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

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

Main Office: (803) 774-1200

Circulation/Delivery Issues: (803) 774-1258

Submit a news tip: newstip@theitem.com
Report delivery issues or get subscriber help: circulation@theitem.com
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, 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, and lives with his wife, Brooke. He is also the group publisher for Gulf Coast Media, a sister company to The Sumter Item.

 

 

Customer Service (Circulation & Classified)

Kathy Stafford, Customer Service Manager
Office (803) 774-1212, email: kathy@theitem.com

Kathy, a long-time resident of Sumter, has been employed by The Sumter Item for more than 23 years. She is the customer service manager, legal notices clerk, insert coordinator and layout paginator. She is married to Robbie Stafford and has three children and three grandchildren. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family, doing arts and crafts and bowling and works with a small nonprofit organization.

 

Jill Burrus, Customer Service
Office (803) 774-1258, 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 joins 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.

 

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, 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 28 years and has worked at The Sumter Item for about 13 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 and now Sumter. 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.

 

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. He started at The Sumter Item in October 2017.

 

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 beats now include education, business and industry and general community coverage. Bruce is married, and he and his wife are members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sumter.

 

Kareem Wilson: Audience Development Manager | Reporter
Office (803) 774-1227, email: kareem@theitem.com

Kareem is a genuine Southern man born and raised in Georgetown. After graduating from Winthrop University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in theater and mass communications, he covered several topics on health, community and education as a reporter for The Georgetown Times before joining The Sumter Item’s newsroom to help expand coverage in Clarendon County and underserved communities. While in college, he gained experience as a writer forThe Roddey McMillan Record and as a reporter at The Charlotte Post. Through these experiences, he has learned the importance of information and the power of people’s stories in bringing change to their communities. Always a visual thinker and storyteller, he is working to help find new and creative ways to bring local news to underserved communities.

 

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

Born and raised in Sumter, Alaysha joined The Sumter Item’s newsroom 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.

 

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 soon-to-be-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 for more than 19 years. She grew up in Sumter and graduated from Hillcrest High School in 1984. She is married to Richie Holbert and has two children, Cheyenne Harper, who is married to Staff Sgt. Bobby Harper, and Shayne McJunkin. 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.

Ivy Moore: Arts and Culture Contributor
Office (803) 774-1200, email: pressrelease@theitem.com

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

 

Jivon Adams: Graphic Designer | User Experience
Office (803) 774-1244, email: jivon@theitem.com

Raised here in Sumter, Jivon served for six years in the U.S. Air Force as a heavy equipment operator, during which time he started at the University of South Carolina and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in 2020. While in college, he gained experience as a designer working for 826CHI, a children’s book publishing company, creating social media campaigns. He loves creating ads that inform viewers while entertaining them with great visuals. He is interested in UX design because it allows him to use design methodology, data and surveys to become a better visual storyteller and create a compelling visual experience. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and camping.

 

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

Managing Partners

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

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