Thomas Mechanical Again in SC Top 25

A Laurens business has, again this year, been ranked as one of the fastest growing companies in South Carolina. Thomas Mechanical placed 19th in the S.C. Top 25 Fastest Growing Companies Awards Luncheon last week in the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

Thomas Mechanical provides a wide range of construction and maintenance services including HVAC, process piping (chilled water, steam, hot water, cooling water, compressed air, gases and chemical), equipment installation, metal fabrication and fire protection (ordinary hazard EFSR, fire pumps, tanks). Thomas Mechanical’s team possesses complete turn-key capabilities including project conception, design (including professional engineer stamped drawings for permitting), construction and commissioning.

Now in its 17th year, the South Carolina 25 Fastest Growing Companies competition recognizes the achievements of top-performing private and publicly owned companies that have contributed to the Palmetto State’s economy through exceptional increases in revenues and employment. The contest was founded to honor the state’s most dynamic businesses and their contributions to our state’s economic vitality.

The S.C. Top 25 Fastest Growing Companies program was presented by the Capital Corporation and co-sponsored by Integrated Media Publishing (publisher of Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly and Charleston Business Magazine), BDSO USSA LLP, PNC Bank, Keenan Suggs, HUB and Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP.

MedTrust Medical Transport was named the #1 Fastest-Growing company in the state for this year. Diesel Laptops came in 2nd, Frampton Construction was 3rd, The Hiring Group was 4th and Clear Touch Interactive, Inc. placed 5th.

At the 19th fastest growing company in the state this year, Thomas Mechanical was listed ahead of other top 25 companies like Clayton Construction Company, Linden Construction and Duke Brands.


ACT Scores for School District 56

The ACT test is a national college admissions exam for testing students in English, math, reading and science. In a report on the results of ACT texting, Laurens County School District 56 notes that South Carolina is one of seventeen states that tests all students when they’re Juniors. The report states that students scored lower this year across the nation and across South Carolina than the previous year’s graduating class.

Students’ mean composite score across the state dropped 4 tenths of a point. Here in District 56, the drop was 3 tenths of a point, with a score of 16.7. The highest possible score would be 36. District 56 had about 30 fewer test-takers in the “Class of 2018” compared to the previous year’s class.

District 56 scores on the English portion of ACT declined 1/10th of a point, compared to 2/10th statewide. District 56 Math scores increased 1/10th of a point, compared to a statewide decline of 4/10ths of a point.


Promoting Healthier Lives

We usually think of Blue Cross Blue Shield as insurance, but the Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina Foundation deals with other health-related matters.

Foundation Executive Director Erika Kirby was in Laurens yesterday updating the Laurens Rotary Club with information on the work the foundation is involved with across South Carolina.

She said that key areas the foundation is involved with include free medical clinics around the state, such as the Good Sheppard Free Medical Clinic here in Laurens County. Kirby said Good Sheppard sees some 1,800 patients a year and is one of 45 clinics across the state that address health needs of some 41,000 residents, providing free health care with an estimated value of about $500 million a year.

Erika Kirby said the foundation also assists Federally Qualified Health Care centers and is also working to improve dental health for South Carolina residents.

She also spoke of the foundation’s concern with the rise of suicide across the country in recent years and said South Carolina has had one of the more significant increases in suicide.

Ms. Kirby said the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation also works with some 30 Eat Smart, Move More programs across the state. One of those is operating here in Laurens County.

She also told about grants the foundation is offering for schools, assisting them as they innovate programs to encourage students to choose healthier foods to eat and to get more physical activity, needed for good health. Here in Laurens County, Ms. Kirby said that School District 56 has won a $25,000 grant to help fund programs to encourage healthier eating and more physical activity by students in all five District 56 Schools.

Council Go-Ahead for CPW Bonds

Laurens City Council this week approved a measure to provide funding for natural gas line replacement. The unanimous vote Tuesday evening was on Ordinance 10-18-01, requested by the Laurens Commission of Public Works. The measure authorizes the CPW to issue up to $3 million of combined utility systems revenue bonds. The upcoming phase of natural gas line replacement is expected to cost about $2 million.


Reading under the Stars Tonight

With the Laurens District 55 Raiders traveling to Anderson this evening to play T.L. Hanna High School, K.C. Hanna stadium at Laurens High is being used for a “Reading Under the Stars” event. Students and families are invited to Reading Under the Stars tonight from 6:30 to 8:30. Admission is free.

The event on the Raider football field is to promote a love of literacy, with families gathering together and reading. District 55 Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Ameca Thomas, said “We hope that this event will decrease screen time and increase quality family time while bonding through books. The theme is ‘Keeping reading alive in Laurens 55.”

In organizing the event, the Department of Teaching and Learning purchased books to giveaway at Reading Under the Stars. The first 55 children in attendance tonight are to receive a new book.

Everyone is encouraged to wear their favorite Raider Gear. Families will need to bring blankets, flashlights (optional), and books. There will be guest readers and activities. People of all ages are welcome. As a family event, adults attending should accompany students.

Backup plans in event of rain are to move “Reading under the Stars” to the commons area of LDHS.

Narcotics & Other Controlled Drugs

Two drug charges were served yesterday following a midday arrest by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office. 20-year-old Z’Carias Ke’Untrioze Stewart of A-2, 201 Reedy Fork Road, Laurens was charged with unauthorized Possession of a Narcotic Drug in Schedule I and Possession of a Controlled Substance from multiple schedules. Mr. Stewart was held overnight in the Laurens County Detention Center, awaiting a bond hearing on the two charges.

Traffic Charges & Held for Warrants

A 51-year-old Gray Court area man was arrested at 10:00 last night near the intersection of Beaverdam and Wallace Lodge Roads on three traffic tickets from Deputy Beau Roberson. The Man was also being held, pending other charges from the Sheriff’s Office.

East Main Gunfire at 2:15 AM

Laurens Police Officer Sherfield arrested a 30-year-old Laurens area man around 2:15 this morning…..issuing a ticket charging the man with Discharging a Firearm in the City Limits in the 700 block of East Main.

Burglaries Saturday & Monday

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office has charged two men with a night-time burglary at one Waterloo address on Monday of this week. One is charged with other property crimes this past weekend. Both were arrested Tuesday.

65-year-old Thomas Myron Parker of 487 Relax Street, Waterloo is charged with Burglary 2nd Degree and with an Enhanced charge of Grand Larceny, citing two or more prior property crime convictions. Deputy David Staton states that on October 15th Parker entered a dwelling at another Relax Street address without consent and with intent to commit a crime therein. There, he allegedly stole fishing gear and other items. With bond denied on both charges, Thomas Myron Parker remained in the Laurens County Detention Center.

28-year-old Douglas Anthony Medlin Jr. of 129 Rosemary Lane, Easley is also charged with those two crimes for the Relax Street burglary Monday but is also charged with two other Burglaries in the Waterloo area last Saturday.

In a 1st Degree Burglary charge and another Grand Larceny warrant, an investigation of Deputy McMahan is cited as indicating that on October 13th Medlin entered a dwelling on Old Oak Tree Road, Waterloo without consent and with intent to commit a crime therein. He reportedly entered at night and took away firearms, ammunition and other items with intent to deprive the owner.

In another 2nd Degree Burglary warrant, Deputy Hildebrandt states that on October 13th Medlin entered a building on Ruth Walker Road, Waterloo without consent and with intent to commit a crime therein.

Mr. Medlin is also charged with two other crimes Saturday. A Receiving Stolen Goods warrant states that he was in possession of property that had been stolen in Georgia. A warrant charging Escape from Custody of Officers states that while under arrest Saturday and being held in the back seat of a patrol vehicle, Medlin somehow managed to open the rear door of that vehicle and escape on foot.

Douglas Anthony Medlin Jr. remained in the Laurens County Detention Center overnight, awaiting a bond hearing on his seven charges.

Nighttime Break-in & Pistol Assault

A night-time home burglary Monday is alleged with five charges served on a Laurens teen. Laurens City Police arrested 18-year-old Shamure Rasheem Foggie of 63 Scott Street, Laurens on Monday, day of the alleged crime. He’s now charged with 1st Degree Burglary, Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature and Possession of a Pistol during a Violent Crime for the alleged break-in and pistol assault. Foggie is also charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor and Simple Possession of Marijuana.

Warrants citing an investigation of Officer Van Pelt state that on October 15th Shamure Rasheem Foggie made entry into a residence in the 500 block of Fleming Street at night-time, with intent to commit a violent felony. At the scene of the burglary, Foggie allegedly struck a victim a single time in the head with a handgun, which could have induced great bodily injury or death of the victim. A third warrant states that the suspect possessed a handgun during the 1st Degree Burglary and the High and Aggravated Assault on Fleming Street.

Foggie was also charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor by allegedly having a juvenile with him during commission of the crimes Monday. He’s also charged with Simple Possession of Marijuana, accused of having it in his possession at his Scott Street residence Monday.

Bond was denied on the 1st Degree Burglary charge during arraignment. Bonds totaling $80,647 were set on the other warrants. Shamure Rasheem Foggie remained in the Laurens County Detention Center.

Preserving West Main House for the Future

A house in Downtown Laurens that has served as home for multiple public service organizations over decades has been set aside for future benefit of the community. Owned by the late John P. Farris Sr., the house at 409 West Main, beside the railroad underpass, has served as headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce and United Way. Since 2010, it’s been the headquarters of the Laurens County Community Foundation.

The foundation recently moved offices into the Clinton Municipal Building. Foundation Executive Director Robin Day said that rather than sell the property, they have transferred ownership to Main Street Laurens.

“What the Community Foundation’s mission is to enrich Laurens County, and we feel that the historical nature of Laurens County is so unique and wonderful to this community that we wanted to make sure that property stayed as a unique, historical place. And not just turn it over for a little bit of money, but really, really enrich the county by these historical properties.”

Main Street Laurens is expected to bring its expertise in preservation to insure the property contributes to the continued development of the thriving historical districts in downtown Laurens.

CHS Parent Conferences Today

Clinton High School is holding Parent Conferences today and tomorrow. Principal Maureen Tiller said students will be dismissed at 12:30 this afternoon. The Parent Conferences will be conducted from 1:00 to 6:00 this afternoon and from 8:00 until 11:30 in the morning.

Contact information for all staff members can be found on the school website. Parents should search through the school directory to locate contact information for the teachers you would like to meet with.

Report cards for the first nine weeks will be distributed to all students on Tuesday, October 23.

Saluting Rotary’s Work

An international organization that promotes peace across the world was recognized this week by Laurens City Council.

Michael Seymour of the Laurens Rotary Club was among those on hand for Tuesday evening’s council meeting to make the request. City Council unanimously approved Resolution 10-18-01, this declaration honoring the Rotary Foundation, a part of Rotary International.

The goal of Rotary is “To provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through our fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.”

Projects supported by Rotary of Laurens include the Back-Pack program, promoting literacy and other local projects. The Laurens club also participates in Rotary International projects, including providing a fresh supply of water to remove Central American villages. This year, Laurens Rotary is also participating in the Youth Exchange program, sending a local teen to Italy for a school year, while hosting an Italian teen, whose attending LDHS this year.


Handgun Just Under the Seat

A warrant alleging a firearms violation was served by Laurens Police yesterday on a man arrested the night before. 28-year-old Noyphoner Lee-Robert Bryson Jr. of 13 Clark Street, Laurens was initially ticketed by Officer Van Pelt for an alleged Open Container violation at 10:55 Tuesday night on East Farley Avenue. A warrant charging Unlawful Carry of a Pistol cites an investigation of Officer Van Pelt as indicating that Mr. Bryson had a black and grey Hi-Point handgun just underneath the driver’s seat where he was seated Tuesday evening on East Farley. Noyphoner Lee-Robert Bryson Jr. was released on bonds totaling $2,257.


Multiple Repeat Offenses

Multiple repeat traffic offenses have been served by Clinton Police, citing violations Tuesday.  45-year-old Randy Lamont Toland of 213 South Bell Street, Clinton is charged with 4th or subsequent offense of Driving under the Influence, with a blood content noted at .16 or more. He’s also charged with 2nd offense Driving under Suspension and 2nd Offense, Habitual Offender. Warrant note Lt. Cathy Anderson as prosecuting officer.

Toland is accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages and/or drugs, and of having three or more prior convictions for DUI. He’s accused of operating a vehicle after having been declared an habitual offender, noting a prior conviction of this offense. Toland is accused of driving Tuesday with his license suspended or revoked. Randy Lamont Toland was released yesterday on bonds totaling $20,000.


Chrissie Cofield Selected as Laurens Police Chief

A new police chief has been selected for Laurens. Following a brief executive session discussion at the October City Council meeting last evening, Mayor John Stankus announced that Chrissie Cofield is being promoted to Chief of Police for the City of Laurens.

Major Cofield served as Assistant Police Chief during the tenure of Chief Sonny Ledda and has been serving as Interim Chief since his recent departure. The formal swearing-in ceremony is to be announced.

Chrissie Cofield has been with the Laurens Police Department since 2014, and assisted in management of the department during the transition several years ago from Chief Morse to Chief Ledda.

Speaking to WLBG about his replacement at the helm of the Laurens Police Department, Ledda said “I’m grateful for having had the opportunity to work with a true professional. Chief Cofield will continue the service-oriented community policing that has been established at the Laurens Police Department.”

More on Fentanyl Death Investigation

Yesterday, WLBG reported on the Monday arrest of a man who was charged with Involuntary Manslaughter from the death of another person this year. 27-year-old Quinton Lashawn Watts of 214 Lurey Street, Laurens was charged with Involuntary Manslaughter for allegedly providing Fentanyl on May 8th that resulted in the death of a victim. Watts was also charged with distributing Fentanyl in undercover operations of the Sheriff’s Office on three dates in September and October.

A Sheriff’s statement released yesterday said a Narcotic Unit began investigating the death of an individual on Warrior Creek Church Road. After investigators learned the victim had died from fentanyl poisoning, they began working to determine where the victim obtained the pills. The sheriff said that during this investigation, the Narcotics Unit made several undercover drug buys from Quinton Lashawn Watts, in which Watts allegedly sold various quantities of pills that contained fentanyl.

In the investigation, officers reported obtaining evidence which linked Mr. Watts to the victim’s death.

Investigators reportedly executed three search warrants on properties associated with Mr. Watts, seizing numerous firearms, a quantity of marijuana, two motorcycles, and various other items of evidentiary value.

Sheriff Don Reynolds said, “I first want to say that our thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s family. Although nothing will ease the pain of losing a loved one, we hope this will bring them some much-needed peace and closure. They lost a loved one because of this poison and they are really hurting. I would ask that everyone respect their privacy during this difficult time.”

The Sheriff added, “These types of cases are extremely difficult to investigate, as well as prosecute, but fortunately we were able to obtain substantial evidence against Mr. Watts and hold him accountable for selling this poison in our community. I’m proud of our investigative team for the work they’ve done, and I’ll continue my commitment to rid this county of anyone selling such poison.”

Update on Economic Development

Piedmont Technical College and the Piedmont Technical College Foundation recently hosted their annual legislative barbecue in Bermuda’s at The Links at Stoney Point. The event helps raise awareness about PTC’s role in economic development and extends gratitude to legislators and other public servants for their support of the college’s mission.

PTC President Dr. Ray Brooks said, “I am happy to report that it’s been a good year. We served more than 6,000 students in nearly 100,000 credit hours of instruction last year through our credit offerings, but that’s only half the story.” Dr. Brooks added, “Last year, in partnership with local business and industry, we also served roughly 6,000 students through our workforce development programs, in more than 150,000 contact hours of training.”

The event, funded by the PTC Foundation, included a social hour and a sit-down barbecue dinner. Legislators and PTC officials discussed the college’s essential function in the region, South Carolina’s current economic status and how the college is partnering with counties throughout the region to strengthen economic development efforts.

Dr. Brooks said, “We have worked in close partnership with readySC™, Apprenticeship Carolina™ and local economic developers to leverage our strength in credit and non-credit training into real jobs and real opportunity for people all over the region.” He added, “We’re thrilled with the new announcements from companies like Teijin, and we’re committed every day to delivering the training our existing industries need to be successful ― from Self Regional Healthcare to Prysmian to ZF Transmissions.”

For the first time, this year’s event included participation from members of The Cornerstone Society, an association of Foundation friends who support the college through estate planning and other means. To qualify for Cornerstone Society membership, benefactors give estate-facilitated gifts totaling $25,000 or more. The group used the occasion to award an induction plaque to its newest member, Lorraine Angelino, the contracts management coordinator at Self Regional Healthcare.

Bench Warrants from 2 Courts

A man facing Kidnapping, Assault and multiple firearm charges in Greenville was booked in Laurens County yesterday from missed opportunities for court appearances here.

21-year-old Steven Carlos Aguilar of 426 Wilson Bridge Road, Simpsonville was served with two Bench Warrants from Laurens County General Sessions Criminal Court. They state he failed to make an initial appearance June 22nd to face Laurens County charges of Receiving Stolen Goods and Failure to Stop for a Blue Light. A third bench warrant from Laurens County Magistrate’s Court states Aguilar failed to appear in court July 2nd and was convicted of Petit Larceny in his absence.

Greenville County Detention sent a detainer to Laurens County for Mr. Aguilar to be transferred there, once released from Laurens County. Greenville courts set bonds totaling $30,000 bonds on five charges, from Kidnapping and 1st Degree Assault to multiple firearm violations.

Plastic Bag with Crystal-Type Substance

Clinton Police yesterday charged a local man with a drug violation in town last Friday. 40-year-old James Elliot “Jamie” Clark II of 517 Little Acres Road, Clinton is charged with Possession of Less than One Gram of Meth. A warrant citing an investigation of Sgt. Harris states that on April 12th on Highway 56 on the north side of town, near the Pilot Station, Clark had a plastic bag containing a quantity of crystal-type substance weighing less than one gram in his possession. “Jamie” Clark II was released from the Laurens County Detention Center on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond.