Sex with Six-Year-Old Alleged

Sexual activity with a child was alleged of a Laurens resident yesterday. Sgt. Sellers of Laurens Police arrested 19-year-old Arthur Lee Smith of Marion Street, Laurens. Smith has been served a warrant charging him with Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor.

He is accused of engaging in penetrating intercourse with a six-year-old minor in 2020 between March 1st and December 25th at a location in Laurens.

Arthur Lee Smith remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting a bond hearing on his criminal sexual conduct charge.

Assault on Woman and Her Car Alleged

Charges were served yesterday from an alleged assault on a woman and her car one month ago. The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office charged 25-year-old Malcom Issiah Robinson of Kathy’s Drive, Clinton with 2nd Degree Domestic Violence and Malicious Damage to Personal Property.

Robinson is accused of pushing the victim multiple times and spitting on her. He is also accused of kicking the driver’s side door of her vehicle during the incident on the 11th of December 2020.

Malcolm Robinson remained in the Johnson Detention Center earlier this morning, awaiting a bond hearing on his two warrants.

Wanted by Family Court

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday booked a man wanted by Laurens County Family Court. 37-year-old Gene Adam Watson of Furman Street, Enoree was served a Family Court Bench Warrant citing him with Failure to Pay. It states that as of December 5th, 2019 he had not made a support payment since September 4th of 2015. Gene Adam Watson remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, awaiting an appearance in Family Court.

COVID Convalescent Unit for Laurens County Hospital

Prisma Health is planning to open a Convalescent Unit at the Laurens County Hospital next Monday, January 18th. In a statement to WLBG  News yesterday, Prisma noted, “In some instances, we are shifting personnel to hospitals that are more greatly affected by the surge. In other instances, such as at Laurens County Hospital, we are working to open a COVID-19 step-down unit so that we can move recovering patients out of acute care beds and into more appropriate step-down beds, thus opening the other beds for sicker patients.”

Prisma noted that this new unit, as approved by DHEC, will have 15 beds initially and will be supported by a combination of staffing provided by the S.C. Emergency Management Division and medics from the S.C. National Guard, who will supplement their nursing staff. “Four medics are currently assigned to that unit.”

Prisma Health advised WLBG that medics have already been working elsewhere in the Prisma Health system, noting they were used earlier in the Midlands to help with drive–thru testing.

Despite the COVID-19 surge since the holidays and its effect on tightening hospital capacity, Prisma Health states its using the system’s size and scale to adjust beds, staffing and other resources in order to continue to meet patient needs in all of the communities the system serves.

Prisma Health notes it’s also working with DHEC and other partners to prepare for future expansion of vaccines to the broader community. Prisma Health noted that as of January 7th, Prisma had vaccinated 15,966 healthcare workers and first responders at sites across its 21-county market area, working to create herd immunity to the coronavirus. The statement added, “We are currently evaluating new vaccination sites to accommodate the increased volume when the eligibility is expanded by DHEC.”

Since the pandemic began, Prisma Health notes it has served almost half a million patients (489,874) through telehealth virtual visits, 369,402 in the Upstate. The statement urges the public to help flatten the curve by social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands often.

District 55 Called Meeting to Discuss the Health Crisis

The Laurens County District 55 School Board has a called meeting set for tomorrow evening. The agenda calls for discussion of school operations during the current community health crisis. The meeting begins at 5:30 pm Wednesday in the district office. The meeting is to be broadcast via You Tube link, available on the District 55 website and on the Laurens County District 55 Facebook page.

Early Childhood Registration Today – Thursday

In spite of moving all District 55 schools to eLearning this week, District 55 is moving forward with early childhood school registration today, Tomorrow and Thursday.

District 55 encourages parents preparing to send children to early childhood school in the 2021 – 2022 school year to register the child at the appropriate school. You can learn the school your child is zoned for online at:

To register your child, you must have the child’s Birth Certificate from the Health Department. (not the hospital) You must also bring the Child’s Immunization Record and, eligible, their Medicaid Card.

Student who must be registered include:

  1. Students who will be attending half-day kindergarten for 3-year-olds. Space is limited for this due, in part, to COVID-19 related restrictions.
  2. Students who will be attending whole-day or half-day kindergarten for 4-year-olds.
  3. Students who will be attending whole-day kindergarten for 5-year-olds.
  4. Students who will be attending District 55 schools for the first time.

Students much reach the age of the class by September 21st, 2021.

Early Childhood Registration is going on today and tomorrow from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. Registration continues this Thursday from 8:30 am until 2:00 pm and again Thursday evening from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

CPW Meet Online Last Night

With the recent increase in COVID cases in our area, the Laurens Commission of Public Works held their monthly meeting for January through an internet connection last night. General Manager John Young reported to the commissioners that the CPW office remains closed. Since the arrival of the pandemic, the drive-through window has been used for expanded purposes. As to when the office may reopen, Young advised the commission last night, “We will continue monitoring information to determine a safe opening date.”  Meanwhile, utilities continue to be provided.

John Young announced last evening a program to help develop engineers for the future. He announced that the CPW is partnering with Laurens District 55 High School through which the CPW hires some temporary interns. These are students who are on an engineering tract.

Exposure at the H.T. Dollar General

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday charged an upstate man with two alleged sex-related crimes in Hickory Tavern. 30-year-old Andrew Michael Green of Traxler Avenue Williamson is facing two counts of Indecent Exposure. Warrants citing investigation of Deputy Kanipe allege incidents on January 4th and back on October 11th. In both cases, involving different victims, Mr. Green is accused of intentionally exposing his private parts to a victim as he attempted sexual gratification while sitting in his vehicle at the Dollar General Store on Highway 76 West. Andrew Green was released on personal recognizance bonds totaling $6,000.

Grand Larceny – Auto

Grand Larceny charges were served yesterday on a man arrested Sunday for Clinton Police. 21-year-old Russell Lee Ivester Jr. of Fred Street, Clinton is accused of taking a 2009 Dodge Journey, valued at $5,500 back on November 8th. The theft is alleged to have occurred from a Clinton address on Peachtree Street.

A $1,000 personal recognizance bond was set on the Grand Larceny charge from Clinton Police, but Russell Lee Ivester Jr. remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning, held for a Youthful Offender Violation case from the South Carolina Department of Corrections, issued last November.

2nd Degree Assault and Battery

A Christmas Assault was alleged with a Laurens County Sheriff’s Office warrant served yesterday. 34-year-old Thomas Darlington Todd III of Todd Avenue, Laurens was charged with Assault and Battery 2nd Degree. A warrant citing the investigation of Deputy W. Summers Jr. states that on December 25th, 2020 in Laurens County, Mr. Todd intentionally committed battery upon a victim by striking him upon the body and head with his fist. This reportedly caused the victim to seek medical attention that required several stitches. The victim also reportedly sustained two broken teeth.

Thomas Todd was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

Failure to Return Car

Failure to return a borrowed vehicle was alleged with a Laurens County Sheriff’s arrest yesterday. 37-year-old Trisha Ann Tipton-Abuzahri of Hellams Road, Gray Court was served a warrant charging Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent. Citing an investigation of Deputy Crocker, it states that on December 5, 2020 Trisha Ann Tipton committed Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent of between $2,000 and $10,000 in that she borrowed a 2004 Nissan Murano from a victim with his permission. She then deprived the victim by intentionally not bringing the vehicle back when told to do so.

She remained in custody earlier today, awaiting a bond hearing.

Theft of Cell Phone

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday charged 25-year-old Tony Ray Sherfield Jr. of Peachtree Street, Clinton with Petit Larceny. He is accused of taking a cell phone belonging to someone else from a location on West Carolina Avenue in Clinton. Mr. Sherfield was held overnight, awaiting a bond hearing.

E-Learning Continues in District 55

Laurens County School District #55 will continue with eLearning this week. The district originally planned to return to face-to-face instruction today, after delaying a return from the winter holiday due to increasing impact of COVID-19 during the holiday. The delay for return to class cites a high percentage of people having positive tests – noted at 30% of all tested.

Superintendent, Dr. Ameca Thomas, said, “After consulting with local officials, the Board of Trustees, district staff, and teachers, we have determined that we must continue on eLearning. The rate of spread of COVID-19 is too high for us to add to the risk of this community.” Rising cases were reported in staff, including a shortage of bus drivers and substitutes.

District 55 noted over 720 new cases have been reported across Laurens County with 107 new cases in one day. That new record high occurred on January 7th.

Superintendent Thomas apologized to parents and student for the late notice, saying they wanted and expected to have students back on campus today, as of close of business Friday. She added, “We appreciate local community leaders reaching out to us and the ongoing discussions with that leadership. We value the opportunity to collaborate and cooperate in the best interests of the broader community, but we will continue our efforts to bring students back on campus as soon as possible.”

District 55’s Student Nutrition Services will continue to provide curbside meal pickup daily at all schools from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. during eLearning. A hot meal will be provided daily along with breakfast for the next morning. All children 18 years of age and younger may get meals at no cost. Parents can pick up meals for multiple students. Students do not have to be present in the car but parents will need to provide the names of students for whom the meals are being picked up.

District 55 will re-evaluate the situation this Thursday to determine plans for the following week. Administration notes that parents, staff and students should make plans for eLearning environments until there is a decline in the number of new cases. They note that the seven-day average for positive cases during the summer reached a peak at 29.71 last July. The most recent seven-day average for positive cases is 59.29 during this month.

Firefighter Laid to Rest with Honors

A long serving firefighter with the Gray Court Area Fire Department was laid to rest yesterday afternoon. 74-year-old Mr. Willie Allen Jones passed away on January 4th.  His funeral yesterday brought a large crowd to graveside services at Pleasant View Baptist Church in Gray Court.  Representatives from fire departments across the Upstate were on hand to honor a fellow firefighter for more than 35 years of service to his community.

A MedTrans medical helicopter conducted an over flight of the cemetery and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard folded and presented the flag that had draped the coffin of Mr. Jones in honor of his service.

Assault Allegedly Striking Head Near Sutures


Jamie Leigh Ann Davis

A Cross Hill woman remained in custody through the weekend following a Sheriff’s office arrest Friday from alleged assaults in early December. 26-year-old Jamie Leigh Ann Davis of Puckett Ferry Road is facing 1st and 3rd Degree charges of Assault and Battery.

In warrants citing an investigation of Deputy Lowe, Davis is accused of intentionally committing battery on her father on Puckett Ferry Road December 2nd, allegedly striking him in the head near the suture from a recent surgery. He was transported to an ER for treatment of injuries that the warrant states could have caused great bodily injury or death.

The 3rd Degree assault warrant alleges that on the same day Ms. Davis grabbed a juvenile victim by her legs and arms, attempting to drag her out of a bed in the residence, and picking her up around her stomach area, pulling her through the residence.

Cash or surety bonds were set at $20,000 on the 1st Degree Assault and Battery warrant an $1,087.50 for the alleged 3rd Degree Assault.

Accessory After Burglary, Possession Stolen Firearms

Matthew Scott Fields


Being an accessory after a 1st Degree Burglary in late 2020 was alleged with a Sheriff’s Office arrest Friday. 22-year-old Matthew Scott Fields of the 2,000 address-range on Abercrombie Road, Fountain Inn is charged with Receiving Stolen Goods and Accessory After the Fact to a Felony.

Deputy Sheriff James Kanipe states that on December 28th Mr. Fields was in possession of stolen firearms, valued between $2,000 and $10,000, having reason to know they were stolen.  Fields is further accused of rendering assistance to a felon, knowing that the felon had committed the felony of 1st Degree Burglary. This assistance was allegedly with the intent to assist the felon to avoid the consequences of the crime.

Matthew Scott Fields was released Saturday afternoon on posting cash or surety bonds totaling $20,000.

Petit Larceny Saturday Night

Laurens Police jailed a man and woman early Sunday on Petit Larceny charges. Officer Baza-Norato issued tickets at 11:51 Saturday night in the 900 block of East Main charge Petit Larceny on the two. 37-year-old Ronald Brett Williamson of Chick Street, Clinton was given a $500 personal recognizance bond, but remained in custody this morning, with a hold for Probation. 30-year-old Sara Elizabeth Nygard of Sherwood Drive, Laurens remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning with a cash or surety bond set at $500.

2nd Degree Domestic Violence

Andrea Holbrooks Rice


A domestic altercation was alleged with the Friday arrest of 37-year-old Andrea Holbrooks Rice of an apartment at 900 Church Street, Laurens. A 2nd Degree Domestic Violence warrant accuses her of striking her husband in the face Friday during an argument in front of their children. Andrea Rice was released Sunday on a $10,000 cash or surety bond.

Damage to Car During Argument

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday arrested a man for alleged damage to a car owned by another man during an argument with his girlfriend. 20-year-old Jacob Ray Lawson of the 14,000 address-range on US 221, Enoree was charged with Malicious Damage.

Mr. Lawson is accused of doing damage valued at $2,000 or less to personal property of another man by punching the other man’s car, causing damage. This reportedly occurred during an argument with his girlfriend.

Jacob Lawson was released later yesterday on a $2,125 personal recognizance bond.

Acquiring Land for the New Clinton Library

Last spring and summer preparations were being made concerning a new library in Clinton that required passage of the Capital Projects Sales Tax Referendum by voters. At that time, the City of Clinton committed to provide the land for a new library.

With the passage of the referendum in November Clinton City Council unanimously and enthusiastically approved a resolution to exercise the option they had acquired to purchase property at 304 West Pitts Street during their January meeting on Monday evening.