Fall Semester Starts Monday at PC

The fall semester begins this coming Monday at Presbyterian College, a week earlier than originally scheduled. The fall semester will end on November 25, a day before Thanksgiving and two weeks earlier than originally scheduled. The compressed academic calendar minimizes travel during the semester and provides extra flexibility in the late autumn and early winter if circumstances change.

“This fall will look different than any semester we’ve had at PC,” said Dr. Joy Smith, PC’s vice president for campus life and dean of students. “We’ve been working hard all summer to get to the point where students can return.”

In the past, PC students rang in the fall semester by volunteering at various organizations across Laurens County on Service Day. Due to the pandemic, service opportunities, like the ones designed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, will take place over four days to allow for social distancing.

47 Deaths Now Noted Here

Laurens County had now had 43 confirmed deaths of people with COVID-19. With another 4 deaths considered probable, that would give Laurens County 47 deaths at this point. This is more than double the deaths of neighboring Greenwood County, where 17 deaths have been confirmed. With 3 other deaths listed as probable, that would give Greenwood County 20. The Upstate counties with more are Anderson with 66 confirmed, Spartanburg with 106 and Greenville with 209 deaths confirmed.

Laurens County’s total confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday’s DHEC update total 1,349, just below the 1,480 cases confirmed in Greenwood County. As for percentage of population confirmed, Laurens County has about 1,999 cases per 100,000, Greenwood’s cases represent 2,090 and Greenville County’s cases confirmed to date represent 2,116 per 100,000 population. Neighboring Newberry County now has had 872 cases, but that represents 2,268 per 100,000.

Of Laurens County’s 1,349 cases confirmed as of yesterday, the Clinton area has had 529, Laurens 434 and Gray Court 157. Waterloo has now had 52 cases, there have been 50 in Cross Hill, 20 from Mountville and 17 in Joanna. From zip codes that include residents of Laurens and at least one other county, Fountain Inn has had 434 while Woodruff has 202 and Honea Path 107. Enoree has had 71 and Whitmire has recorded 60 total cases during the pandemic. Kinards and Chappells each have had 15 cases confirmed.

Across South Carolina we have had 2,089 deaths confirmed with the virus and a total of 103,051 confirmed cases of COIVD-19.

Two Counts Attempted Murder Following Gunfire in Laurens

Shameeka Shanta Valentine

Multiple gunshots from two firearms in Laurens Wednesday were alleged with charges served yesterday. Laurens Police arrested 29-year-old Shameeka Shanta Valentine of Gary Street, Clinton Wednesday. She is now charged with two counts of Attempted Murder and one count of Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime.

Ms. Valentine is accused of discharging a semi-automatic firearm at one victim with malice aforethought and of shooting another victim with a 9mm handgun. She allegedly fired multiple rounds during the Wednesday incident on Bub Avenue in Laurens.

Bond was denied on both charges of Attempted Murder. A $10,000 cash or surety bond was set on the Weapons warrant. Shameeka Shanta Valentine remained in Laurens County’s Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Torturous Treatment of Two Dogs

Torturous treatment of two dogs was alleged with the arrest of a Waterloo woman yesterday. The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office served 37-year-old Jennifer Howington Horne of Pemberton Street, Waterloo with two warrants alleging Ill Treatment of Animals.

She is accused of allowing a male and a female dog to suffer from a severe skin condition, without giving them proper treatment, resulting in their becoming underweight and having to endure prolonged tortuous pain and suffering from their condition. She is further accused of soaking the dogs in burnt motor oil on more than one occasion, then leaving them outdoors in temperatures above 90 degrees. The two pit-bull mix dogs were reportedly found in their poor condition July 24th at a location on Pemberton Street, Waterloo.

Jennifer Howington Horne was released from the Johnson Detention Center yesterday on personal recognizance bonds totaling $4,200.

SLED Charges Assault by Whitten Center Employee

Keandre O’Neal Roberson

The State Law Enforcement Division yesterday charged a man with assaulting someone while he was employed at Whitten Center about four months ago. 25-year-old Keandre O’Neal Roberson of Bettie Street, Laurens was served a warrant alleging 2nd Degree Assault and Battery. The warrant alleges that while employed at Whitten Center on April 20th Mr. Roberson threw a metal chair at the victim, causing a small laceration above his eye. Keandre O’Neal Roberson remained in Laurens County’s Johnson Detention Center earlier today, awaiting a bond hearing.

Laurens Rotary Reflects on Backpack Program

The Laurens Rotary Club backpack program is helping to feed local students in a Laurens District 55 Elementary School. Despite the COVID shutdown of schools for the 2019-2020 school year, the Backpack program was a success and the Rotary Club hopes to continue this into the new school year.

The 2019-2020 Backpack program was funded through grants from several local and international sources. The Laurens County Community Foundation, the Balle Foundation, and Rotary International all helped make the program a success.

Laurens Rotary President Scott Tollison said, “Rotary’s 2019-2020 theme was “Rotary Connects the World” and we are glad to start right here at home by providing this resource to the children locally.” Tollison added, “The backpack program is an example of our motto “Service Above Self” and gives our members an opportunity to participate in a project that we know has an impact on our community.”

Program Coordinator, Rotarian Edie Davis said, “The 2019-2020 program allowed us to provide 50students with food to take home over the weekends so they could have access to meals when not in school. We were able to serve meals for 27 weeks with two double packs weeks for a total of 1450 meals, all helping our local students.”

The effects of COVID were also felt on the Backpack program since the school year was cut short; however, the unused food didn’t go to waste. The club donated additional food to the First United Methodist Church Food Bank.

Rotary International is a global network of more than 1.2 million members who believe that great things happen when dedicated minds come together. Rotary International has been focused on eradicating polio by partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world Health Organization, and UNICEF to end polio, once and for all.

The Laurens Rotary club has been involved in many other local projects including Rotary Readers, Meals on Wheels, Back Pack Program, and holds the Duck Race each year during Squealin’ on the Square.

Final of 13 Suspects Sentenced in 2-State Meth Conspiracy Ring

US Attorney Peter McCoy Jr. yesterday announced a 45-year-old Marietta, Georgia man was sentenced to 25 years in prison as the 13th and final defendant sentenced in a large meth trafficking conspiracy in Georgia and the South Carolina Upstate. Those sentenced to Federal Prison in this effort include others from Georgia along with four men from Honea Path and one each from Belton, Anderson, Iva, Star and Calhoun Falls.

Back of Man’s Head Hit by Airborne Clock

Michelle Dawn Smith

Using a clock in a domestic altercation was alleged, following an incident Wednesday in Upper Laurens County. The Sheriff’s Office charged 48-year-old Michelle Dawn Smith of Tullyton Drive, Fountain Inn with 2nd Degree Domestic Violence. She is accused of hitting the victim in the face, causing a minor scratch and of hitting him in the back of the head with a clock. This reportedly occurred Wednesday while they were in the presence of a minor. Michelle Dawn Smith remained in Laurens County’s Johnson Detention Center earlier today, awaiting a bond hearing.

Hand Injuries Cited from Woman Being Held Down

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday charged a man regarding a domestic altercation outside Laurens Wednesday. 36-year-old Jason Wayne Leopard of Benjamin Road, Gray Court was charged with 3rd Degree Domestic Violence. He is accused of assaulting the victim by holding her down during an argument, causing bruising and other injury to both her hands. This reportedly occurred at a location on Conway Avenue Wednesday. Jason Wayne Leopard remained in Laurens County’s Johnson Detention Center earlier today, awaiting a bond hearing.

Trespass & Theft around 6:00 PM  

Being somewhere he was not supposed to be and taking something that wasn’t his was alleged with a Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrest in Joanna last evening.  A Deputy arrested 44-year-old Richard Shane Bishop of North Marion Street, Joanna and issued tickets charging him with Trespassing and Petit Larceny around 6:00 pm at a North Marion Street location. Richard Shane Bishop was held in the Johnson Detention Center overnight, awaiting a bond hearing on the two citations.

Virtual Academy Meeting for District 55 Elementary Parents

Laurens County School District 55 is hosting a virtual meeting next Tuesday for parents of elementary age children who have registered for the Laurens County Virtual Academy (LCVA) this coming school year.

This meeting is only for elementary parents whose children will be attending LCVA during the first semester or for those on the waiting list for the Laurens County Virtual Academy. The meeting will preview the EdMentum and Calvert learning systems that will be used for elementary LCVA students.

This information is not applicable for the model of e-learning that will be used for in-school students when District 55 is in a RED or YELLOW phase of threats from COVID-19.

The meeting is Tuesday, August 18th from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. Parents interested in attending this virtual meeting must register at LCVA Elementary Parent Meeting on the District 55 website:  www.laurens55.org to receive a link to the meeting. For those parents unable to attend on August 18th, a video recording of the meeting will be made available as soon as possible after the meeting.

Thanks for Help Finding Missing Persons

Thanks for help in locating two missing Laurens County persons recently were handed out at this week’s Laurens County Council Meeting. Two missing persons were recently found safe after their families reported them missing. Recognized for their efforts were Sheriff Don Reynolds and his staff along with county firefighters who were involved.

Dome Repair in Progress

Laurens County Public Works Director Dale Satterfield updated County Council this week on the ongoing restoration of the dome atop the Historic Laurens County Courthouse. He advised council the dome renovation is expected to cost $467,580.

Satterfield estimated that phase two of the courthouse project, which includes repairs to the rest of the exterior of the structure, will cost $3,550.766. This second phase of renewal of the Laurens County landmark is among those listed to be funded with the Capital Projects Sales Tax, should that be approved by voters in a referendum this November.

Satterfield also advised Council Tuesday evening that a Phase Three of the Historic Courthouse renewal does not yet have a timetable. This renewal of the interior is estimated at Five Million Dollars.

New Museum Director

A new Director of the Laurens County Museum was introduced to the Laurens Commission of Public Works at their August meeting this week. Laurens County Museum Association President Carolyn Short introduced Laura Clifford Cook, noting her credentials in education, museum management and pottery. Director Laura Cook gave a brief presentation on the future plans for the Laurens County Museum. She stated her goal is to have at least some of the museum exhibits moved into to the Witherspoon Building by November 1st of this year. Her presentation noted that the Native American Exhibit will be called the Indigenous People Exhibit.

Ms. Cook noted that the first section planned for opening in the new Witherspoon Building on Main Street to be the lobby. She said plans are for it to have the feel of an inviting, casual hotel-type lobby that will also be viewed by pedestrians walking on the sidewalk by the front windows.

Operating Under Caution for COVID-19

At the August meeting of the Laurens CPW Monday evening, General Manager John Young updated the commissioners about the current COVID-19 situation.  He said, “We are continuing to follow applicable guidelines, crews have staggered work times, and several employees are working from home to avoid unnecessary person to person contact. The lobby remains closed and the drive through operation seems to be going well.” Young added, “Customers are given the option to meet a customer service representative in the parking lot if they need additional information. Things are not going quite as smoothly as before, but we are still getting everything done.”

Unlawful Shotgun Display in Cross Hill

A man was charged yesterday with unlawful display of a shotgun in Cross Hill Tuesday. 53-year-old Larry Dean Hart of Wasson Way, Simpsonville was charged with Pointing and Presenting Firearms at a Person. He is accused of pointing a shotgun at a victim Tuesday at a location on East Liberty Springs Street in Cross Hill. Larry Dean Hart remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

Two Charged with Failure to Report to the Sheriff’s Office

The Laurens County Sheriff’s office yesterday charged two men with Violation of the Sex Offender Registry.

29-year-old James Leon Anderson of Caroline Street, Laurens is facing a second offense of Violating the Sex offender Registry, accused of failing to register with the Sheriff’s office within three days of moving on May 5th.

55-year-old Anthony Bernard Burnside of West Cliff Drive, Laurens is facing a 1st offense charge, Sex Offender Registry Violation. He allegedly failed to contact the Sheriff’s Office upon changing his residency between the June 12th and July 31st of 2020.

Both James Leon Anderson and Anthony Bernard Burnside remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

Violation of Probation

South Carolina Pardon, Probation and Parole yesterday charged a Green Pond Community woman with violating terms of her probationary release. 28-year-old Felicia Rene Mull of Deck Road, Gray Court was charged with Violation of Probation. In a warrant issued July 13th, Ms. Mull is accused of moving from her listed address without notifying her supervising agent, and of failing to report as instructed.  Felicia Rene Mull remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

Noon Incident on Bramlett Church Road

The Sheriff’s Office made an arrest yesterday from an incident around Noon on a location on Bramlett Church Road. 24-year-old Amber Nicole Kirby of Bramlett Church Road, Gray Court was issued a ticket charging her with Assault and Battery in 3rd Degree. She spent last night in the Johnson Detention Center, awaiting a bond hearing on the charge.

Accident Claims Life of Joanna Man

A single car accident on Clinton’s Springdale Drive Wednesday afternoon has resulted in one death.

Laurens County Chief Deputy Coroner Patti Canupp stated that the driver and only occupant of the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene following the 3:15 PM accident.  The cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma.

She identified the deceased as 58 year old Joey Neal Bodie of Joanna.  Mr. Bodie  had to be mechanically extracted from the vehicle.  He was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.