CollegeGoal SC is Saturday at PTC

Piedmont Technical College is joining high schools and other colleges across the state to help provide free information and assistance to students and families who are applying for financial aid for postsecondary education.

College Goal SC will be held this coming Saturday, Feb. 25th from 10 a.m. until Noon in the Enrollment Center on the Lex Walters Campus in Greenwood.

PTC Financial Aid Director Missy Perry said “A great amount of financial aid is available each year. Students just need to apply,” She said “The goal of this event is to provide all potential college students and their parents or guardians with free financial aid application assistance close to their homes.”

At this event, participants can receive help completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the school of their choice, even if it’s not Piedmont Tech. The FAFSA is the first step to receiving Federal aid and the second step to post-secondary access, and it is a vital requirement for most college students who plan to pay for college with the assistance of several different types of aids. Participants can also have their questions answered about available grant, scholarship and loan programs.

Perry explained, “A lot of individuals don’t realize how the process works,” adding “We’re here to help.”

More information on filing the FAFSA and answers to other financial aid questions is available by calling (864) 941-8365 or by visiting

Let Me In That Car!

Clinton Public Safety Sgt. Wicker responded to a shoplifting report on the south side of Clinton Friday afternoon. He spoke with a complainant, who said a male and female entered the store and that the female put body wash and bath salts into her handbag. Someone observing this reportedly alerted the store manager, who waited for the suspicious couple to leave the checkout line before confronting them. Upon confrontation, the coupled had allegedly pushed by the complainant and manager and proceeded to their vehicle. The woman then reportedly pushed the complainant against the vehicle, then she jumped into the backseat as her husband drove away. Officer Wicker viewed the surveillance video. No suspect was identified at that time.

Prayer around LDHS Flag Pole

Following last week’s incidents in Laurens District 55 High School, a group of parents & students at LDHS organized a Community Prayer for this morning. The group gathered around a flag ole in front of the school to pray for t he students, staff and school.

Knife at E.B. Morse

A fifth grade student at E.B. Morse was reported as having a knife in her backpack yesterday. Principal Anna Brink investigated the allegation and the student reportedly admitted to being in possession of a kitchen knife, indicating it was because of problems with a neighbor at home. The knife was confiscated and the student will be disciplined according to school and district policy. Principal Brink did a ‘call alert’ to the parents of all E.B. Morse Elementary School students advising them of the incident.

Apparent Attempts to Scam Businesses

Some Laurens businesses have been receiving phone calls that appear to be an attempt to scam the business. The Laurens Commission of Public Works has received such reports of this from local businesses, according to CPW General Manager John Young.
“We’ve had several local businesses call that have received phone calls from people representing themselves as utilities. Now no one has represented themselves as the Laurens CPW person, but they’ve represented themselves as “The City Utilities,” and they’ve represented themselves as Duke Energy and Laurens Electric. They’re asking the person to make a payment because they’re about to be disconnected for non-payment.”

John Young said that the Laurens CPW would not make such a call where someone is about to be disconnected.

“Well we have an automated system that calls customers that are past due. We don’t make an outbound call when they’re about to be disconnected; but when they are past due they receive an automated message from us, and it says basically that their account is past due. They have the option of making a payment, but we just give them a telephone number to call to make that payment to. Or they can go to our website and make the payment from our website.”

Anyone who gets a call saying their service is about to be disconnected and asking for an immediate credit card payment should call the utility who serves you, but don’t give out your credit card number or other banking information they could use to steal from you.

Arson Alleged

An attempt to burn down a residence in the Lanford Community this month was alleged in an arrest last night. 37-year-old Shanna Mae Harlan of 289 Patterson Plant Road, Enoree was charged with 3rd Degree Arson. Sheriff’s Investigator Matt Veal states that on February 7th Ms. Harlan willfully and maliciously set fire to a residence at 310 Patterson Plant Road with intent to destroy it. Shanna Mae Harlan was held overnight, pending arraignment on the 3rd Degree Arson charge today.

Arrest Alleges Burglary

Clinton Public Safety made an arrest last night in connection with a Burglary this month. 38-year-old Melissa Lancaster of 82 Palmetto Street, Clinton is charged with Burglary 2nd Degree, Criminal Conspiracy and with Receiving Stolen Goods. She is accused of unlawfully entering a Peachtree Street dwelling between February 3rd and 15th with intent to commit a crime therein. A second warrant states she conspired with a man to commit the Peachtree Street burglary. A third warrant states that between the 10th and 15th of this month Ms. Lancaster possessed and offered for sale items taken during another Peachtree Street burglary. Melissa Lancaster was being held, pending a bond hearing on her three charges.

Absentee Ballots out Today

Walk-in Absentee Voting begins this Tuesday, February 21st, for the upcoming Municipal Elections in Laurens, Clinton and Cross Hill.

In Laurens, terms are expiring for three City Council positions. Just one is on the ballot with opposition, that’s a three-person race for Council District One. Two seats on the Laurens Commission of Public Works are up for re-election. Two people are running for a District 1 seat and three are seeking election from CPW District 2.

In Clinton, two people are seeking election to City Council seat 5, while three are seeking election to seat 3. In Clinton City Council seat 1, Danny Cook is seeking re-election and the ballot shows him challenged by James Hayes, who has since said he no longer is seeking the seat.

In Cross Hill, Randy Bishop and Bobby Kersey face off for the Mayor’s job, while six people are running for the four available at-large positions on Town Council.

Elections were not required for Gray Court and Waterloo, where two council members are not opposed in each town, and the Waterloo Mayor is also not opposed for re-election.

In Laurens, Clinton and Cross Hill, polls will be open Tuesday, March 7th for the contested positions.

Reasons to Vote Absentee

The Laurens County Election Commission issued a reminder yesterday as to the fifteen reasons which allow someone to cast an absentee ballot, during a period of time prior to the actual election.


  1. Members of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine serving outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them
  2. Persons serving with the American Red Cross or with the United Service Organizations (USO) who are attached to and serving with the Armed Forces outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them
  3. Overseas citizens
  4. Persons who are physically disabled
  5. Students attending school outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them
  6. Persons who for reasons of employment will not be able to vote on election day
  7. Government employees serving outside their county of residence on Election Day and their spouses and dependents residing with them
  8. Persons who plan to be on vacation outside their county of residence on Election Day
  9. Persons serving as a juror in state or federal court on Election Day
  10. Persons admitted to the hospital as emergency patients on Election Day or within a four-day period before the election
  11. Persons with a death or funeral in the family within three days before the election
  12. Persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial
  13. Persons attending sick or physically disabled persons
  14. Certified poll watchers, poll managers, and county election officials working on Election Day
  15. Persons sixty-five years of age or older

Violations of Sex Registry

A Fountain Inn man was charged yesterday with two Violations of the Sex Offender Registry. Laurens County Sheriff’s Sgt. Carter states that 31-year-old Rickey James Gilliam of 305 Boyd Street changed his residence last September 20th and failed to provide written notification within three days, and that he failed to make his annual report to the Sheriff’s Office this year on January 17th. Gilliam remained in custody overnight with cash or surety bonds of $2,000.

Woman on Woman Assault


Laurens City Police yesterday charged a Clinton area woman with an assault on another woman in Laurens this past Sunday. 26-year-old Meagan Renee Wilkes of 376 Bethany Church Road, Clinton was charged with Assault and Battery 3rd Degree. Officer Brewington states that on February 12th Ms. Wilkes started a verbal altercation with the victim then struck her about the face and body with a closed first at 700 Fleming Street. Meagan Renee Wilkes was released yesterday on a $1,000 cash or surety bond.

Probation Violation

South Carolina Pardon, Probation & Parole yesterday charged a Southern Spartanburg County man with Violation of his Probation. Noting an address on Rhodes Drive, north of Enoree, the warrant cited a Georgia report last September as evidence of a probation violation. The warrant notes a new address in Lafayette, Georgia, and states that 28-year-old Randal Scott Gambrell Jr. of 178 Rhodes Drive, Enoree moved last July without notice, leaving his whereabouts unknown. It further states he has failed to make some required payments and has failed to abide by conditions of his release from jail. Randall Scott Gambrell Jr. was being held overnight in the Laurens County Detention Center, pending arraignment.

Officer, Can I Borrow You Gun to Shoot That Man?

Clinton Public Safety reported to an assault complaint at 2:10 yesterday afternoon where a senior citizen claimed that another man had “poked” him with a stick and was walking around the area in an agitated manner. Upon arrival at the South Woodrow Street location, Public Safety Deputy Director Crystal Roberts met with both men. The complainant said he was cleaning his front yard when the suspect approached him in an aggressive manner and threatened to fight him; and that when he started to back away, the subject stuck him in the stomach with a stick and continued to assault him. The elderly man stated that he did not want to press any charges. Injuries were documented.

When the officer spoke with the subject, who appeared to be intoxicated, he allegedly continued to make threats and even asked if he could use the officer’s gun to shoot the complainant. The Officer arrested the apparently drunken man on a Disorderly Conduct Charge.

Videos of School Fights to have “Consequences”

Recording Video of events in school on your cell phone violates school policy. That message was delivered to the student body at Laurens District 55 High School yesterday by District 55 Superintendent Stephen Peters.  Dr. Peters addressed concerns about student conduct and consequences. He first said that the four events which occurred last week involved a very small group of students. He expressed that he is “proud of the 1,590+ students who chose to do the right thing. Peters also indicated to the students that making bad choices would result in consequences. Included in this category were students who recorded the fights on their cell phones, then uploaded the video to social media and/or the news media.

In making this statement yesterday morning, Dr. Peters was notifying the students of his intention to enforce school board policy regarding the acceptable use of WCDs (Wireless Communication Devices). In board policy JCDAG, Student Possession/Use Of Cellular Phones/Communication Devices/Recording Devices, states that “Students are prohibited from using WCDs or RDs [recording devices] to capture, record or transmit the words (i.e. audio) and/or images (i.e. pictures, video) of any student, staff member or other person in the school or while attending a school-related activity without express prior notice and explicit consent for the capture, recording or transmission of such words or images. Using a Wireless Communication Device or Recording Device to take or transmit audio and/or pictures/video of any individual without his or her consent is considered an invasion of privacy and is not permitted,” according to the cited school policy.

A District Office release yesterday that said all District 55 students sign an ‘acceptable use’ policy each year regarding the use of technology and acknowledging their understanding and intent to comply with this policy. Failure to abide by the policy does subject the student to appropriate school consequences.

Accounting Issues with Transferring Funds

Laurens County Council had been making progress in rebuilding its reserve funds over a few years. More recently, increases in expenses have been running ahead of increases in revenue for county operations. As a result, County Council has used money from its Reserve Fund to balance the budget over the past two years. At this week’s County Council meeting, the Administrator advised Council about concerns regarding the accounting methods involved in this use of Reserve Funds. He indicated that auditors have expressed concern about the way money from the Reserve Fund was being transferred to the annual budget. Jon Caime explained changes in the accounting process that were needed for the figures to be properly accounted for.

CPW to Assist Health Care Foundation

The Laurens CPW had two funding requests at their February meeting held this week. Skye Todd  was on hand Monday evening representing  the Laurens County Healthcare Foundation and Calvin Whitmire addressed the Commissioners on behalf of the Bridging the Gap program. Both requests were received for consideration.

Coming back into open session from an executive session later in the evening, the CPW voted to approve a $5,000 contribution to the Laurens County Health Care Foundation. The request for Bridging the Gap was still under advisement.

Ecstasy & Marijuana Possession Alleged

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office made an arrest yesterday on allegations the suspect was in illegal possession of drugs late last month.

19-year-old Mariah Darlene Christian of 239 Happy Valley Road, Fountain Inn was charged with unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance and with Simple Possession of Marijuana. Warrants served on Ms. Christian yesterday allege that she knowingly and intentionally possessed ecstasy as well as 28 grams of less of marijuana on January 26th. Mariah Darlene Christian remained in the Laurens County Detention Center overnight, pending arraignment today.

Thompson Seeks CPW Seat

One of the three candidates seeking to replace Tom Hardy on the Laurens Commission of Public Works issued a statement yesterday regarding his candidacy for the role as a Commissioner. Laurens native Jeffrey M. “Jeff” Thompson indicates he wants to bring “youth, energy, experience and common sense to a utility commission that touches all households in our community.”

Thompson is President of United Community Bank operations in Laurens, Greenwood and Abbeville Counties. As a banker, Jeff noted his successful history of working with and assisting the CPW on various financial matters over the past several years. Thompson said he is committed to ensuring that the CPW adheres to fiscal responsibility, affordable rates, and reliable service, and will loyally advance the best interest of both the CPW and the people of Laurens by practicing public service that is based on impartiality.

He promised to being proven leadership, commitment to service, and dedication to progress in his desire to serve the residents of Laurens as a CPW commissioner.

Jeff Thompson was president of the 1989 graduating class of Laurens District 55 High School and is a 1993 graduate from Presbyterian College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. He is married to

Ruth Pulley Thompson and they have two children.

His community service record includes membership in Laurens Rotary and past service as Chair of the United Way of Laurens County, of the March of Dimes in Laurens and of the local Red Cross chapter. He currently serves as a trustee at Laurens First Baptist Church.

Jeff Thompson is seeking election to a District 2 Seat on the Laurens CPW in the municipal election March 7th.

No-Snow Snowman Contest

We’ve been enjoying much warmer weather than usual for this time of late winter here in Laurens County, yet one symbol of winter remains. Whitten Center has announced the winner of a Snowman Decorating contest held recently on the campus. The Whitten Center Parents’ Club sponsored the  Snowman Contest, noting that with no snow – or winter weather, for that matter  – creativity was a must!  Guest judges included Cedric Frazier, Coach Adam Mims, Alexander Caughman, Robert Baker, and Ben Cheek from the Presbyterian College Football Team.  Residents in Unit 102 received a unit party with ice cream and toppings.

4-Year-Old Dies in Main Street Newberry Wreck

Earlier this week we reported on the alarmingly high traffic death rate here in Laurens County this year. While Newberry County’s roadway fatalities are much less, a victim this week was a 4-year-old. Newberry County Coroner Laura G. Kneece yesterday identified the victim of a car crash in Downtown Newberry as four-year-old child Titiyanna Kessler of Little Mountain, who was pronounced at a local hospital due to injuries sustained in the single-vehicle collision. The wreck reportedly occurred in the 300 block of Main Street in Newberry at 7:15 Tuesday morning.. An autopsy has been ordered to determine cause of death. The coroner indicated that the child was not properly restrained in a child safety seat.