Jonathan Vickery

Family, cats safe after fire

Lint in a dryer is being blamed for a fire that has displaced a Barnwell family.

Firefighters from the Barnwell Rural, Hilda and Long Branch fire departments responded to 157 Freedom Road for a mobile home fire on Sunday, Sept. 17 around 11 a.m.

Barnwell Rural Fire Chief Jessie Elmore said the dryer had been left running while the family was away. The fire started due to lint in the dryer vent. Fire shot out the vent and spread up the outer wall where it caught the siding on fire and spread to the attic through the eaves, he said.

Williston First Baptist Church receives award for supporting schools

A Williston church was honored by the State Department of Education for supporting the town’s schools.

First Baptist Church of Williston received the 2017 Civic Organization Volunteer Award from the State Board of Education and S.C. Department of Education “for their support of Kelly Edwards Elementary School with efforts that promote student achievement, recognition, and teacher appreciation,” according to the award they received during a special celebration in Columbia on August 8.

Dozens ‘walk by faith’ at 3K

While approximately 40 people took part in the inaugural Walk by Faith 3K, all eyes were on King-Aaden Rivera as he took three steps to mark the three-year anniversary of a wreck he was in which he was critically injured.

This would have been impossible three years ago, but the six-year-old has come a long way since the accident.

The event raised money to fund scholarships for seniors in the Boyz2Men program, which was started by King-Aaden’s father Marcus.

YMCA campers have fun-filled summer of learning

It’s fun to camp at the Y-M-C-A!

That’s not exactly how the lyrics go to the Village People’s 1978 song “YMCA”, but the statement sums up how campers felt during the Barnwell County Family YMCA’s second annual summer camp during June and July. Erin Ouzts and Caitlyn Williams led the camp, which had a different theme each week and included a variety of fun and educational activities.

“It was a blessing for us,” said Matt Mullen, the executive director of the Barnwell YMCA, adding how there were no behavioral problems.

D45 principals provide updates

The Sept. 14 Barnwell District 45 School Board meeting started with a reception for new employees.

After enjoying refreshments, board members all expressed their excitement to have the new employees as part of the district.

“Tonight is a very exciting night,” said Superintendent Crissie Stapleton.

The four principals then provided updates on the first month of school and their goals for the year.

Two schools receive bomb threats

Investigations are underway after bomb threats were made against two area high schools around the same time Thursday afternoon.

Barnwell High School received a bomb threat on Sept. 21 at 12:25 p.m. While Barnwell County Sheriff Ed Carroll would not say exactly where the call was received, he said it was not called into the school or the 911 dispatch center. Around the same time, a bomb threat was called into the Allendale-Fairfax High School office, according to Allendale County Sheriff Tom Carter.

D29 superintendent resigns three weeks after being placed on leave

Williston District 29’s superintendent has resigned, just three weeks after she was placed on leave following the discovery of a tape recorder.

The school board unanimously accepted the immediate resignation of Dr. Missoura Ashe after meeting in closed session with their lawyers during the Sept. 20 meeting.

“The board and Dr. Ashe believe this decision is in our mutual best interest, the best interest of students and the best interest of the Williston-Elko communities,” according to a public statement provided after the meeting.

Animal Advocates take in four-legged evacuees for second year in a row

Forty pets from Beaufort County sought refuge in Barnwell from Hurricane Irma.

The Animal Advocates Friends for Life Center on Highway 3 took in approximately 30 dogs and eight cats on Sept. 9 that were being boarded with Tara Farmer, a former Barnwell resident who now lives in Beaufort and operates Paws Hotel and Treats. Most of the animals belonged to first responders, members of the military and healthcare workers who were unable to evacuate due to their jobs.

Residents asked to ‘Walk by Faith’ on Sept. 16

The Rivera family's journey over the past three years shows that nothing is “impossible”, especially with the help of faith and family.

King-Aaden Rivera, the fourth of five children of Marcus and Shonda Rivera of Barnwell, was involved in a serious car accident as he and his three cousins went to school on September 15, 2014. King-Aaden suffered severe head trauma and had to be revived two or three times in the first several hours at the hospital. At one point doctors told the family they didn't think the three-year-old would survive.

D29 board receives legal advice as superintendent remains on leave

After receiving legal advice, the Williston District 29 School Board remains tight-lipped about why Superintendent Dr. Missoura Ashe is on leave.

During a special-called Sept. 5 meeting, the board met in closed session to receive legal advice and discuss an employment matter related to the superintendent. No action was taken after the board returned to open session, but Chairwoman Ferlecia Cuthbertson issued a statement afterwards.

District 19 ‘blessed’ with tech upgrades

August 14 was a night of updates for the Barnwell District 19 School Board.

During their first meeting of the 2017-2018 school year, the board heard from various department heads.


Superintendent Dr. Shawn Johnson said the district has received a lot of technology upgrades recently.

“We’ve been very blessed in the last year or two,” said Daphne Wood, the district’s director of technology.

Murder trial postponed

A murder trial has been postponed due to an allegation of witness intimidation.

Demontay Markeith Payne was supposed to stand trial on August 23 for the May 23, 2015 shooting death of DeVante Quintell Odom on Emerald Lane in Barnwell.

However, Judge Jack Early ordered the case be “continued” until the next term of court as the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office and State Law Enforcement Division investigate a potential case of witness intimidation.

Prayer sustains officer

“In the name of Jesus, you will live and not die.”

Those are the words Estill police officer Quincy Smith heard after being shot while on duty on January 1, 2016. The prayer was said by a cousin, who rushed to the scene after hearing about the shooting on her police scanner.

Smith recounted that day for students at the Barnwell County Career Center on Thursday, August 24.

He woke up, prayed and headed to the police department before starting his shift. He learned there were no major incidents the night before.

Football ticket prices to rise in Williston, teacher lunch price increase considered

The Williston District 29 School Board approved an increase in football game ticket prices.

Williston-Elko High School Athletic Director Derek Youngblood asked for the $1 increase after attending a region meeting where he learned other area schools either currently charge $7 or will soon go to $7. WEHS previously charged $6, but the increase makes tickets $7. Student prices will remain at $5.

‘Countdown to Kindergarten’ prepares kids for school

School officially started August 17, but 20 youngsters counted down to kindergarten throughout the summer.

The students were part of Countdown to Kindergarten, a state-funded program through First Steps. Locally, seven students from Barnwell Primary School, six from Kelly Edwards Elementary in Williston and seven from Macedonia Elementary in Blackville participated in the program.

Back-to-School: D19 principals share goals

Macedonia Elementary School

Macedonia Elementary School is focused on student achievement for all students.

MES Principal Teresa Brown said she is looking forward to seeing the “evidence of success” for the 2016-2017 school year as last year’s standardized test scores are released. Then she and her staff will be able to work to improve student achievement by the time students complete this school year in May 2018.

Barnwell County Career Center ready to train

New curriculum changes and resources will assist the Barnwell County Career Center in meeting its goal.

The career center, which includes students from all local high schools, offers 11 programs, from agriculture and drafting to cosmetology.

“We want to train as many people as possible to be employable or ready for higher education,” said Sam McKay, the director of the career center.

The biggest curriculum change affects students in the health science program, which is led by Debbie Dicks and Dawn Wilbanks.


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