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March – Year in Review

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 March.


Local officials release Coronavirus statement 

POLK COUNTY––With two deaths now confirmed in the United States, Polk County officials have released a statement focused on Coronavirus prevention and saying the risk remains low locally.  

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the North Carolina Division of Public Health say the risk to North Carolinians contracting Covid-19 is low and the state does not currently have any confirmed cases. The CDC has issued travel advisories for several affected areas, however, including to China, Japan, South Korea, Iran and Italy.

St. Luke’s Hospital CEO Michelle Fortune said the local hospital has been working closely with its staff and community partners as the hospital reviews and tests its response plans.

Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene said the school system continues to monitor the global situation along with community partners.  


Polk passes 2nd Amendment resolution 

COLUMBUS––Polk County Commissioner David Moore may have summed up how the board feels about the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when he said, “I don’t want anyone coming and taking my guns.”

Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution reconfirming that the county will support and maintain the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions, including the 2nd Amendment of the right to bear arms. 

Commissioner vice chair Tommy Melton said he clearly supports the 2nd Amendment as he owns guns, rifles and ammunition. He said that he believes in hunting and the right to defend oneself.


Landrum man killed in wreck

LANDRUM––A crash along Interstate 26 near Inman, S.C. took the life of a Landrum resident.  The victim was Eric Paul Epner, 56, of S. Lee Ave., Landrum.

The crash involved a 16-year-old driver of a pickup truck and striking Epner’s vehicle.  

Epner died at the scene with the teenager taken to the hospital with injured. The other person was not injured. Epner was wearing a seatbelt.

The crash occurred near exit 15 on Interstate 26 west near Inman, SC.  


Former firefighter arrested for starting roadside fires

COLUMBUS––A former local firefighter was arrested this week for stating suspicious roadside fires throughout the county.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Fire Marshal’s Office and the North Carolina Forest Service jointly investigated the fires, which at one point was approximately 15 various roads throughout the county. 

Timothy Wayne Stewart of 81 Julia St., Columbus, was arrested and charged with 9 counts of misdemeanor setting fire to woods/lands/fields.  

Stewart is a former volunteer firefighter with the Mill Spring Fire Department and a former paid firefighter with the Columbus Fire Department.  

The rash of roadside fires began on Feb. 21 and over that weekend alone, there were 15 reports of roadside fires. The fires were small and luckily none of the got out of control.  

A magistrate set Stewart’s bond at $2,000 secured with Stewart making bond shortly after midnight the next day.


5 arrests made at large meth bust

SUNNY VIEW––The Polk County Sheriff’s Office busted a ring of methamphetamine traffickers in the Sunny View and Mill Spring areas.  

Casey Brandon Upton, 40, of King Stepp Rd., Mill Spring, was arrested and charged with four counts of conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and four counts of conspiracy to sell methamphetamine.

Lucy Farren Hopper, 32, of King Stepp Rd., Mill Spring was arrested and charged with conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and conspiracy to sell methamphetamine.

John Henry Jackson, 47, of King Laughter Rd., Mill Spring, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and conspiracy to sell methamphetamine.

Jesse Ray Shelton, 35, of Wolf Branch Dr., Mill Spring, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and conspiracy to sell methamphetamine.

William Barry Burnett, 45, of Rabbit Run Dr., Mill Spring, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and conspiracy to sell methamphetamine.  


NC Governor declares state of emergency for Covid-19

FOOTHILLS––Colleges are extending spring breaks; March Madness is continuing with no fans; local nursing homes and St. Luke’s Hospital is restricting outside visitation.

St. Luke’s Hospital released a statement saying there are no positive Coronavirus test results reported in Polk County. No local schools have been closed, but officials are meeting frequently to assess the virus.  

The virus in Italy went from 20 confirmed cases to 9,000 in just two weeks.  

Gov. Cooper is not calling for schools to close or calling for the March Madness basketball tournament to be called off, but some state officials are urging large gatherings, especially for older people, to be postponed.  


Super Saturday cancelled for first time in 42 years

TRYON––For the first time in 42 years, Super Saturday has been canceled because of the Coronavirus.

The Children’s Theater Festival Board made the decision. The festival was scheduled for March 21 in downtown Tryon, mainly along Melrose Avenue. The decision was made based on recent government recommendations regarding public gatherings. Refunds on tickets were given, and the schools will be sending other forms with payments back with students.  

Super Saturday usually brings 3,000-4,000 people to downtown Tryon every year for the festival.

Polk County Schools close

FOOTHILLS––All North Carolina and South Carolina schools are closed with Polk County Schools closing for at least two weeks and District One Schools in Spartanburg County closed until after spring break, or April 6.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster made the announcements. The states joined most of the county, as 33 states in the United States have now closed.

Polk County and District One Schools allowed people to come retrieve necessary items, including school supplies and medications, but closed to the public following.

Polk County is not recommended or required to provide instructional programs in the immediate future, per guidance from the state board of education. District One is conducting some online instruction.  

In total, there are 28 cases in South Carolina and 33 in North Carolina.


Steeplechase cancelled

MILL SPRING––After being rescheduled last year because of heavy rains, this year’s steeplechase is cancelled because of Covid-19. Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) made the announcement.  

Tryon Resort restaurants and lodging will remain open to the public with the addition of proactive and extra-rigorous sanitation practices. Most event through mid-May are cancelled at TIEC.

The Steeplechase was moved from FENCE to the equestrian track a few years ago.

In 2019, the steeplechase had to be postponed until October because heavy rains caused damage to the track.  

The Steeplechase has been occurring since 1947. The event will not be rescheduled this year due to too much uncertainty.


5 earthquakes in Carolinas and Tennessee in 24 hours

CAROLINAS––Polk County was possibly in range to feel nearby earthquakes that hit North and South Carolina and Tennessee.

The closest was located about 1.2 miles from Flat Rock, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  The earthquake was a 2.2 magnitude and was 3.6 miles deep.

The largest earthquake over the 24-hour period was about 3 miles from Centerville, S.C., which is about 30 miles southwest of Greenville, S.C. Reports are that at least 480 people, some as far as 300 miles away in Georgia felt like the tremor.  

The Centerville earthquake was a 2.4 magnitude and was 2.9 miles deep. There were at least five earthquakes total, ranging from 1.7 2.4 magnitude. The quakes began in Mulberry, N.C.  The last quake was about 3.7 miles from Mascot, TN, and was a 1.8 magnitude, 5.7 miles deep.  


4 arrested for car break-ins

COLUMBUS––The Polk County Sheriff’s Office identified four individuals for the car break-ins last months that occurred in the Peniel and Red Fox Road areas of the county. Of the four people, two are in custody in Rutherford County for other charges and two are still at large. All the people were from Rutherford County.  

The suspects were held under bonds ranging from $150,000 to $400,000.


Tryon Fine Arts Center renovations completed 

TRYON––For more that 50 years, Tryon Fine Arts Center has stood proudly on Melrose Avenue, a home for Tryon’s artistic community.

While passerby have had the opportunity to view the progress of the renovations of the TFAC from outside, the interior has also been progressing with layers of plumbing, electrical, dry wall, and flooring.  

The renovation and addition will provide two important new public areas: a gallery and a pavilion. The new gallery will be completely accessible to all visitors, without stairs. It will also be available for receptions, meetings, lectures and other small gatherings. 

The pavilion is a completely new performance area with seating for small audiences of approximately 100 and will be a showcase for recitals, readings, discussions groups and educational activities.  


NC Governor closes more than just schools

RALEIGH––North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper extends public school closures until May 15.

Cooper signed an executive order to close schools as well as to close hair and nail salons and massage therapists.

He said there are 297 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in N.C. and said that at least 8,438 people have been tested in the state, with at least 10,000 more tests need to be run.

Grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open and asked residents to please not overbuy. Governor Cooper said some grocery stores are hiring temporary employees, including former restaurant employees who may be out of work. The dine-in restaurants order is still in place, but most restaurants are offering take-out services.  


A temporary change at the Tryon Daily Bulletin 

FOOTHILLS––The staff at the Tryon Daily Bulletin continues to work to ensure that we remain, both in print and online, a trusted source of information in these uncertain times.

In an effort to keep our employees healthy, we closed our office as we heeded Gov. Roy Cooper’s advice to have as many employees as possible work from home until the virus threat subsides.  

For now, we will be printing the newspaper twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday and providing accurate, online information to citizens. Though we will not be printing daily, the Tryon Daily Bulletin still remains the world’s smallest daily newspaper and will keep its iconic title due to our daily publishing online at tryondailybulletin.com.


Polk’s first case of Covid-19

POLK COUNTY––Polk County announced its first case of Coronavirus with a second case announced the next day.  

Polk County’s health and human services agency’s division of public health is in contact with the patients to coordinate and monitor their condition and to conduct contact tracing. No further information about the patients were given to protect the patients’ privacy, including age or in what town they reside.  


Abandoned baby found on U.S. 176

TRYON––The mother of the infant found just outside Tryon in a bag has been arrested.  

Heather Lynn Walsh of Ken Miller Road, Rutherfordton, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor child abuse/endangerment/neglect.  

The baby is 6 months old and was discovered in black bag in the parking lot of the Trinity Lutheran Church located in the Pacolet Valley along U.S. 176. The baby was taken to a hospital and received care.

Walsh was given a $5,000 secured bond by the magistrate and was released on bond shortly thereafter.  


In Memoriam 


Dean Blackwell

Robert Irvin Boblit

Roger Dean Boothe

Smith Bryson

Lula Mary Burrell

Sandra Marie Claire

Jack Claude Constance

William Lee Day

Nancy Jane Dunn

Dominick “Dom” Ferullo

Jane Mahaffey Fox

Marcy W. Hagen

Joshua Terry Hensley 

Jayne Hughes

Lt. Colonel John

Latta Law Jr.

Joan Zimmermann Lonnes

Joyce Walker McCraw

Deloris Keller McDade

Barbara C. Mischler

Betty Jo Newman

James Dennis Patterson

Marye Jane Priddy

McQueen “Mack” Salley Richards

James Larry Russell

Lewis Soley

Kathy Elizabeth Walraven