Drug Charges Dropped

Statement Regarding The Dismissal
Of Criminal Charges  As It Relates
To Shai Werts In Saluda County

  Yafari Shairkir (Shai) Werts was arrested on July 31, 2019, in Saluda County for Possession of Cocaine following a traffic stop.   The Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office was made aware of the arrest on Friday, August 2, 2019. The Saluda County Sheriff’s Office provided Deputy Solicitor Al Eargle with copies of the incident report, police vehicle dash camera footage, and the body camera footage on Wednesday, August 7, 2019.
  Upon a thorough review of the report, the dash camera, and the body camera, Deputy Solicitor Al Eargle and I made the decision that the charge should be appropriately dismissed. The charge lacks prosecutorial merit and the evidence is insufficient for the State to proceed.  The charge was officially dismissed Thursday, August 8, 2019.
  The decision to dismiss this charge was made prior to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) completing their drug analysis of the substance collected. On August 8, 2019, SLED received the substance and completed the drug analysis. The forensic scientist determined that no controlled substance was detected.
  The Solicitor’s Office has begun the expungement process to have this charge removed from the system to ensure that this arrest and charge does not create a criminal history for Werts.

NOTE: Werts was suspended from the Georgia Southern football team following his arrest, but was reinstated when he passed a drug test. He is expected to state at quarterback when the Eagles open against LSU on Aug. 31.

Pastor Initiates Gun Buy-back
Program In Saluda County

SALUDA – While the nation mourns the victims of the latest mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton – and as suicide rates rise in South Carolina – a United Methodist pastor is launching a gun buy-back program for the Saluda area.
  As a teen, the Rev. Hillary Taylor experienced episodic depression and suicidal thoughts. Today, as a pastor, she acts out of compassion for a region with lots of guns and limited access to mental health services.
  “I’m a hunter and a gun owner myself,” says Rev. Taylor, pastor of Bethany UMC and Zoar UMC in Saluda. “I support the Second Amendment, but I also know that guns and mental health problems are not a good mix. Self-harm becomes too easy – and too easily fatal.
  “Not everyone who has a gun wants one around, or knows how to use one safely. Even guns that no longer work can be dangerous to have around, and a lot of people don’t know there are ways to get rid of them.”
  Rev. Taylor, who is coordinating the effort with the support of other local churches, is planning the buy-back event for 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, when gun owners will receive Walmart gift cards worth $50-$150, depending on the model and make of the gun. A location for the event is still to be determined.
  In the meantime, anyone who wants to support the effort can donate Walmart gift cards. To do that, please mail checks or Walmart gift cards (in increments of $50) to the following address: Bethany United Methodist Church, 1146 Hickory Grove Road, Saluda, SC 29138. Please make checks out to “Bethany United Methodist Church,” with “Buy-Back” in the memo line.

  Following most gun buy-back events, the purchased weapons are destroyed. In this effort, however, Rev. Taylor wants to disable the guns and repurpose them in the Saluda community as gardening tools or artwork – almost literally playing out Isaiah 2:4: “...they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
  Nationwide, approximately 34,000 people complete suicide each year, and nearly half of suicides involve firearms.1 Suicides also make up three out of every five gun-related deaths in the United States (more than homicide, mass shootings, accidents, etc.).2
  In South Carolina, more than 90 percent of suicides are gun-related,3 and the state ranks 50th in the nation when it comes to the availability of mental health care.4

  1 “Fact Sheets: Suicide,” National Alliance on Mental Illness, accessed August 5, 2019.
  2 “America’s Gun Culture in 10 Charts,” BBC News, accessed August 5, 2019. .
  3 “Suicide Rate Increases Nationally, Soars in South Carolina,” Greenville News, accessed August 5, 2019.
  4 “The State of Mental Health In America 2018,” Mental Health America, accessed August 5, 2019.

Need a GED or a High School Diploma?

  Come to Saluda County Adult Education.
  2019- 2020 Open Enrollment begins August 19!!
  *GED preparation
  *High School Diploma classes
  *WIN preparation and testing
  *ESL/ English as a Second Language classes
  Call Jimmy Crawford or Andrea Minick at 864-445-3346, or stop by our office at 401 N. Calhoun St. in Saluda
 for more information. Office opens at 8:00 a.m.