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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.

Candidates see similar challenges facing Williston schools, district: Coleman the board veteran

Elizabeth Coleman is a veteran of the Williston school board.

In April, Coleman will have been on the board 18 years or six terms. During her time, she has been the board chairperson four times.

"I've got four gavels," she said of the wooden mallets, the symbol of the office.

School board elections are April 14. Coleman and fellow school board member Calvin Melton are running for reelection. Facing them is challenger Alan Mulligan for one of their seats.

During her tenure, Coleman has not minded asking tough questions, second-guessing assumptions and confronting issues.

Candidates see similar challenges facing Williston schools, district: Melton an experienced board member

Calvin Melton would like to graduate when his son does.

Melton, 57, is running for another term on the Williston school board.

Melton said that he would like to see his son John, an eighth grader, graduate from Wiliston-Elko High School, before giving up his service to the school board. Melton will watch his older son, Charles, graduate this year.

School board elections are April 14. Melton and Elizabeth Coleman, another board member, are running for reelection. They are facing newcomer Alan Mulligan for the two open seats on the board.

New law may prohibit resale of used children's thrift good items

With the economic downturn that most have seen over the past few months, news of a new law regulating what children's items can be re-sold is not helping local parents' wallets.

The goal of the new law is to protect children, but what it has done locally is keep parents from being able to get affordable used items at some locations.

The Pick of the Litter, a thrift shop located in Barnwell, has stopped selling children's items until the particulars of what can and cannot be resold are better understood, said Vicky Scott.

South Carolina now second in unemployment nationally

Barnwell County's unemployment rate jumped up more than one point between January 2008 and December 2009.

The jump puts South Carolina at second place in the national jobless rates - Michigan is first.

South Carolina's unemployment rate reached 10.4 percent in January - making it one of the four double-digit states for jobless rates in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Michigan's unemployment is 11.6 percent, followed by South Carolina and then Rhode Island at 10.3 percent and California at 10.1 percent, U.S. Department of Labor figures show.

Gas leak causes temporary evacuation of Williston school

A broken natural gas valve forced a brief evacuation of the Williston Middle School March 12 just before students were to go to lunch.

The incident occurred at about 12:55 p.m. when a student hit a natural gas line outside the school building. The line began leaking gas, which is invisible, but has a distinctive odor. A student reported the leak to the principal's office and from there the information was reported to the district office.

Bill would give parents choices for child's educational needs

Making their voices heard, a group of Barnwell County residents headed to the State house to speak with lawmakers in support of a bill.

The Education Opportunity Act - Senate Bill 520 - would provide parents with education choices for their children.

If the bill passes, it will allow parents to home school a child or send him or her to a private or charter school by providing parents with, on average a $2,500 state tax credit per child, said Neil Mellon, the communications director for South Carolinians for Responsible Government.

Stimulus cash to help local police departments

Some of the federal stimulus money will be used for the nation's law enforcement agencies, including money that will find its way to Barnwell County.

The White House announced in a March 6 press release about a $2 billion portion of the Recovery Act 2009 that will be allocated to individual police departments through the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Program (JAG).

Of that amount, nearly $38 million will go toward South Carolina agencies.

Cardboard currency: Box tops, etc. help BPS with educational expenses

To Phyllis Martin, spare change isn't nickels and dimes but rectangular bits of cardboard.

Martin is on a mission to save this cardboard for the betterment of Barnwell Primary School, where she works as an administration assistant and records clerk.

"People think I'm crazy. I'm the ‘Box Top Queen.' People have said, ‘You are obsessed about box tops,'" Martin said.

Police track bloody man through Williston after wreck

Municipal police followed a injured and bloodied man through downtown Williston before apprehending him after the man wrecked a sport utility vehicle and left the accident scene.

Williston police were called to the scene of a one-vehicle wreck on Burckhalter Street at about 4 p.m., March 12 where a 2004 Mercury Mountaineer had crashed through a fence, struck a tree and then partially ran underneath the porch of a house, according to police reports.

The People-Sentinel collects six SCPA awards

The People-Sentinel collected six awards during the annual awards ceremony held by the South Carolina Press Association March 14.

Three of those awards had Michael Young's name on them. Young is the sports editor for The People-Sentinel.

Young received a first place award in the category of sports feature photo as well as a third place in that category. He also won a third place award for in the sports action category.

Staff writers Jared Guadagni and Susan Delk also garnered awards.

Guadagni won a second place award for his health reporting.

High speed chase ends in arrest

cuffsA quiet Wednesday afternoon gave way to a high-speed chase for area law enforcement with speeds reaching up to 90 miles per hour and ending with the arrest of the suspect in downtown Barnwell. The chase began shortly after 3 p.m. as the Blackville Police Department was notified by South Carolina Highway Patrol of a vehicle heading toward the city at high speeds on U.S. 78. It was reported that two white males were in the vehicle, a tan two-toned GMC truck.

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