Year in review-December
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 December.
Record year for toy run
COLUMBUS—A beautiful day brought out a record number of motorcycles for the 2020 Polk County Toy Run.
The run goes from Saluda through Tryon, Landrum, Mill Spring and ends at the Polk County Courthouse, raising money and toys for children in the area for Christmas.
This year’s event had 595 bikes and 800 people, which was a record. There were 92 bags of toys raised and $23,300, according to organizer Barry Gee.
The money and toys will be distributed to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Department of Social Services and Steps to HOPE to be distributed to Polk County children this year.
Shots fired in Columbus
COLUMBUS—The Columbus Police Department arrested a man Tuesday afternoon after responding to a shots fired called on Hampton Street.
Allen Michael Berger was arrested and charged with felony second-degree kidnapping, felony discharge a firearm enclosure to incite fear, discharge a firearm in city limits, assault on a female, assault by pointing a gun, assault with a deadly weapon and damage to property, according to Columbus Police reports.
Columbus officers were dispatched at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday to 49 Hampton Street for shots fired. Officers with the Columbus Police Department as well as a Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputy arrived and encountered Berger.
From the ground up
LANDRUM–CBL State Savings Bank held the groundbreaking for their new Landrum Branch on Thursday afternoon. The new branch, which will be located at 1401 E. Rutherford St., is estimated to be completed in the Summer of 2021. The bank is currently operating in their temporary location of 920 E. Rutherford St.
Plans for the vaccine
POLK COUNTY—Polk County health officials have formed a COVID-19 Vaccine Coalition to help provide information about a vaccine and how to deliver it to the community.
The Polk County Health and Human Services Agency and other community partners, including Polk County Emergency Management, EMS, the sheriff’s office, Blue Ridge Health, St. Luke’s Hospital, Foothills Pharmacy, Polk County Schools and White Oak Manor have been monitoring the vaccines for the past several months and have been preparing for its distribution locally.
Voter ID law upheld
POLK COUNTY—Voters in the next election will have to show an ID in North Carolina.
A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that a lower court incorrectly hindered plans to implement voter identification for voting in North Carolina.
A state referendum last year was in overwhelmingly support of requiring identification in order to vote.
Polk swears in new commissioners
COLUMBUS—Polk County has a new chairman with a familiar face.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and swore in newly elected board members and appointed Tommy Melton as chairman of the board and Paul Beiler as vice-chair.
This is the 5th time Melton will serve as chair since he was first elected in 2006.
Former chairman Myron Yoder was sworn into office for a 4-year term after being the high vote getter in November.
This is Yoder’s second term 4-year term.
Newly elected commissioner Andre Overholt was also sworn into office for a 4-year term as well as David Moore, who was elected to a 2-year term.
This is Overholt’s first term and Moore’s first term, although Moore has been serving on the board after being appointed last year to fill the term of Jake Johnson, who resigned as county commissioner to be appointed a state representative. Johnson was elected to the state position in November.
POLK COUNTY—North Carolina residents are under a curfew that began on Friday.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced this week that the state will be on a modified stay at home order following a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.
Cooper signed executive order 181, which will require people to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. from Friday, Dec. 11 until at least Jan. 8, 2021.
The order requires restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses and other businesses to close at 10 p.m. There are exemptions, including traveling to or from work, to obtain food, medical care, fuel or social services, or to take care of family members.
Almost $1 million of meth seized
CAMPOBELLO—The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office arrested 2 people this week on methamphetamine charges after a large-scale investigation that resulted in the seizure of almost $1 million worth of methamphetamine.
Elizabeth Jane Long, 33, of 305 Caldwell St., Campobello and Craig Marlon Williams, 43, of 640 Ferree Rd., Campobello were arrested and charged with trafficking in methamphetamine over 400 grams, according to sheriff’s office reports.
Polk is healthy financially
COLUMBUS—Polk County is once again healthy financially with an almost 35 percent fund balance, or rainy day fund.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners met last week and heard from Gould Killian CPA Group, PA, who performed the audit for fiscal year 2019-2020, which ended June 30.
The county’s available fund balance was 34.8 percent as of June 30, according to the audit report. That means that the county had $9,211,859 available to spend. The state recommends local governments keep at least 8 percent in fund balance in case of emergencies.
Honoring a 26-year career
TRYON–The Town of Tryon honored the retirement of Kenny Kempster this week after a 26-year career in law enforcement. The town presented Kempster with a framed resolution detailing Kempster’s career. Kempster worked for the Rutherford Police Department, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, where he was chief deputy and finished his career at the Tryon Police Department.
Ode to Owens
COLUMBUS—Polk County Commissioner David Moore dedicated his swearing in ceremony to the former late commissioner Ted Owens last week by using Owens’ bible and saying a few words.
Moore was appointed last year as commissioner and won his first 2-year term in November.
Tryon to receive $143K for May floods
TRYON—The Town of Tryon is receiving state funding to help recover money spent following May flooding along Carolina Drive.
The town suffered flooding in May from heavy rains where a major sinkhole occurred.
Tryon Town Council met Tuesday and approved a resolution to to receive funding in the amount of $143,475.
Tryon Town Manager Zach Ollis said the town has submitted all the paperwork regarding the costs associated with Carolina Drive and the reimbursable figure looks to be $143,475.
Santa Claus has come to town…with cameras
TRYON–Tryon had its usual Christmas parade on Trade Street. Actually, there were two Christmas parades this year. The second one, however, which came through on Friday, Dec. 18, will be seen on a much grander scale as it will be part of a movie being filmed.
In front of Morris the Horse in the middle of the intersection, actors Bo Yokely and Kate Dailey––the main characters in the movie––performed for the cameras. Many onlookers came from out of town to appear as extras in the film, and many were there to enjoy both the parade and the making of a movie.
The title of the movie being filmed is “Christmas at Grey Horse Inn,” written by Vicki Vass of the Tigerville area and directed and produced by Sue Ann Taylor of Blue Heron Films in Atlanta. The film is expected to premiere on television on November 21, 2021.
POLK COUNTY—The Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to a deceased person along Interstate 26 between mile markers 69 and 70 on Monday afternoon.
The sheriff’s office was dispatched shortly after 4 p.m. to a person possibly hanging from a tree in the woods off Interstate 26. Deputies and first responders located an abandoned car along the interstate and a deceased person in the woods.
Sheriff’s deputies said the deceased person appears to have died from a self-initiated cause.