2009: Year In Review

2009 will likely be remembered as a year of change in Dillon County.

The first six months of the year were marked by new leaders in some key positions in our city and county.

Also during the first six months of 2009, Dillon was visited by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and J.V. Martin Jr. High School student Ty’Sheoma Bethea garnered national attention when President Barack Obama invited her to an address to Congress after she wrote him a letter about the conditions at her school.

During the second half of the year, the termination of County Administrator Charles Curry caused a stir among citizens. Also, PAC formed and many other events occurred.

A great deal happened during the year. Here are some of the headlines:

JANUARY
JANUARY 1: Eight apartments at Midway Apartments lost to blaze before Christmas; Two Dillon business break-ins reported; S.C. Highway Patrol investigating deadly hit and run.

JANUARY 6: Lily Marie Schwatka is first baby of new year at McLeod Medical Center-Dillon; Patricia Campbell Schafer, head of South of the Border, passes away; Cause of apartment fire uncovered; Warrant signed on man for stealing electric current; Terri Holliday accepts President-elect for S.C. Association of Hospital Auxiliaries; Dillon Christian School cheerleaders participate in Capital One Bowl pre-game activities.

JANUARY 8: Clerk of Court Gwen Hyatt, Coroner Dan Grimsley, and new Sheriff Major Hulon sworn into office; Deputy shoots man on new Sheriff’s first day; McLeod begins hospitalist program.

JANUARY 13: Group trying to raise money for Wood Park renovation; A year’s review on the school bond referendum printed; Longtime Latta Town Councilman Moses Kornblut passes away; First Bancorp completes sale of preferred stock under U.S. Treasury’s capital program; Dillon County awarded Federal Emergency Food and Shelter funds.

JANUARY 15: County Council selects Harold Moody to serve as chair for another year; Five Dillon Christian School students attending Presidential inauguration; Solicitor Jay Hodge retires.

JANUARY 20: Caped Bear found on Red Road; Aaron Gardner earns Eagle Scout honors; New teacher housing, budget cuts taken up by Latta School Board; New Fourth Circuit Solicitor William B. Rogers sworn into office; County Council members Macio Williamson, Aron Gandy, Bobby Moody and Archie Scott take oath of office.

JANUARY 22: Barack Obama sworn in as 44th U.S. President; Snow blankets county; Report says voter turnout in November was highest in state’s history; Ernest Barrentine elected to executive board of S.C. Judges Association.

JANUARY 27: Smurfit-Stone files for reorganization in U.S. and Canada; Dillon First Baptist Church burglarized; Pocketbook stolen from vehicle while woman is at church service; Granny’s store employees robbed; New study says I-73 could create thousands of jobs; 911-month old Rodrigo Juarez Marcelo, Jr. killed in wreck.

JANUARY 29: Bob and Jonnie Snyder named Dillon County Citizens of the Year; Dog mauling trial underway.

FEBRUARY
FEBRUARY 3: Jury finds Bentley Collins guilty of all charges related to 2006 mauling death of 10-year-old Matthew Davis; Harbor Freight reduces customer service department in Dillon…Former Latta Mayor, Local CPA charged in federal indictment; Unemployment figures rise in county and state.

FEBRUARY 5: Bentley Collins’s attorney files appeal in dog mauling case; Light snow falls in area; Wal-Mart property sold to Dillon Church of God; Study says I-73 could have $4.1 billion impact on S.C.’s economy.

FEBRUARY 10: State’s new DUI laws go into effect; ‘Picturing America’ kits awarded to area schools.

FEBRUARY 12: Charles Curry hired as new county administrator; J.V. Martin Jr. High mentioned by President at news conference; Candidates file for municipal elections; Man turns himself in on hit and run.

FEBRUARY 17: Rep. Jackie Hayes named Farm Bureau’s 2008 Legislator of the Year; Dr. Dante’ N. Lewis received board certification in pediatrics; Andrew Lee Rogers of Lake View killed in wreck; Man shot in Little Rock area; Home invasion reported; Trico wins state’s Best Tasting Water competition.

FEBRUARY 19: Derrick Cartwright serving as new Latta Fire Chief; Motorists urged to take alternate routes during interstate repair; Coal prices spur rate jump for Pee Dee Electric Co-op; Longtime Dillon coach Bull Lee passes away.

FEBRUARY 24: Brother and sister, Retha Wright and Wavert Lee Wright, killed in wreck; Council waiting on architect to proceed with animal shelter; NETC president tells county council of expansion plans; School Board chairman says tax anticipation note extension need is due to county; Updated voter registration numbers show more female, more non-white voters in county; Kay M. Lynn, assistant superintendent in District Two, to retire.

FEBRUARY 26: J.V. Martin student, Ty’Sheoma Bethea, recognized in President’s address to Congress; Fed Chair coming to Dillon on March 7th.

MARCH
MARCH 3: Ty’Sheoma Bethea shares journal of her Washington, DC experience; Ben Bernanke interchange dedication planned.

MARCH 5: Ben Bernanke to visit for dedication; Library offering “Spring Into Reading” program.

MARCH 10: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke visits Dillon for naming of interchange in his honor; Glenn McCallum of Rowland killed; Deputies seeking information on his murder.

MARCH 12: Sheriff’s office continues to seek information on murder case; Latta man pleads guilty to fraud.

MARCH 17: Dillon Mayor Todd Davis gives state of the city; Bernanke says recession could end in 2009; Sunshine Week observed.

MARCH 19: Dillon County involved in Tourism Development Plan; Latta felon sentenced to more than 15 years; 2009-2010 School Calendar approved; Ty’Sheoma Bethea’s Washington dress headed to State Museum.

MARCH 24: Latta Mayor Nancy Brigman gives state of the town; Latta Baptist Church pastor, Rev. James L. Stevens, passes away; Dillon man found severely beaten at home; Local schools among those recognized for outstanding performance; John Alford hired as Pee Dee Land Trust Protection Specialist; Bernanke says “What happens on Wall Street matters to Main Street.”

MARCH 26: Herald website wins S.C. Press Association second place award; Bi-Lo files Voluntary Chapter 11 petition; ATEC HOSA team competes for first time in 10 years.

MARCH 31: New city logo painted on water tower; Tatanisha Hill of Fairmont killed in wreck; Dillon Church of God’s children’s choir wins state talent award.

APRIL
APRIL 2: Griffeys win S.C. Commerce’s Rural Small Business Award; Man arrested in shooting; Auxiliary purchases transport chair.

APRIL 7: Raid in Dillon nets $34,000+ in counterfeit merchandise; Former Dillon resident, William L. Bethea, Jr., to chair Jasper Ocean Terminal Project Office.

APRIL 9: Johnny Eller wins Dillon City Council seat; Temp Smith wins Mayor’s office in Lake View; Kevin Ammons and Layton Townsend win council seats; McLeod nurses receive Palmetto Gold Award.

APRIL 14: Palmetto Trust seeks preservation of J.V. Martin’s oldest sections; Three-day zero tolerance for Litter Enforcement planned.

APRIL 16: City police warn public about tax refund scam; Council For The Aging receives grant for van; Dillon City Councilmen, Phil Wallace, and John Braddy take oaths of office; Mayor warns about misuse of handicapped parking.

APRIL 21: Latta celebrates season with annual Springfest; State’s unemployment rate ties highest ever.

APRIL 23: Sedrick Hayes found innocent in murder case; Dr. John Kirby creates FDTC scholarship; LEN checkpoint is successful; City receives positive audit report; County School Board gets good audit opinion.

APRIL 28: Local man buys unusual wooden car; March for Babies exceeds goal; Outgoing mayor Boston Page honored; Sheriff’s Office involved in litter pick-up.

APRIL 30: Councilman Macio Williamson says he will vote against all zoning related issues; some concerned about swine flu; Animal shelter bids expected to be in May 14th; Dillon School district awarded two HD grants.

MAY
MAY 5: Many arrests made in warrant round-up; Richard Sweat arrested in murder of Veronica Miranda; Rev. Richard Alderman honored for 50 years of service; N.C. men indicted in Wal-Mart armed robbery; Lake View Mayor Temp Smith and Councilman Kevin Ammons and Layton Townsend take oath of office; Council hires group to fix courthouse.

MAY 7: Radio Shack burglarized; John G. Black, MD, installed as 148th S.C. Medical Association President; mowing along interstates to be reduced.

MAY 12: Spring-Into-Reading program is success; City of Dillon to receive EPA grant; Pleasant Grove Baptist Church named Outstanding Adopt-A-Highway group; Gloria Lester receives Attendant of the Year award.

MAY 14: Nurses of the Year announced; Blogs launch on The Dillon Herald website; McLeod awarded grant for Electronic Fetal Monitoring.

MAY 19: Congressman John Spratt secures $95,000 for Healthy Learners; Dillon County Relay For Life is held; Partnership specialist emphasizes importance of census; Choice Bus visiting Dillon schools.

MAY 21: Murder trial in death of Kelvin Dale Smalls underway; World War II veteran hoping Purple Heart request will be approved this time.

MAY 26: Jeremy Wright sentenced to life in murder case; Gordon students honored for S.C. Stock Market game win; Teen Pregnancy Road Show visits Dillon.

MAY 28: Sheriff’s Office goes to zone system; Latta Police Department participating in Safety Pup program; Kalli Norton installed as GCSC First Vice-President.

JUNE
JUNE 2: Rashawn Jerod McLellan found shot to death; Dillon man enjoys restoring old cars.

JUNE 4: $315,000 in marijuana found; County Council takes up fire call policy; County awards tire recycling bids.

JUNE 9: Henry Street Park discussed at Latta Council Committee meeting; Sen. Dick Elliott and family to be honored with award.

JUNE 11: City Council votes to raise taxes; Storm damage occurs in Little Rock area; $160,000+ in jewelry taken from Dillon home; Four arrested for prostitution; Scott Griffin presented Paul Harris Fellow award.

JUNE 16: Man killed in house fire; Principal called to lead Turnaround initiative; New county administrator making positive changes and enforcing policies.

JUNE 18: County Administrator Charles Curry fired.

JUNE 23: Curry’s termination letter released; Small airplane crashes.

JUNE 25: Kerry Lee Cox of Latta elected State FFA President; Dillon police K-9 Sam dies after years of service; Former trooper sentenced to halfway house; Station Five receives improved ISO rating.

JUNE 30: Curry responds to council in letter; James Little Alford wins “Best Tasting Tomato” contest.

JULY
JULY 2: Dillon County’s first female probate judge Kay Turner passes away; Larry Abraham named Chief Deputy; Herald advertising team wins multiple awards; Quentin Gaddy honored for 12 years of perfect school attendance.

JULY 7: Council calls special meeting regarding Charles Curry; Vision Educational Centers open doors.

JULY 9: Plans being made for Dillon County’s centennial celebration; Curry controversy continues; Tom Rowland wins Dillon County’s annual tomato growing contest; CareSouth Carolina lauded nationally for quality health care.

JULY 14: Public hearing set for county administrator; Dillon mayor comments on economic development; Latta postmaster Rob Lesser recognized for sharing good news; State ball tournaments being played here; County council budget talks continue.

JULY 16: More transpires in Curry situation; Salkehatchie campers serving here this week; Sheriff’s Victims Advocate Regena Townsend graduates from S.C. Victim Assistance Academy.

JULY 21: Countywide Business Registration discussed; Curry Court hearing held.

JULY 23: Dillon County PAC formed; Public hearing to be held for Curry; Error creates duplicate unemployment checks.

JULY 28: Curry fights, but still fire in 4-3 vote; Wachovia Bank robbed.

JULY 30: Two Dillon women plead guilty to insurance fraud; Gigi Manning earns bronze star medal; Warrant exercised at Madison Street home.

AUGUST
AUGUST 4: Town of Sellers to receive $940,000 grant; State Education Superintendent Jim Rex expects groundbreaking for new J.V. Martin Jr. High next summer.

AUGUST 6: Community joins hands with sheriff to fight crime; Council clerk named to serve as interim administrator; Sales tax holiday weekend is August 7-9; National Night Out held.

AUGUST 11: Prostitution sting held; Kannaday Funeral Home bought.

AUGUST 13: I-73 Design Information public meeting to be held; Gordon kitchen being enhanced; Some feel public-private partnership economic development initiative may be key to attracting industry.

AUGUST 18: Dillon County Council arrives at balanced budget; Committee striving for complete census count; School opens.

AUGUST 20: Dan Mobley named interim county administrator; 75-year-old Mary Alice Stutts of Dillon killed.

AUGUST 25: Crusade for Christ Kick-off Rally set; Labor Day “Sober or Slammer” campaign underway.

AUGUST 27: President nominates Ben Bernanke for second term as Fed chairman; Rodney Cook serving as new principal of J.V. Martin Jr. High School.

SEPTEMBER
SEPTEMBER 1: Two suspects in women’s death waive bond hearing; Floyd Dale Fire and Rescue gets $25,935 FEMA grant; Hospital and library partnering on literacy project; Former Latta mayor’s wife added to indictment; Sheriff Hulon, Senior Citizens to join hands at community dinners.

SEPTEMBER 3: Former jailer Rich Williamson charged with misconduct in office; New SCV Camp (Col. E.T. Stackhouse Camp 1576) chartered.

SEPTEMBER 8: Bill McLean builds a boat; Two men sentenced to 20 years after trial.

SEPTEMBER 10: DHEC overseeing environmental clean-up; Highway Patrol brings sober or slammer message to county; Prayer rally held for upcoming crusade.

SEPTEMBER 15: Former Animal Control Officer Freddie Jackson pleads guilty; September 11, 2001 remembrance ceremony held.

SEPTEMBER 17: 18-month-old Miranda Lewellen drowns; Ben Bernanke says recession is likely over.

SEPTEMBER 22: Man who put dog in oven sentenced; Man sentenced to 30 years in child abuse case; Town of Sellers and Latta to benefit from wastewater infrastructure improvement efforts.

SEPTEMBER 24: Former City of Dillon police officer Jeffrey Gibson, 41, Dillon, charged with criminal sexual conduct with a minor; Pizza delivery person robbed; Sheriff’s office receives grant for two school resource officers.

SEPTEMBER 29: Crusade for Christ underway; Scoreboard computer, PA system stolen from Wildcats press box.

OCTOBER
OCTOBER 1: Wyche Law Firm bill back in Charles Curry case; Scoreboard will be working on Friday night; East students participate in “Whirled Peace”; Jay Bee’s closes; Four juveniles arrested in pizza driver robbery; Dillon County PAC getting enthusiastic response; National Newspaper Week observed.

OCTOBER 6: Demand for food assistance has significantly increased in Dillon county; James Williams of Latta growing bananas; Over 200 people accept Christ during crusade; Three men fire on vehicle in Little Rock, driver shot; Red Cross volunteer James Leslie aids Georgia flood victims.

OCTOBER 8: Raid on Hampton Street, other areas nets arrests and confiscated items: SLED Captain Kin McKenzie says operation was “highly coordinated, carefully timed and planned.”

OCTOBER 13: SLED, AG’s office confirms investigation into County Fire department; Spratt announces grant for Dillon Sheriff’s Office; Dillon man sentenced for fire arm charge; Rev. Robert Pierce III to serve as new pastor of Latta Baptist Church; Roy Baxley elected to Staplcotn Board of Directors.

OCTOBER 15: School districts receive total of $600,000 in grants; County council finally approves 2009-2010 budget; Coroner Dan Grimsley passes away; Update given on DHEC Clean-up project at boat ramp.

OCTOBER 20: Child hit by school bus; City council comparing police salaries with other areas; Free tutoring services offered to eligible Gordon, JVM students; First Steps honorary chairs for fundraiser announced.

OCTOBER 22: Forestry landowners association forming; Former detention officer Richard Williamson pleads; Burundi refugees working and living here.

OCTOBER 27: Three arrested in armed robbery of R&G Hobby Shop; Soldiers march in memory of late Sgt. Edward Philpot; Dillon County Library System receives stimulus grant.

OCTOBER 29: Jury finds Robert Bruce Driggers innocent of murder of James Hector McNeil; Groundbreaking held for new Dillon County Animal Shelter; Ribbon cut on new Latta Senior Center; Juvenile charged in shooting incident in Little Rock; PAC announced candidates.

NOVEMBER
NOVEMBER 3: County Councilman Bobby Moody attempts to “set record straight” on Lake View’s county fire department, takes swipe at newspaper in comments; Latta Area Arts Council elects officers.

NOVEMBER 5: Council Scott comments on “setting the record straight”; LTC Jon Regan Walters to speak at Veterans Day ceremony.

NOVEMBER 10: School get E2T2 grants; S.C. reports widespread swing flu; Guardian ad Litem volunteers sworn in.

NOVEMBER 12: Eddie Wayne McDuffie named Veteran of the Year; Water appears to be cause of canopy collapse at Knight’s Inn; Marian Carr receives Girl Scouting’s highest honor.

NOVEMBER 17: Gary Williams named Latta Rotary Citizen of the Year; Police Officer salaries, tax notices taken up by Dillon City Council; Teen injured in dirt bike incident; Eastern Carolina Community Foundation issues two grants to benefit County residents; County Council approves funding agreement for megasite certification.

NOVEMBER 19: Farm-City Week tour and banquet planned; Man shot at Blue Moon club.

NOVEMBER 24: Deputy R.P. Grimsley charged with CDV; Birth of James W. Dillon observed; County’s industrial megasite vote called “historical.”

NOVEMBER 26: DCS Warriors win back-to-back state titles; Hospital auxiliary wins state award for “Grow with Books” literacy project; Former Dillon resident Will Moody named Elementary School Counselor of Year by S.C. School Counselor Association.

DECEMBER
DECEMBER 1: Shoppers turn out for Black Friday; Juvenile charged in March murder; Dr. Alto Odin obtains board certification in internal medicine.

DECEMBER 3: Numerous stolen items recovered; Wilbert Washington sentenced to 30 years in 2006 murder of Emerson Carmichael; Kelvin Addison pleads to voluntary manslaughter in 2007 death of Corey Faulk; sentenced to 10 years; Tipster receives $2,500 PETA reward in Teofilo Falaniko case.

DECEMBER 8: Wildcats take second straight state football title; Arbor Day observed; SLED arrests William Truett Rogers in Internet Predator case; City exploring possibility of regional commercial kitchen.

DECEMBER 10: Governor appoints Randy Grimsley as new coroner; Union School in Gaddy’s Mill burns; Two suspects sought for credit card fraud; Dillon Wood Works, Inc. sold.

DECEMBER 15: Search warrants result in multiple arrests; Latta High School ranked nationally; Fantasy Video robbed; County council support family literacy.

DECEMBER 17: State FFA President Kerry Lee Cox to be in Tournament of Roses Parade; Latta Fire Department officers announced; Relay for Life returns to DHS; DHS English teacher, Crystal Huckabee, earns National Board Certification.

DECEMBER 22: Deputies investigating death of Jeffrey Jones, who has ties to Dillon and Sellers; Hospital auxiliary selects new officers; $40,000 grant awarded to ATEC.

DECEMBER 24: Treasurer says county’s audit draft looks “really good”; H1N1 vaccine now available to all South Carolinians; Robert and Jonnie Snyder awarded Order of the Silver Crescent.

DECEMBER 29: Deputies investigating the death of elderly couple, Walter and Mary Swaner; McLeod-Dillon community advisory board announces members.