Attempted Murder for Sunday Shooting

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office made an arrest yesterday in connection with a shooting that happened last Sunday. 19-year-old Billy DeShawn “B.J.” Watson Jr. of 1522 Parkway, Apt. G-7, Greenwood is charged with Attempted Murder and Possession of a Weapon during a Violent Crime.

Deputy Hunnicutt states that on January 15th Billy Watson Jr. attempted to commit murder by causing great bodily injury to the victim. He allegedly shot him in the stomach, requiring medical treatment. Watson is further accused of possessing and displaying what appeared to be a handgun during the commission of a violent crime.

Billy DeShawn “B.J.” Watson Jr. was being held overnight in the Laurens County Detention Center, pending a bond hearing today.

Marijuana Distribution Charged

A Mountville man was charged with Marijuana Distribution yesterday, following his arrest the previous night.  Clinton Public Safety Officer Derric Gandee pulled a vehicle over Wednesday night after allegedly observing it doing 45 in a 25-mile-per-hour zone Downtown. The officer reported that on approaching the car he noticed the scent of marijuana from the vehicle.  Discussion with the driver about that reportedly led to his indicating he had five or six grams of marijuana under the front seat. Officers searched and reported locating some 12 grams of marijuana. He reportedly indicated to officers that, without a job, he sold marijuana to make money.

21-year-old Rumike Genero Dendy Jr. of 69 JW Drive, Mountville was served yesterday with warrants charging him with Distribution of Marijuana and with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. The warrants state that Mr. Dendy possessed a quantity of marijuana Wednesday night that was individually packaged in three bags, alongside an electronic scale. The second warrant states that the scales had marijuana residue on it. Rumike Genero Dendy Jr. was released yesterday on personal recognizance bonds totaling $3,000.

Three Domestic Assaults charges for Man, Woman

A Laurens area man and woman were both charged yesterday with Domestic Violence for alleged assaults on each other. Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Galloway arrested the two Wednesday. In a warrant served yesterday, 27-year-old Aynesha Seirra Craig of 106 Aquilla Road, Laurens is accused of actions that were likely to result in minor bodily injury by striking and scratching the victim in the presence of their two minor children. Ms. Aynesha Craig was released yesterday on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond for her Domestic Violence charge.

28-year-old Demarcus Darrell Crooks, also of 106 Aquilla Road, Laurens, was charged with Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature and with Domestic Violence 2nd Degree, both on Wednesday. The High and Aggravated Nature warrant states that he pointed a loaded handgun at the victim, saying he would kill her. The 2nd Degree Domestic Assault warrant stated he struck, scratched and bit the victim Wednesday in the presence of their two minor children. With cash or surety bonds set yesterday totaling $35,000, Demarcus Darrell Crooks remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

Assault the Day after Christmas

Laurens City Police yesterday arrested a man wanted by Clinton Public Safety for an alleged domestic assault the day after last Christmas. 19-year-old Shykeem Rashon Cook of 150 First Street, Laurens is charaged with Domestic Violence 3rd Degree. In a warrant, Cook is accused of assaulting the victim on December 26, 2016 at 590 Phillips Street by striking her in the face and by pulling her hair, resulting in apparent minor injury. He and the victim reportedly have a child in common.

Skykeem Cook was being held overnight, pending a bond hearing.

Awards for Two Who Train Others for Work

Two members of Piedmont Technical College’s Economic Development and Continuing Education division have been recognized for their outstanding work by the South Carolina Association for Higher Continuing Education. Instructor Dave Wittig was named Outstanding Continuing Education Instructor. He said “It’s nice to be recognized for all the hard work and wanting to do a good job.”

Wittig spent four years in the United States Air Force and six years in the Air Force Reserves, working on instrument panels in C-130 airplanes. This detail-oriented work helps him teach statistical process control in training new employees for the massive ZF Transmissions plant here I Laurens County. When he began teaching the class, there were no detailed training manuals. Wittig worked with other trainers to develop materials that taught not only the book knowledge, but incorporated hands-on training and real world examples.

Also receiving the Continuing Education skills was Lisa Bartanus, a corporate training director at Piedmont Tech. She received the John J. Duffy Scholarship Award.

Damage to Laurens Home under Construction

Laurens Police responded Wednesday morning to report of a break-in at an unoccupied home under construction in the Milliken Pond area, east of Downtown. Officer Gallo spoke with a contractor who came to do door framing and said it appeared someone had been inside. The officer noted it seemed that someone had been in the attic. A check revealed numerous holes in the attic drywall. Additional inspection found broken windows in the house. Damage was estimated at $1,200. The matter is under investigation.

Vandalism to Clinton Residence

A report of vandalism to a home dispatched Clinton Public Safety Officer Ryan Mercer to a residence southwest of the Downtown area yesterday afternoon. He arrived on scene and made contact with the complainant, who showed the damages done to his home. Bricks had reportedly been thrown through a window, the front door had been kicked open from the inside and the door frame was pushed outward. A screen covering the broken window had been torn open so that a person could fit through it. Two bricks lay in the hallway in front of the rear door, and broken glass was observed both inside and outside the home. Even with all the damage, there did not appear to be anything stolen. Officer Mercer told the victim that he would be asking for extra patrol of the area. The damages were estimated at $300.

Receiving Stolen Goods or Services

The Sheriff’s Office yesterday arrested 21-year-old Bryson Avery Smith of 45 Montague Drive, Fountain Inn and charged him with Criminally Receiving Goods or Services. Lt. McIntosh states that on October 26, 2016 Smith obtained money or goods which he appropriated for personal use. Bryson Avery Smith was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

Sentences to Serve

Two people were booked in the Johnson Detention Center yesterday with Bench Warrants showing convictions in Magistrate’s Court with sentences yet to be satisfied.

26-year-old Shayana A. Truitt of 185 Methodist Drive, Spartanburg was and served with two Bench Warrants showing convictions in Laurens County Magistrate’s Court for Shoplifting and Giving False Information.  Each had sentences of 30 days or fines of between $257 and $610.

31-year-old Tristian Grant of 408 North Bell Street, Clinton was served with Bench Warrants showing convictions in Magistrate’s Court November 3rd 2015 for Simple Possession of Marijuana and May 15, 2015 for Purchase of more than 9 Grams of Ephedrine or Pseudoephedrine in a 30 day period. Grant is sentenced to 30 days on each charge, or fines from $338 to $465.

Both remained in custody this morning.

Fatal Crash Near Hickory Tavern

A Belton, SC man was killed in a crash that occurred early on Thursday morning near Hickory Tavern.

Johnny DeWayne Williams, 45, of 239 Southern Road, Belton SC was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident on US 76 about a quarter mile east of the intersection with Wasson Gin Road.  Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols told WLBG the cause of death was blunt force trauma.  He estimated the time of death at 12:45 AM.

Williams was driving a 1998 Lexus ES300 east bound on US 76 when the vehicle ran off the right hand side of the road and struck a tree.  There were no other vehicles involved in the accident.

Two Charged with Methamphetamine Manufacture

Two Joanna men arrested Tuesday by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office were charged yesterday with Manufacturing Meth and with Unlawful Disposal of Meth Waste on Tuesday.

One of the men, 33-year-old Sylvester “Trey” Ferguson III of 217 Morgan Street, Joanna, was served with warrants yesterday that charge him with 2nd Offense Manufacture of Methamphetamine and with 2nd Offense Unlawful Disposal of Meth Waste. “Trey” Ferguson III was also charged with 2nd Offense, Possession of Crack Cocaine or Cocaine Base and with 2nd Offense Possession of less than one gram of Ice, Crank or Methamphetamine.   Warrants state he committed the crime of 2nd Offense Manufacturing in Methamphetamine Tuesday by having possession of items of items that had been used in the manufacture of meth, or did abet, assist or promote the manufacturing of methamphetamine. Another warrant states he was in constructive possession of waste materials that had been used in the process of manufacturing methamphetamine. Additional warrants allege that Ferguson had possession of the cocaine or meth substances and has prior convictions of the same.

No bond was granted for any of the four charges. Sylvester “Trey” Ferguson III remains in the Laurens County Detention Center.

The second suspect, 56-year-old Henry Lee Davis of 629 Whitmire Highway, Joanna, was charged with 1st Offense, Manufacturing Methamphetamine and with Unlawful Disposal, or Assisting in Disposal of Meth Waste.

Two warrants state that, also on Tuesday, Davis had in his possession items used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine, noting that all items had been used in the process of methamphetamine. The Unlawful Disposal warrant states he had constructive possession of the items that had been used in manufacturing meth.

Cash or surety bonds on the Meth Manufacture and Unlawful Disposal of Meth warrants were set totaling $30,000. Henry Lee Davis remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

Litterbugs on the Loose in Laurens

Litter bugs are back in Laurens. Street and Sanitation Department Director Kerwin Tribble told City Council this week he is frustrated with the littering situation in the city. He said it is now “out of hand.” He expressed a desire to see that situation improve this year. Tribble noted “We had put up those signs and it was better for a while, and now we just can’t keep up with it.”

The signs he referred to were put up in 2014 as part of an intensive effort to crack down on littering in Laurens. The signs went up after then-Mayor Sharon Brownlee announced in January that the City was going to more forcefully tackle the litter problem that year, since attempts at politely addressing the trashing of town had not rid the town of litter.

Tribble asked council Tuesday evening if they had any effective new ideas on litter prevention. One issue discussed at the meeting was local businesses who set bulk items at curbside in a consistent manner.

One Council Member, Alicia Sullivan, advised her fellow council members that her constituents were planning to have a litter clean up on Green Street this Saturday.

Good Environmental News for Laurens

While Laurens City Council heard concern about a troubling trend in littering in Laurens this week, there were a couple of cases where there was opportunity for optimism. As we reported yesterday, City Council gave 1st reading approval to a rezoning that could result in the old Laurens Mill site being rehabilitated to become the site for a new apartment complex. Building and Zoning Director Clay Rykard had one other bit of good news to discuss on the environmental front. He advised council of corrective action having been taken at the site of the former Beasley’s Home for the Aged. Rykard said the building is now properly secured and the property is now maintained to a satisfactory level.

P.C. Presents 1st Free Concert of 2017 Tonight

The Presbyterian College Department of Music hosts its first concert of 2017 tonight. Dr. Richard Thomas, associate professor of music and Amy Blackwood, lecturer of music at Lander University will present a recital of classical and contemporary music for the cello and piano tonight.

Thomas is director of the Presbyterian College chamber orchestra, as well as a former member of the Sinfónica de Colombia in Bogotá and the Sinfónica Nacional of the Dominican Republic in Santo Domingo.

Blackwood was a collaborative pianist at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in Michigan and at the Summer Vocal Arts Program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

This concert is free and open to the public, starting at 7:30 this evening in Edmunds Hall.

Shouldn’t Be Here, Shouldn’t Say That!

Laurens City Police arrested two Ware Shoals women yesterday for allegedly being somewhere they didn’t belong, and then being untruthful with an officer. 47-year-old Teresa Madden “Tracy” Smith of 21 Walnut Street, Ware Shoals and 30-year-old Edee Danielle Vermillion of 42 Ezell Drive, Ware Shoals were both charged with Trespassing and with Giving False Information to Police. Both were later released on $465 cash or surety bonds for each of the charges.

Probation Violation

South Caroline Pardon, Probation and Parole Services yesterday arrested a local man on a Violation of Probation charge. 34-year-old Michael Eric McCraney of 171 Colonial Acres, Laurens is accused of failing to comply with a home detention curfew and failure to comply with a notice of violation and response issued on the 5th of this month. He’s further accused of failure to refrain from alcohol consumption and entering an establishment whose primary business is the sale of alcohol. The violations were allegedly evidenced by a Greenville Police January 8th arrest for Disorderly Conduct, resisting arrest and defrauding a hotel, motel or restaurant. He is further accused of being behind on payments required for supervision services, and for alleged failure to follow advice and instructions of his agent.

Michael Eric McCraney was later released on a $15,000 cash or surety bond.

Sentences Handed Down

A Western Laurens County man was given multiple sentences yesterday in Laurens Municipal Court. 40-year-old Samuel Guadalupe of 2870 Dairy Road, Ware Shoals received a Bench Warrant that stated he had been convicted last week, on January 12th, on a Shoplifting charge. He had a sentence of paying a $620 fine or spending 30 days in jail for that conviction. The Laurens Municipal Court judge yesterday also issued Commitment orders on Mr. Guadalupe for other charges. He was sentenced yesterday to a fine of $2,100 or serving 90 days in the Johnson Detention Center for a 3rd Offense of Driving under Suspension. In three other cases, he was sentenced to fines of between $76 and $232 or jail time of 15 days on charges of Speeding, Improper Lane Change and Careless Operation of a Vehicle. He remained in detention this morning.

New Housing Complex for Old Laurens Mill Site

Laurens City Council last night gave first reading approval to an ordinance that will clear the way for new housing to be built at the old Laurens Mill site. Ordinance 1-17-01, with 2nd reading approval, will authorize rezoning 12 acres of land at 100 Mill Street from Manufacturing to R-3, residential. Laurens Building and Zoning Director Clay Rykard presented the proposal to City Council. Once the area is zoned residential that will pave the way for a proposed project to construct approximately 68 apartments, and possible future addition of 48 senior apartments.

The project is expected to apply for a federal grant. City Administrator Gary Coleman said “The Housing and Urban Development point system, which considers federal funding for the project, rates former mill sites as one factor, plus others such as distance to stores and parks. If we had applied for this project last year we would have earned more points for its location to a park but their point system for approval changes year to year.” On the proposed project, City Council member Marion Miller said “This will give that area a well needed facelift.”

Bringing property into the city limits received final approval last evening. Laurens City Council unanimously approved ordinance 12-16-01, which authorizes annexation of property on Exchange Drive next to the Zaxby’s Restaurant. This vote is expected to pave the way for construction of an Arby’s restaurant there.

Review of 2016 Economic Development

A look at state-wide and local economic development was featured yesterday afternoon during the Laurens County Development Corporation’s Annual Meeting held at Musgrove Mill Golf Course.

Nelson Lindsay, Director of Global Business Development for the South Carolina Department of Commerce, said that while 2016 was no record-breaker like some recent years have been, activity was still good. He said tentative numbers for 2016 indicate the state had 131 projects announced that totaled $3.4 billion in investments and created 13,100 new jobs. Lindsay noted that’s down from the $5 billion investments announced annually from 2011 thru 2014. He said that economic development activity is good, but the size of the projects is now smaller.

Nelson Lindsey said South Carolina is not just developing Manufacturing projects, but continues to diversity the type of jobs developed, noting one software company as well as a Comcast announcement.

In introducing Lindsey, LCDC Director Jonathan Coleman noted he moved from being Richland County’s Economic Developer to head the state’s Global Business Development a year ago. Coleman noted that earlier in his career, Nelson Lindsey had Laurens County ties, as Town Administrator for Gray Court.

In a review of economic development for Laurens County in 2016, Coleman reported we had 49 requests for information. We didn’t have any sites to offer 15 of these. He said projects that were announced totaled $114 million in investments, creating 195 new jobs. Jon Coleman said that looking at other jobs created in the community because of these projects; we could see 235 total jobs developed for the county. He predicted $600,000 in property tax income from the new projects after the projects totally develop over a few years.

2016 announcements included a $20 million investment from D & W Fine Pack creating 62 new jobs at the Fountain Inn area plant. An $8.1 million investment by Teknor Apex is to create 68 new jobs.

PWID Marijuana + Firearms Charge

Drug and Firearms charges were served yesterday on a man the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office had arrested Monday. 23-year-old Denzell Tyree Latimore of 111 Simpson Street, Laurens is now charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute and with Unlawful Carrying of a Pistol.

Mr. Latimore is accused of possessing marijuana, scales and multiple packaging materials Monday with intent to distribute marijuana. He was also accused of carrying about his person a Kel-Tec .380 Caliber pistol, not being authorized to do so. Denzell Tyree Latimore was released yesterday after posting a $25,000 surety bond.