College Signing Day at 2:45 at LDHS

Laurens District High School is hosting a College Signing Day for all LDHS Seniors this afternoon. They’re inviting parents, family, friends and community leaders to join the celebration.

While athletic scholarship signings are a routine part of high school life, LDHS Counselor Josh Dawkins said “we believe that every student who gets accepted to a college or university deserves similar recognition for their accomplishments.” Principal Sonya Bryant said, “recognizing our students for all of their hard work is one of the joys of my job.”

Over 150 students are expected to participate in the signing ceremony. The whole student body will be on hand to witness the event.

Signing day at LDHS is set for 2:45 this afternoon in the main Gym.

Missing Girl Now Considered a Runaway

The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office has determined that the 12-year-old Clinton girl who went missing last night is probably a runway. Deputies were assisted by firefighters searching the area around the girl’s home on Green Plain Road this morning, and had a SLED aviation unit searching from the air. Later in the day, it was determined that the girl was most likely a runway, and the search was scaled back.





Laurens Hit Hard by Severe Storm

A severe thunderstorm came through central Laurens County Wednesday night.

The Laurens CPW reported having widespread power outages in town. Around 9:20 pm John Young said that four of the seven circuits in the CPW electric system were out. He said the whole department was going to be working all night. They were going to wait until Thursday morning to determine if they’ll need to bring in some out-of-town crews to help get all the power back up in Laurens.

Laurens City Police had blue-light units at many of the main intersections in town, where traffic lights were not operating Wednesday night.

The Main WLBG transmitter was damaged by lightening around 7:10 Wednesday evening. Wyatt Mattison’s coverage of the storm was silenced by a massive strike that inflicted damage in the transmitter. He was able to replace damaged portions of the transmitter and WLBG returned to air around 8:10 pm. While power over major portions of Laurens were out, power remained on at WLBG.

Assault in Nursing Home

Laurens City Police this weekend arrested a man for allegedly entering a nursing home and committing a domestic assault inside. 22-year-old Terrance William Franklin Jr. of 55 Beech Street, Apt 8G, Clinton was charged with Domestic Violence 2nd Degree, Breach of Peace, Aggravated in Nature and with two counts of Malicious Damage.

He is accused of going into NHC on Pinehaven Street Extension Saturday and committing a domestic assault therein. Franklin is accused of striking the victim about her face, causing minor injury, and also of breaking her cell phone, preventing her from calling law enforcement. He and the victim have lived together and have a child in common. He is accused of breaking the front door of NHC Laurens and of damaging a tire and rim owned by the victim, having previously destroyed a smart phone owned by the domestic victim. Terrance William Franklin Jr. remained in custody this morning with cash or surety bonds totaling $47,000 on all his charges.

Man, 2 Children Killed Near Hickory Tavern

A man and two small children were killed in a crash in western Laurens County on Monday afternoon.

According to Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols, the crash occurred on Neely Ferry Road near the intersection with Lollis Road about 3 miles south of Hickory Taven at 1:47 this afternoon.

The single vehicle accident involved a ¾ ton Chevrolet Pickup which  was towing a trailer.  The vehicle left the roadway and struck an oak tree.  The impact killed the driver and two children who were passengers.

Killed were 67 year old Lonnie Owens of 105 Henry Street in Clinton, 6 year old RaShaun Mims of 100 Countryside Circle in Clinton and 3 year old A-Shauna Mims also of 100 Countryside Circle in Clinton.  All three were pronounced dead at the scene.

Reports indicate that another passenger was injured and flown to a Greenville hospital.

WLBG and will have further details on this tragedy as soon as they become available.

5th Person Charged with Criminal Conspiracy

A 5th suspect has now been charged with being among those planning a theft from the Pilot Travel Center in Clinton last fall. Clinton Public Safety delivered 18-year-old Duntavious Antonio Calvin Jones of 163 Cypress Street, Clinton to the Johnson Detention Center early this morning, charged with Criminal Conspiracy. Sgt. Shane Prather states that on November 21st, 2016 Duntavious Jones unlawfully planned and schemed to accomplish the crime of Grand Larceny at the Pilot Travel Center along with the four defendants arrested last week. The allegation is based on the investigation of Detectives Prather and Goggins. Duntavious Antonio Calvin Jones was being held, pending a bond hearing on the charge.

The first four suspects, also charged with involvement carrying out the crime, remained in custody this morning with bonds set ranging from $40,000 to $55,000.

Overnight Armed Robbery Investigation

Clinton Public Safety Officers overnight were investigating an Armed Robbery that reportedly occurred last evening at the Pilot Station on Highway56 at Interstate 26. Details were not available this morning, except that the Armed Robbery reportedly also involved an Aggravated Assault and the use of a Weapon in the Violent Crime.

City Council Meets with Police Chief This Morning

Laurens City Council is holding a special, called meeting at 11:00 this morning, as announced at the regular July meeting of Council Tuesday evening. An agenda sent out Wednesday only has one item on the agenda: An Executive Session for a Personnel Matter. The agenda indicates this is to discuss an individual employed with the City of Laurens Police Department.

Groundbreaking for Industrial “Spec” Building at 3:00 pm Today

The City of Clinton’s Economic Development Agency is holding groundbreaking this afternoon for a new Spec building at the I-26 Commerce Park. The 75,000 square foot building is to be constructed as a shell, ready for finishing with specifics for the industrial uses it will be purchased for.

Groundbreaking was held June 27th for a 150,000 square foot pad being prepared for future construction. I-26 Commerce Park is east of Interstate 25 on Highway 72. A 100,000 square foot pad has already been constructed in the park.

Storm Causes Large Scale Power Outages, Road Closures in Clinton

A severe thunderstorm struck Clinton around 9:30 last night, bringing down numerous trees and causing large-scale power outages. Clinton City Manager Frank Stovall said city personnel immediately returned to duty, responding to emergency calls. Stovall said that power was restored to approximately 1/3rd of customers by 1:00 this morning and continued working this morning to restore service to others still without power.

Public Works and Public Safety crews were working to clear downed trees and open up roadways. The primary effort in the early morning hours was on opening the main roads. Once those roads are open, crews were to focus on opening up secondary streets. Removal of debris that was being pushed out of the roadways will take place over the next week.

Frank Stovall asked that citizens “be patient with us as we restore power and open roads and also over the next week as we work to clear debris.”

He also asked “Please be cautious during your Friday morning commute as some roads will likely still be closed.”

WLBG News noted lights on north of Main during our check on Clinton between 4 and 4:30 am, and most streets were open. The south side of town was dark, including South Adair, Jacobs Highway and College View. As we were driving up South Broad at PC at 4:45 this morning power was restored to a big area on the south side of town.

East of Clinton, Whitmire was hit by a big storm sometime around 5:00 yesterday afternoon, resulting in trees downed and a big power outage there.

Special Election Set for Richard Griffin’s Seat on City Council

A special election has been set to replace Laurens City Councilman Richard Griffin. Councilman Griffin died Tuesday morning.

The Board of Voter Registration and Elections of Laurens County has  announced a Special Election to fill the unexpired term of Councilman Griffin from Laurens City Council Seat 2. It will be held on August 30th. Three precincts will be open for Seat 2 voters in Precincts 2, 3 and 6; which vote at the CPW Training Center, at the Fairgrounds and at the YMCA.

The filing period for anyone interested in seeking election to Seat 2 on Laurens County Council will open at noon on June 17th and remain open until noon on June 27th. Registered voters who live in City Council Seat 2 may apply for election to the seat during regular office hours at the Elections Office on the ground floor of the Historic Laurens County Courthouse.

Blunt Force Trauma Caused Death; ID of Remains Pending DNA

‘Multiple Blunt Force Trauma’ was ruled as the cause of death of a person whose remains were found outside Clinton yesterday afternoon. Laurens County Coroner Nick Nichols said that an autopsy this morning indicates death was from multiple blunt force impacts to the head. Nichols said that determining whose remains these are is awaiting a report from DNA testing.

The remains were found around 4:00 pm at the end of Taylor Drive on property that has an abandoned house and an abandoned trailer. Near the human remains was a Ford Mustang that looked like the one a missing Laurens High teen was reportedly seen with during his last sightings. He had been seen in the Gray Court area and in the City of Laurens on May 8th. Sheriff Ricky Chastain told WLBG this morning that the car was the Mustang that was reported as being used by 17-year-old Edwin Diaz-Chirinos when he was last known seen.

Laurens County Sheriff’s Investigators were talking with persons of interest throughout the night last night and this morning. Sheriff Chastain this said that multiple persons of interest were being questioned and that charges were pending.

SLED was assisting in the investigation.

Longing for the Open Road has Diminished

Clinton Public Safety responded to the BP Station on Highway 72 at Interstate 26 just before 1:00 yesterday afternoon on a report of an upset individual. A Wisconsin man advised Lt. Moore that while riding down the roadway his girlfriend became upset about “the truck-driving situation” and wanted out of the truck. The man said he pulled off the road. He said when his girlfriend started crying and he called for police because he was worried about her. The woman said she was upset because life on the road as a truck driver wasn’t all she thought it was going to be and she just didn’t want to do it anymore. The officer checked with the woman to ensure she was not going to hurt herself, after which he advised they were free leave. The man and woman indicated they would leave after they sat there for a while.

Murder Investigation in Clinton

Clinton Public Safety investigators were out all night at a city residence investigating the death of a local man as a Murder. Public Safety Director Robin Morse said the case began with a medical call, approximately between 5:45 and 6:00 pm. The deceased’s brother reportedly found the victim and called 911. Emergency Personnel were dispatched on a Cardiac Arrest. Chief Morse said that on arrival it became quickly evident that this was a case of murder.

At around 4:30 this morning Robin Morse said that officers were talking with a “person of interest” in the death, but that charges had not been served at that point. He indicated officers were in consultation with the Solicitor’s Office.

The body of the deceased was taken to Greenville overnight, pending an autopsy.

Decision on Superintendent Expected This Morning

After spending many hours interviewing the final three candidates for Laurens County District 55 School Superintendent over the past few weeks, the School Board is to make their final selection this morning. Interaction with the top three candidates this week included evenings where each also had a chance to interact with interested members of the community. This morning it comes down to the final selection. The District 55 School Board is to meet in special session at 9:00 this morning for any final discussion and for the vote that selects the next Superintendent of Education.  WLBG News will be there for the vote, and we expect to have the results of that vote either later this morning or by the Noon News.

3 Finalists for District 55 Superintendent

The Laurens County School District 55 Board of Trustees has selected three candidates as finalists for the position of superintendent of schools.

The three finalists were announced Friday afternoon in alphabetical order:

  • Dr. Julie Gore Fowler (SC State Department of Education)
  • Dr. Stephen Gregory Peters (Orangeburg Wilkinson High School)
  • Dr. Eunice C. Williams (Richland County School District One)

The board made its selection of three finalists after a thorough review of 31 applicants and interviews with 8 of those applicants on March 29, 30 and 31. Board Chair Susan Calhoun-Ware, chair, said “After review and consideration of all eight candidates interviewed, the board has named three finalists for the position of Superintendent of Laurens School District 55.  Each candidate is very well qualified and displayed much interest in our students, faculty, staff and community.  We are looking for the best candidate that will build on our successes and challenge us as a district to improve so our students can achieve on even higher levels. “

The chair said the board looks forward to the next phase of presenting the candidates to the public and introducing them to district staff on April 18, 19, and 20. Each candidate will spend a day in the district meeting with staff, teachers, and touring schools.  The public is invited to meet each candidate at a community reception scheduled for 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. on April 18, 19, and 20.  The reception will be held at the district office.  Each candidate will have a final interview with the board following the community reception.  The board plans to announce the next Superintendent April 22nd.  The new Superintendent will begin July 1.


Criminal Sexual Conduct with Student Alleged

Laurens Police have arrested an assistant coach on allegations of a sexual assault with a 14-year-old student. Detective Joey Pittman was dispatched to the Sheriff’s Office just after 6:00 last evening on a report of a Sexual Assault that reportedly happened between 9:00 and 10:00 yesterday morning. He spoke with Sheriff’s Investigator Crockett, who said the victim was a 14-year-old female who said she had been assaulted by a 29-year-old assistant wresting coach from Laurens High School. Contact was made with the victim as Laurens City Police investigated the allegations.

Last night, 29-year-old Joseph Ned Kemp of 405 West Farley Avenue, Laurens was arrested and placed in the Johnson Detention Center, where he was being held for a warrant. Assistant Laurens Police Chief Chrissie Cofield said the charge is to be Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor in the 2nd Degree. Major Cofield said the victim of the alleged sexual assault was a student in a District 55 School. She added that the investigation only indicates this one victim, but they are asking that if there is another for that person to contact Laurens Police. She said this request is because he had access to other youth.

A statement from District 55 this morning said that Joseph Kemp was employed as an assistant wrestling coach at Laurens District High School and that he was not employed in any other capacity in the district. It said Kemp has been removed from his coaching responsibilities.

The District 55 statement added “The safety of our students is our number one priority. Any behavior that compromises the safety and well-being of our students and the trust of our community will not and cannot be tolerated.”

Laurens Assistant Chief Cofield said that a warrant on the Criminal Sexual Conduct charge was signed at 7:00 this morning and was to be served today. She said a bond hearing is set for 7:00 this evening in the Laurens Police Department.

Maybe a Call to 911 would be Smarter

Laurens City Police Officer Sellers responded to the Laurens County Hospital at 2:39 Sunday morning to speak with a man who indicated he had been assaulted at a bar. He spoke with the man and his wife who indicated they were enjoying their day off and delivering some green tomatoes to a friend. The man said they had several drinks at the establishment and at “last call” he went outside to start their van. He said the vehicle has trouble starting in cool weather so he went  to the rear door to retrieve a tool to start the vehicle with. He said he then observed 4 to 5 males standing at the rear of his vehicle, one of whom was attempting to pry the rear door open with what is assumed to have been a crowbar. He said he grabbed this unidentified man and pulled him away from the van door. He indicated a fight then ensued, saying he managed to strike the man in the nose before being struck in the back of the head with an unknown object. He said he fell to the ground and doesn’t remember anything since the blunt force trauma. The wife reportedly began to wonder why her husband had not returned after 10 or 15 minutes and went outside and found him on the ground bleeding from the back of his head. She offered to call for medical help but he reportedly refused out of concern about the police seeing he was about to drive off while intoxicated. After an argument, she took him to the ER against his wishes. After he calmed down, the man said he realizes he should have called 911 about the attempted break-in of his van. He said he would like to prosecute. He gave a description of the man he tangled with, down to a bald head and gold teeth caps. Officer Sellers examined their van and noting seeing fresh pry parks and chipped paint on the gap between the double doors.

Laurens County Council Dist 3 – Vote Tally

Running vote tally from today’s special election for Laurens County District 3.

Dianne Belsom-Republican, Garrett McDaniel


Absentee :           71-42 McDaniel

Laurens 1:           71-17 McDaniel

Laurens 4:           42-11 McDaniel

Laurens 6:           36-19 Belsom

Trinity Ridge:     41-28 McDaniel

Laurens 2:           46-7  McDaniel

Bailey:                  37-0 McDaniel

Laurens 5:           15-18 Belsom

Owings:                4 – 1 Belsom

Barksdale:           29-5  Belsom

Maddens              32-22 McDaniel

Laurens 3:            19-33  McDaniel

Gray Court:          48- 18  McDaniel



447      Garrett McDaniel

265      Dianne Belsom













Special County Council District 3 Election Underway

A special election is now underway in Laurens County Council, District 3, to select someone to finish the current unexpired term of the late Councilman Ed McDaniel. The candidates, selected last month in special primaries, are Republican Dianne Belsom and Democrat Garrett McDaniel.

Precincts open for the special election today are Laurens City precincts 1 thru 6, Bailey, Trinity Ridge, Barksdale-Narnie, Maddens, Owings and Gray Court. Only District 3 registered votes in these precincts are eligible to vote.

These polls are open until 7:00 this evening. WLBG will be broadcasting election results from the Historic County Courthouse this evening.