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Current Local News on WKDK and WKDK.com

Prosperity Police Chief Resigns/
SLED to Investigate Missing Funds

Suspects Sought in Drive-By Shooting
County Council Reports
PTC to Pursue Renovation of Abandoned Wal-Mart Building
Scott's Creek Flooding Investigation
Report presented at City Council Meeting on 11/17/09
Click HERE for PDF presentation version
Prosperity Run-off Election
School Policy Updates
MADD's Red Ribbon Service is November 20

Scroll below to see earlier news stories

 

For 2008-early 2009 news stories, click HERE.











Prosperity Police Chief Resigns/SLED to Investigate Missing Funds
(added 11/25/09)

Prosperity Town Council held a special called meeting on Tuesday night (Nov. 24). Following executive session, Mayor Larry Spotts announced that Prosperity Police Chief Craig Nelson had resigned. Council then unanimously approved former Chief Benji Sease to serve as Acting Chief. According to the uncertified mintues, Mayor Spotts then stated that "there was an allegation of missing funds and SLED will be called in to investigate." No timeline is known at this time for the investigation.

With Sease acting in an administrative and investigative capacity only and another officer on maternity leave, Prosperity will be down to only one full time active patrol officer. Town Administrator Karen Livingston stated that the Newberry County Sheriff's Office has been very helpful with patrols during Prosperity's struggle to keep a fully staffed police. The Town of Prosperity is also accepting applications for certified officers at this time.



Suspects Sought in Drive-By Shooting
(added 11/24/09)

Law enforcement officers in Newberry County are asking for your assistance in locating the suspect or suspects responsible for a drive-by shooting of a home near Prosperity this morning.

This morning at about 4:15am, someone fired several rounds from a small caliber handgun into a home located on Benson Drive in Prosperity. Deputies say that the house was struck at least five times by the bullets. There were three people in the home at the time of the incident; however, no was injured during the incident. To protect the victims, officers say they do not want to identify the residence or victims until the suspects are located and arrested.

Neighbors reported to deputies that they heard several gunshots and then heard a vehicle speed away. A Deputy Sheriff was in the general area and arrived on scene in three minutes; however, the vehicle had already fled the area. No vehicle description could be obtained.

Investigators are asking anyone with any information about this incident to contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office or Crimestoppers immediately. A substantial reward is being offered for information in this case.

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

 

County Council Reports
(added 11/19/09)

A Plan for the Old Library

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (Nov. 18) and heard an update from the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society’s subcommittee for the old library. The recommendation is to turn the old library aka old post office into a Commerce, Tourism and Historical Center. The goal is to give visitors a look at "Newberry As It Was, As It Is, and As It Can Be" all in one location. The building would house the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society, Newberry County Chamber of Commerce, local historical archives, local business promotion mall, and storage for museum-quality, historical artifacts. Council took the presentation as information. Councilman Les Hipp, who was a member of the committee, asked that Council put the item on the agenda for the first meeting in December because if approved the committee plans to pursue capital sales tax dollars. See below for actual papers presented at the meeting.


Medic 2 to Silverstreet During the Day

When County and EMS administration began looking into the move of Medic 2 to Silverstreet, it was discovered that setting up a 24 hour station in the Silverstreet Fire Station would require $65,000 for sleeping quarters for both men and women, etc. Council approved a plan that would move EMS Medic 2 to the Silverstreet facility during the day only. With limited set up cost, the change will be in place by January 1. Administration will monitor response times from the Silverstreet facility. The move was perpetuated by an interest to cut back and move a Quick Response Vehicle out of Chappells.

Voter Registration/Clemson Extension on the Move

Council also approved third reading to amend the budget to allow for relocation of the Voter Registration in the Bi-Lo shopping center since the "visible signs of mold" displaced the office from the Courthouse basement. To pay for the rent and the move, $44, 342 will be re-appropriated from an escrow account set aside for a new Sheriff’s Office. $55,658 will also be moved from that escrow account to cover the state’s miscalculation of the state appropriation to subdivisions. After executive session, council authorized County Administrator Wayne Adams to negotiate for the lease of a building on Harrington St. to house Clemson Extension since they are being displaced by county offices moving out of the courthouse.

Solid Waste Management Plan and Road Standards Ordinance Approved

Council approved final reading on updates to the Solid Waste Management Plan and the Road Standards ordinance. The road standards standardize the county road ordinances so that they are more uniform. Changes include right-of-way now being defined as 50 feet (25 feet on either side of the centerline). The county will not even consider a road for acceptance until all easements are included in the application. The ordinance also sets out standards by which special exceptions will be granted including the acceptance of state or federal roads where three years of documents can be presented.

Cannon Swamp Road Bridge Closed

Council approved the closing of Cannon Swamp Road Bridge. The landowner will give the land for turnarounds and provide the surveys. The county will pay to bring down the old bridge.

Commercial Fee for Land Debris

Residents and municipalities will still be able to dump yard debris at the transfer station just as they do now. Council passed first reading, however, to begin charging $25 per ton for yard debris brought in by tree cutting or commercial businesses.

FILOT for Loblolly Green Power

First reading also passed to approve a standard Fee In Lieu of Tax agreement with Loblolly Green Power. This biomass power plant will provide 25-30 jobs paying approximately $50,000. Even with the FILOT agreement Loblolly will be one of the largest tax payers in Newberry County once operational.

No Commercial Campgrounds in R-2

First reading of changes to R-2 special exceptions failed. The ordinance would have allowed for commercial campgrounds. Councilman Edgar Baker stated that council voted this down once before and that he would vote against it again. He went on to say that most of the interest in this exception was from those wanting to house temporary workers from the nuclear plant. He pointed out that the campers would most likely not be registered in Newberry County so not paying taxes here. He also reiterated that additional law enforcement could be needed for such a large campground. Council voted to deny commercial campgrounds in R-2 rural.

JF Hawkins/Springfield Rate Increase

Council approved increase in the private care rate at JF Hawkins/Springfield Place. With Medicaid saying that the cost of care is now at $158.13, they will now pay that amount as long as private pay is equal or greater. The increase will generate around $170,000 for the operation and will be required to break even again this year. The price increase keeps the amount within range of the surrounding nursing homes.

Council passed a resolution recognizing November as National Home Health and Hospice Month.

 

Committee Presents Uses for Old Library
(added 11/19/09)

A presentation was made to Newberry County Council last night by the Committee investigating uses for the Old Library. Council took it as information, and Councilman Les Hipp asked that Council take up the issue at the first December meeting. The committee plans to request that the old library project be a penny sales tax project if citizens vote to continue the capital sales tax.

Below are the sheets presented to County Council; click on photos to view larger versions.




 

PTC to Pursue Renovation of Abandoned Wal-Mart Building
(added 11/18/09)

Sample of PTC Front Elevations (PDF format)

On Wednesday, Piedmont Technical College officials announced they have secured an option to purchase a former Wal-Mart building for possible renovation as a new satellite campus in Newberry. Officials at the school have also decided to pursue a spot on Newberry County’s November 2010 capital project sales tax ballot as a means of funding the project. The proposed renewal and re-use effort would bring back to life an empty “big box” retail building of the kind that is increasingly common in communities across the country. The specific re-use of the building would include increased classroom space, a new jobs-specific training program, and room for growth at a satellite campus that has outstripped student enrollment projections in recent years.

According to Piedmont Tech President Ray Brooks, the expanded campus would be a draw for the recruitment of industry to Newberry County, because of a highly-adaptable job skills training lab. At the same time, course offerings would be expanded, allowing local students to earn more of their college credits less expensively and closer to home.

“Technical colleges are about real-world job skills and accessible education. If this project is approved by the sales tax commission and the voters, it will significantly improve economic opportunities for the people of Newberry County,” said Brooks in a November 17 press release. “It would be the most advanced technical college satellite campus in our seven-county area, and perhaps in the state of South Carolina.”

To renovate the long-empty 70,000 square foot retail space on Wilson Road, the college is seeking $6 million in one-cent revenues, which would come from the continuation of an existing sales tax that has been in place in Newberry County since 1998. But in order to gain a place on the 2010 ballot, college officials must first convince both county officials and the recently-appointed Capital Project Sales Tax Commission.

“We’re not taking anything for granted,” said Jim Klauber, a senior vice president designated by Piedmont Tech to spearhead the project. “Many worthy projects will be considered by the commission, but we feel this one holds great value for the future of the entire county, especially for those citizens who need to compete for better and more stable jobs.”

Piedmont Tech’s early start in seeking ballot approval is driven partially by state requirements, which include approval by the State Budget and Control Board and the Commission on Higher Education. These prerequisites have necessitated preliminary architectural work for the facility, as well as the securing of the purchase option on the former Wal-Mart building.

“It’s an energetic start because we believe in the project,” said Klauber, while conceding that waiting several months would make it impossible to jump through all the state-level bureaucratic hoops in time to make it onto the ballot. The sales tax commission has set March 10, 2010, as the deadline for proposal submissions.


 

Prosperity Run-off Election
(added 11/17/09)

Incumbent Alan Gallman and former county councilman Mike Hawkins have been elected to serve on Prosperity Town Council. In Tuesday's run-off, Gallman received 173 votes while Hawkins garnered 145 votes. Those two will fill the vacant seats on Town Council. Former mayor Bruce Connelly received 125 votes and finished third in the run-off.

Two weeks ago councilman Derek Underwood was elected Mayor over incumbent Mayor Larry Spotts.

 

School Policy Updates
(added 11/17/09)

Postponed

Newberry County School Board met last night (November 16) and postponed second reading of updates to district policies. Most of these updates recommended by the SC School Board Association and many simply ratifying current practices. At the last board meeting, the policy updates which included verbiage pledging nondiscrimination regarding immigrant status caused much dialogue. Both Attaway and Ike Bledsoe voted against first reading at the last meeting. Attaway made the motion on Monday night to table the issue until more information could be made available.

Budget Cut Update

School District CFO Susan Dowd stated that no one has a crystal ball, but that the Board of Economic Advisors was projecting a 2% adjustment. This could mean an additional 3% EFA and a 2% EIA cut for Newberry County public schools.

Mrs. Dowd reminded the Board that a 4% state budget cut has already been realized as a $630,000 cut in state EFA funding. Mrs. Dowd warned that the next cut could wipe out the contingency funding causing the district to look at other options including furloughs.

Say Goodbye to Sassy

The districts permanent records including attendance and grades has been handled for the past 10 years by a program named Sassy. Since support for Sassy will no longer be available after July of 2010, the state has mandated that all districts convert to Microsoft’s Power School. Newberry County is planning to go live January 14 with Power School. Over 60 people have gone through live training and over 400 teachers have gone through data entry training. There is state funding for the change.

 

MADD's Red Ribbon Service is November 20
(added 11/17/09)

Celebrating 20 Years of Ceremony

MADD Newberry County's Red Ribbon Service is Friday, November 20, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church
(1605 Main Street, Newberry), at 7:00 PM.

Special Guests include the Honorable Ronnie Cromer. Senator, SC District 18; Jerry Peace, Solicitor, 8th Judicial District; Sheriff Lee Foster; Catherine Angus, Professional Speaker; and The Reverend Eddie Bledsoe, Soloist.

A Candlelight Vigil Of Hope and Remembrance will be held to remember those killed and injured by drunken drivers. The Candlelight Vigil is a poignant memorial to victims of drunken driving. Candles will be lit in remembrance of loved ones and drunken driving crash victims.

The public is invited to attend.

 


Miss Merry Christmas Pageant Supports Sheriff's Toy Drive
(added 11/17/09)

The Miss Merry Christmas Pageant in Newberry is joining forces with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office Toy Drive this weekend to help make the holiday season better for the less fortunate.

The Miss Merry Christmas Pageant will offer free admission to anyone bringing a new unwrapped toy to the door of the pageant.

The Miss Merry Christmas Pageant will take place on Saturday, November 21, at the Alumni Music Hall on the campus of Newberry College. The pageant will begin at 10:00am.

Please take advantage of this opportunity to support both the Miss Merry Christmas Pageant and help the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office meet the needs of under privileged children in Newberry County.

 

Holiday Safety Tips on Monday's Coffee Hour
(added 11/13/09)

Allison Dean Love, executive director South Carolina Insurance News Service, will suggest a variety of ”hot tips” for holiday safety during WKDK’s “On the Move with Margaret” broadcast Monday, November 16, 9:30 a.m.

'
Tis the season to protect your home from burglary: While over half million South Carolinians are planning to travel over the holidays, burglars may be planning to take advantage of those unoccupied houses. Nine out of ten household burglaries are preventable. Light, time and noise make the difference. A burglar won’t
find your home an easy target if he or she is forced to work in the light, take a lot of time breaking in, and if the crime makes a lot of noise. One quarter of all home burglaries occur during the winter months. Most insurance companies give discounts for devices that make a home safe with installation of deadbolt locks, window grates, bars and smoke/fire/burglar alarms. Protect your home with security lights and by trimming trees and shrubbery.

Hear these and more tips for the holidays on Monday's "On the Move with Margaret" at 9:30 a.m.

 

Campaign Kickoff for Mick Zais
(added 11/12/09)

Newberry College President Dr. Mick Zais will be announcing his campaign to seek the Republican nomination for State Superintendent of Education. The Mick Zais for Education committee will hold a campaign kickoff today at the Newberry Opera House from 5:30-6:30PM.

 

 

Video Poker Operation Bust in Newberry
(added 11/10/09)

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster says that a man who was operating a video poker operation in his home has been arrested and charged with operating an illegal gambling facility. Foster says that the arrest comes as the result of a several month long investigation into the operation.

Sheriff Foster says that late yesterday afternoon, officers with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and the State Law Enforcement Division executed a search warrant at a residence located at 31 Boundary Street in Newberry after investigators received information that illegal video poker machines were being operated in the home.

Foster said that, once inside the residence, the officers located six (6) illegal video poker machines. He said that the owner was allowing people to play the machines and was making cash payoffs if credits were accrued. These machines are illegal in South Carolina.

Foster identified the person arrested as William Albert Mosely, 61, of Newberry, SC 29108. He was charged with Possession of Illegal Gambling Devices and Operating an Illegal Gambling House. Mosely was released from custody this morning on a $20,000 personal appearance bond.

Authorities say there were people playing machines when they executed the search warrant; however, they were reprimanded and released.

Authorities say that they seized several hundred dollars in money as well as the illegal poker machines from the residence. While the money will likely be forfeited during the prosecution of the case, the video machines will be destroyed after the case is adjudicated.

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

 

Sheriff's Office Planning Toys for Children Program
(added 11/09/09)


The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is again planning their toys for children program. “We want this to be a great holiday season for everyone, especially the children” said Sheriff Foster.

Sheriff Foster says that the Sheriff’s Office will be partnering with the Newberry Community Choir, The Miss Merry Christmas Pageant, and others to attempt to meet the needs of the children of Newberry County.

“We will not be able to accomplish this without the kindness and support of the people of Newberry County,” said Sheriff Foster. “We continue to meet needs of the community for law enforcement and as a partner in the community; however, it was extremely close last year and it appears that this year’s demand will be even higher.”

If you would be willing to participate in the program, you can drop your financial contribution or a new, unwrapped toy off at the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office located at 520 Wilson Road, Newberry, Monday thru Friday from 8:30AM to 5:00PM. If you cannot stop your contribution by, you call the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office from 8:30AM to 5:00PM at (803) 321-2211 or e mail Sheriff Foster directly at lfoster@newberrycounty.net to have a deputy stop by your home or work to pick up your donation.

“It is going to be a difficult year, but I have seen the people of this great county come together time and time again, and I convinced that now that the community is aware of the great need many will respond to offer love and assistance to their neighbor,” Foster said.

 

"Soapy Murder Case" Starts This Weekend at The Ritz
(added 11/05/09)

The Newberry Community Players present "Soapy Murder Case" at The Ritz Theater (1511 Main St.) in Downtown Newberry November 6-8, and November 13-15.

Friday and Saturday shows are 8pm and Sunday matinees are at 3pm.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students/seniors/military. Groups of 15 or more can receive a $8 per ticket price.

The Newberry Opera House is an Advance Ticket Outlet; call (803) 276-6264 or visit www.newberryoperahouse.com.

 

 

 

Prosperity Election Results
(added 11/03/09)

Prosperity Town Councilman Derek Underwood has been elected Mayor of Prosperity. Underwood received 231 votes in Tuesday's election while incumbent Larry Spotts received 109.

In the race for two seats on town council,no candidate received a plurality of votes. As a result, there will be a runoff in two weeks between incumbent councilman Allen Gallman Jr. who received 146 votes , former County Councilman Mike Hawkins who revived 145 votes and former Mayor Bruce Connelly who received 140 votes. That run-off will be held on November 17th.

Other vote totals in the council race were: Catherine Eldridge 89 votes, Robert H. Martin Jr. 110 votes and Andy Stout 26 votes.

 

Newberry Man Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges
(added 11/03/09)

COLUMBIA, South Carolina - United States Attorney W. Walter Wilkins stated that Terrio Tyrell Jones, age 29, of Newberry, entered a guilty plea on Monday to all counts of a federal drug indictment moments before the trial was set to begin. The indictment alleged that Jones possessed with the intent to distribute large amounts of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, ecstacy, and marijuana on multiple occasions between December of 2006 and March of 2009. United States District Judge Henry F. Floyd of Spartanburg accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

Evidence in the case established that in December 2006, officers with the Newberry Police Department stopped Jones at a license checkpoint. Jones did not have a valid driver’s license and initially gave officers a false name. The officers discovered a ziplock freezer bag containing 12.20 grams of crack cocaine, 2.07 grams of cocaine, 17ecstasy pills, and $656 in cash.

In June 2007, deputies with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office encountered Jones on Brown Chapel Road. As a deputy approached, Jones ran away, discarding a digital scale as he fled. The deputy caught Jones and recovered a bag he was carrying that contained 49.62 grams of crack cocaine, 6.95 grams of cocaine, 3 ecstasy pills, and 45 grams of marijuana.

In July 2008, a trooper with the South Carolina Highway Patrol observed a vehicle turn into a driveway in what he believed was an effort to avoid a license checkpoint. After noticing an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, the officer asked Jones, who had given him a false name, to step out of the vehicle. After Jones attempted to run, the officer secured him and retrieved a Newport cigarette pack that Jones dropped. The pack contained 1.58 grams of crack cocaine.

Lastly, in March 2009, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office received a call that Jones was sitting in a vehicle at an apartment complex in Newberry County and was in possession of drugs. Deputies responded, and Jones attempted to drive away as they approached. A brief vehicle pursuit led to a foot chase, and Jones was arrested. Deputies retraced Jones’ path and found 283.55 grams of marijuana he had discarded.

Jones faces a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of five years in federal prison and a possible maximum sentence of 40 years, and a fine of $4 million dollars.

The case was investigated by the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, the Newberry Police Department, the South Carolina Highway Patrol, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Assistant United States Attorneys Lance Crick and Andy Moorman of the Greenville Office handled the case.

 

Fight Leaves One Dead; Deputies Looking for Suspect
(added 11/02/09)

UPDATE (11/02/09 PM): The search has ended for Raymond Robinson. He was found hiding near his family’s home. He was taken into custody without incident and was transported for medical treatment.

UPDATE (11/03/09): Robinson remains hospitalized this morning and is scheduled for surgery for a stab wound to his eye. He is under law enforcement guard at the hospital. No time frame has been given for his release from the hospital following the surgery.

A fight between two men has left one of them dead and law enforcement searching for the other. Law enforcement officers say that alcohol played a significant factor in the altercation.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster says that officers received a call Sunday afternoon just before 6PM, they received a 911 call about a man lying in the roadway on Olive Road. Officers say that when they located the man, they rolled him from his back to his face and found that he was holding a knife by the handle in his right hand. The officers also found a wooden handle kitchen knife in his front pocket. Deputies say that the found the man had been stabbed in just under his breastbone. He was transported by air to Palmetto Richland Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 10:30PM.

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office has identified the deceased as James Jimmy Wise Sr., 51, of 97 Olive Road Lot 18, Newberry, SC.

Officers are now searching for the man that Wise fought with last night. They have identified him as Raymond Robinson (left), 51, 1530 Oxner Road, Newberry, SC. Warrants will be issued for Robinson this morning charging him with Murder. He has already been entered into NCIC as a wanted person.

Deputies say that they believe from the evidence found at the crime scene that Robinson was also injured in the incident; however, they do not know the extent of the injuries at this time.

The incident took place at a mutual friend's home at 60 Olive Road in Newberry.

Law enforcement officers will be busy throughout the remainder of the day continuing to interview witnesses and searching for the suspect. More information will be released as it becomes available.

Both men have significant prior criminal records.

Anyone with any information as to the whereabouts of Raymond Robinson should contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2222.

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

 

NCMH Board Report
(added 10/29/09)

Below is a summary of the Board actions and major discussions at the NCMH Board meeting on Tuesday night:

1) Auditors from Dixon-Hughes provided the hospital an Unqualified Opinion, which is the best result possible. An Unqualified Opinion means that all financial information is materially correct and could be relied upon to make a decision. The auditors are continuing to conduct additional analysis of accounts receivable. This review is to ensure that this estimated number accurately reflects the amount that can actually be collected so that our financial reserves can be set at an appropriate level. Their presentation provided a very positive comparison between the financial standing of NCMH and a peer group of hospitals that Dixon-Hughes audits. It also noted some areas of improvement that are already in the process of being corrected.

2) The Board of Trustees approved the following purchases:

A refurbished portable x-ray machine ($31,179)

A tissue embedding station to replace inoperable equipment ($12,500)

An upgraded T-System for the ED. This updated computer program for the ED will allow for the transfer of information between the T-System and the hospital’s Meditech Electronic Medical Record. ($140,196)
A fetal monitoring server upgrade. This equipment is critical to central monitoring for OB patients. ($23,408.39)

3)The Board of Trustees also approved the financial report for September which showed a positive margin of $22,549 for hospital operations. There was a loss of $253,100 from consolidated operations, which is 8% better than last Septembers results. July, August and September are typically slow financial months at the hospital.

4)The Board members acknowledged the contributions of both CFO Sheldon Bontreger and Foundation Director Sydney Norris, who were attending their last Board meeting. Sheldon has accepted a job in Greenwood. Sydney will be joining her husband, who is in the seminary at Sewanee - The University of the South. She will be working for the university in fundraising. Interim CFO Steve Anderson was introduced. He has been working with Sheldon so that there will be a smooth transition.

5) Interim CEO Ron Vigus presented a summary report of the hospital. He identified two areas of concern and strategies to improve these areas. They were:

* Volume is declining due to loss of primary care physicians. To improve this important area, he noted that we need to pursue the following strategies:

Focusing on recruiting primary care physicians

Marketing services to the community

Providing competitive facilities and services are all important actions to reduce this negative trend.

* Expenses are growing faster than revenues. We must continue to control FTEs (Full Time Equivalent or number of employees) and other expenses.

6) Board Chairperson Joe Trainor introduced and welcomed new Board member John Pugh. With Pugh’s appointment, all seats on the Board are now filled.

School Board Reports
(added 10/27/09)

Policy Regarding Illegal Immigrants Sparks Conversation

Newberry County School Board met last night (October 26) and approved first reading of updates to district policies. Most of these updates recommended by the SC School Board Association and many simply ratifying current practices. Several included verbiage pledging nondiscrimination regarding immigrant status. School Board member Jody Hamm stated, "I find it very ironic that we worked so hard to decide where people live [when it comes to hardship transfers within the district], but we are forced to take people who don’t even belong here."

Assistant Superintendent Cynthia Downs who presented all of the board policy changes stated, "This is case law and we must abide by that. We have been abiding by this law within our district for a long time."

Board member Lee Attaway asked for a copy of the US Supreme Court decision Plyler vs. Doe on which the rule is based. Both Attaway and Ike Bledsoe voted against first reading. Second and final reading should be on the agenda for the November 16 board meeting. Note that the November board meeting will be a week early due to the busyness of the Thanksgiving holiday week.

Other policies included in the first reading vote dealt with school choice and sexual harassment. The federal No Child Left Behind legislation requires that the district provide School Choice for those Title I schools who missed AYP two years in a row. This year School Choice was provided for students at Reuben and Gallman Elementary Schools.

The sexual harassment policy was changed to a policy entitled student rights and responsibilities. A new section talks about a student’s right to a quality education and their responsibility to put forth their best effort. Students also have a right to advocate change in any policy. However, students may not advocate violation of federal, state, and local laws, or school policies. The sexual harassment portion of the policy is also expanded to include electronic forms of inappropriate behavior. This change is similar to an update to the employee policy book.

Again, Newberry County School Board will meet again to discuss second reading of these policies on November 16 at 7:30 in the Learning Center.

Turnover/Employment Report at School Board

Newberry County School Board met last night (October 26) and heard a report from Human Resources Director Pam Arrrington. There were only 36 teachers hired this year as opposed to 69 last year. Of those hired, 16 were first time teachers. There were no long-term sub positions this year as opposed to last year starting with 5 and starting 06/07 with 11. There were 8 teacher transfers within the district as opposed to 5 last year. There were only 2 administrative transfers as opposed to 4 last year. As a recent board meeting, Superintendent Bennie Bennett made the statement that intra-district staff transfers could be a growing trend across the state as districts struggle to keep student/teacher ratios down.

Of those hired only 12% were minorities as opposed to 23% last year. School Board member Clyde Hill questioned this difference. Mrs. Arrington stated that the percentage was affected by the lower number of overall hires and that the Diversity Recruitment Committee was working on strategies for increasing those numbers next year.

Turnovers were down to 9% as opposed to 16% in 04/05. The largest number of those leaving the district (12 of the 47) left the profession all together. For the first time in several years, there was a reduction in force of 3 people last year.

National Merit Scholars

Also at the school district meeting, Mittie Parr and Andrew Nichols were both honored for being National Merit Scholars. Less than 5% of the students who take the PSAT in the nation receive this designation.

Financial Awards

For the 12th consecutive year, the School District Finance Department received Excellence in Finance Reporting awards from the American Association School Business Officers and the Governmental Finance Officers Association.

Budget Cut Update

School District CFO Susan Dowd reported that the predicted 4% state budget cut was realized as a $630,000 cut in state EFA funding. This cut will be absorbed by a contingency fund built into the 09/10 budget thanks to stimulus funding. Mrs. Dowd warned that any subsequent state cuts could mean tough decisions.

Technology Grant

Assistant Superintendent Cynthia Downs announced a $240,000 E2T2 federal technology grant. The grant pays for additional white board systems and for the hiring of a Technology Coach. The Coach will train teachers to effectively utilize the smart board equipment, school principals on using technology to get the most out of testing data, and even teach parents during technology nights. This is a one-year grant. However, Dr. Downs stated that her department would be aggressively searching for additional funding to keep the position past the one year term.

Newberry County School Board will meet for a board retreat during November, but their next regular meeting will actually be on an irregular day. Whereas the board usually meets on the fourth Monday of each month, in November the board will meet on the third Monday November 16 to avoid the busy Thanksgiving week.

 

Sheriff Foster Issues Safety Tips for Halloween
(added 10/27/09)

Halloween is rapidly approaching and Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster is issuing safety tips for parents and their children to enjoy a safe and happy Halloween.

Sheriff Foster said that before you leave home for trick-or-treating you should check the following:

- Make sure children wear light or neon colors. Adding reflective tape to any costume will help drivers see them as well.

- Young children should never go trick or treating alone. They should always be accompanied by an adult.

- Make sure the costumes are flame retardant.

- Keep costumes short to prevent trips, falls, and other bumps in the night. The leading cause of Halloween injuries is falls.

- Young children should always go trick-or-treating with an adult.

- Trick-or-treaters should be in groups so they aren't a tempting target for real-life bad guys. It's always a good idea that adults go along with children, especially young ones. Make sure older kids trick or treat with friends, rather than alone.

- Have your kids to trick-or-treat while it's still light outside. If it's dark, make sure each child has a flashlight or glow stick, and pick well-lit streets.

Sheriff Foster said that while Trick-or-Treating, children and parents should follow these safety rules:

- Stop only at familiar houses where the lights are on.

- Accept treats only in the doorway. Never go inside a house.

- Parents should walk younger children to the door of each house.

- Remind children not to approach a stranger's car, and NEVER get in one.

- Walk, do not run.

- Walk on sidewalks and driveways.

- Cross the street at the corner or in a crosswalk.

- Be very cautious of strangers.

- Only give or receive wrapped candy.

- Wait until you get home and your parents check your candy before you eat it.

- Do not eat any candy that appears to have been opened or tampered with in any way.

- Remember the Halloween candy safety rule, when in doubt throw it out.

- Always use common sense.

Sheriff Foster said law enforcement across the county will have extra officers on duty for patrols, traffic, and additional protection for pedestrians and motorists.

“It is my hope that parents, children, and law enforcement will work together to insure a safe and happy Halloween for all,” said Sheriff Foster.


Classic Horror Movies at The Ritz on Halloween
(added October 27, 2009)

Saturday, October 31, 2009 7pm-2am
Admission: $5
Ritz Theater, 1511 Main Street, Newberry, SC 29108

Movies: Little Shop of Horrors, The House on Haunted Hill, Night of the Living Dead, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Vintage Commercials, Horror/Cult Movie Trailers

The Newberry Community Players and The Ritz theater in historic downtown Newberry will host a fundraiser this Halloween showing four horror movie classics, vintage commercials and trailers. Funds will benefit the Newberry Community Players who own The Ritz Theater in Downtown Newberry. This event is being sponsored by Munson Music.

October marks The Ritz theater's seventy-third anniversary. When it opened its doors in October 1936 it was described as a “modern house of entertainment,” being the first theater in the south to have a “Microphonic Sound” system. On opening night the audience was greeted by Newberry mayor J.W. Earhardt, the music of Gene Cole's orchestra, and its main feature was “Picadilly Jim” starring Robert Montgomery. The Art Deco movie theater closed in the early seventies and was eventually purchased by the Newberry Community Players who continue to use the facilities for drama productions and workshops to the present. The Ritz Halloween Fundraiser will mark the first showing of a motion picture in its auditorium in over 30 years.

Doors open at 7pm Halloween night, Saturday, October 31. Main features include Little Shop of Horrors (1960) starring a young Jack Nicholson, The House on Haunted Hill (1959) with Vincent Price, the original Night of the Living Dead (1968) followed by a midnight showing of Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959). Films will be shown in the main auditorium and in the lobby with concessions. Admission is $5 for all four films and audience members may come and go as they wish.

Attendance is not required to help restore the Ritz. The Newberry Community Players are a non-profit and donations are tax-deductible. Please make donations payable to: Ritz Halloween Fundraiser – NCP c/o Munson Summer, 1504 Main Street, Newberry, SC 29108. For more information call Munson Music at 803-405-0570.


 

NCP Children's Workshop Registration Continues
(added 10/23/09)

The Newberry Community Players' "Saturdays at The Ritz" Children's Theater Workshops started last Saturday (October 17).

Ellen Hunt helps the students learn through playing theater games.

The workshops last for a total of 11 weeks culminating in a student showcase in January. The workshops cost $80 per student and $50 each additional siblings. Payment plans and scholarships are available.

Registration will continue this Saturday (October 24) at 10am. For more information call 924-7058.


 

Newberry Man Arrested in Internet Predator Sting
(added 10/22/09)

Attorney General Henry McMaster announced today that Edward Rosson Slaton, 22, of 2314 Old Jollystreet Road in Prosperity, South Carolina, was arrested on October 19, 2009, in an Internet Predator sting conducted by the City of Mauldin Police Department.

The City of Mauldin Police Department is a member of the Attorney General's Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.

Slaton was arrested on one (1) count of Criminal Solicitation of a Minor (§16-15-342), a felony offense punishable to ten (10) years imprisonment.

An arrest warrant alleges that beginning on July 28, 2009, Slaton solicited sex on the Internet from an individual he believed to be a thirteen (13) year old girl. In reality, he was soliciting sex from an undercover Mauldin Police officer.

Slaton was assigned a bond of $25,000.

A search warrant executed on Slaton's residence resulted in the seizure of three (3) laptop computers and one (1) desktop computer. The Newberry County Sheriff's Office assisted in the case.

This is the one hundred seventy-seventh (177th) arrest for the Task Force.

The case will be prosecuted by the Attorney General's Office.

McMaster stressed that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.

 

Assistance Sought in Identifying Theft Suspects
(added 10/21/09)

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and Prosperity Police Department are asking for your assistance to identify two people they say are responsible for thefts in the Prosperity and Little Mountain areas.

On October 7, 2009, the two suspects entered the Prosperity Town Square Antique Shop located downtown Prosperity. They were able to break the hasp from a display case and took several antique Derringer pistols. The property stolen was valued at roughly $1500.00.

The same day the suspects went into the Little Mountain Antique mall located on Highway 76 in Little Mountain and pried open a case and took rings from a jewelry. The property stolen was valued at roughly $4000.00.

The suspects are described as:

White male approximately 6 foot tall and 150 pounds. He appeared to be in his late 50’s and was wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans. He was wearing gold rim glasses and had a white mustache and goatee.

White female approximately 5 foot 8 inches tall and about 250 pounds. She had blondish hair and wore gold rim glasses. She too appeared to be in her late 50’s.

Below are some still photos of the surveillence video. To view the actual video from the theft at Prosperity Town Square Antique Shop, please click the following link:

Video
Because the video is in .dvr format, you may need to download a video viewer program to see it. The theft occurs at 10:46 on the timer.

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).



 

 

Capital Project Sales Tax Commission Holds First Meeting
(added 10/20/09)

The Capital Project Sales Tax Commission held orientation last night (October 19). Bond Attorney Theo DuBose explained that the Commissions job was to form the ballot questions for the 2010 ballot. The Commission will tackle both what items to be funding by the continuation of the penny sales tax and whether or not to pay as you go or take out a bond to start the projects up front.

Based on population the City of Newberry appointed two representatives to the Commission: Al Harvey (who served as Chairman last cycle) and Lisa Toland. They jointly appointed a third member representing another municipality: Renee Joiner of Prosperity. Newberry County Council appointed Dave Waldrop, Phil Spotts, and David Abrams. To avoid dual office holding, Mr. Abrams chose to remain a member of the Joint Planning Commission. County Council will appoint another member of the Commission at their Wednesday night meeting (October 21).

With a missing member last night, the Commission chose to not select a chairperson. They will take up that task, set an agenda format, and finalize meeting dates at their next regular meeting on November 2 at 6pm in the Courthouse Annex.

The next order of business that night will be defining submission criteria. Attorney DuBose estimated that the projects ran 30% over budget this current penny sales tax cycle thanks to "the perfect storm":

*China’s monopoly on construction materials,
*Hurricane Katrina’s rebuilding projects further demand on construction materials, and the adoption of the International Building Code between submission of applications and actual construction bids.

Longer preparation time for those submitting applications and those reviewing the applications could help prevent some of the construction overruns and ongoing obligations that went with the current penny sales tax list of projects. Instead of 4 months the Commission will have 10 months to complete their task. The Commission will consider criteria and deadlines this fall, answer questions in the fall, and consider applications in the spring. March 10 was a suggested deadline for applications.

But, how much detail will applicants be required to present? County Administrator Wayne Adams pledged that any project the county will submit will be "washed in the blood." He presented the Commission with a multiple page vetting system that the county will be using to come up with detailed construction estimates, how to pay for cost overruns if there are any unexpected costs once projects actually go to bid, and what ongoing cost will be associated with the project. In a joint letter, several mayors voiced concerns regarding the up front cost of presenting such a detailed proposal on a project that may not be funded. Two Commissioners, Al Harvey and Dave Waldrop, will work with the mayors, the City, Water and Sewer Authority, and county administration to complete a revised submission requirements list to submit to the full Commission at their November 2 meeting.

Little Mountain Mayor Buddy Johnson questioned the distribution of remaining funds from the current penny sales tax. Attorney DuBose stated that his interpretation is that the new statute regarding capital project sales tax applies to any existing sales tax. The most recent statute calls for any collections beyond the specific dollar amount allocated in the ballot question, to go towards the new set of projects if voters approve the capital sales tax November 2010. If County Council votes to not submit the ballot question or the ballot question fails, County Council has the authority to decide how the funds are appropriated as long as the funds are appropriated for projects on the list approved by statute.

The statute allows for the capital project penny sales tax to pay for roads, county facilities such as courthouses and jails, hospitals, cultural, recreational, historic, water & sewer, flood control projects, storm water, flood control projects, storm water management facilities, and technical educational facility. All projects must be submitted by a government entity or in conjunction with a government entity.

 

Teens and Cell Phones Training Sessions
(added 10/18/09)

Who could imagine being without their cell phone in today’s society, certainly not your teenager. Cell phones have become an essential part of life to many teenagers; however, it is important for both teens and their parents to understand that cell phones when used improperly can cause serious issues.

Sheriff Lee Foster said that a concerned parent contacted the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and requested a training presentation about some of the dangers involved with cell phones for kids. He said that after the first presentation at Little Mountain Elementary School, the Sheriff’s Office received several calls to repeat the program at area churches and schools.

“The program begins as simple as selecting a cell phone, and moves into more serious issues such as texting while driving, threats made via cell phone, and a relatively new phenomenon known as texting,” said Sheriff Foster.

The informative session is presented by Major Todd Johnson of the Sheriff’s Office and is designed for both the parent and teen together. There are currently three dates scheduled for the training session:

Sunday, October 18, 2009 – 6:00Pm - St. John’s Lutheran Church - Pomaria

Monday, October 19, 2009 – 6:00PM – Mid Carolina High School, School Improvement Council

Sunday, October 25, 2009 – 6:00PM – Holy Trinity Lutheran Church – Little Mountain

The public is invited to attend these sessions.

“We believe that educating and informing the public about relevant issues affecting them and their families is exactly what we should be doing as an effective community partner,” said Sheriff Foster. “These forums increase communication and foster relationships that will benefit Newberry County far into the future.”

 

City Council Meeting on October 13
(added 10/14/09)

Ordinance conveying property owned by City of Newberry passes after second reading

The second reading of an ordinance conveying property owned by the City of Newberry passed by a 7-0 vote on Tuesday night at the Newberry City Council meeting. In 1978, Burnest Wilson Neel conveyed a one acre parcel of property to the City of Newberry for the construction of a sewer lagoon. There was a stipulation that the property would be re-conveyed if the City abandoned use of the property. The City has recently received a request that the property be re-conveyed and is currently surplus to the City’s needs.

Resolution establishing Oakland redevelopment area tabled for further discussion

A resolution establishing the Oakland Mill Village as a redevelopment area and emphasizing the City Council’s for future availability to resources and innovative policies and procedures was tabled after lengthy discussion. Councilman Thomas Boyd proposed that the resolution be further examined by the council. The proposed resolution does not appropriate any funds, but was intended to show the City’s support behind the Oakland Mill redevelopment area.

John Mark Hall appeals staff decision requiring building permits for hot water heaters

In September of 2009, the City Manager approved a request from the Director of Planning and Development Services that the installation of hot water heaters should be subject to obtaining a building permit. The value of a hot water heater installation far exceeds the minimum value of work requiring a building permit, which is $300. John Mark Hall, a licensed plumber, spoke against this decision specifically citing the $25 fee to the house or building owner as a problem area. The City Council agreed to further discuss the hot water heater permit issue at next Tuesday’s work session.

Motion to accept annexation petition for Oakland Mill property passes

The Oakland Mill property, which consists of approximately 16.52 acres, is proposed for redevelopment for the mixed use of college housing and market rate apartments. The City and the developer, through active involvement in assisting the redevelopment activity and proposed project, have come to an agreement to annex the property. The developer will utilize City water and sewer services, but Duke Energy maintains the right to provide electricity to the redeveloped mill due to the prior service on the property. This petition received the approval of the Council by a 7-0 vote.

First reading to repeal Section 4-28 pertaining to sprinkler systems passes

By a unanimous vote, the first reading of an ordinance to repeal Section 4-28 of the City’s code of ordinances pertaining to sprinkler systems was passed by the Council. The repealing of the ordinance will result in the following of the International Building Code (IBC). The adoption of this ordinance would avoid duplication. There will be a second reading of this ordinance at the next Council meeting.

Additional notes from City Council

The Council agreed to the consideration of intergovernmental agreement with Newberry County for the reimbursement of infrastructure costs for the Oakland Mill project.

Mayor Kyzer and City Manager buds recognized Rick McCutcheon and Tim Cogdell for service with the City’s Utility Department. McCutcheon is in his 25th year of service and is the Electric Supervisor while Tim Cogdell is in this 5th year of service and holds the position of Waste Treatment Plant Supervisor.


 

County Council Finance Meeting
(added 10/13/09)

Mold in the Courthouse Basement Accelerates Clemson Ext. Building Rehab

The Newberry County Council Finance Subcommittee met Monday night (October 12) and discussed changes to the capital outlay budget for this fiscal year. When the Courthouse was renovated in 2001, the basement was dug out, expanded to include more offices, and plagued with water retention issues ever since. Upon inspection of the GIS office two weeks ago, County Administrator Wayne Adams, who saw “visible signs of mold,” authorized the move of the GIS office to the Sheriff’s facility.

At the Monday night meeting, Adams reported that the building department, which is adjacent to the GIS office, has already been moved into the Clemson Extension building. Zoning will be moved by the end of the week. Offices across the hall from the GIS office will also be relocated but not as quickly. Council discussed moving Voter Registration to a leased office for three year until a permanent home can be found, but they are not scheduled to move until after election day. Councilman Edgar Baker stated that he felt it was not appropriate to rent space when the county owns a building such as the old library. Councilman Les Hipp stated that moving into that building even temporarily would mean major rehab to the old library.

Due to its vicinity to the Courthouse, County Administration has already been looking at the Clemson Extension building as a potential home for non-court county offices. The mold in the Courthouse basement had accelerated those plans. The finance committee discussed changes to the capital outlay budget to accommodate the move into the facility. The Clemson Extension rehab budget goes from $156,000 to $644,000. The difference will be paid for with “left over funding” from series 2007 general revenue bond.

Those funds will also help fund a $295,600 budget for rehab the Courthouse basement. But, no substantial funds will be appropriated until a report comes back to council regarding a plan of action for elimination of the water retention problems. Testing is being done on the “signs of mold” that were discovered and air monitoring is being investigated. Engineers will also be taking wall samples, etc. to investigate the potential cause.

The entire council will take up these issues again at the October 21 regular meeting.

 

Men Wanted During Manhunt Taken Into Custody
(added 10/13/09)

Local law enforcement authorities say both men wanted during a manhunt Monday afternoon have been taken into custody. City of Newberry Police were called to a parking lot Monday afternoon where two men, later identified as Ernest Laverne Bolin and Donald Dwight Knowles II, were trying to sell a chainsaw. Police determined the car had been stolen. The suspects fled in the vehicle which later became stuck in a yard just outside the City Of Newberry. The men jumped out and fled on foot. The search took place in the Louis Rich Road and Airport road areas near Civitan Road.
The stolen car was from Aiken County. Police believe that more stolen items were in the car.

 

Blessing of Animals This Weekend
(added 10/09/09)

The Reverend Elizabeth Morgan, Rector, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, announces arrangements for the Liturgy of the Blessing of the Animals. The service is scheduled Sunday, October 11, 2009, 4:00 PM at Marion Davis Park, 1100 Kendall Road, Newberry. This event is being sponsored by the Downtown Ministerial Association.

This worship tradition honors St Francis of Assisi renowned for his love of animals and all God’s creation. The service offers an opportunity for pet owners to celebrate the unique relationship they have with their own animals and reflect and pray for those animals less fortunate. Farm and work animals are also welcome.

The service will include scripture readings, prayers, music and the opportunity for pets and owners to receive a mutual blessing. It is a blessing that will inspire all involved.

There will be an offering taken for the Newberry Animal Care and Control. Participants are encouraged to bring items such as dog and cat food, old but clean bedding and towels, cleaning supplies and old news paper as well. These items will be given to NACC.

This year’s service will be an ecumenical event sponsored by the member churches of the Downtown Ministerial Association of Newberry. Member churches are St. Luke’s Episcopal, Central United Methodist, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Aveligh Presbyterian, AR Presbyterian, Bethlehem Baptist, First Baptist, Miller Chapel AME and St Mark’s Roman Catholic.

The public is invited and parents are especially encouraged to bring children for a lesson in honoring God’s creatures. (Please remember pets must be on a leash or in a carrier for their safety.)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Pomaria is also sponsoring a Blessing of Animals on Sunday, October 11, at 3:30 PM. This is for all animal lovers, and the public is invited to attend.

Adults must accompany children, and pets are required to be leashed or in carriers.

 

 

County Council News
(added 10/06/09)

Mold Moves Out Employees from the Courthouse Basement

Two Newberry County Council subcommittees met Monday night (October 5) and discussed the visible signs of mold in the Courthouse basement and the repercussions. When the Courthouse was renovated in 2001, the basement was dug out and expanded to include more offices. Since then, the basement has been plagued with water retention issues. Upon inspection of the GIS office last week, County Administrator Wayne Adams, who saw "visible signs of mold," authorized the move of the GIS office to the Sheriff’s facility.

At the Monday night meeting, Adams reported that the building and zoning offices, which are adjacent to the GIS office would be next to move. The phones and technology lines will be ready within the next 10 days for the offices to move to the Clemson Extension building. Administration is exploring options for a new home for the remaining basement offices such as delinquent tax offices, voter registration, and economic development.

Renovation to the shell of the Clemson Extension building was already scheduled for one time capital outlay in this year’s budget. The Finance subcommittee will meet Oct. 12 to review capital projects. The greater demand for space within the Clemson Extension building could call for a shift in priorities on the capital projects list.

Newberry County Council’s next regular meeting of the full council will be a brief meeting on Wednesday at 4pm in the Courthouse Annex. Please note the change in the time.

EMS to Shift Locations/Request County Subsidy

The Public Safety and Courts subcommittee of County Council discussed EMS services at a meeting on Monday (October 5) evening. In an attempt to get the best coverage out of the available funds, EMS Director Bill Grigsby has been in discussion with county administration about separating Medic 1 and Medic 2, both of which are currently located at the Evans St. EMS station.

At the subcommittee meeting on Monday, the discussion was to:

Leave the full time Medic 1 at the Evan St. station
Move Medic 2 to the Silverstreet public safety building
Eliminate the QRV (Quick Response Vehicle) in Chappells/Silverstreet
Move a QRV unit to Pomaria for a daytime shift
Keep the full time EMS unit at Fairview
Keep 12 hour unit at Whitmire, with the potential for a QRV unit in Whitmire at night
These changes will be discussed in length at the October 21 county council meeting.

Sheldon Bontreiger, CFO at NCMH, reported to council that EMS services saw losses of over $95,000 in fiscal year 08/09. Half of the EMS budget comes from payment for services and half is subsidy from the county.

The hospital brought EMS billing in house during fiscal year 07/08 and have seen a strong collection rate since doing so. During the transition to in house billing there was some reinterpretation of the billing policy for ALS 1 and ALS 2, which is based on the amount of assistance required by the call. The billing policy change was one of the causes for inflated expectations in revenue for 08/09.

Administrator Adams suggested that an official agreement between the county and the hospital should be written up after all these years. He also suggested a move to a county special revenue fund for the EMS subsidy. For several years EMS has come in under budget and brought funds back to the county or allowed for capital outlays such as last year’s 12-lead EKG purchases. The new special revenue fund would be monitored to prepare for a "rainy day" such as last year’s revenue shortfall.

EMS’s 09/10 budget versus actual will be reviewed after the third quarter of this year. At which time, the county will discuss any additional subsidy to compensate the hospital for their coverage of the EMS losses in 08/09.

 

Wiseman Named Economic Development Ambassador of Year
(added 09/30/09)

Newberry County Economic Development office hosted the "Toast of the Town" Industry Appreciation reception Tuesday night. During the meeting Dr. Jimmy Wiseman was named as the Economic Development Ambassador of the Year for Newberry County. Dr. Wiseman is best known these days as the Newberry Opera House Foundation Chair. The catalyst for his interest in the restoration of the Opera House was economic development or revitilization of downtown. Dr. Wiseman was also a partner in the development of the Newberry Industrial Park. The economic development ambassador of the year is awarded each year through the Department of Commerce.

The SC Department of Commerce along with the Newberry County Economic Development office announced Monday that Dalkotech of Canada will be locating in an existing building near Komatsu. A current Komatsu supplier Dalkotech hopes to grow their business to other Southeastern customers. Jacques Iza, co-owner of Dalkotech, was onhand for the Industry Appreciation reception.


Dalkotech Announces New Facility in Newberry County
Investment expected to create 50 new jobs
(added 09/29/09)

The South Carolina Department of Commerce, Newberry County and the Central SC Alliance announced on Monday that Dalkotech will locate its new facility in Newberry County. The $600,000 investment is expected to generate 50 new jobs.

“The new facility will bring us into close proximity with our customers and give us a presence in the Southeastern U.S. We are pleased to locate the facility in Newberry County, which provides us with an excellent business environment and skilled labor force. We appreciate all the support we’ve received from state and local officials,” said Jacques Iza, vice president of Dalkotech.

Dalkotech is moving into a pre-existing building in the Newberry County Industrial Park and will outfit it with machinery and equipment shipped from its plants in Canada. The company plans to robotically weld large frame components for the Komatsu Corporation and other customers. The facility is expected to be online by the end of October.

“Dalkotech specializes in the production of welded and machined parts, meeting customer specifications in a variety of market areas. We are pleased to have them join the South Carolina business community and their investment in Newberry is a strong testament that our business-friendly climate, skilled workforce and exceptional market access are working to attract investment from across the globe. We welcome Dalkotech to South Carolina and look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with them in the years ahead,” said Joe Taylor, Secretary of Commerce.

“We are proud that Dalkotech chose Newberry County for its initial U.S. operation,” commented County Council Chairman Henry Livingston. “Today’s announcement not only brings new quality jobs to the County, but also reaffirms Newberry’s pro-business environment. We welcome Dalkotech as Newberry County’s newest corporate citizen.”

Central SC Alliance Chairman Jim Apple stated, “We welcome Dalkotech Inc to Newberry County. They join an impressive group of Canadian companies that have discovered the Central SC region as a superior business location. Further, Komatsu is a solid corporate citizen that continues to attract best-in-class suppliers to enhance their manufacturing process.”

The company plans to begin the hiring process in mid October to fill positions such as welders, robot programmers and machinists.

Dalkotech SC is a subsidiary of Dalkotech Inc., which based in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, and is specialized in the production of small, medium and large OEM components, as well as the fabrication of hydraulic tanks and fuel tanks. The company makes use of a lean manufacturing process and has customers across North America. The company produces parts to customer specifications for various applications, and parts are delivered complete, painted and ready for assembly lines. For more information, please contact Jacques Iza at jiza@dalkotech.com.

 

 

Ballentine Farm Museum Dedication Part of Ag Expo '09
(added 09/28/09)

Newberry County Ag Expo filled the fairgrounds this weekend. One of the events was the dedication of the Ballentine Farm Museum.

The Farm Museum, now under the umbrella of the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society, was begun by Bush River farmer Bill Ballentine. Around 50 people attend the official dedication and portrait unvailing including family members John Long and Donnie Layton who spoke about Bill Ballentine's passion for farming and the museum he began in the mid-80's. Museum Committee Chair Ernie Shealy stated that over 500 people visited the Farm Museum at its new home during the Ag Expo weekend.

The Farm Museum will be open by appointment until official hours can be established.

See more photos of the Farm Museum Dedication on our WKDK Photos page.

 

 

The Insiders in Newberry on October 8
(added 09/28/09)

Juvenile offenders from the Department of Juvenile Justice will provide basic and personal facts when they speak to an audience of youth and parents at the City of Newberry Safety Center courtroom, Nance Street. The program is scheduled for Thursday, October 8, 6:00 p.m. THE PUBLIC IS WELCOME.

THE INSIDERS is a community service-crime prevention project sponsored by the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice, Community in Schools. THE INSIDERS is a group of teens from DJJ, Columbia. They will provide simple advice and food for thought, remembering the choices that cost them their freedom and landed them behind chain-link fences topped with razor wire.

Department of Juvenile Justice is “home” to about 1,000 young inmates from the state, ages 12 to 17. Its facilities are no longer called “reform schools” or “home for troubled boys”, but prisons. Daily life involves a loss of privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of choice, and in most cases, loss of contact with most friends and family members.

Communities in Schools Inc, (CIS) is the largest stay-in school network in America that targets at-risk youth, offering an alternate approach to education. The Communities in Schools at the Department of Juvenile Justice serves as a national model in a juvenile correctional facility, being the first of its kind in the nation.

Andy Broughton, who guides THE INSIDERS program, states that DJJ has six teens that travel around the state delivering personal lessons. All INSIDERS are required to maintain absolutely spotless records from day to day in order to keep their membership on THE INSIDERS team.

Each speaking engagement follows a format of general overview of Department of Juvenile Justice Cities in Schools. THE INSIDERS follow with personal testimonials. The program will be concluded with questions and answers from the audience. A single session is generally one hour.

MADD Newberry County, along with city and county law enforcement departments sponsor THE INSIDER program for youth education. City Police Officer Sergeant Kevin Goodman is official host, the Reverend Eddie Bledsoe, invocation, and Andy Broughton, guest speaker.

McDonalds and Dominos Pizza will furnish food for THE INSIDERS. The public is invited to attend.

 

Jeff Shacker Promoted to City Manager
(added 09/26/09)

The City of Newberry is pleased to announce that on September 25, 2009 City Council voted unanimously to promote Jeff Shacker to the position of City Manager effective at the close of business on December 18, 2009. Mr. Shacker has been employed with the City of Newberry since June 2001 and has served as Assistant City Manager since October 2006. In addition to his work experience with the City, Mr. Shacker holds a masters degree in public administration degree from the University of South Carolina.

 

Arrests/Charges in Newberry College Incident
(added 09/24/09)

City of Newberry Police have released the names of four suspects (see names/photos below) who are being charged in the Wednesday September 23rd incident on the campus of Newberry College.

All four are Newberry College students and are being charged with possessing and manufacturing a destructive device, Bell is also charged with simple possession of marijuana. These are state charges and Chief Swindler says he does not expect federal charges to be filed. The suspects were being held at The Newberry County Detention Center. A bond hearing will be held.

(Suspects names/photos below left to right):

Steven Lamar Bell, 19, of 7 Gracewood Drive, Columbia, SC (DOB July 1990)

Jordean Alexander Belton, 19, of 4242 State Highway 34 East, Rideway, SC (DOB November 1990)

Christopher Lindsay Hopkins, 19, 806 Thelma Gladney Road, Winnsboro, SC (DOB January 1991)

Brandon Jarrod King Jr., 21, of 200 Ringwood Lane, Elgin, SC (DOB February 1989)

 

House Fire on Cline Street
(added 09/24/09)

Newberry Firemen were fighting this house fire on Cline Street in the City of Newberry on Wednesday night around 10pm.

WKDK news spoke to some of occupants of the boarding house. Apparently everyone got out safely.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

 

 

 

College Prank Leads to Bomb Scare at Newberry College
(added 09/24/09)

A college level prank spun out of control Wednesday afternoon at Newberry College causing law enforcement and public safety agencies from the local, state, and federal level to respond to the campus.

Tuesday night just after 11:30pm, there was a minor explosion in the Brokaw dormitory parking lot of Newberry College. Newberry City Police officers in the area heard the explosion and believed it to be a gunshot and investigated. The source of the blast could not be located.

At 12:50am, a second minor explosion occurred in the first floor lobby of the Brokaw dormitory. The student affairs office began questioning students and located items commonly used in an over pressure device. The items were taken from a dormitory room. There was no damage or injury associated with this incident.

On Wednesday, just after 11:30am, a third minor explosion occurred again inside the Brokaw dormitory. This explosion was also caused by an over pressure device.

Authorities say that the students in the dormitory were immediately evacuated and the State Law Enforcement Division bomb squad was called to the scene.

There were no injuries associated with any of the incidents.

Authorities say that this was absolutely NOT an incident involving terrorists or any threat to homeland security.

The devices were made in plastic drinking water bottles using a chemical reaction from common household items.

The only damage done was minor carpet burns from the chemicals.

Four people are being questioned at this point as authorities seek to identify those responsible for these acts that while may have seemed harmless caused substantial problems throughout the campus.

Brokaw dormitory is the freshman dormitory at Newberry College. It houses 293 students.

All students are safe and accounted for at this time.

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

 

Governor Candidates Visit Newberry
(added 09/22/09)

All of the candidates for Governor of South Carolina both Republican and Democrats are scheduled to visit Newberry County this week. The Newberry Opera House will be the scene Tuesday night of the first in the state debate between all of the declared Republican candidates for Governor. The debate is set to begin at 7pm Tuesday night and will be carried live on wistv.com. On Wednesday night the 5 Democratic candidates are set to hit the stump at the Newberry County Democratic Party's meeting at 6pm at Hawg Heaven in Prosperity.

Committee Plans for 2010 Census
(added 09/22/09)

The Newberry County Count Committee recently met to discuss the 2010 Census awareness campaign. An accurate census is the basis of federal funding and representation. It is also the backbone of planning in the public and the private sector. Did you know that based on the 2000 Census population data North Carolina received an additional representative in Congress? South Carolina has been identified as a state that could potentially pick up an additional representative this census. Census material will be mailed out in March and will be based on where individuals reside on April 1. Contact Count Committee Chairperson Laurie Renwick at the county administrative offices (321-2100) for more information about getting your church, organization, or business involved in the Census 2010 awareness campaign - "It's in OUR Hands." Visit 2010census.gov for more information.


Dedication Ceremony for Israel Brooks, Jr. Interchange
(added 09/22/09)

A dedication ceremony for the U.S. Marshall Israel Brooks,Jr. Memorial Interchange was held Sunday (9/20/09) at the West Recital Hall of The Newberry College Alumni Music building. The I-26 and S.C. Highway 121 interchange in Newberry County is being named for the late US Marshal. Brooks,a Newberry County native was the first African American SC highway patrolman. He rose to the rank of Major becoming second in command. In 1994 US Senator Fritz Hollings recommended Brooks for the position of US Marshal for the District of South Carolina and that appointment was made by President Clinton. He served until his retirement in 2002. Brooks died in September of 2007 after a battle with cancer. Those participating in Sunday's dedication ceremonies included: County Council Chairman Buddy Livingston,Mayor Ed Kyzer,Senator Ronnie W. Cromer,Representatives Jeff Duncan and Walt McLeod,County Councilman John Caldwell,and Sarah B. Nuckles SCDOT Commissioner for the 5th District.

Following the presentation of the resolution by Representative McLeod , The Brooks children unveiled the sign and Barbara Gallman Brooks ,Marshall Brooks' widow, spoke on behalf of her family.

Free Medical Clinic Continues to Serve Newberrians
(added 09/20/09)

Top Ten Questions about the Free Medical Clinic of Newberry County

On December 2, the Free Medical Clinic of Newberry County will celebrate its fifth birthday. During that time our citizens have become familiar with the brick building located across the street from the hospital. They have seen the sign out front and a parking lot filled with cars. They have heard that it is a place for folks who are ill, but have minimal financial resources for health care. Most Newberrians think its presence in the community is a good thing, but few have specific information about the organization and how it functions.

In a recent conversation with Bobby Summer, the Clinic’s Board Chairman, Dr. Gene
Epting, Medical Director, and JoAnn Willard, Clinic Administrator, 10 questions were
presented for discussion. These inquires represent the types of comments heard in
informal conversation throughout our community.

1. How many patients have been served since the Clinic opened?

A total of 1358 individuals have been qualified as patients through August 2009
There have 7,385 medical visits since the clinic opened in 2004.

2. What are the requirements to receive services from the Clinic?

First, one must be a resident of Newberry County. Second, no medical insurance of any
kind. Third, their income can not exceed 150% of the federal poverty level.

3. What patient services are provided?

Clinic patients may receive the following services

• Initial medical evaluation and screening
• Drug treatment where prescribed
• Referral for testing when necessary
• Referral to specialists for more extensive evaluation and services
• Education regarding home health care issues
• Referral to supporting social agencies when appropriate

4. What about dental services?

Two rooms are currently equipped for dental services. It is anticipated that local
volunteer dentists will be able to begin to provide services soon.

5. What is the size of the Clinic staff?

The day to day operations of the Clinic are accomplished with two paid personnel. Patient medical services are provided by 6 volunteer local physicians, 4 volunteer nurses, and 3 office volunteers who assist with a variety of tasks, such as answering phone, filing records, scheduling patients, and other necessary office duties. There
Is an urgent need for additional medical and office volunteers.

6. How is the Clinic funded?

The clinic receives funds from foundations (77%) and contributions from local congregations, (12%), and other (11%). All of these funding sources support the
operating budget of $193,470 for the current year.


7. What are the most prevalent conditions treated at the Clinic?

Hypertension, diabetes, and osteoarthritis are the most frequent diagnoses.

8. Are children seen at the Clinic?

Generally speaking, children are not eligible for services. Most children receive medical
services through Medicaid.

9. What can the citizens of Newberry do to support the work of the Free Medical Clinic?

Given the current state of the economy resulting in less funding and greater patient requests, the Clinic is continually in need of additional local financial support. Personal contributions are always needed. In addition, new volunteers are always desired to assist with the administrative tasks that need to be completed. Finally, our citizens can assist simply by spreading the word about the Clinic and its story. Individuals who would like to volunteer or receive specific information are encouraged to call the Clinic at 276-665 or come to the clinic at 2568 Kinard St (across the street from NCMH).

10. What do Clinic patients say about their experiences?

Most patients are very grateful for the presence of the Clinic in their lives. Many begin their stories by, “I do not know what I would have done……”They have much praise for the physicians and staff personnel who have served them. Andrew tells his story of becoming progressively weaker at work with insufficient resources to seek medical attention. He learned about the Clinic, was evaluated, diagnosed with cancer, and received follow-up treatment. Perhaps the most powerful statement about the Free Medical Clinic of Newberry occurred when Andrew stated, “Without the Clinic, I would be dead now.”


In today’s world, we frequently hear that we are called upon to “serve a cause greater than ourselves”. The Free Medical Clinic of Newberry County is a living model of this value. With its vision to “… have eyes to see those rendered invisible and excluded”, the Clinic personifies the lesson of most faith based belief systems that we all need to be our brother’s keeper”.

 

Council on Aging Gets New Bus
(added 09/19/09)

The Newberry County Council on Aging received a new bus on Sept. 17, 2009, through funding by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Shown at left, Palmetto Bus Sales Representative Bobby Sanders (right) presents the new bus keys to SC Secretary of Transportation H.B. "Buck" Limehouse Jr. (second right. Also shown, from left, are: South Carolina Representative Walt McLeod, Newberry County Council on Aging Executive Director Lynn Stockman and SCDOT Commissioner Sarah Nuckles. (Photo by Rob Thompson/SCDOT)

 

 

Sheriff's Office To Receive Nearly $250K in Grants
(added 09/15/09)

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster has announced today that the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office will receive nearly $250,000.00 dollars in grants during the upcoming budget year.

Sheriff Foster says that the grants received require no match so the people of Newberry County will realize this large investment in the community with no local tax dollars having to be used to accomplish the projects.

“I have long be insistent that the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office do everything possible to access grant funds to accomplish cutting edge technology while not becoming a burden to the local taxpayer,” said Sheriff Foster. “I am pleased that these funds will be funneled directly into the community on projects that will make law enforcement better and more effective for the people we serve.”

According to Sheriff Foster, more than $210,000.00 in grants were awarded from the South Carolina Department of Safety Office of Justice Programs.

Sheriff Foster said that $150,000.00 would be used to install a video arraignment and video visitation system for the Newberry County Detention Center and Newberry County Central Court. Foster said that this would dramatically reduce the personnel costs and security risks associated with standard arraignments and visitations. The remaining funds will provide for video cameras throughout the Newberry County Detention Center. He said that the cameras would allow proper surveillance of the detention center at all times greatly reduce liability in the jail.

In addition, $60,500.00 will go to purchase equipment for processing crime scenes by the investigative unit. Due to tremendous budget cuts at many levels of government, it has become more difficult for state and federal agencies to respond with investigative assistance in all cases. Foster said that the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office realizes that the people of Newberry County have become accustomed to receiving the highest, most advanced level of services and he wanted to insure that level of workmanship. Foster said that the grant would be used to purchases high quality digital cameras, lights for night time crime scenes, chemicals, and other necessary items for processing a variety of crime scenes. Foster said that this grant will assure the people of Newberry County that the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is ready and able to respond to their emergency with the proper equipment to be effective law enforcement officers.

“We appreciate the support and partnership of the South Carolina Department of Safety Office of Justice Programs,” said Foster. “They have truly been a major source of support and funding for the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and the people of Newberry County. We are grateful for the confidence they have placed in our agency to be good stewards of this grant money, and assure them and our citizens that we will indeed wisely use this money.”

Sheriff Foster said that in addition to these grants, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office received a $34,000.00 grant from the Byrnes Grant, which is a federal grant. This grant will be used to provide for extra patrol to the rural areas and to problem areas as they are recognized. The grant allows off duty officers to be paid to conduct patrol, surveillance, and other enforcement activity in the areas to provide maximum protection and a proactive approach to community problems.

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office also received a $3000.00 grant from NRA (National Rifleman’s Association) to upgrade the firearm’s range. The grant will be used to purchase targets, hearing protection, eye protection, and ammunition for the mandatory training all law enforcement officers must attend.

Sheriff Foster said that the NRA was a long time source of encouragement and support for the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and that they had previously provided grants for traffic vests, stop sticks, first aid equipment, and now a range upgrade.

Sheriff Foster said that the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office had also applied for several grants under the Economic Stimulus Package enacted by the federal government. Those awards have not yet been announced.

 

Budds Resigns as City Manager
(added 09/15/09)

WKDK News has confirmed that Newberry City Manager Eric Budds will leave his position at the end of this year to accept the position of Deputy Director of the SC Municipal Association. He would begin the new job on the first business day of the new year 2010. Budds told WKDK Tuesday morning that he informed council of his decision Sunday night and the city employees on Monday morning. Mr. Budds also expressed his appreciation of having the outstanding opportunity to work in Newberry, with what he feels is "the best council and staff in South Carolina." Budds went on to say that he doesn't believe any other city manager position could have lured him away from Newberry, saying the new position presents a unique opportunity for him and his family. Budds also said the initial plans are for he and his family to continue to reside in Newberry.

 

Hospital Board Announces Interim CEO
(added 09/11/09)

Joe Trainor, Board of Trustees chairperson, announced that Ronald J. Vigus will be the interim CEO of Newberry County Memorial Hospital. He is an experienced interim CEO for Quorum Health Resources (QHR). Before serving as an interim CEO, Vigus served as CEO for hospitals in the QHR system and other health systems.

Vigus (right) will begin serving as interim CEO at Newberry County Memorial Hospital on Monday, September 14. He said, “Coming to South Carolina is like coming home. I’ve served several times in the state, and I have family in North Carolina, including a daughter at UNC. I look forward to working with the NCMH staff, local physicians and the community.”

This experienced interim CEO describes his leadership style as team oriented. He said, “I look for everyone to contribute to the success of the hospital. Physicians, employees, community members, volunteers, Trustees and management are all important. We can grow and improve the healthcare services here by working together.”

“When I am serving as an interim CEO, I always make decisions like I am going to be at the hospital for 30 years. I ask our team what will be good for the hospital and the community now and in the future,” Vigus added.

Board Chairperson Trainor said, “Having someone with Ron Vigus’ experience as our interim CEO will help us continue our progress as a premier community hospital. It also will give the Search Committee of the Board of Trustees time to review the many applicants we have received for the permanent CEO position. We want to make a thoughtful and informed decision about the next leader at NCMH.”

 

City Council on September 8
(added 09/09/09)

Campus Transition Overlay District Approved with Slight Opposition

The Newberry City Council met last night, September 8, and approved the final reading on the Campus Transitional Overlay (CTO) ordinance text and the CTO map. This designation layers over existing zoning regulations and only applies to how Newberry College can use currently owned property as well as property purchased in the future.

Councilman David DuBose motioned to ammend the ordinance with a stringent setback new construction. DuBose requested a 25-foot setback for one-story buildings, a 50-foot setback for a two story building, and a 75-foot setback for a three-story building.

DuBose’s motion was not seconded and the ordinance passed by a 6-1 vote.

Another issue carrying over from the August meeting was the ordinance regarding solid waste collection and disposal of the code ordinances of the City of Newberry. The ordinance was tabled and will receive further discussion in October.

Council Approves Changes in Nuisance Ordinances

The second and final reading was approved to ammend the City’s nuisance ordinance. The ordinance restricts the number of residential vehicles and lawn equipment that can be for sale at one time on a city lot. The ordinance was also amended to emphasize that the property owner, tenant, or occupant of the property “can be held responsible for violations of this ordinance jointly or severally.”

First reading also passed to amend the City ordinance that refers to unlawful accumulation of weeds, rubbish, garbage, motor vehicles, etc. The change allows the City to hold tenants as well as property owners responsible for violations.

City Commits over $100,000 Match for $1 Million in Grant Funding for Oakland

City Council also agreed to commit the City to provide $67,000 in matching funds for the $450,000 in CDBG funding. This grant funding will be used to upgrade water and sewer infrastructure in the Oakland Community. The Council also committed the City to provide $50,000 for $500,000 in CDBG funding. This grant would include streetscape improvements in the Oakland Mill Village particularly between College Street and the Oakland Mill, which is being remodeled for market rate apartments and upper class housing for Newberry College students. Both matching fund amounts were either budgeted for or can be allocated for within the approved 2009-10 budget.

Shriners Take Over City October 31

The Newberry Shrine Club will be hosting the 2009 Fall Ceremonial at the Newberry Opera House on October 31, 2009. Council approved the right-of-way for McKibben Street from Harrington Street to Boyce and Boyce Street from McKibben to Nance Street to be closed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The consumption of alcohol was also approved within the closed off area. The Shriners will carry $1 million in liability insurance naming the City as additionally insured for the event.

More from City Council September 8 Meeting

Council approved water service at 643 Meadow View Lane and 699 Pope Circle. Both properties are outside the City limits but are adjacent to the City water line.

Pursuant to the orginal terms of sale, Council approved the return of one acre of property previously held by Burnest Wilson Neel. The property was donated for a City sewer lagoon, which is no longer in use.
Council appoints Ted Smith to the planning commission.

Council recognized Jeff Wicker for 20 years service with the Public Works Department, Jerry W. Summer for 20 years of service with the Utility Department, Benjamin Dukes for 10 years of service to the Fire Department, Glenn Adams for five years of service to the Utility Department, and Benjamin Bowers for five years of service to the Fire Department.

Newberry City Council’s next regular meeting will be October 13 at 7 p.m. in City Hall on College Street.

 

County Taxes Decrease by 3 Mills Overall
(added 09/03/09)

Newberry County Council met last night (September 2) where the tax levy for 2009 was presented by County Auditor Donna Lominack. Based on the budget set by the government agencies and predicted collections for 2009, the overall tax levy will decrease by 3 mills to 403 mills. The county general fund levy will increase by 3 mills. However, when paired with county general obligation bond millage decreasing by 6 mills, the overall county millage rate decreases by 3 mills. The break down between school and county purposed in the overall 403 mills remains near a 60/40 split - with the school purposes controlling the 60%.

Legal residencies accessed at 4% will see bills based on 209 mills since there is a residential state credit for school operating levy of 194 mills. Taxes on a $100,000 legal residence is estimated at $836. Taxes on 6% accessed property (such as 2nd homes, rental property, business personal property,etc.) that is valued at $100,000 is estimated at $2418. Taxes on a $100,000 legal residence with homestead exemption is estimated at $418.

The County also manages tax levies for the municipalities. The City of Newberry will remain at 93.3 mills, Pomaria at 4 mills, Prosperity at 41 mills and Whitmire at 112. The Town of Little Mountain will be increasing their tax millage by 1.3 mills to 40.7.
A comparison of this year's and last year's tax levies is below.

Click HERE to see more information.

More County Council News


More County Council News...

Newberry County Council met last night (September 2) and approved final reading on rezoning 2.02 acres from R-2 Rural to Light Industrial. Located on 465 Jalapa Road near Pete Harris Road the property is currently being used as a metal shop and is near Metal Masters on Hwy 76.

Cannon & Associations was awarded the bid for a concrete pad at the transfer station/solid waste recycling center. The $21,768 low bid will be funded entirely by a SC DHEC grant. Kyle Nash reported that the grant was originally to be used for the proposed new recycling center at the fairgrounds, but the decision was made during this last budget year to postpone that site. The new convenience center at the transfer station should help to separate individual traffic from governmental and contractor traffic.

Council agreed to fund a $500 golf hole for the 17th annual Newberry County Chamber of Commerce Industry Appreciation Gold Tournament. Interested in playing? Register online at www.newberrycounty.org.

Councilman Bill Waldrop now represents the county with Central Midlands Council of Government. He presented council with a list of major projects with which Central Midlands is assisting. The projects in Newberry County include the City of Newberry Wastewater Plant Expansion, Oakland Mill Water/Sewer Upgrades, Newberry County's MC Commerce Park, and Whitmire's Water Main & Pump Station Upgrade Application. Central Midlands recently was in Newberry gathering information for a long-range transportation plan. Citizens who were unable to attend are encouraged to e-mail their recommendations to transportation@cmcog.org or call 803-376-5390.

Council approved a plan so that off-duty sheriff deputies will be covered by workman's comp. Major Todd Johnson reported that the sherriff's office had adapted an agreement from Richland Co. that calls for governmental entities to pay off-duty cops $25/hr through sherriff's office. Outside groups, agencies will pay the sheriff's office $35/hr.

Chief Justice Jean Toal will be on hand for the next council meeting. She will be discussing the new statewide case management for the court systems. The annual cost for Newberry County will be $75,000 with some cost shed once the transition is accomplished. More detail regarding cost and savings will be presented at the September 16 meeting.

 

Sketch Released of Suspect in Cab Driver Shooting
(added 09/02/09)

Investigators at the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office are still searching for the two suspects who shot a Newberry County taxi driver and left him in a ditch on July 27.

Today, those investigators have released a sketch of one of the suspects that they hope will be the break they need to bring these two men to justice.

The sketch is of the man who shot the victim during the incident. He is described as a black male. He appeared to be about 6 foot tall and in his 20’s. He was wearing a baseball hat, white T-shirt, and dark colored pants. No other description is available at this time.

Authorities say that the victim’s medical condition prevented him from assisting in preparing the sketch until now. The victim, who was hospitalized for several weeks after the shooting, finally improved to the point he was able to come in and meet with a sketch artist from the State Law Enforcement Division to prepare the sketch. No sketch is available of the second suspect.

On July 27,2009, the victim, who is a cab driver, picked up two men on Smith Road near Newberry Academy at approximately 11:00 PM. When the driver did not report in, the dispatch called the Sheriff’s Office to be on the lookout for the taxi.

A Newberry County Deputy search for the cab in the area found the victim in the ditch suffering from gunshot wounds.

Another Newberry County Deputy then located the cab in a ditch near the intersection of Belfast Road and Belmont Church Road. The suspects had fled the area of the cab.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster says that investigators are following every possible lead in the case and that they are asking the public for any information that might help solve this case.

“We believe that someone in the public has the information we need to break this case”, said Foster. “We are asking anyone with any information about this case to please contact us immediately so that these dangerous individuals can be removed from society.”

A substantial cash reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of these suspects.

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

Newberry College Ranked at 20 in D2Football Poll
(added 09/01/09)

Story by wltx.com (WLTX TV-19)

The Newberry College football team makes its first appearance in the Top 25 of a national poll this season, as the D2Football.com Media Poll has ranked the scarlet and gray 20th nationally. The poll was released Tuesday.

Newberry (1-0) received votes in the preseason poll and jumped into the Top 25 following last weekend's 31-24 road upset of Valdosta State University. VSU was ranked No. 8 in the preseason poll and dropped to No. 15 this week.

Two other South Atlantic Conference teams are ranked in the Top 25, with Catawba College (1-0) just one spot ahead of Newberry in 19th following a 25-7 road win at Saint Augustine's. Carson-Newman (0-1) dropped 15 spots to No. 25 following last week's 17-12 loss at Winona State.

Newberry is ranked in the D2Football.com Top 25 for the first time since October 7, 2008, following the Homecoming win over Catawba. The scarlet and gray's brutal road schedule is put into perspective with this week's poll. Four out of this year's first five games are on the road, and three of those teams are in the Top 25 nationally (Valdosta State, Carson-Newman, Catawba).

The road continues this weekend in Clarksville, Tenn., as Newberry faces off with Division I-FCS opponent Austin Peay State University. Kickoff Saturday is set for 6 p.m. Central Time at Governors Stadium.

D2Football.com Media Poll
September 1, 2009

Rank Team Record
1. Grand Valley State University 1-0
2. Abilene Christian University 1-0
3. University of Minnesota - Duluth 1-0
4. University of North Alabama 1-0
5. Pittsburg State University 1-0
6. Bloomsburg (Pa.) University 1-0
7. Northwest Missouri State University 0-1
8. Chadron State College 1-0
9. Central Washington University 1-0
10. Minnesota State University - Mankato 1-0
11. Texas A&M University - Kingsville 1-0
12. Delta State University 0-1
13. West Texas A&M University 0-1
14. Tuskegee University 1-0
15. Valdosta State University 0-1
16. Edinboro (Pa.) University 1-0
17. West Chester (Pa.) University 1-0
18. California (Pa.) University 0-1
19. Catawba College 1-0
20. NEWBERRY COLLEGE 1-0
21. Indiana (Pa.) University 1-0
22. University of Nebraska - Omaha 1-0
23. Ashland University 0-1
24. Saginaw Valley State University 1-0
25. Carson-Newman College 0-1

 

Town of Prosperity Municipal Election
(added 08/31/09)

Deadline approaches to sign up for the Prosperity municipal election. 2 council seats (currently held by Alan Gallman and Derek Underwood) and the position of mayor will be on the ballot on November 3. Those already signed up for the mayoral race are incumbent Larry Spotts and Councilman Derek Underwood. Incumbant Alan Gallman, Mike Hawkins, and Catherine Eldridge have already sign up for the two council seats. Books will remain open until Friday at noon in this upcoming non-partisan election.

The Newberry County Registration and Election Commission have announced that the Prosperity polling place has been permanently changed from the Prosperity Fire Station to the Prosperity Civic Center at 250 School Drive. This change will go into effect immediately and will be the polling place for the November 3 election.


 

Hospital CEO Lynn Beasley Resigns
(added 08/27/09)

The Board of Trustees for the Newberry County Memorial Hospital officially announced the resignation of president and CEO Lynn Beasley today (August 27). Beasley announced his resignation to management staff at a meeting on Wednesday where he "urged the management team to stay focused on the hospital's community-based mission."

In a release from the hospital Beasley said, "It has been a privilege to work with a quality staff and, together, accomplish so much for local healthcare."

Board Chair Joe Trainor stated that the resignation was at the request of the board. Trainor stated that the hospital board felt Beasley had done a good job getting the hospital to this level, but that they were looking for someone with a different management style. Trainor stated that the search for a new CEO will focus on someone who has good management skills (many exhibited by Beasley) and someone who is very community minded - someone able to communicate well with the community, physicians, and hospital employees.

As per the hospital's arrangement, the CEO and CFO of NCMH offically work for QHR, which is a hospital management company. Both the CEO and CFO, however, work at the pleasure of the board. There will be a (yet-to-be-released) severience package with Beasley. QHR will work with the board to both fill the CEO position temporarily and permanently.

Beasley's resignation is effective immediately. The hospital expects to have have an interim CEO in place within a week to handle day to day issues. Until that time, CFO Sheldon Bontreger will provide leadership. A search committee of the board has already been formed. They will begin reviewing candidates within 60 to 90 days.

Joe Trainor, Board Chairperson, said, "The new leadership of the hospital will not only have an outstanding professional staff with which to work, but also a premier community hospital to lead. We are not stopping with the accomplishements to date. We know that there is still work to be done and will choose a new CEO who can continue the process that the hospital has accomplished under Lynn Beasley."


Settlement in Hwy. 219 Sheriff Building Suit
(added 08/27/09)

WE Baker & Son to Pay County $900,000 in 219 Lawsuit Settlement

Newberry County Council held a special called meeting last night (August 26) and approved a settlement with WE Baker & Son regarding the 219 building formerly home to the Sheriff’s Office. Construction attorney Frank Smith recapped the proposed settlement after council exited a brief executive session. The council will release any and all claim to litigation if WE Baker & Son pays the county $900,000 within 30 days. The county will retain the building and property.

Smith encouraged the council to accept the settlement to avoid the "large risk" and expense of a trial.

The final vote of council was 4 to 1 to accept. Councilman Edgar Baker, owner of WE Baker & Son, abstained from the vote and said that he had no comment at this time. Councilman Caldwell was not able to attend the special meeting. Councilman Les Hipp was the single nay vote saying that he had made a campaign commitment to see the issue through to an impartial jury.

Hipp went on to say, "I am not entirely opposed to the settlement as mediated...I want to assure all citizens that at no time in our discussions have I witnessed any form of favoritism by any council member based on partisan politics or favortism toward Councilman Baker based on long standing friendships. The mediated settlement of $900,000, while less than requested in the suit, appears to be reasonable to all parties."

Councilman Steve Stockman, who seconded the motion to accept, stated, "The on-going litigation between Newberry County and WE Baker & Son, Inc. has been going on long enough. We do not need to be focused on past issues; our time is better spent on the present and future well being of Newberry County."

When asked about future plans for the facility, Administrator Wayne Adams stated that he expects council to hold a work session to talk about all facility needs to prioritize how to best use the funds and what to do with the county property. Adams stated that the $900,000 settlement was a compromise between the county and WE Baker & Son rehab estimates.

Sheriff Lee Foster released a statement saying, "We feel vindicated by this settlement. There were some people who felt that the issues at the 219 building were exaggerated or easily corrected. We feel that this affirms the seriousness of the problems and extensive actions it woudl take to correct the problem." Foster went on to praise his staff and say that the procedures put in place to move the 911 communications facility without interruption of service has become a model for such moves.

Stay tuned to WKDK for a conversation with Administrator Wayne Adams regarding the facility plans, capital projects, and the Penny Sales Tax Commission on September 1 during the 9am Coffee Hour.


 

Hope School Reopens after 55 Years

Restored Rosenwald School in South Carolina will become a modern community center

After two years of fundraising and renovation - and 55 years after Hope School was closed – The Hope School Community Center held a grand opening on Saturday, August 22, 2009. Honored guest speakers included:

Jacquelyn Serwer, Chief Curator, National Museum of African American History and Culture,
Smithsonian Institution

F. C. James, Bishop, A.M.E. Church, Retired, and Chairman, Howard Jr. High School Center, Prosperity, S.C. (Rosenwald School)

Ron Knorr, Educator, Eugene T. Moore of Education, Clemson University

Mark Bounds, Deputy Superintendent, S.C. Dept. of Education

Elizabeth Johnson, S.C. Archives and History

Tracy Hayes, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Charleston

Ronnie Cromer, S.C. Senate District 18

Walt McLeod, S.C. House District 40

Daryl Hentz, Mayor, City of Pomaria

Andy Morris, former member, Newberry County Council

Lee Foster, Sheriff, Newberry County

Hope School alumni attended from across America, and after the ceremony,
they enjoyed a reunion, school tour and luncheon.

The Hope School, built in 1925, is one of S.C.'s remaining Rosenwald Schools.
Hope School Community Center, Inc. (HSCC), a non-profit organization,
celebrates the rebirth of the school as a community center to serve Pomaria and
Newberry County and as a historical and educational destination for children
from S.C. school districts.

Former students have many loving memories of their two classroom
schoolhouse, which served grades 1-8. They recall stories of the “prettiest
school in the county” when times were simple and, after academic lectures,
children enjoyed school plays and outdoor games. A large bank of windows let
in natural light, students had to walk to school in all weather and bring in firewood
to warm the building, and pails of drinking water were hand carried from nearby
Summer Store.

Artifacts from the school will be sent to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of
African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) , scheduled to open on the
National Mall in 2015, in a permanent exhibit, where they “can become
touchstones for America’s history”.

Hope School was constructed with matching funds from the Julius Rosenwald
Fund, created by the President of Sears in the early 1900s to help improve the
education of rural African Americans. Rosenwald, influenced by Booker T.
Washington and others to improve educational opportunities of rural southern
blacks, established a building program which ultimately constructed 5,500
schoolhouses across 15 states.

The school was named for a local family who donated land for the school: Mary
Hope Hipp, John Julius Hope and James Haskell Hope. James H. Hope was
S.C. Superintendent of Education from 1922-1946 and spearheaded many
projects to reduce school funding disparities between wealthy and poor counties
and to expand the educational opportunities of all races. During his
administration 500 Rosenwald schools were built, high school diplomas were
awarded to African American students for the first time and a mandatory
attendance law was introduced.

In 1954 the Hope School building ceased being used as a schoolhouse and the
building was converted into workspace for members of St. Paul’s AME Church
which many alumni attended. In 2002, the National Trust for Historic
Preservation named Rosenwald schools to its list of America’s 11 Most
Endangered Historic Places and Hope School alumni began fundraising efforts.

In 2007, HSCC received a competitive state grant of $100,000 for renovation and
Hope School was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Howard Jr. High Restoration
(added 08/13/09)

On the Wednesday (August 12) Coffee Hour, WKDK broadcast an interview with Bishop Frederick James and other members of the Howard Junior High School Center Board of Directors. This organization is dedicated to restoring and bringing life back to Howard Jr. High, a former Rosenwald School in Prosperity.

View sections of their brochure below (click on it to view a larger version), or you can pick up a copy at the WKDK studios (3000 Hazel St.).


 

Newberry Mother Charged with Having Sex with Child's Friend
(added 08/12/09)

A Newberry mother has been arrested and charged with having sex with a friend of one of her children.

Gabrielle S. Halfacre, 37, of 1706 Bachman Street, Newberry, was arrested and charged on Monday with second degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Halfacre is accused of having a "sexual encounter" with a 15-year-old male at her home, dating back to March 2009.

Halfacre was released from jail on a $50,000 surety bond.

 

 

 

City Council on August 11
(added 08/12/09)

Campus Transition Overlay District Gets First Nod with Amendments

Newberry City Council met last night (August 11) and approved the change in zoning for the core college campus area from C1 to CM or Campus Main. Only minor changes go into effect with this new moniker.

Council also approved first reading instituting a Campus Transitional Overlay District or CTO. This designation layers over existing zoning regulations and only applies to how the College can use the property if they own the property now or if they purchase the property in the future.

Councilman David DuBose requested that a more stringent setback regarding new construction be created surrounding the border of the CTO district. He called for a 25ft setback for a one-story building; a 50ft setback for a two-story building; and a 75ft setback for a three-story building.

Newberry College President Dr. Mick Zais argued that the setbacks were too constricting for the size lots in the area. He went on to point out that the Dufford House and the Darrow House (previously owned by Henry & Sue Summer) could not be constructed today with the proposed setbacks.

The setback issue will be discussed during the Council’s retreat on August 22.

Council did approve the Municipal Planning Commissions and staff’s recommendation that council delete CTO special exceptions in residential districts. This change requires any uses beyond those in the CTO language to be refereed back to the Planning Commission and the City Council - as opposed to simply going through the Zoning Board of Appeals.

City Council approved first reading to establish the college transitional overlay district map. Per the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) recommendation, the Speers St. school property was removed. Council countered the MPC recommendation, however, and went forward with removing 4 houses on Forrest and the 3 most eastern properties on Evans.

City Council will hold an all day retreat on August 22, but will hold their next regular meeting on September 8 when they should take up second reading of the CTO ordinances.

 

Man Sexually Assaulted Grandchildren; Beaten By Their Parents
(added 08/11/09)

A man who was severely beaten by his family will soon be facing charges in Newberry County.

On Sunday night, August 9, officers from the Newberry City Police Department where taking a prisoner into the Newberry County Detention Center when they saw a man in the parking lot of the jail who had been severely beaten. The man was being let out of a vehicle in the parking lot.

On talking with the man, the man told the officers that he had been beaten because he molested his grandchildren.

The police officers immediately called for an ambulance for the suspect and then contacted officers with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office because the beating took place in the county.

Investigators from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office learned that the man’s children had assaulted him after he admitted that he had sexually assaulted three of his grandchildren ages 10 and below.

Investigators say that one of the children reported the sexual assault by her grandfather to her aunt, which ultimately led to confrontation by parents of each of the children. (Each child has a set of parents involved in the incident. The victim’s are cousins to each other.)

A short time later, the man who had two stints in his heart, went into cardiac arrest and had to be transported to a Columbia area hospital for medical treatment. He is still hospitalized at this point; however, when he is released he will face charges of Criminal Sexual Conduct with a Minor and Lewd Act on Child for the sexual assault of not only the three children, but an additional child in the family who was identified after the investigation began. It is not known when he will be released from the hospital at this point.

Investigators say that while they certainly empathize with the parents, it is important to discourage anyone from taking the law into their own hands.

The suspect has been identified as Terry Hugh Gibbs, 54, of 602 O’Neil Street, Newberry, SC.

The suspect gained access to the children through the family connection such as babysitting the children. There are no indications that there were any children outside the family affected by the suspect’s actions.

No charges have been filed against the parents who committed the assault. According to Johnson, the case is under review by the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and the results will be forwarded to Eighth Circuit Solicitor Jerry Peace and staff for final determination.

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

 

MC Elementary Attendance Redistricting Approved
(added 08/1/09)

Newberry County School Board held a special called meeting last night (August 10) and approved the redistricting plan for the elementary schools in the Mid-Carolina attendance zone. All six board members in attendance voted in favor of the plan with board member Lee Attaway not able to attend. The redistricting of the elementary schools in the Mid-Carolina area is slated to go into effect for the 10/11 school year. However, the board is allowing incoming kindergarteners who will be slated to attend Lt. Mtn. next year to apply for a hardship transfer and go ahead and attend Lt. Mtn. this year. At the previous meeting, the estimate presented to the board was eight incoming kindergarteners who would be affected by the switch next year with two already requesting the switch. See the Redistricting Map below.

Newberry City Council meets tonight (August 11) at 7pm in City Hall. On the agenda is a vote regarding the college transitional overlay map and policy.

Redistricting Map (click HERE to view/print larger PDF version*)
*you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this file; click here to download free version)

 

 

MADD Labor Day Sobriety Proclamation
(added 08/07/09)

Area officials have proclaimed August 14 –September 1, 2009 as Labor Day Sobriety Checkpoint Emphasis in Newberry County and City of Newberry. They support 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. See actual Proclamation and photo below.

PROCLAMATION
Safety Checkpoint Emphasis

WHEREAS: The incidence of alcohol and other drug impairment annually jeopardize the lives and safety of the traveling public; and

WHEREAS: The United State Supreme Court ruled on June 14, 1990, in support of the use of safety check points 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 Buddy Livingston, as Chairman of the Newberry County Council, and I, T. Edward Kyzer, as Mayor City of Newberry, hereby proclaim August 14 –September 1, 2009 Labor 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 Buddy Livingston, Chairman
Newberry County Council

T. Edward Kyzer, Mayor
City of Newberry


 

County Council Meeting on August 5
(added 08/06/09)

Executive Sessions Dominate County Council Meeting

Newberry County Council met last night (August 5) and held two executive sessions. The first was an update from the county’s construction litigation attorney regarding the former Sheriff’s Office on 219. No action was taken upon reentering open session. A trial date has been set for this fall.

Council returned to executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss a contractual matter regarding emergency preparedness and the VC Summer Nuclear Plant. No action was taken upon reentering open session.

Project Shell Canned

In June, the Council approved final reading of an ordinance approving the sale of approximately 12 acres in the Newberry County Industrial Park off Hwy 219 for Project Shell. It was announced that ITC, LLC was interested in building a warehouse on the site to service the industries within the park. ITC had 60 days in which to accept or reject the sale without penalty. Teresa Powers, County Economic Development Director, reported at last night’s meeting that ITC will not be purchasing the property and "Project Shell" will not be going forward. She went on to say, however, that the county has had several industries looking at the property within the last month.

Administration will be meeting with board members from the Chamber of commerce this week regarding economic development partnerships.

Council also approved a right-of-way easement agreement with Elisha Church. Kyle Nash, County Public Works Director, stated, that the church property did have some drainage issues by itself so any work on the road would not completely fix the drainage problem. He admitted, however, that the county maintained road was contributing to the problem. He stated that ditching and piping would be put in to help with the drainage issue. The pipe will have to go over church property to redirect the water around the cemetery thus requiring this right-of-way easement from the church.

County approved documents for FAA reimbursement of $175,000 in funding for the tree removal in the flight path to the airport over the Country Club of Newberry. Administrator Wayne Adams reported that the overall project came in under budget.

Capital Sales Tax Commission to be Formed

Council approved a resolution to create a Capital Sales Tax Commission to review applications for a renewal of the capital sales tax that could go back on the ballot in November of 2010. The current capital or penny sales tax will end in the winter of 2010 without a new referendum approval. The Capital Sales Tax Commission will be made up of three county appointed individuals, 2 city appointments, and a final member from another municipality that is named by the 2 city appointments.

Newberry County Council’s next regular meeting will be the third Wednesday (August 19) at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

 

 

Search for Suspects Continues; Victim Remains in Serious Condition
(added 08/04/09)

The search continues for the suspects who shot a Newberry County taxi driver and left him in a ditch on July 27.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster says that investigators are following every possible lead in the case and that they are asking the public for any information that might help solve this case.

“We believe that someone in the public has the information we need to break this case”, said Foster. “We are asking anyone with any information about this case to please contact us immediately so that these dangerous individuals can be removed from society.”

Sheriff Foster said that a sizable reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspects responsible for this crime.

Meanwhile, the victim remains hospitalized in serious condition. He is still on a ventilator and had to undergo a third surgery on Monday, August 3, for an infection in his stomach related to the shooting.

Friends and family have established a fund at Wachovia Bank to assist the victim with ongoing medical expenses. If you would like to assist the victim with these expenses, you can go to the Newberry branch of Wachovia bank and make a contribution. The account is listed as C and C Commute for the victim for his protection.

Because the suspects remain at large and for obvious security reasons, the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office will not release the victim’s identity or the hospital where he is currently located.

***(While the Shriff's Office realizes that there have been some leaks of the victim’s name by family and friends, it will maintain its policy of not releasing the victim’s information or contact information for family members when this information has the potential to cause additional duress or harm to the victim.)***

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

 

School Board Work Session
(added 08/04/09)

Newberry County School Board held a work session last night (August 3) to discuss the proposed redistricting of the elementary schools in the Mid-Carolina attendance zone.

A 22-member committee made up of faculty, staff and citizens presented the proposed redistricting plan at the June board meeting.

The redistricting plan only affects the Mid-Carolina attendance zone. Board member Jody Hamm stated, "I was kind of disappointed we didn’t look at the whole picture. I understand why though – folks don’t want to talk about that invisible line between Mid-Carolina and Newberry and Whitmire."

Further discussion centered around grandfathering policies - whether or not to grandfather in the kindergarteners who would only attend a school for one year; whether or not to grandfather in the current 4th graders who would have to switch schools for only one year in 5th grade before transferring to MCMS. What about their siblings?

At this time there are only eight kindergarteners at Prosperity-Rikard attendance zone that would be affected. Little Mountain has space at this time, but it would put them at capacity with no room for latecomers. Four of the eight have siblings. Three will be in the third grade and one will be in the 4th.

The board also discussed people who built houses in an area specifically for an elementary school only to now be faced with being in a different attendance zone.

Lee Attaway stated, "We have preached and preached that if you want to go to a certain school you need to build there. Now we have come in and disrupted what they have done."

Chairman Don Saylor responded, "We’ve got to draw a line somewhere. You have got to utilize the space you have. We have a policy regarding changing schools. They can apply for an intra-district transfer. "

Parent Ryan Fellers asked, "In the affected area, we’re just asking that you give us a little leniency."

No votes were taken, however, consensus on the board seemed to be to approve the redistricting map and allow those affected to apply for an intra-district or hardship transfers and to place those depending on space availability. And, per the revised intra-district transfer policy a student has to reapply each year. The board will meet at 6pm on Monday at the Learning Center to take a final vote on the redistricting map and plan.

 

 

Another Fatality on I-26
(added 08/03/09)

Coroner Craig Newton is reporting another fatal accident on I-26 in Newberry County. Roger S. Watkins of Greenville was pronounced dead around 7:17pm on Sunday evening (August 2). The one vehicle accident took place on I-26 east bound near mile marker 84. The cause of the accident is still under investigation by the highway patrol. The cause of death is still under investigation by the Coroner's Offfice.

 

 

School Board Meeting on July 27
(added 07/28/09)

Includes Hardship Transfer Appeals/No Child Left Behind Results (see below)

Newberry County School Board met last night (July 27) and after executive session approved 3 of 7 hardship transfer appeals. Policy regarding these requests for students to be transferred from one school to another was clarified this year.

One of the complaints heard this year was that some parents don’t go through the hardship transfer process but simply lie about their child’s residence. To counter that, the district strengthened the language of the proof of residency requirements so that 3 proofs of residence are required each year by every student at each school. The district also narrowed the definition of proof of residency.

At registration this week, schools are requiring a current tax notice (4% assessment) or lease agreement (including physical address) or mortgage agreement (including physical address). They are also requiring any two of the following: current power bill, current phone bill (landline), current water bill, current Federal Tax Return or notice with physical address.

Parent Cliff Fulmer spoke during public comments and complained about the invasion of privacy required by having to show a Federal tax return especially in the age of identity theft. Mr. Fulmer stated, "I’ve had enough. If my boat or car taxes are not good enough, then why am I paying school taxes on them. My daughter’s a senior. With 11 years worth of data, it shouldn’t be rocket science to figure out which school she should attend." He went on to say that he had called the State Department of Education regarding the issue.

When questioned by WKDK regarding the privacy issue, Dr. George Suggs (Director of Student Services for the School District) stated that a photocopy is made of the documents and all info besides the address is blacked out. Only authorized district personnel are allowed access to the files and the files are stored in the school vault.

Some residents built or bought a house in a certain area so that their children could attend a certain elementary school, which makes redistricting of the Mid-Carolina Elementary attendance zone more complicated. The School Board will meet Monday, August 3, at 6pm in the Learning Center to hash out policy for implementation of the proposed revised attendance zone.

The redistricting proposal, the 2009/2010 school calendar, school supply list, registration times are all available now online at www.newberry.k12.sc.us under news and information.

NOTE: Newberry County School District approved 3 of 7 hardship transfer appeals at Monday night's meeting (July 27). A hardship transfer is, of course, a transfer of a student to a school that is not the school he or she is zoned to attend. Counting the appeals process, the following are the intra-district hardship transfer numbers for the 2009/2010 school year:

Total hardship transfer requests.....314
Total hardship transfers approved for employees.....105
Total hardship transfers approved for non-employee families...166
Total hardship transfer denials.....43

Additionally, the federal No Child Left Behind legislation states that a school that has not met AYP (adequate yearly progress) two years in a row must offer a choice to parents for moving their child to a school that did make AYP. Newberry Elementary School and Boundary Elementary School had to offer school choice. Reuben and Gallman Elementary School were the options to which students could transfer. The following is the breakdown for the 09/10 school year.

17 REQUESTED FROM NES
2 REQUESTED FROM BDY
19 total

3 OF THOSE 19 WOULD LIKE TO GO TO REUBEN
16 OF THOSE 19 WOULD LIKE TO GO TO GALLMAN


 

Cab Driver Shot on Monday Night
(added 07/28/09)

A C & C Commute Taxi driver was shot Monday night after picking up riders and is now, according to some reports, in serious but stable condition at Palmetto Richland Hospital.

The driver was dispatched to pick up two passengers on Smith Road near Newberry Academy at approximately 11:00 PM on July 27, 2009. Upon his arrival, he picked up two African-American males that asked him to take them to the Belfast Road area in North Western Newberry County. When the driver did not report in, the dispatch called the Sheriff’s Office to be on the lookout for the taxi.

Deputy Rusty Fulmer was in the Mudlick Road area near Chappells assisting with removing a tree that was felled by a thunderstorm. He had previously seen the taxi with two individuals inside on SC Highway 56. Once the call came in about the missing taxi, Deputy Fulmer them began searching for the cab. As he turned onto Mudlick Road off of SC Highway 56 he saw an individual in the ditch. Deputy Fulmer found the taxi driver wounded with at least two gunshot wounds to the body.

As Lt. Garrett Lominack was responding to back up Deputy Fulmer, he saw a C & C Taxi in a ditch near the intersection of Belfast Road and Belmont Church Road. Further investigation revealed that there were no suspects in the taxi.

Bloodhounds were called to the scene but failed to obtain a track.

Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office began to work the two crime scenes to obtain forensic evidence.

The victim was airlifted to Palmetto Richland and is now, according to some reports, listed in serious but stable condition.

The suspects are described as two African-American males one wearing white “T” shirt and blue jeans and the other wearing a multi-colored baseball type cap.

C & C Commute is offering a $1000 reward for any information leading to an arrest in the case in addition to the money offered by the Sheriff’s Office and Crime Stoppers.

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).


 

Lexington Doctor, Office Assistant Charged with Fraud Related to Steroids
(added 07/24/09)

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney W. Walter Wilkins stated that Dr. Horace W. Bledsoe, Jr., age 58, of Lexington, and his medical office assistant, Amelia H. Beck, age 50, of Newberry, were charged in a three-count Indictment with obtaining testosterone by fraud, a violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 843(a)(3). Both formerly worked at the Lexington Medical Center in Gilbert. Federal investigators allege that between June 2008 and February 2009, the pair falsified records to indicate they were destroying unused amounts of synthetic testosterone, when in fact they were stealing it for Bledsoe’s personal use.

The maximum penalty Bledsoe and Beck could receive is a fine of $250,000 and imprisonment for four years on each count.

Mr. Wilkins stated that the case was investigated by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Diversion Unit, and that he has assigned the case to Assistant United States Attorney Winston D. Holliday, Jr., of the Columbia office for prosecution.

Mr. Wilkins stated that the charges contained in this Indictment are merely accusations, and that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a

reasonable doubt.

 

Suspect in Custody After Manhunt
(added 07/23/09)

Authorities in Newberry County say that the search for a man wanted for an attempted home invasion and two (2) armed robberies ended with the arrest of the suspect without incident just after 12PM today.

Officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, SLED, Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, Newberry Police Department, and Clinton Police Department launched a large manhunt for the suspect after he fled from an investigator of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office this morning shortly after 9:30am.

The officers were able to contain the suspect into a wooded area because of the law enforcement presence in the area and the additional coverage of the SLED helicopter. This would ultimately lead to the arrest of the suspect.

When the SLED bloodhounds arrived on scene, they and officers from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office began tracking the suspect. The trail led the officers to an abandoned house where the suspect was hiding under bales of hay. The suspect jumped up from the hay and attempted to run from the officers; however, they were able to capture him after a short distance. He was taken into custody without incident.

“The fact that so many officers were able to respond to the area in their patrol vehicles, and the SLED helicopter provided air support allowed us to contain the suspect in a small area,” said Sheriff Lee Foster. “Because of this containment, the bloodhounds were able to quickly track the suspect and taken him into custody.”

The suspect was identified as Manuel Eugene Cunningham Jr., 19, of 114 Dougherty Drive, Cross Hill. He has been taken to the Newberry County Detention Center, where charges will be filed against him for the incident in Newberry County and a detainer will be filed for the robberies in Clinton.

No weapon was located during the search or arrest of the suspect.

“I would like thank all of the agencies who provided rapid and invaluable assistance during this search,” said Foster. “I would also like to thank our County Council and County Administrator for providing our officers with patrol cars so that responses such as this are possible. Our ability to make a quick response to the area made all the difference in this arrest.”


 

City Planning Commission
(added 07/21/09)

Newberry City Council approved first reading of changes to the CM or Campus Main zoning on First Reading last Tuesday night. However, Council sent the CTO or College Transitional Overlay map and text back to the Planning Commission. The City Planning Commission met last night (July 20) and made the following decisions regarding several councilmen's requests:

The Planning Commission will not recommend an increase in the setbacks in the CTO but instead recommend that they stay the same as other setback requirements. Several commissioners stated that for example the proposed 75 feet for a three story building would keep anything from being built on the property.

The Commission will recommend that Speers Street School not be included in the CTO map until the School District, who still owns the property, decided upon temporary and future uses.

The Commission did not have a recommendation regarding removal of property on Forest Street frontage and three easternmost Evans St. lots from CTO.

The Commission will recommend that council delete CTO special exceptions in residential districts so that the college would have to follow the specific uses spelled out in CTO language or come back to the Planning Commission and the Ctiy Council - as apposed to simply going through the Zoning Board of Appeals.

A few residents did voice concerns about the college encroachment in general and specifically about stormwater and the increased pressure on Scotts Creek. Stormwater was also mentioned in the staff report as a growing concern. The staff report is available online at http://www.cityofnewberry.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=129&Itemid=48. The staff report also talks about the purpose of the CTO zoning saying, "The College now has a better idea of how it may use newly acquired property without having to go through a lot-by-lot legal process and the accompanying trials, tribulations and delays. A growth area has been designated. The City and its citizens have limited the type of growth that may occur in the short run, as the College acquires property along its perimeter. The impacts of that limited growth, e.g., noise, light, visual impacts, etc., are addressed and attenuated through the ordinances’ restrictions and requirements. All parties have a platform, a starting point, from which most growth-related issues can be addressed. The citizens’ concern needs to be that the ordinance requirements and limitations are enforced as adopted."

Expect the issue back on the City Council agenda on August 11 at 7pm in City Hall.

 

Area School Registration Schedule
(added 07/21/09)

Middle and High Schools l Elementary Schools


Middle and High School Schedules

Mid-Carolina High:
July 27: 12th Grade
July 28: 11th Grade
July 29: 10th Grade
July 30: 9th Grade (schedules will be give out at freshman orientation on Aug. 18)
District Times

Mid-Carolina Middle School:
July 27: 6th Grade
July 28: 7th Grade
July 29: 8th Grade
Times: 8 am - 7 pm

Newberry High School:
July 27: 12th Grade
July 28: 11th Grade
July 29: 10th Grade
July 30: 9th Grade
Times: 8 am - 7 pm

Newberry Middle School:
July 27: 8th Grade
July 28: 7th Grade
July 29: 6th Grade
Times: 8 am - 7 pm

Whitmire Community School:
July 27-30: K - 12
Times: 8 am - 7 pm


Elementary School Schedules

BSE: July 27 and 28: 8 am - 7 pm

GES: July 27 and 28: 8 am - 7 pm

LME:
July 28: 8 am - 7 pm (K-1st grade)
July 29: 8 am - 7 pm (2nd-3rd grade)

July 30: 8 am - 7 pm (4th-5th grade)

NES: July 27 and 28: 8 am - 7 pm

PGE:
July 27: 8 am - 7 pm
July 28: 8 am - 5 pm

PRE:
July 29: 8 am - 6 pm
July 30: 11 am - 7 pm

RES: July 27 and 28: 8 am - 7 pm

WCS: July 27-30 (K-12): 8 am - 7 pm



 

 

Church Break-Ins Solved; Suspects in Custody
(added 07/17/09)

Hard work, tireless effort, and a combined effort are the keys to success especially when you are looking for someone horrible enough to be willing to break into churches.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster and Lexington County Sheriff James Metts announced that a joint task force between the two agencies had been successful in capturing three suspects responsible for a series of burglaries in churches in Newberry, Lexington, and possibly other counties as well.

“We were doing everything in our power to stop these break ins,” said Sheriff Foster. “We were using extra patrols, undercover techniques, and maintaining an aggressive investigative push with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office.”

“An investigation of this magnitude stretches the manpower of an agency our size because we must maintain all other operations as well,” said Foster. “But, through the cooperation and willingness to go the extra mile of all of the officers, we were able to take the people committing these unconscionable crimes from the streets.”

The suspects were captured on video at one of the churches and later identified by an Calhoun County Deputy who had stopped the suspects unrelated to the burglaries and recognized them when later saw the video . They were taken into custody late Thursday afternoon in Lexington County.

All three suspects have been charged with seven (7) counts of Burglary 2nd Degree and one (1) count of Conspiracy in Newberry County. The suspects were identified as:

Kayla Anne Graydon, 18, of 188 Crystal Cove Road, Chapin, SC

Patrick Burton Olvey, 20, of 236 Sampson Road, Gilbert, SC

James Richard Osborne, 20, of 425 Holy Trinity Church Road, Little Mountain

Deputies say that it appears that the sole motive for the crimes was theft of money or items easily converted to money to purchase marijuana and live in hotels.

The suspects will be brought to Newberry County for an arraignment at some point in the near future. No time has yet been set for this to occur at this time. It does not appear that others were involved with the burglaries at this time.

 

Joint Press Conference About Church Burglaries on Friday Afternoon
(added 07/17/09)

Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts and Newberry County Sheriff James Lee Foster will conduct a news conference at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 17 at St. Peters Lutheran Church, 900 Dreher Island Road, Chapin, to discuss a joint investigation by the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office concerning a large number of church break-ins that occurred in Lexington, Newberry and Calhoun counties.

During the news conference, Metts and Foster will discuss the large number of church break-ins that have been solved in Lexington, Newberry and Calhoun counties with the arrests on Thursday, July 16 of Kayla Ann Graydon, 18, of 168 Crystal Cove Court, Chapin; Patrick Burton Olvey, 20, of 236 Sampson Road, Gilbert; and James Richard Osborne, 20, of 425 Holy Trinity Church Road, Little Mountain.

Pastor David Tholstrup of St. Peters Lutheran Church and Janice Hallman, who is a member of St. Peters Lutheran Church, will attend the news conference and discuss how the break-ins at St. Peters Lutheran Church affected the faith community, Metts and Foster said.

 

City Council Meeting on Tuesday
(added 07/15/09)

Click HERE for the report from Tuesday's City Council meeting.
(Report is in PDF Format; you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the file)

 

No Charges To Be Filed Against Deputy
(added 07/14/09)

The South Carolina Office of the Attorney General has declined to prosecute a Newberry County Deputy Sheriff for an alleged altercation with his step-son.

Sergeant Ezra Arnold (left) was originally placed on paid administrative leave by the Newberry County Sheriff's Office after it was alleged he assaulted his step-son during a dispute on April 27th at his residence in Whitmire. Arnold was later placed on administrative duties as a Court House Security Officer pending the completion of the investigation.

The incident was originally reported to the Newberry County Sheriff's Office, who notified the Whitmire Police Department since the incident occurred in their jurisdiction after the incident was reported by the paternal step-grandmother.

The Newberry County Sheriff's Office requested that SLED (State Law Enforcement Division) conduct the investigation since Arnold was a law enforcement officer and had a close personal relationship with many of the Whitmire officers. Whitmire Police Chief Jeremiah Sinclair then made the request for SLED to conduct the investigation.

SLED conducted the investigation and forwarded their results to the Eighth Circuit Solicitor Jerry Peace. Solicitor Peace determined that because of his relationship with the Newberry County Sheriff's Office that it would be best to have the case reviewed by Attorney General Henry McMaster's office instead of by his office.

In a letter dated June 10, 2009, from Assistant Attorney General Catherine Vann declining prosecution, the office listed inconsistent witness statements; the 13 hour delay in reporting or seeking medical attention during which time the 13 year old boy attended school and engaged is sporting activities; the boy reported to his teachers and they declined to act; and "many discrepancies" regarding the actual event as reasons for declining prosecution. The letter also noted that the alleged victim is living in Hawaii with the biological father.

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said that now that the investigation and prosecutorial review are complete, Arnold will be returned to active duty where he serves as a Sergeant in the Patrol Division. He has been with the Newberry County Sheriff's Office since August of 1999.

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).


 

City Council Meets Tuesday Night
(added 07/13/09)

Newberry City Council meets Tuesday night (July 14) at 7pm. On the agenda is first reading on changes to college zoning and the creation of the college transitional zoning. The City Planning Staff's report has been added to the City website. Download it at http://www.cityofnewberry.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=129&Itemid=48.

 

Tractor-Trailer Carrying Paper Catches Fire on Sunday Morning
(added 07/12/09)

From various reports

A tractor-trailer truck carrying about 43,000 pounds of paper caught fire on I-26 in the Little Mountain area on Sunday morning.

This happened before 9:00 a.m. in the westbound lane of I-26 near mile marker 88.

The trailer apparently caught fire, which in turn, ignited the paper that the truck was carrying.

Traffic was blocked for a short amount of time while authorities worked to clean up the scene. Members of the Highway Patrol, Newberry County Sheriff's Department, Newberry County Public Works and Little Mountain Fire Department were all at the scene.

 

 

Investigators Seeks Assistance in Church Burglaries
(added 07/10/09)

Authorities in Newberry County are asking for your assistance in solving a string of burglaries to area churches.

On June 26th, investigators responded to Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church on Mt. Tabor Road. It was obvious that the church had been gone through; however, it did not appear that any items were taken.

On June 28th, investigators again responded to Mt. Tabor church for a second burglary and this time church officials indicated that a television valued at $700.00 was taken from the church.

On July 8th just after 9am, Investigators were called to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church located on Church Street in Little Mountain for a break in. The investigators were told that the burglary had occurred sometime between 11:00am on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. While someone went through items in the church, it did not appear anything was taken.

Later on the 8th, investigators responded to Dreher Island Baptist Church on State Park Road in Prosperity for a burglary. The officers learned that this incident occurred sometime between Monday mid-day and Wednesday afternoon. As with the burglary at Holy Trinity Church while someone went through items in the church, it did not appear anything was taken.

On July 9th, investigators were called to Mt. Pilgrim Lutheran Church located on Mt. Pilgrim Church Road in Prosperity. Investigators say that the only thing taken from the burglary was a small amount of change.

Later on the 9th, investigators responded to Calvary Baptist Church on Calvary Church Road for another break in. Investigators say that it does not appear anything was taken from church at this time.

Investigators say that entry was forced to all of the churches except one and that the method of entry to the churches is consistent; however, for the integrity of the investigation they have declined to give details of how the entry was made. There are no vehicle or suspect descriptions at this time.

Investigators say that they are communicating with surrounding counties who have had similar burglaries at churches in hopes of being much more successful through the combined effort and greater communication.

Sheriff Lee Foster says that extra patrols will be made of not only these but all area churches and that a concentrated effort will be made on both proactive patrols and intensive criminal investigations to offer the greatest possible protection and services to the churches and community as a whole.

Sheriff Foster also encouraged Pastors, Church Officers, and Church Members to make sure that all doors to churches are locked and that no money is left in the church.

“Breaking into someone’s home is horrible,” said Sheriff Foster. “But to break into God’s house is simply despicable. Our officers will be working to make every effort to bring the person or persons responsible for these burglaries to justice for their crimes.”

For a map of Newberry County showing the location of the church burglaries, click on the link below:

Map of Burglaries

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

 

Newberry Officers Assist in Cherokee County Investigation
(added 07/07/09)

When Sheriff Lee Foster spoke with his fellow Sheriff Bill Blanton Friday afternoon, it was his desire to help with the investigation into the then serial killer that had polarized the entire area.

“I have the upmost respect for Sheriff Blanton,” said Foster. “But, the killer’s victims also had many ties to our community. We wanted to not only stand with our fellow law enforcement officer, but to assure to families and friends of the victims relative’s here that we were doing everything possible to help locate this dangerous and brutal murderer.”

Sheriff Foster said that while the assistance requested was unusual, but not surprising. Cherokee County has year round school and the schools like the community were afraid as anyone would be in the same situation. Foster said that Sheriff Blanton wanted Newberry County to send School Resource Officers to patrol the schools so that his School Resource Officers could assist with the investigation.

The School Resource Officer program in Newberry County is recognized as one of the best in the state and nation. He also pointed out that the relationship between the School District of Newberry County and the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office has been nationally recognized for their joint planning and training so he was proud and pleased to send the officers.

Sheriff Foster said that when the call was made to Bennie Bennett, Superintendant of the School District of Newberry County, his response to the request was direct and complete. “Send them!”

“We are delighted to be able to assist another school district in a clear time of need,” said Bennett. “I think this request speaks well of our program, our officers, and what the School District of Newberry County and the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office have been able to accomplish together.”

The officers Lt. Wesley Palmore, Frankie Wilbanks, and Detrick Bishop reported to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office along with Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster and Major Danny Gilliam also traveled with the officers and spent the afternoon meeting with Sheriff Blanton and his staff to discuss their emergency plans for the schools and the roles the officers were expected to play during the investigation.

The officers worked closely with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and the other officers including up to and attending the press conference on Monday night. The officers stayed through the morning on Tuesday and once given the all clear by Sheriff Blanton, they returned home safely.

“We are proud of these officers and their willingness to go on this difficult assignment,” said Sheriff Foster. “The all stepped up and readily agreed to go. I am proud to say that this attitude epitomizes the attitude of many of the officers of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and what makes us so effective in our community.”

At the time of the request, all Newberry County Schools were closed and these officers involved in mandatory training, reviewing campus safety and preparedness, and special assignments. There was no lack of coverage in Newberry County during their absence and Cherokee County paid all of the officer’s housing and meal expenses.

 

County Council Meeting on July 1
(added 07/02/09)

Newberry County Council met Wednesday (July 1) night and held a brief meeting. Third and final reading passed to rezone approximatly six acres on Hwy 773 near International Paper from R2 Rural to Light Industrial LI. The zoning application states that the "Wiley Project" plans a transportation facility on the property. No one spoke during public comments.

Council also approved the reallocation of the accomodation taxes for tourism and promotion purposes.
The $36,672.26 in tourism related funds will be disbursed as follows:

$10,000 to the Newberry Opera House
$5,000 to the Newberry County Law Enforcement
$1500 to Prosperity Hoppin'
$2500 to the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society
$4,000 to the Little Mountain Reunion
$10,172.26 to the Newberry Visitors Center
$2,000 to the Party in the Pines
$1500 to the Newberry Community Players

The $16,925.66* in promotional related funds will be divided as follows:
$2538.85* to the Prosperity Business Association
$4062.16* to Capital City Lake Murray
$10,324.65* to Newberry County Chamber of Commerce
*Note corrected amounts

Newberry County Council also approved numerous appointments to community committees. They will meet again on July 15 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

 

 

Drug Arrests Begin from Year-Long Investigation
(added 07/01/09)

**Click HERE for Names/Ages/Addresses/Charges of Those Arrested

**Click HERE for Photos (Microsoft Word document)


A year's worth of extensive narcotics investigation began seeing fruits of its labor this morning in Newberry County.

Officers from the Newberry County Sheriff's Office, Newberry Police Department, and State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) beginning serving arrest warrants and search warrants this morning.

Officers say that they have 124 arrest warrants on 42 suspects and 3 search warrants for residences in Newberry County. The officers say they are withholding the location of the search warrants until the investigation into these cases is complete.

The officers had arrest warrants charging the suspects with 51 counts of Distribution of Crack Cocaine, 14 counts of Distribution of Marijuana, 52 counts of Distributing drugs within the proximity of a school or park, 5 counts of Conspiracy, 1 count of Distribution of Ecstasy, and 1 count of Forgery to Obtain Prescription Drugs.

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

"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 goal 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."

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."

"We also appreciate the patience and support of the community, said Chief Swindler. "While these investigations take time, rest assured our intention to make each community safer."

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.

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

The issue arises in the law enforcement and in the community when the officers work so long and hard to make these cases and then many of the courts chose to release these offenders back into community with no more than the proverbial 'smack on the hand'.

"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 suspects 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."


Click HERE for Names/Ages/Addresses/Charges of Those Arrested

Click HERE for Photos (Microsoft Word document)


 

Owen Releases Statement Upon Retirement as County Auditor
(added 07/01/09)


Longtime County Auditor Nancy Owen thanks those who guided and assisted her during her 42 years as a public servant in a statement released this week (see below). Owen officially joined the ranks of the retired today (July 1).

More than forty-two years ago, God blessed me with the beginning of an extraordinary journey of one’s lifetime. It was in April, 1967, when my journey with Newberry County government began. The late Honorable Jeanette Koon Hamm (Mama Jan) and the late Honorable J. Ray Dawkins (Paw Ray) chose me to become a clerk in the Auditor’s and Treasurer’s Offices in the County Courthouse. In 1969, the County Auditor’s Office became my permanent “home away from home” until June 30th of this year at which time I began my new journey into retirement.

During those forty-two plus years, you the citizens of Newberry County have allowed me to respectfully serve each one of you; and since April, 1984, you have allowed me to humbly serve as your County Auditor. My heart pours forth with thanksgiving for the trust and support you gave me during those years as your elected public servant. As your County Auditor, I thanked God daily for the opportunity to serve each one of you to the best of my ability. My fervent prayer was for God to help me always remember that the elected office I held never belonged to me but belongs to you our citizens and to those members of our military who gave and sacrificed their time and their lives for all of our freedoms, especially the freedom of elections.

My many years in Newberry County government allowed me the great privilege of having my life influenced and my heart touched by an untold number of phenomenal individuals, both in the public and private sectors of our local community and throughout the state of South Carolina. So many magnificent memories, so many life endearing lessons learned from these extraordinary heroes – many of whom are no longer with us, but shall forever remain cherished in my heart: only to name a mere few which readily come to my mind – County Auditor and my beloved mentor Jeanette (Janet) Koon Hamm, Treasurers J. Ray Dawkins and George W. Summer, Clerks of Court Mildred Harmon and Ellouise Setzler, Probate Judge Frank Ward, Sheriff Tom Fellers, Chief Deputy Sheriff J. C. Neel, Representative D. P. “Jabbo” Folk, Attorneys-at-Law Tom Pope and Bobby Schumpert, WKDK Past-President Mr. James F. “Jimmie” Coggins, Dr. Johnny Roche, Mr. “Brut” Baker, Mr. Daniel Graham, and so many other golden friends throughout our county and state who are no longer with us but remain lovingly in my most cherished memories and part of who I am today.

Of all the love, support and encouragement shown to me during my many years in Newberry County government, none compare to the sacrifices paid by my beloved husband, Tim Owen, and our precious daughters, Lisa and Paige, in order for me to serve as your public servant in the office of Newberry County Auditor. You three were and continue to be my strongest allies, my most loyal supporters and my constant encouragers to be the best I can be in whatever challenges and opportunities may come my way. I humbly and sincerely thank you for being the best family anyone can be blessed to have.

As I leave this part of my life, I pray for whomever shall hold this elected office in the future that they shall serve you, the citizens of Newberry County, with humility, steadfastness and truthfulness always striving to give each of you a better county in which to live, a fairer government to serve you, always mindful that the office of County Auditor belongs to you and not to themselves. I shall forever cherish wholeheartedly the public office in which you allowed me to serve you as your County Auditor. My constant prayer is that our county government will continue to keep each of our citizens’ basic needs as the sole purpose of our being in the business of county government.

Again, I sincerely and humbly thank each of you - my family, my colleagues, especially my dear and loyal colleague and friend, the Honorable County Treasurer Emeritus Judy Ann W. Floyd, and each one of you, our citizens - for allowing me the greatest of privileges and opportunities to serve in Newberry County government as your County Auditor. I shall evermore carry you in my heart, all the beautiful God-given friendships and treasured memories. With deepest humility and sincerest respect, I remain your public servant and friend in Christ,

Nancy P. Owen
Your Newberry County Auditor, Retired


 

SLED Leads Armed Robbery Investigation
(added 07/01/09)

The Newberry Observer is reporting that SLED has been brought in today to investigate an armed robbery of an elderly woman on Charles Street in Newberry. SLED is leading a search for a male wearing a mask and a dark hooded sweatshirt who was last seen heading toward Newberry Middle School from Charles St. Anyone with any information is asked to contact authorities. EMS was called to the scene to attend the elderly woman. For more on this story pick up a copy of today's Observer or read the story online later today at www.newberryobserver.com.


 

 

Auditor / Treasurer Sworn In
(added 06/29/09)

Monday afternoon the ceremonial swearing-in of the new Newberry County Auditor and Treasurer was held. Karen D. Lindler, who has been serving as Deputy Treasurer, was sworn in as County Treasurer. Donna Lominack, who has been serving as Deputy Auditor, was sworn-in as County Auditor. Both won office during the November election, but their terms do not officially begin until the new fiscal year starting July 1. They fill the offices of longtime public servants Nancy P. Owen (who has served as County Auditor since 1984) and Judy W. Floyd (who has served as County Treasurer since 1993).

20th Annual July 4 Celebration is Saturday
(added 06/29/09)

The Newberry County Law Enforcement Officers Association has announced the 20th Annual Fourth of July Celebration in Newberry County.

The event will be held on the campus of Newberry High School located at 3113 Main Street in Newberry on Saturday, July 4. The school is located convenient to I-26 via South Carolina Highway 219 (exit 76) and to local shopping and restaurants.

The event will begin at 6PM with free rides amusement rides for the children on the football field.

Other features include a sky diving exhibition with Trent Purcell and friends, a live band (Squirrel), and concessions will be available for purchase.

Darkness will bring the highlight of the evening as one of the southeast’s largest fireworks display will take place with easy viewing from the football stadium. The fireworks will begin as soon as it is adequately dark, usually around 9:00PM or shortly after.

All of the events are free to the public, except concessions, as a community outreach of the Newberry County Law Enforcement Officers Association.

 

Prosperity Depot Work Day is July 11
(added 06/27/09)

A work day for the Prosperity Depot is scheduled for Saturday, July 11, from 8 AM - 12 Noon. Volunteers are needed to help clean up around the facility, and if anyone has memories of the Depot, he/she is encouraged to stop by on that day so that those memories can be recorded.

Donations are being accepted to help maintain The Depot. You can donate at www.palmettotrust.org or stop by Prosperity Drug. See Joe Welborn's stained glass rendition of The Depot and pick up a donation envelope (to mail to the committee or leave with staff at Prosperity Drug).

We hope to see you on Saturday, July 11!

 

NCMH Board of Trustees Meeting
(added 06/24/09)

The Newberry County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees met on Tuesday night (June 23). Below are the discussions/information presented to the Board of Trustees and their major actions:

1) The Board members honored the hospital employees that lead the very successful March of Dimes and Relay for Life teams for the hospital. They were MOD: Jenny Fellers and Emily Metts; ACS Relay for Life: Susan Cook, Lanel Crawford, Kathy Stroud and Lynn Ackerman.

2) New OB/GYN Dr. Mike Smyth was introduced to the Board of Trustees. His practice NCMH Women’s Health Center is now seeing patients. He has already provided GYN surgical services for patients.

3) The Board approved two capital requests:

a) the renovation of the Pharmacy to meet new federal regulations regarding air quality in the IV mixing area, as well as meet storage needs.
b) the replacement of the newborn hearing screening equipment. Hearing screening for newborns is required by SC law.

4) The Board also approved the use of $150,000 of the proceeds from the Jake and Mildred Fulmer Endowment Funds for the purchase of the Digital Mammography unit ($460,000) approved by the Board at the May meeting.

5) It was announced that the NCMH Foundation approved the use of $250,000 of its funds for the Digital Mammography. This would include all of the proceeds of the 2010 fiscal year fund raising augmented by monies from past fundraising years. The additional monies needed for this purchase will come from the hospital’s general funds.

6) The Foundation announced new officers for 2009-2010. They are Willie Morris, chair; Kathy Price Wicker, Vice Chair; Nell Lominack; Secretary; Eleanor Alewine, Treasurer.

7) The Board also elected officers for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. They are: Joe Trainor, Chair; Jennylee Foster, Vice-Chair; Harriett Wells Kegler Secretary; and Spott Coats, Treasurer.

8) The Board was informed that:

a) there has been a successful transition to the services of Crescent Anesthesia. Surgical staff is very pleased with their support.
b) the county budget was approved this week. It includes $900,000 to support operating losses for EMS (only). This is not a new line item. This is a continuing item from prior budgets. The hospital runs the EMS service for the county. The county budget also includes a reconfigured service with four ambulance sites available to best cover the county on a 24-hour/7 day a week basis.

9) In additional business, the Board approved up to $500 for unassigned call pay for adult medicine physicians only for a 90 day period. The pay is currently at $200. The final amount paid for this unassigned call must be based on fair market value to meet federal regulations. In addition, it was unanimously passed that if the administration was unable to work out a model of the Hospitalist program with local physicians within 45 days, the staff is authorized to seek an outside professional Hospitalist group.

 

 

Steve DeMeo Named New Head Basketball Coach at Newberry
(added 06/24/09)

Includes Video of Press Conference
(Marshall Maddy and Justin Smith of the Langford Center communications staff produced this video.)

Newberry College athletics director Brad Edwards introduced Steve DeMeo (left) as the College's 23rd head men's basketball coach in a press conference on campus Wednesday. Recognized as one of the top assistant coaches in Division I, DeMeo was an assistant coach at Central Florida after serving as associate head coach at Providence.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get to know everyone here in the Newberry community," DeMeo said. "I'm really excited to have the opportunity to build Newberry basketball into a national level program."

One of the nation's premier recruiters, DeMeo helped UCF post several key victories in 2008-09, including an impressive win at New Mexico. He worked closely with 2008-09 Conference USA Player of the Year Jermaine Taylor, helping the senior guard rank third nationally in scoring (26.2) and receive Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention honors. Taylor also received all-district recognition from the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the United States Basketball Writers Association.

DeMeo also mentored C-USA All-Freshman Team selection A.J. Rompza. UCF was one of the top free-throw shooting teams in the country during the year, connecting on 74.7 percent of its attempts from the free-throw line.

"We are ecstatic to have attracted one of Division I's top assistant coaches to Newberry College," Edwards said. "Steve DeMeo brings a wealth of experience with him in recruiting and developing college basketball players and putting them in position to compete for championships. We are very excited about the future for men's basketball at Newberry College with Steve DeMeo leading the way."

During DeMeo's time at Providence, the Friars participated in the postseason on five occasions, including a pair of trips to the NCAA Tournament. DeMeo also helped Providence finish in the top three in the BIG EAST standings three times. He spent the last four years of his tenure as the Friars' associate head coach.

After joining the Providence staff in 1998, DeMeo led the Friars' recruiting efforts. He successfully recruited several future All-BIG EAST performers, including Ryan Gomes. Gomes garnered Associated Press First Team All-America honors in 2003-04 after averaging 18.9 points and 9.4 boards. Gomes was the first Friar since 1974 to earn All-America first-team honors and finished his career as the school's career leader with 2,138 points. Gomes was selected in the 2005 NBA Draft by Boston.

A New York City native, DeMeo was recognized as one of the top-25 assistant coaches in the country by Rivals.com in 2007. Providence posted a pair of 20-victory campaigns during DeMeo's tenure. The Friars spent nine weeks in 2003-04 in the national rankings and finished the year 20-9. During the season, Providence defeated several ranked teams, including No. 4 Connecticut and 14th-ranked Illinois. The squad was ranked as high as No. 12 nationally and appeared in the NCAA Tournament as a fifth seed.

Providence also participated in the 2001 NCAA Tournament as the Friars went 21-10 in 2000-01. DeMeo helped the Friars defeat two nationally-ranked foes - No. 12 Connecticut and No. 12 Georgetown. The Friars were selected to the postseason National Invitation Tournament three times during DeMeo's tenure (1999, 2003, 2007). At the 2003 event, Providence won a pair of games and advanced to the tournament quarterfinals.

In DeMeo's first year on the staff, Providence upset No. 8 Purdue and 18th-ranked Syracuse in 1998-99. Before moving to Providence, DeMeo served as an assistant at Iona for three years. With DeMeo on the staff, the Gaels won 70 contests and played in the postseason three times. Iona claimed Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season titles in 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98.

The 1997-98 Gaels won a school-record 27 contests and played in the NCAA Tournament. Iona posted non-conference victories over BIG EAST squads Providence and Rutgers and won 15 MAAC games. In both 1996 and 1997, Iona participated in the postseason NIT. The 1995-96 squad won 21 contests. Iona recorded 22 victories the following season.

DeMeo coached nine All-MAAC performers during his time at Iona, including a pair of conference player of the year honorees (Kashif Hameed and Mindaugas Timinskas).

DeMeo has five years of head coaching experience at the junior college level. >From 1993-95, he was the head coach at Monroe Junior College in the Bronx. In two seasons, he guided the Mustangs to a 53-8 record. DeMeo earned National Junior College Athletic Association Region XV Coach of the Year honors following both of his campaigns at Monroe. In 1994-95, DeMeo's Monroe team led the nation in scoring, averaging 92.0 points per contest. The Mustangs finished the regular-season campaign as the top-ranked team in the country.

He also worked as the head coach at Bronx Community College (1990-93). In 1990-91, the Broncos claimed the City University of New York Athletic Conference Tournament title.

DeMeo served as an assistant at LIU-C.W. Post (1989-90) and Queensborough Community College (1988-89). He also worked with the Westchester franchise in the United States Basketball League during the 1994 season.

DeMeo is a 1987 graduate of Buffalo. He earned his bachelor's degree in management.

 

School Board Budget Report
(added 06/23/09)

School Board Final Reading of Budget Includes No New Taxes

The Newberry County School Board met Monday night (June 22) and approved final reading of the 09/10 budget. The $41.6 million 09/10 school budget does not include new taxes as planned.

First reading of the 09/10 budget absorbed $3 million in state cuts through numerous local budget cuts and a planned 4 mill tax increase on non-owner occupied property.

The $1.7 million in federal stabilization funding trickling down to the school district will be accounted for separately but can be used for general fund purposes. After stimulus dollars became available, the board looked at the 4 mill increase, only a 2 mill increase, or no tax increase. The final vote Monday night was unanimous for a 0 mill tax increase in the 09/10 budget.

Board member Ike Bledsoe stated, "Everyone has had a tough year this year. I am a big supporter of the 0 mill tax increase plan."

One of the other consequences of the $3 million cut in state aid this year was a cut in positions for the 09/10 school year. 41 positions were primarily cut through retirements or transfers, however, 13 of those people were laid off. $235,000 of the stimulus funding is earmarked for restoration of some of those positions – with a priority on classroom positions.

The stimulus funding will also allow the district to reduce the planned cut in the supply budgets from 20 to 10%. The funding will also allow the district to avoid planned furloughs for employees. Furloughs, however, will be an option if there are mid-year cuts during the upcoming year.

The district will put $950,000 in a contingency fund to prepare for any mid-year state cuts. The school board hopes to pay current National Board Certified teachers the annual $2500 salary supplement out of this contingency amount if the money is still available at the end of the year.

For more on the 09/10 budget visit the district’s website under news and information. http://www.newberry.k12.sc.us/hugh/2010%20Budget%20Presentation%20Second%20Reading.pdf

The school board approved the district taking out a TAN or tax anticipation note in the amount of $1.5 million to help the district with cash flow between the beginning of the fiscal year in July and the revenue disbursements in the fall.

 

Stroud Named Principal of Reuben

Mike Stroud, former MCMS assistant principal, has been named Reuben Elementary School principal. He takes the place of Gloria Owens who resigned this year after working with the district as an active retiree under the TERI program.

 

School Board Meeting on June 22
(added 06/23/09)

MC Elementary Redistricting Plan Presented to Board
*(scroll below to view redistricting map)

Newberry County School Board met last night (June 22) and heard the official proposal from the community committee tasked with reviewing the elementary attendance zones within the Mid-Carolina feeder zone. When the last phase of the building program is completed:

Little Mountain will have 500-seat capacity and will only be 46.6% full.
Pomaria Garmany will have a 500-seat capacity and will be at 84% full
Prosperity-Rikard will have a 470-seat capacity and will still be at 98% full.
The redistricting project was undertaken to equalize these three schools, leaving room for growth. The proposed redistricting plan would bring Little Mountain to 73% capacity, Pomaria Garmany to 80%, and Prosperity Rikard to 74% if implemented.

Ray Cheeks and Russell Warren review the MC Elementary School redistricting plan presented to the School Board on Monday night (June 22). Mr. Cheeks of Kraft Louis Rich was on hand for the board meeting to make a $30,000 donation
to the school district. This is the second year that Louis Rich has made a donation for an ESOL teacher. Russell Warren
was in attendance as an assistant coach of the MCHS Track Team, which placed in several events at the State Track meet.

The proposed redistricting only affects the Mid-Carolina feeder area. Very generically – the proposed plan would expand the Little Mountain attendance lines so that Prosperity Rikard students south of town along Ira Kinard Rd and Macedonia Rd would now attend Little Mountain. Pomaria Garmany students east of Hope Station Rd and south of the Parr Reservoir would now attend Little Mountain. The change would affect a total of 133 students. The public is encouraged to review the proposed plan at the elementary schools in question and share their opinion with administration and the board members.

Board chairman Don Saylor stated, "We as a board feel that any of the three [schools] will provide an excellent education. We just had to do this because of space."

Monica Cromer youngest would be one of those 19 Pomaria Garmany students affected. She spoke during public comments saying, "I’m here to speak for the people in Peak. We built where we did, because our children would be going to Pomaria Garmany. My husband and I both attended Pomaria Garmany as did my other two children. I am here to ask you to consider a grandfather clause."


At this point, the board has not discussed a grandfather clause. The School Board could take this up at their July 27 board meeting, but there was discussion of postponing a final decision since the proposal is not scheduled to go into effect until fall of 2010.

Redistricting Map (click HERE to view/print larger PDF version*)
*you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this file; click here to download free version)

 

Ladies of Rosemont To Be Presented This Weekend
(added 06/23/09)

The Newberry Community Players will present Ladies of Rosemont this weekend, Thursday-Saturday (June 25-27) at 8 p.m., and Sunday (June 28) at 3 p.m.

Ladies is a series of monologues in which the dead are allowed to speak of a defining moment in their lives, a nugget of wisdom or a question they would like to ask.

(The idea came to Newberrian and Coffee Hour hostess, Sue Summer, when she used to walk by Rosemont cemetery in the mornings. Having read Spoon River, she began to wonder: what would they say if they could??)

Ladies is directed by Danielle Shull and features a great cast of young women.

For ticket information, call 803-276-1963.

 

Deputies Seeking Women Who Shoplifted While With a Small Child
(added 06/22/09)

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office is asking for your assistance in identifying three women who brought a small child into a convenience store and stole more than $500.00 in merchandise.

Deputies say that on June 17 shortly after midnight, three women entered the Hess Station located at Highway 773 and I-26 in Newberry County and went directly in an aisle in the store that held over the counter medications, CDs, and MP3 players. The women, who had a small child with them, then began stuffing items in their purses, pockets, and other hiding places in their clothing. The women then left the store possibly driving a white Pontiac car with four doors. No specific make of vehicle or direction of travel is known at this time.

The women were described at black females. The first suspect is wearing a white dress and has a large purse. The second is wearing a black dress with a long tan sweater. The third is wearing a gray top and red skirt.

The young child is easily seen in the video and at one time is pulled from in front of the medicine by one of the women so more items could be taken.

A link to the video can be found by clicking the following link: Shoplifting Video (This video is a large file so it may take a little longer than usual to download)

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

 

Craig Newton Receives Coroner's Award
(added 06/19/09)

The SC Coroner’s Association is proud to have presented the Sue R. Townsend award to Coroner Craig Newton of Newberry County, SC. The award was presented on June 10, 2009 to Coroner Newton at the annual 2009 Coroner’s Training Conference. Coroner Newton is the fourth recipient of this award which is nominated on and voted on by other state wide Coroner’s. Tim Carlton, President of the SC Coroner’s Association said, “ Coroner Newton has demonstrated courage and a willingness to go beyond the call of duty for the citizens of his county. Through some very troubling times, Craig has demonstrated his care, compassion, and professionalism. Craig has also demonstrated faithfulness and love for his community and is an asset to Newberry County, the citizens of South Carolina, and the South Carolina Coroner’s Association”.

In receiving the coveted award, Coroner Newton said he is “humbled and honored to be recognized by his peers in this manner. Sue Townsend was the epitome of what a Coroner should be and represent. To be honored in her memory is the highlight of my entire professional career”.

Corner Newton took office in January, 2009 and dedicated his service to the memory of former Chief Deputy Tommy Hedgepath and the honor of former Coroner James Smith. According to Coroner Newton, “With each passing day James and Tommy are always in my thoughts and prayers”.

“For the citizens of Newberry County and the staff of the Newberry Coroner’s Office, I am extremely proud to bring the 2009 Sue Townsend Memorial award to Newberry County”

 

County Council Meeting on June 17 (Two Reports)
(added 06/18/09)

Report 1: County Passes Final Reading of 09/10 Budget
Report 2: County Council Approves Sale of Land to Project Shell/Makes Zoning Changes

County Passes Final Reading of 09/10 Budget

Newberry County Council met last night (June 17) and approved final reading of the $21.6 million 09/10 budget.

Council approved several amendments before final reading including an increase in predicted property tax revenue by the value of 3 mills. Debt service millage is predicted to decrease by 5.4 mills so the net in overall millage would be a 2.4 mill decrease in county controlled taxes. The official millage rate will, of course, not be set until fall.

Under expenditures, Council approved the following amendments:

*reduction of travel, subsistence, and office supplies by 15% in all departments
*reduction of select outside agencies (Clemson Extension, Health Department, Beckman Mental Health, DSS, Sexual Trauma Services, Sistercare, and Literacy Council) funding by 15%
*elimination of ambulance purchases for EMS
*reduction of non-salary legal expenses by 10%
*elimination of the 2 full time employee positions that will be open after the Deputy Treasurer and Auditor officially take over on July 1
*elimination of travel reimbursement in the Coroner’s Office to only include travel to official training sessions when a county vehicle can not be used.

All of the revenue and expenditure amendments equate to $462,000 available for one time capital projects.

What these capital projects will be has not yet been officially decided. With a list of over a million dollars in deferred maintenance presented to council recently, the issue will be prioritization.

Council also approved the county controlled 09/10 special education budget. This $775,000 budget covers funding for Piedmont Tech, Newberry County Library, and Newberry Disabilities and Special Needs.

Council also approved several proviso changes including: an increase in cat adoption fees, a new fee structure for copies of GIS computerized tax maps, a decrease in the bond reserve fund for Springfield Place and NCMH, and matching the procurement policy threshold for the amount at which contracts must come before council for approval (now both at $25,000).

Newberry County Council will hold a special called meeting on June 25 at 6pm for public hearing and rezoning of the Oakland Mill for its conversion into apartments. Their next regular meeting will be July 1 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.


County Council Approves Sale of Land to Project Shell/Makes Zoning Changes

Newberry County Council met last night (June 17) and approved final reading on an ordinance to sell approximately 12 acres in the Newberry County Industrial Park off Hwy 219 for $116,500. After the final vote, County Economic Development Director Teresa Powers announced that ITC, LLC plans to construct a 70,000 ft2 warehouse on the property to service surrounding industries. The $2.5 million taxable investment will equate to approximately $61,000 in annual property taxes. Since warehouses are not eligible for a fee-in-lieu of tax agreement, the property will be accessed at a 6% ratio. Powers reported that approximately 10 jobs would be created. She also stated that ITC has 120 days to officially purchase the property, the first 60 days of which they can back out without a penalty.


Council also approved second reading to rezone approximately 6 acres on 773 near International Paper from R2 Rural to Light Industrial. The "Wiley Project" application to the zoning office reflects that this is an existing Newberry County trucking business looking to expand with the hope of including a train spur at the facility.

Second reading also passed to rezone the Oakland Mill from Basic Industrial to Limited Commercial in preparation for the conversion of the property into apartments. A special council meeting will be held on June 25 at 6pm in the Courthouse Annex for final reading of this zoning change. The contractors hope being to have the building permit approved before new International Building Code electrical requirements go into effect on July 1.

 

Prosperity Town Council Meeting
(added 06/19/09)

Final Reading of Prosperity 09/10 Budget / REA Franchise Fee

The Prosperity Town Council approved final reading of the 09/10 budget the general fund budget equaling $456,000. This general fund budget does NOT include any increase in taxes. The approved Prosperity utility budget is at $1.6 million, which is approximately 6.7% increase. This increase primarily reflects the proposed 6% increase in electrical and water rates.

In a 4 to 1 vote, Town Council approved final reading of an ordinance charging a franchise fee of the Newberry Electrical Cooperative for their clients within the town limits. A 5% residential and a 7% non- residential franchise fee will pass through to REA customer within the town. Despite a request from Lovelace Family Medicine for an exemption the only exemption will be Newberry County School District properties meaning Prosperity Rikard Elementary School.

Pope Johnson spoke on behalf of Lovelace saying Lovelace Family Medicine should be exempt because they had previously applied to be served by the town and were denied. "It’s like a 7% penalty for the Town turning us down," he commented. Councilman Chad Hawkins voted against the franchise fee. He asked, "Are we really going to have to cut out services because we don’t have $3-4,000 in franchise fees?"

Councilman Alan Gallman said, "I have been asking myself, ‘Are we doing the right thing?’ But, nobody showed up for public hearing the other night…I’m just going to go along with it."

Councilman Derek Underwood stated, "We have to think about the best interest for the entire town. I think we can justify exempting the school because it is a non-profit and the electric bill is paid for with our tax dollars, but I don’t think we can single out a company or business."

Prosperity Ordinances Regarding Littering/Failure to Leave Premises/Public Intoxication

Prosperity Town Council also approved final reading of several ordinances regarding police citations. Town Administrator Karen Livingston said that they were just giving the ordinances "more teeth." One ordinance clarifies that public intoxication could mean on public property or even within a business except where specifically allowed by the owner. The ordinance also allows for the exemption process for public consumption of alcohol such as at the upcoming Prosperity Hoppin’ where beer will be sold.

An ordinance regarding littering and rubbish also includes abandoned motor vehicles and burned buildings. The ordinance also clarifies the citation process where in a courtesy summons is issued for the property owner to meet with the Town Administrator then a uniform ordinance summons would be issued for the property owner to appear before a municipal judge.

Council passed an ordinance making it a misdemeanor if someone fails to leave the leave private property owned by another when asked by an officer. The ordinance also makes it a misdemeanor if someone fails to leave public property after asked if it is after posted hours of operation. Attorney Tim Savage reported that Daniel Hair had appealed a court finding against him that found him "guilty of failure to leave the premises."

Prosperity to Hold Business Appreciation Event

The Town along with the Prosperity Business Association will host a business appreciation drop-in on June 23 from 6-8:30 in the Civic Center portion of Town Hall. The public is invited to come meet with local Prosperity businesses and Prosperity volunteer emergency service providers.

 

 

City Council Meeting on June 16
(added 06/18/09)

Newberry City Council met on Tuesday night (June 16) and approved final reading of the 09/10 budgets. The $8.1 million general fund budget does not include any new taxes. $8 million is a $197,000 increase over the mid-year budget, but it is actually $128,000 decrease from the original 08/09 budget.

The City predicts a decrease in "state aid to subdivisions" but an increase in estimated federal funding in the 09/10 budget - much of which is linked to stimulus dollars. There is zero budgeted use of the fund balance in the 09/10 general fund budget, however, there is an increase in the transfer from the Utility fund (based on a % of revenue).

The $23.8 million Utility budget does call for a 5% electrical rate increase and a 7.5% sewer rate increase. The 5% electrical rate increase is a direct pass through from PMPA, the City’s wholesale power provider. Combined with last year's 7.5% sewer rate increase, the increased sewer revenue will make the bond payments on the expansion and renovation at the wastewater treatment plant.

Phase I of renovations were largely paid for with Capital Sales Tax funding. Phase II, which will cost $20.7 million, will be paid for with:

$19.2 million in loans ($4 million of which will be at 0% interest thanks to a stimulus program)
$1 million of an EDA grant
$500,000 in EPA funding
In addition to the wastewater treatment plant renovation and expansion, the Utility budget also includes approximately $1.9 million in capital projects including:

implementation of the wireless meter reading program,
the replacement of the electrical line to Louis Rich,
the replacement of the underground electrical line in Forrest Ridge,
completion of the Mollohon water and sewer renovation,
and approximately $400,000 for rehab in the Oakland mill village.

County Council Meeting on June 11
(added 06/12/09)

Amendments Proposed for Final Reading of County Budget

Newberry County Council met Thursday night (June 11) for a review of budget amendments proposed by administration. On the revenue side, administration’s recommendation to increase the value of a mill by $1,031 was rejected in light of a statement from the Auditor’s Office that with only 93% collection rate the dollars might not be there to back it up.

Administration recommendation to add 3 mills to the operating levy, however, will go forward to third reading. Since the value of a mill will remain at $103,352, the 3-mill tax increase will generate $310,152. Debt service millage is predicted to decrease by 5.4 mills so the net in overall millage would be a 2.4 mill decrease in county controlled taxes. Even if the budget passes final reading counting revenue from 3 additional mills, the official millage rate will, of course, not be set until fall.

Under expenditures, Council approved the following recommendations for third reading discussion:
*
reduction of travel, subsistence, and office supplies by 15% in all departments
*reduction of select outside agencies funding by 15% (All outside agencies were recommended for a 15% cut, however, funding for National Forest Funds, Soil & Water Conservation, Westview, and Council on Aging were restored on Thursday night. Westview and & Council on Aging successfully arguing that the impact of the cut was compounded since the funds are used as matching funds for federal dollars.)
*elimination of ambulance purchases for EMS
*reduction of non-salary legal expenses by 10%
*elimination of the 2 full time employee positions that will be open after the Deputy Treasurer and Auditor officially take over on July 1
*elimination of travel reimbursement in the Coroner’s Office. (This amendment was substituted for a proposed $5,762 cut in the Coroner’s stipend for deputy coroners that was in the budget at second reading.)

Newberry County Council will hear final reading of the 09/10 budget on June 17 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

 

 

City Council Meeting on June 9
(added 06/10/09)

City Passes First Reading of Budget, Awards Bid on Wastewater Plant Work, Appoints Robert Lake City Attorney

Newberry City Council met last night (June 9) and approved first reading of the 09/10 budget. The $8 million general fund budget includes no new taxes, no new general fund fees, no budgeted use of the fund balance, and no new positions.

However, a 5% electrical rate increase and a 7 1/2% increase in wastewater fees are included in the $23.8 million utility budget. The electrical rate increase is a pass through from PMPA, the wholesale power provider. The sewer rate increase partnered with last years’ 7 1/2% increase will pay for Phase II of the expansion and renovation at the wastewater plant. Council awarded the bid to MB Kahn for over $16.9 million on Tuesday night for that work. The original bid came in at $18.6 million, but the City negotiated with Kahn, the low bidder, to reduce the scope of the project - bringing it in at the $16.9 million amount.

When engineering and contingency, etc. is added, the City will need over $20.7 million for Phase II. Council passed first reading on an ordinance authorizing up to $19.2 million, 20-year loan from the State Revolving Fund - $15.2 million at 3.5% interest and $4 million at 0% interest thanks to a federal stimulus program. $1 million in funding is a federal EDA grant. $500,000 is a federal EPA grant earmarked for Newberry, for which City Council authorized City Manager Eric Budds to officially apply.

Several items in the 09/10 budget, speak to the City’s support of the Oakland Mill remodeling project. The proposed 09/10 budget includes $118,000 in 08/09 carryover streetscape grant funding for streetscaping from the Oakland mill back to College St. Since this is left from a previous grant, the DOT must first approve the use of the grant funding for this purpose.

City Council passed a resolution Tuesday authorizing around $40,000 in engineering fees on upgrades to the water and sewer systems in the Oakland community. The City is in the process of applying for a $475,000 federal stimulus grant to cover the actual cost of the upgrades.

Other utility capital projects in the proposed 09/10 budget include: completion of the water/sewer upgrades in the Mollohon community, implementation of the wireless meter reading, replacement of the electrical line out to the Louis Rich plant, and replacement of the underground electrical system in the Forrest Ridge community.

After executive session, Robert Lake was named new City Attorney replacing Bubba Griffith who was named a Circuit Court Judge.

Newberry City Council will hold a special council meeting on June 16 at 7pm for final reading of the budget. The proposed changes to the College Transitional Zoning will not go before council until their regular July meeting.


School Board Meeting on June 8
(added 06/10/09)

Citizens Ask for Tax Relief/$1.8 million in stimulus funding allocated for School District

The Newberry County School Board held special called meeting Monday night (June 8) for a public hearing on the 09/10 budget. Several citizens spoke against the proposed 4 mill tax increase on 6%+ accessed property.

Among those speaking during the public hearing:

Thad Mays stated, "These 4 mills are about ½% of the overall budget, somewhere there is ½% you can cut."

Andrew Shealy stated, "All my life I’ve heard $6 on a $100,000 house. Well, $6 over here, $10 over there, and $12 over there adds up."

Elaine Web stated, "Everyone knows we are in a recession. I’ve had to decrease my rent to keep tenants, how am I supposed to pay more in taxes."

Bob Dawson stated, "It is harder and harder to maintain property much less make a profit."

Jimmy Morris stated, "I chose to remain in Newberry. I’m not a slumlord. I have bettered Newberry. I tried to invest for the future by buying real estate."

The $41.8 million 09/10 school budget is $3.2 million less than last year primarily thanks to cuts in state funding. To cover those cuts, the general fund budget upon first reading included the following reductions:

*Elimination of approximately 15 classroom full time employee (FTE) positions

*Elimination of approximately 7 administration positions

*Elimination of approximately 7.5 certified instructional support personnel positions

*Elimination of approximately 11.5 classified positions

*Two non-instructional days furlough for teachers

*Five-day furlough for over 190 day employees, over 180 day employees, and administration

*Elimination of contingency budget

*Teachers with over 190 days such as department heads will be paid for only 190 days

*Reduction in the number of slots at the Infinity Alternative program from 114 to 80

*Negotiation with administrative active retirees to bring their salary down 15%

*Negotiation with teacher active retirees to bring their salary down 10%

*Eliminate the National Board Certified $2500 salary supplement for current and new National Board Certified teachers

*Moving offices that are renting space to available space at Mid-Carolina Middle

*20% cut in supplies for all departments and schools

*Changing the two in-house custodial programs back to a contract with an outside agency.

With Governor Sanford's reluctant request for federal stabilization dollars, the Newberry County School District is estimating $1.8 million in additional revenue thanks to the state funding for base student cost (which is used for EFA funding calculations) increasing to $2334 from $2,034. Administration recommended adjusting the budget to reflect a $2200 in case of mid-year cuts. This would leave around $800,000 for a contingency fund.

The $2200 base student cost would provide $1,040,000 to restore some of the items that were cut. Administration suggested:

*eliminating the furloughs planned for all employees

*restoring 10% of the 20% cut from all supply budgets

*reinstating the $2500 local supplement for current National Board Certified teachers

*replacing $387,000 in cut positions.

School Board members emphasized the following during their discussion: fear of more than $800,000 in mid-year cuts, a preference to stand behind a smaller number of employees all year long as opposed to having to make mid-year employee cuts, and a desire to help taxpayers if possible. With this in mind, administration will bring a final budget before the School Board that waits to distribute a National Board Certified teacher supplement until the end of the fiscal year (if the $150,000 if still available) and a budget that gives options for not increasing taxes by the proposed 4 mills. The almost $275,000 generated by the 4 mill tax increase could come out of the dollars available for restoration of positions that were cut, from the contingency fund, or a combination of the two.

Again, final reading of the school budget is scheduled for the June 22 regular school board meeting – 7:30pm in the Learning Center.

 

Prosperity Town Council on June 8
(added 06/10/09)

Prosperity approved a franchise fee for Coop Customers & First Reading of the 09/10 budget

The Town of Prosperity held a special, called meeting on Monday night (June 8) and approved first reading of a franchise fee for Newberry Electric Cooperative clients within the Town limits. The ordinance calls for a 5% residential and 7% non-residential franchise fee for all Coop customers within town limits. Council agreed to exempt all property owned by Newberry County School District, which at this time would mean Prosperity-Rikard Elementary School.

Council also approved first reading of the general fund budget equaling $456,000. This general fund budget does NOT include any increase in taxes. Prosperity’s utility budget is at $1.6 million, which is approximately 6.7% increase. This increase primarily reflects the proposed 6% increase in electrical and water rates.

Prosperity Town Council will tackle final reading on all of these ordinances at their regular meeting on June 16, 7pm at Town Hall. The Town along with the Prosperity Business Association will host a business appreciation drop-in on June 23 from 6-8:30 in the Civic Center portion of Town Hall. The public is invited to come meet with local Prosperity businesses and Prosperity volunteer emergency service providers.

 

 

Gallman Student is Recipient of Superintendent Writing Award
(added 06/04/09)

Yulissa Beleh Alvarez, a student at Gallman Elementary School was recently named a recipient of the Superintendent Writing Award. (See the press release below from the SC State Department of Education.)

Seventy fifth-graders and 67 eighth grade students have been honored as this year’s district winners in the State Superintendent’s Writing Award program.

The purpose of the program is to support the teaching of South Carolina’s academic standards and provide fifth and eighth grade students an opportunity to express themselves through the writing
process.

District winners were selected from class and school winners by a panel of readers. The 2008–09 writing prompts focused on the topic of financial literacy. The fifth grade essay topic was: “Discuss how
saving contributes to financial well-being. Do you think it is important to start saving at your current age? Why or why not?”

Eighth grade writers had this topic to consider: “Think about the current economic crisis in our country. Why is it important that every individual be responsible for personal financial decisions? How can you
start learning financial responsibility at your age?”

Essays are judged on their content and development, organization, vocabulary and phrasing, and on the writer’s command of grammar, capitalization, punctuation and spelling.

“The ability to communicate in writing is absolutely crucial, whether you’re at work or at home,” State Superintendent of Education Rex said. “These students are developing their writing skills while
thinking about critical issues that are facing our society today.”

The writing award program was formerly conducted by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, but was sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Education for the first time this year.

“This program provides an authentic opportunity for students to write,” said coordinator Caroline Savage. “In order to learn to write well, students must write often for a variety of purposes and
audiences. As they write more cohesively about increasingly sophisticated ideas, this ensures their academic success.”

Dr. Rex and Dr. Valerie Harrison, Deputy Superintendent for the Division of Standards and Learning, presented district winners with a plaque at a recent awards ceremony. District winners are also invited
to participate in a summer writing institute to be held June 23 at Irmo Middle School.

 

 

County Council Finance to Meet Today for Budget Amendments
(added 06/04/09)

Newberry County Council met last night (June 3) and held a public hearing on the 09/10 budget. No one spoke during the budget public hearing, however, Mr. Frank Brown did speak later against a proposal that would decrease EMS Medic 3 (stationed at Fairview) coverage hours from 24 to 12 hours.

The draft of the 09/10 county general fund budget that received second reading on May 6 was at $21.3 million. The county special education budget approved on May 6 was $775,000. This budget reflects funding for Piedmont Tech, Newberry County Public Library, and Newberry Disabilities & Special Needs.

Council’s finance subcommittee will meet today (June 4) at 4pm in the Courthouse Annex to discuss amendments to the budget before final reading. On the revenue side, council will discuss increasing the value of a mill by $1,031 generating almost $146,000 and adding 3 mills to the operating levy generating $313,000.

Under expenditures, council will discuss:

*reducing travel, subsistence, and office supplies by 15% in all departments
*reducing all outside agencies (such as Clemson Extension, DSS, and SisterCare) funding by 15%
*eliminating ambulance purchases for EMS
*reducing non-salary legal expenses by 10%
*not filling the Deputy Auditor and Deputy Treasurer’s positions once they take the Auditor and Treasurer positions officially on July 1 (basically eliminating 2 full time employee positions)
*decreasing the Coroner’s personnel allocation by $5,800

County administration’s proposal is to use the $646,000 in revenue increases or expenditure cuts to fund one time capital expenses. Armed with a list of over one million dollars in maintenance needs, more judicial office space needs, emergency service vehicle requests, and a Sheriff and Coroner’s Office in temporary facilities - the challenge will be prioritization.

Speaking of capital projects, the finance subcommittee will also discuss the capital sales tax, which could be on the 2010 ballot for renewal. Again, Newberry County Council’s finance subcommittee will meet today at 4pm in the Courthouse Annex. This meeting is open to the public. A full council budget work session is scheduled for June 11 and final reading of the budget is on the June 17 budget.


County Council Approved Zoning Changes/Lease
(added 06/04/09)

Newberry County Council met last night (June 3) and approved several zoning changes. Final reading passed to change 1 acre from R2 Rural to Light Industrial on the north side of 76 near St. James Church Rd. Metal Masters will be expanding to include a new building across the street from their current facility.

Final reading passed to change 2.37 acres adjacent to 13185 CR Koon Hwy from RS1 Single Family Residential to General Commercial. Zoning administration explained that the property, which is north of Colony Church Rd on the right, would be developed as an auto repair shop.

First reading passed to rezone over 6 acres from rural to light industrial on Hwy 773 adjacent to International Paper. The property use is listed as "transportation facility."

First reading passed to rezone the Oakland Mill from Basic Industrial to Limited Commercial so it can be renovated into apartments. The three readings required for rezoning are in a race to be approved before new electrical requirements go into effect on July 1. Second reading will be scheduled for the June 17 meeting and final reading with a public hearing at a special called meeting on June 25 at 6pm.

Council also heard final reading on an ordinance to renew the lease with Piedmont Tech for the old armory building for $1 each year. The lease is for one year with the option to renew for 4 additional years.

Second reading passed to sell approximately 12 acres in the Newberry Industrial Park for what is being dubbed "Project Shell." No additional information has been made official at this time.

Newberry County Council’s next regular meeting is June 17, which is the third Wednesday. Council’s finance subcommittee, however, meets this afternoon (June 4) at 4pm in the Courthouse Annex. On the agenda is a discussion of the capital sales tax, which could go on the 2010 ballot for renewal. The subcommittee will also discuss over $645,000 in amendments to the budget and OPEB (other post employment benefits) liability.


 

Fatality at I-26 Rest Area Car Strikes Lawnmower, Kills Operator
(added 06/03/09)


Source:Newberry County Coroner's Office

At a little before 11:48 Wednesday morning (June 3), a car struck a lawnmower working at the I-26 rest area at mile marker 62 in Newberry County, killing the operator. Calvin Adams of Chester Turf and Landscaping was officially pronounced dead at 12:36 - cause of death blunt force trauma to the head and neck. The driver of the car was taken to Richland Memorial. The SC Highway Patrol is investigating.


 

Police Pursuit Ends in Arrest of Career Thief
(added 06/02/09)

A police pursuit in Newberry County has landed a man with a long criminal record back in jail.

Newberry County Chief Deputy Jerry Wright knew something was not right when a man ran out of the Lowe’s store with a chain saw in his hand. Wright started toward the man, but the man jumped in a vehicle and sped away. Wright said that he heard someone yell that the man stole the saw so he attempted to stop him.

The man began to try to avoid deputies by working his way onto I-26 and then make a sharp exit onto South Carolina Highway 121. It was at this point that deputies temporarily last sight on the suspect.

The man drove toward Whitmire on Highway 121 and was quickly located by the deputies as he was turning right onto U.S. Highway 176. They again initiated pursuit of the suspect as he then turned and traveled into the Maybinton Community for several miles before he finally stopped and surrendered to law enforcement.

The man was identified as Harold Allen Littrell, 44, of 214 Sudlow Ridge Road, North Augusta, SC.

Littrell has long criminal history that includes convictions across two states for Burglary, Failure to Stop for a Law Enforcement Vehicle, multiple counts each of Grand Larceny, Shoplifting, and Theft By Taking.

Littrell is also wanted by Cobb County Georgia for Shoplifting and Gwinnett County Georgia for a Stolen Property Offense.

Littrell will be charged with Shoplifting more than 3rd Offense and Failure to Stop For A Law Enforcement Vehicle.

A bond hearing will likely take place on Wednesday morning.

There were no injuries associated with pursuit. The entire incident last about 15 minutes; however, law enforcement was not in pursuit during the entire incident as noted above. The actual pursuit is estimated to have covered approximately 10-12 miles. Littrell was driving a 1998 Ford Explorer.

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

 

 

Drugs and Money Seized from Whitmire Home
(added 06/01/09)

The Whitmire Police Department and Newberry County Sheriff’s Office say that their partnership to combat illegal drugs showed it is working on last Wednesday, May 27.

Officers received substantial information that there were illegal drugs located at a residence on Vanlue Lane just outside the Town of Whitmire. The officers used the information they had received to obtain a search warrant for the residence. On Wednesday at about 10:30am, officers executed the search warrant at 111 Vanlue Lane in Whitmire.

Once inside the residence officers say that they located and seized approximately 6 grams of cocaine, more than $1000 cash, and several items of drug paraphernalia including measuring scales. The officers also located .22 pistol inside the residence.

Officers say that they arrested Michael Bernard Epps, 52, of 111 Vanlue Lane, Whitmire, SC was arrested and charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

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

 

Three Arrested for Drugs - Three Children Removed from Home
(added 06/01/09)

A welfare check on young children has resulted in the arrest of three people and the children being removed from the home.

On May 30 at about 11:25PM, deputies with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office were called to 1664 Bachman Chapel Road in Prosperity for a welfare check on the children located there because of a medical condition of one of the children.

When the deputies arrived at the residence, the heard someone running inside the residence and were able to see in plain view a marijuana plant growing at the residence. The officers also observed a partially smoked marijuana cigarette on the porch of the residence.

Once inside the residence, the officers located one of the suspects in the home and then found two more, one hiding in the kitchen cabinet and the other in a closet.

A narcotics officer and K-9 unit were called to the scene and the K-9 unit was able to locate just over 1 ounce of marijuana packed in small plastic baggies usually associated with the sell of this type drug. Deputies also located several items of drug paraphernalia in the residence.

The deputies also found three small children ages 3 and under inside the residence. All of the children were asleep at the time of the incident. Deputies notified the Department of Social Services and the three children were released into their custody.

All three people at the residence were arrested. Law enforcement identified them as:

Courtney M. Chavis

Fred Sexton III

Jordon Ethan Manning

Courtney M. Chavis, 21, of 1664 Bachman Chapel Road, Prosperity, SC, who was charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana.

Fred Sexton III, 29, of 1664 Bachman Chapel Road, Prosperity, SC, who was charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana.

Jordon Ethan Manning, 19, of 4229 Highway 391, Prosperity, SC, who was charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana.

Deputies say that additional charges will be filed against the suspects for their reckless endangerment of the children through their actions. They say they are working with both the Department of Social Services and Eight Circuit Solicitor Jerry Peace’s office to determine the appropriate charges concerning the children.

All three were taken to the Newberry County Detention Center where they were released by a Newberry County Magistrate on a $1000.00 personal appearance bond, which means they were not required to post money or surety to be released from jail.

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

 

WKDK Salutes "Dairy in the ‘Berry" in June!
For "udderly" good fun, tune your radio dial to Newberry’s AM-1240!
(added 05/30/09)

In celebration of National Dairy Month, the WKDK "Coffee Hour" will salute "Dairy in the ‘Berry’" on Thursday and Friday mornings in June. These dairy entertaining programs will air between 9 and 10 a.m., hosted by James P. Coggins with Andy Hawkins and Sue Summer.

"We ‘milk’ June Dairy Month ‘far butter’ than any other radio station, and we invite everyone to join us for a ‘cheesy-good time,’" Hawkins said.

The 2009 "WKDK Salute to Dairy in the ‘Berry’" (aka, Bovine ’09) will cow-tain the following events:

• Thursday, June 4. "Down and Dirty Dairy?!" From blues to bluegrass, these dairy songs suggest romance.

• Friday, June 5. "Waiter, There’s a Cow In My Soup." Join Steven Foulis of Steven W’s Bistro for soup recipes featuring cream and cheese.

• Thursday, June 11. "Not-Trivial Cows in History." Residents and friends of Springfield Place stroll down ‘memory pasture’ and win cheezy-prizes.

• Friday, June 12. "2nd Friday Book Club." While regular mugs discuss "Queen of the Road," they cow-sume slurpy-yummy milk shakes, compliments of Sonic Drive-In.

• Thursday, June 18. "This is How We Iron Chef!" Who is Newberry’s Cat Cora? Two local chefs, Erica Graham of Goodies By Design and Kathy Kyzer of The Flying Pie, will go wo-mano-a-moo for best use of dairy.

• Friday, June 19. "This is How We Iron Chef!" Last year’s competitors, Evan Clark of Steven W’s and Nick Stocker of Springfield Place, will judge the 2009 Iron Chef contest.

• Thursday, June 25. "Just Desserts: Cream Cheese, Please." Local churches enter their best cream-cheese desserts, in celebration of the good food that nurtures church families. Winning church receives $100 prize from Henry B. Summer & Co.

• Friday, June 26. "‘Berry Good Ice Cream Churn-Off," best home-churned ice-cream made with berries. Winner receives $100 prize from Mike Hawkins, Nationwide Insurance.

Audience participation is invited on June 25 and 26.

For the contest on June 25, churches are asked to nominate one or more representatives from their congregations to bring a cream-cheese dessert for judging. Desserts and recipes must be in the studio by 9 a.m. Winning church receives $100 prize and bragging rights; winning cook receives $25 and the admiration of friends and neighbors.

For the Ice-cream Churn-off on June 26, individuals are asked to bring a pint of berry-ful, home-churned ice cream—with recipe—to radio station WKDK before 9 a.m. for judging. The top two winner receive a cash prize.

"Bully" prizes will be awarded to winners and runners-up in both contests. After judging, the "moo-velous" desserts and ice cream will be donated to local law enforcement agencies, firefighters, and emergency responders. (Listen for the sirens!)

"The only thing ‘butter’ than winning a contest is judging one," Summer said. "If you want to serve as a judge, just offer Andy a bribe. Chocolate works almost as well as a moo-llion ‘Berry Bucks.’"

A few celebrity judges have been invited for the ice-cream and dessert contests, Hawkins said. "But hay, we’re always open to ‘butter-bribes.’"

The WKDK Dairy Month Salute will include prizes and surprises, obscure cow-facts from Angus to Zebu—and its very own costumed (but ‘past-ure prime’) Cow Belles. Why, you "cud" even learn how Newberry’s "dairy-exceptional" agricultural community promotes bovinely-good health with vitamins and calcium.

Dr. John Thompson, Newberry internist and WKDK’s crack medical expert for "Dairy in the ‘Berry’," advises: "Eat more dairy, it’s good for you."

Laughter is good for you, too, so stay tuned, y’all. June is going to be milk-buckets of fun in the ‘Berry.

"Holy cow, WKDK has ‘moo-butter’ fun during June Dairy Month than any-moo. That’s only right, since our dairy farmers make such an important contribution to Newberry’s economy," said Heather Hawkins, who co-hosts the "dairy-special" programs with Andy Hawkins, Summer, and Coggins.

"We have fun in June for a serious purpose: to highlight how important agriculture is to Newberry’s economy. We want to thank all the local businesses and listeners who have supported our June Dairy Month Salute in years past. They make it all possible," Coggins said.

For a bovine good time, stay tuned to AM 1240! And check out wkdk.com for upcoming events.

Special Note 1: No bovines have been harmed in the writing of this press release.

Special Note 2: Your assistance is requested. Please, let us know if we missed any bovinely-bad puns in the cow-ments above. Email your response to: suesummer@comcast.net. (Let us know if we can use your name on the air, or if you would rather that your cow-ments be read ‘anony-moo’s-ly.’)

 

Coop Franchise Fee in Prosperity
(added 05/29/09)

The Town of Prosperity held a special, called meeting on Wednesday night (May 27) regarding proposed franchise fee for Newberry Electric Cooperative clients within the Town limits. Council voted to go forward with drafting an ordinance calling for a 5% residential and 7% non-residential franchise fee for all Coop customers within town limits.

Much discussion ensued regarding franchise fee exemptions – whether to include all non-profits or just individual cases. Council agreed to exempt all property owned by Newberry County School District, which at this time would mean Prosperity-Rikard Elementary School.

David Carlson, representing Lovelace Family Medicine, spoke against the franchise fee saying that Lovelace had come first to the town for electrical service but had been turned away due to the concern over a potential lawsuit. He stated that Lovelace should not be penalized for a town decision.

The 09/10 Town budget estimates $5,000 from the franchise fee, but Town Administrator Karen Livingston emphasized that that was an estimate.

The draft version of the Prosperity general fund budget equals $456,000, which is a little over 9% difference from last year. No tax increase is presented in the draft budget.

Prosperity’s proposed utility budget is at $1.6 million, which is approximately 6.7% increase. This increase primarily reflects the proposed 6% increase in electrical and water rates. An 8% electrical rate went into effect 08/09. However, Duke Power, who provides wholesale power to the town, is predicted to increase wholesale rates again this year.

First reading of the 09/10 Town of Prosperity budget and the franchise fee for Coop clients within town limits will be held on Monday, June 8 at 6:30pm in Town Hall.

 

Oakland Mill Redevelopment Goes Ahead
(added 05/29/09)

A community meeting was held on Thursday, May 28 regarding the renovation of the Oakland Mill facility formerly home to AF&F.

Misty West spoke on behalf of Oakland Mill Development Group LLC. She reported that construction in the one floor warehouse area for a fitness center will begin in August. The wellness center will be open for membership from tenants, college faculty and staff, as well as local area residents.

She stated that phase one construction would also include 65 rooms that would be master leased to Newberry College for student housing and 30 market rate apartments.

City Manager Eric Budds stated, "It is the City’s belief that an ‘adaptive reuse’ [of the mill] is the best option." He went on to say that it preserves the history of the building, prevents it from becoming a derelict property, and overall is preferable to a building materials salvage project or a lease to a lower level industry. Budds stated that he hoped it would be a catalyst for further redevelopment.

Reggie Barner, who is working as a housing consultant for the City, discussed how funding will be possible for reinvestment in the mill village as a whole through Emergency Repair and Owner Occupied loan programs. With funding from $6000 - $20,000 available, details and applications will be available in the near future at City Hall.

Residents voiced continued concerns about traffic, trash, overcrowding in rental property, and the poor conditions of property (especially rental property) in their community.

 

Sheriff's Office Participating in Buckle Up SC Campaign
(added 05/22/09)

Sheriff Lee Foster has announced that the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office will join forces with law enforcement statewide in the Buckle Up SC Campaign.

Sheriff Foster says that the program is geared toward encouraging drivers to always wear their safety belt when they are in a vehicle.

Foster said that the campaign runs through the end of May and citizens can expect to see enhanced enforcement and law enforcement presence especially over the holiday weekend.

Free Medical Clinic Recognizes Donors and Volunteers
(added 05/22/09)

The Free Medical Clinic of Newberry County, Inc. thrives on community members giving donations and their time to give uninsured patients a medical home.

Those efforts over the past year were recognized by the Clinic Monday night at The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer during its annual Donor and Volunteer Appreciation Banquet.

Over 72 people who shared their time and money in 2008 attended the banquet and were welcomed by Rev. Mark Scott, a board member of The Free Medical Clinic.
Scott said the board planned the banquet as a way to recognize the services that volunteers and donors had committed to the clinic.

“On behalf of the Clinic, I appreciate the work you have done for the Clinic this year,” he said. “That service is very important to our community by making the Free Medical Clinic work.”

The Rev. Cobby Day, host pastor, delivered the invocation.

Dr. Eugene Epting, medical director at the Clinic, said that many things have changed since the Clinic opened in December 2004. He said that the clinic had accrued over 1,700 visits in 2008. He said that the patients, who must be at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, have become more compliant, listening and acting on the advice given by the volunteer doctors during those visits.

Epting, who helped found the Clinic, welcomed the volunteers and donors, stating that he was overwhelmed by their continued support of the Clinic. He said the patient number is increasing weekly, with the facility having 1242 clients from the Newberry County area.

He, not only praised the efforts of the volunteers and donors, but he also talked about the partnerships built by the Clinic to better serve the growing number of patients. Epting said the Columbia-based medication program, Welvista, had distributed close to 3,000 prescription drugs to the Clinic’s patients, with a retail value of over $500,000. He mentioned the Clinic’s partnership with Lorex, a local pharmacy that gives the Clinic generic prescriptions at wholesale cost for use by the patients.
Epting said that the Clinic has access to other healthcare providers, with other doctors in the area seeing the facility’s patients and Newberry County Memorial Hospital doing laboratory and radiological work to help the volunteer doctors properly diagnoses the client’s illnesses.

Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Free Medical Clinic of Newberry County, Inc., Robert Summer, Jr., who also was instrumental in founding the Clinic, praised the work of the volunteers and contributors to the Clinic.

Summer said that the patient count at the facility was growing rapidly, with at least 20 new patients joining nearly every week. He estimates the patient county to grow to over 2,000 by the end of 2009.
He said that as the facility gets busier and busier, it will need more volunteers. At present, six doctors, one nurse practitioner and 11 nurses volunteer at the facility. He said there is a need for more physicians to meet the increasing need for patient appointments. He said there are always demands for administrative and clerical volunteers.

Summer also said that it was imperative that donors continue contributing to the Clinic, which receives no federal or state funds. He said that although the Clinic received several grants this year, the Clinic could not be as successful without the monetary donations from individuals, businesses and churches in the community.

JoAnn Willard, medical administrator, said that the staff of the Clinic appreciates the time and money given to the facility, “No matter how large, or how small.”


 

County Council Meeting on 05/20/09
(added 05/21/09)

First Reading Passes for Project Shell in the Industrial Park

After executive session on Wednesday night, Newberry County Council approved first reading to sell a little less than 12 acres within the Newberry Industrial Park for "Project Shell." No further details are being released at this time.

Council approved second reading to renew the lease with Piedmont Tech for the old armory building for $1 each year. The lease is for one year with the option to renew for 4 additional years.

Second reading passed to change 1 acre from R2 Rural to Light Industrial on the north side of 76 near St. James Church Rd. Metal Masters owns the property. Ann Peters, Zoning Administrator, stated that they are looking to expand to include the property, which is across the street from their current facility. A new building is currently going up and could be used as storage if the property remains R-2 or manufacturing if final reading passes to rezone as Light Industrial.

Second reading passed to change 2.37 acres adjacent to 13185 CR Koon Hwy from RS1 Single Family Residential to General Commercial. Peters reported that the owner of this property was running a car repair business out of his home when it was brought to the attention of the county that it was not zoned properly for such as business. With final reading, the owner could reestablish the business on this adjacent property.

The full Newberry County Council meets again on June 3 at 7pm. However, the Public Safety and Courts subcommittee will meet on Tuesday, May 26 and the Finance subcommittee will meet on June 8 - both subcommittees meet at 6pm in the Courthouse Annex. Currently regular meeting agendas are available online at www.newberrycounty.net. Soon, the subcommittee agendas will begin to be posted.

 

Gardner Appointed to SC Probation, Pardon and Parole Board
(added 05/20/09)

Newberry County resident Alan Gardner has been appointed to the SC Probation, Pardon and Parole board by Governor Mark Sanford. The appointment received full senate confirmation on Wednesday (5/20/09) and becomes effective immediately.

 

Guidance Counselor Gets to HEART of the Matter!
(added 05/20/09)

Dr. Jenny Band, guidance counselor at Pomaria-Garmany, has earned recognition by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education. At the Awards banquet Tuesday night, Dr. Band received a SC HEART award. The HEART Award (Higher Education Awareness Readiness Transition) recognizes excellence in school counseling by identifying South Carolina school counselors with proven records of accomplishment in promoting higher education awareness.

Dr. Band will receive a $3,500 cash award, plus an incentive grant of $1,500 for her school.
Only one elementary school counselor, one middle school counselor and one high school counselor receive this honor each year.

Oakland Project Meeting
(added 05/20/09)

The City of Newberry officials have scheduled a meeting for residents and property owners in the City of Newberry, District 1 and District 2.

Plans for the upcoming Oakland Mill apartment project will be discussed and questions answered.

City of Newberry residents and property owners in Districts 1 and 2 are urged to attend this important meeting.

LOCATION: Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall (1105 First Street, Newberry)

DATE: Thursday, May 28

TIME: 6:30 P.M.



Census Bureau Seeks Applicants to Fill Local Management Jobs
(added 05/20/09)

The U.S. Census Bureau is seeking applicants to fill management positions in six local census offices scheduled to open this fall in South Carolina to support 2010 Census operations. The new offices will be located in Anderson, Beaufort, Florence, Greenville, Lexington County and Rock Hill.

Applicants must live within a specified geographical area surrounding each local office. For this and other information about the jobs, applicants can go to www.census.gov/rocha/www/2010emply.html.

Job candidates must be U.S. citizens, reside in the area where the local office will be located, clear a FBI background check, pass a written management test, complete the application process, and address the
evaluation criteria listed in the job announcement.

Two early local census offices opened late last year in Charleston and Columbia to build an address list for the 2010 Census. The address list will be used to mail or deliver census questionnaires next March.

“These are important jobs offering competitive pay,” said William W. Hatcher, regional director of the Charlotte Regional Census Center, which supports 2010 Census operations in South Carolina and four other states.
“The new local census offices will be responsible for counting everyone in the state so that everyone counts when it comes to the positive things that follow the census.”

Census results are used to determine the number of congressional seats for each state, the shape of legislative and local government districts, and how $300 billion in federal funds is distributed
annually to communities across America.

The full-time, temporary jobs at each of the six new local census offices include these management positions: local census office manager, assistant manager for field operations, assistant manager for recruiting, assistant manager for administration, assistant manager for quality assurance and assistant manager for technology. Pay for the census management jobs ranges from $17.50 to $27.75 per hour, depending on position and location.

Currently, address listers are combing the streets of South Carolina to update the address list that will be used to mail or deliver 2010 Census questionnaires next year. The address listing operation began April 6. Address listers use handheld computers that capture GPS information as they knock on doors to verify an address and ask about additional living quarters on the premises.

Census workers can be identified by their official U.S. Census Bureau badges or by calling a local census office: Charleston (843) 323-4000 and Columbia (803) 239-5012. Census workers never ask for bank account numbers or social security numbers. Census employees take an oath of confidentiality and can face a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison for violating that oath.

April 1, 2010, is Census Day, the reference date for collecting census information.

 

Four Arrested on Armed Robbery Charges
(added 05/19/09)

Three Newberry County men and a juvenile are charged with robbing an Hispanic male last month.

On April 26, 2009, Jose Vasquez reported to police that he had been assaulted in his back yard located at 203 Wood Lane, Newberry, SC.

He advised that four black males jumped on him and began hitting him in the mouth and nose with an open beer bottle. Vasquez told the officers that once he fell to the ground, the men took his money, ATM card, and several personal identification items. He said the four males then ran away.

Vasquez was treated at the hospital for blunt trauma injuries to the head. He is now out of the hospital and seems to be recovering well.

Investigators say that it was then a combination of witnesses, information from the community, and their follow up investigation that led to the arrests of the four charged in this crime.

Investigators say that all of the men were taken into custody without incident, and police records identify the men as:

Keon Morquel Elkins, 17, 51 Oak Hollow Road, Newberry, charged with Armed Robbery. He was arrested on May 8 and remains in custody on a $30,000.00 surety bond.

Carlos Lopaz Maybin, 21, of 1435 Mt. Bethel Garmany Road, Newberry, SC, charged with Armed Robery. He was arrested on May 12 and has been released on bond.

Horace Rashad Maybin, 18, 51 Oak Hollow Road, Newberry, charged with Armed Robbery. He was arrested on May 18 and has been released on bond.

The juvenile was only identified as being 15 years old. He will be charged as a juvenile.

Investigators say that while a beer bottle is not the normal weapon thought of during an armed robbery, it is still a weapon used to accomplish the robbery and caused substantial injuries to the victim.

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

 

School Budget for 2009/10
(added 05/19/09)

School Board Passes First Reading of the Budget/Reduction in Force Now at 13

Newberry County School Board met last night and approved first reading of the 09/10 budget. Susan Dowd, the School District’s CFO, reported that the proposed 09/10 budget is balanced at $41.8 million. A 4 mill tax increase on 6% assessed property is included. Despite $850,000 in mandated or unavoidable increases (such as teacher salary steps and utility estimates on the new buildings), this budget is still 7.21% or $3.2 million less than 08/09.

This drop in budget revenue is primarily due to a dip in state funding. The base student cost affects Education Finance Act funding. The legislative budget includes a base student cost of $2324 if stimulus or stabilization funds are used. Governor Sanford is holding a press conference this afternoon where he is predicted to announce his veto of the use of stimulus funds in the budget. If he does veto the funding, the budget goes back to the Legislature where 2/3 majority is required to override the veto. The issue could potentially go to the state Supreme Court or even the federal Supreme Court for a final decision regarding whether the executive or legislative branch decides if the state can use stimulus funding. Without stimulus funding the base student cost is estimated at $2024. The district, however, is using $2000 base student cost to build the 09/10 budget.

To balance the budget the district made numerous cuts including reduction in force of 13 people. The district reviewed enrollment projections and cut 41 positions from the 09/10 budget. Most of those were cut through retirement and attrition. Other individuals were transferred to a different position. 13 people were not asked back for next year (6 of which were active retirees). The break down is as follows:

Four certified instructional support staff (which could mean media specialist, guidance, JROTC instructors, etc.), two administrative positions (both at the district level), and seven classified personnel positions (which could mean teaching assistants, etc.)

Public hearing on the school district’s 09/10 budget will be held on June 8.

 

Forty-two Schools Earn Red Carpets; Prosperity-Rikard Among These Schools

COLUMBIA – Forty-two schools were honored today with Red Carpet
awards to recognize their success at creating family-friendly school
environments and providing excellent customer service.

State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex announced the winners of this
year’s awards, which have become highly prized by South Carolina
schools. The schools will receive actual red carpets to display in
their lobbies.

“Schools that are parent-friendly, schools that have strong customer
service, are more likely to be supported by their communities,” Rex
said. “Community involvement can play a big part in a school’s
academic success. This year’s Red Carpet winners understand and
strive for that.”

Two hundred schools began the award application process last fall.
Applicants provided written details about their family-friendly
philosophies and environments, along with the methods used to promote
and self-evaluate those efforts. They also were required to include
copies of their school’s communication plan.

Schools that passed the written application phase were then screened by
independent judges who rated how telephone callers and visitors were
treated. Judges did not identify themselves during telephone calls or
site visits, and site visits were not announced in advance.

Winning schools receive red carpets with the state seal to display in
their lobbies, and they maintain their recognition status for a
three-year period.

This year’s recipients include one primary school, 30 elementary
schools, six middle schools, two high schools, one technical school, one
charter school and one learning center for special needs students.

Red Carpet coordinator Frank White said Kershaw County schools led the
awards parade with four winners this year. The Aiken, Greenville,
Dorchester Two and Richland Two school districts had three winners each.


“This level of participation shows that schools understand how
important parent and community support are to their success,” White
said. “Schools are genuinely interested in improving their customer
service functions.”

Staff members from the Department of Education and school district
personnel from across the state volunteered to take part in the judging
process. An “In Our Schools” program on SCETV last fall featured an
in-depth look at three Red Carpet Schools from 2007-08.

The Red Carpet Schools initiative was one of only two programs in the
nation to receive a Distinguished Single Project Award from the National
School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) in 2003. The program has
also been featured in NSPRA’s monthly newsletter as well as the
monthly newsletter of the National Elementary Principals Association.

This year’s winners provide many examples of family and community-friendly programs:
* At Marlboro County High School, the cosmetology program provides
services to parents at a discount. The horticulture class grows plants
and flowers for sale to the public. Proceeds are donated to the American
Cancer Society’s Relay for Life Campaign.
* Conder Elementary in Richland District Two has assigned a
mailing address to each classroom and the main office. A standard-sized
red mailbox stands beside the school’s main driveway. Without leaving
their cars, parents can leave written messages not only for students,
but also for any member of the faculty or staff.
* In order to make the school’s front entrance area more
appealing and to call attention to the doors visitors should use,
Wateree Elementary School in Kershaw County refurbished the entrance
area and installed a bright red awning that clearly marks the entrance
to the main office.
* Springdale Elementary in Lexington District Two began “Make My Monday” telephone calls this year. Each week, teachers send the school’s administrative staff the names of students who have done
something positive and whose parents should be told. On Monday, the school’s principal and assistant principal call the parents of three students from each classroom. Their calls are ended with: “We hope
this makes your Monday!”
* Orangeburg School District Five’s Dover Elementary is located
in an area with many low-income families and a very high unemployment
rate. The faculty, staff and local community work together closely to
ensure that poverty does not prevent students from receiving all that
the school can offer. One community member makes certain that all fifth
graders interested in joining the school’s band have an instrument if
they are unable to afford one. Other local citizens sponsor field trips.
A computer recycler donated headphones for the computer lab and laptop
bags for every student and teacher.

Schools are judged on a variety of factors, including the exterior and
interior appearance of the campus, the way people were treated in person
and over the telephone, and the information and programs available for
families and visitors. Specific items that judges evaluated on their
site visits included:

Outside
* Clearly marked visitor parking spaces near the front door.
* Well-kept grounds that are free of debris and trash.
* Plainly marked entrances, particularly the main entrance door.

Front entrance/lobby
* Clean and appealing lobby/front entrance.
* “Welcome to our school” signs that clearly direct visitors to the main office.
* Attractive, colorful displays of student achievement and school events.

Office
* Clean and tidy front office.
* Reading material about the school available for visitors.
* Welcoming and professionally dressed staff who greet visitors promptly and quickly ask to offer assistance.
* Visitor badges available.

Telephone
* Telephones that are answered promptly (within three rings) and professionally.
* Person answering the phone has basic, up-to-date information readily accessible.
* Callers are put through to appropriate parties promptly.

2009 Red Carpet winners

District School
Aiken East Aiken Elementary School
Aiken Mossy Creek Elementary School
Aiken Warrenville Elementary School
Anderson 2 Belton Elementary School
Berkeley Bonner Elementary School
Charleston James Island Elementary School
Darlington Carolina Elementary School
Dorchester 2 Alston Middle School
Dorchester 2 Fort Dorchester Elementary School
Dorchester 2 Spann Elementary School
Georgetown McDonald Elementary School
Greenville Beck Academy
Greenville Buena Vista Elementary School
Greenville Lakeview Middle School
Greenwood 50 Merrywood Elementary School
Hampton 1 Ben Hazel Primary School
Hampton 1 Brunson Elementary School
Kershaw Applied Technology Campus
Kershaw North Central Middle School
Kershaw Pine Tree Hill Elementary School
Kershaw Wateree Elementary School
Lexington 1 Pleasant Hill Elementary School
Lexington 2 Brookland-Cayce Grammar School No. 1
Lexington 2 Springdale Elementary School
Marlboro Marlboro County High School
Newberry Prosperity-Rikard Elementary School
Oconee Fair Oak Elementary School
Oconee Oakway Intermediate School
Orangeburg 5 Dover Elementary School
Pickens A.R. Lewis Elementary School
Pickens Gettys Middle School
Richland 1 Logan Elementary School
Richland 1 Richland One Middle College
Richland 2 Conder Elementary School
Richland 2 Round Top Elementary School
Richland 2 Sandlapper Elementary School
Spartanburg 1 Chapman High School
Spartanburg 3 Cannons Elementary School
Spartanburg 5 Florence Chapel Middle School
Spartanburg 6 Woodland Heights Elementary School
Spartanburg 7 Jesse Boyd Elementary School
Spartanburg 7 McCarthy-Teszler School

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) of Newberry College Zoning/Proposed CTO Zone
(added 05/19/09)

Click HERE for the FAQs document (PDF format)

Click HERE for the Campus Transitional Overlay (CTO) Zone (PDF format)

*You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these documents; click here to download a free version.

 

New Composite Sketch of Chapin Armed Bank Robber Released
(added 05/19/09)

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Chapin Police Department are releasing a new composite sketch of the man who robbed a Chapin bank on Friday, May 15, 2009.

The sketch is made possible by one of SLED’s forensic artists and is the result of a detailed description from an eyewitness.

According to Chapin Police Chief Dave Rodgers, that witness says he saw the suspect sitting on a bench on Clark Street throughout the day of the robbery.

At that time, the suspect was not disguising his face with a bandana, which he later wore during the bank robbery.

Chief Rodgers says the man was armed with a semi-automatic pistol and forced employees to go inside a bank vault.

Those employees were not physically injured.




ARMED ROBBER DESCRIPTION:
The robber is described as a slender, white male, approximately 5’10 to 5’11 inches tall with sandy blonde hair.

He has facial hair, possibly a “scruffy” goatee.

The armed robber was last seen wearing a dark-colored baseball cap with the letter “B” on the face of the hat, dark blue, long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans, black boots and black gloves.

The robber, who likely had an accomplice, stole money from the bank and then got inside a gold, Ford Taurus get-away car that had a Dekalb County, Georgia license plate.

CRIMESTOPPERS:
If you recognize the man in the composite sketch or have any information that can help investigators, please call 1-800-CRIME-SC.

Your call can remain anonymous and you could receive a cash reward if your information leads to the arrest and conviction of the bank robber.

 

Newberry College Hires Brad Edwards as New Athletic Director
(added 05/19/09)

Story from Newberry College Athletic website (http://newberryathleticsite.com)

Newberry College is pleased to announce Brad Edwards has been selected as the new athletics director from a field of over 100 applicants. His appointment is effective immediately.

A search committee appointed by Dr. Mitchell Zais, president of Newberry College, pared down the original field to three phone interviews, then two onsite interviews, to determine the finalist.

Edwards currently serves as vice president of IMI Resort Holdings, Inc., after five years as associate athletic director at the University of South Carolina. He served as USC's senior associate athletic director from July 2003 to March 2006.

Edwards, who played free safety for the Gamecocks and played in the National Football League for nine seasons, is currently responsible for the recruiting, hiring and training of sales executives and sales directors for IMI's resort properties across North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. He also assists with the IMI PGA Tour Player program and was responsible for the construction of IMI's New York City office.

In his time at South Carolina, he served as the athletic department's chief financial officer and was responsible for the day-to-day oversight and management of all business functions. He oversaw the department's budget, business operations for Williams Brice Stadium, the Colonial Center and Sarge Frye Field, new facility design, development, and construction, all venue concessions and food service, department advertising and multimedia rights, coordination of bowl travel, and many other operational aspects of the department. He also assisted in securing major financial gifts and executive suite licenses.

He joined the South Carolina athletic department as assistant athletic director for development in July 1999 and was named associate athletic director in October 2001. He transitioned to senior associate athletic director in July 2003.

Edwards played free safety in the NFL for nine seasons after being drafted in the second round of the 1988 draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He also played with the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons and was a starter with the Redskins’ Super Bowl XXVI championship team.

 

 

Newberry Man Charged in Death of His Son
(added 05/17/09)

Story from WLTX TV-19 (www.wltx.com)

A Newberry man has been charged with killing his 7-month-old child.

Newberry County Coroner Craig Newton says Ronald (Ronnie) Padgett (right) was charged in the death of his son, Isaiah, Friday.

Newton says the infant died May 5, the same day Padgett was jailed on unrelated charges.

The coroner says his department did an autopsy, and found the child had a two to six week old fractured skull and a dislocated shoulder. He says those injuries didn't contribute to the child's death, but won't release the actual cause.

Newton says no charges have been brought against the baby's mother. He says the investigation is ongoing in both his department and the Newberry Police Department.

Padgett will remain behind bars until he has a bond hearing in general sessions court.

 

Economic Development Announcement - Oakland Mill
(added 05/17/09)

The Newberry Business Alliance held an economic development leaders meeting last Wednesday (May 13) at Piedmont Tec's Newberry campus. One of the significant announcements made was one by city manager Eric Budds who officially announced that the Oakland mill property has been acquired by West Development of Newberry and that they will proceed with the development of housing options to include 82 market rate apartments and 136 beds of college housing which will be master leased to Newberry College. The project also calls for a 14,000 square foot fitness center that will support Newberry College athletic programs as well as offering memberships to the general public.

 

UPDATE: Victim's Stepson Arrested for Murder
(added 05/15/09)

See Original Story Below

The victim's stepson, Markus Marquel Kibler, 20, of 748 Langford Street, Prosperity, has been arrested for Murder in connection with the death of his stepfather Alphonzo Harris.

Kibler called 911 this morning at approximately 6:17 Thursday morning, stating that someone had shot his step-father, but he did not know who had done it.

Sheriff Foster said that he could not release the details of the investigation because of the impending trial, but that the investigators had located and documented substantial physical and forensic evidence linking
Kibler to the murder.

Law enforcement records show that Kibler has a prior criminal record that includes a 2006 conviction for Possession of a Controlled Substance and Carrying a Pistol Unlawfully for which he received a probationary sentence; a 2006 conviction for Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Beer Under 21; a 2008 conviction for Driving Under Suspension; and is currently out of bond for a 2007 charge of Assault and Battery with Intent to Kill from Fairfield County for an unrelated shooting incident.

Law enforcement officers say that the motive for the shooting is still not clear at this point; however, they have received information from several sources that the two had not gotten along since Harris's wife who was also Kibler's mother passed away in January of this year.

Kibler will then receive a First Appearance hearing with a Newberry County Magistrate to be informed of his rights.

No bond hearing has been scheduled as bond must be set by a Circuit Court Judge. There is no approximate time frame on when this may occur. Sheriff Foster said that the arrest did not and would not close the case.

He said that investigators are working to determine if anyone else was involved with murder, and working to piece together what would become the last moments of Alphonzo Harris' life.

Authorities are asking anyone with any information about this case, to contact the Newbery County Sheriff's Office.

If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff's Office at (803) 321-2211 or www.newberrycountysheriff.com.


UPDATE: Victim Identified
Fatal Shooting in Newberry County

(added 05/14/09)

Newberry County Coroner Craig Newton has now identified the victim in the homicide investigation in Newberry County.

The victim is Alphonzo Harris (left), 43, of 748 Langford Street, Prosperity.

Harris was pronounced dead on scene this morning at his home after law enforcement and rescue workers responded to the residence after a 911 call saying someone in the residence had been shot.

Investigators from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and State Law Enforcement Division are still on scene processing it for evidence while other investigators interview neighbors and follow leads in the case.

Earlier story:

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and SLED (State Law Enforcement Division) are on the scene of a fatal shooting incident in Newberry County.

Deputies were called to 748 Langford Street just outside of Prosperity this morning at 6:17AM for a person who the caller reported had been shot.

The victim, who deputies would not identify because family members had not yet been notified, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and SLED are on scene processing the crime scene, interviewing witnesses, and attempting to determine the events that led to this fatal shooting.

While not releasing any details, Major Todd Johnson, who is the spokesperson for the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, said that they are treating the death as a homicide.

More details will be released as additional information becomes available.

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

You can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CrimeSC, www.sccrimestoppers.com or text your tip to "TIPSC plus your message" to CRIMES (274637).

 

City Council Meeting on May 12
(added 05/13/09)

Newberry City Council met on Tuesday (May 12) night and followed their regular meeting with a budget work session. The draft of the 09/10 City general fund budget to be presented on first reading is now balanced at $8,112,483. It does NOT include any new taxes.

This budget also does not include new positions or programs, no storm water expenditure, and a 20% reduction in travel overall.

The City Utility budget is balanced at $23,835,598 with the inclusion of fee increases. As planned the sewer rate is increased by 7.5% to provide funding for the debt service on the wastewater expansion debt. A 5% electric rate increase is also included. This increase in a pass through from the PMPA wholesale power purchase.

First reading of the 09/10 City budget is scheduled for the June 9 regular meeting.

 

Mid-Carolina Area Elementary School Redistricting
(added 05/13/09)

A crowd of over 100 gathered at MCHS last night (May 12) as Newberry County School District presented two options for redistricting the elementary schools in the Mid-Carolina feeder area. When the last phase of the building program is completed:

Little Mountain will have 500-seat capacity and will only be 49% full.

Pomaria Garmany will have a 500-seat capacity and will be at 77% full

Prosperity-Rikard will have a 470-seat capacity and will still be at 109% full.

The redistricting project was undertaken to equalize these three schools, leaving room for growth. Both options presented would bring Little Mountain to around 72% capacity with Pomaria Garmany and Prosperity-Rikard around 77-78% capacity.

A group of community members and consultants met to review numbers and options to come up with the two plans presented. The use the following guidelines:

Equalize enrollment numbers

Limit travel time when possible

Keep to pure feeder zones so that only students who currently would attend MC Middle and High would be affected.

Minimize the impact so as few of students are affected as possible.

Keep neighborhoods together when possible

Use geographic boundaries for dividing lines when possible.

Very generically the two options both expand the Little Mountain attendance lines so that Prosperity Rikard students south of town from 391 east would now attend Little Mountain and Pomaria Garmany students from the railroad south would now attend Little Mountain. One option includes more of the Hope St./Parr area in Pomaria Garmany and one option includes more of Macedonia Ch Rd near the intersection of Mt. Pilgrim Church in the Prosperity Rikard area. Between 126-129 students will be affected.

Those in attendance were asked to turn in written comments. In one-on-one conversations, concerns and questions were voiced including:

Why include Pomaria Garmany at all if they would already be at 76% capacity without changing a student?

Why didn’t the building program only add on to Prosperity Rikard and Pomaria Garmany where the most portables were in use instead of adding all of this capacity at Little Mountain?

Why pay to have a consultant come up with a plan while the district has to fire teachers to balance the budget?

Why will the issue be brought before the board during vacation time instead of during the school year when parents have more access to information?

If travel time was actually considered, why are students who live so close to Pomaria Garmany now be going to Little Mountain in the scenerios?

Why wasn’t equalizing demographics considered?

Did the committee consider the effect of changes on test scores?

Can current students be grandfathered in and these new attendance lines only affect new students?

Why weren’t attendees allowed to ask questions and voice concern in front of the entire group?

Why are the maps only available at this community meeting and not on-line or at the schools?

The committee will review the written comments and then present their recommendation to the School Board at their June 22 meeting. The board will take the issue up for vote on at their July 27. Since these are both regular meetings of the school board there will be a time for public comments at both meetings. The final redistricting plan for these MC area elementary schools is scheduled to go into effect for the 2010/2011 school year.

Below is the data sheet that was handed out at the Community Forum regarding redistricting the elementary schools in the MC attendance area:

 

School Board Update-Budget Work Session (Two Reports)
(added 05/12/09)

First Reading of School Budget Scheduled for Monday

The Newberry County School Board held a budget work session Monday night (May 11). At the April 21 budget work session, the district was still $100,000 over budget and prioritizing more cuts. Monday night Susan Dowd, the School District’s CFO, reported that the draft budget now shows an almost $300,000 surplus. The biggest changes from April to May being:

* More detailed estimate regarding EIA (Education Improvement Act) and other alternative funding. Originally predicted to be $400,000 less than last year, the category is now estimated to only be around $300,000 less than last year.
* The health insurance increase was predicted to be $175,000. The district is now predicted only a $100,000 increase.
* On the revenue side, the actual fee-in-lieu of taxes (FILOT) collected from industries in 08/09 increased from $1.1 million to $1.3 million. In conference with the Auditors office, the district now feels comfortable using the new number for 09/10.

Now with almost a $300,000 surplus in current draft of the 09/10 budget, the school board has the option of replacing some of the over $3 million in cuts that have been made to balance the budget so far. The options at the top of the list include:

*
Restoring National Board Certification bonus of $2500.
* Restoring a portion of the 20% cut in supply budgets.
* Restoring a nursing position that had been cut. Board member Jody Hamm argued that the district saw how important school nurses are during the recent swine flu outbreak, which has the potential to return in the fall.

On first reading next Monday, any surplus will be shown as contingency. Ms. Dowd argued that both the bonus for the National Board Certified teachers and restoration of supply budget would be easy to restore in January if mid-year cuts do not materialize. This current fiscal year (08/09) a $300,000 in contingency helped to cushion the district from the first wave of mid-year cuts. The total mid-year cuts equaling almost $3 million this year.

Administration emphasized that many of these budget numbers are still estimates especially due to the number of revenue items that are tied to state funding. Base student cost is a dollar amount used as part of a formula to determine Education Finance Act (EFA) funding. The district started 08/09 with a base student cost of $2500. At this point, the 09/10 base student cost is $2,024 without stimulus funding and $2,324 with stimulus funding. To lean on the conservative side, the district is using $2,000 for estimating.

Including all revenue the 08/09 school budget started at $45 million. 09/10 projected revenue (including a 4 mill tax increase on 6% accessed property) equals only $41.8 million, which is a $3.2 million difference. 09/10 projected expenditures are now at $41.5 million, the difference will be shown as contingency when the board meets on Monday for first reading. Monday’s meeting starts at 6pm with an executive session. Open session begins at 7:30pm in the Learning Center.

School Budget Includes $3.2 million in Cuts Primarily Due to State Funding Shortfalls

The Newberry County School Board held a budget work session Monday night (May 11). At the April 21 budget work session, the district was still $100,000 over budget and prioritizing more cuts. Monday night Susan Dowd, the School District’s CFO, reported that the draft budget now shows almost $300,000 surplus.

Despite now showing a slight surplus, the $41.8 million 09/10 budget is $3.2 million less than last year primarily thanks to cuts in state funding. To cover those cuts, the general fund budget at present includes the following reductions:

*Elimination of approximately 15 classroom full time employee (FTE) positions

*Elimination of approximately 7 administration positions

*Elimination of approximately 7.5 certified instructional support personnel positions

*Elimination of approximately 11.5 classified positions

*Two non-instructional days furlough for teachers

*Five-day furlough for over 190 day employees, over 180 day employees, and administration

*Elimination of contingency budget

*Teachers with over 190 days such as department heads will be paid for only 190 days

*Reduction in the number of slots at the Infinity Alternative program from 114 to 80

*Negotiation with administrative active retirees to bring their salary down 15%

*Negotiation with teacher active retirees to bring their salary down 10%

*Eliminate the National Board Certified $2500 salary supplement for current and new National Board Certified teachers

*Moving offices that are renting space to available space at Mid-Carolina Middle

*20% cut in supplies for all departments and schools

*Changing the two in-house custodial programs back to a contract with an outside agency.

The district hopes to eliminate the majority of the 41 positions through retirement and attrition. A few of the positions will simply be moved from the general fund to another funding source. Since the district is still accepting retirements, no estimates are being released at this time regarding the number of employees that will have to be fired. To date, 6 professional and 2.5 certified employees have not been asked back next year.

Newberry County School Board will hold first reading of the 09/10 budget on Monday at 7:30 in the Student Services Building formerly known as the Learning Center.

 

Newberry Woman Struck By Car After Domestic Incident
(added 05/11/09)

A Newberry County woman is home from the hospital after being accidentally struck by a vehicle.

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office was called to 50 Long Boy’s Trail on Saturday afternoon around 4:00PM for someone being struck by a vehicle.

Once on scene, the officers learned that there had been a domestic dispute at the residence, and the female involved in the domestic called her sister to take her from the residence.

The sister arrived and the female then changed her mind and declined to leave, but did want the sister to take her for cigarettes. When the sister refused and began to leave the residence, the female apparently grabbed onto the door handle of the vehicle. After a short distance, she either let go or lost her grip on the door handle, fell, and was struck by the vehicle.

The female was identified as Shelli Adell Lister, 18, of 936 Old Jolly Street Road, Prosperity. She was airlifted for medical treatment and later released from the hospital.

There was no allegation or evidence on a threat or assault during the domestic dispute. It appeared to be just an argument. No charges will be filed related to that portion of the incident.

 

SCHP Names Three New Captains
(added 05/11/09)

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol announced the promotion of three captains Friday in the Midlands, Greenwood area, and the Pee Dee Region.

The three critical positions were recently vacated by a retirement and the promotions of two former captains to Highway Patrol Headquarters.

Clifton B. Hughes, of Lexington, was promoted to captain in Troop One. Mark Gosnell, of Prosperity, was promoted to captain in Troop Two. Jo-Nathan Nell, of Florence, was promoted to captain in Troop Five. The Highway Patrol is divided into seven Troops or regions. Troop captains serve as the commander of their regions.

“I am pleased to announce the names of these fine troopers to fill these positions,” said Highway Patrol Colonel Kenny Lancaster Jr. “They are three seasoned Highway Patrol professionals who know and love the communities where they will serve. They have a strong commitment to reducing highway fatalities and collisions and continuing to find innovative ways to make their communities safer.”

Captain Hughes is a native of Anderson County where he attended Westside High School. He joined the Highway Patrol in 1988 with his first assignment in Richland County where he has spent his entire Patrol career, rising through the ranks to become lieutenant helping oversee operations in the Midlands’ area.

Capt. Gosnell is a native of Spartanburg County where he began his law enforcement career with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office. He has been with the Highway Patrol since 1983. After joining the Highway Patrol, he worked in the size and weight unit focusing on commercial motor vehicle traffic enforcement. Gosnell was promoted to enforcement positions in Richland and Newberry counties. Additionally, he worked as a corporal in Highway Patrol Training, a first sergeant in Emergency Management and most recently served as a lieutenant in Highway Patrol Training.

Gosnell graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice. He also has an associate of arts degree from North Greenville Junior College and is a graduate of Chapman High School in Inman.

Capt. Nell has been with the Highway Patrol since 1985 with his first assignment in Marion County. He is a native of Charleston. He was promoted to corporal in 1993 with assignment in Orangeburg County. He went back to Marion County as a sergeant in 1994 and then to Florence County in 1995. Nell served as the public information officer for Troop Five from 1997 to 2000. In 2005, he was promoted to lieutenant in the Pee Dee area.

Nell attended both Presbyterian College and The Citadel. He is a graduate of Bishop England High School in Charleston.

The promotions are effective immediately.

 

Newberry College Jazz Big Band to Present Graduation Concert
(added 05/08/09)

The Newberry College Jazz Big Band will present its final concert of the 2008 - 2009 season Friday, May 8 at 1 p.m. in the West Memorial Recital Hall in the Alumni Music Center on the College’s campus.

The graduation concert is presented as a musical salute to the graduating seniors and will be a fine arts and lectures event that is free and open to the public.

This program presents the very best in big band, swing, jazz and ballads which showcase the band’s vocalist, Betsy Burriss. Burriss will sing Cole Porter’s “I’ve got you Under my Skin,” Etta James’ “At Last,” Ella Fitzgerald’s “How High The Moon” and the torch song, “Teach me Tonight.”

Trumpeters, Robbie Madison and Kristin Caughman, will solo on Allen Vizzutti’s “Notte A Roma” and freshman trumpeter, Deral Brown, will play Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green.” Other pieces include Juan Tizol’s “Perdido” and Gordon Goodwin’s “Sing, Sing, Sing.”

Bassist, Katie Justice, will present Charlie Mingus’ “Haitian Fight Song” and pianist, Shannon Pinkney, will present the famous, “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise.”

Madison and Pinkney recently achieved national renown when producer, Skip Pearson, selected the pair to perform in the recent Inaugural Ball for President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.

An important tradition at the graduation concert is the recognition of the graduating seniors and the presentation of the “Charles P. (Chief) Pruitt Most Valuable Player” award. This honor is bestowed upon the musician who the band feels has been the most integral member of the group throughout the year.

 

JF Hawkins/Springfield Place
(added 05/07/09)

County Administration has announced that JF Hawkins Nursing Home and the skilled care unit at Springfield Place have been restored to regulation compliance by DHEC. County Administrator Wayne Adams reports that DHEC was on-site Thursday (May 7) and restored the skilled care units to compliance once again - meaning they can once again receive new medicaid and medicare patients. Administration also reports that all fines have stopped accumulating. The immediate jeopardy issue that was sited back to a February elopement event would have cost $103,700 in fines. By not contesting that event, however, the fine was dropped to $67,405. A $200/day fine for the other more minor infractions began on March 26. Administration is in the process of applying for hardship consideration due to the cash flow constraints in hopes that the fine will be further dropped.

“The residents at J.F. Hawkins have always received first-class care. Beyond that, today’s inspection says that the facility is also in procedural compliance. This is another level of comfort that our residents and their family members deserve,” stated Geri Gambill, Interim Administrator for J.F. Hawkins.

WKDK will be live at Springfield Place during the 9am Coffee Hour on May 14.

 

Town of Prosperity Budget Work Session
(added 05/07/09)

The Town of Prosperity held a budget work session on Tuesday night (May 5). The draft version of the general fund budget equals $456,000, which is a little over 9% difference from last year. The biggest changes in revenue reflect prediction of greater collection of court fines thanks to a fully staffed police force and greater collection of business license thanks to new businesses that have opened since last spring. However, the draft budget does not include an increase in the business license fee (only reflects greater collection). No tax increase is presented in the draft budget.

Prosperity’s proposed utility budget is at $1.6 million, which is approximately 6.7% increase. This increase primarily reflects the proposed 6% increase in electrical and water rates. An 8% electrical rate went into effect this current year. However, Duke Power, who provides wholesale power to the town, is predicted to increase wholesale rates again this year. Discussion revolved around whether or not 6% was too much or too little to cover the predicted Duke rate increase and other infrastructure cost. Administration pointed out that even with the 6% rate increase the Town of Prosperity would still have electrical rates lower than the Coop, the City of Newberry, and most other electrical providers in the region.

First reading of the 09/10 Town of Prosperity budget will be held on June 8 at 6:30pm.

 

County Council Meeting on May 6
(added 05/07/09)

County Approves 2nd Reading of Budget

Newberry County Council met last night (May 6) and approved second reading of the county budgets. The county $21.3 million general fund budget does not include any tax increase at this time. A 3 mill tax increase, however, is being discussed for one time capital projects and to leave cushion in the 10/11 general fund budget, which is predicted to reflect even greater cuts from the state than 09/10. This increased tax revenue could be presented as an amendment on third reading but was not included on second reading Wednesday night. Several amendments were approved on second reading including $25,000 for the Newberry Opera House.

The county special education budget was also approved at second reading. The $775,000 budget reflects funding for Piedmont Tech, Newberry Library, and Newberry Disabilities & Special Needs.

Council approved the acceptance of the low bid from Dixie Pole Building for an addition at the Chappells Fire Station. The $29,433 bid does not include bonding charge or wire in the concrete (but wire mess instead). The addition will be paid for with council contingency funding.

County Council also agreed to spend up to $20,000 to patch the dome roof over the auditorium at the old armory where Piedmont Tech is currently housed. The recent re-roofing of the single portion of the building came in under budget by more than $19,500.

Pat McGehee, Dean of several Piedmont Tech Centers including Newberry, stated that the Vet Tech program is one of the highlights of his 30 years with Piedmont Tech. Started just over 3 years ago, the program is now fully accredited. In fact, McGehee announced that the program this last week received AVMA full approval. All of the graduates who will be penned today already have jobs. The program is one of only three in the state.

The Newberry Veterinary Technology Club from Piedmont Tech presented the Deana Hallman, Director of the Animal Shelter, and Council Chairman Buddy Livingston with a $3,000 check to go towards the animal shelter building fund. Elizabeth Stevens president of the club said in reference to the current facilities, "We should and can do better." Piedmont Tech Vet Tech program provides full vet exams and vet care for many of the animals at the shelter.

County Administrator Wayne Adams reported to council that DHEC has approved Jessie Frank Hawkins/Springfield Place’s amended plan of action regarding correcting sited violations at the skilled care facilities. The facility is awaiting a DHEC review. The immediate jeopardy issue that was sited would have cost $103,700 fine. By not contesting, the fine was dropped to $67,405. The $200/day fine for the other more minor infractions is still in affect. Administration is in the process of applying for hardship consideration due to the cash flow constraints in hopes that the fine will be further dropped.

Council approved first reading to renew the lease with Piedmont Tech for the old armory building for $1 each year. The lease is for one year with the option to renew for 4 additional years.

Council also approved several zoning changes including final reading of a zoning change from R-2 Rural to General Commercial on 1.26 acres on Hwy 121 across from the intersection with Maple Lane. The property was previously commercial as the former home of BJ Graphix.

First reading passed to change 1 acre from R2 Rural to Light Industrial on the north side of 76 near St. James Church Rd. Metal Masters owns the property. Ann Peters, Zoning Administrator stated that they are looking to expand to include the property, which is across the street from their current facility.

First reading passed to change 2.37 acres adjacent to 13185 CR Koon Hwy from RS1 Single Family Residential to General Commercial. Peters reported that the owner of this property was running a car repair business out of his home when it was brought to the attention of the county that it was not zoned properly for such as business. With final reading, the owner could reestablish the business on this adjacent property. The property in question is near residential property where other home businesses are located yet across the road from property zoned industrial.

The full Newberry County Council meets again on May 20 at 7pm. However, the Public Works and Planning subcommittee will meet on May 11 and the Economic Development subcommittee will meet on May 18, both at 6pm in the Courthouse Annex.

 

Luther Resigns as Basketball Coach of Newberry College
(added 05/06/09)

Source: Newberry College website, http://newberryathleticsite.com

Newberry College announced the resignation of Jeremy Luther from the position of head men's basketball coach on Tuesday. Luther has accepted the head coaching position at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga.

Luther coached at Newberry for two seasons, compiling a 33-24 (.579) overall record. The 2009 squad went 21-8, compiling the school's best record since joining NCAA Division II. The Scarlet and Gray also advanced to the semifinals of the Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament for only the third time in the program's history. The team also led NCAA Division II in blocked shots per game and received the program's first ever regional ranking.

In his first season at the helm , Luther led the team to a 12-16 record and tied for sixth in the South Atlantic Conference.

Luther came to Newberry from Mercer University in Macon, Ga., where he spent six seasons as an assistant coach. While at the Division I institution, Luther was a key component in the recruiting of players from South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee. He was also in charge of the team strength and conditioning program, individual workouts and the academic development of each student-athlete.

Luther was a part of the Mercer staff that won the first ever regular season championship in school history and also set the NCAA record with the biggest turnaround going from 6-23 to 23-6 and was one win short of an Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship in 2003 and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Before coming to Mercer, Luther had stints as a head coach on the high school level at Windsor Academy in Macon, Ga. While there, he led the team to their most victories in seven years. Luther was also an assistant at North Greenville from 1998-2000. While at North Greenville, Luther was in charge of the development of perimeter players and assisted in the recruitment of players and the scouting of opponents.

Luther began his playing career at Robert Morris College where he played from 1992-93. After the season, he transferred to Liberty University where he played for two seasons. He would later transfer to Covenant College where he would score 1,300 points in two seasons with the Scots.

Following his senior year, he was named an NAIA Division II All-American after finishing fourth in the country in scoring, averaging 26.0 ppg.

Luther and his wife Ginny are the proud parents of a son, Bryson who is two.

 

Prosperity Approves Final Reading of Agreement with Coop
(added 05/05/09)

The Prosperity Town Council met last night (May 4) and approved second and final reading of an agreement with the Newberry Electric Cooperative. The Coop has used SC Code Section 58-27-1360 to challenge municipalities regarding compensation for lines within annexed property. The Town of Prosperity arbitration with the Coop has resulted in a settlement agreement.

The Town grants exclusive rights to the Coop for existing customers within the Town limits or any new customers along "Coop corridors" (within 500 feet of current Coop lines within the Town limits). The Coop agrees NOT to expand or upgrade lines within Town limits except to serve those customers specifically along the "Coop corridors."

The Town will retain the Piggly Wiggly as a customer. The Coop gains the other customers within the "Piggly Wiggly shopping center" and any additional customers on the property.

The Coop agrees not to challenge any Town annexation done prior to the agreement. The Town of Prosperity will NOT be required to pay a settlement. In the case of any future annexation, the Town and Coop pledge to work together to come to a mutual agreement. The possibility of a franchise fee will be discussed separately.

No one spoke during the public hearing. The vote to approve the agreement was unanimous. The agreement will now go to the Coop for their May meeting. Following first reading, Dan Murphy, President and CEO of Newberry Electric Cooperative, stated that he sees this as a "mutually beneficial agreement" and doesn’t see any reason why the Coop Board wouldn’t approve the agreement at their meeting.

Prosperity Town Council will meet again tonight to tackle the town’s 09/10 budget.

 

Pedestrian “Hit” by Train Then Disappears
(added 05/05/09)

Traffic was stopped in Prosperity on Sunday afternoon for another train incident. A little after 1:30pm on Sunday (May 3) a CSX train engineer reported “clipping” a pedestrian who was walking on the tracks near the Main St. crossing. However, the person could not be found. Prosperity Chief of Police Craig Nelson reports that not even blood or clothing was found near the tracks. Police will be reviewing the CSX train video, but because of the angle they do not expect to see anything definitive. If anyone has any information, please contact the Town of Prosperity police at 364-2121.

Newberry Public Schools to Re-Open on Tuesday
(added 05/04/09)

Following is the latest statement from the Newberry School District Office:

The School District of Newberry County will resume full operations on Tuesday, May 5.

“After discussions with DHEC’s state epidemiologist Dr. Jerry Gibson, we feel that it is appropriate to reinstate classes,” said Hugh Gray, public information officer. “We will implement an active monitoring plan, as suggested by DHEC, to help reduce the exposure to the virus.”

This includes a morning screening conducted by teachers and immediate referral to the school nurse of any student presenting flu-like symptoms.

“Dr. Gibson has told us that he feels we’ve made a positive impact on slowing the spread of the flu virus,” said Bennie Bennett. “We continue to keep the safety of our students at the forefront of all our decisions.”

The screening process will continue through Friday, at the least.

If your child feels ill with fever, headache, body ache and/or fatigue, please keep the child at home and contact your doctor.

Assault Allegation
(added 05/04/09)

A Newberry County Sheriff’s Deputy has been placed on Paid Administrative Leave pending the results of an investigation of a domestic dispute between he and his step-son. The deputy was NOT on duty at the time of the alleged incident.

An incident report on file with the Whitmire Police Department says that officers from the Whitmire Police Department were called to Wallace Thompson Hospital just after 8:30PM last Monday night (April 27).

The paternal step-grandmother of the juvenile alleged that the child’s step-father, a deputy with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, assaulted the boy prior to school that morning.

According to the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, the deputy, who was identified as Ezra Arnold, has been employed with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office since August of 1999 and currently holds the rank of Sergeant and is assigned to the uniform patrol division.

The State Law Enforcement Division and the South Carolina Department of Social Services are both conducting investigations into the incident.

Arnold was placed on Administrative Leave with pay last Tuesday (April 28) pending the preliminary report from SLED. The report could be available as early as this week.

Shooting Incident Injures Woman; Deputies Expect Arrests
(added 05/04/09)

A Newberry County woman is home from the hospital after a shooting incident that occurred on Friday night.

Officers were called to 17 Porter Road, which is just off South Carolina Highway 34, in Newberry County at just after 11:00PM Friday night.

Police say that the 51 year woman was in her son’s bedroom when a gunshot rang out. The bullet entered the residence, which is a single wide trailer, through the exterior wall and grazed the victim’s head.

The victim was transported to Richland Memorial Hospital where she was treated and released on Saturday morning. The injuries were not life threatening and she is expected to make a full recovery.

Investigators in the Sheriff’s Office are following up on a number of leads in the case, however, no arrests have been made at this point.

They say that one potential lead involves possible retaliation for an incident that occurred on April 30 in the City of Newberry.

The victim’s adult son, Lavar Devalle Johnson, 25, of 17 Porter Road, Newberry, was allegedly involved in committing a burglary at an apartment complex. Warrants have been issued for Johnson, but he has not yet been taken into custody. There were two other suspects involved in the incident with Johnson and none of them have been taken into custody at this point.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing and arrests are expected in the near future.

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

 

Extension of School Closings
(added 05/01/09) **UPDATED on 05/03/09

The following statement was issued earlier from the Newberry School District Office:

Newberry Public Schools will be closed through Monday, May 4.
Newberry Academy is re-opening on Monday.

We are making the decision at this time to allow families to make necessary arrangements.

We ask that families be attentive for further updates.

Parents -- Reinforce with your children good hygiene techniques like hand washing and coughing in your sleeve. Watch your family for flu-like symptoms such as headaches, body aches, and fever over 100 degrees.

DHEC's Latest Confirmed Cases of Swine Flu
(added 05/01/09)

To keep up with the latest number of confirmed and probably cases of swine flu visit www.scdhec.gov. See map for more information on cases.
http://www.scdhec.gov/flu/CR-009491.gif

Springfield Place Administrator Resigns
(added 05/01/09)

County Administrator Wayne Adams has confirmed that Les Parks, Administrator for Jessie Frank Hawkins Nursing Home and Springfield Place, has resigned. Parks' resignation was accepted by Adams on Tuesday. Geri Gambill will act as interim administrator of Jessie Frank Hawkins. Gambill was Assistant Director of Nursing and is licensed to operate a nursing home. She previously ran nursing homes in Barnwell and Blackville. Kathy Montgomery will return to her position as Springfield Place Administrator on a perminant basis. Montgomery is licensed to administer residential healthcare facilties and held the position as administrator prior to Parks arrival. Parks will remain available as a consultant for any transitional questions. Glen Wicker will remain Director of Finance for both facilities but will now report directly to the county administrator.

Due to the outbreak of swine flu in the community and the weakened immune systems of some of the residents, both facilities are discouraging visitors. Those who must visit will be asked to follow nursing staff's procedures.


 

Confirmed Swine Flu Cases Growing
See Related Newberry Confirmed Cases Story Below...and Statement from NCMH
(added 04/30/09)

The number of confirmed swine flu cases in SC has been increased to 13. Read DHEC's latest release at http://www.scdhec.gov/administration/news/2009/nr20090430-02.htm. Jim Beasley of DHEC reiterated that the important thing is not the numbers, but that the swine flu is here and everyone should follow standard prevention tips: wash your hands, cover your mouth with your sleave not your hand when you sneeze, keep your distance from those who are showing symptoms, stay home if you are showing symptoms, get plenty of sleep, and eat healthy.

 

Confirmed Cases of Swine Flu in Newberry County
Statement from Newberry County Memorial Hospital

1) At noon on Thursday, DHEC announced that there are now 10 confirmed cases of 2009 H1N1 (Swine) flu in Newberry County. That number is expected to increase because of the rising number of suspected and probable cases.

2) The CDC recently moved the world-wide alert status to Level 5. Level 6 is pandemic flu.

3) In response, NCMH has activated its All-Hazards Disaster Plan on a modified basis. Modified means…
*That the Emergency Command Center is staffed at the hospital, and we are following Emergency procedures;
*All staff is on stand-by in case staffing needs to be ramped up at the hospital;
* Key personnel will either be on site or check in frequently;
*Supplies are at appropriate levels;
*We are asking the public-at this time-to visit only if they are well, and it is absolutely necessary. We do not recommend children being brought to the hospital for visits unless unavoidable.

4) We have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)with DHEC to provide additional support.

5) During this health alert, Volunteers are being asked not to come to the hospital.

6) The local DHEC Health Clinic has received additional Tamiflu. It will be available to patients who have presented with flu like symptoms, tested positive on the Rapid Flu Test for Type A, have a physician’s prescription and are indigent. The office will be open today and Friday during regular hours. There are plans for weekend hours, but they have not been announced yet.

 

Newberry Public Schools are Closed on Friday
(added 04/30/09)

Due to the increased number of probable swine flu cases in Newberry County, the Newberry County Public School District has now announced that as a precautionary measure they will be closed on Friday. Students will finish out today but will not go to school on Friday. Stay tuned to WKDK regarding future schedules. The Newberry Academy will remain closed Friday per the earlier announcement.

Below is a link to CDC's swine flu webpage. 10 SC cases officially added to the national totals.
http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/

Newberry County Council Work Session
(added 04/30/09)

Newberry County Council held a budget work session and discussed the following options:

Adding 3 mills in operating taxes that would be countered by 5.6 mill decrease in bond millage for a net of 2.4 mills decrease in county controlled millage. The additional 3 mills in taxes would be utilized for non-recurring capital projects. Two of the capital options being discussed are renovation of the Clemson Extension building to add county offices or the purchase of a new rescue squad truck.
Reducing from 24 to 12 hours a day the third paramedic manned EMS ambulance that is stationed at Fairview. Other options such as stationing a QRV at the location instead of two paid paramedics are also being discussed.

Beginning to charge for Rescue Squad transport ($200 was the amount suggested as opposed to the $1000 for an EMS transport).

No final decisions were made at the work session regarding these issues. Newberry County Council’s next regular meeting is May 6 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

Ten Suspected Cases of Swine Flu in SC;
Newberry Academy Closes School Until Next Monday

(added 04/29/09)

UPDATED at 04/29/09 at 12:55 PM : SC DHEC is now reporting 10 suspected (but not yet confirmed) cases of swine flu in SC. All but one of which is reportedly in Newberry County. Newberry Academy, where the first potential case was reported in the County, will be closed for students until Monday, May 4. Academy faculty went in today (Wednesday) for a work day following a volunteery disinfection of the school on Tuesday.

As a procautionary measure, the American Cancer Society has postponed the Relay for Life fundraiser that was to be held this Friday at Newberry High School. American Cancer Society representatives state that it may be next week before a new date is set. Stay tuned to WKDK for more information.

Link to DHEC press release regarding the 10 suspected cases.
http://www.scdhec.gov/administration/news/2009/nr20090429-01.htm

Newberry Academy seniors visited Mexico recently, and upon returning home, some have been experiencing flu-like symptoms. DHEC is investigating to ensure that test results do not show swine flu. In the meantime, Newberry Academy will be closed. Stay tuned to WKDK and WKDK.com for more information.


School Board Meeting on April 27

(added 04/28/09)

School Board Votes to Use An Additional $400,000 in Fund Balance

The Newberry County School Board met Monday night (April 27) and
approved the usage of an additional $400,000 in fund balance to cover
08/09 state budget cuts. With approximately $2.8 million in mid-year
state budget cuts this year, the district has made program, supply,
and travel cuts; utilized $300,000 in contingency funding; and
already cash flowed the district this year with $1.6 million in fund
balance. The additional $400,000 to cover the last -round of state
mid-year cuts brings the total use of fund balance so far for in
08/09 to $2 million. This leaves $6.6 million in the reserve fund or
approximately 1 ½ months operating budget for the district. This
amount is still greater than 10% of yearly operating. 10% being the
district’s self-imposed minimum amount of fund balance per a policy
approved last year.

School Board member Greg Taylor voted in opposition of this
additional use of the fund balance saying that the district needs to
be preparing for more cuts next year and can’t afford to go any
further into the fund balance. He recommended furloughing teachers 1
day and administrators 2 days this year to cut into the amount needed
to finish out the year. After much discussion several other board
members argued that the $160,000 that would be gained from the
furlough was not enough to cause changes in this year’s remaining
schedule. Board member Jody Hamm argued that there are too few
paychecks to spread the furlough over - especially in light of the
furloughs and other sacrifices required to balance the 09/10 budget.

The current draft of the 09/10 school budget includes 2 furlough days
for teachers and 5 furlough days for other employees (including
administrators, those classified employees with over 180 days, and
those with over 190 days).

The current draft for 09/10 also includes a loss of 15 classroom
positions, 7 administration positions, 7.5 certified positions, and
11.5 classified positions. Many of those positions will be cut
through retirements and attrition, however a few have already been
cut through non-renewal of contracts. After executive session on
Monday night, the school board announced that 4 “professional”
individuals (which could mean teachers, administrators, or certified
professionals) and 2.5 classified individuals would not be offered
contracts for 09/10. Two additional professional individuals were
approved for non-renewal at a previous board meeting, bringing the
total to 6 professional positions cut. Thanks to flexibility approved
this year by the State Legislature, the district has until May 15 to
officially issue contracts. All of those contracts, however,
specifically state that the offered position hinges on available
funding.

A budget worksession is scheduled for May 11 at 6:30pm in the
Learning Center. First official reading of the budget is scheduled
for the May 18 meeting. Also stay tuned to WKDK for the announcement
of a public forum in May regarding redistricting of school attendance
lines.

 

Knight Named Head Football Coach at Newberry College
(added 04/24/09)

Source: Newberry College Athletics website (www.newberryathleticsite.com);
photo also courtesy of www.newberryathleticsite.com.

Dr. Mitchell M. Zais, president of Newberry College, introduced Todd Knight as the College’s 18th head football coach Friday.

Prior to his new position, Knight (left) served for six seasons as defensive coordinator at Newberry. Under Knight’s direction, Newberry has had one of the top defenses in the South Atlantic Conference in each of the last three seasons. Nine Newberry defensive players have been named First Team all-South Atlantic Conference and 17 defensive players have earned all-region honors.

“Coach Knight will do an outstanding job with the football program,” said Zais. “The players look up to him and respect him. He will serve with integrity both on and off the field.”

“I would like to thank Dr. Zais, Billy Walker and the Board of Trustees for the opportunity to serve as head football coach at Newberry College,” Knight said. “I’d also like to thank the current coaching staff and the kids in the program for their vote of confidence.

“To the entire Newberry College family, we promise we will do our absolute best to continue our success and stay on top. We will produce a product we can all be proud of,” Knight added

Before coming to Newberry, Knight served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Charleston Southern University under head coach David Dowd. Under Knight’s guidance, the 2001 Buccaneers’ “Blue Collar” defense achieved a top 20 I-AA national ranking in total defense.

Knight served as defensive coordinator at Lees-McRae College and was the secondary coach at his alma mater, former South Atlantic Conference member Gardner-Webb University.

At Gardner-Webb, he received a Bachelor of Science in physical education in 1989 and earned a Master of Arts in physical education the following year as a graduate assistant coach.

He has a daughter, Anna, who is a junior at Newberry College. He is married to the former Tina Martin and the couple resides in Little Mountain with their sons Devin and Michael Cash.

Town of Prosperity/Co-op Agreement
(added 04/23/09)

The Town of Prosperity met Tuesday (April 21) night and approved first reading of an agreement with the Newberry Electric Cooperative. The Coop has used SC Code Section 58-27-1360 to challenge municipalities regarding compensation for lines within annexed property. The Town of Prosperity arbitration with the Coop has resulted in a settlement agreement. Following a lengthy executive session Tuesday, Town Council approved first reading accepting the agreement.

The Town grants exclusive rights to the Coop for existing customers within the Town limits or any new customers along "Coop corridors" (within 500 feet of current Coop lines within the Town limits). The Coop agrees NOT to expand or upgrade lines within Town limits except to serve those customers specifically along the "Coop corridors."

The Town will retain the Piggly Wiggly as a customer. The Coop gain the other customers within the "Piggly Wiggly shopping center" and any additional customers on the property.

The Coop agrees not to challenge any Town annexation done prior to the agreement. The Town of Prosperity will NOT be required to pay a settlement. In the case of any future annexation, the Town and Coop pledge to work together to come to a mutual agreement. The possibility of a franchise fee will be discussed separately.

The Town of Prosperity will hold a public hearing on May 4 at 5:30pm in Town Hall. That public hearing will be followed by a special meeting of the Town Council where they will vote on second and final reading of the agreement. The agreement will then go to the Coop for their May meeting. Dan Murphy, President and CEO of Newberry Electric Cooperative, stated that he sees this as a "mutually beneficial agreement" and doesn’t see any reason why the Coop Board wouldn’t approve the agreement at their meeting.

 

Newberry City Council Meeting on April 21
(added 04/23/09)

Newberry City Council met on Tuesday (April 21) night for a budget work session. The 09/10 City general fund budget is currently at $8,151,792 with revenue at $8,083,394. Within $68,398 of being balanced, the City is looking at the following options:

Increase tax millage by 3.6 mills as allowed by the CPI (consumer price index) plus growth state formula.
Review capital outlay for 09/10 – the budget now calls for the replacement of a fire department pumper since one of the backup pumper is over 20 years old. The budget also calls for the replacement of a commercial garbage truck that is not lasting as long as expected.
Increasing the transfer from the Utility Department – The City usually transfers 5% gross + $125,000, which is the equivalent of a franchise fee.
City Manager Eric Budds stated that consensus from council was to look at the capital outlay and the utility transfer first.

This budget includes no new employees or programs, no stormwater expenditure, and a 20% reduction in travel overall. Budds praised the Department Head for pear down budget request. He cautioned that the 10/11 budget could be even tougher. The City lost $70,000 in state aid to subdivisions this year during state cuts. State aid formula for 10/11 budget will be based on the budget that the state sets this summer, which is predicted to be billions of dollars less than last year. The options the City has to make up any revenue with increased millage will be again based on the consumer price index for calendar year 2009 plus population growth in 2009. So far this calendar year the consumer price index is negative.

The City Utility budget is balanced with the inclusion of fee increases. As planned the sewer rate is increased by 7.5% to provide funding for the debt service on the wastewater expansion debt. A 5% electric rate increase is also included. This increase in a pass through from the wholesale power purchase.

Newberry City Council will further discuss the 09/10 budget following their May 12 regular meeting at City Hall.

Education Board Budget Work Session/School Board Work Session
(added 04/22/09)

41 Positions cut in School Budget Draft

Newberry County Board of Education held a budget work session on Tuesday night (April 21) and heard recommendations from administration regarding cuts to bring the budget down from $45 million (which was the starting budget in 08/09) to the $41.6 million of estimated revenue for 09/10.

School District CFO Susan Dowd emphasized that revenue estimates are more difficult than ever this year. She reported that the Senate finance committee is using $2034 as the base student cost measurement for EIA funding. Ms. Dowd stated that she used $2,000 to estimate base student cost for the working draft of the budget. She also included 4 additional mills of operational taxes bringing the total to 198. This change in millage will, of course, only affect properties accessed at 6%, businesses, utilties,etc.

The working general fund budget includes the following reductions:

*Elimination of 15 classroom full time employee (FTE) positions
*Elimination of 7 administration positions
*Elimination of 7.5 certified instructional support personnel positions
*Elimination of 11.5 classified positions
*Two non-instructional days furlough for teachers
*Five-day furlough for over 190 day employees, over 180 day employees, and administration
*Elimination of contingency budget
*Teachers with over 190 days such as department heads will be paid for only 190 days
*Reduction in the number of slots at the Infinity Alternative program from 114 to 80
*Negotiation with administrative active retirees to bring their salary down 15%
*Negotiation with teacher active retirees to bring their salary down 10%
*Eliminate the National Board Certified $2500 salary supplement for current and new National Board Certified teachers
*Moving offices that are renting space to available space at Mid-Carolina Middle
*20% cut in supplies for all departments and schools
*Changing the two in-house custodial programs back to a contract with an outside agency.

The district hopes to eliminate the majority of the 41 positions through retirement and attrition. A few of the positions will simply be moved from the general fund to another funding source. Since the district is still accepting retirements, no estimates are being released at this time regarding the number of employees that will have to be fired.

$490,000 in Federal Title I Stimulus funding that comes directly to the district will not add to but help keep Pre K classes and positions intact. This funding, however, is only good for two years.

The current draft of the 09/10 school budget assumes no stimulus dollars except those Title I stimulus funds that come directly to the district. Superintendent Bennie Bennett and board members will be spending a day at the capital today meeting with legislators.

Newberry County School Board meets again on Monday at 7:30 in the Student Services Building formerly known as the Learning Center.

Fees Could be Added/Increased to Help Cover School Budget Cuts

The Newberry County School Board held a work session Tuesday night (April 21) and discussed the 09/10 budget. The original 08/09 budget was $45 million. The estimated revenue for 09/10 is $41.6 million and the working general fund budget is at $41.7 million. Stay tuned to WKDK or visit wkdk.com for more regarding the $3.3 million in cuts already in the working budget. Still looking for $100,000 to cut and to plan for any potential cuts during the 09/10 year, the board will discuss the prioritization of items for additional cuts at their Monday (April 27) regular board meeting.

Two of the items discussed at Tuesday’s work session involved potential fees for the 09/10 school year. Administration stated that the Driver’s Ed program fee of $25 does not cover the cost of the program. All new drivers are now required to take the class. Private lessons run between $200-300 dollars. The board is discussing increasing the charge to $75. They also believe they can save over $50,000 by contracting out the program to a private company.

One of the line items up for elimination is $37,800 sporting events supplement that pays for games where the gate charge doesn’t cover the cost of the event. From tennis to track to even baseball games few matches actually cover their expenses reports administration. The elimination of this supplement could result in cutting the number of games, cutting away games, or possibly only offering Varsity level competition. The creation of a general extracurricular activities fee covering sports, band, etc. is being discussed to offset some of the potential cuts.

Other potential additional cuts include:

*Elimination of additional 7.5 classroom positions (15 already included in draft)
*Elimination of additional 2 administration positions (7 already included in draft)
*Elimination of additional 14 classified positions (11.5 already included in draft)
*One additional furlough day for all employees (2 day furlough already included for teachers and 5 for other employees)
*Negotiate with administrative active retirees for a 20 instead of 15% reduction in salary
*Negotiate with teacher active retirees for a 15 instead of 10% reduction in salary
*Increase charge for drivers ed classes from $25 to $75 plus contract out for the drivers ed classes
*Elimination the employee assistance plan
*Elimination the Alert Now automated alert system
*Elimination the band additional funding for leasing instruments
*Elimination the additional funding for outside band services such as paying a percussion or color guard expert
*Elimination hazardous travel bus stops, which includes within mile and a half of school and stops that are not two-tenths of a mile apart
*Elimination the uniform supplement for athletic department and band

Again, Newberry County School Board meets on Monday (April 27) at 7:30pm in the Social Service building formerly known as the Learning Center. The official first reading of the 09/10 budget will be on the agenda for the May board meeting.

 

UPDATE (Statement from Dr. Mitchell Zais)
Zak Willis Out as Newberry College Head Football Coach

(added 04/22/09)

Dr Mitchell M. Zais, President of Newberry College, announced Wednesday that Zak Willis, Newberry College Head Football Coach, has been relieved of his duties.

WKDK has learned that a new coach will be named on Friday morning. According to unnamed sources, the job will go to Defensive Coordinator, Todd Knight. Stay tuned to WKDK and wkdk.com for more information.

 

Newberry's Unemployment Rate Falls a Bit; SC's Rate Rises to 11.4%
(added 04/17/09)

Newberry County's Unemployment Rate dropped 0.6 percentage points from February to March; the state's rate rose to 11.4%, marking the highest state rate since 1983.

Click HERE for the press release from the S.C. Employment Security Commission.

 

County Council Meeting on April 15
(added 04/16/09)

Final Reading Passes on Road Paving Procure Changes

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (April 15) and heard final reading of changes to the procedures followed for placing roads on a list for potential paving. The proposed ordinance states that only roads already in the county system can be paved and that 100% of residents along the road will have to first deed the right-of-way before the road is placed on a potential paving list. 50 feet will be the standard right-of-way required for through roads and 40 foot right-of-way for cul-de-sacs.

Second reading passed to rezone nine hundred fifty-one hundredths (.951) of an acre from R2 rural to General Commercial on Hwy 121 at the former BJ Graphix location.

Final reading passed to transfer to Denise O’Shields within the Scurry Island Road expanded right of way that is not utilized by Newberry County.

Final reading passed to officially codify the ordinances passed from July to Dec.

Council also approved an ordinance naming May Older Americans Month.

Deborah Smith, Executive Director of the Newberry Opera House, presented council with a recently completed study on the economic impact of the Opera House. The Opera House, the City, and the County jointly funded the study. The TIF (tax increment finance) district surrounding the Opera House allows the taxes from the increase in accessed value of properties within the district to go towards paying off the Opera House renovation debt. Smith reported that the growth in assessed value is almost 5000% for the TIF district. On average the Opera House brings 107,000 people to Newberry each year and they directly or indirectly spend $20 million in Newberry County.

First Reading of County Budget Approved

Newberry County Council met Wednesday night (April 15) and approved first reading of the 09/10 county budget. The operational budget is balanced at $21.3 million. This amount is 4.9% less than last year reflecting almost $1.1 million in cuts. This base line budget assumes only a .5% increase in the value of a mill and no increase in operational millage.

The $783,000 County Special Education budget also passed first reading. It includes funding for Newberry County Library, Disabilities and Special Needs, and Piedmont Technical College.

Councilman Kirksey Koon pointed out that department requests started the budget at $26 million and that Administrator Wayne Adams had brought the budget down to $21.3 million for first reading.

Administrator Adams stated that the cuts in the operating budget made this year would be felt but that "we haven’t cut into any muscle this year. With any inflation in cost next year, we will have to effect services. There is no more low hanging fruit." For those reasons, Adams is recommending that council add a small 2 to 3 mill tax increase for short term capital so when a 1.5% inflation factor effects cost of services next year there is room for that growth. Currently items such as ambulances and new compactors for the recycling centers are budgeted for a lease purchase plan. Purchasing them outright with this slight tax increase would, of course, also save interest.

Council took this recommendation as information. Again, on first reading the budget included no increase in taxes.

Newberry County Council as a whole will hold a work session regarding the 09/10 budget on April 22 and 29 at 6pm in the Courthouse Annex.

City Council Meeting on April 14
(added 04/15/09)

Newberry City Council met last night (April 14) and honored the Police Department for receiving accreditation from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Accreditation Council (SCLEAC). Chief Jackie Swindler was a founding member of the SCLEAC and we understand that since the council was formed the City of Newberry will be the first municipality to receive accreditation for four straight three-year terms. Chief Swindler recognized Lt. Michael O’Connell for the yeoman’s job he does as accreditation officer. Swindler stated that accreditation means that the department is uniformly following policies, it increases respect for the department, and helps with liability issues since policy compliance is documented.

Kevin Atkins was honored as recently graduating from the 10-week FBI National Academy. Lt. Atkins makes three graduates of the FBI Academy in the City Department the other two being Chief Swindler and Captain Counts.

The City also honored Michael Shealy from the Utility Department for his 10 years of service. Administrator Eric Budds recognized Shealy for quickly becoming certified as a Class A water operator, which is the highest level of certification.

First reading of an ordinance to repeal 1999 edition of personnel policies was passed. A resolution passed adopting the 2009 Edition of the personnel policies so that they are up to date with state and federal regulations. A second reading to repeal the 1999 edition of the policies will be required since they were approved by ordinance instead of resolution.

Caroline Robinson was re-appointed as the resident board member to the Newberry Housing Authority.

City Council approved a partnership resolution with the 2010 Census Bureau.

A water tap request for 898 Quaker Rd, which is outside the City limits, was approved. The property is adjacent to existing City water line.

Council was briefed on a service contract in a brief executive session with no formal vote taken upon reentering open session.

Newberry City Council will hold a quarterly work session next Tuesday (April 21) at 6pm and the main topic will be the 2009/10 City budget.

Newberry County Council meets tonight for a regularly scheduled meeting at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex. On the agenda is first reading of the 09/10 County budget.

 

County Finance Committee Reviews 09/10 Budget
(added 04/14/09)

The Newberry County Finance Committee met on Monday night and tackled the capital projects budget. Th County is in the schematic phase for a new Sheriff’s Office at the Wilson Rd location. The finance committee will recommend to council that the $2.8 million project remain on the capital list, but remain at the schematic phase until the conclusion of litigation regarding the 219 building. A court date for September has been set for the court case with Baker & Sons regarding the former Sheriff’s Office’s construction.

The County has received an $80,000 DHEC grant primarily for the paving at a new recycling center. The center is proposed to go adjacent to the Rescue Squad 14 building at the Fairgrounds off Adelaide St. It would replace the current center off of the 34 Bi-pass. The finance committee will recommend the postponement of this $330,000 project until more funding becomes available. Administration is to pursue a postponement of the grant deadline.

The Maybinton ballfield is the final county project on the penny sales tax list approved by voters. The county has procured a $25,600 PARD grant. Despite an original penny sales tax amount of $80,000, the total project budget at current specs equals almost $224,000. Since it will be a public field, there are stricter requirements such as handicap restrooms, etc. The finance committee will recommend, however, that the project be value engineered with a reduction of items such as lights, irrigation, dugout buildings, etc. The project must be completed before any additional penny sales tax revenue can be utilize for Public Works, which was eliminated from the bottom of the list to provide greater funding for other projects.

The finance committee will recommend that the Mid-Carolina Commerce park infrastructure budget remain as presented by administration. The $2.5 million project now includes firm bid numbers on Phase I and $161,000 to be used toward Phase II planning. The hope is to have Phase II close to shovel ready if additional grants become available or other industry takes an interest in the park.

The finance committee voted to recommend that the baseline operational budget as presented by administration for first reading before the full council. The base line budget assumes no increase in operational millage. It also assumes a $375,000 reduction in "state aid," and the elimination of "assessable transfers of interest," which reassesses property on the transfer of a deed.

The base line operational budget reflects a 5% overall decrease in expenses through the following actions:

·$229,112 reduction in capital repair line item
·Elimination of merit raises for 09/10 saving $183,000
·As of January 2010 only pay for "standard" health insurance plan for employees, with the "choice" plan an option paid for by employees
·$85,000 reduction in paying line item
·$115,871 reduction in Rescue Squad funding paired with a recommendation that the Rescue Squad come up with a fee structure to cover operational overhead
·Reducing the number of ambulances purchased in 09/10 to 2 from 4 thus reducing lease purchase annual cost by $45,000
·Eliminate the funding for the vacant forester position at Clemson Extension at an annual cost of $51,300.
·$25,000 reduction in council contingency
·Elimination/reduction of other non-recurring line items for a $370,000 reduction (including $100,000 reduction in the escrow for the Sherrif’s Office, Public Works building $112, 807 escrow elimination, Pugh Bridge Construction $100,000 elimination, decennial comprehensive plan eliminated at $56,701)
Council will also have to make a decision regarding post-employment benefits. Following the corporate scandals of ENRON, etc. the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) began requiring governmental agencies to quantify their future liability for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) such as insurance. An actuarial firm has determined that the county must put in reserve $550,000 this next fiscal year or show it as a liability on the books, which could affect the county’s bond rating. That dollar amount is only expected to grow unless the county reduces their post-employment benefits, which is recommended by administration.

Another recommendation from administration is to reduce the rate at which employees earn leave. Administrator Wayne Adams explained that when people are working more in the long run you need fewer employees or you can defer adding additional employees. Administration will be reviewing options including: reducing the amount of first year leave, reducing the rate at which employees accrue time off in general, and changing to a "paid time off" system instead of having separate sick and vacation days. Janeen Toby spoke during public comments and asked administration to keep in mind that the greater number of days off offsets a salary smaller than one available in the private sector. No dollar amounts are associated with any changes so the issue will be discussed separately from the 09/10 budget.

The full council meets on Wednesday night (April 15) in the Courthouse Annex at 7pm.

MADD Advises Safety to Prom-Goers/Graduates
(added 04/13/09)

You know what you’re wearing. You know where you’re going.
Now read MADD’s prom guide to make sure you’ve covered the rest of the bases!

• Make the smart move—Leave alcohol out!
• Discuss your plans with your date ahead of time. Know your agenda and communicate with your parents.
• Know your date before you go. Both you and your parents will feel better about your staying out late with someone you know.
• Carry your cell phone and have a trusted adult to be available near a phone.
• Travel safely! Keep a close eye on oncoming vehicles, as impaired drivers tend to drive toward lights.
• Drive on well-lit roads.
• Don’t forget your seatbelt!
• Have fun.

The high school prom and graduation season is a time of celebration, decision-making, and growth for young people. Unfortunately, many teens decide to celebrate by drinking alcoholic beverages and using other drugs, and then getting behind the wheel of an automobile. Too often this decision has disastrous results.
Last year approximately 2,000 youths, ages 15 – 19, were killed in alcohol or other drug-related traffic crashes. MADD would like to encourage youth to make it a celebration that they will live to remember by encouraging them to celebrate life by leaving alcohol and other drugs out of their celebration.
Some of the happiest times for teens are their prom and graduation, yet all too often these two realities can turn a celebration into a nightmare when students choose to use alcohol and other drugs. MADD Newberry County wants to see prom and graduation be a happy time, full of fun without alcohol so teens will live to remember their festivities and move into the next chapter of their lives.

MADD Newberry County is getting out the message about Operation Prom/Graduation by distributing tuxedo pocket stuffers to formalwear stores and also corsage box stuffers to florists. The stuffers contain the message—“The Choice You Can Live With! CELEBRATE Without Drugs and Alcohol. Live To Talk About It!”
Our nation’s teens, our leaders of tomorrow, are being killed by the thousands senselessly, by drinking and driving. Drivers ages 15-19 make up 5.8 percent of the driving population, but they are involved in 12.3 percent of fatal crashes in which alcohol and drugs are a factor.

MADD believes the solution to this problem must be found in these four areas:

1. Education and prevention programs to inform youth of the dangers of using alcohol and other drugs.
2. Intervention to redirect youth who have become involved in substances offenses.
3. Stiffer penalties for those who commit alcohol and drug offenses.
4. Limits on advertising and marketing strategies that target those under 21.


Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs to Play at "Party in the Pines"
(04/06/09)

The Whitmire JayCees are proud to announce the upcoming appearance of National recording artists - Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs at the 22nd Annual Party In The Pines Festival - Saturday June 13th.

Maurice & The Zodiacs will headline the Saturday Night Street dance - "Shaggin’ In The Street " on Whitmire’s newly-renovated Main Street.

Williams, a Lancaster, SC native came to national fame in 1960 with his self penned number one hit "Stay". The song went on to be covered Jackson Browne in the late seventies, then become a multi platinum hit on the Dirty Dancing’ Soundtrack, released in the late 80's. Maurice & The Zodiacs will be performing their other National and Carolina classics like "May I" and "Little Darlin’". Williams, a legend in the Golden Years of America’s music is an inductee in the South Carolina Entertainment Hall Of Fame and The Beach Music Hall of Fame.

The Party In the Pines Festival is a three day event, held in downtown Whitmire, June 11th - 13th.
Kicking off the festival will be the Thursday night Family Night with one price carnival rides and Gospel music.

The complete musical/entertainment line up will be announced at a later time.

County Council Meeting on April 1
(added 04/02/09)

Second Reading Passes on Road Paving Procure Changes

Newberry County Council met last night (April 1) and heard second reading of changes to the procedures followed for placing roads on the potential paving list. County roads are usually paved with C (gas tax) funds, which are allocated by a separate Newberry County Transportation Committee (CTC). Roads are ranked based on a point system that looks at number of residents on a road, length of the road, etc. What the new ordinance will change is when roads are submitted to the CTC.

Since the county is no longer accepting dirt roads into the county system, the proposed ordinance reflects this change by saying that only county roads can be placed on the potential paving list.

The proposed ordinance also states that “the property owner initiating a paving request is responsible for securing rights of way/easements from all affected property owners.” The county will only assist with providing petition documents, generating property owner name and address list, staking the right of way for initial review, commissioning property surveys to finalize right of way dimension and location, and assisting in preparation/execution of required right of way/easement documents.

Councilman Edgar Baker emphasized that this change means that 100% of the property owners on a road must sign over right of way. “If only 99.9% of the property owners sign over their right of way the petition gets thrown out and the road goes to the back of the list,” stated Baker. 50 foot right of way will be required for through roads and 40 foot right of way for cul de sacs.

Once roads go through this right of way clearance process they will be placed on a list of roads with the potential for paving, again prioritized by the CTC’s point system. Councilman Les Hipp asked that this ranked list be placed on the county website (newberrycounty.net) when it is updated.

Councilman Buddy Livingston asked about the 6 or 7 roads that are already in the process, those that have already petitioned. Kyle Nash, Public Works Director, stated that the road committee had discussed that at length and would recommend that they also be required to go through the same process including the requirement of a 50 foot right of way. The 50 foot right of way standard is at the request of the CTC and is largely based on safety standards.

Final reading of this ordinance should on the county council agenda for the April 15 meeting.


Newberry County Council met last night (April 1) and approved a resolution to name April Fair Housing Month, supporting the idea of equal housing opportunities regardless of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

Council approved final reading of zoning change to three parcels totaling 20.37 acres from single family residential to general commercial. The parcels are located on Hwy 76 near Candy Kitchen Rd. First reading passed to rezone nine hundred and fifty-one hundredths of an acre from R2 rural to General Commercial on Hwy 121 near the old BJ Graphix location.

Second reading passed to transfer to Denise O’Shields within the Scurry Island Road expanded right of way that is not utilized by Newberry County.

Second reading passed to officially codify the ordinances passed from July to Dec.

Council approved a line item transfer in the 08/09 budget. All countywide elected officials receive a state supplement to their salary. The Sheriff, Coroner, Probate Judge, Clerk of Court receive their supplement at near the beginning of the fiscal year. The Auditor and Treasurer receive theirs in installments so when a certain account was cut at the state level this year the funding for this supplement was cut. Both the Auditor and Treasurer lost $2,806.20. With both Treasurer Judy Floyd and Auditor Nancy Owen officially retiring at the end of June, this “cut in pay” during their last quarter of work would affect their retirement pay and social security. At Wednesday’s night meeting, Council approved a line item transfer within the 08/09 budget to cover this pay cut. Both offices stated they had enough left in their departments budget to cover the transfer.

At the Monday night’s finance committee meeting, Auditor Elect Donna Lominack and Treasurer Elect Karen Lindler, who with take office with fiscal year 09/10 were asked if they would consider this a decrease in pay if this transfer was not included in the 09/10 budget. State statute regulates what counties can and cannot removed from countywide elected official’s budgets. Both said that there would be no problem as long as the state funding for their supplement was included in the state 09/10 budget as it is now.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Mrs. Jessie Reeder requested the use of the Helena Community Center at no charge for the Ebony Community Players Easter Production. Since the Community Center was paid for with penny sales tax and county funding the building is considered a county building and as such falls within the county rental policies. Having already approved one free usage of the Helena Community Center this year some council members were hesitant to do so again. Councilman Bill Waldrop who represents the area stated, “If we start letting everyone use the facility – we are soon going to run into a problem.” County Administrator Wayne Adams stated that the $200 fee for use of the building goes into a separate revenue fund for future maintenance on the facility. Councilman John Caldwell ended discussion by stating that he personally would pay for the rental. For more about the new fee structure for rental of county property such as the fairgrounds, community hall, or the Helena Community Center visit newberrycounty.net under the purchasing department.

Newberry County Council will meet again on April 15 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex. The finance sub-committee will meet on April 13 at 6pm to further discuss the 09/10 budget with emphasis on capital budgets and the Springfield Place Enterprise Fund.

 

Woman Predicted Lonely End, Coroner Says
(added 03/31/09)

An elderly Calhoun County woman with ties to Newberry was found dead in her Sandy Run home last week, and she apparently predicted uncanny accurate circumstances surrounding the end of her life.

"She did make a statement about that," Calhoun County Coroner Donnie Porth said. "At that time, she made the statement she really didn't know anyone and if she died, no one would ever know about it."

For more of this story, click on or type the URL below:

http://www.thetandd.com/articles/2009/03/31/news/doc49d15efe72980346224370.txt

 

Livingston Resigns from Mid-Carolina
(added 03/26/09)

Longtime Mid-Carolina High School baseball coach Clyde Livingston has announced his resignation,effectively immediately. Athletic director Louie Alexander will skipper the team until a successor is selected.

WKDK news had confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Livingston had been placed on administrative leave to allow district administration time to review the validity of allegations against Livingston. School district spokesman Hugh Gray stated at the time that the investigation was just beginning and as a personnel matter details are confidential. Gray did confirm that law enforcement was not involved in the investigation.


Hospital Board of Trustees Meeting on March 24
(added 03/25/09)

March 24, 2009 Board of Trustees meeting

At last night’s Board meeting the following actions were taken and information shared:

1) The Board approved the purchase of a Tissue Processor ($49,975) for the lab and a Vascular Doppler System ($36,000) for Diagnostic Imaging. Although not on the capital equipment list, both pieces of equipment had failed and were considered essential for patient services. It was noted that the hospital is being very conservative in purchasing equipment. Less than half of the budgeted capital equipment allotment has been committed to this fiscal year.

2) The Board approved Administration entering into an employment contract with OB/GYN Dr. Mike Smyth. Administration will also continue negotiations with Family Physician Dr. Jeff Swartz.

3) The Board heard that the hospital was $46,000 in the black for the year. Although that is positive, it is disappointingly below the budget of $567,719. “We are concerned that we are this far behind budget at this historically busy time of year. We are looking at a number of cost saving opportunities,” said Sheldon Bontreger, CFO. It was noted that hospitals throughout the state and the country are experiencing the same financial down turn.

4) The hospital received $750,000 reimbursement from the Newberry County Capital Sales Tax for the MRI. This critical medical equipment was the first alternate for reimbursement funding after the first 10 projects had been finalized and reimbursed.

5) The Parkridge saga continues. Since the last Board meeting, the Administrative Law Judge withdrew its summary judgment and sent the case back to the SC DHEC Board. The Board must do a public review of its interpretation of the State Health Plan section dealing with the transfer of existing beds via construction of a new hospital (such as Parkridge). The hospital’s attorneys have filed a reconsideration request of the Court’s ruling based on felt errors at law by the Court. Under rules of the Court, Judge Kittrell should rule on the hospital’s reconsideration request within the next 30 days if not further extended. Stay tuned at 11!

6) With the addition of a staff member with experience in pediatric physical therapy, the NCMH Rehabilitation Department is now staffed to offer complete rehab services for pediatrics. There are very few rehab providers who offer full pediatric rehab services which include Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy, especially with the experience of our staff, noted Lynn W. Beasley, president and CEO.

7) The Annual Friends of the Foundation Dinner is scheduled for April 17 at the Newberry College Eleazer Arena. Visit www.NewberryHospital.org or call 405-7425 for tickets and sponsorships.

8) Dr. John Brown’s practice has moved to the 1830 Pond Field Rd. facility in Suite A-1.

9) The Wound Care and Hyperbaric Center will open April 1. This new service is located in the Pond Field facility in Suite A-2.

 

School Board Meeting on March 23
(added 03/24/09)

Grim Budget News for School District

The Newberry County School Board meet last night (Monday, March 23) and heard a budget update from the District’s CFO Susan Dowd. Ms. Dowd stated that the State Department of Education has received another 2% budget cut. This will effect both EFA and EIA funds. She stated that the State Department should send her information this week of what that breakdown is for Newberry County. With $2.5 million already cut from the district’s state funding, the board has already approved $1.6 million in use of fund balance for this budget year. Ms. Dowd stated that the options now are furlough year-round employees and/or use more of the fund balance. No final decision on which action to take will be made until the total amount of the cut is made known.

Ms. Dowd also discussed the 09/10 budget at the meeting. She stated that the state is now using $2342 as the base student cost amount for this upcoming year. She shared her concerns about using that number to base the Newberry County budget, however, because despite starting the year at $2578 base student cost the current base student cost (after this year’s cuts, but before this last round) is down to $2246. $400,000 is EIA funding is also expected to be cut for the 09/10 budget year. She also warns that all Tier 3 funds (which are scheduled to come from sales tax) are required to be paid by law – meaning that if the sales tax is not there money from another category will have to be used.

Newberry County board members will join with other school board members from across the state for school days at the capital during April. They will be lobbying for public education is general and specifically flexibility between funding categories and quicker dissemination of information down to the district level. The district also recently held their Legislative breakfast with Rep. Walt McLeod in attendance. Board Chair Don Saylor expressed his frustration on working with the unknown entities in state funding saying "it is like shooting at a moving target."

2008 School Report Card for Newberry County
(added 03/24/09)

Newberry County School Board received this report card update presented by Dr. Cynthia Downs during the March 23 meeting.

Click HERE to view the Newberry County Schools' Report Card (PowerPoint format)
*may take a few minutes to download

 

2009/10 School District Calendar
(added 03/24/09)

The Newberry County School District approved an 09/10 school calendar at Monday's meeting (March 23). The final version includes 3 early release days. Principals came out strong for the early release days as a chance for joint planning on grade level and subject level. Administration stated that they tried to place early release days next to long weekends to help accomodate parents.

School Calendar available soon on WKDK.com...please check back often.

 

Palmetto Gold/Silver Award Winners in Newberry County
(added 03/20/09)

Five schools in the Newberry County School District received Palmetto Gold
or Silver awards based on their school report cards. They include: Newberry
High School (Silver); MC High School (Gold); Whitmire Community School -
High (Gold); Pomaria-Garmany Elementary School (Silver); and Newberry Career
Center (Gold). NHS, MCHS, and Pomaria/Garmany were also award a silver for
strides in closing the achievement gap.

For more information from the State Department of Education regarding the awarding of the Palmetto acheivement awards throughout the state, click HERE (PDF format) or HERE (Microsoft Word format).

 


Newberry Man Found Guilty After Pointing Gun at SLED Helicopter
(added 03/19/09)

COLUMBIA, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney W. Walter Wilkins announced today that Michael Phillip Greenberg, age 44, of Newberry, pled guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition in federal court. United States District Judge G. Ross Anderson accepted the plea and will impose sentence at a later date.

Evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing established that on October 14, 2008, agents of the State Law Enforcement Division and Newberry County were using the SLED helicopter to search for marijuana plants in an area near Greenberg’s house. The agents observed Greenberg exit the house and aim a firearm at the helicopter. During a subsequent search of Greenberg’s residence, officers seized five firearms and assorted ammunition.

Greenberg is prohibited under federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition based on his prior convictions for pointing and presenting a firearm, malicious injury to property, and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000.00 fine.

Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) assisted in the investigation and the case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Cease-fire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases. Assistant United States Attorney Leesa Washington of the Greenville office handled the prosecution of the case.

Text Message Hoax
(added 03/19/09)

Sheriff Lee Foster reports that a text message hoax flooded County Communications with calls last night (March 18). The unsubstantiated text message said that a gang initiation where two random women would be killed would occur at Wal-Mart and that the receiver should forward the text message to all of his/her friends. Sheriff Foster stated that the text message was started in another state and never specified which Wal-Mart. State agencies such as SLED are working with the FBI to track down the initiators of this text message hoax.

County Council Meeting on March 18
(added 03/19/09)

Council Approves Mid-Year Budget

Newberry County Council met on Wednesday (March 18) and approved final reading on changes to the 08/09 budget. These mid-year adjustments show delinquent tax collection is up by $250,000, but property tax collection for this year is down by $331,000. State Aid is down by $146,000 to just over $2 million. Interest income is down by $115,000. Commercial tipping fees are down by $332,500, but the cost of disposing of that garbage is also down by $284,000. The other main adjustments to the operating budget including $67,500 decrease in the Sheriff’s patrol cars and capital repairs are down by $102,000. The total adjustment variance between the original and the midyear operational expenditures is a decrease of $662,867.

Capital projects were also adjusted at mid-year. $52,700 was trimmed from the Pugh Road Bridge Replacement project. $260,000 was trimmed from the final library construction budget. And, $139,000 was trimmed from the MC Commerce Phase I infrastructure budget. The tree removal at the airport required by the FAA for a clear approach to the new, longer runway cost an additional $524,000.

The budget for an emergency repair to the transfer station floor is $158,700 in the revised budget. This is paid for with 07/08 carry forward and budgeted capital repair funds. On Wednesday night, Council accepted the $100,00 bid from Leak & Associates for a concrete overlay, which includes repair of the two holes, re-bar reinforcements, and a new drainage system. The work will primarily be done after hours, but will interrupt traffic for one or two weekends at the transfer station when garbage will be hauled directly to the Union landfill. Public Works Director Kyle Nash stated that there is a one-year warranty on the work, but when reviewing the work of the company at adjoining counties it was found that similar overlay jobs had lasted 6-8 years without any problems. Nash and consultant Erwin West stated that the previous construction at the transfer station was simply under-engineered for example 4,000 PSI concrete was used instead of the $10,000 PSI concrete that will be used in the new overlay.

Council approved second reading of a zoning change for 4 parcels totaling 20.37 acres on Hwy 76 near Candy Kitchen Rd from RS-1 (residential) to GC (general commercial). Council agreed to surplus the 1989 Ford Ambulance previously used by the Coroner’s Office. The Coroner’s Office received a hand-me-down from the Chappells Rescue Squad when Chappells received a new ambulance through a federal grant.

Newberry County Council is scheduled to meet again on April 1 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex. The council finance sub-committee will meet next Monday night to take the first look at the 09/10 budget and OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) liability.

Weekend of Wellness on April 11
(added 03/17/09)

**See photos of last year's NCMH's Weekend of Wellness on our WKDK Photos page
** Sign-Up Form available at end of article

Come out and join us for the NCMH annual Weekend of Wellness on Saturday, April 11th. This year we are encouraging local businesses to field teams of participants. Call (803) 405-7484 for more information. An example of Innovation at Play!

Registration
Early registration and entry fees must be received by March 27. Early registration guarantees a t-shirt for the event. You may also register the day of the event. Please note the difference in cost:

The 5K Run or 25-mile Bike Experience are $20* for early registration; race day, $25.

The 2-mile Walk or Family Bike Ride are $10* for early registration; race day, $15.

* Includes t-shirt. T-shirts will be available on race day for an additional charge of $5.
The winners of the community Battle of the Bulge will be announced at the 10 am award ceremony.
For more information or to register, please call the NCMH Wellness Center at (803) 405-7484 or go online to www.NewberryHospital.org and click on Weekend of Wellness on the left.

Bike for Health: 8:30 am / Registration 7-8 am
Bring your family and join in the Family Bike for Health (10 miles).
More experienced riders can take the 25-mile Bike for Health challenge.
Location: NCMH back parking lot off Evans St.
All riders are required to wear helmets.

5K Run for Your Life/2-mile Walk: 9:00 am Registration 7:30-8:30 am
The 5K Run is a 2009 Palmetto Grand Prix Event with cash prizes for overall winners, as well as awards for male and female age groups.
(Photo at left is from last yer's run/walk)

Strictly Running is a sponsor of this event.

The 2-mile Walk is a fun time for those who enjoy this healthy form of exercise.
Location: NCMH front parking lot (2669 Kinard St.)

 

Junior Jog (ages 4-12): 9:45 am
It’s never too early to start healthy physical activity. If you are ages 4 to 12, come out and enjoy a fun jog and win prizes for you and your school.
Free event
!

**Click HERE for a Sign-Up Form (PDF format)


Man Released on Four Different Bonds Arrested Again for Drugs
(added 03/17/09)

A man, who is currently out of jail on four different bonds, is back in trouble with law enforcement again.

Officers say that last night officers attempted to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation on Drayton Street yesterday afternoon at about 5:15PM. When the officers activated the blue lights, the vehicle sped away for a couple of hundred yards. The vehicle then suddenly stopped in the middle of the road, and the driver and passenger exited the vehicle and fled.

Officers chased the subjects on foot and while running from the officers, the passenger began throwing bags of marijuana on the ground. The suspect was caught and apprehended by the officers, and the officers, who were able to take him into custody after a brief incident. Officers were able to recover approximately ¾ pound of marijuana and a set of scales normally used in the weighing and selling of illegal drugs.

The suspect was identified as Terrio Tyrrell Jones (left), 28, of 201 Green Acres Lane, Silverstreet, SC, was arrested and is charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana Within Proximity of a School or Park, Resisting Arrest, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Police say that Jones is currently out on bond for a charge of Trafficking Crack Cocaine and other drug related charges in Newberry County on a $150,000 surety bond and a Forgery charge for which he received a Personal Appearance bond. He was released on the drug charges on July 10, 2007, and on the Forgery charge on September 10, 2008.

Jones was released on bond for Forgery charges from the City of Newberry where his bond was $20,000 and he was released on September 20, 2008. He is also on bond for charges in Laurens County for drug related charges.

“This is a prime example of what happens when the court system becomes back logged, and the jails become overcrowded,” said Sheriff Foster. “Everyone is budget conscience, as well they should be; however, we must understand that the continued release of habitual offenders into society will ultimately lead to more crime. Offenders such as this often have no regard for the law, and without fear of punishment or at least delayed punishment only empowers that disregard for the law.”

Officers say that the driver of the vehicle has been identified as Willie James Dial (right), 28, of 201 Belmont Stakes, Clinton, SC. Officers say that they have obtained warrants on Dial and are currently searching for him. Anyone with information as to Dial’s whereabouts should contact their local law enforcement agency.

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.

 

 

Community Meeting to Discuss Burglaries
(added 03/16/09)

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Newberry County, especially those in the Pomaria section of the county, are joining forces to have a community information and crime watch meeting to discuss a recent increase in burglaries in the area.

“We believe that one of the most tools available to law enforcement is the partnership of the community,” said Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster. “We have always been community minded, and this is another effort to be proactive in the community so that we are working together to make our neighborhoods safe.”

The meeting, which will take place on Thursday, March 19, at 7:30PM at the Pomaria School, will allow the Sheriff’s Office staff, investigators, and Community Oriented Police Officers an opportunity to provide the community with information about the burglaries, the status of the current investigation, and tips to help keep themselves and the neighborhood safe.

The meeting is a joint partnership of the citizens of the community, the Pomaria Town Council, and the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone in attendance will be given the opportunity to ask questions, provide input, or arrange for a security review by a COPS officer or any home or business.

While the meeting is taking place in the Pomaria community, citizens from throughout Newberry County are invited and welcome to attend.

It is a proven fact that as the economy worsens, crime will increase.

“We are in some of the most difficult economic times many of us have ever known,” said Sheriff Foster. “While it is expected to see a rise in property crime and crime as whole, those who choose to break the law did to expect an increased drive from law enforcement to apprehend them and stop their crimes. Difficult times do not authorize criminals to violate people or their homes and take their property.”

Foster said that there are similarties to the burglaries; however, he stopped short of saying that they are related until more details can be learned through the investigation.

Sheriff Foster said that investigators are following multiple leads in the cases at this time.

Accident Detours Traffice in Prosperity Area
(added 03/12/09)

A train and 18 wheeler have collided at a railroad crossing on Main Street in the Town of Prosperity.

All Main Street traffic is being detoured from Main Street onto Highway 76, then Mt. Pilgrim Church Road, and then onto Highway 391.

Those approaching the Town of Prosperity will be routed along this detour, but in the opposite direction.

The Department of Public Safety is conducting the investigation into the accident.

 

YMCA Construction Nears Completion
(added 03/12/09)

The 1.4 million dollar addition to the Newberry County Family YMCA is about two weeks away from Completion. A refurbished workout room is already being used and construction is almost complete on the new gymnasium and childcare area. The new gym will include a basketball/volleyball court as well as a raised walking/jogging track. A much larger childcare area will free up the current space for other programs. The plan also calls for an outdoor walking track around the "Y" property and an expanded parking lot. Executive Director Jerry Coffey told WKDK Tuesday that completion should be about two weeks away.

Annual Soil and Water Conservation Awards Banquet
(added 03/11/09)

The annual Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District Affiliate and
Awards Banquet was held Tuesday night (March 10) at Central Methodist
church.

It was noted that Newberry County ranks first in the state in Milk and
Timber production while it ranks second in egg production. The county also
is the 3rd largest cattle and calves producer in the county and is ranked
7th in turkey production.

Wayne Satterwhite, the chairman of the board of commissioners, was
recognized for having been named the state-wide outstanding conservation
district commissioner of the year for 2008.

Guest speaker was state representative Jeff Duncan. Duncan is the chairman
of the Regulatory Sub-Committee that researches the regulations on all of
the bills to make sure that the different committees don’t overlook
something before it becomes law.

The county’s four high schools driver education programs were honored for
their participation in the Green Driver Project. This project is presented
to about 500 students a year throughout the county encouraging them to
recycle and to conserve our air, water and soil. The Newberry County School
Board and the Newberry County Career Center were also recognized for their
participation and support of the conservation programs.

Affiliate members recognized were McKechnie Vehicle Components (25 years of
membership); Farmers Mutual Insurance Association (30 years); Newberry
Electric Cooperative and Bel-Ivy Farms (35 years); John R. Frazier, Inc. (50
years) and Wachovia Bank (55 years).

Doug Heydt was named the 2008 Willie B. Piester Cooperator of the Year as he
has kept over 150 acres in the conservation practice for the last ten years.

City Council Meeting on March 10
(added 03/11/09)

Hiring Freeze at City

Newberry City Council met Tuesday night and after executive session officially voted to freeze hiring for all City Departments except for one police officer position that has already been advertised. The resolution noted that 67% of the City’s general fund operational budget is personnel. This issue and other 09/10 budget concerns will discussed during a council work session on April 21 at 6pm.

Council approved water service requests for both 1301 Giff St. (near Brown Chapel Rd) and 126 Wren St. (off of Cockrell Dr.). Both addresses are outside the City limits yet adjacent to City water lines.

Aimee Talbot the new director of the Newberry branch of the Small Business Development Center thanked council for the $5,000 they contributed to the opening of this new branch. The office is funded in part by federal, state, local government, in-kind contributions, and private donations. The office offers free and confidential business consulting for start-up or existing businesses. Ms. Talbot’s office is located in Newberry College’s Dufford Alumni House. Office hours are 9-5 Monday and Thursday. Tune in to the March 20 9am Coffee Hour as we visit with Ms. Talbot.

Wesley Palmore was honored by City Council for being named a Top School Resource Officer in the United State.

Angela Summer was recognized for her 20 years with the City. Ms. Summer began as a trainee and worked her way up to Superintendent of the Water Plant.

Accommodation Tax Assistance For Opera House

Newberry City Council met last night and approved accommodation tax assistance to the Newberry Opera House. Dr. Jimmy Wiseman, Chairman of the Opera House Foundation Board, reminded the board of the impact of the Opera House. He stated that the Opera House has: directly or indirectly provided 443 new jobs, increased tax revenue based on increased assessed value in the TIF district, and brought 122,000 visitors to Newberry last year alone.

Dr. Wiseman and Deborah Smith, Executive Director of the Opera House, requested that in light of this positive economic impact that the City aid the Opera House through a tough budget year when ticket sales are down and sponsorship funding is drying up. The Council approved the amending of the Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Accommodation Tax request to $31,800. PRT will keep $5,000 the balance will go to aid the Opera House. In the current year’s budget $40,000 of Local Hospitality & Accommodations Funds is allocated for the Opera House to continue making payments to the City for a $225,000 loan. At Tuesday’s meeting, Council agreed to allocate those dollars to Opera House operations this year but for the loan repayment to begin again next year.

Eric Budds, City Manager, reported that he had recently participated in a PMPA visit to Washington where he was told by Congressman Spratt’s office that $500,000 for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade and Expansion was including in the upcoming federal budget. The City will be pursuing additional stimulus funds for the wastewater plant and other projects including: water system improvements such as a new clear well and 500,000 gallon elevated tank; sidewalk construction particularly for Johnstone, Evans, and Smith Rds.; street resurfacing; current fiber optic/wireless communication system; public safety equipment, vehicles, and communications; housing construction and rehabilitation programs; and energy efficiency projects. Mr. Budds also announced that the Police Department has already received $26,000 for equipment based on a crime/per capita formula grant.

City Council approved a resolution designating April as Fair Housing Month.

Stabbing Incident/Weekend Home Invasion
(added 03/10/09)

Newberry County law enforcement authorities are investigating a stabbing that occurred last Thursday in Prosperity near Siebert Road. Sheriff Lee Foster told WKDK news Monday afternoon that the investigation continues, but it appears it may have been the result a drug deal gone bad. No names have been released.

A 47 year old Newberry woman has been arrested and charged in connection with a weekend home invasion on Charlotte Street just off Boundary in the city of Newberry. Velvet Ann Penny of Newberry was charged with first degree burglary,resisting arrest,and possession of drug paraphernalia. The break in occurred Sunday morning around 420 am. The motive appears to have been robbery.

Komatsu's Closing/Reorganization May Bring More Jobs to Newberry
(added 03/10/09)

The closing of three of Komatsu's North American plants and a reorganization may mean an additional 50 jobs at the Newberry plant by this fall. The local plant should be receiving 2 new product lines bringing the total at the Newberry plant to 4. More on this story as it develops.

County Council Meeting on March 4
(added 03/05/09)

Second Reading of County Mid-Year Budget Passes

Newberry County Council met on Wednesday (Feb. 18) and approved second reading on changes to the 08/09 budget. These mid-year adjustments show delinquent tax collection is up by $250,000, but property tax collection for this year is down by $331,000. State Aid is down by $146,000 to just over $2 million. Interest income is down by $115,000. Commercial tipping fees are down by $332,500, but the cost of disposing of that garbage is also down by $284,000. The other main adjustments to the operating budget including $67,500 decrease in the Sheriff’s patrol cars and capital repairs are down by $102,000. The total adjustment variance between the original and the midyear operational budgets is $662,867.

Capital projects were also adjusted at mid-year. $52,700 was trimmed from the Pugh Road Bridge Replacement project. An emergency repair to the transfer station floor cost $158,700. This is paid for with 07/08 carry forward and budgeted capital repair funds. $260,000 was trimmed from the library construction cost. And, $139,000 was trimmed from the MC Commerce Phase I infrastructure budget.

The tree removal at the airport required by the FAA for a clear approach to the new, longer runway ran the county $524,000. $175,000 of that will be paid by the FAA, the State Division of Aeronautics paid $55,000 and Newberry County fund balance paid for less than $300,000 of the project. In fact, council accepted bids for the landscaping at the country club that will replace the trees that were cut. The total bid was just over $101,000, but only $81,500 of that falls within the county’s purview since a portion of the bid included moving the golf cart path, which the Country Club will be paying for.

Council also approved a bid for roof replacement on the Piedmont Tech building. The $78,500 bid from Cannon & Associates saved the county $19,500. The original bid was sent out

Council approved first reading of a zoning change for 20.37 acres on Hwy 76 near Candy Kitchen Rd from RS-1 to GC (General Commerical).

Doris Jones with the US Census Bureau made a presentation regarding the upcoming 2010 Census. Ms. Jones emphasized that the Census is confidential and that it equates to $ for your communities. She stated that "every year, more than $300 billion in federal funds is awarded to states and communities based on census data." The County will be setting up a Complete Count Committee made up of a diverse group of community members. The short form census will arrive in the mail in March of 2010. Social security numbers will never be requested on any census form.

Council declared March Disabilities and Special Needs Month. The honored the Newberry County Disabilities and Special Needs Board for there work with promoting economic self-sufficiency and independence and honoring our local citizens with lifelong disabilities as productive citizens, neighbors, and family members deserving of respect and opportunities for economic self-sufficiency, independence, and personal growth.

Newberry County Council is scheduled to meet again on March 18 at 7pm in the Courthouse Annex.

Helena Community Center Open House on Saturday
(added 03/05/09)

Helena Community Center’s public dedication that was originally scheduled for February was rescheduled for 3pm this Saturday (March 7). The community center at 902 Giff St. was built with penny sales tax funding. The Involved Citizens of Helena are the primary users of the facility and meet at 5pm on the first Saturday in the month. However, the building can be rented by the public through the County Administrators Office in the Courthouse Annex. Rental rules and rates for all county buildings are available online at www.newberrycounty.net – follow the purchasing link to county rental property.

Moore a Finalist for South Carolina Teacher of the Year!
(added 03/02/03)

COLUMBIA - Five outstanding classroom teachers were named today as finalists in South Carolina's State Teacher of the Year Program.

State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex said the five teachers, chosen from nominees representing 82 of the state’s 85 local school districts, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Palmetto Unified
School District will travel to Columbia for personal interviews with a seven-member state Selection Committee. They are vying to represent more than 50,000 South Carolina teachers in the National Teacher of the Year Program.

The five teachers, listed alphabetically by school district, are:

a) Amanda McKee, a ninth-and tenth-grade algebra and geometry teacher in Florence School District 5;

b) Derenda Marshall, a second- fifth-grade elementary science teacher at McDonald Elementary School in Georgetown County;

c) Deborah Moore, a first-grade teacher at Gallman Elementary School in Newberry County;

d) Dywanna Smith, a seventh-grade English/language arts teacher at Hand Middle School in Richland School District 1;

e) Bryan Coburn, a pre-engineering, computer programming and business teacher at Northwestern High School in York School District 3.

The finalists were chosen by a panel of educators and private citizens with no connection to the agency. The names of the teachers and the schools they represent were concealed from the judges during the
selection process.

“These innovative teachers represent the best and brightest of South Carolinas’s teaching force,” said State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex. “I commend them on this honor. While they come from different backgrounds and teach different subjects, they have one thing in common. They are teacher leaders who share an enthusiasm for learning. Individually and collectively, they inspire young people to greatness.”

The announcement of South Carolina’s 2009-10 Teacher of the Year will be made at the Teacher of the Year celebration May 1 in Columbia. During the next school year, that teacher will participate in a one-year
residency program at the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) and serve as a statewide ambassador for the profession. South Carolina’s new Teacher of the Year also receives a
$25,000 cash award, a Dell laptop computer, a set of Michelin tires and a BMW X5 48i to use for a year. He or she will also participate in Leadership South Carolina, attend Notre Dame’s prestigious three-day
Excellence in Teaching Symposium and receive a SMART board.

The four remaining finalists, or Honor Roll teachers, will receive $10,000 each and a set of Michelin tires. District teachers of the year receive $1,000 each.

This year marks the 44th year of the South Carolina Teacher of the Year Program, which has grown tremendously in participation and prestige. The awards program is a nationally recognized event that honors the State Teacher of the Year, Honor Roll teachers and district teachers of the year.

The 2009-10 corporate sponsors include: BMW Manufacturing Co.; Time Warner Cable; Michelin North America, Inc.; The R.L. Bryan Company; Childs and Halligan, P.A.; Data Recognition Corporation; SMARTer Kids Foundation; Duff, White & Turner, L.L.C.; Duke Energy; Leadership South Carolina; Notre Dame Club of the Western Carolinas; SCE&G; State Farm Insurance; Wachovia Bank; Savannah River Nuclear Solutions; and Haynsworth, Sinkler and Boyd.

Rex said his agency would assist the new Teacher of the Year in preparing his or her application for the national program next fall. The National Teacher of the Year program, started in 1952, is a project
of the Council of Chief State School Officers and is sponsored by the ING Foundation.

The 2009-10 State Teacher of the Year will succeed Jenna Hall, a teacher at Calhoun Academy for the Arts in Anderson School District 5.

The new Teacher of the Year will work with CERRA and the South Carolina Teacher Forum, whose members are district teachers of the year. The residency will include numerous speaking engagements around the state before civic and professional groups interested in education. The teacher also will conduct workshops for other classroom professionals, discuss public education issues with members of the General Assembly and State Board of Education, and work closely with the Teacher Cadet Program, a program that encourages academically able students with exemplary interpersonal and leadership skills to consider teaching as a career.

Deborah Moore (left), first-grade teacher (Gallman Elementary School in Newberry County) is one of eight children from a poor family. Living in a small rundown house by the edge of a main road, Moore grew up without books. When she first stepped into a classroom, she didn’t have school supplies and had never held a pencil. Consequently, she was labeled early on, and it wasn’t until the sixth grade that she got a teacher who really wanted to know her. Today, her job as a teacher is to get to know her students, create engaging opportunities, build inquiry activities, and allow those children that all-essential time to wonder, ask questions and make connections and mistakes. “I know there are many roads to each of the goals and standards that I want my students to meet, and I try to find a road that will guide each child to that destination. It's hard work, but it is worthwhile and necessary work for a nation that has gone from melting pot to rainbow.” A 10-year veteran, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Northern Kentucky University and a master’s degree from Southern Wesleyan University.

 


County Council Meeting on February 18

(added 02/20/09)

County Cuts Operational Budget by $662,000 Mid-Year

Newberry County Council met on Wednesday (Feb. 18) and approved first reading on changes to the 08/09 budget. These mid-year adjustments show delinquent tax collection is up by $250,000, but property tax collection for this year is down by $331,000. State Aid is down by $146,000 to just over $2 million. Interest income is down by $115,000. Commercial tipping fees are down by $332,500, but the cost of disposing of that garbage is also down by $284,000. The other main adjustments to the operating budget including $67,500 decrease in the Sheriff’s patrol cars and capital repairs are down by $102,000. The total adjustment variance between the original and the midyear operational budgets is $662,867.

Capital projects were also adjusted at mid-year. $52,700 was trimmed from the Pugh Road Bridge Replacement project. An emergency repair to the transfer station floor cost $158,700. This is paid for with 07/08 carry forward and budgeted capital repair funds. The tree removal at the airport required by the FAA for a clear approach to the new, longer runway ran the county $544,000. $175,000 of that will be paid by the FAA, the State Division of Aeronautics paid $55,000 and Newberry County fund balance paid for $314,000 of the project. $260,000 was trimmed from the library construction cost. And, $139,000 was trimmed from the MC Commerce Phase I infrastructure budget.

This decrease at the Commerce Park is primarily due to the current competitive bid market. On Wednesday, Council accepted the bids on Phase I Infrastructure for the MC Commerce park. Satterfield Construction of Greenwood won the bid at $1.8 million.

The County Council road subcommittee will meet Monday to review a request from Denise O’Shields for the transfer of the expanded right of way on Scurry Island Road. They will also work on clarifying the process through which roads are selected for paving (with gas tax funds).

School Report Cards
(added 02/20/09)

School Report Cards: High Schools Improve, 6 Schools Still Below Basic/NMS Still At Risk

The State Department of Education released school report cards today (Feb. 20). Normally released in November, the school report cards were delayed when errors in the calculations by the testing company were discovered. Elementary and middle school ratings are based primarily on PACT scores. High School ratings are based on first attempt passing HSAP (Exit Exam) scores, overall passage of HSAP, graduation rate, and on passage of end of course tests.

Scoring is divided into Absolute and Growth (or improvement) ratings. Each school testing equates to a calculated number that then falls within levels of ratings from excellent to good to average to below average and finally at-risk (which was previously known as unsatisfactory).

Each year the bar for each level raises. Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Cynthia Downs equated this to 93 being considered an A one year and the next year you have to make a 94 to receive an A and the next a 95.

6 schools in Newberry County are still listed as below basic in the absolute rating and 1 (Newberry Middle School) is still listed at at-risk. Dr. Downs stated that tackling these challenges means continuing to use tools such as MAP testing to target instruction to each student’s needs. Teachers are challenged to make the material relevant to the students. Downs also stated that teachers are working in teams to plan assessment so that they more clearly test to the standards throughout the year. "Belief in the students is also important. They have to know that we believe they can do it," stated Downs.

11 schools’ absolute rating stayed the same, 4 increased, and none decreased. 10 schools’ improvement rating increased, two stayed the same with only three going down. Although frustrated by where some of the schools are still falling within the bands for each rating level, Dr. Downs was excited to see improvement in a majority of the school calculated number based on test scores.

All three high schools saw improvement this year (NHS’s absolute rating went from below average to average in absolute rating, MC from average to good, and WCS from good to excellent). Dr. Downs cited graduation rates as the main cause. The new content recovery program helps students "catch up." Students work in a monitored computer lab to complete a course. A computer program questions students from easy questions to harder questions adjusting to work each student’s weaknesses. A waiver from the State regarding seat time allows students who catch up on a class they have failed to then start the computer program for the next class in the same semester. Downs also stated that each high school is working on the tenants for "High Schools That Work." One of those tenants includes test/retest where students are allowed to retest on the same skills after remediation work.

To view the state, district, and individual school report card information visit http://ed.sc.gov/topics/researchandstats/schoolreportcard/2008/.

 

Newberry Teen Charged in Connection with Shooting
(added 02/17/09)

An 18-year-old Newberry teen has been arrested and charged in connection with a Thursday afternoon shooting in the West End community of the city of Newberry. Tyrus Jontel Simms of 108 Wiltshire Court has been charged with one count of assault and battery with intent to kill, two counts of assault with intent to kill and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. Simms allegedly shot into a car near West End Park. The shot struck a 19-year-old female in the face. She reportedly underwent surgery on Friday for a non life threatening wound. Simms, a former Newberry High football player was out on bond for a September break-in at the high school field-house. He had been charged with third degree burglary and three counts of auto break-ins. It is also alleged that Simms had broken into three coaches' vehicles back in August. That investigation is also still underway.

 

Griffith Elected to Position of Circuit Court Judge
(added 02/14/09)

Eugene C. "Bubba" Griffith, Jr. of Newberry has been elected to the position of Judge, Circuit Court, Eighth Judicial Circuit, Seat #2. Griffith becomes the first Circuit Judge from Newberry County in over 40 years when his Grandfather held the seat.

Click HERE for actual General Assembly minutes from Wednesday.

Sheriff's Swearing-In Ceremony
(added 02/11/09)

The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office held a swearing-in ceremony on Sunday, January 25, 2009, at Wiles Chapel on the campus of Newberry College.

The ceremony began at 4PM and featured beautiful prayers and songs of praise and service to encourage the officers and those in attendance. All of the songs were accompanied by Huger Caughman on the piano.

Sheriff Lee Foster was honored by the officers and community as he entered his 21st year of service as Sheriff of Newberry County.

Sheriff Foster then administered the oath of office to the men and women of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Foster then recognized those receiving service pins in acknowledgement for their years of service to the Sheriff’s Office. Service bars are issued for each five years of service. Several employees were recognized in the event.

Sheriff Foster then presented the annual awards for the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office. Those award winners were:

Larry Bragg Deputy of the Year Award – John Frampton

Correctional Officer of the Year Award – Rebecca Adams

911 Telecommunicator of the Year Award – Andrew Stout

Deacon Livingston Award – Charles “Butch” Hardee

The program ended with a rousing rendition of "Onward Christian Soldiers" and a benediction dismissing the officers to their courageous duties.

Description of Awards:

John Frampton was recognized for his outstanding efforts in the investigations division where John is assigned as a uniformed investigator. John’s effort were described as dogged as he applies hard work and common sense to solve many cases. John was also recognized for his care and compassion toward victims as he serves them with dignity and respect at all times. John is assigned to the investigations division as a unformed investigator and has been with the Sheriff’s Office since January of 2005.

Rebecca Adams was recognized for her outstanding work in the detention center. Adams single handedly held off a violent suspect who was trying to escape from the detention center and attacked her as she blocked the doorway and held the suspect off. Adams, who was injured, unrelated to this incident was placed in a wheel chair because of a broken leg. She was acknowledged for returning to work despite the injury when some miss work for far lesser ailments. Rebecca is a Lt. in the Corrections Division and been with the Sheriff’s Office since January 2004.

Andrew Stout was recognized for his calm and collective demeanor in handling what many call one of the toughest jobs in law enforcement. Andy has handled many stressful and highly charged 911 calls and always does so in a calm, collected manner that results in proper aid and assistance arriving for the caller. Andy is assigned to the communications division and been employed with the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office since April of 2004.

Charles “Butch” Hardee was recognized as someone who constantly goes above and beyond the call of duty to help others. Peers and supervisors say that he is the type of person who sees a task that needs to be done, he chips in and makes sure that it gets done. He always has a positive attitude in every situation. He is a person who treats everyone with respect in every situation. As proof, supervisors say that Hardee on two separate occasions received thank you cards from people he was forced to evict from their home. Hardee is assigned to the civil process division of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and has been a member of the department since September 2006.

City Council Meeting on February 10
(added 02/11/09)

City Budget Increases by 7% Mid-Year

Newberry City Council met last night (Feb. 10) and approved final
reading on mid-year budget adjustments. At mid-year, the total City
budget increases by 7% from $32.7 million to $35 million. The general
fund will decrease by 3.5% mainly due to loss of revenue from court
fines and savings from vacancies. The City will reduce the budgeted
use of the fund balance from $158,000 to $109,000 - which is
equivalent to the amount allocated for a stormwater study of Scotts
Creek.

The bulk of the budget increase falls under special funds, which will
see a 22.3% overall increase. The refinancing of the TIF (tax
increment financing) district will save the City in the long term,
but shows up in mid-year accounting as a one time $1.4 million buy
out of the bonds. Council added a $823,000 telecommunications fund to
the budget since the decision has been made to go forward with phase
one of the wireless infrastructure in the City. This project is
primarily funded by grant dollars.

The utility fund will increase by 2% overall to $26.7 million. The
biggest increase is in capital projects. $721,000 was added to the
utility capital projects fund in part due to sewer lines that needed
immediate attention and a temporary funding stream for the wastewater
treatment plant improvements.

City Administrator Eric Budds warned Council that the 09/10 fiscal
year budget will be tougher to balance with revenue down and the mid-
year savings options not available for next year.

Also on Tuesday night, City Council approved a resolution to increase
the number of members on the Housing Authority board from 5 to 7. One
will be nominated from each district and the mayor will continue to
appoint a resident commissioner.

The City honored Frank Burnside for his 10 years with City Public
Works and Scott Sawyer for his 10 years as director of the Recreation
Department now the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department.

Newberry City Council meets on the second Tuesday of each month at
7pm in City Hall.

 

Jury Duty Call Could Be a Scam
(added 02/10/09)

The phone rings, you pick it up, and the caller identifies himself as an officer of the court. He says you failed to report for jury duty and that a warrant is out for your arrest. You say you never received a notice. To clear it up, the caller says he'll need some information for "verification purposes"-your birth date, social security number, maybe even a credit card number.

Unfortunately, the courts never ask for this information. It's a scam. Sheriff Lee Foster and Clerk of Court Jackie Bowers are warning citizens to beware.

Jury scams have been around for years, but have seen a resurgence in recent months. Communities in more than a dozen states have issued public warnings about cold calls from people claiming to be court officials seeking personal information. As a rule, court officers never ask for confidential information over the phone; they generally correspond with prospective jurors via mail.

The scam's bold simplicity may be what makes it so effective. Facing the unexpected threat of arrest, victims are caught off guard and may be quick to part with some information to defuse the situation.

“They catch you off guard and scare you,” said Sheriff Lee Foster. “They prey upon your sense of duty and fear of arrest to get you off guard and willing to do anything, including give out personal information, to resolve the issue.

Foster said that some of scams even offer a fine payable by credit card over the telephone to “end the whole matter.” If you comply, the scam artist has all your personal information and your credit card number too.

With enough information, scammers can assume your identity and empty your bank accounts.

"It seems like a very simple scam," Foster remarked. “The trick is putting people on the defensive, then reeling them back in with the promise of a clean slate. "It's kind of ingenious. It's social engineering."

In March, USA.gov, the federal government’s information website, posted details about jury scams in their Frequently Asked Questions area. The site reported scores of queries on the subject from website visitors and callers seeking information.

The jury scam is a simple variation of the identity-theft ploys that have proliferated in recent years as personal information and good credit have become thieves' preferred prey, particularly on the Internet. Scammers might tap your information to make a purchase on your credit card, but could just as easily sell your information to the highest bidder on the Internet's black market.

No jury scams have been reported in Newberry County thus far according to Sheriff Foster. However, he said that as soon as he learned of the scam he wanted to pass on to the public.

“We believe that it is imperative to provide the public with breaking news and scams so that they can arm themselves in the battle to prevent becoming victims of crime,” said Foster.

 

School Board Meeting on February 9
(added 02/10/09)

Newberry County School Board met Monday night for a budget work session. The district’s CFO Susan Dowd reviewed projected revenue and expenditures. She predicted revenue to fall by at least $1.8 million even if the district includes a 4 mill increase in operational taxes. This property tax increase would only apply to property assessed at 6%, businesses, and other real property. Over $1.1 million in yearly "unavoidable" increases are also predicted including a reduction in salaries paid by EIA funding and a step (based on years of experience) increase for teachers. Several options were discussed to reduce expenditures. A few of those include:

Reduction in FTEs (full time employees) based on enrollment projections. At this point, the district hopes to keep overall student/teacher ratios within district preferred range. However, administration did admit that there may be spikes in individual grades at the schools. The district hopes to cuts these FTEs through retirement and resignations.
Reduction of teacher contracts by 3 days (from 190 to 187 days). These would be non-instructional days. Previously it was stated that this option would only be available if the State Legislature approved the option. However, upon a review by the district’s attorney, it was determined that this option is available even this year if needed.
Reduction of all other contracts (including administrative) by 5 days.
Eliminate contingency $300,000 line item.
With the permission of the State Legislature, negotiate salaries with active retirees.
Reduce the Alternative School program (which is use primarily for students with disciplinary records) from 114 to 75 slots, possibly bringing the program in house.
Keep in place the 10% reduction in school and department budgets for supplies and travel that went into place this year.
Sending a message to the State House that Newberry County would be reducing the number of days of school in correlation with the reduction in funding.
As this meeting was the first of many work sessions and public readings of a 09/10 budget, no decisions regarding these options were made Monday night. Ms. Dowd stated that she hoped to receive better information regarding next year’s state funding by March at which point she will bring another round of numbers to the Board.

Administration stated that they have been given hopeful but in no way definite news that another round of state cuts would not come this spring regarding this current fiscal year.

 

Tragic Ending to Search for Missing Man
Follow-up to Previous Story
(added 02/07/09)

Authorities in Newberry County say that the search for a missing man ended this morning when his body was located in a wooded area near the family home. Authorities say that all indications are that Hunter took his own life.

Family members became concerned about Hunter after he walked away from his home after a domestic dispute Sunday night and had not been seen or heard from since. His body was located at about 10AM this morning.

Investigators from the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office are on scene and will conduct a full investigation into the incident, however, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said that there is absolutely no indication of foul play.

The spokesman said that normally the Sheriff’s Office does not release information about suicides; however, since Hunter was listed as missing it was necessary to release the information to bring the case to closure.

The Sheriff’s Office extends their thoughts and prayers to family members during this difficult time.

Family Concerned for Missing Man
(added 02/06/09)

A Newberry County man is missing this evening and his family is concerned about his well being.

Billy Ray Hunter (left), 29, of 9616 Highway 34, Newberry, SC, was last seen on February 1 at about 8:30PM when he left his home walking after a domestic disturbance.

Hunter was wearing a dark blue uniform jacket, blue jeans, a tan and camouflage Earnhardt baseball hat, and dark colored shoes. He is supposed to take medication for depression; however, he does not have any of the medicine with him.

Family members are concerned that Hunter may harm himself.

Anyone with any information about Hunter should contact the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2222.


School Board Meeting on January 26
(added 01/27/09)

School District to Use $1.6 million of Fund Balance Due to State Cuts

Newberry County School Board met last night (January 26) and approved up to $1.6 million of fund balance to cover state cuts for this fiscal year. The state cuts this year total close to $2.5 million with almost $1 million absorbed through a $300,000 contingency fund, travel and supplies cuts, and shifting some program funding. When asked what other options besides using the fund balance were possible to cover the remaining state cuts, the School District’s CFO Susan Dowd stated that (since salary and fringe are 85% of the district’s budget) cutting personnel would have to be considered. School Board voted unanimously instead to go forward with using up to $1.6 million in fund balance to complete this school year. The use of these funds still keeps a month and ½ operating cost in the fund balance, which falls within the district’s written policy of keeping more than 10% of the annual budget in the fund.

Dowd stated that she would not suggest the fund balance be used again in the 09/10 school year. She estimates that even with utilizing a 4-mil property tax increase (will apply to property with 6% assessment ratio only), $2.6 million will still need to be cut for the 09/10 budget. Dowd stated the following temporary measures are already being considered:

• 5-day furlough for employees who work over 190 days
• increasing class sizes
• FTE (full time employee) reduction – hopefully through attrition
• Freezing the hiring in current vacancies
• Cutting the contingency line in the budget
• Reviewing all purchasing/service contracts
• Not adding in new National Board Certified teacher supplement
(current NBC teachers would continue to receive supplement)
• Continue the 10% cut in departmental & school base budgets for travel and supplies

Bills before the State Legislature that could also affect the 09/10 budget process include:

• more flexibility between funding categories
• suspension of the professional staff ratios (student/teacher ratio)
• delay in date of teacher contract deadlines (extended from April to May 15)
• adding language so 190 day employees such as teachers can be furloughed for 5 non-instructional days (could yield upwards of $500,000 in savings for the district)
• suspend formative assessment that is not required by No Child Left Behind for grades 1-5
• add the ability to negotiate Terri and retiree salaries

The Newberry County School Board will hold a work session on Feb. 9 at 6:30pm at the Student Services Building (Learning Center). Their next regular meeting will be Feb. 23.

Changes to Assignment to Schools including Intra-District Policy Passed

Newberry County School Board met on Monday night (January 26) and approved final reading to changes to the "assignment to schools" policy affecting the intra-district or 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,
• 3 proofs of residency will be required from every student during registration each year.

The district will begin accepting applications for extraordinary circumstances or intra-district transfers on March 1. Applications will be available from the Student Services Office. The Superintendent or his designee will be able to approve intra-district transfers. Decisions will still appealable to the School Board.

Attendance Lines to be Reviewed by School District Steering Committee

With Phase II of the building plan 12-18 months from completion, a steering committee will be formed to look at demographics and attendance zones. Jim Suber, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, stated that the committee will observe the following criteria:

• maximize and equalize the capacity of the utilities for current and future enrollment
• assign students to the school closest to their residence when possible
• keep neighborhoods together if possible
• use geographic boundaries when possible

The study should be completed by the end of the school year and presented to the School Board no later than July. Implementation would not take place until the 2010/2011 school year. Stay tuned for announcement of community forums.

More County Council News
(added 01/23/09)

Can you hear me now? – Study of Fire/Rescue/EMS Communications System Approved

Newberry County Council met on Wednesday (January 21) and approved funding for a study of the communications system for the fire, rescue, and EMS departments. The system, which was originally put in place in the early 60s, now includes a tower in Newberry, Lt. Mtn., and Whitmire. Sheriff Foster reported that to avoid feedback only one tower can be used at one time. A volunteer consultant from the National Institute of Justice did a preliminary review of the system and confirmed what local volunteers already knew that there are significant gaps in the system especially in the Chappells area. The Chappells Department has received a grant for partial funding of a new repeater tower in their area. First, however, Tusa Consulting Services will complete a review of the entire system. With an estimate not to exceed $88,786 Tusa Consulting will review the system, look at what equipment can be reused, design a more efficient system including the FCC required rebanding, prepare the bid documents, oversee installation, and test the system once installed. $650,000 is the total budget for a study and new system on a lease purchase plan.

Council approved a total of $105,000 in budgeted spending for the Rescue Squads in the county. Items range from 12 lied cardiac defibrillators for two stations to a laptop for another station to keep up with the paperwork.

Council approved second reading of a lease agreement with the Triangle Gun Club for a Skeet Range at I-26 and 34. The lease was under much discussion during 2008 due to the potential retail value of the land adjacent to the interstate and speculative interest in the former landfill property for the "potential mining" of methane gas. The proposed version of the lease states that either party can exit the lease with 180 day written notice.

Second reading was also approved to change the zoning of 1.62 acres of land on Hwy 76 near the Newberry County border with Lexington County. The property is adjacent to general commercial property and near the developed area of Chapin but is undeveloped at this time. The planning commission approved this change from RS-1 single family residential to general commercial.

County Council met in executive session without Councilman Edgar Baker to receive an update regarding the lawsuit with Baker regarding the 219 building formerly housing the Sheriff’s Office. No votes were taken following the session. The entire council also met in executive session regarding the contract for cutting the trees on the Country Club of Newberry that are within the flight path of the airport. Council voted to enter into an agreement with the Country Club and DS Utilities for the cutting of the trees and the replacement of those trees with trees that have shorter potential height growth.

Newberry County Council meets again on February 4 in the Courthouse Annex at 7pm.

Agricultural Expo 2009

In an effort to revive the best parts of the Newberry County Fair, a group has formed to plan a Newberry County Agricultural Expo. Misty West, one of the committee members, made a presentation to Newberry County Council at their Wednesday (January 21) meeting requesting free use of the fairgrounds for this startup project. She stated that any profit made from the event would be split between improvements to the Newberry County Fairgrounds and the next year’s event. The group hopes to have fair events such as crafters, fair food, and a farm history exhibit since the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society will be storing portions of the Ballentine Farm Museum at the fairgrounds. Ms. West stated that partnerships with organizations such as the Historical Society, FFA, 4-H, Clemson Extension,etc. will be the success of the event. An estimated $10,000 budget has been created for the "fair events" with hopes that a sanctioned horse show and cow and goats shows would broaden the income base for the event. Council approved the free use of the fairgrounds. The event is scheduled for September 14-30.

Helena Community Center Dedication

The Helena Community Center at 902 Giff St. in Newberry will have an official public dedication ceremony on Saturday, February 7 at 3pm. The community center was built with penny sales tax funding. The Involved Citizens of Helena are the primary users of the facility and meet at 5pm on the first Saturday in the month. However, the building can be rented by the public through the County Administrators Office in the Courthouse Annex. Rental rules and rates for all county buildings are available online at www.newberrycounty.net – follow the purchasing link to county rental property.

At their January 21 meeting, Newberry County Council approved the free use of the building for a Youth Outreach Ministry led by Ms. Tqila Werts. The first meeting will be on January 31 and will then be held on the first Saturday of each month. Ms. Werts will report back to council in 6 months with an update and to request an extension.

Twenty-two Pounds of Marijuana Seized in Newberry County; Two in Custody
(added 0/23/09)

A joint investigation by the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office led to the recovery of nearly 22 pounds of marijuana and has thus far landed two people in jail.

On Wednesday morning at around 11AM, officers of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, Lexington County Sheriff’s Office, and State Law Enforcement Division executed a search warrant on the residence located at 9638 South Carolina Highway 34 in Newberry County.

Upon serving the search warrant, officers say they discovered 18 bricks of marijuana with a total weight of more than twenty pounds.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the search warrant:

Jessie James Williamson (photo below), 32, of 1708 Academy Street, Newberry, was arrested and charged Trafficking Marijuana and Conspiracy.

Celeste Chapman Carrozza (photo below), 51, of 9638 South Carolina Highway 34, Newbery, SC, who is charged with Conspiracy.

Both suspects were taken to the Newberry County Detention Center where bond was set on Williamson at $25,000.00. He remains in custody as of this release. Carroza received a $5000.00 Personal Assurance Bond.

Authorities say that they cannot release the details of the investigation because on the ongoing investigation, but did say that they anticipate more arrests in this case.

“This is a substantial amount of marijuana that has been removed from the streets of Newberry County,” said Sheriff Lee Foster. “We are pleased that our cooperation with Lexington County and SLED has allowed us to remove such a large amount of illegal drugs from being distributed into our county.”

Law enforcement officers estimate the street value of these drugs at approximately $22,000.00.

Jessie James Williamson
Celeste Chapman Carrozza


County Council Meeting on January 21
(added 01/22/09)

County Council Accepts Bids on 4 Ambulances

Newberry County Council met last night (January 21) and with a 4 to 3
vote accepted bids for four new ambulances. The purchase of these
four ambulances is scheduled to be followed by three next year, two
in 2011, and two in 2012, etc. With this purchase plan, EMS would
rotate year-old ambulances with around 40,000 miles down to the
Rescue Squads, thus replacing the fleet every six years.

With around a ½ million dollar purchase price for four ambulances, the
five-year lease purchase plan runs around $100,000 in this year’s
budget. Each year’s lease agreement would compound until peaking at
fiscal year 12/13 at an approximate $330,000. Eventually the ongoing
lease purchase would be approximately $250,000 each year.

Councilman Les Hipp suggested that two ambulances be purchased now
and a subcommittee be formed to review the other purchases. In favor
of reducing the number purchased, Councilman Edgar Baker commented,
“We have got to start looking out for the taxpayers.”

Councilman Bill Waldrop stated that the council already had members
serving on the Emergency Services Board. And, in reference to having
to cut back from the rotation plan, he stated, “If we start doing
this now, we are going to be in a heap of trouble. A couple of years
ago we had to replace a bunch of our vehicles and buildings all at
once, and we ended up having meetings at the Opera House. I don’t want
me or someone else in my seat having to be in that same position.”

Councilman Steve Stockman stated, “It scares me to death to have to
appropriate a half a million dollars right now, but I truly feel like
this is an aspect of government that we owe to the people. I’m going
to have to vote for purchasing the four ambulances.”

When quizzed, the chairman of the Board of Rescue Squads stated that
the squads would always prefer new ambulances, but that this was the
first time he had ever seen the county have an actual plan to keep
the Rescue Squads and EMS in ambulances.

At the final vote, Livingston, Waldrop, Koon and Stockman voted in
favor of accepting the bid with Caldwell, Baker, and Hipp in
opposition. Chairman Livingston, who serves on the Emergency Services
Board, suggested that Council meet with the Emergency Services Board
to further discuss the implementation of the rotation plan going
forward.

An amendment to the County Road System that would have allowed dirt
roads into the county system (if they were built to county specs
during the July 2, 2003 to July 31, 2007 time period when the county
was accepting dirt roads into the county system) failed Wednesday
night. The proposed acceptance of Glade Springs Rd in Little Mountain
(that could have fallen within that category if questions about being
built up to specs could have been proven) was also denied. Council
also deleted any reference to accepting aggregate or gravel roads
from the road ordinance so that only triple treatment or asphalt
roads will be accepted. In addition, Council passed an amendment that
requires all liens or taxes be paid before the road be accepted.


Swearing-In Ceremony for Lee Foster on Sunday
(added 01/21/09)

Being sworn in for an elected position is a great honor, but Newberry County Sheriff says that the people of Newberry County have bestowed upon him an even greater honor. On January 25, Sheriff Foster will begin his 21st year as Sheriff of Newberry County.

Sheriff Foster and the officers of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office will celebrate the day with a formal swearing in ceremony at 4PM at Wiles Chapel on the beautiful campus of Newberry College. The public is both welcome and encouraged to attend the event to support Sheriff Foster and all of the officers of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.

The ceremony will feature stirring hymns, comments, the acknowledgement of the departmental award winners for 2008, and will culminate as Sheriff Foster administers the oath of office to all of the officers of the Sheriff’s Office.

“I feel as though I am living out my dreams,” said Foster. “For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be Sheriff and the people of Newberry County have allowed me to serve in that position for twenty years.”

“The time has seemingly flown by, but I want the people of this great county to know that I am just as committed and dedicated to the position and their well being as I was twenty years ago,” said Foster. “I am older and wiser, but committed to making Newberry County the safest place it can be through effective law enforcement.”

“We have accomplished much in these twenty years such as being a nationally recognized leader in law enforcement as well as being repeatedly named the safest county in South Carolina and as having the highest clearance rate in South Carolina.”

“However, we cannot rest on past accomplishments but must continue to push forward every working to combine the tried and true methods of our past with the ever evolving technology of the future to ensure that we continue to be the finest law enforcement agency we can,” said Foster.

“Many have speculated that I may leave Newberry County for other positions or that I may be nearing retirement, but I want to assure the people of Newberry County that it is my desire to remain in this position for many years to come with their blessings and support and that my commitment of twenty years ago is just as real today as it was then.”

“I am proud of what we, law enforcement and the citizens of Newberry County, have accomplished. It is my desire to keep moving us forward while being ever mindful that our past of hard work and cooperation has brought us where we are today and must always be the foundation on which we build our future,” Foster concluded.

Foster said that he also wanted to thank his entire family for their continued support of him. “I want to thank them for always supporting me for all the missed family meals, the missed games, programs, and all the other times they had to go forward without me. They too are called upon to sacrifice and they have done so with complete loving support of me and my desire to serve the people of Newberry County,” said Foster.

In a great footnote, January 25 will also be Sheriff Foster’s birthday. He will turn 52 years old.

Please come and participate and support Sheriff Foster and the officers of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office in a very special day in the life of all of those involved.

Story Time at Newberry's NEW Library!
(added 01/21/09)

Join Mrs. Deann in the new Story Time Room at the Hal Kohn Memorial Library beginning February 3.

Following is the Story Time Schedule:

Tuesday
10:30 Preschool Pals
(ages 3-4 years)

4:00 Preschool Pals
(ages 3-4 years)
[Both programs will be the same]

Wednesday
4:00 Jr. Book Discussion
(ages 8-12 years)

Thursday
10:30 Toddler Time
(ages 18-35 months)

4:00 Bookworms
(ages 5-8 years)

For more information, call Mrs. Deann at 803-276-0854 extension 200 or e-mail
DMcManus@NewberryCounty.net
.

City Council Meeting on January 13
(added 01/14/09)


Newberry City Council met last night (January 13) and approved final
reading of a zoning ordinance change regarding multi-family
developments. In an effort to more greatly control where new multi-
family developments are located within the City, the approved
ordinance eliminates future apartment buildings or duplexes from
being located in the R-6 zoning where they have been previously
considered a permitted use. Currently established multi-family
developments will be specifically listed as permitted uses. Future
multi-family developments will only be allowed within general
commercial zoning, mixed residential zoning, and if specified in a
planned development approved by the Council.

One of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board's new regulations
known as GASB 45 specifies that all municipalities have to either
hold in retainer Annual Required Contributions (ARC) for Other Post
Employment Benefits (OPEB) or show the amount as a liability on their
books. An actuary estimated the city's net OPEB would be less than
$50,000 so Council voted to simply show the amount as a liability in
the annual audit.

Council approved a survey to begin on the western portion of Scotts
Creek beyond the City limits. This area has be targeted based on
suggestions that the flooding of Scotts Creek could have causes
further up stream. The BP Barber engineering firm has been retained
to walk the creek, document the status, and propose interim or low
cost solutions to any concerns. This survey is not to exceed
$23,000. $86,000 was budgeted for storm water activities in fiscal
year 08/09.

Council approved a resolution declaring their intent to raise sewer
rates 7.5% July 1, 2009. Sewer rates went up 7.5% this past July as
the City began phasing in the projected 15% rate increase required to
pay for the $18-19 million expansion and renovation at the Wastewater
plant. $1 million has already been awarded to the City as a federal
economic development grant. City Manager Eric Budds stated that he
would be going to Washington in February to lobby for an additional
$1-2 million in infrastructure stimulus dollars to help fund the
project. When completed the plant will go from a 3.5 million gallon a
day capacity to a 5 million gallon a day capacity. The resolution
passed by council documenting where the funding will come from will
allow for a State Revolving Fund (SRF) low-interest loan application
to be submitted and bid documents to be prepared. Mr. Budds estimates
construction to begin mid-summer and be completed 18-24 months from
then.

The wireless/fiber optics project and solid waste issues are two of
the items on the agenda for the January 20 quarterly work session.
The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for February 10
at which time city management will present the mid-year budget
adjustments for final approval. First reading of the mid-year changes
were approved on Tuesday night by title only.

The Council honored Tina Wicker for her 30 years with the City. Ms.
Wicker began with the City in 1978 as municipal clerk. Today, in
addition to continuing her municipal clerk duties, she is human
resource director and risk management director. Council also
presented Joe Kitchen of the Public Works department with his 5 year
pen.

Chief Jackie Swindler was on hand to receive AAA's Traffic Safety
Community of the Year Award for the fourth year in a row. Newberry,
of course, won in the population category for 10-30,000 residents.

Prosperity Business Association Donates $2500 to Save Local Train Depot
(added 01/13/09)

When the Prosperity Business Association (PBA) heard about an effort to “Save the Prosperity Depot,” they decided that they could set a great example and be one of the first to donate to the cause. The PBA has donated $2500 to the “Save the Prosperity Depot” fund at the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Palmetto Trust will utilize this donation as part of the matching funds required for a 50/50 grant from the National Trust. The combined funding will pay engineers to determine what it would take to stabilize and then move the building (which Norfolk Southern requires for local ownership).

At the donation presentation, Mike Bedenbaugh, Executive Director of the Palmetto Trust, stated that with the commitment from the Prosperity Business Association the National Trust has agreed to go ahead and cut a check for $3500. Bedenbaugh went on to say he believed that the feasibility study could be completed with a $7000 budget – leaving only a $1000 of donations left to collect as matching funds (some of which has already come in from interested citizens). The study should get underway within the next few weeks. A public forum will be scheduled at the completion of the study to report results and discuss the next step.

Prosperity Business Association President and Piggly Wiggly Manager Tommy Easterby stated, “Anything we can do to preserve the things about Prosperity that make it unique and appealing to visitors and locals alike is something that the local businesses need to be behind.”

PBA member Rhonda Lindler of Towne Square Antiques stated, “We have people from all over visit our antique store, and every week I have people asking me about the old depot across the square. They all hope that we can do something with it. It definitely has the potential to be of interest to visitors.”

Save the Prosperity Depot Committee Chair Andy Hawkins was thrilled when she got the news from the Prosperity Business Association. She commented, “Our committee has been very lucky to have formed great partnerships – first with the Palmetto Trust, then with the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society, and now with the Prosperity Business Association. There is still a ways to go to complete our task and a lot of decisions still to make, but this donation from the Prosperity Business Association is a great beginning. It gives us all confidence that we can reach our goal of saving the Prosperity Depot so that it can contribute to the prosperity of Prosperity once again.”

PBA Check Presentation
The Prosperity Business Association made the official presentation of the check on January 13 in front of the depot on the square in Prosperity. President Tommy Easterby and Treasurer Debbie Shealy of House to Home were among the members on hand to make the presentation. Present to receive the check in addition to Mr. Bedenbaugh of the Palmetto Trust was Susan Eargle, member of the Save the Prosperity Depot Committee and a board member of the Newberry County Historical and Museum Society.

How Can You Get Involved?
The Prosperity Business Association challenges other individuals and organizations to donate to the Save the Prosperity Depot fund at www.palmettotrust.org or mail your check to Save the Prosperity Depot c/o Andy Hawkins at 501 McNeary St. Prosperity, SC 29127. Checks should be made out to Palmetto Trust and marked for the Prosperity Depot.

Donation forms are also available at Prosperity Drug, Towne Square Antiques and other PBA stores. At Prosperity Drug, you can also view the Joe Welborn stained glass rendition of the Prosperity Depot.

2008/2009 Prosperity Business Association Members:
Prosperity Western Auto, House to Home, Kid’s Unlimited, JD Dawkins-Main St. Laundromat, Counts Tractor, Piggly Wiggly, Dannan Home Builders, Thelma’s Flowers & Gifts, Capital Bank, Prosperity Drug, Spotts Tractor, Hamm Hardware, Bowers BP, The Dutch Fork Chronicle, Caulder & Associates, Prosperity Fitness Center, The Main Dish Café, GEA Funding, Dixie Heartpine, First Citizens Bank, Newberry Broadcasting WKDK, Lane Properties, Gasthaus Zur Elli, Bedenbaugh Realty & Development, Armfield Office & School Supply, Towne Square Antiques, Yoder’s Family Restaurant

 

 

Library Dedication
(added 01/12/09)

A large crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting of the new Newberry County library on Sunday (January 11). The new downtown facility expands the library from 8 to 22,000 square feet. A new SC geneology room, large children's time room, and public meeting room are just a few of the features now available in the new library. Verna Cavenaugh announced that she was the annonimous donor whose gift allowed the county to complete the library when the penny sales tax funding fell below the post-Katrina construction estimates. The new building will be known as the Hal Kohn Memorial Library in honor of her late father the Newberry merchant and real estate investor.

Loft Apartments a Possibility for Oakland Mill
(added 01/09/09)

City of Newberry officials met with residents of the Oakland community Thursday night to discuss a potential project for the Oakland Mill building. Despite the building not being within the city limits, City Manager Eric Budds stated that the City has been working to find a productive use for the building since AF&F’s closing last spring. Budds went on to say that over a year and a half ago City Council gave staff the directive to transfer development focus to housing. This directive shifts the focus off of downtown (where the private sector is now taking over) to the communities within the City. The City has already been working with a consultant mapping what housing is available within the City, the condition of such housing, and researching potential funding for micro-grants to landowners within the communities. Councilman Foster Senn stated that he sees the potential development of the Oakland mill as a catalyst for redevelopment within the community.

Budds reported to the 50 to 60 residents in attendance that a well-established, local developer who had worked successfully with the City in the past had shown interest in developing the historic mill into market value (meaning non-subsidized) loft apartments for rent. Budds stated that in his opinion this adaptive re-use of the building was preferable to the building staying vacant, the building being torn down for salvage, or the building being used by a second tear industry. Police Chief Jackie Swindler sited the Olympia mill remodel and others as a positive example of a good use of such a building.

When questioned about whether or not Newberry can support such a venture especially in these economic times, Councilman Lamont Glasgow, who is a real estate agent with Linda Renwick Realty, stated that his office receives calls all the time asking for quality apartments to rent.

If the development goes forward, Budds stated that the City would set up a property tax structure similar to the Downtown TIF district where the property tax revenue taken in from any increase in property value after the development would go back into the community.

Many community members still stated their fear that this concentration of apartments would increase crime in the area, and that transient residents would not be invested in taking care of the community. Many cited this trend - as more homes have become rental properties in the community.

Budds stated that the potential developer, who was not named at this time, has until mid-February to put down earnest money with the current owner if they want to go forward with the project. They would have until late summer for due diligence before any papers were signed.

County Council Meeting on January 7
(added 01/08/09)

County Councilmen Sworn In l Nash New Public Works Director l Palmetto Parkridge C.O.N. Denied

New County Councilmen Seated/Livingston Chairman/Jan. 7 Meeting Notes

Newly elected Newberry County Councilmen Steve Stockman (representing district 2), Kirksey Koon (representing district 4), and Les Hipp (representing district 5) – as well as Edgar Baker (returning to his seat in district 1) - were sworn in on Wednesday night. Henry "Buddy" Livingston was elected Chairman of County Council for 2009. And, Bill Waldrop will retain his Vice-Chairmanship.

On Wednesday’s agenda was a personal appearance by Fred Owens, Executive Director of the Newberry County Disabilities and Special Needs Board. Council again this year agreed to support Disabilities and Special Needs’s DOT transportation grant application for an additional van. The county named the agency an official transportation agency within Newberry County thus allowing them to apply for the grant. No general fund dollars will be required. The grant is an 80/20 grant with the agency itself expected to pay around $12,000 to match the $60,000 grant request. Mr. Owens stated that grants such as this one would be so important this year due to the budget cuts already passed down by the state.

Council approved first reading of a lease agreement with the Triangle Gun Club for a Skeet Range at I-26 and 34. The lease was under much discussion during 2008 due to the potential retail value of the land adjacent to the interstate and speculative interest in the former landfill property for the "potential mining" of methane gas. The proposed version of the lease states that either party can exit the lease with 180 day written notice.

First reading was also approved to change the zoning of 1.62 acres of land on Hwy 76 near the Newberry County border with Lexington County. The property is adjacent to general commercial property and near the developed area of Chapin but is undeveloped at this time. The planning commission approved this change from RS-1 single family residential to general commercial.

Nash New Public Works Director/Ambulance Purchase Postponed/More Trees Coming Down at the Airport

Newberry County Council met on Wednesday night and introduced the new public works director, Kyle Nash of Chapin. Mr. Nash holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering, as well as master’s degrees in engineering and business. Most recently Mr. Nash has been the owner/operator of Gallery Homebuilders, Inc. He previously worked as an engineer and cost estimator on contracts with the US Army in Huntsville, AL. The public works office oversees county roads and bridges, Newberry County Airport (Nash is a pilot himself.), animal control services, solid waste operations including the transfer station, and vehicle fleet maintenance. His annual salary will be $66,000.

After executive session on Wednesday night, Council approved a change order to extend a previous tree clearing contract at the airport. The trees, which are adjacent to the Country Club of Newberry golf course, are being cut to comply with the FAA’s airport visibility regulations.

Also on Wednesday night, Council postponed approval of the bid on the 4 budgeted ambulances. The half a million dollar bids are scheduled for lease purchase and will set a base number of ambulances for a regular rotation of ambulances every 6 years. Two of EMS’ ambulances are scheduled to rotate to the Pomaria and Little Mountain Rescue Squads upon the delivery of all 4 new ambulances to EMS.

Councilman Les Hipp questioned if such a large purchase was prudent given the economic atmosphere. Mr. Hipp asked for clarification of salvage value on any decommissioned ambulances, cost impact on only purchasing two now and waiting to purchase the other two, and the insurance settlement amount on one ambulance that was recently "totaled" in a wreck. Mr. Hipps motion passed and the issue was postponed until the January 21 meeting.

During Council Comments, Councilman Hipp stated that in reading over information available through the SC Association of County he noted the negative ranking of Newberry County in several lists including Newberry County having a lower median income, higher illiteracy rate, and higher tax millage rate. He asked that Council hold a work session to discuss where to start with some of these challenges.

Palmetto Parkridge C.O.N. Denied/NCMH calls it a Powerful Validation

Lynn Beasley, CEO of Newberry County Memorial Hospital, appeared before County Council on Wednesday night and announced that the SC Administrative Law Court has ruled AGAINST Palmetto Parkridge’s Certificate of Need (CON) application for the construction of a hospital in the Harbison area. NCMH has argued that any such hospital would be duplication of services – causing a battle over paying patients and staff and in the end increasing the overall cost of healthcare. Mr. Beasley stated that Palmetto Parkridge can ask the judge to reconsider within 10 days and can challenge the decision in the Court of Appeals, but he called the administrative law court’s decision a "powerful validation" and a victory for local healthcare.

 

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.


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