Here’s a brief look back at some of Chesterfield County’s biggest, most significant and most interesting stories in 2015 as reported in The Cheraw Chronicle.
• The Cheraw Police Department asked town leaders to increase the starting pay for newly hired officers with previous experience in law enforcement.
• Chesterfield police officers were trying to find the mother of a baby girl abandoned at the county health department. Police Chief Eric R. Hewett said the child appeared to be healthy, two to three days old and did not appear to have been born in a medical facility given the condition of her belly button and the lack of a heel-stick test.
• A Chesterfield County teen whose disappearance sparked an Amber Alert was returned safely at home with her family. Sheriff Jay Brooks said 14-year-old Alexis Deas was located when his office received a call reporting that she had been left with a relative in Kershaw County.
• Community Health Systems, Inc. announced in March “a definitive agreement” to sell its ownership interests in Bennettsville’s Marlboro Park Hospital and in Cheraw’s Chesterfield General Hospital to M/C Healthcare LLC.
• Former Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker was slated to walk out of a North Carolina prison in April after a year behind bars on public corruption charges. “He’ll be registering with our office within 48 hours of getting out of prison, and then he will be on probation for three years,” said Peter O’Boyle of the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
• Tragedy struck Chesterfield County when a man and a 3-year-old boy drowned in a rural pond. Chesterfield County Coroner Kip Kiser confirmed that 27-year-old Teddy Wayne Gainey Jr., and the young boy died in a private pond near Patrick.
• The Chesterfield County Relay for Life raised around $95,000 for the American Cancer Society despite the threat of rain during the event. A womanless beauty pageant at Cheraw High School raised $1,400 for wounded warriors.
• A Bennettsville officer, Patrolman C. J. Mullinax, became a social media sensation after a video of him playing football with local youth was shared thousands of times on Facebook.
• Steve Fugate of Vero Beach, Florida, walked into the Cheraw town limits at 12:36 p.m. May 13, braving the 82-degree heat. The large sign on his back — which read “love life” in red capital letters — made him easy to spot. The 68-year-old said South Carolina was his final state in a cross-country walk to promote suicide prevention.
• A Charlotte, North Carolina woman was killed on S.C. 151 in a car crash. Five others were injured in the Chesterfield County wreck.
• Cheraw resident Mike White picketed the town’s Wells Fargo branch and said he and his wife closed their accounts there after the San Francisco-based bank launched a national ad campaign featuring lesbian parents.
• Chesterfield County Schools eliminated nearly a dozen unfilled positions as part of an effort to balance the budget.
• Titan Stainless, a North Carolina-based stainless steel equipment manufacturer, announced plans to set up shop in the Lynches River Industrial Park, bringing 50 jobs to the county.
• A Cheraw man was among four suspects arrested on murder charges in a Wadesboro, North Carolina shooting death.
• Authorities seized more than $80,000 in prescription pills and nearly $8,000 in cash in a drug raid at a Chesterfield home.
• Nestlé Waters North America held a job fair for its new bottling plant near McBee, drawing nearly 3,000 applicants for fewer than 100 available jobs. The plant is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2016.
• An 8-year-old was struck and killed outside Pageland Elementary School. The parents were enrolling their children in school.
• Around 50 drivers displayed their Confederate flags during a regional ride through Cheraw and Bennettsville, a show of support for the Southern banner after South Carolina lawmakers removed the flag from its post outside the Statehouse in Columbia.
• Authorities said a 9/11 threat that kept hundreds of Chesterfield County children out of school was just an Internet hoax that spread like wildfire on Facebook.
• Parents came together to try to combat bullying they said was taking place in Chesterfield County’s public schools. They formed an online support group.
• Chesterfield County was largely spared during storms that spawned historic floods, with as much as 2 feet of rain falling on some parts of South Carolina and floodwaters forcing thousands out of their homes.
• Andy Ingram handily won his bid for re-election as Cheraw’s mayor, defeating challenger Anthony Waymyers.
• Cheraw native and Miss Cheraw titleholder Jina Smith participated in the Miss South Carolina pageant.
• Two people were killed and one was injured in a shooting in Pageland. Deputies exchanged fire with the suspect before he fled the scene. Rashawn Montez Little was capture after a 12-hour standoff.
• Chesterfield County deputies seized nearly 10,000 guns from a home near Pageland after an attempt to serve civil papers. Brent Nicholson and his wife faced stolen property charges in the case.
• The McArn Food bank passed out more than 349 meal boxes for Thanksgiving.
• A rolling meth lab was discovered when deputies were called to a home in Patrick for child support warrants.
• The Cheraw Chronicle announced it would be closing its doors Dec. 31 after 128 years of continuous publication.
• SLED agents arrested a former Chesterfield County deputy accused of paying for sex acts while he was on duty.