Clinton OKs “Spec” Building

Clinton City Council this week approved constructing a “Spec” Building at the I-26 Commerce Park. City Manager Frank Stovall made the proposal Monday evening, explaining that the Clinton Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) has been working a possible public/private partnership that would construct a spec building for the purpose of attracting manufacturing jobs to Clinton. In order for the project to move forward, he said, the CEDC had to commit to the lease of the completed building until it was either sold or leased by an industrial concern.  The CEDC executive committee agreed in April to request that the city release $416,250 from its existing Economic Development Account so that they could commit to leasing a 75,000 square foot building on a 150,000 square foot pad.

Stovall recommended the CEDC’s request be granted with stipulations that funds must be spent within 60 months and funds not spent will be returned to the city’s account. Further, funds may only be used to support the construction or lease of a spec building larger than 50,000 square feet and must be used for development in the I-26 Commerce Park. Finally, an annual audit of the CEDC must be submitted to Clinton City Council.

Frank Stovall advised council that the Economic Development Fund includes funding for ‘product development’.  Construction of a spec building, he said, would definitely satisfy that definition.

After discussion, council approved the request by unanimous vote.

Another Case of Child Neglect

Questions have arisen over drug tests of children last year for DSS here in Laurens County. A report by WSPA-TV this week states one woman who was arrested last year is suing Accurate Diagnostics after her charges were dismissed following reports the Ohio lab whose label was on the drug test of her children indicated they did not conduct the test. 7 News reported that as many as 30 families and 40 lab tests from January 3rd to October 20th, 2015 were under review.

Meanwhile, Laurens City Police yesterday charged a man and woman with Unlawful Neglect of a Child. Warrants allege that they endangered the health and welfare of their minor child by smoking marijuana around him in their home at 206-A Conway Avenue, Laurens. Warrants state the child tested positive for high levels of THC in a drug test ordered by the Department of Social Services.

30-year-old Greg Allen Oberdier was booked as a now Homeless Laurens man. 34-year-old Amanda Dee Rathbone was booked as still a resident at 206-A Conway Avenue, Laurens. Both Mr. Oberdier and Ms. Rathbone were being held overnight, pending a bond hearing on their Child Neglect charge.

Multiple Charges Follow Shoplifting Incident

Laurens City Police yesterday served multiple drug charges on two women they had arrested Wednesday following a Shoplifting incident at Wal-Mart.

37-year-old Sara Joan Hutchens of 139 Kentmount Lane, Greer was charged with Shoplifting as well as Possession of a Schedule II Narcotic and Possession of a Schedule IV Narcotic. She was also charged with Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Officer Benjamin Gallo states that an investigation indicates that on May 4th at 922 East Main in Laurens Ms. Hutchens concealed items for sale in Wal-Mart in her purse and she exited the store past all points of sale. Other warrants allege that Ms. Hutchens had possession of pills and capsules that included Schedule II and IV narcotics, that she had approximately one gram of marijuana in her possession  and a marijuana-packed glass pipe.

Cash or surety bonds were set totaling $21,772. Sara Joan Hutchens remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

41-year-old Allison Dianne King of 101 Wemberly Lane, Simpsonville was charged yesterday with three counts of unlawful narcotic possession. In warrants, Officer Gallo states she had pills and capsules that included Schedule II, III and IV Narcotics.

With cash or surety bonds totaling $30,000 on the three charges, Allison Dianne King remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

Scrap Metal Operator Detects Car as Stolen

A stolen vehicle was discovered yesterday after a scrap metal yard operator determined the white Dodge Neon was stolen. Deputy Jamie Lee Edwards was dispatched to M & M Scrap Metals on Highway 101 south of Gray Court at 4:55 yesterday afternoon and met with the owner. He indicted the disassembled car had been brought in from a yard on Highway 418 which was being cleared of materials. The VIN had been removed from the window plate on the car, but a number located on the engine compartment was used to determine the vehicle had been stolen from Greenville County.

The Neon was towed to the Laurens County Impound lot.

$30,000 Savings on Insurance

At Monday’s meeting of Clinton City Council City Manager Frank Stovall reviewed a significant portion of the city’s insurance program with council and then made a recommendation for action to continue coverage.

For several years, he said, BB&T Insurance Services has provided the city’s General Liability, Business Auto, Umbrella Liability, Workers Compensation and Cyber Liability coverage.  In February, the city’s Risk Management and Administrative Services Departments advertised for proposals for the continuation of the city’s insurance.

Bids were received from two vendors with BB&T Insurance being one of those vendors.  In fact, BB&T was the only vendor who provided a complete proposal.  The second vendor provided a proposal for Workers Compensation coverage only.

BB&T’s proposal for continuing the coverage included an annual cost of

$367,001, an amount more than $30,000 less than the city paid for the coverage last year.  Mr. Stovall recommended that their proposal be accepted and that he be authorized to enter into a contract with BB&T Insurance Service. Council approved his request by unanimous vote.

Lawn Mower Theft

The Sheriff’s Office received a report yesterday afternoon that someone had broken into a utility building in the Waterloo area. A Boiling Springs man said sometime since last September someone removed a riding lawn mower from his utility building at his Lake Greenwood property. It was valued at $1,000.

Window Pried on Stomp Springs Road

Sheriff’s Officers responded to a location on Stomp Springs Road east of Clinton early yesterday afternoon to investigate a Burglary. It appears a back door had been pried open sometime since April 25th.  No indication of what may be missing was noted.

Domestic Violence Charge

Clinton Public Safety yesterday served a warrant on a man arrested Wednesday night following a domestic incident on Neighborhood Drive. 37-year-old William Maxwell “Bill” Knight III was arrested with an address noted at 54 Pinewood Lane, Waterloo and another address noted on North Sloan Street, Clinton. He’s charged with Domestic Violence 3rd Degree

The warrant states Mr. Knight caused physical harm to the victim by pushing and dragging her across the ground and that the assault caused an abrasion to her left hand and elbow. It states the Wednesday evening assault caused a reasonable fear of imminent peril, and that the subject and victim lived together in a romantic relationship in the past. A $5,000 cash or surety bond was set on the charge during arraignment. William Maxwell Knight III remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

Two Charged with being Habitual Offenders

Two men remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning after their arrests by the Highway Patrol yesterday on charges that included multiple offenses of Driving under Suspension of their license. They were charged with being Habitual Offenders. 38-year-old Jeffery Broadus Fowler of Sid Lee Road, Waterloo was also charged with DUI, Open Container and Simple Possession of Marijuana. His bond s total $6,879. 53-year-old Furman William Sweet of 111 Cora Street, Laurens was also charged with DUI and Open Container at 9:20 Wednesday night on Highway 76. His bonds total $17,105.

Call Again When You’re Sober

Sheriff’s Sgt. Jimmy Johnson was dispatched to Harris Springs Road, Cross Hill at 5:20 Wednesday afternoon to investigate an assault report. A woman claimed that a man had slapped her on the right side of her face. The officer did not observe redness or swelling, and the woman said it had occurred a few hours earlier. When questioned about the time of the incident, the woman replied she didn’t know. A strong smell of alcohol was noted on both the victim and subject, as well as others at the location. The woman was advised to call back when she was sufficiently sober to report on the situation. As of yesterday, she had not responded, so the case was closed.

Who Left the Bread on the Counter?

Other Burglaries under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office from reports Wednesday included a call to North Marion Street, Joanna. A woman reported returning home to see a loaf of bread on her counter. She said she had left it in the cabinet with the peanut butter. She noticed her jar of grape jelly was in the trash can. Deputy Nations investigated windows as potential entry points.

More Streetscape Improvements for Clinton

New improvements are on the way for areas of downtown Clinton.

At Monday’s meeting of Clinton City Council City Manager Frank Stovall presented council with bids and his recommendation concerning a streetscape project.  The plan is to construct tree wells along both sides of North Broad Street from the intersection of Florida Street to Main Street. It would construct new sidewalk on the west side of the same section of North Broad and on the north side of West Main Street from North Broad to Wall Street. The project is to also construct landscaping, signage and lighting on the M.S. Bailey Municipal Center Plaza.

The City of Clinton had previously contracted with AECOM Construction Services to design and manage the work for the project.  The bids for the actual work were collected by AECOM and submitted to Mr. Stovall on Monday.

Only two firms submitted bids. The winning bid of $429,818.74 came from Sossamon Construction Company of Gaffney.  Even though it was the low bid, the price exceeded the estimated cost for the project.

In a letter attached to the bid materials, Walter Hodges, AECOM’s project manager advised that Sossamon Construction was receptive to deleting certain elements of the project and/or allowing city work crews to complete part of the work in an effort to reduce costs and bring the project in line with the previous estimates.

Stovall asked council to authorize him to negotiate and enter into a contract with Sossamon Construction.  He also asked for Change Order authority up to a maximum amount of $40,000 to be used if necessary.  Frank Stovall explained that parts of the project involve digging up some very old sidewalks and that it is possible that some expensive surprises might be discovered.

After discussion council approved Mr. Stovall’s requests by unanimous vote.  Construction on the new streetscape project is scheduled to begin on May 22nd.

Overcrowding at Magistrate’s Office

Laurens County Council has a committee looking into an overcrowding issue at the Magistrate’s Office in Hillcrest Square. Concern has been reported about the overcrowding that overflows into the halls of the county complex. One idea recently noted is consideration of moving the Magistrate’s Offices into the area now reserved for the Department of Juvenile Justice. Council member Diane Anderson chairs the committing that’s looking into this issue. Also on the committee are council members Stuart Jones and Garrett McDaniel.

Charges from Assault by Box Cutter

Multiple charges were served yesterday on a man Clinton Public Safety arrested after finding another man with a laceration to his neck in the 400 block of Florence Street. Responding at 1:26 yesterday morning on a report of a man threatening another man with a knife, Officer Gandee reported arriving to see the victim holding a shirt to the 3 to 4 inch cut to his neck as he and his wife were in the yard of their residence. The subject had reportedly left in a small pickup. Sgt. Lawton located a truck matching the description and made a traffic stop, taking a suspect into custody.

71-year-old Raymond Boyce Lawson of 4741 Highway 308, Clinton was later served with warrants charging Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature, Possession of a Weapon during Commission of a Violent Crime and with unauthorized Possession of a Schedule IV Controlled Substance. Warrants state that he assaulted the victim with a box cutter-type knife, causing a laceration on the left side of the victim’s throat in the incident on Florence Street with the deadly weapon. Lawson is accused of being found in possession of five pills identified as Clonazepam 2M on Helen Street yesterday morning.

During arraignment yesterday, cash or surety bonds were set totaling $45,000 on the three charges. Raymond Boyd Lawson remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

$234,900 for Clinton Sewer Improvements

Almost $235,000 has been allocated for improvements to the City of Clinton’s sewer system, as part of the recent announcement of $4.9 million in grants for water, sewer and drainage projects across the state.  This brings the total new project awards for the year to $14.5 million in 20 counties.

Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hit, who serves as chair of the RIA’s Board, said “These grant awards allow the RIA to assist communities with resources that are essential to economic vitality and sustainability.”

The grant for Sewer System improvements for the City of Clinton totals $234,900.

Other nearby grants announced include $288,750 for sewer improvements for the Woodruff – Roebuck Water District and $350,000 for water line upgrades for the Ninety-Six C.P.W. The grants require a local match.

$75,000 Bond on Probation Charge

State Probation yesterday arrested a man wanted for an alleged Probation Violation. The warrant cited he was from Laurens but no address was then known. 33-year-old Gavalian Lecraig Booker was booked with an address on Wenwood Road. The warrant states that Mr. Booker had failed to report to his agent and had moved to an unknown location without notice or permission , thereby absconding supervision. He’s also accused of failing to work diligently at a lawful occupation and of failing to report his arrest that led to a conviction in Greenville Municipal Court last November for Simple Possession of Marijuana. He’s also accused of failing to make required payments. With a $75,000 cash or surety bond set yesterday, the Laurens County Detention Center remained his address this morning.

Probation Charge Plus Bench Warrant

In another Violation of Probation case, 23-year-old Corythian Dandre Rice of 1617 Gary Street, Clinton was booked on charges of failure to follow his agent’s instructions, of failure to report as directed and of failing to obtain permission for a change of address. He’s also charged with being behind on payments.  He was given a $5,000 personal recognizance bond, but was not released due to a Bench Warrant also being served. It shows a conviction last July 9th on a Simple Possession of Marijuana charge, with a sentence from Judge Thomas Copeland of 30 days in jail, concurrent with any other sentence, or a $620 fine.

Graduation Today at Piedmont Tech

Piedmont Technical College is holding two spring graduation events today. Commencement exercises will begin at 3 p.m. for industrial & engineering technologies, business and computer technology and public service graduates. A ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. for Associate of Arts and Science, health science and nursing graduates. Both commencement exercises will be held in the James Medford Family Event Center at the main Piedmont Technical College campus in Greenwood.

Due to limited seating, tickets will be required for all guests attending the graduation ceremony.

In recognition of Piedmont Technical College’s 50th anniversary, the commencement address will be presented by graduate Eddie Brown, Jr. He is an advanced registered respiratory therapist with Greenville Memorial Hospital and serves as a clinical instructor with the Respiratory Care program at Piedmont Technical College. He previously worked as a respiratory therapist at Newberry Hospital.

Brown is a 2007 PTC graduate of Piedmont Technical College following a career in juvenile corrections. While at Piedmont Tech, he served as a Presidential Ambassador and president of the Respiratory Care Club. He was selected for Who’s Who among Junior College Students and served on the 2007 South Carolina All-Academic Team.

A special feature of commencement exercises will be recognition of top graduates from Laurens, Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda counties.

Not the Proper Way to Start Your Garden

Clinton Public Safety received a report of a stolen garden tiller yesterday morning. Employees of True Value Hardware at 200 East Carolina Avenue noticed the store’s rental garden tiller was missing. It’s described as a Maxim heavy-duty commercial chain-drive tiller with a 5.5 hp Briggs Vanguard Engine. It’s reddish/orange and has True Value stickers as well as instructional stickers posted on it. It was taken at some time since April 29th.

Laurens County 2015 Drug Tests for DSS Questioned

The South Carolina Department of Social Services is now investigating drug tests in Laurens County, according to WSPA-TV. News 7 last evening reported that DSS is investigating drug test results that were possibly falsified through Accurate Diagnostics at the Laurens County branch during a big part of last year.  News 7’s report states that DSS indicates that all drug tests handled for the Laurens County branch by Accurate Diagnostics between January 3rd and October 20th of 2015 are questionable. Accurate Diagnostics has a contract to take in urine and hair samples to be tested for DSS cases state wide. The hair samples are sent off to varying companies including Omega Laboratories in Ohio.

7 News reports that during the time period in question, drug test results from hair samples that were being forwarded to DSS with Omega’s logo had positive drug results.

Meanwhile, a public defender in Laurens County questioned the authenticity of the reports in the case of Sandy James. She reportedly contacted DSS in 2015 after her son reported to her that he was victim of a crime. News 7 reported that DSS showed up to her home and pulled hair samples of her children. Test results from those samples reportedly showed the children had meth in their system.  The News 7 report said Ms. James was charged with two counts of unlawful neglect of a child and given a $60,000 bond in July of 2015, and that Ms. James sat in jail for almost 3 months.

A public defender in Laurens County contacted Omega Labs with the specimen numbers for James’ children listed on those reports. He reportedly said they emailed back saying those numbers were never tested in their lab.

News 7 reports that the charges against Ms. James were dropped and that now she is suing Accurate Diagnostics. The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is so now reportedly investigating the issue.

Meanwhile, News 7 reports that a DSS statement indicates they immediately stopped using Accurate Diagnostics in Laurens County for any services, and that they’re cooperating with local judiciary to remediate ay case impacted by the alleged fraudulent tests results.

WSPA-TV reports Lawyers involved in the case say they now have possibly 30 families with at least 40 lab tests in question. These cases will be reviewed by DSS this month to see if any of them are eligible to be reversed.