Laurens County Spotlight on Agriculture Award Winners

The annual Laurens County Spotlight on Agriculture was barely able to be held for 2020, ending just before mandated shutdowns of public events. The 2021 program was canceled due to levels of COVID infection a year later. The Laurens County Extension Advisory Committee has now released the awards that would have been presented, if the 2021 Spotlight was held.

The Farm Family of the Year award from 2020 goes to Willis Family Farms in the Greenpond Community. As a family, Brad, Ellington and Bradleann Willis operate Willis Farm Supply, which sells hay and feed to local farmers and horse barns, and they grow most of the hay they sell. The family also has a cow-calf operation with 350 head of commercial beef cows.

Marilyn Easter was named the Laurens County Agriculturist of the Year, citing her with being describe a person who is passionate about all agriculture, while also being factual, encouraging and friendly.

Laurens County’s Outstanding Cattleman of the Year is William Adair, who owns and operates Adair Family Farm near Clinton. William is well known for excellent herd and pasture management, and he’s as an accomplished barbecue cook who also grows enough sweet corn to share with his extended family.

The Outstanding Dairy Farm of the Year award went to Amber Ettinger and Cameron Kenley with the Will Do Jersey Farm of Kinards. They focus on cow comfort and longevity and their herd of 145 is considered one of the top producing Jersey herds in South Carolina.

The Outstanding Broiler Producer of the Year is Charles Wagler, who’s been growing chickens for Amick Farms for 22 years. He began with two houses and now has five. He’s cited as an excellent manager of all aspects of chicken production.

Marcus Cook Farms of Gray Court was named the Special

Commodity Producer of the year for 2020.

This year’s Laurens County Friend of 4-H and FFA is Dr. John Irwin. A retired Area Livestock Agent from the Clemson University

Extension Service, John raises commercial beef cattle on his family farm at Pea Ridge, outside Laurens.

The Laurens County Forest Landowners Association named Tom Bryson

as the Outstanding Woodlands Manager of the Year. He has managed 140 acres of timberland for a half-century.

FAA Scholarship Winner is Leah Samples, who’s been involved in various aspects of the agriculture industry throughout her childhood and teen years, including the 4-H projects and the Clinton High FFA. She is now studying at PTC.

FFA Members of the Year for 2020-2021 were Christian Wilhelm, President of the Laurens High Chapter and Clinton High Sophomore Nicholas Matthew Burns.

The Extension Advisory Committee states that the 2022 Spotlight on Agriculture will be held March 10th, 2022.

LCC Meeting Approved For Two New Industrial Investments

At Tuesday Night’s Laurens County Council Meeting, council unanimously approved agreements for two new industrial investments in county.


The first was Resolution 2021-69C, which was a FILOT and incentive agreement for what is now only known as Project Rock.


According to County Attorney Sandy Cruickshanks, Project Rock will be a $20 million investment in the county with more details coming.


Resolution 2021-70C, and Ordinance 912, both paved the way for Project Blue, which Attorney Cruickshanks said will be a $19 million dollar investment.

As with Project Rock, more details will be announced at the next council meeting.

Funeral Service For Hero Who Saved His Grandparents From Fire

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Funeral service are now planned for the young man who died after rescuing his grandparents from their Clinton burning home.


20-year-old Willie Alonzo Gary Jr. of West Pitts Street, Clinton died October 22nd in the Augusta Burn Center, where he was being treated for lung injuries.


Gary has rescued his Grandfather and Grandmother from their house on West Pitts Street when it caught fire.

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   Funeral services for Willie Alonzo Gary Jr. are set for Saturday at 1:00 pm at the First Pentecostal Holiness Church on Clinton’s Academy Street. Buriel is to follow at the Antioch AME Church Cemetery on Philson Road.


In addition to his paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Willie Lee Gary of Pitts Street, Willie Alonzo Gary Jr. is also survived by his father, Willie Alonzo and Jakara Simpson, plus one brother and two sisters.


LCD56 Providing Muffin and Coffee in November To Parents And Community

Laurens County School District 56 wants to say thank you to the community and especially to the parents within the district during the month of November.

Cindy Jacobs, Director of Child Nutrition addressed board members during the October meeting Monday night that the district will observe November as the month of thankfulness.  She said they want to thank parents for entrusting their children to the district to be educated and to the community at large for the support the district enjoys.

At each school in the district, one day during November will be set aside to say thank you in a special way.  Parents will be provided with a muffin and a cup of coffee as they drop their children off for school then after the school day begins community members will be provided with the same treats.

Parents will be served during school drop off between 7:15 and 7:45 AM while community members are welcome to drop by from 8:00 until 8:30 AM at:

  • Clinton Elementary School on November 8th
  • Eastside Elementary on November 9th
  • Joanna Woodson Elementary and M.S. Bailey Child Development Center on November 10th
  • Clinton Middle School on November 11th and
  • Clinton High on November 12th

Ms. Jacobs said the coffee and muffins were just a token of the appreciation everyone at District 56 feels for their parents and community members.

The Presbyterian College Chamber Orchestra Fall Concert

The Presbyterian College Chamber Orchestra will present its fall concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, in Edmunds Hall.

The concert will feature harp soloist Kipper Ackerman, a 1997 graduate of PC and the choir director at Anglican Church of the Holy Comforter in Sumter. Ackerman has served as professional musician for more than 20 years, directing church choirs and teaching in private and public schools.

In addition to her duties at Holy Comforter, she is director of The Sounds of Grace, a non-profit organization that performs in health care and hospice facilities and in special needs classrooms. She is also the mother of current PC student Liza Ackerman, the concert master of the PC Chamber Orchestra.

The fall concert is free and open to the public. Masks and social distancing are required.

Palmetto Pride 2021 Leaders Against Litter Award

At last night’s Laurens County Council Meeting, President Amanda Munyan of the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce, presented council with the Palmetto Pride 2021 Leaders Against Litter Award.

Keep South Carolina Beautiful State Leader and Community Outreach Program Manager, Mallory Coffee, was supposed to be in attendance to present the award, but was unavoidably detailed in Columbia traffic, but did arrive to speak a few words of congratulations to council later in the meeting.

This award was given to council for their cohesive Countywide Litter Prevention Program, including applying for and receiving The Litter Task Force Grant, and becoming a certified Keep South Carolina Beautiful Affiliate.

The Litter Task Force Grant is a competitive grant that provides funding of up to $20,000 to pay for a part-time litter control officer, dedicated to enforcing state and local litter laws.

This grant is a pilot program coordinated by Palmetto Pride for the sole purpose of providing assistance to county governments to help enforce state and local litter laws.


When Ms. Coffee did arrive and speak to council, she told council that they were the first in the state to start this litter campaign from the government level, instead of being organized by citizens, and told them “We are using you as an example!”

Teresa Corley Sworn In At LCD56 Board Of Trustees Meeting

At the October meeting of the Laurens County School District 56 Board of Trustees a brand new Trustee was sworn in and took her seat with the other board members.

Teresa Corley was the winner of a special election held October 5th for Seat 5 on the District 56 Board.  The election was held to replace Tammy Stewart when she resigned from the board in order to accept a position with District 56.

Executive Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent Katherine Reid administered the oath of office and Board Chairman Jim Barton welcomed Ms. Corley as a member of the board.

Clear Rock Substance Found On Laurens Man

A Laurens Man is behind bars for alleged Distribution of Methamphetamine and Breach of Peace. Thursday The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrested 34-year-old Adam Christopher Nobles of Ekom Beach Road for the alleged charges. According to reports Nobles allegedly had in his possession 1.9 grams of a clear rock like substance that field tested positive for methamphetamine. This substance was located during a lawful arrest of Nobles for a separate charge. Adam Nobles remained in the Laurens Johnson Detention Center this morning with a cash or surety bond set at $11,000.

Orangeburg Man Damages State Trooper Car

An Orangeburg man is behind bars for alleged Driving Under Suspension and Malicious Injury to personal property. The South Carolina Highway Patrol arrested 25-year-old Devontae Shyheim Shivers of Cleckley Blvd Tuesday for the alleged charges. According to the arrest warrant on October 14th Shivers allegedly damaged A Trooper Patrol Car by using his head to put several dents in the roof of the patrol car. Devontae Shivers remained in the Laurens County Johnson Detention Center this morning with a Cash or Surety Bond set at $2,125.

Phone Harassment Alleged For Laurens Man

Phone Harassment is alleged for a Laurens Man. The Laurens Police Department arrested 53-year-old Calvin Bernard Cannon of Lucas Avenue Monday for alleged Unlawful Communication. According to reports Cannon allegedly had been harassing the victim over the phone for multiple weeks. After requesting for him to stop he allegedly continued. Three police reports have been made within the last 30 days regarding separate instances of attempted contact. Calvin Cannon remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Multiple Charges For A Gray Court Man

A Gray Court man is behind bars on Multiple Charges. Sunday  The Laurens Police Department arrested and charged 39-year-old Brad Allen Brown of Georgia road with Failure to Stop for Blue Lights 2nd Offense, Resisting Arrest, and Driving Under Suspension 3rd Offense for DUI. According to reports Brown allegedly fled on foot through a wooded area way from officers in an attempt to evade capture. This incident occurred following a vehicle pursuit from North Harper Street within the City Limits Of Laurens. Brad Brown remained in the Laurens County Johnson Detention Center this morning .

Michelin USA Generous Donation To Waterloo Elementary

At last night’s Laurens District 55 Board of Trustees Meeting, Superintendent Dr. Ameca Thomas announced that Michelin USA made a generous donation to the Waterloo Elementary School, for $2,000 of STEM Equipment for innovating a STEM Lab, and a $1,000 grant for STEM Parent Night.

Dr. Thomas also announced a new Parent Academy Series, beginning on Thursday Oct 28, from 11:45 a.m.– 12:45 p.m. entitled Lunch and Learn Opportunity: In Focus Parent Resources.

A second session will be that evening on Oct 28, from 6:00-7:00 p.m., entitled Ending the Silence, with both events free of chrge, and you can register online.

Announcing a great opportunity for students was also part of the Superintendent’s Report, with the announcement of an EMT Certification Program.

This program will begin in Spring 2022, in partnership with Piedmont Technical College.

It is a one semester certificate focusing on proper pre-hospital emergency care of sick and injured according to the National EMS Scope of Practice Model and state regulations, and program graduates may complete licensure qualifications to become an EMT.

Clinton High School Cross Country Teams Win Region 3 Titles

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The October meeting of the Laurens County School District 56 Board of Trustees was held last night in the auditorium of Clinton High School and a celebration broke out early in the meeting.

The Clinton High School Cross Country Teams were recognized for winning the Region 3, 3A championships.  The Boys Cross Country Team is the region champion for the third time in four years AND the Clinton High Girls Cross Country Team won the region for the first time ever.

Both teams were honored and presented certificates by the trustees as they received a standing ovation from those in attendance.  It was obvious that these student athletes enjoy the enthusiastic support of the entire community as they continue toward the goal of winning the state championship in cross country.

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West Virginia Man Behind Bars


A West Virginia Man was booked in the Laurens County Johnson Detention Center on Sunday for Domestic Violence 3rd Degree and Public Disorderly Conduct. The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrested 61-year-old Reginald Leroy Grimes of Mount Vernon Road for the alleged charges. According to reports he allegedly made threats to the victim and hit her with a water bottle in the arm. This did cause the victim to fear for her safety. This alleged incident occurred at the Days Inn in Clinton. Grimes is also accused cussing and screaming at numerous patrons and the Manager of Days Inn outside in the parking lot. When Authorities arrived he allegedly kept causing a disturbance using profane language. Reginald Grimes remained in the Laurens County Johnson Detention Center this morning with Cash or Surety Bond Set at $5, 257.

Myrtle Beach Man Arrested For Possession Of Narcotic

The Clinton Police Department arrested and charged a Myrtle Beach Man for Possession of a Schedule II Narcotic 3rd Offense. 32-year-old Donald Eugene Bowles Jr of Turkey Ridge Road was arrested on Friday for the alleged charge. According to reports Bowles was accused of having in is possession 4 1/2 Blue Pills identified as Oxycodone Hydrochloride which is a  schedule II narcotic. This allegedly occurred in the city limits of Clinton. Donald Bowles Jr was released from the Johnson Detention Center on a Personal Recognizance bond.

Hero Grandson Died Of Smoke Inhalation

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The Hero who saved his grandparents from a House Fire has died according to the Laurens County Coroner’s office. 20-year-old  Willie (AJ )Gary JR of Clinton died Friday at the Augusta Burn Center from smoke inhalation and not thermal burns. Last Tuesday the Clinton Fire Department responded to a house fire on West Pitts Street. Three people were in the house when the Fire Started. AJ was trapped inside the fire after saving his Grandfather and Grandmother from the house fire. AJ was taken to the Augusta Burn Center after firefighters were able to pull him from the burning house. Sunday the family of  AJ  held a candle light vigil in his  remembrance as the Hero who saved his Grandparents from a House Fire. According to his family AJ was an Organ Donor and will continue saving lives after death.

Lander Announces 100% Online Psychology Degree

Lander University recently announced that the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education granted full approval for Lander to offer its existing bachelor of science in psychology in a 100% online format, beginning in January 2022. The University will continue to offer its face-to-face option on the Greenwood campus.


“Given Lander’s long success in quality teaching and mentorship of students, we are excited about this new pathway,” said Dr. Lucas McMillan, dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Lander. “Our curriculum is designed to expose students to all areas of psychology, yet enable students to choose major electives and add a minor or concentration given their career goals.”


Lander’s psychology program prepares the successful graduate for a variety of careers in counseling, human resources, human services, and more.  The program is also designed to help the highly successful student pursue graduate work in clinical psychology, counseling, psychology or social work, but also in other disciplines, such as education or management.


“Lander faculty have high-quality educational credentials as well as licenses and certifications related to their experience working as clinicians, counselors, social workers and therapists in a variety of settings,” said Dr. Jonathan Bassett, professor of psychology and chair of Lander’s Department of Psychological Science and Human Services.


With the launch of this program, officials say the University intends to be a leading provider of online psychology education in South Carolina. Currently, there are very few providers of an online B.S. in psychology in the state, with most opportunities to earn an online four-year psychology degree provided by out-of-state or for-profit institutions.


The announcement of this new online program also coincides with the University’s recent partnership with Midlands Technical College (MTC). The two institutions have signed three articulation agreements that will enhance the transfer of MTC students who are pursuing an associate of arts in psychology with a concentration in applied psychology, biological psychology or forensic psychology. Students who meet the requirements of the agreement will be guaranteed admission to Lander University and will receive priority acceptance into Lander’s B.S. in psychology program.


Meanwhile, the new 100% online option for Lander’s B.S. in psychology, will make this transfer program more accessible to students who would otherwise have to travel to Lander’s Greenwood campus to complete their baccalaureate education, according to Lander officials.


“We are excited about this new online option, in addition to our partnership with Midlands Technical College,” said Dr. Scott Jones, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Lander. “This partnership with MTC helps both institutions honor our shared commitment to the State of South Carolina to develop a strong and able workforce through high-quality education, as well as empower our students to lead satisfying and productive lives.”

New Preforming Arts/E-gaming Center AT Capitol Theatre

“We are now a college town,” said a proud Laurens Mayor Nathan Senn, at last night’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new preforming arts, and E-gaming center here at the Capitol Theatre, which the college recently purchased.

After refreshments at the Laurens Museum, the crowd was ushered outside in front of the theatre to hear opening remarks by Mayor Senn.

“We have been blessed to make good announcements in our town in the last year or two, but I would struggle to cite one that has more lasting impact than this announcement tonight,” said Senn, who went on to say, “This will be more than a theatre, and everyone that will attend will enjoy it, the last public preforming venue before this was at the former, now demolished, city hall which had an opera house above it, which was the last public performance venue since 1929.

Now almost 100 years later we will now have a venue for live entertainment, groups such as the Laurens County Community Theatre, and the Laurens Choral Coral, now has a place in the city of laurens where they can hold events, and aside from that, the vitality that will be brought to this place by Presbyterian College, Laurens District 55 and 56 students who will be able to gather here, will feel proud of this element of their hometown.  This will also be a site for Esports, which is a form of competition using video games, where students can practice and participate in competitions and try to earn scholarships.”

Also speaking, were superintendents of District 55 Superintendent Dr. Ameca Thomas, District 56 Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields, Laurens County Council Chairman Brown Patterson, Laurens Commission of Public Works John Young, and the president elect of Presbyterian College Dr. Matthew P. vandenBerg.

PC’s Inauguration OF President Dr. vandenBerg

At 10 am Friday morning, the sound of bagpipes ushered in the academic processional at Presbyterian College, as the inauguration of the Nineteenth President Dr. Matthew P. vandenBerg began.

The Presbyterian College Fellowship Gospel Choir sang the National Anthem, then Assistant Chaplain for Multicultural Community Engagement, Racquel C Gill, gave the invocation.

 After another musical performance by the choir, a welcome by Holbrook W. Raynal of the Presbyterian College Board of Trustees, salutations and greetings by staff, students, alumni and Laurens County Council Chair Brown Patterson, the oath of office and the presentation of the medallion began.

 The oath of office was administered by Elwood G. Lassiter, Chair of the Presbyterian College Board of Trustees, and assisted by Mrs. Melissa vandenBerg, and their children Jackson and Sylvia.

A touching introduction which included some personal stories of their early days together at Michigan’s Alma College was given by a lifelong friend of the newly inaugurated president, Senior Chaplain and Director of the Center for Campus and Community Engagement at Alma College, Andrew D. Pomerville D. Min.

Only a few minutes into his inaugural address, President vandenBerg heard a loud voice from the audience challenging him to change from his academic regalia, into some Blue Hose Attire.

Perhaps the most humorous moment was when the president stepped offstage and reappeared dressed in an official Blue Hose kilt and tie.

 As his inaugural address continued, President vandenBerg spoke of the college founder, Rev. Dr. William Plumer Jacobs, who back 1880 wanted to give Civil War orphans a future.

vandenBerg shared some of the difficulties and accomplishments of the school in the past, and claimed that now, “We are a first-rate residential liberal arts college, and we have significant announcements about programs that will benefit students right away!”

One of those programs was actually initiated last night, when it was announced during a celebration at the Historic Square in Downtown Laurens, that the college has purchased and will renovate the Laurens’ Capitol Theater into a performing arts center and headquarters for PC’s new eSports program next fall.

Another program that involves the college reaching to what vandenBerg called, “The other side of the tracks,” will be the re-opening the College’s 112 Musgrove Street property in Downtown Clinton this spring as a social hub for students.

 The new president also wants to pursue a renewed relationship with the Presbyterian Church (USA), and On Oct. 18 in Greenville, it was announced that there will be the largest service entrepreneurship case competition in South Carolina and one of the largest in American higher education.

 Various benefactors were announced and thanked in the president’s address, including Alumni Chad and Pam Prashad for their vision and gifts to bring the competition alive, not to mention their seven-figure gift “to cement PC’s role and legacy as the nation’s leading college for students affected by foster care.”

 Along with local community partnerships, vandenBerg was pleased to tell the audience of the school’s partnership with the Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, where PC Seniors and PC Alumni will receive preferred admissions and a guaranteed scholarship to all O’Neill Master’s Degree Programs.

 President vandenBerg’s was also quite exited to announced that the college has received the largest single gift in the College’s history.

PC’s board chair, E.G. Lassiter ’69, and his wife, Marianne ’71, gave their alma mater $5 million to endow the Marianne and E.G. Lassiter Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual Life position.

The total gifts to the college totaled nearly $10.3 million, which was a record for philanthropic support in a single fiscal year

Clinton Man Charged With Burglary And Assault And Battery


A Clinton Man is behind bars for alleged Burglary First Degree and Assault and Battery 1st Degree. The Laurens County Sheriff’s  Office arrested 29-year-old Stephen Arthur Williams of Hwy 76 East Thursday for the alleged charges. According to reports Williams allegedly entered a dwelling at night armed with a knife and threatened to kill the victim. This incident allegedly occurred  on Highway 76 in Clinton. Stephen Williams  remained in the Laurens County Johnson Detention Center this morning with Bond Denied on both charges.