Second Case of COVID-19 Confirmed in Laurens County

As of this (Saturday) morning, Laurens County has its first confirmed case of COVID-19.  Laurens County officials received notification from SC DHEC that

Laurens County Emergency Operations office is asking the public to continue to follow the preventive guidelines from the CDC and SC DHEC:

Another COVID-19 Case in Laurens County

 

Laurens County’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced this morning. Then, this (Saturday) afternoon, DHEC has confirmed a 2nd case of the virus in Laurens County. Details as to the identity of the persons will not be made available due to medical privacy laws.

The public is reminded that this Coronavirus COVID-19 is an active part of our State with the total number of SC DHEC reported cases statewide standing at approximately 539.

Laurens County Emergency Communications sated Saturday, “We must do our individual preventive efforts in order to limit the spread throughout our state.”

Laurens County Emergency Operations office is asking the public to continue to follow the preventive guidelines from the CDC and SC DHEC:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Refrain from handshaking,
  • Refrain from any large group gatherings

The Laurens County Public is advised not to be alarmed if you see our EMS personnel wearing a mask, gloves and safety glasses with an outer garment that is not part of our normal uniform attire on some calls for service. “We are dressed this way for our protection as well as the protection to you, our citizens. Should you have any questions of that person, please ask them to produce their official county ID which each one carries with then and should be visible.”

For general questions and the latest information about COVID-19, please visit scdhec.gov/covid19 or call the DHEC Care Line at (855) 472-3432, available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. If you believe you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can be assessed virtually through MUSC by visiting musc.care.

 

PC Pharmacy School Responds to COVID-19

Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy responded quickly when the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) issued an urgent request to academic institutions for personal protective equipment last Friday, March 20th.  As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates, a top concern for those in the healthcare field is access to this equipment.

PC Pharmacy School Dean Dr. Kurt Wargo said, “The demand for personal protective equipment is currently greater than the available supply.” On hearing the request from DHEC, Dr. Wargo approved the donation of many of the supplies in the School’s hospital simulation lab. “We are facing an unprecedented time in our world’s history,” he said, noting “We need to do our part to help fight this viral pandemic. Helping those in need is what pharmacists are known for, and it’s simply the right thing to do in this case.”

The School of Pharmacy donated more than 1,000 pieces of personal protective equipment, including alcohol pads, eye protection, gloves, hand sanitizer, hand soap and medical gowns.

Dr. Tiffaney Threatt, associate professor of pharmacy and director of the Pharmacy School’s Wellness Center, helped gather the supplies to send to DHEC. The organization then distributed the items to first responders, hospitals and nursing homes.

Dean Wargo said, “Many healthcare workers are serving at full capacity during this time and risking their own safety. “In this national and global response, healthcare workers are serving on the frontline and must be protected as a valuable yet vulnerable resource. Providing adequate equipment is the first step.”

Hopefully, the manufacturing supply of personal protective equipment will soon catch up with the demand, Wargo says. Until then, DHEC will continue to collect supplies and distribute them to facilities and healthcare workers in need.

During the pandemic, Wargo and others at the PC School of Pharmacy have also worked with Good Shepherd Free Medical Clinic in Laurens to provide emergency supplies of medications to patients in need.

“‘While we live, we serve’ is more than a campus motto for Presbyterian College,” Wargo noted. “They’re words that students, alumni, faculty and staff truly live by. In uncertain times such as these, there is even more reason to serve others.”

Heroin, Marijuana Contraband

Taking contraband into Laurens County’s detention center was among the charges yesterday following a Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrest Wednesday.

29-year-old Nikki Sophia Sizemore of Old US Highway 74, Bostic, North Carolina was served warrants yesterday charging her with Possession with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance and with bringing Contraband into jail. She is accused of having in excess of two grams of Heroin in her possession Wednesday and of concealing heroin and marijuana into the Johnson Detention Center following her arrest.

Ms. Sizemore was initially issued tickets Wednesday charging her with Malicious Damage and Littering around 8:00 Wednesday night at a location in the Clinton area on US Highway 76.

The Sheriff’s office also arrested 35-year-old Brian Michael Whitener of Rock Corner Road, Forest City, North Carolina Wednesday. He was also issued tickets charging him with Malicious Damage and Littering on US 76 in the Clinton area.

Nikki Sophia Sizemore and Brian Michael Whitener both remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting bond hearings on their charges.

PWID Marijuana

Latravias Rashad Jones

 

Drug charges were served yesterday following a traffic arrest by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Gary arrested 28-year-old Latravias Rashad Jones of Jasmine Cove Circle, Simpsonville, initially serving him a ticket charging him with Driving under Suspension of his license just before 1 o’clock yesterday morning near the intersection of Durbin Road and Fountain Brook Lane.

Later yesterday, a warrant was served further charging Whitener with 2nd offense Possession with the Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance.

He is accused of having several bags of marijuana in his possession in addition to a bag containing smaller empty plastic bags early yesterday morning.

Latravias Rashad Jones remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

2nd & 3rd Degree Burglary

Christy Mundy Edge

Burglary charges have been served on two people the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrested Wednesday. 34-year-old Christy Mundy Edge of Mockingbird Road, Laurens and 39-year-old Lewis Sterling Eskew of Terripin Way, Laurens are charged with 2nd Degree Burglary and 3rd Degree Burglary along with Petit Larceny. They are accused of breaking into a building and a residence of the victim at a location on Terrapin Way Wednesday. Further, they’re accused of taking away copper wire from the location. The theft charge was “Enhanced” for Christy Edge, citing her with two prior convictions for similar property crimes. Christy Mundy Edge and Lewis Sterling Eskew remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting bond hearings on their charges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lewis Sterling Eskew

Harassment

Samuel Jahlil Leake

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday charged a man with two counts of 2nd Degree Harassment through the day Wednesday. 27-year-old Samuel Jahlil Leake of 115 North Marion Street, Joanna was also charged with Trespassing.

He is accused of exhibiting a pattern of intentional, substantial and unreasonable  intrusion into the private lives of the victims that serves no legitimate purpose and causes him and her to suffer mental or emotional distress. The warrants state he has repeatedly gone to the victims’ residence, cursing and threatening them, beating on the door and displaying an ax. His acts taken all together are said to intrude into the private lives of the victims, reportedly throughout the day Wednesday, March 25th.

Samuel Leake was also issued a ticket charging him with Trespassing around 9:00 pm Wednesday night at a location on North Marion Street, Joanna.

Samuel Jahlil Leake remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing on his charges.

Pedestrian Struck by Two Cars

A pedestrian was killed on Highway 34 east of Greenwood yesterday morning. South Carolina Highway Patrol Master Trooper Brandon Bolt said a 2011 Chevy SSR SUV was westbound on SC 34 near Sherard Road at 6:15 am Thursday when it struck a pedestrian in the roadway. Another vehicle was eastbound on SC 34 and struck the pedestrian again. Trooper Bolt said that vehicle had not yet been identified.

Breach of Trust with Chevy

A Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent warrant was served yesterday on a man arrested by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday 39-year-old Fred Charles Gray Cogsdill of Mill Pond Road, Clinton is accused of failing to return a black 2003 Ford Escape on March 25th when he was told to do so by the vehicle owner. He was allegedly using the vehicle for his own means and purposes against the wishes of the victim. He was also charged with 2nd offense Possession of Marijuana, accused of having marijuana in his possession Wednesday. Fred Charles Gray Cogsdill remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

Rotary Projects on Hold

With Laurens City Hall closed to public access, the Laurens Rotary Club has ceased its regular weekly meetings, due to the COVID-19 threat. City Hall is closed, initially, until Friday, April 17th. Laurens Rotary set a tentative resumption of meetings for April 23rd. That, of course, is subject to progress being made in getting through the pandemic.

Other events that were planned by Laurens Rotary are in limbo now.

The second-annual Rotary Night of Music, scheduled for April 16th in conjunction with music programs in School District 55, is now on hold, pending being rescheduled. A planned Pancake Supper and Auction is to be rescheduled, hopefully later in this spring. Also in limbo, with school closed, is the annual honoring of the Top Ten students from each of the four grades at LDHS.

Further COVID-19 Precautions at CPW

The Laurens Commission of Public Works has taken further steps to protect employees and public. General Manager John Young said, “In an effort to keep our employees safe and reduce the possibility of spreading the COVID-19 virus in our community, we are ceasing all non-essential activities and closing our office until further notice.” Young said, “All CPW employees are either staggering their schedules or working from home. Other than this, customers shouldn’t notice any difference in their CPW services.”

Young said CPW customers will continue to receive a monthly bill statement, but the usage amounts will be based on a 12-month average. “When we are able to read meters again, customer’s accounts will be trued up to reflect their actual usage.” He said the CPW will not be disconnecting for non-payment for the duration of this event. With the office closed, CPW customers are encouraged to continue to make payments though the CPW web site, by phone or mail.

The web site is LCPW.com. The phone number is (864) 681-4300. Pay by selecting Option 2). Customers may drop off their payments in the CPW drop box, but please don’t put cash in the drop box.

For more information customers make check the CPW Facebook page, the web site (LCPW.com) or call their main  number –  681- 4300 –  with any questions or concerns.

John Young noted, “We realize these are extraordinary times. Please be assured that we have all the necessary plans in place to ensure that customers continue to receive the same reliable, neighborly service that they’ve come to expect from the CPW during this unprecedented event.”

4 Sheriff’s Candidates & Other Local Races

Four people are seeking the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office this year and three of four County Council seats are contested.

As of noon yesterday, four people have filed for the Republican nomination for Sheriff. These are Jarvis Reeder, Don Reynolds, Ricky Chastain and Ted Richardson. Two people have filed for Laurens County Clerk of Court. These are Michelle Simmons and Mary Lauren Powers. As of noon yesterday, recently-installed Coroner Vickie Cheek is the only candidate who has filed for that office, seeking her first full term as coroner.

Three people are seeking election to Laurens County Council’s District 7 seat, currently held by Council Chair David Pitts. He’s filed for re-election through the Democratic Primary. Two people have filed seeking the Republican Party nomination for Seat 7. These are Brenda Stewart and David Tribble.  Two people have filed for County Council Seat 6 in the Democratic Party Primary. These are incumbent Diane Anderson and challenger Arthur Lee Philson Jr. As of noon yesterday, Garrett McDaniel was unopposed for re-election to County Council District 3. There is a two-person contest for County Council Seat 2. Incumbent Joe Wood is being challenged by Luke Rankin in the Republican Primary.

As of noon yesterday, only incumbents have filed in Laurens County for State House and Senate. Danny Verdin is the only candidate filing here for State Senate Seat 9, covering Laurens and Greenville Counties. Filing in Laurens County for the State House are Stewart Jones for House Seat 14, Laurens and Greenwood Counties, Mark Willis for Laurens-Greenville Seat 16 and Doug Gilliam for Union-Laurens House Seat 42.

Additional people may register as candidates through noon Monday, March 30th. The Date of the primaries has yet to be determined, based on impact of the COVID-19 virus.

Bottle Beating to Loss of Consciousness

Tavier Naquan Hill

Using a bottle to knock someone unconscious one month ago, then choking them was alleged with a Laurens Police arrest yesterday. 22-year-old Taviar Naquan Hill of Gabriel Drive, Laurens was charged with Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature. Laurens Police Sgt. Yelton states the assault occurred on February 26th at an address in the 100 block of Pridmore Avenue. Mr. Hill allegedly struck the victim about the face and head with a glass bottle. The victim received multiple lacerations and loss of consciousness. Hill is further accused of strangling the victim while the victim was unconscious, causing the loss of breathing. Taviar Naquan Hill remained in custody overnight, awaiting a bond hearing on the charge of Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature.

Dramatic Series of Events

Daniel Lloyd White

A dramatic series of events just before last Christmas was described with an arrest by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday. 25-year-old Daniel Lloyd White of Rose Circle, Greenville was charged with Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature.

A warrant alleges that on December 23rd Mr. White pushed the victim into a dresser causing pain in her back. When she was leaving her residence he allegedly hung onto her vehicle until she stopped at the mobile home office to get help. As her car doors unlocked, White allegedly jumped into her vehicle and held a knife to her face, forcing her to drive him to Mauldin. The warrant further states that a child he and the victim have in common was in her vehicle during this incident. Daniel Lloyd White was held overnight in the Johnson Detention Center, awaiting a bond hearing on the Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature charge.

2nd & 3rd Degree Burglary

Truman Hardy Knight Jr.

Two burglaries on Ghost Creek Road, north of Laurens early this month were alleged in warrants served yesterday by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office. 54-year-old Truman Hardy Knight Jr. was booked Tuesday, noting an address on My Way Drive, Gray Court. He was charged with Petit Larceny for an alleged theft valued at under $2,000. A bond of $2,000 was set on that charge, but two more charges were served yesterday.

Truman Hardy “Goot” Knight Jr. is now also charged with 2nd and 3rd Degree Burglary. Mr. Knight is accused of breaking into a dwelling and another building at a location in the 2,100 address-range of Ghost Creek Road, Laurens on March 7th, entering the dwelling and the other building without consent and with intent to commit a crime therein.

Bonds on the 2nd and 3rd Degree Burglary charges were set yesterday at $30,000 and $20,000, noting an address on Saw Mill Road, Gray Court. Truman “Goot” Knight Jr. remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning with cash or surety bonds on his three charges totaling $52,000.

Violation of Probation by Meth Trafficking

A March 4th arrest on a Methamphetamine Trafficking charge was cited with a State Pardon, Probation and Parole arrest yesterday.30-year-old Akeem Demarcus Boyce of Jackson Street, Laurens is charged with Violation of Probation. Failure to immediately notify his supervising agent of that arrest was noted in the warrant. He’s also accused of failure to pay require fees. Akeem Boyce was held overnight, awaiting a bond hearing.

Habitat Donation, Other City Council Matters

Earlier this month, Laurens City Council gave 1st reading, unanimous approval to an ordinance that will donate property to Laurens County’s Habitat for Humanity program. Habitat volunteers help local families build single-family residences to make owning a home possible for lower income families of Laurens County.

Laurens City Council also unanimously approved 1st reading on an ordinance to purchase property at 407 Gordon Street. Attorney Tom Thompson indicated the $3,000 price is well within ballpark of fair market value. Mayor Senn told council that this is a landlocked property surrounded by city property and the current property owner came to the city to request the purchase.

Also at the March regular meeting, Laurens City Council unanimously gave 2nd reading approval to an ordinance that established standards for the placement of “Small Cell” wireless facilities.

Three Resolutions During “Electronic” Meeting of County Council

Laurens County Council held its first “electronic” meeting yesterday and gave approval to all three items on the agenda. Council Chair Dr. David Pitts was joined by Council Members Brown Patterson, Kemp Yontz and Diane Anderson through phone connections.

They first approved Resolution 2020 13-C, which declares a state of emergency in Laurens County. This is to enable potential recovery of expenses from state and federal funds and will enable the county administration some basic emergency powers.

The second resolution given unanimous approval was Resolution #2020-14C which allows council to have electronic meetings, such as yesterdays for at least 60 days. This resolution can be renewed beyond its 60-day life, if desired.

The third unanimously approved resolution was Resolution 2020-15C, which is a FILOT Agreement with a company now known as “Project Powerful.”

County Attorney Sandy Cruickshanks said, “This is a very strong foreign company who plans a $7,500,000 investment by taking over a closed company, and will provide approximately 41 new jobs.” Cruickshanks noted the former company only had 6 to 12 jobs. He said the scheduled transfer of the facilities will take place prior to April 14th.

After yesterday’s electronic meeting was adjourned, Council Chair David Pitts asked County Administrator Jon Caime for an update on the progress of how Laurens County is coping with this emergency. Caime said, “There is so much to cover. It is extremely fast moving with one million moving parts, the situation is extremely fluid.” Before signing off the electronic connection with the other council members attending, council learned that as of yesterday there were still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laurens County. Regarding the need for Corona testing, Pitts reported, “I was told that as of now, there is only on-site county testing for patients in hospital, but now a person must be referred by PRISMA to be tested in Greenville,”

Laurens City Council Meets on Emergency Measure

A specially-called meeting of Laurens City Council is to be held today at Noon to hold a 2nd reading on an ordinance regarding declaration of a State of Emergency in the city. Laurens Municipal Attorney Tom Thompson is to present Ordinance 3-20-04 to council for final consideration. 1st reading approval for the ordinance was given last week during their regular council meeting for March Tuesday night. Opening remarks from Mayor Nathan Senn are expected prior to the vote.

District 55 Changing Food Delivery Days

As Laurens County School District #55 continues efforts to provide meals for students during the school closure period, they are also seeking ways to minimize the contact school personnel have with their co-workers and others. As a result, Chief of Staff Ed Murray yesterday issued an update that speaks of adjustments being made in the meal delivery program starting tomorrow, Thursday, March 26th.

District 55 Student Nutrition Services will pack four meals for pick up (two lunches and two breakfasts) and there will be no pick up of meals on Friday. The same process will be used on Monday (packing lunch and breakfast for both Monday and Tuesday) with no pick up of meals on Tuesday. In the event that the period of school closure is extended, School District 55 will deliver six meals (three lunches and three breakfasts) starting on Wednesday, April 1st. Thereafter, for as long as the schools remain closed, District 55 will be packaging meals for pick up every Monday (four meals) and Wednesday (six meals). Meals will continue to be available at selected bus stops throughout District 55. The times and locations for meal pick-up are online at laurens55.org. Or, Meal packages can be picked up at any school location between 11am-12pm on select days of the week.

Michelle Simmons Seeks Clerk of Court Post

Michelle Simmons has announced that she is seeking election to become Laurens County Clerk of Court. She says she has been involved with the legal system in South Carolina since 2006 and has been a loyal and trusted office manager and legal assistant in the same Laurens law firm throughout her career. She reports having worked closely with the citizens of Laurens County and the Courthouse by scheduling hearings and appointments, conducting thorough property records searches and conveyances, and assisting attorneys with juror selection and qualification. Michelle says her years of dedicated experience working in the Court system give her the unique ability to hit the ground running as Clerk of Court for the people of Laurens County.

Michelle Simmons calls Laurens County home, noting she grew up here, attended public schools here and for over 15 years has been involved in the legal system here.

She and her husband, Michael, have a four-year-old son, Carter. She said she’s proud to be part of a multi-generational Laurens County family. She is the daughter of Joe and Shannon Lambert of Laurens and granddaughter of Brenda and the late Jim Armstrong, whose public service as Chief of Police and Mayor of Gray Court was an early influence for her in the importance of public service. Her husband’s parents are Tommy and Ginger Simmons of Clinton.

Michelle Simmons is a graduate of Laurens District 55 High School and of Piedmont Technical College, where she earned a degree in Administrative Office Technology with a legal concentration. She is an active member of Davidson Street Baptist Church.