Retraining for 2nd Career in Public Service

While Piedmont Technical College is known for training Laurens County residents for new, high-tech jobs, the school also has programs for people interested in public service positions. P.T.C. recently noted an example of “Finding a Career for a Compassionate Heart.”

After an eight-year stint in the Navy, Sandy Webb worked as a machine operator at Avery Dennison for 22 years until the unthinkable happened.

“I was riding out the rest of my time,” she said. “I was ready to retire.”

But she didn’t have that opportunity because her job was relocated and she was left wondering what she would do next. “My job went overseas,” said Webb. “So, I had the opportunity at the age of 52 to come back to school, which I never thought I’d do.”

She wasn’t sure where that path would take her or if she was up to the challenge, but she set out to get a degree from Piedmont Technical College.

“I’ve always been the type of person who cared about other people,” said Webb. “I realize that people have a story. Everybody goes through something in life. I was just at that point in my life where it was time to get off of a machine and deal more with people.”

It was that sentiment that led Webb to pursue a career in human services. She got to work in the program and quickly found that she received all of the assistance she would need to excel.  “The hardest thing about coming back to school was my age,” said Webb. “I graduated from high school in 1980. The fear of being older and in class with all of the younger people was overwhelming. I didn’t even know how to study. But once I got here, everybody helped me.” She added, “I wasn’t thrown to the wolves.”

Webb graduated from the human service program in May 2016. By the time she graduated, an internship she had participated in had turned into a full-time job—outreach coordinator for the Laurens County Safe Home.

If It Seems Too Good to Be True….

A Laurens man was suspicious this week when he received an unsolicited check for $2,000. He phoned Laurens Police late yesterday morning to report receiving a US Postal Service Priority Mail Envelope from an apparently out-of-town credit union. It contained a $2,000 check made out to him. He said he took the check to the bank, where he was advised that the check was fake. Sensing this was a scam, he turned the envelope and check over to police.

Another Theft from an Unlocked Car

Another Theft from an unlocked car was reported to Laurens Police this week. Officers were called to the Ingle’s Parking Lot Sunday afternoon, where a vehicle owner said he had left car unlocked and when he returned he found his paperwork scattered throughout the vehicle, and his vehicle registration and insurance cards missing. The part of the parking lot he parked in was reportedly out of view of the store’s surveillance cameras.

Response to 4 Fatality Wreck

Students gathered outside Union County High School early yesterday morning to remember three teens killed Sunday in a crash south of Laurens. WYFF4 reported yesterday that local pastors in the Union area led students in prayer before school began. The Union County High School community lost three members in the 3-vehicle crash about 11:30 Sunday morning a few miles south of Laurens on Highway 221 just south of New Prospect Baptist Church.

WYFF reported receiving a statement from the Union County School Superintendent about the tragic wreck Sunday morning, saying “It is never easy losing a member of your school family and the effects will be felt across our entire community.” Union County High School had counselors and community mentors available yesterday.

The three Union youth, ages 15, 16 and 18, were in a north bound pickup Sunday morning that the Highway Patrol indicated apparently swerved into the southbound lane and fatally crashed with first one, then a second vehicle.

Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols identified the 4th victim, who was driving the 1st vehicle struck head-on by the pickup, as 54-year-old Bruce Blair of 167 Cedar Grove Church Road, Laurens. The Highway Patrol identified another Laurens man as the driver of the 2nd vehicle struck by the pickup. He was transported to Greenwood for treatment.

Sunday morning’s wreck with four fatalities brings the Laurens County highway fatality count for the year to 5, as of the 4th of February. That’s the same number of fatalities as we had the same date last year.

While Union County lost four teens in the wreck here, Union is one of five nearby counties with no fatalities for the year, as of February 4th. The others are Abbeville, Greenwood, Saluda and Newberry. Statewide, we’ve had 69 traffic fatalities as of Sunday night at midnight. That’s down from 97 this date last year. The 69 deaths include 56 motor vehicle occupants, 7 pedestrians, 2 motorcyclists and 2 bicyclists.

“High & Aggravated Assault” Cites Knife

A Sunday assault on a Joanna man was alleged in a warrant served yesterday, following a Sunday arrest. The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office charged 70-year-old Johnny William Peak of 11001 Highway 56 North, Clinton with Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature. He is accused of committing an assault on the victim Sunday, the assault being deemed aggravated in that he allegedly pulled a knife on the victim during an argument. Johnny William Peake was released yesterday on posting a $10,000 cash or surety bond.

Multiple Charges

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrested a local man on multiple traffic charges last night, that included being a Habitual Offender. 56-year-old Willie Murry Crisp of 64 Deep Drive, Laurens was issued tickets by Deputy Sheriff Jared Atwood, charging him with Driving under Suspension of his license and with being an Habitual Offender for Driving under Suspension, at 8:42 last night on North Harper and Watts Street, Laurens. Additional citations were issued also charging Use of a Vehicle Tag from Another Vehicle and Operating an Uninsured Vehicle. Mr. Crisp was being held overnight in the Laurens County Detention Center, awaiting arraignment on the charges.

Unlawful Calls to 911

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office made an arrest yesterday afternoon from alleged unlawful calls to the Laurens County Central Dispatch. 60-year-old St. Clair Louis Edwin Joseph Locke III of 34 Pete Street, Waterloo was charged with Unlawful Use of 911. A ticket was issued by Laurens County Deputy Adam Galloway for the alleged violation yesterday at 2:28 pm. Mr. Locke was being held overnight in the Laurens County Detention Center, awaiting a bond hearing.

Funds Up $1,000,000 at District 55

The Laurens County School District 55 Board of Trustees received audit results for the 2016/2017 fiscal year, noting a million dollar increase in funds. Chief Financial Officer, Rodney Smith presented the results at the Waterloo Elementary meeting site January 22nd.

An audit prepared by McKinley, Cooper & Co., LLC expressed “an unmodified opinion,” which notes no significant findings and the highest rating for an audit, on the presentation of statements regarding the Districts financial records.

In a review of the District 55 general fund balance, the auditor noted an increase of $1,183,306 over the previous fiscal year. On June 30, 2017, the unassigned balance in the general fund was $7,089,548, representing 16% of total general fund expenditures for the fiscal year. In their review of internal controls, the auditor stated, “We did not identify any deficiencies in internal control that we consider to be material weaknesses.”

One highlight of the year for the district’s total funding was the purchase of the former United Community Bank central office site as the new district headquarters. The district made that purchase within the limits of the existing budget without increasing the public tax burden. The district was also able to move forward on multiple fronts while generating significant cost savings.

No! No Child Porn Sharing – Even for This Reason

The Newberry County Sheriff’s has received reports of a video being shared through “Facebook” that depicts what appears to be child pornography, with a very young child engaged in a sexual act with an adult male. This video surfaced and has gone viral in a short period of time.

This video is typically shared through messenger and the reason listed is so that the perpetrator is caught. The Sheriff’s Office states that the problem with sharing this video is that every time this video is shared and viewed the victim is exposed to more shame and victimization. “You not only create a viral video but a viral victim.”

Additionally, while this is done in “an attempt to locate the perpetrator” you are still possessing and disseminating child pornography and it is illegal to possess and disseminate any images or videos that depict a juvenile child engaged in sexual activity.

The Newberry Sherriff’s Office states that if anyone receives any image or video believed to depict child pornography, please report this immediately to the reporting mechanism of the social media site that you are using and then contact your local law enforcement agency.

Facebook has launched an investigation into the video and is working with law enforcement.

Attempted Murder in Clinton

Repeated hammer blows to the head were cited in an Attempted Murder warrant this weekend. Clinton Public Safety arrested a local woman and placed her in the Detention Center early Sunday morning, following a Saturday evening incident. 50-year-old Tabatha Moody of Apartment 2-B at 100 Clinton Manor Drive was served with a warrant yesterday charging Assault/Attempted Murder.

Clinton Public Safety Officer Wilkes states that on February 3rd Tabetha Deangela Moody, with malice aforethought, attempted to kill the victim, Antwan Demetric Moody, by striking him several times in the head area with a hammer. This reportedly took place Saturday in Apartment 28 at Clinton Manor.

Bond was denied during arraignment yesterday. Tabatha Moody remained in the Laurens County Detention Center today.

Distribution of Meth

Laurens Police Friday charged a Woodruff woman with Distribution of Methamphetamine. 39-year-old Kristi Elizabeth Osteen of 503 Westmorland Road, Woodruff was issued a ticket charging her with Shoplifting, then she was served with a warrant, alleging Distribution of Meth, from an investigation by Officer Van Pelt. She is accused of having in her possession Friday a total of .65 gram of meth, located in her jacket pocket in a plastic baggie. She also allegedly had numerous clear plastic bags as well as a black digital scale, which was cited as consistent with the sale of illegal drugs. Kristi Elizabeth Osteen remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning with a $10,000 cash or surety bond on the Meth Distribution warrant and a $650 bond on the Simple Marijuana Possession ticket.

Criminal Conspiracy

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man and woman Friday on Criminal Conspiracy charges. 38-year-old Christopher Allen Bagwell and 33-year-old Sharon Denise Marchbanks were both booked, showing the address of 222 Swiss Entrance Drive, Pickens. Both were served with warrants alleging Criminal Conspiracy and Obtaining Signature or Property Under False Pretense. Sheriff’s Investigator Polson states that on November 6th of 2017 Christopher Allen Bagwell and Sharon Marchbanks unlawfully planned or schemed to obtain property under false pretenses by unlawful means and that they fraudulently obtained $3,000 from the victim. Both remained in custody this morning with their cash or surety bonds totaling $20,000.

1st Degree Domestic Assault

A 1st Degree Domestic Assault was alleged with a Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Saturday arrest. 28-year-old Jessica Taylor Torres of 1219 Hellams Road, Gray Court was charged with Simple Possession of Marijuana, in addition to 1st Degree Domestic Violence.

One warrant cites an investigation by Deputy Hall as indicating that on February 3rd Ms. Torres committed 1st Degree Domestic Violence by striking the victim in the face and taking his phone, preventing him from calling 911. This reportedly occurred in the presence of a minor child. A second warrant for Simple Possession alleges she had possession of 26.4 grams of marijuana Saturday.

Jessica Torres remained in custody this morning with cash or surety bonds totaling $15,615.

2nd Degree Domestic

Clinton Public Safety charged 2nd Degree Domestic Assault Saturday in their arrest of 54-year-old Olin Robertson from 114 Tandy Way, Clinton. An investigation of Officer Carter reportedly indicates that on February 3rd Robertson assaulted the victim by grabbing her throat and slamming her down onto a couch, noting the victim was pregnant. This reportedly occurred in the apartment where he and the victim live together. Olin Robertson was released from detention Saturday on a $5,000 cash or surety bond.

Pushed Against the TV

Laurens City Police jailed a local resident early Sunday morning following an alleged early morning assault. 46-year-old Tyrone Anthony Smith of Apt. 4 at 255 East Main Street, Laurens was charged with

Domestic Violence 2nd Degree. A warrant cites an investigation of Officer Napier as indicating that on February 4th the defendant slapped the victim in the face with his open hand and pushed the victim into a television with force; then forced her to stay against the television by placing his forearm against her neck. This reportedly occurred in the presence of a minor child in his residence, making it a 2nd Degree Domestic Assault charge. Tyrone Smith remained in custody this morning with a cash or surety bond set at $7,000.

Assault in the Villa

Laurens City Police arrested a city resident early Sunday morning following an alleged assault at Laurens Villa. 34-year-old Ricky Dale Summerall Jr. of Apt. 2-D at 309 Exchange Drive, Laurens was charged with Domestic Violence 3rd Degree. A warrant cites an investigation by Sgt. Alexander as indicating the defendant forcefully pinned the victim up against a wall and grabbed her face Saturday in the residence where they live together. Ricky Dale Summerall Jr. remained in custody this morning with a cash or surety bond set yesterday at $4,000.

3rd Degree Assault

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday jailed a Clinton man from an alleged assault the night before. 35-year-old Louis Nigel Butler of 190 Elvis Pressley Blvd., Clinton was charged with Assault and Battery 3rd Degree for an alleged assault on Winetta Street outside Laurens at 8:31 Saturday night. Louis Nigel Butler remained in custody early this morning, pending a bond hearing.

Assault on Highway 72

The Sheriff’s Office made an assault arrest between Clinton and Whitmire this weekend. 20-year-old Deanna Shianne Wright of 107 Beauregard Street, Clinton was charged with Assault and Battery 3rd Degree at 3:27 on Highway 72 East, Clinton in a ticket issued by Deputy Tawanna Sims. Ms. Wright was later released on posting a $1,067 cash or surety bond.

Disturbing the Neighborhood

Disturbing the peace of a neighborhood was alleged on a Gray Court man, arrested early Sunday morning by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office. 49-year-old John Henry Tribble Jr. of 26 Chicago Drive, Gray Court was charged with Breach of Peace, Aggravated in Nature. He is accused of running through an open lot, yelling and cursing and discharging a firearm, creating fear and endangerment to the neighborhood. Mr. Tribble remained in custody earlier today with a cash or surety bond set at $2,000.

3 Union Teens & 1 Laurens Man Dead from Crash on 221 South

Four people were killed in a three-vehicle wreck south of Laurens late Sunday morning. Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols said three Union teens in a pickup and a Laurens man in a Nissan Altima were killed at time of the crash at 11:30 this (Sunday) morning on US 221 near New Prospect Baptist Church.

Nichols identified the teens who were killed inside a 4-door pickup as 18-year-old Hunter Carter of 133 Echo Road, Union; 16-year-old Kirslyn Richardson of 115 Stepp Road, Union and 15-year-old Charner Inabinet of 3104 Cross Keys Highway, Union.

Coroner Nichols identified the 4th person killed in the late Sunday morning wreck as 54-year-old Bruce Blair of 167 Cedar Grove Church Road, Laurens. Mr. Blair was the driver and only occupant of a Nissan.

Corporal Bill Rhyne of the Highway Patrol said the wreck occurred on US 221 near New Prospect Church Road at 11:30 Sunday morning. He said a 2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup was traveling north, toward Laurens, when it crossed the center line and collided head-on with a south bound 2012 Nissan Altima. The crash killed the three Union teens in the pickup and the Laurens man driving the Nissan Altima. All four died at the scene on impact. Corporal Rhyne said none of the teens were wearing a seat belt, and that two were in the front seat and the third was in the rear seat of the extended cab pickup. He said the Nissan driver did have his seat belt on. Rhyne said that after these two vehicles crashed head-on, the pickup then stuck a second south-bound vehicle, a 2010 Dodge Charger, that was being driven by 32-year-old Sergio McDowell of Laurens. Mr. McDowell was transported to Self Regional in Greenwood for treatment of his injuries. Corporal Rhyne said that McDowell was wearing his seat belt.

US 221 was closed to traffic for several hours after the fatal crash. Traffic was routed around the scene on New Prospect Church Road and Ekom Beach Road.