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A look back at 2014: Part 3 of 3

Zemp is place of brawl and referenda hot topic; KershawHealth chooses strategic partner

Posted: December 31, 2014 2:43 p.m.
Updated: January 2, 2015 1:00 a.m.
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September

KCSD Phase 2 referendum officially placed on the ballot for November

It was announced the phase 2 referendum for the Kershaw County School District was officially placed on the ballot for voters to decide in the November election.

The Kershaw County Board of School Trustees submitted necessary paperwork to the Kershaw County Board of Elections in August to seek voters’ approval on the November ballot to build five new school facilities and renovate five others. Total cost for construction was approximately $130 million. 

School board members and district staff discussed the possible improvements for more than two years as part of Phase 2 of the Kershaw County School District’s (KCSD) facilities equalization program. Almost 50 public meetings with community members were held to discuss facilities needs and receive input. 

The proposed projects were:

• Construction of a joint economic development and educational facility in conjunction with Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC) and Kershaw County on the current CCTC site at I-20 Exit 98 to replace the district’s Applied Technology Education Campus (ATEC).

• Construction of a new Camden Elementary School on Laurens Street (former Camden Middle School site).

• Construction of a new Lugoff Elementary School on the current site.

• Construction of a new Wateree Elementary School on the current site.

• Construction of a new consolidated North Central Elementary School to replace Baron DeKalb, Bethune, and Mt Pisgah Elementary schools on district property adjacent to North Central Middle School.

• Renovation of Camden High School and improvements to athletic facilities, including a new stadium to be built on Ehrenclou Drive to replace Zemp Stadium.

• Renovation of Lugoff-Elgin High School and improvements to athletic facilities.

• Renovations to North Central High School and improvements to athletic facilities.

• Improvements, renovation and addition of classrooms at North Central Middle School.

• Improvements, renovation and addition of classrooms at Stover Middle School.

Singleton guilty, will spend life in prison

Aside from being an election year where school and facility renovations were on the line, 2014 was also a year of surprises in criminal activity and court cases. Frank Terrance Singleton III, already serving a 50 year sentence, was charged and sentenced to life without parole for additional crimes.

Singleton received 50 years in prison after pleading guilty in March for his participation in a five-day 2011 crime spree in Camden and the east Camden area. Singleton pled guilty in that case to the home-invasion killing of Michael Hayes, 39, at Hayes’ home on Sandspur Road.

A jury of six men and six women went into deliberations at 12:40 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11 after hearing closing arguments from 5th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Luck Campbell and Public Defender Doug Strickler.

In her more than 50-minute summation, Campbell said the state offered compelling evidence and testimony proving Singleton’s guilt and said fingerprints and DNA evidence was lacking because the plan to invade Mackey’s home was well-planned in advance.

“This is what they did to get drugs, to get money. They talk about ‘there’s no fingerprints, no DNA’ -- no kidding,” Campbell said. “This is about as professional and as violent as home invasions go. They took all the precautions. You heard about how they scoped out the place. They went there on a prior occasion to do the deed, but wouldn’t do it. There were dogs and people around.”

The jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges late that Thursday afternoon. Judge Craig Brown imposed the life sentence without parole shortly afterward.

Zemp Stadium supporter addresses school board

A heated topic for phase 2 referendum objectors was Zemp Stadium. The referendum called for a new stadium to be built and for Zemp to be renovated; however, some citizens were concerned that the intention of school district officials was to tear Zemp down.

Scott Jordan, who graduated from Camden High School in 1981, expressed his shared concerns about the possible demolition of the long-standing structure after the new stadium was built in a nearly 10-minute written statement.

“We respectfully request that the Kershaw County school board vote to amend the Phase 2 facilities referendum instead of replacing the current facility, we ask that the referendum instead require the renovation of Zemp Stadium and maintaining Zemp Stadium as the home field for Camden High School football and other varsity sports,” Jordan said.

Jordan posed a few questions for the board to consider.

“When you were telling folks at various civic clubs in our community that Zemp was off the table and when you had plans on the table to renovate Zemp as a part of the phase 2 program this spring, did you have communications with the two groups that surround the property and request longer terms for parking or insure to your neighbors your good intent by offering a first right of refusal?” Jordan asked.

Board Chair Mara Jones said trustees and the district were transparent about the project list.

“The board has made a great effort to work its way around Kershaw County,” Jones said.

Trustee Derrick Proctor said the final decision about Zemp Stadium would be up to the public.

“Right now, we don’t know what’s going to happen. The public still has the final word,” Proctor said.

Drawings reveal possible future for Rhame Arena

While Zemp supporters were voicing their opinions about the stadium’s future, Camden City Council members and residents were excited about the revelation of floor plans and renderings for the future Rhame Arena.

“We’re at a place with the project,” City Manager Mel Pearson said, “where you need to see this to make sure that we’re on the right page before we go to a more detailed level of designing what we put inside the building.”

He said plans are to put a new roof on the building -- something he called “quite a step” -- and add a new HVAC system. He also noted Kershaw County Recreation Director Joe Eason’s presence at the meeting, saying Eason had been very involved in providing input on the project.

LTC Lead Designer John Powell walked council through what they were seeing on the easels. He said the design builds on the arena’s existing framework. While the main entrance would still be on the north side of the arena, facing Bull Street, with ticket booths and concessions stands, the south end of the arena would be remade “on a grand scale,” Powell said, with a “Colonial, classical aesthetic to it,” including brick and stucco.

“What we propose is, using the existing curved path, is coming around to parking between the football stadium and Rhame Arena with access along the east side with a number of … roll doors,” Powell said. “We’re treating this as an open-air facility that can be closed down in inclement weather.”

There would also be a “parking plaza” at the south entrance, he said.

Essentially, people driving up Broad Street from Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site would see the south entrance as a grand portico with columns, echoed with columns along the unopened west wall with high, arched windows.

Bobbitt President Ben Wilson said the goal for the overall design was to take features from landmarks such as the Robert Mills Courthouse and Price House and “blend them all together … to make one significant entrance into Camden.”

Pearson said the positive reaction would be taken as a “blessing from council” to move forward.

October

Firearms discharge committee identifies ‘problem area’

Kershaw County Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr. formed the Firearms Discharge Advisory Committee in July after council dropped a proposed ordinance to regulate firearms. After months of deliberation, the committee finally made progress after identifying a “problem area” in the county.

The committee’s goal was to write a new draft ordinance that would honor the rights of gun owners while protecting public safety. Tucker said he hoped the committee would draft such an ordinance by Nov. 15.

The committee met the evening of Thursday, Oct. 2 at the Kershaw County Government Center and reported that committee member Arlin Rose and other residents identified Thornton Drive northwest of Elgin near the Richland County line as one of the county’s “problem areas.”

During that meeting, committee members mentioned the recent arrest of two people and the removal of three children after deputies seized narcotics and firearms from their Thornton Drive home. A resident of the area addressed the committee during its Sept. 4 meeting, stating there had been a “severe” drug and shooting problem there during the previous six months or so.

Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Chief Deputy Marvin Brown attended the meeting and Committee Chairman William Tetterton, an attorney and former solicitor, thanked him for the efforts made by the sheriff’s office.

“I think we have identified the problem in the county and, Marvin, I want to commend you on the one out on Thornton Drive, around Mr. Rose’s property, and identifying those who are causing the problem,” Tetterton said. “That makes us committee members feel good because it looks like we have served a useful purpose identifying problems and identifying those who cause the problems.”

The originally proposed ordinance included a provision stating guns could not be fired within 300 yards of neighboring properties. After passing the ordinance on first reading, council killed the ordinance after complaints that the new regulation would be too restrictive.

Tucker said Kershaw County Attorney Ken DuBose wrote a draft of an ordinance regarding the “negligent discharge of firearms” for the committee to consider and possibly pass along to the county council.

No same-sex marriage licenses being issued in Kershaw Co.

The legalization of same-sex marriage in several states was one of the hottest topics in the country in general. Due to the South Carolina Constitution banning gay marriage, Kershaw County Probate Judge Harriet Pierce felt obligated to uphold and respect the words of constitution.

“As long as our state constitution bans gay marriages, I have to uphold it until I hear differently from (S.C. Attorney General) Alan Wilson,” Pierce said. “I’m not going to accept applications until it’s passed.”

Pierce’s comments came after the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear appeals from several states, including South Carolina, attempting to overturn lower federal court rulings concluding state bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. The high court’s decision not to hear an appeal of a Virginia case decided in July by the 4th Circuit U.S. Court opened the door for same-sex marriages in South Carolina. Wednesday, Oct. 8 the S.C. Supreme Court gave approval for same-sex couples to apply for marriage.

Around noon Thursday, Oct. 9 the S.C. Supreme Court said it ordered all probate judges to “refrain from releasing same-sex marriage licenses” while the court continued to review the matter, according to a press release.

Reports from around the state indicate most South Carolina probate judges, like Pierce, are not accepting same-sex marriage license applications until the courts settle the issue.

Bethune promotes police chief to full time

Following an executive session at the end of the Oct. 9 Bethune Town Council meeting, members voted unanimously to promote Bethune Police Chief Joey Cobb from part-time to full-time status. Council voted in August to give Cobb a $500 a year pay raise to $16,000. This meeting’s vote nearly doubled his salary to $31,000 per year.

The town hired Cobb in July, three months after its previous police chief, Glenn Davis, son of former mayor Carlisle Davis resigned over what Glenn Davis said were “many differences of opinion.”

‘Derelict dwelling’ ordinance rejected by county council

A new ordinance that would have given Kershaw County the authority to demolish uninhabitable dwellings failed to pass third and final reading by Kershaw County Council on a 3-4 vote. First and second readings of the ordinance, patterned after state law, passed unanimously in previous meetings.

“We’ve gotten along very well for a long time without that. It seems to me it’s not really something appropriate for Kershaw County. I wish you would slow it down. I wish you would do something like you did for the firearms discharge ordinance and set up a committee to look into it,” resident Tom Webb said.

Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr. noted something council learned during previous discussions: the county does not currently have the funds to demolish dwellings. However, he also said the ordinance would allow the county to do so when funds are available, and having an ordinance could help in getting grant money. He used the town of Manning as an example.

Councilman Tom Gardner said passing the ordinance did not mean the county would immediately start razing uninhabitable dwellings. The ordinance would provide for a procedure that would give the property owner notice and time to address the problem before the county would take further action.

“This is not going to be that we identify a property and the next day we’ve got a bulldozer out there. We’re going to give the property owner some time to clean it up and do what he needs to do,” Gardner said. “If you live in a neighborhood and you live in a house of $250,000 or $300,000 and there’s a property right beside you that’s dilapidated and unkempt, what about your right to have your nice home there and that property next door is infringing on your right because it’s bringing your property value down? You can argue both sides of that.”

The ordinance failed by a 3-4 vote with Tucker, Gardner and Councilman Stephen Smoak voting to approve and Jones, Wise and councilmen Willie Mickle and C.R. Miles Jr. voting against.

Post-game brawl at Zemp under investigation

It should have been the perfect ending to a festive night at Zemp Stadium. A Camden High School (CHS) Bulldog football victory over once-beaten Dreher, which put them in a four-way tie atop the Region 4-AAA standings, came after a pre-game and halftime tribute to the school’s 1964 AAA state championship team.

Then, in the post-game, things became ugly.

In what is the usual post-game handshake between players from the two competing teams, things got completely out of control and turned into a full-scale brawl which led to, at least, CHS Principal Dan Matthews and two coaches sustaining injuries in trying to help calm the situation.

What appeared to take place in the line is a Dreher player flashing a signal on, at least, three occasions. When what appeared to be Camden tailback Kendrice Slater arrived near the player in question, several of the Dreher players turned back and formed a circle around and started beating at least Slater and possibly other Bulldog players. That led to the fight being taken in all different directions.

Among the injured was Matthews who, presumably, was hit by a player, knocking off Matthews’ glasses while leaving a nasty, bloody gash above and around his left eye. He, reportedly, later went to KershawHealth and received stitches.

Two Camden assistant coaches, Casey Faulkenberry and Kelvin Whitener, also came back to the CHS locker room with injuries; Faulkenberry with a large welt under his right eye and Whitener took a helmet to his right hand which had swelled up.

According to the South Carolina High School League rules, as per the organization’s Website, “Any post game unsportsmanlike activities that involve athletes, coaches and/or other school personnel while at the playing area” is subject to discipline by the HSL.

Man on horse-drawn carriage rolls through Kershaw County

Kershaw County motorists along U.S. 1 saw an unusual sight Oct. 10: a horse-drawn wagon rolling down the highway. Rodger Howell of Erin, Tenn., stopped for a conversation and said he, his two-horse team and dog have traveled much of the eastern United States, making friends all along the way.

Howell is a Vietnam veteran and said he has health issues related to Agent Orange, an herbicide chemical used in Vietnam to clear thick jungle overgrowth. He said he wasn’t traveling to promote a cause, but for a simple, personal reason.

“I don’t want to die on the porch,” Howell said. “We’re all going to die and if you’re not living right you’re going to get what you deserve. I left home August 5 of last year. I went from Tennessee to Michigan, then through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, back through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, north Florida and back up this way. Now I’m headed to Niagara Falls -- that’s as far as you can get in New York.”

In a tragic turn of events, Charlotte TV station WBTV reported Oct. 16 on its website Howell’s wagon was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer truck and destroyed in Monroe, N.C., just north of the North Carolina state line. The report said Howell and the animals were unhurt. Howell was taken to a Monroe hospital for an examination and released.

KershawHealth implements Ebola preparedness plan

As it does with any actual or potential public health emergency, KershawHealth has created policies and procedures for Ebola preparedness. In addition, the hospital is working closely with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the S.C. Hospital Association (SCHA) to amend its plan as necessary, and is continually updating and educating staff members.

“We take infection prevention and control, and public health, very seriously,” KershawHealth Infection Prevention and Control Director Paula Guild, MSN, RN, CIC, said, “and we have been thinking about and working on our preparedness since early August. We have an Ebola plan in place, and our staff has been trained on the proper procedures, and is being updated regularly. In addition, we would not hesitate to contact DHEC if we had any concerns about a patient.”

KershawHealth has already begun implementing key portions of its Ebola plan, including:

• posting signs at all patient intake areas to alert patients to disclose travel to West Africa (particularly Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone), and indicating potential Ebola symptoms such as fever, severe vomiting or diarrhea, intense weakness or muscle aches, etc;

• providing in-service education on Ebola for personnel in patient intake positions, including the Emergency Department, EMS, nursing, registration and others;

• ensuring adequate inventory of PPE (personal protective equipment) and training appropriate personnel on the proper use of such equipment;

• identifying potential isolation rooms and appropriate isolation and infection prevention procedures to be used if necessary; and

• implementing daily briefings of appropriate staff members to keep them apprised of the evolving situation.

Other portions of the plan will be implemented if and when they become necessary.

Naturally, KershawHealth is monitoring Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DHEC reports daily for any new updates related to Ebola preparedness. As public health officials often stress, training and education are the best way to maintain an adequate level of readiness for any emergency.

Separate football coach, AD jobs to cost $10,500 extra

It would have cost just a little more than an additional $10,500 at each Kershaw County School District (KCSD) high school to split the duties of athletic director (AD) and head football coach. That’s according to information given by KCSD Director of Public Services Duane Pate to the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees at its meeting Oct. 21.

The additional cost to separate the AD and head football coach positions appeared in a memorandum Pate provided trustees. In the memo, Pate showed that a combined AD/football coach with a master’s degree and 14 years of experience would earn a base 190-day teacher salary of $49,802. Add in contract days, AD and head football coach supplements (both based on nine years experience), plus retirement and benefits and the total cost of the combined position is $94,853.

By separating the positions, the AD would have earned $86,127. The head football coach would have “assumed” the salary of one full-time equivalent, which was not listed in the example. Added to that salary, however, would have been $19,258 in contract days, head football coach supplement, retirement and benefits. That, plus the $86,127 for a separate AD would come to $105,385 -- or $10,532 in additional cost above the $94,853 salary paid to the combined AD/football coach.

Board Chair Mara Jones said the board was going to have to make a decision on how this could impact the district’s budget.

“Because we are talking about equity and fairness, that will be the first fiscal impact,” Jones said. “And unless we take it out of general funds, maintenance and teacher salary we have to figure out where that money comes from. We’ve got probably the most dedicated staff members in our coaching areas as well as our principals and you all don’t get compensated for what you do and we know that -- we just are limited in the resources and have to jump off somewhere first.”

At a later meeting, the board voted to keep the positions combined.

FAC responds to censorship claims

The Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County responded to claims of censorship after the owner of a Columbia art gallery issued a press release following the opening of an exhibit in Camden.

“Under pressure from at least one board member and supporters, the leadership of the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County … insisted (Oct. 22) that two paintings in its current exhibition be removed from the show,” Wim Roefs, owner of Columbia’s if Art Gallery, claimed in a press release issued Oct24.

The paintings were by Columbia artists Michaela Pilar Brown and Tonya Gregg as part of the Body & Soul: Michaela Pilar Brown, Tonya Gregg & Leo Twiggs” exhibition.

Roefs said he removed the paintings on the afternoon of Oct. 23 after consulting with the artists, prior to the exhibit’s opening reception. In their place, he said, he hung a sign informing viewers that the previously installed paintings were removed at the FAC’s insistence. He also placed a pedestal for each painting with an envelope containing an image of what he called the “censored” works of art. He said the envelope warned visitors they can view the image “at your own risk.”

Roefs said there were no problems with the opening Oct. 23 reception, which he characterized as “delightful.” He said people “loved” the exhibition, but claimed many patrons were disappointed, “even outraged” they couldn’t see the removed artwork.

“Rather than take down the whole exhibition or even just all the works by the two artists in question, we decided to remove the paintings and replace them with a sign explaining the art installed there was removed at the insistence of the Fine Arts Center,” Roefs said. “I don’t know, of course, whether the center will leave the signs up and leave the envelopes with the images of the two paintings. They did during the reception last night.”

FAC Executive Director Kristin Cobb said FAC leadership “certainly understood” the show’s content “explored more complex subject matter.” She said after the full exhibit was installed, concerns were raised about a piece prominently hung on the back gallery hall, in addition to another piece. There were, presumably, “Cocking Crow” and “Shook.”

“Our gallery exhibitions are viewed by many in the community, including families, and this was a balance agreed upon to still feature the work and talented artists but show some sensitivity to the patrons,” Cobb said.

She said the FAC previously featured works by another artist in the exhibit, Leo Twiggs, on numerous occasions.

November

KH board could choose strategic partner Monday

About a dozen representatives from Duke LifePoint (DLP) arrived at KershawHealth’s Health Resource Center (HRC) late on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 4 to propose a possible strategic partnership with the local public hospital. That 10- to 12-strong contingent numbered about twice that of Capella Healthcare, which made a similar presentation to the KershawHealth Board of Trustees on Oct. 27 at the Elgin Outpatient/Urgent Care Center.

The Nov. 4 midday meeting was specially called for the express purpose of hearing DLP’s presentation. Like the Capella presentation, DLP’s was presented in executive session. The presentation lasted nearly three hours. Capella’s Oct. 27 presentation lasted about two hours.

In meetings leading up to the presentations, trustees indicated a desire to vote in November and no later than sometime in December. Time is not necessarily of the immediate essence, but neither could KershawHealth afford -- based on administrators’ own reports -- to take too long to come to a decision.

The administration’s recommendation to seek out strategic partners, and the board’s endorsement of that strategy, led to the Capella and DLP presentations. Several trustees at various meetings voiced concerns that entering into either a major joint venture or even a merger would mean a loss of local control. Both Capella and DLP are headquartered near Nashville, Tenn.; both are for-profit companies. Other trustees, however, have pointed out at those same meetings that KershawHealth had to do something to save its more than 100-year tradition of serving the county’s healthcare needs.

The decision to partner with Capella and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) was made in December.

Man reports theft of $50,000 table lamp from grandmother

A Camden man called the Camden Police Department (CPD) on Nov. 2 to report his mother for allegedly taking a table lamp reportedly valued at $50,000 from his grandmother’s Camden home.

The man told police he has power of attorney over his 85-year-old grandmother’s financial and medical affairs. He said he noticed the lamp was missing after his mother came to visit. The man also said his mother told him she had taken it and was going back to her home in Summerville.

The report described the lamp and said the victim did not give her daughter permission to take it. She told officers it was worth $50,000, but also said she had not had it appraised.

Graham, Davis win Camden City Council seats

Jeffrey Graham, the former mayor of Camden who lost a reelection bid two years ago, rejoined Camden City Council in December, this time as a councilman. Deborah Davis, currently chair of the Camden Parks and Trees Commission, took a seat on council for the first time.

Of the three candidates for the two open seats -- being vacated by councilmen Walter Long and Willard Polk -- Davis came out on top with an unofficial total of 1,564 votes. Graham followed with 1,501 while political newcomer Bob Williams trailed with 1,368.

KCSO investigates Lugoff arson cases -- Deputies interview ‘person of interest’

The Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), Lugoff Fire-Rescue (LF-R) and S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) joined forces to investigate two suspicious fires in Lugoff that were determined to be arsons. The KCSO sought a “person of interest” thought to have information about the two fires. On the afternoon of Nov. 6, Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews said that person had contacted law enforcement.

LF-R Chief Dennis Ray reported Nov. 5 the first fire occurred around 8:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at a home on U.S. 1 near Richardson Boulevard. Ray said the wood-framed dwelling had heavy fire and smoke when fire crews arrived, but the two occupants had escaped safely. Blaney, Pine Grove and Doby's Mill fire departments assisted the LF-R. Ray said since the house was wood, it took an hour to extinguish the blaze and fire personnel were at the scene until around 1:30 a.m.

The second call came in around 3:30 a.m. Nov. 5 for a mobile home on Wildwood Lane near Whitehead Road. Ray said firemen found fire and smoke showing in one room of the mobile home and were able to quench the fire quickly. No injuries were reported in either call.

Matthews said Nov. 6 the first fire destroyed the possessions of an elderly woman who was a victim of mistaken identity.

Jackson Teen Center officially opens doors

The official opening of the Jackson Teen Center (JTC) had more to do with the keeping of a promise.

Seven years ago in December (2014), a Camden High School student, Michael Smith, died as the result of a gunshot wound in Kershaw County’s only gang-relating shooting. Michael’s death shocked Camden and Kershaw County, ultimately culminating in the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) receiving a multi-million dollar grant from the federal government’s Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) initiative.

While the grant covered a variety of programs -- ranging from job training to mentoring -- it did not fund a “bricks and mortar” solution: a safe place for teens to go after school; a place where they could be free of the pressure to join a gang or engage in other risky activities.

Brian Mayes -- known as “Mr. BB” in the community -- is one of the men who made a promise to create such a place somehow, someday. That day came last summer when the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands made Mayes the JTC’s director. That day came again Nov. 5 with the official ribbon cutting at what was once Jackson High School.

“We’ve had more than 200 kids come here,” Mayes said, reporting that JTC students’ KCSD report carts showed them making a “B” average.

They were in that safe place Mr. BB had promised seven years ago.

KCSD earns ‘Excellent’ Absolute rating on state report card

The Kershaw County School District (KCSD) earned an “Excellent” Absolute rating on state report cards issued Nov. 17 by the S.C. Department of Education.

“This is wonderful, especially when coupled with our recent news of a ‘B’ on our federal ESEA rating,” KCSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan said. “This is a tremendous return on the dollar. Our schools are producing outstanding results, and I am extremely grateful to the hard work of our students, families, teachers and administrators.”

Compared to other Midlands districts, Kershaw County’s “Excellent” Absolute rating and “Good” Growth ratings were the highest in the region. It’s federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) ratings ranked the district third in the region, only slightly below Lexington/Richland School District 5 and Lexington School District 1.

KCSD had no Title I schools named as Priority Schools for being the lowest performing.

Voters reject KCSD referenda

To the dismay of some Kershaw County residents and the pleasure of others, voters rejected to Kershaw County School District (KCSD) referenda that would have launched $130 million in facilities projects and levied a 1-cent sales tax to pay back bonds that would have been issued to fund those projects.

According to the Kershaw County Voter Registration Office, 9,097 people voted “no” in answer to a question on the bond issue for construction; 8,755 people voted “yes.” The sales tax question received 10,864 “no” votes and 7,475 “yes” votes.

“We knew it would be close,” KCSD Executive Director of Operations Billy Smith said.

In a statement emailed to the C-I on Wednesday, Nov. 5, Morgan said the challenge for the board was how to address these projects in another way.

“I expect the board to give me some direction at its next meeting as to possible options,” Morgan said. “For example, using the board’s 8-percent authority to raise property taxes to fund facilities improvements.”

Morgan said he was hopeful that voters who did not support the referenda would now “step up with realistic solutions.”

The Nov. 4 General Election also saw Julian Burns elected as Kershaw County Council chairman, Dennis Arledge elected to represent District 5 on county council and Debra Branham voted in as Kershaw County Probate Judge. Tom Gardner was reelected to his District 6 seat on council.

Camden celebrates completion of wastewater treatment plant

About 50 people spent some time Nov. 13 to help the city of Camden celebrate the official grand opening of its new wastewater treatment plant. The plant, which cost around $35 million to build, actually began operating in late-February of 2014. The city chose to wait until late in the year to have a ribbon cutting ceremony and offer tours of the plant while it worked to drain the old plant’s remaining lagoon. The new plant replaces one built in 1979.

After welcoming several VIPs, Camden City Manager Mel Pearson reminded those assembled the process to build the plant started back in 2009.

“In late 2009, we hired a man named Sam Davis. Sam was our project leader. He had some experience in doing this sort of thing and we were glad to get him,” Pearson said.

Camden’s wastewater treatment plant initially chose Wedeco’s TAK55 UV (ultraviolet) disinfection system. Halfway through the plant’s construction, Wedeco released its newer Duron UV system and Camden became the first site in the world to incorporate the new technology.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Maintenance Manager Richard Kirkland, who led one of several hour-long tours of the facility following the ribbon cutting, said the entire process of treating wastewater entering the facility takes about 25 to 30 hours. Using the old lagoon process, he said, would have taken 25 to 30 days.

December

Convicted Camden accountant shot dead by Marshals

A Camden accountant convicted earlier in 2014 of stealing money from a client’s estate in order to maintain an extravagant lifestyle is dead, shot and killed by U.S. Marshals the morning of Dec. 5.

Kershaw County Coroner Johnny Fellers confirmed Dec. 5 U.S. Marshals shot Joseph Glenn Folsom Jr. at his home on Blue Heron Lane on Lake Wateree, resulting in Folsom’s death. Fellers said the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) was investigating the shooting. He also said an autopsy of Folsom’s body was performed Dec. 6 in Newberry. Fellers declined to provide details of the autopsy results.

Charge dropped against Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr.

The Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office (CSSO) and 3rd District Solicitor’s Office dropped a charge against Kershaw County Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr. in connection with his arrest for allegedly unlawfully selling a truck and trailer. Tucker’s attorney, Reggie Lloyd, said a charge of “unlawful disposal of personal property subject to security interest” was dropped.

Tucker turned himself in to the CCSO on Oct. 29 after he learned an arrest warrant had been issued there. A Lugoff businessman accused Tucker of selling a truck and trailer he said Tucker had provided as security for a $20,000 loan in 2008. He alleged Tucker sold the property in Clarendon County.

Tucker’s accuser made a similar complaint earlier in 2014 to the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office which, due to Tucker being an elected county official, referred the investigation to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). In October, Lloyd said SLED concluded there had been no criminal actions by Tucker and if his accuser had any claim against Tucker it was a civil, not criminal matter.

Tucker said he was not surprised the charge was dropped and he and Lloyd are considering the available options regarding the accusation.

“We’re letting the wheels of justice continue to turn,” Tucker said. “When you’ve done nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Miller won’t go to trial until February 2016

The man accused of kidnapping a woman in Chesterfield County, sexually assaulting her there, bringing her into Kershaw County, sexually assaulting her again and then killing her with a baseball bat three years ago will not face a jury until Feb. 9, 2016.

Nickolas Jermaine Miller, 26, continues to be held at the Kershaw County Detention Center where Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) deputies booked him during the early morning hours of Dec. 27, 2011. Unless he pleas earlier, he would not go to trial for four years, one month, one week and five days after his arrest for killing 30-year-old Beverly Hope Melton.

Dec. 18, the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office -- which is seeking the death penalty against Miller -- confirmed a circuit court judge set the Feb. 2016 trial date during a hearing at the Kershaw County Courthouse on Dec. 15. Another circuit court judge placed a gag order on the case in Aug. 2013. With the order in place, the solicitor’s office would only confirm the date of the trial, but made no other comment.

Online records show law enforcement stopped Miller for speeding at no more than 10 mph over the speed limit somewhere in Kershaw County on Dec. 2, 2011, just weeks before Melton’s murder. A county magistrate imposed a fine of $81.50.

Shelter from the Storm opens latest transitional housing

United Way of Kershaw County’s newest men’s shelter is nearing completion thanks to the help of volunteers and the donations of furniture and household items from community members.

The house was acquired through a donation to Food for the Soul.

“This house is a part of Shelter from the Storm. We had a nice donor in the community that gave Food for the Soul this house, and then Food for the Soul kindly gave it to us,” United Way of Kershaw County President Donny Supplee said.

The purpose of the transitional housing shelter is to provide residents with an opportunity to get established to be able to move into permanent housing. Since the shelter is not funded by the federal government, “(Residents of the shelter) could technically stay for two years but we would like them to stay for six months. We don’t want them to get comfortable, we want them to be ready and prepared to move out … We push them in that direction and help them in that direction. Because of some of the other grants we have, sometimes we are able to help them pay deposits and other things.” Supplee said.

The first resident of the house moved in the day before Thanksgiving and the other three residents are expected to move in during January 2015.

Supplee said homes such as this are needed in Kershaw County to assist people with getting back on their feet. This can be especially difficult for people with criminal records.

“There is no perfect homeless person. They are there for a reason and it’s going to take a while to turn them around. We want to love them, but hold them accountable,” Supplee said.

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