Year in Review: The Bulletin looks back on 2016 (July – August)

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, December 28, 2016

TIEC announced it was pursuing the World Equestrian Games.

TIEC announced it was pursuing the World Equestrian Games.

Editor’s note: All this week, we will take a look back at some of the top stories, newsmakers and images that shaped the year.

July 2016

N.C. Wildlife to dredge Lake Adger marina channel

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The N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission now has plans to dredge Lake Adger at the marina this fiscal year. The Polk County Board of Commissioners met July 18 and heard from county manager Marche Pittman who made the announcement.

Stores in Columbus Commons shopping center damaged by flooding

Flooding damaged two businesses in the Columbus Commons shopping center. Blue Waters Pool and Spas and Larkin’s Carolina Grill made repairs after flooding occurred the evening of July 22 and into the following morning. According to Aileen Bonnell, general manager at Blue Waters, two inches of water came raining down from overhead on Saturday morning.

Soldier with Landrum ties murdered saving woman

A soldier who graduated from Landrum High School in 1996 was murdered along with another soldier while they saved a woman from an attack at a bar and grill in Chapin, S.C. on July 24. Charles Allen Judge Jr., 40, was shot and killed along with Jonathan Michael Prins, 29, at Frayed Knot Bar and Grill on Dreher Island Road. Lexington County, S.C. deputies arrested Joseph Elijah Mills, 25, of Little Mountain, and charged him with two counts of murder for shooting Judge and Prins with a handgun.

Landrum city administrator announces departure

Caitlin Cothran, City of Landrum administrator since April 2013, will be leaving her position after August 9. The announcement comes after Cothran said she was called by the state’s Municipal Association and offered a position as a director.

Community, local law enforcement respond to Dallas and Baton Rouge police shootings

Local law enforcement, pastors and community leaders have responded to the police shootings in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, La. that have occurred in the last few weeks. Rev. Mark Bishop with First Baptist Church in Landrum said he was sad to hear the news, adding the world has digressed nearly 65 to 70 years back to the times of integration in America and that he has never seen violence such as this in his 45 years of life.

Polk approves new governmental zoning district for jail; property under contract

Polk County is now under contract for its new jail property just outside Columbus and commissioners approved a new government and public facilities zoning district for the property.

Polk arrests Mt. Pleasant, S.C. man for possessing Ecstasy

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office recently made an arrest following a traffic stop where officers found the illegal drug MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy. Officers also found marijuana and paraphernalia as well as a concealed weapon, according to sheriff’s office reports, on Jeffrey Scott Roland, of 714 Vision Rd., Mt. Pleasant, S.C.

Saluda residents continue to request “In God We Trust” on city hall

A group of Saluda residents continue to request that the city place the words “In God We Trust” on city hall. Archie Hardy has led the request by speaking at the last few commissioner meetings. He has generated a petition requesting the words be placed on city hall that had 330 signatures. Hardy spoke during Saluda’s July 11 meeting as well as Dotty Eargle and Beverly Hardy, all in favor of the city placing the wording on city hall. The city did not install the lettering on city hall in 2016.

Anti-police graffiti found on River Road/I-26 overpass, investigation underway

Graffiti about police containing profanity was found on River Road in Columbus under the I-26 overpass. According to Capt. B.J. Bayne with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, police are not taking it as a threat and an investigation into who painted the graffiti on the bridge column is underway. Bayne added she would be sending someone out to the bridge to clean up the graffiti.

PokemonGo mobile game app sweeps Tryon area, allows players to “catch them all”

A new app arrived on mobile phones that had fans of the 1990s hit animated TV show “Pokemon” obsessed with catching them all. The app, made by the San Francisco-based software development company Niantic, is a free “augmented reality” game that allows users to catch more than 150 varieties of Pokemon around the area. For example, historical buildings have ghost-type Pokemon, parks have nature-type Pokemon and these Pokemon can be collected and trained to battle each other in gyms.

Community, equine groups gather to discuss prevention of horse slaughter

More than 50 community members and representatives of equestrian groups from around the area gathered at FENCE to talk about the prevention of horse slaughter. The ad hoc meeting was sponsored by Partnership with Horses, a local organization created to advocate for the protection of horses. Donations could be made to Foothills Equine Rescue Association in the front lobby of the FENCE Center. Diane Balding, a member of Partnership with Horses and a retired veterinarian, began the meeting with a PowerPoint entitled “How Can We As a Community Help Unwanted Horses?”

Tryon hires new town manager

Tryon Town Council hired Zach Ollis, formerly the town manager of Wilson’s Mills, located in Johnston County, N.C., as the new town manager. Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples made the announcement on July 12 and said all council members chose Ollis out of the applications. Tryon advertised for the position twice this year and received 35 applications in the first round and 5-6 applications after the second advertisement, according to Peoples.

Saluda swears in new city clerk

The City of Saluda swore in newly hired city clerk Tola Ellis during its July 11 meeting. Ellis replaces former city clerk Robert O’Dell. Ellis has experience and education in business, finance and human resources. She grew up in Landrum, has lived in Polk County and currently lives in Henderson County.

Woman shoots man after allegedly stealing purse from home

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office received a call in reference to a dispute at 3144 Collinsville Rd. in Green Creek. The caller said a man had come into the house and grabbed a woman’s purse and left with it, and another woman shot the man with a .22-rifle. The man, identified as Eddie Riddle, 51, of Polk County, then drove a black GMC Yukon to Larry Stott’s Garage at the intersection of Jackson Grove Road and Landrum Road (Hwy. 14) where he told employees he had been shot. The woman who shot Riddle is Beverly Bryson, 53, of the Collinsville Road home, according to the sheriff’s office.

Polk County in moderate drought entire month of June

Recent showers and thunderstorms have been an added bonus over the last week after Polk County spent the entire month of June in a moderate drought, according to the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council. Tryon received only 1.73 inches of rain through last Thursday morning, prior to a night shower, according to the National Weather Service.

Landrum man killed by officer identified

The man shot and killed by a Spartanburg County officer July 1 has been identified as 63-year old Alexis George Mishtowt, according to the Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office. Mishtowt was killed at a home on Bird Mountain Road near Landrum during an undercover operation. Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said during a news conference that he felt the shooting was justified. Wright said after his deputies were threatened by a heavily-armed suspect, a deputy opened fire.

Saluda approves 2016-2017 budget with no new increases

The City of Saluda approved its fiscal year 2016-2017 budget on Monday, June 27 with no new increases in tax rates or water/sewer rates. The city’s tax rate remains at $0.605, including 54 cents per $100 of property valuation for the general fund and 65 cents for the fire department. The city also is continuing debt service payments for renovations to city hall and the police department, budgeted at $40,012 for next year.

August 2016

Bellissimo, Tryon Equestrian Partners announce pursuit of 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games at TIEC

Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners, confirmed that the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) in Mill Spring, N.C. was working with United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) to ensure that the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) remain in North America and USEF has communicated its support of the initiative to the FEI for the 2018 WEG. The WEG, which is administered by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the worldwide governing body of equestrian sport, occurs every four years in the middle of the Olympic cycle and is the major international championship event for jumping, dressage and para-equestrian dressage, eventing, driving, endurance, vaulting and reining. 

Woman sentenced to federal prison for involvement in Mill Spring fraud

A woman from Alabama was sentenced on July 28 to 70 months in prison for her involvement in providing identification information to Senita Birt Dill and Ronald Jeremy Knowles, of Mill Spring, who collected more than $3.5 million in fraudulent tax returns. Michelle Banks, 51, of Grove Hill, Ala. was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison as well as ordered to serve three years under court supervision and to pay $181,221 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service. Dill was sentenced in 2014 to 27 years in federal prison and Knowles was sentenced to five years and 10 months in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Green Creek business facing suspension amidst horse slaughter controversy

A Green Creek business faced a 120-day suspension following an investigation by the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. According to Sgt. Michael Herman, animal control officer with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, Justin Scott White and his Southeastern Cattle Company business was issued a quarantine notice by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture on Friday, July 29. Herman added that White could not be given criminal charges, though several penalties had been issued by the state agriculture department. The Department of Agriculture issued three $2,500 civil penalties to White, totaling $7,500 in fines under the authority of Steven Troxler, the state’s commissioner of agriculture.

Columbus’ Veterans Park pavilion nearing completion

A new permanent structure is being built in Veterans Park by Columbus resident Nathaniel Watkins, his father Marshall and a few other builders to alleviate the need for groups and performers to rent a tent. Watkins is building the pavilion to fulfill the community project requirement necessary to become an Eagle Scout. He began work in the park after receiving donations from the Town of Columbus, the Polk County Board of Commissioners and other private donors. The project is designed by Tryon architect Dean Trakas. 

Work begins on roundabout at Tryon International Equestrian Center

Roadwork began last month near the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) to construct a roundabout at the exit from U.S. 74 as well as to make other road improvements. The N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) is constructing a roundabout at the intersection of Pea Ridge Rd. and U.S. 74 as well as realigning Shehan Rd. and Pea Ridge Rd. to the edge of the TIEC property.

Polk DSS had 57 children in foster care for FY 2015-2016

As of June 30, 2016, the Polk County Department of Social Services (DSS) had 57 children in state custody for fiscal year 2015-2016. For the current calendar year, beginning Jan. 1, 2016, DSS has averaged 37 children per month in state care.

New sidewalks and pedestrian crossings in Tryon

Three sidewalks were stamped as part of the Town of Tryon’s Streetscape project. According to Crys Armbrust, town commissioner, the project is funded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the NCDOT’s Small Construction Fund. Landsaver Environmental, a subcontractor of the Rogers Group, was responsible for stamping each sidewalk. One sidewalk is in front of Tryon Theatre, one is in front of the Shops of Tryon, and the third is in front of Stott’s Ford in downtown Tryon. Sidewalks on Oak Street are also under construction as part of the overall project. 

Tryon swears in new town manager Zach Ollis

The Town of Tryon welcomed and swore in newly hired town manager Zach Ollis at its Tuesday, Aug. 16 meeting. The town had been searching for a new town manager since February.

Polk receiving emergency 911 backup station

If Polk County’s 911 service ever goes down, the county should soon have a backup plan. Polk County is currently installing an emergency backup 911 station at the Green Creek Fire Department in case its main station in Columbus ever goes down. The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday, Aug. 8 and heard from interim telecommunications director James McGuinn about the county’s plans for the backup emergency station.

Another sentenced in federal fraud case

A Greenville, S.C. man was sentenced to more than six years in federal prison this week and ordered to pay over $200,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for his role in a fraud scheme that occurred in Mill Spring. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced Carmichael Cornilus Hill, 34, of Greenville, S.C. to 75 months in prison on false claims of conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges as well as to serve three years under court supervision and to pay the IRS $219,118, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Hill provided his two co-conspirators, Senita Birt Dill and Ronald Jeremy Knowles, formerly of Mill Spring, with fraudulently obtained personal identification information, according to court records.

Green Creek man arrested on rape, incest of child under age 13

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Green Creek man on charges of sex offense with a child under age 13, statutory rape, incest and statutory sexual offense with a child, according to the sheriff’s office. Dan Lee Brady, 69, of Will Green Road in the Green Creek community, faces six counts of first-degree sex offense with a child under the age of 13, one count of statutory rape, one count of incest and two counts of statutory sexual offense with a child.

Tryon approves concept for sculpture at St. Luke’s Plaza

The Tryon Board of Commissioners met Tuesday, Aug. 16 and approved the concept of a sculpture of two birds on a railroad track to be placed at the town’s water fountain at the plaza. Commissioner Crys Armbrust proposed the idea, saying he has been in discussions for the past six months to incorporate in some way a sculpture at the “yet to be named” fountain at St. Luke’s Plaza. Armbrust said he has met with the prospective sculptor, Dale Weiler.

Our Carolina Foothills holds Art of the Horse auction

Our Carolina Foothills held the Art of the Horse auction at the Tryon International Equestrian Center Aug. 19 to a crowd of about 400 people. Of the 16 horse sculptures, painted by local artists, on display since April around Columbus, Landrum, Tryon, Saluda and Green Creek, 10 were sold at the auction to the highest bidder. According to Mindy Wiener with Our Carolina Foothills, 25 percent of the campaign’s proceeds will go directly to the artists and the remaining 75 percent will go towards marketing projects at Our Carolina Foothills.

Tryon Little Theater purchases new property

Tryon Little Theater (TLT) has purchased property for a new home. TLT members held a ceremony to celebrate the purchase on Aug. 23. The 1.72-acre property is located where a small yellow house stands at 437 North Trade St. adjacent to School Street at Tryon Elementary School.

Landrum City Council announces hiring of new city administrator

The City of Landrum will expect to see a new face in city hall after council members voted unanimously during a special meeting to hire Rich Caplan as the city’s new administrator.
Caplan, a California native, brings with him assistant town manager and town manager experience from Simi Valley, Calif. and Vail, Colo.

Rabid skunk attacks woman in Green Creek

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office received confirmation this week that a skunk, which attacked a woman in Green Creek recently, had rabies. A skunk attacked a woman on Aug. 26 in the Collinsville Road area of Green Creek, according to the sheriff’s office. The skunk was sent to a state lab to be tested for rabies by the Polk County Animal Control Office.

Rhode Island Textile Company buys former Mohawk Industries building in Landrum

Binswanger Brokers announced they facilitated the purchase of a 311,073-square-foot industrial building on 153 acres off Landrum Mill Road. This building was the former home to Mohawk Industries. In May 2015, Mohawk announced it would be closing and letting 151 employees go. Mohawk Industries operated out of Landrum for more than 60 years. According to Binswanger Brokers Vice President Shaun Kirchin, the building was bought by the South Carolina Elastic Company and their parent company Rhode Island Textile Company, a manufacturer of rigid and elastic narrow fabrics for intimate apparel, medical, industrial and automotive applications.