David Purtell - Staff Writer

SRS funding still an issue

Hundreds of employee furloughs at the Savannah River Site may be avoided if committees in Congress sign off on a $79 million reprogramming request.
If committees in both the House of Representatives and Senate approve request, the Department of Energy will be able to transfer money from another project to SRS, which was hit hard by the $100 million in cuts after the sequestration process began in March.
There is a May 22 deadline for the funds to be made available or the furloughs will begin June 1.

D-45 school plans focus on student achievement

Barnwell School District 45 principals presented updates to each school's strategic plan during the regular board meeting April 25.
The plans layout areas each school wants to improve in and focus on during the coming year. Developing the plan is a major process involving teachers, administrators and parents. A district planning session was held in March.
Crystal Stephens, the district's director of curriculum, said the number one priority during the process is student success.

How safe is the county?

In 2011, Barnwell County's violent crime rate was higher than the state as a whole, according to a report published by the State Law Enforcement Division in March.
The data shows Barnwell had a violent crime rate of 78.7 per 10,000 people. The state's rate was 59.59. Nationally, the violent crime rate was 38.6 per 10,000 people. Statewide, violent crime was down 28.6 percent from 2002.
There were 176 violent crimes reported in Barnwell County, with a population around 22,000, in 2011.

County is drought free

South Carolina is drought free for the first time since December 2009, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
The department's Drought Response Committee met April 24 and downgraded 22 counties from "moderate" drought status to "normal." The other 24 counties were downgraded from "incipient" to "normal."

Haley announces SRR partnership

Barnwell County School districts are getting free help from Savannah River Remediation in order to cut cost and improve education.
Engineers with SRR will work with the county's schools to save energy, streamline processes and increase efficiency. Money saved will go toward helping advance student's education.
The announcement came April 17 at the Barnwell County Career Center. The county's three district superintendents, Gov. Nikki Haley and SRR officials were in attendance.

204 DARE to be drug free

The D.A.R.E graduates of Barnwell Elementary put on a show for their parents and families Friday.
The 204 fifth graders sang, danced and laughed during the ceremony to end their Drug Abuse Resistance Education. School Resource Officer Darlene Cook, with the Barnwell County Sheriff's Office, handed out prizes to the essay winners and read off all the graduates' names. She said the "children did a wonderful job" and that she was pleased with the parents' support.

Williston increasing revenue, lowering water rates

The town of Williston took action to increase revenue and lower residents' water bills during its regular meeting April 8.
Council unanimously passed the second reading of a pair of ordinances regarding a fee in lieu of taxes for two companies expanding their operations in the town. The companies are Dayco and Crane.
Dayco's expansion is expected to bring a $3.6 million investment and 15 full-time jobs, according to the ordinance. Dayco makes automotive parts.

Williston hires K. Cook

Williston has hired a former Aiken city employee to be the town's assistant administrator.
Kenneth Cook will work alongside interim administrator Roger LeDuc while learning the job. After several months, town council will decide if Cook is ready to become the full-time administrator, LeDuc said in an email.
Cook will begin working 10 hours a week at $40 an hour. His hours will gradually increase while LeDuc's decrease. The transition is expected to be completed by the end of the year, LeDuc said.

Run/walk raises funds

The annual Susie Rosier 5K Run/Walk was held Saturday in Barnwell.
The yearly fundraiser benefits the Barnwell County Animal Shelter. Participants ran from Veterans Park around Lake Edgar Brown and back to the park.
After the race, awards were presented to winners in several age groups.
The overall winner was Lari Gooding with a time of 21:15. Carolyn McCarty had the best female time at 24:28. "Joe" Solomons, a Cocker Spaniel, was the first dog to cross the finish line. He and his owner, Bobby Solomons, had a time of 24:21.

Trip to the Masters stirs joy, memories

How do you describe a trip to Augusta National Golf Club during Masters week? Here's a hint: it doesn't take too many words.

"Euphoric" is how first-time visitor Kurt Gies described it. Gies was there with his brother, Eric, and mother, Jimie, who in December was in intensive care in a hospital.

But on Wednesday the Daytona Beach, Fla., native walked all 18 holes at Augusta during the final practice round before the tournament began Thursday. She even met NFL Hall-of-Fame receiver Lynn Swann and got to hold his Super Bowl rings.

Police searching for vehicle after hit-and-run

Barnwell Police are looking for the driver of a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run Wednesday night.

The incident happened around 8:30 p.m. at the intersection of Marlboro Avenue and Main Street. Sharon Vickery was walking her dog in the cross walk when she was struck by a Ford Expedition (possibly dark green or burgundy in color), according to the police report.

Vickery fell and hit her head. She was taken to MCG Hospital in Augusta and was treated for a laceration to the head and a concussion. She was released today.

Williston hires Aiken native as assistant administrator

Williston has hired a former Aiken city employee to be the town's assistant administrator.

Kenneth Cook will work alongside interim administrator Roger LeDuc while learning the job. After several months, town council will decide if Cook is ready to become the full-time administrator, LeDuc said in an email. His first day will be April 15.

Cook will begin working 10 hours a week at $40 an hour. His hours will gradually increase while LeDuc's decrease. The transition is expected to be completed by the end of the year, LeDuc said.

Rosier 5K set

The 7th annual Susie Rosie Character of Fitness 5k Run/Walk is Saturday morning, April 13.
The event is a fundraiser for the Barnwell County Animal Shelter. Benefits go toward providing low/no cost neutering and spaying.
The race begins at 8 a.m. at Veterans Park by the airport and goes around Lake Edward Brown. The awards ceremony will be around 9:15 a.m. at the park.

Crime concerns residents, Barnwell police

Crime was the major topic at the April 1 regular Barnwell City Council meeting.
For the second time this year, a resident expressed concern to council about gunfire at the Big T club near Marlboro and Church streets.
The resident, who asked for their name not to be published, said there is always random gunfire outside the club on weekend nights. The resident said they feared a bullet will hit their house since they live nearby.

Williston hires “applicant A” as assistant town admin

Williston is one step closer to filling its vacant town administrator position.
Council members voted unanimously to hire "applicant A" as assistant town administrator during the regular council meeting Monday. Council did not immediately release the person's name because the individual had not yet been notified. Council discussed the hire in closed session, then held the vote in open session.

Man sentenced two years after wreck

A Williston man was sentenced April 2 in Barnwell County Court for the death of his cousin.
Eric Eubanks, 21, offered a plea of guilty to one charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Jonathan Myers of Barnwell. The plea was part of a deal brokered between Eubanks' lawyer and the solicitor's office. Eubanks was originally charged with reckless homicide.
Eubanks offered a plea because he felt he could not win a jury trial, his lawyer, William Kemp, said.

Gym has new location

The Generations Unlimited fitness center has a new location in downtown Barnwell.
The 24-hour gym's new home is at 245 Main Street next to the post office. The old location was across from the airport.
The gym has treadmills, free weights and other equipment. There is also a room with equipment designed for children ages 6 to 12.
A membership is $35 a month, and people do not have to sign a contract. The gym is staffed in the afternoons and has two personal trainers.
Staff hours are: Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m.

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