Category Archives: News

‘Dark Days’

Supporters speak out in wake of mill director’s firing

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

PICKENS — Supporters of former Hagood Mill director Billy Crawford packed Pickens County Council chambers Monday night to protest his firing.

Crawford was terminated May 2, and Hagood Mill Foundation chair Betty McDaniel resigned after the firing. During the public forum portion of Monday’s council meeting, several residents spoke in support of Crawford.

Dean Watson said these are “dark days” for the mill and Pickens County.

“It’s been two long, sad years seeing the corruption, the ineptitude, cronyism,” Watson said. “Nepotism. It’s called friends and family getting preferential hiring — and outright bullying and intimidation of employees.”

A tourism consultant, Watson said he’d offered to meet with county officials “to discuss solutions to problems at the mill,” but his offer had not been accepted.

He told council “the situation is dire.”

“It needs to be corrected, and you six men are the ones to do it,” he said.

Marianne Hoynes said she began volunteering at the mill after being “very, very impressed” when visiting the mill herself.

“But it was really hard to hear whenever Billy’s boss would come around, it was very hard to hear him being denigrated the way he was, talked

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PCSO: Kids shot loaded school bus

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

SIX MILE — A 15-year-old and an 11-year-old are facing charges after police said they shot a Pickens County school bus full of children with an air gun last week.

The two are each charged with malicious damage to property with a value less than $2,000, second-degree assault and battery and interfering with the operation of a school bus, Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Hashe said in a news release Thursday.

The sheriff’s office was notified just before 4 p.m. on May 8 that a window on the bus was damaged as it was traveling on Bridwell

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Speeding tickets and story idea strikeouts

First, a shout out to Patrolwoman Lindsay Mason of the Pickens Police Department.

As I was roaring down Main Street one day last week at, according to her, 41 mph, in a section where I thought the speed limit was 35, she pulled me over and very politely informed me of my transgression.

Undeterred by the fact that I am a local celebrity and on a first-name basis with the mayor, and that I once taught guitar lessons to the current Pickens County administrator and went to high school with a current United States senator and have performed on stage with Percy Sledge and James Brown, she proceeded to write out a ticket. (No, I didn’t tell her all that, but I assume it’s common knowledge.)

She did have the compassion to mark it down to appear as though I was going only 32 mph in a 25 mph zone. But it was still a 2-point violation and a $76.50 ticket. That effectively doubled the cost of the project I was engaged in at the time, which was going to my stepson’s house to put together a raised-bed vegetable garden.

All kidding aside, I do think that section of Main Street, heading out of town toward the Flea Market, ought to be a 35 mph zone. I have learned my lesson and will be more careful in the future — but I think this being my first offense, a warning would have done the job just as well.

Now, let me hit on a topic I wanted to write about but that didn’t quite come together,

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Harden Scholarship winner named

The scholarship committee of the Cannon Memorial Hospital Auxiliary recently announced Micah Jordan as the winner of the 2019 Dr John Harden Scholarship. Jordan is a senior at Pickens High School and is ranked second in his class. He is involved in his school and community through sports, committees, church and work. He has been accepted to Clemson University for the fall. He plans to obtain an undergraduate degree in bioengineering. He plans to use the degree and further education as an innovative physician. Jordan exhibits excellence in academics, attitude and achievements, according to the committee, which wishes to congratulate Jordan and recognize all applicants and wish them all much success in their careers in the health care field. Pictured, from left, are Tom Cloer, Mary Beelow, Elaine Cloer, Jordan and Diana Hancock. Not available for the picture was Carol Burnikel.


Would justice be possible?

31 men arrested and put on trial in Earle’s death

By Dr. Thomas Cloer, Jr.

Special to The Courier

Last week, we began a review of William B. Gravely’s book “They Stole Him Out of Jail: Willie Earle, South Carolina’s Last Lynching Victim.” The just-released book from the South Carolina Press ( or is the most thoroughly researched book ever on the 1947 lynching of Willie Earle, a black prisoner taken from the old Pickens jail and brutally killed and left on the side of a road across the Greenville County line outside Easley.

The Brutal Murder of Willie Earle

Greenville taxi drivers Roosevelt Hurd, Marvin “Red” Fleming, Griggs, Woodrow Clardy and Hendrix Rector went to Willie Earle’s cell at the old Pickens jail and grabbed him out. Driver Rector grabbed Earle by the collar. Griggs jerked him down steps, and Earle was shoved violently into different drivers. Drivers Hurd, Clardy and Fleming, with help from another driver, threw the prisoner into the lead taxi cab. Hurd was in the front car holding one of the shotguns. He was still partaking of whiskey and was becoming more inebriated as the long night unfolded.

The official drivers’ statements gave different versions of who questioned Earle about knifing cab driver Thomas Brown. Fourteen of the statements from those arrested said that Earle confessed before dying; other statements contradicted. Of course, a confession under such circumstances means little. After passing into Greenville County, the seven remaining taxis stopped to question Earle further. Hurd pointed the shotgun at Willie Earle’s head and Clardy called out not to kill that “negro” in his cab. “That’s where I make my living,” he said, according to statements. Clardy then led the mob to a more secluded spot near the property of the judge who would later conduct the trial.

Gravely writes in a sobering manner, “Arriving at the spot … the central actors gathered around Earle for the last time.” Driver Red Fleming “tried to talk nice to the n—–,” according to driver Charlie Covington’s statement to law officials. Fleming reminded Earle that he didn’t have long to live and coaxed Earle not to “die with a lie in his heart.” Someone shouted that they should take Earle to the hospital and let Thomas Brown identify him. Remember, driver Thomas Brown died after Willie Earle. At this time, Brown was still alive at St. Francis Hospital. The drivers pushed hard to get Earle to identify the other attacker of Brown. Wanting his breath of life for any extended minutes he might get, Earle begged the men to take him where he could identify a person.

Gravely writes, “Suddenly, the talking ceased.” Driver Griggs hit Earle hard in the face. Driver Rector took the shotgun that Clardy

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32 Young Appalachian Musicians honored for work in YAMs program

COUNTY — Congratulations go out to 32 Young Appalachian Musicians who’ve shown outstanding hard work and achievement in the YAM program.

The winners are from the YAM after-school program (more than 300 kids), the Evening Program, and YAM Camp.

Each child had to write an essay, do a recording of their playing and have two letters of recommendation. Each of the students will

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Classics at the co-op

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative hosted its 22nd annual Blue Ridge Fest at its headquarters in Pickens on Friday, bringing thousands of people from around the Upstate together for a night of classic music, classic cars, food and dancing to raise money for charity, headlined by a performance by the Oak Ridge Boys. The event also featured performances by Jim Quick and Coastline and The Tams. To see more photos, visit Photos by Rocky Nimmons and Bru Nimmons


Legislators honor responders

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — State legislators recently honored the members of the Pickens County Emergency Management Response Team for helping victims of Hurricane Florence last year.

Members of the Pickens County Legislative Delegation presented the response team with a resolution passed by the S.C. House of Representatives recognizing them for “their heroic efforts.”

The resolution said Pickens County sent three divisions of its Emergency Management Response Team — the swiftwater rescue team, fire engine crew and communications team — to the Pee Dee on Sept. 12 to “lend a hand in the crisis brought on by Hurricane Florence.”

While deployed, the Emergency Management Response Team completed 3,672 man-hours of rescue work in the Pee Dee, the

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Plaque placed to honor Pickens legend Anthony

By Bru Nimmons
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — Pickens High School added the finishing touches to the Peggy Harden Anthony Gymnasium after placing a bronze plaque honoring the legendary coach outside the gym recently.

The plaque, which was made possible by a donation from Dillard Funeral Home, lists many of the coach’s incredible accomplishments over her career at Pickens.

“I’m so glad we could honor Mrs. Peggy,” Dillard employee C.B. Dunson said. “My wife won two state titles playing for her, and we’re just some of the many people she has impacted in this community.

“It is such an honor to share her legacy and show how much she means to Pickens.”

In her 26-year career at Pickens, Anthony brought home nine state volleyball championships, while coaching 28 All-State players, including

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Pickens Rec Report

By Cheri Anthony
Pickens Recreation Director

PICKEN — Our Diamond Day celebration was a great success, although the weather did end our day’s festivities a little earlier than planned. We want to thank all of our friends, relatives and visiting teams from Pendleton, Dacusville, Walhalla, Westminster and Central/Clemson who came to enjoy the day with us and supported this event.

During the noon festivities, our ninth annual PYAC Town Creek Speedy Ball Race was run. 524 colorful plastic balls raced down Town Creek in just less than eight minutes. We are immeasurably grateful to all the folks who sold and helped us with this fundraiser. The rec department was proud to award three sellers who went above and beyond. These participants were Nick Barone in first place, Ethan Mumma in second place and Anslie Abercrombie in third place. Winners of the Speedy Ball Race were as follows. First place and winner of the $150 cash prize was Ball No. 412, purchased by Ethan Mumma, second place and winner of a Ryobi portable electric pressure washer was Ball No. 24, purchased by Sadie Simmons, and third place and winner of a Ryobi cordless jet

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