David Purtell - Staff Writer

Drought update

Rain from Hurricane Isaac is bringing much needed relief to parts of the country, including South Carolina.
Much of the country has been in a drought the entire year, and Barnwell County had its drought status upgraded to severe July 19 by the state's Drought Response Committee. It was the only county to have its status changed. But since then, the county has seen plenty of rainfall.

Chamber hires new director

The Barnwell County Chamber of Commerce has a new executive director.
Angie Boyles was selected last week by the chamber's board to fill the position left vacant by Dana Bell. Bell joined the new Darnell Initiative, which focuses on mentoring young people in the area, in August.
Boyles said she is excited to be a part of the chamber and is looking forward to helping businesses in Barnwell County grow and bringing new ones to the area.
"I‘m very interested in the future progress of the county," she said.
Boyles has lived in Barnwell for more than 20 years.

Voter ID law challenged in federal court

South Carolina's strict voter ID law was challenged last week in a federal court in Washington, D.C.
Lawyers with the Justice Department squared off against S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson and other lawyers representing the state in front of three federal judges who will rule on the case.
At the heart of the arguments in court is whether the law disproportionally affects minorities and whether those unable to obtain a valid photo ID will be allowed to vote, according to reports from the AP.

One files in Kline race

As the town council filing deadline closed Aug. 24, one candidate emerged for the open seat in Kline.

Kimberly Cave, who is a sales representative for The People-Sentinel, filed her candidacy Friday.

Since no one else filed, Cave will likely be awarded the seat without an election unless a write-in candidate files by Sept. 10. If there is a write-in candidate, an election will be held Oct. 9.

Blackville heading in ‘right path’ financially

Blackville Mayor Michael Beasley said the town came out on top with its general fund budget during the 2011-12 fiscal year at town council's regular meeting Aug. 20.
The town was $3,288.96 in the black at the end of the year.
Beasley said he was proud of the council and city employees for their hard work to help get things turned around.

Late ACI officer honored by team, inmates

Friends and co-workers of the late David Washington gathered at the home of his wife in Barnwell on Friday to present her with a gift honoring her husband.
Washington died of a heart attack in April. He was 47.
He was a correctional officer at the Allendale Correctional Institution in Fairfax and was part of the situation control team (SITCON). Members of the team have special training to deal with various types of incidents that occur at the prison. Team members presented his wife, Stephanie, with a portrait of Washington that was drawn by an inmate.

Williston town council considers rezoning request

Williston Town Council held a public hearing regarding a petition to rezone an area of land. The regularly scheduled meeting was held Aug. 13.
Foy Dyches would like the land, which fronts Springfield Road and Elko Street, rezoned for a funeral home he wants to build. Dyches wants the 2.16 acres of land to be rezoned from neighborhood commercial to highway commercial.

Second suspect arrested

A second arrest has been made in connection with a shooting that occurred Aug. 4 in Barnwell.
Barnwell City Police Chief Todd Gantt said James Badger III was arrested Friday evening Aug. 9 and charged with attempted murder. He is currently being held at the Barnwell County Detention Center.
Jeremy Joseph Hammonds was arrested Aug. 4 and also charged with attempted murder. He was also charged with discharging a firearm into a motor vehicle.
Badger's address was listed as Graniteville.

Public hearing set to discuss tight budget year

Barnwell City Council will hold a public hearing Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss its 2013 budget and the steps it's taking to balance it.
The preliminary budget amounts to $4,508,340. It includes $2,908,740 from the general fund and $1,502,000 from the water and sewer fund. The rest comes from local accommodations and hospitality tax revenues totaling $265,800. But $168,200 will have to be transferred from the water and sewer, and hospitality and accommodations tax funds to the general fund to help balance the budget.

Barnwell moves forward with public works fee

Barnwell City Council agreed to move forward with a new public works fee at its Aug. 6 meeting.
The fee will add $7 per month to the garbage, water and sewer bill for each residential and commercial structure using the city services.
The proposed fee would raise $176,400 per year for the city.
City Administrator John Zawacki proposed the fee at a July 23 meeting after the fee was dropped from consideration in the early spring.
A public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 10 for discussion on the proposed city budget.

Concert to raise money for diabetes research

One mother hopes a night of music and dancing will help find a cure for juvenile diabetes.
A concert will be held at the Williston Auditorium Saturday, Aug. 11 to raise money for juvenile diabetes research.
Emily Wiles is organizing the concert. Her son Carson, 10, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in February.
Wiles said it has been a struggle since the diagnosis, but that "we're doing our best." Carson has been wonderful in dealing with the disease. "He's a champ," she said.

Relay for Life seeks committee volunteers

The American Cancer Society is seeking volunteers to help organize the 2013 Barnwell County Relay for Life.
Stephanie Reely, a community manager with the ACS, said anyone in the community can get involved. She said she wants to have a team of 15 to 20 people who represent the diversity of the county.
The relay will be held in April of next year.
There is no set-time commitment for volunteers and several positions need to be filled, Reely said.

$650,000 grant to train local welders

A local economic development group has been chosen to receive more than half a million dollars by the federal government.

SouthernCarolina Alliance will receive $650,000 in their bid to build an advanced-welding training program in Allendale County.

SouthernCarolina Alliance was one of 13 organizations that was awarded money as part of the Obama Administration's Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge. The challenge was created to promote job growth in rural parts of the country.

Kay Maxwell, vice president of SCA, said she is excited to win the money.

Two gunmen, one injured

One man has been charged with attempted murder, and another has a warrant for his arrest after a shooting in Barnwell, according to Police Chief Todd Gantt.

Jeremy Joseph Hammonds, 26, of 217 Elberta Circle, Barnwell, has been arrested and charged with attempted murder and discharging a firearm into a motor vehicle.
A warrant has been issued for James Badger III, 18, of Graniteville, whose location is unknown, Gantt said.

Gantt said that the two men got into an argument outside of Hammonds' home about 5:10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4.

Local artist's work will be on display at museum

Local photographer Melissa Roberts will have her photographs on display throughout August at the Effie Mae Fuller Center.

Roberts enjoys documenting the beauty and history of South Carolina. She photographs churches, mills, plantation homes, railroads and other historical sites. Her portfolio also includes photos of weddings, athletes, children and families, and school events.

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