Jonathan Vickery

Bethany Baptist mission ‘trip’ helps those at home

Bethany Baptist Church members spent last week serving Barnwell County.

Approximately 40 members of all ages broke into different groups, including cleaning, home repair and yard crews. Several teenagers also provided free car washes to anyone in the community each day.

“Not only did they take the week off for vacation, but they paid to be here,” said Rev. Robert Altman of how his church believes in helping people. “Leadership is about doing.”

Career center hopeful for grant to pay for chiller

A new air-cooled chiller is being installed at the Barnwell County Career Center.

The 1988 model chiller, which cools the main building except for the office and auditorium, has had problems in recent years. The school has been spending an average of $10,000 to $12,000 a year on maintenance on the chiller, but it finally went out in May.

Barnwell Soccer Club concludes camp, looks forward to fall season

A native of England led an eight-week soccer camp for Barnwell Soccer Club.

The soccer performance camp was held in partnership with Coerver Coaching at Barnwell Soccer Club’s field in Snelling for youth between the ages of 8-16.

“This was a great way to learn the technical way of playing soccer, which is much more than kicking a ball around. They got a lot of soccer in this summer,” said Jerry Hodge, president of the Barnwell Soccer Club board.

Barnwell Recreation Dept. holds four camps

More than 50 youth participated in sports camps hosted by the City of Barnwell’s Parks and Recreation Department this summer.

Camps were held for tennis (ages 7 and up), basketball (ages 7-18), volleyball (age 7 and up) and football (ages 7-14). This year the city partnered with Barnwell High School for three of the four week-long camps as varsity coaches led the football, tennis and volleyball camps.

WEHS holds camps to inspire future athletes

Williston-Elko High School offered several athletic camps this summer to inspire future Blue Devils.

Camps were held throughout June and July for volleyball, cheerleading, football, girls and boys basketball, baseball and softball. The camps were aimed at younger children between the ages of 5 and 12.

“We wanted to give the kids something to do in the summer and spark an interest in sports in our school,” said WEHS Athletic Director Derek Youngblood. “My biggest thing is I wanted them to have a good time.”

Two arrested, another sought in homicide

UPDATED (Wednesday, July 26)

Two people are in jail and another is being sought in connection to a Sunday evening homicide.

The body of George L. Grimes, 31, of Old Salem Road in Hilda was found at approximately 6:51 p.m. on Sunday, July 23 inside a vehicle outside 461 Fairway Lane in Barnwell, said Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward in a press release. Grimes died as a result of a gunshot wound to his head.

“This death is being investigated at this time as a homicide,” said Ward.

NFL player comes home to host football camp

A National Football League (NFL) player returned home to Blackville over the weekend to inspire more than 150 youth.

Joe Thomas Jr., a 2009 graduate of Blackville-Hilda High School who is now a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, hosted a youth football camp through USA Football on July 15 at his alma mater’s practice field.

“Growing up here I never had anything like this,” he said of working alongside professional football players. “I want to try to give back and inspire.”

Proposed city budget includes 2.4 mill increase

Taxpayers in the City of Barnwell will see a slightly higher bill along with improved services if the current proposed budget is approved.

Barnwell City Council approved the first reading of the fiscal year 2018 budget during its July 10 meeting, but previously discussed it during a June 27 budget workshop. The $5,987,640 budget is $797,895 more than the current year – or 15.37 percent. Included in that amount is the general fund budget of $3,589,540.

Circle Theatre transforms stage and teen campers

Circle Theatre was transformed into a tropical oasis as 27 teens brought “Once on this Island Jr.” to life.

The play is very different from the comedic plays typically chosen for Circle Theatre’s summer camp because it’s a drama with difficult Caribbean-flavored music as well as polytheism and dark undertones. However, when camp director Betty Bohmer asked the teens what type of play they wanted to do, “so many of them said they wanted a musical and something dramatic,” she said.

D45 sees federal funding drop

Though final allocations are not in, Barnwell District 45 is expecting a drop in some federal funding.

Last year the district received just over $1 million in Title 1 funds, which was their largest allocation to date. However, preliminary numbers show they will only receive $963,407.20 next year, said Linda Zionkowski, the district’s director of federal programs, during the July 13 meeting. Despite the drop, she said, they are still better off than some districts that saw greater decreases.

Brian Johnson hired as police chief

There’s a new chief in town.

Barnwell City Council unanimously approved the police committee’s recommendation to hire Brian Johnson as the new chief of the Barnwell Police Department. Johnson, who was hired last year as a captain with the department, had been serving as interim chief since Reuben Black was removed from office earlier this year.

“We are fortunate to have a man of his character and ability,” said Councilman W.C. Black of Johnson during the July 10 council meeting. He along with Councilman Benjamin Duncan make up the police committee.

Event makes learning ‘possum’ble

The Williston Library has several books about animals, but children got an up-close lesson on reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals last week.

Sean Poppy from the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL) visited the library on July 6 as part of the ABBE Regional Library System’s Summer Reading Program. He previously visited the Barnwell and Blackville libraries.

“They don’t want to bother us,” said Poppy of how most animals are afraid of humans and typically do not attack unless provoked or threatened.

Event aims to reconnect families, fathers on July 14

Father’s Day is over, but an upcoming event aims to reconnect families and fathers.

The S.C. Regional Housing Authority #3 and Beaufort Housing Authority are partnering to host a Belated Father’s Day Event on Friday, July 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Barnwell Elementary School (10524 Marlboro Ave., Barnwell). The theme is "Building Healthy Families”.

Campers DIG into STEM

A four-week summer camp helped nearly 100 youth to dig deep into science, technology, engineering and math.

The Dreams Imagination and Gift (DIG) Development Program sponsored its third annual STEM camp during June for students in first through eighth grades on the campus of Winfield Heights Baptist Church in Williston. While they planned to have around 80 students, they had an average of 97 the first two weeks.

Blackville native named U.S. Magistrate Judge

A Blackville native is the newest United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Alabama.

Herman N. (Rusty) Johnson Jr., son of Carroll J. Priester and the late Herman Johnson, was sworn in on June 1 after the U.S. District Judges in the Northern District of Alabama selected him from a competitive field of candidates to replace a retiring judge. He will serve in the position for a renewable eight-year term in Huntsville, Ala.

“I’m told it’s about like getting struck by lightning,” he said of how there are few opportunities to become a U.S. Magistrate Judge.

Gibson managing Carlo’s Bakery in Orlando

Hannah Gibson isn’t the “Cake Boss”, but the Barnwell native is the boss of one of the Carlo’s Bakery locations.

Gibson, a 2005 graduate of Barnwell High School, is the general manager of the Carlo’s Bakery location in Orlando, Fla. Carlo’s Bakery originated in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1910, but has grown in recent years to 18 locations across the United States as well as one in Brazil. The Hoboken location is the setting of the TLC television show “Cake Boss”, which focuses on Buddy Valastro and his family. Gibson has been a fan of the show for years.

Moped accident claims life of Blackville man

A Blackville man died at the hospital a day after wrecking his moped.

John Royer, 57, of Legion Road, Blackville, died on June 23 at Augusta University Medical Center in Augusta, Ga. from injures received from a moped wreck on June 22, said Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward.

Royer was driving his 2016 Zuma moped east on Moore Road near the town of Snelling around 2:20 p.m. on June 22 when he lost control. “The moped went into the westbound lane and he was thrown off,” said Lance Corporal Judd Jones with the S.C. Highway Patrol.

Police cars wreck during chase

Two Barnwell police officers wrecked their patrol vehicles late Saturday night during a police chase.

The wreck occurred around 11:40 p.m. July 1 as the officers were heading east on Highway 300 near Emerald Lane in pursuit of a vehicle that ran through a DUI checkpoint.

“One of the units was making a U-turn and another unit came up behind and made contact,” said Lance Corporal Matt Southern with the S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP). The SCHP worked the wreck.

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