Work on Wilder Stadium Begins Soon

Repairs to the home field of the Clinton High Red Devils are one step closer. A contract has been awarded. Back in June the Laurens County School District 56 Board of Trustees approved the issuance of $1.4 Million in general obligation bonds principally for repairs and renovations at Wilder Stadium.  At the November meeting held last night at Eastside Elementary School, Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Pitts, announced that construction will begin soon.

Four construction companies bid on the project at Wilder Stadium. The contract has now been awarded to the successful bidder, Triangle Construction Company of Greenville. Dr. Pitts said the project will soon be getting underway .

The bond issue was specifically restricted to the project at the football stadium and can be used for no other purpose.

Burglary/Dog Theft Alleged

A burglary case yesterday reportedly involves a Greenville male breaking into a female’s Laurens County residence and stealing her dog. The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrested 18-year-old Preston Luthi Rosemund of 112 Woodhaven Drive, Greenville and delivered him to the Johnson Detention Center around 4:30 yesterday afternoon. Rosemund was charged with Burglary 2nd Degree and Larceny/Stealing Dogs.

Warrants citing an investigation by Deputy Atwood state that on November 3rd one Preston Luthi Rosemund entered a dwelling on Highway 418 near Knighten Chapel Road without consent and with intent to commit a crime therein. He then allegedly took the victim’s Chihuahua / Miniature Pinscher dog valued at $2,000 or less.

Preston Luthi Rosemund was being held overnight, awaiting a bond hearing.

District 55 ACT Scores Up

Laurens County School District 55 has seen significant gains in ACT test results this year. Dr. Ameca Thomas, Director of Testing, Research, and Accountability for District, said “We are pleased to see the positive trend in test scores represented by these results. With state standardized test scores being re-normed this year, we were unable to do a true comparison between last year’s and this year’s SCPASS and SCREADY scores. The ACT results give us the chance to see our true progress last year.”

Looking at the results through subjects tested in the spring of 2017, District 55 scores for English rose from 14.2 to 15.3. Math scores remained the same at 16.9. Reading scores rose from 16.7 to 17.3, while writing scores rose slightly from 12.5 to 12.7. ELA test results rose from 14.4 to 160, and STEM scores went from 17.1 to 17.3

District 55 noted increases in six of seven areas in 2017 testing, and maintained 2016 performance results in math.

Superintendent Peters said “It is exciting to see the level of progress our students made in just one year. We are continuing to work towards improvement in every area of performance and at every level in our school system.”

Community Foundation Installs New Officers

The Laurens County Community Foundation’s Board of Directors (LCCF) has announced the election of a new Chairman of the Board. Morris Galloway of Clinton has been named as Chair. He has served on the board and on its Finance Committee since 2010. Foundation Executive Director Robin Day said, “Morris brings a wealth of experience that is critical to the organization as LCCF moves to implement a new strategic plan and further its goal to be a trusted partner for the community.”

Morris Galloway worked for 32 years at Presbyterian College, retiring as Executive Vice-President and is currently an Account Executive with BB&T Insurance Services. He and his wife, Susan, raised four sons in Laurens County. After the LCCF Board meeting on November 14th, Galloway said, “I am honored to serve as Chairman of the Laurens County Community Foundation Board and I thank Cynthia Jones for her fine service as outgoing Chair. The Laurens County Community Foundation is proud to assist local churches, nonprofits, and individuals or groups wishing to invest existing charitable funds or to establish new funds. With almost $5 million of assets under management, we oversee a diversified portfolio and provide prudent investment management. We also invest in our community through a grant program, scholarships, and education to promote local charities.”

Lumus Byrd, Jr. was elected Vice Chair, succeeding Don Adams, Adams will continue to serve as a Board member. Mr. Byrd is a retired businessman and citizen activist in Laurens County who has received the Citizen of the Year award, Volunteer of the Year award, and Outstanding Contribution and Dedication award from Laurens County School District 56 to name a few.

Outgoing Chair Dr. Cynthia Jones was credited for building on the mission and vision of the Laurens County Community Foundation during her term. Other board members completing their term who were recently thanked for their service were Dr. Peggy Prescott and Felicia Stovall.

Additional new Board members are Norman Scarborough and Nancy Roland.

The Laurens County Community Foundation’s mission is to enrich Laurens County by creating charitable funds, promoting education, and providing community resources that have lasting impact.  It works with donors and fund holders towards achieving their philanthropic goals with the creation of self-directed legacies, grants, and scholarships which are invested and designed to last forever. Together, they work towards addressing some of Laurens County’s most pressing needs.

No Texting & Driving Enforced This Week

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety yesterday began conducting a special enforcement effort to curb distracted driving this week as traffic volume increases for Thanksgiving travel. Community Relations Officers will also be distributing safety materials and talking with motorists about safe holiday travel at rest areas and welcome centers around the state on Wednesday.
According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting while driving multiplies the chances of an individual being involved in a collision by 23 times.
From November 20th thru 26th, the Highway Patrol, joined by the State Transport Police, are conducting a “STOP Texting and Driving” enforcement initiative, which is a continuation of the Operation STOP effort that troopers have used this year to curb aggressive driving. SCHP chose Thanksgiving week for the texting and driving enforcement because of the increase in traffic volume and the chance for distractions during long trips.

State Traffic Improved – Fatalities Up Locally

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety yesterday announced a preliminary number of six persons killed on South Carolina roadways this past weekend. That brings the total traffic fatalities for this year to 850 people. That is an improvement from 908 traffic deaths as of November 19th last year.

The 850 deaths include 572 people who were motor vehicle occupants. 276 of those were not wearing seat belts.

The 850 traffic fatalities also include 130 pedestrians, which is up slightly from the 127 pedestrians killed at this time last year. It includes 104 motorcyclists, which is an improvement over the 137 killed on highways at this time last year. 17 bicyclists had been killed on highways this year, down from 22 last year.

Laurens County remains in the top ten deadliest counties for highway deaths, through this past weekend. Charleston County tops the list with 61 fatalities through Sunday midnight. Greenville County is 2nd highest, with 58 fatalities. Horry County is 3rd with 57. Spartanburg County has the 4th highest fatalities with 43. The counties in the Columbia metro come in 5th and 6th place at this point in 4017. Lexington County has 40 fatalities and Richland County has 39. Anderson County is in 7th place with 38 traffic deaths, followed by Aiken with 32.

Laurens County is tied with Berkley County, with each of us having 29 highway deaths through Sunday midnight.

Just out of the top ten is Florence with 28 deaths on highways an Beaufort County with 25 traffic deaths.

Laurens County’s 29 deaths contrasts with Greenwood County, which only as 9 traffic fatalities, in spite of having a slightly higher population that Laurens. The 29 traffic deaths this year in Laurens County as of November 19th is the highest of the past four years. Recent counties ranged from 15 to 20 fatalities.

3rd Meth Trafficking Charge

A repeat offense for Methamphetamine Trafficking was alleged Friday with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrest of 50-year-old Jeffery Phillip Horne of 3604 Poplar Springs Road, Ware Shoals. In addition to Trafficking in Meth, he was also charged with Receiving Stolen Goods.

Investigator Farrah Cook states that on November 17th Horne had in his possession 10 or more grams of methamphetamine, and that he has two prior convictions for trafficking in meth. He was also accused of receiving bedding that belonged to a victim, valued at $500, knowing or having reason to know the property was stolen. No bond was set during arraignment. Jeffery Phillip “Jeff” Horne remained in detention this morning.

Another Stolen Bedding Possession

A second man was accused of receiving stolen bedding Friday. The Sheriff’s Office charged 53-year-old Jeffery Alan Beckham of 961 Flymm Smith Road, Waterloo with Receiving Stolen Goods. Investigator Farrah Cook states that on November 17th Beckham received bedding and a jacket that belonged to a victim, valued at approximately $500, and knowing or having reason to know the property was stolen.

Jeffery Alan Beckham remained in custody this morning with a cash or surety bond set at $2,000.

Three 1st Degree Burglaries

Nighttime burglaries in the neighborhood were alleged following a Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrest Friday. 53-year-old David Preston Calkins of 30 Smith Village Road, Waterloo was charged with three counts of First Degree Burglary. Investigator Farrah Cook states that David Calkins entered three dwellings in the Waterloo area in the nighttime hours without consent and with intent to commit a crime therein. He allegedly entered one Smith Village Road residence on September 30th, another Smith Village Road residence on October 10th and a Hush Road residence on November 3rd.  No bond was granted during initial arraignment. David Preston Calkins remained in custody, pending appearance before a General Sessions Judge.

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Also Friday, the Sheriff’s Office arrested 54-year-old Kim Elizabeth Couch, also of 30 Smith Village Road, Waterloo Friday and charged her with Possession of a Controlled Substance. A warrant citing investigation of Narcotics Officer Veal indicates that on November 17th Ms. Couch possessed Acetaminophen with intent to distribute. With a cash or surety bond set at $6,000, Kim Elizabeth Couch remained in custody this morning.

Three Assaults on Two Victims Alleged

A Southern Greenville County resident was arrested by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Friday for three alleged assaults, including two on his wife. 42-year-old James Chad Bowen of 343 French Road, Honea Path was served with three warrants.

A 2nd Degree Domestic Violence warrant states that on November 3rd Bowen inflicted moderate injury by striking the victim in the face with his hand and by destroying her cell phone so she could not call 911. A 3rd Degree Domestic Violence warrant states that on November 7th Bowen struck the victim about her face and head with his fist. A 3rd Degree Assault and Battery warrant states that on November 7th Bowen struck a male by catching his hand in a garage door, causing a small laceration.

Cash or surety bonds were set totaling $8,587 for the three charges. James Chad Bowen remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

Another Solar Farm for Laurens County

Another solar farm is now being planned for Laurens County. A resolution approved by County Council last week provides for inducements for the project, code-named “Project Lime.” The project proposes a $2,800,000 investment to produce and supply electricity by conversion of solar energy at a site in Laurens County. The resolution allows the county administrator and county attorney and the Executive Director of the Laurens County Economic Corporation, to negotiate the deal. It calls for Fees-in-Lieu-of-Tax (FILOT) benefits, provided the minimum investment of the $2.8 million over a five-year period, with an assessment ratio of 6% for 30 years.

After approving this resolution, council also unanimously approved Ordinance #840 on first reading by title only, which, with final approval, with authorize the FILOT agreement with “Project Lime.”

Laurens Police Chase into Spartanburg County

Laurens Police arrested a man Friday following a police chase out-of-town and into Spartanburg County. 34-year-old Lawrence Ventree Woodruff of 100 Thrift Drive, Fountain Inn was charged with Driving under Suspension and with Failure to Stop for a Blue Light

Warrants citing an investigation of Sgt. Alexander state that on November 17th the defendant was driving a motor vehicle on East Main in Laurens while his driver’s license was suspended. When blue lights and siren signaled him to stop, he allegedly increased the speed of the Lincoln Town Car and drove in a reckless manner to evade police apprehension. The police pursuit reportedly began on East Main in Laurens and continued into Spartanburg County.

Lawrence Woodruff was released Friday on cash or surety bonds totaling $1,647.

Early Morning Pursuit in Clinton

Clinton Public Safety arrested a Green Pond community resident following a police pursuit in the early morning hours Friday. 20-year-old Chris Allen Talbert of 556 Wham Lawn Road, Gray Court was issued a ticket by Officer Gutierrez, charging him with Driving without a License. This offense allegedly occurred at 2:40 Friday morning on West Carolina Avenue in Clinton. A warrant was later served stating that Talbert failed to stop for blue lights by increasing the speed of his vehicle to avoid a law enforcement officer. After spending the day in custody, Chris Talbert was released Friday evening on personal recognizance bonds totaling $1,232.50.

Couple Arrested on Assault Charge, More Charges for Him

A man and woman from the Youngs Community were booked by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Friday on charges of mutual assault Thursday.

34-year-old Jeremy Keith Teague of 587 Young Schoolhouse Road, Gray Court was charged with Domestic Violence 3rd Degree along with Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition by a Person Convicted of a Violent Felony and Filing a False Police Report of a Felony.

The investigation of Deputy Roberson alleges that on November 16th Mr. Teague assaulted his girlfriend by striking her in her side and by putting a cigarette out on her face. He reportedly admitted to having a handgun in his possession Thursday and that he put it in his truck, knowing he was a felon convicted of a violent crime. Mr. Teague is also accused of filing a false police report with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Thursday by calling 911 and reporting his girlfriend had shot him, when she had not.

49-year-old Michelle Lee Goodine, also of 587 Young Schoolhouse Road, Gray Court, was charged with 3rd Degree Domestic Violence, accused of assaulting Mr. Teague Thursday by striking him in the face and cutting his lip, along with scratching his face.

Ms. Goodine was released Saturday on a $2,500 cash or surety bond. Jeremy Keith Teague was released Sunday on bonds totaling $25,000 for the three charges.

Meth Possession

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrested 27-year-old Rebecca Leeann Roberts of 3706 Riverfork Road, Waterloo Friday and charged her with Possession of Less Than One Gram of Meth. Investigator Farrah Cook states that Ms. Roberts had or attempted to possess less than one gram of ice/crack/crack cocaine on Friday at a location on Smith Village Road, Waterloo. With a cash or surety bond set at $5,000, Rebecca Roberts remained in custody this morning.

No Award in Kingsborough VS Sheriff’s Office

The case of Kingsborough vs. Laurens County ended today with a jury verdict coming just before lunch.

The jury found the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office guilty of negligence during the bond hearing of Bennie Brown, but ruled that there was no proof that his release was directly responsible for the murders of Deputy Rodger Rice, and Nicole Kingsborough.

That ruling meant that Minni Kingsborough, as Personal Representative for her deceased daughter Nicole Kingsborough and her estate, would not be eligible for any financial compensation.

The ruling of gross negligence on the part of the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office was due to certain facts being left out in the paperwork presented to the judge during the bond hearing of Benny Brown, which allowed him to be free on personal recognizance.

The plaintiff’s attorneys, Pat Knie and Albert V. Smith of Spartanburg, tried to prove that if Brown had not been let out on a bond, the murder of Nicole Brown and Deputy Rodger Rice would not have happened.

One of the points of the plaintiff was that there was additional information regarding the criminal history of Brown on the public index that was not included in the NCIC  (National Crime Information Center) report, which is the only report that is required to be presented to a judge at a bond hearing.

Attorneys from Chapman, Harter and Harter in Greenville, successfully argued that while Brown was out on bail, Nicole brought their children to visit him, and that she did not show up for the bond hearing, and she also stated on the victim form, when first abused by Brown, that she did not want to press charges.

Jury Deliberates into the Night

No verdict was reached last evening after hours of jury deliberation in the civil case of Mini Kingsborough VS the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

In his final arguments to the jury yesterday, the attorney for plaintiff claimed that the detention center’s employee who escorted Benny Brown to his bond hearing broke the law by not providing everything required to the judge.     He quoted a legal section stating that certain documents, “shall be provided,” and claimed those documents were not sent to the bond hearing, so the law was broken.

That same document was quoted in final arguments from the defense, stressing that it states these shall be provided “If Available.”

The plaintiff’s lawyer again suggested to the jury that judges and employees of the sheriff’s office were all Laurens County Employees, but the defense emphatically stressed that each was a separate entity.

The plaintiff’s attorney stated that in the bond hearing the detention employee “Violated the law and gave it a chance to happen,” referring to the murders of Nicole Kingsborough and Deputy Roger Rice Jr.

The defense brought out in closing arguments that Nicole stated on the victim’s report from an assault by Brown that she did not wish to prosecute him, and noted she had failed to appear at his bond hearing. The defense also pointed out that Nicole Kingsborough brought the children to see Brown, while he was out on bail, before the murders.

The case was brought before the jury after lunch, but after hours of deliberations yesterday afternoon and evening, the jury had not reached a decision by 8:00 last night. The jurors were dismissed, and were instructed to return to the courtroom at 9:00 this morning.

12 Auto Break-Ins Alleged on 2 Men

Two Laurens men now have twelve warrants served on them alleging a series of auto break-ins from last Friday through this past Monday.

23-year-old Keshad Azavier Peake of 59 Paul Street, Laurens and 23-year-old Tyrez Demonte Young of 805 Laurens Terrace Drive, Laurens were arrested Wednesday and initially each was served with four warrants from the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office for alleged break-ins last Saturday. These reportedly involved gasoline thefts or attempts. In these cases, Deputy David Staton states that on November 11th each broke into four vehicles or containers.

Laurens City Police yesterday served eight warrants on Mr. Peake and Mr. Young, charging both men with eight automobile break-ins in the city. These warrants referenced an investigation of Laurens Police Sgt. Doug Jones.

Last Friday, November 10th, they allegedly broke into a blue Hundai on Pinehaven Street and took a brown pocketbook. Saturday, they allegedly broke into a 2009 Dodge Journey on Mill Street and took a purse.

Warrants state they broke into four vehicles Sunday, the 12th. Three of these were at #1 Martha Franks Drive. There, they allegedly broke into a red

Dodge Challenger and took a purse, cash and other valuables, a white Dodge Journey and took prescription medicine and a Chevrolet Cruize. Also Sunday, they allegedly broke into a Chevy SUV on West Farley Avenue and took a duffle bag.

Monday, the 13th, the two men allegedly broke into two more vehicles at Martha Franks. Bank and credit cards were reportedly taken from a GMC Envoy and a drivers’ license, social security card and other bank and credit cards were reportedly removed from a silver Honda.

Keshad Azavier Peake and Tyrez Demonte Young remained in the Laurens County Detention Center a second overnight, awaiting bond hearings regarding their twelve charges from alleged auto break-ins this past Friday through Monday.

Helping Homeless Local Children & Families

A new organization that wants to address the needs of the homeless in Laurens County is asking for local residents to learn about the needs our county faces. Family Promise of Laurens County is hosting an information session for the community at First Methodist Church in Laurens on November 28th. The session will be held from 6:30 to 7pm.

Anyone from Laurens County who is interested in participating in this powerful new initiative is invited to attend to learn more.

The session will begin at 6:30 the evening of the 28th and will be followed from 7:00 to 8:00 that evening with status updates and committee reports.

Family Promise, part of a national non-profit organization, is a program for homeless children and their families. The program’s goal is to stabilize families by repairing credit, helping to develop savings, finding employment, and ultimately finding an affordable place to live.

Last year, nationally, the program served more than 67,000 individuals, with a 74% success rate.

Steve Hobbs, co-chair of the Family Promise of Laurens County board of directors, said “Homelessness has many different faces. We don’t always recognize it in our communities because we have a preconceived idea of what it looks like.”

This information meeting starts at 6:30 Tuesday evening, November 28th at Laurens First United Methodist Church.