2016 Review

Year In Review 

  Like the rest of the country, politics highlighted the 2016 news in Saluda County.
  The races for sheriff and coroner dominated the news from March to November, but the incumbents, Sheriff John Perry and Coroner Keith Turner still came out winners.
  Nor so fortunate were two incumbent County Council members, Jacob Schumpert and William Pugh were defeated Jones Butler and D.J.  Miller, respectively. Schumpert and Pugh both had 12 years experience on Council.
  Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton both won their presidential primaries in the county. In November, General Election,  Trump was the big winner.
  The biggest crime story was the murder of Nancy Caughman Lott. Ms. Lott was reported missing, then her body was discovered a few weeks later in a Ridge Spring recycling dumpster. A murder suspect was arrested in December.
  The top sports news belonged to the football teams of Saluda and King Academy.
  For the second year in a row, Saluda made it to the 2A Upper State Championship game, and for the second year in a row, the Tigers fell to eventual state champion Abbeville.
  King Academy made it to the State Championship game in the 8-man division, and fell to Andrew Jackson.
  Following are some highlights. The complete “Year in Review” can be found in the print edition:


    Robert and Ann Bowles donated the old Henry’s Cleaners and adjacent car wash property to the Town of Saluda.
    ConsumerAffairs.com analyzed FBI and Census Bureau data to create an interactive map displaying the safest cities in the United States, and Saluda was ranked number 7 in SC for lowest crime rate!


    The Saluda County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from Town of Saluda Police Department, Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, and South Carolina Highway Patrol, charged Stephen Smith, 35 of Batesburg, with multiple charges after he led police and deputies on a 35 mile pursuit.
    Like the majority of counties in South Carolina, Saluda County saw its Republican Presidential Primary ballot led by Donald Trump. Trump received 1248 of the 3431 ballots cast, or 36.4 percent. Ted Cruz was second in the county with 797 votes (23.2%), and Marco Rubio third, 553 (16.1%). Rounding out the balloting were Jeb Bush, 382 (11.1%); Ben Carson, 295 (8.6%) and John Kasich, 156 (4.5%).
    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed a decisive victory in Saluda County over Bernie Sanders in the S.C. Democratic Presidential Primary.  Clinton received 1023 votes (83.73 percent) to Bernie Sanders’ 192 (15.71 percent). Statewide Clinton got 73.47 percent of the vote to Sanders’ 25.97.


    After more than 45 years, Robert Bowles announced he would end his tenure as Administrator for Saluda Nursing & Rehab Center on June 30, 2016. Keith Paul of Seneca, was hired as the new administrator with his first day of work as March 15.  With approximately 30 years of experience in long-term care, he brings experience from many perspectives and disciplines. He has been a licensed nursing home administrator since 1989.


  On Monday, April 11 at approximately 4:30 PM three suspects entered The Top of the  Ridge store on Main Street in Ridge Spring, and attempted to rob the store.    During the  altercation, an employee of the store was shot in the upper thigh.  The victim was treated and released with non-life threatening injuries. Chief Mike Raffield, who  was in close proximity, was able to apprehend one of the suspects.  The suspect taken  into custody by Chief Raffield, was identified as Marcus Clifford Cunningham,  22, of 336 West Crestwood in Greenwood. 


At approximately 4PM on May 13th, deputies from the Saluda County Sheriff’s Office and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on a suspect on Old Lexington Road in Lexington County.    The suspect attempted to flee, driving straight at officers.  As the suspect attempted to escape, he struck a Saluda County vehicle driven by a Saluda deputy.  At that point, deputies fired at the suspect, striking the suspect.  One Saluda deputy and the suspect were treated at a local hospital.


  Tues., June 14, was a bad Republican Primary day in Saluda County if you were an incumbent or former elected official.
  House District 39 Representative Ralph Shealy Kennedy Jr. was defeated by political newcomer Cal Forrest, and 4th District County Councilman Jacob Schumpert lost to another political novice Jones Butler.
  Former Sheriff Jason Booth’s attempt to regain his old position was thwarted by Saluda Police Captain Robin Freeman.


  On July 10th the Saluda Police Department was notified by a citizen of a possible credit card skimmer located on the ATM at the First Citizens Bank at on Main St., Saluda.   Officers arrived and confirmed the device to be a skimmer and also located a camera attached to the ATM. Thanks to the observant citizen, officers were able to conduct surveillance on the bank and detain three suspects when they returned to retrieve the skimmer and camera.   The case was turned over to SLED.


  On Friday, August 12 , the Saluda County Sheriff’s Office was called by the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office in reference to an unidentified body in their county.  Upon arrival in Edgefield County, it was explained to the officers that the Tri-county trash truck that had the unidentified body in it had picked up trash from a location in Saluda County.   The Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office, Saluda County Sheriff’s Office, and Aiken County Sheriff’s Office all have missing persons from their jurisdiction assisted in this investigation.


  On Friday September 2, 2016, the Saluda County Sheriff’s Office and Saluda County Coroner’s Office were notified by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) that the unidentified body found in Edgefield County was Saluda County’s missing person Nancy Caughman Lott. Mrs. Lott was reported missing and was last seen on June 17, 2016 in the Ridge Spring area of Saluda County.


  Saluda County School District One  aHall of Fame Class of 2016 was inductedfon Oct. 14. The inductees were:  Molly Spearman ; William “Bill” Whitfield;  Gloria Caldwell;  Diedra “Didi” Clark Rankin ; Jonell Bosket; Tommy Hite.


  Despite a high Republican vote in most races, two incumbent Saluda County Democrats won re-election Tues., Nov. 8, in the General Election.
  Sheriff John Perry was elected to his second term, earning 5147 votes to Republican  Robin Freeman’s 3307. Coroner Keith Turner, in office since 1993, defeated Republican challenger Randall Maffett 4620 to 3822.
  William Pugh became the second Saluda County Council member to be defeated this year. Republican political newcomer D.J.Miller took a narrow win the County Council District 2 race, 812-379. Jones Butler defeated Jacob Schumpert in the June Republican Primary for District 4.


 After six month long murder investigation, Saluda County investigators along with SLED have made an arrest in the murder of a Saluda County woman.    Back in June of this year it was reported that Nancy Caughman Lott was missing.  It was not until two months later that her remains were recovered in the Edgefield County landfill.    Investigators along with deputies have worked tirelessly trying to get some sort of solid lead into the case.  Friday, December 16, 2016, a warrant was issued and served on Kincaid Bobby Mitchell, age 46, of Ridge Spring.   He is charged with the murder of Ms. Lott and in connection with her disappearance.