Area Varsity Basketball Scores from Friday 1-17-2020

Be sure to see Mike’s Sports Report on Monday for more details on these games.

Newberry at Clinton

  • Girls: CHS 47 – NHS 27
  • Boys: NHS 66 – CHS 53

Laurens at Greenwood

  • Girls: LDHS 53 – GHS 45
  • Boys: GHS 66 – LDHS 59

Anderson Christian at Laurens Academy

  • Girls: LA 40 – AC 27
  • Boys: AC 55 – LA 36



Local MLK Weekend Activities

There are several events here in Laurens County in celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend.

The Sanders Alumni Association is sponsoring its 23rd Annual MLK Celebration, beginning this evening at 6:00 with “MLK Youth Alive” at Sanders Middle School. This program is to feature a Middle School Essay Contest, Praise Dancers, Youth Choirs and other talent from across Laurens County.

Saturday’s events start with a MLK Parade from a car lot across from the Laurens Post Office, with participants marching to Sanders Middle School, starting at 9:30 AM. Following the parade, there will be an MLK Day Observance at Noon in Sanders Middle School. Guest Speaker for the noon celebration is Laurens Native, the Right Reverend Julius “Gus” Beasley of Memphis, Tennessee.

The Laurens County Branch of the NAACP is hosting its 43rd Annual Freedom Fund Banquet Saturday night at Springfield Baptist Church of Laurens.

The featured speaker announced for this year’s event is Ms. Nina Turner of Ohio, a former State Senator, who is now co-chair of the Bernie Sanders 2020 Presidential Campaign. She was described as a motivational speaker, cable news commentator and a defining political icon.

The Annual Freedom Fund Banquet is scheduled to start at 6:00 tomorrow evening at Springfield Baptist Church, 500 Jersey Street in Laurens.

Liquor Still Charges at Puppy Mill Site

Charges alleging an illegal “Liquor Still” have been filed from the investigation into an alleged Puppy Mill in Western Laurens County. In addition to the man and woman charged with Cruelty to Animals, a third person was arrested Wednesday. 47-year-old Judith Marie Hughes, also of 10822 Indian Mound Road, Ware Shoals, was served a warrant charging her with 1st Offense, Unlawful Possession of a Distillery. She is accused of violating a law that prevents possession of any integral part of a distillery, apparatus, device or substitute therefore to be used for the purpose of manufacturing alcoholic liquors. The warrant alleges she was in possession of said device on January 15th. With a cash or surety bond set at $1,250 on this charge, Judith Marie Hughes remained in Laurens County’s Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Test for Meth Cited in Probation Violation

South Carolina Pardon, Probation and Parole yesterday arrested 38-year-old Micheal Lee Davis of Abercrombie Road, Fountain Inn and charged him with Violation of Probation. He allegedly failed to follow the advice and instructions of his supervising agent. This reportedly included failing to refrain from illegal drug, noted with failing a drug test on yesterday, allegedly testing positive for methamphetamine and amphetamines. He’s further accused of failing to make a group report on this past December 20th and failing to meet monetary obligations. This include being behind on supervision fees, a surcharge and failing to pay the fee for a drug test.

Michael Davis remained in the Johnson Detention Center, awaiting a bond hearing.

Possession of Liquid with Heroin & Fentanyl

Laurens Police have charged a local woman with unlawful Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance. 26-year-old Heather Renae Taylor of Caribou Drive Laurens was arrested Wednesday and has since been charged with the drug offense. She is accused of possessing a syringe containing approximately 37 cc of a blue, liquid substance believed to be a mixture of heroin and fentanyl on January 15th. This allegedly occurred in the parking lot of the Oaks Plaza on North Harper. Heather Renae Taylor was released from the Johnson Detention Center yesterday on posting a cash or surety bond of $5,000.

Twelve Plead Guilty In Court Thursday

Twelve people stood before Judge Mark Hayes yesterday and entered guilty pleas in the 4th day of this session of Laurens County General Sessions Court.

31-year-old Michelangelo Dicosola of Hambone Drive, Clinton pled guilty to Breach of Peace of an Aggravated Nature. He was sentenced to ten years, which was suspended to the 82 days already served in jail and to be on Probation for three years. He is ordered to have no contact with the victim of his crime, and not to get within 100 yards of that person’s house. Charges dismissed on Mr. Dicosola were 1st Degree Burglary, Trespassing and Simple Possession of Marijuana.

Other sentences were handed down for guilty pleas to Non-Aggravated Breach of Peace, Receiving Stolen Goods, Use of a Vehicle without Permission, Obtaining Signature under False Pretense, Unlawful Carrying of a Firearm and 3rd Degree Assault and Battery. Drug charges plead to yesterday were Possession of Less than a Gram of Meth or Cocaine Base,

Possession of a Controlled Substance and Simple Possession of Marijuana. One was sentenced after a plea of Driving under the Influence.

Fire Truck Mechanic

Laurens County Council this week approved the hiring of a mechanic for maintenance of fire trucks. The initial plan was to hire someone part-time, but Fire Director Greg Lindley told council Tuesday evening, “After advertising and conducting interviews with applicants, all the applicants for the part-time mechanic position said they’re only interested in full-time position with benefits.” He noted the current job description had been approved by council for part-time employment at an hourly rate of 26.33 per hour. Lindley said, “It is my recommendation to change the position to full-time from 30 hours per week to 40 hours with benefits. The hourly rate may need adjusting to get someone qualified, since the current hourly rate is based on what the mechanic started out over 20 years ago at a rate of $20 per hour.” Lindley suggested $30 per hour. The mechanic is expected to save by not sending trucks out for repair.

Two Arrested from Alleged Domestic Assaults

Laurens County Deputies arrested two men yesterday from separate domestic incidents. Both were charged with 3rd Degree Domestic Violence.

47-year-old Melvin Steven Gray Jr. of Ralph Dawkins Street, Enoree is accused of pushing his girlfriend to the floor, over the ottoman in their living room Wednesday. He allegedly threatened to hide until the law left then come back and kill her. He was being held with a bond set at $5,000.

33-year-old Nicholas Michael Ambrusio of the 200-address range on Highway 252, Laurens is accused of punching the victim in the back of her head with a closed fist at his residence Wednesday. He remained in the Johnson Detention Center with a bond set at $1,087.50.

Prisma Health Announces Reduction in Workforce

Prisma Health officials today announced the reduction of 327 staff positions, from their workforce of 32,000. The statement indicated they are taking additional measure to improve operating efficiencies and streamline the organization.

Prisma Health President and CEO Mark O’Halla said, “The health-care environment in which we operate is becoming increasingly challenging for a variety of reasons, including lower reimbursements and increasing numbers of patients who are underinsured or uninsured.” He added, “When we formed Prisma Health 26 months ago, we began integrating and consolidating functions to gain the benefits of scale and to remove costs from the organization. We have already eliminated duplicative executive management positions, restructured leadership, and gained significant cost savings in supplies, technology and other areas.” He said they’ve also identified additional expense-reduction strategies, many of which will impact the workforce, adding, “These are difficult decisions, but we need to make them now so we can provide the quality care our patients deserve in a financially sustainable manner that positions us for future growth opportunities.”

The 327 team members from today’s announcement will be notified beginning today that their positions are being eliminated. Areas affected span the organization, including administrative, corporate and clinical areas across all campuses. Prisma Health is providing the affected team members with severance pay and outplacement services. Affected staff also will have the opportunity to apply for open positions across the organization.

Additional changes to select services include Prisma Health Greenville Memorial Hospital’s 15-bed Subacute Unit, which will be phased out in March, and the Children’s Residential Program in Greenville, which will be phased out in April. Patient populations treated in these programs have other local options, and Prisma Health indicates it’s taking the steps necessary to ensure that there is minimal disruption to patient care during this transition.

There was no specific news as to the number of reductions at the Laurens County Hospital from this Prisma Health action. Laurens County’s hospital, which was being operated under a long-term lease by Greenville Health System, became a part of Prisma after GHS merged with Palmetto Health of Columbia.

Arrests from Alleged “Puppy Mill”

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a man and woman regarding a “Puppy Mill” was reportedly found in Western Laurens County. A person who had reportedly purchased a dog from the location indicated that the dog was in poor health. Laurens County Animal Control went to an Indian Mound Road location in the Ware Shoals area Tuesday to investigate and called Sheriff’s Deputies to the scene.

Deputies reported that on arrival at the address they found between 100 and 150 dogs and other animals on the property, which was described as a “Puppy Mill” operation.

Arrested by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday were 70-year-old Barbara Anne Timms and 46-year-old Barry Leon Davis, both of 10,822 Indian Mound Road, Ware Shoals. Both were charged with two counts of Animal Cruelty.

Warrants accuse them of not providing proper care for numerous dogs and rabbits, resulting in the deaths of some of the animals, as noted at their residence on January 14th. A Sheriff’s Facebook post said there were also chickens, ducks and cats.

Staff from Laurens County Animal Control was joined yesterday by the Anderson PAWS organization and they were working diligently to properly remove every animal from the residence, evaluate their health and ensure the animals are properly taken care of. The Sheriff’s Statement said the scene at this location on Indian Mound Road was “truly a devastating scene of cruelty.”

The Laurens County Sheriff Office was actively investigating the criminal aspect of this case. More charges were pending. A third resident of the address was being held in the Johnson Detention Center overnight, awaiting charges.

District 55 To Hire Superintendent from Staff

The School Board for Laurens County School District 55 is planning to hire its next Superintendent from its current employees. After spending hours in executive session discussing personnel issues Tuesday evening, the District 55 School Trustees reassembled in a brief public session and voted to hire the next superintendent from within. The vote was 5 in favor and 2 opposed.

The outgoing Superintendent, Dr. Stephen Peters, was hired following a nationwide search. His predecessor, Dr. Billy Strickland, was hired from within the school district administrative staff.

School Board Chair Robby Bell told WLBG that during the administration of Superintendent Peters, District 55 established an “Aspiring Leadership Academy,” where employees with aspirations to advance undergo a training program to help them advance. Bell told WLBG there are multiple employees of District 55 who are qualified to become a superintendent.

No time frame has been announced for hiring a new superintendent. Dr. Peter’s resignation is effective on June 30th of this year. Chairman Bell told us the school board is looking to hire the person who will be best for the children served by School District 55.

Improving Fire Response to Lake Greenwood Area

An attempt to hire full-time firefighters for a Monday thru Friday work schedule has not worked. Laurens County Fire Service Director Greg Lindley told County Council this week that after advertising the three new full-time firefighter positions for almost two months, neither of the positions have been filled. He requested they change the schedules to their 24 hours on / 48 hours off schedule, saying the applicants prefer that schedule so they can work part-time jobs on their days off.

County Council approved making the change for the three new positions.

Once hired, the three firefighters will staff the Waterloo Fire Department 24/7 to improve response time in the Lake Greenwood area. Director Lindley said Waterloo’s manned station will also run automatic aid to calls for the Cross Hill, Mountville, Ekom and Western Laurens areas when needed.

Lindley said there will be a slight budget increase of about $15,000 to cover overtime pay for the 24/48 work schedule.

18 Entered Guilty Pleas Yesterday

Eighteen defendants took the stand in Laurens County General Sessions Court yesterday to enter guilty pleas before Judge Mark Hayes.

32-year-old Travis Jay Hyder of Nelson Road, Inman pled to 1st Degree Assault and Battery. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison, with credit for 233 days already spent behind bars. Charges dismissed on Travis Hyder were another 1st Degree Assault and Battery, Kidnapping and Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime.

23-year-old Austin Dakota Burnette of County Line Road, Bradley pled guilty to 2nd Degree Domestic Violence. He was sentenced under the Youthful Offenders Act to a term not to exceed three years; but with 64 days already served, the balance suspended to 36 months on Probation. That can be terminated with completion of a batterer’s treatment or anger management program. He also must comply with Domestic Violence rules. His contact with the victim is to be determined by Family Court. Burnette also pled to Violation of a Court Order of Protection. A six-month sentence on that was also suspended to time served. A Kidnapping charge against Austin Dakota Burnette was dismissed.

41-year-old James Frederick Mack of Pearl Street Ware Shoals pled guilty to 3rd Degree Burglary and Possession of a Controlled Substance. A six-year sentence on the drug charge was suspended to time served and 18 months on Probation. On the Burglary case, Mr. Mack was sentenced to three years, also suspended to 18 months on Probation. A Meth Possession charge was dismissed.

19-year-old Timothy Quintel Green of Harold’s Park, Clinton pled to Breaking into Motor Vehicle or Tanks. He was sentenced under the Youthful Offenders Act to a term not to exceed three years. This will be served concurrently with another charge. He was given 441 days credit for time already incarcerated. Charges dismissed on Timothy Green were Sale or Delivery of a Stolen Pistol, Unlawful Firearm Carry and Criminal Conspiracy.

35-year-old David Allen Gleaton of Flymm Smith Road, Waterloo pled guilty to

Receiving Stolen Goods. He was sentenced to four years in the State Department of Corrections, with credit for 107 days already jailed.

37-year-old Rebecca Lashway Wallace of Dunwoody Drive, Simpsonville, pled

guilty to two counts of Petit Larceny He was sentenced to 30 days, which was apparently covered by 52 days already spent in jail. A Grand Larceny charge and three counts of 2nd Degree Burglary were dismissed on Rebecca Wallace.

Other defendants yesterday enter pleas ranging from Drug Possession to Giving False Information to Law Enforcement to Reckless Driving to Willful Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult. Other crimes admitted to in court were Domestic Violence, Breach of Peace and being a Habitual Offender for continuing to drive under suspension, follow previous convictions of that offense.

Firing Into Occupied Vehicle

A man was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly fired into an occupied vehicle. The Laurens County Sheriff’s office has since served warrants charging 65-year-old David Mills of the 1300-block of Mahaffey Road, Gray Court with Discharging a Firearm into an Occupied Vehicle, Aggravated Breach of Peace and with Receiving Stolen Goods.

Mills is accused of being involved in a dispute that was escalated by his discharging a firearm into a vehicle that was occupied by an adult and a minor child Tuesday. It is further alleged that the Glock 10 pistol he was in possession of was stolen and that he had reason to know that.

David Mills has been released from the Johnson Detention Center on personal recognizance bonds totaling $6,000 for the three charges.

Suspect Hospitalized After Gunfire Exchange

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office says that two of their deputies have been involved in an officer involved shooting, following a traffic stop attempt around 7:00 last night. Following a brief vehicle pursuit, the suspect fled on foot, being chased by deputies. He reportedly fired on the deputies and they returned fire. He was hospitalized, his condition not initially reportedly The Sheriff said an AR-15 rifle and a semi-automatic pistol were found near where the suspect was taken into custody. He was identified as a 25-year-old Newberry man who had active warrants  that included Trafficking in Crack Cocaine and was wanted for questioning in several shootings in the Newberry area.

Possession of Fentanyl with Intent

Possession of a Schedule II Narcotic with Intent to Distribute was charged following a Laurens Police arrest Tuesday. 35-year-old Joshua Shane Skaggs of 53 Caribou Dr, Laurens is also charged with Possession of a Schedule IV Narcotic. He’s accused of having two green circular pills believed to be clonazepam and a plastic bag which contained approximately 3.1 grams of a blue powder like substance believed to be fentanyl along with two needles that contained a clear/bluish liquid believed to be fentanyl. Other pills were also noted in his possession at a North Harper Street location Tuesday. Skaggs was also charged with Shoplifting. Joshua Shane Skaggs was later released on bonds totaling $4,000.

Grand Theft Auto

Grand Larceny – Auto was alleged with a Sheriff’s Office arrest yesterday. 23-year-old Darius Lamar Alexander of St. Andrews Place Drive, Columbia is charged with Grand Larceny, accused of taking a 2000 Dodge valued at $3,000 from a location on Highway 221 North near Enoree yesterday.

Darius Lamar Alexander remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning with a cash or surety bond for the Grand Larceny warrant set at $6,000.

Assault Before Children

Clinton Police arrested a man following an alleged domestic assault Tuesday. 27-year-old Tommy Richard Brown Jr. of the 300 block on Calhoun Street, Laurens is charged with 2nd Degree Domestic Violence. He is accused of striking a woman in the right eye with a closed fist causing redness and swelling, and of kicking her in the right leg. This reportedly occurred in the presence of her two children Tuesday on Moon Lane, Clinton. Tommy Richard Brown Jr. has been released from the Johnson Detention Center on posting a $2,500 cash or surety bond.

Driving Endangering Children

A verbal dispute that became somewhat violent was described in warrants served yesterday by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office. 31-year-old Brittany Marlisa Strickland of Shemwood Lane, Greenwood was arrested following an incident Tuesday. She is charged with Unlawful Neglect of a Child, Malicious Damage to Personal Property and Breach of Peace, Non-Aggravated in Nature. Information from Investigator Cook alleges that Ms. Strickland was involved in a verbal dispute Tuesday that became physical. She allegedly used her vehicle to strike a garage door. One warrant alleges she placed a child at unreasonable risk of harm or caused bodily harm to the child Tuesday. Brittany Marlisa Strickland was released from the Johnson Detention Center yesterday on personal recognizance bonds totaling $6,087.50.

Fatal Accident Wednesday Morning on SC 14

A head on collision early Wednesday has resulted in a fatality.

Trooper Bandon Bolt of the South Carolina Highway Patrol says that a gold Chevrolet sedan was traveling east on SC Highway 14 near Equinox Drive at just before 6 AM when the vehicle crossed the center line of the roadway and struck a Honda SUV travelling west head on.  A passenger in the Honda died as a result of blunt force trauma.

Laurens County Deputy Coroner Robin Morse identified the deceased as Patricia Black Wootton of Laurens.