Local News

New Year's Check Points for Safety

Newberry College Basketball Player Killed in Car Accident

Successful Toy Drive Due to Community Support

Precautionary Lockdown at NMS on Friday Afternoon

Update on I-26 Ambulance Wreck on Wednesday Night

End-of-Course Exams Results (SC Dept. of Education Report)

County Council Meeting on December 17

Proposed Intra-District Transfers Policy Changes* (PDF format)

School Board Meeting on December 15

More Patrols During December

Whitmire Christmas Parade on Saturday

UPDATE: Fatal Shooting on Saturday Night

Bond Hearing Held for Shooting Suspect
Related Story:
Graduation Party Turns Violent

City Council Meeting on December 9

Child Dies in Rope Accident

County Council Meeting on December 3
Henry B. Summer Co. to Offer Important Seasonal Consumer Workshop
Renfro Closing, Leaving Over 550 Workers Unemployed
Save the Prosperity Depot!









 

New Year's Check Points for Safety
(added 12/31/08)

Sheriff Lee Foster says that it is his goal that everyone in Newberry County has a safe and prosperous New Year. To that end, Foster says that officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement agencies throughout the county will be joining forces over the holidays to conduct driver awareness of safe driving techniques and safety check points.

Foster said that the safety check points will vary in location and date, but did say that the checkpoints will be conducted throughout Newberry County.

Foster also encouraged motorists to remember important safety rules at all times, but especially during the holidays:

- Always obey all traffic laws.

- Remember to wear your seat belt, and use child restraint devices for children in the vehicle at all times.

- Do not speed. Speed is the number one cause of traffic accidents so reduce your speed so you can safely control the vehicle.

- Do not drink and drive. Many feel that when drinking they can still safely operate a vehicle. This false sense of security has cost many people their lives.

- Remember that you do not only endanger yourself, but everyone other person on the road when you drink and drive or violate other traffic laws.

- Watch for other drivers on the road. Sometimes defensive driving can prevent an accident even if you would not have been at fault.

STAY ALERT!

“This is a wonderful time of the year,” said Foster. “It is our goal to keep the roadways and communities safe so that the holidays do not become a painful memory rather than a wonderful time.”

Foster said that his agency was working to schedule officers during busy times to best accommodate the needs of the county. He said that the elimination of several grants and budget cut backs had made it difficult to schedule the extra manpower to conduct the checkpoints, but that they had found a way to preserve the budget and provide extra patrol of the holidays.

Newberry College Basketball Player Killed in Car Accident
(added 12/27/08)

Newberry College Women's Basketball player, Keena Phillips, died Saturday morning from injuries sustained in an early morning accident on I-26. See story here (WLTX.com).

Successful Toy Drive Due to Community Support
(added 12/23/08)

Thanks to the efforts of many citizens and businesses throughout Newberry County, Sheriff Lee Foster proudly announces that they provided 525 children with toys for Christmas. This is more than double the 251 children than last year.

Foster said that tough economic times had placed more children than ever before on the list, and those same economic times had placed donations in jeopardy.

Sheriff Foster said that it was an outpouring of generosity and kindness from the community that allowed them to meet the needs of those less fortunate this holiday season.

“It was close,” said Foster. “But the love and community atmosphere of caring in Newberry County came shining through again. This is what makes Newberry County so wonderful and I am so blessed to receive the continued support and cooperation of the great people in this county.”

“Thank you to everyone who participated in this toy drive,” said Foster. “I would like to send warm greetings of a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May God bless and protect us in the upcoming year.”


Precautionary Lockdown at NMS on Friday Afternoon
(added 12/20/08)

There was a brief administrative shut down of Newberry Middle School on Friday afternoon.

A caller notified the 911 center that there was a white substance on the roadway on South Carolina Highway 121 near the Newberry City limits. The Newberry County Haz-Mat team and the State Law Enforcement Division responded to the scene as standard operating procedure .

Because Newberry Middle School was in the direction of the wind from the incident, authorities determined that out of an abundance of caution that the school should be placed on an administrative lock down until a preliminary determination of the material could be made.

The school was locked down for less than 15 minutes before all of the students were safely released. The school did an outstanding job with the lock down, which went as planned and practiced.

It appears that the substance is a natural, non toxic substance; however, no results will be released until confirmation analysis is received. There was never, we repeat never a danger to the school or the community, all actions were purely precautionary in nature.

IN A COMPLETELY UNRELATED INCIDENT, a teacher at the middle school was injured while participating in a dodge ball game just prior to the lock down. The injury was in no way related to the lock down!

 

Update on I-26 Ambulance Wreck on Wednesday Night
(added 12/18/08)

Report from NCMH

Last night around 7:00 pm there was a wreck that involved an NCMH ambulance on I-26 right off the Highway 219 exit (Exit 76). The patient was being transported to Palmetto Richland’s Chest Pain Unit based on a consult with cardiology. Paramedic John McCarley was driving; Paramedic Glenn Miller was with the patient.

A commercial truck pulling a trailer appeared to lose control and hit the ambulance causing the ambulance and the truck to go through the guard rail and roll down the embankment.

After the wreck, paramedics McCarley and Miller were able to give immediate treatment to both the patient in the ambulance and to the two victims in the truck.

Although the initial assessment of the cardiac patient was fine, because of the nature of the wreck, the Life Net helicopter was called to transport him to Palmetto Richland. Miller and one of the truck occupants were transported in one ambulance, and the driver of the truck was transported in another ambulance to Palmetto Richland. Miller was treated and released last night. It is our understanding that neither of the two men in the truck had life threatening injuries, but we do not currently know if they have been released from the hospital. McCarley was transported by ambulance to NCMH and treated and released.

These are the facts as we know them at this moment. In addition, we are extremely pleased that no one received life threatening injuries. We also commend both of our EMS personnel for their quick and responsible reaction to this unfortunate incident. Even though both of them were hurt, they responded in a professional manner and put others first.

In addition, since the injuries of both paramedics were work related, all medical care will be paid by Worker’s Compensation. In addition, although lost-time pay normally begins after seven days of absence, the hospital has chosen—because of the extreme circumstances of the accident—to provide full pay during the first seven days.

 

End-of-Course Exams Results (SC Dept. of Education Report)
(added 12/18/08)

Click HERE for Newberry County Scores

Click HERE for South Carolina Scores

COLUMBIA – Student scores improved last year on state end-of-course
exams in English and physical science, according to results released
today by the South Carolina Department of Education. Scores on Algebra
tests decreased slightly.

State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex said that while he was
encouraged at the improvements, overall scores are too low.

“A key issue is whether teachers are covering specific material that
students need to master before taking these tests,” Rex said. “Are
they covering the academic standards in their classrooms? And even if
they are, are they doing it in effective ways?

Last year Rex directed the agency’s subject-area specialists and
testing experts to recommend ways that the Education Department could
better assist local schools, particularly small schools in rural areas
that have limited resources. Staff from the agency’s Division of
Standards and Learning developed English, physical science and algebra
curricula that include resource guides, instructional strategies and
assessment strategies that are aligned to the state’s academic
standards. More than 600 middle and high school teachers have been
trained on the new curriculum guides, which are available for any
district to use.

The Education Department, in partnership with the Charles A. Dana
Center at the University of Texas, is piloting the South Carolina
Algebra Project in middle and high schools across the state.
Participating schools use a special curriculum developed by the Dana
Center, and the Education Department is providing ongoing training for
classroom teachers.

High school students have long taken traditional final exams in many
courses. But South Carolina’s introduction of the statewide
End-of-Course Examination Program, mandated by the Education
Accountability Act of 1998, marked the first time that a
standards-based, uniform test was administered to all students in the
same courses. Algebra 1 testing began in the 2003-2004 school year,
while English 1 and physical science were added a year later. Results
count for 20 percent of each student’s final course grade. (Students
enrolled in an Algebra I and Mathematics for the Technologies II take
the Algebra I end-of-course exam; content standards are the same.)

For 2007-08, grade distribution for English was 11.9 percent A, 15.6
percent B, 23.6 percent C, 17.3 percent D and 31.6 percent F. Grade
distribution for algebra was 14.5 percent A, 16.8 percent B, 22.9
percent C, 24.1 percent D and 21.7 percent F. Grade distribution for
physical science was 9.3 percent A, 10.6 percent B, 16.9 percent C, 18.2
percent D and 45 percent F.

Under South Carolina’s uniform grading scale, an A is 93-100; a B is
85-92; a C is 77-84; and a D is 70-76. Anything 69 or below is an F.

Highlights of 2008 results included:
• English 1 – English 1 test results improved significantly in
2007-2008, going from a mean scale score of 74.4 to 76.3. The
percentage of students scoring either an A or B improved from 21.3 to
27.5, while the percentage of students failing the exam dropped from
35.2 to 31.6.
• Algebra 1 – Thirty-one percent of the 60,015 students tested
in algebra statewide scored an A or B during the 2007-2008 school year.
The mean scale score was 79.1, half a point lower than the year before.
Grade distribution was mixed compared to the previous year. More
students scored either an A or B, but more students also made either a D
or F.
• Physical science – Although physical science had the lowest
passing score among the three EOCEP tests, the mean scale score
improved by 1.4 points, from 70.7 up to 72.1. More students recorded either an A
or B, while the percentage of F’s dropped by 5.3 points (8.4 points
over the past two years).

A fourth end-of-course exam – U.S. History and the Constitution –
was administered for the first time during the 2006-2007 school year.
Those scores will count as 20 percent of students’ final grades and
become part of the state’s school accountability system during the
2008-09 school year.

A rapid scoring system enables schools to include the test scores in
students’ final course grades. Students’ scores are posted on a
secure password-protected website within 36 hours after student answers
are received by the scoring contractor.

Districts now have the option to administer EOCEP tests on line, and
about one out of four tests are administered in that way.

 

County Council Meeting on December 17
(added 12/18/08)

Farewell to Three County Councilmen/New Presciption Discount Card/Barber Named Employee of the year/Interchange to be Named for Brooks

Newberry County Council met last night (December 17) and numerous plaques were presented. The three outgoing councilmen who lost their bids for reelection this year were all honored for their service. Councilman Henry Summer has represented district 5 for the past 24 years. Councilman John David Dawkins (district 2) and Mike Hawkins (district 4) have both served 8 years. Administrator Wayne Adams pointed out that all three gentlemen have served multiple terms as chairman of council. He recognized Mike Hawkins’ contribution to economic development as an advocate for the creation of the economic development department and the development of the new Mid-Carolina Commerce Park at 773 and I-26. He recognized John David Dawkins’ contribution to emergency services as an advocate for overhauling outdated equipment and facilities and the creation of the emergency services board. Adams honored Henry Summer for his "even temperament" and "uncommon community mindedness" on a multitude of issues especially major financial issues.

Councilman John Caldwell who is in the middle of his latest County Council term will be rotating off of the National Association of Counties Board this year. He was honored for his 8 years representing SC on this national board.

Also on the agenda last night was the announcement of the National Association of Counties Prescription Discount Card Program that will be available for any Newberry County resident who is uninsured or underinsured. These free prescription discount cards will be available as of January 5 at multiple locations in the county including: the Courthouse Annex, DSS, Free Medical Clinic, Prosperity Drug Co., and Roche’s Pharmacy. The program reports an average of 22% savings. For more information visit www.newberrycounty.net.

Council approved final reading of two zoning changes. Two parcels containing a total of 2.23 acres on Belfast Rd near the intersection of Brown Chapel Rd will now change to limited commercial from R-2 rural. A .32 acre tract located across from Newberry Election Cooperative will change from R-2 rural to general commercial.

Councilman John Caldwell announced that the paperwork had been approved to officially name the interchange at I-26 and Hwy 121 for the late Israel Brooks. Mr. Brooks, a Newberry County native, was the first African American highway patrolman in SC, the first African American federal marshal in SC, and now the first African American to have an Newberry County interchange named in his honor.

Tom Barber, the county information technology director, was selected as 2008 county employee of the year. Some of the words used to describe him by fellow employees include "dedicated," "highly knowledgeable," "kind," and "100% Newberry County."

The next regular county council meeting is scheduled for January 7 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex. The newly elected councilmen will be sworn in at that meeting, and a new chairman will be elected from the council members.

Proposed Intra-District Transfers Policy Changes* (PDF format)
(added 12/16/08)

Click HERE for the proposed intra-district (hardship) transfers policy changes. First reading approved at the December 16 School Board meeting (see story below). Second and final reading should appear on the January 26 meeting agenda.

*Adobe Acrobat Reader is necessary to read this document.
To download a free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader, click here.

School Board Meeting on December 15
(added 12/16/08)

School District Has Positive, Unqualified Audit/First Reading Hardship Transfers Policy Changes

Newberry County School Board met last night (Monday, December 15) and received a positive, “unqualified opinion” on the 07/08 audit report. Auditor Mike Downing of Greene, Finney & Horton reported that the financial report presented by the district was “materially correct.” Downing reported that the finance department would receive awards from both the GFOA and ASBO for the eleventh year in a row. He also characterized the finances of the district as of June 30 “healthy” and praised the fund balance that has been built up over the past several years. It represents 20% of the annual budget allowing the district to not have to use the funds from the tax anticipation note they took out. District Chief Financial Officer Susan Dowd reported that despite already cutting close to a $1million from the budget (including the $300,000 contingency that was built into the budget), more state cuts are expected. The State Department has already received orders to cut an additional 7% from the state education budget. How much of that will trickle down to the district and what additional cuts will come in the spring is yet to be determined. So far the district has avoided layoffs but they did approve first reading on an update to the “reduction in force” policy per the urging of the SC School Board Association since so many other districts have already had to take that step.

First readings on multiple changes to policy were on the agenda. The first issue involved intra-district transfers (AKA hardship transfers). The policy update includes a more clearly defined definition of residency (where students sleep at night). The revised policy also specifies that hardship transfers will be reviewed annually based on changing information and changing space availability at the school.

Administrative rule for hardship transfer is also being tweaked to state:
• that affidavits can no longer be used as proof of guardianship,
• that those building a house will have to complete the house before the child can transfer,
• the district will follow high school league rules which state that a student can not play a sport for one year after transferring,
• child care issues will only be considered in cases for students in PreK through 5th grade,
• proofs of residency will be required from every student during registration each year.

With approved second reading, transfer applications will be available on March 1.

More Patrols During December
(added 12/16/08)

Sheriff Lee Foster has announced a series of increased night time patrols during the month of December.

Sheriff Foster says that the increased patrols are being conducted in conjunction with M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) and the Eighth Circuit Law Enforcement Network.

Foster said that the increased patrols will target areas of high traffic accidents and complaints from citizens about dangerous traffic related issues.

Sheriff Foster said that the patrols will actively seek for intoxicated drivers, uninsured or unlicensed motorists, speeders, and other violations. Foster said that these violations have a dramatic impact on the motoring public and society in general because of their wide spread and long lasting financial impact. One uninsured motorist can cost everyone many thousands of dollars if they are involved in an accident.

Sheriff Foster also said that the increased patrols will be on alert for any unusual activity in the areas they are patrolling in an effort to prevent property crimes such as burglaries from occurring during difficult economic times and a time of year prone to an increase in property crimes.

Sheriff Foster said that loss of grant money coupled with an ongoing effort to reduce spending have made it more difficult to arrange for the extra patrols, but that he believed that the results were worth the great efforts put forth to make the patrols possible.

Whitmire Christmas Parade On Saturday
(added 12/15/08)

The Whitmire Christmas Parade was held on Saturday, December 13. It was in dedication to Dr. & Mrs. Roche Sr.
John Roche (at right) drove his Mother in his Daddy's "little black medicine truck," complete with Gamecock hood
ornaments and a dedication wreath on the front grill.

Drew Stewart (WIS TV) was the Grand Marshal. He was presented a key to the city by Mayor Tim Carroll.

Below is a photo of Drew withThe Whitmire Jaycees, City Council Members, County Council, and Drew's chauffer Master Sgt. Mike Crumpton
.

View more Whitmire Christmas Parade photos on the following website: www.jwagner.photoreflect.com.
(You can also purchase photos from that site.)

 

UPDATE: Fatal Shooting on Saturday Night
(added 12/14/08)

From various reports

A Newberry man apparently acted in self-defense and fatally shot a would-be robber on Saturday night.

Newberry Police say Willie Hiller, 35, was found dead in the driveway of a home on First Street, Newberry, on Saturday night. At about the same time that body was found, a man went to the police station, telling officers that he shot into a crowd of people as they attempted to rob his apartment at the Palmetto Point Apartments, which is near First Street.

This man who fired the shots said that a group of people tried to rob him at his apartment, and that he fired into the group in self-defense.

Jessica Sligh, 18, has been charged with attempted armed robbery and attempted burglary. Two 13-year-olds are also in custody. Newberry Police say they are looking for another juvenile and another adult; six people were involved altogether.


Bond Hearing Held for Shooting Suspect
(12/13/08)

A bond hearing was held this afternoon at the Newberry County Central Court. Spillers, who is charged with Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill had bond set at $100,000.00 by a Newberry County Magistrate. As of this release, Spillers was still in custody at the Newberry County Detention Center.

Deputies say that they are still investigating what charges might be filed against the other to people in the car with Spillers. It is likely that the decision will be made after talking with Eighth Circuit Solicitor Jerry Peace and his staff.

More updates will be issued as warranted.

See complete story below.

Graduation Party Turns Violent
(added 12/13/08)

UPDATE: The third suspect, Terrance Maurice Spillers, 22, of 1984 Arbutus Avenue, North Charleston, SC has turned himself into law enforcement through invaluable assistance of the basketball staff and athletic department of Newbery College.

“This arrest would not have been possible without the invaluable assistance of the Newberry College athletic department and administrative staff,” said Sheriff Foster. “We have partnered on many projects and those established partnerships were a great asset to this successful ending.”

Sheriff Lee Foster said that Spillers, who was charged with Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill, was taken into custody without incident. No time for arraignment and bond hearing has been scheduled at this time.

Alexander and Martin turned themselves in to the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office earlier and are currently being interviewed by investigators.

Original Story: Sheriff Lee Foster says that a graduation party and its aftermath has turned violent this morning leaving deputies in Newberry County searching for three men they say are responsible for a shooting that has left one person hospitalized.

Foster said that at approximately 3:11AM deputies in Newberry County responded to a shooting incident at the Waffle House located on South Carolina Highway 34 at I-26 in Newberry County. On arrival, the deputies found that there was one gunshot victim, who was shot in the back. He had been transported by private vehicle to Newberry County Memorial Hospital and then transferred by Medi-Vac to Richland County Memorial Hospital. Deputies say that they have been informed by medical staff that the injuries do not appear to be life threatening.

The investigation revealed that a party had been held at the Skating Rink on Highway 34 several miles from the Waffle House to celebrate the eminent graduation of a student from Newberry College. At some point, a very large fight broke out with approximately 40 persons involved. There was a paid security guard on site, and he sprayed everyone with gas with the subsequent effects breaking up the party.

As the party goers went to the Waffle House a grey Toyota Camry pulled into the parking lot and a suspect from the car began shooting at a crowd going into the Waffle House. The victim was hit in the back and went down.

After a detailed investigation, officers determined that the persons doing the shooting were students at Newberry College. Officers then located the suspect vehicle at the College.

Deputies say that they are now searching for the three suspects who were in the vehicle. Those men are identified as:

Terrance Maurice Spillers (photo at right), 22, of 1984 Arbutus Avenue, North Charleston, SC.

Matthew Oneil Alexander, 22, of 937 Carla Place, Norcross, GA.

Clemente Harvey Martin, 23, of 2100 College Street, Newberry, SC.

Sheriff Foster said that the men are believed to be traveling in a red Ford Crown Victoria with temporary Georgia License plates. Spillers, who has been identified as the shooter, has been entered into the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) as a wanted felon.

Sheriff Foster said that several investigators from the Sheriff’s Office had been called out and had worked vigorously on the case, and that the officers on shift during the call had done an outstanding job.

He also said that the Newberry Police Department had been a tremendous asset to the investigation offering great assistance with the investigation particularly once it turned to Newberry College, which is inside the City of Newberry.

Sheriff Foster said that all three of the men are students at Newberry College, and that he could not offer enough praise to the entire staff at Newberry College. He said that they had been and continue to be of invaluable assistance in the investigation and attempt to located the suspects. He said that the college administration and athletics staff had worked well with law enforcement in the investigation and were actively assisting in the search for the suspects. Spillers is a former basketball player and Alexander and Martin are currently on the basketball team.

In an ironic twist to this incident, the graduation party at the skating rink that lead to this entire incident had been for Terrance Spiller, who is now wanted by police for Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill.

Foster said that further investigation will reveal what charges will be filed against the other two men.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2211 or www.newberrycountysheriff.com or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

City Council Meeting on December 9
(added 12/10/08)

New Apartment Zoning District/$18 million Loan for WasteWater Plant/New Business License Decals

Newberry City Council met last night (December 9) and held first reading on an ordinance that would change where future multi-family developments could be located in the City. Upon second reading, the new ordinance would no longer allow complexes with more than four units to be built in R-6 zoning, but it would allow them in GC general commercial and in a new R-Mx or Mixed Residential zoning district. The ordinance would not change any current zoning designations, however, the City Planning Commission may present areas for rezoning as R-Mx at a later time. The new ordinance would not affect established facilities but only affect new developments.

City Council approved a resolution authorizing the submission of a $18 million SC Water Quality Revolving Fund loan application for the renovations and expansion of the Wastewater Plant. Administration stressed that the $19,000,000 estimated budget is believed to be a high end estimate. The renovation is being paid for in part by a recently received $1 million Economic Development Administration grant. The City is also seeking other funds including $2.5 million in federal funding. Borrowing the balance from the state revolving fund would allow for a low 3.5% interest rate. A 7.5% wastewater rate increase this past July and an anticipated 7.5% rate increase in July of '09 is expected to cover the annual payments on the loan.

Council approved second and final reading of an ordinance requiring contractors to display business license identification stickers on each and every construction or service trade vehicle at a job site. 5 decals will be provided free with each additional decal costing approximately $1.50 each. (The decal charge will be based on the direct cost to produce the decals.)

City Council approved a temporary permit for the consumption of alcohol in Memorial Park on New Year Eve. The request is made annually by the Opera House for the New Year's champagne toast during the fireworks.

Roy McClurkin was honored for his 25 years with the Police Department and Jim Liptak was recognized for 5 years with the City.

Newberry City Council will meet again on January 13 at 7pm in City Hall.

Child Dies in Rope Accident
(added 12/09/08)

Yesterday afternoon, a four- year-old child was playing on a yard play set at the home of the grandmother located on Cy Schumpert Road in Newberry County.

It appears that the child was playing with a rope system with pulleys on the set used to pull items up in the elevated portion. It then appears that the child got tangled up in the rope as it appears he slid down the sliding board part.

The grandmother, who has custody of the child, did not realize the child had slipped off from an enclosed yard. When she did not see him, she went looking and found him entangled in the rope. She freed the child and took him to her residence, next door, and called 911.

A Sheriff’s Deputy, who is a paramedic, talked with her about life sustaining measures which she performed until EMS arrived. EMS attempted further measures and transported to Newberry County Hospital where the child was pronounced dead.

SLED is investigating under the child fatality law and an autopsy is pending at Newberry County Hospital.

No foul play is suspected.

 

County Council Meeting on December 3
(added 12/04/08)

Unqualified Opinion on County Audit

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night and heard the audit
report from David Enzastiga of Rish & Enzastiga. He stated that the
firm was giving the county 07/08 fiscal year audit an unqualified
opinion - meaning the firm does not qualify their opinion that the
numbers are accurate based on the information they were shown. He
pointed out that the county now has 4 and 1/2 months expenses in the
fund balance, which is within suggested range. When questioned about
the suggestions section of the audit, he stated that the general
ledger is handled with accuracy but in a non-textbook manner. He
reminded council of the goal of segregation of duties when possible
for checks and balances. He also drew attention to the non-uniform
manner in which the semi-independent fire and rescue departments
handle their accounting.

County Council approved a resolution affirming their consent for the
NCMH Board to go forward with their fight against Palmetto Health's
petition for a DHEC Certificate of Need, which is needed before they
can construct their proposed Parkridge Hospital. Attorney Will
Thomas, representing the hospital board, explained that Palmetto
Health was strictly interpreting language in a 1991 county ordinance
to mean that the County Council would have to approve any suit
brought by the hospital board. He stated that the resolution was the
quickest way to clarify County Council's support. The hospital will
continue to fund the fight to block this new Irmo hospital, which
would compete directly with Newberry Hospital for staff and paying
patients.

After hearing the initial engineering site study, council chose the
lot to the right of the Newberry Rescue Squad on Adelaide St. as the
site for a new expanded recycling center to replace the current site
at the Fairgrounds. Despite drainage challenges discovered during
the construction of the Rescue Squad building, the site was chosen
for its easier, less congested access; to avoid the topography
challenges and dense tree growth at the other proposed site off of
Hwy 34; and to open up the current site for future commercial land
sales off of Hwy 76. The engineers will now create a specific site
plan and cost estimate. The ballpark estimate given was $150,000 to
$300,000 with almost $90,000 of that estimate for paving since the
new center would be the first paved center in the county. The county
has a DHEC grant commitment of $80,000 and additional funds committed
in the 08/09 budget.

Council approved the extension of their current multi-county
agreement with Greenwood Co. to include a Carolina Pride expansion at
a Greenwood Industrial Park. These multi-county agreements allow for
greater state tax benefits for companies and allow them to apply for
better interest rates on loans. Attorney Will Johnson with Hansworth
Sinkler & Boyd explained that the only difference with this agreement
from others the county has entered into is that the Greenwood/
Newberry agreement does not include the tax revenue sharing usually
seen in these type of agreements. Usually a county would sent 1% of
the tax revenue from their multi-county park to the partner county.

Council approved second reading of an ordinance to rezone 2 tracts of
land near the intersection of Belfast and Brown Chapel Rds from
Limited Commercial to Rural. Second reading also passed to rezone
thirty-two hundredths of an acre from rural to general commercial.
This tract is located across from Newberry Electric Cooperative on
Wilson Rd. and currently is home to a transmission shop.

During council comments, Councilman Edgar Baker stated that not only
did the closing of the Renfro plant in Whitmire have the immediate
affect on unemployment with the loss of 570 jobs, but he went on to
report would also have a direct financial impact on county revenue
with Renfro paying $212,000 in taxes each year. $72,500 of that to
the county and $140,000 to the school district. With the plant not
due to close until the end of January 2009, the plant would be
charged 2009 taxes and would pay taxes on the building until sold.
Economic development was one of the issues discussed by council in
executive session with no report on the issue once returning to open
session.

Newberry County Council meets again on December 17 at 7pm in the
Courthouse Annex. Council will hold an executive session at 5pm that
day to hear a lawsuit briefing.

Henry B. Summer Co. to Offer Important Seasonal Consumer Workshop

The holidays are upon us and the staff of Henry B. Summer & Co. wants their neighbors to have a safe and stress-free season as they protect themselves from becoming victims of fraud. In cooperation with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affair, Henry B. Summer & Co. is sponsoring a workshop for all Newberry-area consumers December 9, 2008, 5:30 – 6:30 pm, at The Flying Pie, 1506 Main Street in downtown Newberry.

The workshop will feature information on Identity Theft as well as tips on how to get through the holidays without becoming a victim of a scam or fraud and how to spend carefully. Hugh Crofoot, Outreach Coordinator for the SC Department of Consumer Affairs, will present an overview of Identity Theft as well as information on South Carolina’s new Financial Identity Fraud and Identity Theft Protection Act, which goes into effect December 31, 2008. “South Carolinians are very fortunate that our General Assembly passed this Act,” Crofoot said. “It is actually one of the strongest Identity Theft bills in the country and is very consumer-friendly.” Still, that doesn’t mean the scammers and con artists aren’t working overtime trying to find new ways to defraud people. “It’s always better to be armed with the facts and know exactly how to defend yourself,” he said.

Mr. Crofoot also said that this time of year is when people are most vulnerable, especially when the economy is down. “Consumers need to be careful in how they respond to offers over the phone or the Internet,” he said. “They need to budget and spend wisely during this season so they won’t be hit with a lot of bills in early 2009.”

The Summer/Department of Consumer Affairs workshop will address all these issues, and allow plenty of time for questions from attendees. While the workshop is open to the public, space is limited and is on a first-come-first-served basis. Please call Buffy Summer, 276-4246 X 16, to confirm you r attendance or for more information.

Renfro Closing, Leaving Over 550 Workers Unemployed
(added 12/03/08)

Source: Various reports

Renfro Corp., a sock plant off Highway 121 in Whitmire, has announced that it is closing, leaving 570 workers without jobs.

Officials have said that they will shut down the plant by January 30.

"This is a very difficult decision because of the number of dedicated and long service employees at Whitmire," said Norman Smith, Vice-President of Manufacturing for Renfro. Smith says the global economic downturn has reduced demand for socks.

This closure will probably increase the unemployment rate in Newberry County, which was 8.7 percent last month.

 

Save the Prosperity Depot!
(added 12/02/08)

A group of citizens dedicated to Saving the Prosperity Depot just got one step closer to their goal. The National Trust has committed a matching $5,000 grant to the project. The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation applied for the grant on behalf of the group. Mike Bedenbaugh, the Palmetto Trust executive director and Prosperity native, explained that the $5,000 grant is a 50/50 matching grant and will not actually be awarded until the local Save the Prosperity Depot group raises the matching $5,000.

The community group, which is a sub-committee of the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society, needs your help in saving the last remaining train depot in Newberry County on its original site.


What will your donation help accomplish?

The National Trust earmarked this starter grant for an engineering study to determine if the Prosperity Depot can be moved and what will need to be done to stabilize the building for the move. The historic building must be moved because of the railroad company requirements.

This engineering study is the first important step to saving the last remnant of our railroad history in Newberry County.

How can you contribute to saving the historic Prosperity Depot?

a) Visit the projects page at www.palmettotrust.org and give. A 10 percent tithe will be given to Palmetto Trust to protect this building in perpetuity.

b) Go by Prosperity Drug Co., see Joe Welborn’s stained glass rendition of The Depot and pick up a donation envelope.

During the Prosperity Shopper’s Walk on Saturday, December 6 and the Prosperity Christmas parade on Sunday, December 7, members of the committee will be at Prosperity Drug Co. to accept your donations, answer questions and record your favorite Prosperity Depot memory.

For more information about this historic project and how you can be involved, call (803) 364-3392.

Sheriff and Santa Need Your Help!
(added 12/02/08)

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster says that the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office will once again conduct Operation Santa Clause. The special operation is an outreach of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office to needy and under privileged children during the holiday season.

“We want these children to know and understand that law enforcement officers and the people of the community do care about them and that they are not lost in the shuffle or forgotten,” said Foster. “Many times children are shown or told about law enforcement in a negative list, and it is our goal to show that the men and women of law enforcement and throughout the community are really loving, caring people who want to make a positive difference in their community.”

Sheriff Foster said that requests for assistance has already begun to pour into the sheriff’s office, and that there is a great fear that due to the current difficult economic conditions that the number of requests will outweigh the ability to meet needs. Foster said that layoffs and cutbacks have placed many people in need of assistance, and that many industries are simply unable to give as they have in year gone by combining for the possibility that some children will not receive assistance.

“We believe that the people of our communities will come together to meet the needs of others during the holiday season, and so we are asking for everyone who can to help us help others,” said Foster.

Foster said that officers of the Sheriff’s Office have been the first to offer a sacrifice. Instead of a formal Christmas Party, the Sheriff’s Office will hold a covered dish drop in, and the officers are being asked to donate the money they would have spent for the party and the meal to the toy drive.

A number of community organizations are assisting with the toy drive this year in different ways. The Community Choir will hold their Christmas Cantata and there will be officers on hand before and after the event to accept donations or toys. The Cantata will be on December 5 and December 6 at 8:00PM, and December 7 at 3:00PM at Newberry Elementary School.

In addition, a number of business and churches have placed collection boxes for toys to be donated to the toy drive. The toy boxes can be found throughout the community, you can drop the toys or a financial donation by the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at 520 Wilson Road, Newberry, or you can call the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-221 and speak with Ron Abrams or Sherri Scott to arrange a pickup of your donated toys or money. 100% of all funds received are used for the toy drive.

“These are indeed tough times,” said Sheriff Foster. “However, it is my observation that tough times often bringer us closer together and strengthen our resolve. I know that together we will meet the needs of the community in what will certainly be a difficult year for us all.”

Another Arrest Made in Meth Lab Case
(added 11/25/08)

Another person has been arrested in connection with the meth lab in Newberry County that exploded on November 16, killing one person.

Deputies say that Cynthia Lynn Worthington (left), 47, of 1025 Jalapa Road, Newberry, was arrested and charged with Conspiracy.

Authorities allege that Worthington supplied pseudoephedrine and ammonia nitrate used to make meth and that she used the meth once it was made. They say that Worthington obtained the items through lawful purchase, but that knowingly allowed it to be illegally converted to meth, and then used the meth.

Three others have been arrested in connection with the case which has been tragic because of the loss of life and because a small child was in the home at the time the incident happened.

Law enforcement officials say that the investigation is ongoing and that more arrests are likely.

They are asking anyone with additional information to contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2222 or at www.newberrycountysheriff.com.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

Rotary Prayer Breakfast is November 25
(added 11/20/08)

The Rotary Prayer breakfast is at Redeemer Lutheran Church on Tuesday, November 25, at 7 am. Starting in 1980, this is the 29th annual breakfast of the Rotary Club.

The Newberry Rotary Club has been in active service since 1920. The following is a partial (not exclusive) list of service projects of the Rotary Club:

· Sponsorship of Troop 1 Boy Scouts of America (since 1921)

· Endowing a scholarship at Newberry College

· Annual Christmas party for Thornwell and Boys Farm

· Financial support of the Newberry County Family YMCA

· Financial support of the Newberry County Council on Aging

· Sponsorship of Newberry High School Junior to Girls State

· Sponsorship of Rotary Youth Leadership Award

· Sponsorship of Newberry Interfaith Community Services

School Board / County Council
(added 11/20/08)

The Newberry County School Board met on Wednesday afternoon and heard the oral report from the AdvancED accreditation team. In the past each individual school would apply for SACS accreditation. Following a statewide trend, the Newberry County School District decided to this time apply for districtwide accreditation instead. After school visits, document review, observations, interviews with over 275 people, and professional deliberation; an eight person AdvancED team reported Wednesday afternoon that they would be recommending accreditation. The panel commended the district on board and superintendent relations, the family atmosphere in the schools, the fiscal responsibility of the district, and recruitment and retention efforts. The panel recommended that the district evaluate and revise the long range technology plan for the district. They also recommended that the district work on student achievement, particularly the reduction of the performance gap in student achievement between subgroups. A full report will be sent to the district within 30 days. The recommendation for accreditation will have to be approved by the AdvancED board before becoming official for the next five years. A followup report on how the district has tackled the two recommendations will be due in two years.

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night. The meeting was shortened when several items on the agenda were postponed. The past several meetings the council has been tackling the question of whether or not dirt roads that were built to county specs from July 2, 2003 to July 31, 2007 (when the county was accepting dirt roads) could now apply to be brought into the county system even though the current county policy is to no longer accepts dirt roads. This question would apply to another pending ordinance that would accept Glade Springs Road into the county public roads system. Council voted 6 to 1 to re-schedule final reading and public hearing on these issues to the first meeting in January. Councilman John David Dawkins was the one nay vote.

Council approved first reading of an ordinance to rezone two parcels on Belfast road near the intersection of Brown Chapel Rd to Limited Commercial from R-2 Rural. First reading also passed to rezone a 0.32 acre portion of a tract on Wilson Rd from R-2 Rural to General Commercial. The location is currently home to a tire business. Council approved Christmas Eve as an extra holiday for county employees. They also approved the one time, free use of the Helena Community Center as a clothing distribution point for those in need.

During executive session, Council conducted their annual evaluation of County Administrator Wayne Adams. Chairman Henry Summer stated that Council will review the scoring tally of the administrator during their next executive session before filing an official annual review. Summer also stated that there was no report from the second personnel matter discussion in executive session Wednesday night. Following a 4 to 3 vote, the three councilmen elect were included in the executive session. Dawkins, Caldwell, and Summer voting in opposition of including the councilmen elect. John David Dawkins argued, "If it was an economic development issue I would have no problem including them, but it seems to me that only those councilmen that have been here can evaluate the administrator." Councilman Elect Les Hipp stated that he agreed that they would be observers only but that need to know information was valuable for an orderly transfer from councilman to councilman.

Newberry County Council will meet again on December 3 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex. At that meeting, they will discuss the location for the new proposed household waste/recycling site.

 

UPDATE: Meth Lab Explosion
Third Suspect Now in Custody
(added 11/19/08)

A third person sought in connection with the meth lab explosion Sunday night in Newberry County is now in custody.

Authorities identify the man as Ashley Glenn Riceman (left), 25, of 318 Summerland Avenue, Batesburg, SC.

Riceman was taken into custody this afternoon in Batesburg and returned to Newberry County. He is currently being held at the Newberry County Detention Center pending bond on charges of Misprision of a Felony and Conspiracy. No time has been scheduled for the bond hearing.

Police are still asking anyone with any information about this incident to contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2222 or www.newberrycountysheriff.com.

UPDATE: Meth Lab Explosion
Two Arrests Made; Toddler at Residence When Lab Exploded
(added 11/19/08)

The meth lab explosion on Sunday night in Newberry County that left one man dead has now landed two others in jail and more arrests are expected.

Deputies say that the explosion launched an extensive investigation in the meth operation, and the number of people were involved with the operation.

As the results of that operation unfold, deputies say that, when it appeared the case could not get more tragic, it did. Authorities have learned that there was a 3 year old child in the home while the meth was being made and when the explosion occurred. The child was not injured and was taken by the mother to a family member’s home after the explosion.

Because of the extreme danger the child was subject to during this incident, law enforcement has contacted the South Carolina Department of Social Services and the child has been placed in a safe location pending further action by that agency.

The child’s mother was arrested Tuesday afternoon. Heather Lynn Rising (left), 28, of 384 Cheek Road, Gray Court, SC was arrested and charged with Manufacturing Meth, Misprision of a Felon, Conspiracy, and Manufacturing Meth in the Presence of a minor child. She was released from custody on Personal Appearance bond by a Newberry County Magistrate over the objections of law enforcement officers.

Rising was the girlfriend of Reggie Braswell, who was killed in the explosion. Police allege that she was present and participating during the making of the meth, and exposed her small child to the great danger that comes from the toxic chemicals and fire and explosion danger that comes from such an operation. She ran to a nearby residence for help when the explosion occurred.

A second person has also been arrested in connection this incident. Authorities say Kevin Chase Franklin (right), 29, of 199 Cross Creek Trail, Little Mountain, SC was arrested and charged with Misprision of a Felon and Conspiracy. He too was arrested Tuesday afternoon and released on a personal appearance bond.

Police say that he Franklin was also present when the explosion occurred. Franklin who received minor injuries from the explosion fled the scene with a third person.

Police say that they seeking that third person. Authorities say that they have identified the person and expect to have the suspect in custody soon. They are not releasing the identity of this person at this time because they fear it will hamper their efforts to take the person into custody.

This suspect, like Franklin, was at the residence at the time of the explosion and will be charged with the same charges as Franklin.

The Sheriff’s Office would not rule out the possibility of additional arrests outside of these and are asking anyone with any information about this case to contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2211 or www.newberrycountysherrif.com.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or www.newberrycountysheriff.com or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

Newberry Woman Dies in House Fire
(added 11/17/08)

A Newberry woman died in a Monday morning house fire. Mary Jones, 90, died from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Newberry County Coroner.

The exact cause of the fire has not been determined, but officials believe that the fire started in the bathroom, and that a space heater was involved.

 

Newberry Man Killed in Meth Lab Explosion
(added 11/17/08)

A Newberry County man died late last night in a fire at his home.

Authorities in Newberry County say that at 11:55 PM last night, a 911 call was received from a female at 6268 Bush River Road in the Newberry section of Newberry County. The female advised the 911 center that her boyfriend was on fire and that the fire department was needed at the residence.

The Bush River and Friendly Fire Departments responded to the scene. The volunteer fire departments and a deputy from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office were all on scene in 6 minutes, which is a phenomenal response time to a rural area by volunteer fire departments.

When the fire departments arrived on scene, they saw flames and smoke coming from the right side of the roof of the house. The departments quickly began efforts to extinguish the fire, and discovered from family members that the victim had been pulled from the residence and was now located on the back porch of the home.

Once the fire departments extinguished the fire, they immediately contacted the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office for investigators because the victim was determined to be deceased and the cause of the fire was unusual in nature.

Investigators arrived and discovered hoses, altered containers, a propane tank that had been altered to include a nozzle for quicker access, and other items commonly associated with manufacturing methamphetamine.

The investigators withdrew from the residence and contacted the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) who responded to the scene. These agencies discovered a working methamphetamine laboratory in the residence. These agencies processed the scene and safely cleaned up the materials that can be extremely dangerous to humans. There was not a threat to the surrounding area or individuals outside the residence.


Newberry County Deputy Coroner Lewis Lee identified the deceased as Reggie Lesley Braswell (above), 34, of 6268 Bush River Road, Newberry, SC. Braswell died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head and upper torso as a result of an explosion from the illegal methamphetamine lab in the residence.

The female, who was a girlfriend to the deceased, is not being identified at this time. She did not suffer injury in the incident.

Deputies Seeking Assistance in Identifying Credit Card Thief
(added 11/12/08)

Authorities in Newberry County are asking for your assistance identifying a man responsible for the theft and use of credit cards from Mid Carolina Country Club in Prosperity.

Police say that on November 5, 2008, this unknown black male walked into the Mid Carolina Country Club located on Kibler’s Bridge Road just off I-26 in the Prosperity section of Newberry County. The suspect entered an office at the club and stole several credit cards belonging to an employee at the club and began using them. The subject may have been in the company of a small built black female; however, officers do not have pictures of the female at this time.

To the left and below are two still photographs of the subject. He was seen shortly after stealing the cards using one of them at the Exxon Station on Piney Grove Road. The credit cards have since been reported stolen to the credit card companies and no further activity has been reported on them.

Anyone who can identify the subject is asked to call the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2222 or at www.newberrycountysheriff.com or Crimestoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

City Council Meeting on November 11
(added 11/12/08)

No Decision Yet on Closing McKibben / Clean City Audit Report

Newberry City Council met last night (November 11) and postponed a decision regarding the traffic pattern on McKibben St. Due to line-of-sight issues when turning from McKibben to Main, council has been discussing several options including: closing McKibben St., eliminating parking or making parking parallel on Main St., making McKibben one way towards Main with no left turn, making McKibben one way towards Harrington, making only a section of McKibben one way, and even leaving the situation as is. Administrator Eric Budds stated that the option of putting in a traffic light would cost close to $20,000 and would mean a short block between traffic lights.

Dr. Jimmy Wiseman, Chairman of the Newberry Opera House Foundation Board, submitted a suggestion where McKibben would be closed from Boyce to Main and integrated into Memorial Park. Mayor Ed Kyzer advocated for this choice, which would allow for a permanent stage to be built for events and more parking along Main St. Dr.Wiseman suggestion also included making McKibben one way from Harrington towards Boyce thus allowing tour buses to open their doors in front of the Opera House and for handicap drop off at the Conference Center.

Council asked administration to come back with their favorite suggestion for further consideration at a later meeting.

As at Tuesday’s meeting, City Council received the 07/08 fiscal year audit. An unqualified, clean opinion was issued by auditors McKinley, Cooper & Co. - meaning there were no findings or questioned costs and no reportable conditions in internal controls.

Some of the highlights of the report include: a positive carryover balance or fund balance of $4.6 million, which is approximately 59% of the yearly budget. Mid-year budget verses actual receipts was a positive $438,000.

Auditor Toni McKinley stated that the City’s deposits are fully collaterized at this time, but reminded the City to keep an eye on the custodial risk securities held by the City’s bank. A bank for a governmental agency is required to fully collateralize deposits even beyond the $100,000 that is FDIC insured.

The City financial department received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for the 15th year in a row.

Newberry City Council will meet next on December 9 at 7pm in City Hall.

Reminder: No more warnings - The City Fire Department will begin enforcing fire lanes with $125 ordinance summon tickets.

MADD Red Ribbon Service on November 21
(added 11/12/08)

MADD NEWBERRY COUNTY
Cordially Invites You to Attend

2008 Red Ribbon Service
and
Candlelight Vigil of
Remembrance and Hope


The 2008 Red Ribbon Service will celebrate
MADD Newberry County—18 years

The Candlelight Vigil will serve as a time of
poignant reflection to remember and honor
those who have been killed or injured in
drunk driving crashes


We also will also celebrate the 300,000 lives that
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has saved
through its efforts over the years.


Please join our members and special guests,
Honorable Laura Hudson.
Honorable Senator Ronnie Cromer
Honorable Representative Walt McLeod
Solicitor Jerry Peace, Eighth Judicial Circuit

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Main Street, Newberry, SC
Friday, November 21 2007, 7:00 PM


$260,000 in Arrests in Newberry County
(added 11/09/08)

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster has announced that his agency has made more than one-quarter of a million dollars in arrests in Newberry County, but it is not the typical arrest for which law enforcement attaches a dollar amount.

Law enforcement is usually referring to drugs when the list dollar amounts; however, Sheriff Foster says that his agency is conducting a crack down on dead beat parents, those payments who are seriously delinquent on their court ordered child support.

So far 13 people have been arrested and those people combined to owe $260,135.12 in delinquent child support. Foster said that officers are seeking 12 others who owe another combined $105,364.78.

Sheriff Foster said that these delinquent child support amounts have a devastating impact on the families waiting on the money. It often leaves parents struggling to make ends meet while the dead beat parent appears to get away free of charge.

Foster said that in some cases these families are forced to seek assistance from their own family or to turn to the government for support.

“This like so many other crimes in not a victimless crime,” said Foster. “The family and many times the taxpayer are forced to shoulder the burden for someone who simply refuses to pay their court ordered child support.”

Foster said that it was the desire of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office to make a push sending a clear message that if you owe child support and refuse to pay, you will go to jail. He said that the department realized that the holiday season is rapidly approaching and it was their hope that these arrests might make the most wonderful time of the year a little better for some children who need their parents to take responsibility for their actions.

Foster said that while the county and state does incur some cost associated with the incarceration of the dead beat parents, that jail is a great motivator as deputies regularly see people who had refused to pay their child support when placed in jail suddenly come up with the total amount.

Foster also said that those that do not make the payments as ordered and are in jail, are required to work through the Sheriff’s Office Inmate Labor Program. They pick up trash, work at recycling centers and perform other community oriented labors. While we are furnishing them a place to stay, they have to work.

A few of the people sentenced do have jobs when they are arrested. These people are often allowed to continue to work while they live in jail. They are required to have a portion of their wages go to the family court debt and a portion for room and board at the jail.

Foster added that a crime without consequences will increase so by this enforcement action it is the hope of law enforcement that others will pay their child support to avoid a jail sentence.

Failure to Pay Court Ordered Child Support is punishable by a sentence of up to 1 year in South Carolina.

Sheriff Foster also asked that anyone who knows the whereabouts of the 12 additional being sought or others who are delinquent in their child support should contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office or Crime stoppers.

Click here for information about the offenders including their name, age, address, charge, and the amount behind on child support. The mug shots of all those arrested and those still sought can be found at http://www.newberrycounty.net/sheriff/bust/newberry.htm.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

 

County Council Meeting on November 5
(added 11/06/08)

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (November 5) and heard final reading amending the newly created RS1-A zoning district to allow for the limited use of recreational vehicles. The new revised ordinance keeps the 24-hour restriction for parking or storing an RV, but it adds a permitting process for a temporary extension of that restriction. In the proposed ordinance, permits will be issued to a property owner for a maximum of 20 calendar days per quarter and not for more than 10 consecutive days per issuance. At least 2 days must expire between issuance of permits. There will be a $25 annual fee for each property owner requesting permits during the calendar year.

Council also approved final reading to rezone 125 tracts near Lake Greenwood from RS-1 to RS-1A. Mr. Dean Pierce owns a home in the Summerset Bay subdivision on Lake Greenwood where RS1-A will now be applied. Pierce argued that allowing this amount of RV usage encourages people to not build permanent homes thus depressing the tax base and deflating property values. Councilman Edgar Baker rebutted with the argument "[a compromise has been made after a year and a half of discussion,] I think this is the way we need to leave it."

Another return topic to the agenda Wednesday night was criteria for accepting roads into the county system.The proposed ordinance would allow those developers who built roads to county specs from July 2, 2003 to July 31, 2007 (a time period where the county was accepting dirt roads into the system) to now apply to bring those roads into the system. Amendments to this ordinance were proposed that would specify that any road accepted into the system would not be considered until all outstanding liens were paid on the property. Another amendment would clarify that once taken into the system the county was not guaranteeing they would widen the road nor would they pave the road but may only put down triple treat asphalt. Councilman Buddy Livingston successfully agrued that final reading be postponed until the public had time to review the amendments.

This amendment postponement led to the postponement of a subsequent ordinance that would accept Glade Springs Road in Little Mountain into the county public road system. Councilman Bill Waldrop stated, "Anyone who has driven down there knows that road is a disgrace...[by accepting the road] we would be doing the tax payers a disservice." Councilman John David Dawkins rebutted Waldrop's statement that the Glade Spring Road plats say private road by saying, "You can't write 'I hope to have the county accept this road into the county system' on a plat. The plat for every road we have accepted reads private road before we accept it."

Council voted to accept an agreement with the Town of Prosperity, Jerald Drafts, and John Bedenbaugh. The agreement finalizes the transfer of the property on which the new Prosperity Fire Department rest to the county. The piece of property is the former location of Town Hall and the Prosperity Water Tower. The agreement also transfers adjoining property (that the Town of Prosperity reportedly bought for $6,000) to the county. The county agrees to grade and gravel the property to allow for fire department, merchant, and community parking. The parking lot would allow greater access to the old Civitan Club building now owned by Wightman United Methodist Church that is behind the Fire Department. Administration estimates an $8,000 cost to the county for removal of the concrete water tower footings, grate, and graveling. The council approved the agreement with the exclusion of agreeing to fill in the valve vault due to the cost.

Council approved several bids including the bid for Pugh Road Bridge. Saddlebrook Construction had the low bid at $179,842. $250,000 was budgeted this year for this bridge with $75,000 of the cost being paid for with CTC funding. Southeastern Environmental Waste Equipment Company had the low bid for a rim crusher at $25,160. This will be paid for with a DHEC grant. All government entities in compliance with GASB 43 and 45 now have to show in their audit the liability for future retiree benefits. Demsey, Filliger & Associates was chosen to determine the amount needed under the new "other post employment benefits requirements." Their fee will be $5,000.

County Administrator Wayne Adams suggested that the budget adjustments needed in light of the $150,000 state revenue shortfall and some other capital decisions be postponed until January when the newly elected councilmen take office. Councilmen Elect Hipp, Stockman, and Koon were all in attendance last night.

The next regular meeting of the Newberry County Council will be November 19 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

Unofficial General Election Returns 2008
Not including Fail Safe and Provisional Ballots
Newberry County Contested Local Races
(added 11/05/08)

Coroner
Craig Newton (D)- 8367
Michael Thomas (R) - 7689

County Auditor
Donna Lominack (D) - 9211
Nancy Harvey (R) - 6921

County Treasurer
Karen D. Lindler (D)- 9137
Benji Chapman (R)- 7076

County Council District 1
Edgar Baker (R)- 1195
Ellic Prince (D)- 904

County Council District 2
Steve Stockman (R)- 1946
John David Dawkins (D)- 1309

County Council District 4
Kirksey Koon (D)- 1429
Kenneth Sanders (R)- 1083

County Council District 5
Les Hipp (R)- 1304
Henry Summer (D)- 1046

Mayor of Whitmire
Tim Carroll- 369
Cody Owens- 100
Alex Armfield- 98

Town Council of Whitmire
Top 6 Vote Getters
Jimmy Brock
Cassie Fowler
Debbie Harris
Chyrstal Harsha
Dwight Lane
Annette McCaskill


Votes will be made official Friday (November 7) after the standard 10am provisional ballot hearing in the
Newberry County Voter Registration Office. For totals from other counties visit:
http://www.enr-scvotes.org/SC/8562/12816/en/summary.html

License Plate Recycling
(added 10/31/08)

In July, the state began releasing the new sunrise license plates, many residents have contacted Newberry County about disposal of their old plates.

The palmetto license plates are aluminum and can be recycled in the aluminum can collection containers at any of the County's eleven Collection and Recycling Centers.

In the next year, more than 2 million old license plates will be removed from vehicles in South Carolina, and the Department of Motor Vehicles doesn't require them to be returned, so we are encouraging residents to recycle their old plates instead of tossing them in the trash.

Every license plate recycled will have a positive impact on the environment. Recycling just one aluminum license plate saves enough energy to keep a 100-watt light bulb burning for almost sixteen hours or run your television for twelve hours.

For additional information on Recycling license plates, other recycling issues in Newberry County, or to be added/deleted from this list contact Kim Griffith at (803) 321-2180 or kgriffith@newberrycounty.net.


Voters Can Report Election Day Abuses
(added 10/30/08)

Columbia, South Carolina - United States Attorney W. Walter Wilkins announced that a toll -free number is available for South Carolinians to report any acts of voter intimidation or voting fraud on election day, November 4, 2008. The Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice will handle calls and notify federal investigators if appropriate. Mr. Wilkins further stated that FBI agents and federal prosecutors with his office will likewise be available to accept election day calls. Contact numbers are as follows:

DOJ - Civil Rights 1-800-253-3931

U.S. Attorney’s Office: (803) 929-3052

FBI (803) 551-4200

Newberry County School Board Meeting on October 27
(added 10/28/08)

School District to Face 2nd Round of State Cuts and Plan to Change Transfer Policy

Newberry County School Board met last night and heard their regular financial update from CFO Susan Dowd. She also reviewed the implications of the state budget cuts. Dowd reported that the earlier round of state funding cuts included $408,000 in EFA (State Education Finance Act) funding and $77,000 in EIA (State Education Improvement Act) cuts. The district absorbed the bulk of these previous cuts thanks to a $300,000 contingency built into the budget for just such a purpose. The additional funding coming from trimming the early childhood and summer school programs in non-personnel areas.

Dowd stated that the upcoming round of cuts is estimated at 10.3% of EIA funding or approximately $234,000. The district will be freezing 10% of each departments’non-personnel budget and each school’s non-personnel budgets that is allocated for supplies, travel, purchases, services, etc.

Superintendent Bennie Bennett stated that he would not be surprised if there was not another round of cuts in January. He went as far as to say "when 85% of the budget is personnel, another round of cuts could impact personnel."

During his Superintendent report, Mr. Bennett recapped the Oct 20 board work session regarding intra-district transfers (formerly known as hardship transfers) saying that the board had given administration more direction so that by the November meeting administration will bring back several options regarding new policies for the board to review. He stated that one of the things that was clarified at the work session was that there are two issues: the intra-district transfers policy and the proof of residency policy.

Earlier in the evening during public comments, two district employees emphasized the importance of keeping an employee choice program, which allows teachers and staff to take their children to the school where they work or to the nearest age appropriate school. Teacher Kimberly Carter stated she is a mother of six and having her children near by allows her to stay late with students, meet with parents after school, and spend more time on planning. She also stated that employee school choice was one of the reasons she choice to come back to teach in Newberry County.

Newberry resident, Karen Summer also spoke during public comments saying, "I can’t take my children to work with me in the private sector and I have made sacrifices so that they are taken care of after school. Teachers should be treated just like any other citizen."

Again, the School Board will take up the issue again at the November 19 board meeting. November 19 is an odd Wednesday board meeting to accommodate a visit by the Advanced Ed accreditation panel that will be visiting that week. The board will hear the oral findings of the Advanced Ed panel at a 3pm meeting, hold executive session at 5pm and hold open session at 6:30.


Proposed Industrial Park Partnership
(added 10/27/08)

Newberry County Council held a special work session on Monday afternoon to discuss a request from another SC county to become a partner in the Mid-Carolina Commerce Park at I-26 and Hwy 773. Upon exiting executive session, council instructed staff to begin negotiating a detailed proposal regarding cost and revenue sharing. Click here for the county's press release (PDF format) from earlier on Monday for more information.

*Click here to download free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader (needed to view press release).

Tax Notice Timing
(added 10/22/08)

With an election looming, some citizens voiced their concerns to WKDK regarding the timing of the tax notices going out. Newberry County Auditor Nancy Owen reports that non-real estate, private property notices such as aircraft, manufacturing property, etc. went out the last of September. Automobiles, of course, go out monthly. Owen stated that local real estate tax notices could be mailed by the processing center on Friday October 31 or Saturday November 1.

County Administrator Wayne Adams stated that tax notices have been complicated this year due to the new Patriot computer system in the Assessor’s Office. The Assessor’s Office switched to the new Patriot system because it works with the GIS computer mapping that the department now has in place. Since Patriot does not produce a SC Auditor or Treasurer’s program, the Auditor and Treasurer’s offices have continued to use a Smith Data program.

Conversion of data from the Patriot system to the Smith Data program has required editing thus slowing the process. Auditor Nancy Owen reported that one of the fields that the system had trouble converting was the description of the number of acres, lots, buildings, and mobile homes on the notices. Owen who has served as Newberry County Auditor for 24 years commented that some counties have mailed their notices without the number of lots, etc. on them but by doing so they were not living up to the letter of the law. She stated, "[The tax notices] will be mailed when they are as accurate as they can be."

Once Owen approves the editing of the notices, the 30,000 notices and the duplicate book will go to Smith Data to be printed and then to a processing center to be folded, stuffed, and mailed. Stay tuned to WKDK for an announcement of when the notices are available online or by phone, which should be a few days before notices are received in the mail.

School Board Work Session on October 20
(added 10/21/08)

Intra-District Transfer Policy Reviewed by School Board

Newberry County School Board held a work session last night regarding intra-district transfers. The approved, intra-district transfers total 217 this year. Gallman with 26 has the most transfers out of their school with Newberry Elementary and Newberry Middle right behind them with 25. Prosperity-Rikard has the most transfers to their school with 27 with Newberry High School right behind with 26 transfers to NHS.

The board admitted that the main problem with the policy is that people have been working around the system. Since the recent focus on this issue, the district has uncovered 39 cases of non-approved transfers. Those students have already or will be returned to their "home" school by the end of the 9 weeks. (However, the parents had a chance to appeal to the Superintendent and 4 cases are still pending.)

Board member Jody Hamm stated, "The policy needs to not only quote the letter of the law but also explain the spirit of the law. Legal residence is where you lay your head at night."

Superintendent Bennie Bennett commented that what he has learned reviewing the challenged cases is that the hard part is proving that without expending a lot of time and money.

The Board discussed how to more carefully define legal residence and discussed using the address as defined by your income tax or (for a family who owns a home) as the legal residence used on a family’s 4% property tax assessment.

The board discussed having students submit proof of residency each year and apply for intra-district transfers each year with the approval of those transfers dependent upon space available. Space available defined not only by classroom availability but also staff availability and core space (cafeteria, media center, etc.) size.

These numbers do not include the 107 district employee transfers that are allowed under the current policy. Employees are allowed to take their child to the school at which they work or to the closest school on their grade level. School Board member Ike Bledsoe argued to keep the policy saying "we have hard enough trouble keeping teachers."

School administration will bring the board several options for new intra-district transfer policies at their November meeting.

Schools - AVP Information
(added 10/20/08)

SC State Department reported this past week whether or not schools met AYP. AYP is the adequate yearly progress as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. With a jump in elementary standards, only two schools met AYP this year as opposed to 5 last year: Lt. Mtn. Elementary and Whitmire Community High. Little Mountain (with 9) and Whitmire High (with 5) have the least number of objectives to meet in the district. A school must have 40 students in a subgroup such as free/reduced lunch students or special services students for them to count as a separate "objective." Newberry Middle School has the most "objectives" with 27.

If a Title I school does not meet AYP for two consecutive years, school choice must be offered. This could add a wrinkle into the discussion of intra-district transfer policies that is to take place tonight (October 20) at the Learning Center. The School Board meets at 7 for executive session and then will hold a worksession at 7:30.

For data on your local school click HERE.

Four More Arrested in Drug Bust
(added 10/17/08)

Four additional suspects have been taken into custody over the last two hours in the ongoing round up in Newberry County. Those four suspects have been identified as:

Aman, Robert Bradford Jr.
39
2011 Rivers Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Obtaining Prescription Drugs by Fraud ( 8 Counts)

Clark, Valerie Tewanda
39
2232 Vincent Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Epps, Lafayette Jr
29
96 Satterwhite Street
Whitmire
SC,29178
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Conspiracy

Rouse, Jamal Hasson
33
1612 First Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Withholding Information to Obtain a Controlled Substance


Drug Bust on Friday Morning; More Arrests to Follow
(added 10/17/08)

In the culmination of nearly a year long drug investigation, law enforcement officials in Newberry County say that officers are armed with arrest warrants for 23 suspects charged with illegally possessing and distributing illegal drugs.

Just after 9:00AM this morning, officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, Newberry Police Department, Whitmire Police Department, and State Law Enforcement Division began serving arrest on the 23 suspects for their involvement with illegal drugs.

By lunch, 16 of those offenders were already in custody with officers searching for more.

The officers had arrest warrants charging the offenders with a total of 19 counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine, 12 counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine within the Proximity of a School or Park, 2 counts of Conspiracy, and 13 counts of Illegally Obtaining Prescriptions.

Sheriff Foster said that the arrests came at the end of long and entailed investigation into the various types of illegal drugs.

The primary focus of the investigation was in the Helena and Whitmire sections of the county; however, the officers say that arrests are expected throughout the county.

“The citizens of these communities have a strong desire and commitment to make the their homes and families safe from those who choose to use and sell illegal drugs,” said Sherriff Foster. “It is our desire to work in these communities to assure them that we will not only join them in this fight, but are prepared to lead the battle against illegal drugs so that they and their families can feel safe and secure.”

Sheriff Foster said that a very special thank you was extended to the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office for their participation in the investigation into the illegal drugs.

Newberry Police Chief Jackie Swindler said, “Obviously law enforcement agencies in Newbery County continue to work closely together. We appreciate the citizens who call and inform us about drugs and other illegal activity in their communities. Most people understand that many crimes are a direct result of illegal drugs as people steal and commit other crimes to supply and support their drug addiction. While these investigations take time, rest assured our intention to make each community better and safer.”

Sheriff Foster said that a number of these cases involve what is commonly known as “doctor shopping”. This occurs when suspects go to more than doctor for the same condition to fraudulently receive controlled substances. The prescriptions are often in addition to ones they are already receiving and the suspects often abuse these controlled substances or illegally sell the addition drugs.

Sheriff Foster said that his agency had worked closely with the Department of Health and Environmental Control in the investigation of these cases, and that there continues to be a steady rise in the number of cases that both agencies are investigating.

“This is rapidly becoming an epidemic,” said Sheriff Foster. “Due to an increased enforcement against street drugs, prescription drugs are becoming a choice for drug dealers and drug abusers,” Foster continued.

Foster said that prescription drugs forced officers to make a very different type of investigation than that typical of illegal street drugs.

“More and more people are abusing prescription drugs and we are forced to conduct an entirely different type of investigation in these cases,” said Foster. “These investigations are extremely time consuming for the investigators, and what is worse many of the suspects receive government assistance such as Medicaid to pay for some of the prescriptions. The taxpayer faces the double burden of paying for the drugs and then paying for the investigation to catch the suspect. Our goal is to stop this in order to be a good steward of the taxpayer’s money and protect our community.”

“We are grateful to the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office for working with us to rid Whitmire of drugs,” said Whitmire Police Chief Jeremiah Sinclair. “We must continue to work together if are going to make our community better and send a clear message to the drug dealers that you will be caught and prosecuted.”

In another disturbing factor, Foster noted the number of offenders who were charged with second or third offense distribution of drugs.

“It is concerning to me that these offenders who continually sell illegal drugs even after they are arrested and convicted,” said Foster. “They seem to return to the same community doing the same thing over and over again. It becomes very frustrating to the community and to law enforcement to see these repeat offenders especially when nearly everyone knows exactly what they are doing. While these investigations take time, we want the citizens of these and all communities to know that we share in your frustration and are working as quickly and diligently as possible to continue to remove these drug dealers and users from your streets.”

Foster said that more arrests are expected as the investigation continues to grow.

Foster said that other than the two men charged with Conspiracy, there was no indication that these suspects were acting collectively.

“This is another step in making Newberry County a wonderful place to live and work,” said Sheriff Foster. “I want the people of this great county to know that while the process may be slow because of the depth of these investigation that we are doing everything we possibly can to insure their safety, their community, and their future.”

Authorities identified the offenders as those listed below. They are listed alphabetically by last name. The list is also attached in an excel spread sheet for ease of effort to find and search by various criteria.

Updates will be issued at random times throughout the day to include the number of people arrested, any drugs found, or additional charges filed.

IN CUSTODY:

Alexander, Quenton
36
269 Short Cut Road
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine 3rd Offense
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Caldwell, Harold
54
4010 Kings Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine 3rd Offense
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Caughman, Shannon Terrell
21
2605 Pine Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Attempt to Obtain a Controlled Substance
Breach of Trust

Epps, William Isaac
30
763A Duckett Avenue
Whitmire
SC, 29178
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Harmon, Justin Lee
21
122 South Wheeler Avenue
Prosperity
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Houseal, Uhura
28
2621 Drayton Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Lindsay, Kenny Lee
30
2524 Armfield Avenue
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine (2 Counts)

Miller, Carmen
55
603 Living Inn Road
Prosperity
SC, 29127
Withholding Information to Obtain a Controlled Substance

Pitts, Vincent Anthony
20
2816 Clyde Avenue
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine 3rd Offense
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Sims, Curtis Charles Roosevelt
44
408 Nelson Street
Whitmire
SC, 29178
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Conspiracy

Sims, Jarvis Jameak
22
2109 Rosalyn Drive
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Sligh, James Anthony
20
172 Nance Forest Drive
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Sligh, Jarvis Jameel
23
113 Nelson Street
Whitmire
SC, 29178
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Werts, James Jerod
28
2605 Pine Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine 3rd Offense

Wheeler, Alex Decheion
26
1325 Washington Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine

Wheeler, Christopher
53
38 Brown Chapel Lane
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine 2nd Offense




STILL SOUGHT:


Aman, Robert Bradford Jr.
39
2011 Rivers Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Obtaining Prescription Drugs by Fraud ( 8 Counts)

Clark, Valerie Tewanda
39
2232 Vincent Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Epps, Lafayette Jr
29
96 Satterwhite Street
Whitmire
SC,29178
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Conspiracy

Hamilton, Crystal Linn
26
914D Suber Drive
Newberry
SC, 29108
Withholding Information to Obtain a Controlled Substance

Johnson, Harold Nolan Jr
29
156 Crystal Cove Road
Leesville
SC, 29070
Withholding Information to Obtain a Controlled Substance

Nelson, Lorenzo
24
918 Gray Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine 2nd Offense
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

Rouse, Jamal Hasson
33
1612 First Street
Newberry
SC, 29108
Withholding Information to Obtain a Controlled Substance

Williamson, Jessie James
32
124 Sutton Lane
Newberry
SC, 29108
Distribution of Crack Cocaine
Distribution of Crack Cocaine in Proximity of a School or Park

If you have any information about these or any case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

County Council Meeting on October 15 / City Fire Chief Update
(added 10/16/08)

Dirt Roads Discussed at County Council

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (October 15) approved second reading of an ordinance that would alter the criteria for acceptance of new roads into the County road system. From July 2, 2003 to July 31, 2007 the county was accepting dirt roads into the county system if they met specs. The proposed ordinance would allow those developers who built roads to county specs during that time frame but were not brought into the county system at that time to now apply to be brought into the system.

Council also approved second reading of an ordinance that would bring Glade Springs Road into the county public road system. Councilman John David Dawkins stated that a verbal commitment between the then public works director and the developer understood that the road would be taken into the system since it was built to the specs at the time. He has also pointed out that the plats show set backs, easements, and other evidence that the developer went to the effort of building the road to the then county standards.

Current Public Works Director Tommy Whitehead recommended not taking the road into the system. He pointed out that nothing was recorded in writing with the Public Works office, that the residents’ deeds clearly state that the road is private and will be maintained by them, that the current condition of the road is substandard even for the previous road specs, and that he has been told by DHEC that they have no DHEC permit for the road on file.

Councilmen Bill Waldrop and Edgar Baker voted against both ordinances – voicing their concern over setting an expensive precedence for the county. Councilman Mike Hawkins stated, “I have always been in favor of accepting dirt roads into the county system if they are built to specs since the price of paving can price lots out of many people’s price range. I would like to see us accept dirt roads all the time, but if all y’all will agree to is for those within this time frame I’ll take it.

Council passed second reading a new proposed version of RS1-A Wednesday night. The new revised ordinance keeps the 24-hour restriction for parking or storing an RV, but it adds a permitting process for a temporary extension of that restriction. In the proposed ordinance, permits will be issued to a property owner for a maximum of 20 calendar days per quarter and not for more than 10 consecutive days per issuance. At least 2 days must expire between issuance of permits. There will be a $25 annual fee for each property owner requesting permits during the calendar year. Visit http://www.newberrycounty.net/rs-1a.pdf to read the proposed ordinance.

The next regular meeting of the Newberry County Council will be November 5 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.


$500,000 Bond Anticipation Note Passed by County Council for 773 Infrastructure

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (October 15) and approved a resolution to reissue a special source revenue bond anticipation note for Phase I infrastructure at the 773 Mid-Carolina Commerce Park. The initial bond anticipation note was issued for $1.5 million last year to begin work on the park. However, Council voted to postpone work until an application could be submitted for a federal EDA grant. The Economic Development Administration did award Newberry County a $1 million grant for infrastructure at the park. With this grant, the renewed bond anticipation note that was approved last night will be for only the balance or $500,000 of the estimated cost of phase 1 infrastructure work.

The note can only be paid off with fee-in-lieu of taxes from the current multi-county industrial parks. The note does not count against the bonded indebtedness of the county. It is anticipated, however, that the note be rolled over into an actual bond at some point in the future. The total expected cost of Phase I infrastructure is $2.7 million and will be spread out over several budget years - with only $1.2 million budgeted for this fiscal year.

The Town of Prosperity is looking to expand their parking with a new parking lot next to the new Prosperity Fire Department. The Town of Prosperity is purchasing the property but looking for help from the County for leveling and graveling. After much discussion about how to and the cost of dismantling the old Prosperity water tower footing which is on the property, the council decided to postpone a final decision until pricing could be established.

After executive session, council voted to authorize County Administrator Wayne Adams to negotiate a new lease with Al Morrison and the triangle gun club. During Administrator comments, Mr. Adams stated that the county has already lost $67,000 in state funding due to budget cuts and that with a separate vote of the State Legislature they may be seeing more cuts. Subsequently, the county will begin a mid-year budget review at the next regular meeting of the Newberry County Council, which will be November 5 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

City Fire Chief Search Narrowed

The City of Newberry has narrowed the field of candidates for Fire Chief to three. They are:
• Keith Minick, Captain with the City of Newberry Fire Department, currently acting as Interim Chief
• Jeffrey Hooper, Fire Chief in Weaverville, NC
• Rickie Baker, Asst. City Manager for Public Safety and Former Fire Chief of Sotuhern Pines, NC

City Manager Erik Budds stated that a final decision should be made by the end of next week.

 

City Council Meeting on October 14
(added 10/15/08)

City Council Member Sworn-In/General Commercial Zoning at I-26 and 219 Approved

Newberry City Council met Tuesday night (October 14) and officially swore in David Dubose (District 6), Foster Senn (District 2), and Greg Summer (District 4) for another term on City Council. Dubose and Summer ran unopposed while Senn defeated a write-in candidate in the September 9 election.

At their September 2 meeting, City Council heard final reading to annex 21 acres on the northeast side of I-26 at 219 for the new Love's Travel Stop planned for the property. A 5-acre piece of property that will be leased for the off-sight signage was also annexed.

During the public hearing at the September meeting, several residents of the Deer Trace subdivision and members of St. John’s Church questioned the noise, crime, fumes, and light pollution that could come with a gas station/truck stop in their backyard. No one spoke during public comments on Tuesday night.

Council approved final reading to rezone the property to general commercial at Tuesday’s meeting. It was reiterated that the landscape buffer requirements would be enforced on the property, but that a physical barrier between commercial property and residential property is not required by the zoning code at this time.

First reading also passed to amend section 902 of City zoning regarding the specific regulations of the sign overlay district for the newly annexed 219 property. In addition, first reading passed to extend the City’s franchise agreement with Newberry Electric Cooperative to include these properties. Newberry Electric Cooperative pays the City a franchise fee of 5-7% (depending on classification) to be the power provider for the Fretwell property along 219 that has been annexed into the City in the last several years.

Newberry City Council met Tuesday night (October 14) and ratified a memorandum of understanding with Loblolly Green Power for utility services. This new industry that will be recycling woody bio-mass into electricity will be cooling the bio-mass with a mixture of tap water and gray water (which is treated sewer water). The City will have to retreat the remaining water that doesn’t evaporate, but will still see an estimated profit of $400,000.

City Council agreed to fund $5,000 towards the opening of a Small Business Development Center in Newberry. The SBDC provides FREE professional small business counseling for creating business plans, handling government paperwork, developing marketing plans, and completing loan applications. SBDC currently has 14 offices across the state with Newberry to be the 15th. The office will be housed at the Dufford House at Newberry College and should open at the first of the year.

Joseph B. Brogdon III was honored for 15 years with the police department and Eric J. Miller was honored with 30 year with the Police Department and presented a City rocking chair in honor of his years and upcoming retirement. He also received a special presentation from C shift.

No more warnings - The City Fire Department will begin enforcing fire lanes with $125 ordinance summon tickets. Fire Department Captains sited WalMart and Food Lion as two of the worst locations for violators.

The City will be asking DOT to decrease the speed limit on Harrington from Calhoun to Nance to 25 miles per hour from the current posting of 30. Much discussion also occurred regarding the questions of closing or making McKibben St. in front of the Opera House one way. No final decision was made and a public hearing on the issue will be held at a future meeting.

Newberry City Council will hold a worksession next Tuesday at City Hall.

Three Men in Custody After Pointing Rifle at Law Enforcement
(added 10/14/08)

UPDATE: Bond Hearing Held on Tuesday Afternoon

All three suspects were officially charged with Assault with Intent to Kill and Conspiracy.

A bond hearing was held this afternoon at the Newberry County Central Court.

During the bond hearing, authorities indicated that Michael Phillip Greenberg had prior convictions in 1992 for Pointing and Presenting a Firearm, 1998 for Misprision of a Felony, and 2001 for Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill.

The two younger suspects did not have prior records.

Bond was then sent at $100,000.00 on Michael Phillip Greenberg and $80,000.00 each of the Greenberg sons.

They are currently being held at the Newberry County Detention Center.


Earlier Story: A Newberry County man and his two sons are in custody this morning after pointing a rifle at a SLED helicopter and the law enforcement officers inside.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster says that officers were conducting an investigation near a residence located on Glymph Road in the Pomaria section of the county, and contacted the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for a helicopter to fly the area.

Sheriff Foster said that the SLED agent met with a Newberry County Investigator who was familiar with the area and joined them in the helicopter flight.

When the officers began flying the area around the residence, the three men began waving their arms at the helicopter and making obscene gestures toward the officers in the helicopter. The incident began to escalate as the men began throwing rocks toward the helicopter, however, the helicopter was far too high to be affected by the rocks.

Foster says it was then that the men went into the mobile home located on the property and returned with what was later found to be a Mouser rifle . The officers then saw the suspect load the weapon, and take aim at the helicopter. The helicopter quickly left the area and notified ground units to respond the area.

Foster said that the when the officers arrived at the residence, one of the men was taken into custody, the second was arrested near the property at a family house, and the third was arrested on a traffic stop about ½ mile from the residence. All three were taken into custody without incident.

All three men will be charged with Conspiracy and Assault with Intent to Kill for the threat to the officers.

Police say that while the father was the person who actually pointed the gun at the police officers in the helicopter, the sons were actively involved in the obscene gestures, moved with their father to get the gun, and returned outside with him while he aimed it at the officers allowing them to charge all of them with the crime.

Sheriff Foster identified the men as Michael Phillip Greenberg, 43, of 424 Glymph Road, Pomaria, SC; Robert Michael Greenberg, 19, 98 Shealy Circle, Pomaria, SC,; and Sam Greenberg, 18, of 424 Glymph Road, Pomaria, SC.

The three men were all taken to the Newberry County Detention center where formal charges will be filed later today after which a bond hearing will be scheduled.

It is unclear whether or not the suspect actually shot at the helicopter at this time and that investigation is ongoing.

Officers would also not comment on the entire scope of the investigation that led to the flight because it too is an ongoing investigation.

No one was injured during the incident, and there was no damage to the helicopter.

“We would like to thank the State Law Enforcement Division for their efforts to always be there for the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Newberry County,” said Sheriff Foster. “These situations always have the potential to become dangerous, and we are very fortunate that no one was injured or killed during this terrible incident.”

Series of Burglaries and Thefts in Newberry County
(added 10/14/08)

A string of burglaries and thefts in Newberry County have been solved and two men are in custody with more arrests expected.

Sheriff Lee Foster announced last week that his agency was investigating a series of burglaries and thefts throughout Newberry County over a four month period.

The burglaries and thefts occurred at old, empty homes and storage sheds. The thefts occurred throughout Newberry County along Highway 176, the Little Mountain area, the Prosperity section of the county, and the St. Phillips community.

Each of the thefts involved items that could be easily converted to scrap metal such as old lawn mowers, lawn mower blades and decks, pots and pans, old plumbing fixtures that contain metal, and abandoned automobiles in the area of the empty home places.

Foster said that investigators from the Newberry County were working with other law enforcement agencies to solve the thefts when it became apparent that the thefts were similar in each community. Investigators from Newberry County and the Clinton Police Department began working together, and have identified these men as responsible for the 11 burglaries and thefts in Newberry County. The men are currently in jail in Laurens County on Burglary and Conspiracy charges.

The men were stealing the metal and then selling it from scrap metal and a number of local scrap metal dealers.

Sheriff Foster said that the investigation into these thefts was ongoing and included locating the property owners where the thefts occurred, identifying the items that have been sold as scrap metal, and determining what charges will be filed in each case.

Foster said that once the investigation was complete, investigators would meet with Eighth Circuit Solicitor Jerry Peace and his staff to determine exactly what charges should be filed against the men responsible for these thefts. A detainer has been filed against the men at the Laurens County Detention Center pending completion of the investigation.

Investigators have identified the men as James Robert Carle, 33, of 112 Coleman Aughtry Road, Whitmire, SC, and Nathan Thomas Lewis, 28, of 334 Coleman Aughtry Road, Whitmire, SC.

“These certainly are crimes of opportunity,” said Sheriff Lee Foster. “It appears that the burglaries and theftswere random in nature as the men simply scouted through the area looking for empty home places to take items that could easily be converted into quick cash as scrap metal. Tough economic times often bring about such crimes of opportunity, however, there is never a good excuse to take something that it not yours.”

“I would also like to thank Chief John Thomas and the staff of the Clinton Police Department for their ongoing partnership and communication with our agency,” said Foster. “This and so many other incidents are excellent examples of law enforcement working together to make a difference.”

“In today’s mobile society, criminals often manipulate jurisdictional lines in a belief that law enforcement will not piece the connections together,” said Foster. “However, partnerships with neighboring agencies and information sharing across the state between law enforcement agencies continues to improve dramatically increasing the number of ‘regional’ cases such as this that are solved.”

Foster said that more arrests are expected in the case, but would not indicate their identity or number of additional arrests expected to protect the ongoing investigation and because they are not yet in custody.

Sheriff Foster also said that investigators are still working to recover stolen property and those items sold for scrap metal are recyclable goods. He also said that they continue to work with surrounding jurisdictions to determine if these suspects are responsible for crimes in other jurisdictions.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

Leak at Senior Catering
(added 10/10/08)

From a report by Sheriff Lee Foster...

Before 6:00 am on Friday, there was a leak at Senior Catering (believed to be carbon monoxide) which caused four people to become ill and required four people to be transported. Two other persons sought medical attention without EMS/Rescue Transport. Friendly City Fire Department and Newberry Rescue, along with the Sheriff's Office were at the scene. There were also elements of the Haz Mat Team on site.

Information on the condition of the patients is not available at this time.

Shooting in Helena Section
(added 10/08/08)

On 10/07/2008 Newberry County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to shots being fired in the vicinity of Sycamore Drive in the Helena section of Newberry County.

Deputies responding determined that two individuals had been shot in the leg and they had been taken to the Newberry County Hospital ER.

Investigation and witness statements revealed that two individuals had come into the neighborhood and began to argue with the two victims. Two subjects pulled out handguns and began to fire a yet to be determined number of rounds into the ground and at the crowd that had gathered.


The two subjects fled the scene as officers approached.

Investigating Deputies identified the following subjects:

Stantavian Dvay Williams (left), 19, 455 Brown Chapel Drive Newberry, SC

James Bernard Darby (right), 22, 661 Green Meadow Drive Newberry, SC

Warrants are being issued for each suspect for Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill. Any help from the public is greatly appreciated. Because they were involved in a shooting of another person, they are to be considered armed and dangerous.

The names of the victims and the complaints are being withheld at this time because of their safety and fear of retribution until the suspects are captured.


NEWBERRY COUNTY COUNCIL CANDIDATE ARRESTED
ON FORGERY AND OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE CHARGES
(added 10/07/08)

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agents have arrested and charged a candidate running for Newberry County Council with Forgery and Obstruction of Justice.

Daniel Leon Hare, 34, of 153 Brown Street, Prosperity, S.C. was arrested at approximately 1:30 p.m. and booked at the Newberry County Detention Center.

According to the warrants, on July 2, 2008, Hare presented a petition containing forged signatures to the Newberry County Registration and Election Office.

The warrants also state that on October 2, 2008, Hare refused to comply with a search warrant, therefore hindering the investigation of various signatures submitted to the Newberry County Registration and Election Office.

This investigation was conducted by SLED at the request of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.

The case will be prosecuted by the Eighth Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

NOH Executive Director Debra Smith Honored
(added 10/06/08)

Newberry Opera House Executive Director Debra Smith was honored Sunday. A large crowd attended a drop in honoring Smith for her contributions to Newberry and the Opera House. Those participating included Mayor Ed Kyzer, who on behalf of City Council,declared October 5th 2008 as "Debra Smith Day in Newberry". County Council Chairman Henry Summer presented a resolution from County Council honoring Smith. Newberry County's legislative delegation also participated. Representative Walt McLeod presented Smith the "Palmetto Patriot Award" on behalf of Lt. Governor Andre Baurer while Senator Ronnie Cromer and Representative Jeff Duncan presented her with the "Order of the Palmetto" on behalf of Governor Mark Sanford. The Newberry Opera House was recently the recipient of the national award from the American Society of Historic Theatres.

Also on Sunday, dedication ceremonies were held for the new Mid-Carolina High School. Sunday's events concluded a busy weekend in Newberry. Thousands attended Saturday's Oktoberfest downtown, while thousands more participated in Homecoming at Newberry College including Newberry's 33-14 victory over Catawba Saturday night.


County Council Meeting on October 1
(added 10/03/08)

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (October 1) and heard a presentation from the SC Department of Natural Resources regarding their acquisition of a portion of the Belfast Plantation. The property is part of a larger track previously owned by Champion then International Paper.

The Conservation Fund will own 2436 acres and will pay taxes on this property. DNR will own 2228 acres of which only 1287 acres is in Newberry County. As a government agency, they will not have to pay taxes on their property. Concerns were voiced by Councilman Henry Summer and echoed by others that the National Forrest already keeps 60,000 acres off of the tax book.

DNR plans to partner with Bass Pro Shops, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Archery Federation, SC Department of Education, and upstate industry to provide property maintenance and programs on the property. The planned programs include outdoor classroom activities, archery competitions, planned hunts, etc. to get children active and outside. Studies showing the positive effect outdoor activities has on holding off youth obesity and help focus ADHD students. The property will also be open to the public for hunting, hiking, fishing, wildlife photography, and other outdoor activities.

The property will be paid for with $150,000 of DNR timber revenue and $4 million from the Heritage Land Trust Fund. The Heritage Land Trust Fund gathers its dollars from a % of the document stamp fee paid by people who buy property.

The almost doubling of the price to be paid by DNR from the price paid by the investors who purchased the property from IP and the fact that public funds were being expended for the property were points of vehement concern for Councilman Bill Waldrop. Waldrop stated, "This is the biggest fleecing – a complete "flim flam….I could just throw-up." He also voiced his frustration with the fact that council was just made aware of this almost "done deal" last week.

Waldrop made a motion to take a stand against the Belfast Project. Council split 3 to 3 with one abstention.

Council approved final reading of an ordinance authorizing the issuance of $1.1 million in hospital revenue bonds. The bonds will be used to purchase a nearby office building and other budgeted capital projects at the hospital. Only hospital revenue can be used to pay back the loan.

At the August 20 meeting, Council postponed final reading of an ordinance regarding the rezoning of several subdivisions on Lake Greenwood from RS-1 to RS-1A. Differing opinions from the residents sent the RS1-A ordinance back to the planning commission and delayed the rezoning in these subdivisions.

Council approved first reading of this new proposed version of RS1-A Wednesday night. The new revised ordinance keeps the 24-hour restriction for parking or storing an RV, but it adds a permitting process for a temporary extension of that restriction. In the proposed ordinance, permits will be issued to a property owner for a maximum of 20 calendar days per quarter and not for more than 10 consecutive days per issuance. At least 2 days must expire between issuance of permits. There will be a $25 annual fee for each property owner requesting permits during the calendar year. Visit http://www.newberrycounty.net/rs-1a.pdf to read the proposed ordinance.

The next regular meeting of the Newberry County Council will be October 15 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

Newberry Hospital Board Meeting on September 23
(added 09/24/08)

The following information was received and action taken by the Board of Trustees:

· Financials: August has historically been a slower month for hospitals. We had budgeted for a loss and our financials did reflect a loss of $179,371; however, the good news was that it was $10,000 less than budgeted. The only department that exceeded budgeted charges was the Lab. TCU did exceed budgeted patient days by 13, which in this case was good. Good job, Lab and TCU. There was a discussion about ER and Chemotherapy meeting budgeted volumes but not charges. This anomaly is still being looked at carefully to understand the root cause.

· The Board received the QHR report on Group Purchasing Savings. The hospital saved $600,096.10 on the 2007 purchases over next best price. The Board also received a QHR review of financial operations. It included several recommendations for efficiencies and improved processes which are being reviewed and implemented as possible.

· The Board discussed and then approved the annual progress report of the Management Action Plan for the prior fiscal year, (7/1/07 – 6/30/08). This annual update is required as part of the QHR Management Contract with NCMH.

· The Board voted on several technical procedural issues to further the bonds for the new Pond Field Rd property, as well as a technical issue about the name of the Board in relationship with the Atrium Professional Center.

· At its last meeting, the Foundation Board elected Sheila Martin (employee representative), Carol Thompson, Christie Whitaker and Rev. Michael Turner, Bill Braswell and Bill Armfield to the Board. The Bills were elected as Directors Emeritus.

· Sydney reminded the Medical Staff and Board members of the Foundation Golf Tournament on Oct. 16.

· Spott Coats, PR/Marketing Committee Chairman, invited Board members to help out at the hospital’s tent at Oktoberfest (Oct. 4, 10am-1pm) and to attend the birthday party for the J. Kess Derrick Medical Center and Little Mountain Family Health on Sunday, Oct. 12, from 4 until 6 pm. Coats also announced a committee meeting October 22.

County Council Meeting on September 17
(added 09/18/08)

Newberry County Council met last night (September 17) and authorized the County Administrator to finalize negotiations of a memorandum of understanding with Operation Boston, which is code for a yet-to-be-named industrial prospect.

Council approved final reading of an ordinance allowing for the leasing of 5,000 square feet in the fairground buildings to the Newberry County Historical & Museum Society. The property will be used for the storage of farm equipment donated from the late Bill Ballentine's farm museum.

At the August 20 meeting, Council postponed final reading of an ordinance regarding the

rezoning of several subdivisions on Lake Greenwood from RS-1 to RS-1A. Differing opinions from the residents sent the RS1-A ordinance back to the planning commission and delayed the rezoning in these subdivisions.

A compromise in the form of a new RS1-A ordinance was approved by the County Planning Commission at their Tuesday night meeting (September 16). The new proposed version of RS1-A keeps the 24-hour restriction for parking or storing an RV, but the new ordinance adds a permitting process for a temporary extension of that restriction. In the proposed ordinance, permits will be issued to a property owner for a maximum of 20 calendar days per quarter and not for more than 10 consecutive days per issuance. At least 2 days must expire between issuance of permits. There will be a $25 annual fee for each property owner requesting permits during the calendar year. These proposed changes to RS1-A will be on the agenda for the October 1 County Council meeting. Visit http://www.newberrycounty.net/rs-1a.pdf to read the proposed ordinance.

Council did approved the rezoning of 50.1 acres off Hwy 76 above Newberry from Basic Industrial to R2-Rural.

Council approved second reading of an ordinance authorizing the issuance of $1.1 million in hospital revenue bonds. The bonds will be used to purchase a nearby office building and other budgeted capital projects at the hospital. Only hospital revenue can be used to pay back the loan.

The next regular meeting of the Newberry County Council will be October 1 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

Senn Wins City Election
(added 09/09/08)

Foster Senn won reelection to the Newberry City Council district 2 seat on Tuesday (9/9). With 167 votes, Senn defeated official write-in-candidate Wayne Hiller, who totaled 46 write-ins. The breakdown is as follows:
Newberry Ward 1:
Senn 3
Hiller 2
Newberry Ward 2:
Senn 150
Hiller 8
Oakland:
Senn 9
Hiller 34
Absentee:
Senn 5
Hiller 2

Incumbents David Dubose (District 6) and Greg Summer (District 4) were unopposed.

 

Man in Custody After Committing Two Armed Robberies
(added 09/09/08)

A Newberry man is in jail this morning after police allege that he robbed two convenience stores in Newberry County over night.

At just after 10:00PM, a suspect entered the Shell Station located at Highway 34 and I-26 in Newberry County. The suspect was wearing a white t-shirt and jeans and had a blue shirt covering his hand appearing as he had a weapon. The suspect was able to steal less than $100 in cash from the store and fled the area.

While officers were still investigating the first crime, police say that the same suspect entered the Citgo station located at Highway 76 and Evans Street at just after 4:00AM. The suspect had switched shirts and was now wearing the blue shirt and jeans and had the white shirt wrapped around his hand again appearing as if he had a weapon. He robbed the store of less than $200 and again fled the scene.

Foster said that in both cases, a deputy was on scene in less than a minute and was able comfort the victim and preserve the crime scene until investigators arrived.

It was then the tenacious efforts of law enforcement officers that landed the suspect in custody shortly after 8AM this morning

Foster said that deputies and investigators worked throughout the night to identify and locate the suspect.

The suspect was identified through evidence gathered at the crime scene and through information gathered by the community based efforts of the officers working the area and their knowledge of the community. The officers were able to concentrate their efforts in community, and because of those efforts the suspect was taken into custody without incident.

Foster identified the man as Carl Sheppard (left), 36, of 4888 SC Highway 34-121, Newberry, SC. Sheppard has been taken to the Newberry County Detention Center where he will be formerly charged with two counts of Armed Robbery later today.

“This was an incredible effort by the investigators and deputies involved in this case,” said Sheriff Foster. “They worked throughout the night to insure that this dangerous individual was arrested and taken off the streets before he could strike again.”

Foster said that one of the deputies who was critical in solving the case came out even though she was on annual leave and several who were off duty used their patrol vehicles to respond and assist.

“The efforts in this case are what make the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office one the leading law enforcement agencies in the state,” Foster continued. “Every officer at the Sheriff’s Office is willing to give all that they have to create safe communities for our families and the people we serve, even if it means giving of themselves in responding while off duty or on vacation.”

A bond hearing will be scheduled after the formal charges are made.

Authorities say that Sheppard does have a prior record that includes Fraudulent Checks, Forgery, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He is currently on Probation for Forgery.

If convicted of Armed Robbery, Sheppard faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and up to 30 years in jail on each charge.

Sheriff Foster says that this case is a reminder that crime simply does not pay. Sheppard robbed two stores of less than $300, was captured in a matter of hours, and now faces 10 to 60 years in prison.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

County Council Meeting on September 3
(added 09/04/08)

County Tax Levy Set

Newberry County Council met last night (September 3) and were
presented with the recommendation for the county tax levy by Auditor
Nancy Owen. County general fund millage will increase by 3.3 mills to
141.3 mills. County GO Bond millage decreased by .5 mills to 10.4.
County special education millage increased by .2 mills to 7.3 mills.
School general fund millage increased by 4 mills to 194 mills. School
GO Bonds remained at 53 mills.

The total tax levy increased by 7 mills from 399 to 406. 6%
properties with a market value of $100,000 will equate to $2436 in
taxes while legal residences assessed at 4% with a market value of
$100,000 will equate to $848 in taxes. This difference is due not
only to the assessment ratio but also to the fact that school
operational cost (which make up almost 48% of property taxes) are
being shifted from property taxes to state penny sales tax funding.

Stay tuned for more County Council news...

Newberry Prepared for Hanna
(added 09/03/08)

Emergency services providers, city, county, school, and media representatives met Wednesday afternoon in the Emergency Operations Center at the Sheriff's Office to review hurricane evacuation procedures.

Sheriff Lee Foster stated that Newberry is the most inland shelter and would fill up last if the coast is evacuated.

If the shelter is opened at Newberry High School, it would be manned by the American Red Cross and the State Guard. The Newberry County Animal Shelter is also on standby for pets of evacuees since they are not allowed in the evacuee shelter.

In case of power outages or inclement weather in our area, be prepared with a three-day kit. The kit should include items such as a gallon of water per person per day, ready to eat non-parishable foods, a manual can opener, flashlights, batteries, emergency tools including those to turn off utilities, an extra par of glasses or contact lenses, extra hearing aid batteries, copies of important documents, a first aid kit, presciptions, a battery powered radio, etc. For more information on disaster preparedness kits visit www.centralscredcross.org.

Stay tuned to AM 1240 and www.wkdk.com for updates from the National Weather Service regarding Hurricane Hanna.

And this reminder...keep track of Hanna with AP Online Video (sponsored by Jeffrey Dean Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge).

Theft at Newberry Elementary
(added 09/03/08)

This past Sunday two laptops were stolen from Newberry Elementary School on
Nance St. The Newberry County School District has released that the laptops
were used in conjuction with interactive display systems in two classrooms.
Spokesman Hugh Gray stated, "While we estimate replacement value at
approximately $1,500 each, we may be able to use computers currently in
inventory and not have to purchase replacement systems."

According to investigators surveillance video showed what appeared to be two
teenagers. The suspects attempted to canceel their identity with their
attire and wore gloves. The City Police Department will be canvasing pawn
shops and interviewing community members in an attempt to identify the
intruders. If you have any information regarding the identity of the
suspects please contact City Police at 321-1010.


City Council Meeting on September 2
(added 09/03/08)

Deer Trace Residents Protest Effects of I-26/219 Truck Stop
Newberry City Council met last night (Sept. 3) and heard final reading to annex 21 acres on the northeast side of I-26 at 219 for the new Love's Travel Stop planned for the property. Also approved was annexation of a 5 acre piece of property that will be leased for the off-sight signage. First reading was also approved to rezone the properties general commercial.

During the public hearing, several residents of the Deer Trace subdivision questioned the noise, crime, fumes, and light pollution that could come with a gas station/truck stop in their backyard. Deer Trace Homeowner Association president Gary Ball stated, "We're not against progress here in Newberry County. What we want is a fair shot, and we think we are getting the shaft."

Mr. Ball emphasized a request for a barrier between the station and residences and asked for reassurances for well water quality in the case of a gas leak at the station. Mayor Ed Kyzer stated that the City would be the first responder to any accident, but that DHEC would regulate any potential spill. He also promised to be a champion for the residents' previously denied request for water from the Newberry County Water and Sewer Authority. City Manager Eric Budds stated that there are landscape buffers required in the city ordinances but that the city could not require, only request that the business put up a physical noise barrier.

Member of St. John Church, Frank Hair stated that the church already has trouble with the noise from the adjacent interstate and said, "I drive trucks and I know there is no way possible to control the sound."

A Smoke Free Newberry?
Tyler Ellis, a medical student doing his family rotation with Lovelace Family Medicine, proposed a smoke free ordinance to Newberry City Council at their Tuesday night (Sept. 3) meeting. The ordinance would ban smoking in all "public places and in places of employment ." He sited the Surgeon General's 2006 report that stated "there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke." Ellis presented Council with a sample ordinance modeled after the smoking ban ordinance that was upheld by the supreme court. The council took no official action last night and only took the presentation as information at this time.

Council also approved a summery of the goals established at the City Council Retreat on August 23. The goals include diversified housing expansion, completion of storm water utility set up, promotion of Newberry as a residential relocation location, work with the school district to support quality and announce achievements, study the expansion of green spaces, continue assertive nuisance code enforcement, and improve communications with citizens.

Following executive session, City Council voted to allow City Administrator Eric Budds to negotiate a memorandum of understanding to provide utilities with an "unnamed" industry.

The City honored Finance Director Marie Hickman for her 30 years with the City. Corp. Nancy Bickley was honored for her 10 years with the City Police Department.

School Board Meeting on August 25
(added 08/26/08)

Newberry County School Board met last night and approved a $5.5
million bond resolution. The bulk of the bond will go make a payment
to NICE, the non-profit entity setup to hold the note on the $77
million capital improvement bond. $575,000 will be available for
additional capital needs such as IT purchases, landscaping, sidewalk
repairs, paving, door/lock upgrades,etc. The amount is setup to keep
the bond millage at the 53 mill self-imposed cap.

First reading passed to update several board policies - many of which
relate to the Education Economic Development Act including mandated
career clusters, service learning, career counseling training for
guidance counselors, etc. Another change includes the elimination of
an outdated school choice policy. This elimination does not affect
the district's extraordinary circumstances transfer policy nor the
federal No Child Left Behind transfer regulations.

Extraordinary circumstances will be the topic of a work session this
September. Board member Jody Hamm asked that the District Office look
into the intra-district transfer policy and any proofs of residence
that might be false - stating bluntly "If it's false, send them back."

The Board also adopted textbooks for art, music, foreign language and
science.

The ACT is an alternative assessment test to the SAT. ACT composite
scores are in and both MC and NHS average scores are higher than the
last 5 years. Whitmire's scores were down, but they did have more
students attempt the test in '08.

The school nursing program was spotlighted at the board meeting. This
year the District has 13 nurses with 7 added thanks to state funding.
These additions make for a nurse in each school not including the
Infinity Alternative school and the Career Center. While
participating in a survey this spring, the nursing department had
3,238 student encounters within two weeks. Nurses help 465 students
monitor their care plans.

Mr. Tom Crooks spoke during public comments. Referencing the recently
printing of the number of district salaries over $50,000, Mr. Crooks
issued a challenge to the District to get more bang for the buck. He
stated, "With that much horsepower in this District, I think we can
provide better results." He went on to ask the district to "stop
playing the paperwork game."

County Council Meeting on August 20
(added 08/20/08)

Reassessment Postponement is Official, Several Votes Also Postponed

Newberry County Council met last night (August 20) and approved final
reading of an ordinance to postpone the implementation of
reassessment. Reassessment of property values was scheduled again for
2009. Councilman Mike Hawkins stated, "I think it is mistake to
postpone it, but I understand that there is a lot of field work yet
to do." He, along with other councilmen, advocated that the
postponement be for only one year. The final vote was unanimous to
give the assessors department another year to complete reassessment
before implementation.

Council postponed final reading of an ordinance allowing for the
leasing of fairground buildings to the Newberry County Historical &
Museum Society for the storage of farm equipment donated from the
late Bill Ballentine's farm museum. A timeline for the moving of the
auction company who has used the facility for years was the only
issue in question.

Council also postponed final reading of an ordinance regarding the
rezoning of several subdivisions on Lake Greenwood from RS-1 to
RS-1A. The delay will allow those residents still voicing concerns
about the definitions and details in RS-1A plenty of time to meet
with zoning officials before final reading on the third wednesday in
September. Recently council voted to allow RVs for temporary
recreational use in RS-1 without a specific time limit. The change to
RS-1A in Summerset Bay and the surrounding area would mean returning
to a 24-hour, loading only use of RVs, which was the previous
allowance in RS-1.

County Administrator Wayne Adams reported to council that the county
budget would loose $67,000 due to the 3% across the board cut by the
state. An official ordinance to modify the budget will be on the
agenda in the near future. Council met in executive session for an
economic development matter, however, no action was taken.

The next regular meeting of the Newberry County Council will be
September 3 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

Consumer Affairs Warns Midlands Neighborhoods About Door-to-Door Book Scam
(added 08/19/08)

Columbia, SC…..Despite the heat, scammers are still pounding the pavement looking for their next victim. The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) recently received a tip from a local resident about a scam that has crisscrossed the country and is now knocking on Midlands’ doors…literally. The scam, which swept an Irmo neighborhood, is not likely to disappear immediately. Consumers should be suspicious about the following scenario and any other “sales pitches” like it.

A door-to-door salesman approaches a house and attempts to interest the resident in books (or other products) that he is selling. The sales pitch is convincing. The salesman describes efforts to raise funds to support a trip to England to play in a soccer tournament. Upon his return, the young man will begin training at Annapolis as a naval cadet. The sales pitch cleverly includes the names of neighbors nearby. The more pitches the salesman makes in the neighborhood, the more names he is able to collect. By the time he reaches your home he may refer to half a dozen of your closest neighbors, making his story sound legitimate.

Underneath the sophisticated details, order receipts, and “neighborly name dropping,” the pitch and the sale are a scam. You pay for the books upfront, but never receive the goods. The salesman, who claimed to live in your neighborhood, suddenly disappears, but not before your check is cashed.

Consumers should be cautious about door-to-door sales. SCDCA recommends consumers collect education and promotional materials to review before purchasing a product or service. If the product or service will not be available immediately upon payment, consumers should not make the purchase without a reliable means to track the salesman and the order. Furthermore, consumers should always avoid upfront payments of the entire amount due when dealing with door-to-door products or services.

For more information, contact the Public Information Division at 803.734.4190, toll free in SC at 1.800.922.1594, or online at www.scconsumer.gov.

 

Hunt for Mobility Impaired Scheduled for Newberry/Laurens Counties
(added 08/14/08)

Deer hunting is a sport loved by many South Carolina residents and visitors; however, for those who suffer from mobility impairments going hunting can be extremely difficult. This is why the Bethel Baptist Church, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, and other public service organizations are sponsoring the second annual mobility impaired deer hunt.

The Laurens and Newberry County hunt will take place on October 31 and November 1, 2008 on the land of private landowners who have generously donated their land for this worthwhile event.

To be eligible for the hunt, you must be permanently confined to a wheelchair, or permanently require some type of mechanical aid to assist in walking such as a cane, walker, or braces, or be a single of double leg amputee. Special emphasis is being made toward Disabled Vietnam Veterans.

There is no cost for the hunt and all participants and their assistants will receive a free meals as well.

For additional information or for an application, contact the Union DNR Office at (864) 427-5140, or by e-mail at moore@dnr.sc.gov, or visit the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at www.dnr.sc.gov/hunting.

Hotel accommodations be arranged and a few rooms are still available so please make your plans today to attend this event for those who suffer mobility impairment so that they too might enjoy the great outdoors and the thrill of hunting.

Government Information/Logos Being Used in Scam Efforts
(added 08/14/08)

Imagine opening your email and having an email from the Executive Secretary of the United States Treasury Department complete with the logo of the Treasury Department telling you that you had won 10 million dollars in a United Nations lottery and all they need is your bank account so they put the money into it.

It has the official logo on it so it must be legit, right? Wrong, and responding to such an email because of its appearance is exactly what the scam artist wants you to do.

Scam artists are now actually going to government web sites and copying logos, pictures, and other information in an effort to make the email appear official so that you are more likely to respond to it.

In this case, the would be victim became suspicious and sent back and told the scam artist that she was going to contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office about this incident.

Undeterred the scam artist went to the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office website and copied a picture of Sheriff Foster and attached it to an email saying that the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office had investigated this person and that the victim should do everything he asked her to.

The would be victim knew something was wrong at this point and reported to the real Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Lee Foster says that you should never allow banners, pictures, or other appearances lead you believe that the email or even website is legitimate. He said that scam artist can easily re-create websites and copy logos to use to attempt to trick people.

Foster said in addition there are a number of indicators that you can will notice in the email such as the email came from a gmail account, which is a Google email account. The victim was asked to respond to a yahoo account. The government does not use such accounts for email activity. Foster said that the scam artist even left his name and a link that says Deputy Sheriff Positions Available when he attached his picture to the email.

Foster said that government agencies do not handle sensitive business by e mail and that you should never, ever give personal or banking information by email to anyone.

If you receive a suspicious email, you should contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.

While these scam artists are usually operating outside of the country, law enforcement works with the email or internet providers to shut down the email or website account to at least slow the scam artist’s attempts down.

We have attached the two emails below so that you can see the appearance of the emails that we used.

ORIGINAL EMAIL:

Subject: Henry M. Paulson,Jr.Executive Secretary United States Treasury Department..

How are you doing? I want you to know that your Information's was received and confirmed and also to let you know that the payment of the $10m has been approved for transfer on your Name as the Beneficiary into your Bank Account when provided and the transfer will be effected as soon as your Bank Details is provided to my office. There are some certain documents needed to complete the transfer of the funds and you are required to provide these documents before the transfer can proceed.

The Certificates requested for the proceeding of the transfer is below:

1: The UN Approval Stop Order Document
2: Proof of Ownership Certificate
3: World Bank Stop Order document and the Federal Bureau Official Approval Certificate.

The World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund Manager who signed the release of these funds and gave me the instruction to wire them into your account did not provide all necessary legal documents for the wire transfer before I proceed. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the International Crime Complaint (Ic3) has also made it clear that you should provide the above certificates before I go-ahead and wire the sum of $10m into your account.

I want you to get this documents sent to my office as soon as possible and just in case you don't have them and don’t know where how to get them the US Attorney General Peter D. Keisler from the US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE can get them on your behalf you will have to contact him and ask for the proceedures. If you need his contact, find it below

US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE:

OFFICIAL UN BARRISTER: Attorney Peter D. Keisler
Personal e-mail: us_attorneygeneral11@yahoo.com

You can always reach him via his personal e-mail so get to him with the requirements of getting the documents so that I can transfer the funds immediately.

Moreover, without wasting of time I want you to know that the only available mode of payment is a Bank to Bank Wire Transfer and that will require the below Information's.

Bank Name and Address
Bank Account Name in Full
Account Swift Code, Routing# and Account #
Bank Transfer Department Tel#.

Also, The UN has released the payment details included in your file and they are, PAYMENT NUMBERS

Payment Reference #: 35460121
Allocation #: 674632
File Pin Code: 55674
UN Certificate of Merit #: 113
IMF Release Code #: 0763/IMF
Immediate Telex Confirmation #: 1114433.

Having received this Payment Numbers, your payment is very close and I want you to get back to me with all the required information so we can proceed to the next stage of the transaction always reach me via my personal email thats he quickest way to contact me always on my computer.

Please get back to me ASAP.

Thanks and God Bless you.
Henry M. Paulson,Jr.
Executive Secretary United States Treasury Department
Main Treasury1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Email response using Sheriff Fosters information.

Attn:

We have concluded our Investigation on the Transaction which you have with Mr. Henry Paulson Jr., is confirmed today LEGAL AND REAL so feel free and adhere to every instructions given to you by Mr. Henry Paulson Jr., for your Fund immediate Release to you by the United Nations.

Further More, Always keep this Office Updated and make sure that you contact me before taken any step in this transaction.

Waiting to hear from you.

Yours In Service,

Sheriff James Lee Foster

Deputy Sheriff Positions Available

If you have questions or need any additional information, please contact Major Todd Johnson at tjohnson@newberrycounty.net or at (803) 321-2211.

Newberry At #20 in National Preseason Rankings
(added 08/12/08)

Newberry College is ranked #20 nationally at the start of the 2008 football season.

The American Football Coaches Association's Division II preseason rankings placed Newberry at #20 on Tuesday.

Newberry also discovered its first opponent of the new season: Valdosta State on August 30 (Setzler Field). Valdosta State is the defending national champion and was chosen as the top team in the country.


AARP Senior Adult Driving Class
(added 08/07/08)

There is only one week left until the AARP Senior Adult Driving Class in Newberry County. Registration is limited, so reserve you slot now.

After many requests to repeat the driving class specifically designed to improve the driving skills of those age 50 and older, the Newberry County Sheriff's Office is sponsoring a driver safety program designed by AARP that is specifically geared toward drivers age 50 and above. This is the third offering of the class, which has received tremendous response each time it has been offered.

"The Newberry County Sheriff's Office is proud to be a sponsor of this event," said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. "We believe that this class serves as an excellent opportunity for citizen 50 and older to sharpen their driving abilities and learn skills that might even save their lives."

Foster said that the previous classes received rave reviews from the attendees and that this class offers citizens an opportunity to sharpen driving skills and make themselves safer as they operate a vehicle on the roads.

The class will be taught on Wednesday, August 13, 2008, from 8:00AM until 5:00PM at Piedmont Technical College located at 540 Wilson Road, Newberry, SC.

While there is no charge for the class, there is a $10.00 fee for materials.

To register for the class, you can call the Newberry County Sheriff's Office at (803) 321-2211 and ask for Sheriff Foster or Major Todd Johnson or e-mail your request to lfoster@newberrycounty.net. Please provide your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address if you have one when you register for the class. Space is limited to the first 35 people so please register early.

Attendees may receive a reduction on their automobile insurance; however, the reduction amounts vary depending on the insurance company.

"The course offers more information about various safe driving strategies, including how to handle distractions, aggressive drivers and driving with trucks," says Jeff Jefcoat, who will be the instructor of the class. "The course also includes expanded and improved video presentations on a number of important driving topics."

To ensure 50+ drivers stay safe behind the wheel, the course's curriculum has been updated to reflect the most current driving information and safety tips available. The driver safety course is designed to educate participants about how best to reduce traffic violations, crashes, and chances for injuries; update driver's knowledge about relevant laws; and provide safe driving strategies to compensate for age-related changes that affect one's ability. The eight hour course, typically taught in two four-hour sessions, also stresses the importance of periodically monitoring one's own and other's driving skills and capabilities.

Updates to the edition 6 curriculum addresses such topics as:

- How overall fitness affects driving

- Important strategies for staying crash-free

- Challenges of city vs. rural driving

- Tips for highway driving and driving with trucks, buses, and other large vehicles

- Understand a vehicle's safety features and new vehicle technology

- Tips for trying other transportation

- Warning signs of unsafe driving

Over the past 28 years, the AARP Driver Safety Program has provided instruction to more than 10 million participants seeking to refresh their driving skills. The course is taught throughout the U.S. by roughly 10,000 AARP - trained volunteers.

Man Charged With Drug Possession After Domestic Dispute
(added 08/05/08)

A weekend domestic dispute landed a man in jail charged with possessing cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy.

Saturday afternoon deputies from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office were called to a domestic dispute at 98 Compass Drive in the Newberry Section of Newberry County. The deputies were told by the complainant that a Johnathan Duncan was waiting at this residence for her and that he had a knife and was threatening to harm her when she arrived.

The officers responded to the scene and located the subject standing near a vehicle. The officers saw the suspect place an object inside a white towel and walk away from them. The officers pursued the suspect behind the residence where he was located, but was now without the white towel.

The deputies, believing that the towel likely contained the knife, began to search for the towel. The officers located the towel thrown under a shed and found that it contained two bottles. The first had white tablets in it, and the second bottle contained a glass pipe and
Q-tips commonly used for the ingestion of illegal drugs.

The officers then searched the suspect’s vehicle were they located a bag of cocaine weighing approximately 10 grams, three bags of marijuana; two weighing approximately 4 ounces and one weighing approximately one ounce; and 12 tablets believed to be Ecstasy.


The subject, who was identified as Johnathan (NMN) Duncan (left), 40, of 108 Sloan Street, Columbia, SC was charged with Possession with Intent To Distribute Cocaine, Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, Possession of a Controlled Substance (Ecstasy), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

His bond was set at $81,000.00 by a Newberry County magistrate, and he remains in custody as of this release.

Officers say that while Duncan provided his address as being in Columbia that he is frequently in the Newberry County area and has been known to stay at the residence located on Compass Drive.

Law enforcement has declined to identify the victim in this case for her protection and safety.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

Dedication Ceremony Held for Surgery Center
(added 08/03/08)

A ribbon cutting was held recently for the Atrium Professional Center in front of NCMH, and a Dedication and Recognition Ceremony was held in honor of the $2.2 million bequest from Jake and Mildred Fulmer. The surgery center was named in their honor and they were name the Humanitarian of the Year by NCMH.

Below are some photos from this special event:

(Clockwise from top: The unveiling of the Jake and Mildred Fulmer Surgery Center; The Fulmer Family; Gladys Long West; Lynn Beasley makes it official)


Hiller Declares as Write-In Candidate for City's District 2

Election day will be September 9 in the City of Newberry. Only incumbents David Dubose (District 6), Greg Summer (District 4) and Foster Senn (District 2) officially filed as candidates for the seats up for election this year. However, write-in candidates can file for two weeks after the books close. As of the write-in deadline last Friday (July 18) only one individual had declared as a write-in candidate. Wayne Hiller has declared in District 2. Since Mr. Hiller is a write-in candidate, only Foster Senn's name will appear on the official ballot. However, by declaring Mr. Hiller has forced an election to be held on September 9 and any registered voters in district 2 can write-in his name at that time.

 

School Board Meeting on July 28
(added 07/29/08)

The New MCHS is Open for Business

The official word was given that the new Mid-Carolina High School will be occupied at the start of school this year instead of having to move into the facility at mid-year. Chairman Don Saylor stated, “It’s a good day when you can say a construction project came in ahead of time and within budget.” The early completion date was accredited to lack of rain hindering construction and the cooperation of local contractor Edcon and their local subcontractors.

Edcon is also the contractor for the phased-in progress at Lt Mtn. Elementary and the new facilities at Pomaria-Garmany Elementary. School Board voted Monday night to reword the base lease agreement for the facilities bond overseen by the N.I.C.E. non-profit. The amount does not change but the wording is corrected to show that funds are going toward the renovation and expansion at Pomaria-Garmany and Lt. Mtn Elementary and not to a new Mid-Carolina Elementary School.

This past spring construction was completed for a competition gym, new media center, and extra classrooms at Whitmire Community School. An official open house and “pep rally for the community” will be held on August 14 at from 5:30-7:30pm. A program with special guests will start at 5:30 in the gym then parents and students can break out to meet their teachers for the year.

Registration is being held this week at most of the Newberry County schools including in the new gym at MCHS. For specific times call your local school or visit www.newberry.k12.sc.us and click on the news and information link.

Teachers head back to their individual schools on August 11 with the faculty and staff welcome back at Wiles Chapel on August 13 at 8am. Students’ first day will be August 18.

Don’t forget the back-to-school, tax-free weekend is this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday here in SC.

MADD SC 2008 DUI Enforcement Recognition Ceremony
(added 07/29/08)

Newberry County MADD Recognized with "Excellent" Award (see photo below)

Hundreds of South Carolina Law Enforcement Leaders and Officers convened at Seawell’s in Columbia on Wednesday, July 23, 11:00 AM – 2:30 PM for the 2008 Mothers Against Drunk Driving DUI Enforcement Recognition Ceremony.

This annual event featured MADD National Liaison (Department of Public Safety/Office of Highway Safety) Dennis Ray as Master of Ceremonies. Carl McDonald, MADD National, presented the Keynote address. Special remarks were delivered by Juliet N. Smith, Administrative Assistant, MADD SC; Phil Riley, Director, Office of Highway Safety; William D. Bilton, Executive Director, SC Commission on Prosecution Coordination, and Traci Thompson, Victim Services Coordinator, MADD SC.

Speakers addressed the new DUI Reform Law passed in April and drunk driving prevention technology such as ignition interlocks.

• Current statistics from the SC DPS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that out of 1,077 traffic fatalities in SC in 2007, an estimate 438, or 41%, were DUI related.
• Presently 25,000 people are killed each year in alcohol related crashes.
• 500 people are killed each week in alcohol related crashes.
• 71 people are killed each day in alcohol related crashes.

MADD is asking the public to support the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, that asks for full implementation of current technologies such as ignition interlocks, intensive high-visibility law enforcement, explorations and development of advanced vehicle-based technology, and mobilization of grassroots support.

Funded in 1980, MADD mission is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking. MADD is a 501c(3) non-profit, grassroots organization with approximately 400 affiliates and 2 million members and supporters nationwide.


An award was presented to MADD Newberry County at the 2008 DUI law recognition ceremony by Carl McDonald, National Law Enforcement Initiative Manager, MADD National, to acknowledge activism, victim services and education by the local chapter. The award commended the members "for your EXCELLENT work in advancing MADD's mission to stop drunk driving, support victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking." The recipients in photo (l-r): Mollie Graham, Margaret Brackett, McDonald (presenter), Jolene Lander.



UPDATE: All Shooting and Robbery Suspects Now in Custody
(added 07/28/08)

Click HERE for previous story

The two remaining suspects in this case surrendered to law enforcement on Monday morning at the Newberry County Detention. Both were taken into custody there without incident and a bond hearing will likely occur this afternoon at the Newberry County Central Court.

The two men were identified as Willie Eddie Hiller aka “Badman”, 35, of 924 Gray Street, Newberry, SC and Vincent Anthony Pitts, 20, of 2818 Clyde Avenue, Newberry, SC.

Drunk Driver Leads Deputies on Chase, Hits House
(added 07/27/08)

A man driving with a blood alcohol level more than double the legal limit and driving with a suspended license led Newberry County deputies on a brief chase that ended when he drove the vehicle into residence.

Deputies from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office were on South Carolina Highway 34 near the old skating rink Saturday night around 9:40PM, when one of the officers heard what sounded like an automobile accident. As the deputy went to investigate the incident, a small gray Toyota passed the officer at a high rate of speed and driving without head lights.

Another deputy saw the vehicle as well and attempted to stop the vehicle using blue lights and siren, however, the vehicle began to drive t an increased rate of speed. After a short distance, the vehicle left the roadway traveling through about a 10 foot ditch, struck a parked vehicle in the yard of residence, through a wooden fence, and then came to rest after striking a house.

When the officers got to the vehicle, they saw the driver attempted to get out of the vehicle but the automatic seatbelt was holding him in place. The driver was finally able to get out of the vehicle and attempted to run, but was stopped by the officers and taken into custody after a struggle with the suspect.

One of the deputies, Robert Spreng, suffered damage to tendons in his finger during the altercation and was treated and released from Newberry Memorial Hospital.

The deputies also saw that the ignition to the suspect’s vehicle had been damaged, and it was learned that the suspect had taken the vehicle from a family member without their knowledge or permission while they were at work.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol was called to investigate the accident.

Authorities identified the suspect as Johnny John Myers (left), 45, of 59 Lanewood Road, Newberry, SC.

Myers was checked by EMS workers and then transported to the Newberry County Detention Center where he registered .18% blood alcohol concentration. In South Carolina a person is inferred to be under the influence of alcohol with their blood alcohol concentration is .08% or higher.

Myers will be charged with Driving Under the Influence, Driving Under Suspension 3rd Offense, Hit and Run, Use of Vehicle Without Consent, Failure to Stop for a Law Enforcement Officer, and Resisting Arrest.

A bond hearing has not been scheduled.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

Shooting and Robbery Suspect in Custody, Two Other Suspects Still Sought
(added 07/27/08)

A shooting incident that occurred early Saturday morning has landed one person in jail and police searching for two others while the victim recovers from the incident.

According to police reports several people were gathered at 924 Gray Street in the Helena section of Newbery County Saturday morning around 1:00AM. All those involved including the victim and suspects knew each other and were “hanging out” when a supposed playful exchange of words and insults began.

The victim advised that he placed his hand in his pocket and then removed it and as he did $300.00 fell from his pocket. He advised that Willie Eddie Hiller attempted to take the money and that a fight between he and Hiller ensued. The victim advised that Hiller was then aided by two other men Theodore Jackson and Vincent Pitts.

The victim told officers that he began to run from the incident location and as he did Hiller shoot him in the upper left arm with and unknown caliber pistol. His injury was not life threatening. He told police that the men took his money and his cell phone during the incident.

Deputies and investigators from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office combed the area looking for evidence and attempting to located the suspects.

During the search, deputies located Jackson and he was taken into custody. The deputies were unable to locate the other two men and believe they have fled the area. The weapon has not yet been located.

Investigators identified Jackson as Theodore Antonio Jackson (right), 17, of 2534 Rosalyn Drive, Newberry, SC.

They say they are still searching for two men:

Willie Eddie Hiller aka “Badman”, 35, of 924 Gray Street, Newberry, SC and
Vincent Anthony Pitts, 20, of 2818 Clyde Avenue, Newberry, SC.
(See photos below)

Investigators say that all three men will be charged with Armed Robbery and Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill.

A bond hearing for Jackson has not yet been scheduled.

Investigators say that they are withholding the victim’s identity pending the arrest of the remaining two suspects.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

Willie Eddie Hiller
Vincent Anthony Pitts

Video Poker Referrendum Discussed
(added 07/25/08)

At the July 16th Newberry County Council meeting, Council approved first reading of an ordinance to place a referendum on the November ballot. The referendum would ask voters if they would like to see video poker permitted in Newberry County so that licensing fees could supplant a portion of the revenue currently paid for by property taxes. Part of the discussion revolved around the question of the legality of such as action since video poker was banned in SC in 2000.

WKDK had a chance to speak with SC Attorney General Henry McMaster on Thursday night. He stated that putting a question on the ballot could only be an opinion question or an academic exercise because the state law banning video poker would override any local ordinance. He went on to state plainly that anyone bringing a video poker machine into the county would be arrested.

County Council Chairman Henry Summer also spoke to WKDK regarding his decision to vote in favor of first reading of the video poker referendum ordinance. He stated that he wanted the public to have a chance to speak on this issue. He went on to say that despite not believing in video poker himself he saw the issue as a forum to discuss the gap in funding that the state and federal government leaves for county government to figure out. He sited a recent vote to provide $50,000 in county funding for the maintenance of the National Guard armory as an example of county government being the government of last resort.

Second reading of the video poker referendum is scheduled for the August 6 meeting. Public comments will be allowed at their regular time. However, (if second reading passes) an official public hearing on the issue and final reading would be held at the August 20 council meeting.

Major Drug Seizure in Newberry County
(added 07/25/08)

An undercover operation in Newberry County has led to the arrest of one person and the seizure of 5 ounces of cocaine with a street value more than $5000.00.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster says that as part of an ongoing undercover operation, officers identified the suspect as a person who had brought significant amount of illegal drugs into Newberry County.

Sheriff Foster said that the deputies were able to gain information that the suspect would be in Newberry County transporting a large amount of cocaine. The deputies acting on the information encountered the suspect on South Carolina Highway 34 near Silverstreet in Newberry County Thursday afternoon at about 4:30PM. The deputies approached the suspect who was stopped in the parking lot of a convenience store (Smitty’s in Silverstreet) and found approximately 5 ounces of cocaine in the vehicle with the suspect. He was the only person in the vehicle and was arrested without incident.

The suspect has been identified as James Quenta Walker (right), 29, of
106 Lee Street, Calhoun Falls, SC. Note: Due to a computer errror, the incorrect photo was issued earlier by the Sheriff's Department.

Walker is charged with Trafficking Cocaine and if convicted faces 25 years in prison.

Walker was charged in the federal court system in 1999 with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent To Distribute Crack Cocaine and sentenced to 87 months in the Federal Court System. He is currently on Federal Probation as a part of his release.

A bond hearing will be held later today.

“This was a major player in the supply of illegal drugs in Newberry County,” said Sheriff Foster. “It is imperative if we are to be effective in the war against drugs that we reach not only street level suppliers, but that we actively pursue the major suppliers of these illegal drugs. It is when you can remove major suppliers from the drug trade that you truly begin to make a difference in the ongoing battle.”

Sheriff Foster said that this investigation was ongoing and that additional arrests and operations could be expected.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

 

Mortgage Fraud Hotline-Consumer Affairs News
(added 07/23/08)

Columbia, SC…..During its first six weeks, the state’s first Mortgage Fraud Hotline has assisted over 180 consumers with a wide range of concerns. The hotline went live on June 10, 2008, as part of a collaborative effort between the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) and the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. The estimated 180 calls received in that period came from consumers across the state. As expected, a significant number of calls have come from the state’s top three metropolitan regions: Richland-Lexington, Greenville-Spartanburg, and the Charleston trident area.

Consumer calls cover topics ranging from suspected fraud and deceptive practices to mortgage trouble and requests for business information. Over 80 of the calls received reported possible incidents of unfair and criminal practices, which SCDCA further investigates. Expert staff operating the hotline, which housed at SCDCA provide appropriate information and solutions on a case-by-case basis, giving each consumer the personal attention the concern requires. A number of calls are filed as complaints within SCDCA where they are assigned a case analyst. Other calls are referred to appropriate state agencies, credit counselors, and other non-profit organizations specializing in legal and mortgage assistance.

The hotline is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. For more information, contact the Public Information Division at 803.734.4190, toll free in SC at 1.800.922.1594, or online at www.scconsumer.gov.


Newberry Opera House Awarded Outstanding Theater of 2008!
(added 07/23/08)

BALTIMORE, MD –Celebrating excellence in the performing arts field, The League of Historic American Theaters recognized the Newberry Opera House in Newberry, South Carolina as Outstanding Theater of 2008 at the national conference in Atlanta Georgia, July 20, 2008.

Chairman James Boese of the Nederlander Organization, (NY) and Thomas Johnson principal architect of Martinez and Johnson, Washington DC announced the award. Boese recognized the Newberry Opera House "for its significant accomplishments, inspiring excellence in the preservation, restoration and sustainable operations of historic theaters throughout North America."

Boese acknowledged the award-winning Newberry Opera House as a prime example of best practices in our industry, and cited the Opera House as the major factor in the economic blossoming of their region of South Carolina.

Johnson praised the theater’s adventurous programming, exemplary community involvement, and exuberant, forceful leadership. He noted the astoundingly successful renaissance of Newberry, transforming it into a tourist destination and an international economic hub.

Dr. James E. Wiseman, Jr. accepted the award for the theater, thanking the League for their exceptional service to the field of historic theaters. He attributed their success to the work of more than 300 Newberry volunteers who put in over 18,000 hours of work annually.

The impact of the Newberry Opera House is truly phenomenal with more than 250 million dollars of economic growth attributed to the project.

"Perhaps no other town in the Carolinas has gotten as much attention as Newberry. But the publicity is justified. As Newberry transformed itself from sleepy southern burg to international arts and business center, a state watched in stupefaction and then cheered it on. Now it's the toast of South Carolina and fodder for the national press, which has covered it for its audacity to revive itself through the arts," wrote a regional journal.

The Newberry Opera House, which presents more than 200 events annually, is an 1881 French Gothic structure, renovated and reopened in 1998. It draws approximately 100,000 people a year to Newberry, which is located in the rural, central Midlands of South Carolina. Its performers range from Kris Kristofferson to Zoë Caldwell, the Temptations , Joan Baez, ABT2 to the Oak Ridge Boys to the NY Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

The Newberry Opera House was selected for this award by a peer panel including Performing Arts facility directors, architects and consultants from all over North America. Past recipients include the Flynn Theater in Burlington, Vermont, the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, and the Cutler Majestic in Boston, Mass.

More information on the League of Historic American Theaters can be found at www.LHAT.org. For information on the Newberry Opera House: www.newberryoperahouse.com.


Newberry Man Drowns at Lake Greenwood State Park

Source: WSPA TV-7; WLTX TV-19 (www.wltx.com)
(added 07/20/08)

The Greenwood County Coroner says a 26-year-old Newberry man drowned in a state park lake Saturday evening.

Coroner James Sanders tells WSPA-TV that an autopsy is scheduled for Hector Sosa, who appeared to drown after diving off a pier at Lake Greenwood State Park.

Authorities say the incident took place around 8:00 p.m., when Sosa jumped into about 8-feet of water and never resurfaced.Investigators say Sosa was underwater for about 20 minutes until a deputy found him about ten-feet away from the pier.

EMS attempted CPR but could not revive him.

The Department of Natural Resources has now taken over the investigation and are currently treating it as a drowning.

 

Body Found Near Dreher Island Identified
Source: WLTX TV-19; www.wltx.com
(added 07/20/08)

The body found floating near Dreher Island on Saturday has been identified by the Newberry County Coroner's Office.

The Coroner's Office tells News19 that 70-year-old Willie Toole Jr. , of Aiken, was found floating in Lake Murray around 6:20 p.m. Saturday.

The Newberry County Sheriff's Office, Coroner's Office and the Department of Natural Resources were able to retrieve the body. Toole was taken the Newberry County Memorial Hospital, where an autopsy was conducted.

DNR says both Newberry and Lexington County officials are investigating this incident, however, it's believed to be an accident.

Spoofing Gives Scam Artists Another Way to Get Information
(added 07/17/08)

The battle against scam artists rages on according to Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. With the advent of the world wide web, cell phones, voice of IP (Internet Protocol), and computers, spoofing is a term that we have all become familiar with and forced to deal with; however, Sheriff Foster says that there is a new form of spoofing and scam artist are beginning to wreak havoc on victims because they trust their caller id.

Spoofing is defined as unauthorized use of legitimate identification and authentication data, however it was obtained, to mimic a subject different from the attacker. Impersonating, masquerading, piggybacking, and mimicking are forms of spoofing.

Foster says that scam artists are now spoofing telephone caller IDs so that they appear to be a call from your bank, credit card company, law enforcement, or other trusted business. They use any business name and number that would be trusted and then take advantage of that trust to scam the victim.

Foster said that millions of people have internet phone equipment that can be set to make any number appear on a caller id system. As if that were not enough, web sites continue to be introduced that provide spoofing services. One website sells a virtual calling card for $10 that provides talk time to the user. The user dials a toll free number, then keys the destination number and the caller id number to display.

In an advertisement, spooftel.com, who is currently the “World’s Leader in Spoofing Caller ID”, say that there service allows you to appear as the cupid of choice when calling your Valentine on Valentine’s Day.

Spoofcard.com not only offers the ability to change what some sees on their caller id, but the suspect has the ability to change their voice in a variety of ways. The caller can change their voice to male, female, or character voices and the person receiving the call hears the transformed voice in real time. Worse, these phone calls can be recorded by the scam artist and later retrieved through this service.

On the state and national level, there are cases involving criminal impersonation by means of spoofing caller id. A suspect can call a victim and make it appear that the call is coming from a police department or any other person, business, or entity.

“While technology can open new and wonderful possibilities, those who choose to prey on innocent victims are also quick to put cutting edge technology to work,” said Sheriff Foster. “We must come to grips with the fact that these scams are taking place and be prepared to prevent ourselves from becoming victims to the fraudulent attempts.”

Foster said that to avoid become a victim of scam attempts, there are some important tips that citizens should always keep in mind:

- Never, ever give out person information over the telephone or computer. In today’s world, we have no idea who we are really communicating with and giving personal information over the phone or computer is a modern day equivalent of Russian roulette, it will get you it is just a matter of when.

- Never give credit card numbers, account numbers, pin numbers, or any information about any account you may have over the telephone. Once armed with something as simple as the three digit code from the back of a credit card, a scam artist can gain unlimited access into your accounts.

- Report suspicious activity immediately. Some people wait until they are far into the scam to report before the notify law enforcement. Often times, they have already lost money that will likely never be recovered before they contact law enforcement. If you have a question about any activity, you should contact law enforcement immediately. No reputable business would ever fault someone for having them checked out, but it may save the victim thousands of dollars and years of time recovering from a fraud attack.

- If you do become a victim of fraud, contact law enforcement. Many victims become ashamed or embarrassed that they have been involved in a fraud when they realize that they should have realized it was a fraud early on. While once the fraud has happened, it is extremely difficult to recover money, law enforcement can be a valuable asset as you deal with banks, credit card companies, and credit bureaus to restore your credit history. Also, law enforcement maintains a database of scams, and this information can be crucial to preventing more people from becoming victims.

- Do not trust caller id, e-mail addresses, and technology to protect you from scam attempts. Scam artists often use cutting edge technology to take advantage of others. This equipment can be manipulated and then used by the scam artist to enable them to commit their crime.

Foster also said to remember the golden rule of scams. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

County Council Meeting on July 16
(added 07/17/08)

Newberry County Council met last night and approved first reading to postpone reassessment. Accessor Mary Arrowood explained that the last reassessment of property was postponed for two years but was originally scheduled to be implemented in 2004. With a state mandate that reassessment occur every 5 years, reassessment was scheduled to be implemented in 2009. Arrowood argued that implementation in 2009 was unrealistic with the postponment of the 2004 reassessment for two years, close to 4,000 appeals on that reassessment, and a large number of new construction or renovations to appraise. This postponment will require two more readings before becoming official.

Council also approved first reading of an ordinance that would place a referrendum on the November ballot regarding video poker. The question would ask if voters would like to see video poker allowed in Newberry County with any fees the county collects from opporators ofsetting property taxes. Despite the legality of video poker being in question, several councilmen stated they wanted to allow voters to share their opinion on the issue. The ordinance will require two more readings and a public hearing before being sent to the justice department for final approval to go on the ballot in November.

City Council Meeting on July 15
(added 07/16/08)

Newberry City Council met last night and heard first reading to increase the solid waste fee by $1 from $6 to $7. This increase was planned to help balance the 08/09 budget.

First reading also passed to refinance the TIF bond which pays off the debt on the Newberry Opera House restoration. The refinancing will save over $30,000 in interest.

First reading passed to amend 07/08 budget correcting an accounting glitch that showed $516,000 as a use of the fund balance instead of a contribution to retained earnings. The funds were from the community housing and development fund.

In response to several private companies renigning on their retirement plans, the Government Accounting Standards Board has a new GASB 45 standard that will apply to the City of Newberry this year. GASB 45 requires that government entities account either as a liability or in savings for the implicit subsidy that is given to a retiree who is part of a group insurance plan but would have had to pay more (because of their age, health,etc.) if their were not under a group policy. The City will put in reserve 100% of the implicit subsidy for those who retired June 30 or earlier. Those retiring after June 30 who have the full years in will also have the city covering up to $190 of the implicit subsidy, which is 100% of the implicit subsidy caluculation for this year. Those retiring after June 30 who have only 20 years with the City or 18 years with the police department will have The City covering up to $95 of the implicit subsidy, which is 50% of this year's implicit subsidy calculation. The City will not be paying the implicit subsidy for any spouses or dependents of those retiring after June 30 of this year. The City will cover none of the implicit subsidy for those retiring after June 30 with less than 20 years with the City or 18 years with the police department.

After executive session, Council announced that they had rehired Police Chief Jackie Swindler for an additional five years under the TERRI plan.

Council also voted to allow a wedding to be held in Memorial Park on December 6 but to hold true to the administrative policy of no alcohol on city property at private events.

Fire Destroys Assisted Living Facility in Little Mountain
(added 07/16/08)

A fire destroyed Open Arms Community Care in Little Mountain early Wednesday morning. No injuries have been reported. See more here.

(Source: WLTX TV 19, wltx.com).


Lake is Named Head Baseball Coach at CSU

(added 07/15/08)

Stoney Hill native, Stuart Lake, has been named Head Baseball Coach at his alma mater, Charleston Southern University.

See the story here (Source: Charleston Post and Courier; www.charleston.net)

Former Major League Pitcher and Local Newberry Hero Featured in Baltimore Sun
(added 07/14/08)

Billy O'dell was featured recently in an article in the Baltimore Sun.

Click here to see the article.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of Associated Press/Baltimore Sun

 

 

 

 

School Shooter Response Training in Newberry County
(added 07/10/08)

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office will once again be conducting cutting edge training on responding to critical incidents particularly an active shooter at a school.

The training will allow officers to train in the most realistic training available in today’s world in a controlled environment.

The officers will practice responding to an active shooter at a school. The officers will encounter students, teachers, and suspects (all played by other officers or volunteers) when they arrive at the school. Officers and suspects will be armed with simunition (similar to paint ball weapons) guns and will be forced to negotiate the school stopping the shooter while protecting and safely evacuating the student.

The training, which will be July 14-17 at Mid Carolina Middle School, begins with a classroom session that serves as a refresher to the officers of the overview of the critical incident response plan.

“It is some of the most realistic training available today,” said Sheriff Foster. “We started conducting this training 5 years ago and agencies from across the state come to participate because of the realistic nature of the training.”

Foster also said that while they have trained for a number of years that incidents like Virginia Tech, Cleveland, and Russia, which was a terrorist attack on a school, force them to adjust the training to the latest information learned from this incidents.

On Wednesday morning, EMS will also participate in the training transporting mock injuries to the hospital and their role in the plan which Sheriff Foster described as encompassing most public service agencies in Newberry County.

“We have realized that it will take many organizations from law enforcement, EMS, rescue, fire, school district and many others to make responding to such a situation effective,” said Foster. “As these type incidents seem to grow in number and occurrence, we have long felt that the best course of action for Newberry County is to prepare for the worst and pray that it never happen.”

Foster commended Superintendent Bennie Bennett and the entire School District of Newberry County staff for their support, cooperation, and participation in an ongoing effort to keep the children of Newberry County safe and secure in the educational environment.

Foster said that the schools practice lock down drills and have regular meetings on the emergency plans for the School District and that the School Resource Officers and the Sheriff’s Office are not only included in these plans, but are allowed to play an active part.

“We are all winners when those of us who have chose to serve the community work together,” said Foster.

In an effort to inform the public about these efforts, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office will again offer a media day at the training. The media day this year will be on Thursday, July 17 at 8AM. Members of the media and the cameras will be invited to the training and will be allowed to participate as much a time allows. They will see first-hand the pressures and decisions that have to be made during an entry and response such as this.

Mid-Carolina Middle School is located at 6834 U.S. Highway 76, Prosperity, SC.

Driving Class For Seniors Back By Popular Demand
(added 07/08/08)

After many requests to repeat the driving class specifically designed to improve the driving skills of those age 50 and older, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is sponsoring a driver safety program designed by AARP that is specifically geared toward drivers age 50 and above. This is the fourth offering of the class, which has received tremendous response each time it has been offered.

“The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is proud to be a sponsor of this event,” said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. “We believe that this class serves as an excellent opportunity for citizen 50 and older to sharpen their driving abilities and learn skills that might even save their lives.”

Foster said that the previous classes received rave reviews from the attendees and that this class offers citizens an opportunity to sharpen driving skills and make themselves safer as they operate a vehicle on the roads.

The class will be taught on Wednesday, August 13, 2008, from 8:00AM until 5:00PM at Piedmont Technical College located at 540 Wilson Road, Newberry, SC.

While there is no charge for the class, there is a $10.00 fee for materials. In addition, the AARP is providing a wonderful opportunity for you to bring your friend, your spouse, your neighbor and your family members.

To register for the class, you can call the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2211 and ask for Sheriff Foster or Major Todd Johnson or e mail your request to lfoster@newberrycounty.net. Please provide your name, address, telephone number, and e mail address if you have one when you register for the class. Space is limited to the first 35 people so please register early.

Attendees may receive a reduction on their automobile insurance; however, the reduction amounts vary depending on the insurance company.

“The course offers more information about various safe driving strategies, including how to handle distractions, aggressive drivers and driving with trucks,” says Jeff Jefcoat, who will be the instructor of the class. “The course also includes expanded and improved video presentations on a number of important driving topics.”

To ensure 50+ drivers stay safe behind the wheel, the course’s curriculum has been updated to reflect the most current driving information and safety tips available. The driver safety course is designed to educate participants about how best to reduce traffic violations, crashes, and chances for injuries; update driver’s knowledge about relevant laws; and provide safe driving strategies to compensate for age-related changes that affect one’s ability. The eight hour course, typically taught in two four-hour sessions, also stresses the importance of periodically monitoring one’s own and other’s driving skills and capabilities.

Updates to the edition 6 curriculum addresses such topics as:

- How overall fitness affects driving

- Important strategies for staying crash-free

- Challenges of city vs. rural driving

- Tips for highway driving and driving with trucks, buses, and other large vehicles

- Understand a vehicle’s safety features and new vehicle technology

- Tips for trying other transportation

- Warning signs of unsafe driving

Over the past 28 years, the AARP Driver Safety Program has provided instruction to more than 10 million participants seeking to refresh their driving skills. The course is taught throughout the U.S. by roughly 10,000 AARP – trained volunteers.

July 4th Parade on Harper Street
(updated 07/07/08)

The annual Independence Day Parade on Harper Street took place last Friday morning. Below are some scenes from the parade.

 

 

Sheriff Warns of Scam Attempt
(added 07/03/08)

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster is warning citizens about a scam that appears to give the victim their money up front, but always ends in financial loss to the victim.

The scam starts as someone sends you a check or money order and asks you to deposit it into your account and then wire-transfer them the money. By the way, they offer a nice bonus from the money for you as a special “thank you” for you assistance.

The “pitch” stays pretty much the same, but this scam might appear in various disguises such as:

- You are overpaid for an item you sold on the internet and then asked to wire-transfer the extra money.

- You receive a check and notification that you have won a foreign lottery or sweepstakes. You are instructed to deposit the check and wire transfer back $2000 to $5000 for taxes so that you can collect the rest of your winnings.

- A work at home offer promises that in return for depositing a money order of check to your bank account, you can a percentage of the money after wire transferring the rest.

- Or, someone in a chat room asks you for a favor, just cash their check and wire them the money.

REGARDLESS of the pitch, the results will always be the same. The check or money order you receive will be counterfeit. It will be returned to your bank unpaid, and then it will be deducted from your account leaving you responsible for the entire amount and any fees associated with the loss.

Sheriff Foster said that while the banks do a great job or recognizing most of the counterfeit checks and stopping the person from making a terrible mistake some do slip through. Federal Law requires that banks make deposited funds available with 1 to 5 business days, so just because you can get to the money does not mean the check was good. Because these checks and money orders originate outside the country, they can often take weeks to clear the bank.

The simple way to avoid this scam is to never, ever accept checks or money orders from anyone to deposit into your account for a “turn around” payment.

Sheriff Foster said the answer should always be, “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” The offer may sound like a great deal, but as usual it is just too good to be true. The check you receive will be counterfeit and you will be out the money.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

Griffin Faces Multiple Fraud Charges
(added 07/02/08)


COLUMBIA, South Carolina - - United States Attorney W. Walter Wilkins announced today that a Federal Grand Jury indicted George Russell Griffin, Jr., 26, of Pomaria, South Carolina, on four counts of odometer tampering, and two counts of causing an altered automobile title to be transported in interstate commerce. Griffin faces a maximum possible punishment of 10 years in prison for each odometer tampering charge, and three years for each altered title charge. He also faces fines totaling $1.5 million dollars.

The charges follow an investigation of allegations that Griffin under-reported the actual mileage of certain cars he sold at his car dealership, Russell Griffin Motor Company, in Newberry County in 2003 and 2004.

The case was investigated by the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs and is assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah B. Barbier of the Columbia office for prosecution.

The United States Attorney stated that all charges in this Indictment are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Coroner's Primary
(added 07/01/08)

Michael Thomas will be the Republican candidate for Newberry County Coroner in the November election. With the unfortunate death of Tommy Hedgepath, who was the only candidate for coroner, the books were reopened - resulting in this Republican primary Tuesday. Michael Thomas received 346 votes to John Pollards' 272 votes. The largest returns came in from Thomas' home area of Whitmire with all 88 votes at the Whitmire city box going to Thomas. Thomas, who is 26, got an early start in politics as a member of Whitmire City Council at age 18. Pollard pledged that his time will continue to be dedicated to volunteering with emergency services and wished Thomas, who is also a fire department volunteer, good luck in November when he will face Democratic candidate Craig Newton.


School Board Meeting on June 30
(added 07/01/08)

Newberry County School Board met last night (June 30) and held final reading for the 08/09 budget. The $45 million school operating budget is approximately a 3.6% increase over last year’s budget thus requiring close to 4 additional mills in taxes. (Official millage will be set in the fall.) School debt service is estimated to remain at the self imposed freeze of 53 mills. The new state penny sales tax is supposed to cover school operational millage for owner occupied property taxes. Between first reading and last night the state department completed an audit of owner occupied homes and discovered an additional $957,000 in revenue due the district for 07/08. 08/09 revenue is based on this base year. The additional revenue that is expected allowed the district to balance the budget without using budgeted fund balance or carrying over funds from the 07/08 fiscal year. The additional revenue from the state also allows the district to add an additional $300,000 to the budget for contingencies such as mid-year budget cuts and continued gas/heating inflation. One of the issues during the budget discussions has been several positions across the district that were cut by attrition. Little Mountian faculty and staff has been especially vocal. No additional positions were added at final reading, however, administration maintained that upon final classroom numbers in the fall they will take appropriate action if the student/teacher ratio is deemed "too high."

Law Enforcement Planning 19th Annual July 4 Event for Newberry
(added 06/29/08)

Law enforcement in Newberry County are promising a huge bang for the 4th of July in a long running free event.

The Newberry County Law Enforcement Officer's Association is once again proud to sponsor the 4th of July celebration at the campus of Newberry High School.

The festivities will begin on July 4th at 6PM when free rides for the children open. The rides include inflatable slides and other fun rides and games. As always, there is no charge for the rides.

A DJ will provide music throughout the event.

There will also be various concessions available at the event for a purchase price from the vendor.

At around 8PM, local business man Trent Purcell and friends will offer a sky diving demonstration as they land inside the football stadium.

The rides will close at 8:45PM in preparation for the highlight of the evening as one of the Southeast’s largest fireworks displays at 9PM.

This is the 19th year of the celebration that continues to grow in attendance and events.

However, organizers say that expenses have also continually increased. This year's event will cost more than $10,000 and they say will costs have increased the loss of several sponsors and tough economic conditions has greatly reduced the donations received this year.

If you would like to make a donation prior to the event, you can mail it the Newberry Count Law Enforcement Officer's Association, P.O. Box 247, Newberry, SC 29108.

Donations will also be accepted at the event.

Newberry High School is located at 3113 Main Street in Newberry.

Second Person Sought in Meth Lab Arrested
(added 06/27/08)

The second man being sought for the operation of an illegal drug lab in the Whitmire section of Newberry County has been arrested according to police.

Authorities say that Earnest Eugene Hannah, 42, of 80 Lowry Street, Whitmire, SC was taken into custody yesterday afternoon when he surrendered himself to law enforcement authorities at General Sessions Court in Newberry. He was taken to the Newberry County Detention Center where bond has been set at $10,000.00.

Police said that on Tuesday morning June 10 just after 11:00AM, a Newberry County Civil Process Officer was serving a court ordered eviction papers at a residence located at 80 Lowry Street in the Whitmire section of Newberry County. The tenants of the residence were not at the residence, and the landlord began to check the residence. When the landlord saw an unusual setup in the house, he showed it to the deputy. The deputy immediately realized the danger and radioed to the Whitmire Police Department since the residence is in their jurisdiction and officers from the Whitmire Police Department obtained a search warrant for the residence.

When the officers served the search warrant at the residence, the officers discovered a small working methamphetamine lab in the home. The officers also discovered a small bag of methamphetamine in the home. The bag weighed approximately .4 gram.

Officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office specially trained in the cleanup of such labs responded to the scene and assumed the clean up at the residence. A licensed Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) contractor also responded to the scene for cleanup.

The byproducts and fumes from such laboratories can be extremely dangerous and must be treated as hazardous material. Officers say that both flammable and corrosive materials were found, and that the most substantial threat to the community from this lab was a threat of fire or explosion. They said that such labs can sometimes generate dangerous fumes or toxic fumes that can be dangerous to the household residents or contacting the lab.

The Hannah’s were the only two residents of the home, and there were no children residing in the home.

The Whitmire Fire Department, Whitmire Rescue Squad, Newberry Fire Department, Newberry County Hazardous Materials team, and the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) all responded to the residence during the cleanup operation.

Officers immediately began searching for the residents of the home who were identified as:

Earnest Eugene Hannah, 41, of 80 Lowry Street, Whitmire, and Carol Hannah, 46, also of 80 Lowry Street in Whitmire and warrants were issued charging both with Manufacturing Methamphetamine.

Earnest Hannah has a prior record that extends to 1986 including multiple offenses of Driving Under the Influence and alcohol related charges. His only drug conviction was a 1994 Simple Possession of Marijuana conviction for which he paid a $200 fine.

Carol Hannah has no prior convictions.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Whitmire Police Department at (803) 694-2121 or Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 276-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

Arrests, Drugs, and Money Found in Drug Raid
(added 06/27/08)

A Thursday morning drug raid has landed two people in jail after officers seized illegal drugs and money from the home.

On Thursday morning just after 8:30AM, officers executed a search warrant on the residence located 38 Brown Chapel Lane, Newberry, SC. The officers say that once inside the residence they located a large amount of illegal drugs, money, and drug paraphernalia.

Sheriff Lee Foster said that officers located approximately 7 grams of crack cocaine, approximately 1.5 grams of marijuana, more than $800.00 in cash, and scales and other items used in the sale of illegal drugs when they searched the residence.

Deputies say that they arrested two people at the residence. Those people were identified as:

Alex Decheion Wheeler, 26, of 350 Wise Street, Newberry, SC who was charged with Possession With Intent To Distribute Crack Cocaine and Possession of Marijuana. Bond has been set on Wheeler at $35,000.00

Sonya Rae Bates, 43, of 38 Brown Chapel Lane, Newberry, SC, who was charged with Possession of Marijuana. Bates was released on a $565.00 personal appearance bond.

Foster said that complaints were filed about the residence in reference to possible ongoing drug activity at the residence. The complaints launched a law enforcement investigation that culminated in the search warrants and arrests Thursday morning.

“It is imperative that law enforcement and the community share information about this type of activity,” said Sheriff Foster. “We were able to use the information gained from the community to start this investigation and obtain sufficient information to get a search warrant. This cooperation is essential if we are going to be effective in cleaning up our communities and neighborhoods.”

“It is also important for the community to realize that once such information about drugs and other activities is received that we must confirm the information and in addition secure enough information to take legal action,” said Foster. “Sometimes when it appears nothing is being done about the complaint, law enforcement is actually very busy conducting an investigation so that more arrests and seizures such as this can occur.”

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 321-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

Detention Center Sergeant Collapses While Playing Softball
(added 06/27/08)

It is with deep regret that the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office announces the passing of Sergeant Charles Harshman of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, Detention Center Division.

Sergeant Harshman, 58, had been employed with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office in the Detention Center Division for 5+ years. He was extremely active in many aspects of the day to day operation of the Sheriff’s Office and is described by co-workers as someone who would do anything asked of him and always willing to go the extra mile to get the job done.

Harshman was playing softball in an adult softball league last night at about 9:15PM when he suffered a fatal heart attack and died. Fellow officers and others started CPR and EMS workers arrived and did a phenomenal job in attempts to revive him as did the hospital staff. He was pronounced dead just after 10PM last night.

Sergeant Harshman was named the Correctional Officer of the Year for the Newberry County Detention Center for 2007.

He was also a devoted family man and a retired Navy Seal.

Photo at left: Sergeant Harshman and Sheriff Foster when he was named the Newberry County Correctional Officer at an awards ceremony in December 2007.

 

Free Patriotic Concert at Newberry Opera House on Saturday
(added 06/27/08)

The 282nd Army “Victory” Band’s from Fort Jackson will perform a special Holiday Concert at the Newberry Opera House on Saturday, June 28th. It’s a great way to begin your 4th of July holiday celebrations and to put the whole family in a patriotic mood.

The 282nd dates from 1869 when it was organized as the Band, 21st Infantry, Richmond, Virginia. Serving with distinction in the Indian Wars, the Philippine Insurrection and World War II, the band earned battle streamers for these actions.

From 1914 to 1949, the Band went through many reorganizations and redesignations, serving in Washington, Hawaii, and Korea, where it was deactivated in Seoul, in 1949. In 1956 the 282d Army Band was reactivated and assigned to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. The primary mission of the band is to promote readiness and perform music that maintains the morale and esprit de corps of the soldiers stationed at Ft. Jackson. The band also supports the local community and surrounding areas in parades, by presenting concerts, and participating in ceremonies throughout the Carolinas. The band is comprised of 40 dedicated professional soldier/musicians capable of performing virtually any musical style.

They will play a wide ranging repertoire from contemporary and popular literature, solo features with band accompaniment, classical transcriptions, and novelty numbers, standard swing, jazz, blues, Latin, and rock styles and their signature patriotic tunes. Whether performing for official military functions or supporting the community, the 282d Army “Victory” Band provides the highest quality of musicianship and professionalism.


It’s a perfect way for your family to begin the holidays and to support the great work of our armed forces! This Saturday, June 28th at 8 pm.

Tickets are free but reservations are necessary. Please call the Box Office at 803-276-6264 or visit online at www.newberryoperahouse.com.

Kirksey Koon Wins Democratic Primary Runoff
(added 06/24/08)

Incumbent County Councilman Mike Hawkins was defeated in Tuesday's Democratic Primary Runoff by challenger Kirksey Koon. Koon received 196 votes to Hawkins 166.

Koon becomes the Democratic nominee for Newberry County Council from District 4 and will face Republican opposition in the November election.

Prosperity Man Who Fired on Police Pleads Guilty
(added 06/23/08)

United States Attorney W. Walter Wilkins stated that TRAVIS WADE LEAPHART (left), age 36, of Prosperity, South Carolina, pled guilty in federal court to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1). United States District Judge Henry M. Herlong, Jr., accepted the plea and will impose sentence Leaphart at a later date.

Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that on July 7, 2007, an officer with the Prosperity Police Department was speaking with a motorist during a traffic stop on Highway 76 when he heard popping noises and observed the back glass of his police vehicle shatter. The officer quickly realized that his vehicle was being fired upon and after directing the motorist to safety, he took cover and called for back-up. Determining the shots fired came from a near-by residence, officers with the Prosperity Police Department and the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office approached the car port area of the home and observed Leaphart sitting in a swing. When the officers demanded to see his hands, Leaphart produced a handgun and fired at the officers. The officers returned fire, but no one was injured in the exchange. Leaphart was taken into custody shortly thereafter and his loaded pistol was secured.

A convicted felon, Leaphart is prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition.

Mr. Wilkins stated the statutory maximum penalty Leaphart can receive is a fine of $250, 000 and imprisonment for 10 years.

The case was investigated by agents of the Prosperity Police Department, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant United States Attorney Lance Crick of the Greenville office handled the case. This prosecution was a part of Project CeaseFire, a joint local, state, and federal initiative which seeks to aggressively prosecute individuals who unlawfully use, possess, or transfer firearms.

Newberry College Receives Gift from Dufford Family
(added 06/18/08)

Newberry College announced that a $101,609 gift from the estate of C.A. Dufford Jr. was presented to the College by Dr. William Dufford and Ms. Doris Dufford.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Wayne Kannaday, Vice President for Business Affairs John Robertson, and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America planned gift officer the Rev. Mark Scott accepted the gift on behalf of Newberry College.

The gift will be used for academic and faculty needs at the College.

L-R: Dr. Wayne Kannaday, Rev. Mark Scott, John Robertson and Bill Dufford; SEATED: Doris Dufford


Newberry College Dedicates The Darrow Naval Trainee House
(added 06/18/08)

Twenty World War II veterans were at Newberry College this past weekend for the Newberry College Naval Trainee Reunion and the dedication of The Darrow Naval Trainee House, the newest addition to the college campus.

A gift from Don and Kitty Darrow of Mukilteo, Wash., permitted the College to purchase the house located at 1814 College Street in Newberry. The building will house the offices of development, marketing and public relations and a naval trainee museum.

According to Newberry College Vice President for Institutional Advancement Chuck Wendt, “The house will be a lasting testament to the sailors who called Newberry College their home during World War II.”

The Navy V-12 program was initiated in 1942 to train officers to man ships, fly planes and command forces. Newberry College became one of 131 colleges and universities in the nation to participate in the program. During the 27 months the V-12 program was a part of Newberry College, over 800 naval trainees were assigned to the College. These trainees consisted of both V-12 cadets who were deck officers and V-5 cadets who were flight officers.

On October 31, 1945, the V-12 Unit was decommissioned and Newberry College returned to its civilian status.

“Many of these men had not heard of Newberry College before the summer of 1943,” said Wendt. “And even though they only spent a short time here, they have a love for the College and the city of Newberry. Thanks to the Darrow’s generosity, this house will stand as a constant reminder of the courage and bravery these men have shown. Their legacy here will never be forgotten.”

President Zais cuts the ribbon of the Darrow Naval Trainee House.

 


Benedict Died of Irregular Heartbeat
(added 06/17/08)

A report released on Tuesday said that Heath Benedict, former Newberry College football standout, died in March of an irregular heartbeat. See full story provided by wltx.com (WLTX, TV 19).

 

UPDATE: One Meth Lab Suspect Now in Custody; Other Still Being Sought
(added 06/12/08)

One of the two people being sought in connection with the operation of a methamphetamine lab in Newberry County is now in custody and police are continuing their search for the second suspect.

Authorities say that Carol Allison Hannah (left), 47, of 80 Lowry Street, Whitmire, SC was taken into custody last night at about 8:00PM by the Whitmire Police Department when she returned to the residence of Lowry Street. Police think she may have been attempting to gather some personal belongings from the home from which they were being evicted. She was taken into custody without incident. She was taken to the Newberry County Detention Center where bond has been set at $50,000.00.

Police said that on Tuesday morning just after 11:00AM, a Newberry County Civil Process Officer was serving a court ordered eviction papers at a residence located at 80 Lowry Street in the Whitmire section of Newberry County. The tenants of the residence were not at the residence, and the landlord began to check the residence. When the landlord saw an unusual setup in the house, he showed it to the deputy. The deputy immediately realized the danger and radioed to the Whitmire Police Department since the residence is in their jurisdiction and officers from the Whitmire Police Department obtained a search warrant for the residence.

When the officers served the search warrant at the residence, the officers discovered a small working methamphetamine lab in the home. The officers also discovered a small bag of methamphetamine in the home. The bag weighed approximately .4 gram.

Officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office specially trained in the cleanup of such labs responded to the scene and assumed the clean up at the residence. A licensed Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) contractor also responded to the scene for cleanup.

The byproducts and fumes from such laboratories can be extremely dangerous and must be treated as hazardous material. Officers say that both flammable and corrosive materials were found, and that the most substantial threat to the community from this lab was a threat of fire or explosion. They said that such labs can sometimes generate dangerous fumes or toxic fumes that can be dangerous to the household residents or contacting the lab.

The Hannah’s were the only two residents of the home, and there were no children residing in the home.

The Whitmire Fire Department, Whitmire Rescue Squad, Newberry Fire Department, Newberry County Hazardous Materials team, and the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) all responded to the residence during the cleanup operation.

Officers immediately began searching for the residents of the home who were identified as Earnest Eugene Hannah, 41, of 80 Lowry Street, Whitmire, and Carol Hannah, 46, also of 80 Lowry Street in Whitmire and warrants were issued charging both with Manufacturing Methamphetamine.

Earnest Hannah has a prior record that extends to 1986 including multiple offenses of Driving Under the Influence and alcohol related charges. His only drug conviction was a 1994 Simple Possession of Marijuana conviction for which he paid a $200 fine.

Carol Hannah has no prior convictions.

Police are continuing their search for Ernest Hannah (left) and say at this point they do not have any leads on his whereabouts. They are asking anyone with any information to contact the Whitmire Police Department of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Whitmire Police Department at (803) 694-2121 or Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 276-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.




Copper Thieves Arrested for Newberry Thefts

(added 06/11/08)

Two Spartanburg County men are in jail this morning charged with stealing the copper from air conditioning units from of all places, churches.

Sheriff Lee Foster said that once again communication and information sharing between law enforcement agencies has enabled authorities to clear up a rash of crimes across two counties and multiple jurisdictions.

“Taking advantage of anyone through criminal activity is always horrible,” said Sheriff Foster. “But, to prey on churches as well as these businesses in absolutely despicable.”

On May 12 of this year, Flint Hill Baptist Church located on Highway 66 in the Whitmire section of Newberry County reported that someone had vandalized their air conditioning units and had stolen all of the copper from the units. They estimated the damage and theft at $10,000.00.

Officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office then began checking all of the churches in the area and discovered that the 2 air conditioning units at Mt. Zion Church located on Beth Eden Church Road in Newberry County had also been vandalized and the copper stolen. They estimated damage and theft at $7500.00.

Sheriff Foster said that on May 19, investigators were called to Whitmire to assist the Whitmire Police Department in processing a burglary scene at Mom’s Place located on Church Street and a car believed to be associated with the burglary. Officers found a part of the cash register and a laptop computer from the burglary in the car and in the surrounding area. They also discovered other items that were later identified as stolen from other burglaries.

Foster said that it was then that alert investigators found a pair of bolt cutters with traces of copper in the cutting blades. Recognizing the connection, the investigators collected that evidence and sent it to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for processing.

Foster said that it was the combined efforts of investigators from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and officers with the Whitmire Police Department that made the difference from there. Officers developed two men as suspects in the case based of their use of the vehicle discovered near the scene with the stolen items in them.

Police say that the two men have not only been charged with the Burglary at Mom’s Place and the thefts from the two churches, but will also be charged for similar thefts at two churches in Laurens County, and a burglary at a hotel in Clinton.

Sheriff Foster indentified the men as:

David Lee Simmons, 22, who is homeless but is from the Spartanburg County area. He will be charged with Burglary from the incident in Whitmire and two counts of Grand Larceny and two counts of Malicious Injury to Real Property in Newberry County.

Anthony Trey Vaughn, 21, who is homeless but is from the Spartanburg County area. He also will be charged with Burglary from the incident in Whitmire and two counts of Grand Larceny and two counts of Malicious Injury to Real Property in Newberry County.

Vaughn is currently in the Newberry County Detention Center and will be charged later today. No bond hearing has been scheduled.

Simmons is in the Spartanburg County Detention Center on unrelated charges. He will be brought to Newberry County when he completes his sentence of those charges which is anticipated to be sometime around May 20, 2008.

“I am pleased with the level of cooperation that we continue to see with our law enforcement partners,” said Foster. “I would also like to commend the outstanding efforts of all the investigators and officers who worked so hard to make these arrests possible.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 276-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

Newberry Primary Results
(added 06/11/08)

Benji Chapman is the Republican nominee for Newberry County Treasurer. Chapman defeated Jackie Haltiwanger in Tuesday's Republican Primary receiving 1406 votes to Haltiwanger's 980.
In other totals, Steve Stockman is the nominee of the party for County Council District 2 as he received 497 votes to 241 for John Hunter. In County council District 4, Kenneth W. Sanders defeated Todd Morris 236 to 133. Sanders becomes the Republican nominee in District 4.

On the Democratic side,District 4 Incumbent County Councilman Mike Hawkins will be in a runoff on Tuesday June 24th with Kirksey Koon. Hawkins received 115 votes while Koon garnered 96. The other candidate D. Wyman Cook received 54 votes.

In other local totals from the Republican Primary, Senator Lindsey Graham received 1828 votes while Buddy Witherspoon received 583.

In the Democratic Primary for US Senate Michael Cone received 320 votes while Bob Conley totaled 301.

In the Democratic Primary for State Senate District 18, Pete Oliver led Newberry County with 335 votes to Michael Ray Ellisor's 310.


City Council Meeting on June 10
(added 06/11/08)

Newberry City Council met last night and held first reading on the 08/09 budget. The $32.7 million budget is balanced with:

3.6 additional mills of taxes (This 4.1% increase fits within the State’s millage increase cap. It takes operational millage from 89.7 to 93.3.)
$1 increase in residential solid waste collection fee
$158,000 in budgeted use of the fund balance (This non-recurring funding will be used specifically for the storm water study.)
4.17% increase in electrical rates (This is a pass through of electrical rate increases from PMPA.)
7.5% increase in wastewater rates (This increase will pay for anticipated debt related to the rehab and expansion at the wastewater plant.)
The planned cost of living raise for employees has also been decreased from 4-3% and the merit raise eliminated to help balance this year’s budget.

The only major changes in the budget since the council’s work sessions were an adjustment in the estimated revenue from the sale of water and a decrease in projected revenue from utility charges to Saluda. Saluda asked that their rate increase be delayed until October to allow them to cash flow the additional funding. These adjustments in the utility department’s revenue resulted in the postponing of some capital projects to mid-year.

Final reading of the 08/09 budget is on the agenda for June 17 at 7pm.

Second and final reading passed to repeal adoption of the International Property Maintenance Code by civil authority and make the International Property Maintenance Code enforceable as a criminal offense so that the police department can enforce code violations.

Second and final reading also passed to change the zoning for the new development planned off of Hillbrook Lane. Zoning changes from R-10 residential to R-8 zoning. This change allows the lots to be 8,000 sq feet instead of 10,000 sq ft thus allowing 6 additional units to be built.

Council approved final reading to add the President of Newberry College and the President of the Newberry Opera House Guild as ex-officio members of the NOH Foundation Board. The President of Newberry College has been serving since the first year, however, it had not been formalized until this time.

Michael Wood was honored for 5 years with the Police Department and Ms. Bette Brannon, Administrative Assistant to the City Manager, HR Director, and City Council, received her City rocking chair honoring her 30 years of service.

Council passed first reading on an ordinance to allow offsite high rise signs in an interstate overlay district. The district has a 1500 ft radius from the center of the intersection. Businesses are still limited to one high rise sign be it onsite or offsite. The issue arose with new businesses planned below the road line of site on the northeast quadrant of Exit 76. If final reading passes, this will allow these new businesses to put up their sign on the opposite side of the interstate for visibility.

First reading passed to rezone 2544 Kinard St from residential to office commercial. The property is owned by NCMH and upon final reading could accommodate future unspecified medical service.

First reading passed to implement a 4.17% electrical rate increase and 7.5% increase in sewer rates. The electrical rate increase is a direct pass through of electrical rate increases from PMPA. The sewer rate increases allows for anticipated debt service on the rehabilitation and expansion of the wastewater plant.

Council approved first reading to make minor adjustments to fiscal year 07/08 budget. This was approved by title only.

Council approved a memorandum of agreement with Shells Construction regarding an incentive program for building in the city of Newberry. A $143,170 deferred forgivable loan was approved. This loan is equal to the 10-year tax return on the project at build out and a $1,000 per unit tap fee credit. The agreement states that "Upon the completion and issuance of a certificate of occupancy for each house constructed, a credit of $6,225 would be applied to the outstanding principal balance of the loan." Once completed the infrastructure will be deeded to the City. A similar agreement is being finalized for the Hillbrook Lane subdivision. The funding for this loan comes from city funds and funding from CNNGA. Plans are to replace the funds as property taxes begin coming in from this property so that the fund works as a revolving fund for additional housing project incentives.

Meth Lab Found in Newberry County
(added 06/10/08)

An alert Newberry County Deputy Sheriff doing a routine eviction has uncovered a methamphetamine lab in Newberry County.

Just after 11:00 AM, a Newberry County Civil Process Officer was serving a court ordered eviction papers at a residence located at 80 Lowry Street in the Whitmire section of Newberry County. The tenants of the residence were not at the residence, and the landlord began to check the residence.

When the landlord saw an unusual setup in the house, he showed it to the deputy. The deputy immediately realized the danger and radioed to the Whitmire Police Department since the residence is in their jurisdiction and officers from the Whitmire Police Department obtained a search warrant for the residence.

*(The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for the service of civil process and eviction papers throughout Newberry County including inside the city jurisdictions.)*

When the officers served the search warrant at the residence, the officers discovered a small working methamphetamine lab in the home. The officers also discovered a small bag of methamphetamine in the home. The bag weighed approximately .4 gram.

Officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office specially trained in the cleanup of such labs responded to the scene and assumed the clean up at the residence. A licensed Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) contractor also responded to the scene for cleanup.

The byproducts and fumes from such laboratories can be extremely dangerous and must be treated as hazardous material. Officers say that both flammable and corrosive materials were found, and that the most substantial threat to the community from this lab was a threat of fire or explosion. They said that such labs can sometimes generate dangerous fumes or toxic fumes that can be dangerous to the household residents or contacting the lab.

The Hannah’s were the only two residents of the home, and there were no children residing in the home.

The Whitmire Fire Department, Whitmire Rescue Squad, Newberry Fire Department, Newberry County Hazardous Materials team, and the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) all responded to the residence during the cleanup operation.

Officers say that they are now seeking two individuals in association with this discovery.

Police say that Earnest Eugene Hannah (left), 41, of 80 Lowry Street, Whitmire, and Carol Hannah, 46, also of 80 Lowry Street in Whitmire are being sought by police for Manufacturing Methamphetamine.

Earnest Hannah has a prior record that extends to 1986 including multiple offenses of Driving Under the Influence and alcohol related charges. His only drug conviction was a 1994 Simple Possession of Marijuana conviction for which he paid a $200 fine.

Carol Hannah has no prior convictions.

“We work together well with the Sheriff’s Office and all of our volunteer emergency services, and incidents like this show our need to work together as a team,” said Whitmire Police Chief Jeremiah Sinclair.

“We are pleased to enjoy this kind of working relationship with the Whitmire Police Department and the many agencies who responded to this incident,” said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. “We have specially trained officers on staff for just such a response as it is our continuing commitment to provide the highest possible law enforcement services to the people of Newberry County. These types of labs can be extremely dangerous, and it is necessary to clean them up as quickly as possible, but it must also be done as safely as possible.”

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Whitmire Police Department at (803) 694-2121 or Newberry County Sheriff’s at (803) 276-2222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC or www.sccrimestoppers.com.

School Board Meeting on June 9
(added 06/10/08)

Newberry County School Board met last night and held the public hearing for the 08/09 budget. The $44.6 million school operating budget is approximately a 3.6% increase over last year’s budget thus requiring close to 4 additional mills in taxes. (Official millage will be set in the fall.) School debt service is estimated to remain at the self imposed freeze of 52 mills.

No one spoke at the public hearing on the budget. However, the silent majority in the audience were faculty members of Little Mountain Elementary protesting the reduction of an FTE or full time employee position at LME. No one was fired from Little Mountain, however, through retirement the faculty was reduced leaving one class of over 30 kindergarteners for next year. At the last meeting, Principal Rudy Tarver called this high student/teacher ratio a serious problem and stated that in all his years he always had extra students show up for kindergarten. The current draft of the budget does not include the restoration of this position despite requests at first reading.

District administration stated at the last meeting that Little Mountain is not the only school to drop an FTE - saying that the district takes a look at student projections for each school and principals have the power to shift teachers between grade levels. Superintendent Bennie Bennett emphasized the impressive student/teacher ratios of Newberry County in relation to other counties around SC. Bennett went on to say, “The real question is whether or not [the board] wants to make student/teacher ratio decisions based on the average for each school [and leave the allocation of those positions to the principals] or base the decision on each grade level at each school. We can go by grade level, but it will definitely impact the budget.” He stated that hiring additional teachers or transferring teachers after the start of the school year is actually not uncommon and a possibility once actual student numbers are known. Lee Attaway, who represents the Little Mountain area on school board, reiterated that “for smaller schools like Little Mountain or Reuben one teacher can make a big difference.” Chairman Don Saylor reminded the board that the budget was a “work in progress” until final reading on June 23.

Several board members voiced their concerns regarding the budgeted use of fund balance. School board member Lucy Ann Meetze referenced the economy and changes in state funded when she said, “I think we need to guard our fund balance just because the future is so unknown.” The budget calls for approximately $300,000 roll over from last year’s budget and over $200,000 from the fund balance. Board members Lee Attaway and Jody Hamm both stated that they didn’t want to reduce the cost of living raise for district and building administration, but this reduction may be needed during this lean budget.

With the new state legislation calling for the state sales tax to pay for owner-occupied, school operational property taxes, the state is auditing each district to make sure the estimated revenue is accurate. Funding could change positively or negatively at the end of this audit, which could be completed by final reading on June 23.

 

Crimestoppers Number Changes
(added 06/09/08)

As law enforcement agency work continue to work closely together to prevent crime and capture those responsible, crimestoppers across South Carolina, under the umbrella of The South Carolina Crimestoppers Council, have created a statewide number that will allow tipsters to call in and automatically be sent to the crimestoppers program in the area where they are placing their call.

Crimestoppers of the Midlands, made up of 46 law enforcement agencies in 8 counties (local, state and federal), continues to work diligently to pay tipsters for information leading to arrests - being the vehicle for anonymous tipsters to call in, help to make arrests thus improving the quality of life in the Midlands. The creation of the statewide number will provide one number for tipsters to call while it will solidify the autonomies of the crimestoppers programs in the respective areas of the state.

888-559-tips will remain active and available for calls for months, but Crimestoppers is asking all media (on any and all crime stories) to utilize this new statewide number 888-CRIME-SC which will allow the tipster to call in and automatically forward their call (based on the county they are calling from) - the new website www.sccrimestoppers.com will allow tipsters to go to the map of the state and click on where the tip is for and it take the user to the appropriate crimestoppers website and tip submission for.

Crimestoppers of the Midlands is asking the public to be aware of the changeover and to continue to be involved in solving crime and getting paid for the anonymous information. Crimestoppers of the Midlands has solved 5234 cases, seized $11,742,585 in narcotics and paid out $152, 400 in cash for tips over the last 25 years - Crimestoppers statewide has solved over 21,000 cases. Crimestoppers of the Midlands will continue to work on raising money to pay tipsters while diligently working to help law enforcement take the bad guys off the streets.

Crimestoppers has received the endorsement on this changeover from: the South Carolina Sheriff's Association, South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Director Reggie Lloyd, Sheriff Leon Lott, Sheriff James R. Metts, Sheriff Lee Foster, Sheriff Herman Young, Sheriff Michael Hunt, Sheriff Larry Williams, Sheriff Steve McCaskill, Chief Wendell Davis, Chief Tandy Carter, Chief Dennis Tyndall, Chief Charlie McNair, Chief Gene Sealy, Chief Mark Fallaw, Chief Howard M. Cook, Chief Brian Buck, Director Ernie Ellis, Chief John Ewing, Chief Terrance Green, Chief Harold Rodgers, Chief Matt Johnson and Chief Randy Garrett.

Sheriff Announces Youth Summer Camps in Newberry County
(added 06/09/08)

Sheriff Lee Foster has announced that the Newberry County Sheriff’ Office will sponsor a series of summer youth camps throughout Newberry County communities in an effort to combine games and fun with important life skills such as safety and conflict management.

“The camps are being offered at absolutely no charge and are intended to assist area youth in areas such as safety and conflict management by using challenging and competitive games that teach a hands on approach to practical life skills,” said Foster.

The camps will also strive to provide a positive atmosphere allowing Newberry County youth to interact with officers, teachers, and community leaders in a friendly, open environment.

The camps will have participation from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, the School District of Newberry County, Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forestry Service, South Carolina Department of Probation, and at least 5 community leaders from the respective communities including churches, community organizations, and local elected officials.

The camp is open to youth ages 6-15. The camps will take place from 10AM – 3PM. The camp dates are as follows:

June 17 and 18, 2008 – Little Mountain - Little Mountain Reunion Park (Registration Deadline is June 5)

June 30 and July 11, 2008 – Prosperity - Prosperity Civic Center (Registration Deadline is June 19)

July 2 and July 3, 2008 – Chappells – Chappells Community Center (Registration Deadline is June 19)

July 22 and July 23, 2008 – Whitmire – The Master’s Baptist Church (Registration Deadline is July 9)

July 29 and July 30, 2008 – Newberry – Gallman Park (Registration Deadline is July 15)

“We are excited about the opportunity to begin working with the future generation of leaders in Newberry County,” said Foster. “It is our sincere desire that the life skills we teach this children today will help to enable them to succeed for a lifetime.”

Registration forms for the camps may be picked up at the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office or by going to www.newberrycountysheriff.com and downloading a copy of the application.

Parents or guardians must sign a participation form for each child participating in the camp. The forms should be returned in advance to the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office Registration is limited to the first 30 youth to register so you are encouraged to register early.

If you have questions or need additional information, you may call the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2211 and speak with Ron Abrams or Sherri Scott.

 

Arthur Gray Found in Richland County
(added 06/05/08)

Sheriff Lee Foster says that the 78 year old man missing since Tuesday afternoon was located this morning in Columbia by a Richland County Deputy Sheriff.

Foster said that Arthur "June" Junior Gray was located this morning around 8:30AM when the Richland County Sheriff's Office received a call of a nude man walking on Paige Derrick Road in Richland County.

The Richland County Deputy who responded to the scene immediately recognized Gray as the missing person from Newberry County. The deputy described Mr. Gray as being unclothed and disoriented. Mr. Gray was transported to a Columbia area hospital for a medical exam and any needed treatment. There were no obvious injuries to Mr. Gray.

Both agencies say that it was the cooperation and continuous information exchange between the two departments that allowed for the quick recognition and action by the officer when he arrived at the unusual call.

Sheriff Foster also thanked the media for their coverage of the missing man. "The media is a tremendous asset to law enforcement and we appreciate all of their efforts to help us accomplish our goals such as the safe return of an elderly man to his family," said Foster.

In addition, Sheriff Foster and Mr. Gray's family would like to express their thanks to all of those who called with information about Mr. Gray or called to offer their prayers, support, and assistance during this difficult time.

Arthur Junior Gray left his home located at 1025 Cockrell Drive in Newberry County Tuesday afternoon around 5:00PM in his truck stating that he would be right back.

Gray was seen late Wednesday afternoon in the White Rock section when he stopped at a home of a stranger seeking gas money. The homeowner later saw a newscast and realized that he was the missing man from Newberry County.

Immediate concern arose with family members say that it is unlike Gray to be gone for such a long period of time, and say that he is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. He needs medication for his Alzheimer's and has a colostomy.

Gray left his home in 1989 blue Nissan pickup with South Carolina License plates 705 JPN. The vehicle was also safely located by the Richland County Sheriff's Office.

Gray is a retired from operating his own lawn care service.

Confirmed Sighting; Authorities Still Searching for Missing Elderly Man
(added 06/05/08)

UPDATE (06/05/08, 6:44 AM) : The Newberry County Sheriff's Office says that they have confirmed the early sighting of Mr. Gray. He was seen in the White Rock area late this afternoon when he stopped at a home attempting to get gas money. He appeared fine at the time. The search for him continues.

Earlier story (06/04/08):

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is asking for your assistance in locating an elderly man who has been missing since yesterday afternoon.

Authorities say that Arthur Junior Gray left his home located at 1025 Cockrell Drive in Newberry County yesterday afternoon around 5:00PM in his truck stating that he would be right back. Gray has not been seen or heard from since that time.

Family members say that it is unlike Gray to be gone for such a long period of time, and say that he is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. He needs medication for his Alzheimer’s and has a colostomy.

Arthur “June” Junior Gray (left) is 78 years old. He is a black male who is 5 foot 7 inches tall and 170 pounds. He has grey hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing overalls and blue and white striped shirt.

Gray was last seen operating a 1989 blue Nissan pickup with South Carolina License plates 705 JPN.

Gray is retired from operating his own lawn care service.

Authorities say that they have no information as to what routes or locations Gray may be traveling because of his medical conditions.

If you have any information as to the location of Arthur Gray or have seen him, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office immediately at (803) 321-2222.

 

Passing of Chief Deputy Coroner Tommy Hedgepath
Source: Whitaker Funeral Home
(added 06/01/08)

Chief Deputy Coroner Tommy L. Hedgepath, 67, died Friday at Newberry County Memorial Hospital. He was the owner of H. L. Hedgepath and Son, and had served as Deputy Coroner of Newberry County since 1991. He was currently serving as Coroner. He was also a member of the Friendly Fire Department, and had served for ten years in the SC National Guard.

Hedgepath was the only candidate running for County Coroner in November's election.

Tune in to WKDK AM 1240 on Monday morning for more information on this story.

For information about funeral arrangements visit www.whitakerfuneralhome.com.


Fifth Graders Honored in National Transportation Week
Art Competition

(added 05/29/08)


The S. C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) named (86) eighty-six 5th graders as winners in a statewide National Transportation Week Poster Contest. Mason Scott, from Prosperity - Rikard Elementary, received 3rd Place honors for Newberry County. Kristen Whiting, from Prosperity - Rikard Elementary, received 2nd Place honors for Newberry County. And Jay Salter, from Prosperity - Rikard Elementary, received 1st Place honors for Newberry County. (See photos below for each of these winners.)

SCDOT presented the awards at its 5th Annual National Transportation Week Poster Contest Awards ceremony on Thursday, May 15, 2008 in Columbia. The annual event is hosted by SCDOT to recognize the 5th graders for their participation in the poster contest.

During the ceremony, the students were honored as 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place winners in their respective counties. In addition, 7 Highway District Winners and the State Winner were announced. Two of the 86 5th graders, who won first and second place in the National Transportation Week Art Competition also, were recognized.

The theme for this year’s poster contest was “One Nation On The Move.” More than 1,100 5th grade students from across the state participated in the contest. Teachers were encouraged to not only ask students to express their ideas in a picture, but to discuss the myriad of possibilities for transportation-related careers and how transportation affects everyone’s life.

National Transportation Week (May 11-17) provides an opportunity for the transportation community to join together for greater awareness about the importance of transportation and to focus on making youth aware of transportation-related careers.

The SC Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration – SC Division Office, and the SC Alliance to Fix Our Roads (SCFOR) co-sponsored the local competition.

SCDOT Deputy Secretary for Finance and Administration Debra Rountree, FHWA SC Division Administrator Bob Lee, SC Alliance to Fix Our Roads Executive Director Debbie Bass, FHWA Office of Professional and Corporate Development Associate Administrator Joe Toole spoke at the ceremony.

Click on photos to see larger versions:

The One Nation On The Move Poster Contest 3rd Place Winner in Newberry County is Mason Scott (in front), a 5th grader at Prosperity Rikard Elementary. Presenting the award are, from left: SCDOT Deputy Secretary for Finance and Administration Debra Rountree, SC Division Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration Bob Lee, FHWA Office of Professional and Corporate Development Associate Administrator Joe Toole, SCDOT Deputy Secretary for Engineering Tony Chapman, SC Alliance to Fix Our Roads Executive Director Debbie Bass and SCDOT District 2 Engineering Administrator Phillip Brooks. (Photo by Rob Thompson/SCDOT)

 

 

 

 

The One Nation On The Move Poster Contest 2nd Place Winner in Newberry County is Kristen Whiting (in front), a 5th grader at Prosperity Rikard Elementary School. Presenting the award are, from left: SCDOT Deputy Secretary for Finance and Administration Debra Rountree, SC Division Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration Bob Lee, FHWA Office of Professional and Corporate Development Associate Administrator Joe Toole, SCDOT Deputy Secretary for Engineering Tony Chapman, SC Alliance to Fix Our Roads Executive Director Debbie Bass and SCDOT District 2 Engineering Administrator Phillip Brooks. (Photo by Rob Thompson/SCDOT)

 

 

 

 

The One Nation On The Move Poster Contest 1st Place Winner in Newberry County is Jay Salter (in front), a 5th grader at Prosperity Rikard Elementary School. Presenting the award are, from left: SCDOT Deputy Secretary for Finance and Administration Debra Rountree, SC Division Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration Bob Lee, FHWA Office of Professional and Corporate Development Associate Administrator Joe Toole, SCDOT Deputy Secretary for Engineering Tony Chapman, SC Alliance to Fix Our Roads Executive Director Debbie Bass and SCDOT District 2 Engineering Administrator Phillip Brooks. (Photo by Rob Thompson/SCDOT)

 

 



County Council Meeting on May 21

(added 05/22/08)

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (May 21) and approved second reading of the 08/09 budget. The $22.4 million general fund budget calls for an additional 3.3 mill increase in property taxes.

In a split vote, council approved the expansion of EMS coverage at night from 2 manned ambulances to 3 thus increasing response time. Dr. Alan Paysinger brought a petition in favor of this move from Newberry County Medical Society. He reiterated that currently both ambulances are out on call and not available for an emergency on average of two hours each night. Dr. Oscar Lovelace stated that quickly getting someone to the appropriate care is essential in life and death emergencies.

One of the sticking points with some council members in the past has been that the third EMS ambulance is housed at the Fairview station. Councilman John David Dawkins (who represents the Fairview area and also serves on the Emergency Services Board) made the motion for the expansion of service. He stated that the Emergency Services Board and a new Emergency Services Coordinator (who should be hired within the near future) could decide where the ambulance is housed if approved in the 08/09 budget.

Councilman Buddy Livingston stated, “There is no question that this decision will save lives. But, let’s be honest. This will raise taxes.”

By moving the cash purchase of two new ambulances and four (12 lead) EKG monitors to lease purchase, the additional EMS cost of $209,000 will not affect the bottom line of the budget nor the projected millage increase this year. However, long-range projections show staffing and capital expenses outstripping the projected consumer price index and growth factor thus causing additional taxes or reduction in other services in the future.

The final vote was 4 to 2 to go forward with expanding the third EMS ambulance service from 12 to 24 hours. Councilmen Baker and Waldrop voting in opposition. Councilman Caldwell was absent.

Council will meet again on June 4, hold a budget work session on June 11 at 4pm and hold final reading with potential amendements of the budget on June 12 at 7pm.

Prosperity Town Council Meeting on May 20
(added 05/21/08)

Prosperity Has New Chief/Holds First Reading of the 08/09 Budget

The Town of Prosperity swore in Craig Nelson as the new Chief of Police Tuesday night(May 20). The Prosperity police force is now fully staffed with three officers. At one point, Prosperity had five officers thanks to grant funding, but this past year the force dropped all the way down to one officer during personnel turnover. Mayor Larry Spotts stated that three officers is sufficient to handle the policing in Prosperity especially with the help of the Sheriff’s Department who aids the Prosperity force with police coverage. He went on to say that the choice to stay at three officers and to contract with the county for recreation services has resulted in a 08/09 general fund budget of $414,3000, which is actually slightly less than the 07/08 budget of 418,000. The Prosperity Utility budget did increase this year by approximately 7% to $1.5 million. The Town will pass through a water and sewer increase of 4.5% from the Newberry County Water and Sewer Authority and 8% electrical rate increase from Duke Power. The contract with Duke is up for renewal this month and charge to the Town could increase between 8-12% - with hopes obviously of keeping the rate increase on the lower end of the spectrum. With the increased value of a mill, Prosperity estimates millage to remain at 41 mills for 08/09.

In related news, Mayor Spotts reported on a recent power outage in Prosperity, saying the three ½ hour outage was due to a Duke transformer going out. Spotts stated that the first Duke workman was onsite within 40 minutes.

Those passing through Prosperity on Sunday will see a crew out patching the brick on the Main St. sidewalks. Also this weekend, traffic will be redirected at the Prosperity Post Office so that there is a two way drive on Main and only an exit onto Brown street.

Two more free tennis clinics will be held in Prosperity this summer. The town is also gearing up for art camp with Debbie Murphy, who also teaches art at MCHS. Call Prosperity town hall for more information.

Mike Bedenbaugh, Prosperity native and Executive Director of the Palmetto Trust, reported to council that he has a letter of intent from Norfolk railroad saying that they were willing to give the Prosperity Depot to the Town through the Palmetto Trust. He stated that they are willing to wave the fee but still require the depot to be moved 50 ft from the center of the track within two years. They will charge $100 a year lease on the right away until the depot is moved within those two years. Bedenbaugh stated that he would report back when he had an official deed from Norfolk. He suggested that a Depot Commission be formed to decide where and how to move the depot, to apply for grants, and to fundraise. Bedenbaugh also suggested that the Town look into becoming a certified local government with a historic district, which opens up lots more grant funding for such projects. Anyone interested in serving on a Depot committee should contact Town Hall at 364-2622.

School Board Meeting on May 19
(added 05/20/08)

School Board Approves First Reading of Budget

Newberry County School Board met Monday night (May 19) and approved first reading of the 08/09 budget. At first reading, the $44 million budget is being balanced with 4 mills of additional property taxes, $300,000 in roll over from the 07/08 budget, and $300,000 from the fund balance.

An index of taxpaying ability and the amount of general fund owner occupied property taxes both affect state funding. The State Department of Revenue is conducting audits of all districts to make sure the amount to be paid by The State is correct. The audit in Newberrry County is reportably scheduled to take place by the end of May. School district CFO Susan Dowd stated that she was hopeful this could result in additional revenue for 08/09, thus decreasing the number of dollars having to come from the fund balance.

At a work session preceding the regular meeting Monday night, school board looked at the Infinity Alternative program, student/teacher ratios in elementary, and class scheduling in high school. The board discussed reducing the number of slots available at the Infinity Alternative program but did not do so at this time. Lt. Mtn. Faculty was on hand to protest the reduction of a kindergarten teacher, which leaves one class of 31 kindergartners. The 31 kindergarten count does not include a pending extraordinary circumstance transfer request nor potential walk-ins on the first day of school. Principal Rudy Tarver stated that in all of his career he had never had less than 3 to 5 students show up on opening day. He called the reduction in a position at Little Mountain a serious problem.

Executive Director for Human Resources Pam Arrington stated that each principal has the option of reallocating teachers to different grade levels within their school. She stated that several changes were made based on enrollment and programmatic restructuring. The 08/09 budget currently reflects a net of 5 losses in positions. All reductions were done through retirement or transfer.

A public hearing on the budget will be held on June 9 in the Learning Center.

Proclamation for Sobriety Checkpoints for Upcoming Holiday Weekend
(added 05/20/08)

PROCLAMATION
Safety Checkpoint Emphasis

WHEREAS: The incidence of alcohol and other drug impairment annually
jeopardizes the lives and safety of the traveling public; and

WHEREAS: The United States Supreme Court ruled on June 14, 1990, in
support of the use of safety checkpoints as a measure to detect and
deter incidents of impaired driving, thereby answering the issue
of their constitutionality; and

WHEREAS: Safety checkpoints can serve to reduce the likelihood that drinking
drivers will operate their vehicles, and thereby lessen the
hazards to innocent travelers and bystanders; and

WHEREAS: The County of Newberry and City of Newberry considers of
utmost seriousness its duty to protect our citizens from
hazards such as impaired drivers;
Therefore be it

RESOLVED: That I, Henry Summer, as Chairman of the Newberry County
Council, and I, Zeddie Goudelock, Mayor, Pro-Tem, City of
Newberry, hereby proclaim May 23 – 24 and May 30-31
Memorial Day Sobriety Checkpoint Emphasis in Newberry
County and City of Newberry, and hereby proclaim support for
and encourage the use of safety checkpoints by law enforcement
agencies as a valuable weapon in the war against impaired
driving-related death and injury.

Henry B. Summer
Chairman
Newberry County Council

Zeddie Goudelock
Mayor Pro-Tem
City of Newberry

Date: May 19, 2008


Administrative Telephone Outage on Wednesday
(added 05/15/08)

The administrative telephone lines at the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office were out of service yesterday afternoon for several hours. The phones were out from roughly 3:30PM until 6:00PM. The problem was a network problem and AT&T had to be called in to correct the issue.

There were no problems with the 911 lines and there was no interruption of the 911 service. The two systems operate independent of each other.

Again, there was absolutely no interruption of 911 service. Those who attempted to call the administrative telephone lines received a sound similar to a busy tone.

This has been an ongoing issue and the Sheriff’s Office is working with AT&T to attempt a long term resolution to this issue.

Violent Domestic Dispute on Wednesday --UPDATE
(added 05/15/08)

A dispute turned violent late Wednesday afternoon. The incident, which included the suspect chasing the victim with his vehicle and shooting at him, culminated in the arrest of two people.

Around 5:00PM, Wednesday afternoon, officers of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office were notified there was an altercation in a parking lot on Wilson Road near the intersection of South Carolina Highway 121. The altercation escalated and officers were notified via 911 calls that the suspect had produced a pistol. Officers were then notified that the participants in the altercation had all gotten into vehicles and left at a high rate of speed.

The victim then called 911 and advised dispatchers that he was being chased by the suspect and that the suspect was now shooting at him. The victim traveled on Highway 34 to Mt. Bethel Garmany Road, and then lost the suspect in the area of Short Cut Road. The suspect was driving a purple Impala with paper tags.

Officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, Newberry City Police Department, South Carolina Highway Patrol, and State Transport Police immediately saturated the area in as search for the suspect vehicle.

While the search for the vehicle was underway, officers received information that the suspect, officers were notified that the suspect had returned to the original incident location back on Wilson Road. Officers quickly surrounded the area, and two suspects were taken into custody without incident.

Officers say that the greatest surprise was yet to come though. They say as they searched the suspect’s vehicle, they found a three month old child in a car seat in the back seat of the suspect’s vehicle. The child was asleep.

“This is a horrible situation,” said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. “These two people not only endangered many lives by chasing the victim and firing gun shots from a moving vehicle through one of the most congested areas in Newberry County, but to do so with an infant in the car in absolutely unforgivable.” “Every officer was absolutely enraged by the fact that this child was exposed to such violent and reckless behavior.”

The law enforcement officers have taken the child into Emergency Protective Custody and the child has been placed in the custody of the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

Police say that when they searched the vehicle, they also recovered the gun used in the shooting from the suspect’s vehicle. The gun was .380 Highpoint pistol.

Officers say that a minimum of 3-4 shots were fired at the victim, and that they are continuing their investigation into the exact details of the altercation and the events surrounding and during the shooting.

No one was injured during the incident, and it does not appear that any of the suspects bullets struck the victim’s vehicle leaving officers to wonder just where those stray bullets may have struck.

“I would like to thank all of the witnesses who provided information in this case,” said Foster. “There information was crucial to bringing this dangerous incident to a close so rapidly.”

“I would also like to thank the many law enforcement officers who responded to the area from various agencies,” said Foster. “Anyone this angry with a high speed car and a firearm may harm anyone he contacts, and I am grateful that the men and women of law enforcement are willing to risk their lives to protect innocent citizens from such people and danger.”

Those arrested were identified as:

Macalister Reid Jr. (left), 21, of 196 Sutton Lane, Newberry, SC, who will be charged with Assault with Intent to Kill and Unlawful Conduct to a Child.

Shaina Laquillah-Lynn Whitmore (right), 19, of 196 Sutton Lane, Newberry, SC who will also be charged with Assault with Intent to Kill and Unlawful Conduct to a Child.

The infant is the child of the two suspects. The victim in the case is not being identified by police at this time.

Warrants will be served on both suspects later this morning and a bond hearing will be held sometime today.

City Council Meeting on May 13
(added 05/14/08)

Newberry City Council met last night for their regular meeting and a budget work session.

Council is searching for almost $400,000 to balance their $8.5 million general fund budget. Options that they are exploring include:
• Taking the CPI plus population growth increase in operating millage (This 3.6 mill increase would take the GO millage from 89.7 mills to 93.3 mills.
• Using $160,000 in fund balance for one time projects such as the engineering study on Scotts Creek
• Decreasing the proposed cost of living and merit raises for City employees.
• Increasing solid waste fees (Some options increase the fee by one dollar a year for the next few years and other options increase the solid waste fee to $10 this year, which would come close to covering the direct and indirect cost of solid waste service. Every addition $1 changed in monthly solid waste fees generates approximately $47,000 as opposed to only $21,500.)
• Moving new debt for capital expenditures such as new patrol cars from general obligation millage to debt service millage. Debt service millage does not fall under the purview of the CPI/Population growth state cap. Currently, The City has no general fund debt service millage. If approved, it would be established this year at 3.6 mills or approximately $11 per $75,000 home.

City Council will meet tonight at 6pm to discuss the Utility Budget, which currently includes a 4% pass through in electrical rate increases from PMPA and a 7.5% increase in sewer charges to help pay for the renovation and expansion at the wastewater plant.

During the regular meeting, City Council agreed to hire an engineer to study the information regarding an insurance claim filed by Ms. Francis Abrams against the City. During a storm on March 5, a sewer overflowed into her residence at 1446 Calhoun. The City’s insurance has denied the claim because there was no evidence The City had prior knowledge of a sewer issue in the area. The Abrams’ house was the only one affected on the line.

First reading passed to repeal adoption of the International Property Maintenance Code by civil authority and make the International Property Maintenance Code enforceable as a criminal offense so that the police department can enforce code violations.

First reading passed to change the zoning for the new development planned off of Hillbrook Lane. Zoning changes from R-10 residential to R-8 zoning. This change allows the lots to be 8,000 sq feet instead of 10,000 sq ft thus allowing 6 additional unit to be built.

Within 30-60 days, citizens should be able to pay their City utility bills with their Visa or Master Cards. The City will begin accepting credit cards online through a State of South Carolina secure website. The City will also set up pay stations at City Hall for those who want to pay by credit card and don’t have access to the internet at home. Visit www.cityofcayce.com for an example of how it will work when it goes in place in the next month or two.

Council approved first reading to add the President of Newberry College and the President of the Newberry Opera House Guild as ex-officio members of the NOH Foundation Board. The President of Newberry College has been serving since the first year, however, it had not been formalized.

Council authorized the selling and consumption of alcohol in Memorial Park for The Taste of Newberry. This event allows attendees to purchase samples of food from local restaurants and is scheduled for Friday, June 20.

 

School Board Work Session on May 12
(added 05/13/08)

Newberry County School Board held a work session Monday night (May 12) to discuss the 08/09 budget. This tough financial year finds the board searching for $620,000 to balance the $44.6 million budget. The current draft of the budget does include an increase of 4 mills in property tax funding but it does not cover cost of living contractual nor personnel increases.

The board discussed several options including:
* Using left over 07/08 contingency with fund balance to make the 08/09 budget whole
* Implementing changes at mid-year
* Reducing the number of JROTC instructors
* Selling property
* Reevaluating contracts before they come up for renewal
* Cutting slots available at the Infinity Alternative program
* Cutting teaching positions as they evaluate course offerings at each school

Chairman Don Saylor stated, “We can not afford to be everything to everybody at all three high schools.” He went on to mention that personnel expenses are 85% of the school budget.

No decisions were made Monday night. The board will take a look at student/teacher ratios in elementary, class offerings on the high school level, and other options presented by administration during their meeting next Monday (May 19) at the Learning Center.

 

County Council Work Session on May 8
(added 05/09/08)

Newberry County Council met last night (Thursday, May 8) and held a work session regarding the use of recreational vehicles in Newberry County. As currently written, the zoning code limits use or parking of recreational vehicles within residential districts to 24 hours unless stored in a building.

Last night, Council voted to go forward with creating a very restrictive RS-1A zoning district that would eliminate any use or parking of RVs. Subdivisions will be able to petition to be rezoned to this district.

Residents of a Lake Greenwood subdivision were on hand to continue to request that the county’s restrictive policies be enforced. This request coming in response to "abuses to their subdivision covenants." County Attorney Gary Pope stated that the individual in question and anyone who had an established use of their RV in an RS-1A district would be "grandfathered" as a non-conformed use until the property changes hands.

Councilman John David Dawkins, who represents the Lake Murray council district, stated that he had only received phone calls from individuals with RV who were questioning the 24 hour rule or storage requirements.

Dawkins requested that council go forward with revisions to the current policy for all other residential districts allowing for unrestricted parking or recreational use of RVs. RVs would still be required to have current tags, etc. and would still not be an option for permanent housing.

Second reading on establishing the restrictive RS-1A district and the loosing of the RV regulations in the other residential districts will be held at the next regular Council meeting on May 21at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

Newberry County Council will hold another work session next Wednesday at 7pm to further discuss the 08/09 budget.

County Council Meeting on May 7
(added 05/08/08)

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (May 7, 2008) and approved first reading of the 08/09 budget. The $22.2 million general obligation budget and $801,000 special education budget calls for 3.3 mills or a 2.4% increase over last year’s millage. One of the amendments approved with a split vote on first reading was adding $30,000 to pay for half of a 4-H agent in the Clemson Extension Office. The amendment increased the millage by three tenths of a mill over the administrator’s draft. Council member expressed hopes of finding alternate funding before final reading of the budget. Council postponed a vote on an amendment that would extend the manning of the EMS substation at Fairview from 12 to 24 hours a day. A budget work session will be held on May 14 at 4pm.

Third and final reading passed to rezone 1.69 acres where the Farm Bureau office sits from single family residential to general commercial. Second reading passed to allow the administrator to check off on surety bonds submitted in lieu of completion of subdivision improvements. Currently, County Council has to approve each one.

Council accepted the low bid from Willingham Landscape & Asphalt to extend N. Mill Street and pave a helicopter pad behind the Little Mountain Rescue/Fire Department. The County Transportation Committee will pay the $6995 for the road extension from gas tax funding. Council approved the transfer of $2995 from extra funds in the 07/08 EMS budget to pay for the helicopter pad.

Council also officially accepted a $2 million FAA Grant for the next phase in the runway construction at the airport. There is a 2 ½% local match for this funding to pave, mark, and light the new 4,000 ft runway and the connection to the current runway. The current runway will, of course, become the taxiway for the new runway.

County Council will meet again tonight (May 8) at 7pm for a work session on the recreational vehicle regulations in the county.

One Week Before AARP Senior Adults Driving Class
(added 05/06/08)

After many requests to repeat the driving class specifically designed to improve the driving skills of those age 50 and older, the Newberry County Sheriff's Office is sponsoring a driver safety program designed by AARP that is specifically geared toward drivers age 50 and above. This is the third offering of the class, which has received tremendous response each time it has been offered.

"The Newberry County Sheriff's Office is proud to be a sponsor of this event," said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. "We believe that this class serves as an excellent opportunity for citizen 50 and older to sharpen their driving abilities and learn skills that might even save their lives."

Foster said that the previous classes received rave reviews from the attendees and that this class offers citizens an opportunity to sharpen driving skills and make themselves safer as they operate a vehicle on the roads.

The class will be taught on Wednesday, May 14, 2008, from 8:00AM until 5:00PM at Piedmont Technical College located at 540 Wilson Road, Newberry, SC.

While there is no charge for the class, there is a $10.00 fee for materials.

In addition, the AARP is providing a wonderful opportunity for you to bring your friend, your spouse, your neighbor and your family members. During the month of May, AARP members and a friend can attend the AARP Driver Safety Program class room course together for just $10.00 - a 50% savings! To receive this special offer, The AARP member must just show their AARP membership card upon arrival on May 14.

To register for the class, you can call the Newberry County Sheriff's Office at (803) 321-2211 and ask for Sheriff Foster or Major Todd Johnson or e mail your request to lfoster@newberrycounty.net. Please provide your name, address, telephone number, and e mail address if you have one when you register for the class. Space is limited to the first 35 people so please register early.

Attendees may receive a reduction on their automobile insurance; however, the reduction amounts vary depending on the insurance company.

"The course offers more information about various safe driving strategies, including how to handle distractions, aggressive drivers and driving with trucks," says Jeff Jefcoat, who will be the instructor of the class. "The course also includes expanded and improved video presentations on a number of important driving topics."

To ensure 50+ drivers stay safe behind the wheel, the course's curriculum has been updated to reflect the most current driving information and safety tips available. The driver safety course is designed to educate participants about how best to reduce traffic violations, crashes, and chances for injuries; update driver's knowledge about relevant laws; and provide safe driving strategies to compensate for age-related changes that affect one's ability. The eight hour course, typically taught in two four-hour sessions, also stresses the importance of periodically monitoring one's own and other's driving skills and capabilities.

Updates to the edition 6 curriculum addresses such topics as:

- How overall fitness affects driving

- Important strategies for staying crash-free

- Challenges of city vs. rural driving

- Tips for highway driving and driving with trucks, buses, and other

large vehicles

- Understand a vehicle's safety features and new vehicle technology

- Tips for trying other transportation

- Warning signs of unsafe driving

Over the past 28 years, the AARP Driver Safety Program has provided instruction to more than 10 million participants seeking to refresh their driving skills. The course is taught throughout the U.S. by roughly 10,000 AARP - trained volunteers.

Older Americans Month Proclamation by President Bush
(added 05/06/08)

Tune in to The Coffee Hour on Monday, May 12, for Special Kickoff of
Older Americans Month!

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release, May 4, 2008

PROCLAMATION
By the President of the United States of America
Older American Month, 2008

During Older American Month, we recognize the many ways older citizens have enriched our Nation through their character, wisdom, and love.

Our country remains strong because of the foundation our elders have helped lay. This year’s Older American Month theme, “Working Together for Strong, Healthy, and Supportive Communities,” highlights the importance of building partnerships to ensure that older Americans are able to live with dignity and independence.

Every week thousands of older Americans give back to their communities by volunteering through groups like Senior Corps. From teaching young children how to read, to helping provide relief to those affected by natural disasters, seniors play an important and compassionate role in our Nation.

My Administration is dedicated to ensuring that our seniors are treated with the respect they have earned. They deserve to have choices and access to the best possible health care, so we have added new preventive care measures and prescription drug benefits as part of our effort to modernize Medicare and make medication more affordable. In this way and many others, our country honors our elders’ legacy and recognizes their countless contributions to our Nation.

America’s seniors provide an example for younger generations, and during Older Americans Month, we reflect on their efforts toward building a stronger and brighter future for all. Our country remains forever in their debt, as they have provided a guiding light for the rest of the Nation to follow.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2008 as Older American Month. I commend older Americans for the many contributions they have made and continue to make to our Nation. I also commend the Federal, State, local and tribal organizations, service and health care providers, caregivers, and volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to our seniors. I encourage all citizens to honor their elders, care for those in need, and reaffirm our country’s commitment to older Americans this month and throughout the year.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of April, in the year of our lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of American the two hundred and thirty-second.


GEORGE W. BUSH

Elderly Couple Missing Have Been Found
(added 05/03/08)


A statewide search was underway earlier for an elderly couple reported missing in Newberry.

James Clifton Leroy and Pauline Gossett Leroy (photos below) were reported missing after they had last been seen Friday afternoon at about 1:30PM. At that time, they had left from visiting family members in Newberry, and were headed back to their home in Central, SC.

The couple were found later in the day on Saturday (May 3) in Lexington, SC, and appear to be in good condition.

Stay tuned for more on this story.

Students Represent Newberry College at SCICU
Independent Higher Education Day

(added 05/02/08)

On April 16, four Newberry College students attended the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) Independent Higher Education Day at the Statehouse.

The students were selected from a list of Newbery College students who wrote letters during the Student Government Association’s Grassroots Letter Writing Campaign. The campaign is designed to thank respective South Carolina State and House representatives for the South Carolina Tuition Grant. The students who were chosen included Newberry College seniors Bethany Boller and Alex Haynes, junior Benjamin Brooks, and freshman Morgan Metz. The group visited the Statehouse and had the opportunity to meet and thank their hometown legislators who work on initiatives including the South Carolina Tuition Grant and Palmetto Fellows, LIFE and Hope scholarships.

“It was a great opportunity for our students to watch the South Carolina legislative process,” said Kay Thomas, interim dean of students at Newberry College. “For me personally, watching our students proudly represent Newberry College and interact with key legislators was the best part.”

The students, all South Carolina residents, joined students from independent colleges and universities across the state as they learned about the process of funding state-supported programs and scholarships. SCICU Day is one part of SCICU Week, which lasted from April 14 through 18.

County Council's Budget Work Session on 04/30/08
(added 05/01/08)

One of the items they tackled was an upgrade to Emergency Services Radio Communications. Travis Kinard of Kinard Control Systems stated that the concern brought to him was that if the emergency services radio caller doesn’t state which tower they are calling in on, dispatch has to guess what channel to respond on. He proposed two options to solve this problem. One is a simulcast where all three transmitters key up at the same time. This option would require new repeater radios. This option also includes a new simulcast repeater on the US Forestry tower in Chappells to help communication gaps in that area. The other option he proposed was one 500-foot tower in the center of the county with everyone on one channel. Both options are close to $650,000 (which is currently allocated for in the proposed 08/09 budget.) Council agreed to have administration go forward with a radio propagation study from a radio consulting company before making a final decision on the issue.

Clemson Extension came before council again this year requesting funding for a 4-H Agent. The staffing and program cost would be approximately $60,000. The Extension office is asking for half from the county. Councilman Bill Waldrop asked if there were any private partnerships that might be possible including Farm Bureau. Dr. Boyd Parr, Chairman of Newberry County Farm Bureau, stated that Farm Bureau only has the dues of members as revenue and could not promise funding. He stated that the Farm Bureau had lobbied Clemson hard for their commitment to the 4-H program and the ½ that is already funded. Chairman Henry Summer stated that they hoped the school district could pay for ½ of the county’s ½ or approximately $15,000. Superintendent Bennie Bennett, who had been asked to attend, promised to take the request back to the school board.

Another repeat request came from Newberry County Memorial Hospital (which manages the EMS system). They once again requested the expansion of services from 12 to 24 hours in the Southern Portion of Newberry County in the Fairview Substation. Bill Grigsby, Director of EMS, stated that call volume in the lower end of Newberry County had increased by 77% this past year with approximately 41% of calls coming after 8pm when the Fairview substation is unmanned. Lynn Beasley, NCMH’s CEO, stated that approximately 2 hours a night both of the EMS ambulances are both on calls and unavailable. He called this a “near dangerous situation.”

When asked about why EMS needs to be funded when the charges for ambulance rides are so expensive, hospital CFO Sheldon Bontreger stated that the hospital collects only about 50% of what is billed due to indegent and medicare and medicad reimbursement policies,etc. The subsidy from the county is less than half of what is actually required to run the EMS services. This past year the county provided $791,048 of the $1.7 million in total cost for providing EMS services.

Councilman Buddy Livingston challenged the placement of the substation when it is just as far to Peak from Fairview as it is from Newberry. Councilman Bill Waldrop questioned the amount of growth that is actually being seen in the lower end of the county. The point was made that rescue squads are available to back up EMS at night. Mr. Beasley stated that EMS is first responder for 88% of all calls.

The increase from 12 to 24 hour EMS service at the Fairview Substation would cost an additional $209,917 for a total of $900, 422 in county EMS operational subsidy. Capital expenses call for 4 new ambulances this year for a total ambulance lease-purchase (including last year’s lease purchase agreement) of $213,000. $37,500 would be EMS portion of the new radio system mentioned before. $20,000 would allow EMS to lease purchase four 12-lead EKGs, which are the new standard in care and allow for better triage in the field. (Council approved the use of $100,000 left in the 07/08 budget to go ahead and purchase three 12-lead EKGs.) If approved, the total EMS 08/09 budget would now be almost $1.2 million or a 29.2% increase over last year and would commit the county to an average of 8% increases over the next 7 years.


Council agreed to fund their half of the maintenance of I-26 Main St. Interchange or about $18,000. Council will also contribute inmate labor to spreading of mulch saving approximately $30,000. This savings plus savings in workers comp insurance will go towards funding projected increases in fuel cost. A proposed 10% increase in fuel cost and other fuel adjustments will cost the county approximately $52,000.

Newberry County Council’s next regular meeting will be held on May 7 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex, at which time they will hold first reading of the 08/09 budget. Another budget work session has been scheduled for May 14 at 7pm.

Newberry College Professor Receives SCICU
Excellence in Teaching Award
(added 05/01/08)

At the annual banquet of the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, Dr. Jesse L. Scott, professor of history at Newberry College, was among those who received the coveted SCICU Excellence in Teaching Award.

Along with a certificate recognizing his selection, the award carries with it a $3000 stipend to be used to fund faculty development study and travel.

“Receiving the 2008 South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Excellence in Teaching Award is quite an honor,” said Scott. “It makes me most proud to represent our Newberry College community.”

Scott earned a Ph.D. in history at the University of South Carolina in 1985, and joined the Newberry College faculty in 1985-1986. A specialist in French Revolutionary/Napoleonic Studies and Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, Scott was promoted to full professor of history in 2001. “Founding” director of the Summerland Honors Program at Newberry College (1995-2003) and Faculty Marshal, Scott, a member of a number of professional organizations including the South Carolina Historical Association, the Southern Historical Association and the Consortium on Revolutionary Europe, 1750-1850, has been active in teaching and publishing for almost 25 years.

In 1989-1990, he received at Newberry College the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award. The Newberry College Student Government Association selected him the 2003-2004 Professor of the Year, and in 2005 also named him a Newberry College Good Citizen. At commencement ceremonies in 2006, the graduating class awarded him the prestigious Dr. L. Grady Cooper Award.

Scott has served since 2005 as the selected faculty mentor to the Newberry College men’s basketball team. He has continued to remain invested in the lives of Newberry College students inside and outside of the classroom. Beyond the campus community, hehas most recently dedicated his time and energy to serving as a member of the Board of Directors for The Darfur Action Group of South Carolina.

“Jesse Scott is the quintessential college professor,” said Dr. Wayne Kannaday, interim vice-president for academic affairs. “A true campus character—marked by his signature bow-tie, his charisma in the classroom, his passion for inspiring those who share with him his study of history to embrace the need for peace and justice, and his genuine deep devotion to his students.”

Pictured L-R: Michael Brenan, president of BB&T of South Carolina and chairman of SCICU Board of Trustees, Dr. Jesse Scott, professor of history at Newberry College, and Dr. Mitchell Zais, president of Newberry College.

Roseboro Lodge 195 is Outstanding 2007 Adopt-A-Highway
Group of the Year For Newberry County
(added 04/30/08)

Columbia – The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) named the Roseboro Lodge 195 2007 Adopt-A-Highway Group of the Year for Newberry County.

SCDOT presented the award to the group at the Adopt-A-Highway 20th Anniversary Celebration & Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 10, 2008 at Seawell’s in Columbia. The annual event is hosted by SCDOT to recognize the volunteer-citizen groups, coordinators and SCDOT employees for their participation in the Adopt-A-Highway program.

To commemorate the 20th Anniversary Celebration and to say thank you to the AAH volunteers SCDOT has partnered with the South Carolina Alliance To Fix Our Roads to offered two one time scholarships at this year’s program. Two High School seniors who are accepted to attend College in SC this fall and have participated or whose family is involved with the Adopt-A-Highway Program wrote a 500 word essay entitled “The Benefits of the Adopt-A-Highway Program to South Carolina and the Environment.” Loresa Starks, Calhoun County & Josiah Roupe, Lexington County were presented scholarship awards at the ceremony.

CMC Steel South Carolina, Cayce, SC, FUJI FILM Manufacturing U.S.A., Inc., Greenwood, SC, Gentry’s Poultry Co., Inc., Ward, SC, Nucor Steel, Darlington, SC Palmetto Pride, Columbia, SC and Milliken & Company, Spartanburg, SC helped sponsor the event.

Pictured: SCDOT Commission Chairman F. Hugh Atkins, SCDOT Commissioner Sarah Nuckles and SCDOT Deputy Secretary For Finance and Administration Debra Rountree present the Roseboro Lodge 195 Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) Group with the award for 2007 Outstanding AAH Group of the Year for Newberry County. From left are: Atkins, Nuckles, Rountree and AAH group members Steve Eison, Eric Brock and SCDOT District 2 Engineering Administrator Phillip Brooks. (Photo by Rob Thompson/SCDOT)


School Board Meeting on April 28
(added 04/29/08)

Bid Awarded for Pomaria Garmany

The School Board of Newberry County met last night (April 28) and awarded the bid for the construction of Pomaria Garmany to Edcon, Inc. The Board approved the base bid plus alternate 1, 2, and 4 for a total of almost $11.9 million. In 2007, requirements from the State Office of School Facilities were upgraded to include a required science lab in the elementary level and additional space in rooms such as the media center. In updating the plan to include those new requirements, three classrooms, a computer lab, and a teacher workroom (that were originally in the scope of the building design) were pushed into alternates. These alternates were approved along with DOT’s required road widening. The $11.9 million bid price does not include the land purchase nor the extensive septic system cost for this project - more about that on the May school district coffee hour.

Susan Dowd, CFO for the District, gave a brief 08/09 budget outlook. At this point, the base student cost is estimated at $2578. The weighted pupil unit based on this year’s student census is $7359. And, the index of taxpaying ability is up to .00646. These calculations affect the EIA and EFA state funding. For example, the index of taxpaying ability is up due to reassessment thus decreasing the EFA dollars by $122,000.

Last year’s new state legislation caps millage increases to consumer price index plus a growth factor, which for this year equals 3.4%. The school district was already under a 4 mill local autonomy cap. They will have to abide by which ever is the strictest, which for this is estimated at the 4 mills. In the past, the district was also able to increase millage by a maintenance of local effort inflation.This is not available for this year. New dollars from the state are only estimated at $641,000 despite annual increases of almost $2 million: $1.2 million in state required salary increases; $500,000 to give a similar step to other employees; a $300,000 insurance increase; required activity bus inspection and repairs, a minimum wage increase, and inflation factors in the district’s contracts such as custodial and Infinity school.

The school board will hold a work session regarding the budget in May – currently scheduled for May 12. Stay tuned for any updates.

Their next regular meeting will be held on May 19 where they will hold first reading of the budget and take a vote on a proposal that would hold all three graduations on the same day in ’09: one in the morning, one mid-afternoon, and one in the evening with the assignments rotating between the schools. The district would like to hear from you about this option.
E-mail Hugh Gray at hgray@newberry.k12.sc.us.

Sheriff Foster Recovering from Back Surgery
(added 04/28/08)

A previous in the line of duty injury has caused Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster to undergo unexpected back surgery.

Sheriff Foster underwent surgery on his back at Lexington Medical Center on Friday. The surgery, which seems very successful, was performed by Dr. William Rambo of Columbia Neurological Associates. The surgery on Foster’s back to relieve intense pain the Sheriff was enduring. Sheriff Foster is recovering and recuperating after the surgery and is expected to return to a full slate of duties soon.

Sheriff Foster continues to maintain radio, e mail, and telephone contact with the office, and despite his injury continues to be the driving force behind the nationally acclaimed Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.

Foster was originally injured on June 29, 2007, when he was participating in a tactical operation involving a suicidal suspect. The injury was intensified the next day during a multi-county high speed chase that involved a suspect firing a weapon at law enforcement officers and citizens as he fled.

Sheriff Foster began having severe symptoms over the past several weeks. The previous injury was worsened by several recent critical incidents including the rescue and recovery effort as a result of the tornado, working to investigate the tragic death of a USC student on the railroad in the Little Mountain area of Newberry County, and assisting with CPR on a heart attack victim.

Sheriff Foster said that he was deeply grateful to his family, to the men and women of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, who he called his extended family, and to the many people who have stopped by his home, called, and sent cards, flowers, and other goodies to assist in his recovery. Foster said that it was such a blessing to see an outpouring of love from so many people.

Sheriff Foster also expressed his gratitude and appreciation to Dr. William Rambo and staff of the Columbia Neurological Associates and the staff of Lexington Medical Center for the excellent care and the above and beyond attitude they exhibited. He also commends the efforts of Companion Property and Casualty Group for their excellent efforts in arranging proper care.

Governor Sanford to Deliver Commencement Address at
Newberry College
(added 04/26/08)

Newberry College announced on Friday that Governor Mark Sanford will be the commencement speaker for Newberry College’s spring graduation ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3, in Eleazer Arena on the College campus.

In 2002, Governor Sanford was elected as South Carolina’s 115th governor. He was re-elected in 2006, becoming the third two-term governor in modern state history.

Prior to being elected governor in 2002, Governor Sanford lived on the South Carolina coast with his wife, Jenny, and their four sons, Marshall, Landon, Bolton and Blake. Governor Sanford served six years in the U.S. Congress prior to his election as governor.

During the commencement ceremony, approximately 100 students from across the nation and three countries will receive their diplomas.

Newberry College’s May Commencement is open to the public.

Newberry Raises Over $52,000 for March for Babies 2008
(added 04/23/08)

Newberry residents joined together at the Town Square on Saturday, April 19 to raise more than $52,000 for March of Dimes March for Babies.

“I am proud that Newberry residents joined together to support the health of babies,” said Jimmie Coggins, 2008 March for Babies Emcee. “The efforts made and money raised by the people of Newberry this year will help the March of Dimes continue working so that one day every baby will have a healthy start in life and every family will know the joy of having a healthy baby.”

Premature birth touches half a million babies and their families every year including 168 babies in an average week in South Carolina Babies born too soon are more likely to die or have disabilities. More than 120,000 babies are born with serious birth defects that can mean a lifetime of disability. The March of Dimes is working for these babies and for healthy babies—advocating for newborn screening and access to healthcare.

Funds raised by Newberry’s March for Babies event support research, and grants that will be awarded to programs that improve infant and maternal health in South Carolina.

On Saturday morning the event started at the Town Square with opening ceremonies led by Jimmie Coggins of WKDK radio. Members of the Curves Team led warm up exercises for the crowd. After the 4-mile route through the heart of downtown Newberry, participants returned for refreshments provided by Food Lion on Kendall Road and by Dominoes Pizza of Prosperity. Children were entertained by Storytellers Sue and Henry Summer.

Awards went to:

McKechnie Vehicle Components for Top Fundraising Team in the Employers with Less than 500 Employees category. McKechnie Vehicle Components raised $2,106.50. Team Captain Lisa Sligh accepted the award.

Louis Rich was the number one team in the Employers with More than 500 Employees category. To date Louis Rich has raised more than $13,500. The team has several more March of Dimes fundraising activities planned in the coming months. The top individual fundraisers were also from the Louis Rich team, but final totals will not be available until their campaign is completed. Wanda Shealey accepted the team’s fundraising award, and LaFaith Lane-Pitts received Team Captain of the Year Award.

Top School Honors went to Newberry Academy, led by Laurie Suber. The team raised $2,129. Marina Miller of Newberry Academy was the top youth fundraiser for the event. Marina raised $1,105.20. Reuben Elementary School, led by Candice Lominick, received the Second Place School honors. The team raised $989.

Event Sponsors include Louis Rich, Kiswire, Newberry County Memorial Hospital, and Dr. William Edwards, Food Lion on Kendall Road, Dominoes Pizza of Prosperity, and WKDK radio.

South Carolina Multi-site Sponsors: Wachovia, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Carolina First Bank, Founders Federal Credit Union.

Last year, the South Carolina March of Dimes invested more than $4.2 million in program services, including research grants and local community services. Through these grants, the March of Dimes is seeking ways to prevent birth defects and infant death, reduce South Carolina’s increasing premature birth rate, increase access to prenatal care and educate men and women about having healthy babies.

In 2008, national March for Babies sponsors are CIGNA, Continental Airlines, Famous Footwear, Farmers, FedEx, Grain Foods Foundation, Liberty Tax Services, nesting.com, and Kmart, the March of Dimes number one corporate partner which has raised more than $63 million for babies. Additional national sponsorship is provided by Discovery Health, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Outdoor Services and Ther-Rx.

Sheriff and AARP to Offer Senior Driving Class with
"Bring a Friend" Incentive

(added 04/18/08)

After many requests to repeat the driving class specifically designed to improve the driving skills of those age 50 and older, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is sponsoring a driver safety program designed by AARP that is specifically geared toward drivers age 50 and above. This is another offering of the class, which has received tremendous response each time it has been offered.

“The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is proud to be a sponsor of this event,” said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. “We believe that this class serves as an excellent opportunity for citizen 50 and older to sharpen their driving abilities and learn skills that might even save their lives.”

Foster said that the previous classes received rave reviews from the attendees and that this class offers citizens an opportunity to sharpen driving skills and make themselves safer as they operate a vehicle on the roads.

The class will be taught on Wednesday, May 14, 2008, from 8:00AM until 5:00PM at Piedmont Technical College located at 540 Wilson Road, Newberry, SC.

While there is no charge for the class, there is a $10.00 fee for materials. In addition, the AARP is providing a wonderful opportunity for you to bring your friend, your spouse, your neighbor and your family members. During the month of May, AARP members and a friend can attend the AARP Driver Safety Program class room course together for just $10.00 – a 50% savings! To receive this special offer, The AARP member must just show their AARP membership card upon arrival on May 14.

To register for the class, you can call the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2211 and ask for Sheriff Foster or Major Todd Johnson or
e-mail your request to lfoster@newberrycounty.net. Please provide your name, address, telephone number, and e mail address if you have one when you register for the class. Space is limited to the first 35 people so please register early.

Attendees may receive a reduction on their automobile insurance; however, the reduction amounts vary depending on the insurance company.

“The course offers more information about various safe driving strategies, including how to handle distractions, aggressive drivers and driving with trucks,” says Jeff Jefcoat, who will be the instructor of the class. “The course also includes expanded and improved video presentations on a number of important driving topics.”

To ensure 50+ drivers stay safe behind the wheel, the course’s curriculum has been updated to reflect the most current driving information and safety tips available. The driver safety course is designed to educate participants about how best to reduce traffic violations, crashes, and chances for injuries; update driver’s knowledge about relevant laws; and provide safe driving strategies to compensate for age-related changes that affect one’s ability. The eight hour course, typically taught in two four-hour sessions, also stresses the importance of periodically monitoring one’s own and other’s driving skills and capabilities.

Updates to the edition 6 curriculum addresses such topics as:

- How overall fitness affects driving

- Important strategies for staying crash-free

- Challenges of city vs. rural driving

- Tips for highway driving and driving with trucks, buses, and other large vehicles

- Understand a vehicle’s safety features and new vehicle technology

- Tips for trying other transportation

- Warning signs of unsafe driving

Over the past 28 years, the AARP Driver Safety Program has provided instruction to more than 10 million participants seeking to refresh their driving skills. The course is taught throughout the U.S. by roughly 10,000 AARP – trained volunteers.

Prosperity Adult-Care Facility Owner Charged in Death of Resident
(added 04/17/08)

UPDATE: Roy Bowers has been arrested by Newberry County officials, charged with neglect. Stay tuned for more information on WKDK and WKDK.com. (see more below)

WKDK continues to follow the story of Roy Bowers, owner of Southside Residential Care in Prosperity, and his charge in the death of resident William Seeley. Newberry County Coroner Tommy Hedgepath has confirmed that Seeley, 59, died April 11 at Newberry County Memorial Hospital of septic shock and pneumonia. Stay tuned for more information on WKDK and WKDK.com.


Tornado Relief Concert and Bake Sale
(added 04/12/08)

The Mid-Carolina Ministerial Association is sponsoring a Tornado Relief Benefit Concert and Bake Sale Sunday, April 13, 7:00 p.m. The event is hosted by Grace Lutheran Church, located in Prosperity at the corner of US 76 and Grace Street, across from First Community Bank.

An evening of entertainment consists of performances by Newberry Community Choir plus men’s/women’s ensembles! Roses of Sharon, Revelation Four, Grace Christian preschool.

A love offering will be taken with funds matched by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Funds received will be donated to assist the families that suffered losses and property damages during the recent tornado. Several victims were not insured for their losses.

Also included in the evening occasion is a bake sale featuring varieties of home-cooked cakes, pies, cookies and delicacies.

For more information, call 364-3331.

City Council Meeting on April 8
(added 04/09/08)

Newberry City Council met Tuesday night (April 8) and heard an update on the rehabilitation and expansion of the wastewater treatment plant from Utility Director Fred Yandle. The $17 million project is broken down in two phases. The first phase is rehabilitation, which will be paid for primarily with $2.5 million in penny sales tax funding. This has already begun with the completion estimated for October. Phase two will be the expansion of the wastewater plant to handle more capacity. The expansion will take place over the next 3 to 4 years and could cause the City to borrow up to $14 million. They are estimating that the payment for the bonds would be $1million a year for 20 years and could cause a total of 15% increase in fees for customers. Both federal appropriation and an economic development grant are pending for a portion of the funding.

Council approved first reading of an ordinance and descriptive statement for the planned development on Harrington St. behind the school district office. The change allows for a slight increase from 50 to 55% in lot coverage ratios.

Council passed a resolution naming April Fair Housing Month. They also honored Gene Shealy for 5 years with the Fire Department and Eddie Stuck for 30 years with the Utility Department.

Council extended the audit contract with McKinley, Cooper, and Co to extend four years thus allowing for a transition through Finance Director Marie Hickman’s planned retirement in 2011.

Newberry City Council will meet again next Tuesday (April 15) at 6pm in City Hall for a work session on several policy issues which will affect the 08/09 budget – one being the addition of six fire fighters. These positions will at first be paid for with federal grant dollars but will then be picked up by The City in a few years. Council will also receive a National Incident Command briefing at the work session.


Confirmed Tornado in Newberry County
(added 04/05/08)

The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado touched down in Newberry County on Friday evening at 8:46 p.m. in Whitmire.

It was confirmed as an EF 0 tornado that damaged a mobile home and threw trees on a house on Jalapa Road.

Trees were down along I-26 and secondary roads from some other touchdowns.

Tune in to WKDK AM 1240 on Monday morning for more information.

 

RV Restrictions Discussed at Newberry County Council
(added 04/03/08)

Current Newberry County zoning code prohibits any extended RV use or parking in any zoning district. The increase in requests for variances prompted the planning commission to look at a loosening of this prohibition in the less restrictive zoning districts. Several residents off of Lake Greenwood requested at a previous meeting that the zoning stay strictly prohibitive, at least in their area. Council then proposed creating an RS-1A zoning district, which would be the strictest residential district with regulations such as a prohibition on RVs.

The county attorney drafted an ordinance creating the new zoning district and presented a copy to council and concerned citizens for review before a special County Council work session is held on the issue. Council postponed a final vote until after this work session, but did take public comments on the issue at Wednesday (April 2) night’s council meeting.

Mr. Keith Sperry owns two lots and his father owns one lot on Lake Greenwood at Windmill Landing. Since buying the property in 1995, they have both used their property as a vacation spot to park their RVs. After describing and documenting the licenses, permits, etc. he had acquired in order to park his RV on the property Mr. Sperry stated, “We have done everything that Newberry County has asked us to be legal. We are hard pressed to understand where we stand. In my eyes, I’m grandfathered in.” Mr. Sperry’s attorney asked what the county was prepared to offer in exchange for taking the property right from his client.

Mr. Harry Griser stated that despite the ongoing discussion about whether or not the Sperry’s had violated the subdivision’s covenants, the real issue was county policy. He argued that residents of the area had bought property and built homes with the understanding that they were in a community that prohibited RV usage.

Ms. Dianne Dillingham also appeared before council last night and requested that they proclaim April 27-May 3 National Safe Kids Week. Stay tuned for more info about local upcoming Safe Kids Events.

Council approved final reading of an ordinance rezoning 2 and 5/10 acres on Macedonia Rd from Rural R-2 to Limited Commercial. Final reading also passed to rezone two tracts containing over four acres total from residential to general commercial. This is a portion of Bill White’s trailer park on Hwy 34. First reading passed to amend the zoning on two tracts at the Farm Bureau Insurance Agency from RS-3 Single Family Residential to General Commercial.

A fee-in-lieu of tax agreement for “Project Sun” was postponed until more details can be worked out. No details have been released at this time.

Newberry County Council’s next regular meeting will be April 16 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex. However, the county council road subcommittee plans to meet at 3pm today (April 3) at the Annex.


Candidates Filing for County Offices
(added 04/01/08)

Sunday, March 30 was the deadline to final for county offices. The following candidates have filed:

County Council District 1
Democrat Ellic W. Prince
Republican Edgar Baker (incumbent)

County Council District 2
Democrat - John David Dawkins (incumbent)
Republican - Steve M. Stockman & John Hunter

County Council District 4
Democrat – Mike Hawkins (incumbent), Wyman Cook, & Kirksey Koon Republican – Kenneth Sanders & Todd Morris

County Council District 5
Democrat Henry Summer (incumbent)
Republican – Les Hipp

Auditor
Democrat – Donna Lominack
Republican – Nancy Harvey

Treasurer
Democrat – Karen Lindler
Republican – Benji Chapman & Jackie Haltiwanger

Clerk of Court
Democrat - Jackie Bowers (incumbent) – no opposition

Chief Deputy Coronor
Republican - Tommy Hedgepath – no opposition

Sheriff
Democrat – Lee Foster (incumbent) – no opposition

State House District 40
Democrat – Walt McLeod (incumbent) – no opposition

State House District 15
Republican – Jeff Duncan (incumbent) – no opposition

SC Senate District 18
Democrat – Michael Ray Ellisor
Republican – Ronnie Cromer (incumbent)

For those with opposition within their party, a primary will be held on
June 10. The general election will, of course, be held on November 4.


More on Heath Benedict Story
Source: Newberry College Indians website

Newberry College Standout Heath Benedict Found Dead
(added 03/27/08)

Former Newberry College football player, Heath Benedict, was found dead Wednesday night in his apartment in Jacksonville, Florida. Heath, and offensive tackle at Newberry, had been training for the National Football League draft.

According to sources, local police in Jacksonville do not suspect drugs, alcohol or foul play in his death.

Coach Zak Willis is scheduled to meet with Athletics Director, Andrew Carter, and other administration members, and release
a statement later today.

See more information from wltx.com (WLTX-TV 19)

Heath Benedict Interview/Video of NFL Combine (February 2008)
Source: Newberry Indians website: newberryindians.athleticsite.com

Photo courtesy of The State newspaper.


College Student Killed in Train Accident on Wednesday

(added 03/26/08)

In what is being called a terrible tragedy, authorities in Newberry County have released the details in the death of a man found on the train tracks between Little Mountain and Prosperity this morning.

The investigation into the case has revealed that the victim and three of his friends decided to jump onto a train at about 5:30AM this morning near the Greek Village located on the University of South Carolina campus. The four men, all of whom were USC students, were going to ride the train as a prank. All four were holding to the train in close proximity to each other.

After the train passed through the campus area, it began to increase speed. As it did, it became more difficult to hold onto the train and began to get much colder; however, because of the increased speed of the train the men could not get off of the train.

The other three men stated that at some point they looked back and realized that the victim was no longer holding to the train. When they arrived in the City of Clinton, they called friends to come pick them up and started riding along the train tracks looking for the victim. They could not locate him.

The body of the man was discovered when another train approached the scene and saw something on the tracks. They began to slow their train, and when they realized it was a body the immediately stopped the train. It does not appear that the second train struck the victim.

Authorities say that all indications are that the victim fell from the train and was then struck by the railroad car killing him immediately. The train that was involved has been located and had no knowledge that the victim or the other men were on the train or that one had fallen from the train.

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office has identified the victim as Robert Chase Campbell, 20, of 512 Hunters Lane, Anderson, SC. He was a student at the University of South Carolina and a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity.

It appears that the victim traveled about 35 miles holding onto to the train before falling to his death. It appears the other men were on the train for about 65 miles before they were able to get off the train when it slowed going into the City of Clinton.

 

Sheriff's Office Investigating Train Accident
(added 03/26/08)

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and State Law Enforcement Division are investigating a tragic death in Newberry County.

Sheriff Lee Foster says that at 9:51AM this morning, the Newberry County 911 center received a call from the engineer of a CSX train that there was body on the railroad tracks.

Officers responded and confirmed that they indeed had a fatality of a single person on the railroad tracks located approximately .2 mile from Mid Carolina High School on Highway 76 between the towns of Prosperity and Little Mountain. There was no vehicle involved in the accident-just the train and apparent pedestrian.

Officers were still on the scene this afternoon (Wednesday).

Sheriff Foster said that the investigation is ongoing into the details of the incident, and that more details will be released at a later.

Police will not identify the victim pending confirmation of the identity and notification of family members.

More details will be announced as they become available.

 

Governor Sanford Asking For Bush to Declare Counties as
Disaster Areas
(added 03/25/08)

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is asking President Bush to declare nine South Carolina counties as disaster areas: Aiken, Allendale, Berkeley, Edgefield, Florence, Kershaw, Newberry, Williamsburg and Orangeburg.

This request was sent after FEMA toured the storm damage in South Carolina last week.

Governor Sanford says that "the affected counties are in rural, low-income areas with high unemployment rates, making recovery efforts more difficult."

He says that, out of these nine counties, six of them fall below the state's average median household income level, and about 200 households likely qualify for federal loans.

President Bush will need to make the decision, and if he agrees with Sanford, it could mean several forms of federal disaster aid for South Carolina.

Much of the possible federal help might come in the form of small business loans, unemployment assistance and crisis counseling.

It is estimated that the March 15 tornadoes caused more than $40 million worth of damage.

The National Weather Service confirmed at least 15 tornadoes.

 

More Arrests in Ongoing Drug Investigation
(added 03/25/08)

The second phase of an ongoing narcotics investigation has been completed in Newberry County.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster says that officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and the State Law Enforcement Division charged 5 people with Attempting to Purchase a Controlled Substance.

Sheriff Foster said that the arrests were a result of the ongoing investigation into the use and sell of illegal drugs throughout the county.

The investigation, which has been an ongoing investigation for some time, netted 17 arrests during a March 4th round up. These arrests, which authorities call phase 2, added an additional 5 arrests.

All those arrested were charged on March 13th, however, Foster said that law enforcement delayed releasing the information to protect the integrity of the investigation, which according to him is expected to be lengthy and include many more arrests.

“We want the public to be assured that we understand that the war against illegal drugs will only be won through a sustained effort at all levels,” said Foster. “These arrests and others that will come in the future should leave no doubt that if you chose to sale or use illegal drugs, there is a substantial likelihood that you will be caught and prosecuted in Newberry County.”

Foster identified those arrested as:

Regina Marie Boland, 30, of 1841 Mill Road, Little Mountain, SC.

Willie Destry Harris, 31, of 1160 Pettus Lane, Newberry, SC

Kathy Montoya Medina, 53, of 158 Cold Harbor Drive, Saluda, SC.

Joshua Monroe Riser, 24, of 1935 Drayton Street Apartment 214, Newberry, SC.

Jeffery Boyd Teseniar, 46, of 252 Adam Tesenair Road, Newberry, SC.

All of the suspects were charged with Attempt to Purchase a Controlled Substance and were released on bond pending trial.

Sheriff Foster declined to discuss any specifics related to these arrests stating, “This portion of the investigation will lead us to the next series of arrests, and it is imperative that they we not reveal the specifics on the investigation. However, we made the determination to release this information so that the public can be assured that on investigation into the use and sale of illegal drugs in ongoing!”

Sheriff Foster said that more arrests are expected in the investigation. He would not say when or how many more arrests are expected.

 

County Council Meeting on March 19
(added 03/20/08)

Arguments from citizens, mayors of both Pomaria and Little Mountain, and Rep. Walt McLeod persuaded the Newberry County Council to take a unanimous vote denouncing any negotiations with Eagle Container, the LLC that has proposed a landfill off Hwy 202. The motion instructed former County Attorney Hardwick Stuart, who is handling the case, to follow the case through the State Supreme Court without negotiation.


Despite the county having an ordinance that prohibits companies who are in a lawsuit from bidding on county projects, council approved the lowest bid of $1.877 million from Eagle Construction for the airport paving, marking and lighting of the new runway. County Attorney Gary Pope stated that Eagle Construction is legally a different company than Eagle Container even though Jeff Spotts owns interest in both. Pope cautioned that not accepting the low bid would open the county up to a lawsuit. Since the Federal Aviation Administration will pay for 95% of the project (with the state and the county only paying 2 1/2% each), the FAA’s bidding regulations (which stipulate that the lowest bid meeting specified requirements must receive the bid) were followed. After some voicing of concern, council voting to award the bid to Eagle Construction.


Responding to requests from Lake Greenwood residents, council voted to amend an ordinance that would loosen the absolute restriction on recreational vehicles before passing first reading. The amendment that was approved called for the ban of recreational vehicles to remain in place in RS1 (the most restrictive residential zoning.)


Council approved final reading of an ordinance to provide for the issuance of $1.3 million in general obligation bonds and general obligation bond anticipation notes. These funds will cash flow the library construction until the land is sold by the benefactor who was willing to give $1.3 million but would like to give it from the sale of property.


Council postponed final reading to rezone 30/100 of an acre on the eastern side of Wilson Rd at Whitener Rd from RS-3 single family residential to GC general commercial. They approved, however, second reading of an ordinance rezoning 2 and 5/10 acres on Macedonia Rd from Rural R-2 to Limited Commercial. Second reading also passed to rezone two tracts containing over four acres total from residential to general commercial. This is a portion of Bill White’s trailer park on Hwy 34.


Third and final reading passed to accept Frandena Court into the County Road system. The road does not currently meet county road standards but did when a verbal agreement was made to bring the road into the county road system according to councilman John David Dawkins.


Council approved the transfer of a surplus county back-hoe to Piedmont Technical College for use in Piedmont’s building construction program.


Newberry County Council will meet again on April 2 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex. A planning retreat is scheduled for April 19-20.

 

Consumer Affairs Issues Warning on Tornado Damage and
Home Repairs

(added 03/19/08)

Columbia, SC…..When tornadoes, high winds and other natural disasters bring destruction, con artists sometimes follow close behind. The recent tornadoes in so many areas of the state have overwhelmed homeowners and other South Carolina consumers who are emotionally vulnerable and ideal victims for someone who’s less than honest. Swindlers may arrive at your door, ready to take your money, but take your time and know what you’re doing. The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs has tips for avoiding fraud and price-gouging following events of nature.

If your home has been damaged, take reasonable precautions to guard against further damage. For example, if your roof is damaged, cover it with a tarp to keep the rain out and prevent more damage to insulation, drywall or other household items.

Keep records and receipts of your expenses: your insurance company may reimburse you. If you are a renter, check with your landlord for insurance questions.

Be careful who you deal with. Remember that “disaster vultures” may descend after a disaster.

“Homeowners should be aware of fraudulent repair people who come to their door offering to make home repairs and home improvements,” said SCDCA Administrator Brandolyn Thomas Pinkston. “These phony repair people make a direct approach, quickly noting some supposedly fundamental flaw in the house that they say must be repaired immediately. They specialize in roofing and siding, painting and insulation, furnace repair, landscaping, wet basements and driveway paving and re-paving.” She added that some con artists sweeten the deal by telling people that they have materials left over from another job that they just finished and are available at a ridiculously low price.”

The Department of Consumer Affairs recommends that consumers:
• Make sure that contractors they’re considering hiring are licensed and bonded.
• Get more than one bid.
• Ask for referrals from family and friends, their Realtor and insurance company.
• Make sure the contract is in writing and states exactly what work is to be performed, when it will be completed, and the full cost of the repairs.
• Don’t agree to anything until you have approval from your insurance adjuster.

For more information, contact the Public Information Division at 803.734.4190, toll free in SC at 1.800.922.1594, or online at www.scconsumer.gov.

Bledsoe Takes Seat on School Board
(added 03/18/08)

Ike Bledsoe was sworn in last night (Monday, Feb 17) as the Whitmire
area representative on the Newberry County School Board. He was able to take the seat previously occupied by Dr. John Roche without an
election because he was the only person to sign up for the seat.

The Education Accountability Act passed by the State Legislature in
1998 calls for all schools that have rated below average or
unsatisfactory on their school report card in either their absolute
or their improvement rating to review and revise their school
improvement plans. All schools fit the category (except for
Mid-Carolina High School) and presented their updates to the board.

Kraft Foods (parent company to Louis Rich) provided a grant to the
School District for $55,000 or the equivalent of the salary and
fringe of an ESOL (English as a Second Language) teacher. The
donation was made in response to a request from the district. It was
stated that the number of English language learners within the school
district has increased from 8 to 413 since 1996.

The board approved first reading of changes to policies including the
sick leave policy. The new version better defines "catastrophic
illness or accident," includes the privacy verbiage from HIPPA law,
changed the eligibility requirement to 7 days, streamlines the
procedures, and changes the open enrollment dates. In the support
staff vacations policy, the mention of 240 day employees has been
changed to year-round employees to reflect those who work more than 240 days. Another policy change strengthens the language regarding
staff conduct with students to specifically prohibit dating and
sexual advances of any kind regardless of a student's age or their
consent. And, the final policy change that passed first reading was a
change in the procedure for screening volunteers including volunteer
coaches. All volunteers must fill out a form and be screened by a
background check.

James Caldwell, who is over student services, briefed the board on a
new Alert Now automatic calling system that has the capacity to
deliver by phone an emergency message to all parents, faculty and
staff within 5 minutes. A 411 message will denote an emergency and
the school's number will denote a non-emergency message. Groups can be created so that a specific school can send out information on an
open house or a coach can let parents of a ball team know that the
team will be returning later than expected. The district plans to
test the system on April 3. The program will cost $1 per student for
the remaining of this fiscal year. If renewed in July, the yearly
contract is for $3 per student or approximately $17,000 a year.

The School Board will host the governmental association meeting on
March 31 at 7pm in the Learning Center. They will also meet on April
14 at 6:30 for their first budget work session.

 

Newberry County Cleanup Continues
(added 03/17/08)

The cleanup operation in Newberry County continues this morning according to authorities with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Lee Foster said that South Carolina Highway 391 will remain closed except to local traffic while the massive task of clearing and removing trees and repairing damaged homes begins.

Sheriff Foster said that the outpouring of support to the community has been simply incredible to watch.

Foster said that he would especially like commend Bethel Baptist Church in cooperation with the South Carolina Southern Baptist Convention, as well as Zion and Wightman United Methodist Churches in cooperation with the United Methodist Conference Disaster Relief effort. These organizations have proved invaluable to the cleanup effort by responding quickly with much needed assistance.

Foster also said that many private citizens had also responded to the area. He said that the brought backhoes, track hoes, and skid steers into the area to assist with the cleanup at their own expense and effort. As Sheriff Foster commented, this would be a great sacrifice at any time, but to do so when fuel costs are so high shows the type of effort that these people are willing to put forward.

The Newberry County Assessor’s Office is moving through the area identifying those homes that are damaged and assessing the amount of that damage. Foster said that the county would apply for federal disaster assistance if it was deemed possible based on the criteria established for such instances.

Additional information will be released as it becomes available.

 

Damage Assessment Continues;
At Least 45 Prosperity Homes Damaged from Saturday's Storms
(added 03/16/08)


Note: The National Weather Service has determined that parts of Prosperity were struck by an F3 Tornado that contained 140 mile per hour winds.

See storm photos below
(click on individual photos to see larger versions)

The damage assessment and clean up from Saturday night’s storm damage in Newberry County continues today (Sunday).

Sheriff Lee Foster says that authorities have identified at least 45 homes in the Prosperity section that suffered damage during the storms of last night. He said that the damage ranged from minor in some cases to completely destroyed for one home. It is far too early to begin to place dollar amounts on the damage caused by the storms, but the damage totals are expected to be significant.

Foster also said that the South Carolina Highway 391 area would remain closed to anyone other than the property owners of that area. Foster said that the highway is barricaded and detours are posted. Anyone, other than property owners, found in the area will be subject to be stopped and escorted from the area.

More details and information will be released as it becomes available.

Tornado and Heavy Storms Rip Through Newberry County
(added 03/16/08)

**(Photos included- Click on photos to see larger versions)**

A tornado tore thru Newberry County Saturday afternoon leaving in its trail substantial damage to trees, homes, and power lines.

Sheriff Lee Foster said that emergency workers throughout Newberry County were swamped when severe storms struck throughout Newberry County Saturday afternoon. Foster said that included in the severe weather was a confirmed touchdown of a tornado in the Prosperity section of the county.

Sheriff Foster says that large trees were uprooted, many homes were heavily damaged, and at least one home was destroyed by the tornado. He said that the damages included roofs torn from homes, chimneys that collapsed, and damage from trees falling. Foster said that it would be difficult at this point to estimate the number of home damaged by the storm.

Sheriff Foster said that one woman was trapped when her mobile home was destroyed during the tornado. She had to be extricated from the home, and was transported for medical treatment. She was conscious when she left the scene, but no further is known about her medical condition at this time. He said that all of her valuables were inside the home, and that thanks to the valiant efforts of the Prosperity Fire Department and Prosperity Rescue Squad most of those items were recovered.

Foster said that the main power lines were knocked down during the storm and there are a number of power outages throughout the Prosperity area. Crews are working to restore power as quickly as possible.

“I cannot say enough about all of the emergency workers who responded and worked in these adverse weather conditions,” said Foster. “The fire departments, rescue squads, and law enforcement officers stood strong to ensure public safety during this terrible storm.”

Foster said that workers from Newberry County Public Works, South Carolina Department of Transportation, and others responded quickly to begin clearing the many roads blocked by trees and other obstacles. He said that on several occasions deputies in the center of the storm found themselves trapped in all directions by fallen trees blocking the roadways.

“It took an incredible feat of cooperation to work through this sudden storm,” said Foster. “Practically every deputy in Newberry County responded to the area whether they were on duty or not. Many of them left them homes and families to respond to those in need. I thank goodness that we were able to respond so quickly to protect citizens, search for the injured, and block road where dangerous downed power lines were located.”

Sheriff Foster said that the Newberry Police Department began directing traffic in the Newberry area when the traffic lights stopped working, and that Whitmire Police Department sent officers to the Prosperity area to assist when the call when up for all available manpower to respond to that area.

The Sheriff said that fire and rescue squads throughout the county began their rescue and clearing efforts. “We are so blessed to have these volunteers who are willing to give so much and work so hard in times of need to help those affected by the storms.”

“I would also be remiss if I did not mention our communications division,” said Foster. “The 911 center was covered in calls, but they worked to maintain radios, telephones, and all communications keeping the rescue and clearing efforts alive. Much like the deputies, several of them responded off duty to the 911 center to offer support.”


“It is wonderful to live in a place like Newberry County,” said Foster. “During a time a great difficulty, the emergency workers of Newberry County banded together to truly meet the needs of the people of this county.”

“I also watched the community as relatives, friends, pastors and church members, and other came to the damaged homes carrying hammers, tarps, and other tools to assist their loved ones. In times of tragedy, it is indeed refreshing to see such community spirit."


Additional Photos (click on photos to see larger versions):

 

County Council Meeting on March 12
(added 03/13/08)

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (March 12, 2008) and approved second reading of an ordinance to provide for the issuance of $1.3 million in general obligation bonds and general obligation bond anticipation notes. These funds will cash flow the library construction until the land is sold by the benefactor who was willing to give $1.3 million but would like to give it from the sale of property. Less Hipp, candidate for County Council, quizzed council on the ordinance and stated, “This is a no brainer. You have to pay a contract that we have signed with somebody.” He went on to say he did question how the county had gotten to this point. Council Chair Henry Summer stated, “If someone is willing to give you $1.3 million you don’t argue with them.” If the property does not sell by July, the benefactor will give the county a deed to interest in the property equal to $1.3 million. Final reading should be on the agenda for next Wednesday’s regular County Council meeting.

Also next Wednesday, council will revisit a rezoning request for 30/100 of an acre on the eastern side of Wilson Rd at Whitener Rd. The planning commission recommended denying the request to rezone from residential to general commercial due to the size of the property. Neighbor ML Haltiwanger agreed and stated that there was a verbal agreement between himself and the previous owner. Mr. Dale Green, who inherited the property from his wife, drove down from his home in Hampton, VA. He requested final reading on the zoning change so the property would have value as commercial property since it is too small for residential property. He also stated that per his wife’s request the property was first offered to Mr. Haltiwanger. Councilman Buddy Livingston said that the council could not get in the middle of personal negotiations. Council postponed final reading until Wednesday’s 7pm meeting in hopes the two parties can negotiate a settlement.

Mr. Sam Martin came before Newberry County Council on Wednesday night to ask them to instruct the Voter Registration office to begin certifying that the 4600 names on his petition are registered voters in Newberry County. The petition calls for a referendum on November’s ballot asking the Newberry County voters whether or not Newberry County can allow video poker, charge a fee to the vendors, and use those funds to offset property taxes.

Council member Bill Waldrop and County Administrator Wayne Adams stated that they had spoken to Attorney General Henry McMaster who informed them that video poker is illegal period. Mr. Martin countered saying that McMaster was playing politics. After much discussion, council voted to get a declaratory judgement from the State Supreme Court and in the meantime to have Voter Registration begin verifying petition signers.

Trent Purcell spoke to council about a proposed venture at the airport. He and a partner who is a certified master rigger of parachutes would like to start a parachute sale service, manufacture parachutes for individuals and military, maintain a skydiving center, and a snack bar for those coming in to skydive. Purcell said that they hoped to lease property at the airport on which to build a 50 X 50 building. Council instructed County Administrator Adams to work out an agreement with the new business.

Newberry County Council approved a proclamation proclaiming March 2008 as Disabilties Awareness Month. Newberry County Disabilities & Special Needs Director, Fred Owens spoke to council about the 30 years of his organization here in Newberry County and its growth from crafts and daycare to job skills and employment.

Mr. Al Morrison, who operates the skeet range at the old landfill near 219 and I-26 proposed to council that his lease with the county be extended for 20 years with the rent being raised from $1 to $100 a year. Council postponed a final decision on the lease until requests for proposals on the properties can be taken from other interested entities. Mr. Morrison stated that he didn’t want to invest in the facility if he doesn’t have a long-range commitment to the property. Councilman John David Dawkins stated, “We don’t know what is going to happen in the next 20 years.” Complicating the discussion is the environmental requirements attached to the property due to its previous life as the county landfill.

Mrs. Virginia Wicker and Mr. Allen Wicker both spoke during personal appearances asking the county to replace a bridge on Clayton Memorial Church Rd. This county road which leads over to St. John Baptist Church cemetery has been unpassable for 15-20 years. She said, “Don’t take our tax money and then not give us any consideration.” County Public Works Director Tommy Whitehead stated that there are three bridges out in Newberry County. Pugh Road Bridge, which services approximately 17 homes, is in the process of being replaced at an estimated cost of $300,000. The Clayton Memorial Church Rd issue was referred to the county council road committee with the possibility of shoring up the Oxner Rd bridge, which comes in from the other side of the property, as a temporary fix until more funds can be found.

The council approved a new records management system from Palmetto Microfilm Systems. Susan Fellers, Clerk to Council, stated, “The driving factors behind this effort are the need to back up critical county records and documentation in the event of a natural disaster of some kind, as well as the increasing strain that storing and managing paper records is putting on limited Courthouse and Annex Building space.” Capital costs are $32,000. One-Time Costs are $58,000. Second year recurring costs are $10,000 for the Clerk of Court, Probate Court, Clerk to Council, and administrative offices. Other offices would be phased into the program. The funding for the project will come from savings in the 07/08 budgets of these departments and from lease purchase funding.


City Council Meeting on March 11

(added 03/13/08)


Newberry City Council met Tuesday night (March 11) and voted to hire a community development consultant to focus on adequate housing for the Newberry workforce, grants for rehabilitation, and development/revitilization of housing for all income levels. Reggie Barner will be on a $1,000 retainer each month for one year. He will also receive any grant allowance for administration of a grant he has obtained and is overseeing on behalf of the City. One of his duties will be building coalitions such as with non-profit and church groups who can receive more grant funding when resources are pooled. These coalitions can also help sustain any projects that are begun.

In other housing news, the City was pleased to announce that the development planned in the triangle between Harrington and Martin St has been purchased with spec homes going up soon according to the developer. It is the same group putting in the housing on Hillbrook Lane.

City Council took the final vote on Tuesday night to change from the Dixie Youth baseball organization to Little League baseball organization. City administration stated that no one spoke in opposition of the change at the advertised public hearing nor did anyone respond negatively to a letter sent to participants. A representative of Dixie Youth did ask the council to think about the added travel with the change. Administration stated that the travel should be no more than usual until playoffs and that the change was undertaken to attempt to bring more excitement around the program due to the national exposure of the Little League finals and World Series broadcast.

Pine trees are no longer an approved tree on a list of trees and shrubs that can be used to meet the new construction landscaping requirements.

A telecommunications advisory committee has been named. As the City continues the discussion regarding fiber optics and wireless infrastructure, this commitee will advise City Council. Computer, website, and fiber optic experts plus business community members.

The City honored Sam Hunter for his 15 years on the police department.

Newberry City Council meets the second Tuesday of every month in City Hall on College St.

 

Juveniles Damage Cars and Cause Fire;
High Winds Cause Trees and Limbs to Fall

(added 03/10/08)

Two juveniles will be charged as law enforcement faced a weekend full of activity due to the high winds.

Officers of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office responded to two separate calls on Saturday on Clara Brown Road in the Prosperity Section of Newberry County. The calls, which came in at about 9AM, were from victims whose vehicles had been shot with paint balls.

At about 6:30PM, Prosperity and Fairview Fire Departments responded to a barn and wood’s fire located in the 1300 block of Brown Street in Prosperity. The fire destroyed the barn and several acres of woods surrounding the barn. There was some hay and wagons located in the barn. No cost estimates have yet been attached to the loss. Emergency responders say that the fire was difficult to reach because it was remotely located in a wooded area, and had to pull fire hoses for an extended distance to attempt to combat the fire. The Forestry Service responded a dozer to the scene to assist in the fire suppression.

The officers, who were already investigating the damage to the vehicles, turned their attention to the fires.

The officers, through their investigation, learned that two juveniles had been camping out in the woods near their homes and got cold. The a fire at the barn for warmth, and thought that they had extinguished the fire, however, high winds present most of the weekend caused the fire to re-start destroying the barn and burning several acres of woods.

The officers also learned that the two juveniles age 14 and 16, who live in the Prosperity area, were responsible for the paint ball damage done to the vehicles earlier in the day. They will be charged in the Family Court for damaging the vehicles and the fire. They will be charged with Malicious Injury to Property. No criminal charges will be charged related to the fire; however, their families will likely be held liable for the damages caused by the fire.

High winds dominated the weekend. Foster said that there were 35 mile per hour sustained winds over the weekend, and a wind gust of 50 miles per hour was recorded at 11:41AM on Saturday at the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office weather station.

Sheriff Lee Foster said that deputies worked throughout the weekend assisting the Department of Transportation, Newberry County Public Works, Fire, and Rescue units clearing falling trees and limbs from roadways.

One Newberry County Deputy, Ted Graham, was injured when he was attempting to move a tree from the roadway, and a another limb fell striking him. He was treated at Newberry Hospital for multiple contusions and released. He returned to duty.

Another house fire was reported on Highway 76 in the Newberry area. Bush River, Friendly, and Whitmire Fire Departments along with Newberry and Whitmire Rescue Squad responded to the fire. No injuries were reported.

 

County Council Updates Issues on WKDK
(added 03/09/08)

Newberry County Council is scheduled for the first of the 2008 quarterly “On the Move with Margaret” broadcasts Monday, March 17, 9:30 a.m. A variety of topics are on the agenda for discussion that will update the community regarding projects and activities. Council and county officials will have the chance to speak to their constituents about development strategies and proposed projects in the county. Also, our guests will have the opportunity to review their recent official trip to Washington to attain knowledge for county business.

An update will be given on the status of the County’s major capital projects, including the library, the new industrial park, and the Newberry Rescue Squad’s new headquarters.

A citizen’s petition asking that property tax revenues be replaced with video poker revenues will be discussed during the program. A Newberry resident presented 5,000 signatures on the petition. The petition is seeking to place a referendum question on the local ballot asking for the tax proceeds from video poker to reduce property taxes in Newberry County. That petition is first presented to County Council. Council will then submit the signatures to the Election and Voter Registration Office for confirmation.

Economic Development Director Teresa Powers explains the progress at the Mid-Carolina Commerce Park. Even though the appearance of the new industrial park on highway 773 at I-26 has not changed, work is being done on the site. The park will be built and expanded in four phases. This is for financial reasons and to allow more flexibility. The first section of the park is still in design phase, and that will take about six more weeks. Once the design of phase one is finished, the project will go out to bid and construction will begin. Development at the Highway 219 Industrial Park will be compared and progress updated.

The annual budgeting process has recently begun and can be described briefly to listeners as to what this process entails and how it works.
At this time, the current state of Newberry County’s finances will be discussed.

“Home Rule” for South Carolina counties will be included in the discussion. This will include the history and purposes of “home rule” as well as the current issues surrounding it.

This year, voters of Newberry County will elect new office holders to replace the retiring county auditor and county treasurer. The importance and functions of these positions in county government will be talked about.

Members of the Newberry County Council are Henry Summer, chairman, Mike Hawkins, John David Dawkins, Buddy Livingston, Edgar Baker, John Caldwell, Bill Waldrop. Special guests are Wayne Adams, County Administrator and Teresa Powers, director, Newberry County Economic Development.

 

Tornado Warning Calls Emergency Services to Action-
No Damages Reported

(added 03/04/08)

Newberry County was placed under a tornado warning at approximately 4:16PM this afternoon according to Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster.

Sheriff Foster said that the National Weather Service issued the warning based on radar imagery, and that there were no confirmed sightings of a tornado. Additionally, Foster said that there were no reports of damage from wind or storm.

Sheriff Foster said that the alert sirens were sounded because of the warning, and that several fire departments in the county staffed their stations in the event of an emergency.

Foster said that because most of the offices at the Sheriff’s Office are located in temporary trailers due to the ongoing litigation as a result of the condemnation of the previous headquarters building, non-critical personnel were moved from the trailers to the Emergency Operations Center located in a former National Guard garage in the same complex. There were no interruptions in service during the incident.

 

Drug Arrests in Newberry County
(added 03/04/08)

A multi-jurisdictional narcotics investigation has netted a number of arrests in Newberry County. Officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, Newberry Police Department, State Law Enforcement Division, Newberry County Probation, Pardon, and Parole, and the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation and subsequent round up.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 17 people had been arrested on drug related charges, and more arrests were expected. One juvenile had also been arrested and charged with drug charges. His name cannot be released because of his age.

Sheriff Lee Foster says that the arrests come as the result as six month long investigation into complaints about the use and sale of illegal drugs in the county.

“We are pleased with the spirit of cooperation between law enforcement and the community,” said Sheriff Foster. “Many of these arrests are a direct result of citizen complaints and information provided to us through people in the community. So many times it seems as if nothing is being done in an investigation, but the truth is it takes time, effort, and manpower to bring an investigation of this magnitude to fruition. While on the face it seems nothing is being done, the reality is that many hours of undercover work and investigation is occurring to capture as many people as possible in these drug investigations.”

“Many of the leads and information came from a very proactive patrol,” said Foster. “Our uniformed officers, who are in these communities every day, were able to observe activity commonly associated with drug sales, and then relay that information to the investigators handling the investigation. This is exactly how the various functions of law enforcement should function together, and make a difference to the community.”

In addition to the arrests, Sheriff Foster also says that the officers seized crack, marijuana, and money during the round up operation on Monday afternoon. Foster said that officers seized approximately 5 grams of crack cocaine, 5 grams of marijuana, and approximately $2000.00 in cash.

“This was obviously a good combined effort,” said Newberry City Police Chief Jackie Swindler. “This investigation concentrated on drug sales of all types as can be seen from the types of arrests the drugs varied from pharmaceutical drugs to crack cocaine.”

“Because this investigation focused on several different neighborhoods, the information we received from the citizens was important because the people of the community would obviously recognize a problem quickly and then report it,” said Swindler.

Sheriff Foster said that while he was very appreciative to all of the agencies who participated in the investigation, that he wanted to extend special consideration to the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, whose officers were instrumental in this investigation.

Foster said that the investigation would be ongoing, and that more arrests were expected. He declined to comment on how many other arrests were expected in the investigation.

“There is a direct correlation between the use and sale of illegal drugs and the overall crime rate,” said Foster. “It must be understood that drugs are not a victimless crime because families and innocent victims often pay dearly for the addiction of another.”

Police records indicate those arrested were:

Tina Lynn Baldwin, 49, of 1904 Charles Street, Newberry, SC, charged with Distribution of Xanax and Distribution of Xanax within proximity of a school or park.

Johnny Gurad Coleman, 25, of 2310 Cottage Avenue, Newberry, SC, charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack Cocaine and Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack Cocaine within the Proximity of a School or Park.

Donovin Charles Fludd, 27, of 133 Nance Forest Drive, Newberry, SC, charge with Distribution of Cocaine and Distribution of Cocaine within proximity of a school or park.

Felisha Floreane Fuller, 20, of 2404A Main Street, Newberry, SC, charged with Distribution of Marijuana and Distribution of Marijuana within proximity of a school or park.

Elizabeth Ann Hiller, 36, 924 Gray Street, Newberry, SC charged with Distribution of Crack Cocaine and Distribution of Crack Cocaine within proximity of a school or park.

Willie Eddie Hiller, 34, of 924 Gray Street, Newberry, SC charged with Distribution of Crack Cocaine and Distribution of Cocaine within proximity of a school or park. He was additionally charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack Cocaine and Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack Cocaine within the Proximity of a School or Park.

Robert Allen Hyler, 43, of 88 Glenn Street, Newberry, SC charged with Distribution of Crack Cocaine and Distribution of Cocaine within proximity of a school or park.

Thomas Tarvarus Johnson, 23, of 452 Mineral Springs Road, Saluda, SC, charged with 2 counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine, and 2 counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine within proximity of a school or park.

Reggie L. Jones, 34, of 2412 Wilson Road, Newberry, SC, charged with 2 counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine, and 2 counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine within proximity of a school or park.

Brian Lemar Lemon, 24, of 137 Rocky 2 Road, Blair, SC, charged with Distribution of Marijuana.

Jessica Michelle Nichols, 25, of 2031 Shelly Street A3, Newberry, SC Distribution of Methadone and Distribution of Methadone within proximity of a school or park.

Charles Anthony Radford II, 26, of 3278 College Street, Newberry, SC charged with Distribution of Marijuana and Distribution of Marijuana within proximity of a school or park.

Katherine Nelle Sims, 40, of 827 Gray Street, Newberry, SC, charged with Distribution of Crack Cocaine and Distribution of Cocaine within proximity of a school or park.

Keith Daniel Smith, 19, of 928 Gray Street, Newberry, SC charged with Distribution of Crack Cocaine, Distribution of Cocaine within proximity of a school or park, and Conspiracy. He was additionally charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack Cocaine and Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack Cocaine within the Proximity of a School or Park.

Mary Louise Watts, 42, of 513 Wise Street, Newberry, SC charged with Distribution of Crack Cocaine and Distribution of Cocaine within proximity of a school or park.

Eddie Lee Williams, 19, of 117 Shetland Drive, Jackson, SC, charged with Distribution of Marijuana and Distribution of Marijuana within proximity of a school or park.

Kiedric Antwone Williams, 26, of 823 Drayton Street, Newberry, SC charged with 3 counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine, and 3 counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine within proximity of a school or park.

 

Woman Charged With Attempted Murder
(added 02/27/08)

A 60 year old woman is charged with attempting to murder her husband in Newberry County.

Sheriff Lee Foster says that Mary Susan Brooks (left), 60, of 745 Marina Way, Prosperity, SC, was arrested and charged with Attempt to Commit Murder on February 24.

According to a police report filed with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, police received information from a confidential informant that Brooks had made several statements about attempting to, “Get rid of her husband.”

Based on an investigation launched into this case, officers interviewed several witnesses and learned that some type of crushed medication was placed in the victim’s drink. Sheriff Foster would not comment on who those witnesses were or the nature of the statements, however, he said that the information received was substantial enough to justify charging the defendant with Attempt to Commit Murder. He did say that based on their investigation that it was very likely that Brooks attempted to get others to assist her in the crime.

Sheriff Foster said that several samples of the medication(s) have been taken to the State Law Enforcement Division for analysis. The results of that analysis will take some time. Foster said that the results of that analysis will be released once it is received.

Sheriff Foster says that while the investigation is still ongoing that the apparent cause of the attempt on the victim’s life was a combination of ongoing business and domestic related disputes between the couple who are married and who jointly operate a bar/club called Marx Marine in the Prosperity section of Newberry County.

Foster said that investigators from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office had been working extremely long hours to interview witnesses and recover evidence to prevent the loss or destruction of evidence prior to the release of the arrest.

“This is an very unusual situation,” said Foster. “While this is certainly most serious in nature and there was great threat of harm and death to the victim, we do not believe that the safety or health of anyone other than the victim was ever jeopardized.”

“This investigation will be ongoing, and we will know much more about this incident and the underlying factors will become more clear as the investigation continues,” said Foster. “We may never completely understand all of the factors involved, but we should be able to at least get a clearer picture of the events that led to this serious incident.”


School Board Meeting on February 25
(added 02/26/08)

Dr. Roche Honored for 49 Years on the School Board

Newberry County School Board held their regular school board meeting on Monday night in Whitmire to honor Dr. John Roche. Dr. Roche has represented the greater Whitmire area for 49 years on the School Board. A reception was held in his honor and presentations were made to him by the WCS student body, WCS faculty and staff, school district, and even the SC School Board Association. A representative from SCSBA put Dr. Roche’s service in perspective when she reminded the audience that Dwight Eisenhower was president, minimum wage was a $1, and a gallon of gas cost 24 cents back when Dr. Roche first took office.

Later in the meeting, final reading was approved on an official fund balance policy for the district, codifying their current policy. The ordinance calls for a minimum of not less than 10% of annual general operating budget to be held back into a fund balance – with a goal of reaching 20%. Anything over 20% would be placed in a special capital technology fund. Currently, the fund balance is at 14%.

Meeting in Whitmire gave the board a chance to tour the new addition at WCS. The addition will get rid of portables at Whitmire and will stop the busing of students to the old school for gym class. Due to weather, a few construction challenges, and expansion of the scope of work (with additional space added to the gym for more seats) a few weeks has been added to the projects completion date of January 08. Final inspection with the State Office of School Facilities is scheduled for March 5. With an all clear, the media center should begin moving into their new space so that the current media center can be renovated. The total project budget at Whitmire was $8.8 million with the landscaping this spring to be founded by the general operations budget.

The district took the chance to honor a Whitmire sports star while at WCS. Kimberly Geyer was honored for being named to the Class A All State basketball team. She has also been named the region player of the year the last two years.

The Newberry County School District will hold a recruitment fair this Saturday (March 1) at NHS Commons Area from 9:30-12. All interested teacher and staff candidates are encouraged to attend.

The Newberry County School Board meets the fourth Monday of each month. They will be back at the Learning Center for their March meeting.

Newberry Opera House to Host MOMIX
(added 02/25/08)

MOMIX—A Theatrical Extravaganza!
Thursday, March 13, 8:00 p.m.

February 25, 2008

NEWBERRY, SC—Is it dance? —Is it acrobatics? —Is it Magic? Who cares about a precise definition— it’s M O M I X and it’s lots of fun! The thrill is on at Newberry Opera House Thursday, March 13, 8:00 p.m.
MOMIX, one of the dance world’s most inventive and visually stunning dance troupes, celebrates 25 years of spellbinding performances with a dazzling new show featuring the “Best of Momix.” Pushing the boundaries of dance with a blend of optical trickery, eclectic music, surrealistic, silhouetted images and interchangeable bodies, the MOMIX core of dance-illusionists conjure up a series of wonderfully effective visual vignettes.
Founder and choreographer Moses Pendleton continues to break artistic boundaries and confound expectations by keeping one foot in the dance camp, and one straddling the surface of circus sound, illusion and sheer improbability—always delivering a wildly unique and imaginative treat for dance fans of all ages.

Marvel at what the mind can see and what the body can do! Tickets are available at the Newberry Opera House box office. Call 803-276-6264 for reservations or visit our website www.newberryoperahouse.com

For further information call Deborah Smith 803-276-5179
Or email debra@newberryoperahouse.com

County Council Meeting on February 20
(added 02/21/08)

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (Feb. 20) and approved first reading of an ordinance to provide for the issuance of $1.3 million in general obligation bonds and general obligation bond anticipation notes. These notes should be paid for with the sale of property that has been committed to the library project. If the property does not sell before the bond anticipation notes come due the county will be committed to servicing the debt on these 5-year bonds. Second reading on these general obligation bonds should appear on the next regular council agenda on March 5.

Council voted to approve second reading of a rezoning request for 30/100 of an acre on the eastern side of Wilson Rd at Whitener Rd. The planning commission recommended denying the request to rezone from residential to general commercial. Mr. Wayne Boland, who serves on the Planning Commission, explained that the consensus of the commission was that the property is too small and is also adjacent to residential property. County Attorney Gary Pope counseled that the property is definitely too small for a residence with the current zoning code so if the county did not allow the rezoning to commercial the county could be open to a lawsuit. Final vote was 4 to 2 to approve the rezoning with one councilman absent due to illness.

Council agreed to be the agency through which a grant application was made to the SC Parks, Recreation and Tourism department. This grant application would request the maximum allowed of $100,000 to replace the Indian Creek Bridge on the Palmetto Trail in Sumter National Forrest. The Palmetto Trail and the Forestry Department would provide the $20,000 in matching funding.

Final reading passed to update the flood damage prevention policy so that it is within compliance with State and Federal program requirements.

Several bids were approved on Wednesday night including accepting the low bid of $19, 550 from Mark-It Company to reflectorize traffic lines on over 15 miles of county roads. This is paid for by state gas tax funding through the County Transportation Committee or CTC. Council approved for tar and gravel surfacing to commence on Forest Trail and Glasgow Drive at a cost of $7,000. The county will do this work with the cost coming from a county fund set aside as matching dollars for CTC funding.

Council also approved a $201,000 bid on grubbing and clearing at the Newberry County Airport. This was the next to low bid with the low bidder not meeting FAA requirements. The FAA and the state aeronautic division are paying for all but 2 1/2% of the cost of the phased expansion at the airport. The State Aeronautic Department also paid for a new automatic weather system reporting visibility, wind, and weather conditions. Call 803-276-2419 to hear how the system works.

After executive session, council approved first reading by title only to accept Frandena Court into the county road system.

Newberry County Council meets the first and third Wednesday of each month in the Courthouse Annex on College St.

Beef Recall in Newberry County
(added 02/20/08)

Upon notification on Sunday, February 17, 2008 from the USDA & State
Department of Education relating to a recall of beef processed by
Hallmark Westland Meat Packing Company the School District of Newberry County decided to voluntarily remove all beef product from school menus until receiving further notice from the USDA. This was done as a precautionary measure. Investigators with the USDA have found no cases of illness related to the recalled meat.

Mr. Craig Brooks with SDE assured all districts that South Carolina did
not receive any USDA Ground Beef or Beef Patties from Westland Meat this school year.

The USDA is checking with various processors who supply other beef
products, such as boneless beef and taco filling, to school districts to
verify that they did not receive and use beef from Hallmark Westland
Meat Packing Company.

The safety of the students of the School District of Newberry County is always our top priority. Therefore, we will continue to hold all beef
products until we receive an “all clear” from the State Department
of Education and the USDA. We expect this information by the end of the week.

 

Video Shows Taxi Crash at Robert's Citgo
(added 02/14/08)

Courtesy of wltx.com (WLTX, TV 19) in Columbia, SC
Click HERE to see article and actual video of the crash

City Council Meeting on February 12
(added 02/13/08)

Newberry City Council met Tuesday night (Feb. 12) and approved mid-year budget adjustments. The budget total will increase by $1.9 million to $32.7 million. The bulk of the budget adjustment is due to the acceleration of the renovations and expansion at the wastewater plant. Other adjustments are due to timing on grants and other minor items.

They also approved final reading of a zoning change from General Commercial to R-10 Residential for the proposed subdivision of 20 + single family houses off Hillbrook Lane.

Council approved final reading of an ordinance change in the landscaping regulations for new construction so that the approved list of trees and shrubs is maintained by the City’s Zoning Administrator.

The City Recreation department will begin consideration of a change from the Dixie Youth to Little League International organization for their baseball league.

Council approved allocation of the state accommodation tax. The Newberry Opera House will receive $7,500 for a focused campaign in the Aiken, North Augusta, and Augusta market. The City of Newberry received $17,000 for cultural arts and tourism advertising. And, the Newberry County Chamber of Commerce receives $2,500 for the Christmas Tour of Homes.

Police Chief Jackie Swindler was honored for his thirty years of continuous service to the City of Newberry. He began with the City as a cadet and worked his way up through the ranks becoming chief in the 1990s.

County Council Meeting on February 6
(added 02/07/08)

Final Reading Passed to Deny Rezone for Mobile Home Park

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (Feb 6) and approved third and final reading of an ordinance denying the rezoning of 20 acres on Louis Rich Road that was proposed for a mobile home park. Added to agenda was an ordinance to deny the rezoning of 30/100 of an acre at Wilson Rd and Whitner Rd as commercial. After hearing from the realtor, council amended the ordinance to approve the rezoning and passed first reading.

After much discussion, council approved an 11% rate increase at JF Hawkins Nursing Home. At a previous meeting, Nursing Home Administrator Les Parks stated that it is typical for nursing homes to have a rate increase every year, but JF Hawkins has not done so in over 15 months. He stated that the increase is directly related to cost incurred the previous fiscal year. The increase equates to an additional $500 or more a month for paying clients starting April 1.

Col. Brad Owens of the Adjutant General’s Office relayed to council that the SC National Guard, who owns the property where the Sheriff’s Office currently is located, had named the property as excess and turned it over to the General Services office of the State Budget and Control Board. This is the first step in the county taking official claim of the property. Rep. McLeod and Senator Cromer will now present a joint resolution to the State General Assembly, which when approved has to get a final stamp of approval from the Governor. Also, Wednesday night, County Council voted to extend the lease on the modular units at the Sheriff’s Office.

Second reading passed to update the county’s flood damage prevention ordinance.

Council postponed awarding the bid to bring the Community Hall Kitchen into fire code compliance.

They heard legal updates on the 219 building and Eagle Container lawsuit during executive session, but no action was taken.

Newberry County Council’s regularly scheduled meetings are the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

IRS, Taxes and You (PDF format)
(added 02/04/08)

The SC Department of Consumer Affairs has made available a special publication (PDF format) regarding tax information and the Internal Revenue Service.
Click here to view this special publication.

*You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this file. If you do not have it, you can download a free version here.

 

Demetrius Pepper Sentenced to Life in Prison
(added 02/01/08)

Demetrius Pepper (left), accused of killing a Newberry County teacher during a crime spree last April, has been sentenced to life in prison.

He pleaded guilty in court Friday, and both he and the victim's family addressed the court.

Deputies say he killed a co-worker in the Upstate last April, then drove down Interstate 26 to Newberry County, where his car broke down.

He then went to the home of Ellie Halfacre, a teacher at Prosperity-Rikard Elementary School. He murdered Ms. Halfacre and stole her car.

Demtrius Pepper ended up near the practice field surrounding Williams-Brice Stadium to see his father, who was watching his Nathan Pepper, Demetrius' brother, during a football scrimmage. Nathan Pepper is a defensive tackle with the the USC football team.

Demetrius Pepper spoke to the court before he was sentenced, and apologized to the victim's family.

"If I could take it back I would," he said. "There hasn't been a day gone by that I haven't prayed for you all."

He then asked for the family's forgiveness.

Heroes Honored with Medal of Valor Award
(added 02/01/08)

Two deputies of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office received the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association Medal of Valor Award at a ceremony Thursday night.

Sheriff Lee Foster described Sergeant Robert Dennis (above right) and Sergeant Dean Stribble (above left) as deputies who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty and described their past service record as impeccable.

“We are so blessed in Newberry County to have men and women dedicated to the field of law enforcement and who are willing to risk their lives to insure the safety of others,” said Foster. “It is one thing to say that you are willing to risk your life in protection of others, it is entirely a different matter to actually put everything on the line to make Newberry County better and safer.”

The Medal of Valor is the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association highest honor. The award is presented to deputies who exhibit exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind. The award acknowledges Deputy Sheriff’s who show unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her personal safety, in an attempt to save or protect human life.

The men were nominated for an incident that occurred on Saturday July 7, 2007, at about 12:10PM, as a Prosperity Police Officer was completing a traffic stop on South Carolina Highway 76 near Wessinger Drive in the Town of Prosperity in Newberry County.

While the officer was in his vehicle the suspect in the case started shooting at the police car striking it several times including shooting out the window of the patrol car. The shots were not fired from the vehicle that had been stopped but were coming from the area near the rear of a nearby home. The officer reacted quickly to get himself and the motorist on the traffic stop out of the line of fire and immediately took cover and radioed for backup.

Deputies from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office arrived in the area and began searching for the person responsible for the gunshots when two deputies encountered a suspect behind the residence located at 9521 Highway 76 East, Prosperity.

Just as two deputies saw the suspect, he began firing his gun, which is thought to be a 9mm handgun, at them. The deputies took cover from the gunshots and returned fire at the suspect. Several rounds of gun fire were exchanged between the deputies and the suspect before the suspect surrendered to law enforcement deputies, after his weapon jammed. No one was injured in the exchange of gunfire. Subsequent investigation showed that some of the rounds fired by the suspect struck just inches from where the deputies were taking cover.

The suspect was identified as Travis Wade Leaphart, 25, of 9521 Highway 76 East, Prosperity, who has a prior criminal record that includes a 2001 conviction for Assault and Battery on a Police Officer while Resisting Arrest.

In a press release following the incident, Sheriff Lee Foster commented on the deputies actions.

“These deputies acted very heroically,” said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. “The Prosperity Officer was able to get innocent people out of the line of fire until backup arrived, and the two deputies risked their lives to protect many innocent citizens and other deputies.”

“I thank God that no one was seriously injured or killed during this horrible rampage,” said Foster. “Many innocent citizens and police officer’s lives were placed in serious jeopardy because of the actions of this violent individual.”

We believe that these men are heroes,” said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. “Their brave and courageous actions without question saved the lives of many innocent citizens and other deputies. They risked their lives to protect and serve others.”

Lindsey Dean Stribble is employed by the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and is a Sergeant in the patrol division. He has been in law enforcement for 20 years.

Robert Dennis is employed by the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and is a Sergeant in the investigations division. He has been in law enforcement for 15 years.

Both men were surrounded by family, friends, and co-workers as they received the award for their heroic action.

Special School Board Election-UPDATED VERSION**
(added 01/31/08)

Monday evening the Newberry County School Board reluctantly accepted the resignation of Dr. John Roche due to his failing health. Since the resignation falls more than 180 days from the general election, a special election will be held in district 1 to fill the seat on April 22. District 1 includes all of Whitmire but comes all the way up to the Newberry City limits and includes portions of the Maybinton community. Filing deadline will be Feb. 22 at noon. A petition packet can be picked up at the Voter Registration Office in Newberry County Courthouse. The petition must bear the signatures of "not less than 2%" of the registered voters in district 1, which is approximately 60 signatures.

The school district plans to hold a special reception for Dr. Roche in honor of his 49 years of service prior to the Feb. 25 school board meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Whitmire. More details about this event as they are made available.

School Board Meeting on January 28
(added 01/29/08)

Dr. Roche Resigns From School Board

Newberry County School Board met Monday night and “reluctantly accepted” the resignation of Dr. John Roche who represents the greater Whitmire area. His letter of resignation referenced his failing health as a reason for this decision. Dr. Roche is the longest serving school board member in South Carolina with around 49 years on the board. Superintendent Bennie Bennett stated, “There is never any question where Dr. Roche’s heart is – it is with the students.” Board member Jody Hamm commented about Dr. Roche’s absence from the board, “This is a lot of wisdom lost.” The district will honor Dr. Roche at a special event preceding the next board meeting, which will be held in Whitmire. More details as they are made available.

Also Monday night, the school board reelected their same officers for 2008. Don Saylor will continue to serve as chairman, Jody Hamm as vice-chair and legislative liaison, Clyde Hill as secretary and claims liaison.

The 08/09 school calendar was approved with a start date of August 18 for students. The board began discussion on holding graduation for the three high schools on the same day in June 09. Further discussion about graduation at the next meeting.

Larry Cromer of the Newberry Exchange Club officially presented the district with an American flag. The Exchange Club will deliver flags to each school in the district for display on holidays such as the upcoming Presidents Day.

The board extended their contract with Greene, Finney, and Horton as their auditors for two more years. Jim Suber, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, announced that the State gymnastics competition will be held at Newberry Middle School March 28, 29, 30 - bringing 300 competitors and their families to town.

During executive session, the board reviewed Superintendent Bennett’s performance thus far. Board chair Don Saylor stated that it was an “exemplary review” and that the board believes Mr. Bennett has “set a good tone” for the district.

First reading was approved on an official fund balance policy for the district. The ordinance calls for a minimum of not less than 10% of annual general operating budget to be held back into a fund balance – with a goal of reaching 20%. Anything over 20% would be placed in a special capital technology fund. Currently, the fund balance is at 14%. Final reading on this ordinance will be held at the next regular meeting on the fourth Monday in February.

Barak Obama Wins Newberry County
(added 01/26/08)

Barak Obama wins Newberry County in the Democratic Presidental Primary on Saturday with almost 49% of the vote. Totals for Newberry County:
Barak Obama 2,209
Hillary Clinton 1,200
John Edwards 1,120
These are unofficial results that will be certified next week.

Shooting Leads to Police Chase
(added 01/25/08)

A Newberry man is in jail this morning after shooting another man and then leading police on a high speed chase last night.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster says that deputies were called to Newberry Memorial Hospital for a patient who had just arrived suffering two gunshot wounds. The victim; who was identified as Derrick Randell Wilson, 23, of 4945 Counts Sausage Road, Prosperity, SC; was suffering a gunshot wound to his left foot and right knee. The injuries were not life threatening.

Deputies learned that the shooting took place at 532 Beisel Road in Newberry, and quickly launched an investigation into the shooting incident by conducting a crime scene investigation and canvassing the area searching for evidence and suspects in the case.

“We have an outstanding investigative team, who were able to quickly take control and process the crime scene and other evidence so that the search for the suspect could quickly begin,” said Foster. “We have worked hard to establish a well trained and experienced investigative unit who often are capable of taking control of these situations without having to wait for SLED or other assistance. This time is invaluable in the success of the search for a suspect after a crime is committed.”

As a result of that investigation, officers learned that the person responsible for the shooting was Justin James Nelson. Officers saturated the area looking for Nelson, who was driving a burgundy Dodge Pickup truck.

At around 9:00PM, Captain Wesley Boland of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office saw Nelson driving the Dodge truck on Whitener Road about 3-4 miles from the shooting location. Boland attempted to stop Nelson, but Nelson attempted to flee. Several other units who were already in the area quickly arrived to provide assistance.

According to police records, Nelson began to drive at a high rate of speed in an effort to elude the officers. Nelson went from Whitener Road to Lever Road, then onto Short Cut Road, and they onto South Carolina Highway 34. Nelson finally pulled into the skating rink located on Highway 34 and surrendered to police without any further incident. The chase lasted less than 5 minutes and reached speeds of 70-80 miles per hour.

After Nelson was taken into custody, officers located the pistol used in the shooting inside the vehicle. The pistol is a High Point .380 pistol. Officers say that Nelson had just purchased the gun at about 2PM on Thursday, just hours before the shooting.

Justin James Wilson, 22, of 111 Pine Valley Road, Newberry, SC, is currently being held at the Newberry County Detention Center. He will be charged later this morning with Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill, Possession of a Firearm During a Violent Crime, and Failure to Stop for a Law Enforcement Vehicle. No time for a bond hearing has been scheduled.

While authorities are still investigating the exact details of the incident, it appears that there had been an ongoing verbal dispute between the Nelson and Wilson.

“I continue to be amazed at what we are able to accomplish at the Newbery County Sheriff’s Office through the hard work and dedication of all the members of this department,” said Sheriff Foster.

“Many of the officers who responded to this incident last night were off duty, but quickly responded from their homes to assist in this investigation. It is invaluable resource to be able to quickly respond both on duty and off duty officers to such incidents. A rapid response can often mean the difference between apprehending the suspect and the suspect getting away. We are thankful to have the vehicles and equipment to allow us to provide the best possible law enforcement services possible to the people of Newberry County,” said Foster.

Consumer Affairs Returns to Newberry on January 31
(added 01/23/08)

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) will visit the Newberry community on Tuesday January 31, 2008, to handle consumer complaints and questions. Regional SCDCA outreach coordinator Angela Richard will pay a visit to the Newberry Administration Office located at 1309 College Street in Newberry, SC 29108. Consumers may come with questions or complaints regarding a business between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Individuals are encouraged to bring documentation with them.

The Department will continue to visit the Newberry community on a regular basis. Locations will be announced bi-monthly. The Department services the entire state via telephone and online help. Specific questions and concerns from the Newberry community may be addressed to Angela Richard. Appointments are available upon request. Ms. Richard may be reached at 864.871.5397.

This month’s visit has been made possible through a collaborative effort with Newberry County Administrator Wayne Adams and Clerk Denise Taylor.

Newberry County's Republican Primary Results
(added 01/20/08)

John McCain - 1,468
Mike Huckabee - 918
Fred Thompson - 659
Mitt Romney - 496
Ron Paul - 102
Rudy Giuliani - 60
Duncan Hunter - 4
John Cox - 1
Tom Tancredo - 1

County Council Meeting on January 16
(added 01/17/08)

(Part 1) Second Reading Passed to Deny Rezone for Mobile Home Park

(Part 2) Rate Increase at JF Hawkins Postponed/Capital Projects with Muddy Results

Second Reading Passed to Deny Rezone for Mobile Home Park

Newberry County Council met last night and approved second reading of an ordinance denying the rezoning of 20 acres on Louis Rich Road that is proposed for a mobile home park. Third and final reading to deny and an official public hearing should be on county council’s agenda for Feb. 6.

First reading passed to update the county’s flood damage prevention and the flood zone management.

The County approved Aerocon to take the new aerial photography for tax maps. Lew Lapine with SC Geodetic Survey recommended to council that they not take the low bidder but go with the second lowest bidder Aerocon because of Aerocon’s track record and the fact that the low bidder specified a camera that is not known to be comparable to the bid specifics. Of the $71,350 cost, a grant will pay for $60,000, the city will pay for 60 tiles and $9,000 of the cost, and the remainder will come from the regular GIS budget in the Assesor’s Office.

Council approved the low bid from Barloworld Handling on a budgeted forklift purchase at $23,875.50. Linder Machinery won the bid for a motor grader with the low bid of $156,114. Council approved triple treat tar and gravel surfacing on a section of Shelton Ferry Road, Shelton Road, and Dogwalla Road. The CTC will pay for supplies from state gas taxes, and the county will provide the labor. They also approved triple treat of a portion of Felker-Setzler Road. County will pay for both the materials for this road and provide the labor. This is part of matching funds the county promised the CTC they would be putting into the system.

Council approved a resolution adopting Lynch’s Woods Park & Trail Rules. Hours for the park will be dusk to dawn. Permits will be required for any primitive overnight camping, campfires or fires of any type and camping for more than 7 consecutive days. Permit numbers will be available by phone through the county recreation department and after hours at the City Fire Department. Firearms, fireworks, off-road vehicles, and alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the park.

Newberry County Council’s regularly scheduled meetings are the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7pm in the courthouse Annex.

Rate Increase at JF Hawkins Postponed/Capital Projects with Muddy Results

New JF Hawkins Nursing Home Administrator Les Parks presented an approximately 11% rate increase for JF Hawkins daily rate structure. Parks stated that it is typical for nursing homes to have a rate increase every year, but JF Hawkins has not done so in over 15 months. He stated that the increase is directly related to cost incurred the previous fiscal year. With 80% of the clients at JF Hawkins Medicaid patients, County Administrator Wayne Adams stated that finding a greater balance between Medicaid and Medicare short-term stay will be crucial to avoiding the county from having to supplement the budget at JF Hawkins. Parks stated, “No one wants to talk about increasing rates, but making sound financial decisions are on ongoing responsibility, and the cumulative effects of these decisions will define the future of the nursing home.” Councilman Buddy Livingston said he was uncomfortable with going forward with an increase that means an additional $500 or more a month for paying clients. Council postponed a final decision on the rate increases until the county’s nursing home subcommittee can look at alternatives.

Council also heard an update on penny sales tax capital projects last night. Recent rains have uncovered several problems including leaking roofs at the new Prosperity and Consolidated Fire Stations. Both are under warranty and should be fixed by the contractors. Silverstreet Fire Station has discovered that after rains water stands outside their entrance. A $20,000 drainage correction is still under-consideration including who should pay for it. The new Rescue Squad #14 building will now have to be moved back off Adelaide St. 100 feet due to mucky soil conditions at their original building site. This estimated $20,000 cost would cut 50-60% into the contingency for the additional work on the site and the longer driveway. County Administrator Wayne Adams asked the construction consultant about the soil-testing firms’ approval of the site, “Are we better hiring a fortune teller or a soil testing firm?”

A 4 to 2 vote approved going forward with $11,000 of surveying and engineering at the Maybinton Ballfield site. Councilman Henry Summer stated that he did not feel comfortable going forward without having found funding to complete the ballfield to recreation standards. Councilman Edgar Baker stated that the community asked for something to be completed even if it is nothing but a flat field.

Newberry County Council’s regularly scheduled meetings are the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

 

Paving Scam Leads to 11 Arrests
(added 01/17/08)

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is warning citizens about a scam involving a paving company working in the Newberry County.

Sheriff Lee Foster says that after several citizens have complained about seeing a paving company in Newberry County, officers located two of the suspects Wednesday afternoon at a residence on Nicole Lane in Broad River section of the county. He said that 9 other suspects with the company were located at a residence on Halfacre Road in the St. Phillips community.

Officers have also located at least four locations where the company has done substandard work. Foster said that this company has been identified as Asphalt Products.

Foster said on Wednesday 11 people associated with the Asphalt Products were taken into custody on charges of Soliciting Business without a License and Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense.

Asphalt Products has an prior history of scam activity in other states including Missouri, where they were convicted of similar activity.

Foster said that this company and many other companies who take advantage particularly of the elderly with this type of scam often use the same method of operation. Foster said that dealing with a company that you do not know, who plan to use materials that may have been on their truck for days, and who use high pressure sales and demands should always be warning signs to the consumer.

This company and others like it primarily target rural, elderly people. They often approach a house with a load of pavement and tell the homeowner they had the load left over after doing a paving job. They always promise to give a great deal on the work. Actually, the tar is normally purchased locally and was the cheapest quality that could be bought.

The tar is of poor quality and many times, nails and other scraps could be identified in the driveways when they finished. Authorities in Missouri spoke with a paving company and found out that driveways must be paved when tar temperature is just right and when tar is driven around like this company and others do, it is not the right temperature to pave driveways. The irregular temperature causes the pavement to crack within a short period of time and victims find grass growing in their driveways.

The men would promise a 3 inch thick layer of tar on driveways and the finished job would be between 1 and 3 inches. They also lay the tar so the edges are thicker than the center. They promise to seal the driveways and in most cases, skips the sealing part.

They would demand immediate payment when they completed the job, either in cash or local check. Victims found their checks were cashed almost immediately.

Sheriff Foster said that no reputable company will be concerned over a consumer wanting to consider the options before making a purchase, and that high pressure often means that they are attempting to force you into a bad decision before you think the entire process through.

If you have a question about any business, you should contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. Foster said that other resources included the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs, and asking the vendor for references which you then check.

Foster identified those arrested as:

Brooks, Michael Dean, 50, 401 Olive Street, Hannibal, MO - Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense

Culp, Chad William, 25, 2 Huntingdon Road, Hannibal, MO- Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense

Culp, Charles Egene, 27, 3115 St. Mary Avenue, Hannibal, MO- Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense

Culp, James Lester II, 27, 56157 Highway HH, Hannibal, MO - Soliciting Business without a License

Culp, Robert Alan, 52, 2021 Chestnut Street, Hannibal, MO - Soliciting Business without a License

Morgan, Micheal Louis, 37, 56852 Columbus Trail, Hannibal, MO- Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense

Phillips, Evan Brady, 24, 11 Homestead, Hannibal, MO- Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense

Renier, John Edward, 45, 1630 Grace Street, Hannibal, MO- Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense

Todd, Kevin Lerory, 26, 2711 Market Lot 8, Hannibal, MO- Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense

Wade, Jason Neil, 36, 11548 New Lane Gravel, Hannibal, MO- Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense

White, Hershell Paul, 65, 53926 Highway HH, Hannibal, MO- Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense



Sheriff's Office and AARP to Offer Highly Praised Senior Driving Course
(added 01/11/08)

After many requests to repeat the driving class specifically designed to improve the driving skills of those age 50 and older, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is sponsoring a driver safety program designed by AARP that is specifically geared toward drivers age 50 and above.

“The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is proud to be a sponsor of this event,” said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. “We believe that this class serves as an excellent opportunity for citizen 50 and older to sharpen their driving abilities and learn skills that might even save their lives.”

Foster said that the previous classes received rave reviews from the attendees and that this class offers citizens an opportunity to sharpen driving skills and make themselves safer as they operate a vehicle on the roads.

The class will be taught on Wednesday, March 5, 2008, from 8:00AM until 5:00PM at Piedmont Technical College located at 540 Wilson Road, Newberry, SC.

While there is no charge for the class, there is a $10.00 fee for materials. To register for the class, you can call the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2211 and ask for Sheriff Foster or Major Todd Johnson or e-mail your request to lfoster@newberrycounty.net. Please provide your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address if you have one when you register for the class. Space is limited to the first 35 people so please register early.

Attendees may receive a reduction on their automobile insurance; however, the reduction amounts vary depending on the insurance company.

“The course offers more information about various safe driving strategies, including how to handle distractions, aggressive drivers and driving with trucks,” says Jeff Jefcoat, who will be the instructor of the class. “The course also includes expanded and improved video presentations on a number of important driving topics.”

To ensure 50+ drivers stay safe behind the wheel, the course’s curriculum has been updated to reflect the most current driving information and safety tips available. The driver safety course is designed to educate participants about how best to reduce traffic violations, crashes, and chances for injuries; update driver’s knowledge about relevant laws; and provide safe driving strategies to compensate for age-related changes that affect one’s ability. The eight hour course, typically taught in two four-hour sessions, also stresses the importance of periodically monitoring one’s own and other’s driving skills and capabilities.

Updates to the edition 6 curriculum addresses such topics as:

- How overall fitness affects driving

- Important strategies for staying crash-free

- Challenges of city vs. rural driving

- Tips for highway driving and driving with trucks, buses, and other large vehicles

- Understand a vehicle’s safety features and new vehicle technology

- Tips for trying other transportation

- Warning signs of unsafe driving

Over the past 28 years, the AARP Driver Safety Program has provided instruction to more than 10 million participants seeking to refresh their driving skills. The course is taught throughout the U.S. by roughly 10,000 AARP – trained volunteers.


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