• Contractor checks out roof of burned courthouse

    Officials from a Sumter contractor got a look from the air at the fire damage to the Lancaster County Courthouse on Thursday.

    A boom lifted Hunter Builders officials above the burned roof of the courthouse, which was badly damaged on its second floor by arson early Monday. Hunter Builders specializes in restoring historic buildings.

    The company was contacted by Jody Munnerlyn of Boykin-Munnerlyn architectural firm, which was overseeing a renovation project at the historic courthouse, before the fire.

  • Help from public sought in finding who started two fires

    Help from public sought in finding who started two fires

    Authorities released few details about their investigation into a fire at 6th Circuit Solicitor Doug Barfield's office on Thursday, but urged the public to report suspicious activity or even suspicious comments about the blaze.

    "Experience with similar cases has shown it is unlikely the offender will confide his crimes with anyone but will follow the investigation in the media and in conversations with family and friends," Lancaster Police Department Capt. Harlean Howard read from a press release about noon Thursday.

  • Kershaw fundraiser blossoms into Heart of Summer Festival

    KERSHAW – What started as a fundraising idea for a Kershaw business destroyed by fire is turning into one of the biggest festivals hosted by the town.

    The Heart of Summer Festival will take place Saturday in downtown Kershaw.

    Resident Ann Marie Dwyer, owner of Virginia's Dream in Kershaw, conceived the idea.

    "I grew up in Louisiana and festivals down there are a whole lot different than they are here," she said. "They're a whole lot bigger. So I decided to try and bring a little of that flavor to Kershaw."

  • 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."