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.

That’s My Husband!

Clinton Public Safety Officers were dispatched to the House of Pizza on Musgrove Street at 6:53 last evening on a report of an altercation between two women. One woman had reportedly entered the restaurant and observed another woman eating with her husband, then allegedly grabbed her by the hair and assaulted her. The victim reportedly had abrasions to her neck and leg. 32-year-old Natalie Michelle Cogsdill of 306 Beauregard Street, Clinton was arrested on a charge of Assault and Battery 3rd Degree. She was being held in City Jail overnight, pending arraignment this morning.

Fatal Accident US 76

According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the accident occurring at 8:48am on US 76 just east of Laurens near Lakeside Country Club has resulted in a fatality.

Stay tuned to REAL Radio 860 WLBG and wlbg.com for further details as they become available.

Distinguished Graduate

Laurens County Deputy Sheriff Tyler L. Hunter, center in this picture, graduated with honors last Friday, October 31st, from the Basic Law Enforcement Class at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Deputy Hunter was one of only two in the class of 62 to graduate with honors.

Historic Grist Mill Coming to Laurens

A Grist Mill that’s well over 100 years old is going to be moved into the City of Laurens. Phil Adair, Chairman of the Laurens County Museum Board, informed the Laurens Rotary Club yesterday that the family that owns the property at Ekom Beach on the Reedy River has offered to donate the mill to the Museum. He said it still has all the internal workings from the late 1800s. The Museum is looking for an appropriate setting in the City of Laurens to serve as the new home for the historic structure.

Sports Report for Thursday, 7-24-2014

Local Notes:

Interviews with Coaches Scott King and Chris Liner… Back on Tuesday morning, Laurens hosted a 7 on 7 passing competition that involved several schools… Clinton was one of the teams present at that completion… That will be the last 7 on 7 competition for both Laurens and Clinton this summer… After the completion was over, we caught up with both head coaches and had a short interview with them about how they thought the competitions went this summer, who stood out at them and about what lies ahead in the next 10 days or so as they get ready for the first day of fall practice… Below are those interviews.


Big League World Series: SC 5 – Southwest 1… The last few days I have been mentioning to you that the Little League Big League World Series was starting last night in Easley and that 3 LDHS current of former baseball players (Cody Smiley, Grayson Bailes, and Thomas Jones) had made the roster for the host SC Dist. 1 team… Well good news as the SC team took a 5-1 win over the southwest team and two Raiders made the starting lineup… They were Cody Smiley at third and Grayson Bailes at shortstop… Cody Smiley actually scored the first run for the host team in the bottom of the 4th inning when he led off and “took one” for the team being hit by a pitch… He later scored the first of two runs in the inning… SC would score 3 more runs in the bottom of the 4th and Grayson Bailes had a key sacrifice bunt in the inning to move the first runner into scoring position… Also in the 4th inning, Cody Smiley was robbed of at least a double down the right field line as the Southwest right fielder made a great diving catch just inside the foul line…. While Smiley went 0-2 scoring a run and Bailes went 0-1… Emerald’s Sheldon Reed and Easley’s Brandon Hood led the host team both going 2-3… TL Hannah’s Adam Hill got the start and picked up the win going 6 innings giving up no runs on 4 hits while striking out 7 and walking only 1…. The SC team will have today off and be back in action Friday night at 7:30 as they face a team from the Central Region of the U.S… Click on the following for more game statistics: 7-24-14-BLWS-SCD1-SW


Braves: Braves 6 – Marlins 1… The Braves and marlins hooked up in game 3 of their 4-game series in Atlanta last night and after losing 2 straight to the Marlins the Braves put one in the win column s they took a 6-1 win over The Fish… The Braves went up 1-0 in the first then pretty much put the game out of reach as they scored 4 runs in the second inning… The big blow in the 2nd came off the bat of Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman who hit his 14th homer of the year a 3-run shot… BJ Upton and Jason Hayward each got 2 of the Braves 8 hits..


Greenville Drive: Drive 9 – BlueClaws 2… The Greenville Drive started a week long road trip yesterday and their first stop is in Lakewood, NJ where they took on the BlueClaws… Good news for Drive fans as they snapped a 7-game losing streak by taking a 9-2 win over The Claws… Greenville trailed 2-1 going into the top of the 8th inning when they struck for 3 runs and added 5 more in the 9th to take the win… The Drive got only 9 hits to the BlueClaws 5 but were the recipient of 5 walks and a Claw error…


Countdown to Start of Football Season: Hang on football fans it’s only 29 days until Clinton opens up its football season at AC Flora, 35 days until PC opens up at Northern Illinois and 36 days until Laurens host BHP in the start of the Chris Liner era at LDHS.


Carolina Panthers… The Carolina Panthers Fan Fest will be tomorrow night, July 25, when the Carolina Panthers conduct their first preseason practice at newly renovated Bank of America Stadium to kick off the franchise’s 20th season…Admission is free, and all fans will receive a 2014 team roster photo card with a 2014 schedule… Then on Saturday the pre-season training camp opens in Spartanburg at Wofford College… Click on the following link for the practice schedule at Wofford and special happenings on certain days of spring training: Panthers Training Camp Schedule.


Upcoming Summer Camps – Clinton & Laurens YMCA, City of Laurens Parks & Recreation and PC

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