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Orangeburg County School District
Orangeburg County School Board picks interim superintendent, won’t reveal name yet

The Orangeburg County School Board of Trustees selected an interim superintendent for the district on Thursday, but won’t yet provide the person’s name.

School board Chairwoman Peggy James-Tyler said she can't provide the name of the interim superintendent until she contacts the person.

"I can't release that name until I get all the details worked out with the person and if the person will accept. As soon as I get clearance from the attorney, I will let you know,” she said.

The board authorized James-Tyler to talk to the board's attorney about drawing up a contract or letter of agreement to offer the position to the individual.

The decision was made after 2-1/2 hour closed session.

The board first voted on a person referred to as Candidate A.

That candidate was rejected, with four voting in favor and five against. The four voting in favor were Debora Brunson, Dr. William O'Quinn, Idella Carson and Mary Berry Ulmer. Those voting against were Vernelle Goodwin, Ralph Lee Brown, Ruby Edwards, Betty Macon Pelzer and James-Tyler.

The numbers were reversed for Candidate B, who was selected for the job on a 5-4 vote.

Voting for the interim superintendent were: Goodwin, Brown, Edwards, Pelzer and James-Tyler. Voting in opposition were Brunson, O'Quinn, Carson and Ulmer.

There was no discussion of either candidate in open session and board members declined comment on the reasons for their vote.

A total of four individuals were interviewed for the interim superintendent position.

S.C. School Boards Association Executive Director Scott Price defended withholding of the candidates’ names at this point in time.

"The board through their attorney is currently working with the negotiation piece," Price said. A final decision has not been made.

"There is nothing settled yet, so we are not releasing the name,” he said.

Price said the interim superintendent position also was not conducted under a “true search process,” so South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act does not reply.

"They had names of people they wanted to interview and we brought them in for interviews," Price said, adding that the position was never advertised.

"It is a little different situation,” he said.

S.C. Press Association Executive Director Bill Rogers said the board can legally withhold the names.

"That is unfortunate for public openness, but is it not illegal," he said.

Rogers referred to a recent case where a high school hired a football coach, but did not disclose the name. The attorneys involved in the case both said the nondisclosure was legal.

Rogers said boards fear having their top choice turn down the job offer and then selecting a person perceived as a “second choice.”

The interim superintendent position is the second position filled by the new school board.

Last week, the board named Marie Harrison as the district's interim administrative assistant.

In addition to the interim superintendent position, the board also went into closed session to discuss employment contracts related to letters of intent.

No action taken on the employment contracts after closed session.

Orangeburg Consolidated School District 4 Chairman Aaron Rudd questioned the board prior to adjournment about the status of the employment contracts.

"We are going to wait until the interim superintendent to go ahead on that," James-Tyler said.

"Do they (letters of intent) not have to go out before then?" Rudd asked, concerned about the time sensitive nature of the letters.

S.C. School Boards Association General Counsel and Director of Policy and Legal Services Dr. Tiffany Richardson said the board did not have a public comment option on the agenda and asked Rudd to talk to her after the meeting.

"It will be taken care of," James-Tyler told Rudd. "We will make sure we are within that time limit."

Richardson informed the public that the new district's policies can be found on the websites of all the current school districts under the "Consolidation" tab.

"The minutes with the agenda are posted there as well as the proposed policies that will be up for second reading at the next meeting," Richardson said. "We did not want to move forward with second reading until they had been posted for the public to read."

Lawmakers approved legislation last year requiring the merger of the county’s three school districts into one by July 2019. The consolidation transition committee has been planning for the combination of Districts 3, 4 and 5 into a unified district.

The three districts end their work on June 30, with July 1 being the first official day of operation for the new, consolidated school district.

In other business, the next school board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29. The location will be announced at a later date.


Crime-and-courts
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Orangeburg man guilty in fatal shooting; gunman sentenced to 19 years in prison

Anthony Tyrone McKennie will spend nearly two decades in prison for shooting and killing Theodio Isiah Davis Glenn in 2016.

McKennie, 33, pleaded guilty last week to voluntary manslaughter and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

Circuit Judge Ed Dickson sentenced the Orangeburg man to 19 years in prison on Friday.

Dickson gave McKennie credit for having already served 1,040 days at the Orangeburg County Detention Center.

McKennie was originally charged with murder in Glenn’s death on March 4, 2016.

He shot Glenn six times at a St. Ann Street home.

Glenn was a 26-year-old father of two. He was a Bowman resident.

Assistant First Circuit Solicitor Tommy Scott said on Friday that Glenn was at the St. Ann Street home for someone to braid his hair.

At some point, McKennie came down the street in a green Honda Accord with a friend.

“There were some conversations. I don’t think there was any animosity at that time,” Scott said. Witnesses said that they didn’t see McKennie and Glenn arguing with each other.

McKennie and his friend left the area.

Glenn remained in a bedroom of the house while a woman braided his hair. Another female was also in the room with a 3-year-old child she was babysitting.

One of the woman recalled that Glenn had a firearm in his lap as he sat on the floor while his hair was braided, Scott said.

“He’d taken the magazine out of the firearm and the 3-year-old was actually playing with the magazine,” Scott said on Friday.

McKennie returned to the residence by himself and on foot.

He entered the threshold of the bedroom and said to Glenn, “You’re a p - - - -,” Scott said.

Glenn responded, “Who are you calling a p - - - -? We can take this outside.”

Scott said that Glenn picked up the firearm from between his legs and took the magazine from the 3-year-old.

A witness said that was when McKennie opened fire and shot Glenn six times.

McKennie immediately fled to Philadelphia.

On March 22, 2016, U.S. Marshals and the Eastern Pennsylvania Fugitive Taskforce arrested McKennie.

“This senseless killing could’ve easily been avoided,” Scott said.

McKennie’s public defender Breen Stevens said that it would’ve been difficult trying to convince a jury that McKennie acted in self-defense.

Stevens also pointed out that everyone in the room would’ve likely been affected by the marijuana that Glenn was allegedly smoking.

He noted that Glenn’s toxicology report showed elevated levels of THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana.

Stevens also told the court that it was “highly dangerous” for a 3-year-old to play with a firearm magazine loaded with 9 mm ammunition and be exposed to marijuana.

Stevens told the court that McKennie is also a father of two children.

He said that McKennie, “is a good person who does have a good heart.”

He said that McKennie realizes he should’ve made better choices that day and that he takes responsibility for his actions.

Just before Dickson sentenced McKennie, two members of Glenn’s family addressed the judge.

Glenn’s sister Demicotius Summers said his hair was being braided because he, “was getting ready to get a second job and get custody of his daughter, who was in foster care.”

Summers said she currently has custody of Glenn’s daughter.

“She will never get to know her father, never get to see him and I have to one day explain to her why. It was senseless that he was killed. He could’ve just walked away from the situation,” she said.

Glenn’s mother Reather Davis said, “I really don’t know what happened, but the way it sound like, he came and they had words and he left. He had time to think about it and he came back.

“I know in my heart it was murder.”

Scott also told the court that the basis for the guilty plea is a jury would’ve likely found McKennie guilty of voluntary manslaughter.


Government-and-politics
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DHEC: Denmark's discolored water 'not desirable' but it's safe

DENMARK -- The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control last week notified Denmark citizens who attended recent meetings with its officials regarding the city's water quality that the water is safe for drinking, cooking with and bathing in even though it may be discolored.

Kristy Ellenberg, DHEC's public participation coordinator, states in the email that Denmark's water "meets the requirements of all EPA drinking water quality standards.”

“DHEC continues to sample the drinking water in Denmark. To date, test results show the water continues to meet state and EPA drinking water standards,” she writes.

CNN in November reported the chemical HaloSan was used for a decade to kill iron slime in one of the city's water wells. DHEC had approved the use of HaloSan in the Denmark well even though it is not approved for such use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it reported. Regulators at Clemson University advised Denmark to stop using HaloSan this summer. Following CNN's report, two class-action lawsuits were filed against the city by citizens, some of them seeking reimbursement of their water bill payments.

“DHEC conducted two special studies in April 2018 (in Denmark). In the School Special Study, there were no violations of the EPA drinking water Action Level. In the Partnership Well Study, all partners (University of South Carolina, Edisto Riverkeeper, S.C. Rural Water Association and DHEC) sampled together, had similar results. and all results complied with EPA safe drinking water standards," Ellenberg advises citizens in the email.

“The Cox Mill Well, where HaloSan was previously used, has not been in operation since August 2018,” she adds.

Water from the other three wells was never treated with HaloSan, and was disinfected with chlorine prior to distribution, Ellenberg notes.

“HaloSan was used to control iron bacteria in the Cox Mill Well 300 feet below ground. A small, set amount was dispensed by an automated system designed and calibrated by the supplier,” she writes. 

Additional information attached to Ellenberg's email notes that "HaloSan was approved by the American National Standards Institute/ National Sanitation Foundation and deemed safe for its intended use.”

“DHEC is required by state regulation to rely upon ANSI/NSF Standard 60-Health Effects for approval of chemicals added to drinking water,” according to that information.

It goes on to note that “in July 2018, a question was asked about whether or not HaloSan must be registered under the EPA Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. HaloSan is classified as a pesticide because it is intended to kill bacteria.

“It is the responsibility of the supplier to register their product(s) with FIFRA. HaloSan is approved for its intended use as a disinfectant by the National Sanitation Foundation. That approval as a drinking water additive is required by State Drinking Water Regulations."

In response to citizens' concerns about the rusty-colored water in Denmark, DHEC's information notes, “Contaminants can be naturally-occurring or man-made chemicals found in the environment. If these contaminants are present in water at levels greater than these standards, they may cause the water to appear cloudy or rust-colored, or to taste or smell bad even though the water is actually safe to drink.

“While the discoloration caused by iron and manganese is not a health concern, it is not desirable. Iron and manganese are not routinely monitored in drinking water systems. Iron and manganese may come from source water and/or pipes in a system or building.”

The information distributed by DHEC to Denmark residents also states, “EPA has established guidelines to assist public water systems in managing their drinking water for taste, color and odor. DHEC has made specific recommendations to the City (of Denmark) that have improved the levels of iron and manganese found in the water.”

The information also addresses the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule in regards to drinking water.

“Lead and copper can be found in older distribution lines and in plumbing and fixtures inside of homes and businesses. For this reason, the EPA's Lead and Cooper Rule requires that sampling be done inside homes and businesses ... .

“In the last 10 years, the City (of Denmark) conducted official LCR monitoring eight times. During this time period, the 90th percentile data have not exceeded the EPA Action Levels for lead or copper.”

DHEC spokesman Tommy Crosby issued the following statement earlier this month: "DHEC continues to monitor and test the water in Denmark regularly. To date, all test results show the water continues to meet all state and federal health-based standards.”

"We urge any Denmark resident who would like to share concerns about water quality to contact our DHEC Regional Office in Orangeburg at 803-533-5490. We also continue to offer free in-home water sampling to any Denmark resident who is interested. Those requests can also be scheduled through the DHEC Regional Office in Orangeburg."

Ellenberg said information is also available to residents at www.scdhec.gov/Denmark.

A rally and protest march over concerns about the city's water quality, organized by Denmark Citizens for Safe Water, is being held today (Saturday, Jan. 26). The rally will begin at 1 p.m. at the gazebo in Jim Harrison Park. The march is slated for 2-3 p.m. At 3:30 p.m., free bottled water donated by Walmart will be distributed to Denmark residents.


Crime-and-courts
breakingtop story
Updated: Orangeburg man killed by truck identified

An Orangeburg man died after he was hit by a truck at Lil Zo’s car wash on Thursday evening.

Chawn Jamison, 42, of Kappa Kastle Lane, died as a result of blunt force trauma from a motor vehicle accident, according to Orangeburg County Coroner Samuetta Marshall.

The accident occurred around 5:44 p.m. at 2428 Russell St., S.C. Highway Patrol Cpl. Sonny Collins said.

Jamison was in the parking lot of the car wash when a 1993 Ford Ranger truck pulled out of one of the car wash bays.

The driver lost control of the vehicle and struck Jamison, who died at the scene, Collins said.

A 40-year-old Orangeburg man drove the truck that killed the pedestrian, S.C. Highway Patrol Cpl. Judd Jones said.

The accident remains under investigation by the S.C. Highway Patrol and the Orangeburg County Coroner’s Office.

According to the S.C. Department of Public Safety, eight pedestrians died on S.C. roadways through Jan. 20, compared to seven during the same time period in 2018.

There has been one fatal vehicle accident on a highway in Orangeburg County this year. There weren’t any highway fatalities in Orangeburg County during the same timeframe last year.

There haven’t been any highway fatalities in Bamberg and Calhoun counties so far this year. Last year, the two counties didn’t experience any fatal crashes during the same time period.