Auto Assault Attempt Alleged

An assault by car back in February was alleged with an arrest by Laurens City Police yesterday. 25-year-old Johnny Lee Pyles of 316 Moreland Avenue, Laurens was charged with Assault and Battery 2nd Degree. A warrant cites an investigation of Sgt. Charles Simmons as indicating that Johnny Lee Pyles Jr. used a motor vehicle as a weapon in an attempt to hit a victim. It states this occurred February 19th in front of an apartment at 218 Spring Street. Johnny Lee Pyles was released on a $20,000 cash or surety bond.

Tuesday Municipal Elections Unofficial Results

Voters in Tuesday’s municipal races around Laurens County had three races where three people were seeking the post, yet it appears the need for a runoff has been avoided.

 

Jeff Thompson had a surprisingly large lead over his two opponents for the vacant Laurens Commission of Public Works Seat 2. Thomson received 332 votes in the unofficial totals Tuesday night, 62.29% of the vote. Tim Pulley came in second with 104 votes, 19.51% and Suzanne Lowry received 92 votes for 17.26%.

In the Laurens CPW election for Seat 1, incumbent Brenda H. Curry was re-elected with just over 70% of the votes cast – 106 to 40 for J. Scott Tollison. There were also 5 write-in votes in that seat.

Laurens City Council Member Marion “Blonde” Miller won re-election in her three-way race. She received 57.78% of the total, with 52 votes. Tony Bailey came in second with 31.11% and Phillip McClintock received 10, or 11.11% of the votes in that contest

 

It appears a challenger defeated incumbent Clinton City Council Member Mary Jean Byrd in Tuesday’s Municipal Election for seat 1 on Council. The Tuesday night unofficial vote count gave Robbie N. Neal 50.57% of the total, with 44 votes. A change of one vote in the Canvas of the voting this Thursday morning could require a run-off. Mary Jean Byrd had 44.83% of the total, with 39 votes. Sasha Cotton had 4 votes, or 2.67%.

In Clinton City Council Seat 1, Danny Cook won re-election with 68 votes, or 90.67%. James Hayes, who pulled out of the race too late to have his name removed from the ballot, received 2 votes, and there were 5 write-ins.

Clinton City Council Member Norman Scarborough lost his re-election bid for Seat 5 Tuesday. Challenger Ronnie Roth received 76 votes to 47 for Scarborough, a spread of 62.29% to 37.90%.  There was also 1 write-in cast.

In Cross Hill voting Tuesday, Randy Bishop won the Mayor’s race with 87.50% of the votes. He had 69 votes to 10 for Bobby Kersey. Cross Hill voters had six candidates running for four at-large seats on Town Council.

Beverly Lindsay Jones topped the list with 70 votes, which were 25.18% of the 278 votes cast. Charles Bartee came in 2nd with 63 votes, or 22.66%.

Also elected to Town Council was David Coleman, with 52 votes and Brett Davis, with 49 votes. Not making the cut were Robin Whiteford Quinton, with 23 votes and Malachi Dressel with 20 votes. There was also 1 write-in vote for Cross Hill Town Council.

 

The Laurens County Election Commission meets at 11:00 Thursday morning for an official Canvas of Tuesday’s voting in Laurens, Clinton and Cross Hill. All votes are subject to change, but special interest will be on the results in Clinton City Council Seat 1, where challenger Robbie Neal has 44 votes in the unofficial count, just one more that the total of Mary Byrd’s 39 and Sasha Cotton’s 4.

We’ll have the results of the official canvas of the vote on WLBG and here at WLBG.com.

Stovall Resigns As Clinton City Manager

Clinton City Manager Frank Stovall submitted his resignation to the Mayor and Council yesterday and after an executive session, council voted to accept his resignation.

Stovall came to the city as Assistant City Manager in 2008 and became City Manager in 2011.  At last night’s meeting he outlined some of the objectives the city has accomplished during his time as a part of the city’s management team.  They include:

  • Significant improvement in providing a quality Public Safety Department for city residents including updated equipment and vehicles, reduction of the ISO fire rating to Class 2 and improved training. The Clinton Department of Public Safety, he said, was one of the first in the state to provide body cameras for patrol officers.
  • The city is more prepared than ever before for economic growth with development ready sites, construction underway for a speculative industrial building, a Class A industrial park and the recent acceptance of Clinton into the Main Street program. Creating an economic development staff position, he said, has positioned the city to make great strides in attracting well paying jobs to Clinton in the short and long term.
  • Infrastructure challenges have been identified and confronted with the replacement of water lines in Lydia Mill, portions of Clinton Mill and other areas of the city. Transition to cost saving conversion to LED street lighting is now underway.
  • The M.S. Bailey Municipal Center was created as the form Bailey Bank was transformed into a modern, attractive city hall.
  • The appearance of Clinton, particularly downtown Clinton has been improved with new landscaping at city facilities, increased maintenance of streets, sidewalks and curbs.
  • Financially, the city of Clinton is in the best shape of the last 20 years due to carful budget planning and aggressively tackling the replacement of aging vehicles and equipment.

Mr. Stovall told council that it had been his honor to be associated with the city of Clinton for nearly a decade.  He stated that the employees and staff in Clinton have worked and sacrificed to improve the city and the services offered to its citizens and said that he was proud of the management team that had been put into place.

Frank Stovall asked council to release him from a provision in his contract requiring a 90 day notice before leaving and allow his last day of employment with the city to be Friday, May 5, 2017.   Mr. Stovall has accepted the position of Deputy Director of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation in Virginia and is to assume those duties in mid-May.

Council did vote to accept the resignation and to honor the request to release Mr. Stovall from the 90 day notice provision.  Mayor Bob McLean and each member of council expressed appreciation for the hard work and the many successes that had come to Clinton due to Mr. Stovall’s efforts.  Mayor McLean expressed congratulations and explained that this was not unexpected.  He said that he knew that because of the quality of Mr. Stovall’s work and leadership for Clinton he anticipated that one day he would move onward and upward.

Council, by unanimous vote, asked Mr. Stovall to coordinate the search for his replacement with details to be established at a future meeting.

Sanders Middle School Student Found With Knife on School Bus

Laurens Police were dispatched to Sanders Middle School Thursday morning at 7:40 am concerning  a student in possession of a knife on a school bus. The student’s parents were notified and when meeting with police, the student claimed that he forgot he had it in his pocket. The officer explained that there is a no tolerance rule regarding such items at school and the student was immediately suspended. The officer further stated that an arrest report would be filed and sent to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Laurens Man Pleads Guilty In Federal Court to 2016 Armed Robbery of Drug Lo

In a press release issued by the US Attorney’s Office, United States Attorney Beth Drake stated Wednesday that Iquill Wayne Morrison, age 22, of Laurens, pled guilty in federal court in Greenville to obstruction of commerce by robbery, a violation of Title 18, United

States Code, Section 1951; and to use of a firearm during a crime of violence, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c).

United States District Judge Henry M. Herlong, Jr., accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

Morrison faces a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years imprisonment consecutive to any other sentence in federal prison.  Morrison was arrested on the federal charges on November 28, 2016, and has remained in jail since that time.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that on August 25, 2016, Morrison entered the Drug-Lo Pharmacy in Laurens and robbed the employees of money while he was brandishing a firearm.

Agents from the Laurens City Police Department, the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Max Cauthen in the Greenville U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case.

School District 56 Addresses Employ-ability Skills

During Monday’s meeting of the Laurens County School District 56 Board of Trustees, Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields addressed a basic question:  Why do we do this?  Why do we, the people of District 56, expend resources and exert our energy to educate children?

Dr. O’Shields stated:

“Ultimately, we do want all of our students to have a gainful, livable wage.”

He then outlined what he termed Employability Skills.

  • Dress and Grooming
  • Positive Attitude
  • Work Ethic
  • Responsibility
  • Dependability
  • Integrity
  • Communications
  • Teamwork
  • Planning
  • Adaptability

Some call such attributes and actions ‘soft skills’ and they are critical in obtaining and keeping a good job in today’s marketplace.  He said that of course District 56 schools will focus on academics but that, through a variety of programs, students are being shown the way to achieve their own personal success.

Board Chairman Jim Barton added that a lot of things go into making an employable work force.

“Scholastics is one of them.  Culture is one of them.  We are tasked with doing both of those.  We can affect both of those.  We have to.”

Laurens Man Pleads Guilty To Illegal Immigrant Marriage Fraud

In a press release from the US Attorney General’s Office, United States Attorney Beth Drake stated Thursday that Jason Bolt, age 39, of Laurens, South Carolina, pled guilty on Monday in federal court in Florence, to Conspiracy to Commit Marriage Fraud, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.  United States District Judge R. Bryan Harwell of Florence, accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the pre sentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
The evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing established that Bolt was involved in a marriage fraud conspiracy involving a number of Brazilian aliens who were paying US citizens to enter into fraudulent marriages with them in order to gain United States citizenship.

Bolt was paid between $9,000 and $10,000 to enter into a fraudulent marriage with one of the Brazilian defendants who was eventually successful in obtaining United States citizenship through this fraud.

Staged photographs of Bolt and this Brazilian defendant were taken, and fraudulent affidavits falsely claiming that Bolt and this Brazilian defendant lived together were submitted, all for the purpose of corroborating this sham marriage.

Ms. Drake stated the maximum penalty the defendant can receive is a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for 5 years, plus a special assessment of $100.

The case was investigated by agents of the ICE-Homeland Security Investigations.   Assistant United States Attorney Brad Parham of the Florence office handled the case.

County Council Holds First Reading of New Mobile Home Ordinances

Laurens County Council gave first reading approval Tuesday night to proposed changes in the county’s rules regarding mobile homes.

Kay Weeks of the Laurens County Planning Commission presented ordinances on first reading involving changes regarding manufactured homes, Ordinance 830 and changes regarding subdivisions which include mobile home parks, Ordinance 831.

Due to the length and complexity of the ordinances, their content was not thoroughly examined by council, but they will study the presented information that the planning commission has been working on for a long period, and more details will be presented at the next meeting.

First reading of both ordinances were unanimously approved by council.

Council also unanimously approved on first reading an unnumbered ordinance which will repeal, rescind, and declare null and void Ordinance 807, which was entitled, “An ordinance to acquire and subsequently transfer real estate for a relocated collection facility in the Gray Court area.”

At the time of Ordinance #807’s approval council believed that it was in the best interest of the county, but now the Vulcan Materials Company is no longer agreeable to that exchange of property at this current time.

District 55 School Board Looks Ahead In Meeting Guidelines

Tuesday night at the Laurens District 55 School Board meeting, the board looked ahead to the next school year, hearing first reading of Board Policy GBA, which states that they will attempt to pay their professionals based on the state salary schedule with local supplements as approved by the board.

The policy stated that they will pay their employees based on the levels of their professional training, and the years of service to the district., and that notice of employment status will be given before May 1st.

According to South Carolina law, an administrator employed by the district on contract, can retain teacher status, but it does not grant these rights if such person returns to the classroom.

Also in the teacher and employee retention incentive program, if there is a mid-year vacancy, the teacher who is employed for the rest of the school year, receives no promise of next year’s employment.

In other voting action, the board unanimously approved to appoint King Dixon, Sonny Ledda, and James Todd to the LEAD board.

Laurens Home Burgled

Tuesday at 7:08pm Laurens Police responded to a residence in the southwest section of the city of Laurens concerning an allegation of burglary. The complainant reported that she had forgotten to lock her back door before leaving for work, and when she returned two televisions were missing from the house. The report states that the woman told the officer that she had a suspicion that her son was responsible, since he had stolen from her before, but she could not prove it. Since there was no evidence proving that it was her son, the officer said that he would forward the incident report to investigations for follow up.

Throwing Cats From A Window???

Thursday morning at 2:57am, Clinton Department of Public Safety officers responded to a complaint of someone driving a van and throwing cats out of the van’s window while driving. Officers patrolled the area of the report and could not locate the vehicle or discarded cats.

 

Report of Funny Money at Family Dollar

Laurens Police responded Monday at 4:29 pm to a call from The Family Dollar on Fleming Street, regarding a complaint of being given counterfeit money.

The employee stated that she realized a ten-dollar bill was fake after the customer had already left the store, and gave a general description of who she believed to be the subject.

 

Car Vandalized In Clinton

On Thursday morning at 9:51 am, PSO Thomas Scott Peay of the Clinton Department of Public Safety was dispatched to an Oak Street  Clinton residence in reference to a vandalized vehicle. When he arrived on the scene, he spoke with the female complainant, who showed him her damaged vehicle. On it were scratched profanity and the words “He’s Mine.” The officer asked the complainant if she knew who might have done this, and she stated that “there could be a lot of people.” After advising the woman to contact police if she noticed anything unusual, officer Peay cleared the scene.

 

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.

Attempted Murder for Cross Hill Stabbing

A Cross Hill man was arrested yesterday on charges he stabbed a Chappells man multiple times in an incident last month. The suspect had been sought after the Sheriff’s Office was called to Shealy Circle, Cross High on January 24th and deputies observed a male in his mid-20’s with multiple stab wounds about his body. Yesterday, 32-year-old James Morgan Hill of 2814 Harris Springs Road, Cross Hill was charged with Attempted Murder and with Use of a Weapon in a Violent Crime. Officer Dwayne Richey states that on January 24th James Morgan Hill attempted to murder the victim by stabbing and cutting him multiple times, causing great bodily injury that required the victim to seek medical treatment. Mr. Hill is also accused of willfully possessing and displaying what appeared to be a knife during the commission of a violent crime. Bond was denied on both the Attempted Murder and the Weapons charge. James Morgan Hill remained in the Laurens County Detention Center this morning.

Laurens High Student Facing Adult Charges

A juvenile Laurens District 55 High School Coed is being charged with Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature and with Bringing a Weapon onto School Property, following an incident yesterday morning in a gym prior to the start of school. Laurens County Chief Deputy Jarvis Reeder said that due to the nature of the crime, the juvenile female will be charged as an adult. Reeder said a Student Resource Officer’s preliminary investigation determined that the female subject had injured one student by causing a non-life-threatening puncture to this female’s upper left arm as she was pursuing another female. The LDHS School Nurse reportedly determined no stitches were needed after examining the puncture wound.

A second release from District 55 Administration yesterday stated that at approximately 7:45 in the morning a female student in possession of a knife came out of the bleachers in pursuit of another student. The student victim was in the proximity of the two girls and was slightly injured by the knife when the assailant rushed past her in pursuit of the other student. The subject and the female being chased reportedly ran quickly from one side of the gym to the other, where a teacher was able to capture the assailant. The girl who was cut when the assailant ran past her was treated by the school nurse.

A video reportedly taken by one of the many students awaiting the start of school was distributed through social media and was later broadcast on local TV news reports. It showed the chase around the gym, and the teacher tackling the assailant, preventing assault on her intended victim.

The District 55 statement said that the student being charged was transported to DJJ and was being held to await a bond hearing.

Superintendant Peters and other district office personnel were on hand at the high school throughout the remainder of the day to ensure the safety and tranquility of the school environment. Dr. Peters said “There has been a great deal of misinformation spread through social media and some erroneous news reports. We want to make sure our community has all the facts regarding the incident.” District spokesperson, Ed Murray, said “We are continuing to investigate the situation to determine who might have known about the potential for the occurrence. We depend upon our students and parents to come forth when or if they hear about situations that might develop. This gives us a chance to be proactive in responding to potential conflicts.”

Police Seize Illegal Tattoo Parlor Equipment

Laurens City Police reported discovering an illegal tattoo parlor in town this week. Officers went to a residence early Monday afternoon looking for a wanted man. As they were being told that man wasn’t present, officers reportedly smelled Marijuana. They obtained a search warrant and on entering, reportedly discovered a full-scale tattoo operation. After obtaining a second search warrant, they reportedly seized a tattoo bed, armrest, tattoo guns and driver, a bio hazard sharp needle container, needles, and even a vinyl sign promoting, “J-Mac Tattooing.” A man was charged with Illegal Tattoo in and with Operating a Business without a License.

 

 

Arrest in Downtown Clinton Burglary

Clinton Public Safety yesterday arrested a suspect in a night-time burglary of a Downtown Store last fall. 42-year-old Richard Lee “Rick” Clark Jr. of Apt 36 at 100 Elizabeth Street, Clinton is charged with Burglary 2nd Degree.

Detective Tyrone Goggins states that during the night-time hours between the dates of November 29th and 30th, 2016 Richard Lee Clark Jr. unlawfully broke into Wilson’s Curb Market at 210 West Main Street with intent to deprive the rightful owner of property therein. “Rick” Clark Jr. was being held overnight, pending a bond hearing.

 

Car Theft….14 Years Ago

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday charged a Union County resident with a car theft here almost 14 years ago. 59-year-old James Dennis Burrell of Jonesville was charged with Breach of Trust with Fraudulent Intent. He was served with a warrant from 2003 that states he received a 1973 Dodge van in trust February 28th, 2003 on Holly Grove Church Road, east of Laurens, with fraudulent intent to deprive the owner of the $1,500 value vehicle. The warrant shows a 2003 address in Campobello.

James Dennis Burrell was being held overnight, pending a bond hearing.

 

 

Man, Woman Charged with Mutual Assault

Laurens Police Officer Sellers reported finding a man on the front porch early yesterday morning with the left sleeve of his shirt covered in blood…..this after the officer had been dispatched to Mock Street at 4:23 A.M. The man and his girlfriend inside the house reported told different versions of the events at that residence. Officers noted both appeared to be extremely intoxicated. EMS was called to the scene. Officers also noted children were present in the house and had witnessed the events.

24-year-old Elijah Matthew Brewington and 25-year-old Alysa Jamel Miller, both of 117 Mock Street, Laurens, were arrested and each was charged with Domestic Violence 2nd Degree for mutual assaults.

The warrant for Mr. Brewington alleges that he grabbed Ms. Miller, threw her on the ground and placed his hands around her neck, depriving her of air. A warrant served on Ms. Miller accuses her of using a knife to cut Brewington on his left bicep during a drunken argument between the two in the Mock Street residence they share as boyfriend and girlfriend.

Alysa Jamel Miller remained in custody overnight with a $5,000 cash or surety bond. Elijah Matthew Brewington was released yesterday after posting a $5,000 cash or surety bond.