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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Woman sentenced in 2016 killing

Easley woman gets 20 years after guilty plea in neighbor’s shooting

PICKENS — An Easley woman will spend the next two decades behind bars for shooting her neighbor to death in 2016.

Circuit Judge Edward W. Miller sentenced 59-year-old Rebecca Barten Smoak, 59, to 20 years in prison Thursday after she pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and weapons possession.

Smoak was arrested in September 2016 and charged with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime after 58-year-old James Kenneth Brazeal was shot in the chest.

During the plea hearing, Assistant 10th Circuit Solicitor Baker Cleveland presented evidence showing that on Sept. 10, 2016 Smoak shot Brazeal in the abdomen with a .410 shotgun. Brazeal was able to identify Smoak as the shooter to 911 dispatchers, but died after being taken by ambulance to the hospital,

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‘One of a kind’

Pickens’ beloved ‘Mountain Man’ dies at 78

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

jevans@thepccourier.com

PICKENS — “Mountain Man” Robert Perry, one of Pickens County’s most well-known and beloved characters, died suddenly Thursday morning. He was 78.

“We’ve lost an icon,” Hagood Mill director Billy Crawford said Thursday afternoon. “It’s a shock to all of us. He was in good health. The man barely had any wrinkles on his face.”

Crawford said Perry was “definitely one of a kind.”

“He was known near and far by so many people,” he said. “He was so recognizable for all his contributions to the community, for the music and the heritage.”

Wayne Kelley of the Pickens County Historical Society said Perry is “irreplaceable.”

“Robert was the real deal,” Kelley said. “He was admired by many, many people. We are stunned and we are sorrowful at this loss.”

A moonshining expert, Perry was the inspiration for Hagood Mill’s monthly folklife and traditional arts demonstrations, as he asked late site manager Ed Bolt in 1998 “Since you run the mill every month on the third Saturday, why don’t I come out here every month and demonstrate the still?”

Perry’s late wife, Marlene, soon joined him, demonstrating her sewing and knitting. His daughters would sometimes do “black kettle clothes washing in the creek,” and one by one, other demonstrators joined in as volunteers, and the monthly event grew into what it is today.

“His family had been in the moonshining business since the 1750s,” Crawford

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Slain teen’s mother files wrongful death suit

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

jevans@thepccourier.com

EASLEY — The mother of a teenager shot and killed in 2016 has filed a lawsuit against two area businesses.

The wrongful death and survival action lawsuit was filed on July 2 in the Pickens County Court of Common Pleas by attorney Michanna Talley Tate on behalf of Latoya Robinson, the mother of Kejuan Brown.

Brown, 17, was killed outside of Tri-City Lanes the night of Feb. 17, 2016. His body was found in the parking lot of the bowling alley. He’d been shot in the chest.

Four people were charged in connection with Brown’s death.

Jamari Trayvar Fair, 20, of Pickens, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to

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Heavy rains, flash flooding possible

COUNTY — Predicted heavy rainfall this week has caused the National Weather Service to place all of Pickens County under a flash flood watch through at least Thursday evening.

The Clemson area could get as much as 4.68 inches of rain, according to projections.

During a flood, water levels and the rate the water flows can quickly change.

Residents are urged to monitor local radio and television for alerts.

The NWS recommends these steps for flash flood safety:

• Get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. During a flood watch, remember “Turn around, don’t drown.”

• Do not drive or walk into flooded areas. Officials say it only takes 6 inches of water to knock a person off their feet.

• Stay informed. Monitor local radar, television, weather radio, internet or social media for updates.

 

Sheriff updates progress on new jail

By Greg Oliver
Courtesy The Journal

goliver@upstatetoday.com

CENTRAL — Pickens County sheriff Rick Clark shared photos of the county’s new detention center currently under construction with members of Pickens United at their meeting Monday in Central Town Council chambers, saying he is pleased with how the project is coming along.

“They’ve done some great work with all the weather we’ve had,” Clark said.

Groundbreaking for the new facility, located on South Catherine Street in Pickens, took place last winter, and construction is scheduled for completion in April. The 83,400-square-foot facility will house 316 beds, which Clark said will address the longstanding issue of overcrowding at the existing facility, built in 1974.

“We’re allowed 93 by the (South Carolina) Department of Corrections and hit 253 a couple of weeks ago,” Clark said. “We’re a little over 200 and haven’t seen 150 in years. That’s a lot of stress — not only on us,

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PHS alumni volleyball match set for Friday

PICKENS — It’s time once again for the annual Pickens High School alumni volleyball match, which signals the start of volleyball season at PHS.

The match is planned this Friday, Aug. 3, from 6-8 p.m. Admission is free for the alumni scrimmage.

All former PHS players are encouraged to put on their “spandex,” lace up their shoes and show up to scrimmage the PHS 2018 Lady Blue Flame. Those who can’t play are invited to come out and support the teams.

The Lady Flame finished as Class 4A S.C. Upper State champions in 2017. Their goal for 2018 is to win it all — their 16th state title.

The 2018 team will be returning several players from last year’s championship team and will have some very talented freshmen and JV players moving up to

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SWU names new VP for advancement

CENTRAL — Southern Wesleyan University recently welcomed K. Scott Drury as its new vice president for advancement, more than three decades after his father served in the same role.

Drury, a SWU graduate, brings a range of professional success encompassing law, fundraising and Christian service. He has robust experience in all aspects of fund development, including planned and major gifts, campaign planning, donor relations and building support within churches and faith-based networks.

Drury spent nearly a decade practicing law in Los Angeles, serving litigation and estate planning clients, before becoming director of resource development at World Hope International, a Christian relief and development organization based in Washington, D.C. In recent years he has grown a diverse portfolio of fundraising and legal clients, serving as development advisor to the president of World Hope International, legal and technical advisor to the Last Well (a Liberia-focused non-governmental organization), managing director for Educational Services International (a missional teaching and outreach organization), stewardship professional and

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Employees of Walmart, Sam’s Clubs honored for fundraising

GREENVILLE — Representatives from regional Walmart and Sam’s Clubs were recognized for their annual fundraising efforts during Walmart Day on Monday at Greenville Memorial Hospital.

As part of the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN), Children’s Hospital of Greenville Health System (GHS) has been the recipient of more than $11

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Play Ball

Senior League World Series field narrowing

By Bru Nimmons
Staff Reporter

bnimmons@thepccourier.com

EASLEY — Baseball is booming in the city of Easley, as the Senior League Baseball World Series opened up play last Saturday.

The tournament — which runs through this Saturday’s championship game, set to be televised at 8 p.m. on ESPN2 — was beginning to narrow itself down through three days of play at press time Tuesday, with teams from all over the world vying for the championship trophy.

The local S.C. District 1 team, comprised of some of the top young players in Easley, lost a tough first game to Central East Maui LL, representing the U.S. West region, but bounced back Monday night, as pitcher Luke Ryals threw a dazzling

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Brotherly love

Asia-Pacific player reunites with sibling after 7 years

EASLEY — The J.B. “Red” Owens Baseball Complex in Easley is hosting international competition, new friendships and exciting fan experiences this week as the Senior League Baseball World Series is in town.

On Saturday, it featured a family reunion as well.

Justin Celis and his teammates from Saipan, the largest island of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, qualified for the SLBWS representing the Asia-Pacific region earlier this summer, an opportunity of a lifetime.

However, Justin didn’t realize how special the trip would be. His brother, Ton, moved to the state of Washington seven years ago, and the two brothers had not seen each other since.

When Ton realized the CNMI team was making the 54-hour journey to the United States, he began

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