‘I thought it was a bomb’

Calhoun Falls mayor loses home, cars in fire

March 31, 2004

Index-Journal staff writer

CALHOUN FALLS — Shock and disbelief were what Mayor Johnnie Waller and wife Bobbi felt Tuesday as they watched investigators sift through debris after a fire destroyed their home.
“I was in the den and I heard a loud explosion. I thought it was a bomb,” Waller said.
He thought the noise late Monday night was coming from down the street, but when he looked outside, “the whole garage was in flames.”
Waller immediately closed the door and called out to his wife, who was in bed, to wake up. He then tried to dial 911.
While dialing, Waller realized the telephone didn’t work.
“I thought I’d try my cell phone,” he said pointing to the phone clipped to his hip.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming out of the house, whether someone would be shooting at us.”
When asked if the fire was arson, all Waller would say was the incident is under investigation. The State Law Enforcement Division has been called in to work with local authorities.
SLED’s Arson Unit is assisting in the investigation at the request of the Calhoun Falls Fire Department, SLED spokeswoman Kathryn Richardson confirmed.
Waller had just arrived home from a Boy Scout fund-raiser and had spent a while talking with a friend, the Rev. James E. Thompson, after the event.
Waller said he would’ve been at home asleep and might not have heard the explosion had he not spent that extra time talking with Thompson.
Bobbi Waller said she felt “blessed to be alive.”
Along with pictures and other belongings that were destroyed in the fire, Waller also lost more than $8,000 worth of campaign signs and materials relating to his run for the S.C. House District 11. The seat is being vacated by the retirement of state Rep. Harry Stille.
A few neighbors and church parishioners stopped by the house to show their support to the Wallers.
“I wish whoever did this will be found. My pastor is a good person,” said resident Linda Bryant. Waller is the pastor of Springfield Baptist Church.
Calhoun Falls Fire Chief Darrell Manning said the department would not generally call in SLED on a fire investigation.
“It was something he (Waller) had communicated to us,” he said. But Manning would not elaborate on what was discussed between him and Waller.
As of Tuesday morning, Manning said a cause of the fire had not been determined. Abbeville County Fire Marshal Dan Evatt said that a vehicle expert with the SLED unit would return to the house Wednesday.
The SLED Arson/Bomb Unit is comprised of specially trained agents who provide support to municipalities anywhere in South Carolina.
“We have an on-going investigation,” Richardson said. “It would be inappropriate to comment on it at this point in time.”
Investigators continued to search through debris into the late afternoon.
“We’re still trying to put pieces together and we are cleaning up the scene,” Evatt said. “We are trying to rule everything out.”
Waller said he and his wife would stay with some friends and later check into a hotel. They would also look to rent within the town limits of Calhoun Falls.
“Very little is salvageable. The house is 90 percent burned,” the mayor said.

Shavonne Potts covers general assignments in Greenwood and the Lakelands. She can be reached at 223-1811, ext. 3306, or: spotts@indexjournal.com.

Evans to run Bearcats basketball

March 31, 2004

Assistant sports editor

Bruce Evans, who served as an assistant coach at Gardner-Webb the past four seasons, was named the new men’s basketball coach at Lander University Tuesday.
Evans succeeds Chipper Bagwell, who announced that he would step down at the end of the season in early January.
“I want to thank each and every one of you for being here today,” Evans said. “This obviously, for me and my family, is very important. It’s a very momentous occasion for us. ... I will be the third head coach in Lander’s history and for me to fathom that is absolutely incredible.
“And if I can do at least half or three quarters of the things coach (Finis) Horne and coach Bagwell have done, then we are going to be successful.”
Evans becomes just the third coach in the 36-year history of the men’s basketball program.
He is also the second African-American head coach in Lander history.
Rosalind Jennings coached the women’s basketball team in 1995-96, and for part of the 1996-97 season,
“We are very pleased that Bruce Evans is our new men’s basketball coach,” Bearcats athletic director Jeff May said. “He is one of the brightest, young coaches in the game today. He has a strong basketball network, is very knowledgeable of the game, has excellent recruiting skills and comes to us highly recommended from veteran basketball people throughout the country. In addition to being an outstanding player at all levels, and having played and coached under some very coaches, Bruce has outstanding qualities.”
“When we set the criteria for this job, we stated that we preferred a coach with head coaching experience. However, we also said that there might be someone who would fit our needs who was not a head coach. Bruce Evans is that someone.”
Evans, a native of Simpsonville, has also spent time on the sidelines as an assistant coach at Presbyterian and Furman.
An All-Southern Conference player at Furman, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, Evans played one year of professional basketball in Konya, Turkey.
He made the All-Southern Conference team three times under Coach Butch Estes and was a finalist for Southern Conference Player of the Year honors when he led Furman to a 20-9 record in 1991.
“Coach Evans’ task,” May said, “is to restore Lander men’s basketball to the level of success that it enjoyed in past years.
After Evans returned from his one-year stint playing professional overseas, he accepted a coaching position at his alma mater in 1994-94 and remained on the Paladins’ staff until moving on to Presbyterian in 1997.
“I don’t have anything prepared to say,” Evans said. “I am one of those guys that’s going to tell you exactly what’s on my mind. I try to ask God for guidance, to speak to my heart, so that everything I tell you will be the truth. You may not like it. I may not like it, but I have to look at myself in the mirror and realize that each and every day I put my self forward. And that is what I expect to do here.”
Lander finished the regular season just a game ahead of UNC Pembroke in the North Division and was just 7-21, losing to Armstrong Atlantic State University in the Peach Belt Conference opener.
The Bearcats, who have had three straight losing seasons, return eight players off last year’s squad.
Brian Howard covers Lander University sports. He can be reached at: bhoward@indexjournal.com

No. 2 Lady Mavs tackle GHS girls

March 31, 2004

Index-Journal sports writer

The Greenwood High School girls soccer team’s hope of winning its first-ever Region I-AAAA title was dealt a serious blow Tuesday night.
The Lady Eagles entered the game tied with Mauldin in the region standings, but the Lady Mavericks got a pair of first-half goals from senior forward Kimmy Gillespie and the defending region champs didn’t look back.
Mauldin handed Greenwood its first region loss of the season by defeating the Lady Eagles, 5-1, at Greenwood.
“They scored their first two goals off our mistakes, and when you’re defensive minded, you can’t have those kinds of mistakes,” Greenwood coach Jamie McClendon said.
“They scored off our mistakes, but a good team is going to create those mistakes. They were the better team tonight, but I don’t think it’s a 5-1 difference. We worked real hard and unfortunately it didn’t fall for us.”
Second-ranked Mauldin (8-1-1 overall, 5-0 region) got a pair of second-half goals from Kim Kelley, one assisted by Gillespie, and a final goal from Heidi Lentz.
“We talked at the beginning of the game about coming out strong,” Lady Mavericks coach Gwynne Armstrong said. “We always talk about the key to winning is keeping possession, because goals will come from that. That’s our goal every game.”
The Lady Eagles (6-3, 4-1) have one more shot at the defending back-to-back Upper State champions when the team travels to Mauldin for a 7 p.m. game April 23.
Trailing 2-0 at the half, McClendon changed from a more defensive style of play to more offensive oriented, moving senior goalkeeper Laura Armstrong to striker.
However, the Lady Mavericks’ offense didn’t give Armstrong, who has signed to play goalie for the University of South Carolina, much of a chance to work.
Just four minutes into the second half, the Lady Eagles’ chances at a comeback were hampered.
Senior stopper Cristin May, who pulled a hamstring in her right leg near the end of the first half, was called for a foul on Kelley in the penalty box.
Kelley knocked the penalty kick past Greenwood goalie Alison Mays for a 3-0 lead.
May, whose right thigh was heavily bandaged, sat out the final 26 minutes of the game.
In the 63rd minute, Lady Eagles’ Robin Smith sent a corner kick to the far post where Armstrong was there for the header. However, the shot clanked off the crossbar and was cleared to the right corner. Smith regained possession and delivered it back to Armstrong, who shot it wide of the goal.
Gillespie retrieve the ensuing goal kick deep in the Greenwood defensive zone and found a wide-open Kelley, who put into the net for a 4-0 advantage.
Just over a minute later, the Lady Mavericks would go up 5-0 on Lentz’s lone goal.
With less than four minutes to play, Armstrong was brought down just outside the penalty area. Armstrong’s free kick bounced off the far post and right to teammate Lauren Reynolds, who knocked it in the net for Greenwood’s goal.


Quotas for bench wrong, the same as other quotas

March 31, 2004

Does South Carolina have enough black judges? That’s something that has been debated in the state Legislature in recent times. Taking everything into consideration, it appears there should indeed be more blacks on the bench.
That’s a problem, however, that has no easy answer. Focusing on race, gender, religion or anything else should not be a crucial consideration when judges are elected. They should be chosen based on their knowledge of the law, temperament and other qualifications and characteristics. It all should be based on qualifications, nothing more, whether white, black or something else.
Activist Jesse Jackson, a South Carolina native who has lived in Chicago for years, has threatened to sue the state of South Carolina to get rid of a system that lets legislators elect judges. That system, some critics charge, keeps blacks off the bench.

THE REV. JACKSON says he’d like to see judges elected by a popular vote by the people so the judicial bench would mirror the state’s population.
That justifies a question. If South Carolina must have everything in direct proportion to race and all the other categories of human beings, isn’t that a great contradiction?
That contradiction, of course, is that it flies in the face of what the concept of a free America has always been and should continue to be. That is, if every government office, every law enforcement agency, every school board, every city council – it goes on and on – is expected to reflect the population in all of its various makeup, it detracts from the historical view of this great nation as the land of opportunity, where anyone can grow up to be president, where anyone can prosper if he’s willing to work hard and persevere.

IN SHORT, IF WE’RE going to break everything down into quotas, and elect, appoint, hire or include based on that idea, that would automatically destroy initiative. It also would tell each of us plainly that we can succeed only if we are a certain color or anything else that defines people in general. Just imagine what a morale problem that would create.
The adherence to quotas alone drastically alters the popular concept of an America where anyone can get ahead based on his own ability, dedication, and willingness to work hard.
Every time quotas are mentioned, there always seems to be one very important factor left out.
That is, that this is supposed to be a land of opportunity, not one where “Big Brother” government is all things to all people, with socialism the name of the game.

Editorial expression in this feature represents our own views.
Opinions are limited to this page.




J.P. Blizzard

J.P. Blizzard, 73, of 505 Davis St., husband of Mary Murray Blizzard, died Monday, March 29, 2004 at Memorial Mission Hospital, Asheville, N.C.
Born in Anderson, he was a son of the late Carson and Hassie Alexander Blizzard. He retired from Greenwood Mills, Harris Plant, where he was a member of the Quarter Century Club. He was a member of Augusta Highway Baptist Church and the Men’s Sunday School Class.
Survivors include his wife of the home; three daughters, Mrs. Ray (Connie) Witt, Mrs. Steve (Phyllis) Rivers and Mrs. Joe (Linda) Duffie, all of Greenwood; two brothers, Ernest Blizzard of Greenwood and Earl Blizzard of Bradley; seven grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren.
Services are 3 p.m. Thursday at Augusta Highway Baptist Church, conducted by the Revs. Craig Hughes and E.A. Cooper. The body will be placed in the church at 2. Burial is in Greenwood Memorial Gardens.
Pallbearers are grandsons Mike Witt, Phillip Witt, Joey Duffie, Devlin Amyx, Garnett Latham, Danny Smith and Mike Knight.
Honorary escorts are members of the Men’s Sunday School Class of the church, along with Bill Murray, Bobby Murray, Cleve Murray and Mike Murray.
Visitation is 7-9 tonight at Harley Funeral Home.
The family is at the home.
Memorials may be made to Augusta Highway Baptist Church, 3720 Highway 25 S., Greenwood, SC 29646.
Harley Funeral Home is in charge.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.harleyfuneralhome.com

Bette German

Bette Ruth Freeman German, 74, wife of Paul R. German, died Tuesday, March 30, 2004 at Self Regional Medical Center.
Visitation is 1-2 Saturday at Blyth Funeral Home.
The family is at the home, 101 Glencrest Court in the Willows.
Services will be announced by Blyth Funeral Home.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.blythfuneralhome.com

John Willie Harlings

John Willie “Rubber Leg” Harlings, 54, of 370 Cokesbury Road, died Tuesday, March 30, 2004 at his home.
Born in Greenwood County, he was a son of the late Willie Davis and Helen Louise Simon. A former pulpwood worker and former employee of Greenwood Packing Plant, he was of the Baptist faith.
Survivors include a son, Hughey Hill of Greenwood; three brothers, Nathaniel Simon Jr. and Jimmy Lewis Simon, both of the home, George Henry Simon of Greenwood; three sisters, Laura Mae Simon of Edgefield, Maggie Lee Holloway of Greenwood and Mrs. John E. (Angelina) Phillips of Promised Land.
The family is at the home.
Services will be announced by Robinson & Son Mortuary Inc.

William H. F. Kuykendall

September 14, 1934 - March 29, 2004
DUE WEST, SC – Dr. William Henry Frazer Kuykendall, age 69, husband of Mary Elizabeth Brooks Kuykendall of 231 Ellis Road, Due West, SC, died Monday,March 29, 2004 at Self Regional Medical Center in Greenwood, SC.
Born in Charlotte, NC on September 14, 1934, Dr. Kuykendall was a son of the late James Bell Kuykendall, Jr., and Emily Frazer Kuykendall. He was a graduate of Davidson College and Johns Hopkins University. He began teaching at Erskine College in 1963 and retired from the faculty of Erskine Theological Seminary in 1999. He was a member of Due West ARP Church where he served as Elder.
Surviving are his wife, Mary Elizabeth Brooks Kuykendall of the home; sons, John Edward Kuykendall and his wife, Mary Elisabeth of Goose Creek, SC, Robert Deaver Kuykendall of Atlanta, GA and James Brooks Kuykendall and his wife Patricia Bolen of Grand Rapids, MI; brother, Dr. John Wells Kuykendall and his wife, Missy of Davidson, NC and a grandson, Daniel Stephen Kuykendall. A brother, James Bell Kuykendall preceded him in death.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, April 1, 2004 at 11:00 am at Due West ARP Church officiated by the Reverend Mr. Calvin Draffin. Interment will follow in the church cemetery.
The family will receive friends at the residence, 231 Ellis Road, Due West, SC on Wednesday, March 31, 2004 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. The body is at The McDougald Funeral Home and will be placed in the church at 10:30 am on Thursday.
Memorials may be made to Erskine College, P.O. Box 608, Due West, SC 29639 or to the Elizabeth Mitchell Fund c/o Carlisle Nursing Center, P.O. Box 307, Due West, SC 29639.
THE McDOUGALD FUNERAL HOME, Anderson is in charge of arrangements.

Blanche Ava Webb

HILLSVILLE, VA – Blanche Ava Webb, 86, passed away March 30, 2004 at Asbury Place at Birdmont, Wytheville, VA.
Mrs. Webb was a long-time member of the First UnitedMethodist Church of Hillsville. She was preceded in death by her husband, V. Clyde Webb.
She is survived by daughters and sons-in-law Ruthie and Ronnie Dillon, Woodlawn, VA and Barbara Jean and Harold Bowman, Fancy Gap, VA; sons and daughters-in-law J. Patton Webb, Greenwood, South Carolina, Bill and Cathy Webb, Mt. Airy, NC, and Clyde Michael and Joyce Webb, Little Rock, Arkansas; sister-in-law Lillian Marshall, Hillsville, VA; 12 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
Graveside service and burial will be Thursday, April 1, 2004 at 2:00 p.m. at the Webb Cemetery with Rev. Ramon Torres officiating.
The family will receive friends 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, 2004 at the Vaughan-Guynn-McGrady Chapel - Hillsville, VA.
The family will meet at Ruthie Dillon’s home at 231 Robinson Drive, Woodlawn VA.
Memorials may be made to Hillsville First United Methodist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 356, Hillsville, VA 24343.