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Two arrested, another sought in homicide

UPDATED (10:15 a.m., Monday, July 24)

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 about 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. An autopsy has been scheduled for July 24.

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

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.

School consolidation resolution tabled

Barnwell County Council stepped back from a proposed resolution in support of school consolidation during their regular meeting on Tuesday, July 11.

The resolution stated that “the Barnwell County Council encourages the Barnwell County Public School districts to consider working with our Legislative Delegation to determine a plan of action to have the three districts to consolidate into one district.”

During the public comments period early in the meeting, Blackville-Hilda District 19 School Board Chairman Carroll Priester took the council to task on the issue.

Terri Smith hired as new Chamber director

Terri Smith of Barnwell has been named the new Executive Director of the Barnwell County Chamber of Commerce (BCOC).

The BCOC board made the decision last week to hire Smith who retired in 2010 after working as an agent with Clemson Extension for 20 years.

“We feel very fortunate to have someone of Terri’s expertise working at the Chamber,” said Chamber chair Carolyne Williams. “She is an asset to our Chamber. Please stop by or call and welcome Terri to our Chamber network.”

Chief Corley thanked for service to Blackville

Retiring Blackville Fire Chief Hariel Corley took center stage Monday night as he was honored by the Blackville Town Council and firefighters.

Corley, 73, recently retired after spending 47 years with the Blackville Fire Department.

He said, “Just being able to successfully lead a group of people” such as his fellow volunteer firefighters is his greatest achievement over the years.

During that time he lobbied council for equipment, training and funding. A new fire truck, brush truck and equipment stand testimony to that effort.

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.

YMCA showcases effort to end child hunger

Making sure children don’t go hungry during the summer months is the focus of both state and local organizations. As part of that focus, Barnwell County’s Family YMCA is a site that was selected as part of a statewide tour by the South Carolina Department of Education and End Child Hunger South Carolina to showcase their efforts.

On Friday, July 14, five women were given a tour of the facility by Executive Director Matt Mullen. They were just in time for snacks with 10 children participating in the summer program at the Barnwell Y.

Ribbon cut on Barnwell Urgent Care Center

“This is a turning point.”

That was the opinion of Barnwell County Councilman Jerry Creech at the grand opening of Barnwell Urgent Care on Thursday, July 13 in Barnwell.

That turning point was made possible by Roger Phillips of Atlanta, Ga., who is CEO of Heritage Healthcare which owns the new non-profit Barnwell Urgent Care.

Phillips has family roots in the low country and served on Barnwell County Council’s Medical Advisory Committee after the closure of Southern Palmetto Hospital last year. He said he felt the need to do something to fill the gap.

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.

Barnwell County farmers eligible for disaster loans for March freeze

Barnwell County is eligible for USDA assistance as a result of a U.S. Department of Agriculture Designation for two primary counties in the South Carolina, announced Randy E. Lambert, CEO of the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).

The disaster designation is a result of losses caused by freeze that occurred from March 15-17, 2017.

The decision makes all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low-interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).

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.

Williston to contract for code inspection services

The Williston Town Council approved an agreement Monday night with SAFEbuilt Inspection Services to perform code enforcement property inspections.

According to Williston Town Administrator Kenny Cook, one of the council’s goals has been the cleanup, repair or removal of derelict properties. Williston ordinances allow the town to contact property owners to improve the properties. They also give the community’s building official power to require owners to make those improvements.

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