2018 year in review – April & May

Published 8:00 am Friday, December 21, 2018

Over the next several issues, we will publish our annual look back at some of the top  stories, newsmakers and images that shaped the year.

The following are several of the top stories published in the Bulletin in April.

Man falls from waterfall near Tryon

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A man fell 60 to 70 feet from Melrose Falls near Tryon on Easter Sunday.

First responders from Polk and Henderson counties were among local officials who made the rescue.

The waterfall is near Twin Bridges, between Tryon and Saluda off U.S. 176.

The rescue took several hours, with the man being airlifted to Mission Hospital around 6:30 p.m. from Harmon Field.

More paid fire staff may be on Polk’s horizon

Many areas of Polk County have an ISO 10 rating, which is the highest in terms of homeowners’ insurance because of their distance from a fire department.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners reviewed a map of the ISO ratings with Polk County Emergency Management Director and Fire Marshal Bobby Arledge.  Arledge described the map, saying that green marks are in class 10, which includes the Tryon International Equestrian Center, many areas in Green Creek, Green River Highlands, Ken Miller and John Watson Roads and some areas in Sunny View, Mill Spring, Saluda and Green River Cove.

“That means they realistically have no fire protection,” Arledge said.

Landrum man dies in motorcycle crash

A Landrum man was killed in a motorcycle crash.

Leo Anthony Hawkins, 61, of Jan Street, Landrum, was killed after he crashed into a stopped vehicle hauling a boat.

Hawkins was traveling north on South Carolina Highway 11 when he crashed into the stopped traffic, according to reports.

Former Tryon commissioner detained for violating pretrial release

Former Tryon commissioner Roy Miller was placed in federal custody for violating his pretrial release.

Miller was arrested by U.S. Marshals, with the North Carolina Department of Justice confirming that he had his initial appearance after being brought in on a pretrial release violation.

Miller was initially arrested in April 2017 on charges of conspiracy to commit federal program fraud, one count of federal program fraud, one count of extortion under color of official right and one count of witness tampering.

Sheriff: Missing woman found in well was strangled

The woman who was discovered in a well in February died by strangulation, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and the district attorney said he is seeking the death penalty.

Jeremy Lynn Bradshaw, 34, of Winwood Drive, Columbus, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

Saluda says ‘no’ to proposed training facility

Saluda residents said people who live in Hendersonville may think Macedonia Road is remote, but residents who call it home do not want an officer training facility to be located there.

Saluda met in front of a packed audience, where several residents opposed Henderson County’s plans.

The Saluda Board of Commissioners decided to write a letter to Henderson County stating its opposition to a proposed training facility on Macedonia Road.

Henderson County proposed building a training facility, including an outdoor shooting range, for its sheriff’s office, at 2823 Macedonia Road. The property borders the North Carolina game lands.

Henderson County later decided against the location for the training facility.

Tryon Elementary’s Murphy chosen as Polk County Middle School’s next principal

Tryon Elementary principal Todd Murphy was selected as the next principal at Polk County Middle School.

The Polk County Board of Education approved the naming of Murphy to replace PCMS principal Hank Utz, who retired at the end of 2017-18 school year.

Former Tryon commissioner tested positive for cocaine

Former Tryon Commissioner Roy Miller violated his federal release by testing positive for cocaine.

Miller was in federal court in Asheville, where details of his violation came out. Miller claimed that he thought the substance was Oxycodone, according to reports from court.

New Tractor Supply Co. store to hire 12 to 15

The new Columbus Tractor Supply store was set to open the first part of June, said Grace Stewart, GS&F Advertising Public Relations representative for Tractor Supply. Stewart said they plan to hire approximately 12 to 15 people.

Polk to spend $2.75 million over next 3 years on Turner Shoals Dam

Polk County looked at spending an estimated $2.75 million on required repairs to the Turner Shoals Dam at Lake Adger over the next three years.

Polk County Engineer David Odom said the first work would be done in the 2018-2019 budget year, and is estimated at $100,000 for the design and permitting.

Phase I is for concrete overlay at each bulkhead monolith, and is estimated at $1.15 million; phase II is tie-down anchor installation and is estimated at $1.03 million; and phase III is seismic retrofit of arch spillway and is estimated at $575,000, according to Odom Engineering PLLC.

Columbus to pay Tryon Estates $947,000 in lawsuit settlement

The town of Columbus was out almost $1 million, following a lawsuit settlement with Tryon Estates over water rates.

The settlement was for the town to pay ACTS Corporation, which owns Tryon Estates, a total of $947,813.

NCDOT reveals $19M plans for Highway 108

The North Carolina Department of Transportation held an informational meeting on April 24 about an estimated $19.4 million project, which includes $3.1 million in right of way acquisitions and $16.3 million for  construction.

The project originally started as a concept to make Highway 108 between Hospital Drive in Columbus and U.S. 176 in Tryon four lanes. The project was then scaled back to two 11-foot lanes and 4-foot paved shoulders to accommodate bicycles. Several areas were proposed to have turning lanes and a couple sections were slated for the road to move and have bridges replaced.

After the county and towns approved no build options, the state abandoned the plan.

Former Tryon commissioner pleads guilty to fraud charges

Former Tryon Commissioner Roy Miller pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges, during an appearance in court in Asheville before magistrate judge Dennis Howell.

Miller was arrested in April 2017 after the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the federal bureau of investigation looked into former Tryon Fire Chief Joey Davis, who was accused of using town credit cards to pay for Miller’s personal bills.

In Memoriam

Mary Kathryn Sidener

Deborah Walker

Eilza Cait Millwood

Leo Anthony Hawkins

Ronald Van Patterson

Rodney “Slingblade” Stover

Marie Haynes McGuinn Sain

Hester “Tad” Adams Heckler

Lewis C. Hawkins

Golda McIntosh

Carol Jane Gottfried

Charles James Silvia

Judy Sain Smith

Wanda Emch Veh

Rosemary Bishop Blackwell Devine

Loraine Tolar Page

Saul William Seidman

Marie Rose Terhune

The following are several of the top stories published in the Bulletin in May.

Community members rally to fight Highway 108 road plan

A group of residents and businesses stood up to the state, saying they do not want the planned widening of Highway 108 between Columbus and Tryon.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation unveiled its new plan in April. Since then, many residents and businesses rallied to oppose the proposed construction.

A Facebook page, called “Save Hwy. 108 and Lynn” was created immediately, with many posting comments about how the widening will hurt businesses and residents, as well as the area’s natural environment and beauty.

Polk DSS had 324 child protection reports in 2017

Child abuse and neglect is an issue in Polk County, with 324 child protection reports made to the Polk County Department of Social Services during 2017.

Of the total reports, 227 met the legal criteria for an assessment or investigation.

Polk County DSS provided child protective services last year to an average of 191 children each month.

Mill Spring shop sells $1 million winning lotto ticket to Inman family

James Seay and DeeAnna Seay from Inman, South Carolina, started May on a high note after claiming a $1 million prize they won playing $4 million Platinum Payout.

James bought the $20 ticket at Debs Mini Mart on North Carolina Highway 9 North in Mill Spring.

They claimed their prize at lottery headquarters in Raleigh. They had the choice of taking a $1 million annuity that has 20 payments of $50,000 a year, or a lump sum of $600,000. They chose the annuity.

Kayaker suspected of drowning in Green River Narrows

A 20-year old man was suspected of drowning while kayaking in the Green River Narrows, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Matthew Ray was kayaking with friends and got caught in the rapids, and is suspected of drowning. 

Tryon to receive $32,122 for tornado cleanup

The town of Tryon received $32,122 for October 2017’s tornado clean up, after Gov. Roy Cooper issued a state of public assistance disaster declaration recently.

On Oct. 8, 2017, portions of Tryon and Lake Lanier were hit with an EF1 tornado that did significant damage to Melrose Avenue and the town’s Woodland Park.

Tryon spent $42,830 on clean up, according to Town Manager Zach Ollis. The state reimbursed the town 75 percent, or $32,122.

Bayne, Wright cinch Polk sheriff nominations

Polk County chose its nominees for November’s sheriff’s race, with B.J. Bayne winning the Democrat nomination and Tim Wright winning the Republican nomination, according to unofficial results from the Polk County Board of Elections Office.

Bayne won over candidate Ronnie Smith by 803 votes, with Bayne receiving 1,148 votes to Smith’s 345 votes.

The Republican race was much closer, with Wright having a slight edge with each precinct reporting on election night. Wright won by 35 votes, with Wright receiving 748 votes over Darryl Bailey’s 713 votes.

Columbus purchases Polk’s first ladder truck

Starting in late June, if people in Polk County need a ladder truck for fires or rescue, the Columbus Fire Department has their back.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners heard from Columbus Fire Chief Tony Priester, who announced his department had purchased a 75-foot ladder truck. The truck was purchased without any tax increases or financing, he said.

The used truck cost the department $60,000, Priester said. The Columbus Fire Department took delivery of the vehicle on June 21. 

Polk County devastated by flooding from rainstorm

Polk County emergency personnel and citizens are dealing with the fallout caused by the massive rainfall that occurred, which brought up to 6 inches of rain into the area, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials have closed U.S. 176 near Harmon Field Road in Tryon due to the substantial damage along the roadway, including flooding, washouts and mudslides, officials said in an alert to the public. Patricia Case died in a mudslide along U.S. 176 at her home.

DOT proposing four-lane bridge over I-26 in Columbus

The North Carolina Department of Transportation held a public information session on a project to improve Highway 108 between St. Luke’s Hospital and Walker Street in Columbus — with plans that include building a new four-lane bridge over Interstate 26 and making the roundabouts two lanes.

The project will include a new four-lane bridge over Interstate 26, as well as widening the current roundabouts to two lanes and adding sidewalks to both sides of Highway 108, including over the new bridge and roundabouts.

The project will widen Highway 108 to three lanes with curb and gutter. The two outside lanes will be widened to 14 feet to accommodate bicycle travel, according to NCDOT officials.

South Carolina journalists killed on U.S. 176

A fallen tree claimed the lives of WYFF News 4 anchor Michael William McCormick, 36, and photojournalist Phillip Aaron Smeltzer, 35, during rains along U.S. 176 in Tryon.

North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper M.L. Stephens said the call was received around 2:30 p.m. to a collision on the 3000 block of U.S. 176. When troopers arrived, they located a WYFF News 4 vehicle in the road with a tree across it. 

Stephens said the preliminary investigation revealed that the Ford SUV was driving south on U.S. 176 when the tree struck. Smeltzer was driving the vehicle, with McCormick as the passenger, Stephens said.

In Memoriam

Edward James Mistler

Jack Cogill Burgess

Shelia Elkins

Nellie Brown Halford

Thomas Carroll Poper

Darnell Troy Ashley

Michael Verbonic

Dr. Dave Frederick

Amy L. Gudis (LeFeber)

George Miller Jr.

Shirley Pack

Joyce Stott Estep

Gilbert James Denton

Pauline “Polly” Blackwell Deloach

John F. Renfro

Patricia Thompson Case

Thomas Artie Hamilton

Harold Blackwell

Zakary Born

Thomas Arthur Hamilton

Sara Mae Davis

Ralph Coggeshall McGibbon

Ingeborg Anna Roberts