Sumter Little Theatre bringing “A Christmas Story” to its stage

christmas-story-hi-res_origAs Christmas approaches and we begin to reminisce, there will be scores of images and phrases instantly triggering various recollections and fond remembrances for many of us.

For every person it’s unique.  But for many of us, there are few images or phrases that can encapsulate a story of childhood determination pitted against parental holiday concern better than one simple, five-word phrase.

You’ll shoot your eye out.

During the next two weeks, Sumter Little Theatre will be presenting its take on the American classic, Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story.  Based both on the hit 1983 movie of the same name as well as the collected works of Shepard, this stage adaptation follows the story of Ralphie Parker, the cowboy-idolizing nine-year-old boy from northern Indiana and his quest for the ultimate gift, the elusive Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot Range Model air rifle.

 “We all remember the excitement and anticipation about finding that special present, the one we really, really want, under the tree on Christmas morning,” said SLT executive director Eric Bultman.  “The play summons up those memories for all of us.”

Along the way, Ralphie, his family and friends deal with bullies, class theme projects, trips to visit Santa Claus and his father’s questionable illuminating major award.

SLT’s version of the family-friendly production features Adam Reisenhauer as Ralphie – the determined adolescent, scheming as only a young man can in his quest for the childhood armaments.

Joining Ralphie on his holiday quest for the ultimate Christmas gift is a large cast of local performers, both young and old, including Charlotte Gallagher as Ralphie’s mother, Luke Hall as The Old Man, and Nathan Martin as the adorable kid brother Randy.  Braden Bunch, who plays the adult version of Ralph, will guide both the audience and the players through the performance as the narrator of this American classic.

Performances of A Christmas Story will be on Dec. 1-4 and again from Dec. 8-11.  Certain times for the Thursday through Saturday performances will be at 7:30 p.m., while Sunday matinees will begin at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students, senior citizens and military personnel.  Reservations can be made either visiting the Sumter Little Theatre box office at 14 Mood Avenue between the hours of 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, calling SLT at (803) 775-2150, or visiting the SLT website, which can be done by following this link.

Corley defeats Black for Sumter City Council seat

Incoming city councilman Steve Corley (left) discusses election results with outgoing councilwoman Colleen Yates as they come in Tuesday night at the Sumter County Courthouse.

In the final local election of 2016, Steve Corley soundly defeated Randy Black in the runoff for the Sumter City Council Ward 4 seat Tuesday.

Fueled by strong support in the city’s historical district in an election that saw very light turnout, Corley garnered nearly two-thirds of Tuesday’s ballots, receiving 264 votes to Black’s 135.

Less than 3.6 percent of registered voters within the ward participated in the municipal election.  In fact, turnout was so light that four of the split precincts within the ward – Mulberry, Burns-Downs, Magnolia-Harmony, and Shaw – had no votes cast on Election Day.

For the precincts that actually had voters participate, the results were –  Folsom Park: Black 11, Corley 2; Swan Lake: Corley 104, Black 16; Morris College: Black 31, Corley 10; Hampton Park: Corley 106, Black 8; Crosswell: Black 29, Corley 17; Loring: Black 4, Corley 3; South Liberty: Corley 3, Black 2.  In addition, Black received 30 absentee, compared to Corley’s 19.  All four of the failsafe ballots cast were for Black, as well.

Two weeks ago, Corley led the group of four candidates vying for the city council seat, earning 34.5 percent of the vote, while Black had 24.7 percent.  Unlike many other general election races, however, Sumter municipal election law requires a candidate receive a majority of the votes, forcing the runoff.

Election results will be certified at 2 p.m. Wednesday, and barring any unforeseen challenges to the results, Corley will soon replace outgoing councilwoman Colleen Yates and begin his four-year term.

Sumter Ward 4 voters head to the polls one more time Tuesday

ward-4You might have thought the 2016 election season was behind us, but for City of Sumter Ward 4 residents, there’s one more trip to the polls set for Tuesday, where the two remaining candidates vying for Sumter City Council are seeking election.

The single contest on Tuesday’s ballot pits Steve Corley and Randolph “Randy” Black against each other, as the two men were forced into a runoff by the Nov. 8 general election results.

In earning his place on the ballot, Corley led the group of four candidates vying to replace outgoing councilwoman Colleen Yates by receiving 670 votes from his constituents, earning 34.5 percent of the vote, while Black received 480 votes, garnering 24.7 percent support.  In doing so, Black narrowly defeated Melissa Evans for the final position on the ballot by a mere 16 votes.

Unlike most general elections which only require a candidate to receive a plurality of the votes, Sumter municipal election law forces candidates to garner a majority of the electorate, thus forcing Tuesday’s election.

The Ward 4 area of the city of Sumter includes the city’s historical district and surrounding communities.  While not uniformly shaped, the ward borders consist roughly of Liberty Drive to the south , Guignard Drive to the west, either Lafayette or Bagnal Drive (depending on the neighborhood) to the east, and to the north by North Pike (although many of the neighborhoods adjacent to North Pike are not included in Ward 4.)

Sumter precincts in the Ward 4 area includes a large portion of four precincts – Swan Lake, Hampton Park, Morris College and Crosswell – as well as smaller portions of the Mulberry, Folsom Park, Burns-Downs, Losing, Magnolia-Harmony, South Liberty, and Shaw precincts.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Suspect in Sept. shootout with Sumter law enforcement dies in gun battle with U.S. Marshall after killing officer

bad-guyA shootout Friday morning in Georgia between U.S. Marshalls and the Sumter fugitive wanted locally for a September gun battle with local officers has resulted in the death of both the suspect and a federal law enforcement officer.

Federal authorities say the shootout began Friday morning in Ludowici, Georgia, shortly after a deputy marshal attempted to serve an arrest warrant to Dontrell Montese Carter, who was wanted in Sumter County on attempted murder and domestic violence charges after a string of incidents in the Rembert and Dalzell areas of Sumter County on Sept. 18.

According to reports, Carter shot and killed 53-year-old officer Patrick Carothers outside the mobile home the suspect was hiding at, striking the officer twice during the arrest attempt.  Other officers responding to the scene then returned fire, striking Carter multiple times.  Carter was pronounced dead at a hospital later in the day.

Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis is offered his condolences to Carothers’ family of the US Marshal killed in a shootout with a suspect wanted out of Sumter County on Friday morning in Long County, Georgia.

The men and women of the US Marshals Service work very hard to keep all of us safe,” Dennis said. “Patrick Carothers was 53 years old and a father to five children. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Last month, during the announcement of a reward for information into the suspect’s whereabouts, local law enforcement  said Carter had boasted that he planned to have another shootout with authorities should they attempt to arrest him.

“We believe he is a danger, not only to law enforcement, but to the community at large,” said Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark at the time.  “We can’t say that enough.”

Dashcam video of the Sept. 18 shootout with Sumter officers showed the man believed to be Carter leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase before crashing his car in an attempt to turn off U.S. 521.  After crashing his car, the man said to be Carter could be seen jumping out of his car, brandishing an AK-47 assault rifle, and screaming and firing at officers.

A video of the Sept. incident can be seen here:


Hurricane Matthew Disaster Recovery Center Opening Monday In Sumter County

matthew-flagA disaster recovery center will open for three days at the Cherryvale Community Center in Sumter to help residents with damages and losses from Hurricane Matthew. The Sumter County center will be open Monday, November 21, through Wednesday, November 23.

Representatives from the State of South Carolina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration and other public and private agencies will be at the center to explain disaster assistance programs and help survivors with applications for aid.

The Cherryvale Community Center is located at 4340 Confederate Road in Sumter and will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the three days.

It is not necessary to visit a center to register for and receive state-federal disaster assistance. If possible, survivors should register with FEMA before visiting a recovery center.

To register go online any time to or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362. Help is available in most languages, and phone lines are open 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM seven days a week until further notice.

Disaster survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800-462-7585 to register. Those who use 711 or VRS (Video Relay Service) or require accommodations while visiting a center may call 800-621-3362. All disaster recovery centers are accessible and equipped with tools to accommodate disaster survivors who need disability-related communication aids.

Federal and state disaster assistance for eligible individuals and families can include money for temporary rental assistance and essential home repairs for primary residences and help with other serious disaster-related losses not covered by insurance.

Low-interest disaster recovery loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are the primary means of federal help for disaster survivors, including homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes. Individuals and businesses should first register with FEMA. For information on SBA disaster recovery loans call 800-659-2955/800-877-8339 TTY or go online to An application for an SBA disaster recovery loan may be completed online at

Sumter County General Election Results – 11/8/16

vote countsUpdated 11:42 p.m.

Sumter Mayor

34 of 34 precincts reporting

William “Dutch” Holland – 3,166 votes – 23.7%

Charlie Jones – 1,459 votes – 10.9%

  • – Joe McElveen – 8,710 votes – 65.1%

Write-In – 37 votes – 0.3%


Sumter City Council – Ward 4

11 of 11 precincts reporting

** – Randolph “Randy” Black – 480 votes –  24.7%

** – Steve Corley – 621 votes – 37.5%

Melissa Evans – 463 votes – 23.8%

Jim McKinney – 329 votes – 16.9%

Write-In – 2 votes – 0.1%


Sumter County Council – District 3

7 of 7 precincts reporting

Patty L Wilson (D) – 2,478 votes – 39.6%

  • – Jimmy Byrd (R) – 3,785 votes – 60.4%

Write-In – 2 votes – 0.03%


State Senate – District 36

2 of 4 counties reporting

  • – Kevin L Johnson (D) – 23,663 votes – 62.8%

Leon Winn (R) – 13,993 votes – 37.1%

Write-In  – 29 votes – .1%


U.S. House of Representatives – District 5

5 of 9 counties reporting

Fran Person (D) – 80,477 votes – 38.8%

  • – Mick Mulvaney (R) – 122,780 votes – 59.2%

Rudy Barnes Jr (A) –4,171 votes – 2.0%

Write-In  –  130 votes – 0.1%


U.S. House of Representatives – District 6

3 of 16 counties reporting

  • – Jim Clyburn (D) – 126,815 votes – 67.9%

Laura Sterling (R) –  55,719 votes – 29.8%

Prince Charles Mallory (G) – 1,850 votes – 1.0%

Rich Piotrowski (L) – 2,317 votes – 1.2%

Write-In  –  172 votes – 0.1%

U.S. Senate

30 of 46 counties reporting

Thomas Dixon (D, W, G) – 486,727 votes – 38.1%

Bill Bledsoe (C, L) – 23,095 votes – 1.8%

  • -Tim Scott (R) – 759,029 votes – 59.4%

Rebel Michael Scarborough (A) – 7,807 votes – 0.6%

Write-In  – 1,115 votes – 0.1%


Sumter County ONLY:  President and Vice President

58 of 58 precincts reporting

Hillary Rodham Clinton / Tim Kaine (D) – 24,024 votes – 54.5%

Darrell Castle / Scott Bradley (C) – 83 votes – 0.2%

Evan McMullin / Nathan Johnson (I) – 301 votes – 0.7%

Jill Stein / Ajamu Baraka (G) – 202 votes – 0.5%

Donald J Trump / Michael R Pence (R) – 18,733 votes – 42.5%

Peter Skewes / Michael Lacy (A) – 64 votes – 0.2%

Gary Johnson / Bill Weld (L) –641 votes – 1.5%


  • – Projected winner
  • ** – Projected run-off

Fatal fire in Rembert kills one

rembert-fireOne person is dead after fire ripped through a rural Rembert home Friday night.

Emergency responders first received calls from neighbors of the home in the 5400 block of Mayrant Drive that the home was on fire shortly before 8 p.m. Frdiay.  When the first firefighters from the Sumter Fire Department arrived at the site 10 minutes later, they found the mobile home with wooden porch completely engulfed in flames.

Sumter County Coroner Harvin Bullock said at the scene that further investigations would need to be conducted before authorities could identify the person killed in the fire. As of late Friday evening, investigators believed no one else had been harmed in the blaze, although at least 20 firefighters were continuing to shift through the remnants of the completely gutted home.

More than half a dozen fire trucks responded to the rural residence in northern Sumter County to fight the blaze, including several tanker trucks transporting water to the location.

Ken Bell, spokesman for the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, said none of the responders were injured while battling the blaze.

A cause for the fire was not known as of late Friday night.


Sumter mayoral candidates separate themselves despite few sparks during debate

mayors-raceWith only two weeks left to influence voters before they head to the polls, the three men looking to be Sumter’s mayor for the next four years faced off Tuesday night, hoping to garner whatever last-minute support they could.

While described as a debate, the two-hour event at Sumter High School between four-time incumbent Joe McElveen and his challengers – Charlie Jones and William “Dutch” Holland – was in reality more of a forum, as the candidates fielded directly from moderator Lefford Fate and a group of local students but rarely interacted with each other.

mcelveen-and-jonesBecause of the format and each the lack of interplay, the candidates didn’t delve too far into any specific plans they had for the Gamecock City.  Still, throughout the evening the three men were able to establish overarching themes for why they felt they should get support from Sumter voters.

For McElveen, who is seeking his fifth term in office, the message to voters was one of an “ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” variety, touting what he labeled dramatic improvements in the city’s overall welfare during his tenure.  “The proof is in the pudding,” McElveen said, making several references to the city’s downtown revitalization efforts,  park expansion, and recent economic development announcements as proof that his leadership was working.  In addition, the 70-year-old McElveen, who is already the longest serving mayor in the history of Sumter, said he still has the passion to lead the community.

“I’m still energized.  I can still see what can happen,” McElveen said.  “We are on the verge of breaking loose.  We are going to see incredible growth in a few years.”

holland-at-debateFor his cause, Holland promoted himself not so much as having a radically different direction that he wanted to take Sumter in, but rather as a developed leader ready to head the community.  On several occasions the retired U.S. Air Force General sited his training and experience in the military, saying it gave him the type of objective leadership the city needs.

“I’m not a politician, but I am hell-bent on being a public servant,” Holland said, adding that the best way to improve Sumter’s quality of life standards would be to infuse more servant leadership into the municipality.   “Government is here to support the people, and not the other way around,” Holland said.

And while McElveen, as he has in the past, called himself the city’s biggest unabashed cheerleader, Holland tried to differentiate himself by saying he felt to make true changes in the community you have to be willing to recognize weaknesses in the city as well, especially when trying to convince either businesses or individuals to relocate to the area.

“You have to show the true side of Sumter, not just the best side, because that’s just reality,” saying that would be the first step in tackling any issues Sumter might face in improving it’s quality of life.

The third candidate, Charlie Jones, however, said he didn’t believe the city was headed in a strong direction at all.  Early in his comments Jones said he disagreed by and large with most of the decisions made by McElveen, city council and city employee.  Jones even said he disagreed with the form of government the Gamecock City currently operates under, saying he wanted to see the city change to a “strong mayor” system, where the mayor, not a city manager, makes many of the decisions involving municipal operations.

As he has with his campaign literature, Jones also made it very clear early in the evening that he felt the area’s black communities were being sorely neglected.

“There are no plans that I’ve seen that include the black communities of Sumter,” Jones said. “Resources seem to be going other places, and are going other places.”

“You go into the black community – you don’t have to look hard – some of them look like a third-world country,” Jones later added.

As was to be expected at event sponsored by the Sumter Board of Realtors (as well as the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce and the Building Industry Association of Central South Carolina), many of the questions for the candidates focused on real estate questions, including topics like home ownership, property tax rates, community blight and home insurance rates.  These questions didn’t lead to much variance in the answers from the candidates.  However, one topic where the three men varied dramatically was the community’s “Penny For Progress” sales tax.

Calling it ”one of the most positive things we’ve done,” McElveen voiced full-throated support for the penny sales tax, going so far as to call for the community to strongly support another sales tax referendum in seven years when the current sunset tax expires. “If you want things to happen, you have to invest in yourself,” McElveen said.

Holland approached the topic with a bit more pessimism than McElveen, saying that while there have been some positive projects coming from the additional sales tax, it also created some unfunded liabilities.

 “I certainly don’t think that we need to establish this as the way we’re going to fund things in the future,” Holland said, pointing out several of the infrastructure projects created by the recent referendums would require a separate revenue source to keep them operational.

Jones said while he once considered supporting the sales tax, the way it was ultimately used made him adamantly opposed to it in its past, current, and any future form.

“It could have been (good), but it wasn’t,” Jones said, calling out what he perceived as a lack of assistance to Sumter’s black communities.  Sepcifically, Jones attacked the use of penny sales tax revenues for the county to purchase the Sumter Item building facility owned by Osteen Publishing, saying the local government overpaid for the facility and could have spent the money more wisely.  For Jones,   “If you use it for one or two good things, it doesn’t outweigh the abuse of the other things,” he said.

Biden coming to Sumter

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.Vice President Joe Biden will be in Sumter during the last week of this campaign season as Democrats make their final push for the upcoming general election.

While officially in town to promote the South Carolina Democratic Party’s “Get Out The Vote” campaign, Biden will be visit the Gamecock City on Tuesday, Nov. 1, supporting the campaigns of the two men from his party that are looking to represent Sumter County in the U.S. House of Representatives next year.

Joining Biden on stage will be political hopeful Fran Person, who worked for Biden for eight years and is making his first run at political office in his attempt to represent the state’s Fifth Congressional District, while longtime Sixth Congressional District representative Jim Clyburn has held the same office since the 1992 election.

While details have not been finalized, the event will be open to the public and is expected to be held around 10 a.m. at Morris College.  Wherever the event ends up being held, organizers are asking those wishing to attend register ahead of time, which you can do here.

Later that day, Biden will also visit Rock Hill, another key city in the Fifth Congressional District where his protégé faces Republican incumbent Mick Mulvaney.  Those wishing to attend that event can register to do so here.

Mulvaney to campaign in Sumter on Tuesday

mick-mulvaneyU.S. Representative Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, will be in Sumter on Tuesday as he looks to promote his bid for another two years representing the state’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes approximately half of Sumter County.

The congressman’s local stop on his District Tour is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at Chik-Fil-A on Broad Street, where he hopes to meet with local constituents.

The Sumter stop will be the first of a four-day, 11-stop campaign tour for the Republican incumbent seeking his fourth term in office, with other stops scheduled for Elgin, Kershaw, Rock Hill and Newberry, among other cities within the expansive district.  A full list of events can be found at the candidate’s website.

Initially elected to office in 2010 by defeating then long-time incumbent John Spratt, Mulvaney became the first Republican in 128 years to represent South Carolina’s Fifth District.  In subsequent elections he defeated Joyce Knott in 2012 and Tom Adams n 2014. This November, Mulvaney faces Democratic nominee Fran Person in the general election.