District 56 School Board Updated on Cash Flow

A financial overview of the school year at a time where expenses run ahead of income was given during the November meeting of the Laurens County School District 56 Board of Trustees last night. During the meeting, held in Eastside Elementary School off Springdale Drive, District 56 Director of Finance Lynn Lawson provided the board with a financial snapshot as of November 12th.

At first glance, the report seems to be bad news. When comparing expenses to revenue so far in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, District 56 is operating at a $2.4 million dollar shortfall. But, once again Mr. Lawson advised the Trustees they should not let that number upset them. What seems to be significant deficit, he said, is actually just the nature of cash flow in a school district. He explained that District 56 has incurred significant expense already and that most of the expected revenue for this school year will come later.

A majority of local tax revenue as well as fee in lieu of tax funds will be coming in during the next two months. The financial picture will be much brighter at the board’s next scheduled meeting in late January of 2020, Lawson said.

Two Executive Session Legal Discussions for Clinton City Council

More closed-door discussions about PMPA are set for tomorrow morning. A Special, Called Meeting is set for 8:00 Wednesday morning for Clinton City Council. Two items are on the agenda for Executive Session discussion. These are noted as one legal matter relating to PMPA and the second is stated simply as “one legal matter.”

The city-owned utility systems of Clinton, Laurens and eight other Upstate cities are having discussions about the way fixed costs of the Catawba Nuclear Station near Charlotte should be shared between the ten cities who own a part of the reactor, through the Piedmont Municipal Power Authority.

Rock Hill and Greer utilities, which are the two biggest systems in the PMPA, have been trying to change the formula for sharing the base costs apportioned to the PMPA. Smaller utilities such as Laurens and Newberry have opposed the plan.

Clinton City Council chambers are upstairs in the M.S. Bailey Municipal Building.

Laurens County Airport to Revise Airport Layout Plan

Laurens County Parks and Recreation Director Andy Howard addressed Laurens County Council last week on behalf of the Airport Commission. Council unanimously approved a request from the commission to spend up to $24,000 from the airport budget to update the airport layout plan that’s been in place since January, 2005.

Mr. Howard told council that many needs have changed in subsequent years, including a need for hanger space and work on an apron area to handle planes. He said there are also updates needed for the terminal and to be able to supply Jet-A fuel at the local airport.

LCDC Management Graduates from Economic Development Course

Laurens County Development Corporation (LCDC) Executive Director, Jonathan Coleman, and Assistant Director, Lynn Finley, graduated from the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute on October 24the at the school’s fall session held in Denver, Colorado.

This was an intensive 117-hour certificate program which provides a broad spectrum of advanced education for the economic development professional.  Mary Ann Moon, Dean of the school, said, “OU EDI is the premier organization dedicated to training economic development professionals.  These graduates represent some of the finest economic development practitioners in the U.S. working to support their local communities.  My congratulations to them.”

The classes focus on three major core areas including: Business Retention and Expansion, Real Estate, and Credit Analysis, as well as areas of concentration in Marketing, Strategic Planning, Entrepreneurship, and Managing Economic Development Organizations. Students typically take 1-2 years to complete the program through a series of intensive in-person or online courses.

OU EDI began in 1962 and is celebrating its 57th year of service to the economic development community.  Fully accredited by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the program has certified more than 5,500 professionals and remains the world’s leading economic development teacher.

Red Ribbon Week at L.M.S.

During “Red Ribbon Week” last month, several Laurens Middle School students were awarded prizes. To be eligible for the prizes, the students had to have signed and turned in their Drug-Free pledge cards. Laurens Middle School Counselor Kimberly Dunlap awarded prizes to Rosalinda Estaban, Maryah Hernandez, Dillon Ecalavea, Cayden Fiddie and Sheili Lemus-Gomez!

Punching Woman in Eye Charged

Punching a woman in the eye was one of the charges served on a Clinton man yesterday. Laurens County Sheriff’s Sgt. Noble arrested 35-year-old Tyrone Davis of 154 Fuller Road, Clinton.

Davis was served with a Bench Warrant which called for his arrest, noting he was convicted July 18th of this year on a charge of Driving under Suspension of his license.

The Sheriff’s Office also served a warrant charging Mr. Davis with committing a 3rd Degree Assault and Battery this month. This warrant accuses him of punching a woman in her eye, causing minor bodily injury on November 9th. Tyrone Davis was to have a bond hearing for the Assault and Battery charge, but also was being held regarding his DUS conviction this past summer.

Baby Killed as 3 Pedestrians Were Struck Sunday Evening

A baby was killed Sunday evening as she was one of a group of pedestrians struck by a pickup truck on Bellview Church Road east of Laurens. Laurens County Deputy Coroner Robin Morse identified the deceased as 17-month-old Ay’Vah Tierani Samuel of 2030 Penland Drive, Laurens. The baby was reportedly in a stroller with some eight young people walking from the County Park near the airport back home. Most were her older siblings. A15-year-old older brother and a 20-year-old female from Woodruff were also struck in the Sunday evening incident and taken to Laurens County Hospital by EMS, but they did not appear to have life threatening injuries. At least five other people were reportedly in the group walking along the roadway.

After an autopsy this morning on the child, Deputy Coroner Morse said Ay’Vah Tierana Samuel died of blunt force trauma to the head. He indicated the fatality occurred at 5:48 Sunday evening on Bellview Church Road.

Trooper Joe Hovis of the Highway Patrol said that the victims were struck by a Dodge pickup truck which was westbound on Bellview Church Road when it struck three of the group of people walking along the road. Trooper Hovis said 33-year-old Adrian Daniel Brown of Laurens was arrested in connection with the incident. He was jailed with charges including one count of Leaving the Scene with Death and two counts of Leaving the Scene with Injury. Brown was also being charged with Driving under Suspension.

In addition to the Coroner’s office and the Highway Patrol, this fatality was also being investigated by a SLED Child Fatality Unit.


Patrol Looking for Driver in Fatal Enoree Hit-and-Run

One man was killed in a hit-and-run incident in Southern Spartanburg County early Sunday morning. Trooper Joe Hovis of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said this occurred at approximately 1:06 am December 17th on Parker Road in Enoree. He said a pedestrian was crossing Parker Road when he was struck by a vehicle that was traveling East on Parker Road. Hovis said the vehicle left the scene after striking the pedestrian.

According to Fox Carolina, the Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office identified the man who was killed as Kyle Burch of Racetrack Road, Woodruff.

In addition to the Coroner’s Office, the Trooper said this fatal Enoree Hit-and-Run remains under investigation of the South Carolina Highway Patrol, using its MAIT team. Trooper Hovis asked that anyone who has any information about this collision to please contact the Highway Patrol (864) 241-1000.

2nd Murder Suspect Now Held Here

Murder and Attempted Robbery charges have been served by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office on a second suspect in a fatal shooting near Clinton on November 4th. We reported Friday that the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office had arrested a second suspect wanted by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office in connection with the fatal shooting of 34-year-old Miguel Gutierrez-Mendoza of Clinton, who died at Laurens County Hospital that Monday morning following a shooting at his residence around 2:00 am.

29-year-old Travis Lee Tukes of 1304 West Whitner Street, Anderson was transported to Laurens County Friday and booked in the Johnson Detention Center around 11:00 am. He’s now charged with Murder, Attempted Robbery and Possession of a Weapon during a Violent Crime.

Warrants allege that Travis Tukes attempted to take money from the victim November 4th and caused his death by shooting him in the lower body with a handgun, at the victim’s residence, 18,772 Highway 72, Clinton.

Bond was denied for Travis Tukes during arraignment. He remains in the Johnson Detention Center.

Another resident of that Highway 72 address was charged with Murder later on the day of the fatal shooting.

Two Charged with Possession of a Stolen Car

Two Greenville residents were arrested in Laurens this weekend after allegedly being found at the Laurens Walmart in possession of a stolen vehicle. 22-year-old Naheem Terell Herring and 22-year-old Brandon Edward Plyes, both of the same address on Furman Hall Road, Greenville, have been charged with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle.

Warrants cite an investigation of Laurens Police Sgt. Billy Sellers in stating that they were found in possession of a 2010 white Mazda CX-9 Saturday that had been stolen in Greenville County. They were booked early Saturday afternoon on the charge. Cash or surety bonds for each was set at $5,000. Herring and Pyles remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Arrest Alleges Child Cruelty

Use of a belt on a child that left bruises several days later was alleged with an arrest late yesterday. The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office booked 32-year-old Damon Lee Darnell of the 3900-address-range on Highway 308, Clinton around 7:30 last night and charged him with Cruelty to Children. He’s accused of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to a minor child by striking the child on the legs and buttocks with a belt, leaving bruising on the child several days later. This alleged act was described as beyond discipline and unnecessary. Damon Darnell was held overnight, awaiting a bond hearing.

Assault Last Tuesday Alleged with Sunday Morning Arrest

Clinton Police arrested a local man this weekend following a domestic incident in town last week. 43-year-old Michael Christopher Keith of 1321 South Broad Street, Clinton was arrested by Sgt Mercer and was booked into the Johnson Detention Center around 2:00 o’clock Sunday morning. He is accused of grabbing the victim slinging her on a chair as well as striking her several times in the face, causing her nose to bleed. The was also noted the November 12th incident caused physical manifestation of injuries. Mr. Keith was released later yesterday on a $2,000 personal recognizance bond.

PTC Area Commission Meets Tuesday at 5:30 pm

The Piedmont Technical College Area Commission will hold its regular monthly meeting tomorrow. It’s set for 5:30 pm Tuesday in room 222-A of the John S. Coleman Administrative Building on the main campus in Greenwood.

Library Event Rescheduled for Saturday

The Laurens County Library has rescheduled the Library’s American Girl Program from last Thursday, November 14th, when the Laurens Library closed early due to lack of heat. The annual American Girl Party is now set for 10:00 o’clock this Saturday morning, November 23rd.

This year the program is centered on Blaire Wilson – a chef, decorator, chicken wrangler, and this year’s Girl of the Year. Blaire’s story teaches the

importance of staying connected, being creative, and finding balance between technology and real-life connections.

Youth Services Coordinator Caitlin Bellinger said, “This year we’ll be planting mustard seeds.”  This seed starter garden will be planted with vegetables and herbs that can be transplanted to a bigger garden once they reach maturity. Bellinger thanked Verdin’s Too “for eagerly donating soil, seeds, and plants for this program.”

This program will also feature an old favorite – BINGO! Plants donated by Verdin’s Too and books will be given away as prizes and light refreshments will be served. Children of all ages and their caregivers are welcome – as well as their dolls and stuffed friends.

Historical fiction, biographies, films, and other educational materials available through your library provide an entertaining approach to American history that engages young students. In addition to history, the books and materials highlight relevant social issues, provide advice on growing up, and emphasize essential themes such as family, friendship, and ethics.

More information on library parenting resources for both parents and grandparents are available with a call to the Laurens Public Library at (864) 681-7323 or with a visit to www.lcpl.org


Friday Night High School Football Scores


Byrnes 41 – Laurens 12 Laurens. The Raiders end their season with a 9-2 overall record and 7-0 in Region I-AAAAA which gave them the region championship. Congratulations to the Raiders on a great season!


Lamar 64 – Ware Shoals 0. Congratulation’s to the Hornets on reaching the second round of the playoffs!


If you would like to see this Friday nights high school football scores by classification and also the standings by classification, click here.

Please not that this link usually updates itself by early Saturday morning unless there are weather delays. If you click on it and it still shows last weeks scores, please check back a little later.

2nd Arrest for Murder from November 4th Shooting


A second man has been arrested in connection with a fatal shooting near Clinton. 34-year-old Miguel Gutierrez-Mendoza died at Laurens County Hospital from gunshot injuries following a shooting at his home, 18772 Highway 72 East, Clinton. Multiple gunshots were reported in the 2:00 am shooting November 4th. The Sheriff’s Office notes that another resident of that address, Osvaldo Antonio Flores, was arrested on scene without incident and charged with Murder.

The Sheriff says that as a result of an ongoing investigation into the fatal November 4th shooting, a second suspect was arrested yesterday in Anderson by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.  The Anderson County Detention Center was holding 29-year-old Travis Lee Tukes of Anderson overnight, awaiting his transport to Laurens County’s Johnson Detention Center. The Sheriff states that Mr. Tukes is to be charged with Murder and Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime.

1st Degree Assault & Battery Warrant cites Knife with Threats


A Clinton man has been charged with use of a knife to threaten another person. Clinton Police Officer Galloway yesterday arrested 58-year-old Robert Earl Bellue of the 800 block of North Sloan Street and charged him with Assault and Battery in the 1st Degree. Mr. Bellue is accused of an attempt to injure the victim by means likely to produce death of bodily injury. Wednesday at his residence, he allegedly displayed a knife, threatening to kill the victim while in close proximity to the victim. During arraignment yesterday, a cash or surety bond on the 1st Degree Assault and Battery charge was set at $30,000. Robert Earl Bellue remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

County Approves Study of Office Space Needs

A professional study of office needs for both the Sheriff’s and Coroner’s Offices is now approved. The study is to also address storage of evidence in Sheriff’s investigations. The evidence is now having to be protected from water leaking into the old detention center Downtown Laurens, adjacent to the Sheriff’s office on West Main. The idea of having a professional analysis of the office space needs was one of the matters discussed by the Laurens County Council on Public Works Tuesday afternoon. At the full council meeting that night, Council narrowly accepted the committee’s recommendation to conduct the study of office space needs. Council Member Joe Wood objected to the idea, saying, “Why spend money we don’t have on something we don’t need.” Council Member Jeff Carroll indicated the county needs expert advice to help determine what is needed.  Having the study done was approved with council members Wood, McDaniel and Younts voting no.

Right-of-Way Granted for Swamp Rabbit Loop Trail

The first part of the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Laurens County moved one step closer this week as Laurens County Council unanimously approved providing right of way on county property in the professional park. A loop trail in the Professional Park near the Laurens County Hospital is nearing the start of construction. Laurens County Parks and Recreations Director Andy Howard advised council that at this point, there will be no cost for the county. Prisma Health, which operates Laurens County Hospital, is assisting with this first section of the Swamp Rabbit for Laurens County.

Update on Patrol Vehicle Replacement Policy

Laurens County Council received an update on a long-range Capitol plan this week regarding Sheriff’s Office Vehicles. In presenting the update Tuesday evening, County Administrator Jon Caime noted that Sheriff’s patrol vehicles should be replaced before they have reached usage of 200,000 miles. Camie noted that the original five-year plan leading up to 2023 indicated 62 vehicles would need to be replaced. He indicated the number is now greatly reduced.

Caime explained for WLBG that due to other local governments replacing vehicles before that mileage, Laurens County has been able to purchase some pre-used patrol vehicles still in good shape to reduce costs of vehicle purchases.