Mandatory Evacuation – Kinards SC – US 76 Closed

As of 5 o’clock this afternoon, word from Newberry County indicated that progress was being made in the clean-up of an overturned tanker truck. In the meantime, US 76 remained closed until the cleanup is completed. The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office via a Nixle Alert that an 18 wheeler has overturned near Kinards, blocking US Highway 76.  The truck was reported to be hauling explosive grade ammonium nitrate, blasting caps and is leaking diesel fuel.

A mandatory evacuation of the area was ordered after the wreck, sometime around 1:30 this afternoon. The 18 wheeler reportedly overturned at the intersection of Riser Road and US 76, which is 2.15 miles into Newberry County from Kinards, just past the Westvaco Lumber Yard.

Interstate 26 is suggested as a possible Detour route.  US 76 may remain closed for a while longer this evening.

5:25 – Newberry County Sheriff’s Office reports the explosive materials have been removed from the scene of the wreck, so there’s no immediate threat of explosion; however, US 76 remained closed pending final cleanup.

Be Ye Not Discouraged……Vote!


I write this on the day before an election. Tomorrow is the day set aside for Republicans and Democrats to choose their nominees for the general election in November.


Only, this year there was a big monkey wrench tossed into the works and for a while there it didn’t look like there’d be an election at all. A case which originated in Lexington County came before the South Carolina Supreme Court. It alleged that not all candidates had been legally certified and should therefore be removed from the ballot.


The suit had been filed by some friends and former campaign workers of Senator Jake Knotts, Republican, of Lexington County. Why? Well, my guess is that ol’ Jakey thought he was about to take a whipping in the Republican Primary and wanted to avoid it….one way or another. He figured there was no way he could get more votes than his opponent so……..find a way to eliminate the opponent before the election.


The lawsuit centered on an act passed by the General Assembly in 1991 and entered into the South Carolina Code of Laws as Title Eight (Public Officers and Employees), Chapter Thirteen (Ethics, Government Accountability and Campaign Reform), Section 1356 (Filing of Statement of Economic Interest by Candidates for Public Office).


Nobody paid much attention to the legal action at first but the suit was on firm legal footing. That law plainly stated three things:


1. Each candidate must file a Statement of Economic Interest along with their Intention of Candidacy. Both forms must be filed with the same official and at the same time.


2. Party officials were expressly forbidden from accepting a candidate’s filing unless the filing was accompanied by the Statement of Economic Interest.


3. Incumbents were exempt. Since they are already public officials and they already have a requirement of an annual filing of a Statement of Economic Interest, they didn’t have to file it again.


The Supreme Court did what they had to do. They pointed out that the law was clear. And they pointed out that anyone who filed a Statement of Economic Interest on line was in violation of the statute. They did not file that statement with the same party official who accepted their candidacy filing.


Technology simpy outran legislation. The candidates were told to file on line because they were told to do so. Laurens County party leaders told them to because that’s what state party officials told THEM to do. And state party officials thought they were doing what the state wanted them to do.


And nobody checked to see if the law had been changed. It had not been. The Justices had no choice to make the decision they made. Add to that the decision by the Republican Party to try a sidestep maneuver that was characterized by one of the Justices as “creative but foolish” and we end up with candidates being removed from contention in the primary with less than a week before the polls opened.


The bottom line? It’s a mess. But it’s a one time mess……a temporary mess. Many of the candidates who were removed are working already to be included on the ballot in November with the petition process. If you’re asked, please sign their petition. They stuck their neck out and ran for office. It’s not their fault this happened. Sign it and give them the opportunity to be on the ballot in November. If you know you won’t be voting for them, sign it anyway. I think we all believe that voters should have a choice in November.


And don’t get disgusted by all of this and just drop out of the election process. No, go to the polls and vote for who you want. Who cares if it won’t be counted? You vote for who you want, now and in November.


Me……..I think I’ll move to Lexington County. I’d love the opportunity to vote for whoever ends up on the ballot opposite Jake Knotts.

Advice to the Graduates…….And Stuff

I write this on Graduation Day.  In fact, it’s about time for the ceremonies to commence.  I wonder what’s going through their minds.  It dawned on me that these young graduates have been told some things that may or may not be true.

 Since I was once young and am now old I thought I’d set the record straight for them.  So, what’s really true?


Oh, this is SO not true.  If you’re having a real bummer of a time, don’t worry…….this too shall pass. 

 I remember being told that and thinking…..’Really?  This is as good as it gets?’  It isn’t.  Out ahead of you there will be sunshine and rain.  There’ll be the joy of holding a baby, your baby, in your arms.  And there will be love.  Not the heart pounding sensation that seems like love……, the real stuff.  The kind of love that holds you while you cry or keeps your hair outta the toilet while you………well, you get the idea.


Again, not a true statement.  By the time you’re completely on your own with a job, maybe a mortgage and car payments and having to pay taxes, you’ll be amazed at how much Mom and Dad have learned.

 Part of what seems to divide you now is reality versus fantasy.  You know how you want the world to be…..and that’s okay but they know how it is.  Maybe they should just let you happily head down Fantasy Street and not say anything but forgive them for interjecting a bit of reality. 

 Now, if you have a dream that’s burning a hole in your brain…….don’t squash it.  You owe it to yourself and maybe to the whole world to explore that dream.  But listen to Mom and Dad too.  At least consider what they have to say.


Funny thing about ugly……it sneaks up on ya.  I remember one girl in particular from my younger days.  At the time all the kids would hang out in the LaurensPlaza parking lot and this chic showed up one day in a bikini after a trip to the lake.

 All the guys went pretty much ape.  She was so beautiful.  I saw her the other day.  Spooky lookin’.  Don’t make fun of ugly people.  Karma is wicked.  Some of those ugly people seem to get better looking and some of the beautiful people will fall victim to the ugly stick.  God has a sense of humor.


Money is nice.  You have to have it.  You gotta pay your bills.  And it’s okay to have nice things.  It’s nice to not have to worry about finances.

 But keep in mind something my GrandPa told me a long time ago………….”Sometimes money just costs too much”.

 He was right about that.  If you have to set your principles aside for it, don’t.  If it robs the time you spend with those you love, don’t.  If you have money and never feel good about who and what you are, the money is in control.  And this life ends.  At the end, money doesn’t count.  Live your life so that when you depart here there will be people who remember you and smile.  That counts.

 Okay, that’s about it.  I may think of more later but that’ll do for tonight. 

 Last piece of advice.  When you laugh, laugh hard.  When you sneeze, sneeze loud.  When you love, love forever.  And when you roll a firecracker under a police car… like hell.

Quit Your……..hmmmm……..Complaining


There is one thing about my hometown area I have never quite understood. Perhaps the same kind of thing occurs in other areas and I’m just not aware of it but I’m certainly aware of it around my hometown.


It seems that a whole lot of people are eager to point out the bad things that happen. Not just point it out but regale everyone they meet about it. Just over the past few weeks I’ve heard that the Laurens Police Department is inept and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office is on the take….being paid by local drug dealers in exchange for looking the other way. I’ve heard that the Laurens County Hospital is so incompetent that being admitted there is tantamount to a death sentence and that the folks at Laurens County EMS don’t care about anything but running around wide open with lights and siren just to irritate people.


The really happy news about each of those statements is that they are completely untrue. Chief Robin Morse runs a pretty tight ship at the Laurens Police Department. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more professionally run small town law enforcement agency……..anywhere. Catching bad guys isn’t easy. Gaining convictions is even more difficult.


But the men and women who work there take their jobs seriously. They provide effective and fair enforcement of the law. Are they perfect? No. Jesus doesn’t work there. Are they inept? Not at all.


Now, the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff has had his problems lately but he and his deputies are actively seeking the arrest and conviction of those involved in the drug trade. Trust me, I know some drug dealers. They don’t like ANYBODY who works for the Sheriff’s Office. They hide from them and fear them. And I honestly believe that if they were to offer a bribe, they’d go to jail for that too.


And the hospital. I’ve been a patient there and survived. My wife has been a patient there. She lived too.


In fact, when you’re really sick or really hurting ……that’s when what you really think comes to the surface. I was really hurt fairly recently and was taken to a hospital in another county. Things were kinda fuzzy but I remember asking where I was. When they told me I quickly replied……”Get me to Laurens”. I have confidence in them. Not because I think they’re nice people or they have cute nurses but because I’ve been there when dying was definitely an option and due to the care I received there I’m all gooder now.


And lastly, the folks at Laurens County EMS don’t care. They just like to irritate people with lights and siren.


Would you be irritated by those sirens if you knew that ambulance was on its way to your house? If it were your mother or your child who had a heart attack or had been seriously injured, would you be irritated then?


As for not caring……..just shut up. Medics sometimes joke around and generally have a really sick sense of humor. They have to do that. It’s either that or go crazy. Their world is a combination of dealing with people in desperate need of help that they fight to keep alive and also dealing with people who need nothing more than a swift kick in the ass.


On the same day they may be asked to treat an injured child who is bleeding and frightened and some worthless tax consumer who has a stuffy nose and just wants a ride to the hospital because they’re bored. And they have to treat both of them with respect and compassion. That’s easy with the injured kid. With the gal who has hay fever?………not so much.


And one more thing about those lights, those sirens. They’re SUPPOSED to irritate you. I’ll tell you how you can make them stop.


Pull to the right and come to a stop. Let them go by. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they’ll be gone. Because they really aren’t interested in staying behind you and aggravating you. They want AROUND you.


If you’re in the left lane and you wonder why they don’t just pass you in the right lane……..they can’t. They can’t because the law says YOU have to pull to the right. They will not pass you on the right because they’re staying out of your way. They just expect you to obey the law and pull to the right. If you ride in the left lane, they will too…..waiting for you to wise up and do what you’re supposed to. And while they’re waiting, the clock is ticking for someone with a medical emergency. Please……you can complain later. But get out of the way first.


Is this a perfect community? Nope. But if you think it’s really THAT bad…..there’s no barbed wire at the county line. You can leave. Honest.

You Did It………..Again

Without a lot of fanfare, you did it again. I had my doubts, I’ll admit that now…..but I should have known.

For three years now Tony and Joy Staton at Valvoline Express Care have asked WLBG to assist them with a food drive. They’re good folks and they just want to do everything within their power to make sure that none of our folks are hungry.

On Friday, December 9th, we arrived at Valvoline Express Care to broadcast Good Morning UpCountry live from that location. We knew that last year the community responded and the Baptist Crisis Center received 1,200 food items. There were boxes of rice dinners, cans of beans, spaghetti noodles and spaghetti sauce. Somebody even sent some jelly bean. We also raised a little of $700 in cash.

This year I thought it’d be difficult to match that. It’s not that times are tougher than they were last year. It’s just that our tough economic times have stayed with us. There are some promising things on the horizon but many of us look around and wonder when we’ll have more than promises. For several years now we’ve been struggling a bit. I thought that struggle may have begun to wear on our people to the point that we’d have to scale back.

It was my privilege to be there all day along with Reverend Anthony Sims, Wyatt Mattison, Emil Finley, and Bryan Bentley. We had some equipment issues that challenged us but found a way to overcome them. We presented the problem to the community of WLBG’s listeners. The Crisis Center needed food to provided to hungry families.

At the end of the day, there were 1,276 separate food items. Testament to the big hearts of you, our listeners, and the people of this community. God bless you for stepping up.

Oh, and many of you tossed money into our collection jar. Thank you. We didn’t know how much was there until the end. When it was counted it totalled $1,070. Well ahead of what we did last year.

Sometimes I fell like I ask for too much. From time to time needs are presented to me. Some of those needs you never know about…..we find ways to solve the problem with resources that already exist. But often, I present the issue to you. And that’s really all I do. You do the rest.

People have been thanking me lately for helping a soldier in need, or raising money for Rev. Sims Thanksgiving Dinner or for this food drive for the Crisis Center. Sorry, I didn’t do it. All I did was tell you about it, then sit back and watch the magic happen.

Thank you………again. God bless you for being the kind of people who will share…..even in tough times when maybe you don’t have as much as you’d like……you will share what you do have. I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am to be associated in even a small way with such big hearted people.

Obama’s Re-Election Campaign A Fundamental Change

 Pay attention. You may miss something important. President Obama’s re-election campaign has swung into high gear mobilizing thousands. Some of the campaigners have even been arrested. If you’re not paying attention, you just might miss it.


First, let’s review some of the prior statements of President Barack Hussein Obama. There have been the usual accusations of campaign promises that turned out to be just empty talk. He promised open, transparent was the word he used, government. He even went so far as to promise that everything associated with his new health care overhaul would be broadcast on C-Span.


Well, the CEO of C-Span reminded the President of that when their crews were shut out of virtually all meetings where the new health plan was being discussed. So, that was an empty promise. It sounded good but there was no way he was going to let the people hear those discussions. There was just too much there you might not have liked to hear. Better to bury it in 2,000 pages of a bill you would never read.


But one thing he said was that he wanted to fundamentally change America. People cheered. Some cheered without ever asking what was so wrong with the America we grew up in. Some cheered and never asked……….what kind of change? All they knew was that it was fundamental. Do you know what fundamental means?


Now that the campaign is under way in full strength there are some hints. Look at the protestors in the streets of New York and other major cities. Guess what they say their goal is? They say they want to fundamentally change America. Fancy that.


The President winks at them and says he’s proud of them. Nancy Pelosi says she’s in agreement with them. They’re the ‘real’ Americans we’re told.


Hmmmmmm……….one of them ‘used the bathroom’ through the open window of a police car. It was number two. There’s video of it if you’re so inclined. They’ve trashed New York. One Jewish man was assaulted by a few dozen of these real Americans and told he needs to take his ‘Jew boy ass’ to Israel and get out of this country.


Proud of them you say.


Hank Williams, Jr got in a lot of trouble last week for comparing President Obama to Hitler.


Where on Earth did he get an idea like that?


Catching the Universe Rhyming


On Saturday the Patriot Guard was staged in the parking lot of Bi-Lo in Clinton. We were there to escort the parents of Captain Kimberly Hampton to the Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony at Clinton High School.


Kimberly Hampton, the first woman pilot in American military history to be killed in action, was shot down near Fallujah, Iraq on 02 JAN 04. She grew up in Easley and went to school at Presbyterian College where she was a star tennis player.


Kimberly’s parents have formed a relationship with the Patriot Guard. We honor the fallen and they appreciate that. But, we had never conducted an Honor Mission for Kimberly Hampton. She was killed over a year before the Patriot Guard came to be. That had bugged me for years. I wanted Kimberly to have her Honor Mission.


And so, when I learned that CPT Hampton would be inducted into the Laurens County Hall of Heroes, I determined to organize an Honor Mission of sorts for her. That’s how it came to be that we were there at Bi-Lo awaiting Dale and Ann Hampton on Saturday.


A lady who had come to buy groceries saw all those motorcycles and walked out to look at them. She asked what we were doing. When she was told why we were there………that we were riding for CPT Kimberly Hampton…….well, that’s when it started to get weird. For a moment I thought the lady was going to faint.


She had been in the United States Army, made a career of it in fact. She retired in 2005. Before she retired one of her duties was to serve as an escort for fallen soldiers. When an American soldier is killed in action tradition holds that they never be left alone. A fellow soldier is with them at all times until they are laid to rest. This lady performed that duty. And the last soldier that she brought home from overseas? Captain Kimberly Hampton.


She had retired and wanted to live in the South. She decided on South Carolina and picked Clinton. Then, she decided to go buy groceries at Bi-Lo on Saturday and became curious about all those motorcycles. Coincidence? No, I don’t think so. I told her I didn’t know if she needed it or if Mr. and Mrs. Hampton needed it but…….she was supposed to be there. There were hugs and tears as she met Kimberly’s Mother and explained her connection. On Saturday evening as Kimberly was inducted into the Hall of Heroes I was proud to see this lady smiling and occasionally wiping a tear away.


This volunteer job I have has it’s rewards. Immense rewards. No, the rewards cannot be exchanged for cash. They’re much more valuable than that.

Hall of Heroes

In just a few days from now we will celebrated the Hall of Heroes.  It’s a special celebration.  Special because up until this year it only happened in one county in South Carolina and special because it should have been happening all along.


You and I go through our day and we rub shoulders with heroes every day.  Men and women who have done extraordinary things.  Some of them quite literally secured your freedom and security.  They made the name ‘American’ respected acrossEuropeand the South Pacific.


But then they came home and went to work in the mill or back on the farm and the memories were just that, only memories.  Perhaps he charged a German machine gun that had his buddies pinned down.  Maybe he landed onOmahaBeachand somehow survived.  Maybe a photo ofMount Suribachistill makes him break into a cold sweat.


Each year inLaurensCountywe honor men and women who once gave up everything and walked away.  They left farms and families.  They left sweethearts, Mommas and Daddies, and old dawgs.  And they put on a uniform and went to war.


This year we will honor some who did that and who never came back.  They gave up every one of their tomorrows for your freedoms today.


On Saturday, September 10th, I ask that you come and hear their stories.  I think you owe them that.


As a part of my duties at WLBG I cover some public meetings of government entities.  One of them I get to attend on a regular basis is Clinton City Council.  Now, those are fun.  The Mayor and all the council members, as well as Interim City Manager Frank Stovall and the rest of the city’s staff do a good job of making the business of doing the city’s business fun.  They know when to get serious but also how to have fun while tackling serious issues.  It’s actually fun.


But I wasn’t at Clinton City Council on Monday, August 22nd.  I covered a meeting of the School District 56 Board of Trustees.  Well, I covered it a while and, I must confess that I think I may have nodded off a time or two.


Why the difference?  Well……………let me preface this by saying that the men and women who serve on the school board in District 56 do so without pay.  They dedicate a huge amount of time to conduct the business of the district.  I imagine that a lot of people believe they’re paid for those services.  They are not.


Having said that, I’d like to say something to the folks on the school board……………LIGHTEN UP…………..PLEASE!!  You take yourselves WAY too seriously.  Dont’ be so defensive and stop with the semi-competition to see who can find the nit-pickiest item to point out.


The meeting in question lasted nearly 2 and 1/2 hours.  That’s 2 and 1/2 hours of long discussions of what ‘special’ means.  2 and 1/2 hours of fighting to maintain consciousness.


The one bright spot of this particular meeting?  They took a vote……….two votes actually……..that did not result in unanimous agreement.  Hats off the Ms. Elizabeth McKinney for stating her opposition to something.  I have often felt that one member or another really wanted to vote no on something but they weren’t sure that was allowed.  Ms. McKinney didn’t ask.  I actually found that refreshing.  I’m glad I was awake to see it.


Now, again, these folks serve without pay.  They come out to these meetings, do a lot of work and preparation behind the scenes and occasionally catch flak from parents……all on a volunteer basis.  So, I’m not just complaining.  I actually would like to see the mood lifted so the board members can actually have a little fun while doing the district’s business.  They could have a little fun and maybe I could stay awake.  And maybe………..just maybe……..meetings could be completed in less than 2 and 1/2 hours.


Confession of a Semi-Luddite

When the iPhone first came out I laughed at people who made complete fools of themselves.  Some of them actually slept on a sidewalk outside the store so they’d be sure to get one of the first units available.  What morons.

I was smugly amused at their antics.  There was no way I’d ever just flip completely out over something as simple as a telephone.  Okay, so it’s a cell phone.  Okay, so you can play games.  Big deal.

And then came last week.  With smart phones all around me……..even Emil has one……. I finally took the plunge.  No, I didn’t exactly get the latest and the greatest.  I got yesterday’s wonder toy……the Apple iPhone 3GS.

The thing was a bit difficult to get set up.  You have to hook it to a computer so in can do something called ‘sync’ with Apple’s site…….the one where they try to sell you all kinds of music.  It took a while but finally it was working and I made a call.

Nothing special about the call.  I dialed.  I talked.  I hung up.  Big deal.

And then I thought I’d look into these things called ‘Apps’…………..applications that you can get for the phone…..a lot of them free.  That’s when the light went off.

There are apps for just about everything you can imagine:  News, Weather, Business Tools, Music, Videos, File Storage.  You can write a letter and email it around the world with this thing.  You can get directions to a street address in New Mexico and this lady talks to you the whole way there and tells you where to turn……she’s such a nice lady.  It’s got a compass on it in case you get lost in the woods……oh, and it’s got a flashlight app too.

Email, Facebook, Weather Radar and the Al Gore’s ENTIRE internet……right here in the palm of my hand.  How oh  how did I ever live without this device.  Now I understand.  And the next time they’re gonna introduce a new version………….no way I’m sleeping on a sidewalk to get one.  I’m not THAT big of a fool.