Location: 36 W. Liberty St.
Sumter, SC 29150

Office hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Main Office: (803) 774-1200

Circulation/Subscriptions/Delivery Issues: (803) 774-1258 or (803)-774-1231

Submit a news tip: newstip@theitem.com
Report or check delivery issues: click here
Submit press release information: pressrelease@theitem.com
Contact the sales department: advertising@theitem.com
Write a letter to the editor: editor@theitem.com (please include your full name and address)
Inquire about video coverage or commercial video services: studio@theitem.com

 

To contact a specific employee, find his or her contact information below.

 

Vince Johnson, Group Publisher
Office (803) 774-1200, email: vince@theitem.com

Vince was named publisher of The Sumter Item in September 2017. Prior to coming to Sumter, he led newspaper and digital operations in Atlanta, northern Los Angeles and south Georgia, and he has been a regular speaker on media innovation in newspapers for more than a decade. He is a graduate of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He is also the group publisher for Gulf Coast Media, a sister company to The Sumter Item.

 

 

Customer Service (Circulation & Classified)

Jill Burrus, Customer Service Manager, Legal Clerk
Office (803) 774-1212, email: jill@theitem.com

Jill is a native New Yorker who has slowly made her way down the East Coast over the last 20 years with her husband, Warren, and two teenaged daughters, Taylor and Logan. After graduating with a journalism degree from Hofstra University, she found herself in the apartment and residential property management industry – something she fell into and loved. Always smiling and friendly, she joined The Item with decades of customer service experience. In her off time, she enjoys spending time with her menagerie of furry pets and family and sending innocent houseplants to an early demise.

 

Destiny Hester, Customer Service
Office (803) 774-1258, email: destiny@theitem.com

Destiny was raised in Sumter and graduated from Sumter High School. As a 2022 College of Charleston graduate, she received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In her free time, she enjoys watching Netflix shows, traveling and spending time with her friends and family.

 

 

Linda Pekuri, Customer Service
Office (803) 774-1231, email: linda@theitem.com

Linda emerged from retirement and joined The Item as a customer service representative in March 2021. She gained her customer service experience while serving adults and children in Minnesota, South Dakota and South Carolina as a dietitian and public health professional for 35 years. Born and raised through her teenage years in Brooklyn, New York, and as a young adult in St. Paul, Minnesota, Linda calls herself a “Yankee transplant.” A Sumter resident since 1991, she is the devoted wife of Mark Pekuri and proud mother of their adult son, Aaron.

 

Advertising

Karen Cave, Sales Representative
Office (803) 774-1242, email: karen@theitem.com

Karen was born and raised in Centerville, Tennessee. Being a prior Air Force wife, she had the opportunity to travel all over Europe by living at Sembach Air Force Base and Lindsey Air Station in Germany. She also lived at Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton Beach and at Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Florida. She has called Sumter home since 1993. She has worked for The Sumter Item since February 2002. She truly enjoys being an advertising sales representative because she gets to help local businesses and watch our community grow. She’s married to Robert Cave. They have three daughters and eight grandchildren. She attends Alice Drive Baptist Church, and her hobbies include traveling, cooking and spending time with her family and friends.

 

Devin McDonald, Sales Representative
Office (803) 983-0786, email: devin@theitem.com

Devin was born and raised right here in Sumter and graduated from Lakewood High School. Before joining The Sumter Item in 2020, he had been working in the health care industry for 10 years, doing sales and management for the last six. He is excited to be working for The Sumter Item, where he can be involved in enhancing Sumter and being more involved in the community. He married his wife, Kyndal, in 2012, and they have two children, Ella Rose and Ben. He and his family attend Christ Community Church.

 

Mark Pekuri, Sales Representative
Office (803) 774-1274, email: mark@theitem.com

Mark has been in sales, management, marketing and advertising for about 30 years and has worked at The Sumter Item for about 15 years as an advertising and marketing sales representative. Born in 1961 to Robert and Charlotte Pekuri, Mark is the youngest of five children. He graduated in 1979 from Westwood High School in Ishpeming, Michigan, and moved to North Carolina in 1980 before calling South Carolina home in 1993. He married his wife, Linda, in 1995 and has three sons, Eric, Jared and Aaron. He is a member of Bethesda Church of God.

 

Xavier Platt, Sales Representative
Office (803) 774-1211, email: xavier@theitem.com

Upon graduating cum laude from Morris College in December 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications, where he made the dean’s list for his last three semesters, Xavier joined the sales team at The Sumter Item in February 2019. Born in Heidelberg, Germany, he is the youngest of two boys. His family moved to Wedgefield when he was 4, where he attended F.J. DeLaine Elementary School. He then lived in Virginia for three years before returning to Sumter for his eighth-grade year at Furman Middle School and a year and a half at Lakewood High School and finishing high school at Stonewall Jackson Senior High School in Virginia at the top of his class. He says his greatest accomplishment is his daughter, Kehlani, who was born in 2018.

 

Newsroom

Kayla Green: Executive Editor
Office (803) 774-1235, email: kayla@theitem.com

Kayla has worked in local news since 2009. Born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, she received her bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Florida and has worked in Gainesville, Tel Aviv, Atlanta, Sumter and the Alabama Gulf Coast. Having always had a strong pull toward feature writing and storytelling but having been thrown into the crime and courts beat as a new reporter, she has learned the critical importance of providing information people need to know and holding the powerful accountable while also writing about hope and triumph. Of telling stories spanning the spectrum of humanity. She joined The Sumter Item in October 2017 after serving as editor at the Forsyth County News in Georgia and has been awarded for reporting on topics ranging from heroin addiction to animal rescue to arts and entertainment. She is also executive editor of Gulf Coast Media, a sister company to The Sumter Item.

 

Micah Green: Chief Digital Officer
Office (803) 774-1200, email: micah@theitem.com

Born in Texas and having lived in Mississippi, Georgia and now South Carolina, Micah is a product of the South. He picked up a camera at his short-staffed newspaper after graduating from Mississippi State and has been telling stories through the lens since. His photography has received awards by both the Georgia Associated Press and South Carolina Press Association, including Photo of the Year twice, and his work has been published in The New York Times, Bloomberg, Reuters, CNN, the Audubon Society and Golf Journal. He started at The Sumter Item in October 2017. He is also chief digital officer at Gulf Coast Media, a sister company to The Item.

 

Shelbie Goulding: News & Newsletter Editor
Office (803) 774-1272, email: shelbie@theitem.com

Shelbie is a born-and-raised Hoosier from Northeast Indiana who covers local government and general community coverage in Sumter and leads The Item's expanding email newsletter strategy. After graduating from Kent State University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, she joined the team in The Sumter Item’s newsroom to cover crime and courts, Sumter government and other local beats. While in college, she gained experience as a writer then senior editor then managing editor of The Burr Magazine and as a columnist, reporter and assigning editor at The Kent Stater. She also wrote for the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company and Scriptype Publishing.

 

Tim Leible: Sports Editor
Office (803) 774-1221, email: tim@theitem.com

Tim joined The Sumter Item's sports department in 2019 after covering high school sports professionally in Missouri for four years, most recently as the sports editor for The Rolla Daily News and as a sports reporter at The Lake Today before that. He graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

 

Rhonda Barrick: Newsroom Manager
Office (803) 774-1264, email: rhonda@theitem.com

A military brat, Rhonda has been a Sumter resident practically her entire life. She has been with The Sumter Item for more than 40 years beginning as a file clerk and now is the newsroom manager (mom).

 

 

Bruce Mills: Reporter
Office (803) 774-1228, email: bruce@theitem.com

A Sumter resident since 2002, Bruce has more than 20 years of experience in the fields of journalism, communications and community and economic research. After working on the news copy desk at The Sumter Item from 2002-06, Bruce served nine years as a research analyst in the greater Sumter region to include Clarendon, Lee and Kershaw counties. His field of research included area K-12 education and the local colleges, workforce development and business and industry trends and statistics. Bruce’s coverage now includes education, business and industry and general community coverage. Bruce is married, and he and his wife are members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sumter.

 

Alaysha Maple: Reporter
Office (803) 774-1241, email: alaysha@theitem.com

Born and raised in Sumter, Alaysha joined The Sumter Item’s newsroom in 2021 as a multimedia reporter and writes about public safety, Lee County and general community coverage. After graduating from the College of Charleston in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in communication, she applied her creative skills and love for writing to create The H.E.R Blog. While in college, her self-taught experience in editing and social media coordinating was useful in promoting The Apiphany Podcast along with other projects she produced for her college. Her passion for storytelling, love for connecting with others and endless need to create drives Alaysha to continue to find new, unique ways to share the extraordinary experiences of those in surrounding communities.

 

Ashley Miller: Reporter
Office (803) 774-1227, email: ashley@theitem.com

Ashley was born in Lancaster but moved to Columbia to attend the University of South Carolina. She earned her bachelors in journalism and came to The Sumter Item in 2022. She has always been a reporter at heart, watching her grandparents read the daily newspaper, reading the comics and then becoming involved at her high school newspaper. In college, she realized she could combine her interests of crime and journalism. Before USC, she attended Kent State University and worked on the university's magazine, Fusion. But South Carolina has always been her home, so to USC she went. She put her skills of editing and writing to the test as a reporter for USC's Carolina News and Reporter website. Her love of talking to people, going places and putting a story together is what keeps her composed. After a long day of reporting, you can find her at home, with her dog in her lap and a movie playing, already planning out the days ahead. She covers Clarendon County and general community coverage.

 

Isaiah Lucas: Sports Reporter
Office (803) 774-1200, email: isaiah@theitem.com

Isaiah is a North Carolina native who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies. While in college, he spent time writing as a sports reporter for the  school’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, and as a beat writing assistant for Inside Carolina. When he isn’t working, he enjoys playing sports as well as attending sporting events, concerts and music festivals.

 

 

Cal Cary: Multimedia Reporter | Photo Editor
Office (803) 774-1283, email: cal@theitem.com

Cal was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in northern Virginia. He started studying journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2014 and slowly transitioned into photography during his first year of college. In early 2016, he decided to transfer to Rochester Institute of Technology to study photojournalism. It was at RIT where he learned to tell stories through his images and fine tune his craft.  Cal graduated and received his bachelor's in photojournalism in 2018 and immediately began freelancing for The Washington Post. For the next three years, he worked as a freelance photojournalist, and his stories have been picked up by the Virginia Pilot and Associated Press. During that time, he also has worked with clients to do photoshoots for events ranging from fairs to conferences. In his free time, Cal enjoys playing golf and other sports. He is also a bit of a gearhead and works on restoring old cars. He just finished his old Jeep CJ7, which he plans to keep.

 

Richie Weber: Video/Audio Producer & Editor
Office (803) 774-1200, email: richie@theitem.com

Richie is a New Jersey-born transplant brought to Sumter in 2020 by his wife, Mia. He graduated from Millersville University in 2018 with a B.S. in communications, where he spent time as a DJ on WIXQ 91.7 The ‘Ville and as a tournament organizer for the Super Smash Brothers Club. In addition, he was an avid member of his high school’s music programs and the Jersey Surf Drum & Bugle Corps. This instilled in him a love of the arts and the desire to always tell better stories.  He can usually be found in front of a computer, with one of two cats in his lap and a dog at his feet. His favorite icebreaker is that he’s been in a Super Bowl Halftime Show, but you’ll have to ask him for that story yourself.

 

Melanie Smith: Page Designer | Copy Editor
Office (803) 774-1293, email: melanie@theitem.com

In some way, The Sumter Item has always been a part of Melanie’s life. She was born on Shaw Air Force Base, and her parents have been subscribing for decades. In high school, she began working as an intern editor and designer and continued working for the paper while studying print journalism at USC in Columbia and Sumter. Now, she enjoys helping our team of reporters polish their stories and designing pages that give readers information they need quickly. Her favorite types of articles to design are those we can all relate to (favorite pizza toppings, anyone?) In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors hiking and working in her yard, crafting and spending time with her husband and their menagerie of pets.

 

Sandra Holbert: Newsroom Clerk | Obituary Copy Editor
Office (803) 774-1226, email: sandra@theitem.com

Sandra has worked as the newsroom and obituary clerk and copy editor for The Sumter Item since 2001. She grew up in Sumter and graduated from Hillcrest High School in 1984. She is married to Richie Holbert and has two adult children, Cheyenne Harper and Shayne McJunkin, and several canine kids. She enjoys antique shopping, reading, fishing and spending time with her family and dogs.

 

Sammy Way: Archivist
Office (803) 774-1200

A lifelong Sumter resident, Sammy now gives back to his hometown as a historian and archivist. Sammy taught history at Sumter High School and coached football, basketball, track, cross country, tennis and golf, winning three state championships in track. He was named High School Coach of the Year in 1981 and ’83-’85. He has taught at Central Carolina Technical College and earned bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees from the University of South Carolina. Sammy is the curator of the Sumter County Military Museum and helps in the orientation of new recruits at Shaw Air Force Base. Sammy and his wife, Rita, have two daughters and two grandchildren.

Sharron Haley: Clarendon County Contributor
Office (803) 774-1200, email: pressrelease@theitem.com

Nich Pitts, Photography Contributor
Office (803) 774-1200, email: sports@theitem.com

 

Creative Services

Janel Strieter: Creative Director | Community Coordinator
Office (803) 774-1244, email: janel@theitem.com

Janel is a member of the creative team at The Sumter Item and serves as a graphic designer, creating content for a wide range of publications. She joined The Sumter Item in 2019 after several years of working for the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce. In 2016, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, she decided to move to South Carolina after falling in love with the area while visiting family.

 

Cary Howard: Graphic Designer
Office (803) 774-1285, email: cary@theitem.com

After being at The Sumter Item for almost 13 years, Cary left and spent a few years working with Hodge Systems and Consulting Services before returning  to The Item in 2022 after realizing her true passion is graphic design. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two beagles, bingeing Netflix, going to car meets and working on their mustangs.

 

 

Business Office

Caroline Coxe: Controller
Office (803) 774-1245, email: caroline@theitem.com

Michele Barr: Senior Staff Accountant
Office (803) 774-1249, email: michele@theitem.com

Michelle Lee: Staff Accountant
Office (803 ) 774-1236, email: michelle@theitem.com

Ownership

Jack Osteen: Managing Partner, Co-Owner of Osteen Publishing Co.
Office (803) 774-1238, email: jack@theitem.com

Kyle Osteen: Managing Partner, Co-Owner of Osteen Publishing Co.
Office (803) 774-1254, email: kyle@theitem.com

Graham Osteen: Co-Owner of Osteen Publishing Co.

Jacqueline B. Osteen: Co-Owner of Osteen Publishing Co.