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City gets big grant for Southside drainage
  • Updated

When it rains along Taylor Street in the Southside community, it doesn’t pour; it floods.

A continuous drainage issue in the city that has exasperated some homeowners for 20-plus years will finally get addressed.

The city of Lancaster has received $750,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the S.C. Department of Commerce to fix the problem.

The S.C. Department of Commerce awarded the grant in late July.

Lancaster City Councilman Kenny Hood has been working for a number of years to get the troublesome drainage problem addressed.

“This means a great deal to me and has been a long time coming. People there have been through so much with the flooding,” Hood said, noting that about 20 homeowners had been dealing with the issue.

Hood thanked former and current City Council members for not letting Taylor Street fall through the cracks.

“I’ve been trying to get something done about it ever since the residents of District 1 elected me. I appreciate their confidence because it takes everybody working together to get something done,” Hood said.

The city of Lancaster was one of 15 communities in the state to receive CDBG funds, which are awarded twice a year to aid municipal governments in improving economic opportunities and revitalizing communities.

The city of Lancaster will provide a match of about $166,000 to pay for project, which will cost an estimated $916,000.

“This is not your typical water and sewer infrastructure project,” said Lancaster City Administrator Flip Hutfles.

“But fixing the drainage there is going to impact a lot of lives, especially homeowners where it is constantly a problem. Crawlspaces get flooded. It causes mold issues and weakens home foundations.”

Flooding along Taylor Street is a historical problem magnified by massive rains when Bear Creek overflows and then backflows into the Southside neighborhood.

“To his credit, Councilman Hood showed us how it was impacting that entire community and our council made it a priority to find some dollars to address it,” said Lancaster Mayor Alston DeVenny.

DeVenny noted that the drain line actually runs under Eggleton Field, where American Legion Post 31 teams play baseball, as well as the county fairgrounds.

“This is a different type of problem when you look at the drain pattern, the topography and follow it,” DeVenny said. “We have several spots like this in the city limits where creeks were covered up and diverted.”

Hutfles said the city is already working with an engineering firm to develop drawings and construction documents to mitigate the Taylor Street flooding. That phase, he said, should take up to eight months.

Once that is done, the project will go out to bid. Hutfles hopes the construction will start next summer.

“Unlike most water of our water and sewer projects that normally take longer, this one should be relatively quick,” Hutfles said.

Follow reporter Greg Summers on Twitter @GregSummersTLN or contact him at 803-339-6869.

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Realistic, stressful police training at ILHS
  • Updated

It’s intensity times 10. You’re one of four police officers in tactical gear standing at the end of a long school hallway on one side of a solid metal door.

Echoes of gunfire suddenly resonate, followed by blood-curdling cries of uncontrolled anguish.

You have no clue what awaits you on the other side of that door. Your heart is pumping 90 miles an hour, your head is pounding and your nerves are jangled.

You have precious seconds to find out where the gunfire is coming from. You nod as the officer to your left swings the door open and you rush through it, with two officers at your hips.

Another burst of gunfire rings out and a stampeding herd of panicked students is now running in your direction as you keep your head on swivel to find out where this hell on earth is coming from.

You pivot into a classroom to find someone pointing a gun at you. Without hesitation, you neutralize that threat, never taking your eyes off the target.

Behind you, two officers with rifles leveled face in opposite directions in the hallway to back you up.

A second covey of officers in a single line are headed your way, escorting paramedics who dash through the doorway to treat the wounded.

But you never look away from the threat, concentrating on your role.

The above description is fiction, but it’s that kind of real-life scenario that the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office and local emergency agencies participated in during active shooter training July 26 and 28 at Indian Land High School.

“We’re trying to prepare for something we hope never happens in Lancaster County,” said Sheriff Barry Faile.

“We want to make it as realistic as we can to put these officers under stress, so when the real thing happens, we have the basic fundamentals down and respond in the correct way,” Faile said.

The training included simulated gunfire and volunteers playing the roles of civilians to make it realistic.

More than 250 people from eight county and city agencies participated in the exercises, including the volunteers who served as victims.

This week’s hard-boiled active shooter training included local county law enforcement and first responders, along with Lancaster County EMS, County Fire-Rescue and emergency management, the city fire department, the coroner’s office, public safety communications, the Lancaster County School District and the Lancaster County Parks and Recreation Department.

Local media outlets were given a brief and very limited peek at an exercise Thursday.

The goal, Faile said, is to make sure that all the agencies work together on their respective roles in case an active shooter comes to a county school.

The scenario-based training is a follow up to a three-day Active Shooter Incident Management (ASIM) course the same participants took in May.

“When people bring their kids to school, they are expecting their kids to come back home in the evening. It’s our responsibility to make sure those kids are safe, those teachers are safe and that’s what we intend on doing,” Faile said.

Lancaster County EMS Director Clay Catoe said getting all the agencies together at one time for the scenario-based training is quite an undertaking.

But the realistic drills were nothing new for the agencies, which train together several times a year.

“The way we respond today is the same way we would’ve responded a year ago,” Catoe said. “We just have a little bit more equipment and more staff available.”

Catoe admitted that this training had a different feel because of the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

That one tragedy ramped up the need to be ready for the unexpected, he said.

“It was horrible,” Catoe said of the Uvalde incident, where gunman Salvador Ramos killed 19 students and two teachers.

Follow reporter Greg Summers on Twitter @GregSummersTLN or contact him at 803-339-6869.

Jimmy Brown, county’s first Black deputy, dies
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Some people never get to walk the road they help pave, but Jimmy Brown Sr. did.

Lancaster County’s first Black deputy died Wednesday, July 27. Brown was 82 years old.

A local law enforcement fixture, Brown rose from a patrol deputy to second in command of the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office under former Sheriff Johnny Cauthen.

Sheriff Barry Faile, who succeeded Cauthen, called Brown a trailblazer who “worked hard” to make Lancaster County a better place.

“He was always fair to the people he swore to serve, as well as those who worked under his direction,” Faile said. “Jimmy knew the importance of the relationship we had with the community, and he constantly worked to make that partnership stronger.”

The first

A deputy for more than 28 years, Brown was hired Jan. 2, 1973, as the county’s first Black deputy, following the Nov. 7, 1972, election of Nae Parks as sheriff.

While campaigning for office, Parks vowed to put a Black deputy on the force. Parks also hired Black deputies Tim Thompson and Tommy Walker that same year, but Brown was the first.

Brown, who was 33 years old at the time, told The Lancaster News in a 2019 interview that friends persuaded him to apply for a deputy’s position.

“I wanted to do something in our community. I kept thinking about that,” said the Lancaster native and Barr Street High School graduate.

Brown said trying to stay even-tempered and calm in the face of racial tension and adversity was tough for the county’s Black deputies.

They were spat on, called names, including “the N-word,” and mocked, he said. Some white deputies even carried around air freshener, bottles of alcohol and paper towels to wipe down equipment after he had used it.

Brown told TLN that it got so bad that other deputies and Parks came to his home to convince him to come to work. At the time, he and his wife, “Miss Etta” Brown, had six children to take care of. Brown said his wife constantly worried about the hostility he faced on the job.

“I kept saying, ‘I’m not going to stay there. No way. Let them do what they want,’ ” he said.

Brown said little, but noted that his shift sergeant, Charles Small, picked up on how some deputies were treating him and reported it to sheriff.

An angry Parks then called a departmental meeting.

“He said, ‘If you don’t think you can’t treat him like a human being, you let me know right now. Because I’m going to fire every one of you,’ ” recalled Brown.

Brown said the straight-shooting Parks was always a man of integrity who stuck to his work.

Brown was promoted to the rank of corporal in the fall of 1974. When Parks announced his promotion, he told all the other deputies to congratulate him and shake his hand. He hoped the controversy had diminished, but quickly learned otherwise.

“You could tell they didn’t like it, some of them, with their handshakes,” Brown said.

He recalled that one sergeant refused to shake his hand and Parks fired him on the spot.

“He stuck by me,” said Brown of Parks, who died in 1984.

Brown worried about answering some calls, but refused to let it show.

A lifetime member of Mount Moriah AME Zion Church in the Douglas community, Brown said he found comfort in the 23rd Psalm and recited it before every shift. And with God’s help, he made it through the taxing workdays.

“He was with me all these years,” he said.

Brown served under four sheriffs and rose from a patrol deputy to major before retiring Oct. 1, 2001.

Faile recalled working as a young deputy under Brown’s watchful eyes.

“Jimmy was a great leader within the agency that everyone looked up to,” Faile said.

After his retirement, the Browns became local restaurateurs and operated Etta’s Kitchen for five years. The popular eatery was well known for its country cooking.

Despite all the opposition and discrimination he faced, Brown said he looked back over his accomplishments as doing what he was meant to do.

“It was worth it,” Brown said in the 2019 interview. “I feel like I helped somebody. I feel like I paved the way.”

Brown is survived by four sons, four daughters, 15 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

His funeral is 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, at Second Baptist Church.

Brown’s obituary is on Page 4 of today’s issue.

Follow reporter Greg Summers on Twitter @GregSummersTLN or contact him at 803-339-6869.

Banks named new TLN sports editor
  • Updated

The Lancaster News has named a new sports editor, for the first time in four decades.

Mac Banks has been promoted to the position. He replaces Robert Howey, who retired in late July after 45 years at the newspaper, 44 of them as its sports editor.

Banks has been with the paper for two years, covering education, crime and courts, business and general assignments. He has also stepped in to cover sports whenever Howey has been out.

“It is exciting to be named sports editor at The Lancaster News,” Banks said. “I realize the shoes that I am trying to fill. And while someone like Robert Howey can’t be replaced because of all he knows about Lancaster County sports, I am excited to be able to carry on the tradition he perfected.”

Banks has been in the newspaper industry for 23 years. He worked at the Fort Mill Times and The (Rock Hill) Herald for 19 years before coming to The Lancaster News in 2020.

He has a background in sports, serving as sports editor for the Fort Mill Times, and as sports reporter for The Herald. He also worked at the Aiken Standard as a sports reporter for a year.

Banks has reported on sports on local, state and national levels, including covering the Masters golf tournament in Augusta and Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco during the Carolina Panthers’ most recent trip to the Super Bowl.

“I am pleased Mac is taking on the role as sports editor. He understands the importance of local prep sports and has the experience and passion to continue the exceptional coverage our readers are accustomed to,” said TLN Publisher Dale Morefield.

“I’m happy to see Mac step up into this position, a role I’d been hoping to eventually see him in from the time we hired him,” said TLN Editor Jane Alford. “I’m confident that he will carry on the paper’s emphasis on excellent local sports coverage, while putting his own stamp on the section.”

Banks’ move into his new position on Monday, Aug. 1, leaves an opening at the paper for a general assignment reporter. Anyone interested in the position is asked to contact Alford at