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.

Serving Time for Previous Charges

29 year old Joseph Aaron Thomason of 279 Woodmont School Rd. Piedmont was booked into the Johnson Detention Center Friday by the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office on previous charges of Grand larceny and giving false information to law enforcement. He was sentenced to 10 days on each charge and remains in the Detention Center

Bench Warrant Sentencing

28 year old Sargin Keion Reeder of 144 Arthur Hill Rd. Waterloo was booked into the Johnson Detention Center Saturday charged with petit larceny and trespassing. Warrants allege that on March 5th 2014 Reeder was convicted of Petit Larceny with a sentence of $1092,  30 days or restitution of $500 and $200 court cost to run consecutively with any and all other sentences and $470 or Jail time of 30 days for trespassing. He remains in the detention center to work off his time.

Stolen Car and Driving Charges

30 year old Robert Benjamin Mull of 579 Ritchie Rd. Ft Inn was booked Sunday into the Johnson Detention Center charged with DUI, DUS, striking fixtures, and grand larceny. A Warrant from the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office states that on April 29th, Mull took and carried away a 2003 Infinity Q45 with intent to permanently deprive the owner. Tickets from the highway patrol were issued for DUS, DUI and Striking a Fixture. Mull remains in the detention center on $20,879 bond

Multiple Charges on Woodruff Man

25 year old Robert Lee Wedman Jr. of 991 Pearlie Farm Rd. Woodruff was booked into the Johnson Detention Center Sunday charged with open container, resisting arrest, interference with a service animal,  failure to maintain proof of insurance, drugs and distribution. Warrants allege that Wedman was in possession of 49.3 grams of marijuana within the city limits of Laurens. He remains in the detention center on $21,489 bond.

Wear Blue at 5:00 PM Vigil

The Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem Office in Laurens is holding a vigil in honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month at 5:00 this afternoon. The vigil will take place at the Historic Laurens County Courthouse on the Laurens Square. All are invited to attend, and asked to wear blue to show support for the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

The Laurens County office starts another training session for new volunteer Guardian ad Litem on May 8th. Anyone wanting more information on that can call the office at 984-54-57 or go online to scgal.org .

Weather Related Closings and Delays Wednesday 4-5-17

Piedmont Technical College:

All campuses closing at Noon. No afternoon or evening classes.

Laurel Hill Baptist Church in Waterloo is open for anyone in the community needing shelter during the storms.

Hickory Tickory Tots Daycare in Hickory Tavern is closing at Noon due to uncertainty in the weather.

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.