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Williston Council discusses goals, master plans

Williston Town Council was presented with the results of two master plans as they discussed goals during a Feb. 2 retreat.

Mayor Jason Stapleton along with council members Eric Moody, Adadra Neville, Kurt Odermatt, Annie Tyler, Scott Valentine and Brett Williams met at Meeting on Main for a morning full of updates, ideas and setting goals for the town’s future. Administrator Kenny Cook and Utilities Director Marty Martin were also present.

“We’ve made a lot of progress these last few years,” said Stapleton.

Fire victims grateful for community support

Victims of a recent house fire are grateful to the community for their prayers and support.

Susan Grubbs along with her boyfriend David Smith and friend CJ Knowles were left homeless on Jan. 28 following a fire at 933 Old Whiskey Road. No one was injured, but they lost everything, including four pets. However, a number of people have stepped up to help.

“We thank them for all of their love and support. Please continue to pray for us,” said Grubbs.

Local radio personalities attend Grammy’s

Three local radio station employees represented Barnwell County at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

LaKonda Bing Raysor and Alicia Gaines from the L & A Entertainment Duo on the WIZ 97.9 FM along with their assistant Margaret Sparrow traveled to New York City, N.Y. the last week of January to attend the awards show and interview some of the Grammy-nominated artists, such as the Hamiltones and Steve Ray (Youngsta). Raysor and Gaines are graduates of Barnwell High while Sparrow graduated from Allendale-Fairfax High.

Allendale native promoted to Army Brigadier General

ANDERSON – In the presence of family, friends and fellow soldiers Frank M. Rice became the newest Brigadier General in the South Carolina National Guard.

The promotion ceremony took place at the 263d Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC) National Guard armory located in Anderson marking a pivotal moment in an already illustrious 35-year military career.

School board candidates file

There won’t be a lot of competition on the April 10 ballot for local school boards.

As of the Jan. 26 filing deadline, only the incumbents in Barnwell District 45 and District 19 filed. Abraham Sexton is the lone candidate for one seat in District 45 while Karen B. Jowers and Sharon E. McClary are the only candidates for two seats on the District 19 board. Williston District 29 has the most people running as incumbent Russell J. Overton and newcomers Ronald J. Brown and Annette W. Burnette are running for two open seats.

All seats are for three-year terms.

Flu virus continues to spread across South Carolina

Flu activity is continuing to increase in the Palmetto state and while it’s unknown when the flu season activity will peak, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is encouraging South Carolinians to protect themselves against the flu.

According to DHEC statistics as of Jan. 20, more than 75 people in Barnwell County and up to 25 people in Allendale County had been diagnosed with the flu.

Chili meal raises funds to buy 15 pet oxygen masks

Pet oxygen masks will soon be on their way to local fire departments after a successful chili fundraiser.

GROWL, a local animal rescue organization, sponsored a Chili Extravaganza on Jan. 25 at the Williston Fire Department. Through donations and plates sold during lunch and supper, the event raised enough money to purchase 15 masks, which will be given to all 11 Barnwell County fire departments, as well as the fire coordinator’s vehicle and a few fire chief vehicles.

Driver charged with DUI

An Olar man is charged with DUI after wrecking his truck last week.

Willie Sanders, 61, of Olar was traveling north on Ashleigh Road near Bethany Drive when his 1996 GMC pickup truck ran off the left side of the roadway and struck a tree, said Lance Cpl. Judd Jones with the S.C. Highway Patrol. The wreck occurred around 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25.

Sanders was airlifted to the hospital with "serious injuries." He has been charged with DUI, said Jones.

Barnwell Presbyterian welcomes pastor, organist

Barnwell Presbyterian Church recently welcomed a new pastor and organist.

Dr. J. Dudley Weaver Jr. began duties as pastor of Barnwell Presbyterian on Jan. 1 while Rita Rostron became the church’s organist last fall. Both said they are excited to be in Barnwell.

“It’s a wonderful group. I’m blessed to be here,” said Rostron, who moved to Aiken from Florida a year ago to be close to one of her five sons.

Barnwell County Council debates joining opioid lawsuit

A request to join in a lawsuit against drug companies got mixed reactions from Barnwell County Council members during a special meeting Jan. 23.

The council had received a request from Sen. Brad Hutto and Rep. Lonnie Hosey to give their support to a lawsuit being brought by the state against drug companies as a result of the opioid crisis.

Chairman Lowell Jowers said their support would not cost the county anything.

Councilman Freddie Houston moved to support the issue, seconded by Harold Buckmon.

Mark Keel reappointed as SLED chief

Barnwell native Mark Keel has been reappointed as the state’s top law enforcement chief.

S.C. Governor Henry McMaster announced on Jan. 31 his decision to reappoint South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Chief Mark Keel. Having first been appointed to the position by Governor Nikki Haley in June 2011, Chief Keel’s distinguished law enforcement career spans over 40 years, according to a press release.

Fire leaves 3 adults homeless

Three adults are homeless after a fire destroyed their home Sunday evening.

Firefighters from the Barnwell Rural, Red Oak and Snelling fire departments responded around 6 p.m. on Jan. 28 to 933 Old Whiskey Road where they found an active structure fire. Approximately 30 firefighters responded and were on scene for close to three hours, said Barnwell Rural Fire Chief Jessie Elmore.

Flu continues to rise in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Flu activity is continuing to increase in the Palmetto state and while it's unknown when the flu season activity will peak, DHEC is encouraging South Carolinians to protect themselves against the flu.

"The Influenza A strain continues to be the most frequently reported this season in South Carolina and nationally," said Dr. Tracy Foo, DHEC Immunization Medical Consultant. "When there are high levels of the H3N2 strain circulating, there tends to be more severe illness and a higher number of deaths."

Williston restaurant robbed

Police are searching for two suspects who robbed a Williston Chinese restaurant on Jan. 18.

The Hong Kong Chinese restaurant on Main Street was robbed around 7 p.m. on Jan. 18 by two black males. One suspect was described as a black male in his 40s who was wearing a camouflage jacket and possibly had a salt and pepper goatee while the other suspect was a younger black male, according to a police report provided by the Williston Police Department.

D19 audit reveals issues

Blackville-Hilda’s District 19 School Board heard a report of the district’s 2016-17 audit in closed session but accepted it in open session and provided a copy immediately upon request. A dive into the details of that audit revealed the discovery of multiple bookkeeping and accounting issues.

Blackville selected for energy savings program

The Town of Blackville has been selected as first in Barnwell County to benefit from an energy savings project.

Gerald Freeman and Scott Neely of South Carolina Electric & Gas/SCANA told the Blackville Town Council on Tuesday, Jan. 16 that Blackville residents within a specific map area have been selected for a Neighborhood Energy Efficiency Program. Freeman is the Residential Program Manager for SCE&G while Neely is the Local Government Manager for SCANA.

Court date set for EDC lawsuit

Despite discussions in hopes of ending a lawsuit between three local municipalities and the county, legal actions are proceeding.

A consent scheduling order was filed at the Barnwell County Courthouse setting a “non-jury trial” to hear the matter on April 2 before Judge Doyet A. Early.

Barnwell County Council Chairman Lowell Jowers also recently confirmed that no action has been taken since representatives from the county and the municipalities of Barnwell, Blackville and Williston met in November 2017.

DIG ‘Rookies’ honored at Future City meet

A local team of three middle school students was named Rookie of the Year at the Regional Future City competition last weekend in Aiken.

The Dreams, Imagination & Gift (DIG) Development Program in Williston sent a team to the Jan. 20 event at USC Aiken to compete against 44 other teams from across South Carolina and the greater Aiken-Augusta area. The DIG team consisted of Faith Johnson (8th grade), Payton Miles (6th grade), and Anastasia Smith (6th grade).

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