Plans to Unite Laurens County for Progress

Laurens County’s Administrator is making plans for 2,040. Jon Caime addressed the Laurens Rotary Club yesterday, saying how he was shocked two years ago when he came to Laurens County when he learned the county’s population is falling. He contrasted this with growth in other Upstate counties such as Oconee, and said we must plan for the future in order to change this direction. The result is a Vision 2040 concept he is putting together.

Caime noted that our residents identify more with their specific community, rather than the county. He talked of a “Branding Study,” conducted recently by Amanda Munyon, where people were interviewed to determine what people want for our county. A new logo for the county was developed in that process, in an effort to get the county more unified.

The County Administrator told of rapid growth in the Fountain Inn and Hickory Tavern areas of the county, noting all of the $250,000 plus value homes in one new Fountain Inn area subdivision sold out before completion.

Retired County Administrator Ernie Segars responded to Caime’s comments, telling his fellow Rotarians that Caime’s ability to plan a better future was why the search committee, which he was on, brought him to Laurens County.

While noting zoning is needed to protect the quality of life we want in Laurens County, Jon Caimie said that the Laurens County Planning Commissions new regulations have stopped “Mobile Home Ghettos” from popping up in Laurens County.

Caime said he will be proposing to County Council in the new year that we adopt a Capital Sales Tax, with the money used to develop a new College and Career Academy for School Districts 55 and 56. He noted that many of the 39,000 people who drive through the county each day can help pay for local developments with the new capitol sales tax.


United Way School Supplies Drive Today & Saturday

The Annual School Supplies Drive of the Laurens County United Way draws to a close with two big events, today and tomorrow. United Way Staff and Volunteers, along with representatives from School Districts 55 and 56, are to be outside the Laurens Walmart this afternoon and midday tomorrow, taking donations that will be handed out to needy students in both school districts.

United Way Names New Interim Director

David Dunagan, Executive Director of the United Way of Laurens County (UWLC), announced his resignation last week after seven months with the organization. Dunagan filled the Director position in December 2017, he has lived in Clinton since his graduation from PC in 2008. Dungan recently accepted an assistant coaching position at Dublin High School in Georgia, where he will pursue his passion of coaching and working with youth.

The UWLC Executive Committee agreed Alesia Carter will serve as the Interim Executive Director. Carter has served as a fulltime AmeriCorps member, working directly with the UWLC since August 2016, running the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program and other Financial Stability programs for Laurens County residents. Carter has aided in the UWLC operational duties, grant writing, and has experience with the annual events. She has worked diligently within and around Laurens County, developing relationships with UWLC partners and benefactors.

According to Dale Satterfield, Executive Committee Chair, “Alesia has displayed confidence and communication skills that we would desire in the Executive Director’s position. With the School Supply Drive and Annual Kickoff Luncheon scheduled this month plus, campaign meetings gearing up, it is a crucial time for the success of the UWLC. The community depends on this organization and although we may have had some turnover in the last few months, we will continue to push forward as we aim to make all transitions as seamless as possible.”

Carter will begin the Interim Executive Director position immediately. Meanwhile, the UWLC Executive Committee will work to structure the UWLC team to best suit the needs of the organization and the community it serves.

Arrests Allege Industrial Burglaries in Clinton

Two people were arrested by Clinton Public Safety yesterday in connection with an industrial burglary involving malicious damage and theft of items valued over $10,000.

18-year-old Dustin Scott Franklin Jr. of 1651 Union Highway, Union is charged with 2nd and 3rd Degree Burglary, with Obtaining Nonferrous Metals, Criminal Conspiracy, Damage to Real Property and with Grand Larceny.

Detective Tyrone Goggins states that between January 1st and May 1st  Franklin entered a building at 53 Commerce Avenue without consent and stole items valued at over $10,000. These reportedly included multiple types of wire stored in racks at the warehouse along with batteries for heavy equipment, plus tools and personal items. He is further accused of doing over $5,000 in damages by maliciously cutting wires connected to fixtures, damaging the structure in the process. Dustin Franklin Jr. is also accused of conspiring with two other people to commit the Commerce Avenue Burglary and Larceny. He allegedly entered the Commerce Avenue building in the nighttime. He’s also accused of a Burglary at 600 East Florida Street between May 13th and 15th, and of cutting electric wiring there to steal nonferrous metals.

Dustin Scott Franklin Jr. remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning with bonds totaling $22,500.

Also arrested in connection with the burglary and thefts at 53 Commerce Avenue was 30-year-old Kenneth Raynard “Ken” McKinney of 231 South Hampton Avenue, Joanna. Clinton Public Safety charged him with 2nd Degree Burglary, Criminal Conspiracy, Injury to Real Property and with Grand Larceny. Ken McKinney was released yesterday on posting cash or surety bonds totaling $17,500.

Couple Charged with Gambling House

A husband and wife have been charged with Operating a Gambling House at their Laurens business. Laurens City Police arrested 38-year-old Nileshkumar Patel Wednesday, and his wife, 37-year-old Ranjanben P. Patel, on Thursday. They reside at 495 Pinehaven Street Extension, Laurens.

Both have been charged with Operating a Gambling House and Unlawful Possession of Gambling Equipment at the Harvest Market on Greenwood Road. Warrants, citing an investigation by Detective Doug Jones, state that the Patels possessed and operated a Fish-Arcade Video Game that allowed players to gamble in hopes of winning a monetary prize, and that the Patels were operating the illegal gambling machine in the Harvest Market on Greenwood Road on Wednesday, August 1st. Currency was allegedly being paid to players for winning credits on the machine. They allegedly allowed multiple players to loiter and congregate while waiting to play the illegal gaming device.

Mr. Patel remained in custody this morning with bonds set totaling $10,000. Mrs. Patel was being held overnight, awaiting her bond hearing.

Another Clinton Undercover Drug Sale

In another arrest alleging an undercover drug sale this year, Clinton Public Safety yesterday charged 39-year-old Jeremy Randall Jones of 302 Chestnut Street, Clinton with 2nd Offense Distribution of a Controlled Substance and Distribution within Proximity. Sgt. Shane Prather states that on March 1st Jones sold marijuana to a confidential informant who was working undercover at 923 East Carolina Avenue. Sgt. Prather states that this location is within a half mile of Eastside Elementary School.

Jeremy Jones remained in custody this morning, with cash or surety bonds set at $30,000 for his two charges.

Detention Center Staff Busier this Week

37 Newberry County inmates were transferred to the Laurens County Detention Center yesterday, as part of an agreement where Laurens County is hosting Newberry’s inmates while the Newberry Detention Center is being renovated. Over 20 Newberry inmates had been already been transferred earlier this week.

Ribbon Cutting for Palliative Care

People gathered on Springdale Drive, Clinton yesterday as the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for the new Palliative Care Clinton at Hospice of Laurens County. The new clinic is to allow many people to see doctors to manage their terminal illness without having to drive to Greenville, Spartanburg or Columbia.

Violation of Probation

State Probation yesterday arrested 54-year-old Mary Cozette Harris Lee of 102 Garth Road, Fountain Inn and charged her with Violation of Probation. Ms. Lee is accused of failing to report to probation since her release from the State Department of Corrections in March of 2017, or on dates this year. She also has allegedly failed to make required payments and to follow the advice and instructions of her agent. Mary Lee remained in custody earlier today with cash or surety bond set at $50,000.

Failure to Return Vehicle as Requested

Failure to return a 2006 Chevy Trail Blazer was cited yesterday as Clinton Public Safety arrested 52-year-old Robert Frank “Plug” Grant Jr. of 1012 South Harper Street, Laurens. A Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent warrant states he took the vehicle from Bell Street Circle May 16th and refused to return in on the owner’s request. Robert Grant was later released on a $2,000 personal recognizance bond.

More Testimony in Child Sex Case

Testimony continued yesterday in the second day of trial for 31-year-old Michael Eubanks of Clinton, charged with criminal sexual conduct with a child under 11.

The prosecution called a counselor with Gilchrist Consultation and Counseling of Laurens who testified about the victim coming to her, crying, and disclosed the alleged abuse. She told of the defendant also arriving when an officer came to receive a statement from the girl.

The victim was called to the stand next and was asked about her relationship with her siblings, her biological father and the defendant. Her questions from the prosecution then centered on her description of incidents and frequency of abuse. Her testimony was filled with graphic details to answer specific questions to the extent of each act. She said, “By the time I was 11, I was involved in these acts a lot.”

On cross-examination, the defense asked about comments in her trauma narrative where she stated she had good times with the defendant and was happy at one point. Defense also questioned her about an Instagram to the defendant on his birthday, where she reportedly said, “You are my whole world I love you to the moon and back and I don’t know what I would do without you.”

Prosecution called a forensic interviewer from Beyond Abuse to the stand and asked about listening to children tell about what has happened to them without giving them leading questions.

Another Beyond Abuse witness spoke of treatment for PTSD for the victim. Defense objected to this, but Judge Addy allowed it, saying the information outweighed the defense concern.

Other witnesses yesterday included Sheriff’s Investigator Jared Hunnicutt, a Doctor from the Child Advocacy System and an expert witness from the Julie Valentine Center, who said children delay reporting abuse due to fear of consequences to themselves and others.

The prosecution called the defendant’s daughter, who spoke of behavior she observed while visiting her Dad that she thought was strange. She mentioned cuddling under covers and her Dad grabbing the victim on the butt. As defense questioned her whether she had told anyone of the “strange” behavior, and she began to cry.

The trial recessed after her testimony. It was to resume at 9:30 this morning.

Local Man Shot, Stabbed and Burned

A Laurens man was shot and stabbed before being burned in a car near Myrtle Beach last week. A report from WYFF4 with assistance from WMFB, Myrtle Beach, indicates that the remains of 35-year-old Shawn David Anderson of Laurens and another man were found in a burned car in the Socastee area of the Grand Strand, when construction workers were on their way to a job site on Highway 31. The WYFF4 report indicates that four men have been arrested on Murder charges in connection with the two deaths.

The report at indicates that warrants and affidavits indicate that a 37-year-old Michael W. Faile has been charged with two counts of murder. 44-year-old David L. Cook of Little River has been charged with two counts of murder, as well as arson and drug charges. 37-year-old William D. Tatum of Myrtle Beach has been charged with two counts of murder in addition to arson and drug charges. 31-year-old Zachary Stell of Myrtle Beach has been charged with two counts of murder.

WYFF reports that based on information in warrants and affidavits, Faile hired Cook and Stell to recover heroin and fentanyl from the victims that he claimed were stolen from him, as well as to dispose of their bodies by burning them and the vehicle.

The warrants say Stell and Cook lured the two victims to an unknown location and shot them multiple times. Stell allegedly gave William Tatum money to buy the gasoline to set the bodies and car on fire. Warrants reportedly indicate that when Tatum returned with the gasoline he saw one of the victims was still alive and saw Cook and Stell stab the victims, numerous times, before setting fire to the victims and the vehicle. Warrants say Tatum was also used as a lookout and to help clean up the crime before the fire was set.

The other fatality from this event was identified as 29-year-old Matthew Autry, who had connections in Myrtle Beach and Rock Hill, according to the Sun News.

Shawn David Anderson has family connections in Laurens and Clinton.

Jim Moore Announces for School Board

Jim Moore of Laurens has announced his candidacy for the Seat Two on the District 55 School Board.

Moore served two terms as Laurens County Sheriff, then had a career with Homeland Security.

In announcing his desire to serve on the school board, Jim Moore stated, “Professional school administrators will tell you that safety has now become their number one issue, ahead of even education. With nearly forty years of service in the area of public safety and emergency response, I believe that I am uniquely qualified to offer our district the oversight in this most important area that our students and staff deserve.”

Referring to recent work as a consultant to local governments, making recommendations on operating in the most efficient manner, at the least cost to the taxpayer. Moore stated, “I hope to utilize this concept with District 55, resulting in a savings for our citizens.”

Jim Moore, 63, is married to Diane, a retired District 55 teacher. He’s father to Katie Moore Smith, who is a teacher in Greenville and to Tim Moore, who graduated from the University of South Carolina in May.

Voting for the school board takes place November 6th.

Two-Year-Old Undercover Deal

Clinton Public Safety yesterday continued arrests in their recent warrant sweep, picking up two regarding an undercover operation two years ago.

44-year-old Michael James Kirby of 306 Bailey Street, Clinton was charged with Distribution of a Schedule II Controlled Substance and Distribution within proximity. Sgt. Shane Prather states that on July 26, 2016 Michael Kirby sold a quantity of pills to a confidential informant, within a half-mile of a school or park. Michael Bailey was released on PR bonds totaling $4,000.

20-year-old Tyler James Kirby, also of 306 Bailey Street, Clinton, was charged with Conspiracy. Sgt. Shane Prather states that on the same date in 2016 Tyler conspired regarding the sale of those pills at 306 Bailey Street.

Tyler Kirby was released on a $2,000 PR bond.

Meth in the Motel

Laurens City Police yesterday arrested two people on meth charges. 44-year-old Michael Antonio “Tony” Anderson of 305 Stuart Street, Laurens and 17-year-old Tiara Artishua Shunta Hall of 90-B Cedar Street, Clinton were charged with Possession of Less than One Gram of Meth. Warrants cite an investigation of Sgt. Gallo as indicating that a consensual search of a motel room at 621 North Harper Street yesterday found that Mr. Anderson and Ms. Hall were in possession of methamphetamines. Cash or surety bonds for each were set at $5,000. Tony Anderson and Tiara Hall remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

1st Degree Burglary of Cross Hill Home

Two Spartanburg residents were arrested yesterday, following an alleged 1st Degree Burglary of a Cross Hill woman’s home. The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office charged 26-year-old Adam Roy Rollins of 205 Hillside Drive, Spartanburg and 21-year-old Amber Nicole Fowler of 5216 Pogue Street, Spartanburg with 1st Degree Burglary and 2nd Degree Burglary.

Warrants citing an investigation by Deputy Farrah Cook stated that Adam Rollins and Amber Fowler entered a woman’s residence on South Main Street, Cross Hill without consent and with intent to Commit a crime therein. Additional warrants allege that they also entered another building at the same address. A warrant served on Ms. Fowler indicates the burglaries occurred during the night-time, early yesterday morning. Warrants served on Mr. Rollins state that he has a record of two or more convictions for burglary and/or housebreaking.

Adam Rollins and Amber Fowler were being held overnight at the Laurens County Detention Center, awaiting a bond hearing today.

Duffle Bag Blow to Stomach

1st Degree Domestic Violence was the charge served yesterday from an alleged assault near the shoals on the Saluda River last month. Ware Shoals Police arrested 35-year-old James Paul Lake of 6 Oak Street, Ware Shoals on that charge. In a warrant, Ware Shoals Captain Richey states that on July 15th at Pitt’s Park, Mr. Lake, knowing the victim was pregnant, struck her in the stomach with a big duffle bag, then drove off and left her. Officer Richey states that Lake was out on bond from another 1st Degree Domestic Assault charge, with an order in place that he was to have no contact with the victim.

James Lake was being held overnight, awaiting a bond hearing.

3rd Degree Assault

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday arrested 57-year-old Robert Ibra Derrick Jr. of 762 Bal Harbor Drive, Ware Shoals and charged him with 3rd Degree Domestic Violence, alleging an assault Tuesday. A warrant citing an investigation by Deputy Kanipe states that on July 31st Mr. Derrick struck the victim on her leg, causing minor injury. With a cash or surety bond set at $10,000, Robert Derrick Jr. remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

Child Sex Abuse Trial Begins

Trial began yesterday for a Clinton man accused of sexual conduct with a child. In opening statements, the prosecution told the jury that the young victim had been sexually abused since she was six years old. The state contends the abuse was discovered when the child told counselors about it, and they reported it to law enforcement, as is required by law.

31-year-old Michael Eubanks of 431 Old Colony Road, Clinton, is charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Child under Age Eleven.

Among people attending the opening day of trail yesterday were members of “Bikers Against Child Abuse,” who were told to remove their vests before the trial began.

During the state’s opening of their case, the jury was shown a slide presentation which graphically depicted the details of the alleged sexual behavior. Dale Scott, speaking for the Prosecution told the court that the young victim was sexually abused since she was six years old. Scott said this child was robbed of her innocence, but said her courage still remains, and that she was in the courtroom with intention to testify.

The defense, represented by Rauch Wise, told the jury that it is common for sexual charges to be made up, “Which is the case here.” Wise told the jurors of problems in the relationship between the mother of the victim and the defendant and said that Eubanks will testify that these charges are untrue.

The prosecutions’ first witness was the victim’s 16-year-old brother, who talked of the defendant paying more attention to his sister than to him. He told of the defendant touching his sister a lot. He also said that after an argument with his mother, the defendant would rush into his sister’s room.

On cross-examination, the defense asked the brother if the defendant had paid for his braces, had taken him to the race track and fishing. The brother replied yes to each.

The State next called Laurens County Deputy Sheriff Richey, who testified that he was called to the counselor’s office after the victim had told the counselor about the alleged sexual contact.

The trial of Michael Eubanks then recessed for the evening. It was set to continue at 9:00 this morning.

Multiple Firearm & Drug Violations June 19th

A local man is facing seven drug and firearm charges, following his arrest yesterday. Alleging multiple violations on June 19th, the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office charged 38-year-old Forrest Craig Beck of 154 Bigbee Road, Clinton with 2nd Offense Manufacture of Meth, Unlawful Disposal of Meth Waste, 2nd Offense Distribution of Meth and with Manufacturing Meth in the Presence of a Minor. He is also charged with Possession of a Weapon During a Violent Crime and with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon or Ammo by a Person Who’s been Convicted of a Violent Crime. Beck is also charged with 2nd Offense Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute.

Sheriff’s Investigator Charles Nations states that on June 19th Beck had items in his possession that are used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine, which was a 2nd offense, and that he also disposed of or assisted in disposal of meth waste that day. In the 2nd offense Distribution of Meth warrant, Officer Nations states that Forrest Beck had in his constructive possession an amount of meth that constitutes intent to distribute, and that he has prior narcotic-related convictions.

Additional warrants state that Beck knowingly had in his constructive possession a Ruger P90 handgun during the commission of manufacturing methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute. Investigator Nations also states that Beck’s possession of a firearm or ammunition is unlawful due to his being convicted of a violent felony. Beck is also accused of having an amount of marijuana on June 19th that constitutes intent to distribute.

Cash or surety bonds were set on the seven charges totaling $324,000. Forrest Craig Beck remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.