Jonathan Vickery

Carolina Shockers seeking players for boys and girls teams

The Carolina Shockers basketball teams are seeking players for the new season.

The amateur youth travel league teams started last year with two teams of boys, but are expanding to include girls this season. Divisions are: 5th-6th grades boys team, 7th-8th grades boys and girls team, 9th- 10th grades boys and girls team, and 11th-12th grades boys team.

“I call basketball the game of life,” said Marcus Rivera, director of Carolina Shockers, of how the sport teaches players discipline, structure and how to operate as a team. He played basketball in high school and college.

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.

Filing opens Friday for school board candidates

Would you like to serve on one of Barnwell County’s three public school boards?

If so, filing opens this Friday, Jan. 12 at 8 a.m. for residents who want to be a candidate for either Barnwell District 19 (Blackville-Hilda Public Schools), Barnwell District 45, or Williston District 29. Filing will remain open until 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26.

“Residents desiring to be a candidate for one of the listed offices must file a Statement of Intention of Candidacy with the appropriate school district,” according to a notice of election ad published on page 5A.

DIG partnership expands STEM impact

A new partnership is allowing a Williston organization to DIG deeper into the community.

The Dreams, Imagination & Gift (DIG) Development Program was started in 2013 by Williston native Steven Brown. Though he now calls Greenville home, he started DIG as a way to give back to his hometown after noticing how children in rural areas lack the same resources and opportunities as their peers in bigger cities.

Hobby turns into creative adventure

Using her God-given talents, Tausha Wallace has created a blissful new chapter in her life along with a prosperous business after a failed relationship.

The Barnwell native, who now calls Greenville home, launched Southern Bliss Designs in October 2016. The handcrafted home décor business started as a hobby to cope with the pain of a broken engagement earlier that year.

“It was very therapeutic for me at the time,” said Wallace, the daughter of Tim and Connie Wallace of Barnwell.

Rekindled Hobby

Crane donates to 10 charities

Ten charities on a local and statewide level are the beneficiaries of thousands of dollars in donations from Crane Merchandising Systems in Williston.

Charitable organizations from Barnwell, Aiken and other surrounding areas were nominated by Crane employees to receive funds through the Crane Fund for Widows and Children, which “makes contributions to charitable organizations that provide direct assistance to underserved populations in communities where Crane operates,” according to the company’s website.

Sweet fired as WEMS principal

The employment of Williston-Elko Middle School’s principal has been terminated due to misconduct, although the district is tight-lipped about details.

Greg Sweet, who had been Williston-Elko Middle School’s principal since 2013, was fired on Dec. 11 by the school board, according to documents recently released by the district following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Before his termination, Sweet had been on paid administrative leave since Monday, October 30.

D45 downsizing district office staff

Barnwell School District 45 is downsizing its district office staff by three positions in an effort to save money that can be used for other districtwide operations.

The district announced on Dec. 19 that they are eliminating the assistant superintendent’s position that was vacated by Crissie Stapleton when she was hired as superintendent in June. They are also eliminating the vacant curriculum specialist position and the human resources assistant position once the current employee retires at the end of December.

Taylor Hearn, #51, plans to enter NFL draft

Clemson redshirt junior Taylor Hearn will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft once this season concludes.

The offensive guard from Williston told the media the news on Wednesday morning, Dec. 20, at Clemson’s media day when asked about his future.

He said he met with head coach Dabo Swinney and offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell before making his decision.

Hearn walked across the graduation stage Dec. 21 with a degree in parks, recreation, and tourism management.

Audit: D45 adds $861,820 to fund balance

Barnwell District 45 received an early Christmas gift in the form of a positive audit report.

For the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, the district added $861,820 to its fund balance for the general fund, which is the district’s largest operating fund. They now have $3,525,525 in reserves, which is enough money to cover three months’ worth of expenses, said David Enzastiga from the Rish & Enzastiga firm during the school board’s Dec. 14 meeting.

Blackville Recreation Department celebrates successful fall season

Young cheerleaders and football players were honored by the Blackville Recreational Department.

The department held its annual Football and Cheerleading Banquet on Dec. 5 at the Blackville Community Center. Following a meal, Rev. C.A. Moses from Mt. Zion Baptist Church gave an inspirational message to the young athletes and their families.

“The person you will be in the future is based on everything you can do today,” said Moses, who encouraged the athletes to “stay focused and stay on task.”

Allendale woman killed in wreck

Pink and white balloons filled the air in remembrance of a 19-year-old Allendale woman who was killed last week in a car wreck.

Allisa Freeman of Sincere Lane, Allendale, was pronounced dead about 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 19 following an automobile versus tree collision on Highway 278 East near Mt. Olive Circle in Barnwell County, said Barnwell County Coroner Lloyd Ward. She died of head trauma, he said.

Search starts for D29 leader

The Williston District 29 School Board has hired the S.C. School Boards Association (SCSBA) to lead the search for a new superintendent.

SCSBA Executive Director Scott Price attended the board’s special Dec. 11 meeting where he presented a basic proposal that includes various timelines, activities and phases to search for a new leader. He said they can tailor it to fit the district’s needs. Searches typically take between four and six months.

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