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A vacuum of jobs: Blackville leaders still considering Allied Air's closing

One thing they all agree upon is that the eventual closing of the Allied Air plant in Blackville is going to affect the town.

How negatively that impact will be remains to be seen, said several Blackville leaders.

Lennox International, the corporation of which Allied Air is a subsidiary, announced Feb. 4 that it would be closing its Blackville plant by 2011. The plant will go through a gradual reduction of workers until its final closing.
The first worker layoffs would occur in the fourth quarter of this year, or between October and December.

A 'principal' effect: Influencing students toward bigger goals

Test scores more than field goals interested Lelon Belton Tobin because in the end - they would carry his students' fortunes farther.

Tobin was the first African-American assistant principal of Blackville-Hilda High School. He helped Principal Danny Atkins run the school.

But he also wore many other hats during his 15 years at the school - including test coordinator, transportation supervisor, science teacher, adult education director and Junior Beta Club sponsor.

Former James Brown trustee goes to jail

AIKEN - A former James Brown trustee accused of misappropriating millions of the late singer's money will spend the next six months in jail for not paying more than $400,000, as ordered by a court in 2007.

David Cannon was placed in the Aiken County jail after surrendering to police Feb. 11 afternoon for contempt of court.

Calls to Cannon's attorneys Feb. 12 were not returned.

For more than a year, Cannon, of Barnwell, has maintained that he does not have the financial means to pay the $433,000 -- $373,000 to Brown's estate, $50,000 for attorneys' fees and a $10,000 fine.

Challenged to do right

When Barnwell County Councilman Freddie Houston filed a lawsuit to change the county's election laws -- he never thought he would one day sit on the institution he helped transform.

Houston was the main plaintiff in a 1988 lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina against Barnwell County by the Barnwell County Voters League. The lawsuit sought to end the at-large method of electing council members and change the county to seven single-member districts with a member from each district running for office.

Better than Valentine roses: Quality time with Dad

Most of the ladies were in dresses, some in formal full-length ones. The men likewise were pressed and polished.

Upon entering the event, each lady received a stemmed flower as well as a wrist corsage. After photos were taken, the couples sat down for dinner and later, dancing.

However, this wasn't an early prom dance - although the ladies were the sweethearts of the men in another sense.

The men were all fathers and their "dates" were their daughters.

A bird in the hand...

The morning of Feb. 7 held a light breeze and the brush crackled as the soldiers moved through it in a tactical formation with guns ready.

The smell of gun smoke already wafted through the air. However, these soldiers were not in a war zone but out hunting a different kind of target.

On this day, a trip to Grahams Turnout, just over the Bamberg County line, gave a group of wounded warriors a chance to hunt quail and pheasants and fish in the lake for a varied assortment of fish.

Hospital to furlough non-healthcare employees

The Barnwell County Hospital is taking a healthy approach to hard economic times and Medicare woes without cutting into the quality of its patient care.

At a Barnwell County Council meeting Feb. 3, Mary Wisner, the interim chief executive officer for BCH, presented Council with a cost-containment program that will save the facility about $236,000 a month.

"The hospital is being proactive to a decrease in funds from Medicare and Medicaid," said Wisner.

Since the hospital's fiscal year began in October, it has suffered a loss of about $400,000, she said.

Blackville group opens new low-income houses

Brick by brick and house by house, the Blackville Community Development Corporation is hoping to improve Blackville from the ground up.

On Feb. 6, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the end of a four-year project for the BCDC.

The nonprofit community group swung open the doors of four modular homes on South Boundary Street for low-income families to rent.

BCDC members, as well as community and area figures, toured the three-bedroom, two bathroom homes after the ribbon-cutting.

Committee takes another step towards community center

The first steps in making the Williston-Elko Community Resource Center a reality took place at the Feb. 3 Barnwell County Council meeting.

Council gave a collective nod to clear a portion of land - capped at the cost of $10,000 - in mid-February and conduct a groundbreaking ceremony in March at the center's future site.

The Williston-Elko Community Resource Center will be located behind the Williston Library on Academy Street, said Barnwell County Councilman Freddie Houston.

Kline gets land for recreational usage

Recreation programs in area towns seem to be getting a boost even as the economy continues to slide.

With the construction continuing on the City of Barnwell's Lemon Park Sports Complex, the city has taken steps to ensure area youth have plent of places to play.

Even though the town of Kline has a much smaller population, they are moving forward with their own recreation plans.

For many years, softball has been a favorite pastime in Kline and with two new donations the town hopes to expand the recreation activities available.

Counselors educate school board about their function in district

The Jan. 22 Barnwell 45 school board meeting was a different opportunity for learning.

This time, the school board members were the pupils.

Guidance counselors from three of the district's four schools appeared before the board to give an overview tutorial of what their programs and job positions entail.

"Since they are the board of the district, I thought it would be good that they (the counselors) educate them about it," said Roy Sapough, the district superintendent.

Allied Air plant in Blackville to be phased out

The latest victim for Barnwell County in the faltering national economy is Allied Air Enterprises in Blackville.

Lennox International, Allied's parent company, announced Feb. 4 that it would be phasing out the Blackville facility within a two-year time period, according to a corporate press release.

Employees were alerted to the plant's future the same day Lennox issued the press release.

"We notified them at the same time," said Ozzie Buckler, the director of Lennox communications and public relations. Buckler was contacted by The People-Sentinel at his Dallas, Texas office.

DSS work study program may help jobless in county

Bad economies and tight budgets might actually be good things for Joe Bacote's programs.

Bacote is trying to join two facts together through his programs to make a mutual solution.

The two facts are that, one: businesses might be shorthanded with employee layoffs but still have the same amount of work to be done. Two, there are people willing to work temporarily just to learn or improve their job skills to make them more marketable as an employee later.

Counselors educate school board about their function in district

The Jan. 22 Barnwell 45 school board meeting was a different opportunity for learning.

This time, the school board members were the pupils.

Guidance counselors from three of the district's four schools appeared before the board to give an overview tutorial of what their programs and job positions entail.

"Since they are the board of the district, I thought it would be good that they (the counselors) educate them about it," said Roy Sapough, the district superintendent.

Neighbors helping neighbors

Damage assessment - on present and future effects that a faltering economy and plant closings are and will have on Barnwell County - was the purpose of a meeting between county officials, human services personnel and business and civic leaders recently.

The Feb. 2 meeting was coordinated by Barnwell County United Way - whose member agencies and others that it interacts with - are starting to see the human effects of tough economic times in the county.

New Williston salon offers one-on-one care

The letters stand about five inches high in gold on the workbench countertop.

"Dream" spells the letters.

That's what Krystal Garrick is doing - working a dream with her own hair salon, Krystal's Kreations.

Garrick just opened the salon Jan. 6 on Church Street in Williston.

Despite the doom and gloom of economic news lately, Garrick, 27, tries to remain unperturbed by it.

"You just have to have faith and believe in God. If I never took the chance, I would never know. You have to take the chance and it's a big chance when you have a family to support," she said.

Black skin, white skin: Green uniforms

South Carolina integrated the last of its public schools by 1970.

However, the Army had integrated itself nearly 20 years earlier.

Ben Duncan of Barnwell was one of the early witnesses to see that military integration firsthand as a soldier in the Army in the early to mid-1950s.

Duncan, now 74, is retired from his various jobs which saw him as a brick mason, county magistrate's constable and sheriff's deputy.
Now Duncan serves on the Barnwell City Council - its first African-American councilman to do so. He has been on City Council since 1995.

Won't be 'around this year: Barnwell's Festival on Round victim of economic factors

The Festival on the Round won't be circling around as the spring downtown festival this year, city officials have decided.

During the regular monthly council meeting Feb. 2, Lynn Cox, the Toursim and Community Development Services director, informed the full council of the decision to not hold the annual festival this year.

Cox said in an earlier meeting with Mayor Ed Lemon, Mayor Pro-temp Pickens Williams Sr. and City Administrator John Zawacki, the decision was made to cancel this year's event based on several factors.

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