Week of Jan. 15, 2003
Week of Jan. 15, 2003
Outgoing Anderson County Council Chairman Larry Greer opened the first meeting of the year with an attempt to clarify an issue from the last meeting regarding agenda time limits and their enforcement. Greer pointed out parts of the agenda rules which he described as ambiguous and open to interpretation. Greer proposed his interpretation of a total of 45 minutes per council member for agenda topics. Since the issue was already listed on the current agenda, Greer was overruled in favor of proceeding with the meeting as planned.
The Council then officially began its new year by electing District 6 Council member Bill Dees as chairman. Dees received unanimous approval from all council members.
The selection of Dees as chairman was not unexpected to most council members. Council member Mike Holden mentioned an unofficial agreement that was made in June 2002 to have Dees serve as the new chairman. Holden stated that he did not support the agreement at that time since he felt the Council should wait until after the November elections to consider a nominee. Council member Gracie Floyd reminded all members that the chair is a ceremonial position. All members have equal say and equal rights, Floyd added.
Council member Fred Tolly nominated Greer as vice-chairman. Council member Floyd nominated Holden for the position. A split vote resulted in Greers election. Council members Wright, Dees, Greer and Tolly supported Greer. Council members Floyd, Holden and Wilson cast votes for Holden.
Carrie Long addressed the Council about contaminated wells and a lack of drinking water in her community which is located one-half mile outside the city limits of Honea Path on Oaktree Drive. Council member Cindy Wilson commented that District 7 had allocated $5000 and the Town of Honea Path had allocated $5000 to the effort to improve the situation, but that $64,500 isstill needed to complete the project. Wilson mentioned the possibility of pursuing a grant which would help fund the project and requested assistance from County Administrator Joey Preston in locating available funds.
The first reading of an ordinance authorizing the leasing of office space at the Anderson Regional Airport to William Epstein received unanimous approval.
The Council also unanimously approved a resolution recognizing and memorializing Joel Franklin Holliday for his generous bequest to assist the animal shelter in caring for disadvantaged animals.
A resolution recognizing Rep. Joanne Gilham of Beaufort County for sponsoring legislation to lower the states blood-alcohol limit to .08 and to Governor-elect Mark Sanford for supporting such legislation received unanimous support.
Council member Wilson received unanimous approval for a $1500 allocation to be used for repair work and program administration at the Caroline Community Center in Williamston.
Library Director Carl Stone and County Administrator Joey Preston announced that Pelham Construction Company of Greenville had submitted the lowest bid for the new Belton Library. Construction will begin in February with an expected completion date of August 1, 2003.
Council member Wilson used her allotted time to raise questions about the county code section concerning agenda time limits and expressed concerns about how the time limit code had been enforced. A discussion followed which raised several interpretations of the current code and its meaning. Council member Floyd proposed that all members submit their input to County Attorney Tom Martin who would be responsible for reviewing and proposing any changes needed. The motion received unanimous approval from all members.
Preston submitted oral responses as well as an extended written response to budget and financial questions submitted by Council member Cindy Wilson at previous meetings. Portions of that written response follow:
No county employee has been paid consulting fees to their private consulting firms. Once an employee terminates employment, Anderson County may contract with them due to their technical expertise and knowledge of county government policies and procedures.
The former director (Kathryn Campbell) was paid for services rendered during the Balloon Federation of Americas National Championship from funds raised from private sources. In addition, the Balloon Federation of America was paid from funds raised from private donors. Over $81,000 was raised for this event.
The total museum capital budget is $2,279,357. Total actual expenditures to date are $1,875,143. There are no cost overruns.
The radio advertising paid to WRIX-103 was a response to the Councils Vision for Anderson County to use media outlets, newsletters, and other means to notify the community of events, activities and input forums. Publicize accomplishments and positive attributes of Anderson County.....In addition, payment of these radio announcements was partially funded by grant monies.
Dewey Pearson&ldots;has been retained to assist in five legal challenges filed by the Beaverdam Association and Ms. Wilson regarding Beaverdam Creek sewer line construction. His services included research and technical expertise. He assisted in the regional landfill sale to Anderson Regional Landfill&ldots;the Tri-County Landfill issue, implementation of the ten-year sewer plan approved by County Council.
Matilda Bay Excursions and First Citizens were payments related to an event sponsored for representatives from the S.C. Department of Commerce to meet local businessmen and women and to promote the Anderson community. The event was paid for wholly from private donations; no county funds were expended.
Preston also announced that audited financial statements will be presented at the Jan. 21 council meeting. According to Preston, standard procedure is to present this information once a new council is in place at the beginning of the year.
Closing remarks from Chairman Dees and Council member Wright emphasized the need for the Council to focus on budget issues, economic development and finalizing the Land Use Ordinance this year.
The investigation by local probation and parole authorities into the pardon of former Williamston Mayor Marion Middleton should be completed by the end of February according to spokesperson Peter OBoyle. Investigators will then make a recommendation to the state pardon and parole board.
Usually the board schedules an open hearing within seven to nine months after the recommendation is received according to OBoyle.
Under state requirements, Middleton could apply for a pardon once his sentence was served and full restitution was made. Under the terms of sentencing, Middletons probation ended upon payment of the restitution.
According to state law, a person receiving a pardon is fully forgiven from all the legal consequences of his crime and his conviction. Persons pardoned may register to vote and vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, and be licensed for any occupation requiring a license.
According to OBoyle, anyone who has an interest in the pardon is encouraged to offer input. Victims of the crime, in this case the Town of Williamston, may testify at the open hearing or send letters to the board.
Letters may be written to the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, P.O. Box 50666, Columbia, S.C. 29250.
The S.C. Board of Paroles and Pardons is composed of seven part-time members: one from each of the states six congressional districts and one member at-large. Marlene McClain who works part-time with the South Carolina Department of Social Services in Anderson is the representative for the Third Congressional District.
OBoyle confirmed that Middleton submitted an application for pardon in November 2002. Persons requesting a pardon must complete an application, submit three letters of reference, and pay a $50 application fee.
Middleton pled guilty in August 2002 to embezzling $76,000 from the Town of Williamston during his term as mayor. He served 46 days of a 90 day sentence, receiving early release due to a work-credit program.
A trial is still pending for Donna Ellis who was also charged in the proceedings. Assistant Solicitor Kathy Hodges stated that Ellis case is one of more than 100 cases on the court docket for the session scheduled to begin January 13, 2003. Hodges said there is a possibility that Ellis case could be tried near the end of the January session, but she feels it is unlikely based on the current case load.
During their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, West Pelzer Town Council approved second reading on a zoning change request by trailer park owner Jerry Adkins to allow five year old mobile homes in trailer parks within the Town limits.
Council voted 3-0 to change the Town ordinance wording that previously allowed only three year old mobile homes in parks within the town.
Councilmen Earl Brown, Joe Turner and Maida Kelly voted for the change. Mayor Bill Alexander and Councilman Bud Brown were not present.
In other business, Peggy Paxton, organizer of a community improvement group was presented a check for $500 from the Anderson County Master Gardeners Association. The grant to the West Pelzer Community Service organization will be used for a beautification project that includes hangers on utility poles along Main St. The hangers will be constructed by students at the Career and Technology Center and will be used for flowers and banners along Main St., Paxton said.
Dee Ross president and Brenda Thompson, past president made the grant presentation to Paxton.
Paxton also requested use of Town Hall for a voter registration drive. It was suggested the Fire Department would also be a good location.
Councilman Joe Turner, who presided over the meeting said he thought it could be used.
Another request made by a citizen was to possibly designate Town Hall as an emergency shelter during power outages or other situations in which persons without power could come. Turner also said he supported the idea.
Zoning administrator Charles Ellenburg recommended that Council approve second reading on the change.
Ellenburg also recommended Council approve a request to rezone 86 Main St. from residential to light commercial.
The topic was tabled on a motion made by Kelly, who said she needed more information.