Year in Review – 2022 – October, November, and December

Published 1:45 pm Thursday, January 5, 2023

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Editor’s Note: Over the last few issues, we’ve published our annual look back at some of the top stories, newsmakers and images that shaped 2022. In our last installment of Year in Review – 2022, we revisit several of the top stories published in the Bulletin during October, November and December.



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Historical Marker dedicated to the Overmountain Men

On Oct. 5, North Carolina’s newest historical marker was erected near the intersection of Hwy. 108 and Polk County Line Rd. in Mill Spring. The marker is dedicated to the Overmountain Men. 

The Overmountain Men, a group composed of numerous volunteers, including from Polk and Rutherford counties, helped win the Battle of King’s Mountain during the Revolutionary War. 


PBS NC films segment on GreenLife Inn at Mimosa

PBS NC returned to Tryon to shoot a feature segment on the Green Life Inn at Mimosa for its “North Carolina Weekend” show. Local producer/writer Clay Johnson and photographer/editor Erik Olsen interviewed innkeepers Kevin and Mary Parker and a couple of their guests while also filming footage of the interior and exterior of the inn. The PBS crew then filmed the Tryon Coffeehouse, also owned by the Parkers, taking shots of the interior along with the Art with a Heart gallery in the back sitting room.


Structure fire in Columbus results in total loss of home

On Oct. 8, Columbus Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire on Peniel Road, just past Red Fox Road in Columbus. Will Craine at CFD says that nobody in the residence was harmed by the fire and all were able to make it out safely, but the home was a total loss. The homeowner was transported by EMS to the hospital for chest pains. 


Do Not Lose Hope’s 2022 Remembrance Walk has large turnout

The 2022 Fall Family Festival and 8th Annual Remembrance Walk took place at Harmon Field. The Remembrance Walk is dedicated to helping end the silence and stigma of mental illness while shining hope on those who suffer.

The event ended with a dove release in recognition of loved ones. The walk and festival were both well-attended, with most everyone decked out in purple to show support for Do Not Lose Hope, the group that spearheaded the event. 


New dock built at Laughter Pond in Mill Spring

NC Wildlife Resources Officers and Polk County Maintenance Department worked together to construct a new dock at Laughter Pond, which is located off Highway 108 in Mill Spring.

Laughter Pond is a county-owned pond open to public fishing with a fishing pier.


Ache Around the Lake 8k raises money for St. Luke’s Foundation

The Annual Ache Around the Lake, a two-state 8.4-kilometer foot race that raises funds for the St. Luke’s Foundation took place at Lake Lanier. 

The run had over 235 participants across several events. The day featured the Kids 1 Mile Fun Run, the Ouch 2 Mile, and the signature event, the Ache Around the Lake 8K. The roughly 5-mile course runs a loop around Lake Lanier along Lakeshore Drive. 


Randall Hodge sworn in as Tryon’s Chief of Police 

On Oct. 18, Randall Hodge was sworn in as Chief of Police at Tryon Police Department. Hodge replaced Jeff Arrowood, who recently retired. 

Chief Hodge has 25 years of experience in law enforcement. He started his career in the field in 1997 at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and served there as a road deputy, Sergeant and Detective-Sergeant. Before joining the Tryon Police Department in 2017, he also worked for North Carolina Probation and Parole. 


Chocolate Drop wildfire shuts down US-74 West 

On  Oct. 21, multiple fire crews worked to contain a wildfire on Chocolate Drop Mountain in Columbus. The fire spread out alongside Highway 74 between the 161 and 163-mile markers. 

The North Carolina Forest Service estimated eight to ten acres burned before firefighters were able to reach 100% containment later that night. Due to the proximity of the roadway, Hwy. 74 westbound was completely shut down for the majority of the day, leading to major traffic backups.


Polk County celebrates Homecoming 2022

Polk County High School celebrated Homecoming, concluding a day of activities with the crowning of the 2022 Queen at halftime of the Wolverines’ game with East Rutherford.

Senior Ella Waldman was chosen as Queen, with senior Annslee Kilgore named Maid of Honor and junior Vanessa Raposa selected as Miss Wolverine. 


One dead after tragic accident on Hwy. 14 in Landrum 

Landrum Fire Department and Gowensville Fire Department were dispatched to a two-vehicle collision that ended in one arrest and resulted in one fatality. 

The accident occurred along Hwy. 14 in Landrum. According to South Carolina Highway Patrol, Ronald Edward Watkins, 54, of Mill Spring, was traveling west in a 2007 Chevrolet pickup when he collided with a 2015 Ford near the intersection of Hwy. 14 and Ford Ln. 

The driver of the 2015 Ford was identified by Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office as Jamie Nicole Belue, 29, of Inman. Belue was pronounced dead at the scene.


In Memoriam – October 

Rebecca Magee

Robert Lair

Gary Lee Huntoon

Bruce Normand Fritz

Edward Lee Culbreth

Mike Smith

Grace Keough

John Smyrl

Ola Mae Culbreth

Crawford Williams

Freda Crews

John Bollinger

Lisa Page

Jan Impey

Kenneth Carpenter

William Shelton Taylor




Polk County High School, Landrum High School football teams make playoffs

Both local high school football teams made the playoffs in their respective conferences. The Polk County Wolverines ended the regular season with 5 wins and 5 losses, while the Landrum Cardinals advanced to the postseason with a 6 and 4 record. Both teams lost in the opening round.


Campobello man sentenced to 18 years in prison 

On Nov. 2, Samuel Olen McClain, 66 of Campobello, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to bank robbery, petty larceny, and attempted armed robbery. According to a release from Solicitor Barry Barnette, the one-day crime spree occurred in March of 2022.


Breweries, beer lovers celebrate 11th Annual Tryon Beer Fest

The 11th Annual Tryon Beer Fest was held on Nov. 5. Beer lovers from across the area enjoyed samples from over twenty local and regional breweries, as well as games, live music, food and a photo booth. A steady rain during the second half of the Fest didn’t dampen the spirits of festivalgoers, and this annual tradition continues to be a local favorite each year.



Tryon welcomes new Director of Development

On Tuesday, November 8 the Tryon Downtown Development Association held a reception at the Tryon Depot to welcome Michelle Newman as Tryon’s new Director of Development. In this position, Newman will manage the Tryon Downtown Development Association and the town’s Main Street Program, and assist with the town’s larger economic development goals and projects.


Runners turn out in droves for 10th Annual Tryon Half Marathon

On Nov. 12, nearly 150 runners took to the road for the 10th Annual Tryon Half Marathon. All proceeds from this 13.1-mile run went to Thermal Belt Outreach of Columbus. 

The race started at 8 a.m. at Harmon Field and featured runners of all experience levels. 



Landrum man arrested after being found unconscious in vehicle

On Nov. 12, Cody Lawrence Lockhart, 34 of Landrum, was arrested on gun and drug charges. Rutherford County deputies were on patrol when they discovered a stopped vehicle in the middle of the roadway. Officers approached the vehicle and found a male subject unconscious at the wheel.

According to officials, once entry had been made, Lockhart woke up and became combative. The deputies were able to force him out of the vehicle and detain him. 


27th annual Green Race brings in kayakers from all over the world to Saluda

For the 27th year, thousands of spectators made their way to the section of the Green River known as the Narrows to watch 170 of the best kayakers compete in one of the most extreme whitewater events in the world, the Green Race. 

This Green River Narrows Race has developed a reputation with kayakers and fans, bringing in competitors and visitors to Saluda from all around the world. The event was even mentioned in the national news by NPR and CNN.


RPO votes to continue with Hwy. 9 widening project

At a joint meeting held on Nov. 16 in the Foothills Regional Commission office in Rutherfordton, the Transportation Coordinating Committee and the Transportation Advisory Committee, under the umbrella of the Foothills Rural Planning Organization, rejected Polk County’s request to scrap plans for the widening of a 2.7-mile section of Hwy. 9, despite community opposition and a no-build letter from Polk County commissioners.

The $12.2 million Hwy. 9 widening project will move forward after the TCC voted 9-2 in favor of the project, and TAC voted 5-4 to keep the project on the STIP.

PCHA’s Night at the Museum educates and entertains

The Polk County History Museum in Columbus came to life as a half-dozen reenactors took part in the ‘Night in the Museum’ event, telling stories and entertaining attendees of all ages. Reenactors at the event portrayed pivotal figures in Polk County history. 


Community rallies to block proposed drug addiction recovery center in Saluda

Residents of a Saluda community rallied together to fight the approval of a special use permit being sought from the Henderson County Zoning Board of Adjustment to open a residential addiction recovery center off Fork Creek Road. The center would house up to 18 adult men after they have completed medical detoxification from drugs and/or alcohol, according to Craig Halford, director and founder of First Contact Ministries, Inc., who is seeking the permit.


Polk County High School teacher arrested 

Polk County High School business education teacher John Brian Taylor was arrested at the school by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Taylor was charged with indecent liberties with a student and booked into Polk County jail, according to Sheriff Tim Wright. He was later released on a $50,000 secured bond. 


2022 Polk County Toy Run benefits local children

Dozens of bags of new toys were collected and thousands of dollars were raised through the 2022 Polk County Toy Run on Nov. 26. The event began at the Saluda Fire Department before hundreds of motorcyclists made their way through Saluda, Tryon, Landrum and Columbus. A total of 560 motorcycles and 725 volunteers participated in the event. 

The Toy Run collected 66 bags of toys and raised $28,700, which will all go toward children in the area. The Polk County Toy Run has been “riding for the kids” for 20 years.


In Memoriam – November

Carolyn Smith Fisher

Winifred Volpe

Bobby Walker

Susan Darlene Spivey

Tony Lamar Cunningham

Barbara Dontson

Butch Blackwell

Jack Wayne Hardin 

John Oliver

Peggy J. Dean

Randall Nelson

Lee A. Cobourn

John T. Richards

Margaret Ford Wilson

William Stuart Pound Jr.

James Steve Smith Sr.

Walter Robins Howe

Marian Durham

Jesse L. Foy

John William Jack Lingafelter

Leroy Waldrop

Barry Keith Brown






NCHSAA board approves Polk County request to return to 1A classification

Polk County High School athletic teams will return to the 1A classification beginning in the 2023-24 academic year, after the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve the school’s appeal to be reclassified as a 1A school. Polk County teams will move back to the 1A level for the remaining two seasons of the current alignment, which runs through the 2024-25 season.


Tryon Christmas Stroll rings in the holidays

From one end of Trade Street to the other, the Tryon Christmas Stroll brought out the young and the old to enjoy a festive night of holiday cheer to officially kick off the holiday season. 

The night was highlighted by the laying of the Christmas wreath on Morris the Horse, and Mayor Alan Peoples officially lighting Tryon’s Christmas tree in the town square. Businesses opened their doors and welcomed folks inside with hot chocolate, mulled cider, and holiday treats, and Christmas music filled the air as carolers, dressed right out of a Charles Dickens novel, lifted their voices in song in the square. 

Tryon’s Town Manager Zach Ollis steps down 

It was announced that Town Manager Zach Ollis accepted the position of town manager of Cramerton, N.C., and will be stepping down from his role in Tryon.

Appointed as town manager in August of 2016, Ollis quickly made a name for himself, leading the way on numerous projects, such as the completion of Tryon’s Downtown Streetscape project which made downtown Tryon more walkable and ADA-friendly, the installation of Dallara Field, and the Pacolet River Restoration Project.


Tryon man wins $100,000 after buying $1 ticket at local gas station 

A Tryon man hit the jackpot in a drawing of the Quick Pick Cash 5, winning $100,000 after buying a $1 ticket from Tryon Food Store on Lynn Rd.

The winner, Patrick Daniels, is a meter reader for the Town of Tryon who frequently visits the Tryon Food Store. Daniels took home $71,014 after required state and federal tax withholdings. 


Greenville County woman sentenced after dumping mother’s body in Tryon river

A Greenville County woman has pleaded guilty to multiple charges including unauthorized removal of a dead body, after receiving nearly $70,000 in social security benefits intended for her deceased mother.

Beth Edith Beamer, 48 of Mauldin, admitted to taking the dead body of her mother, Rena Hefner Beamer, 83, from their Mauldin home and throwing it down a roadside embankment into a river in Tryon after she passed away in August of 2017.

Beamer was sentenced to 16 months in prison for theft of government charges and will also have to serve three years of court-ordered supervision following her release from prison. 


Washburn Law in Tryon under investigation

According to a press release from the Tryon Police Department, officials recently opened an investigation into Washburn Law, PLLC, located at 136 Pacolet Street, after receiving numerous complaints. 

The press release states that the complaints stem from real estate closings that the law firm was responsible for. Currently, there are 14 reports regarding issues that came about because of these closings, according to officials.


In Memoriam – December

Helen Arledge Sain

Keith Carlisle Sinex

Lauri Anne Ross

Matthew J. Allen

Andrew Lehoskay

Charles Peter Williams

David Smith Lesesne III

David L. Blackwell

Eleanore Vollman

Hewitt E. Lovelace III 

Mildred H. Trippe

Leon Morgan

Shirley Ann McDade Burrell

Charles C. Howard

John Phillips Bean