News Archive

Week of Jan. 7, 2004

Looking Back at 2003 continued (July - Dec.) . .
Windfall may go toward declining fund balance
Board approves $2 million bond issue for additions
County Council approves incentives for Walgreens
Walgreens distribution center coming to Anderson County
Thieves target businesses

Looking Back at 2003 . . .

Newsmakers and events of the second half of 2003 included:

July 2 - Former Williamston police chief Richard Turner turned himself in to Anderson County Sheriff’s Department after learning of a warrant for his arrest and was released on personal recognizance. The warrant stemmed from an alleged incident at the Williamston police department between the former chief and police Sgt. Zack Gregory, when Turner showed up to give his son Stephen a ride home after being told by Police Chief Troy Martin that his employment with the town had been terminated.

A large group of citizens were present for the public hearing on the West Pelzer budget and the installation of newly elected officers for the Town Council. New Mayor Peggy Paxton and Council members Maida Kelly and Terry Davis were sworn in by Roger Scott.

A lost Palmetto High School ring was returned to the rightful owner 45 years later. Mike Jordan, a 1958 Palmetto High graduate was reunited with his ring due to the efforts of Williamston Police Sgt. Zack Gregory.

For the second year, town employee Jaime Carter is coordinating the Spring Water Festival which had been organized by individuals since it began as a fundraising event for the Christmas Park in 1981. The 22nd annual Spring Water Festival was scheduled for Aug. 23 in Williamston’s Mineral Spring park.

Four area contestants were among 41 women competing for Miss South Carolina 2003. They were: Miss Piedmont Tiffany Haney, Miss Golden Corner Cortni Bracken, and Miss Liberty Dixie Dowlen, all of Easley, and Miss Powdersville Carmen Greer of Anderson. Williamston did not have a contestant in this year’s pageant.

July 9 - At the request of Council member Cindy Wilson, Anderson County Council unanimously approved $24,000 in funding for local projects. The Town of West Pelzer received approval to reallocate $10,000 to cover emergency repairs to the sewer plant; The Town of Williamston received approval for $2,500 to be used for advertising and promotions for the Spring Water Festival and $2,500 for repair and maintenance at Brookdale Park.

Williamston Town Council set August 19 as the date for a referendum to allow the town’s registered voters to decide if they want to change the Town’s form of government.

Williamston Town Council approved relocating a communications tower to the top of a water tank on Virginia Drive which will help improve communications for the town’s fire, police and utilities departments

Williamston Police Chief Troy Martin and Mayor Phillip Clardy both expressed concerns with the Anderson County Sheriff’s office about the handling of evidence which was released to the media without permission of town officials. The incident involved a surveillance tape of an alleged altercation between former police chief Richard Turner and Williamston police Sgt. Zack Gregory.

Williamston Police Lieutenant Brent Brooks, an 18 year veteran with the Williamston Police Department turned in his resignation. Brooks, who was promoted to Lieutenant June 9, said that he made the decision because of the demands of the new position and the effects it was having on his personal life.

Community First Bank celebrated their Grand Opening of the new office on June 27. The bank operated out of a portable building office at 208 Main St. in Williamston  between August 2000 and February, 2003.

More than 50 youth and adults of all ages from across the state converged on the area as volunteers in the Salkehatchie Summer Services of the South Carolina United Methodist Church.

The state and nation mourned the loss of Senator Strom Thurmond, who died at the age of 100. At his retirement in January, he was the oldest and longest-serving senator in U. S. history.

July 16 - The South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services board unanimously denied the pardon request made by Marion Middleton.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said the administrative staff at Town Hall has been working more than 20 hours each week to answer Freedom Of Information Requests.

West Pelzer Town Council under the leadership of Mayor Peggy Paxton began a detailed analysis of the budget for the town during two workshops.

John Lummus, Director of Economic Development for Anderson County announced an expansion at Orian Rugs on Highway 81 North. The expansion involves an $8 million investment over a seven-year period and at least 10 new employees.

Anderson County’s Director of Emergency Services Tommy Thompson announced that the South Carolina Highway Patrol will be moving its regional dispatch center from Greenville to Anderson effective August 1.

Numerous homes and businesses in the area were damaged by lightning, wind or rain as severe weather passed through the Upstate.

The Williamston Action Community Club (WACC) sponsored a summer enrichment camp at the Caroline Community Center.

The Town of Williamston and DHEC issued a drinking water advisory after a 12 inch main water line break on a vital line crossing Big Creek. Town officials said a lightning strike in the vicinity was apparently the cause of the break.

July 23 - Anderson School District One begins registration and orientation for the new school year. The first day of school is set for August 7.

After serving area residents for 53 years, G. F. Tolly & Son Furniture Company closed the doors to their Williamston store.

Williamston native Nancy Boyles became the seventh recipient of the “Jo Brown Senior Citizens Award.” Boyles was presented the award during a  meeting of Anderson City Council. 

The Palmetto Baptist Association located in Williamston began pouring the foundation slab for a multi-purpose building. The building, which would have cost around $60,000,  will be constructed at a cost of about $25,000 due to donations of materials and supplies as well as labor and financial donations.

July 30 - Williamston voters will decide if they want to change the town’s form of government by a referendum vote on August 19.

A public forum to present information on the forms of government was scheduled for August 12 at the Williamston Municipal Center. Howard Duvall of the Municipal Association of South Carolina and Joe Newton of the Appalachian Council of Governments were to present information.

Twenty-seven hot air balloon pilots from around the country are vying for the national championship title in Anderson  County.

The law firm representing the Town of Williamston, Thompson and King, indicated that they will not be involved in the pending prosecution and trial of former Williamston Police Chief Richard Turner. The Attorney General also declined the case and suggested the town contact an adjacent solicitor’s office.

Aug. 4 marked the beginning of the school year for faculty and staffs throughout the district. Students  reported Aug. 7.

Aug. 6 - Williamston Police Officers investigated vandalism at Palmetto High School, Palmetto Middle School and Palmetto Stadium in which WHS was spray painted in numerous places.

New officers were announced for the Williamston Area Historic Commission (WAHC) including Brown “Sam” Mahon, president; Carolyn Duncan, vice president; Lia Clardy treasurer; and Pam Owens, secretary.

Aug. 6  - Williamston Town Council approved appointment of County Judge Sherman Woodson as the assistant municipal judge for the town.

The Williamston Police Department and State Law Enforcement Division agents are investigating the death of a Williamston man  Wednesday morning which Williamston Police Chief Troy Martin described as a possible homicide. Relatives discovered the body of William Ricky Loskoski, 41, at his home at 120 Davis St. after he did not show up for work.

Aug. 13 - Rep. Gresham Barrett held a town hall meeting August 18 at Concrete Elementary School in Powdersville. Barrett discussed his first seven months in the House of Representatives as well as answered questions from constituents.

The Furniture Store held a grand opening Aug. 16. The business, located at 402 E. Main St. in Williamston, is owned by  Al Woods and Paula Payton.

More than 150 people turned out to hear a presentation by  Howard Duvall of the Municipal Association of South Carolina and Joe Newton of the Appalachian Council of Governments.  Voters will decide Aug. 19 if they want to change the form of government from the mayor-council form to the council form.

The Santee Cooper Board of Directors passed a resolution giving the go-ahead for a 5.4-megawatt methane gas-to-electricity project at the Anderson Regional Landfill in Belton. The utility will construct and operate the $7 million generating station and will purchase the methane gas from the landfill which is a part of Allied Waste, one of the nation’s larger waste disposal firms.

Descendants of the Williams family from across the United States met in Williamston for the first family reunion in recent history. The group represented descendants from three brothers in the family – Richard, Samuel, and West Allen who founded the town of Williamston.

Williamston’s Sharon Crout resigned as executive director of Anderson County Meals on Wheels. Crout, who worked with the organization for five years, took over as the organization’s second executive director in 1999 after the retirement of Lucille Mayo, the founding director.

CSX construction crews began work replacing a wooden bridge that burned in 1998 at the intersection of Green and Lopez Streets in Pelzer.

A large group of citizens heard updates on several projects affecting the town, reviewed copies of the proposed budget and expressed concerns about several issues at the  meeting of the West Pelzer Town Council.

Dr. Reggie Christopher was presented with the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian award.  Dr. Christopher was entering his 40th year as an educator in South Carolina serving the past 15 as superintendent of School District One. 

Aug. 21 - Less than half of Williamston’s 2024  registered voters came out to help decide that the town’s form of government should be left as it is. A total of 819 ballots were cast. When the votes were tallied, unofficial results showed 513 of the town’s registered voters said no to changing the form of government,  303 said yes.

Mark Clifford, a dance instructor with Upstate Carolina Dance Center in Powdersville, appeared with members of the performing group “All That” on Dance Fever on ABC-Family TV. It was the group’s third appearance on the show.

The Piedmont Public Service Commission completed a beautification project at Piedmont’s Tom C. Pack Memorial Park. With Palmetto Pride Grant funds of $2,060, the District was able to purchase plants, shrubs and trees to beautify the park and surroundings.

The Williamston Police Department enlisted the help of 20 State Constables during the Spring Water Festival. Williamston police chief Troy Martin said using the constables provided extra manpower for the police force at no extra cost and helped eliminate overtime in the police department.

 Anderson County Council heard a presentation on EMS concerns and other issues.

Williamston Police Officers dressed in new uniforms featuring a dark gray shirt and black slacks. The new uniforms included a redesigned town patch which features the municipal center. Chief Troy Martin said the new uniforms are part of his plan  to upgrade the image of the department with a different look.

In an apparent reversal of a previous decision and after a heated discussion, the Board of Commissioners of the Piedmont Public Service District decided not to purchase a piece of property adjacent to the ball park in its meeting Monday night.

Aug. 27 - Spring Water Festival coordinator Jaime Carter said she was well pleased with the attendance and results of the 22nd annual event.

The average Anderson School District One SAT score for the 2003 Senior Class was 1012 which exceeds the state average by 23 points but falls below the national average by 14 points.

Several Williamston residents reported being harassed by individuals placing political signs in front of their homes prior to Williamston’s form of government election last week.

Several persons attending the Spring Water Festival Saturday found that parking was costly when they found their vehicles towed from a private business lot on Main St., located adjacent to the Town’s parking lot at the Depot. The vehicles were towed from the  private lot by a local tow service.

Pelzer voters will have a choice between two candidates for mayor in the general election scheduled for Nov. 4. Incumbent D. Page Henderson will seek re-election against Kenneth E. Davis for the office of mayor. Tony Riddle along with incumbents Steve McGregor and Betty Edens filed for three of the four council seats available.

Unique Industry Corporation, a distributor of aftermarket auto body parts, celebrated the grand opening of its 20,000 square foot warehouse in the Upstate Industrial Park located on Hurricane Creek Road facing I-85.

Sept. 3 -  Mayor Phillip Clardy confirmed he had sent a tape to the FBI, the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the State Attorney General’s Office but declined to comment on the contents of the tape.  Clardy publicly acknowledged the existence of a tape in a report published in a local daily newspaper August 19, the same day as the referendum to change the town’s form of government.

Residents from Wren and Powdersville areas addressed Anderson County Council about an ongoing speeding problem and  a problem with a man who  is “dumping produce” on his 15-acre farm causing an “unreasonable smell” and insects. Council also reviewed a QRV (Quick Response Vehicle) proposal for the county which brought up questions and differing points of view about the present and future EMS system.

Sept. 10 - Williamston Town Council approved first reading on an ordinance placing caps on fees that can be charged by towing services that are on the town’s rotation list.

The Town of Williamston was awarded $192,000 in transportation enhancement funds by the S. C. Department of Transportation Commission. The funds will assist with the development of a sidewalk project in the town.

West Pelzer citizens heard updates on issues and concerns. Mayor Peggy Paxton explained the pending sewer project for the town which involves replacing only a few lines with primary responsibility left to the town for replacing the remaining lines.

Beech Springs Tabernacle and Woodmen Lodge 412 held a special  9/11 remembrance program Sept. 11 at the new church location at Hwy. 25 and Hwy. 247 in Ware Place.   Greenwood Lodge 412 President Ronnie Whitt and area manager Hughie Peacock presided over the program which included the dedication of a flag

Sept. 17 - Palmetto Assistant Football Coach Josh Caggiano and Head Football Coach Tommy Davis were presented official  Shrine Jackets. Davis was selected as Head Coach of the South Carolina team for the annual event Dec. 20 in Rock Hill.

District 7 Council member Cindy Wilson continued to question county expenditures of Anderson County Council. Wilson read a memo she sent to County Administrator Joey Preston dated Sept. 3 requesting information on expenditures to two consulting firms, a breakdown for expenses for Celebrate Anderson, and disbursements to Susan Stukas.

The Board of Commissioners of the Piedmont Public Service District observed a moment of silence at their meeting in memory of Commissioner J. C. Turner who served on the board until his death on Aug. 19.

The United States Fire Administration announced a $26,820 grant to the Wren Fire Department. Bruce Brooks who has served as Wren chief for 10 years said that this is the second year in a row that the department has received funds from this grant.

State Senator Billy O’Dell announced that he is switching party affiliation and will run for re-election as a Republican.

West Pelzer Town Council unanimously approved a resolution to join with Anderson County for long term road project planning and approved a prowling and a loitering ordinance.

Sept. 24 - Approximately 30 citizens, primarily from the Cedar Grove precinct, told Anderson County planning officials they are satisfied with the current zoning and land use in the area and they see no reason for it to be any different in the future.

Anna Crawford of Williamston was selected to participate in the National Young Leaders Conference (NYLC) to be held in Washington, D.C. Oct. 14-19.

Oct. 1- Anderson District One had the highest percentage of students scoring basic and above in the state in ELA with 86.2 percent.

A Piedmont resident won $300,000 playing the S. C. Education Lottery and Kenneth Looper of Piedmont won one a Harley Davidson motorcycles valued at $15,000. Both tickets were purchased at the Williamston Curb Market.

The congregation of Cedar Grove Baptist Church held a groundbreaking ceremony for their new facility. The church’s sanctuary and education wing were totally destroyed by a fire on the night of July 4, 2001 which authorities believe may have been caused by lightning.

West Pelzer Town Council held a special meeting Sept. 24 to discuss and subsequently rescind the ordinance involving a proposed change in the form of government.

Anderson District One students continue to rank among the top four districts in the state in the percentage of students scoring basic and above on the PACT test in English Language Arts and Mathematics.

Amy Blume was named Palmetto High Homecoming queen. The Homecoming court included Ashley Callaham, Teri Lee Hancock, Amy Stubbs, Catherine Whitten, Erin Whitten, Sheila Wright, Amber Sanders, Lauren Sutherland and Rebekah Edens.

Oct. 8 - Williamston Town Council approved a resolution to draft a letter of support of the local textile industry which was to be sent to political representatives and the President. Textile employee Barbara Vaughn, of Mount Vernon Mill, asked the town and community for support in regards to the textile trade situation.

Oct. 15 - The Mustang Regiment competed in the Upper State 2-A/4-A Championships at Boiling Springs High School. Wren’s Marching ’Canes competed in the Upper State 1-A/3-A Championships at Clinton High School.

Junior Lauryn Kindley was crowned homecoming queen at Wren. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Kindley of Pelzer.

Members of the Piedmont Bonnes Amies Club are making final preparations for the 14th Annual Footbridge Festival which will be held  this  weekend, Oct. 17-18, in downtown Piedmont.

Members of several re-enactment and living historian groups including the Butler Guard 2nd SC Infantry, Hampton Legion and the John Thomas Ashley Camp 43 participated in a grave marking ceremony at the Williamston Cemetery in which permanent markers were placed at the graves of confederate soldiers. The program was sponsored by the Williamston Area Historic Commission (WAHC).

Work began on the local Habitat for Humanity house located on 21 Circle Street in Williamston.

West Pelzer Town Council and a large group of citizens welcomed Sen. Billy O’Dell and Council member Cindy Wilson to their meeting at a newly painted and refurbished Town Hall. Wilson and O’Dell presented the town with national and state flags which had flown over the state capital. O’Dell also presented the town with a $10,000 recreation grant at a ceremony held at the Pelzer Community Building.

Pelzer Town Council heard updates on several town projects as well as a presentation from West Pelzer Mayor Peggy Paxton on joint projects between the two municipalities at their regular meeting.

Oct. 22 - The town of West Pelzer sponsored a Fall Festival Oct. 31 at the Pelzer ball field. All residents of Pelzer, West Pelzer and the surrounding area were invited.

The “Pride In Piedmont” community group sponsored several cleanup projects to help make Piedmont a clean and safe place. The group sponsored a clean up in April which included scraping dirt and sand from the Verner Bridge (Hwy. 86) and planting flower beds on ends of the bridge.

The Board of Commissioners of the Piedmont Public Service District voted unanimously in support of a partnership with the Greenville YMCA designed to offer programs and increase opportunities for the community.

The Town of Williamston hosted a community wide costume ball on October 31.

A Harvest Festival cosponsored by the Strong Communities organization was held in the Piedmont Community building gym.

Anderson County Council faced a council chamber filled with citizens upset over tax increases. Approximately 30 citizens protested the tax increase and county spending participated outside the courthouse before the meeting began and a large number of citizens made their feelings known during citizen comments.

Oct. 29 - Anderson County Planning Officials are asking area residents for input as they hold meetings throughout the County to update the Anderson County Comprehensive Plan. The second meetingwas to be held in Williamston.

Williamston Town Council and Mayor met in a budget work session with Town department heads to look at needs of each department and to begin preparing for the 2004 budget. Needs presented to council members for consideration to be included in the 2004 budget varied from equipment to additional personnel.

Nov. 5 - After being on hold for three years, a proposed soccer complex in the Town of Williamston is again at the top of the list. Officials announced they are considering property located in the center of town as an alternative site for the proposed soccer complex which was to be on property owned by the Town near the waste water treatment plant just off Mill St.

Members of the Anderson County Legislative Delegation announced funding totalling $40,000 for parks and recreation purposes for Williamston. Anderson County Council Representative Cindy Wilson announced a $25,000 appropriation to the town from Anderson County Council to help with proposed soccer fields. Sen. Billy  O’Dell  announced an additional $10,000 for parks and recreation use for the town and House Representative Michael Thompson announced that an additional $5,000 to be used for parks and recreation purposes.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said he will present two budgets, one reflecting the “windfall” created by reassessment and a secong reflect ing a rollback of the reassessment windfall for council members to consider when they meet for a budget work session at Nov. 20.

District One Superintendent Dr. Reggie Christopher explained that what began as a 4.5 mil increase his board requested in the summer rose to 7 mils after crossing the county auditor’s desk.

Results in the Pelzer municipal election were being disputed after unofficial results showed that Kenneth Davis received 19 votes while incumbent Page Henderson received 18 votes for the office of mayor. Confusion also resulted in how to handle write-in votes where some voters chose to vote for more than one write-in candidate.

Anderson County Council voted to reopen the current budget as well as offer taxpayers additional time to appeal their property reassessments.

Nov. 12 - Andy Smith, West Pelzer’s police chief since 1988, submitted his resignation to the town citing “personal reasons” for his decision to leave.

Wren’s Sunday Ford won her second straight Region AAA girls’ cross country title.

Officials said the Town of Pelzer will hold a  new election after decisions in two separate hearings following protests of the election held on Nov. 4.

Two representatives of the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor visited Piedmont to explore the possibility of a project for the area.

Mark Patterson, who had been serving as West Pelzer’s interim chief, was named the new chief by Mayor Peggy Paxton.

Nov. 19 - Local officials decided they will apply for a State grant for the proposed Saluda River Valley Rail Trail (SRVT). The proposed 20 mile Rail-to-Trail project includes constructing a trail system for biking, equestrian and hiking that could eventually connect seven municipalities in Anderson County and is cited as being an example for the state and the southeast.

Dan Rodgerson, Executive Director of the Greenville County Recreation District offered assistance in meeting the recreational needs of the Piedmont area.

Students and faculty at Sue Cleveland Elementary School in Piedmont look forward to a new building in August of 2004 as demolition of sports equipment and a ball field on the new school site in Woodmont Park adjacent to Woodmont Middle School began.

Anderson County Council approved third reading on an ordinance extending the property tax appeals process. Dr. Reggie Christopher led opposition to the ordinance.

Nov. 26 - The Williamston Christmas Spectacular included the official lighting of the Christmas Park, the opening of the second annual “Deck the Halls”, the opening of the Scout Hut for visits with Santa, refreshments and entertainment for the holidays.

The 12th Annual Community Outreach Thanksgiving Meal was held at Whitefield Baptist Church. More than 30 churches, garden clubs, and organizations contributed to prepare over 1,000 meals for area residents.  About 200 volunteers, including students from virtually every area high school and Meals on Wheels drivers, managed and served food, set tables, and delivered meals in Belton, Williamston, Pelzer, and West Pelzer.

Dec. 3 - Williamston Town Council approved first reading on a $2.3 million budget for 2004 during their regular monthly meeting. Mayor Phillip Clardy presented Council the option of approving a 2004 budget leaving the town’s tax rate at 120 mills or a budget with a rollback to 106 mills. The rollback approved in the new budget will go into effect on the 2005 tax bills, which will be sent out in October of 2004.

Williamston Town Council approved a resolution restating the town’s position not to accept a request by J. C. Cox Utilities because of costs and the fact that residents who are on the lagoon system are not in the Town of Williamston.

County Administrator Joey Preston presented information and recommendations on reducing the budget at the request of County Council to revisit the budget.

South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer was in the area to tour Cedar Grove Elementary School.

Anna Crawford attended the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. with students from across the nation.

The West Pelzer Christmas Parade was the first in the area and the Heritage Players presented the Broadway comedy Nunsense at the historic Pelzer Auditorium.

Dec. 10 - A closed session grievance hearing was held Dec. 16 by the Town of Williamston for former Williamston Police Sergeant Stephen Turner.

The Piedmont Fire Department was accepting donations for families or individuals in the Piedmont area. Chief Administrator Butch Nichols reported the department received more requests than ever this year from families who needed assistance during the holidays.

Pelzer Mayor Page Henderson announced that the town’s legal services agreement on the joint sewer project with West Pelzer through Rural Development had been approved.

Operation Holiday Cheer resulted in 1,112 cards and letters to be sent to local Army National Guard unit in Iraq.

The Town of Williamston is considering a $112,000 “windfall” resulting from property reassessment in Anderson County this year.

Leona Parker, a longtime Williamston resident and school teacher, was honored with a party celebrating her 80th birthday at the Williamston Municipal Center.

West Pelzer officials voted to pursue a 30-day trial test with Organic Products of South Carolina after company representatives presented information on sewer equipment.

Dec. 17 - Palmetto High School waswell represented at the 2003 Shrine Bowl Dec. 20 at the Rock Hill with Coach Tommy Davis as the head coach for the 2003 South Carolina football team, Josh Caggiano, assistant; Jim Slatten, team manager; Ben Sherard and Justin Meade, game ball runners; Palmetto varsity cheerleaders, the Mustang Marching Regiment and ROTC Color guard.  Woodmont defensive lineman John Barber was also invited to play.

Former Woodmont teacher and coach Ben Abrams was recognized for 37 years of service,having the  Woodmont school gym dedicated to him. Officials also announced that the gymnasium at the new Woodmont High School will be named in his honor.

Dec. 21 -  A Williamston soldier, a member of the U. S. Army 299th Engineering Brigade based in Fort Hood, Texas  was not far away when Saddam Hussein was captured by U. S. troops in Adwar, Iraq.

The Pelzer Light People brightened the hiolidays with multi-colored lights from head to toe. The Light People have assisted in raising $100,000 needed for heart transplant patient and Pelzer native Linda Gambrell.

Anderson County Council continued to deal with the issue of free speech and debate versus reducing the length of time spent in council meetings. Council meetings which have lasted six or seven hours resulted in several proposals of ways to reduce the length of meetings.

Dec. 24 - Renee Patterson enjoyed new furniture, a gift to from Tolly Furniture when the business learned of Patterson’s Christmas wish through a caregiver for the former area resident.

Dec. 30 - The Christian Motorcycle Club provided Christmas items for families and loved ones of the local 151st Signal Battalion of the Army National Guard. by purchasing more than 230 gifts as well as 14 bicycles for the children of the military families.

Also - The Piedmont Lions Club honored Jeannette Tate at their May meeting for outstanding community service with their “Citizen of the Year” award.

Cindy Wilson said she supports sewer projects in the County if they are well planned.

 

Windfall may go toward declining fund balance

During the first meeting of 2004, Mayor Phillip Clardy suggested the windfall revenue the Town of Williamston is expecting could be used to begin building back the town’s fund balance or for other reasons town officials feel are necessary.

Town Auditor, Larry Finney, of the auditing firm Greene, Finney and Horton, LLP., said he would  recommend the town allocate the additional revenue to the fund balance when town officials determine the exact amount and actually receive it.

Finney and attorney Richard Thompson were present at the Jan. 5  meeting of Town Council to answer any questions council or the public may have had on the windfall/rollback process. There were no questions for them.

During the meeting Mayor Clardy delivered a lengthy explanation of the town’s position on keeping the windfall resulting from property tax reassessment done by Anderson County in 2003.

As it stands, the town will receive a windfall of approximately $112,000, which is not included in either the 2003 or 2004 budget.

Clardy said the revenue was not included in the 2003 budget because there was no way of knowing the effect of reassessment when the 2003 budget was approved in December of 2002.

The revenue will not be included in the 2004 budget until the town determines the exact amount that is brought in and Council decides what to do with it, according to Clardy.

Clardy said the town should know the exact amount collected by May and Council will revisit it then.

The mayor restated the position that based on legal advice given by town attorney Richard Thompson and records on how reassessment was handled in the past, the town has done nothing wrong in the handling of the present windfall situation.

As of the Jan. 5 meeting, there has been no public discussion, public hearing or vote by Williamston Town Council on the subject.

Clardy pointed out that the town sponsored a question and answer meeting in May of 2003 which included Anderson County officials and was attended by members of the Council.

Clardy said he and councilmembers informally had some discussion on the topic at the May meeting but there was no vote taken.

The meeting was a public meeting held in the Municipal Center auditorium but was not an official meeting of Town Council.

 Clardy said the town clerk also attended the May 19 meeting and other meetings on the topic.

The town requested figures from the county but the numbers weren’t available in May, according to Clardy.

Clardy said the town was required to notify the county auditor of the town’s millage rate (for 2003) in July. He sent notice to the auditor that the millage rate would remain at 120 mills, that amount set by the budget in Dec. 2002.

“The town of Williamston did not determine a rollback at that point  because any decision would be made on guesses and estimates,” according to Clardy.

“I had my staff look back to what occurred in the past,” Clardy said. “There was nothing in the records of any action on windfall or rolling back taxes,” he said.

Clardy cited reassessment years 1989, 1990 and 1994 in which the millage rate for the town increased 10 mills, from 90, 110 and 120.

Though the town did not act on the rollback prior to the tax notices going out, council did approve the 2004 budget which reduces the millage rate from 120 mills to 106 mills, in effect giving citizens a rollback on next year’s taxes.

“We determined  it was in the best interest of citizens to approve a rollback for residents,” Clardy said.

“There is a possibility there may be an amendment for 2004,” Clardy said. “It may have to be increased or decreased based on the actual numbers.”

“When the exact figures are in, the town will revisit the issue,” Clardy said. “It would not be appropriate to budget $112,000 in revenues when you do not know that you will receive it.”

Clardy also explained that the 

Town operates on a calendar year January-December, while the County, State and many other municipalities operate on a fiscal year which runs July-June.

This factor also complicated the windfall/rollback situation for the town, according to Clardy.

The 2004 General Fund budget shows anticipated expenditures of $2,292,202 to income of $2,292,202, an overall increase of $149,762 over 2003.

Williamston Town Council approved second reading the general fund budget and a $1.475 million enterprise fund budget during a special meeting Dec. 11.

The 2004 budget does not include the expected $112,000 windfall revenue resulting from the property reassessment.

According to Finney’s audit report in May of 2003, the town’s general fund balance decreased $399,000, leaving the town with an $890,000 fund balance at the end of 2002.

At that time, Finney said the declining fund balance was a trend over the last several years in which the fund balances were being depleted.

Board approves $2 million bond issue for additions

Anderson School District One Board of Trustees approved a $2 million bond issue request by Dr. Reggie Christopher for classroom additions at Cedar Grove Elementary and Palmetto High School during their first meeting of the new year.

According to Dr. Christopher, the addition at Cedar Grove will include six new classrooms, a boys and a girls restroom and a teacher work room. The addition will increase the total student capacity at the school to 650.

The addition is similar to additions at Powdersville, Hunt Meadows and Wren Elementary schools, according to Christopher.

A new wing for the 9th grade academy at Palmetto High will include eight classrooms, an office and lobby area and a new gymnasiun.

Christopher said the $4 million building project will have two bond issues to save interest and the projects will probably be bid in March.

Acting upon a motion by board member Steve Garrison with a second by Sallie Lee, the board unanimously approved the bond request.

Dr. Christopher also reported that the first day for the new 9th grade academy at Wren High School “went very well.” “The students and teachers did a great job today,” he said.

Board members were also presented with a tentative 2004-2005 school year calendar which will be subject to approval at the next board meeting.

Assistant Superintendent David Havird said the tentative schedule is very similar to this year’s schedule and alows 90 days of instructional and academic classes before the holidays, which he said will help with PACT testing in the district.

The calendar sets August 2-4 as staff development days with the first day of classes for students on August 5. It must also be approved by all five Anderson County School Districts before it is official.

Director of Finance Steve Uldrick reported that $100,000 borrowed on a tax anticipation note to finish out the year would be paid back this week.

Uldrick said that the district has received December tax collection revenues and appears to be “in pretty good shape.”

He said district tax revenues are approximately $60,000 less than last year and attributed this to the appeals process still underway in Anderson county. “Most of the taxpayers went ahead and paid taxes,” he said.

According to Uldrick, there are approximately 1000 more tax appeals in School District One than expected.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler told board members a new initiative “Making Middle Grades Work” is underway at Palmetto Middle School.

Under the direction of principal Barry Knight, the initiative includes a framework and guidelines for academic achievement in middle grades.

“Palmetto Middle is already doing most of these,” Fowler said. “They will just need to fine tune what they are doing.”

Fowler also announced revision of career advisement materials and planning modules for grades 6-12.

The Career Center partnered with both high schools to redesign a folder which brings career clusters in line with state and federal guides.

Fowler also said the district is looking to adopt a reading series for elementary schools. He said that past offerings approved by the state were not very good, but there are two or three that are outstanding.

He said the program would help language arts in all K-5 grades. The program is tentative depending on state funding , which Fowler said the district is hoping for.

In his student nutritional report, Assistant Superintendent Havird reported the service is showing a $54,627 profit through December. Havird said the profit is the result of continuing to serve more students. The district is currently serving 6,000 students daily.  He also said that all schools are now totally automated for taking meal money.

In other business,  board members approved the following personnel requests: Leave of absence - Paige Dillard, Wren High guidance,one week maternity leave; Tami Finley, Pelzer, Spearman and West Pelzer Elementary instructional coach, six week maternity leave.

Resignations - Amber Dorman, Palmetto High Math; Nicole Roper, West Pelzer and Pelzer Elementary LAUNCH (.4 FTE)

Retirement - Peggy Stone, Palmetto High School resource.

New teachers introduced at the meeting included - Faith Davis, Palmetto High Resource; Ann Marie Gembola, Wren High Family and Consumer Science; and Benjamine Rogers, Palmetto High math.

County Council approves incentives for Walgreens

Anderson County Council began the New Year on a highly positive note by approving a resolution authorizing a Fee in Lieu of Tax Agreement (FILOT) between the county and Walgreen Co. The Fortune 500 company plans to build a distribution center at Alliance Industrial Park creating up to 450 jobs and representing an investment of at least $140 million over the next five years.

Prior to a presentation on the FILOT resolution, Council member Cindy Wilson recused herself from the discussion and vote and presented a statement explaining that she has been acting as a broker for “close family friends” who were approached about purchasing their land. Wilson explained that a contract was signed on October 29 to sell the land to Easlan Capital without knowing that the project was for the Walgreen distribution facility.

During citizen comments, Brooks Brown had charged that Wilson had “made $160,000 on the Walgreen deal.” Wilson described her commission as “very small” revealing that she charged only a 3-1/2% commission when the normal commission is 10%.

In other business, the council unanimously elected Clint Wright to serve as chairman this year and Mike Holden to serve as vice-chairman.

The council also unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance to rezone 1115 Dunlap Road from R-20 (Single Family Residential) to POD (Planned Office Development).

In a public hearing during the first reading of the ordinance, Joseph Renna, president of Motherboard, Inc., spoke in favor of the ordinance. Renna stated that his company has occupied the property near Orian Rugs for 10 years, has 15 full-time employees, and refurbishes laser printers.

During requests by council members, the council unanimously approved Wilson’s request for $8,000 to match sidewalk grant funding for the Town of Williamston.

In a split vote, the council approved Wilson’s requests for $9,000 to complete the funds needed to purchase a grass truck for the Cheddar Fire Department and $5,155 for a tanker and service for the Whitefield Fire Department. Council member Fred Tolly abstained from voting on the requests and Council member Larry Greer opposed the requests since the funds were to come from Wilson’s paving account.

Walgreens distribution center coming to Anderson County

Walgreen Co. has officially announced plans to build a new distribution facility at the Alliance Industrial Park located along I-85 in Anderson County.

“I want to personally welcome Walgreens and thank them for choosing Anderson County as the home of their newest distribution facility,” said Anderson County Council Chairman Bill Dees. “Walgreens is a company that I have known since I was young, and they have always been a steady, growing corporation. Anderson County is extremely fortunate to have a Fortune 500 company in our community, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

Site work on the property is expected to begin in late summer 2004 with a planned opening in 2007. The facility will be about 700,000 square feet with the capability for future expansion.

More than 450 employees are expected to be hired initially for the center, and employment will grow as the facility serves more stores. The initial facility is expected to serve 200 to 250 stores in eight states throughout the South and Mid-Atlantic areas.

Representing an investment of more than $175 million, the distribution center will be equipped with the newest technology in automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) along with sophisticated sorting and high storage rack systems.

“This is the kind of success story we’re looking to repeat again and again throughout South Carolina,” said Gov. Mark Sanford. “Any time you bring a company like Walgreens to town with this kind of job creation and capital investment, it’s a significant boost to your state’s economy. Our goal is to keep putting fuel in that economic engine so that local business folks have another, bigger weapon in their arsenal.”

Randy Lewis, Walgreens senior vice president of distribution and logistics, said, “We chose this site because of its proximity to the markets it will serve, accessibility to major highways and because of the area’s skilled workforce. We’ve also received strong participation from Anderson County and other state and local agencies which have created a solid business environment.”

“Walgreens announcement ranks as one of the largest new economic development projects ever in our community,” said Anderson County Economic Development Director John Lummus. “This new facility will undoubtedly have a major long-term economic impact on Anderson County. I’m grateful that Walgreens has chosen Anderson County. It’s been a pleasure working with them throughout the decision process.”

Walgreen Co. is the nation’s largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2003 sales of $32.5 billion and 4,290 stores in 44 states and Puerto Rico. The company, which plans to open 450 new stores nationwide in 2004, also operates Walgreens Health Initiatives which provides pharmacy benefits management, mail service prescriptions and other clinical services.

Thieves target businesses

Thieves targeted area businesses in three separate incidents over the holidays according to reports from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department.

Tabitha Louise Dismuke arrived to open Hickory Point Exxon located at 3600 Earl E. Morris Jr. Hwy. on December 28 only to discover that thieves had knocked a hole in the rear brick wall of the office of the store. Two cash bags containing bank deposits amounting to $13,286.91 were missing from the office as well as a cash drawer containing $350. Two VCRs valued at $600 were also missing from the office.

In a separate incident, a male suspect entered the Texaco located at 3000 Hwy. 153 on December 28 and left with an undisclosed amount of money. “Give me the cash,” he instructed the clerk as he approached the counter and held his right hand inside his jacket pocket gesturing that he had a gun. The clerk gave him the contents of the cash drawer, and he left the store driving away in a pickup truck.

Jewelry Depot located at 3526 Earle E. Morris Jr. Hwy also reported a robbery incident on December 27. A clerk was showing a diamond solitaire ring valued at $5,800 to a customer who had spent some time looking at other jewelry in the store. The customer grabbed the ring, darted out of the store, and left in a Ford F150 truck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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