EASLEY — It’s been an eventful year in Easley, and we’ve had plenty of stories to share throughout 2012. With the New Year rapidly approaching, we thought this would be the perfect time to catch you up on the five biggest stories of the year.
Easley soldier killed in action overseas
A crowd of over 500 people gathered to witness the body of Sgt. 1st Class Brad Thomas arrive home in Easley after he was killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan in July. Heavy hearts looked on, as the war suddenly gave a shocking reminder of its devastating effects. “It was hard because it was emotional for us,” said Easley Fire Chief Butch Womack. Thomas left behind a wife and son. Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell said Thomas’ death is a horrific reminder of what is sacrificed for Easley and the United States each day. “Military families play a big part in this community,” said Bagwell. “The City of Easley recognizes the part (the military) plays in protecting our freedom. We respect and depend on our military in all forms.”
Kinsela found not guilty on murder charges
A jury found Donald Kinsela not guilty of murder and arson after about an hour of deliberation following a trial in early December. Kinsela’s wife, Cheryl, died in a shed fire behind the couple’s residence in July 2010. The trial, which lasted about a week, was concluded after it was determined the prosecution did not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The fire, which occurred on July 3, entrapped Cheryl Kinsela under a stairway in the shed behind the house, according to law enforcement. Authorities say she died of carbon monoxide poisoning and was never burned in the blaze. Donald Kinsela was an Easley businessman.
Chihuahua feud headed to civil court
An Easley resident is claiming that a city councilman currently maintains possession of her four-pound Chihuahua, and the two human parties will be headed to civil court to determine rightful ownership. Kerri Blanton says her family, which includes five children, lost the dog in May while on vacation. Blanton says City Councilman Dave Watson gave the Chihuahua a home for a little over four months, but now realizing where her dog resides, Blanton has asked for “Lucy” back. Blanton says there was an unsuccessful search in the days after losing the Chihuahua, and says her family had nearly given up. Watson has refused to return the dog and a court date in Liberty is set for some time in the near future.
Easley High moves into new location
Easley High School has been at its location off Pendleton Street since 1939, the same year that Hollywood produced “Gone with the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz.” Students and faculty moved into the new location near the J.B. Owens Complex this year, which includes new sports facilities, state-of-the-art classrooms and an all-around different look. Since leaving the old high school, renovation on Pendleton Street has begun. A wall that once separated Brice Field from the street is now gone, along with several other structures on the campus. Plans are in place to turn the building into Brice Middle School.
Saying goodbye to those who have served Easley and Pickens County for so long
2013 will be a strange year for Easley and Pickens County residents. David Stone won’t be your sheriff, Tim Morgan won’t be your assistant sheriff and Henry Hunt won’t be your superintendent. Even Baptist Easley’s Roddey Gettys only has a short time left with the hospital before his departure. It is definitely going to be a year of change. We owe a great deal of gratitude to those who have served and made Easley such a great place to live. To the police who protect us, the hospital administrator who helps our sick patients and the superintendent who looks out for our kids — we say thank you. As we welcome new faces into Pickens County, let’s keep in mind that change isn’t always bad.