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District regroups for next year: Barnwell 45 followed state rules on layoffs

The Barnwell 45 school district is still assessing its condition, both financially and physically, in the wake of its March 31 announcement that it would lay off 36 teachers.

Of the 36 teachers affected, 19 were retired teachers; three were part-time retired teachers; five were induction teachers and nine regular instructors were part of the "reduction in force" or RIF layoffs the school board enacted.

Police still investigating Barnwell bank's second robbery

A Barnwell bank was again the scene of an armed robbery.

Regions Bank on Jackson Street was robbed around 2:35 p.m., April 8 by a man armed with a single-barrel shotgun.

The weapon was either dropped or discarded by the suspect upon exiting the bank. Officers discovered a shotgun on the sidewalk in front of the bank.

No one was injured in the robbery - the second this branch has had in five months. The previous robbery occured Nov. 25 of last year.

Budget crunch in Barnwell 45 school district force teacher layoffs, other cost-cutting measures

Faced with a more than $1 million shortfall in its revenues, the Barnwell 45 school district has been forced to lay off some of its teachers.

The school board met March 31 at 5 p.m. during a special called meeting. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes and occurred in open session. About 45 people attended, mostly district employees.

The board unanimously voted in two separate motions to not renew the contracts of five induction or first-year teachers. Nine other teachers are being released as part of the district's reduction in force policy.

Job fairs show potential employers in area

Barnwell County residents who have been laid off or may be facing that possibility in the near future will get a chance to show their resumés to prospective employers over the next few weeks at two separate job fairs.

The first fair will be at the Barnwell Elementary School on April 4 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The Ourglass Plan member churches, employers and other contributors are sponsoring the job fair, said Diane Bell, an administrative assistant with the Ourglass Plan.

Mild earthquake shakes Barnwell County, but leaves it unharmed

Barnwell County experienced a mild earthquake last week, but the event caused no reported damage or injuries.

According to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, at 12:06 p.m., March 27, the area experienced a 2.6 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale.
Roger Riley, the emergency management director for the county said he got verification on the earthquake a few hours after it occurred.

Stimulus creates SRS jobs

The region is getting a shot in the arm from the federal economic stimulus package.

The Savannah River Site will receive $1.615 billion in stimulus funds, according to a late breaking announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The DOE and the White House release statements the afternoon of March 30 about the job creation.
The allocations, which will create about 3,000 jobs to hasten the cleanup of contaminated areas, is part of $6 billion in environmental funding that will be distributed to similar sites in 12 states, according to the DOE announcement.

Bus issue angers parents

It has been a week of confusion and mixed emotions within the Barnwell 45 school district as parents, athletic teams and bus drivers have wrestled with the issue of transportation of students to athletic events.

The issue has left some parents of student athletes angry.

The Barnwell High track team missed a regional track meet March 18 at Edisto High School because there weren't available bus drivers to drive the student athletes to the event, said Madonna Toole, the parent of a Barnwell High track athlete.

Blackville school board candidates position themselves for race: Holman

Many Blackville students who are freshmen now won't see themselves as seniors in four years.

It's a trend that disturbs Brenda Holman - enough that she wants to do something about it. That is why she is running for the Blackville-Hilda school board.

Holman is the challenger vying for one of the two seats open in the April 14 election. Incumbents Inell Waring and Steve McCormack are both running for reelection.

"My main reason is I have a real concern with retention," she said.

Blackville school board candidates position themselves for race: Waring

Schoolchildren in the Blackville-Hilda school district are better than what some measurements state.

That's Inell Waring's position on the quality and potential of the students in the district.

It's also one of the reasons Waring, 53, is running for a second term on the Blackville-Hilda school board.

Two seats are up for grabs in the April 14 school board elections. Incumbent Steve McCormack is running for another term but he and Waring have a challenger in newcomer Brenda Holman.

Blackville school board candidates position themselves for race: Waring

Schoolchildren in the Blackville-Hilda school district are better than what some measurements state.

That's Inell Waring's position on the quality and potential of the students in the district.

It's also one of the reasons Waring, 53, is running for a second term on the Blackville-Hilda school board.

Two seats are up for grabs in the April 14 school board elections. Incumbent Steve McCormack is running for another term but he and Waring have a challenger in newcomer Brenda Holman.

Economic lessons, challenging times for state education says Rex

Challenges, both long-term and immediate, fiscal and physical are facing South Carolina's public education system, according to the state's top education administrator.

Jim Rex, the state superintendent of education, gave an overview of the conditions in public education as he spoke March 23 to the Rotary Club of Barnwell County at Winton Inn in Barnwell.

Rex and his wife, Sue Smith-Rex, were there as guests of Rotarian Tim Moore, a Barnwell attorney. Moore is also the vice chairman of the state board of education, which is the governing and policy-making body for public education.

Blackville school board candidates position themselves for race: McCormack

Steve McCormack tries to see the big picture of events as well as the local one when it comes to public education in the state.

With his job at Verizon, the communications company, McCormack travels the state. At each work site, McCormack likes to read the local newspapers to see what that area's school boards and districts are facing. He also follows state politics. He says it gives him a wider view of public education in the state.

McCormack is running for a fifth term on the Blackville-Hilda school board.

Native musician returns to Barnwell to show musical support for museum

There will always be a special place in Barnwell native and singer/musician David Woodard Jr.'s heart for the Fuller House.

Prowling its corridors and discovering its bookshelf treasures as a young boy helped kick-start Woodard' s interest in education.

It's for those reasons, and others, that Woodard is returning to Barnwell to help raise money for the rehabilitation of the Fuller House.

As a junior high student, Woodard was told by his teacher to go to the library - then the Fuller House - and finish some research papers that were well beyond the due date, he said.

Local NAACP chapter encourages more parental involvement in children's education

The Education Committee of the Barnwell/Blackville NAACP is urging parents to realize they have the ultimate power in deciding the quality of their children's education.

Committee members, parents, students and school board members gathered together at the Barnwell County Museum March 19 to discuss ways parents can be empowered and proactive in education.

Parents attending school board meetings and visiting schools topped the list.

Williston set to clean up dilapidated buildings in town

Williston Mayor Tommy Rivers and council moved forward with plans to clean up the town during a public hearing held prior to the regular monthly council meeting.

Those plans include giving the owners of one property 20 days to start clean up and demolition of an abandoned home on Harper Street. The owners, as listed on a letter of complaint and notice of public hearing are Gary R. Lyon, Sr. and Edna A Lyon. The Lyons now live in Windsor.

Investigation finds deer illegally imported into area in 2005

This was a case of illegal immigrants, but not of people who entered the United States without passports or immigration green cards.

The illegal "aliens" in this case had four legs, not two, and some of them were in Barnwell County.

Authorities from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have gotten indictments in a three-year long investigation involving the illegal shipping of white-tailed deer into the area from Ohio.

Williston school district to offer single-gender classrooms next fall

Segregation - based on sex, not race - might appear in two Williston schools within the next school year.

If enough student-participants materialize, the Williston school board has already approved a pilot program for single-gender classrooms in the fourth and seventh grades.

The school board unanimous approval came during its March 17 monthly meeting.

"We have been talking about it and researching it for about two years," said Superintendent Alexia Clamp.

The single-gender pilot program would be done to improve academic performance in these grades, she said.

Williston, Elko communities have 'ground-clearing' for future community center

Community leaders in Williston and Elko have talked and planned a great deal on the Williston-Elko Community Center project.

Now the public can get a visual on the idea March 28.

At 10 a.m. that day, the group promoting the idea will unveil an artist drawing of the proposed center at the center's site on Academy Street in Williston. They will also hold a "ground-clearing" ceremony there instead of a groundbreaking, said Freddie Houston, one of the driving forces behind the center and a Barnwell County Councilman.

Hoofin' it

About 100 high school, junior high and middle school students from across South Carolina saddled up in Barnwell County to stay on the bull for eight seconds.

The Barnwell County Career Center hosted the FFA rodeo over the weekend at the Rosier Farm on Old Allendale Highway March 13 -15.

"Last year it went really well. So we thought we should do it again - hopefully it will become an annual event," said Mindy Sandifer, an agricultural instructor for the Barnwell County Career Center and an FFA advisor.

Candidates see similar challenges facing Williston schools, district: Mulligan - a new voice for school board

Last year's failed school bond referendum was the inspiration for Alan Mulligan to run for the Williston school board.

"That really got me to do this. A lot of people wanted me to put my name in the hat," he said. "That got me more involved in the school system."

Elections are April 14. Two school board seats are open with incumbents Elizabeth Coleman and Calvin Melton both running for reelection.

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