Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Speaking of hogs... Posted by Picasa

You never know what you'll see when you live Next-Door-to-Nowhere Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Cover Hog Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 25, 2005

Recommended Posted by Picasa

I always thought an air pump powered by a car's cigarette lighter couldn't possibly work Posted by Picasa

but it does! Posted by Picasa

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Monday Mutt Shot: Life of Luxury Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Dig a Little Deeper, Why Don'cha?

Another Lake City police officer’s law enforcement certification has been suspended by the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy since February, the Morning News learned Friday.

Officer Elesto Bradford’s certification was suspended as a result of “issues at a previous law enforcement agency,” Lake City Police Maj. David Haines said, adding that Bradford’s status is in no way connected to an ongoing investigation into corruption and illegal drug activity in the Lake City area.

Haines said Bradford was suspended from duty without pay as soon as the academy notified the police department of his certification status...

...Earlier this month, Lake City police officers Maurice Ponteau and Shanita McKnight and former officer Merwyn Curt Brown had their state police certifications suspended by the S.C. Department of Public Safety Criminal Justice Academy after the academy reported that they failed polygraph tests they were given in connection with the investigation into corruption and drug activity in the area.

Brown subsequently resigned, while officials said Ponteau and McKnight were placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of further investigation.

But despite the fact that the officers’ certifications were pulled via a letter from the academy dated June 29, Ponteau issued a traffic ticket to a local motorist July 4, according to documents obtained this week by the Morning News and WBTW News13...

...Brown subsequently resigned from the department, and McCaster (the recently terminated chief of police)said he demanded that the other two officers, Ponteau and McKnight, be fired immediately.

In a recent interview with the Morning News, Simmons (the City Administrator) said he refused to let McCaster fire either of the officers.

“He (McCaster) wanted to terminate their employment on June 29th, and I wouldn’t let him. Because of that difference (in opinion), that’s why I’m here and he’s not,” Simmons said. “I do the hiring and firing here, and I would not fire anyone for failing a polygraph test.”

Simmons said he will continue to employ and support Ponteau and McKnight because they are innocent until proven guilty. He said he thinks if the task force had any evidence of wrongdoing on either officer’s part, something would have been done about it by now.

Officer Bradford hasn't earned the benefit of doubt???

The Morning News Online

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Public Scrutiny II

Less than a week ago, a city police official stated officers with suspended law enforcement certifications were working in administrative capacities only.

That appears not to have been the case.

A Lake City police officer whose law enforcement certification was suspended by the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy on June 29 issued a traffic ticket to a local motorist July 4, according to documents obtained Wednesday by the Morning News and WBTW News13.

Officer Maurice Ponteau had his state police certification suspended after the criminal justice academy reported that he and two other officers failed polygraph tests they were given in connection with an investigation into corruption and drug activity in the Lake City area.

The Morning News Online

The digging of one's own grave?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Strength, Dignity & Determination

The staff writer chose to refer to her as "frail".

Fortitude is the appropriate descriptive term.

...In a clear and steady voice, the victim told the jury what transpired from the time she took her hearing aids off and went to bed — shortly after 9 p.m. — until she saw a deputy and her children at her door...

...As the victim walked back to her seat behind the solicitor's table, she stared at Woods until he looked away...

Update: Justice Served

Monday's Mutt Shot Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Welcome Home, Lt. Col. Foster

Welcome Home.

"When they first notified us that he was missing in Vietnam in 1969, I really didn't know what that meant," said Fraughton, a rancher in southwest Wyoming. "I was 14. To me, it meant he was gone for a while, and my father had been gone a few times."

Fraughton and her mother, Erna Foster, went to meetings, MIA rallies and even to Laos in search of answers. Erna Foster kept her home on Orchard Drive, just off Bragg Boulevard, exactly as her husband left it. A wooden boat he built stayed in the yard. The furniture he crafted, his drawings and oil paintings, and his portrait above the piano - nothing moved for about 10 years, until the military declared Foster dead.

Erna Foster died three years ago. She knew the military was working on remains that were probably her husband's. She spoke little of her husband over the years and never remarried. Fraughton said the loss was difficult.

You, sir, were not forgotten.

Public Scrutiny

results in an answer to one question.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Rally to Enforce Accountability

Efforts to determine why two officers with suspended certifications continue to work for the a police department have proven difficult.

In total, News13 left six unreturned phone messages and numerous emails trying to get answers from either Major Haines or City Administrator George Simmons. We want to know why and how these two suspended officers are still citing and arresting Lake City residents.

They won't return my calls-- but maybe they'll return yours. If you are a concerned citizen you can call Lake City Adminstrator George Simmons at 843-374-5421, extension 220. Major David Haines can be reached at 843-374-5411.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

When Resignation Becomes Resolve

"It's not gonna change, it's not gonna change, cause they said it was supposed to change a long time ago and it's not changed yet,"

The words of resignation...or, What Is Will Continue to Be, For We are Powerless.

"In the past seven years of this administration, we have had three police chiefs, an interim chief and seven months with no chief; how are we going to get anybody with a vision to come to Lake City when there is no job security here?" Lake City resident Jerome Ballard asked during the meeting. "If we ever get another chief, he needs to be given the latitude to run his department. We don't need to let Lake City be a puppet with one man pulling the strings."

Lake City Mayor LaRue Alford explained that the type of government the city is under was in place before he took office and that form of municipal government requires the city administrator to do the "day-to-day running of the city," and all the "hiring and firing."

"Who hires the city administrator?" Ballard responded.

At this and several other points, the crowd, many of them standing along the back wall of the city's court room, clapped and cheered.

"The man was doing a good job," Lake City resident Judy Anderson said of former Lake City Police Chief Kenneth McCaster, who said last week he was fired. "This police department has been corrupt since I was a child. Every time SLED is coming, they let one person in the department know and then everyone gets their liquor put up."

"This is hurting the town because of the way people from the outside perceive us," Former Lake City Mayor Bill Sebnick said. "Those who come in and look at out empty spec buildings say they aren't going to locate their business here because we have too much upheaval and turmoil in our town."

The words of resolve...or, What is Will No Longer Be, For We Have the Power to Institute Change.

The Wheels of Justice

often turn slowly...

Eric Sean Ridel, the man authorities say rammed S.C. Highway Patrol Senior Trooper Jonathan Parker's cruiser, killing him on May 16, wasn't in the courtroom Tuesday as a magistrate found there was enough evidence to charge him with murder.

but perhaps certain rumors have been put to rest.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Power of the Internet

The Google search...

WIS NEWS has learned that two daughters of a woman Loftis was dating in the Knoxville area became suspicious of him and searched for information online. Lexington County Sheriff James Metts says the women's mother had also been living with Loftis since he moved to town in early May, "They were concerned about someone moving in with their mother that fast. So they did a Google search and found he was wanted in South Carolina."

Monday Mutt Shot: Nap Moves IV Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 10, 2005


and worrying about friends in the path of Hurricane Dennis.

Bravery vs. Bravado

There are those composed of courage, confidence, resolution and bravery.

They are the ones who act without hesitation or expectation of recognition; the innocent who sacrifice all.

There are others composed of only selfish qualities that cloak themselves in bravado.

They are the ones with expectations that the uniform they wear earns recognition; the petty, who mask their failure with exaggerated tales and accusations that could ruin the career of another and have caused great pain to those already suffering.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Power & Corruption

It's said that 'power corrupts', but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power. When they do act, they think of it as service, which has limits. The tyrant, though, seeks mastery, for which he is insatiable, implacable.
David Brin, The Postman

A small southern town is roused from peaceful slumber by violent crimes against persons and property that seem to fall under the radar of the peace officers the citizens depend on for protection.

Concerns and complaints are treated as rumors and speculation until the mayor’s son is arrested on federal drug charges, a lead investigator with the town’s police force is arrested on federal drug charges for allegedly using his position to promote drug activity,and citizens are made aware of an investigation into public corruption and illegal drug activity in the town by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Certifications of three of the town’s police officers are suspended by the agency tasked with governing the state’s law enforcement officials.

38-016. Withdrawal of Certification of Law Enforcement Officers. [SC ADC 38-016]

A. A law enforcement officer, certified pursuant to the provisions of R.38-007 and R.38-008, shall have his or her certification as a law enforcement officer withdrawn by the Department upon the occurrence of any one or more of the following events:

1. The officer is found to have falsified any application for certification and training based upon which the officer was admitted for training.

2. The officer is found to be ineligible for service as a law enforcement officer because of his or her failure to meet prerequisite qualifications for training and certification, as set by law, even though such ineligibility is not discovered until after the officer's initial certification.

3. The officer is convicted of a criminal offense under the law of any jurisdiction which would, by the laws of this State, disqualify the officer from obtainment of certification as provided for in R.38-007 and R.38-008.

4. Evidence satisfactory to the Department that the officer has engaged in misconduct. For purposes of this section, misconduct means:

a. Conviction, plea of guilty, plea of no contest or admission of guilt (regardless of withheld adjudication) to a felony, a crime punishable by a sentence of more than one year (regardless of the sentence actually imposed, if any), or a crime of moral turpitude;

b. Unlawful use of a controlled substance;

c. The repeated use of excessive force in dealing with the public and/or prisoners;

d. Dangerous and/or unsafe practices involving firearms, weapons, and/or vehicles which indicate either a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property;

e. Physical or psychological abuses of members of the public and/or prisoners;

f. Misrepresentation of employment-related information;

g. Dishonesty with respect to his/her employer;

h. Untruthfulness with respect to his/her employer.

i. Violations of criminal law resulting from administrative inquiries.

Provided however that in considering whether to withdraw certification based on misconduct, the Department may consider the seriousness, frequency and any mitigating circumstances surrounding the act or omission constituting or alleged to constitute misconduct.

B. The officer's certification expires due to the officer's failure to meet re-certification requirements as set out in R. 38-013.

The town’s newest police chief and assistant police chief are fired by the city administrator after learning the officers were suspended pursuant to information provided by the police chief.

38-017. Reporting of Events Requiring Withdrawal of Certification. [SC ADC 38-017]

A. It shall be the responsibility of the sheriff or the chief executive officer of every law enforcement agency or department within the State to report to the Department the occurrence of any event, or series of events, set forth in R.38-016 which requires the withdrawal of certification of a law enforcement officer who is currently or was last employed by his or her agency.

B. The report shall be made within fifteen days of the final agency or department action resulting from the internal investigation conducted by the agency or department, and shall be on a form prescribed by the Department.

C. A willful failure to report information shall subject the violator to a civil penalty as provided by the Department.

D. Only events which are determined as founded by the department or agency shall be reported as provided herein above.

The three police officers are being allowed to maintain their positions
in spite of lack of certification.

SECTION 23-6-430. Certification as "qualified" a prerequisite for law enforcement officers; exceptions; qualification under equivalent programs in other states. [SC ST SEC 23-6-430]

No law enforcement officer employed or appointed on or after July 1, 1989, by any public law enforcement agency in this State is authorized to enforce the laws or ordinances of this State or any political subdivision thereof unless he has been certified as qualified by the Department of Public Safety...

The former police chief issues a public statement that enumerates allegations of corruption and illegal activity.

The wait for justice and truth has been long for the citizens of the sleepy little town.

One can only hope the wait has not been in vain.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


"It's very, very important that we not only show our support for the benefit of the military personnel, but for the benefit of their families. We want everyone to know that South Carolina supports the military. South Carolina supports what the country is doing." Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom

Be it an e-mail, a card, a letter, a phone call, a favor, or a carepackage filled with reminders of home, little things matter most to those deployed and to those at home without them.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Pausing to Remember  Posted by Picasa

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Monday Mutt Shot: Nap Moves III Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 02, 2005


(CNN) -- An 8-year-old Idaho girl missing more than six weeks was found alive early Saturday morning, and a registered sex offender was arrested and charged with kidnapping, according to authorities in the county where she lived...

...Wolfinger said Coeur d'Alene police received a call from a waitress at the restaurant at about 2 a.m. The waitress, Amber Deahn, said she made every effort to keep the girl in the restaurant before police arrived.

"I made sure to make a large shake instead of a child's shake," Deahn said. "We wanted to make sure to take just long enough to where if it turned out to be nothing we could say, 'Hey our shake machine's running a little slow.' "

"We didn't want to cause any suspicion."

One of the cooks said he blocked the restaurant's back entrance in case the man tried to make a getaway.

Coeur d'Alene police detained Duncan at the restaurant until Kootenai County deputies arrived to arrest him.

Deahn said she comforted the girl who burst into tears after police took the man away.

"I would really hope that if my children, God forbid, ever went missing somebody would do the same," Deahn said.

Shasta Groene survived

Friday, July 01, 2005


Stop for a moment.

Pause and compare what you are doing to what you would be doing if there were the slightest possibility that the life of your child, your spouse, your sibling or your friend had suddenly ended.

Think of the fear and worry that would overwhelm you.

Think of the hope you would cling to in order to combat the fear and worry.

Pray for those who are there now, for those who have been there, and for those who may be there in the future.


Grandparents take great pleasure in exposing their grandchildren to this ailment, no matter the distance…they have been known to mail the virus in the form of checks which are almost immediately converted to cash for spending on trips to the beach, birthday gifts for friends, additions to the balance of the Wal-Mart Shopping Card utilized for legally downloading music, ear piercing, and the purchase of SOFTWARE…and they are appreciated.

Thank You!