Speakers For & Against Anti-Litter Signs

      The debate over an anti-litter sign in the “Don’t Trash Laurens” campaign brought television cameras to last night’s Laurens City County Meeting. A local TV station was in town to record reaction to the controversial sign showing the face of a donkey and saying, “Don’t litter Jack -   – this means you.”

    County resident Heather Sipes presented City Council with a petition that contained   205 signatures of people she says agree with her stand. She noted the comments came from people who live in and outside town, but that all agree with her opposition to the sign and want it removed. She said “What kind of message are we teaching our impressionable children when we result to vulgarity to get a point across?” Sipes went on to say, “I not only request that these signs be removed but that you will also be more considerate of Christians and our moral values in the future. We will no longer be silent and will gladly stand up against things that we feel are not pleasing to our Lord.”

  Mayor Sharon Brownlee responded, saying “I appreciate another point of view, but this sign brings on much conversation.” She said “Laurens has a huge problem with economic development and this litter problem adds to it. I have been willing to put my name to these signs.” The Mayor added that there are many folks who are overwhelmingly pleased with the signs.

     Brownlee asked Streets and Sanitation Director Irwin Tribble about the success of the campaign. He said that along the East Farley Avenue roadside crews were picking up “four to five bags of trash every two weeks, but now it is down to one and a half bags.”

    Mayor Pro-Tem Richard Griffin said “We did not want the signs to be offensive but we wanted them to be effective and it is working.”

    Jim Furman of Furman Ford also spoke in defense of the signs, saying that he and his employees have worked to clean up parts of the intersection near his dealership; even purchasing a machine to pick up cigarette butts. He said he appreciates the controversial signs.

    Mayor Brownlee noted that the sign at that intersection of the Clinton Highway and the By-Pass did not stay there long due to an issue with the South Carolina Department of Transportation. She said she’s working with SC-DOT to resolve that objection.

    The Mayor added “The whole city is becoming cleaner. The reduction in trash says that it is working, and I can definitely say -thanks to that sign – that we are having conversation, we want that conversation, and without it and its exposure in the media we would not be talking about this.”

City Council Approves Civic Center

    Laurens City Council voted unanimously last night to proceed with the building of a Civic Center, which they plan to construct on a 90-acre tract of land the city owns on Exchange Drive, near City Park. Mayor Brownlee said “We have been working on this for four or five years now, it will be attractive for those visiting the city, good for economic development, anything you can think of can be housed in this type of building, this is a huge step for us.”

    A committee of Brownlee, Mayor Pro-Tem Richard Griffin and Councilman Martin Lowry will work to find a contractor and to bring a design back to council. Councilman Lowry said “The old saying of ‘build it and they will come,’ is appropriate here, this will essentially be a community center, not just for recreation, but also for indoor venues. Laurens is starved for a place for a decent size meeting. We are not going to do something that will strap the city, we are fiscally very sound and this is not going to cause a problem or cost the taxpayers any money; it will be built in our growth area near the park, we already own the property and are benefiting from selling trees growing there.”

     City Administrator Gary Coleman told council that the bond attorney indicates the $2.2 million could be funded without any new taxes because a previous bond for the Sun Trust building is about to be paid off, and other costs could be paid with hospitality tax revenue.

Child Neglect & Contributing to Delinquency

   The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office made arrests in the Renno Community early yesterday morning after reportedly responding on a welfare check on children late Monday night. There were reports of children having been left alone at home.

   21-year-old Robert Harold Mattson of 55 Apple Road, in the Renno Community east of Clinton was served with warrants later yesterday charging him with Two Counts of Child Neglect. He was also charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Child. A ticket was issued also charging him with Simple Possession of Marijuana at 1:38 yesterday morning at 55 Apple Road off Highway 72 East.

   Two warrants charging Unlawful Neglect of a Child allege that on April 14th Robert Harold Mattson placed a minor child at unreasonable risk of harm, and that he is the child’s parent or guardian.

   A third warrant, citing Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, alleges that on April 14th Mattson did knowingly and willfully encourage a minor child to violate the law by handing her illegal drugs to hide or conceal.

   During arraignment yesterday, bonds on the four charges were set totaling $15,620. Robert Harold Mattson remained in the Johnson Detention Center this morning.

   Meanwhile, 38-year-old Crystal Nicole O’Dell of 55 Apple Road reportedly returned to the residence while Deputies were there. She was issued tickets charging her with Giving False Information to Police, Driving Under Suspension and Failure to Return a License. These tickets also noted the time of 1:38 am yesterday. Crystal O’Dell was released from the Johnson Detention Center yesterday on Personal Recognizance bonds of $155, $465 and $652.

Laurens Railroad Crossing Closed Today

     East Main Street near Downtown Laurens is closed today at the railroad crossing. Railroad repair crews were to be working on the railroad crossing. Local traffic only is allowed between Harper and Mill Streets.

Probation Violation

    South Carolina Pardon, Probation and Parole yesterday arrested a Gray Court area man on a Violation of Probation charge. 24-year-old Richard Lewis Hill Jr., also known as “Man Man,” was booked with an address at 7177 Old Laurens Road. He is accused of moving without the consent of his agent and failing to notify the agent of his change of address, and of failing to notify his agent of an arrest for Criminal Domestic Violence on February 20, 2014 by the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office. The Probation Violation warrant also cites various fees his is allegedly in arrears on. Richard Lewis Hill Jr. was released from the Johnson Detention Center yesterday on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

Laurens Council Requested to Move Election Dates

    Laurens County Registration & Elections Director Lynne West last night asked Laurens City Council to move City Elections from being held concurrently with November General Elections. She noted the state has a proviso for municipal elections to be held in the spring. She requested Laurens move their elections to the 1st Tuesday of March each odd-numbered year, which would be the same date as other county municipalities, Clinton, Cross Hill, Waterloo and Gray Court.

West promised this move will save the city money. Council accepted the request for future discussion.

Shots near Prather Circle

    Clinton Public Safety was dispatched to Prather Circle at 4:52 yesterday afternoon on a report of subjects shooting a handgun near the Prather Circle Trailer Park. While in route to the scene Officer Matthew Metz was flagged down by someone who gave a description of three men who had allegedly been observed shooting a gun a few houses down from the trailer park. The officer located three men matching the description of the men who were standing in a driveway. After denying having fired as weapon, the men reportedly cooperated with an investigation and some marijuana was located, along with evidence of a gun having been fired, including a spent shell casing that appeared to have been recently fired. Officers were able to locate a .22 caliber firearm in a container of clothing. Tickets were issued charging discharge of a firearm in city limits and Simple Possession of Marijuana. Officers seized 1.65 grams of marijuana, 2 marijuana pipes, a .22 caliber long rifle, two magazines loaded with .22 caliber shells and one spent .22 caliber shell casing.

Welcome to Jail, Pending Your Court Date

   The Laurens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday booked a woman with six General Sessions Court Bench Warrants. 45-year-old Molly Lee Hall of 501 ½ South Main Street, Fountain Inn was served with the six warrants issued December 10th, 2013. Three of the bench warrants call for her to face Possession of a Controlled Substance charges while the other three are from cases charging her with Manufacture or Distribution of Methamphetamine, Possession of less than one gram of meth and Illegal Disposal of Meth Waste. Molly Hall remains in the Johnson Detention Center.

Thief Caught ….on Camera

   Laurens City Police were reviewing surveillance video of a theft on Church Street early yesterday morning. Sgt. Shane Martin was dispatched to 430 Church at the All-Dry of the Carolinas at 430 Church Street yesterday morning, where video showed a man walking around company trucks. The recordings first show him apparently checking to see if vehicles were unlocked at 41 minutes after midnight. He then left the camera view. At 5:21 yesterday morning the man reappeared on camera and was observed entering one of the trucks and taking a jacket, some change and two lottery tickets.  The video provided a detailed description of the subject.

Power Theft

    The Laurens CPW called police to a Hampton Street residence at 1:30 yesterday afternoon on a theft of electricity report. Power to the home had been disconnected in February. Now, someone has reconnected the current. Officer Nolan observed a side door to be open, and checked in the event a burglary was in progress, or there was another emergency. He did not locate anyone inside the residence.