The Williston School District has announced at 4:00 pm today that the entire district will close schools to in-person learning and go virtual.
This is effective immediately.Read the rest of this entry »
Hampton — At least seven people are dead in the Central Savannah River Area after violent storms shredded the area early Easter Monday.Read the rest of this entry »
Graniteville — Fifteen years ago at 2:33 am, a loud boom suddenly changed a small west central Aiken County community forever.
That’s when two trains collided, causing a gigantic chemical spill that caused the community to be evacuated.
“They were local families,” Sheriff Michael Hunt told the Aiken Standard Friday, remembering the derailment and its effect on the community. “Some of them we were familiar with, so I think the loss of life is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s just sad we lost citizens, and our thoughts and prayers go with them today.” Read the rest of this entry »
Edgefield — Baby Boomers are behaving like children again.
On Sunday, several sporting events – the NBA, NASCAR and NCAA women’s basketball among them – saw multiple interruptions due to radio and TV stations “breaking in” to cover tornados. The path of destruction stretched from near Auburn, Ala. to Bishopville. Locally, Edgefield County – which was not under the Tornado Watch – was hit so hard, the schools were on a two hour delay to start the day.
At least twenty-four people dead in the Auburn Micropolitan Area alone, nearly thirty dead overall.
However, a man named Andrew from the Savannah-Hilton Head Island market was outraged over WSAV interrupting the PGA Tour to cover severe weather that hit the Georgia Lowcountry. He lashed out at the station’s chief meteorologist, Kris Allred, who was merely doing her job of making sure the folks in her television market – which includes the Aiken Area counties of Bulloch, Hampton, Jenkins and Screven – took proper shelter and stayed safe from the storm.
Ms. Allred was kind enough to not respond to him. I am not sure I would be as kind to someone like that. In fact, I know I would have tore Andrew a new one if I was in the position Ms. Allred was in.
Props to Ms. Allred and the meterologists throughout the Aiken Area for keeping us safe.
The #metoo campaign has gone local.
On December 18, the Williston-Elko School Board voted to ax Greg Sweet as the principal of Williston-Elko Middle School, the People-Sentinel of Barnwell reported.
Mr. Sweet has been accused of sexual harassment, allegations that have ensnared at least 190 prominent national and state figures, ranging from Harvey Weinstein to congressional candidate Andrea Ramsey (D-Kan.).
Aiken — Truck drivers who are victims of sexual violence can now park their 18-wheelers at the administrative office of a local shelter.
The Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons, the first shelter in South Carolina to accept male victims of sexual violence committed by women, has moved their administrative office to 254 Beaufort Street.
Beaufort Street is still the main truck route in Aiken to this day.
In an interview with the Aiken Standard, executive director Susan Selden said that this is the first time in the group’s history they have moved. From its beginnings in 1981 until this week, the Cumbee Center’s administrative office was located in downtown Aiken.
“We’ve been cramped in that little office since before I got there, with very narrow hallways for clients to walk down,” Ms. Selden told the Standard. “…We wanted them (clients) to have more privacy, and this fall, we hired more staff because of increased demand and we had to have somewhere to put them.”
That little office was on Lancaster Street, a place where trucks – and especially thru trucks – are prohibited from accessing and have been prohibited from accessing since before the Cumbee Center’s existence.
Ms. Selden noted that she has seen a marked rise in clients, especially male clients who were abused by spouses and female clients who were sexually assaulted or raped.
“They’re showing up to the hospital, and then we provide services after their hospital (visit), after their rape kits,” said Ms. Selden. “So, there’s been a definite increase in our hospital advocacy. We’ve seen more domestic violence clients. We’ve done more orders of protections this year than I remember, so we’ve had to hire additional staff.”
The Cumbee Center hired three staff members right away in October with its Victims of Crime Act Grant from the state’s Attorney General Office. Ms. Selden said she’s looking to hire additional staff members by the week ending on January 27, 2018.
The services offered at the organization’s new location will be the same as the previous location. That includes crisis care, counseling, case management and assistance with filing orders of protection.
Inside is Ms. Selden’s office, a little more than half a dozen offices for staff members, a kitchen and storage space, as well as a large conference area that can be used for trainings and community collaboration meetings.
Ms. Selden, who has been in her role since 2015, said she is excited about the move.
“I feel like we’ve gotten more awareness out which is one of the original goals … and we’re seeing more people come out,” she said. “I don’t know if theres an increase in violence. I think they know they can get good service here. Hopefully, they trust us.”
And although there is still a lot of moving taking place, Ms. Selden said, “We are officially open now. …This is the location to come to.”
Like all other businesses in the city, The Cumbee Center will go through a zoning process before signage goes up, but for those who still need assistance finding the location, it is located near Probation Parole and Pardon Services, as well as the Aiken County Health Department. Unlike with the previous location, The Cumbee Center’s new administrative office is now very easily accessible for truck drivers who may need to find a place to go and get out of a violent relationship.
It is also roughly a half mile from the new Aiken Department of Public Safety headquarters – also located on Beaufort Street.
There is also signage at the old location about the move.
The Cumbee Center also operates confidential emergency shelters in Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell, Edgefield and McCormick counties. If you or someone you know needs assistance and/or access to the shelter, you can call the center’s hotline numbers. They are 803-259-4451 and/or 803-649-0480.
Update at 10:28: The shelters themselves are located in private areas. The Cumbee Center’s administrative office is the place that relocated. We apologize for the error.
Aiken — A middle-aged woman was arrested for killing a man early today.
Officers from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office were called at 3:48 today to a residence on Dottie Road.
When they arrived, they saw the 52-year-old male victim, who the suspect was in a relationship with, keeled over as a result of a gunshot wound.
The incident between the couple resulted from a domestic dispute.
Candy Michelle Newman, 49, of 21 Dottie Road, was arrested and charged with manslaughter.
Johnston — WRDW/WAGT confirmed Wednesday afternoon that a tornado hit the City of Johnston earlier that day.
In fact, it was so bad, that Governor Henry McMaster ordered a curfew for the city of Johnston on Wednesday night. It started at 21:00 and ended at 7:00 today.
As WJBF-DT mentions:
Many of those trees crashing into homes and cars, and even taking down power lines, leaving nearly 1,200 people without power.
The storm wreaked havoc on the South Carolina town, leaving many in Johnston homeless for the night.
“I was just talking about that earlier. I cannot remember the last time I saw a storm come through here like this,” said Johnston resident Andrew Barwick. “This is the worst one I’ve seen since I’ve lived here.”
Edgefield County EMS will tour the city today.
Meanwhile, a tornado was also confirmed in Monetta on Wednesday, making it the second tornado to hit the Aiken and Saluda County town this week.
Also: a 35-year-old woman said that a possible tornado hit her home near the Barnwell-Elko Highway in Elko. That is yet to be confirmed, although the storm that prompted a thunderstorm warning for Barnwell County did have some signs of rotation on radar.
The damage and destruction were not limited to the South Carolina side of the Augusta-Aiken area: the thunderstorm complex also damaged homes and knocked down power lines in Grovetown, Ga. and in Statesboro.
The school day forecast for Wednesday is calling for scattered strong thunderstorms with a maximum of 78.
However, the Williston School District 29 will be using its last early release day of the 2016-2017 school year on Wednesday, a day which was originally scheduled for April 26.
The temperature at the end of the school day, which will be 10:48 for Kelly Edwards Elementary School and 11:00 for Williston-Elko Middle and High School, will be 72 with thunderstorms starting to fire up. The storms could be strong at times. For the beginning of the shortened school day, it is expected to be overcast and 66.
UPDATE @ 21:08: Orangeburg Consolidated School District has alerted its three district zones (Orangeburg 3, 4 and 5) that they will also end the school day early. This information comes from the Times and Democrat.
UPDATE @ 22:13: WJBF-DT is reporting that McCormick County School District is shutting down for the entire day. They will make up this day on April 24. The news station is also reporting that Barnwell School District 45 and Blackville School District 19 will also dismiss at 11:00.
Image of Williston-Elko High School via Facebook
Horse Creek — A rookie coach for the Midland Valley Mustangs’ girls basketball team was arrested for rape.
The Aiken County School District said their officials uncovered allegations of inappropriate contact between the coach and a female pupil shortly after school returned from Christmas break, which led to an immediate internal investigation by the school district, during which the suspect and the alleged victim denied having any inappropriate contact with one another whatsoever.
After interviewing numerous people of interest, the suspect was told to stay away from the victim and given a cessation of contact order.
Five weeks later, the victim then changed her story and confirmed that she and the suspect did something criminally inappropriate.
“We are extremely disappointed and upset by the nature of the allegations, and we will vigorously support the future prosecution of this case,” said the the Aiken County School District in the release.
Paul Quiller, information unknown, was arrested by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday and charged with statutory rape. The Augusta-Richmond County Sheriff’s Office also assisted in the investigation.
This is not the first time someone who has ties to Midland Valley High was arrested. Last month, another adult who worked at Midland Valley was arrested.
And in 2014, Paul Waters, a former employee of Midland Valley, was arrested at South Aiken High School for statutory rape. Also a former coach at Williston-Elko, Mr. Waters pleaded guilty to the charges against him 29 months ago.
On Thursday, residents of the towns of Williston, Windsor, Elko, Neeses, North, Norway, Wolfton and Woodford all got their telephone books, which was 15 days earlier than usual.
Usually, no one cares to look near the front, but I did (because I wanted to look at prefixes and area codes) and disgusted does not even begin to describe my reaction when I looked at the Human Services section, which is before you even get to the White Pages. Read the rest of this entry »