Chamber of Commerce Red Carpet Breakfast Coming Up

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The Laurens County Chamber of commerce invites Chamber members and business people in the community to purchase tickets for the May 12th Red Carpet Breakfast with keynote speaker Fred Cartwright. Tickets are $15 per person, or $100 for a reserved table of 8.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
There is limited seating so register now while space is still available!

Call Diane Wyatt at 833-2716 for more information.

South Carolina Teacher of the Year Announced

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced last that the 2018 South Carolina Teacher of the Year is Erin Fox, an English teacher at Gaffney Senior High School in the Cherokee County School District.

“Erin truly embodies the qualities and characteristics of a great educator,” said Superintendent Spearman. “She is so deserving of this honor and I look forward to working with her over the next year to continue to lift up the teaching profession and empower educators across our state.”

Fox pulls from her dramatic, dance and musical background to create dynamic lessons and units for her students.  In her roles as a teacher and cross country coach, she ensures that her students are challenged everyday.   As part of the state Teacher of the Year awards program, Fox receives $25,000 and gets to drive a brand new BMW for one year.

The Teacher of the Year program celebrates excellence and strengthens the teaching force by honoring and recognizing exceptional teachers on a district, state, and national level.. These awards not only assist in retention efforts but serve as a powerful recruitment tool.

Graduation Ceremony Held at Johnson Detention Center

The second Laurens County Adult Education Graduation Ceremony at the Johnson Detention Center was held yesterday, Monday afternoon.Dr. R. Joseph Makla, Director of Adult Education, presented the graduate, Aaron Devain Brown his high school G.E.D certificate, and told those in attendance, that the graduate also earned a silver cord, which represented his silver WorkKeys Career Readiness achievement.After the invocation and the pledge, opening remarks were given by Captain Kathy Tucker, who quoted a line for the movie, “The Blind Side,” where Michael Oher said, “Don’t ever allow yourself to feel trapped by your choices, and that you are a unique person created for a specific purpose, and you matter.”Special thanks were given to Janet Thompson, the classroom teacher, Sheriff Don Reynolds, Sergeant Scott Weeks and the staff at the detention center who made this graduation happen, and Jostens for their generous donation of the cap and gown. We salute this young man for furthering his education and preparing for his future.

Clinton Man Charged With CDV 2nd Degree

Sunday night at 12:06 am Clinton Public Safety received a disturbing phone call in which a woman was arguing with a man and physical damage seemed to be heard through the phone. Clinton units were dispatched to the incident location on Brandy Lane in Clinton, and upon arrival they made contact with the caller, an adult woman, and the man with whom she was arguing, also an adult. The woman alleged that the man came to her residence for no specific reason and manipulated a minor child  to gain entry. Once he was inside, he and the woman began arguing. Things got even more tangled from there, as the man allegedly pulled on the woman’s glued-on wig hard enough to separate it from her head. A witness in the residence claimed that the man was choking the woman. The man was reportedly angry because he wanted his swimming pool back.

26 year old Dashua Terrell Reeder of 100 Houser Circle 5C Clinton was booked on Monday morning by the Clinton Depratment of Public Safety into the Johnson Detention Center charged with Domestic violence second degree. The warrant alleges that on May 1st he did commit the offence of domestic violence second degree and did cause physical harm to the victim in the presence of a minor and impeded the victims airflow by placing his hands around the area of the victims neck.

He remains in the detention center on $5k bond as of this posting.

 

Multiple Drug Charges Alleged Against Joanna Woman

39 year old Michelle N Strong of 404 Pickens Street Joanna was booked into the Johnson Detention Cneter Tuesday charged with drug distribution, possession of controlled substance, narcotics possession, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Warrants state that on April 27th she did knowingly possess with intent to distribute marijuana, did possess with intent to distribute marijuana within one half mile of Joanna Woodson elementary school , did knowingly possess xanax, a schedule 4 controlled substance without authority to do so, and did knowingly aid, assist, promote and/or abet the distribution of a schedule 2 controlled substance, hydrocodone,  in that she was present and did allow another subject to distribute from her residence. Strong remains in the detention center awaiting bond as of this posting.

 

Charge of Assault and Battery On a Minor

24 year old Phillip Michael Kemph of 54 Poulson Place Laurens was booked Tuesday into the Johnson Detention Center charged with assault and battery 1st degree. The warrant alleges that between January 1st and March 23rd he did intentionally commit battery upon a juvenile victim on three separate occasions by touching her breast and vaginal area above her clothes with lewd intent. This happened when the victim was between the ages of 6 and 8 years old. Kemph remains in the detention center awaiting bond as of this posting.

Drug Sentencing of Clinton Man

18 year old Markevious Oneal Carter of 306 Florence Street Clinton booked Tuesday into the Johnson Detention Center charged with drug possesion and drug manufacture. He was sentenced to

$110 or 5 days for possession of drug paraphernalia and $415 or 30 days for possession of marijuana. He remains in the detention center as of this post.

Pat Brewster Named District 55 Employee of the Month

If you have called the Laurens County School District 55 Administrative Office during the past three decades, you have probably spoken with district receptionist Patricia Brewster.  In our family we call her Aunt Pat. My cousin Travis began calling her Aunt Pat over 30 years ago so on behalf of my family and the staff here at WLBG it’s an honour to present this press release from the school district. In a presentation held on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, Brewster was named the LCSD 55 District Office Employee of the Month for April 2017.

Since 1980, Brewster has been the voice at the other end of the phone when calls are answered at the district office.  With 48 total years of service in District 55, she has also served as school secretary at Pleasant View Primary, Laurens District 55 High, and Sanders Middle Schools.  “The Golden Rule inspires me each day.  Each day is as different as the people who come to the administrative office,” notes Brewster.  “They all have concerns and my job is to help them or direct them to other personnel for assistance.”  A native of the New Prospect Community in northern Spartanburg County, Brewster met her husband, Adolphus, who has served as a member of Gray Court Town Council, Mayor Pro tem of Gray Court and President of the Laurens County NAACP, in college.  After the couple married, they made their home in Laurens County.  Mother of a son and daughter, and five grandchildren (all girls), the Brewsters have been active in the community for many years.  “Mrs. Brewster is a dedicated employee.  She has given many years of service to the district.  It is a joy to see her smile when you walk into the district office,” notes George Ward, Assistant Superintendent for Laurens 55.

The LCSD55 Administrative Office provides support for all schools in the district.  The office is located at 301 Hillcrest Drive in Laurens.

National Day of Prayer Program Thursday in Clinton

National Day of Prayer is this Thursday. (May 4th) An Annual National Day of Prayer is being held in Clinton Thursday at Noon, on the lawn of the Clinton Museum on North Broad.

Participants include Mayor Bob McLean with an official Welcome and leading the Pledge of Allegiance, Presentation of Colors form the Clinton High JROTC, and the National Anthem sung by CHS student Zahdriq Graves.

Local ministers will have prayers for various components of the country.

Steven Evans of Friendship AME will lead prayer for the Government, Broad Street United Methodist Minister will pray for the Military and 1st Presbyterian Pastor Jeri Parris Perkins will pray for Business.

A prayer for Education will be led by Chris Sullivan of Community Baptist and Deryk Morgan of Elizabeth Street Church of God will lead prayer for our Churches.

For the benediction, Zahdriq Graves will lead all who are on hand for the National Day of Prayer event in singing “God Bless America.

The program starts at Noon Thursday on the lawn at the Clinton Museum.

 

Laurens Rotary Donates AED’s To High School

Michael Seymour, President of Laurens Rotary Club, along with Terri
Cvetko present Principal Sonya Bryant and Kayla Price, Associate
Athletic Director, at Laurens District 55 High School with two
Automatic Electronic Defibrillators (AEDs) for placement in the Athletic
Department.
Laurens Rotary “Does Good In The World”, both locally and globally.
Along with donating the AEDs, ongoing projects include feeding local
underprivileged children weekly, giving gift cards to several first year
teachers for supplies, placing books in local schools, donating funds
toward a sustainable water project in Honduras, and purchasing Shelter
Boxes for use during natural disasters overseas.
Laurens Rotary meets every Thursday at 1pm on the third floor of City
Hall. Please contact Michael Seymour or come to a meeting if you are
interested in joining.

District 55 Facilities Assessment

 

Click To Enlarge Chart

The South Carolina Department of Education conducted an assessment of the schools in Laurens County School District 55. The assessments were conducted in January of 2017. The results were compiled and published by the SCDOE on March 16, 2017. Facilities in LCSD 55 were given an average rating of 3 (or Fair), which is defined as, “marginally operational and/or acceptable but at the end of the material or systems useful life.

The material or system is in the deferred maintenance stage and is at risk for failure.”

A more detailed look at the individual schools reveals that only one school (Waterloo Elementary School) in LCSD 55 meets the minimum standard of a 4 (or Good), which is defined as “operational and/or acceptable and not yet scheduled for replacement.” Sanders Middle School, with an overall 2.7 rating, was the lowest rated facility in LCSD 55. Dr. Stephen Peters, LCSD 55 Superintendent, said, “the state report is consistent with our own facilities assessment, which was the basis for the bond referendum that is currently before the voters. We believe we can address many of the facility concerns by building a new high school, consolidating at least Laurens and Sanders Middle Schools on the old high school campus (after some modifications) and completing necessary renovations at other schools with identified needs.” Peters went on to say, “this information was shared with the Facilities Projects Advisory Committee (FPAC) at their most recent meeting. We want to make sure they have all the data available to make an informed recommendation to the board and the community. They may have another solution; but, it is clear that we need to do something to improve the majority of the facilities in LCSD 55.”

The full report, titled Facility Assessment Report Phase I – for the Abbeville Plaintiff Districts may be found on the SCDOE website at http://ed.sc.gov/data/reports/school-facility-assessment-phase-i/

Pages 210 – 228 specifically reference schools in LCSD 55.

Newberry Woman Arrested in Laurens on Drug Charges

26 year old Shunta Lavanta Gary of 101 Nance Street Newberry was booked Monday into the Johnson Detention Center ticketed with drug manufacturing, possession of marijuana, and charged with possession of meth. The warrant alleges that she was found to be in possession of meth during a lawful contact stop within the city limits of Laurens. She remains in the detention center on $6115 bond

Multiple Tickets for Assault and Drugs

31 year old Christy Marie Edge of 401 Holmes Street Laurens was booked Monday into the Johnson Detention Center ticketed for simple assault, marijuana possession and possesion of drug paraphernalia. She remains in the detention center awaiting bond.

Clinton Woman Faces Drug Charges

 38 year old Crystal Cothran Loggins of 36 Peachtree Street Clinton was booked Sunday into the Johnson Detention Center charged with filing false report of a felony, sale of drugs and possession of narcotics. Warrants allege that on April 29th she did knowingly and willingly file a false police report of a felony burglary in the second degree. That she filed a report stating that her residence was broken into and medication had been stolen. It was determined that she filed a false report in order to have her medications refilled. That on April 28th, she did sell a quantity of pills to another subject. The pills were identified as a schedule II controlled substance the incident taking place within a half mile of a school and public park in the city of Clinton and a third warrant for selling pills identified as xanax. She remains in the detention center as of this post on $4k bond.

School District 55 Bond Referendum Tax Estimates

Click for Larger Table

Laurens County School District 55  recently completed an analysis of the impact of the proposed bond referendum on local taxes. As part of this analysis, District 55 also completed a comparison of average property tax rates in counties surrounding the district. According to LCSD 55 spokesperson, Ed Murray, “the information cannot be exact because there are differences in millage rates based on municipalities, school districts, and local fees within a county; but, LCSD 55 believes the information does provide a clear comparison based on the median tax rate and median home value in each county.” In the analysis, Abbeville County is the only county in the area with a lower tax rate (as a percentage of home value) than Laurens County. If the bond referendum passes, Abbeville County would still be the only county with a lower tax rate than Laurens County. Laurens tax rate would be equivalent to that of Anderson County; but, lower than that of Greenville, Greenwood, Newberry, Spartanburg, and Union Counties by an average of 0.11% of home value. LCSD 55 used data from

http://www.tax-rates.org/south_carolina/property-tax

to complete the analysis.

LCSD 55 was also able to use the data they collected to create a before and after chart for the estimated dollar amount in taxes for various home values. The analysis begins with a $50,000 home value and increases in $50,000 increments up to $500,000 and also includes the estimated dollar amount in taxes for the median home value in Laurens County ($86,078). On that median home value, taxes would increase by an estimated $77 per year (or $6.42 per month). If a citizen is over 65 or falls into one of the other exempt categories, they would subtract $50,000 from their home value to determine the average current and projected tax in dollars. LCSD 55 Superintendent, Dr. Stephen Peters, said, “we know that our citizens are reluctant when considering any kind of tax increase; but, we believe they see the need for new facilities in LCSD 55. We also believe these numbers will ease the minds of many regarding the actual impact of the passage of the bond referendum on September 5, 2017.”

LCDC To Meet Wednesday

The Laurens County Development Corporation Executive Committee Meeting will be tomorrow, Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 2:00 P.M.

in the LCDC Board Room

The Meeting Agenda is as follows:

1. Welcome & Call to Order – Jeff Field

2. Approval of Agenda – Jeff Field

Executive Session

* Personnel Matter

* Contractual Matter

Adjourn

Piedmont Tech FAFSA Assistance Tomorrow at Laurens County Campus

Last week was FAFSA Week at Piedmont Technical College, where assistance was offered for Piedmont Tech-bound students seeking financial assistance.

P.T.C. announced that they’re going to offer more FAFSA assistance in local county campus locations this week.

Security concerns were cited in the IRS and Department of Education now requiring all students and parents to enter their tax information by hand into their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. (FAFSA)

Missy Perry, financial aid director at Piedmont Tech, said  these changes “means a more time-consuming process for students and their families completing the FAFSA and, potentially, a more burdensome verification process after students submit the application, as additional paperwork will need to be requested directly from the IRS.”

Today, Financial Aid staff will be available at the Newberry County and Edgefield County campuses.

The Laurens County campus, in the Laurens County Higher Education Center, will have financial aid personnel on hand tomorrow (Tuesday)

From 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. …and at the McCormick County campus.

FAFSA help will be available the same hours on Wednesday at the Abbeville and Saluda County PTC locations.

School Dist. 55 FPAC Meeting

Analysis of Debt that will be acquired to build a new Laurens High School was among the items discussed at last week’s School District 55 Facilities Projects Committee meeting.

A Debt Service comparison sheet was passed, showing debt for District 55 and surrounding school districts. Chairman Ernie Segars and Vice Chair Terry Varner talked about the breakdown of the bond mileage needed to collect a certain amount of revenue to service debt.

They explained that while the District 55 property tax that goes to support debt service would double with a $109 million bond issue, the overall tax would not. That pointed out that the school bond portion of property taxes makes up on a portion of property taxes.

An example was given of a home with a tax value of $100,000. The current millage rate in District 55 is 54 mills, which produces $224 from a home with a tax valued of $100,000. With the millage needed to support the proposed new bond sale, the millage to service bonds in District 55 is expected to be raised to 110 mills. This would raise the bill for servicing debt on that $100,000 home to $448 per year.

People attending the FPAC meeting were reminded, however, that there are exemptions and write-offs, meaning many taxpayers would not have to pay the increase. The exemptions apply to persons who are 65 or older, also to windowed and disabled persons.

One of the persons attending the FPAC meeting expressed an optimistic thought about the proposed Bond issue, saying that the new high school has potential to draw new housing, industry and business into District 55, and that with the new investments the people now paying the tax for bonds would have more folks paying the tax, reducing the cost for current taxpayers as the tax base is expanded.

The L55 FPAC Curriculum Subcommittee will meet Tuesday, May 2, at 6:00 p.m. at the District 55 Administrative Office. The meeting will be held in the conference room of the Teaching and Learning Department.

Forgery, Larceny and Shoplifting

26 year old LaShunda Denise Simpson of 125 Jackson Street Laurens was booked Sunday into the Johnson Detention Center charged with forgery, petit larceny and shoplifting. Warrants allege that between March 22nd and Aril 24th 2017 Simpson did forge the signature of a victim with intent to obtain goods through fraudulent means without permission.  Between March 17th and April 24th did commit the crime of petit larceny by unlawfully obtaining goods and removing them from a business on Hillcrest Drive and did so by charging items to an account without permission to do so. And did commit the crime of shoplifting. That, along with a co-defendant, she did conceal a hair care product on her person and leave a store without paying. This charge was enhanced due to previous shoplifting charges. She remains in the detention center on $22k bond.

Gun Charges

21 year old Austin Gage Doolittle of 105 Arvil Lane Laurens was booked Friday into the Johnson Detention Center for Unlawful Carry of a Pistol. The warrant alleges that on April 27th he had in his possession a High Standard 22 revolver under the driver seat of his vehicle in the city limits of Clinton. He remains in the Johnson Detention Center on $5k bond.