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Francis returns to lead Promise Neighborhood

A familiar name is returning to Lancaster County to help with Lancaster’s Promise Neighborhood.

Sh’Kur Francis has been named the new program director for the Promise Neighborhood.

He most recently served as public information officer for the Bamberg County government. He is also a former social studies teacher at A.R. Rucker Middle School, one of the schools in the Promise Neighborhood, and a pastor at Grace and Lynwood United Methodist churches.

“Providing cradle to career opportunities to Lancaster students and their families is essential to helping to ensure that a life of possibilities and prosperity is available to them,” Francis said. “As I begin my journey, I welcome the opportunity to learn more about existing efforts and discuss how, through collaboration, we can best meet the needs of children and families.”

In September 2021, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Partners For Youth a $24.79 million grant over five years to serve the students at Clinton Elementary, A.R. Rucker and Lancaster High schools.

In addition to the grant money, another $3.2 million was pledged in local funds for the project.

“The concept of a Promise Neighborhood is a ‘big idea’ — all children born in a neighborhood will thrive, succeed in school and become vital members in the community,” said Albert Blackmon, Promise Neighborhood advisory board chair. “We were impressed with his (Francis) skills and his vision, and we are very excited to see where he will lead Lancaster Promise Neighborhood.”

Francis is a Charleston native and earned a bachelor’s degree from Winthrop University and a master’s degree from Emory University. He also has advanced certifications from Howard University, Furman University and LSU in executive leadership and nonprofit management.

“We are committed to the success of the Lancaster Promise Neighborhood initiative and know that Sh’Kur Francis leading the team of agencies dedicated to the betterment of our area will be a key component in making sure that goal is obtained,” said Steve Sherrill, Lancaster County Partners for Youth board chair.

“We are happy to welcome Sh’Kur Francis as the new program director of the Lancaster Promise Neighborhood,” said Apostle Mamie Wilson, Promise Neighborhood advisory board member.

“We are pleased that he is willing, prepared and committed to lead in our effort to keep the promise to children and families in the Lancaster Promise Neighborhood and I am looking forward to working with him.”

Friends group honors military veterans
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It’s easy to spot a military veteran, said retired Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Robert Paul.

“You will know them when there is a parade going on. They are the only ones who will stand when the American flag passes by. Everybody else just looks around.”

A veteran, he said, never removes his hat at a sporting event for the playing of the national anthem. They stand at attention and salute, said Paul, who served two tours of duty from 1967-69 in Vietnam as a helicopter gunner. During his second tour, Paul flew 130 combat missions.

“We were brought up by people coming out of World War II,” Paul said Friday, Nov. 11, at the Friends of the Buford Massacre Battlefield’s annual Veterans Day commemoration.

Paul said showing respect for the American flag, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and praying in public never hurt anybody.

“We had discipline and respect for everything,” he said. “It saddens me that a lot of that has gone away.”

During his remarks, the frustrated Paul lamented the battles at home that many of today’s servicemen and women must unnecessarily fight.

“I get upset with all the people who have come across illegally and get checks, while we have veterans living on the streets in boxes,” he said. “That’s not good for this country.

“A lot of people don’t know the stress. With the wars going on today, you’re actually on a battlefield wherever you are. They could be in country for six months, out for six months, and then go back in. War is not pretty, wherever it is.”

Veterans Day

Veterans Day commemorates the official end of World War I in 1918. The ceasefire order to halt hostilities was declared at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, or the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

It was first known as Armistice Day, but renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Memorial Day, which is in May, honors those who were killed during their military service.

Veterans Day salutes all American military veterans that served during wartime or peacetime.

“Every veteran deserves the honor every day for what they did and how they served,” said Ken Obriot, president of the Friends of the Buford Massacre Battlefield. “Those who saw combat, God bless them. Those who served and did their duty, they served just as honorably and just as bravely as those that were under fire.

“You never knew what would happen to you or where you would go. Your orders were set,” said Obriot, a U.S. Navy retiree.

Retired Lt. Col. Gary “Oly” Olin, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, also spoke. The F-105 Thunderchief and F-4 Wild Weasel pilot flew more than 100 combat missions over hostile territory during the Vietnam War.

“I’m very proud to be a veteran,” Olin said. “It doesn’t matter if you are a 35-year general or a two-year private. It doesn’t matter if you served in combat and got shot at in three wars or served a two-year hitch in Hawaii while you were in a band. We are all a band of brothers. I’m sure you’ve heard that term. We are a special band of brothers in that we are a brotherhood of warriors and I want to salute everyone here.”

Lancaster County Councilman Billy Mosteller lauded the Friends group for its continuing efforts to improve the massacre site and for honoring the county’s veterans each year at the Veterans Day ceremony.

“It just gets better and better with the beautification of it and the addition of walking trails,” he said. “It’s really coming around and we appreciate the hard work they do with that.”

Obriot also thanked the county’s park and recreation department for allowing the ceremony to be moved inside to the Buford Recreation Center at the last minute.

“They came through with just a phone call,” he said. “In the future, this will probably be our rain location because we’ve had problems over the years. This isn’t the first one where we had a rainout.”

Mobley: Charlie Bundy is irreplaceable
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Devoted husband and dad, higher-education visionary and business, community, civic and political leader, Charles Alan “Charlie” Bundy set the bar high.

Hands-on and instrumental in the formation and founding of USC Lancaster in 1959, Bundy died Wednesday, Nov. 9, in Columbia. He was 92 years old.

Bundy’s lifetime of accomplishments were many and could fill volumes.

“You cannot replace a Charlie Bundy because the Charlie Bundys don’t come along very often,” said local business owner Hugh Mobley, who serves of the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees.

Mobley said he visited with Bundy in Columbia on Nov. 4 after attending a higher education conference in Charleston.

“His health was not the best, but his mind was still sharp and we talked about a lot of things,” Mobley said. “He was way ahead of his time, and had it not been for him and a couple of other folks, USCL would not be here. He was the one who ignited the fire.”

Bundy grew up in Cheraw and graduated from Wofford College. He married Margaret Jackson Bundy in 1955 and started his business career with textile maker J.P. Stevens Co. in Rockingham, N.C. The Bundys were married for 67 years, until Margaret’s death in January.

“Everything that he and his wife did was about making Lancaster a better place for all of us,” Mobley said.

Bundy left textiles and went to work for the Chamber of Commerce in Jesup, Ga., before being lured to Lancaster in the mid-1950s by the late C.D. “Bubber” Gregory to lead the fledgling local chamber.

The two men — Bundy and Gregory — were lifelong friends. Gregory died in August 2021.

“Charlie was a great friend to my family, as he was to most everyone in Lancaster,” said Greg Gregory, Bubber Gregory’s son. “My father recruited Charlie to become the first executive director of the Lancaster Chamber.”

Vision for USCL

In 1957, the vision for USC Lancaster was put into motion. Local chamber and business leaders set up an educational foundation in hopes of starting a local satellite campus for the University of South Carolina. Just like Gregory, Bundy hungered to make Lancaster better.

The issue at the time, however, was a lack of funds. So Bundy and Gregory, both in their 20s, approached textile magnate Col. Elliott White Springs for help.

Springs, Bundy told TLN in a past interview, not only agreed to financially back the plan through the Springs Foundation, but supplied about $8,000 of his own money to remodel the old T.Y. Williams home at the corner of Chesterfield Avenue and White Street into a college.

The original property is now the site of the Lancaster County Library.

But there was a catch. The low-key colonel forbade the two young business leaders from revealing where the money came from.

“He (Bundy) always said they were too naïve to know they couldn’t do it,” Mobley said of their starting the local college.

USC Lancaster opened in the fall of 1959 with 51 students, but quickly grew. The college moved to Hubbard Drive and the S.C. 9 Bypass corridor in 1966.

“As one of the founders of our campus, Charlie not only had a significant impact in the 1950s, but over the years he has remained involved a staunch supporter and took a strong interest in everything we are doing,” said Walt Collins, dean of USC Lancaster. “He led the fundraising effort to construct the Bradley Building in the 1990s and served on both our Education Foundation and Commission of Higher Education.”

Today, USCL has almost 1,600 students and is one of four regional campuses in the USC system. It is also a major contributor to the local economic base.

Bundy is survived by three sons, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Bundy’s funeral was 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at First United Methodist Church, where he served as a longtime Sunday school teacher. A reception followed at the USCL Carole Ray Dowling Building.

The family has asked that memorials for Bundy be made to to the Gregory/Bundy Scholarship Fund, Education Foundation at USC Lancaster, P.O. Box 889, Lancaster, SC 29721; or the First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 608, Lancaster, SC 29721.

“You always say you want to do something meaningful with a downstream impact,” Mobley said. “Go around Lancaster and asked most people where they got a college degree in the last 60 years, and you will quickly realize how many people and families the campus has touched. It’s just like yeast in bread.”

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Lancaster woman arrested for multiple sex crimes

A Lancaster woman has been arrested on multiple sex crimes.

Dena Nicole Rollings Orrell, 35, has been charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, second degree, and three counts of incest.

Orrell was arrested by the S.C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

The incidents happened between the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018, according to arrest warrants from SLED.

According to the warrants, Orrell committed sexual battery with the victim, under the age of 16, when she had sex with the victim.

Another incident occurred in August 2018, when Orrell had sex with the victim on or around her birthday, the warrant stated.

Orrell was arrested and booked into the Lancaster County Detention Center.

The S.C. Attorney General’s office will prosecute the case.

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Woman dies after Halloween wreck

A Lancaster woman died Nov. 5 from injuries sustained in a Halloween wreck.

Rayanna Moser, 18, died at the hospital Saturday, Nov. 5, from injuries sustained in the accident.

The wreck happened on Catoe Road near Wilderness Lane about 7:20 a.m. Oct. 31. The incident involved one vehicle, a 2002 Nissan SUV, that was traveling north on Catoe Road when it went off the left side of the road and overturned in a ditch.

The vehicle had two people in it, both of whom were taken to MUSC Health — Lancaster Medical Center by EMS. Moser was the passenger in the vehicle.

The S.C. Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.