SHS Students Die In Wreck

SHS Students Die In
Single Vehicle Accident


  Two Saluda High School students died and one was seriously injured in a crash in Saluda County Mon., Jan. 27.
  According to Master Trooper  David Jones, the accident happened on Monday evening around 10:15  on Long Road off of US 378 (Columbia Hwy.). 
  The driver of a 2007 Chevrolet  Silversado pick-up veered off the road and hit a tree.  Two of the occupants were ejected from the vehicle and the third occupant was entrapped. 
  Drayton Wade Black, 17,  and Jaden Coleman, 16,  both died at the scene of the collision, while Jaden’s brother, Kadius, received injuries and was taken to Prisma Health Richland Hospital. 
  Black was a senior and Jaden was a sophomore at Saluda High School.
  “Our hearts go out to the families of these young men, as well as the school and our community,” Saluda County Coroner Keith Turner said, 
  The collision is still under investigation by the Saluda County Coroner’s Office and SC Highway Patrol.
  The accident had a devastating affect on Saluda High School. Counselors and pastors and were made available Tues.  morning, when students learned of the overnight tragedy.
  Because Black was a member of the Saluda High baseball team and the Coleman brothers were former football plays, high school sports teams from all over SC, NC and Georgia expressed condolences on so cial media.
  Television and radio personalities also sent prayers to the families.
  USC Women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley wrote: “Godspeed and prayers up to all families and friends impacted.”
  Saluda High’s biggest sports’ rivals, Batesburg-Leesville and Strom Thurmond, both sent flower arrangements to the school.
  TV and daily newspapers covered the tragedy, especially at the spot where the accident happened and friends have made it into as place to visit and put memorials.
  Funeral services for Drayton and Jaden were held Sat., Feb. 1, at the Saluda High School gymnasium. Drayton’s was at 11 a.m. and Jaden’s at 2 p.m.
  Many attended both services. Both drew near capacity audiences. Kadius was released from the hospital to attend his brother’s funeral. He will go to a rehab facility to recover from his injuries.
  Drayton was buried at Shiloh United Methodist Church, and Jaden’s interment was at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church.
  A 7:30 p.m. candlelight memorial service was held for the two Sat., also at the school.

Rip Tafta, Water Treatment Superintendent for Saluda County Water and Sewer Authority, with SCWSA Manager Jason Fell.


Tafta Wins  Water Treatment
Plant Operator State Award


Rip Tafta, Water Treatment Superintendent for Saluda County Water and Sewer Authority (SCWSA) won the WEASC Capital District and WEASC Statewide award as the Water Treatment Plant Operator of the Year.
  There are over 1000 members to the WEASC Capital District and over 3500 members statewide.
  Rip was hired as SCWSA’s WTP Superintendent 3 years ago, inspecting a Greenfield WTP being constructed.  As he was apt to say, he was excited to be getting out of the construction business.  Since doing so, Rip has been critical to this utility in executing its mission to become the Western Midlands Regional Water Provider.  He was able to recruit 4 operators in 3 months and hold their commitment to work for several months, while the WTP took longer than anticipated to complete.  He began the WTP’s start-up in the worst possible conditions. The utility’s raw water quality is typically 3 to 7 NTU.  That spiked to 150 NTU because of a significant lake drawdown and repeated heavy rain events.  He was able to manage these not ideal conditions and optimize the WTP’s operations. 
  Rip is a level 5 leader, that is he is humble, attributing his own hard work to others or good luck.  At the same time, He has an intense passion for his job and is willing to whatever is necessary to see his WTP attain greatness.  Rip is selfless, while others were on vacation this summer, he was at work, a lot!  Because of the unfortunate need to terminate a WTP operator quickly followed up with a second operator submitting a two-week notice, an already lean WTP staff of 6 was starved when it dropped to 4.  He and his chief maintenance operator covered the gap for over 4 months.  Rip worked his job plus an operator’s shift to keep things going.  All told, he worked untold hours as a salaried supervisor this past summer.  Untold, because he’d never tell you.  Rather, Rip would say he was simply looking out for his operators, making sure they weren’t overworked.
  Rip is also part of WEASC’s Workforce Development Ad Hoc Committee and incoming chair for the Mid-Year Meeting.  He helped sign up over 30 high school students as WEASC Capital District Members this past year.  He is intent on building an internship program for his utility and working with local Guidance Counselors to explain the opportunities in our industry.
  Most notably, only 8 weeks after placing his WTP into operation, Rip won SCEC’s 2019 Best Tasting Water Award.  SCWSA is lucky to have Rip Tafta!