District names teacher, support employee of year

Rex Brown/Courtesy The Journal School District of Pickens County superintendent Danny Merck presents West End Elementary School teacher Debra Harris More »

Experts emphasize safety as US prepares for solar eclipse

By Jason Evans Staff Reporter COUNTY — As viewers look to the skies during Monday’s total solar eclipse, they More »

New Beginning

Flame ready to hit the ground running in Smith’s first season By Cole Little Courier Sports PICKENS — “You More »

Ready For More

Numbers game key to another successful season for Red Devils By Jimmy Kirby Courier Sports LIBERTY — The Liberty More »

On The Upswing

Green Wave looking for more ups, fewer downs this season By Eugene Jolley Courier Sports EASLEY — The Easley More »

Moving forward

After year of improvement, Lions ready to take next step in 2017 By Bru Nimmons Staff Reporter CENTRAL — More »


Sarah Allison is a girl of many talents

8-17 Page 2A.indd

Sarah Allison is a very friendly, exceptionally, multitalented 13-year-old girl. She was born July 1, 2003, and has always lived in Pickens. Her parents are David Allison, a lawyer, and Rhonda Allison, a secretary at Six Mile Elementary School.[cointent_lockedcontent]

Sarah is an eighth-grade student at Youth Leadership Academy, located between Pickens and Six Mile. She is an intelligent student, and is a member of the Beta Club there.

She has musical, acting and writing talents. In January 2016, she started taking guitar lessons from Joe Padgett. She enjoys the lessons and practices almost every day. By doing so, she has mastered the strings. She started taking mandolin lessons, and in three months she was playing like a pro.

She also sings. She has a remarkable, lovely voice. In August, she and her guitar teacher entertained the audience at the Pickens Senior Center for an hour. Joe played the guitar, and Sarah played the mandolin and sang. She likes all types of music, but said her favorite song is “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson.

Sarah also has the amazing talent to act. In September 2015, she made her debut in the Thornton Wilder play “Our Town” at Enrapt, located on West Main Street in Pickens. Breann Griffin Nicholson, the founder of Enrapt, directed the play. Sarah played the part of Si Crowell. In December 2015, Sarah performed in the play, “A Very Merry Entrap Christmas.”

In April and May, she was in the cast of Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible.” Her role in the play was Betty Parris.

She is currently working on a musical revue of “Annie” that will be performed in Easley.

Sarah also likes to write. She said she started writing at the age of 5. She has written short stories, plays and poems. She has also written a biography about her great grandmother, Bea9-7 Page 2A.indd Davis.

Sarah enjoys spending time with her cousins. She also enjoys playing with and taking care of her two pet bunnies, Sonny and Thumper.

Once, she watched a television show about sign language and became so interested in it that she taught herself the alphabet, and from there she went on to learn how to message in sign language. She said one of her friends at school also knew how to sign. They sent messages to each other.

Sarah has a serious food allergy. Ever since she was 12 months old, she has been allergic to all varieties of nuts, milk and eggs. She is very careful about what she eats, but she never complains about her situation.

She will be attending Pickens High School next year. She said after she graduates, she plans to go to Erskine College in Due West and study arts. She wants to have a career as an arts director or an actress.

Sarah is proud to call herself a Christian. She has a social media account. She uses it to type and send Bible verses and devotions.

Easley resident Carol Baker highlights interesting local residents and helps us get to know more about the fascinating people who call Pickens County home. If you have someone somewhere who you think people should know about, contact us at[/cointent_lockedcontent]


Our hero, the family caregiver

Caregiving is an act of love. You put so much of yourself in caring for your loved one, especially if he or she has dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the average span of the disease is seven years and it can go on as long as 20 years. The challenges only increase with time.

For most, the pro8-10 Page 4A.inddgression of the disease is slow. In the beginning, it offers a time for shared laughter, intimacy and social experiences. You will have opportunities to manage legal and financial issues in advance, and to adjust to the diagnosis so that you can make the most of your time together.

This is also a good time to form a support team from your family, friends and perhaps professionals. Getting respite and taking care of yourself leads to being a good caregiver. Friends and family are glad to help if they help in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

Not everyone in your family will be good caregivers. However, everyone in your family can help when you need a break. Some members of your family may be financially fit and can help with expenses. Others may be great at doing research and helping you solve problems and find the resources you need. Everyone can certainly come, even if only a few times a year, and give you respite.

I was fortunate enough to take care of my dad in his last seven years of life. My brother and nieces each took turns spending a weekend with him. They got to spend quality time with their dad/grandfather. My family is small. Yet, I got away for a weekend break once a month. That was sufficient so that I could give my all to my dad when I returned home.

Friends, neighbors and my church family lived much closer to me than my biological family. They would bring dinners, run errands and visit when they had a chance. Many churches offer a ministry where they bring dinners on a regular basis.

In some instances you may also need to hire professional care. I did. I was still working while I took care of my dad. If you hire a trustworthy agency, they offer expertise that you may not have. Many agencies have certified nurse’s aides who have taken courses on dealing with clients who have dementia.

Caregiving is an act of love and a 24/7 commitment. You can heighten your experience if you form your support group early. People want to help. They just need to be asked and to give in a way they feel comfortable. It makes them feel good. It makes you and your loved one receiving care realize how much you both are loved.

So many people have asked if they can ask me questions or tell me concerns regarding dementia. The answer is yes. Please email them to me at While you remain anonymous, answers to your questions will be revealed in the newspaper so that you and others can benefit. I look forward to hearing from you.

Bonnie Holmes is president of Loving Health Care, Inc. Although the well qualified caregivers care for clients with many different types of needs, the specialty of this company is clients with dementia. For more information, call (864) 916-9204.


Courier Letters to the Editor 9-7-16

Pickens United?

Dear Editor,

I attended the first of four “Pickens United ” meetings organized by Rep. Neal Collins in Easley on Monday, Aug. 29, from noon-1:30 p.m.

How many of you were even aware this meeting was scheduled? Not anyone I talked to at the YMCA today was aware there was one scheduled, which had representatives of city, county and state government present.

It is sad that only a handful of citizens were in the audience. What was even more sad is the citizens couldn’t ask questions or make comments.

I videoed the event because I knew there wouldn’t be very many of us taxpayers there due to the lack of advertisement of the meeting and the fact it was held during a weekday and most citizens are at work during that time frame. You can view the video by going to if you want to hear what was said by the elected leaders who are making decisions about your tax dollars.

In summary, I have to say the overall meeting could be called a love fest of progressives. They are definitely united … united on the fact that government is woefully underfunded and if they just had more of your money they could solve all the problems in our city, county and state.

So get ready for a tax increase, citizens … it’s coming — a possible gas tax increase, a possible property tax increase, maybe another sales tax increase, who knows? But according to one of the elected officials now that we have all these new people in elected positions … the “sky’s the limit.”

The only way you the taxpayer can stop an inevitable increase in the amount of taxes you already pay is to get involved! Come to the next Conservatives of the Upstate meeting, held on the second Thursday of each month. Go to for more information.

If you don’t stand up and voice that you are taxed enough already and tell these elected officials they need to live within their means just like you, then you will find yourself struggling to make ends meet and pay your property tax, and the government will seize it.

The next scheduled meeting of the “Pickens United” elected officials to give you updates on their agenda of what I call “tax ‘em some more” will be Oct. 31 in Clemson. Halloween, very appropriate — scary stuff. Maybe you should attend dressed as a farmer with a pitchfork.

Johnnelle Raines


What is a true hero?

Dear Editor,

First of all, true heroes are made, not born.

They may wear uniforms or capes, but don’t have to to be a hero. True heroes can be a man that works long hours even when he is so sick he can hardly move to see that his family is taken care of.

A hero can be a woman who struggles to survive after her husband passes away, leaving her and their five children alone. Yet she manages to raise them to adult life. A true hero can be a person who risks their life to save those in danger, never thinking of their own life being lost. No age, size or social standing has anything to do with being a true hero.

True heroes don’t brag on themselves or talk about how much they themselves have sacrificed. Narcissism has no place in a true hero’s life. True heroes are givers who sacrifice their very lives if need be, yet they will never mention it or any other things they have done.

True heroes let others mouths praise them, not their own. True heroes never let the praise go to their heads. They are grateful for any attention they receive. Those who talk about themselves all the time and their greatness are nothing but braggarts, and braggarts are a dime a dozen. I’ve always heard it said, “those who have the least of anything or have done the least always talk the most about it.” Nothing but a bore, nothing more. They are a nuisance to the ears. True heroes deserve praise — braggarts should be ignored by all means. Do you know someone that you consider a true hero ? Why not show them you care?

A kind word can be worth more than silver or gold if spoken at the right time. True heroes thank God for them.

Eddie Boggs


Vote against Saitta’s act of desperation

Dear Editor,

Recent news accounts about prayer at Pickens County school board meetings raise some serious questions about the motives of a certain school board member who is, once again, stirring up controversy at a critical time for our school district.

Many of us remember that our school board debated and held open forums about public prayer at its meetings (not in our schools) more than a year ago in response to receiving a threatening letter from an activist group that fights against religion in public spaces.

So here’s my question: Why, then, is a single board member bringing up this long-resolved issue when there are far more pressing items on the table?

It seems obvious that this is a desperation move as District 3 school board trustee Alex Saitta begins his campaign for re-election, where for the first time in years he is facing a formidable opponent. Having been defeated in his bid for county council, Saitta has now begun to draw attention from more serious matters to try to win votes (or at the very least, free publicity) by playing on our community’s strong Christian faith.

While I am wholeheartedly in favor of Christian prayer anywhere or at any time, a decision was made to change the guidelines at board meetings due to the threat of lawsuits, among other things. And we all know how tight money is. After all, we closed two great schools last year because there wasn’t enough money to keep them open. Given that the District 3 trustee favors spending cuts and tax rollbacks over funding our schools, it’s curious that he would be willing to waste it on a frivolous lawsuit.

We all are aware that this is a strong faith-based community. We also agree that prayer does change things. Why then is only one person continuing to bring this up? The answer is simple: political shenanigans.

This community is smarter than this one board member gives us credit for. So voters, look closely. Listen intently. And know that the answer to ‘Why is prayer coming up again now?’ is simple: At best, it’s a distraction. At worst, it’s an injustice to our students.

Personal political aspirations should not be achieved at the expense of our kids. It’s time for us to speak up and vote on Nov. 8 — against Alex Saitta.

Terri Cassell


No Sunday alcohol sales

Dear Editor,

Elected officials in Easley and Central have place a Sunday alcohol sales question on the November ballot. They are excited about additional revenue generated by yet another day of alcohol sales. How long have Easley and Central survived without Sunday alcohol sales? Quite a while.

Estimates are that alcohol-related costs to society are in the billions. Auto accidents kill more than 40,000 people in the U.S. each year and are the No. 1 cause of death for people between the ages of 1 and 34. We are more likely to die in auto accidents on weekends than any other time, and the most dangerous day on the highway is Saturday. Do you think that’s a coincidence? I don’t.

Getting in a car is the riskiest thing most people do every day, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Eighteen percent of fatal crashes during the day are alcohol-related, while 54 percent of crashes at night are alcohol-related. The average American is at the legal limit after four drinks. 22 percent admit they often drink too much.

 Some say this change will only allow sales at special events and restaurants — what can that hurt? I say the risk is too great.  Think about your children and grandchildren as you read below the events of the evening of Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. Events resulting in the deaths of three young people and the hospitalization of two more at the hands of a drunk driver. They were on their way to their grandparents’ house.

Jessica, 20, Hope, 17, and Cory, 22, died that day. According to press reports, the drunk driver visited multiple restaurants and minutes after leaving the last he killed three innocent youngsters. He has since been sentenced to 18 years in prison. This is just one alcohol horror story. There are hundreds.

At 6:51 p.m.: Ate chicken wings and split a pitcher of beer with a friend at Hooters on Interstate Boulevard in Anderson, with the driver drinking about three 12 oz. beers in an hour. At 8:15 p.m.: Left Hooters and went to The Bench on Electric City Boulevard. At 8:20 p.m.: Started drinking, drinking four 16 oz. beers and at least two Royal Flush shots (Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey, Peach Schnapps and Chambord). At 11:07 p.m.: Left The Bench and returned to Hooters to retrieve a bank card he had left behind. He stayed and drank three more beers from a 64 oz. pitcher. At 12:02 a.m.: The man, who a lawsuit says was stumbling and having difficulty walking, left Hooters. Approximately 12:15 a.m.: three lives ended.

Who has blood on their hands? Easley and Central, you decide Nov. 8.

Phillip Bowers

Chairman, Pickens County Republican Party

Trustee, School District of Pickens County


Baptist Easley to host Project SEARCH

EASLEY — Baptist Easley, in conjunction with the School District of Pickens County, South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation and Pickens County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, has partnered with Project SEARCH to help educate students with intellectual and development disabilities. This year’s program, will allow 8 students from Project SEARCH to intern at Baptist Easley performing jobs that will develop their skills for future job placement.

9-7 Page 5A.inddThe Project SEARCH Program combines classroom training each morning with hands-on experience in the afternoon. Once the program is complete, the students will be eligible for employment in the community. Baptist Easley is one of three hospitals in the state that has partnered with Project SEARCH.

“We are so excited to bring this program to Baptist Easley,” hospital chief business experience officer Michelle Scherer said. This program gives students a real-life experience of working while also combining classroom education. We are thankful for the partners School District of Pickens County, South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation and Pickens County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, as well as the other two programs in the state, Spartanburg Regional Hospital and Parkridge Hospital that have worked hard to help Baptist Easley to launch the program. Project SEARCH will be life changing for the students and their families but also for our employees and our patients.”

Dr. Danny Merck, SDPC superintendent, expressed his excitement for the program as well.

“We truly appreciate what Baptist Easley is doing to help our students in this unique way,” he said. “Our commitment to getting students ready for college, career, and citizenship extends to every child who walks through our doors. We are so thankful for business partners like Baptist Easley who see the value of our special needs students, and help them make that transition from school to the workplace. Our whole community will benefit from what is happening with Project Search.”

Project SEARCH, based at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, is a business-led, work-preparation program for young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Most participants are enrolled while transitioning from high school to work. The hallmark of Project SEARCH is total workplace immersion, which facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training. Project SEARCH’s primary objective is to secure competitive employment for every program participant. For more information, visit


Baptist Easley Hospital names new president

EASLEY — Baptist Easley Hospital announced last week that Todd Walker has been named president of the hospital effective Oct. 31.

Walker was selected as part of a national search conducted by members of the hospital’s executive/governance committee, medical staff and foundation, as well as a Greenville Health System (GHS) campus president and member of GHS’ talent acquisition team.

“We are excited to welcome Todd to the Baptist Easley family,” said Tom O’Hanlan, chair of the Baptist Eas9-7 Page 5A.inddley Hospital board. “Todd brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position, and he has a passion for improving the health of our community. We look forward to his leadership as Baptist Easley and the healthcare industry continue to evolve.”

Walker began his professional career in 2005 at Oconee Memorial Hospital and later became director of campus operations for Laurens County Memorial Hospital. While at Oconee, he served on the Oconee Memorial Hospital Foundation board and Seneca Sertoma Club board. Walker currently serves on the United Way of Laurens County board and recently graduated from Leadership Laurens. Earlier this year, he chaired the 2016 March of Dimes campaign for Laurens County.

Walker has a bachelor’s degree in sports management from Newberry College and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the Medical University of South Carolina. He is married and has three children ages 5, 4 and 9 weeks.


Courier Community Calendar 9-7-16

• Gilstrap reunion planned for Sept. 10

The annual Gilstrap reunion will be held on Sept. 10 at the Antioch Baptist Church Fellowship building on S.C. Highway 11. Plates and cups will be furnished.

• Songwriters series coming to Liberty

Courier Obituaries 9-7-16

Margaret F. Keenan

Easley — Margaret Fossett “Fluffy” Keenan, 66, of Briarwood Road, passed away Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016.

Born in Pelzer, she was the daughter of the late James and Ruby Galloway Fossett.

Margaret was retired from Organics and More in Greenville. She was a member of the Eastern Star Chapter No. 200, WOTM, The Red Hat Society and The Pickens County Shrine Club Ladies Auxiliary. She loved her family, friends, fishing, camping and crocheting.

obits8-6 Page 5A.inddSurviving are her husband of 51 years, Wayne Keenan; two sons, Paul Keenan (Pam) and Terry Keenan (Kristal) all of Easley; four grandchildren, Robert Keenan (Erin), Ashley Keenan, Chris Keenan (Heather) and Tiffany Keenan; four great grandchildren, Larson, Dalton, Rylie and Alaina; and two sisters, Barbara Springfield of Greenville and Phyllis Davis of Piedmont.

In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by a daughter, Candi Keenan; and sister, Connie Fossett.

A service to celebrate Margaret’s life will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 1 p.m. in the chapel of Robinson Funeral Home-Downtown, with burial to follow in Greenlawn Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The American Cancer Society, 154 Milestone Way, Greenville, SC 29615.

The family will be at the home.

Condolences may be expressed online by visiting or in person at Robinson Funeral Home-Downtown, which is assisting the family.

Carl W. Hughes

Liberty — Mr. Carl Winfred Hughes, 88, husband of the late Una Willis Hughes, passed away Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, at Richard M. Campbell Veterans Nursing Home.

Born in Pickens County, a son of the late Sam and Emma Dodson Hughes, Mr. Hughes retired from Ryobi and was a member of Bethany Church of God. He was a U.S. Army Veteran.

Surviving are a daughter, Kathy Hawkins of Liberty; a granddaughter, Kim Rhodes of Liberty; a brother, Rev. Colie Hughes of Pickens; and two great-grandchildren, Grant and Addison Rhodes. In addition to his wife and parents, Mr. Hughes was predeceased by four brothers, Elzie, Elmer, Ellis and Ray; five sisters, Zessie, Margaret, Mary, Martha and Earla; and his son-in-law, David Hawkins.

Funeral services were on Monday, Sept. 5, in the chapel of Robinson Funeral Home-Downtown, with the Rev. Colie Hughes officiating. Burial followed in Hillcrest Memorial Park.

Condolences may be expressed online at or in person at Robinson Funeral Home-Downtown, which is assisting the family.

Michael J. Saavedra,


Central — SSG Michael J. Saavedra, 36, of Central, husband of Alison (Laarkamp-Tobel) Saavedra, died Saturday, September 3, 2016 in Cookeville, TN.

Born in Albuquerque, N.M., he is the son of Michael H. and Donna J. Saavedra of Central. He was assigned to the 263rd AAMDC of the S.C. Army National Guard in Anderson. He served two deployments to Iraq with the 82nd Airborne in 2003 and the 3rd Infantry Division in 2005. He was a marksman with a love for motorcycles and cooking.

Surviving in addition to his wife and parents are his daughter, Isabella Saavedra of Seneca; the mother of his daughter, Kristi Jaeger of Seneca; grandmother, Delores Miles of Maryland; parents-in-law, Terry Tobel and Mary Ann Laarkamp of Tennessee; brother-in-law, Casey Laarkamp-Tobel of Tennessee; stepsister, Emily (Michael) Zagar of Central; and four nieces and nephews; along with many other family members and friends.

He was predeceased by his mother, Linda Miles Saavedra; grandfather, Ed Miles; and grandparents, Molly and Henry Saavedra.

Graveside services with full military honors will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 10, at M.J. “Dolly” Cooper Veterans Cemetery in Anderson.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Duckett-Robinson Funeral Home, Central.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Upstate Warrior Solutions or Wounded Warrior Project.

Condolences may be expressed online at or at the funeral home.

Deryl Stokes

Easley — Wayne Deryl Stokes, 72, husband of the late Pat Brewer Stokes, went home to be with the Lord on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016.

Deryl was born in Pickens County to the late Ernest and Alma Suddeth Stokes. He was retired from General Electric in Greenville and was a member of Jones Avenue Baptist Church. Deryl was a member of Bates Lodge No. 189 A.F.M.

Survivors include his son, Ernie Stokes, his granddaughter, Courtney Stokes, and his great granddaughter, Skylee Galloway, all of Easley. Also surviving are sisters, Betty O’Shields and Jean Taylor, and brothers, Joe Stokes (Elaine) and Ricky Stokes (Karen), all of Easley. He is also survived by a very special friend, Judy McAlister of Liberty.

In addition to his parents and his wife, Deryl was preceded in death by sisters, Pearl Stokes Nalley and Wanda Lee Stokes Edens, and by a brother, John (Buck) Stokes.

The family will receive friends at Dillard Funeral Home in Pickens on Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. Funeral services will be conducted at 2 p.m. Thursday in the funeral home chapel with Dr. Roger Couch officiating. Burial will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Park and Gardens.

A message of condolence may be expressed to the family by visiting

The family is at the home.

Dillard Funeral Home is assisting the Stokes family.

Charles M. Greene

SIX MILE — Charles M. Greene, 85, of 118 Gap Hill Lane., Six Mile, and formerly of 128 Tanglewood Heights, Brevard, N.C., died Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016, at his home.

He was married to the late Pansy Ferguson Greene.

Mr. Greene was born in Pickens County and was the son of the late William Theodore and Ida Mae Greene. He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Mitchell and Meredith Greene of Easley; daughter and son-in–law, Sandra and David McNeill of Brevard, N.C.; brother, Donald Greene of Atlanta; grandchildren, Allen, Nathan and Makayla McNeill and Scottie and Charlie Greene, and several wonderful nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Pansy Ferguson Greene, and brothers, James Edward Greene and William David Greene.

Mr. Greene served in the U.S. Navy on the USS Yorktown from February 1951 until February 1955. He was employed by EI DuPont until his retirement in April 1992. Mr. Greene also owned and operated the Dairy Queen in Brevard in the 1960s and early ‘70s.

The family would like to extend a special appreciation to Greta Ferguson and Teresa Smith, who provided loving care to Mr. Greene. We would also like to thank Gentiva Hospice for their compassionate care.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. at Mountain View Baptist Church in Six Mile. The family will receive friends prior to the service, beginning at 6 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family would ask that memorials be made to the Mountain View Baptist Church Cemetery Fund, 336 Mt. View Church Road, Six Mile, SC 29682, or Meals on Wheels of Pickens County, 704 S. Pendleton St., Easley, SC 29640.

Judy Smith

LIBERTY — Judy Gillespie Smith, 70, widow of Jerry Ernest Smith Sr., of 450 Roanoke Road, passed away peacefully on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, at St. Francis Hospital Downtown.

Born in Easley, she was a daughter of the late Hilliard and Burnice Waldrop Gillespie. She retired from the School District of Pickens County, where she worked in the cafeteria.

Mrs. Smith loved to cook, and she enjoyed teaching her grandchildren how to follow in her footsteps in the kitchen.

Surviving are a daughter, Bridget Smith of the home; two sons, Ernie Smith of Liberty and Lance Smith (Shannon) of Easley; two sisters, Reba Gilstrap and Karen Griffin (Kenneth), all of Easley; a brother, Gary Gillespie of Easley; seven grandchildren, Tiffany Smith, Brooklyn Pilgrim, Colie, Carter, Emery and Marley Smith, and Chevana Anderson; and one great-grandson, Grady Stewart.

In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by two sisters, Janice Gerlach and Barbara Robinson, and two brothers, Randy and Billy Gillespie.

Funeral services to honor the life of Mrs. Smith were held Saturday, Sept. 3, at Jones Avenue Baptist Church. Burial followed at Westview Cemetery in Easley.

The family will be at the home. Liberty Mortuary is handling arrangements.

Robert Earl Smith Sr.

Central — Robert Earl “Bob” Smith, 86, of Central passed away on Aug. 31, 2016, at Hospice of the Foothills in Seneca.

Born in Irwinville, Ga., he was the son of the late Elbert Smith and Willie Mae Franklin Smith. Mr. Smith was retired from Duke Power, a United States Army veteran and was an avid hunter and fisherman. He was predeceased by a son, Robert Earl Smith Jr.

Surviving are his wife of 52 years, Sylvia Smith; a brother, Frank Smith (Helen) of Winder, Ga.; two daughters, Linda (David) Binnicker of Six Mile and Gail DeLorey of Leesburg, Fla.; three grandchildren, Martha (Grover) Cleveland of Goose Creek, John Binnicker of Six Mile, and Dr. Cynthia L. Smoak of Easley; and two great-grandchildren, DJ and Joey Binnicker.

Visitation was held Sept. 2, with a memorial service following at Keowee Baptist Church in Six Mile. Pastors Glenn Walker and Bobby Stewart presided.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the South Carolina Alzheimer’s Association, 4124 Clemson Blvd, Suite L, Anderson, SC 29621, or Hospice of the Foothills, 390 Keowee School Road, Seneca, SC 29672.

Liberty Mortuary is handling arrangements.


PICKENS — Sylvia Nell Bailey Gentry, 79, went home to be with the Lord on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, at her home.

Born in Tuscaloosa County, Ala., on Aug. 18, 1937, she was the daughter of the late Herbert Parks and Ella Mae Russell Bailey. Mrs. Gentry attended Southern Wesleyan University and was retired from teaching at Tamassee Elementary School in Oconee. She was a member of Pickens View Wesleyan Church, where she was a former music director and Sunday school teacher.

Surviving are her husband of 58 years, the Rev. Foster Dean Gentry Sr.; two sons, Foster Dean Gentry Jr. and his wife, Deana, and Steven Herbert Gentry; one brother, Theodore V. Bailey and his wife, Ann; and three grandchildren, Ross Gentry, Gabriella Gentry and Samuel Gentry.

Funeral services were held on Sunday, Sept. 4, at Pickens View Wesleyan Church, with burial following at Hillcrest Memorial Park.

Online condolences may be expressed to the family by visiting

Dillard Funeral Home is assisting the Gentry family.


PICKENS — David Dwight Evette, 75, passed away on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016, at St. Francis Downtown.

Born in Pickens County on June 19, 1941, he was the son of the late Lloyd Dwight and Irene Riggins Evette. He was retired from General Electric Gas Turbines and was a member of Gilead Baptist Church of Pickens.

Surviving are his wife of 32 years, Doris A. Evette; one daughter, Ann Smith (Steve); three sons, Robert Chastain (Cheryl), Andy Chastain (Deborah), and Bill Chastain (Nancy); three sisters, Leola Pace (Grover), Genevieve Farrell, and Pauline Ellenburg; eight grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

The ministers officiating the service were the Rev. Jimmy Burrell, the Rev. Will Finley and the Rev. Robert Fowler. Pallbearers included Lee Perkins, Blake Chastain, Caleb Chastain, Jonathan Chastain, Timmy Harris and Terry Duckworth. Honorary pallbearers included The Re-Union Boys: Carl Lewis, Evan Chastain, Roger Breazeale, Doug Cassell, Mark Hayes and Tony Gillespie.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 2 p.m. at Gilead Baptist Church. Burial will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Park.

Dillard Funeral Home is assisting the Evette family.

Robert Leon “R.L.” Talley

Sunset — R.L. “Mountain Man” Talley passed from this earth on Friday, Aug. 26, to rest on the mountain top.

Born in Pickens, he was a son of Clara Belle McCall Bradley and the late Frank Talley. He departed this world along with his wife of 33 years, Louise Talley.

Surviving are a daughter, Melissa Stewart of Mauldin; a son, Rodney Talley of Central; two sisters, Louise Whitmire of Pickens and Ruth Reid of Pickens; four brothers, John Talley of Sunset and Chester, Sylvester and Clyde Dryman, all of Pickens; also surviving are two grandchildren, Raven Talley of Central and Mazey Stewart of Mauldin.

R.L. was retired from Crenshaw Paving. He was an incredibly hard working, humble and gentle soul. He will be forever missed.

A celebration of life to honor our beloved Mountain Man will be held on Sept. 10 at 3 p.m. at 123 Hidden Hills, Marietta, SC 29661. Dress is casual.

Liberty Mortuary is handling arrangements.


Blue Flame offense struggles at Liberty

By Eugene Jolley
Courier Sports

LIBERTY — It was red, white and blue night Friday as Liberty hosted Pickens in a game honoring our nation’s military, past and present.

[cointent_lockedcontent]But the Flame saw plenty of Liberty red and white and left feeling extra blue, falling 24-14.

It was Liberty’s second win in the last three seasons and third in the last six years against the Blue Flame.

Pickens couldn’t get anything going offensively, failing to get a first down until late in the first half. By that time, Liberty had built a 17-0 lead.

Penalties and negative plays kept the offense sidetracked for much of the night.

“We stayed backed up the whole first quarter,” Pickens coach John Boggs said. “Terrible field position — the only way to get out of bad field position is to get first downs, and we couldn’t do that. We stayed behind the chains most of the first half.”

Liberty took a 2-0 lead when defensive end Jacob Herman tripped up Pickens quarterback Tanner Stegall in the end zone on third and nine.

The Red Devils then kept the good field position, driving 41 yards in eight plays, capped off by Cavaugio Butler’s one-yard touchdown run. Liberty then went for two, and Nick Reeves hit Seth Dove9-7 Page 1B.inddr on the pass, making it 10-0 with 1:42 left in the first quarter.

Stegall was later picked off by Kevon Tabron.

Liberty went up 17-0 with a six-play, 67-yard drive. Reeves hit Tabron for 32, and a facemask penalty was tacked on. Clay Lollis scored from a yard out with 6:37 left in the half.

The Blue Flame finally got a first down as Stegall hit Robert Jones for 20 on their ensuing possession. On the next play, Stegall found Daniel Hooper behind the secondary for 56 yards down to the Liberty 1-yard line. Bryson Capps, from the left halfback position, took it the final yard with 3:19 left in the opening half. Dylan Banyard’s kick made it 17-7.

Liberty came right back and was threatening for another score when Blue Flame safety Jamal Blythe picked off a Reeves pass at the 15 and returned it to the Liberty 35. Pickens kept the drive alive on fourth and two as Kyle Day fumbled while he was being stopped and Stegall picked it up and ran four yards to move the chains. Three plays later, and with time running out, Stegall hit Cole Stewart on a quick slant, and the side judge ruled he had eclipsed the plane of the goal line with 1.3 seconds left in the half.

“We finally generated a little something there at the end of the half and got back into it,” Boggs said. “That’9-7 Page 1B.indds one thing about these kids is that they’ll battle every single week and they’ll fight hard, scrap and claw whatever they have to do to try and win. We keep knocking on the door. We’ve got to find a way to knock it open at some point.”

Liberty got the ball to start the second half and once again a penalty — this one a facemask — gave the Red Devils tremendous field position. Liberty capitalized, going 42 yards in 10 plays, converting on fourth and two at the 22. Three plays later, Tabron took a pitch and busted up the middle for a touchdown from 19 yards out, making it 24-14 with 7:49 left.

Two series later, the Blue Flame threatened as Stegall scrambled for 20 and Day ran for 20 and 16 down to the Liberty 24. But the drive ended after Stegall was sacked and his fourth-down scramble came up short.

“We couldn’t protect our quarterback, and they did a good job of bringing pressure,” Boggs said. “We didn’t do a good job of protecting him at all. We’ve got to get better there.”

The Blue Flame downed a Stone Prince punt at the 1-yard line and looked to keep the Devils there on third and eight when Hooper dropped an interception. On the play, Pickens was called for hitting a defenseless player, keeping the Liberty drive going.

“It’s called a defenseless player,” Boggs said. “The ball was tipped, but they said we hit a defenseless player after that and it was a personal foul. It kept the drive alive, but then we turned around and stopped them but it cost us time off of the clock.”

Capps stopped the drive as he picked off a pass and returned9-7 Page 1B.indd it to the Liberty 16. But the offense couldn’t take advantage, as Day lost yards on first down and Stegall was sacked on second and fumbled on third down.

“We got a little drive in the end of the third quarter and couldn’t punch that in. Two trips to the red zone could have been a different outcome. You’ve got to be able to score points,” Boggs said.

Pickens got the ball back after holding on fourth and one as Cole Seaborn and Lenny Russell came up with the big stop.

But the Red Devil pressure was too much, and Pickens receivers dropped two passes in sealing the loss.

Pickens played without senior Sam Lawson, out with dehydration. The Blue Flame also lost tailback Brandon Batson to an injury after the first series.

“We’re hoping for better news,” Boggs said of Batson’s injury. “We’re hoping to get Kirk-
land (Gillespie) back in a few weeks. It kind of depends on how he progresses with his rehab. We’re looking to have him back in full pads in a few weeks and back on the field in a few more. He got a good report this week. Sam should be back next week. A week of being dehydrated really zapped him. It was more precautionary than anything else.”

Pickens (0-3) will host winless West-Oak Friday night before having an open date.

“We’ve fought hard all three weeks and been in games,” Boggs said. “Offensively, we’ve got to get better and score some points. Our defense has been playing hard. I thought we were a little better tonight on special teams more than we had the last couple of weeks. We’ll take the positives from it and try to get better. It was a young and inexperienced team when we started, and they’re still young and inexperienced and they’re learning each week. We’ll keep working and try to get better.”[/cointent_lockedcontent]


Devils strike early, hold on vs. Pickens

By Jimmy Kirby
Courier Sports

LIBERTY — The Liberty Red Devils are now 3-0 on the season after jumping out to a 17-0 lead on Pickens midway through the second quarter and holding on to defeat the Blue Flame 24-14 on Friday night.

In stark contrast, Pickens fell to 0-3 to start the season with the loss.

“The lead to start the game was big,” Liberty coach Kyle Stewart said. “It got the crowd into it and allowed us to focus on winning the second half at the break.”

Stewart is proud of how his team has gotten to 3-0 so far this season.

“It feels good to be undefeated, but the credit should go to the players for how hard they have worked and 9-7 Page 1B.inddmy assistant coaches for the preparation they have done to have our team ready to play,” he said.

Despite Liberty’s early lead, the Blue Flame got back in the game quickly in the second quarter on two big plays to set up scores.

Tanner Stegall found Daniel Hooper down the right sideline on a busted coverage for 56 yards to the Red Devil 1-yard line to set up a one-yard Bryson Capps score on the next play to cut the lead to 17-7 with 3:19 remaining in the second quarter.

The next big play halted a Red Devil drive deep in Blue Flame territory at the 15-yard line, as Jamal Blythe stepped in front of a Nick Reeves pass and returned it 50 yards to the Liberty 35-yard line.

Stewart said the pass by Reeves was a good read and a good call.

“The pass should have been on a rope, but instead he floated it a little and the defender made a play,” Stewart said.

The Blue Flame were stopped on a fourth-down run at the Liberty 27-yard line, but caught a huge break as Capps fumbled on the play. Fortune was on their side as Stegall scooped up the loose ball at the Liberty 31-yard line and gained eight yards for a first down to the Red Devil 23-yard line. Kyle Day then had a huge gain to the Red Devil 7-yard line, and Stegall found Cole Stewart as t9-7 Page 1B.inddime expired to end the first half and narrow the Red Devil lead to 17-14.

It was the second week in a row that Liberty allowed a touchdown on the last play of the first half.

“We just need to focus on doing our jobs,” Stewart said. “In both situations, I believe we were a little tired and then had mental breakdowns.”

Liberty came out in the third quarter on a positive note. The Red Devils drove straight down the field for a score to extend the lead to 24-14. Kevon Tabron slashed through the Pickens defense for the 20-yard touchdown run.

The Red Devils had excellent field position to start the drive when the Blue Flame were called for a personal foul facemask on the kickoff. The drive started in Pickens territory at the Blue Flame 42-yard line.

Stewart said the drive to start the third quarter was a major key in the momentum of the game.

“It made it a two-score game, so it was big,” he said. “Also, it was a response to the momentum they gained before the half. It set us up to be able to milk the clock on later possessions in the second half.”

Neither team seriously threatened to score again. The Blue Flame moved down to the Red Devil 25-yard line in the fourth quarter, but a hit by Aaron Bates on Stegall forced a fumble that was recovered by Red Devil Jacob Rogers at the Liberty 22-yard line to end the drive.

The Red Devil defense held stiff the rest of the game and shut out the Blue Flame in the second half. They held the Blue Flame to 225 total yards in the game. Take away a busted coverage on the 50-yard bomb, and the Blue Flame may have finished with less than 200 yards of total offense in the game.

Meanwhile, the Liberty offense continues to improve week by week. The Devils had 197 yards rushing in the game and enough timely passing by Nick Reeves to finish the game with 74 passing yards on a 7-of-14 night, with two interceptions.

Austin Huey led the Red Devils in rushing with 51 yards on six carries. Cavaugio Butler had 489-7 Page 1B.indd yards on 12 carries, and was followed by Clay Lollis with 40 yards. Tabron added 34 yards to add to the jumble of yards by the four backs.

Stewart said spreading the wealth has been important to the team’s success in offensive production.

“My first season (in 2011, when the Devils finished 9-3) we didn’t have a rusher with more than 800 yards on the season, but we had close to 2,500 yards as a team if I remember correctly,” he said.

Stewart said the Liberty defense is doing a great job.

“They have peaked in the second half of games, which has been huge,” he said. “I believe players are starting to trust that we are going to make calls to put them in the right position to be successful.”

Cole Murphy, Aaron Bates, Jacob Herman, Ethan Harris and Seth Dover led the Red Devil defense to shut down the Blue Flame in the second half. They had a total of nine tackles for loss in the game to go with five sacks.

The Red Devils got on the board first when Dusty Owens sacked Stegall for a two-yard loss that resulted in a safety and a 2-0 lead. The Blue Flame were backed up on a 54-yard Austin Huey punt.

The Red Devils took the ensuing kickoff and drove 41 yards in seven plays. Butler scored from a yard out to make it 8-0. He had a 21-yard run to set up his score. Reeves found Dover on the two-point pass for a quick 10-0 lead.

Lollis scored on a six-yard run with 6:37 remaining in the second quarter to extend the Red Devil lead to 17-0. A Reeves pass to Tabron good for 31 yards was a key play on the drive.

The Red Devils will stay at home this week to face the Blue Ridge Tigers. This will be the second week that Liberty will face a 4A classification school. They now have their three wins over two 3A schools and one 4A.

The last time Liberty and Blue Ridge met was 2003, when the Devils defeated the Tigers 21-7. In 2002, the teams played twice — once in the regular season and once in the playoffs. Blue Ridge won both games that season, a 20-0 regular-season meeting and a 34-13 game in the first round of the playoffs. The two teams have played 30 times dating back to 1967.

Blue Ridge enters the contest with a 1-2 record. The Tigers opened the season with a 41-0 loss to Belton-Honea Path. They also defeated Landrum 29-3 and lost to Riverside 47-36.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.


BHP scores late to topple Green Wave

By Ryan Davenport
For The Courier

Easley — A home crowd, lively atmosphere and raucous student section seemed to give the Easley Green Wave the upper hand on Friday night, but the visiting Belton-Honea Path Bears did not let it overwhelm them.

A young BHP squad improved to 3-0 with two late scores en route to a 42-28 victory, overcoming the Green Wave’s pregame advantages with big plays and gritty fourth-quarter determination.

The final score was not indicative of the back-and-forth affair. Easley held the lead four times throughout the evening, but the hard-charging Bears found a way to knot the score each time. Easley’s offense controlled possession of the football for more than 30 minutes, but BHP needed less than six minutes of game clock to put five second-half touchdowns on the scoreboard. 9-7 Page 1B.inddMore importantly, the Bears took advantage of major Easley offensive miscues with less than five minutes remaining in the game.

The opening half ended in a 7-7 tie, but the tie score was the only preview of the exciting conclusion.

The first half often resembled a sloppy season opener, with the nagging penalties, negated big plays, turnovers and missed assignments typically witnessed when teams first match up fresh off summer break.

The Green Wave’s first possession included two plays that lost yardage and one that gained barely a yard. The first of Easley’s three short punts on the night set BHP up nicely at the Easley 29, but the Bears gave it back quickly on downs. The four-play possession featured a Green Wave offsides penalty and a dropped interception opportunity by Easley cornerback Voc Tabron.

The Wave offense found its footing on the ensuing drive. Derrick Phillips darted through a hole behind the right guard for seven yards before sophomore quarterback Weston Black tossed to senior Carter Wiles in the flat for a gain of 11 and a first down. Two more rushes from Phillips led the Green Wave to midfield, where they turned to fullback Quenten Phillips, who barreled through the middle of the Bears’ defensive front for two more first downs. Following another first-down run by senior Will Drawdy, Black’s 20-yard pass to the end zone was corralled by Wiles for the score despite great coverage by the BHP defender. Nathan Baker’s extra point split the uprights to make Easley’s first lead of the night 7-0.

BHP appeared to gain steam on the next possession. Senior quarterback Kameron Burton broke away from a crowd of Easley defenders and a near sack to gain 14 yards, carrying the Bears into Green Wave territory. The drive stalled, but BHP made the gutsy call to execute a fake punt. Senior Akyah Miranda caught the Wave off guard by taking the direct snap and racing 28 yards straight ahead, but Miranda coughed the ball up as soon as he reached the Easley defenders. Easley pounced on the loose ball at its own 15.

The fortunate turn of events seemingly gave the Wave offense added life. Big runs by Drawdy and Derrick Phillips moved the ball toward midfield. Black then found senior Bralan Fuller on a quick slant that turned int9-7 Page 1B.inddo a 50-yard gain. BHP’s defense stiffened, so Easley sent in the left-footed Baker for a 39-yard field goal attempt that had the distance but was wide right.

Easley regained possession just more than a minute later, picking up another first down on a 19-yard pass from Black to Wiles before being forced to punt. The Bears were called for a facemask on the return, giving the Wave an automatic first down and new life once again. Unfortunately for the Wave, the following play ended with an errant snap covered by the Bears at their own 34.

BHP then found its running game. Ten plays, four minutes and one big Easley facemask infraction later, senior O’Ryan Warren pushed into the end zone behind the Bears’ power formation. The successful extra point tied the game at 7-7 just before the half.

Easley came out of the break clearly ready to take control. A BHP punt was blocked by Wave senior Allen Cheagle, setting Easley up at the Bears’ 24-yard line less than two minutes into the half. Five plays later, Drawdy made a brilliant cut back inside and rolled into the end zone nearly untouched. Baker’s point after made it 14-7.

Only nine seconds later, what would be a wild second half came clearly into focus. Burton’s pass down the right sideline was tipped by an Easley defender right into the hands of Bear receiver Cameron Dixon. Dixon had only distant defenders to outrun in his 56-yard sprint to paydirt, tying the game at 14-14.

Easley’s next drive ended with a disastrous screen pass deep in the backfield. Two plays later, Green Wave safety Sean-Thomas Faulkner stepped in front of a Burton pass just shy of midfield. Faulkner hauled the interception 45 yards to put Easley back on top, much to the delight of an exuberant, camouflage-themed Wave student section.

As expected, the Bears answered. A quick 22-yard run was followed by a Burton to Xavier Nance pass good for 57 yards. Three plays and a Green Wave penalty later, Burton toted the football into the end zone to secure BHP’s third tie of the evening.

Easley wasted little time responding. Tyrese Bradley’s kickoff return started the Wave off with good field position. Black’s third-down pass was short and thrown into double coverage, but Fuller came back and leapt over both defenders for a 41-yard gain. The Black and Fuller show continued when a pass into the back-right corner of the end zone saw Fuller outjump the defender and get a foot down for the score. Baker’s point after gave the Wave their fourth and final lead at 28-21 with 8:29 remaining in the game.

A quick BHP three and out included an overthrown pass to a wide-open Dixon and Burton leaving the game momentarily, so momentum seemed to be in Easley’s favor. Disaster then struck. Black’s attempted handoff to Drawdy was high and mishandled, allowing Dixon to smother the loose ball at the Easley 26. The Bears needed only four plays for Breland Sampson9-7 Page 1B.indd to bull into the end zone behind the power formation, levelling the score at 28-28.

The third short Easley punt was returned to the Green Wave 37, allowing Burton to again take a keeper around the right side from nine yards away and the score. BHP’s first lead of the night, with 2:15 remaining in the game, put the Bears firmly in control.

Only three downs later, BHP sophomore Andrew Owen intercepted a tipped Black pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. Just 50 seconds removed from the winning score, the BHP fanbase barely had time to sit back down before the interception return nailed down the victory.

“I told our guys all week — Easley is a bowling ball full of butcher knives,” BHP coach Russell Blackston said. “They got after us and we had to make some things happen.”

With the loss, Easley dropped to 1-2 on the season. The Wave will play at home again this Friday, hosting archrival Wren at 7:30 p.m.. The always highly anticipated matchup might carry a little extra significance this year, with the Green Wave coming off two consecutive fourth-quarter meltdowns and the Golden Hurricanes losing to local rival Powdersville last week in the inaugural meeting of the two schools. One can expect the student sections to be loud and in full force.


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