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Local

  • Security tightened after second fire downtown

    Reacting to two deliberately set fires at two government buildings in one week, security around government buildings in Lancaster was tightened Thursday.

    Lancaster County Clerk of Court Jeff Hammond said he expected the "whole nine yards" – the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office, Lancaster Police Department and S.C. State Guard – to watch over government buildings Thursday night.

    Lancaster Police Chief Hugh White said his department was planning increased patrols, with extra officers called in to work the night shift.

  • Preston Blackmon's seat to be filled in November

    The Lancaster City Council seat vacated by Preston Blackmon's death will be available for filing later this month.

    Blackmon, who died Saturday at age 82, served as the District 1 councilman for 31 years. Part of the last two years, he was absent from most meetings while battling illness.

    Filing for that seat will open at noon Aug. 22 and will close at noon Sept. 4, said Lancaster County election official Cassie Stump.

    About two years remain in Blackmon's term.

  • Kershaw's only woman mayor 'an inspiration'

    KERSHAW – Pauline Phillips Bailey was Kershaw's only woman mayor, a town councilwoman and business woman.

    Her children say her resume was not her priority. It was something else.

    "I think it's her family," said Bailey's daughter, JoAnna Shepard.

    "Her family," daughter Paula Adams agreed.

    "Her family and religion," said her son, Huel "Buddy" Bailey Jr.

    Bailey died July 30 in Rock Hill. She was 78.

    Her funeral was Aug. 1 at First Baptist Church in Kershaw.

  • Why didn't county courthouse have a security system?

    How was somebody able to enter the Lancaster County Courthouse and start a massive fire? Why didn't officials know about the blaze until a passerby called?

    The answers to those questions and more may lie in the security measures that were in place.

    County Administrator Steve Willis said the courthouse didn't have an alarm system, surveillance cameras, smoke detectors or water sprinklers.

    The building was built before those devices became mandatory, Willis said.

  • Can courthouse be saved?

    Even as flames still rolled under the eaves of the Lancaster County Courthouse, officials at the scene began considering whether the historic building could be saved.

    "I envisioned it as a museum," said County Council Chairman Rudy Carter, as he watched the fire Monday morning.

    "If we don't get structural collapse, it's still a possibility," County Administrator Steve Willis told Carter.

    Rebuilding may be difficult

    The county has a lot of factors to consider if it decides to rebuild the courthouse into a working courthouse, Willis said.

  • Officials praise firefighters, EMS for their work

    County employees received praise from many Monday and Tuesday for their actions in wake of the Lancaster County Courthouse fire.

    Many praised the work of the city and county firefighters who worked side by side for hours battling the blaze.

    Firefighters received much thanks during a special County Council meeting Tuesday.

    "I give a special thank you to the fire departments," Councilman Bryan Vaughn said. "I appreciate how much they did."

    "They were all sweating and fighting to save that building," Councilman Fred Thomas said. "I was ultimately impressed."

  • Two fires damaged historic jail; it was rebuilt each time

    Lindsay Pettus remembers driving to the city of Lancaster in 1979 from his Indian Land home when the city's jail caught fire.

    The Lancaster County history buff drove to Lancaster from his home in Sun City Carolina Lakes with the same sick feeling Monday morning.

    "I remember both trips down here with a heavy heart," Pettus said, watching as firefighters on a ladder truck poured water onto the roof.

    "I was shocked when I saw the roof was gone," Pettus said. "I was expecting it to be bad, but it was worse."

  • 'Nothing can stop the court system'

    A spare black Bible kept in a cabinet on the second floor of the Lancaster County Courthouse was used to administer oaths during court proceedings Tuesday.

    Unlike stacks of records and other materials, the Bible survived the fire that destroyed much of the historic courthouse Monday morning.

    A two-week court term was slated to start Monday at the courthouse, but was moved to the courtroom at the Municipal Justice Center on Arch Street. Despite a sudden change of venue, things appeared to flow normally Tuesday morning.

    Proceedings were scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.

  • County begins search for temporary court facilities

    County Council talked about rebuilding the Lancaster County Courthouse at a special meeting on Tuesday.

    Council members also talked about short-term solutions, such as where to put the 10 or so solicitor's office, clerk of court and public defender office employees displaced by the fire.

    General sessions court, which had been scheduled to begin Monday, went on Tuesday morning at the Municipal Justice Center courtroom.

    Court officials worked in temporary offices in the basement of the Lancaster County Administration Building.

  • Slideshow Included: Courthouse burns

    Blackened roof beams hovered like a skeleton above the brick walls of the Lancaster County Courthouse on Tuesday.

    The beams and a few slate shingles are all that’s left of the roof of the historic building, built in 1828.

    The courtroom was set on fire early Monday morning by an arsonist. The building’s original judge’s bench is a charred shell.