When is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Sumter, SC


If you have been accused and charged with a crime you are in need of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Sumter, SC. Having a skilled and dedicated criminal defense lawyer on your side is key in order to protect your freedoms and to ensure that a proper legal defense is built to shield you. Dealing with legal charges in Sumter can be a highly distressing ordeal with even minor violations causing considerable impact on an individual's personal and work life. The repercussions of having a criminal record can be severe, leading to loss of employment, severed relationships and alienation from loved ones.

At Theos Law Firm we offer trustworthy legal representation to those who need it most. Our criminal defense team has over 50 years of combined experience and is committed to ensuring our clients maintain their freedom and move forward with their lives. From handling drug-related charges to more nuanced federal cases, sexual misconduct offenses and murder cases, we take a personalized approach to every case. By utilizing cutting-edge legal strategies and decades of combined experience, we provide the best opportunity to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Service Areas

We help clients overcome criminal charges in a wide range of cases, including the following:

  • Homicides
  • Drug Crimes
  • Juvenile Crimes
  • Sex Crimes
  • Theft Crimes
  • Violent Crimes
  • Misdemeanor Offenses
  • Federal Offenses
  • More

If you are facing one or more of the charges above, it's imperative that you establish contact with a legal advocate ASAP. At Theos Law, you can rest easy knowing our phone line is always open. When your future is up for grabs, let our team of criminal defense lawyers fight for your rights. It all starts with a free consultation at our law firm in Sumter where we will educate you on the particulars of the charges you're facing and explain the next steps in our representation.

At this point, you probably have many questions in mind. Keep reading for more information on criminal law in South Carolina and some of our criminal defense specialties at Theos Law.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Sumter, SC

Understanding Criminal Defense Cases in South Carolina


In South Carolina, criminal cases are classified into different categories based on the severity of the crime. Generally speaking, offenses that carry a maximum penalty of less than one year are considered misdemeanors. On the other hand, crimes that carry a punishment of more than one year in prison are generally classified as felonies.

State and Federal Criminal Defense Cases in South Carolina

Crimes in The Palmetto State are usually split into three categories: (1) Magistrate or Municipal Level Offenses; (2) General Sessions or Circuit Court State Charges; and, (3) Federal Crimes. Classifications are based on which prosecuting body has jurisdiction to prosecute a particular charge or offense. Regardless of which court your criminal charge is in, the Theos Law Firm has decades of experience protecting individuals from prosecution and assuring that the best possible outcome is achieved.

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The Difference Between Misdemeanors and Felonies in South Carolina

Understanding the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony crime can be challenging for someone facing their first charge. Misdemeanors are generally considered minor offenses, and can result in punishment by incarceration up to one year.

Conversely, felonies are more severe crimes which are punishable by incarceration of more than one year. Those charged with a felony may face significant fines and a prison sentences of over a year in a federal or state institution. Convicted felons may face difficulties after their release such as losing the right to vote and the right to carry a firearm. These penalties make it crucial to have a reliable criminal defense attorney in Sumter, SC.

Plea Deals in South Carolina

It is not uncommon for legal cases to be resolved without a trial through a plea deal. In order to assure that the best possible plea deal become available it is crucial for your legal defense to properly build your defense and prepare your case for trial. Deciding to represent yourself or not hiring the best legal team will likely result in exposure to unnecessary penalties, fines and jail time.

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When is the Right Time to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Sumter, SC?


At Theos Law Firm, we often receive questions from potential clients about when they should hire a criminal defense attorney for the charges that they're facing. Although each situation and client are unique, there are some common criminal situations to keep in mind. In general, it's always best to reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as you're charged or have been arrested.

Below are some guidelines to help you decide when it's necessary to retain a criminal defense attorney for your case in South Carolina.

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When You've Been Accused or Charged

Thinking about hiring a criminal defense lawyer when you're charged with a crime is a no-brainer for most, and for good reason. Our team of experience criminal defense attorneys can offer assistance with various offenses, ranging from minor crimes to more serious ones such as sexual assault and manslaughter. Regardless of the charges, navigating the legal system can be complex, and without the guidance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the situation can escalate rapidly. It is critical that you engage an experienced attorney as soon as possible!

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When Investigators or Police Question You

As you may have observed in movies or television shows, the police might request you to provide a statement, giving the impression that you are not under arrest. Remember, it is within your rights to have a criminal defense attorney in Sumter, SC, present during questioning, and you should absolutely use that to your advantage. If possible, consult with an attorney before answering any questions or participating in any discussions with law enforcement.

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When Authorities Search Your Residence

In the event that law enforcement officers arrive at your residence with a warrant, it indicates that a judge has determined there is reasonable suspicion that evidence related to a criminal offense is present in your home. Regardless of whether they discover and confiscate anything, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a seasoned defense attorney to discuss the situation and receive assistance in determining any potential charges or locations they may investigate in the future.

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When You Are Wrongly Accused of Committing a Crime

Could you imagine being accused of something you didn't do? When you are accused or charged with committing a crime that you didn't commit defending yourself may seem straightforward but it can be an arduous task to see to it that the charges are timely resolved. It can also feel hopeless and like it's impossible for you to get someone to listen to your side. The truth is that anything you say or do can and will be used against you. To increase your chances of being cleared of charges, it's advisable to have a defense lawyer who can support your innocence and fight for your rights. Criminal defense attorneys at Theos Law don't just listen - we act swiftly and always with your best interests at heart.

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When Your Child Is Involved

The legal system for juveniles in South Carolina is different than it is for adults. It comes with its own complications and hurdles to overcome. If you your child has been accused of a crime it's imperative to get legal counsel swiftly. Failure to do so could be destructive to your child's life, your family or result in a exposure to jail time. Keep reading to learn more about just a few of the most common criminal defense cases we accept at Theos Law Firm.

Criminal Defense for DUIs in South Carolina


In terms of common criminal offenses in South Carolina, DUIs top the list, especially regarding mindful drivers with clean driving records and no criminal history. Unfortunately for these drivers, a DUI conviction in South Carolina stays on your record and cannot be expunged. Even first-time offenses with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent can be costly. Your insurance premiums go up for years, you may end up paying almost $1,000 in fines and fees, and there's a good chance you'll have to perform community service or serve jail time.

If your breathalyzer test result is more than .15%, you refuse the breathalyzer, or it is recorded as a refusal, your license will be automatically suspended, which complicates matters further. Throw in the possibility of interlock device rental, and your life may never be the same. For those reasons alone, it is crucial to approach such charges with the help of a DUI defense lawyer. At Theos Law Firm, our attorneys have years of experience in successfully fighting these types of charges.

Fortunately, if you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, there is hope. That's especially true if the accused has undergone a breath or blood test for DUI. In fact, cases that involve such tests are successfully beaten every day. At Theos Law Firm, we will thoroughly investigate your DUI case in Sumter and explore every possible angle to have it dismissed.

To begin that process, your criminal defense lawyer in Sumter, SC, may seek answers to many questions, including:

  • Was your DUI stop legal? If not, your case could be thrown out.
  • Is there enough probable cause or evidence for an arrest? If there is not, it's possible to file a pre-trial motion for your case to be dismissed.
  • Did officers explain implied consent rights? One of the most common errors police make is failing to take this step.
  • Did the police maintain your BAC and breathalyzer results? Breath testing often comes with inherent weaknesses. This can create doubt in a juror's mind.
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Criminal Defense for Drug Cases in South Carolina


If you are dealing with drug-related crimes in Sumter or another city in South Carolina, it is crucial for you to understand the potential penalties involved. Possession of a controlled substance may fall under the category of a misdemeanor, but many drug offenses are considered felonies. Even a minor drug offense conviction can result in long-lasting negative consequences. As such, it's always advisable to explore your options and seek the assistance of a Sumter drug crime attorney. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help safeguard your rights and may help achieve a favorable outcome.

One of the most frequent questions we hear at Theos Law is, "What does possession mean?"

Drug charges based on possession in South Carolina are divided into three categories:

  • Simple Possession
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute
  • Drug Trafficking

However, the state also has other drug charges that are not based on the weight of the drugs. These include:

  • Drug Distribution
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution Near Schools, Parks, or Playgrounds
Criminal Defense Lawyer Sumter, SC

Possession-based drug charges in South Carolina are deemed "graduated offenses" with penalties that grow more severe based on the weight of the drugs. It's important to note that the charges can be based on either actual or constructive possession. Contact a criminal defense lawyer in Sumter, SC, today to learn more about the complexities involved with drug cases in Sumter and other cities in South Carolina.

Some of the most common drug charges we see at Theos Law include the following:

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD and Hallucinogens
  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Prescription Pain Killers
  • Fentanyl
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Can I be Arrested for Drug Paraphernalia in South Carolina?

The simple answer to this question is a resounding "Yes." Drug paraphernalia can refer to various items such as pipes, bongs, syringes, scales, grinders, and rolling papers which are linked to drug usage, preparation, storage, or hiding. Even though some of these items may have legitimate uses, like tobacco pipes or medical syringes, they can still be scrutinized by law enforcement if there is proof of illegal drug use or intent.

Criminal Defense for Assault and Battery Cases in South Carolina


If you are facing assault and battery charges, it is possible that you haven't actually physically harmed someone. Many people associate assault and battery with brutal beatings, but that is just one example. There are other situations that are less severe than what people typically imagine.

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It's a common misunderstanding that physical injury is required for assault and battery charges. The fines, penalties, and jail time you may face depend on the severity of your charges and the number of offenses. Regardless of the degree of your charges, Assault and Battery is a serious offense that should not be taken lightly. The consequences of a conviction can be life-changing, and as such, your criminal defense lawyer in Sumter, SC, should work relentlessly to fight the charges being levied against you.

Though this list isn't comprehensive, here are some of the biggest factors that dictate the severity of your assault and battery charges:

  • Age of Victim
  • Severity of Injuries Sustained
  • Size and Weight of Accused vs. Size and Weight of Victim
  • Whether or Not the Victim Presses Charges
  • Whether or Not Weapons Were Involved
  • Whether or Not the Victim's Privates Were Touched

Understanding the Degrees of Assault and Battery in South Carolina

Third Degree

Causing harm to someone or threatening to do so with the ability to carry out the threat can result in a charge of third-degree assault and battery. This misdemeanor offense is typically heard in municipal or magistrate courts and may carry a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail.

Second Degree

Causing harm or making threats to harm someone that results in moderate bodily injury can lead to charges of second-degree assault and battery. Additionally, touching someone's private parts without their consent can also result in charges of assault and battery in the second degree. This misdemeanor offense is heard in General Session court and can carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

First Degree

Assault and Battery in the first degree can involve a number of actions such as inflicting an unlawful injury when kidnapping, touching a person's privates "with lewd and lascivious intent," and much more. Contact Theos Law Firm for more info on the degrees of Assault and Battery in South Carolina.

Everyone Deserves a Reliable Criminal Defense Attorney in Sumter, SC


At Theos Law firm, we work tirelessly to ensure that our client's rights are not overlooked. Because unfortunately, the rights of everyday citizens are often trampled by law enforcement oversights and legal system failures.

That's why every criminal defense lawyer at our firm works hard to provide guidance and support throughout the legal process by keeping you informed of updates and as comfortable as possible during this trying time. Benefits of hiring Theos Law Firm include:

  • Thorough Knowledge of South Carolina Criminal Law & Procedures
  • Seasoned Legal Representation in the Courtroom
  • Years of Experience Structuring Plea bargains
  • Ability to Identify Due Process Violations
  • Fierce Dedication to Clients & Vigorous Representation
  • Skilled Negotiation Tactics Involved with Bail, Sentencing, Appeals, and More
  • Familiarity with Local Prosecutors

Unlike some criminal defense law firms in South Carolina, our team believes that everyone deserves a great lawyer when their freedoms are on the line. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime in South Carolina, trust Theos Law to have your back without judgment.

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Latest News in Sumter, SC

New manufacturing facility bringing jobs, investment to Sumter

eVAC is a German magnet manufacturer. It's planning to invest half a billion dollars and create nearly 300 jobs in Sumter County.Credit: WLTXSUMTER, S.C. — Half a billion dollars and nearly 300 jobs are expected to come into Sumter County now that a new manufacturing facility has announced it will be coming to the area. The German magnet manufacturer’s parent company is called ...

eVAC is a German magnet manufacturer. It's planning to invest half a billion dollars and create nearly 300 jobs in Sumter County.

Credit: WLTX

SUMTER, S.C. — Half a billion dollars and nearly 300 jobs are expected to come into Sumter County now that a new manufacturing facility has announced it will be coming to the area. The German magnet manufacturer’s parent company is called Vacuumschmelze, with “eVAC” as its US name.

“They need it, I need it, we all need it,” Sumter resident Jeremiah Johnson says about job opportunities.

Now that eVAC has announced its plan to build a magnet manufacturing plant, it says 300 positions are expected to come to the area.

“It's a tremendous day,” Sumter Mayor David Merchant shares about the $500 million investment. “It creates jobs, it creates investment in South Carolina, it creates investment in Sumter specifically, and it just helps show that Sumter can compete with anybody in the state as far as our workforce and what we can help generate.”

“I think as we grow with more and more job opportunities, we'll continue to get a bigger group of people and with that more talent, more opportunity and just continue to get better together,” Sumter resident Will Hancock explains.

Hancock says economic development is key to making Sumter a good place to live.

“Sumter has made a big shift in the last decade. When I was in high school, I don’t think I had much to say about Sumter,” Hancock remembers. “Now I have plenty to say about Sumter as far as bringing people in.”

It’s something small business owner Niki Lewis says is important.

“With bringing new businesses, you have new faces coming in, different ideas. So it’s really good for all the small businesses,” Lewis says. “A lot of people go outside of where they live to get better opportunities, but if we're bringing those businesses and corporations in, that's better for them to stay home, meaning more time with their family because they don't have to travel as much. And then again, the money stays within the community.”

“Businesses from all over the world are coming to South Carolina. It's our job to see that we don't drop the ball,” Gov. Henry McMaster said on stage at the announcement. “Sometimes we really don't realize how good we have it, but other people do and that’s why they’re coming here.”

McMaster and leaders from across the state gathered for the announcement, which Vacuumschmelze’s CEO Erik Eschen says was made because of the people.

“The big difference for us was really people when you sit with them and talk with them, you see they mean it. And this is a unique experience we had here in South Carolina, especially Sumter that made the change and a difference,” Eschen shares.

Eschen says the facility is expected to be open by the end of 2025.

“Construction will be starting you know, hopefully we can get some local contractors involved to be participating in that and then it'll be plenty of announcements and talking about job fairs and job creations,” Mayor Merchant explains.

“We even try to avoid any noise from the outside,” Eschen adds. “And we assume depending on the day between two or four additional trucks we will have in the area, so I hope your traffic system can digest that. So we will be a very friendly and quiet neighbor, but not only that, we want to really be engaged in this wonderful community.”

eVAC’s technology is used in electric vehicle motors and will support US defense programs, as Eschen explains.

“We can’t understate how world class this company is,” South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey says. “Their technology is really cutting edge leading technology in this world and frankly you know, they are the only company that does what they do that is based in the Western Hemisphere, so it is a great honor to have them be part of South Carolina.”

Increasing Sumter economics: German magnet manufacturing company breaks ground on Sumter facility

eVAC builds magnets to use in vehicles. On Thursday, it broke ground on its new facility in Sumter, which will be the company's North American headquarters.More VideosSUMTER, S.C. — Nearly 300 jobs and half a billion dollars are coming to Sumter as a magnet manufacturer from Germany known as eVAC is opening a facility in the cunty.On Thursday, the company brok...

eVAC builds magnets to use in vehicles. On Thursday, it broke ground on its new facility in Sumter, which will be the company's North American headquarters.

More Videos

SUMTER, S.C. — Nearly 300 jobs and half a billion dollars are coming to Sumter as a magnet manufacturer from Germany known as eVAC is opening a facility in the cunty.

On Thursday, the company broke ground on the new site, which, according to CEO Erik Eschen, will serve as the North American headquarters. The land currently sits empty near Justin Lane on Sagawa Drive, not far from the Continental Tire manufacturing facility.

Leaders from across the state, including House Speaker Murrell Smith, came to the ceremony to learn about the economic impact eVAC will have on the area as it makes magnets for the military and General Motors.

"eVAC is a part of the new economy," Sumter Development Board Chair Greg Thompson said. "Sumter has a long history with the automotive industry. We had Bendix many years ago, back in the early 90s and late 80s, before NAFTA passed, and as that came about, our industry left. So it's really super exciting to be a part of the new economy, the green economy, and really draw back on our heritage."

According to Sumter County Development Project Manager Brian Rauschenbach, over $2.6 billion in announced manufacturing and industrial investment has been made in the Sumter area since 2007.

Rauschenbach said the per capita income in Sumter County has increased 59% since 2010.

"First of all, we always want to increase the economics here in Sumter," County Council Chairman Jim McCain said. "We want to improve the quality of life for all of our constituents, all of our citizens here in Sumter, and with these well-paying jobs coming into sumter, eventually that will raise economic impact."

Rauschenbach said manufacturing is the largest employment sector in Sumter County, employing 17.2% of the area's population, double the United States' national percentage.

Jeff Zell moved to Sumter in August of 2017. Now, he serves on the Sumter School District Board and said that having eVAC in his community is "hugely important."

"Locally, hyper-locally, we have a lot of poverty here," Zell said. "There's a direct pathway from a good education and the opportunity for meaningful employment to get folks out of poverty. And so from a very local perspective, if we don't have a pathway to opportunity, we can't help our constituents and our neighbors."

Zell said he thinks eVAC's expansion into Sumter is "another big step in the right direction" toward the city's growth.

"End of next year we will be operational. It's a very tight timeline," Eschen said about the anticipated 2025 opening.

Eschen said eVAC chose Sumter for its North American headquarters because of the "great people."

"We get a lot of support from the state, from the county, from the city, and it's just...they're moving faster," Eschen said. And honest handshake people, and that's what we need because time is of essence to get this facility up and running."

Sumter's 'uncommon patriotism' one reason why residents think it's home to the most vets per capita in the SC. Here's what else they say.

According to recent data from the US Census Bureau, 13.2% of Sumter County residents are veterans. Here's why residents think that is.SUMTER, S.C. — The military population is large in the South Carolina Midlands, but one county stands out. The recently released 2022 US Census Bureau data shows Sumter County has the most vet...

According to recent data from the US Census Bureau, 13.2% of Sumter County residents are veterans. Here's why residents think that is.

SUMTER, S.C. — The military population is large in the South Carolina Midlands, but one county stands out. The recently released 2022 US Census Bureau data shows Sumter County has the most veterans per capita out of all the counties in the state.

"The people in the area just have a true love for you," veteran Lefford Fate said, smiling. "It just makes it better."

Fate served as command chief at Hulburt Field in Florida before moving to Sumter for Shaw Air Force Base in 2008. When it came time to retire, Fate decided to stay. Now, he works as Sumter support services director.

"People in Sumter get it," Fate said. "I've been to a lot of places. I was in the Air Force for 31 years. I've traveled around the world, and this is the single greatest place that welcomes military people."

It's part of why Fate says recent data from the American Collection Survey makes sense. The data shows that out of all the counties in South Carolina, Sumter has the most veterans per capita at 13.2%, with 76,401 veterans.

"Businesses look at census data to see if a community is growing," Sumter Project Manager Jason Stoddard said. "If we can show that we're growing community and that our average and median income levels are healthy and improving, then I think we see more businesses look at the community to come here, and so we improve quality of life. I read a report that said the military community out at Shaw Air Force base but also including retirees and veterans, are spending over $33 million a year at basically restaurants. Well, you know, that's a huge investment in the community. But also you think about hospitality tax and how that can generate funds for improving quality of life for things tourism-related."

According to a 2022 Economic Impact of South Carolina's Military Community report by the South Carolina Department of Veteran's Affairs, the Sumter region has an annual economic impact of $2.5 billion. The report shows that 16,916 jobs were supported by the military community, which generated $1.1 billion in labor income.

Stoddard is a veteran himself and said he helped with the 2020 census outreach awareness and education efforts.

"Businesses look at that census data to see if they want to open new stores, factories, restaurants, you know, in that community so we wanted to show we were a growing community so we could attract new businesses," Stoddard said.

"Sumter's motto is 'uncommon patriotism,' and I truly feel that they show it," said Sumter American Legion District 11 Commander Peter St. Onge. "Because the way they cater to the military around here, programs, VA clinics…the city itself, the civilians, they serve the military and the veterans. And it is uncommon to find that. There is a lot of towns where the veteran community just falls into the background, but here at Sumter, Shaw having a big impact in the Sumter economic plan; they kind of cater to each other."

It's a feeling that Pennsylvania native Jack Lonergan credits for his decision to stay in Sumter after a 22-year career in the Air Force. Lonergan now serves as the American Legion Department of South Carolina's Third Vice Commander and the American Legion Dalzell-Shaw Post 175 Commander.

"Cost of living, employment. I mean, I actually thought about moving to the beach when I retired from my next career, but I mean, my cost of living….my mortgage is lower than what a homeowner's association fee would be in a lot of places. So cost of living is number one, employment opportunities number two, the way Sumter treats the military personnel is fantastic. You don't get… I've never seen that type of relationship," Lonergan said. "To be able to belong someplace, that made me want to retire here, is I could go into certain businesses in Sumter, and the respect that I get because I'm a veteran is just phenomenal. It really makes you feel like you're part of the family."

"I mean, just that the leaders of this town, you know Murrell Smith is the Speaker of the House, he's from Sumter. So many of these guys truly believe in helping veterans and being part of their community," St. Onge said. "Sometimes when you go to Washington and stuff like that, you see some of it. It's just more of a photo op. But here, they truly believe it, and it's genuine. It's nice to see."

The census data was released in December and gives a one-year look at 2022 and a five-year overview from 2017 to 2022.

Fate said he believes Sumter's continued support of the veteran population comes down to communication.

"The city needs things. We need workers, we need leaders, we need all of that," Fate said. "So we need to be able to tell the people from the base what we need and want, right? And then they need to tell what they need and want and we just come together and have a conversation."

Nearly $24 million, 20 jobs coming to Sumter after manufacturing plant announces expansion

The high-purity solvents manufacturer has expanded to four locations throughout Sumter since 2014. Now, it's bringing 20 new jobs, nearly $24 million.Credit: WLTXSUMTER, S.C. — Almost $24 million is going into Sumter County, and 20 new jobs are coming to the area.On Wednesday, Nova Molecular Technologies announced it is expanding its operations.The high-purity...

The high-purity solvents manufacturer has expanded to four locations throughout Sumter since 2014. Now, it's bringing 20 new jobs, nearly $24 million.

Credit: WLTX

SUMTER, S.C. — Almost $24 million is going into Sumter County, and 20 new jobs are coming to the area.

On Wednesday, Nova Molecular Technologies announced it is expanding its operations.

The high-purity solvents manufacturer has expanded to four locations throughout the area after moving to Sumter in 2014.

"This is really, you know, the next phase in the Racetrack Road build out," Nova CEO and President Christopher Adams said. "Phase one was all the infrastructure and some basic assets to begin operations. But then this next phase that we're investing in is really about bringing a new process that is going to make us unique in the world in some of the materials that we produce."

Adams said the company began in Texas and expanded into Sumter, ultimately divesting in the Texas location and focusing on growth within the Gamecock City.

"We've really had nothing but a positive experience operating in South Carolina and specifically Sumter. You know, the local and state governments, the economic development team have all been super helpful in helping us achieve our objectives, but you know, really it's the people in Sumter," Adams said. "The folks that we can go out and hire to become part of the Nova team. You know, they make all the difference."

While Nova benefits from Sumter, Sumter Economic Development Project Manager Brian Rauschenbach says the community is also benefitting.

"This expansion, basically, it means it's $24 million, almost $24 million in new investment to the community and 20 additional jobs that are high-paying, highly technical, that will be value add to the community," Rauschenbach said. "It'll be great opportunities for people that live here, as well as some people that may be recruited from other colleges and universities across the United States."

"It's more property tax revenue for the county, for the school district," he added. "It's employment opportunities for people which then helps to grow the per capita income of the community, of which other people, other companies can go and look at and say, 'Well, if they can do it, they can invest here and our community is growing, then maybe we can come here and invest there and be successful and grow as well."

Rauschenbach says 17% of the labor force is in manufacturing in Sumter County. He said having Nova Molecular, along with other companies like Continental Tires and eVAC, coming in "align perfectly with our industry clusters that are targeted industry clusters for us."

That expansion is expected to be finished by 2028.

First South Carolina student accepted into Coast Guard Academy for upcoming year comes from Sumter

Eriyonna Walcott is a senior at Sumter High School. According to the Coast Guard Academy, only one South Carolinian has been accepted so far this year.More VideosSUMTER, S.C. — It's college acceptance season for students nationwide, and in Midlands, one high school senior has found out she's going to the Coast Guard Academy. The Sumter High School student is the first and only Sou...

Eriyonna Walcott is a senior at Sumter High School. According to the Coast Guard Academy, only one South Carolinian has been accepted so far this year.

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SUMTER, S.C. — It's college acceptance season for students nationwide, and in Midlands, one high school senior has found out she's going to the Coast Guard Academy. The Sumter High School student is the first and only South Carolinian to be accepted this year so far.

"Since I was probably like five or six years old, I just wanted to go to military," 17-year-old Eriyonna Walcott said. "My uncle, he's an officer in the Coast Guard. He retired as a commander in the Coast Guard, and I've always looked up to him my whole life. So, that just really inspired me to join the Coast Guard and be an officer."

Walcott said this inspiration and her school's ROTC program helped her confirm she wanted to join the military. Initially, Walcott said she planned to enlist right after high school graduation.

"I've never been the type of person to want to go to college or anything. That didn't happen 'til last year, late summer," Walcott said. "Ms. Gadson from seventh grade up until my 11th grade year summer, she's been juggling with me trying to convince me to go to college, so you know, Gear Up has really helped me. She made sure my grades were on point, my head's on the right track and all that type of stuff."

Because of Gear Up Counselor Audrika Gadson, Walcott is now the first person from South Carolina to be admitted into the Coast Guard Academy for 2024.

"You got kids who never thought they were gonna go to college accepted and ready to go," Gadson said, smiling. "Like, that's amazing."

Gadson has been working with Walcott and the Sumter High Class of 2024 for the past six years, making a difference, said principal Anamaria Sandor.

"The support they have received from the Gear Up specialist, it made a difference because they were exposed to more college options, to FAFSA, to meetings that they have with all the students to make sure that they know how to apply to the college, what letters they need, what recommendation, who to ask for recommendation," Sandor said.

"Makes me want to cry," Gadson said. "You know, you get a relationship with kids and, you know, you see so many kids never thought they were going to go even they just did, 'My path was strictly military,' you know, being able to talk to a child, be like, 'You know, well, you know, there's other options, you can still go to college and still be in the military at the same time.' You know, just introducing them to things that they never thought was possible and didn't know that exists, it's amazing."

The Academy said that only one person in the state has been accepted so far. In 2023, the Academy said only five students from South Carolina were accepted.

"It was either the Academy or the military. So, I feel like if you're determined to do something, you can make it happen. You have to believe in yourself and do everything you can," Walcott said. "ROTC - it helped develop my leadership skills and my responsibility. There's a lot of stuff in ROTC to help you with time management, all that type of stuff."

In addition to her school's JROTC program, Walcott said she's involved in many other extracurriculars, from the color guard and drill team to wrestling, swimming, track and National Honor Society.

"Another thing that got me here is all my support system. So, you know, my parents got number one, my principal, you know, everybody; they just kept encouraging me. So I really appreciate that," Walcott said. "If you go to college, you get more benefits, higher pay, that type of stuff. It's just a lot more benefits. I will get commissioning rather than enlisting. So yeah, I was like, you know what, maybe they're right. Let's do it."


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