Polls Now Open for Democrats & Republicans

Polls are now open at Laurens and Greenwood County precincts that serve voters in South Carolina House District 14. Both Democratic and Republican parties have candidates seeking their party’s nomination for the Special April 23rd Election to replace Retired Representative Mike Pitts in the South Carolina House of Representatives.

In the Democratic Primary today, voters are selecting between Bobby L. Gregory Sr. of Ware Shoals and Garrett McDaniel of Laurens. Those voting in the Republican Primary are selecting between Grant Blair, who lives on Lake Greenwood in the Ninety Six area of Greenwood County, Stewart Jones of Laurens, Scott Horne of Ware Shoals and Michael Seymour who lives on Lake Greenwood in the Waterloo area.

In the likely event of a runoff being needed to select between the two Republicans with the highest vote count today, that is set to occur on March 5th, which is the same day that municipal elections are being held around Laurens County.

As the votes are counted this evening, Real Radio 860 WLBG will broadcast the unofficial results. Live, from the Historic Laurens County Courthouse. Our election coverage begins when the polls close at 7:00 this evening. This coverage will also be livestreamed at WLBG.com.


Candidates Forum Monday Night

The Laurens County Democratic Party held a candidate’s forum at the historic Laurens County Courthouse last evening. The event was scheduled to showcase the two Democrats seeking the party’s nomination for the SC House District 14 seat recently vacated by longtime Rep. Mike Pitts but also included candidates in the upcoming non-partisan municipal elections in the city of Laurens.

Garrett McDaniel answered questions about his candidacy for the State House and explained to the party faithful what they could expect from him should they nominate him to run.  McDaniel acknowledged that the prevailing wisdom is the District 14 is a Republican district but said that he’s not running just for fun.  He said he would never have filed without having the intention of winning. Mr. Bobby Gregory, Sr., the other Democratic candidate for District 14, did not appear at the forum last night.

Mr. John Kelly, candidate for Seat 3 on Laurens City Council, told the audience he intended to focus on constituent service if elected to council.  He also said he wants to be a part of the future for youth in Laurens.  He said he was tired of watching young men and women grow up and leave town never to return.  He said he wants to fight to keep our kids here to be a part of a brighter future for their hometown. Incumbent Sylvia Douglas was not present.

Mayoral candidates Nathan Senn and incumbent John Stankus answered questions.  Senn pointed out what he saw as deficiencies within the city.  Mayor Stankus strongly disagreed and said he was proud to stand on his record of four years.  Nathan Senn said that he grew up in Laurens and moved away.  He said he made the decision to come back home because he believed in Laurens and what its potential truly is.  He asked voters to give him the opportunity make that vision a reality.

The Laurens municipal elections will be held on March 5th.



Assault and Kidnapping

Charges of Kidnapping and Assault have been served on a man for his alleged actions against his girlfriend Sunday. 32-year-old Matthew Quinten Smith of an apartment at 102 College Park Drive, Clinton was arrested Sunday and held for charges. Yesterday, warrants were served charging Smith with Kidnapping and with Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature, based on an investigation by Deputy Hildebrandt.

Matthew Smith is accused of committing Domestic Violence of a High an Aggravated Nature Sunday under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life that would reasonably cause a person to fear great bodily injury or death. He allegedly threatened his girlfriend with a knife. The warrant states that she suffered defensive injuries in the struggle. The Kidnapping warrant states that Smith unlawfully seized, confined, kidnapped or abducted the victim Sunday at their residence on College Park Drive, Clinton.

With $30,000 cash or surety bonds set on each charge, Matthew Quinten Smith remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning with bonds totaling $60,000.

Three Assaults of High and Aggravated Nature

A Clinton area man has been charged with assault of his girlfriend and her two children on Sunday. He was arrested by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Sunday and held for charges.

Yesterday, 26-year-old Michael McNary Whitlock of 202 Fuller Road, Clinton was served with one warrant charging him with Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature and with two warrant charging Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature. These warrants cite an investigation of Sheriff’s Lt. Timothy Byrd, stating that on February 17th Whitlock committed Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature by threatening to kill the victim, then discharged a firearm twice in her presence. It alleges that when the victim fled from the residence in a vehicle with her two children, she was pursued by the defendant at a high rate of speed, putting her and her two children in great danger. The two warrants charging Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature state that after the assault on the female victim, Whitlock pursued her and her two minor children in a vehicle at a high rate of speed, putting all three in danger of great bodily harm.

With $10,000 bond set on each charge, Michael McNary Whitlock remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning with bonds totaling $30,000.

New RR Crossing Work Starts Today

After a few weeks of road closures for railroad crossing repairs between Woodruff and Laurens, the process now moves to the rail line from north of Laurens to Newberry.

The schedule calls for road closings today on Highway 49, Yarborough Mill Road and nearby Fleming Mill Road, for repairs to the railroad crossings of both, between their intersections with US 221 North and Lee Carey Road. Tomorrow’s anticipated road closures, also just north of Laurens, are for Rocky Springs Church Road and Torrington Road, near Curry Road along with Cinnamon Lane, scheduled for February 20th.

Between Laurens and Clinton, road closings for tomorrow include at the rail crossing on Calvin Bridges Road, near the County Park. On Thursday, expect closings at the railroad crossings on Tool Shed Road, Medical Ridge Road and Torrington Road.

Other local closures are expected in the Kinards area, with Gable Hill Lane of US 76 closing today, Gary’s Lane of US 76 closing tomorrow and Springs Branch Road of US 76 closing Thursday.

Work on railroad crossings in Clinton and Joanna are scheduled for next week. All closures are subject to change due to weather and other conditions.

Laurens City Council Meets at 5:30 PM

Laurens City Council is to hold its regular monthly meeting for February this evening, starting at 5:30 in Council Chambers on 2nd Floor of City Hall. The agenda calls for a final reading on an ordinance to annex property into the city limits that will be used by the proposed “Project Gator” in Hunter Industrial Park. That property is at the corner of Industrial Park Road and Cherry Blossom Drive.

Laurens City Administrator Gary Coleman this evening is to propose council set March 5th as John Britt American Legion Day. Debbie Vaughn is to address City Council this evening with a request for funding to assist the Laurens County Museum Association with ongoing upgrades to the new Museum on the Square.

Councilor Alicia Sullivan this evening is to recognize Mr. Willie Paden, Dr. Stephen Peters and Laurens Police Chief Chrissie Cofield for their accomplishments, in honor of Black History Month.

City Council is open for the public to attend…starting at 5:30 this evening.

PTC Area Commission Meets

The Piedmont Technical College Area Commission will hold its regular monthly meeting at 5:30 this afternoon in Room 222A of the John S. Coleman Administration Building, Lex Walters Campus-Greenwood.

Get That Windshield Wiper Fixed

A 17-year-old Laurens resident spent last night in Detention following his arrest by the Sheriff’s Office. Sgt. Veal issued tickets charging him with having an Obstruction to his Windshield – perhaps related to his windshield wipers – as well as Breach of the Peace and Simple Possession of Marijuana.

The tickets allege the three violations occurred at 3:16 yesterday afternoon on Woodrow Street in Laurens. The teen subject was being held overnight, awaiting a bond hearing on his three charges.

Forum Tonight for Dems & Laurens Municipal Election

The Laurens County Democratic Party is hosting a forum this evening that is to feature discussion with the two men who are seeking the party’s nomination for South Carolina’s House of Representatives. Bobby L. Gregory Sr. of Ware Shoals and Garrett McDaniel of Laurens are seeking to represent the Democratic Party in the Special Election April 23rd. The winners of the Democratic Party Primary tomorrow will compete with the winner of the Republican Primary tomorrow in the April election to replace Mike Pitts representing District 14 in the House of Representatives.

With four men seeking the Republican Party nomination tomorrow, March 5th is set as the date for any needed run-off for the Republican nomination. That is also the date for municipal elections in multiple Laurens County municipalities. The Laurens County Elections Office states that, in event of an anticipated run-off for State House on March 5th, in precincts where municipal elections are also underway, there will be separate voting machines for the State House vote from the Municipal election.

In addition to the two Democratic candidates in tomorrow’s Primary for State House, Laurens County Democratic Party Chair Alicia Sullivan said this evening’s forum is also going to include candidates for the upcoming March 5th Municipal Election in the City of Laurens. Incumbent Mayor John J. Stankus is seeing a second term, challenged by Nathan Senn, who is also seeking election as Laurens Mayor. There are also three incumbents on Laurens City Council and one incumbent on the Laurens Commission of Public Works who are seeking re-election without opposition in the March 5th Municipal Elections.

In Clinton March 5th, there is also a Mayor’s race and two of the three members of City Council with expiring terms have opposition for their re-election. One City Council incumbent has three challengers. The Presbyterian College Political Science Department is hosting a forum for the March 5th Clinton municipal election. This forum will be held on campus in  Edmunds Hall Monday, February 25th, starting at 7:00 pm.

This evening’s Laurens County Democratic Party forum for Laurens City Council and the two Democratic candidates for State House is to begin at 7:00 in County Council Chambers of the Historic Laurens County Courthouse on the Laurens Square. WLBG’s Randy Stevens is moderator for tonight’s Forum in Laurens as well as next Monday’s forum in Clinton.

New Nursing Training in Laurens County

Laurens Nursing Simulator

On the heels of a national report projecting South Carolina will have one of the most serious nursing shortages in the country in the next decade, Piedmont Technical College (PTC) is using a $170,000 gift it received late last year from the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation to support the graduation of more students into the pipeline of qualified nurses who are needed by area health care facilities. If all goes according to plan, by this summer, transition nursing courses will be offered not only at the Greenwood Campus but on the college’s Laurens Campus as well. Tara B. Gonce, PTC’s dean of health care, called this “An extension of our transition nursing program.” She added, “Our curriculum stays the same. This just opens up an additional route for those students to be able to transition in.”

On adding Nursing training at the Laurens campus, Ken Coffey, executive director of Self Regional’s Healthcare Foundation, said, “Self Regional is firmly committed to addressing the growing shortage of nurses and working with partners like Piedmont Technical College to educate local talent and ensure that our community’s health care needs are met well into the future.”

Tara Gonce noted, “The Laurens Campus has everything the Greenwood Campus has, including simulation labs with mannequins, nursing lab and OB-Pediatric lab, classrooms and computer labs.” She said, “We have been preparing for this and trying to mirror what we have here (in Greenwood). It has been a goal. We know based on guidelines of our national accrediting agency that this is needed and that we needed more faculty. The Self Foundation donation came at the perfect time to marry these two things together. Our goal became reality.” Gonce believes the ideal, most seamless route to becoming an RN can be achieved in three phases. High school students can opt for dual enrollment and earn a health care certification while increasing their chance of acceptance into PTC’s competitive-entry program.  Next, they can earn their associate degree in nursing (ADN) in two years at PTC’s Greenwood or Laurens campuses. Then they can enroll in the ADN to BSN program at Lander University.

Gonce said PTC plans to open registration for transition nursing courses at the Laurens Campus in mid-April, and students could begin attending classes this summer.

1st Degree Domestic Violence

A Clinton area man spent the weekend in detention following a domestic altercation Friday. A charge of 1st Degree Domestic Violence was served on 51-year-old Richard Lee Henriksen of 1576 West Highway 72, Clinton. The warrant cites an investigation of Deputy Hilderbrand as indicating that on February 15th Henriksen threatened to cause physical harm or injury to the victim with the apparent and present ability to cause physical harm under circumstances that reasonably caused her to fear imminent peril. The warrant further states that Henriksen has had two or more convictions of Domestic Violence within the past ten years. A cash or surety bond of $20,000 was set on the 1st Degree Domestic Violence charge. Richard Lee Henriksen remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

PWID Marijuana

An Enoree area resident of Laurens County is facing a drug charge following his arrest this weekend. 37-year-old Jarvis Johnmichael Evans of 672 Beaverdam Church Road, Enoree was arrested by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Saturday and charged with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute. A warrant cites an investigation by Deputy Roberson as indicating that on February 16th in Laurens County Evans aid, abetted or conspired to manufacture, distribute, dispense, deliver, produce and or possess Marijuana, with intent to distribute. He is accused of being in possession of 6.6 grams of marijuana Saturday that was in six separate bags.

With a cash or surety bond set at $10,000, Jarvis Johnmichael Evans remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Unlawful Possession of Two Drugs

A Laurens woman remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning on two drug charges, following her arrest by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Friday. 27-year-old Lashunda Denise Simpson of Apartment 1-H at 800 Spring Street was charged with Unlawful Possession of a Prescription Drug and with Possession of Meth. She is accused of being in possession of 70 mg of vyance Friday without a prescription for that controlled substance. Ms. Simpson is also accused of being in possession of less than one gram of methamphetamine Friday.

More Training for Natural Gas Workers

Reports on how Laurens CPW Natural Gas employees are improving their abilities to maintain natural gas distribution were made last week at the monthly meeting of the CPW. Two natural gas division workers have recently passed Clemson University’s CEPSCI test to become certified erosion prevention and sediment control inspectors for CPW. They are now DHEC approved. Two other CPW Natural Gas employees attended the SCPERI meeting at the SC fire academy hosted by ORS in Columbia. This was part of a winter pipeline safety meeting for natural gas workers across the state.

26 Unlawful Calls to 911 in 30 Days

A Joanna man is charged with resisting his arrest Friday following days of making false calls to Laurens County 911. 41-year-old Bobby Joe Lewis Jr. of 516 Magnolia Street, Joanna is charged with Unlawful Use of 911 and with Resisting Arrest. Warrant citing an investigation by Deputy Hilderbrand alleged that over the past thirty days Lewis made twenty-six calls to 911 for service at his residence, intentionally filing false reports. Then, while being placed under arrest Friday, he is accused of knowingly and willfully opposing and resisting the lawful arrest by a law enforcement officer. With cash or surety bonds set on the two charges totaling $8,000, Bobby Joe Lewis Jr. remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.



A Forgery charge was served this weekend following an alleged attempt to cash a counterfeit or forged check on Fountain Inn’s South Main Street. Fountain Inn Police arrested 26-year-old Tyler Aaron Charping of 15 Tray Drive, Greenville and charged him with Forgery. A warrant alleges that Mr. Charping forged or counterfeited a check with intent to defraud by presenting a forged or counterfeited check at the Handee Mart on Fountain Inn’s South Main Street, valued at less than $10,000. Charping was placed in the Johnson Detention Center Friday with a cash or surety bond set at $5,000. He remained in custody this morning.

Black History Month Celebrations

Preservation of historical and cultural documents is going to be discussed as part of a Laurens County Library celebration of Black History Month. The library announced it’s presenting a Black History Month program called “The Right Stuff: Preserving Black History and Culture through Historical Records and Documents.” This program will be held next week – Thursday evening, February 21st starting at 6:00 pm at the Laurens Library on West Main Street.

In presenting the program, Mr. Donald West will discuss the need and efforts to preserve historical records, photos and documents, and the proper storage and care of these materials. West is an instructor in the department of History, Humanities and Political Science at Trident Technical College. He teaches U.S. History and African-American History. West has a B.A. in Social Studies Education from The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and an M.A. in History from the University of Cincinnati.

His program next week is being funded by South Carolina Humanities as part of efforts to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. This not-for-profit organization presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos, and other humanities-based experiences that reach more than 250,000 citizens annually. South Carolina Humanities receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as corporate, foundation, and individual donors. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state.

The Laurens County Library System offers more information on next week’s program with a phone call to the library at 864-681-7323. This program is free and open to the public.


The following week, author and cyber security expert Dr. Derrick Barksdale is featured speaker at this year’s Black History program at Laurens District 55 High School. Seating is limited for this program, so anyone interested in attending is invited to call the main office at LDHS at 864-682-3151 to reserve a seat in advance. That program begins at 10:30 Wednesday morning, February 27th.

Armed Robbery of Pizza Delivery Person

An arrest was made yesterday in connection with the Armed Robbery of a Pizza Delivery person in Clinton last summer. 18-year-old Tyrese Nashune Ward was booked with an address on Hunters Court, Laurens. Warrants indicate he lives on Spring Street. Ward is charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Armed Robbery.

In those warrants, Clinton Detective Tyrone Goggins states that on August 12, 2018 on West Centennial Street in Clinton Ward conspired with another male and with a juvenile subject to commit armed robbery, while armed with a firearm. Lt. Goggins further states that, also on West Centennial, Ward presented a handgun and robbed a Domino’s Pizza Delivery driver, forcefully taking U.S. currency, pizzas and the victim’s wallet and its contents.

Tyrese Nashune Ward was later released yesterday on personal recognizance bonds totaling $5,000.

Zero-Turn Mower Not His!

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office has charged a Waterloo man with having items stolen from a Greenwood address at this residence this week. 33-year-old David Allen Gleaton of 273 Flymm Smith Road, Waterloo was arrested Wednesday. Yesterday he was charged with Possession of Stolen Property. Sheriff’s Lt. Haupfear states that on February 13th Gleaton had in his possession a Zero-Turn Cub Cadet lawnmower and a black utility trailer which were reported stolen from Greenwood County. David Allen Gleaton remained in custody earlier this morning, awaiting a bond hearing.

No Permission to Drive

Unauthorized vehicle use Sunday was alleged following an arrest by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday. 25-year-old Raheem Wadell Jackson of 100 Houser Circle, Clinton was charged with Use of Vehicle without Permission. Deputy Benjamin Perry states that on February 10th Jackson used a vehicle without consent of its owner with intent to deprive her, temporarily or otherwise, of the vehicle’s possession. Jackson was then released on posting a  $5,000 personal recognizance bond.