Sheriff’s Race Discussion

The Laurens County Democratic Party held a candidates forum for the Laurens County Sheriff’s race last night. County Council member Garrett McDaniel welcomed the candidates and online viewers saying that while there are no democrats running for the Sheriff’s Office, “law and order should be non-partisan.” Incumbent Don Reynolds was not present, but all three challengers were. Each candidate had a five minute opening statement and Moderator Randy Stevens of WLBG asked a series of questions with candidates having three minutes to respond.

All three candidates said they would reinstate the DARE program to work with youth and would reinstate the GED program for inmates in the Johnson Detention Center.

Ted Richardson proposed having “Community Deputies” who are assigned to specific communities around Laurens County. While each talked of community policing, Jarvis Reeder gave a though definition, saying there must be a partnership between the Sheriff’s Office and the communities it serves.

Ricky Chastain proposed stopping what he called “Frivilous Spending” by the Sheriff’s Office, saying the Sheriff’s office doesn’t need large military trucks, referring them as “expensive toys.” Chastain said that in executing search warrants you don’t sneak up on someone in such big vehicles.

When asked the question on how they would address racial bias in law enforcement, Jarvis Reeder said that he would call in an outside agency to investigate any complaints, and said that, “I don’t want any senseless killing like the one in Minnesota.” Ted Richardson said that he would be proactive in his evaluation before hiring to avoid any such incident. Ricky Chastain said that he would establish a citizen’s complaint bureau to handle any such accusation or incident.

Three More COVID-19 Cases Here

Three more confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported for Laurens County yesterday. The daily update from South Carolina DHEC indicated Laurens County has now had 63 positive cases. That’s 93.34 per 100,000. DHEC still notes three deaths of people with the virus in the county.

Of zip codes entirely in Laurens County, Gray Court has 18 positive cases, Laurens has 17 and Clinton has 15. Mountville has had three confirmed cases while Cross Hill and Waterloo each has one. The Joanna zip code still has no cases reported.

From zip codes that are in Laurens and adjoining counties, Fountain Inn now reports 32 confirmed cases, Woodruff has 21, Honea Path has ten and Ware Shoals now has nine. Enoree has five cases, Whitmire has four, Kinards has one and Chappells has no cases.

Statewide, we have had 10,788 positive cases as of yesterday. South Carolina has now had 470 deaths of people with the COVID-19 virus.

Multiple Charges from Search Warrant Execution

Confiscations by Sheriff

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office has served a man with multiple drug and firearms charges following execution of a search warrant near the Little River southwest of Clinton early Wednesday morning. A Sheriff’s statement indicates that after receiving complaints of drug activity, the Sheriff’s Office with assistance of Clinton Police executed a search warrant at a residence on Holmes Bridge Road at approximately 6:30 Wednesday morning. Deputies reported discovering meth, marijuana and marijuana plants, other drugs and one stolen dirt bike.

Arkeyda Smoot

35-year-old Arkeyda Travati Smoot of the 900 address-range on Holmes Bridge Road, Clinton was arrested and has been charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine for alleged possession of between 28 and 100 grams of meth. He charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute for alleged possession of 160 grams of marijuana. He’s facing two charges of Possession of a Schedule I Narcotic with Intent to Distribute for alleged possession of 85 dosage units of Ecstasy and of having pressed pills containing a mixture of Fentanyl and Heroin.

Weapons charges served on Mr. Smoot include Possession of a Stolen Handgun and Possession of a Weapon during Commission of a Violent Crime. He’s also charged with Receiving Stolen Goods regarding the dirt bike. Arkeyda Travati Smoot remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Neglect of Vulnerable Adult

The Sheriff’s Office yesterday charged a man with Knowing and Willful Neglect of a Vulnerable Adult. 43-year-old James Benjamin “Jimmy” Heard of West Griffith Street, Woodruff was also charged with Unlawful Dissemination, Procurement or Promotion of Obscenity. He is accused of providing alcoholic beverages to a vulnerable adult on December 31st, 2019, knowing that the victim is on medication that strictly prohibits the use of alcohol. Use of alcohol while on this medication reportedly can cause liver damage among serious side effects. Since then, on February 10th, Mr. Heard is accused of disseminating obscene photos, displaying nudity on a victim’s phone. James Benjamin Heard remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning awaiting a bond hearing.

Crack Cocaine with Intent Alleged

Crack cocaine was the drug noted in an arrest by Clinton Police yesterday. 35-year-old Robert Lamont Goggins of North Main Street, Joanna was charged with Possession of Crack Cocaine with the Intent to Distribute. He’s accused of having less than one gram of crack cocaine in his possession on Jacobs Highway in Clinton. Mr. Goggins was later released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

Assault of High and Aggravated Nature

Clinton Police have charged a man from an assault in town Wednesday.

51-year-old James Earl Kingsborough of Clinton Manor Drive, Clinton is charged with Assault and Battery High and Aggravated Nature. He is accused of causing great bodily harm on a victim Wednesday at Clinton Manor. James Earl Kingsborough remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

2nd Degree Domestic Violence

A Joanna man was arrested yesterday following an alleged domestic altercation. The Sheriff’s Office charged 49-year-old George Franklin “Jay” Stockman Jr. of Marion Street, Joanna with 2nd Degree Domestic Violence. He is accused of striking the victim in her face yesterday, causing her eye to become red and bruised. This is said to have occurred in the presence of a minor child. George “Jay” Stockman Jr. remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

Repeated Stabbing

Jatavia Sue Williams

Attempted Murder charges have been served on a Laurens teen from an alleged stabbing Tuesday. Laurens Police have charged 17-year-old Jatavia Sue Williams of 900 Church Street, Laurens with Attempted Murder and Possession of a Weapon during a Violent Crime. Miss Williams is accused of stabbing the victim about her body numerous times with a butcher-style knife at a Church Street location Tuesday. While a $10,000 cash or surety bond was set on the Weapons charge, bond was denied on the Attempted Murder warrant. Jatavia Sue Williams remained in the Johnson Detention Center.

Two More COVID-19 Cases

Laurens County had two more cases of COVID-19 confirmed yesterday. The daily update from South Carolina DHEC shows Laurens County with 60 positive cases. That represents 88.9 cases per 100,000. We remain with three deaths of people with the virus.

The Laurens and Gray Court zip codes each have 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while Clinton has 15. The Mountville zip code now has three cases while Cross Hill and Waterloo each have one case.

Of the zip codes that include Laurens and at least one other county, Fountain Inn has 32 cases and Woodruff has 21.  Enoree now has five while Whitmire has 4 and Kinards has one. While there had been one case reported in the three-county Chappells zip code, yesterday’s DHEC post shows no cases there. Ware Shoals now has seven cases confirmed while Honea Path has eight.

Across the state, as of yesterday afternoon, we have had 10,623 cases of COVID-19 confirmed and 466 deaths of people with the virus.

CHS Senior Recognition & Graduation

Plans for a Graduation ceremony for the Clinton High School Class of 2020  were discussed at this week’s meeting of the District 55 School Trustees. At their May meeting Tuesday evening, District 56 Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields officially informed school board members of the district’s desire to hold an actual, in-person graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020. “It’s our intention to have outdoor graduation at 9:00 AM on June the 4th at Wilder Stadium.”

District 56 also has plans to hold a Senior Recognition Ceremony at 7:00 PM on June 3rd, the evening before graduation. This ceremony will be followed with a fireworks display provided in conjunction with the City of Clinton. “It’s really a community event” said Dr. O’Shields. He asked the board to pray for good weather so that the fireworks show can go off without a hitch.

Dr. O’Shields also joined other district officials in commending the district’s students, parents, teachers and technical support staff for the hard work required to complete the school year under difficult conditions.

Antique Theft in Nighttime Burglary

Two Joanna area men have been charged with the theft of antiques in a nighttime burglary. Charged with 2nd Degree Burglary and Petit Larceny are 37-year-old Kenneth Earl Hamilton of Pinto Road, Joanna, and 39-year-old Christopher Byron Hightower of the 33,000 address range on Highway 76 East, Kinards. They are accused of entering a building on Neighbors Road, Clinton around 10:30 Tuesday night while armed with a pocket knife and taking three antique wooden crates, 24 antique soda bottles and a certificate inside a picture frame. Kenneth Hamilton and Christopher Byron remained in Laurens County’s Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting bond hearings on their two charges.

Highway 56 Bridge over I-26 Closing

Expect a change in traffic patterns for some six weeks starting next week  on Clinton’s north side. The South Carolina Highway 56 Bridge over Interstate 26 in Clinton will be closing for several weeks for rehabilitation, starting this coming Monday. Resident Construction Engineer Zackary Herron of the Anderson SC-DOT Office advised WLBG that the bridge is scheduled to be back open on July 10th. That is assuming the weather cooperates and there are no delays in the rehabilitation process.

Endorsements

Two candidates in the June 9th Republican Primary announced endorsements yesterday.

During her appearance on WLBG’s Good Morning UpCountry program, Clerk of Court candidate Mary Lauren Powers said that retiring Clerk of Court Lynn Lancaster has indicated her confidence in her ability to  take over the office.

Sheriff Don Reynolds yesterday announced he has received the endorsement of State House District 14 Representative Stewart Jones, who was quoted as expressing thanks that Sheriff Reynolds believes in our constitution and upholding due process. Jones is quoted praising Reynolds for defending First and Second Amendment rights.

Psychedelic Mushrooms

Having Psychedelic Mushrooms and disposing of Waste from Meth Manufacture were among allegations with an arrest yesterday. Clinton Police have charged 39-year-old Cedric Corneilous “Smoke” Robinson of North Livingston Street, Clinton with Unlawful Possession of a Schedule I Narcotic and Illegal Disposal of Methamphetamine Waste along with 3rd or Subsequent Offense for Possession of Methamphetamine.

Warrants allege that on Tuesday, “Smoke” Robinson had a quantity of psychedelic mushrooms in his possession that are classified as a schedule one narcotic along with less than one gram of meth. He is also accused of placing plastic bottles that had been used in the manufacturing of meth into a trash can on May 17th.

Cedric Cornelious Robinson was released yesterday on personal recognizance bonds of $8,115.

Meth Distribution by Intent

Meth Distribution was alleged yesterday on a man the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrested Tuesday. 39-year-old Robert Mackenzie Howell of Miss Emma Lane, Laurens was charged with Distribution of Methamphetamine and Simple Possession of Marijuana. He is accused of having an amount of meth in his possession Tuesday that constitutes intent to distribute. He’s also accused of having less than 28 grams of marijuana in his possession. Robert Mackenzie Howell remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

Cruelty to Children

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday arrested a man on charges that he struck a child last weekend. 27-year-old Shawn Anthony Roper of the 16,000 address-range on Highway 72, Cross Hill was charged with Cruelty to Children.

He is accused of inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering by striking a minor child, leaving visible hand prints and a welt on the child’s back Sunday. Shawn Roper remained in custody this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

Pulling Out Her Hair

Laurens Police arrested a man yesterday from an alleged assault in town back in February. 26-year-old Christopher Markevious Simpson of Westchase Apartments, Clinton was charged with 2nd Degree Domestic Violence. He’s accused of throwing the victim to the ground by her hair, allegedly pulling her hair forcefully enough to pull hair from her scalp. This is said to have occurred in the presence of a thirteen-year-old child on February 14th. Christopher Markevious Simpson remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

Attack with Golf Club

An attack with a golf club last December was alleged with an arrest by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday. 34-year-old Matthew Jeru Edge of  Ballentine Lake Road, Ware Shoals was charged with 2nd Degree Assault and Battery. Edge is accused of using a golf club to strike the victim on the left side of his ribs last December 22nd, causing bruising. Matthew Jeru Edge remained in the Johnson Detention Center overnight, awaiting a bond hearing on the assault charge.

Now 58 COVID-19 Cass, 260 Recent Tests in the County

An update on the COVID-19 situation in Laurens County was provided for County Council last evening by County 911 Director Joey Avery. He noted another case has been confirmed, bringing Laurens County to 58 cases. Avery told council that there were 260 people who took advantage of the free testing last Thursday at E.B. Morse Elementary. He said additional COVID-19 tests will be offered on June 4th at 203 West Calhoun Street in Clinton and back at E.B. Morse in Laurens on June 11th. Those testing events will also be held from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm.

Two Ordinances Get 2nd Reading Approval

Laurens County Council last night gave 2nd reading approval for how to handle Local Option Sales Tax revenue in the upcoming fiscal year. This calls for 100% of the funds raised in the sales tax to be used to reduce property taxes. Another unanimous 2nd reading approval was given for Ordinance 878 last night. This is for inducements for a company known as “Project Archer.” This calls for an $11.7 million investment in Laurens County for construction of a solar farm, according to County Attorney Sandy Cruickshanks.