Block, a cardiologist at Scotland Cardiology, was accused of prescribing medications to a family member and later it was revealed that a number of people who had participated in an invasive heart test at his practice contracted the sometimes-deadly hepatitis-C virus. Immediately upon learning of the outbreak the North Carolina Medical Board ordered Block to cease performing invasive procedures until further notice.
The Democratic Mayor's case was reviewed by the board later in the year. For prescribing medications to a family member, the NC Medical Board chose to suspend Block's medical license, but that penalty was immediately stayed by the board. Block's license was also put under probation by the board.
In response to the hep-C outbreak the board found no wrongdoing on behalf of Block, although his practice is still prohibited from performing invasive procedures.
Factories pack their bags, unemployment soars in '08
Beginning with the January announcement that The Eaton Corporation in Laurinburg would be closing its doors by the end of 2008, the job market progressively got worse throughout the year as the hits kept coming. After the 40-year-old Eaton plant decided to eliminate about 82 of its jobs in the shutdown, Wavery Mills followed suit later in the year, announcing that it would close its doors in December -- putting approximately 75 people out of work.
With those closings and with the United States in a recession, it was no surprise that unemployment rates in Scotland County hit a high of 11.9 percent in August, compared to national and state rates that hovered around 6 percent for much of the year.
Williams takes the reigns of SHS football program
Following head football coach Mark Barnes' departure to Brevard High School, the 57 year old Chip Williams, who compiled a 132-55 record at New Bern High School, took the helm for the Scots. Williams had expected to complete his coaching career in Wake County, but said that the opportunity and tradition at Scotland High was too great to turn down.
In his first year Williams failed to turn any heads -- at least not for the right reasons -- managing only two wins during his first season in charge. However, following two hard fought games to end the season, things are looking up heading into '09.
The body of a missing Laurel Hill man discovered
The body of a Laurel Hill man, Thomas Eugene Byrd, who went missing in March was discovered in a wooded area in Laurel Hill on April 16. The remains were discovered after a boy's dog brought the skull of the missing man to him. After telling his school mates about the skull, the Sheriff's office found out and a Fayetteville based canine unit was called in to locate the body.
Byrd was last seen the week of March 10 by a friend who dropped him off following a pottery class.
2008 was a year that saw gang activity increase in Scotland County, punctuated by violent outbreaks like an assault on a Washington Park Elementary student, who was beaten severely because of a confusion over the colors he was wearing -- mistaken for gang colors.
The Scotland County Gang Task Force stepped up its efforts in '08 to counter the increase in graffiti and gang-related crime.
According to Lt. Chris Young, of the Laurinburg P.D., gangs have emerged (or re-emerged) around Washington Park, Cross Creek, East Vance, Carolina Park, Scotland Acres, the Trailer Store and a number of other places in Scotland County.
The increase in activity in '08 was tied to increased recruitment efforts by gangs and potentially to the area's poor economy, where many youths are looking for alternative ways to make money.
Maxton mayor charged with assault following Maxton Collard Festival
Gladys Dean, the mayor of Maxton, was charged with simple assault following an altercation alleged to have occurred at Maxton's annual Collard Festival. Dressed as a collard herself during the festival, Dean was accused of grabbing and refusing to release Renee Ward, the director and owner of the Step 2 It Dance Studio. The altercation allegedly took place when the mayor, who was coordinating festival events, approached Ward and asked her to cut her performance short so that another group could perform.
Dean is slated to appear in Lumberton District Court early in 2009 to answer the charge.
East Laurinburg introduces first ever property taxes
Just before Christmas, the town of East Laurinburg gave its residents something they never had before — property taxes.
The town board voted unanimously to levy a tax rate of 30 cents for every $100 of property valuation. For a homeowner with a $100,000 home, the tax would come to about $300.
The commissioners said with a major industry — Waverly Mills — closing its doors and an outstanding bill for storm debris cleanup, the town is strapped for cash.
Some residents have greeted the news with outrage and skepticism while others say the move is long overdue.
Election '08 brings local and national change
In addition to a new president at the national level, changes were made following November's election locally, with three new school board members, a new U.S. Representative, and a new Scotland County Commissioner being elected.
Charles Brown, Terence Williams and Jeff K. Byrd were the new faces picked to take spots on the school board, as Chairman James "Buck" Carter was ousted in the process.
Defeating longtime Republican U.S. House member Robin Hayes, former Biscoe school teacher Larry Kissell, a Democrat, won the right to represent North Carolina's 8th district following a tense campaign.
On the Scotland County Board of Commissioners Bob Davis was victorious, defeating Leon Butler to earn the position.
Investigation accuses Scotland High Schools of wrongly moving students to improve EOC scores
In August the details of a state funded investigation of Scotland High Schools were released, indicating that Superintendent Shirley Prince oversaw the fixing of test scores at the High Schools via moving poor students to improve end of course test scores in violation of state policy.
According to the report, the students who were moved were then placed into non-existent classes.
Parents and even some teachers in the area were outraged at the findings, insisting that Prince and the principals at SHS be properly disciplined.
Before the end of the year, however, NC Superintendent June Atkinson cleared Scotland County Schools of all wrongdoing in the matter following a presentation by Prince, explaining what the apparently ambitious investigators misunderstood as malfeasance.
As a gesture of good will the Chairman of the State Board of Education, Howard Lee, toured the school with other Raleigh officials, offering apologies on behalf of the state for the wrong-headed investigation.
Fires ravage downtown Maxton; arsonists arrested
Late on the night of June 27, a blaze began in Maxton in an abandoned building. The fire quickly moved to an adjacent building, engulfing both in flames. Days later, two Maxton men were arrested in connection with the fires. According to investigators, James Mason set fire to a house on Graham St. early Friday morning and then he and another man set fire to two historic downtown structures, the former Austin Gilbert Drug Store and McGirt's Plumbing and Electric, Inc. building. While firefighters were attempting to extinguish that fire, they responded to another blaze in an unoccupied house on E. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, which investigators say was ignited by Mason's alleged accomplice, Lavander Bethea.