Jonathan Vickery

Towns join lawsuit over withheld funding

Two Barnwell County towns have joined Southeastern Housing & Community Development as plaintiffs in a lawsuit over withheld funding to demolish dilapidated homes.

Southeastern Housing & Community Development (formerly Southeastern Housing Foundation) filed a lawsuit August 18 against S.C. State Housing Finance and Development Authority (the Authority) and S.C. Housing Corporation (SCHC). The lawsuit alleges the Authority withheld $2,310,000 in federal funding through the Neighborhood Initiative Program (NIP) from the Barnwell-based Southeastern Housing.

Excavation site coming to career center

A temporary excavation site will soon be installed at the Barnwell County Career Center.

Jessica Phillips, the outreach coordinator for Savannah River Archaeological Research Program, requested use of the school’s property for a hands-on excavation program for local elementary school students.

“This activity allows students to experience the field work aspect of archaeology as well as encourages them to use their critical thinking skills,” said Phillips in her letter to the board.

WEMS principal on paid leave

Williston-Elko Middle School’s principal has been placed on paid administrative leave by District 29 Interim Superintendent Dr. Everette Dean. The People-Sentinel was contacted by a parent who received an alert message from the school stating WEMS Principal Greg Sweet was away from the building “for the time being”. After unsuccessfully trying to contact Williston District 29 School Board chairwoman Ferlecia Cuthbertson, the newspaper then contacted District 29 Interim Superintendent Dr. Everette Dean Jr. “There is an investigation going on regarding a matter.

Masons, Eastern Star honors 4 pioneers

As they celebrated their 73rd anniversary, Brickyard Lodge #55 and Pilgrim Chapter #7 remembered four members who paved the way for the organizations.

Brickyard Lodge #55 of Blackville honored fellow Masons Curtis Stephens of Williston, Charlie Minus of Blackville and Emmitt Odom Sr. of Blackville. Gattie Thomas of Blackville was recognized by Pilgrim Chapter #7 (Order of the Eastern Star) of Blackville. All four died in the past year and were pioneer members of the lodge/chapter.

McAlhaney part of Everest rescue

A Williston native was among eight U.S. airmen who helped rescue an Australian man from Mount Everest.

Frank Fiorillo, 60, and his wife Nonie, 56, were nine days into a trek in Nepal when they were descending from the Mount Everest Base Center on Oct. 11. They were having a nice trip, although it was very cold and snowy, conditions the couple doesn’t experience back home in Australia.

However, Frank soon stopped and very quickly became delirious and collapsed. His eyes rolled back in his head and he was unresponsive.

Polling place changing for Barnwell residents

Voters in the City of Barnwell will have a new polling place to report to next year.

The National Guard Armory on Marlboro Avenue in Barnwell has been the site voters in Barnwell Precincts 1-4 have voted at for decades. However, voters for those precincts will now go to the Barnwell Health Department/DHEC facility (11015 Ellenton Street/Hwy. 278) in the Airport Industrial Park.

Teen keeps her faith through cancer battle

A cancer diagnosis has not dampened a 14-year-old’s faith or smile.

Jenna Bodiford, a freshman at Barnwell High School, was diagnosed on September 18 with stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer made up of cells that normally develop into skeletal muscles.

Jenna and her family originally thought she had pulled a hamstring because she was having leg pain after exercising one day. Multiple doctors’ appointments left the family with no answers; however, a trip to an orthopedic doctor led to the cancer diagnosis, said her father, Brett Bodiford.

Community is key to solving opioid issue

With opioid use on the rise across the country, a group of community members is looking at how to address the problem in Barnwell County.

Pam Rush, director of prevention at the Axis 1 Center of Barnwell, was approached earlier this year by several community members who wanted to assist in efforts regarding the opioid abuse/overdose issue. In response, Axis 1 has formed a community workgroup called the Opioid Action Team to assess and identify strategies to address the issue and its impact on Barnwell County.

W-E band heading to state finals Oct. 28

The Williston-Elko Blue Devil marching band is headed to the state finals.

After placing sixth out of 11 bands in Chapin on Oct. 21 and receiving an excellent rating by the judges, the band has qualified to march for the state title on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in Batesburg.

“This has definitely been a very good season,” said band director Mark Romano of the latest award.

Williston in need of volunteer firefighters

The need for more firefighters is growing as the Williston Fire Department experiences more calls.

Fire Chief Milton Widener updated Williston Town Council on his department’s activities during the Oct. 9 council meeting.

“The Williston Fire Department has continued to do an outstanding job protecting the property of the citizens of Williston while operating with limited personnel and resources,” said Town Administrator Kenny Cook in a memo to council.

City makes offer on two Burr St. properties

The City of Barnwell is one step closer to having new police and fire departments after city council accepted counter offers from two property owners.

During council’s special-called Oct. 12 meeting they met in closed session to discuss the final offers on the two properties located at 125 and 150 Burr Street. Upon returning to open session, council voted to accept the counter offers made by the two owners. Mayor Edward Lemon then signed a contract.

Lambert retires from Farm Service Agency

Randy Lambert has retired from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) after 40 years of service.

Lambert had been the county executive director for the Barnwell County FSA office since August 1980 after previously working a few years in the Marion and Florence offices. He later took over for the Allendale County office, too, before the two offices merged a few years ago after the closure of the Allendale office.

Teen burned in house fire

A 13-year-old girl was injured during a fire that damaged her family’s home last week.

Evelyn Ford’s house at 80 Brown Street caught fire around 7:50 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12, although she was in Aiken visiting a relative at the time. However, some of her relatives, who also lived there, were home.

Williston bank raising money for breast cancer patients

First Citizens Bank of Williston is raising money to help those with breast cancer.

Pink boots are set up at each teller’s counter to collect monetary donations. All funds raised will go to SOS Lowcountry, an organization that seeks to enhance the quality of life for breast cancer patients in South Carolina.

“Our mission is to honor the spirit of Suzy McGrane by raising money and resources to assist and support breast cancer patients from diagnosis to remission,” according to the organization’s website.

Gertrude Aldrich celebrates 100th birthday

In her 100 years of life, Gertrude Vessie Morris Aldrich has never stopped learning or let life get her down.

The former Williston resident celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday, September 17, 2017 at the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Larry and Brenda Aldrich, in Williston. Dozens of her family and friends were in attendance.

“She is still just as spry as she’s always been,” said Larry Aldrich of his mother, who now resides at Harbor Chase, an assisted living home in Aiken.

Walters named D29 Teacher of the Year

Thirty-one years of dedicated service to students and athletes equaled a big honor for a long-time Williston-Elko educator.

Bernard Walters was named the Williston District 29 Teacher of the Year on Oct. 10 during a special celebration that also honored Kelly Edwards Elementary School Teacher of the Year Alyson Collins and Williston-Elko Middle School Teacher of the Year Samantha Wright. Each teacher of the year was selected by their peers before a group of judges named the district winner.

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