(0305) Week of Jan. 19, 2005
commissioners looking at improvements
Piedmont commissioners elected officers and installed a new member during their regular meeting of the Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners held Monday.
Frankie Garrett was sworn in as commissioner during the January 17 meeting. Garrett said he is looking forward to working with the other commissioners for Piedmont.
In a 3-0 vote, the board elected Marsha Rogers to continue as chair. Commissioners Frankie Garrett and Rudy Rhodes abstained from the vote. Al McAbee was elected vice-chairman 4-0, with Rhodes abstaining.
Hoping to find funding for projects in Piedmont, Piedmont Commissioners and fire personnel will meet with State representatives including Sen. Billy ODell, Rep. Dan Cooper and Rep. Tripp next Wednesday.
Items for discussion include looking into having a guard rail installed at the Hwy. 86 bridge over the Saluda River, funding for an emergency relief program in Piedmont and the need for sewer improvements, officials said.
Commissioners also discussed several projects that are ongoing from last year including work on the community building, maintenance contracts and ball field improvements.
Administrator Butch Nichols said that no one has submitted a quote on painting and vinyl siding for improvements on the community building.
Nichols also reported that there have been problems with kids entering the community building from a locked rear entrance and with vandalism at the cemetery.
According to Nichols, 75 to 120 tombstones were knocked over, with some being broken, in the historic cemetery.
Commissioners decided to ask the cemetery committee how the fire department could help with the problem after commissioner Al McAbee suggested the district could work through them.
Chair Marsha Rogers said the ball park area is ready for bleachers to be installed. She also said that clay bricks were ordered and will be installed underground at home base and other bases. The bleachers and bricks were made available through County funding, she said.
McAbee reported the district responded to 13 stucture fires, 1 grass fire, 11 vehicle accidents, 22 medical calls, 4 sewer calls, one streetlight and one water rescue during December.
McAbee praised Piedmont firefighters for their effort in a recent fire in which a woman died. There was tremendous turnout, good entry and the fire was knocked down, McAbee said. Our firemen took every precaution.
Commissioners briefly discussed the lawn maintenance contract and areas that are covered. It is a three year contract, Rogers said.
Administrator Nichols reported the district had recently purchased a Stihl chainsaw with funding from a forestry grant the district received last year.
District Secretary Craig Lawless reported that new Gatsby 34 accounting requirements will require depreciation to be taken into account on capital items and that the district needs to set an amount.
Following the report, Commissioners voted 5-0 to have items valued at $1,000 or more included in the depreciation schedule.
The next meeting of the Piedmont Public Service District will be Monday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.
By Stan Welch
The second Anderson County Council meeting of the new year got off to a lively start as both political adversaries and supposed allies sparred during the public input portion of the meeting.
Brooks Brown IV addressed a recent effort by the Anderson County Republican Partys leadership to discipline several council members who crossed party lines to help elect Council Chairperson Gracie Floyd to that post.
He admonished the members, especially the new ones, McAbee and Thompson, that following party lines is not always the best approach. The last time a Council member tried that party line stuff, he lasted one term.
Dan Harvell, Republican activist and head of the Anderson County Taxpayers Association rose in rebuttal, and spoke of political philosophy and the importance of choosing a party based on conviction and not convenience.
He then read a resolution recently adopted by the countys Republican leadership which chastised those who crossed the party line, and expressed the partys intentions of publicizing that resolution throughout the county.
At that point, Councilman Larry Greer, from District Three addressed the crowd. He stated that he had in fact been encouraged to follow the party line, but added that he represented everyone from his district, including Democrats and minorities and even unregistered voters.
There are 26,000 people in my district, and about half are registered voters. Im tired of these so called card carrying Republicans who urge following the party line. These people are not true Republicans. I personally know just such Republicans who openly supported my Democratic opponent two years ago. All this party loyalty is a bunch of hogwash. The Republican Partys executive committee didnt elect me. The people of my district did. I will vote my conscience every time.
District Six Councilman Bill Dees echoed Greers sentiments, adding that Republicans had supported a petition candidate against him in a past election, even though he was an incumbent councilman.
I know what the Republican Party stands for in Anderson County, believe me. Ive been vaccinated. But I will vote my conscience on this council. I am comfortable with that because I know where I stand, Dees said.
Council then heard a presentation by County staff and representative of Mandalay Baseball LLC concerning the efforts to locate a minor league team in Anderson County. (See related story)
Council gave third reading approval to an ordinance requiring an annual inventory of equipment and tangible assets valued at more than $200.
Council let die by tie vote a proposed ordinance by Councilmember Wilson to establish a financial advisory committee comprised of citizens.
Chairperson Floyd received as information Wilsons subsequent request to name various council members to existing committees, as provided for by ordinance.
We have never done this in the four years Ive been on Council. It would clearly help us to participate more fully in the process, said Wilson.
Council also accepted a bid of $370,000 for the sale of the Powdersville substation to Northern Anderson County EMS and its owner Forest H. Thomas.
Councilmember Wilson questioned Thomas disclosure of a previous business relationship with a county official, and asked what the business was and who the Council member was. The nature of the business was unknown, but County administrator Joey Preston expressed his opinion that the Council member was former Chairman Clint Wright.
I know that no one on my staff has had any business dealings with Mr. Thomas. I believe that was Mr. Wright, Preston said.
Wilson referred to the favorable lease Thomas has been enjoying, saying, Id like to lease a building like that for $450 a month, and have the county pay the utility bills. I guess we should be glad hes buying it.
Council also authorized the county staff to negotiate and execute an agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers to devise a plan to address flooding in the Byrum Creek basin.
To reach the point of creating a set of plans for a proposed flood control project will cost the county approximately $110,000 in matching funds.
Council also heard a report from Bob Daly, who administers the county detention center. Dalys report reflected both an increasing population at the detention center and consistently improving efficiency in the administration of that department.
Councilman Fred Tolly was not present.
By Stan Welch
Anderson County has decided to get into the baseball business, or at least take the next pitch.
Culminating a period of several weeks of behind the scenes negotiations, Anderson County Economic Development Director John Lummus, acting under the direction of County Administrator Joey Preston, sent a letter to Hank Stickney, a principal of Mandalay Baseball Properties LLC on December 30, 2004, outlining the countys offer of concessions in order to lure a minor league baseball team from Hagerstown, MD to Anderson County.
On January 18, Richard Neumann, Vice President of Development of Properties for Mandalay appeared before County Council seeking a resolution providing for certain economic development incentives. . . for one or more projects . . .involving not less than $30,000,000 investment. . ..
The offer centers around the incorporation of a 200 acre multi-county industrial park, to be located near the intersection of Highway 153 and I-85.
David E. Cooper is listed as the owner of the property being considered. According to the letter, the owner will provide, at no cost, 30 acres for the stadium property and an additional 37 acres at or near fair market price for a stadium development site.
The county will also provide assistance in the form of economic development incentives to offset all or a portion of infrastructure related costs . . . including 2500 paved parking spaces with lighting . . ..
In addition, Mandalay will have the exclusive master development rights for the 37 acre site. A cap of $17.5 million in incentives would be set, with development having to reach the $250 million dollar mark in order for that cap to be attained.
Mandalay would be entitled to use 25% of all property taxes collected from the MCIP to pay off infrastructure costs over the first twenty years of the projects life.
A presentation by Neumann indicated that the proposed 37 acre stadium development site would eventually include a 140 room hotel, a town square and park, high density residential construction in the form of more than 250 condos, as well as multi-family housing in the form of more than 70 apartments.
Commercial development is also expected, beginning with a team headquarters that will include street level retail sites with office space on the second tier.
The stadium will have from 5000-5500 fixed seats with a total capacity of some 6000 due to berm seating down the foul lines and in other parts of the park.
In the letter, Anderson County also offers to issue $5 million in Special Source Revenue Bonds in order to finance water, sewer, power, access roads, and other amenities at the site.
The county is also offering other incentives, possibly including Admission Tax allocations, infrastructure tax credits, A-tax allocations and other grants.
Lummus pointed out that the funding is contingent on Mandalays investment.
This infrastructure will be built as needed, with revenues from the continuing development producing the needed revenues. There is no up front investment by the county, Lummus said.
Mandalay, in partnership with HOK, a ball park design firm from Kansas City, Mo. will design and construct a state of the art facility at a projected cost of $27.3 million.
Any infrastructure credits will apply only to the stadium site itself and not to later ancillary development. Neumann stressed that in other locations, such as Frisco TX and Dayton OH, similar projects have sparked significant economic development in conjunction with the ball parks.
I fully anticipate that this ball park could spur as much as $100 million in development in Anderson County, Lummus said.
Council had several concerns, including the abruptness of the offer.
Despite the fact that Mandalay had e-mailed area media outlets on Friday to inform them of the upcoming appearance before County Council, Council members received only a copy of the December letter in their packet which was received a few days before the meeting.
Councilmember Cindy Wilson , referring to Mandalays recent persistent efforts to find a location in the upstate, said Mandalay has been to Greenville and Greer and had no luck. Were the last girl at the dance, and theyre wanting to take somebody home. It just seems that we should table this for now and gather more information. Then we can vote at the next meeting.
John Lummus explained that the powers that rule minor league baseball were planning to decide by the end of the month whether or not the proposed project met their standards.
Because of their time restraints, if we dont do this tonight, we will almost certainly lose this opportunity, he said.
Council voted to go into executive session to discuss the issues more thoroughly, but after several minutes in a closed room, they returned and said they would continue the discussion in open session.
Chairperson Gracie Floyd stressed that the Council did not go into executive session and was in compliance with the law governing such sessions.
Council, following the lead of Councilman Larry Greer, then made several changes in the language of the resolution, to clarify the countys position and to insure that approval of the resolution would not constitute a contractual agreement with Mandalay. Council then approved the resolution by a vote of 6-0.
Speaking after the meeting, Chairperson Floyd stated that the resolution had given Mandalay what it needed to make its proposal to the baseball authorities.
Negotiations between us and them will continue now to make sure the deal is fair to all parties, Floyd said.
The team will be moved from Maryland as soon as the proposed stadium is ready. The team, which is affiliated with the New York Mets, is a Class A team.
We anticipate selling out every game, like we do in Frisco and Dayton, said Neumann. This will provide great family entertainment to the area.
The Anderson County Development Office met with success recently when Budweiser of Greenville chose an Anderson County location for its new 160,000 square foot distribution center.
The site, located in Piedmont at the intersection of Highways 86 and 17 just off I-85 is the keystone in a consolidation of forces by the company.
The company has two existing facilities, one in Greenville and one in Anderson. This new facility will combine the two, moving 180 current jobs to the new location.
John Lummus, head of the Development office explained that the offer of a fee in lieu of taxes was instrumental in the companys decision to locate in Anderson County. The fee in lieu of taxes essentially does two things, said Lummus. It takes the assessment on the commercial facility of the company from 10.5% to 6% for twenty years and also locks in the companys millage for that same period.
Lummus says direct, specific financial benefits of such an arrangement are difficult to pin down, but he adds that the intangibles are significant.
In addition to keeping 80 jobs in Anderson County that could have been relocated elsewhere, there will be an additional 100 people spending money in the area. In addition, such a commitment to the location indicates that the company will be making Anderson County its home for quite some time. Any future growth will clearly benefit the county,he said.
Lummus also pointed out that the company is paying taxes, albeit at a favorable fixed rate. The facility will open sometime during 2005.
By Stan Welch
The County Administrators office released the paving fund records for all seven council members this week; and despite a paid advertising message from a citizens group which appeared in at least two area newspapers, District 7 Councilmember Cindy Wilson is more or less in line with her colleagues in terms of expenditures on paving roads and on other projects.
Paving funds in most South Carolina counties have long been recognized as slush funds to be used by individual council members for a variety of purposes, one of which is often to build political capital.
For example, according to the recently released records, which cover the period up to December 31, 2004, current Council members Fred Tolly, Gracie Floyd, and Larry Greer, as well as former member Mike Holden all contributed $900 each to install sidewalks at the Campbell Veterans Home on Highway 76 between Belton and Anderson.
Wilson, according to the records, had a paving fund balance of $288,820.45 as of June 30, 2004, the end of FY2004. She received another $243,754.00 as her 2005 FY allocation, giving her a total balance of $532,574.45.
Since that time, she has spent approximately $148,000 paving county roads in her district, $28,257.99 on streets in Honea Path, $10,420.74 in West Pelzer, and $16,418.21 in Williamston, for a total of just over $202,000.
She also spent $52,243.64 on other projects, such as paving fire department parking lots, helping to fund water line projects as well as sewer line repairs in West Pelzer, sidewalks in Honea Path, fire department equipment in Whitefield and other projects, all approved by Council.
Wilson has committed the following amounts for future projects in the coming months: County roads $143,742.25, Honea Path roads $10,429.14, West Pelzer roads $6,109.26, and Williamston streets, $8,418.53. An additional $18,105.26 is slated for approved projects, leaving an uncommitted balance of $115,047.68.
These figures are pretty much in line with other council members, such as Councilman Larry Greer, whose cash balance at the end of the 04 FY was $285,006.33.
His fiscal year 2005 allocation was $313,095.00, giving him a total balance of $598,101.33. He has since spent the following amounts: $38,350.11 on Anderson County roads, $36,677.94 in Belton, $48,595.89 in Iva, and only $3294.57 on other projects.
Commitments for future expenditures are as follows: Anderson County roads, $86,110.16, Belton street, $27,030.26, Iva streets, $68,808.78, with $283,558.35 slated for other projects. Those figures, which are estimates for all projected activities, leave Councilman Greer a balance of $5,675.27 uncommitted for the coming month.
Figures set for individual projects, whether road paving or otherwise, are estimated and often come in under the projected figures, prolonging the life of the paving funds, according to the records released this week.
Paid advertising, which appeared in both The Journal and a daily newspaper, intimated that Wilson had used her paving funds to curry political favor by spending approximately 45% of her monies received since 2001 on special projects.
Records for that entire period were not included in those recently released, but can be assumed to be accurate; since county figures were clearly the source of the numbers used.
The ads, paid for by Citizens for a Progressive Anderson, did not explain that such special projects are routinely approved by the entire council, and are commonplace by all the members.
For example, at the January 18, 2005 council meeting, District 1 Councilman Bill Dees made five separate requests to transfer funds from paving funds for special projects. The total for those five projects was approximately $156,000.
Each request was unanimously approved by the Council.
After a slow period prior to the holidays, Williamston officers were quite busy through the end of 2004 and into the beginning of 2005. Among incidents investigated:
Jan 8 - Willliamston police officers were flagged down by a Williamston resident who reported a car struck a duck crossing the roadway on G. St. and the vehicle did not stop. The resident took the duck to the Palmetto Animal Hospital and left it in an open box on the fron doorstep. When contacted, the owner of the veterinary practice told officers he did not provide care for ducks and provided a number for a provider in Greenville. W. S. White investigated.
Jan. 6 - Williamston Police officers found a 15-year-old who was reported missing from the Anderson Youth Association after he was observed on Greenville Dr. J. L. Barnes, K. P. Evatt investigated.
Jan. 6 - Jonathan Ray Carping, 28, 3521 Airline Rd., Anderson, was arrested for public disorderly conduct after being observed at EnMark, Anderson Dr., Williamston, Sgt. K. P. Evatt investigated.
Jan. 4 - Jessice Vallejo Samaniego, 21, 1215 Dorchester Rd., Belton, was arrested for speeding and no S. C. drivers license after a 1988 Oldsmobile was observed on Parker St., Z. E. Gregory, Sgt. Jeff Kirby investigated.
Jan. 1 - David Michael Murray, 18, 517 Choctaw St., Anderson, was arrested for unsafe equipment, improper vehicle license and operating an uninsured vehicle after a gray Honda was observed on N. Hamilton with a broken windshield. The owner of the vehicle, a passenger, Justin Waymon Mahaffey, 18, 3 Durham Dr., Williamston, was issued a summons for allowing use of an uninsured vheicle. Sgt. J. T. Motes investigated.
Jan. 2 - Ace Hardware, 29 Pelzer Ave., Williamston, reported a utility trailer valued at $1,500 taken from the location. Sgt. J. H. Kirby investigated.
Jan. 2 - Jaime Martines Chavez, 20, 158 G St., Williamston, was arrested for improper signal, no S. C. drivers license and no proof of insurance after a 2000 Chevrolet S-10 pickup was observed using a right turn signal, turning left while using a right turn signal on Gray Dr. J. L. Barnes investigated.
Jan 1 - Kenneth Grover Erwin, 34, 106 Briar Ridge West, Williamston, was arrested for failure to dim headlights, driving left of center and driving under suspension after a 1988 Mazda truck was observed on Anderson Dr. J. L. Barnes investigated.
Dec. 30 - I Dont Know retail store, 517 W. Main St., Williamston, reported accepting a $40 check which turned out to be written on a closed account. Additional checks were also written to the store by the same person for $187.37, and $843.61. Cpt. D. Baker investigated.
Dec. 31 - Harold Maurice Dean, 48, 9 Washington St., Williamston, was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after officers were dispatched to Morrings Dr. J. L. Barnes investigated.
Dec. 30 - Jesse L. Clary, 23, 339 Mize Rd., Belton, reported a cell phone valued at $150 stolen from an office at McDonalds, 4 W. Main St., A. B. Singleton investigated.
Dec. 28 - A sign reported stolen from a Williamston business was recovered in a K Mart parking lot in Navarre, Florida. The owner of the sign company stated he was advised by a person who would not give his name that three of his signs were left there once the word had gotten out about the theft. Local officers had notified authorities in Florida about the theft.
Dec. 26 - EnMark, 934 Anderson Dr., Williamston, reported $23.30 in gas and a $1.19 drink not paid for by a customer who left his drivers license with the store because he didnt have any money to pay. Sgt. Z. E. Gregory investigated.
Dec. 29 - Harold Maurice Dean, 9 Washington St., Williamston, was arrested for public disorderly conduct after being observed on Greenville Dr.
Dec. 25 - John Bonnard Roache, 28, 329 Depot Rd., Pelzer, and Jimmy Mack Meeks, Jr., 32, 135 Oakwood, Dr., Belton, were arrested for discharging a firearm in town limits after officers were dispatched to 129 Cherokee Rd. Reports state the two men were hunting on their grandfathers property and had shot a deer. Sgt. J. H. Kirby investigated.
Dec. 30 - An arrest warrant was issued for Elaine Davenport, 22 Ellison Lake Rd., Williamston, in connection with a simple assault and battery in connection with an incident at JTs 908 Anderson Dr. on Dec. 19. J. L. Barnes investigated.
Sammy Ellison, 1200 Anderson Dr., Williamston, reported two tow arms valued at $600 stolen from a rollback parked at the location. Sgt. Z. E. Gregory investigated.
Dec. 21 - George Calvin Henry, 44, 7 College St., Williamston, reported his name forged on four checks between Dec. 7 and Dec. 21. The checks totaled $1,140. Sgt. Z. E. Gregory investigated.
Dec. 18 - Raul Garcia, 24, no fixed address, was arrested for no drivers license and driving left of center after a 1989 Chevette was observed on Hamilton St. Pedro Lopez, 42, no fixed address, was also arrested for public disorderly conduct. Sgt. K. P. Evatt investigated.
Anderson County Sheriffs Deputies investigated the following:
Jan. 8 - Robert Ellison, 35 Lester Road, Williamston, reported that several buildings and mobile homes were broken into at the R&J Grading yard on Highway 29. No report on the losses was available.
Lloyd Knight , 6 New Thorne Court, Williamston, reported the theft of a 50 cc Honda 4 wheeler from his home on Jan. 8. It was later recovered approximately a quarter mile away in the woods.
Jan. 4 - Melody McAllister, 220 Smith Street, Pelzer, reported several items missing from a safe in her home. Stolen were a diamond and onyx bracelet valued at $800, a 1935 silver certificate $1 bill valued at $3,000, 6 uncirculated $.50 pieces worth $1,000 and $60 worth of gold dollars.
Jan. 9 - Jimmy Young, 45 Main Street, Pelzer reported a five foot red single axle utility trailer stolen from a job site.
Jan. 12 - Mike Alewine, 9 James Street, Pelzer, reported the theft of a 1993 F-150 work truck between 6:30 a.m. and 6:50 a.m. The truck, with a welder and ladder in the back, was valued at $3500.
Ruby Crymes of Pelzer reported that a white male, approximately 30 years of age, 59, with black hair and weighing approximately 170 pounds, came to her house and claimed to be from the water company. He said he was checking for contaminated water and asked her to accompany him outside to the faucet while he took a sample. He had a note pad, a pencil and what appeared to be some sort of test strip. They went to the outside faucet where he tested the water, then replaced everything he had disturbed. He then left in a tan or beige Dodge pickup with chrome wheels, tinted windows, a diamond plate toolbox and a portable flashing yellow light on the roof. Crymes later found her wallet, with $600 in it, missing from her purse. Reports state she believes a second suspect entered the home while she was occupied by the first subject.
Jan. 8 - Jesse Hartshorn of Welborn Street, Pelzer, reported a black West Coast Choppers sweat shirt stolen from her table at Ashmores Bar.
Jan. 7 - Kevin Childs, 159 Lowe Street, Piedmont, reported two checks totaling $75 stolen from his mailbox.
Jan. 10 - Sandra McCarroll, 105 Park Row, Piedmont, reported a motor scooter valued at $550 stolen from her yard. Deputy P.D. Morter investigated.
Officer T. Chapman responded to a call to 205 McNeely Road, Piedmont, where Brenda Philbeck reported that someone had gone into her unlocked 1994 truck and taken a pack of cigarettes and a bank envelope containing $764 from over the visor.
Jan. 8 - Brian Robinson, of 204 Huddersfield Road. Piedmont, reported the theft of a red electric scooter and its charger.
Hayley Meade was crowned Miss Palmetto and talent winner Saturday, January 15 during the Miss Palmetto Pageant at Palmetto High School. Ashley Branton was fourth runner up; Jessica Cooley, third runner up; Meagan Pack, first runner up; Jill Bagwell, second runner up.