Dr. Ashe quits as Williston superintendent

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 by the board after the meeting.

Payne sentenced to 35 years in jail for murder

A jury did not believe a Barnwell man’s claim of self-defense in a 2015 shooting case.

Demontay Markeith Payne, 28, of 25 Wingo Estates Road, Barnwell, was found guilty of the May 23, 2015 murder of DeVante Quintell Odom. The jury rendered the verdict on Tuesday, Sept. 19 after approximately three hours of deliberation following a two-day trial at the Barnwell County Courthouse.

While Payne didn’t deny shooting Odom, he claimed the shooting was in self-defense after Odom allegedly shot at him first.

Economic marketing moves to SCA after vote

A new contract was approved by Barnwell County Council on Tuesday, Sept. 19 which effectively moves marketing of the county’s economic development property as well as the Economic Development Commission’s executive director position under SouthernCarolina Alliance (SCA). The contract also quadruples the county’s payment to SCA from $15,000 annually to $60,000 annually.

The contract was approved unanimously with the exception of David Kenner who was absent from the meeting.

Williams retiring next year as county administrator

Barnwell County Administrator Pickens Williams Jr. has announced his plan to retire next year.

Williams, 59, shared his intentions to retire within the next five to six months with the Barnwell County Council on Tuesday, Sept. 19 during a closed session of the council’s regular meeting. Williams then met with county department heads the next day.

“I don’t plan to move. I’m not upset or anything like that,” said Williams. “It’s something I have been talking with my wife about for nearly a year. I have no reason other than I think it’s time for me to do something different.”

Police, fire could remain downtown

Barnwell City Council now hopes to keep the police and fire departments downtown.

While the city originally planned to purchase property off Marlboro Avenue to build a new public safety building that would jointly house the fire and police departments, one property is held up in probate court. A number of councilmen also want to see the departments maintain their presence downtown, said City Administrator John Zawacki.

“They want it to stay in the city center,” said Zawacki.

DNR officers assist in evacuation, recovery

Barnwell County’s four S.C. Department of Natural Resources officers recently assisted in hurricane evacuation and recovery efforts.

Sgt. Rocky Salter, Lt. John Bedingfield, PFC Matthew Smith and LCPL Steve Terry were assigned to different coastal communities in advance of Hurricane Irma’s arrival to the Palmetto State. They joined other DNR officers from across the state in the evacuation and recovery efforts.

“Our first concern is safety,” said Salter.

Gibson, Air Methods contract highlight meeting

Two ceremonies were high points of the meeting of the Barnwell County Council Tuesday, Sept. 19 in Barnwell.

The council honored former County Treasurer Wendall P. “Wendy” Gibson Jr. and held a ceremonial signing of a contract with Air Methods.

Council Chairman Lowell Jowers presented Gibson with a plaque and a gift from the council. He also read a resolution which noted he has worked for the county from July 17, 1989 until August 31, 2017 “in various capacities and positions.”

Williston approves fees for parks master plan

The parks master plan, a grant to purchase police body cameras, disaster preparedness and the schedule for Halloween Trick or Treating were among the topics reviewed by the Williston Town Council on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

The council approved the Halloween schedule for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Also approved was the fee schedule for the Parks Master Plan.

In August the council approved the firm of Johnson, Laschober and Associates to create a master plan.

D29 hires interim superintendent

A familiar face is returning to help guide Williston District 29 through another transitional period.

Dr. Everette "Rette" Dean Jr. was hired as Williston District 29's interim superintendent during a special meeting on September 27. The action came one week after the resignation of Dr. Missoura Ashe, who had been on administrative leave for three weeks. Ashe had been superintendent since March 2015.

Fire damages airport hangar

A fire in a main hangar of the Barnwell Regional Airport heavily damaged the structure and five planes.

Seven aircraft were inside the hangar at the time of the blaze. Three were destroyed while two more will likely be totaled, said P.F. Beck, chairman of the airport commission. Two others were not damaged as they were in the other end of the hangar.

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.

Megan Croft sworn in as county treasurer

Megan E. Croft was sworn in Friday evening, Sept. 15, as Barnwell County’s new treasurer.

Croft succeeds Wendall “Wendy” Gibson who retired at the end of August after 17 years in the office. She was appointed by Governor Henry McMaster to fill Gibson’s remaining term which ends in 2018.

Croft, 29, is a life-long resident of Barnwell and is the daughter of Doug and Jodi Croft. She is the mother of a daughter, Lizzie, age 8.

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.

Energy Solutions collecting hurricane relief items

Energy Solutions in Snelling is collecting Hurricane Irma relief items to be sent to victims in Florida.

A tractor trailer has been set up in the parking lot of the Osborne Road facility in Snelling.

“The public is invited to contribute,” said Curtis Charlton, Security Supervisor.

“We ask that you call us at (803) 541-5004 to let us know you are coming or stop by the front door and we will assist in unloading the items,” said Charlton. “We ask that you don’t load items into the van on your own but allow us to assist.”

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.


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