D29 seeks $445,100 bond to fund projects

The Williston District 29 School Board heard a proposal for a $445,100 general obligation bond to fund capital projects.

During the Jan. 16 board meeting, D29 Finance Director Rose Anderson said the district’s millage rate will remain the same, so taxpayers will not see a tax increase to fund the bond. The bond will be paid back with the debt service fund.

Ronnie Neville, the district’s maintenance supervisor, provided the board with an overview of the projects and estimates of the costs, although those could change once bids come in from contractors.

D29 board seeks input in search for superintendent

Applications are now being accepted for the Williston District 29 superintendent’s position.

After the school board retained the services of the S.C. School Boards Association to search for its next superintendent, SCSBA officials returned to Williston on Jan. 16 to provide an update. They posted the position on Jan. 8 and will accept applications through Feb. 19.

“We’ve received a number of calls of interest from potential candidates,” said Scott Price, executive director of the SCSBA, who could not elaborate about the number of applicants at this time.

Chili supper to raise money for pet oxygen masks

A local animal rescue group is raising money to purchase pet oxygen masks for Barnwell County’s 11 fire departments.

GROWL is sponsoring a Chili Extravaganza on Thursday, Jan. 25 at the Williston Fire Department (13120 Main Street, Williston). Lunch will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with dinner from 4 to 8 p.m. Plates are $8 and include chili or vegetable soup, cornbread, salad, dessert and a drink. Eat in or takeout available.

Locals cash in on prizes at Augusta Futurity

Several Barnwell County residents rode to victory and earned prize money recently during the Augusta Futurity.

The Futurity, held Jan. 13-20 in Augusta, Ga., is a national cutting horse competition overseen by the Atlantic Coast Cutting Horse Association. It is considered to be the largest cutting horse event east of the Mississippi River.

In the $35,000 Non-Pro Any Age Finals, Kaylyn Huggins Baxley of Barnwell and her horse Swoop That Rey earned the first place championship spot and a $3,300 prize.

$600 stolen from Williston Chinese restaurant

Police are searching for two suspects who robbed a Williston Chinese restaurant Thursday night, 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.

Driver charged in fatal wreck

One man is dead and another is charged with felony driving under the influence as the result of a Sunday morning accident.

Collin Carroll, 21, of Patterson Mill Road, Barnwell, was pronounced dead about 2:45 a.m. from injuries received in a one-car motor vehicle collision, according to a press release from the Barnwell County Coroner’s Office. Carroll was a passenger of the vehicle.

Charged with felony DUI resulting in a death is Austin D. Hubbard, 21, of Barnwell, said Lance Cpl. Matt Southern with the S.C. Highway Patrol

D19 superintendent receives $8,000 raise, contract extension

The Blackville-Hilda Schools superintendent received a raise and an extension of his contract Monday, Jan. 8 from the District 19 School Board.

At their regular meeting the board voted to give Dr. Shawn Johnson an $8,000 annual raise and extended his contract until 2020.

Board member Sharon McClary made the motion which was approved unanimously by the board members in attendance including Carroll Priester, Ethel Faust and Bill DeLoach. Karen Jowers was not at the meeting.

Rezoning vote paves way for new apartments

After swearing in three new members, the Williston Town Council got down to business by approving a rezoning request and amending the business license ordinance.

Incumbent Eric Moody and newcomers Kurt Odermatt and Annie Smalls Tyler were sworn in on Jan. 8 shortly before the regular monthly meeting began. A reception was held in their honor prior to the swearing-in and meeting.

Council unanimously approved a nomination for Brett Williams to serve another two-year term as mayor pro-tem. Williams has served in the position for the past four years.

Barnwell administrator delaying retirement

The City of Barnwell’s administrator has agreed to postpone his retirement until the completion of several big projects.

John Zawacki had planned to retire in March, but Barnwell City Council asked him to stay until September 15, 2020. Council approved to employ Zawacki after March 1 during the Jan. 8 meeting after discussing the administrator’s position in closed session. The motion also increased Zawacki’s pay by $485 per month and gave him an additional week of vacation.

D45 school board honored; goals reviewed

A table full of gifts and a video by Barnwell Elementary students charmed members of the Barnwell District 45 School Board on Thursday, Jan. 11.

The gifts and serenade were to thank the board members during National School Board Appreciation Month.

Barnwell Elementary School students recorded a video of them singing “Hand to Hand, Heart to Heart”, which was played at the board meeting.

“We want to thank you for your commitment to our schools,” said Superintendent Crissie Stapleton. “We thank you for each and every day.”

Barnwell County Council approves zoning ordinance updates, sale of timber

The sale of timber in the Blackville Industrial Park and second reading on an updated county zoning ordinance were among the actions approved by the Barnwell County Council.

The council took the votes on Tuesday, Jan. 9 during their regular monthly meeting.

Council chairman Lowell Jowers said there were around eight changes to the zoning ordinance, “mostly correcting typos and wording – nothing of significance.”

SRNS finds success in streamlining hiring

With nearly 550 new hires in 2017 and an average age of employee that has dropped by six years to 48, the multi-year effort by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) to address anticipated retirements has begun to bear fruit.

“We have put a strong emphasis on making sure that we inform, inspire and reward our workforce as we build for the future,” SRNS President Stuart MacVean said. “We are focused not only on new hires, but also retention of our employees and supporting them as they grow.”

Weather delay announced for Barnwell public schools and JDA


All three public school districts in Barnwell County will be on a 2-hour delay and Jefferson Davis Academy will be on a 1-hour dealy on Thursday, Jan. 18, according to Emergency Management Director Roger Riley.

"While whatever snow we got will be gone, the potential for black ice, particularly on roads and bridges, will rise greatly starting tonight. All the school leadership felt it would be safer to delay the opening of schools in the morning," he said.


Winter weather moves across South Carolina, some light snow possible locally

The following is an update on winter weather in South Carolina as of 10:30 a.m.

SC Emergency Management: Columbia, S.C. (Wednesday, January 17, 2018) – Residents should continue to monitor winter weather conditions and take safety precautions as winter weather affects much of the state. Forecasters with the National Weather Service predict snow and freezing rain in the Upstate and portions of the Midlands throughout today and into this evening. Residents should avoid driving on snow-covered roads.

Rain and cold expected in area on Wednesday, chances of snow diminishing

 4 p.m., Tuesday, January 16, 2018 –

Schools are to open as normal according to Emergency Management Director Roger Riley. 

Riley and school officials met at 3 p.m. and received an update from the National Weather Service.

The newest forecast for Barnwell County shows less of a chance of snow but residents can expect rain and cold temperatures in the area.

International ministry provides resources and hope to homeless

Travis Sharpe has a heart for helping the poor and homeless on a local and global level.

Sharpe, who has worked with the homeless for more than 20 years, founded the Garden City Rescue Mission in Augusta, Ga. with the support of Victory Baptist Church in North Augusta. However, he felt called to resign in 2009 to focus on the rising homeless population around the world. This led him to launch Unsheltered International in January 2011.

Bomb threat evacuates 3 Williston schools

A bomb threat led to the evacuation of all three Williston schools, just minutes after the school day began.

Tevin J. Braxton, 19, of Elberta Circle, Barnwell, is charged with one count of false information about a bomb threat. He was not a student at the schools, said Chief Deputy Steve Griffith with the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Department. Braxton was transported to the Barnwell County Detention Center and on Tuesday afternoon was granted a $10,000 cash surety bond.

H&R Block collecting items for Ashleigh Place

H&R Block’s Barnwell office is now open to assist in tax preparation, but they also want to assist a local agency.

The tax preparation company has selected Ashleigh Place in Blackville as their non-profit organization to support in the community this year. H&R Block’s Barnwell office is hosting a community donation drive until the end of tax season to collect items the residents of the girls group home need.

“These children need to know that they are not forgotten and are supported by the community,” said Donna Spence with H&R Block in a press release.

Thompson hired to lead WEMS

A retired educator with 40 years of experience has been hired to lead Williston-Elko Middle School for the remainder of the school year.

Herman Thompson of North Augusta assumed responsibilities as WEMS principal on Thursday, Jan. 4 following the termination of Greg Sweet’s employment in December for unspecified “misconduct”. Thompson is serving on a contract basis at a rate of $350 per day until a permanent principal is hired.

“I want to bring stability and strength to the school,” said Thompson.


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