Daily Archives: 06/02/2020

Protest in Pickens

Local officials listen as group calls for justice

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

PICKENS — “There Comes a Time When Silence Is Betrayal.”

“All Lives Can’t Matter Until Black Lives Matter.”

“More Justice.”

Holding those signs and others, a number of protesters gathered in Pickens’ Legacy Square on Monday afternoon to protest against police brutality.

Monday’s protest was one of many held across the country in the aftermath of the death of George

Local graduates receive diplomas

By Bru Nimmons

Staff Reporter

COUNTY — After months of unprecedented challenges and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the School District of Pickens County held its socially distant graduation ceremonies Friday in each of the four county high schools’ football stadiums.

Attendance was limited at the ceremonies, and both attendees and graduates were required to maintain social distance guidelines during the graduations.

The SDPC class of 2020 was forced to transition to online learning and missed out on many of the annual rites and senior privileges, such as prom, athletics and awards day, but still managed to cross the finish line with 1,121 graduates. All told, this year’s graduating class brought home nearly $17.5 million in scholarships, according to district officials.

Daniel High School graduated 270 seniors this year, with the outgoing class earning $6.1 worth of scholarships. The top Lions of the 2020 class were valedictorian Jennifer Yanlai Gao and salutatorian Anna Margaret Buck.

Easley High School had the largest graduating class in the county, graduating 392 seniors. Valedictorian Sunny Kakazu Ennis and salutatorian Carolyn Scott Greene led the way for the class, which earned $3,175,500 in scholarships.

In contrast to Easley, Liberty High School had the smallest group of graduates, with 166 students in the class of 2020. That small group earned big bucks toward college, with scholarships totaling $1,810,924, and was led by valedictorian Alexis Taylor Holliday and salutatorian Ethan Thomas Black.

Finally, Pickens High School’s class of 2020 came out as the top earners toward college scholarships. Valedictorian Abigail Elizabeth Broom and salutatorian Dalton Roper Moorrees earned top marks among the group of 293 seniors, which earned $6.4 million in scholarships.


Virus cases eclipse 160 in county

COLUMBIA — Pickens County’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was up to 164 as of Monday afternoon — an increase of 40 cases from the same day last week.

Six new cases reported Monday in Pickens County were part of nearly 300 new cases announced statewide by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The state was up to a confirmed 12,148 cases as of Monday afternoon, DHEC said.

Three people have died of COVID-19-related causes in Pickens County, while 500 had died across the state during the pandemic as of Monday, according to

County now in third phase of reopening

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

COUNTY — The third phase of Kickstart Pickens County, the county’s plan to reopen following the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is now underway.

The third phase of the county’s plan to kickstart operations officially began on Monday.

Officials held a briefing Friday morning on the third phase of reopening.

Over the past few weeks, officials have taken “a measure, reasonable approach so we could be as safe as possible when we welcome you back in,” acting county administrator Ken Roper said.

“We’re excited about the potential of welcoming all of you back into our public spaces,” Roper said. “Phase 3 will be the new normal for the foreseeable future.”

Under this phase, in most instances, county buildings will be open “and the public will be welcomed back in,” he said.

But controls will still be in place, Roper said.

“Employees who have to deal directly with the public will have guards in place — sneeze guards and separation where possible,” he said.

Signage about social distancing will be located throughout buildings, Roper said.

The plan is designed to be adaptable, he said.

“If situations change, we have the ability to pretty adroitly go back to Phase 2, without a lot of drama,” Roper said. “The multi-phase approach gives us adaptability, department by department, as circumstances dictate.”

As the county reopens, “we want to make sure everybody continues their social distancing,” county emergency management deputy director Pierce Womack said.

“That seems to be the biggest help right now,” he said. “If you’re face to face with somebody, try to give that some space between you. Wash your hands frequently. Please use caution.”

Tasks may take longer as businesses limit the number of customers allowed in at a time, so build extra time into your schedule, Womack said.

First responders are among the county employees who will still be wearing masks, he said.

“Please don’t take that offensively,” Womack said. “We’re doing that for several reasons — to protect our folks and to continue to be able to give you the services that are needed. We don’t want to quarantine our staff or put that staff out of work, to not be able to give you the level of service that citizens deserve.”

Under Phase 3, “we are opening Mile Creek Park back up to full capacity,” county parks, recreation and tourism director Allison Fowler said.

“That’s new reservations, existing reservations, shelters, bathroom facilities, playground,” she said. “Everything is back open out there. The other two county parks are also open.”

The Pickens County Museum of Art and History resumed normal business hours in Phase 2 of Kickstart, she said.

“That will continue during Phase 3,” Fowler said. “We’re working to evaluate whether we can start allowing tours, workshops, the art classes. That’s kind of up to those instructors right now. You might see more information rolling out about those.”

The museum will continue offering virtual programming, she said.

“We’re still working to figure out exactly what that will look like with social distancing,” Fowler said.

The Pickens County Performing Arts Center’s next show is set for July 18, when it welcomes comedian James Gregory.

Human resources director Lisa Bryant said the county “did a lot of things to help protect our employees,” including rearranging offices to limit contact and having employees work remotely or on different schedules.

“All of that is kind of back to normal now — I should say our new normal,” she said. “Some of our office locations do look different. You’ll notice there are some tables and things to help promote social distancing throughout the building.”

As Phase 3 begins, “our main goal is to make sure our employees are safe, that we keep the public safe when they come into our building and that we provide the customer service we can provide,” Bryant said.

Adjustments may have to be made going forward, she said.

“Give us some grace, give us some patience and we’ll do the best that we can do to service our citizens of Pickens County,” Bryant said.

One question submitted during the briefing asked if someone would be monitoring the number of people going in and out of county facilities “to ensure we are keeping a safe capacity.”

Roper said risk manager Mike Hayes would be overseeing that, in addition to the county’s safety committee.

“We do have plans for that,” he said. “We’ll keep a wary eye on the circumstances.”


Primary set for Tuesday

Some polling places moved

By Bru Nimmons

Staff Reporter

COUNTY — As South Carolina inches closer to its statewide primary on Tuesday, Pickens County

Remember to VOTE April 1

voters must soon choose who will represent them in November’s general election, and with six contested county races, competition is expected to be fierce on Election Night.

Pickens County Council has two seats up for election this November, and both are hotly contested between multiple candidates.

In District 3, longtime Pickens resident Debbie Gravely, Tim Robinson and former Pickens County

Clemson student government issues statement on police brutality, racism

By Riley Morningstar
Courtesy The Journal

CLEMSON — Clemson University’s Undergraduate Student Government published a letter Monday condemning police brutality, systemic racism and the “senseless murder of Black people” as protests and riots over the death of George Floyd roil the nation.

Referred to as CUSG, the group released a letter on social media to the “Clemson Community” sending condolences to Floyd’s family and “countless others who have been murdered due to the color of their skin.”

“We acknowledge that our university is not exempt from the systemic racism in society. Racism permeates several aspects of Clemson’s campus and community,” the letter said. “From the ground of John C. Calhoun’s plantation, buildings that we inhabit like Tillman Hall, overtly racist incidents in the town of Clemson, to covert

Motorcycle crash kills 2

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — Two Upstate residents died in a motorcycle accident early Sunday morning.

The accident happened at 263 Old Liberty Pickens Road in Pickens, Pickens County Coroner Kandy Kelley said.

Kelley identified the victims as 30-year-old Thomas Cody Bowen of Old Bethlehem School Road in Pickens and 39-year-old Amanda Faye Neely of Youth Center Road in Belton.

Bowen was driving the motorcycle, according to Kelley.

The coroner said both victims were pronounced dead at the scene of blunt force trauma.

Bowen and Neely were not wearing helmets, Kelley said.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating.


Easley man faces child porn charges

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

EASLEY — An Easley man faces multiple charges of sexually exploiting a minor after being arrested last week.

Billy Edgar Reynolds, 41, of Easley, was arrested on May 26, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a news release.

Reynolds is charged with six counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, Wilson said.

The Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force with the

School board OKs final budget

By Greg Oliver
Courtesy The Journal

EASLEY — The Pickens County School Board approved the third and final reading of a proposed $128.1 million general fund budget for fiscal year ‘21 last week despite a plea from one trustee to delay the vote until its next meeting.

In making the motion to table, trustee Phillip Bowers argued that waiting until this month’s board meeting would still allow time to approve the new budget prior to it going into effect when the new fiscal year begins July 1. At the same time, Bowers said the district could be in line for additional

Courier Obituaries 6-3-20


PICKENS — Dorothy Folger Pence passed away on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

Known as “Dot,” she was the wife of Jay Pence for 66 years. She was born the daughter of Jack and Dorothy Folger in Columbia in 1931.

As a child, Dot lived in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, where her father was assistant manager, and later in Baltimore, where her father was manager of the Belvedere. After WWII, the family moved to Pickens to settle in the old family home place “12 Mile.” She attended Pickens High School one year before enrolling in Queens College (now University) in Charlotte, graduating in 1952. She worked for one year in the Clemson Extension Service