm. The action by the EDC board triggered a clause in Martin and Hiers’ contracts to pay out their 5-year contract – which was signed in October 2013. And it was an action, according to former EDC chairman Pete Grady, the board did to protect Martin and Hiers. In an interview on Dec. 11, Grady said Martin and Hiers were given new 5-year contracts in October 2013 as a normal course of business. “This was before we knew all this would happen,” he said. Martin’s contract was extended and Hiers was promoted to deputy executive director since she has acquired certifications and training in recent years with the plan that she might succeed Martin when he retired or if he left. “In that contract is a provision that if either of them were ever fired without cause, then we would be obligated to buy out their contract,” said Grady. When the board members realized that their actions to deed over $14 million in property would most See FIRED, 12A likely result in the dissolution of Laura j. Mckenzie Regional Publisher


What’s Inside

David purtell Staff Writer

Barnwell County Council removed all members of a county board from their appointments during a special-called meeting Friday, Dec. 20, and gave the county’s attorney permission to do whatever is necessary to get back county land, money and other assets given away by the board’s members. State law enforcement has opened an investigation into the situation as well. Council passed two resolutions after a closed session with county attorney J.D. Mosteller, who in-

formed council members of their options regarding the situation with the Barnwell County Economic Development Commission and Corporation. The first resolution, which was written during the meeting, removes six voting members from the Barnwell County Economic Development Commission board -- created by county council in the late 1980s. Board members booted off were: Chairman Pete Grady, Billy Johnson, Loretta Atkinson, Jim Latham, Janet Muldrow and Jeff Sandifer. Williston Mayor Jason Stapleton was previously on the board, but county council accepted his resignation letter, dated Dec. 2, during a regular

meeting Dec. 10. There are seven seats on the board, which oversees the corporation’s business. Pete Grady was also the corporation’s president, but the resolution eliminated him from that position. Assets handed over On Dec. 16, documents were filed with the county’s clerk of court office deeding property managed by the EDC within the towns of Williston, Blackville and the city of Barnwell to those respective municipalities. Another property, near the county airport, was given to the South Georgia Tissue company. The company was supposed to build See RECALL, 12A

SCA caught in the middle Susan C. Delk Managing Editor

“We have not interjected ourselves into this at all,” SouthernCarolina Alliance CEO Danny Black said of the current economic development scramble going on in Barnwell County. Black said Barnwell County Council contacted him, then met with him to discuss including the properties managed by Barnwell County Economic Development into his organization. Black said his organization, SCA, works regionally with towns, schools, and the state com-


OPINION.................4A ARRESTS...............5A SOCIETY.............9-11A SPORTS...............1-4B CALENDAR..............7B CHRISTMAS DAY TELEVISION.........8B Sunny CLASSIFIEDS.....9-12B High 49 Low 33

merce department and beyond to try and bring industries, and ultimately jobs, into not only Barnwell County but the region as a whole. He said the council members who met with him Nov. 22 indicated they had enough members interested in making changes to make a final decision on what to do with the EDC and its properties. Regionalism is not a new concept to Barnwell economic development as SCA already provides marketing services each year for the county. From his perspective, for the past several years, he said his office has continually tried to work with county council and with the EDC on projects to bring jobs into the county.

Black said he learned of a letter, which was submitted to the Dept. of Commerce some time ago, asking them not to share information on prospective projects with the regional alliance. He said the letter, which was written by one council member, kept Commerce from sharing information with SCA. Black said he didn’t know if all of council knew the letter had been sent. He said he then asked council to write another letter encouraging correspondence with SCA. He said the new letter was sent several weeks ago and he thinks that may have contributed to the chain of events last week.

Weather Forecast

Thurs., Dec. 26 Mostly cloudy High 52 Low 35

Fri., Dec. 27 Partly sunny High 56 Low 33

Sat., Dec. 28 Mostly sunny High 55 Low 32

2013 Year in Review  
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