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 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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Sports Report for Friday, 7-18-2014

Local All-Star Baseball Action… Two Clinton area Dixie Youth All-Star teams will be in action tomorrow morning down in Florence.

  • 11-12… The Clinton 11-12 All-Star team starts their day off bright and early at 9:30 as they take on Lake Marion… According to Coach Mike Riser the strengths of his team are pitching and defense… Team members are William Riser, A.J. Gregory, Neil Spelts, Bryant Cantrell, Jack Carrol, Nick Perkins, Michael Cothran, Z.Z Dobbins, Bronson Butler, Alex Tollison, Chandler Rhodes, and Ike Waldren…. Click on the following link for the teams tournament bracket: DY Majors-bracket_2014
  • 10-Under…. The Clinton 10-Under All-Star team will start their day off at 11:00 as they face off against a team from Lancaster… This team has made it to the state with a core group of players who won the state tournament last year in coaches pitch… The team also features a strong pitching staff and tight defense which will be needed in this multi day tournament if Clinton is to win it all…. The Team members are Davis Wilson, Davison Pitts, Austin Copeland, Wil Stewart, Wyatt McWatters, K.J. Adams, Collin Stewart, Luke White, R.T. Corley, Blake barker, Zach Foreman and their Head Coach is Matt Stewart… Click on the following for their tournament bracket: DY AAA-bracket 2014
  • Tournament Address… The tournaments are being held at the Freedom Florence Complex which is located off of Pamplico Highway, at 1515 Freedom Boulevard, Florence, South Carolina 29505…. Good luck to both teams!


New 9-Under Baseball Team Forming… A new 9-under travel baseball team is forming in the area and they are having try-outs on Sunday, August 3 at Laurens City Park – Field 1… A potential player cannot turn 10 before May 1, 2015… If you would like more information click on the following link: New 9U Travel Team Information


SEC Media Predictions: Well the SEC Media Days wound up yesterday and the media voted on the All-SEC Team and predicted the order of finish in the SEC.

  • All-SEC Team… Unlike previous years, South Carolina did not have a single player make the All-SEC First Team either on offense or defense… There were 3 who made the Second-Team Offense from SC and they were RB Mike Davis, OL A.J. Cann and OL Corey Robinson…. The only other player to show up on the any All-SEC team was DB Brison Williams who made Third Team Defense.
  • Order of Finish… In the SEC West, the media pundits predicted Alabama to finish 1st and Alabama 2nd… In the SEC East the Gamecocks got the nod edging out Georgia who polled 2nd… As far as taking the SEC Championship, Alabama polled 1st, Auburn 2nd and South Carolina 3rd.
  • Link… If you would like to see the complete list of the All-Sec Team members and more details on the predicted finish of each school, click on the following link: Complete 2014 SEC Media Pre-Season Polls.


Braves: The Braves had the night off last night and will crank things back up tonight as the all-star break end.. They will start am 11 day home stand and the first team in will be the Phillies.

Greenville Drive: Braves 6 – Drive 4… The Greenville Drive completed their 3-gane series last night against the Rome Braves down in Georgia and as you may recall, each team had won a game so this as the rubber game of the match… The Braves jumped out to an early 5 -0 lead and then went on to take a 6-4 win over the Drive.. Lack of offense again was the problem as the Drive collected only 6 hits…. The Drive return home tonight as they play host to the Ashville Tourist in game 1 of a 4-game series.


Countdown to Start of Football Season: Hang on football fans it’s only 35 days until Clinton opens up its football season at AC Flora, 41 days until PC opens up at Northern Illinois and 42 days until Laurens host BHP in the start of the Chris Liner era at LDHS.


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

[Read more…]

Florida Senator to Speak for Congressman Duncan

South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan announced Wednesday that Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) will be the keynote speaker at his annual Faith & Freedom BBQ held on August 25th at the Anderson Civic Center. Duncan, a two-term Congressman from Laurens is holding the event for the fourth year. Previous speakers have included Senators Jim DeMint, Tim Scott, Rand Paul, and former SCGOP Chairman Chad Connelly. Jeff Duncan said “I’m honored to have a solid conservative like Senator Rubio come to South Carolina to headline this event.” He added “Senator Rubio shares South Carolina’s values of limited government and individual liberty, and I’m looking forward to having him visit our state.”

Saturday Afternoon Domestic Arrest

Laurens Police were dispatched to Downs Street at 1:52 Saturday afternoon about a domestic altercation. On arrival a man told officers that everything was all right, and that he and his live-in girlfriend had been arguing. The argument reportedly began when he began fussing at her for not washing his clothes. The woman reportedly indicated he had pushed her in the chest, and Officer Craven reported observing redness to her. The man said she had sprayed him with Clorox bleach, but there was no discoloration of his clothing to substantiate that. 57-year-old James Henry Gallman of 112 Downs Street, also known as “Mumbles,” was arrested on a Criminal Domestic Violence charge and delivered to the Johnson Detention Center.

Stolen Pistols at 2 Waterloo Locations

The Sheriff’s Office received two reports of stolen pistols from the Lake Greenwood area near Waterloo yesterday. Deputy Steve Paterson was dispatched to Ridgewood Drive just before noon where he met a man who had put his Smith & Wesson 9 mm Police Special on a top shelf to keep it out of the reach of children. Now the $400 value pistol is missing. Deputy Paterson was dispatched to Ruth Walker Road at 3:35 yesterday afternoon and a man reported he had his Taurus 9 mm pistol in his truck and when he looked for it yesterday, it was gone. He said it had been there the day before. It was valued at $300.

Don’t Blame the Dog!

Evidence surfaced yesterday in connection with a Burglary reported last Friday. The owner of property on Miller Road, Waterloo reported he was at the property he owns mowing the lawn Friday morning and discovered a bedroom window broken. Glass was nearby on the ground and a file cabinet in the bedroom where the window was broken had been tampered with. $400 in damage from the Burglary was reported over the weekend. Yesterday, the Sheriff’s Office added 72 pictures from a game camera at the scene of the burglary that shows a female and a male subject and a brown and white dog on the property.

Marijuana Seized at Robbery Site

The Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a report of a robbery at a residence on Lakeview Road outside Laurens and 3:01 yesterday morning. One woman said her roommate, another woman, had been robbed at gunpoint. When Deputy Timothy Byrd arrived he noted neither resident was at home. He checked the area but did not locate an intruder. Both woman then arrived in the same vehicle. One of the women said she was in the residence with a male friend and she went to bed around 10 pm, while the friend was in the living room and later fell asleep there. She continued to say that a man with a gun woke her, asking where the money was. She said he made her open her night stand where she kept a purple Crown Royal bag that contained coins. She said he then had her walk to the living room while he pointed the gun at her and the friend was lying on the floor. She said that as the robber was occupied with the friend she ran from the trailer. At that time her roommate pulled into the yard, having returned home from work. The intruder then reportedly fled on foot. In talking with the roommate, she reportedly indicated she drove up and observed the male subject running toward Lakeview while holding a gun. She said she had seen a Chrysler 300 parked on Lakeview. Meanwhile, investigators on the scene reported observing the strong smell of marijuana in the residence, and located marijuana, which was seized. A report notes 5.8 grams of marijuana was located in the residence. A mobile phone, $33.68 in coins and other items including an x-box and a Dell laptop were taken; with total value of $1,493. The phone and coins, valued at $333, were recovered. The alleged intruder was described as a black male wearing a dark-colored hoodie.

Gray Court Reschdules Easter Egg Hunt

   The Gray Court Easter Egg Hunt that was rained out last Saturday has been rescheudled for this Wednesday, April 23rd.  Mayor John Carter informed WLBG News Monday morning that the Easter Egg Hunt will be held in Centennial Park on Main Street, Up from the Post Office, Wednesday evening starting at 6 pm. The event is open for children from 2 to 10 years old.

Sheriff’s Office Makes Domestic Arrest

    The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office booked a Clinton man Saturday from an alleged domestic assault Friday. 44-year-old Calvin Lavern Dowdy Jr. of 102 College Park Drive, Clinton was charged with Criminal Domestic Violence. A warrant citing his address on Peachtree Street, Clinton states that on April 18th Mr. Dendy caused physical harm or injury under circumstances that reasonably created fear of imminent peril to the victim. A surety bond was set at $2,150. Calvin Dendy Jr. remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.