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Former NFL player encourages WEHS students

Former NFL player Troy Williamson spoke to students at Williston-Elko High School on Dec. 1.

Having grown up in Petticoat Junction in Aiken County, Williamson said he understands the hardships faced by many in rural areas. He encouraged the students to make the right choices and follow their dreams.

“I see myself in a lot of you guys,” said Williamson to the students.

Blacksmithing, cooking demo is step back in time

Barnwell State Park recently held a demonstration that took people back in time.

Derral Linder gave a presentation on the history and art of blacksmithing on Nov. 25 while Gwen Rodriguez did an outdoor cooking presentation. She cooked chili, baked beans and bread in cast iron pots over a wood fire. She said people in the 17th Century used a mustard sauce for the beans because they thought tomatoes were poisonous.

Pancake breakfast raises money for animals

A pancake breakfast equaled a tasty way to raise funds to help reduce the pet overpopulation.

GROWL sponsored the Dec. 2 event at the Masonic Lodge in Williston. All proceeds will help GROWL continue to fund a low-cost spay/neuter program because the organization pays for half of all surgeries that are done when Fido Fixers come to Williston. For example, if a surgery costs $80, then the pet owner pays $40 and GROWL pays the other $40.

Williston teen dances in Macy’s Thanksgiving parade

Williston-Elko High School sophomore Katie Hutto and 43 others from her dance studio in Bamberg performed on national television for Spirit of America Production Company in the 91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on Nov. 23.

Katie, the daughter of Michael and Holly Hutto, has dreamed of performing in the parade since joining the dance studio at age three.This was the 16-year-old’s sole chance to be in the parade because the dance studio is only chosen to participate every four years and the age limit is 19.

Community Soup Kitchen opening Friday, Dec. 1

Sixty people from 10 area churches attended a volunteer dinner meeting Nov. 17 to learn about helping with the new community soup kitchen opening Friday, Dec. 1 in the activity center of Barnwell First Baptist.

Currently, there are only enough volunteers to be open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon to 1 p.m.

“We still have a few days available on the calendar if anybody would like to help,” said Sherrie Still, soup kitchen coordinator.

Grant to fund demo of old Blackville school

The Town of Blackville reinstalled three council members and then got an early Christmas gift in the form of a Community Development Block Grant.

Council members Steven Jowers, Alan Harrison and Fred Orr each took the oath of office administered by Mayor Michael Beasley during the Nov. 20 meeting held at the Blackville Community Center.

Jowers, Harrison and Orr were unopposed in their bid for re-election for four-year terms on council.

Effort seeks to ‘connect’ area

The effort to “get connected” in the Lowcountry Promise Zone is moving forward and was highlighted this week at a meeting in Barnwell.

“A meeting in March 2016 set the stage for where we are today,” said Jim Stritzinger, Executive Director of Connect South Carolina. Since that meeting the United States Department of Agriculture provided a grant to help stakeholders collect data on digital connectivity in the Promise Zone which includes all or portions of Barnwell, Allendale, Bamberg, Hampton, Jasper and Colleton counties.

D19 highlights recent improvements

The Nov. 13 Barnwell District 19 School Board meeting highlighted curriculum and facility improvements.

Curriculum Director Blue Huggins said they are starting the third round of benchmark tests, which they do every four-and-a-half weeks. These tests are done in certain subjects.

“We are getting a handle on where our kids are,” said Huggins.

The district is also providing professional development to teachers about high progress literacy.

D29 looks at options to select new leader

The Williston District 29 School Board has five options for selecting a new superintendent.

The district has been without a permanent superintendent since the resignation of Dr. Missoura Ashe in September. Interim Superintendent Dr. Everette Dean Jr. said the board can either promote a current District 29 employee, conduct its own search, employ a search firm, employ the S.C. School Boards Association, or employ a headhunter.

“In all of them the board makes the ultimate decision,” said Dean during the board’s Nov. 20 meeting.

Career center adds $55,723 to fund balance

An audit report took up most of the Barnwell County Career Center board’s Nov. 20 meeting.

Rod Dooley from Dooley & Company provided preliminary audit results for the school’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended June 30. The results are preliminary as the final paperwork hasn’t been signed, but numbers are not expected to change.

The career center added $55,723 to its general fund balance. As of June 30, the fund balance totaled $416,514. Ideally, Dooley said, he recommends the career center have approximately $1.5 million in its fund balance.

Game day has important message for teens, parents

Axis I Center of Barnwell hosted its first game day event on Saturday, November 18 at the Barnwell County Library.

Teens played games while learning about sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy prevention. Natalia McLeod of Dillon facilitated the games. Parents were given information on ways to start the talk and community resources. There were 20 youth and eight parents who participated.

Blackville teens arrested for bomb threat

Two juveniles have been arrested in connection to a bomb threat that led to the evacuation of Blackville-Hilda High and Middle schools on Nov. 15.

Barnwell County Sheriff Ed Carroll said his office was notified at 12:56 p.m. of the threat of a bomb at the high school. He said the threat was called into the school, but declined to give further details of the call.

Barnwell Primary School student remembered

Barnwell Primary School is missing a piece of its puzzle after the death of Javian Hayward.

The 8-year-old died on Nov. 13 from injuries he sustained two days earlier from a wreck that occurred in Aiken County. His mother and older brother were also injured in the wreck.

“Our hearts go out to Javian’s family at this very difficult time. He will be dearly missed,” according to a statement on Barnwell District 45’s website.

Towns, county hold civil but direct meeting

A meeting was held Thursday, Nov. 16 without lawyers in a neutral site between four governmental entities that have been at odds for several years.

The Barnwell County Council met with the mayors and at least one councilman from each of the municipalities of Barnwell, Blackville and Williston. They came together to discuss issues related to the Barnwell County Economic Development Corporation and Commission.

Students, various agencies participate in drill

Over 100 people participated in a large-scale disaster drill on Nov. 15 in Barnwell County.

The drill simulated a 6.2-magnitude earthquake centered in Barnwell. The drill “assumed” the county courthouse had collapsed and a mobile command center had to be set up at the Barnwell County Airport. Over the course of the drill there were 51 people deemed as injured and 4 “confirmed” dead.

Williston approves matching grant to buy two police cars

The Williston Town Council approved an allocation as the town’s part of a matching grant to purchase two police cars and a utility vehicle.

The USDA grant pays for 55 percent of the cost up to $50,000 with the town matching 45 percent.

“We estimate the total cost will be about $88,000 meaning the grant will fund $48,400 and we would have to fund the remaining $39,600,” said Town Administrator Kenny Cook in a memo to council members.

He suggested that $22,000 from the Utilities Fund and $17,600 from the General Fund.

Memories retained at Blackville Museum

The Blackville Museum took people on a walk down memory lane during its Nov. 12 open house.

There was a good turnout for the event, which was held as a way to showcase all the work that’s been done recently to preserve the town’s history. The museum opened in 2016 at 655 Main Street.

“I think it’s wonderful. They’ve done a good job,” said Blackville resident Arie Guess.

Teen shooting victim ‘uncooperative’ with police

Details are limited about a shooting that injured a Blackville teen.

A 14-year-old male was shot on Sunday, Nov. 12 around 7:02 p.m. in the area of 954 Oak Avenue in Blackville as he walked between his house and a neighbor’s residence.

“One shot was fired and he was struck in the elbow,” said Blackville Police Chief John Holston of the juvenile victim.

SC Arts Commission reps visit Blackville

Members of the S.C. Arts Commission recently visited Blackville to provide an update about a rural arts initiative.

“The Art of Community: Rural SC” was launched in 2016 by the S.C. Arts Commission as part of its mission to create a thriving arts and culture environment for the state. The pilot program helps advance the Commission’s commitment to rural communities, particularly the six counties of the South Carolina Promise Zone. It receives financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

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