As 2013 begins, North Augusta Today takes a look back at some of the stories that appeared in its pages in 2012.
– Compiled by
• Aiken County sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Chavous; his wife Melanie, a North Augusta Public Safety officer; and North Augusta Public Safety volunteer firefighter Michael Ford launch Support 1, a nonprofit organization that seeks to support all first responders, including law enforcement, firefighters and EMS personnel, with training and funding to address needs before, during and after critical incidents.
• An investigation was launched into North Augusta Middle School’s Parent Teacher Organization treasurer’s use of PTO funds. Principal Barry Head told police that he received information that Connie Boisclair had embezzeled PTO checks and cash dating back to May 2011. Boisclair later turned herself in to police. She was arrested on a single charge of breach of trust. An investigation found that she had alledgedly taken more than $38,000 from the school’s PTO account.
• Presidential candidate Rick Perry visited with locals at Al’s Restaurant in advance of the South Carolina primary.
• David H. Thompson, of the 300 block of Sudlow Road, was charged with two counts of breach of trust, and one count of forgery in arrest warrants obtained by the Aiken County sheriff. The order and warrants alleged that Thompson sold membership interests totaling at least $360,000 in a corporation named Mossy Development, LLC. The money collected was to be used to develop a subdivision called Mossy Oak in North Augusta. Wilson said Thompson diverted that money instead to his personal use and to other entities that he owned or controlled.
• North Augusta Sports Commission paid tribute to Lou Brissie during the annual North Augusta Sports Hall of Fame banquet. The commission created a new award in Brissie’s name. Hall of Fame inductees were Beth McKie Meyer, Jim Bush and Sammy Twiggs.
• North Augusta’s Goodwill store in the Martintown Plaza closes. Belk’s $3.5 million expansion project, which was officially announced later, would allow the store to carry more brands and merchandise. The store would increase from 20,000 square feet to 64,000 square feet into space that once was occupied by the thrift store, Just Beds Sleep Gallery and OneMain Financial. Just Beds Sleep Gallery relocated to nearby North Augusta Plaza and OneMain Financial moved to another space in the Martintown Plaza.
• Fox Creek High School announces that it will move from the Edgefield County School District to the South Carolina Public Charter School District effective July 1.
• Lyn and Ray Fleming shared the Citizen of the Year award, presented by the Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce. They were recognized for their work in the community.
• Jim Buist, former chemistry teacher and football coach at North Augusta High School, dies at the age of 81. He was the 1983 recipient of the Sertoma Service to Mankind Award and was inducted into the North Augusta Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
• The contractor who built North Augusta’s first splash pad sued the city for lost business. Tony Ammar completed the splash pad at Summerfield Park on Old Edgefield Road in April 2011, but an investigation by The Augusta Chronicle revealed the $135,000 structure remained dry because of permitting issues with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. It opened to the public at the end of August 2011. Ammar blamed the city for not securing the permits; North Augusta pinned the problem on Ammar. The complaint filed in North Augusta Magistrate Court named North Augusta and Bob Brooks, the past director of parks and recreation, as plaintiffs.
l North Augusta City Council decided to put an end to the off-premises real estate directional sign policy, which was established in 2003, and to enforce the existing city ordinance concerning private signs on public property. The ordinance states that signs cannot be placed on any public property or right-of-way without a permit. Signs that violate the ordinance can be removed by code enforcement officials.
• The Coffee Corner on West Avenue closes after being open since 2004. The business became a home away from home for several who went to the business every morning to share latest news, gossip, jokes and to fellowship.
• North Augusta High School student Uriel Diaz drowned while swimming at West Dam Recreation Area in Thurmond Lake. More than 30 of his Navy Junior ROTC classmates attended his funeral as honorary pallbearers.
• North Augusta Public Safety officer Jason Pearce was named Officer of the Year for agencies with 51 to 100 officers by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety for the second consecutive year. He was recognized for his work in enforcing the state’s driving under the influence laws, removing impaired drivers from the road ways, educating the community about traffic laws and training other officers.
• Salvation Army’s North Augusta Family Thrift Store held a grand opening to unveil its remodeled store on Knox Avenue.
• North Augusta City Council voted to adopt the 2011 North Augusta Greeneway, Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan as a supplement to the 2005 North Augusta Comprehensive Plan. The plan recommends 20 “priority projects” that, if implemented, will expand the city’s current pedestrian and bicycle systems.
• Cole Kugler, 19, died after he was trapped between two trailers at Southeastern Freight Lines. He was helping a fellow employee attach a tandem trailer to a truck when he became trapped between the two trailers.
• South Carolina ETV film crew visited Hammond Hill Elementary School to shoot video for an episode of “In Our Schools”.
• North Augusta High School was recognized by Pioneer Athletics as having a Field of Excellence.
• Wendy Jacobs, assistant principal at North Augusta Middle School, was named the school’s principal. The position was vacant after principal Barry Head retired.
• Miriam L. “Mim” Woodring, former publisher of the North Augusta Star and community activist, died at the age of 83.
• Donnie Thompson, owner of Windsor Jewelers, purchased the North Augusta Golf and Country Club for $1.2 million from the North Augusta Management Group.
• Aiken County school board voted to increase the operating millage from 131.6 mills to 135.8 mills in its 2012-13 budget. The budget also included funding for curriculum coach positions and North Augusta High School’s new Freshman Academy.
• Former North Augusta High School and Clemson University basketball player Bryan Narcisse was drafted to become a Harlem Globetrotter.
• North Augusta 2000 completed its 2012-2016 strategic plan and kicked off its $1.5 million fundraising campaign. The plan includes community development; continuing existing education programs such as Reading Readiness and Real Life 101; continuing Leadership North Augusta; exploring the creation of Hamburg park near U.S. Highway 1; and creating a downtown master plan.
• The Living History Park unveiled its new Windsor cabinet shop and a 6-foot-tall wheel lathe used in the movie The Patriot, during the annual Under the Crown event.
• Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce president Brian Tucker accepted the president position with the Georgetown County (S.C.) Chamber of Commerce.
• A 23-year-old North Augusta resident, Rebecca Hagler, drowned in the Savannah River. Hagler was walking across a railroad trestle with friends when she fell into the river.
• The North Augusta Country Club closed. Club manager Janet Meadows said the club closed down at the request of its new owner, Donnie Thompson. Thompson made the request after he learned that the managing company’s liability insurance had lapsed, said Meadows.
• North Augusta City Council voted to put a referendum on the November ballot to allow Sunday alcohol sales.
• Terra Carroll was named the new president of the Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce. Carroll had been senior director of member services and small-business development for the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce.
• Lindsay Michelle Garrick was crowned Miss North Augusta USA.
• Customers packed the North Augusta Chick-fil-A restaurant in support of Chick-fil-A and its president Dan Cathy. Cathy told the Baptist Press that the company backed “the biblical definition of a family”.
• Fox Creek High School principal Dr. Timothy Murph returns from participating in the Educational Seminar: 2011-2012 Brazil Administrator Program. “It energized me more than anything. It lifted my spirits that here at Fox Creek, we can achieve success,” said Murph.
• Colt Gross, a North Augusta High senior finishes in first place in the National Precision Championship at the American Legion Junior Shooting Sports National Championship in Colorado.
• Stephen Bayazes Jr., 57, owner of Guns and Ammo Gunsmith on Edgefield Road shot at burglars after they crashed a van through a side wall of the business. K’Raven Aude Goodwin, 20, of Eastover, SC was wounded and later died from gunshot wounds. Eddie Stewart, 30, of Columbia and Franklin Robinson, 27, Gadsen, SC were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Charges were not filed against Bayazes.
• North Augusta High School introduced its new Freshman Academy. “The freshman year is such a crucial year because that is the year that sets you up for success, or if you fall behind, sets you up for failure,” said Paige Day, Freshman Academy director. “We want to give them the foundation they need so they can be successful for the next three years.”
• Victory Christian School started the school year in a new home. The school moved into Victory Baptist Church’s Sunday school annex building which shares the parking lot with the school’s former building.
• Fox Creek started its Fox creek Academic & Technical Academy. The academy allows students to take classes in welding, HVAC or medical science during their junior and senior years at Aiken Technical College. The students spend a half-day at Fox Creek and the rest of the day at Aiken Tech.
• A South Carolina Court of Appeals three-judge panel reversed a Circuit Court’s decision that had backed up the city’s earlier denial of Rodney Wyndham’s request for a special exception to sell fireworks. Wyndham told officials he planned to operate the Halloween Express store for about 12 weeks out of the year and a fireworks retail store from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
• Hammond Hill Elementary School is named a National Blue Ribbon school. It was one of about 300 schools in the nation to receive the designation. “I’m overjoyed,” said Principal Janet Vaughan. “We’re excited and very proud of our students’ and teachers’ hard work. It validates that what we’re doing is working. We have something great going on here.”
• Lafayette Cochran, 26, was arrested after an eight-hour standoff with police at North Augusta Gardens. A day before the start of the standoff, he was served with an eviction notice from the complex. Lt. Tim Thornton with North Augusta Public Safety said at the time that they weren’t certain if the two incidents were directly related.
• Janet Baumgardner, owner of Comfort Keepers in North Augusta, was named the 2012 Small Business Person of the Year by the Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce. She began the business in 2002.
• The South Carolina Department of Environmental Health and Control linked a North Augusta man’s death to the West Nile virus. The man was identified by the department as 80-year-old Stacy Furtick.
• Travis Smith, 28, was fatally shot at Ridgeview Manor Apartments on Bradleyville Road. Witnesses said that two black men in hoodies approached Smith and a female who were talking outside of an apartment and fired shots. Smith had a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Police are still seeking those responsible.
• U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham spoke to nearly 60 people at the North Augusta Municipal Building about national debt, Iran’s nuclear program and other issues.
• Leadership North Augusta Class of 2012 held a dedication ceremony for a pavilion they built at Creighton Park. It was dedicated to the city.
• Belk of North Augusta held its grand re-opening after completing its expansion project. The store also made a $5,000 donation to North Augusta 2000.
• The North Augusta PAL Boxing Club donated five lots to Habitat for Humanity of North Augusta. The land will be used for future home sites.
• Dr. W.G. “Curly” Watson died at the age of 102 at University Hosptial. He had delivered about 15,000 babies over 50 years. “He didn’t seem all that impressed with himself,” said the Rev. James Dennis Jr. during Watson’s funeral. “But we were.”
• North Augusta Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services department announced that an adaptive playground is coming to Riverview Park. The playground is expected to be unveiled in the spring.
• Nearly 70 percent of North Augusta voters voted “yes” to allow Sunday alcohol sales. The measure allows grocery and convenience stores to sell beer and wine for off-premise consumption and restaurants to sell liquor by the drink for on-premise consumption on Sundays.
• Bobby Richardson, three-time World series champion and 12-year member of the New York Yankees spoke at Grace United Methodist Church. He shared stories from his baseball years and introduced his newest book, Impact Player.
• The North Augusta Yellow Jacket Club announces plans to raise funds for a new student athletic center. The 14,000-square-foot center will include a weight room, locker rooms, meeting room, training room and multipurpose area.
• Olympic gold and silver medalist Jennie Finch hosts a two-day softball camp at Riverview Park. “They’re learning from women that we’ve brought in (friends and fellow champion softball players Andrea Duncan and Toni Mascarenas),” said Finch. “We’ve played the game at all different levels. We’ve lived our dream playing it and now it’s their turn to go accomplish great things.”
• Eddie Butler received the 2012 Service to Mankind Award by the Sertoma Club of North Augusta.
• Construction begins on the Hammond Hills Surburban Pool and is expected to be complete in March. The new pool will feature black and gold tile, a vortex slide, deck jets and six swim lanes.
• The North Augusta City Council voted for fee increases, which took effect Jan. 1: a $12 increase in the fire protection fee for homes outside of the city limits, raising the fee to $72 per year; and a 40-cent increase per month in the custom street light fee for people living in subdivisions where decorative street lights are provided, increasing the fee from $1.65 to $2.05 per month.
• Tyesha Simmons organized a Stop the Violence Rally at Lions Memorial Field. Simmons’s brother Travis Smith was killed Sept. 29 at Ridgeview Manor Apartments. “I just wish that they would have a conscience and realize what they’re doing to the family,” said their mother, Barbara Smith, of those who know something but aren’t talking.
• North Augusta officials unveiled the details of the “Project Jackson” proposal which includes a 200-room hotel and conference center modeled after Hampton Terrace, a North Augusta winter resort that burned in 1916; up to four restaurants; 75 townhouses; 225 apartments; 30,000 square feet of retail space; 40,000 square feet of office space; 900 parking spaces and a sports and entertainment center for the GreenJackets. The proposal involves the site adjoins the 13th Street bridge connecting downtown Augusta and North Augusta.