Expanded Athletic Services for District 55

District 55 Athletic Director Ed Murray today announced an agreement between the school district and Greenville Health Systems (GHS), whereby GHS will provide athletic training services to Laurens District 55 High School. Murray indicated that, as part of the agreement, some athletic training services will extend to all four middle school athletic programs. “Upon arriving in the district last year, one of the things that I heard from my middle school athletic directors was the need for some access to athletic training services,” said Murray. Under the old system, athletic training services focused strictly on the high school sports program. Murray said this new agreement with GHS represents a significant cost savings to the district and extends services far beyond the former reach of the program.

He indicated that the district is making other provisions to insure that the level of athletic training services provided to District 55 student-athletes will continue to represent the gold standard in the industry.

Ed Murray said that GHS athletic trainers will be on-site beginning immediately. They will provide services throughout the practice period leading up to the start of school on August 17, 2017. Once school starts, athletic trainers will be on hand from 1:00 PM until the end of the sports day for all programs. GHS will continue to support the sports medicine program at Laurens District High School and work with student athletic trainers in the provision of services. Dr. Stephen Peters, LCSD 55 Superintendent, said, “I want to commend Chris Moore (LDHS Principal) and Ed Murray on their management of what could have been a very difficult transition. LDHS has always had one of the best athletic training programs in the state. They made sure that tradition will continue.”

Council Approves Contract to Look for Savings

Laurens County Council this week approved a contract with a company  that has been looking for ways the county can save money on its telephone bill. A company representative who previously worked with AT&T  appeared before council two weeks ago.

At this week’s meeting, Laurens County Administrator Jon Caime told council that initial research by this company has already found a service that was installed in 1996 that is now unused and completely unnecessary. He said the county has been spending $3,300 a month on this  item. Under the terms of the contract, the company will receive 100% of the $3,300 for one year as payment. After the year, the county will begin to realize the savings.

“We should have found this out ourselves years ago,” said Caime. Councilman Stewart Jones said it will be great to have another set of eyes watching out for this kind of wasted spending.

The contract will work the same way if other wasted spending is discovered. The contract was approved in spite of objections from Councilman David Pitts and Chairman Joe Wood. Pitts suggested the county should discover such overpayments in house.

GHS Pledge to Service

Following recent criticism from the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office regarding emergency treatment of a rape victim, GHS Laurens County Memorial Hospital has released a statement addressing their dedication to serving Laurens County, and GHS plans to expand the number of nurses specifically trained to administer a “rape kit” and gather evidence for prosecuting rape cases. Here is the statement:


Laurens County Memorial’s commitment to the community

There has been much reported in the news recently about how a sexual assault case was handled at Greenville Health System’s (GHS) Laurens County Memorial Hospital. We understand and respect the concerns expressed across the community, and we want to assure everyone that we are committed to providing the best care possible to all of our patients.

No patient will ever be denied treatment at our hospital. Laurens County Memorial Hospital serves as the safety-net hospital for Laurens County. This means we provide care to all patients regardless of their ability to pay.

In the case of a sexual assault patient, it is general practice at all GHS facilities to have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) perform the sexual assault evidentiary exam because these nurses have special training in medical forensics and often provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial. If a SANE-trained nurse is not present, we offer patients the opportunity to be immediately transported to a facility where a SANE-trained nurses is available. If a patient doesn’t want to be transported, an emergency room doctor can perform the exam with the assistance of a nurse. However, in all cases, a patient must consent for the exam to occur. If a patient does not consent or says they want to leave, we must respect their wishes.

Over the past year, GHS has been working on a plan to expand its SANE-program. GHS currently has 15 SANE-trained nurses who provide care across the entire health system and another 10 nurses undergoing training. The plan calls for an on-call system to be developed so that these 25 SANE-trained nurses can be dispatched to any GHS facility at any hour of the day. The plan also calls for the hiring of a SANE coordinator. This coordinator will not only oversee policies and procedures across the health system but work closely with local agencies and law enforcement to ensure the needs of sexual assault victims are being met.

Sexual assault is a very real issue for our community. According to the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network, sexual assaults increased 12 percent between 2014 and 2015. And, according to the Julie Valentine Center, the state’s rape rate has exceeded the national rate since 1982.

Our goal at Laurens County Memorial Hospital is to provide the right care at the right time and the right place and to be a source of help and healing for all of our patients. We take sexual assault cases very seriously and understand how difficult it can be for a victim to seek treatment.

We welcome the opportunity to work with the community and local law enforcement to ensure sexual assault victims get the care they need where and when they need it.

Justin Benfield is the chief operating officer; Kay Swisher, RN, is the chief nursing officer; and David Williams, MD, is the chief clinical officer of Laurens County Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Peters Wants Focus on School Needs

School District 55 Superintendent Dr. Stephen Peters addressed the Laurens County Development Corporation this week with his thoughts on Education.

He noted his two basic beliefs about education. The first is “Poverty is not a disability, but it can become disabling if ignored.” The second belief is “No one rises to low expectations.”

Peters said he and his staff area now very busy preparing for another school year – his second as a Superintendent. He also gave his perspective on highlights from the just completed year. Dr. Peters talked of improved kindergarten scores, and particularly noted Ford Elementary. Saying it was an “F” school for eight straight years, but this (past) year, “they have the highest kindergarten reading scores in our district.” He added that across District 55 all but one of the schools this past year had gains in reading and math. Steven Peters added “we’ve done in one year what usually takes three to five.”

The District 55 Superintendent said that other than safety, academic performance is his #1 goal for schools. He told the business leaders on the Laurens County Development Corporation’s Board Tuesday, said “We’re training students for jobs that have not been created yet.”

Peters also said that Literacy is #1 priority for students, noting that if you can read, you are then able to learn. He reminded his listeners about the 30-30 plan which encouraged students to read in school, but also at home. He said parents were encouraged to get involved in the home reading.

Steven Peters also referred to the controversial position he’s found himself in regarding the school board’s call for a referendum, asking the voters to approve a $109 million school bond. He said “Not only are we preparing to open a new school year, we’re going up against an onslaught of personal attacks.” Dr. Peters said he has many calls from people who tell him “we’re behind you,” but he wishes they would say this in public.

Of opponents to the referendum, Steven Peters said some opponents are using inaccurate information in their opposition, and he expressed concern that the focus of many of those objecting to the proposed project is personal criticism of him, rather than discussing the issues of what is needed to teach our students. He suggested we should put what our students need as a priority.

He said that a steering committee promoting a “Yes” vote in the September 5th referendum is holding a Kickoff event at 6:00 next Tuesday evening, August 1st, to provide the information on the total plans for the referendum funds.

Two New Employees for United Way

The United Way of Laurens County (UWLC) has announced the addition of two new staff members. Ramsie Day joined UWLC in June as the Community Impact Coordinator, a brand-new, part-time position, and Allison Seibert will begin Monday, July 31st, as the Resource Development Manager.

Formerly staffed by an office of just two, the UWLC Board of Directors recently approved the addition of a new, part-time position to the organization, to help grow and advance the mission and work of UWLC.

Almost two full months into her new position, Ramsie Day brings marketing, customer service, event planning, and a love for helping people to her role as Community Impact Coordinator. Ramsie will graduate from Savannah College of Art & Design this December with a degree in Visual Communications with a concentration in Advertising. Her hands-on event planning and design background through internships with Greenbrier Farms and RedHype have provided her with the experience needed to even further help the community.

A life-long resident of Laurens County, Allison Seibert is the former Development Specialist with March of Dimes for Laurens, Greenwood and Union Counties. During her time with March of Dimes, she has worked closely with many businesses and community leaders, and brings valuable non-profit, marketing, fundraising, and event planning experience to her new role as Resource Development Manager.

“It has certainly been a time of transition but, thanks to Ramsie and her ability to hit the ground running, as well as my history with United Way, it’s been a rather smooth one,” said Whitney Robertson, Executive Director. “We look forward to having Allison on board and, for the first time in many years, having a staff of more than two. This will truly help us do more in the community, especially where campaign is concerned. When we have the staff available to build on and increase campaign, we can help even more people through the vital programs that depend on funding from United Way.”

The Executive Director and Board of Directors are excited to have Ramsie and Allison join UWLC, to help further strengthen the organization and serve our great community.

United Way of Laurens County supports 30 programs among 24 local non-profit agencies within the areas of education, health, financial stability and emergency relief.

Clinton City Manager Applications thru August 31st

Clinton City Council has approved the wording on advertising for a new City Manager. The decision was made at Monday’s meeting of Council. They had several choices before them, but eventually approved the wording provided by the South Carolina Municipal Association.

Councilman Danny Cook suggested that an application deadline to apply be set as August 31st. By consensus, council agreed with that change. The ad also stipulates that someone holding the position of Assistant City Manager with at least three years of experience would be eligible to apply.

Arrest Alleges Domestic Assault

Laurens City Police arrested a man yesterday following an alleged domestic assault in t own. 34-year-old Rico Lewa Pulley was booked in the Laurens County Detention Center with an address on Magnolia Street, Joanna . A warrant charging him with Domestic Violence 2nd Degree give a Watts Street, Laurens address. It cites an investigation by Sgt. Sellers as indicating that Mr. Pulley strangulated the victim in the midst of a physical assault which occurred in the presence of a small child he and the victim share in common. It also states that the victim is the legal spouse of the subject and that the incident occurred at a Watts Street residence where they live together.

With a cash or surety bond set at $5,000 during arraignment yesterday, Rico Pulley remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning,

Union Man Charged in Laurens County Assault

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday arrested a Union County resident on charges of a domestic assault in Laurens County Tuesday.

53-year-old Steven Lamar Burkhalter of 118 Kissey Creek Circle, Union was charged with Domestic Violence 3rd Degree. A warrant states that an investigation by Deputy Howard indicates that on July 24th the defendant assaulted the victim by throwing a phone at her and hitting her on the arm, and that he had the apparent present ability to cause physical harm or injury under circumstances that reasonably caused fear of imminent peril to her.

Steven Lamar Burkhalter was being held overnight in the Laurens County Detention Center, pending a bond hearing today.

Economic Development Continues

There is a continued increase of interest in Laurens County from industrial site hunters. Laurens County Development Corporation Director Jonathan Coleman yesterday told his board that we’ve had 37 requests for information so far this year. He noted that the past two years combined had 49 at this point of the year. He said we did not have property to submit for ten of the requests.

Jon Coleman pointed out that since the LCDC’s meeting in May, Laurens County has had two big announcements, the Bird’s Eye solar farm between Clinton and Joanna and the GE announcement of the Wind Energy Research facility, which is being located in the “Spec” building that was just constructed in Clinton’s I-26 Corporate Park. He said with these two announcements, Laurens County has had $125.5 million in capital investments and 122 new jobs announced so far this year.

Jon Coleman pointed out that acquiring the GE investment in Clinton means Laurens Count y needs another “Spec Building” to offer others interested in locating here.

He had some bad news, as well, saying he had learned late Monday afternoon that the Fisher Barton plant outside Fountain Inn will be closing in mid September. He said “We’ll be working with them, setting up job fairs for their current employees.”  Noting Fisher Barton has 100 employees, Jon pointed out that the ZF Transmission plant has 200 job openings now.

New Equipment for 3 Fire Departments

Laurens County Council received an update on grants approved for new equipment at three rural fire departments. At last night’s council meeting, County Fire Director Greg Lindley advised council that he has already received three of the 18 federal grants applied for this year.

The three grants received total $74,240 now received. They require only a 5% match by the county, which Council unanimously approved. That totals $3,534, which is coming from the fire contingency fund.

The money is to be used for purchase of equipment needed at rural fire stations. $39,000 goes to the Youngs Department, $23,240 is going to the Hickory Tavern Fire Department and $12,000 is earmarked for the Waterloo Fire Department.

Director Lindley also announced to County Council last night that all is on track for the new Thompson Road Fire Station to be operating by December.

“Vote Yes” Kickoff is Tuesday

A “Kids Come First Steering Committee” has announced plans for a Kickoff Celebration for their “Vote Yes” campaign. The group intends to mount a campaign to encourage voters in School District 55 to go to the polls September 5th and vote for the $109 million school bond.

The “Kids Come First” Kickoff Celebration is to be held in the Ridge at Laurens this coming Tuesday evening at 6:00. Their announcement about the rally states the public is invited to hear about and see the building plans for the new high school along with other improvements planned for District 55 Schools.

Two Undercover Crack Cocaine Sales

Undercover drug sales late last year and early this year were alleged yesterday with an arrest by the Clinton Department of Public Safety.

37-year-old Jerome Dendy of 101 Helen Street, Clinton was charged with two counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine and two counts, Distribution with Proximity of a Park or School.

In a warrant noting investigation by Clinton Detectives Prather and Coggins, Sgt. Shane Prather states that on October 11, 2016 on Neighborhood Drive in Clinton, the defendant sold crack cocaine to a confidential informant working in an undercover capacity. This was reportedly within a half mile of a school or public park.

A second warrant states that on January 1st of 2017 Mr. Dendy sold crack cocaine to a confidential informant working undercover on Neighborhood Drive. This was also within a half mile of a school or park, and was investigated by Prather and a Sheriff’s Officer.

Jerome Dendy was being held overnight in the Laurens County Detention Center, pending arraignment.

He was also served yesterday with three Bench Warrants from Family Court yesterday that charge him with Contempt of Court in cases from three plaintiffs.

1st Degree Burglary in Laurens County

A Spartanburg County man was charged with a Laurens County Burglary yesterday. The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office booked 29-year-old Korinthian Mack Murphy showing an address on Charlie May Chappell Drive, Spartanburg. He is charged with Burglary 1st Degree. The warrant was not available this morning for details on the alleged burglary. No bond was granted during arraignment yesterday. Korinthian Mack Murphy remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning. He is also being held for a probation warrant from Spartanburg County.

2nd Degree Domestic Violence

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday arrested a man on allegations of a Domestic Assault on a Clinton area woman last Thursday.

27-year-old Walter Alan Grover was booked with an address at 1808 Highway 72, Greenwood. A warrant charging him with Domestic Violence 2nd Degree lists a Cross Hill address for him on Highway 560.

Deputy Jonathan Brown states that on July 20th Mr. Grover punched the victim on her left arm and grabbed her by the wrist, causing bruising, and that this occurred in the presence of their two minor children.

Walter Alan Grover was being held overnight, pending a bond hearing today on the 2nd Degree Domestic Violence charge.

Drug Charges Follow Early AM Traffic Stop

Drug charges were served yesterday after an early morning arrest on Laurens’ north side. 25-year-old Kasey Daniell Mc Ghinnis of 244 Railroad Street, Enoree was initially issued tickets by Laurens City Police Officer Lindsey charging her with Driving under Suspension 2nd Offense and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia on Watts Avenue and with Driving under the Influence on Watts Avenue and North Harper Street at 1:19 am Tuesday.

Warrants were served later also charging her with Possession of Crack Cocaine and Possession of s Schedule IV Controlled Substance.

They allege that during a traffic stop on Watts Avenue Ms. McGhinnis was found to be in possession of approximately one gram of crack cocaine and one complete pill and two halves of a pill determined to be a Schedule IV substance she had no prescription for. With cash or surety bonds totaling $10,592, Kasey Daniell McGhinnis remained in custody this morning.

Hindering Officers Alleged

Laurens City Police yesterday charged a local man with withholding information during a traffic stop this month. 26-year-old Patrick Eugene Haupfear of 300 Caldwell Street, Laurens was charged with Misprison of a Felony and with Hindering an Officer.

Lt. Martin states in warrants that an investigation by Sgt. Sellers indicates

that on July 12th Haupfear did knowingly and willfully withhold the true name of his significant other after she provided law enforcement with a false name and date of birth. A warrant states that it was later discovered that the defendant did know the subject’s true name and was aware that she was wanted by other agencies for outstanding warrants.

The 2nd warrant states that on that day, with full knowledge and malice intent, Haupfear withheld the true identity of his significant other in an attempt to hinder the officers from properly investigating the legal traffic stop and drug related offenses.

Patrick Eugene Haupfear was being held overnight, pending a bond hearing on his two charges.

Where’d That Hole in My House Come From?

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday charged a Cross Hill man with an assault in late July last year, and with damaging another man’s house earlier this July. 34-year-old DeAndrea Martavious Bowers was booked with an address on S. Cook Street, Cross Hill. Warrants show a Hightop Drive address, which is off S. Cook Street.

An Assault and Battery 3rd Degree warrant accuses him of committing battery on a victim by striking her in the mouth on the 28th of July, 2016. A Malicious Damage warrant states that on July 16th of this year he willfully and maliciously did less than $2,000 in damage to personal property of another by throwing a rock through the side of the victim’s home, causing a hole with a 2-inch diameter.

DeAndrea MarTavious Bowers remained in custody overnight, pending a bond hearing today.

Clinton to Sell Tallwood Homes

More than forty years ago the city of Clinton created the Clinton Senior Citizens Housing Authority, Inc. for the purpose of providing affordable housing to Clinton citizens who were either senior citizens or who were disabled.  That corporation owns Tallwood Homes, although it is managed by a private real estate management firm, The Boyd Company.

Discussions on council as far back as 2010 suggested that perhaps the city should sell Tallwood, the since affordable senior citizen housing is not nearly as difficult to find now when compared to forty years ago.

At a special called meeting of Clinton City Council held last evening a proposed resolution was presented which would authorize the Mayor, as President of the Senior Citizens Housing Authority, to sell Tallwood Homes to Tallwood Apartments, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boyd Company.  Mayor McLean said he believed that the principles of providing adequate and affordable housing for seniors would continue to be maintained with the sale.

The proceeds of the sale would erase an approximate $250,000 of remaining debt for Tallwood, in addition to providing additional money to the city.  Mayor McLean voiced strong support for the resolution.

After discussion the vote to approve the resolution authorizing the sale passed by a unanimous vote.

Previous Glory Restored at Neville Hall

As students and faculty prepare for classes to begin next month in the newly renovated Neville Hall at Presbyterian College, the finishing touches are being made to the building. One of these touches is a unique, handcrafted chandelier being placed in Neville Hall’s newly opened rotunda this past Friday.

Susan Mattus, PC Vice President for finance and administration, said

“We wanted something unique and handmade for Neville that celebrated its history as the centerpiece of campus.”

The chandelier was made by the Heirloom Companies, an award-winning wood and ironworks manufacturer from nearby Campobello, S.C. Harper Corporation, the general contractor over the Neville renovation. first selected Heirloom to construct the building’s rotunda railings, which were designed to match railings seen in the building before the rotunda was closed off in the 1960s. Designer James Moseley said “The chandelier is 100 percent custom-made, the scrolls are hand forged out of solid material, the leaves were made using a French technique.” Moseley added “We couldn’t find a glass globe that met our design requirements, so we decided to have them hand blown by a glass artisan in North Carolina. Overall, I think the light will be considered the jewelry for Neville Hall.”

“The rotunda railing was ultimately inspired by some old photographs we were supplied by Harper and PC,” said Moseley. “We were able to work with the architect David Dixon and Harper to come up with a 100 percent custom and unique railing.” He added “You will not see a rail like this anywhere else.”

1st Degree Assault Charge from Sunday Incident

A 1st Degree Domestic Assault charge has been served, following an incident in Laurens Villa Sunday. Laurens City Police delivered 40-year-old Stanley Leroy Reeder Jr. of 320 Beauregard Street, Clinton to the Laurens County Detention Center Sunday, ordered held for charges.

As of yesterday, a warrant charging Domestic Violence 1st Degree was served on Mr. Reeder. It states that on July 23rd he committed 1st Degree Domestic Violence by grabbing the victim by her neck, covering her face and nose with his hand, restricting her air flow. This allegedly occurred Sunday in an apartment at 309 Exchange Drive. The warrant states the charge is a 1st Degree assault due to Reeder and the victim having a child in common, who was in the home at the time of the incident, also due to the restriction of the victim’s air flow and due to Mr. Reeder having two prior convictions for Domestic Violence in the past ten years.

Stanley Leroy Reeder Jr. remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning with a cash or surety bond on the 1st Degree Domestic Violence charge set at $20,000.