Cases Up To 350

LINED UP - Many Saluda County citizens lined up to take the COVID-19 test Wed., July 15. Held on Matthews Drive, the testing was sponsoring by Self Regional. (Standard-Sentinel photo)

County Cases Near 350

  Saluda County’s CO-VID-19 cases are approaching 350.
  Saluda County’s total cases has risen to 342, 61 more than at the same time last week, with three deaths.
  The latest DHEC report says the county had 2101 estimated cases, and 2443 possible cases. Of the county’s cases, 301 are in the are in the 29138 zip code.
  Counties neighboring Saluda had the following case totals: Edgefield - 166; Aiken - 1016; Greenwood - 988; Lexington - 3576; Newberry - 537.
  The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Sun., July 19,  announced 2,335 new confirmed cases and one new probable case of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, 19 additional confirmed deaths and no new probable deaths. At this time, we are unable to report the number of hospital beds occupied by patients who have either tested positive or are under investigation for COVID-19, and the number of patients currently on ventilators. See the Hospital Bed Occupancy section below for more information.
  This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 69,765, probable cases to 221, confirmed deaths to 1138 and 17 probable deaths.

Students (L-R) Makayla Porter, Noah Hallman, John Wendell, and Heather Field

Piedmont Tech Students Reflect on
Their Agriculture Program Experience

  A solid, hands-on education in agriculture was so important to Hampton Beard that he decided to drive nearly 300 miles †round trip †from Kingstree every day to attend classes at the Piedmont Technical College (PTC) Saluda Campus and study diversified agriculture with Instructor Roger Estridge. That’s about five hours of driving a day, even though there was a program much closer to home.
  “I heard about this program and how much hands-on experience you get, so I decided to come out and visit the campus in Saluda County,” Beard recalled. Estridge took him on a tour. “We hit it off right away. I knew after I talked to Roger that this is where I needed to be.”
  Beard, who graduated this spring, already is an experienced farmer. He’s worked in the field for about five years, growing crops on 30 acres at first and expanding over time to 83 acres. But that’s small potatoes compared to where he plans to be next year and beyond †growing cotton, soybeans, and corn on up to 700 acres.
  “My granddad has a farm. When he said he wanted to retire,” the 20-year-old said, “I tried to change his mind. But he retired in 2013 and leased his land to a fellow who is my neighbor now.”
  Undeterred, Beard gradually was able to persuade his grandfather to come out of retirement next year as his business partner.
  “I am going to help my granddad take back over his 700-acre row crop farm. Me and my granddad are going to work it together,” he said. “There will be another fellow helping us, so there will be three of us to start.”
  For now, Beard is working for M3 Farms in Kingstree, where he has been employed while in school. It’s a huge operation.
  “Roger actually brought our class on a field trip here (at M3),” he said. “We toured a cotton gin. We went from there to the field and were picking cotton later that day. Everyone got to ride the cotton-picker. It’s a John Deere CP690. It cuts out a bunch of the harvesting labor.”
  Beard says he has learned a lot in the program and has been successful precisely because of its hands-on focus. “That’s what I love about it,” he noted. “You can apply your new skills right away.”
s 800 pounds an acre.”
  The PTC Diversified Agriculture Program this past spring included three dual enrollment students. Their hands-on activities have included building “cold houses” to grow vegetables in the winter and constructing stalls and holding pens. Beard’s classmates echoed his positive sentiments about the program.
  Former Marine John Wendell, 25, of Laurens said he has always been interested in agriculture. His family has a small farm where he helped out as a child. He said he appreciates Estridge’s ability to relate even conceptual lessons to the real world. Estridge gives a common piece of advice to all of his students. “Always ask for help. He is very keen on safety and being careful,” Wendell said.
  Classmate Heather Fields, 21, of Abbeville, also expressed an appreciation for Estridge’s open-door policy.
  “’Ag Calculation’ is the first class coming into the program,” she said. Fields found the subject especially difficult to master. “He makes sure you understand it. It’s all math. And he always tells us to ask for help.”
  Makayla Porter, 18, of Saluda said she knew throughout high school that she wanted to study agriculture.
  “My grandpa was a livestock buyer in Saluda. In the summer, I would go with him to auctions. My family has always been in agriculture,” Porter said. “This fall, I am applying to Clemson to study agribusiness and mechanization. … I decided the mechanical side of it was my thing. My dad is a diesel mechanic. That is where I get it from.”
  Porter had high praise for Estridge. “He is really good at what he does,” she said. “He makes it relate to life somehow but also gives you the book stuff. That makes it better.”
  In mid-March, Beard’s lengthy commute was eliminated because of pandemic social distancing policies. The change did not faze him.

  For more information about PTC’s Diversified Agriculture Program, visit