Grand Larceny of Jewelry 

Laurens Police arrested a woman from the Sandy Springs Community yesterday on allegations of jewelry theft from a residence in town last month. 40-year-old Michael Elizabeth Wilbanks Cox of 7315 Highway 308, Laurens was charged with Grand Larceny.

Ms. Cox was issued other charges with her arrest. Sgt. Alexander issued tickets charging her with Driving under Suspension and Improper Display of Tag at 7:43 yesterday morning on Green Street. In a Grand Larceny warrant served yesterday, Laurens Police Detective Gallo states that between January 1st and 30th of this year Ms. Cox carried away jewelry and other items from a residence on West Farley Avenue in Laurens.

Michael Elizabeth Wilbanks Cox was released yesterday afternoon after posting cash or surety bonds including $20,000 on the Grand Larceny warrant and $879 on the two citations.

Stolen Vehicle in Laurens

A Greenville woman has been charged with having possession of a vehicle in Laurens that had been stolen from Greenville County. Laurens Police yesterday charged 29-year-old Amanda Lafathe Messer of 1201 Cedar Lane Road, Greenville with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle and Possession of Stolen Goods along with Resisting Arrest and Public Intoxication.

Warrants citing the investigation of Officer Sherfield allege that on June 23rd 2018 Ms. Messer was at 922 East Main in Laurens in possession of a white 2005 Ford Ranger that had been stolen in Greenville County and that she was in possession of a stolen license plate. She was also allegedly under the influence of an illegal drug in public. Messer is further accused of Resisting Arrest by running away on foot from a lawful traffic stop at 922 East Main last June 23rd.

Amanda Messer was being held overnight, awaiting arraignment on her four charges.

So Much for that Idea!

Local governments across South Carolina have complained about state government not providing them with funds that were supposed to be returned to the local entities. This week, Laird Minor of the South Carolina Public Interest Foundation addressed Laurens County Council regarding the “Shortchanging of state funds to municipalities.” There had been a desire to file suit against the state to obtain the money owed to the local governments. This week, Mr. Laird advised County Council that a recent ruling would make that impossible.

Domestic Assault

A 45-year-old Clinton area man was arrested yesterday on a charge of assaulting his wife Wednesday. He is accused of pushing her, causing her to hit her arm, and of punching a hole in the wall, causing her to fear for her life. The husband was later released on a $2,500 surety bond.

Tell the Truth!

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 36-year-old Joanna woman last evening for her alleged lack of truthfulness with a Deputy. She was issued a ticket charging her with Giving False Information to Law Enforcement at 6:40 last evening on Wright Street in the Wattsville Community, and was being held overnight, awaiting arraignment.

Not Gone for Long

41-year-old Josh Ruben Kane of 205 Lury Street, Laurens was released yesterday from Johnson Detention Center. He was returned this morning. Laurens Police Officer Willard issued a ticket charging Kane with Assault and Battery at his residence at 10 minutes after midnight this morning. He was waiting for a bond hearing on this latest charge.

3rd Charged in February 6 Armed Robbery


A third teenage male has been charged in connection with the February 6th Armed Robbery of the Pavan Food Store at 502 North Harper Street. Laurens Police yesterday arrested 17-year-old Brandon Rashad Thompson of 37 Cemetery Street, Laurens and charged him with Criminal Conspiracy, Armed Robbery and Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime.

Officer J.C. Brewington states that on February 6th Thompson conspired with two other individuals to commit the crime of Armed Robbery and that he had in his possession and pointed a hand gun while committing the crime of robbery at the Mr. Chip at 502 North Broad Street. Thompson is accused of having and pointing a silver handgun while committing the crime of Armed Robbery February 6th.

Bond was denied on the Armed Robbery charge. Cash or surety bonds were set totaling $50,000 on the Possession of a Weapon in a Crime and Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery charges.

Another Strong-Armed Robbery Attempt

Laurens Police are investigating a Strong-Armed Robbery attempt at the Laurens Walmart’s gas station this week. Officers were dispatched to the Murphy Gas Station on East Main at 6:41 Monday evening. A police report indicates that an employee of the store told police that someone he didn’t know had attempted to rob him. The subject was described as a black male wearing dark clothing and a black stocking hat. The subject reportedly came to the clerk’s window asking for a small amount of gasoline, then attempted to grab money from the cash drawer. The subject then reportedly ran from the Murphy store toward the nearby Sonic Drive-In.

The police report notes the similarity of this week’s Attempted Strong- Armed Robbery with a previous attempt at the Murphy Station. The employee indicated he was not working during the previous incident, so he could not say if this was the same individual.

In this week’s incident, the subject reportedly grabbed the employee by the arm during the attempt. The report indicates the suspect did not get any money.

“Vision 2040” Focus on Lake Greenwood

A multi-county organization is actively promoting plans for positive development of the Lake Greenwood environs. Recently, one of the people working with “Preserve Lake Greenwood” brought this issue into the campaign for State House Seat 14. Republican candidate Grant Blair made the lake the primary focus of his campaign.

Lake Greenwood is also one of the areas Laurens County Administrator Jon Caime has addressed with “Vison 2040.” Outlining goals for Lake Greenwood was one of the two concerns he highlighted at this week’s County Council meeting.

Also participating in that discussion Tuesday evening was Laurens County Parks and Recreation Director Andy Howard. He presented County Council with a proposal for development of a County Park on the lake. Howard told council that he wants to see a Laurens County Park on the Laurens County side of Lake Greenwood, providing county residents with an approved swimming area along with enough parking for swimmers plus restrooms and shaded picnic areas. He said he wants the park to have enough land to provide a buffer between it and nearby private homes. Andy Howard suggested the ideal size for this Laurens County park would be between ten and thirty acres.

County Council took no action during this week’s meeting on this part of the Vision 2040 plan.

Gray Court to Connect New Water Lines Monday

The Town of Gray Court has announced that water service will be interrupted this coming Monday for a period of some 6 to 8 hours. This is due to new water lines being connected. In notices sent out yesterday, Mayor John R. Carter said the outage is due to new water line connections.

The Water Improvement Project has been replacing 2,460 feet of six-inch water lines in Gray Court along with 285 feet of two-inch water lines. Four fire hydrants are being installed. Water for some twenty-four services is being reconnected Monday. The work is focusing on Ropp Street, Church Street, West Mill Street, Central Street and Stone Street. 2,600 square yards of roadway is being resurfaced because of the water line replacements.

This Water Improvement project is funded with a $250,000 grant from the South Carolina R.I.A. and another $50,000 from Laurens County C-Funds. The waterline replacement project requires an 11% local match, with the Town of Gray Court investing $33,000 of local money in the project.

Benfield Welcomed to PTC Foundation

The Piedmont Technical College (PTC) Foundation recently welcomed Justin Matthew Benfield to its board of directors. Benfield is chief operating officer for the southern region at Prisma Health – Upstate, formerly Greenville Health System. He is based at Laurens County Hospital, overseeing Prisma Health’s operations at the Laurens County Medical Campus as well as physician practices and outpatient services in Laurens, Abbeville, Newberry and Greenwood counties.

Regarding the new board member, PTC Foundation’s Board Chair, Jeff Field, said “As Piedmont Technical College continues to grow its nursing and other health care programs, we are particularly excited to welcome someone with Justin’s extensive health care background to our Board.” He added, “It is obvious that Justin cares about our community, and we look forward to working with him to bring educational opportunity and economic prosperity to the region we serve.”

Benfield earned his bachelor’s degree in health care management from Southern Illinois University–Carbondale and a master’s degree in business administration with a focus in health care from Southern Wesleyan University. His record of service on governing boards includes board membership with the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce and he’s on the Executive Committee with the Laurens County Development Corporation. Justin Benfield also served on the Laurens County Future Scholarship and the United Way of Laurens County. He and his family are members of Buncombe Street United Methodist Church in Greenville.

Regarding his new duties, Benfield said, “I am honored to serve on the Board of the PTC Foundation. It is truly exciting to serve the Foundation at a time when the college is growing so robustly and enrollment is on the rise. During my time on the Board, I pledge my commitment to sustaining that growth for future generations.”


1st Degree Domestic Assault

A warrant charging1st Degree Domestic Violence was served yesterday on a man Laurens Police arrested Tuesday. 27-year-old Mitchell Eugene Dixon of 107 Hilldale Avenue, Laurens is accused of a Tuesday assault on a woman with whom he has lived for approximately one year in an amorous relationship. At his residence Tuesday he is accused of violently shoving the victim to the floor, causing her to fall and created circumstances that reasonably caused her to fear imminent peril. Dixon is further accused of breaking the victim’s cell phone during the incident, which prevented her from calling law enforcement. He is further accused of physically restraining her, keeping her from leaving the residence. With a $20,000 cash or surety bond set during arraignment yesterday, Mitchell Eugene Dixon remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.


Probation Violation

State Probation and Parole yesterday served a Violation of Probation charge on a Gray Court resident. 32-year-old Sierra Dawn Braswell of 9 Sweet Briar Road, Gray Court remained in custody this morning, with a cash or surety bond on her charge set at $50,000.

Bench Warrant

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday jailed a man on multiple Bench Warrants from Laurens County General Sessions Court. 32-year-old Direon Aikeem Conner of 28941 Highway 76 East, Kinards is being held for disposition of one case of 2nd Degree Burglary noted in a Bench Warrant from August of last year and with three other Bench Warrants from February, 2018 regarding his charges of Unlawful Carrying of a Pistol, Possession of Less than One Gram of Crank or Crack Cocaine 2nd Offense, and one Simple Possession of Marijuana.

Multiple Folks Face Contempt of Family Court

Four people were placed in Laurens County Detention yesterday on behalf of Family Court. Those served with charges of Contempt of Court included a

58-year-old Woodruff man, a 52-year-old Greenville woman and a 37-year-old Clinton man. Meanwhile, a 35-year-old Clinton man was served with six Bench Warrants citing him with Contempt of Family Court.

So, No One Stole Your Pills?

Giving false information to police was alleged with a Laurens Police arrest yesterday. 57-year-old Jacqueline Annette Smith of 532 Rosemont Circle, Waterloo was charged with Filing a False Report of a Felony, accused of filing a false police report of a felony January 29th that someone has taken medication and $5 worth of coins from her pocketbook in her vehicle parked at Walmart. She was held overnight, awaiting a bond hearing.

Saving the Historic Courthouse

Vision 2040 was on the agenda again at Laurens County Council last evening. In this installment on planning for the future, County Administrator Jon Caime discussed goals for Lake Greenwood and the Historic Laurens County Courthouse.

Outlining the importance of preserving the historic courthouse building and restoring it to its former beauty included a Power Point presentation from Scott Simmons of Craig, Gaulden, Davis Architects. Simmons said the courthouse contains approximately 14,000 gross square feet of conditioned areas, and the building’s overall condition was described as “fair,” for a building that’s 180 years old.

Simmons cited “careless” renovations and additions in the 1970s that he said caused roof damage and he gave a lengthy list of needed repairs and renovations. He said the most urgent need is for emergency lighting with a fire alarm system along with roofing and waterproofing. Other recommendations are a new elevator and preservation for the exterior of the building. These points and others were noted in an assessment report of 16 pages that was presented to County Council.

Jon Caime told Council that if there were a fire over a weekend, with no alarm system, we could lose the entire building. He also said we need to stabilize this Historic Courthouse to keep its condition from getting worse.

Caime said the Historic Courthouse is one of three projects facing County Council. The others are a new EMS Headquarters facility, which is at a standstill and the renovations at Hillcrest Square which are now underway.

County Council approved $700,000 for renovations of the Historic Courthouse, with David Pitts and Diane Anderson opposed. They suggested a bond issue and commissioning the Historic Courthouse renovation along with current renovations at Hillcrest Square and moving forward on the EMS Headquarters is one package.

Administrator Caime responded, indicating that because of the uncertainty about the EMS Headquarters project he can’t request a bond issuance now, adding “But if we don’t do something for the courthouse, it will get worse.” He said the $700.000, for now is for the first phase at the Historic Courthouse, to stabilize the structure, provide fire protection and repair roof leaks.

As for Mrs. Anderson’s concern about doing the projects haphazardly, Caimey indicated he can’t ask Council to borrow if we have reserve funds to cover the immediate needs at the historic courthouse. As for David Pitt’s idea of handling all three issues in a complete project, Jon Caime said that breaking the concerns into three phases, one should not disqualify the next phase, noting each would build on the other.

Laurens County Parks and Recreation Director Andy Howard proposed a County Park on Lake Greenwood, as part of Vision 2014 for the Laurens County side of the lake. We’ll have more on that on tomorrow’s news.

Q & A with Republican Seat 14 House Candidates

South Carolina is one of only two states which allows its legislature to elect judges. At Mike Pitt’s Forum with Republican Candidates for House Seat 14 Monday night, Pitts said there has been discussion in the legislature that suggest we change to either electing our judges by popular vote or with a system like the federal system, where the Governor would appoint judges with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Only Grant Blair said that he’d lean toward selecting judges by popular vote. The rest did not express interest in changing. Michael Seymour said he saw no need to change the way we select judges. “The way that we’re doing it now seems to work.  Unless there’s a public outcry to change it, I wouldn’t see the need to.”

Mike Pitts asked the candidates what “Constitution Firearms Carry” and do the candidates support that in South Carolina. All stated their support for “Constitutional Firearms Carry. Stewart Jones said it this way: “People have a natural right to defend themselves against tyranny…… against government and that’s ultimately what Constitutional carry means.  It means you shouldn’t have to be permitted by a state.”

Pitts asked if the candidates would support moving public employees to a private pension system, such as a 401K. All four noted that private systems seemed to weather the last recession better than publicly managed systems, indicating they’re at least willing to look at a private system. Scott Horne said it this way:

” Each individual should be responsible for their own retirement.  The state now is years behind the manufacturing companies.  They did that.  They did that years ago.”

Mike Pitts asked if a candidate should be required to release their personal income information to the public. Most said “no.” Michael Seymour said, “I don’t know that anybody should be forced to divulge every detail of their lives to run for public office.  If somebody wants to know where my money comes from, it’s really simple, I’ll tell you, but I don’t know that that’s necessary.” Scott Horne did not have an issue with it: “I don’t see a problem with the transparency.  They’ve got to trust that where my money is coming from, then I’m not gonna do anything that’s totally off the wall just so I can get a little more money from somebody else so if I’m a public servant I have no problem being transparent.”

CPW Assisting Local Health Care Foundation

At Monday night’s Laurens Commission of Public Works Meeting, a unanimous vote by commission members enabled a $5,000 donation to the Laurens County Health Care Foundation which will make them a gold sponsor for the 8th Annual Sporting Clay Classic on Thursday March 21, at the Clinton House. This is the eighth year that the commission has been a gold sponsor for that event, which raises money the Laurens County Health Care Foundation uses to support providing health care to Laurens County residents through a variety of entities.

Having Stolen Pickup & Stealing Weed Eaters

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday arrested a Greenwood man on charges that he received a stolen pickup and that he stole two weed eaters last month. 20-year-old Austin Lee Frady of 235 Florida Avenue, Greenwood was charged with Receiving Stolen Goods and Petit Larceny. Lt. Haupfear states that on January 19th Frady received a 1994 GMC truck valued at $1,600 knowing or having reason to know that it was stolen and, on the same day. took two weed eaters valued at $400 from another victim.