Miracle League Field
Several donations have been made in support of Berkeley County’s first Miracle League ball field. Community members have united behind Mayor Michael Lockliear’s dream of bringing a special needs ball field to Moncks Corner. Fundraisers including an oyster roast, chili cookoff and a color run have brought in thousands of dollars toward the goal. In addition, several civic clubs have made generous donations throughout 2019.
The Miracle League ball field will be built inside the Regional Recreation Complex where the town currently offers athletic programs. An all inclusive playground will be added near the field. Charleston and Dorchester Counties already have a field. Berkeley County is home to more than 4,400 special needs children who would benefit from an all-inclusive facility.
Construction of the field is estimated to cost $1.2 million.
The kickball incident
Moncks Corner Mayor Michael Lockiliear took some heat after an angry interaction at a kickball game went viral. In August Lockilear’s adult son was playing a game of kickball when he was called out by Umpire Graylnn Moran Jr., the call did not sit well with Mayor Lockliear, who proceeded to leave the dugout and yell at Moran.
According to Moran, Lockliear was acting aggressive. Later, Lockliear released a statement and said, “I recognize that I should be the example of the good sportsmanship that we encourage from everyone who is a part of Moncks Corner Recreation, and not allow competitiveness to overshadow that.”
He disputed some of Moran’s claims about the interaction. But later, Moran said he was notified that he would not be officiating any future Moncks Corner games. Moran began to work with an attorney and pursue litigation against Lockliear.
Loss of a town council member
In August, Moncks Corner lost longtime town council member Tonia Aiken Taylor. She was a sitting Town of Moncks Corner Council Member at the time of her death. She served as co-pastor of Heart to Heart International Ministries where her husband, Bishop Jerome A. Taylor, is the senior pastor. Taylor was also principal of He Arts Christian Academy. In 2009 she was elected the first African American female to Moncks Corner Town Council.
Lockliear said Taylor was known for her bright smile and deep devotion to the town. During a special election, Dewayne G. Kitts was elected to fill the position on the unexpired term. He was sworn in at the December town council meeting.
Michael Locklier was re-elected to the office of mayor, he ran unopposed. Lockliear received 508 votes, there were 52 write in votes against him.
Town Council members David Dennis, Jay Law, and Chad Sweatman, who all ran unopposed, were re-elected. Dennis received 453 votes, Law 458 and Sweatman, 444.
John Wayne Varner was elected to Commissioner for Public Works with 557 votes.
In December, Goose Creek residents voted in favor of a plan to create a municipal electric utility for the purpose of supplying power to only one customer: Century Aluminum’s Mount Holly plant.
The referendum passed with unofficial results showing 1,177 votes in favor and 525 votes opposed. Only 7 percent of city residents turned out for the special election.
The 5,000 acres where Century Aluminum’s Mount Holly plant is located in Berkeley County will soon be annexed into the city. The plant will be the only customer receiving power from the city’s new electric utility. All other city residents will continue to receive electricity through Berkeley Electric Cooperative.
Goose Creek officials said establishing their own electric utility would provide affordable electricity to Century Aluminum while also raising the city’s revenue.
Sheriff sworn in for first full term
On Jan. 2, 2019, Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis was sworn in for his first full term in office saying he will continue with what he has started.
He wants to put more deputies in the community, solve more cold cases, modernize evidence collection and work with council to ease jail overcrowding.
Sheriff Duane Lewis was first elected back in June of 2015, following the resignation of Sheriff Wayne DeWitt after his arrest for driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident.
The sheriff has to oversee one of the largest counties in the state with an increasing population. He is now starting a new effort to freshen up how and where deputies patrol to have the greatest impact.
Drug court’s first victory in Berkeley County
The first two success stories from Berkeley County’s Drug Court were celebrated at a commencement at the Berkeley County Courthouse on Feb. 5, 2019. The event also reminded others that success is possible. For a number of years, the program has been successful in Charleston County. Many of those from Berkeley County failed because of the distance and limited support from others in the program. In September 2017 Berkeley County drug court started with 12 participants, but that number has since more than doubled. While the program offers some support, there are five phases participants have to get through in drug court, which takes about 18 months to complete. Once a week they must attend court, see a judge, attend two to three treatment sessions and two self-help classes, and prove they have found and kept a job. The program is also credited with limiting the constant catch-and-release of addicts. “I love my life, and I want to thank the drug court for the opportunity to have my life,” said graduate Roy Arrowood. There was a second commencement in April, 2019 as well.
County begins recycling with Repower South
Before Repower South started operations in March 2019, 100 percent of county trash was dumped in the landfill in Moncks Corner. Now tons of household refuse can be sorted, cleaned or pulverized, packaged and shipped. Officials with Repower South, which also has a facility in Montgomery, Alabama, said they plan to re-purpose almost 70 percent of all the waste that comes into the Highway 52 facility.
The model is to sell recyclable items like water bottles, cardboard, paper and metal cans. In the recycling business, such products are referred to as commodities and the company wants to sort and sell them quickly as possible.
Massive drug bust
In April, 2019, law enforcement in Berkeley County announced the results of the seven-month long narcotics investigation. During the investigation law enforcement seized money and weapons and made several arrests. “This investigation has gone beyond the Tri-County area to actually Mexico,” said Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis. “We all know that’s where a large percentage of our illegal narcotics is coming into the country, and we’re not immune from it here in the Tri-County area or Berkeley County.” Of the 45 people arrested 15 of those were from Berkeley County. Deputies were able to seize 14 ounces of Heroin, 11 pounds of Meth, 92 illegal firearms and $106,000 in cash.
Brantley Thomas sentenced
Former Berkeley County School District CFO, Brantley Thomas pled guilty to 37 state charges in a Dorchester County courtroom on April 12, 2019.
He was sentenced to an additional 11 years which he will serve following his five-year federal sentence. Prosecutors said in court that Thomas used some creative accounting to make district money disappear.
At last count, the stolen money totaled nearly $1 million. Prosecutors said Thomas was given too much trust and he took advantage, early and often.
The indictments said Thomas stashed the money in his personal accounts and sometimes was brazen enough to have checks sent to his personal address or a P.O. Box.
He would use the money on things like lavish vacations. Prosecutors said he once took his family on a trip to the Cayman Islands using $20,000 of the districts money.
“I would like to apologize to the court, to the Berkeley County School District, to my family and to my friends,” Brantley Thomas said in court. “The lessons I’ve learned have been personal and painful.”
While Berkeley County was ultimately spared from seeing the wrath of Hurricane Dorian, the storm certainly left its footprint around the county in September, 2019. The debris clean up in Berkeley County started on Sept. 10, 2019 and it took several weeks to complete. Thousands of tons of debris piled-up at the landfill in Moncks Corner. Officials said the clean-up took extra time because of the all of fallen limbs and trees in old-growth neighborhoods like in Hanahan and Goose Creek.
New home for school district
In August, the newly renovated Old Berkeley High School became home to the Berkeley County School District administrative offices. The opening of the building became official on Aug. 13 during a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The event was attended by members of the Berkeley County School Board, district administrators and former teachers and students of the old Berkeley High School.
Board chair Sally Wofford spoke at the ceremony and said she was honored to be at the event and to see all of the people who had attended and worked at the school. She also thanked all of the people who were involved in the process of restoring the building and working to save the building.
The former faculty were honored at the event by being recognized and leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Cane Bay schools cap enrollment
The Berkeley County School District set a cap on the number of students that can attend Cane Bay Elementary and Cane Bay Middle school.
This is in hopes that the teacher-to-student ratio will balance out and became easier to manage. Students who enroll when the school is at capacity will be shuttled to another school and parents are able to choose another BCSD school for their child to attend however they must transport them their themselves.