Jonathan Vickery

Stapleton hired to lead District 45

Crystal “Crissie” Stapleton has been named Barnwell District 45's new superintendent.

The school board unanimously approved hiring Stapleton following a special meeting on June 27 to discuss the “three wonderful, highly qualified applicants” they interviewed on June 15. While the board, community representatives and teachers who participated in the interviews were pleased with the depth of knowledge exhibited by all three finalists, Stapleton stood out.

Students ‘Read to Succeed’ during summer camps

Read to Succeed Summer Reading Camps have been underway throughout the state during June to provide support for struggling third graders.

The target group is students with severe reading difficulties, particularly rising fourth graders, according to the S.C. Department of Education. Qualified teachers teach at the camps in an effort to improve the reading, writing and critical thinking skills of students through small group and individual instruction.

Career center funding splits D29 budget vote

A funding request for the Barnwell County Career Center split the Williston District 29 School Board as they finalized the 2017-2018 school year budget.

The board heard about a request by the Barnwell County Career Center for $12,500, although the board was made aware of the request a couple months ago. The request was made in order to keep the career center operating and is in addition to the money the three school districts pay annually for their students to attend the career center.

Allendale County School Board suing to retain oversight of district

The Allendale County School District has filed a lawsuit seeking the S.C. Supreme Court’s help in stopping the state from taking over control of the district’s management.

The lawsuit, which was filed June 21 by the school district, came two days after S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced a “State of Emergency” due to concerns about the academic performance of students. This meant she would assume control of the district’s operations and strip the locally elected school board of its management authority.

Suspect caught after chases in 2 counties

An Aiken County man wanted for a series of incidents in Williston was arrested Tuesday afternoon following chases in two counties by a number of agencies.

Keith Raymond Cunningham, 31, of Warrenville, was arrested June 27 by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office after they were informed by the Williston Police Department about a stolen red Chevy S-10 pick-up truck.

Locals connect nationwide in radio field day

The Salkehatchie Amateur Radio Society (SARS) made contact with more than 400 ham radio operators in the United States and Canada as part of the nationwide annual Amateur Radio Field Day.

Amateur radio operations started at noon on Saturday, June 24 at the Barnwell County Emergency Operations Center at the Barnwell County Courthouse and ran continuously until noon on Sunday, June 25. Traditionally the field day has been held at the Barnwell County Airport, but the weather and the heat have taken a toll in past years.

Three people homeless after fire destroys house

Three people are homeless after a fire destroyed their home last week.

Firefighters from the Barnwell Rural, Blackville and Hilda fire departments responded to the home at 3450 Highway 70 around 11:15 a.m. on June 21 for a fire in the kitchen. However, responding firefighters found the home fully engulfed when they arrived.

“Once it got going, there was no stopping it,” said Barnwell County Fire Coordinator Timbo Williams, who was the first firefighter to arrive on scene.

First Baptist Church members receive Red Cross training

Twenty-two members of Barnwell First Baptist Church attended Red Cross training on Saturday, June 24 at the church.

The training was held in response to Hurricane Matthew when there were no local Red Cross trained residents to help run the shelter that was set up at Barnwell Elementary for coastal evacuees. According to Barnwell County Emergency Management Director Roger Riley, there were only one or two trained residents in the entire county before the June 24 training.

“It’s important to have a local presence,” said Riley.

Wreck into pole knocks out power, injures one

A wreck into a power pole knocked out power to two businesses and sent one person to the hospital.

Just after 10 a.m. on Friday, June 23, a white Isuzu box truck owned by the LKQ auto parts supply company crashed into a pole in the Boney Motor Company parking lot, knocking it and three phase transformers down. The pole landed on top of the truck while the power lines fell in the Boney Motor and KFC parking lots.

State takes over Allendale schools

“Continued poor student academic performance” has led the state’s education chief to take over management of the Allendale County School District.

South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman declared a “State of Emergency” in the district on June 19, less than two weeks after a community meeting where she hinted at the possibility. This is the second time the state has seized control of the district as the state last took over control from 1999 to 2007.

Williamson found ‘not guilty’ in 2013 Blackville murder

There were tears in the courtroom following the not guilty verdict in the murder trial of Dustin Williamson.

Tears of joy flowed from the relatives of Williamson who sat on one side of the courtroom as tears of grief poured from the eyes of Roger Lee Isaac’s sister who was seeking a conviction in the 2013 murder of her brother.

Williamson was on trial last week where he stood accused of fatally shooting Isaac in the face on May 30, 2013 in the middle of Oak Street in Blackville.

Four vie to be police chief

Two current Barnwell Police Department (BPD) employees are among four experienced law enforcement officers in the running to be police chief.

After 16 people applied for the job, the police committee reviewed all applications and invited four candidates for interviews on June 19. The committee interviewed Brian Johnson (captain and current interim chief of the BPD), Brian Owens (detective with the BPD), Timothy Wilke (police captain for Pelion), and Chad Dilling Sr. (chief of public safety for the Town of Ehrhardt).

D29 students to receive free lunches

Students in Williston District 29 will receive a free lunch every day next school year.

While students have received free breakfast daily for several years, they will now receive free lunches as well after the school board approved on June 13 to apply for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that Congress passed in 2010. CEP provides free breakfast and lunch to all students in schools with high poverty rates.

No action taken following interviews with D45 superintendent finalists

Interviews were held last week with three superintendent finalists, but no decision has been made by the Barnwell District 45 School Board.

Dr. Diane Richardson, Mrs. Crystal Stapleton, and Dr. Tony Tipton were interviewed June 15 in a three-step process. They were selected by the board from a pool of 22 applications they received from all over the country as well as one from India.

“We found three great candidates without making taxpayers pay $35,000 for a headhunter group,” said board chairman Dr. Rhett Richardson of how the board is conducting its own search.

D45 board approves $18 million budget

The Barnwell District 45 School Board approved its $18 million budget for the pending school year as well as a millage increase.

Steven Strother, the district’s chief financial officer, discussed specifics of the $18,168,002.31 balanced budget during the June 8 board meeting. The 2017-2018 general fund budget, which takes effect July 1, is $620,437.86 more than the current year.

Williston probes two break-ins

Williston police are investigating break-ins at two neighboring businesses.

Momma Diane’s and Jackie’s Beauty Salon were broken into late Wednesday night, June 14. Both businesses are located on Elko Street.

“They are definitely related,” said Williston Police Chief Rodney Pruitt.

Police were called to Momma Diane’s the morning of June 15 after the owner noticed the doorknob was broken off the restaurant’s rear door. The only property reported missing was approximately $20 in change out of the tip jar that was on the counter.

Swiss Krono donates to animals

A local industry’s charity golf tournament raised more than $6,000 to help homeless animals.

Swiss Krono presented a check for $6,432.56 to The Animal Advocates on June 13. The funds were raised during the Dean Scarbeary Memorial Golf Tournament for Charity on May 27 at Sweetwater Country Club in Barnwell.

Allendale Co. School Board sues State Superintendent

The Allendale County School District has filed a lawsuit seeking the S.C. Supreme Court’s help in stopping the state from taking over control of the district’s management.

The lawsuit, which was filed June 21 by the school district, comes two days after S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced a “State of Emergency” due to concerns about the academic performance of students. This meant she would assume control of the district’s operations and strip the locally elected school board of its management authority.

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