Standoff ends in arrest

PICKENS — A man was arrested after a six-hour standoff with Pickens police on Sunday. According to a release from More »

Sheriff’s office: Captive woman sexually assaulted

LIBERTY — A Liberty man was arrested last week after police said he held a woman against her will and More »

Duke Energy awards grants to local projects

By Jason Evans Staff Reporter COUNTY — An effort to improve recreational opportunities in the Twelve Mile River area More »

Marines get taste of Clemson military heritage, football

Rex Brown/ Courtesy The Journal A pair of Marines taking part in the eighth annual Honoring Their Service event rub More »

Pickens County cities plan July 4 festivals

By Jason Evans Staff Reporter COUNTY — Pickens County will be celebrating Independence Day with a variety of events beginning More »

Taylor to lead GUMC

Grace United Methodist Church of Pickens has announced a pastoral change. As of Sunday, July 2, Pastor David C. Taylor More »


Wilson is new county administrator

Rocky Nimmons/Courier
After more than two decades of service to Pickens County, public works director Gerald Wilson was hired as the new county administrator on Monday night.

PICKENS — Two and a half years after Chappell Hurst retired following more than seven years as Pickens County administrator, county council members are hopeful they have finally found a permanent replacement for the position.

During their regular monthly meeting on Monday, council members voted unanimously to hire longtime county employee Gerald Wilson to take over as administrator beginning in August.

Wilson, who will have a two-year contract, will take over the position from interim administrator Tom Hendricks, who was appointed to the role in February.

Since Hurst’s departure in January 2014, four men have been named to the administrator position at different times, with Hendricks and county finance director Ralph Guarino serving on an interim basis. County council unanimously approved the hiring of Union County, N.C., city manager Matthew Delk for the job in July 2014, but the two sides parted ways the following February, after Delk served less than six months on the job.

Delk’s departure eventually led to a S.C. Law Enforcement investigation after allegations were made by councilman Neil Smith via email to clerk to council Donna Owen that Delk had used county resources illegally. However, no charges were filed.

Several months later, county council voted to hire Transylvania County, N.C., operations manager David McNeill for the job, only to see McNeill decide a short time later that he would stay at his current job.

According to a news release issued Tuesday by Pickens County officials, Wilson “brings a wealth of experience to the position of county administrator, not only in the details of county government, but also in the people and places within Pickens County,” as he began his career with the county as a motor equipment operator in 1992.

Wilson worked his way up the ranks beginning with a 1997 promotion to transportation supervisor for the county’s recycling department, ultimately becoming Pickens County public works director in 2012, with oversight for the county’s roads and bridges, solid waste, recycling, vehicle maintenance, building maintenance, animal control, the county stockade and the engineering department.

Wilson “has proved his loyalty, leadership abilities and dedication to Pickens County throughout his last 23 years of service,” the release said.

County council vice chairman Trey Whitehurst expressed confidence in Wilson’s abilities to handle the position.

“Gerald Wilson has proved time and time again that he has the knowledge and understanding of what it takes to run Pickens County,” Whitehurst said. “We are very confident that he will do a fantastic job and are happy to give him that opportunity.”

Councilman Ensley Feemster said Wilson’s experience over the last two decades of service to the county put him in position to be successful.

“In the one and a half years that I have been on Pickens County Council, I have been impressed with Gerald’s professionalism,” Feemster said. ” He understands technical issues that have to be dealt with, as well as dealing with staff and the public.”

With last month’s primary elections leading to three new faces on county council come January, Wilson expressed excitement about the direction the county is heading.

“I am proud to further serve Pickens County and look forward to working with the new county council,” he said. “I want to thank county council for having faith in me to do the job. I’ll try my best to not disappoint them.

“During the next two years, it will give new council members 18 months to get adjusted to their roles and determine where they want to go with the administrator position after my contract expires.”


Easley hosts BLWS

Kerry Gilstrap/Courier

In anticipation of the return of the Big League World Series next week,frontpitch the city of Easley served as host of the Big League Southeast Regional Tournament over the weekend at Alice Mill Park, where Florida earned its BLWS berth with a 4-0 sweep through the tournament, including beating Virginia 4-1 in Monday’s championship game. To read more about next week’s Big League World Series in Easley, turn to page B1.

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New council member

South Carolina House Rep. Gary Clary administered the oath of office to Karen Bedenbaugh as the newest member of the Six Mile Town Council on Tuesday, July 5. Holding the Bible for Bedenbaugh was her son, Carson, and she was also joined by her husband, Toby, and son, Nolan.Council


Blue Ridge presents funds

Blue Ridge presents beneficiaries with annual Blue Ridge Fest funds

Samaritan Heatlh Clinic of Pickens County EDITED

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative employees Cindy Leslie and Zach Hinton present Samaritan Health Clinic of Pickens County a check totaling $16,000 from the 19th annual Blue Ridge Fest. Accepting on behalf of the organization was Executive Director Tobias Vogel. Craig Ragsdale and Will Ragsdale, representatives of Blue Ridge Fest sponsor Martin Printing Co., were also in attendance. Pictured from left: Tobias Vogel, Craig Ragsdale, Will Ragsdale, Cindy Leslie and Zach Hinton.

Feed a Hungry Child EDITED

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative employees Kandy Brooks, Kathy Ellenburg and Alan Stephens (far left) presented Feed a Hungry Child of Pickens County a check totaling $16,000 from the 19th annual Blue Ridge Fest. Accepting the check on behalf of the organization were Rebecca Warlick, Mike Parrot and Millage Cassell (far right). Also in attendance were Blue Ridge Fest sponsors Bart Turner of South State Bank; Tommy Bearden of Bearden Landscaping; and Davey Hiott of Hiott for House. Pictured from left: Kandy Brooks, Kathy Ellenburg, Alan Stephens, Bart Turner, Tommy Bearden, Davey Hiott, Rebecca Warlick, Mike Parrot and Millage Cassell.

Emerson Rose Heart Foundation EDITED

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative and Blue Ridge Security Solutions presented Emerson Rose Heart Foundation a check totaling $17,000 from the 19th annual Blue Ridge Fest. Accepting the check on behalf of the organization were co-founders Susan and Jason Smith. Also present were Blue Ridge Fest sponsors, Trehel Corporation and RSCT Architecture and Design. Pictured from left: Jason Smith, Susan Smith, Terry Ballenger, Sen. Thomas Alexander, Neal Workman, Will Huss, Christina Tedesco, Jessica Stone, Gabe Bolding and Robby Merck.

The Dream Center Final

Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative employees Tony Kelley and Mark McCall (far left) recently presented The Dream Center of Pickens County a check totaling $17,000 from the 19th annual Blue Ridge Fest. Accepting on behalf of The Dream Center, from left, were Michael Barnes, Joey Turner, Ashley Cox, Amanda Taylor, Chris and Jim Wilson, co-founders, Aimee White and Shannon Leatherwood. Since the inception of Blue Ridge Fest, the event has raised more than $2.2 million for Upstate charitable organizations.

Cancer Association of Anderson 2

Blue Ridge Security Solutions employees Dusty Reeves and Gabe Bolding recently presented the Cancer Association of Anderson a check totaling $17,000 from the 19th annual Blue Ridge Fest. Pictured from left: Lynn Buchanan, Connie Pickens, Carrie Binnicker, Angie Stringer and Stanley Cole of Cancer Association of Anderson; Rick Steele of Fairway Outdoor Advertising, Blue Ridge Fest Sponsor; Dusty Reeves of Blue Ridge Security Solutions; Shane Bowers of McCall Thomas Engineering, Blue Ridge Fest Sponsor; Becky Busby-Maiello of Systems Distributors Inc., Blue Ridge Fest Sponsor; and Gabe Bolding of Blue Ridge Security Solutions.

Easley NJROTC cadets complete leadership academy

EASLEY — Four Easley High School Naval JROTC cadets graduated from the Area Six Leadership Academy on June 25, held at the Citadel Military College.

One week of vigorous mental and physical training designed to develop the future leaders of the more than 60 NJROTC units throughout North and South Carolina. 180 cadets were involved in the training and were awarded a silver aiguillettes upon graduation. The honored silver aiguillette is the only aiguillette that can be worn on the right shoulder — more responsibility and initiative is expected from a cadet that wears one.

Physical fitness is the initial training at the beginning of each day followed by personnel and bunk inspection, classroom instruction, orienteering, close order drill, manual of the sword and of course proper etiquette. In order for a cadet to graduate they must pass a physical fitness exam which consists of one minute of push-ups, one minute of curl-ups and a one mile run and the requirements vary by age and gender.

Easley cadets who completed the academy were cadets Brandon Marsh, Kelsie Hart, William Frazier and Heidi Jacome.


Appalachian Music Program signups now open

COUNTY — Would you like to learn how to play the guitar, banjo, fiddle or mandolin? Enrollment is now underway for the Appalachian Evening Music Program.

The summer session will begin the week of Monday, Aug. 1, at various locations. The program is open to students from third grade through adults of all ages and is designed to teach students to play Appalachian music. The cost is $60 for a six-week session, and rental instruments are available, if needed, for $25.

Enrollment period is open now, so anyone interested in signing up for the new session should contact one of the following program directors:

Easley, Tuesday nights, First Baptist Church. Contact: Susan Ware-Snow, (864) 979-9188 or

Pickens, Monday and Thursday nights, Pickens Community Center. Contact: Steve McGaha, (864) 283-4871 or

Six Mile, Monday nights. Contact: Sunshine Dennis, (864) 630-4039 or

The Evening Music Program is sponsored by Preserving Our Southern Appalachian Music (POSAM), a charitable non-profit organization. For more information about the program, visit, Facebook: “YAM (Young Appalachian Musicians),” or contact Betty McDaniel (director) at (864) 878-4257 or


Pickens Farmers market set for August opening

PICKENS — Area farmers and those who love the vegetables they grow will now be able to get together in Pickens, as the city has announced the opening of Market and Music, coming to downtown in August.

The Farmers Market will be held on Court Street every Saturday throughout August from 4-7 p.m. Following the market, those attending can head to the city’s amphitheater behind the historic Bradley-Boggs House on Main Street for music beginning at 7 p.m.

The first event will be held on Saturday, Aug. 6, and will feature vendors from all over the area.

“This is our trial run this August,” city of Pickens employee Becky Horace said. “We are not sure how it will all work out, but we are hopeful for a huge turnout of both vendors and people looking for fresh produce and to enjoy the music.”

The event is led by the city of Pickens with help of volunteers.

If you or someone you know would be interested in being a vendor, contact Horace at


New show planned at Foothills Playhouse

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

EASLEY — Memories will come alive in the latest production at the Foothills Playhouse.

“Rememberin’ Stuff” opens Friday evening at the playhouse and runs through the weekend.

The show features a young cast, said Haley Kreft, who is co-directing the show along with Ryan Oliver.

“It’s all young people, ages 12 to 20,” she said.

She describes the show as a “dramedy.”

The show revolves around a high school drama club sharing their memories — memories that spark the scenes onstage.

The scenes run the gamut from hilarious to poignant.

Parents may want to leave very young kids at home for the production due to some of the themes, Kreft said.

“There’s some heavy stuff in there,” she said. “One of the girls has a monologue about being sexually abused. There’s a boy who talks about food stamps and being in line at the grocery store and hearing the people behind him judging his family for using the food stamps. A girl comes into Act 2 who actually as a baby — she got pregnant when she was 16. It deals with a lot of teen issues.”

“Rememberin’ Stuff” is a B-Side production at the Foothills Playhouse. Shows offered as part of the playhouse’s regular season are the A-Side shows, Kreft said.

B-Side shows allow for something extra.

“In between every main stage show there’s a B-Side show,” Kreft said. “It’s different from what we’d normally put on on the main stage.”

The directors are both members of the Foothills Playhouse’s youth board. Kreft is secretary and treasurer, and Oliver is vice president. Kraft has served on the board for about a year and has been taking part in Foothills Playhouse shows for about five years.

“A lot of kids in the show are on the youth board,” Kreft said.

Youth board members usher for all the Main Stage shows and also do service projects. They take part in Easley’s Arts Festival and Christmas Parade each year to help spotlight what’s going on at the Foothills Playhouse.

Youth board members also participate in work days for the theater.

“We’ll come in and work on building sets and stuff like that,” Kreft said.

The youth board is open to students in seventh through 12th grade and would welcome more members. Contact the Foothills Playhouse for more information on joining the board.

Performances of “Rememberin’ Stuff” will begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, Kreft said.

Tickets are $5.

For more information, visit


Tales from the front porch

The best stories were told on the front porch in the evening. Grandmama and Mama would sit in the rocking chairs, weary from the day’s activities. They’d sip glasses of iced tea.

We children would run through the dusky evening with our Mason jars, home to lightning bugs for a brief time.

There would be holes punched in the lids of the jars with an ice pick from the kitchen.

I remember being very careful when we punched the holes so the bugs could breathe.olivia6-25 Page 4A.indd

We’d run and laugh and when tired out, would come back to the front porch and sit on the steps.

And there we’d hear family stories, told and retold over the years.

There was one about our great Aunt Bonner, who was Grandmama’s older sister. She’d grown up in the house we lived in that was home to five generations of our family. She had a wicked sense of humor, and there were no dull moments when she was on the premises.

She was the one sent to the Maxton depot to pick up Aunt Mary Bellamy, who was coming to visit from Wilmington.

Aunt Mary was very proper and very proud. So instead of taking the buggy to pick up Aunt Mary, Sister Bonner hitched the mules to the wagon and brought Aunt Mary home to Sycamore Hill in a style she was unaccustomed to.

Sister Bonner was the one who’d hide in the graveyard in the evening draped in a sheet and would rise from behind the tombstones to startle anyone passing through. She was incorrigible.

Sister Bonner would come to visit when I was a child. She was a very old lady but lively, with a quick wit.

Grandmama said Sister Bonner was always up to something. Our great Aunt Olivia, the baby of that generation, had long, thick, wavy blond hair that came down below her waist. She could sit on it.

But Sister Bonner thought a trim would keep Aunt Olivia cooler in the summer. Or so she said. So Sister Bonner took the scissors out into the yard, sat Aunt Olivia down and cut her hair so short she looked almost bald.

Grandmama said all the girls wore 12 petticoats in the winter and six in summer. But even so encumbered, by our standards, they pursued lots of activities. They rowed the canoe down the river, rode side-saddle, swam, danced and played instruments. Friends would come to visit and stay for weeks.

Music was a big part of their lives, and they could all play and sing. Aunt Olivia was said to have a beautiful voice, and Grandmama would accompany her on the piano. As children, when Aunt Olivia would visit, she’d sing to us. She had a repertoire for children’s ears — “Froggy Went a Courting,” “String Beans and Irish Potatoes” and “I Wish I Was Single Again,” one of our favorites.

Summer was always a time of long visits from relatives. And they were a family of talkers.

We children were an almost forgotten audience on the front porch, hearing about the memories they all had from growing up at Sycamore Hill, where summer went on forever and watermelons were plentiful.

Old times there are not forgotten.


Courier Letters to the Editor 7-20-16

A growing problem

Dear Editor,

I want to thank all who voted in the June primary and run-off elections. Your participation and support was greatly appreciated.

I met many people during the county council campaign and gained some insight into the problems our county faces. Most are broader and deeper than most realize.

For example, all the county council candidates in all the races supported a new, renovated and/or bigger jail. Talking with patrolmen, a deputy, DSS, the solicitor, an employee at the jail and even a couple of former inmates, I came to realize the problem is beyond just building a new jail. The solicitor said 80 percent of those in the LEC are there for methamphetamine — making it, stealing to get money for it, getting high on it and then committing some other crime. Build a bigger jail, yes, but realize it will fill up in a short time.

There is also a legal aspect to the problem — not enough prosecutors, court time and public defenders — but that is not the scary part.

Meth is a devastating drug — poison. Look at some of its ingredients: acetone, which is paint thinner; lithium, used in batteries; toluene, used in brake fluid; anhydrous ammonia, used in countertop cleaners. Nor is meth like alcohol or marijuana, which take years to become a habit. A person becomes addicted to meth after using it once or twice. Also, the rehab success rate is extremely low — less than 15 percent — for meth addicts, so it is a tough clinical problem, too.

Add in most users are on government assistance, so they are sustained in their drug use and crimes — a maintained class, a class that is growing in the county. So it’s a social problem.

What’s the solution? Pseudoephedrine (PSE) is a key ingredient. Making PSE prescription-only like in Oregon and Mississippi could be one step. The drug companies will not like that, but our legislature must seriously consider this.

Since the rehab rate is so low, the cure is most likely to be generational — doing more to make sure our youth never try the stuff in the first place. Opportunity is the key there. If a kid graduates high school and lands a job here in Pickens, that’s the kind of habit we want him to fall into. Without such job opportunities, he could fall into a bad habit, and too many obviously are.

I’m all for building tourism, but that should not be the focus of our economic development. Tourism creates minimum-wage jobs. We need gainful employment — jobs generating a living wage and career paths. This is the economic piece of problem/solution.

I learned we are facing a very broad challenge here — law enforcement, legal, clinical, social and economic. It requires a coordinated effort across agencies that frankly I just don’t see right now. It needs to be undertaken, though, because the situation is quietly getting worse.

Alex Saitta




Expanding Options

Dear Editor,

As a parent of children attending Pickens County schools, I have been disheartened and discouraged by the actions of the School District of Pickens County in its recent school closing decisions. These decisions and the contentious environment surrounding them have not only impacted the parents directly, but also our family members, friends and neighbors. The concerns of everyone affected now center on providing the best possible educational opportunities for our students. An option to provide a superior education here in Pickens County has presented itself with the 2018 opening of Clearview Collegiate Academy, which will serve grades 6-12.

Clearview Collegiate Academy will provide a host of advantages to its students. Core courses will be coupled with unique project-based learning modules in the middle school years. For the high school students, CCA will offer the opportunity for a student to obtain two years of college credit during the 11th and 12th grade years. During these college-level courses, students will receive more face-to-face instruction time than is required by the dual credit provider. CCA also plans an elite sports program with a goal of 30 percent of participating athletes receiving at least one offer to play on a collegiate level.

What is exceptional about this learning environment is that it meets the students on their own level and formulates a plan to have them achieve a competitive academic and athletic level when entering college. If a student is not yet ready for college-level learning, CCA will prepare that student for the transition to college-level work by providing needed interventions and free tutoring.

The CCA charter school is currently seeking accreditation through the School District of Pickens County. This accreditation process includes an initial letter of intent, a formal application and finally a vote from the SDPC board members. This vote provides an opportunity for the SDPC board to rise above prior conflicts and political agendas and to prove to the residents of Pickens County that they can make decisions in the best interests of the students.

I ask that every resident and/or parent in Pickens County contact each of the school board members individually, requesting that they vote “yes” for accreditation of the Clearview Collegiate Academy.

Deana McAnulty



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