Year in Review 2023: April, May and June
Published 11:29 am Friday, December 29, 2023
Editor’s Note: Over the next few issues, we will publish our annual look back at some of the top stories, newsmakers and images that shaped the year. Following are several of the top stories published in the Bulletin during April, May and June of 2023.
Work began on a mural on one of the exterior walls of Tryon Theatre. Owners Scott and Gail Lane hired artist Judy Dempsey of Lake Lure to paint the mural, which features a design showing a large film strip and images of Morris the horse with a mountain backdrop.
“I’ve always thought that’s kind of an important vista when you’re coming up over the tracks and you see the first row of commercial buildings,” Scott said. “It kind of gives you a first impression of Tryon coming from that direction.”
Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene was named the Western Region 2022-23 Superintendent of the Year.
Dr. Jan Webster, director of the Western Region Education Service Alliance in Asheville, announced the award Monday, April 3, at the start of the Polk County Board of Education’s monthly meeting.
The Leah Justice Journalism Scholarship was initiated by the Polk County Community Foundation after it received an anonymous donation for the scholarship. It will be available to a graduating high school senior in Polk County or the surrounding area who is interested in the field of journalism.
Justice, who passed away in January, was an award-winning reporter with a long career in journalism. After earning a degree in journalism at Clemson University, she went on to write for the Tryon Daily Bulletin for over 20 years.
Horse lovers enjoyed perfect spring weather at the 75th running of the Block House Steeplechase on Saturday, April 15. Complete with elaborate tailgate parties and classic steeplechase fashion, the atmosphere at the event was festive and competitive.
A kayak dock at Lake Lanier was removed at the behest of the Town of Tryon. On April 18, several concerned citizens attended the Tryon Town Council meeting to voice their opinions about the dock. Zoning and planning never received an application to build the dock, and the dock was erected without ever being voted on by the council.
Downtown Tryon hosted the Airstream trailer “Trot into Tryon” urban rally from April 21 through April 23.
Second-graders from Tryon Elementary School welcomed the Carolinas Airstream Club members as they made their arrival down Trade St. Calling themselves Airstreamers, the group travels the country reenacting the vision of Wally Byam, the founder of Airstream. The Carolinas Airstream Club is one of over 100 Airstream Clubs across the globe.
On April 27, a trailer detached from a semi-truck and overturned on I-26 West, impacting traffic along the interstate and throughout much of Columbus. Multiple agencies worked on the incident.
No injuries were reported and no other vehicles were damaged as a result of the accident.
Polk County Schools officials, Tryon Elementary staff members and community residents gathered May 1 at TES for a groundbreaking ceremony for the school’s latest addition, a new Forbes Preschool building that will house pre-kindergarten students.
The addition on the main Tryon campus will include five classrooms and will allow school officials to relocate students from the current Forbes Preschool site, located down the hill on School St.
Polk County Middle School continues to have the state’s best model bridge builders. PCMS successfully defended its title in the North Carolina Department of Transportation Model Bridge Building Competition, winning the 2023 championship in the competition held in Raleigh.
It marks the fifth time since 2014 that a Polk Middle squad has won the state competition.
Beth Edith Beamer, 48, of Mauldin, S.C., was charged in Polk County with concealment/failure to report a death after disposing of her body in a Tryon river. In December 2022, Beamer pleaded guilty to theft of government property in Greenville County, after receiving nearly $70,000 in social security benefits intended for her deceased mother.
She admitted to dumping the body of her mother, Rena Hefner Beamer, down a roadside embankment and into a river in Tryon in August 2017. She was later sentenced to the maximum of 19 months in federal prison.
An annual cycling event that raises funds for the fight against cancer recently raised $7,000 for the Gibbs Cancer Center in Spartanburg.
The Climb to Conquer Cancer saw droves of cyclists pedal up and down Hwy. 176 from Tryon to Saluda, raising funds for the Gibbs Cancer Center Survivorship Program in the process. This was the 13th year the fundraiser took place.
A pair of firefighters with the Columbus Fire Department were formally recognized for their bravery. Lt. Will Craine and firefighter Zach Watts were recognized for their acts during a White Oak Mountain Rd. house fire on April 1.
Craine and Watts were injured while searching for an unaccounted resident and working to extinguish the flames as conditions changed rapidly due to high winds.
A former Polk County employee and his son were charged with taking indecent liberties with a child. On May 15, Larry Walker, 60, and Chris Walker, 39, both of Flat Rock Hill Rd. in Tryon, were taken into custody by investigators without incident. Larry Walker is a former government employee who previously worked as Solid Waste Director for the county.
A driver suffered a fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound after an extended vehicle pursuit on May 20. The suspect’s vehicle was brought to a stop in the parking lot of the Peniel Baptist Church after fleeing law enforcement. Once in the parking lot, the driver of the vehicle refused to follow law enforcement commands to get out of the vehicle, according to police, before shooting himself.
The childhood home of Nina Simone got one step closer to being fully restored after millions were raised in an online art auction hosted by a New York City art gallery. The art auction, co-curated by tennis champion Venus Williams and artist Adam Pendleton, totaled $5.4 million in sales and culminated with a benefit gala at New York’s Pace Gallery. Those funds will go toward preserving the home where Simone was born, located on Livingston St. in Tryon.
Chef Sarah McClure appeared on the popular Food Network TV show, Guy’s Grocery Games. McClure is the executive chef and co-owner of Southside Smokehouse and Grille in Landrum.
Making her second appearance on Guy’s Grocery Games after finishing in second place in 2020, McClure competed in unique challenges created by celebrity chef, Guy Fieri.
A Landrum woman was found dead outside her home and a suspect was shot and killed by police after refusing to comply with officers during the early morning hours of Memorial Day.
Police responded to the Bon Aire Apartments in what started as a domestic violence call, and when officers arrived, Shana McClain, 58 of Landrum, was found fatally stabbed on the porch of her apartment.
Deputies encountered the suspect at the scene, who was holding a large butcher knife in his hand and failed to comply with their commands. The suspect, identified as Freddie Edwards, 58, came at deputies and was fatally shot by police. No law enforcement were injured during the incident.
A now-former Landrum youth pastor was arrested after admitting to videoing a woman while she was showering.
Daniel Kellan Mayfield, 35 of Boiling Springs, who was the youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Gowensville in Landrum, was arrested and charged with voyeurism. Mayfield was terminated on the day of his arrest from his position at the church, where he worked as youth pastor for the last seven years. He later admitted to filming inside of a women’s restroom inside the church and faced additional charges.
Polk County High School’s graduation ceremony took place on June 9 at the high school.
Themes of fresh beginnings, reflections on years past and an appreciation of community ran through Polk County’s 2023 commencement exercises in G.M. Tennant Stadium. Family and friends packed the stadium to celebrate the newest alumni of PCHS.
On June 9, nineteen residents of Saluda and their friends and family journeyed to Saluda‘s Sister City, Carunchio, Italy, arriving just in time to be active participants in the annual flower festival, the “Infiorata.” The annual festival celebrates the feast of Saint John the Baptist with a special community celebration based on flowers.
The Professional Bull Riders made their third visit in three years to Tryon International Equestrian Center for the Iron Peddlers Chute Out on June 23-24. The PBR Challenger Series event featured the world’s top bull riders, who took on some of the most challenging bovine athletes in the sport.
Iron Key Brewing Company offered clean water to the community during the water boil advisory that was issued in Columbus.
Columbus issued a water boil advisory due to a leak in the town’s water lines that could have potentially tainted the town’s water supply. As a service to the community, Iron Key Brewery emptied their beer brewing vats and used them to boil approximately 300 gallons of water, issuing a statement inviting the community to bring receptacles of up to five gallons to their location for water.