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Lexington author publishes historically correct novel on Jewish-Germans who escape from Nazi Germany during World War II

Lexington author publishes historically correct novel on Jewish-Germans who escape from Nazi Germany during World War II

Lexington, SC 07/18/2024 (Paul Kirby) – Lexington author Art James recently published a book based on a true story of how a Jewish-German couple went underground when they received their summons for deportation in 1942. They then escaped by using forged Luftwaffe papers to make their getaway from Hitler’s final solution on Christmas Day, 1943. The book has been met with critical acclaim.   The book, titled Untertauchen , a German verb meaning underground, was written by James who is a former TV anchor and talk show host. After receiving his undergraduate degree, James spent 3 years in Europe at the University of Vienna followed by 4 semesters at the University of Heidelburg in Germany.     Now living in Lexington, SC, James enjoys reading and writing, and volunteering at a local Sr. Citizens Center where he teaches wood carving and wood-burning. He relaxes by playing the organ and keyboard and oil painting. He also functions as an Alzheimer’s caregiver. James is currently researching another non-fiction novel on South Carolina during the Civil War.   New York Times best-selling author Johnny Quarles said of James “I write to make money; Art is writing for a Pulitzer Prize.”   In reviewing James’ book, Pacific listed it as Notable and said, “Author Arthur M. James has created a panoramic view of World War II from the perspective of a German Jewish couple struggling to survive the inhumane violence and destruction of the Third Reich….   “The author’s remarkable ability to place the reader in the moment makes this a story that builds with intensity with each new page.  His clear grasp of the most minute historical factors – dates, places, people and policies – are crucial and convincing without burdening the narrative, which is in essence a tale of personal love and courage….   “Hans and Anna will be remembered through the vision and vibrancy conveyed by James, whose work should be studied and discussed across a wide range of appropriate settings.   “ Untertauchen … is a beautifully written and emotionally powerful story that will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page.”   You can get a copy of James’ book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTube and Google Play.

Lexington police need help finding 2 men passing counterfeit $100 bills

Lexington police need help finding 2 men passing counterfeit $100 bills

Lexington, SC 07/18/2024 (Paul Kirby) - The Lexington Police Department is turning to the public to identify these two individuals pictured below who are alleged to have each passed counterfeit $100 bills. This occurred on June 30, 2024. In both instances, the men were able to make small purchases at Lowes Foods in the Town of Lexington with the bills. The clerk at the register then gave them nearly $100 of real change.   If you have information about this case, contact Detective Matthews at 803-358-7262 or by email at jmatthews@lexsc.gov . You can also make anonymous tips by contacting Midlands Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC or through their website at www.midlandscrimestoppers.com .  You could be eligible for a cash reward.

Lexington man charged with 5 counts of animal cruelty

Lexington man charged with 5 counts of animal cruelty

Lexington, SC 07/18/2024 - Lexington County Animal Services has arrested and charged a man with five counts of ill treatment of animals after investigators said he left five dogs inside a home without food or water. Robert John Jachim, 40, was arrested July 16, after investigators with the Lexington County Animal Services responded to his home in the 5000 block of Corley Street Monday morning. Investigators said once inside the home they found five dogs, four of those were inside wire crates, two of which were found dead. Another small breed dog was found dead inside a bedroom.    Jachim told investigators he left the property July 2 and didn’t return. Jachim surrendered the two dogs that were found alive. They have been transferred to a rescue shelter for care.    Jachim was given a bond of $5,000 per count. He is currently in the Lexington County Detention Center.

Lexington PD warns people about the dangers of “Porch Pirates” as Amazon Prime Day draws near

Lexington PD warns people about the dangers of “Porch Pirates” as Amazon Prime Day draws near

Lexington, SC 07/17/2024 (Paul Kirby) – The Lexington Police Department is taking this time of the year as an opportunity to teach people about ways to head off crime. Right now, Amazon Prime Day is a good time of the year to help people keep the “Porch Pirates” from hitting you and instead, keep them sailing right by and out of your neighborhood. “Porch Pirates” are unscrupulous people who will steal your Amazon and other packages delivered by the US Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, and Amazon Prime right off your porch. They can become a real problem during Amazon Prime season and the holidays. You need a good plan to safeguard your packages that are delivered to your doorstep.  Following a few simple rules will be doing your part to keep your deliveries from being stolen.   First, having a doorbell camera goes a long way. Sometimes, you’ll get a great shot of the pirate’s as they make off with the packages. Secondly, track your package and require a signature when delivered. You should also try to use a secure pickup location like a retired neighbor’s home that’s willing to receive your packages will you are away or at work. Your employer may allow you to have packages sent to your work. If none of this works for you, ask the delivery service to hide your packages on your porch with shrubs or decorations blocking the view of the package from the street.   If you do see someone that appears out of place in your neighborhood, call 803 785-2521 and ask for a police officer to ride through the neighborhood. Keep in mind the phrase, “See something, say something.” This can prevent many crimes before they happen.

Serial Armed Robber sentenced to 49 Years in Federal Prison for 7 Midlands Armed Robberies

Serial Armed Robber sentenced to 49 Years in Federal Prison for 7 Midlands Armed Robberies

COLUMBIA, S.C. 07/17/2024 — Deveon Antonio Belk, 37, of Irmo, was sentenced to 49 years in prison after being convicted for a 2020 string of Midlands armed robberies. Belk was convicted following a multi-day trial in November of 2023. He was found guilty on 15 counts: seven counts of Hobbs Act robbery, seven counts of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and one count of felon in possession of firearm and ammunition. Evidence presented to the court showed that in November of 2020, Belk began a spree of armed robberies across Richland and Lexington counties. The targets included gas stations, fast food restaurants, and drug stores. Belk would enter the store and often pretend as if he were going to purchase an item. When the cashier would open the cash register to finish his transaction, instead of paying, Belk would brandish a firearm and demand money. Belk would use physical force, including pressing the end of a handgun into his victims, and he would force them into locked rooms at their businesses. He also cocked the firearm at several victims, held his finger on the trigger during one robbery, and some victims reported believing they were going to be shot. During trial, 14 of the 22 identified victims testified, including a 16-year-old cashier. Every robbery, as well as Belk’s approach to and flight from many of the crime scenes, was recorded on surveillance video. Numerous people who knew Belk, including Belk’s wife, testified at trial that it was Belk on video committing the robberies. His DNA was found on clothing left near four of the seven robberies, and on the firearm used in every robbery. The Government produced evidence that Belk was responsible for at least 13 armed robberies, and law enforcement believes Belk was responsible for more, according to what was presented in court. Belk has 13 prior criminal convictions, including strong armed robbery, in a case that involved the theft of a vehicle and money while armed with a firearm; multiple criminal domestic violence convictions, including one involving physical violence against a woman while she was holding a child; grand larceny; failure to stop for police; and drug possession. Belk was also prohibited from possessing firearms by virtue of prior felony convictions. “Dozens of people at businesses across the Midlands waited in fear wondering if they would be the next target of Belk’s armed robbery spree,” said Adair F. Boroughs, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina. “Thanks to the relentless work of multiple law enforcement agencies, he will spend almost 50 years in federal prison.” “Belk’s violent crimes profoundly impacted the safety of our communities and caused long-lasting fear for his victims,” said Steve Jensen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Columbia Field Office. “This outcome underscores the FBI’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and taking violent offenders of the street.” “This sentencing is the result of law enforcement collaboration that ensures Deveon Belk will face federal consequences and can no longer commit additional crimes,” said Columbia Police Chief W.H. “Skip” Holbrook. “The resolution of this case is the direct result of strong relationships between multiple law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. This convicted robber is off the streets because we shared information and worked together to investigate at multiple offenses,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “Our community is safer thanks to a spirit cooperation at the local and federal level.” United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis sentenced Belk to 589 months imprisonment, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. There is no parole in the federal system. He was also ordered to pay $2,723.63 in restitution. The case was investigated by the FBI Columbia Field Office, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, and the Columbia Police Department, with critical assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elliott B. Daniels, Lamar J. Fyall and Ariyana N. Gore prosecuted the case.

U.S. News & World Report has named Lexington Medical Center as the best hospital in the Columbia Metro area for the third consecutive year

U.S. News & World Report has named Lexington Medical Center as the best hospital in the Columbia Metro area for the third consecutive year

West Columbia, SC 07/16/2024 - U.S. News & World Report has named Lexington Medical Center as the best hospital in the Columbia Metro area for the third consecutive year.   “We are proud of our outstanding physicians, nurses, clinicians and staff who continue to provide exceptional care to meet the needs of our communities. Being recognized as Best Hospital by U.S. News & World Report for the third year in a row shows our continued commitment to delivering advanced medicine for the well-being of our patients and their families,” said Tod Augsburger, president and CEO. “Achieving this prestigious ranking shows the hard work and dedication our team has to taking care of our friends, families and neighbors here in the Midlands.” U.S. News & World Report also ranked Lexington Medical Center as high performing in treating the following adult procedures and conditions:  Back surgery (spinal fusion) Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Colon cancer surgery Heart attack Heart failure Hip replacement Knee replacement Leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma Pneumonia Prostate cancer surgery   For the 2024-2025 rankings and ratings, U.S. News evaluated nearly 5,000 hospitals across 15 specialties and 20 procedures and conditions; only 11% of evaluated hospitals earned a Best Hospitals ranking. Hospitals awarded a “Best” designation excelled at factors such as clinical outcomes, level of nursing care and patient experience.   “For 35 years, U.S. News has been a leading resource for patients navigating their health care decisions,” said Ben Harder, chief of health analysis and managing editor at U.S. News . “A 'Best Hospital' recognition empowers patients to seek out medical care from the best of the best to treat their illness or condition.”   To calculate the Best Hospitals rankings, U.S. News evaluated each hospital’s performance on objective measures such as risk-adjusted mortality rates, preventable complications and level of nursing care. The Best Hospitals Specialty rankings methodology and Procedures & Conditions ratings methodology measure patient outcomes using data from millions of records provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. This year, among other methodology refinements, U.S. News incorporated new data on care provided to patients with Medicare Advantage insurance and on care provided to outpatients, nearly doubling the number of patients included in its annual data analysis.   The annual Best Hospitals rankings and ratings are designed to assist patients and their doctors in making informed decisions about where to receive quality care for challenging health conditions or elective procedures.

Lexington County will be unable to deal with property taxes as new computer system is brought on-line

Lexington County will be unable to deal with property taxes as new computer system is brought on-line

Lexington, SC 07/16/2024 - Beginning at Noon, Friday, July 19, 2024, all Lexington County services related to property taxes will be unavailable for up to five days due to the installation of our new property tax billing and collection system. That means all of the functions of the Lexington County Treasurer’s and Auditor’s Office will be temporarily unavailable online and in person during this time. This includes the ability to process appeals or issue new property tax notices, provide refunds, process payments, issue receipts and/or issue vehicle registration decals. While we will not be able to process payments during this time, property tax notice payments submitted timely during the service disruption will not receive any accrued DMV late penalties. Once the system is live, we kindly request your patience with any potential technical issues. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. We will update the public once our system is fully up and running.

Legacy police officer named Lexington Police Department’s Employee of the Quarter

Legacy police officer named Lexington Police Department’s Employee of the Quarter

Lexington, SC 07/15/2024 (Paul Kirby) – Lexington Police Chief Terrance Green recently awarded Officer William Garner the department’s Employee of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2024. He was nominated by his fellow officers of Bravo Shift for his excellent attitude and his willingness to serve. Officer Garner is considered a legacy officer. That means that he is one in a longlist of law enforcement professionals in his family. His father is Chief Chris Garner who retired from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department where he held the title of South Region Commander. He then went to work reactivating the Pelion Police Department where he worked as chief until he retired again. His uncle Greg Shockley is currently 2nd in command at the Sheriff’s Department. His maternal grandfather William “Bill” Shockley was a deputy at the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department before becoming Swansea area magistrate until he retired. His paternal great grandfather, and grandfather were also law enforcement officers in their home state of New York.      Other officers of Bravo Shift describe Garner as a team player who routinely answers calls for service, even if they are outside of his assigned district. They say he will do anything he can to support his shift. He has quickly shown himself to be knowledgeable, professional, and empathetic.  Recently he became a Field Training Officer and is responsible for training new officers when they join the department.   Officer Garner is part of the departments Honor Guard and a member of the department's Alcohol Enforcement Team. This team works to curb underage drinking in the Lexington community.

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation and the local Firehouse Subs restaurant in Cayce have awarded the Cayce Fire Department a generous grant

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation and the local Firehouse Subs restaurant in Cayce have awarded the Cayce Fire Department a generous grant

Cayce, SC 07/15/2024 (Paul Kirby)- The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation and the local Firehouse Subs restaurant in Cayce have awarded the Cayce Fire Department $32,067 in the form of a grant. According to Cayce FD officials, the grant will be used to buy 9 new sets of turnout gear for fighting fires. A firefighters turnout gear is equipment that is a crew members first line of defense when confronting any type of fire. Depending upon the call volume and training schedule of the department it can quickly become worn and lose its protective qualities. It is also the goal of most departments to issue 2 sets of gear to their firefighters. This is done because much of the material in a burning home is cancer causing. Having 2 sets of turnouts means that a firefighter can wear one set while a dirty set is being washed and dried.   Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation was founded in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Firehouse Subs founders and former firefighters, Chris Sorensen and Robin Sorensen, traveled to Mississippi where they fed first responders as well as survivors. As they traveled back to Florida exhausted and exhilarated, they knew we could do more, and the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation was born.

Lexington man tried to kill 3 in arson case, sheriff says

Lexington man tried to kill 3 in arson case, sheriff says

Lexington, SC 07/12/2024 – Lexington County deputies have arrested a man accused of trying to kill two children and a woman by setting fire to a home. Tracy Chad Russell Jr., 31, is charged with three counts of attempted murder and a single count of second-degree arson, according to arrest warrants. “The Lexington County Fire Service responded to a structure fire in the 100 block of Addie Lucas Road during the afternoon of June 28,” Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon said. “They let us know the fire looked suspicious so, with the assistance of the LCFS Fire Marshals Division, we started an investigation.” Investigators eventually determined Russell knew three people were inside the house when he intentionally set fire to it using torch fuel canisters, according to Koon. “We talked with witnesses, and those involved, to confirm a timeline that is supported by when smoke was seen and the evidence recovered from the scene,” Koon said. “Russell left the home after the fire and didn’t return to the property.” Deputies arrested Russell Wednesday in Orangeburg County. He’s being held in the Lexington County Detention Center while he awaits a bond hearing.

Attorney General Alan Wilson announces Lexington man gets 10 years for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Attorney General Alan Wilson announces Lexington man gets 10 years for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Lexington, SC – SC Attorney General Alan Wilson announced that on July 10, 2024, a Lexington County Jury found Michael Scott Valdario guilty on two counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, 1st degree and two counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, 2nd degree. Judge Walton McLeod handed down a sentence of two years on each Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, 2nd degree charge to be run concurrently, and four years on each Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, 1st degree charge, to be run consecutively for a total of 10 years of incarceration.     This case began in September of 2020 when the parents of a victim turned over their child’s phone to law enforcement. This phone contained screenshots from texts and snapchats where an adult, identified as Michael Valdario, was sexually exploiting the minor by requesting images and videos of the minor engaging in sexual activity or appearing in a state of sexually explicit nudity. A pattern of these types of conversations and requests lasting for months was found on the phone. This case was investigated by Special Investigator Adam Creech, now with the South Carolina Attorney General’s office, but then with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department. He also handled the forensics in this case.   Attorney General Wilson took the time to thank the work done on this case and every case by his Victim Advocacy Division. The victim met with several different advocates throughout the time the case was pending and says that she always felt supported and respected. Director of the Victim Advocacy Division Trisha Allen provided extensive assistance with preparing the victim before trial and Victim Advocacy Coordinator Glynna Fogle was in court every day to support the victim. The victim’s strength and poise on the witness stand was directly related to how comfortable and safe she felt because of the hard work of everyone on this case.   This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Bethany Miles and Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Pauley. The defendant was represented by Robert “Theo” Williams and Anna Williams Yonge.

Well-known Lexington County man arrested and charged with embezzling from 2 groups he held leadership positions with

Well-known Lexington County man arrested and charged with embezzling from 2 groups he held leadership positions with

Lexington, SC 07/12/2024 (Paul Kirby) – Craig Thomas Caldwell, 42, has been arrested by the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department after the completion of an investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) into allegations that he was embezzling from 2 organizations he helped lead over the years.   Caldwell was the chairman of the Lexington County Republican Party (LCRP), a position he held from 2016 until he was replaced in 2023. SLED agents allege that during that period of time, Caldwell stole $61,591 from the LCRP funds by transferring money from the Party’s bank account to his personal account. In total, Caldwell did this 147 times starting in 2018 and ending in 2023.   Agents say that Caldwell admitted to them that he got away with this by creating and presenting phony treasurer’s reports. He gave those to the members and leadership at Party business meetings which are usually held monthly. Other warrants allege that this was not Caldwell’s only case of stealing from an organization he belonged to. SLED agents say that while Cadwell was the treasurer of the Lexington County Rotary Club, he embezzled $52,300 from that club’s foundation. He was the treasurer of the Rotary Club for less than a year. The warrants say Caldwell issued himself 11 checks which he then deposited into his personal banking account. In these instances, he simply did not record those checks in the computer software that the Rotary Club’s Foundation used for bookkeeping.   Caldwell has been charged with two counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent, with a value of $10,000 or more. He was booked into the Lexington County Detention Center where he has now been released after meeting the condition of his bond.

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