Daily Archives: 11/10/2021

Wreck claims local woman, great-grandson

Man arrested on 4 counts of felony DUI in deadly crash

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

LIBERTY — A man has been charged with four counts of felony driving under the influence after a wreck that killed a Pickens woman and her 6-year-old great-grandson last week.

Pickens County Coroner Kandy Kelley identified the victims as 70-year-old Gladys Holbrooks of Kenemer Lane in Pickens and her great-grandson, Cameron Durham.

The wreck happened around 6:45 p.m. Nov. 4 on U.S. Highway 123 just south of U.S. Highway 178,

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Blue Flame burn through Aiken in straight sets to win program’s 16th state title — and first since 2014


After capturing the Upper State crown and finishing with heartbreaking losses in the state championship four seasons in a row, the fifth time was the charm for the Pickens Lady Blue Flame volleyball team on Saturday, as they broke through to beat Aiken in straight sets in the Class 4A title game in Columbia to wrap up the program’s 16th state championship — and first since 2014. Just days after winning their fifth consecutive Upper State championship over Catawba Ridge, the Blue Flame dominated Aiken from the opening whistle on Saturday to capture the first state title of coach Rikki Owens’ five-year tenure. Above, the Pickens crowd goes wild as the Lady Blue Flame celebrate a point during Saturday’s championship match. To see more, turn to pages got to sports on this website.               Jessica Mackey/Courier


Pickens girls claim first volleyball title since 2014 in romp of Aiken

By Bru Nimmons
Staff Reporter

COLUMBIA — For Rikki Owens and the Pickens Blue Flame volleyball team, playing in the state championship was nothing new heading into Saturday’s Class 4A state championship.

The Blue Flame won the Upper State title to advance to the state championship game every season over the first four years of Owens’ tenure as Pickens head coach, but had fallen in all four of those state finals prior to this year’s matchup with Aiken.

On Saturday, the Blue Flame finally got over the hump, cruising to a 3-0 win over the Fighting Green Hornets at Dreher High School in Columbia to bring Pickens its first volleyball state championship since 2014.

“It feels great,” Pickens senior libero Bailee Earnhardt said after the win. “This is my fifth trip, and it’s just wonderful to finally bring home a gold medal instead of a silver one.”

For Owens, the win is the pinnacle of an already highly successful tenure at Pickens, a school that boasted 15 previous volleyball state championships, and a moment to relish after nearly half a decade of falling just shy of her lofty expectations.

“It means everything to me,” Owens said of the state championship win. “It has been five hard years, because the expectation is so huge — you come in and you’re expected to win championships.”

The big win was business as usual for Pickens this season, with the team not losing a set since before the beginning of region play, including an astounding 12-0 run through the playoffs against some of the best teams the state of South Carolina had to offer.

According to Owens, the expectation remained the same even going into Saturday’s state championship match.

“We’ve done every drill in practice and looked at every scenario there could possibly be,” Owens said of her team’s preparation. “I told them to quit talking about it and shut up and actually do it, and they did. (Legendary Dorman head coach and Owens’ mentor) Paula Kirkland says ‘All gas, no brakes,’ and that’s what I told them. We’re not going to lose a set — we’re sweeping them in three.”

The Blue Flame took that message to heart, according to Earnhardt, and were extremely confident from the start.

“After the past four years, when we stepped on this court today, we knew what was going to happen,” Earnhardt said.

Even in the game’s opening minutes, the Blue Flame were just as commanding as Owens expected them to be. With all-state junior setter Lauren Dow serving and senior middle hitter Caroline Lucas patrolling the net, the Blue Flame jumped out to a 5-0 lead and never trailed the rest of the set, taking it 25-17.

In the second set, the Blue Flame ran into trouble early and trailed 8-2, forcing Owens to call a timeout. The team responded by battling back to tie the game at 10-10 as sophomore setter Hannah Campbell assisted Dow. From there, Pickens took control, winning the second set 25-19 to move to within a set of the 16th state championship in school history.

“With how hard we practiced and everything we’ve overcome this year, we knew we had to finish,” Earnhardt said.

It looked like the set may go down to the wire early on, but when senior defensive specialist Ali Pace started serving for Pickens up 8-7, it was the beginning of the end for the Hornets. The Blue Flame scored eight straight points as Pace served, and the lead continued to balloon the rest of the way, giving Pickens a 25-11 victory and a 3-0 sweep of Aiken.

With the win, Owens joins the ranks of the legendary Peggy Anthony and Jennifer Gravely as a state championship-winning coach at Pickens, but she is most proud of the fact that her team is the first Class 4A champion at the school since Anthony’s 1994 squad.

“We have eight strong seniors and we worked our butts off,” Owens said of her championship team. “We don’t have one star or two stars on this team. We have 16 stars on this team, and whether they made it on that court or not, they all had a role to play.”

Man charged with attempted murder

PICKENS — A local man faces multiple counts, including attempted murder, after police said he shot a woman in the presence of two children last week.

Joshua Butcher, 32, is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, unlawful conduct toward a child and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Butcher was being held without bond at the

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Ex-bus driver facing 16 child sex charges

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — A former School District of Pickens County bus driver is being held behind bars on more than a quarter of a million dollars in bonds after being arrested last week on multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

The Pickens Police Department charged Robert Allen Miller with 16 counts of third-degree

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County’s COVID-19 numbers improving

COLUMBIA — Pickens County has seen some improvement in the battle against COVID-19 this week, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), with falling case numbers and only five reported deaths this week.

According to DHEC, there were four confirmed deaths and one probable death in the county the one-week period from last Tuesday to Monday, when the latest

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In appreciation of our veterans

In honor of Pickens County’s veterans, the Pickens County Veterans Affairs Office held events last week. On Saturdayn area veterans were treated to a meal, and on Sunday there was a veterans parade in downtown Liberty and a patriotic show at the Pickens County Performing Arts Center. Top: Liberty High School JROTC members prepare to the lead the parade. Above left: Melanie Ginn of the county VA office gives a gift to veteran Richard Laughlin. Above right: Martha and Jerry Laughlin enjoy the parade with Claire and Jerry Carroll. Below: A young man riding in the parade salutes the American flag. Right: the Liberty JROTC march under Old Glory.


Upstate Warrior Solution, Goodwill partner to serve vets

EASLEY — Upstate Warrior Solution (UWS), in partnership with Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina, is opening a new office to serve Pickens County veterans and families.

Located within Goodwill’s  Saco Lowell Road location in Easley, the new office will enable UWS and Goodwill staff to collaborate and improve service delivery and accessibility to care for veterans and their families. Both organizations have

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Blood Connection encourages blood donations in honor of Veterans Day

COUNTY — This Veterans Day, The Blood Connection will salute our nation’s heroes by inviting the community to contribute to making a donation to The Blood Center of America’s Special Forces Wounded Warrior Fund (SFWWF).

Between Nov. 9 and 11, The Blood Connection is donating $10 to the SFWWF for every blood donor who gives at 13 different donation centers across the Carolinas and Georgia. The BCA

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Historic Burdine Lodge to be dedicated Saturday

PICKENS — After a decade of preparation and fundraising by local volunteers, the grand reopening and dedication of the 1700s-era Burdine Lodge will be held this Saturday, Nov. 13, at 1 p.m. at the Hagood Mill Historic Site.

As documented in his journals, it was at this log house that Bishop Francis Asbury stayed and preached as he journeyed to establish the early Methodist societies in the region. Now restored by the South Carolina United Methodist Church Conference Historical Society, the

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