District 56 School Updated on ZF Apprenticeships

At last night’s meeting of the Laurens County School District 56 Board of Trustees, Jim Shelton of ZF Transmissions provided a status report for their apprenticeship program.  The program is a partnership between ZF, Laurens County School Districts 55 and 56 and Piedmont Technical College. Shelton explained that their ideal candidate for apprenticeship is a good student who is proficient in basic skills such as math, reading comprehension and who enjoys working with their hands.  A student who successfully completes the program will earn an associate degree issued by Piedmont Tech, an apprenticeship certificate from the SC Department of Labor, an international apprenticeship certificate issue by the German-American Chamber of Commerce and a preferred slot to interview for a very well-paying job.

Shelton provided some examples of what he meant by well-paying.  He said the successful apprentice could expect to start at an annual salary of around $60,000.  After a few years that salary could be expected to be in the $70,000 to $85,000 per year range.

He said the constant push for students to earn a college degree had created a shortage of technically proficient workers for companies such as ZF.  That gap, he said, could be filled by young people who would stay here as a part of their home community, earn a very good wage and contribute to the local economy.

The apprenticeship program at ZF has 10 students involved:  1 from Ware Shoals High School, 3 from Laurens District High School and 6 from Clinton High School.  He said they had just added two more bringing the total to 12.  The program will look to bring students into the program as they transition from the 10th to the 11th grade and when fully implemented will graduate 16 students every year.

Mr. Shelton also pointed out that ZF was already making a significant impact on the local economy.  He said that recently there was big news about Volvo locating a manufacturing facility in the Charleston area.  That factory, he said, represented a $500 million investment.  ZF, on the other hand, represents an investment of $1.5 billion….three times the cost of the Volvo plant.  And, he pointed out that buying a new Volvo would very likely include purchasing a ZF transmission.

Dealing with Emergencies in School District 55

District 55 School Board members were briefed last night on two recent incidents with students. Superintendent Dr. Stephen Peters said one of the two recent incidents involved a student bringing a gun to school. Another consisted of two female E.B. Morse Elementary students walking off campus. They were found nearly an hour later near Laurens City Park.

Dr. Peters said “Thank goodness for students and parents who partner with us, and as a result, we came through that situation with flying colors.” Peters told the board that he would always be transparent in reporting incidents such as this to the parents and community. He said that as a result of these incidents, “I wanted to conduct grade level assemblies to the high school students myself, starting with the seniors.” Peters said that the very next day University of South Carolina President Dr. Harris Pastides spoke to the juniors and seniors, and he said “Students were on their very best behavior.”

Dr. Peters also reported to the board his meetings with the Student Representative Council, saying “This is one of my favorite things to do… to meet with the student representatives of each school, and in the two meetings that I have had thus far, they tell me everything that is happening in our school and a lot of the information is very helpful to me.”

Administrative Services Director Edward Murry advised the District 55 Trustees last night that drills will be held November 7th to provide training for emergency situations in school. He said more drills will be held in the spring. Murry said District 55 will be having more drills than are required by the State.

Counterfeit Money & .38 Revolver

Counterfeit money and bags of apparent counterfeit meth were reportedly discovered following a police chase last night from Laurens County into Newberry County.

Laurens County Deputy McClain reported he was patrolling Milton Road, Joanna at 9:16 pm when he met a car without headlights on. As he turned around and approached, the Kia reportedly sped away. Deputy McLain pursued the Kia out Milton Road and then left on Bush River Road. The chase reportedly continued some eight miles, crossing Highway 560 into Newberry County, before the driver reportedly pulled the car off the road and drove behind his parent’s house.

The driver eventually exited the car and was advised he was under arrest. He was placed in the Johnson Detention Center and held overnight, pending charges.


In the car officers reportedly found a large amount of counterfeit money, including $20s and $50s. Plastic bags containing a white crystal substance were located that appeared similar to meth, but was determined to be another substance. These items were seized, along with a .38 caliber revolver and a few rounds. A marijuana cigarette was also confiscated.

State Traffic Deaths Up, Local Improved

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety announced yesterday that we had 12 fatalities on our state’s highways this past weekend. This brings the state highway death count to 803 for 2016, up from 792 at this time in 2015. The weekend fatalities included a fatal motorcycle wreck near Lake Greenwood here in Laurens County Saturday night. That brings our local highway fatalities to 14, down from 16 this time last year and from 18 this time in 2014.

Of our state’s 803 deaths to date for 2016, 513 were in motor vehicles, while 117 were on a motorcycle, compared to 123 motorcycle fatalities last year. We have 115 pedestrian fatalities, up from 97 last year. And we have 20 bicycle deaths on state roadways, up from 15 this time last year.

Chastain Honored by State Sheriff’s Assn

Laurens County Sheriff Ricky Chastain was recently recognized by the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association for his service to Laurens County at a luncheon following their quarterly business meeting.  Sheriff Chastain was presented with a certificate and a retired sheriff’s badge in honor of his sixteen years of service as the chief law enforcement of Laurens County by SCSA President Sheriff Mike Hunt of Aiken County.


Sheriff Chastain said he was grateful for having had the opportunity to serve the citizens of Laurens County for twenty-seven years and especially for the sixteen years they had given him as their sheriff.  Sheriff Chastain said when he was elected he made a commitment to the voters that he would aggressively work to arrest and prosecute those dealing illegal drugs and he feels that he has accomplished that. He said that his office has been a leader in the state in the number of arrests made for illegal drug violations. “I’m very proud of the men and women who have worked with me and the partnerships we have forged with other agencies.   Together we have made a difference and our stats prove it.” Chastain said.  “When others may sit idly by and say there isn’t a problem my deputies and our law enforcement partners are out in the field making a difference for our communities.”

Chastain said there are so many things he is proud to have seen accomplished over his years as sheriff that he couldn’t possibly name them all but just a few are being the first in the state to utilize department-wide body cameras for patrol deputies, establishing a GED program for inmates to help reduce recidivism, starting the Christmas for Kids Program which has raised over $200,000.00 in funds and merchandise that has assisted over 15,000 children and implementing Project Lifesaver to assist families of loved ones with Alzheimer’s.  Sheriff Chastain said the list of accomplishments and technological advancements his staff has achieved to better the lives of the citizens of Laurens County is something he will be forever proud of.  “I could not have asked for a better staff, county council or county administration to work with,” Chastain said. “When we all work together we can achieve much.”

Pictured left to right: Jarrod Bruder, Executive Director of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association; Sheriff Ricky Chastain, Laurens County; Sheriff Mike Hunt, President – South Carolina Sheriff’s Association

Auto Break-In Alleged

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday made an arrest regarding an alleged vehicle break-in earlier this month. 19-year-old Wesley Dillon Deyton of 3616 Milam Road, Clinton was charged with Breaking Into a Motor Vehicle. Deputy Staton alleges that on October 11th Wesley Deyton broke into a vehicle with intent to steal. Mr. Deyton was being held overnight, pending a bond hearing today.

Probation Violation

South Carolina Probation yesterday charged 24-year-old Michael Keith Sneak of 101 Rainbow Road, Fountain Inn with Violation of Probation.

He is accused of failing to report recent detention for a Meth Possession charge and Bench Warrants from Duncan. He’s also accused of various failures from not having gainful employment to not performing community service and attending counseling. Moving without knowledge of his agent, there by absconding supervision, was also alleged. Michael Keith Sneak was being held overnight in the Laurens County Detention Center, pending arraignment.

Church Bus Damaged in Break-In

Deputy Adam Galloway was dispatched to Smyrna AME Church on Todd Quarter’s Road, Waterloo at 1:42 Sunday afternoon to investigate a break-in on the church’s van. He reported observing damage to the van’s ignition. The van had reportedly last been used last Wednesday. The van’s break-in was discovered when some ladies went to get the van for a trip. A partial finger print was noted on sunglasses found inside the bus. While nothing was reported stolen, things were scattered inside the van.

Work Truck Taken from Unlocked Gate

Sheriff’s Sgt. Jimmy Jones was dispatched yesterday to investigate the theft of a work truck from 2300 Quarry Road, Gray Court. He was advised the truck had been left inside a fence with a gate Friday afternoon. Keys were left in the truck and the gate unlocked. The stolen GMC truck was estimated at $3,500.

Burglary, Becomes Armed with Deadly Weapon

The Sheriff’s Office arrested a woman Friday evening in connection with a home burglary last Thursday. 25-year-old Barbara Ann Splawn of 154 Babb Circle, Gray Court was charged with Burglary 1st Degree and Grand Larceny. Lt. Keith McIntosh states that on October 20th Ms Splawn entered a dwelling at 491 Chapman Road, Fountain Inn with intent to commit a crime therein and that after entry she became armed with a deadly weapon. She then allegedly took away firearms and electronics valued in excess of $2,000 with intent to deprive the owner. Cash or surety bonds were set totaling $25,000 on the two charges. Barbara Ann Splawn remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Two Arrested Re: Meth Lab on Beagle Drive

Two men were arrested at the alleged scene of a Clinton meth lab Friday. The Sheriff’s Office charged 34-year-old Brian Eugene Knox of 187 Beagle Drive, Clinton and 30-year-old Gregory Lamar Cullen of 162 Cypress Street, Clinton with Manufacturing Methamphetamine, Unlawful Disposal of Meth Waste and Possession of Less than One Gram of Meth.

Deputy Jonathan Brown states that on October 21st Knox and Cullen had items used in the manufacture of methamphetamine in their possession at 187 Beagle Drive, Clinton, that they unlawfully disposed of meth waste at that location and that they knowingly possessed less than one gram of meth.

Brian Knox, of the Beagle Drive location, was also charged with Unlawful Conduct towards a Child. Deputy Brown stated that Brian Knox placed a minor child at unreasonable risk of harm on October 21st and that he is the child’s parent or guardian with custody and/or charge of the child.

No bond was set for any of the four charges this weekend for Brian Eugene Knox or for the three charges Gregory Lamar Cullen. Both remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Fatal Motorcycle Crash Saturday Night

A motorcycle crash in Laurens County Saturday evening claimed the life of a Greenville man. Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols told WLBG the crash occurred on US221/SC72 near Ridgewood Cove, about ¼ mile from Lake Greenwood when a  2004 Harley-Davidson motorcycle heading south towards Greenwood left the right side of the roadway and struck a guard rail.

54-year-old Jeff Lindley of 53 Duke Street in Greenville was pronounced dead at the scene.  The time of death was listed as 9:45 PM.

Crash on US 25 and SC 252

Laurens County Fire responded to a wreck with entrapment just after 9:40 Saturday night, according to WYFF4.com.  The Highway Patrol indicated the wreck occurred at or near the Highway 252 and US 25 intersections outside Ware Shoals. A victim was flown to Greenville for treatment. WYFF indicated firefighters reported it took a half hour to free the victim.

Three Arrested on Crack Cocaine Charges

Clinton Public Safety arrested three men around 3:00 AM Friday morning on charges that included Possession of Crack Cocaine. Warrants served on each stated they were in possession of than one gram of a white rock-type substance believed to be crack cocaine on Airport Road in Clinton Friday.

51-year-old William George Martin Jr. of 121 East Bluford Street, Clinton was charged with a 3rd Offense. His warrant stated that he has two prior convictions for Distribution of Crack Cocaine. William G. Martin Jr. was released Friday afternoon on a $3,000 cash or surety bond.

In addition to the Crack Possession warrant, 41-year-old David Leon Reeder from an apartment at 111 North Bell Street, Clinton was also charged with Resisting Arrest, accused of opposing his lawful arrest.  David Leon “Big Baby” Reeder remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning with cash or surety bonds totaling $4,000.

49-year-old Stanley Bernard Hill of 4421 Mountville Road, Mountville was just charged with a Possession of Crack warrant. Stanley Bernard Hill was released Friday on a $2,000 PR bond.

 Meth & Weapons Possession Charged

A man arrested Thursday for alleged drug violations that day was charged Friday with illegal drug activity both Thursday and earlier this month.

35-year-old Emilio Ramos Hinojos Jr. of 979 Cooks Bridge Road, Fountain Inn was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute, with Possession of Diazepam, a Schedule IV Controlled Substance and with Possession of a Weapon during a Violent Crime. These warrants allege actions Thursday, the 20th of October. He was also charged with Distributing Meth on October 12th.

Bond was denied on all four charges. Emilio Ramon Hinojos Jr. remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

Drug Charges from 2:00 AM Sunday

A Drug Distribution charge was forthcoming after an early Sunday morning arrest by Clinton Public Safety. 32-year-old Daniel Allen Owens of 708 Charlotte’s Road, Clinton was initially served with a Ticket from Officer Gandee charging him with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia at 2:14 Sunday morning on East Main Street. A warrant was served later Sunday that states Owens had approximately two grams of meth in his possession with intent to distribute. While a $262.50 Personal Recognizance bond was set on the paraphernalia charge, Daniel Allen Owens remained in custody earlier today with a $75,000 cash or surety bond on the Possession with Intent to Distribute warrant.

Lewd Assault Alleged

The Sheriff’s Office arrested a Clinton man Friday on charges from an alleged lewd assault last month. 32-year-old Clayton Scott Taylor of 38 Whip-o-Will Drive, Clinton was charged with Assault and Battery 1st Degree. A warrant states that between September 23rd and 24th Taylor intentionally committed battery on a victim by touching her on three places of her body with lewd intent. A $25,000 cash or surety bond was set on the 1st Degree Assault and Battery charge. Clayton Scott Taylor was also served with a Bench Warrant which cites a conviction for Domestic Violence 3rd Degree with a sentence of 30 days or $2,294. He remained in custody.

Three Drug Charges Sunday

Laurens City Police yesterday arrested a man on three drug charges. 25-year-old Jacob Randall Hart of 161 Alamo Trail, Laurens was served with a warrant charging Possession of Meth. It states he had less than one gram in his possession on East Farley Sunday morning. Sgt. Doug Jones initially issued tickets charging Hart with Simple Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia at 3:31 Sunday morning on East Farley near South Harper. Cash or surety bonds on the three charges were set totaling $6,115. Jacob Randall Hart was also served with a Bench Warrant on a previous Driving under Suspension conviction in Laurens Municipal Court with a sentence of 30 days or $647.

Marijuana Distribution Alleged

Fountain Inn Police arrested a man for allegedly distributing marijuana in town Friday. 18-year-old Santerrious Jamar Johnson of 3200 Grandview Drive, Unit 192, Simpsonville was accused of distributing, dispensing or delivering a quantity of green plant-like material October 21st in the Laurens County area of Fountain Inn. This field tested positive as marijuana. Officer Joshua Peden stated the marijuana weighed .9 gram. Santerrious Jamar Johnson remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning with a $20,000 cash or surety bond.

Strong Armed Robbery

Laurens City Police made an arrest early Sunday morning from an alleged theft this past summer. 35-year-old Stephen Elroy Rhodes II of 501 Browning Avenue, Joanna was charged with Strong Armed Robbery as well as Driving under Suspension.

Sgt. James Nolan states that Mr. Rhodes committed strong armed robbery by alleging threats by actions or words unless the victim gave him the victim’s property during an incident at 800 Spring Street on July 20th.

While a $647 personal recognizance bond was set on the Driving under Suspension charge, Stephen Elroy Rhodes II remained in custody this morning with a $25,000 cash or surety bond on the Strong Armed Robbery charge.