Year in Review – June

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, December 31, 2019

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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 June.


I-26 damaged after major gas spill

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A tractor-trailer traveling along I-26 that failed to slow down crashed into another tractor-trailer, which resulted in a major gas spill.

The driver who rear-ended the other truck was hauling 8,000 gallons of gasoline which spilled along the interstate and damaged the asphalt. The gasoline leaked into storm drains; however, the drains did not lead to any bodies of water.

State contractors had to replace a 500-foot section of the westbound side of the interstate near mile marker 70.

An NCDOT inspector oversaw the project and made sure the federal and state requirements were met. Funding the project came from the state’s insurance company.  


New U.S. 74 to I-26 ramps open

The U.S. 74 / I-26 interchange project is finally completed. 

The project, which began in October of 2017, was originally planned to be completed in August 0f 2018, prior to the World Equestrian Games. Weather was the main factor in the project not being completed on time.

The project was to construct ramps for drivers to connect directly to and from I-26 and U.S. 74 without having to exit in Columbus and make their way around the roundabouts. The cost of the project was an extimated $19 million.


SC’s one year in-state tuition freeze

The $9 billion budget passed by the South Carolina House and Senate included approximately $36 million to go towards higher education funding.

State legislators negotiated a one-year tuition freeze for in-state students in South Carolina. Over the years, State legislators and SC Governors have argued that instead of reducing spending and expenses, colleges and universities nationwide raise their tuition at a disproportionate rate.  

With the new bill granting $36 million for higher education funding, colleges and universities in South Carolina still maintain the right to raise their rates to cover health insurance and pension costs.  


Mercy Urgent Care comes to Columbus

Mercy Urgent Care, a not for profit organization with seven locations across western North Carolina, opened in Columbus.

“We go where there is a need,” said Representatives of Mercy Urgent Care. “We focus on sustainability rather than making a profit. That is our model.”

Mercy Urgent Care has between 30 and 40 providers that they rotate and began with already two full-time providers for the new location. Mercy has their own X-Ray room and equipment, a trauma room, as well as two rooms for patient visits.

Mercy Urgent Care is not a replacement of a primary care physician; they simply provide care during hours that other primary care offices are unavailable.


Bojangles opens in Columbus

Jeff Rigsby, President of the Bojangles of Western North Carolina and owner of over 60 Bojangles locations, was happy to finally open a Bojangles in Columbus.

For five years, Rigsby had been wanting to plant a Bojangles in Columbus. The Bojangles franchise has been active in the local community for events and fundraisers for several years. The Columbus offered Rigsby’s Bojangles to really get involved in a small community.


Former Landrum Police officer faced charges

Former Landrum Police office, Michael D. Stoneman, was charged with misconduct in office and unlawful communications.

Stoneman was investigated by State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) who later stated that Stoneman sent threatening text messages and sexually graphic photographs to a woman while on duty. SLED also shared that Stoneman had sex on multiple occasions while on the job, one instance causing him to miss a service call. The charges against Stoneman occurred between October of 2016 and December of 2017.

Stoneman was rehired by the Landrum Police Department, then later resigned as it was made known he sent threatening text messages to an undisclosed party.

Prior to working in Landrum, Stoneman was an officer for two years and Spartanburg Police Department.


New South Carolina voting machines

As a result of recent difficulties with nearly 700 of the touch screen voting systems, the State Election Commission agreed to spend $51 million on new voting machines that replaced the old ones.

Many South Carolina residents were able to try out the new system sooner as part of local municipal elections. The new system has a paper trail of their voting rather than just a digital screen to record votes. 


In Memoriam of:

Shirley Barnes Axtell

Larry Ayers

Barbara “Ruth” Belue

Michael Joseph Bentivegna, Jr.

Willie Suddeth Bishop

Brett Callegari

Joyace Deaver Capps

Myrtle Capps

John Edward Craig Jr. 

Benne Elbert Duncan

Helen Frances Snelling Dunn

Mary Thompson Duvall

Phillip E. Fischer

Fred Julian Fisher

David B. Free, Sr.

Hazen Zinnia Hall

Woodrow Wilson Hill, Jr.

Viola Justice Stamey Holden

J.T. Hutcherson

Heather Amy Knopp

Wade Clifton Laughter 

Maxine M. Malstrom

Ollie Frances McCutcheon 

Rodney Theodore Mike

Collette Newman Morgan

Rev. Robert H. Orr, Jr.

Shelva Jean Phillips

Horace Poteat, Jr.

Brandon C. Pressley

Marvin Glynn Pruitt

Nancy Sue Roberts

Ralph Eugene Schnell

Glenda R. Smith

Ronald E. Smith

Lois Sprague

Jay Brooks Strange

Richard Tapp

Douglas Marin Thompson 

Martha P. Turk

James Creighton Welch

Inez “Bonnie” Wenner