(0308) Week of Jan. 16, 2008
project moving forward
The Williamston Streetscape project took another step forward recently as a final concept plan was approved by the Downtown Streetscape Committee.
The five member committee recently agreed on a final plan presented by Tipton Pitts of the LandArt Design Group.
Work on the project was reinstated in April of 2007, after a year of being on hold following the sale of town property, which included the old city hall located in the center of town.
The focus of Phase I of the streetscape project is the historic downtown area along Main St., from the traffic light at Mill St. to the entrance to the Mineral Spring Park.
Plans being finalized include placing two crosswalks on Main St., bulb-out curbing at each of the crosswalks, decorative trees, and decorative lighting in the area.
The location of the existing crosswalk will remain the same, however the new crosswalk will be stamped asphalt, with color and texture resembling brick. The plan calls for bulb-out curbing on both sides of the crosswalk and willow oak, crepe myrtle, daylilies and other plants.
Six old fashion light poles, similar to those in front of the Municipal Center, will be placed along the sidewalk on the same side as the businesses. Brick banding will be used to cover the electrical cuts made into the sidewalk.
A new rail will also be added along the steps in front of Modern Supply.
A second crosswalk will be added at the top of the rise of East Main in front of McDonalds.
The location is already used by pedestrians crossing to and from Mineral Spring Park.
Parking will remain along Main St. in front of the businesses.
The project is a joint effort of the Greater Williamston Business Association and the Town of Williamston.
The approved plan for the project will take most of the $105,861 SCDOT Enhancement Grant which was awarded to the Town for the project in 2006.
According to Pitts, paperwork will be submitted immediately to SCDOT for an encroachment permit and the project will then be released for bids.
If all goes well, bids should be sent out in about three months, Pitts said, with work to begin soon afterward.
Traffic cones and work currently being done in the vicinity are to address safety issues and are temporary, officials said.
Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said that a temporary curbing and new signs designating the crosswalk are being installed by SCDOT in response to a civil action against the department in the case of Gladys Kroll, a pedestrian who was hit and killed while trying to cross Main St.
According to a letter send to the town in July of 2007, SCDOT planned to eliminate three parking spaces, place temporary curbing system to delineate the area where the parking is removed and to provide guidance to pedestrians as to the edge of SC Hwy. 20.
The flexible crosswalk sign placed in the center of the roadway is to be removed.
Plans for the relocation of Pelzer Avenue to the traffic light at Mill St. and possibly adding turning lanes are still in the works and will be an essential part of the overall downtown revitalization project, but are being considerd a separate project for now, officials said.
A presentation on the downtown streetscape project will be made at the next meeting of the Greater Williamston Business Association, Tuesday, January 22 at 12 noon at Subway of Williamston.
Members of the business community or the public interested in the project are invited to attend the presentation.
By Stan Welch
A West Pelzer mother remains in jail awaiting a hearing before a Circuit judge after being arrested and charged with infant homicide following the death of her 6 month old daughter.
Danielle Marie Lee Bowen, 18, has been charged with homicide by child abuse, following the death of the infant Haley on January 8. The childs father, Douglas Wilson, was at work at the time of the incident, during which Bowen allegedly stepped on the childs chest, as well as slapping it in the head with her right hand and choking her.
At her arraignment, Bowen claimed that she accidentally stepped on Haley while chasing after her son. According to published reports, Assistant Coroner Don McCown said the deceased child did not appear to be suffering from shaken child syndrome.
Bowen remains in custody, and as of Tuesday, January 15, no request for a bond hearing had been made by her attorney, according to the 10th Circuit Solicitors Office. In homicide cases, bond issues must be heard by the Circuit Court.
Bowens other child, Samuel, was taken into protective custody by DSS at the time of the incident and was to be placed with Wilsons grand mother for the time being. Efforts by The Journal to confirm that arrangement were unsuccessful.
According to the warrant in the case, Bowen stepped on Haleys chest, causing fatal internal injuries, as well as slapping and choking her. Haley was transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital where she was reportedly placed on life support equipment for a time, before being removed from that equipment.
According the ACSO incident report, filed by Deputy K.D. Pigman, he was dispatched to the residence at 120 Bellview Circle Court in West Pelzer in response to a report of a non-responsive infant. No other details are provided by the report.
By Stan Welch
Williamstons schools were locked down briefly last Thursday while town and county law enforcement officers searched for an armed robbery suspect in the area.
According to information provided by Williamston Police Chief David Baker, a black male, 62", 200 pounds, entered Majors Liquor Store on Greenville Street right after the store opened at 9 A.M. and demanded the money in the register. He had his hand in the pocket of his coat, and when the clerk asked him what he wanted, he thrust that hand towards her as if holding a gun and again demanded the money.
He received $50 in cash and fled on foot. The clerk called 911 and officers soon arrived and began to search for the subject. Soon after, Chief Baker decided to lock down the three nearby schools.
We had the County Sheriffs Office bring in a canine unit to track the suspect, but Thursday was one of the few rainy days weve had lately and the dog couldnt keep the scent. Since we couldnt pin down a direction of travel for the suspect, it seemed to be the wise thing to lock down the schools until we knew more about the situation, said Chief Baker.
Later in the day, the continuing investigation produced the information that the subject was in an abandoned house in town. Timothy Greg Clement was subsequently located and taken into custody. Clement, who had reportedly entered several businesses in the area before entering the liquor store, was later identified by several witnesses.
He was charged with armed robbery and trespassing and transported to Anderson County Detention Center.
We appreciate the assistance of the Sheriffs Office, and the cooperation of the schools involved. Luckily the situation was under control the entire time, but it takes that kind of cooperation to achieve a safe result, said Chief Baker.
By Stan Welch
An incident Monday which resulted in a Greenville County man being shot, and which ended with a car crash in Anderson County was not spurred by road rage, as preliminary reports indicated.
According to Greenville County Sheriffs Office spokesman Lt. Shea Smith, GCSO deputies responded to a location on Eastview Road, where a gunshot victim was found in his truck.
Benjamin Barbee, who apparently tried to escape the attack by driving off had actually run into the porch of a home at the site. It was subsequently determined that he was acquainted with his alleged assailant, David James Kennedy. The shooting reportedly resulted from an argument between the two men.
Barbee was treated and later released at Greenville Memorial Hospital. His injuries were determined not to be life threatening.
Kennedy was later taken into custody by Anderson County Sheriffs Office deputies at 540 Old River Road in Piedmont.
He had crashed his 1995 Camaro into a tree at that location and had suffered substantial injuries.
According to Anderson County Chief Deputy Creed Hashe, witnesses at the scene attempted to help Kennedy due to the extent of his injuries, but he retrieved a handgun from the vehicle and left the scene on foot.
We set up a perimeter at the scene and called in a tracking dog to search for him. GCSO put their chopper up to assist in the search. The subject was found a short time later in a structure of some sort, like a shed or barn. He was transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital. Greenville took custody of him, since we didnt actually have any charges against him. The SCHP worked the crash, said Hashe.
Lt. Smith said that while the pursuit was in progress, it was learned that Kennedy was wanted on an outstanding warrant for violation of probation. He was released from the hospital on Tuesday and remains in custody at the Greenville County Detention Center.
He faces a charge of assault and battery with intent to kill, as well as the probation violation. Additional charges related to his possession of a firearm may also be brought.
By Stan Welch
At least one member of the West Pelzer Town Council thinks there must be a better way to handle the Towns sewer problems than to follow DHECs plan.
First term Councilman Mike Moran expressed strong opinions that DHEC was essentially blackmailing the Town into honoring an arrangement with Western Carolina.
Moran was announcing the formation of a citizens committee on water and sewer issues when he made his remarks. The Town is currently under a consent order from DHEC and is faced with a deadline to commit to some action or face the loss of more than a million dollars in grants and loans from the Rural Development Administration.
In a recent meeting with RDA and other officials, the Town raised the possibility of using the grant funds, which have been allocated since 1998, to repair the towns sewer lines to reduce the ingress and infiltration of stormwater into the system.
The best case scenario resulting from such efforts would be the reduction of flow through the towns wastewater treatment plant to a level that would remove the need for connecting to a separate third party system.
Western Carolina is supposed to be building a treatment plant that would provide such an alternative, but that plant has not yet been started. Moran called the pipeline the Town is supposed to build to that plant a pipeline to nowhere.
They havent even built a treatment plant yet. So how can DHEC do anything to us if we dont build that pipeline? The Western Carolina choice is definitely the wrong one, with large rate increases sure to result. But the RDA choice isnt much better, with a $2000 a month payment to them for the rest of eternity. And hooking up to Williamston is no better because someone else will be setting our rates if we do that.
Town attorney Carey Murphy responded to a question from Mayor Peggy Paxton by saying that A $2000 a month payment to RDA is cheaper than a $5000 a day fine from DHEC. We really cant ignore their authority on this.
Complicating the situation is the fact that the Town is supposed to provide an indication of their intentions to RDA by next Tuesday.
We have to provide our paperwork to RDA by the 22nd or we risk losing that money. They want to see something being done with it or they will reallocate it to someone else.
Moran said that he believes that DHEC is putting on a tougher face than the actual situation supports.
They give us this hard front and threaten all these things, but if we dont have a place to send our wastewater, what can you do? We need to do more maintenance on our plant and remove more sludge to increase capacity.
Mayor Paxton reported that sludge removal is done every two months and has been since 2005 when the consent order was put in place. Murphy stated that DHEC would not approve of any plan that would leave the Town operating its own treatment plant. I simply dont think that is going to happen.
Paxton agreed that the Towns [past performance in operating the plant and keeping records had hurt their chances of DHEC allowing such an option. But we should look into it at least, she said.
In other business, Mayor Paxton announced that the Town had been awarded a Palmetto Pride grant in the amount of $4000. (See related story elsewhere in this issue.)
She also explained that the cost of constructing the towns new website will involve a one time $300 set up fee and an annual server fee of $299. Both those amounts are within my authority as Mayor to spend without a vote of Council. I believe that the website will be far more valuable than that to our town, so I decided to do it.
Council also voted unanimously to discontinue the public reading of the minutes of the previous meeting. The town is currently making the minutes available in three different ways, while state law requires only one of those ways. We will provide minutes to the Councilmen within a couple days of the meeting just held. Then, you all can review and make any corrections and get them back to the clerk in time to prepare them for the next meeting, said Mayor Paxton.
By Stan Welch
Three towns in The Journal coverage area have been awarded Palmetto Pride community grants to be used in beautification projects.
Mayor Peggy Paxton announced that West Pelzer had received a community pride grant in the amount of $4000 from the Palmetto Pride organization, which is a public/private partnership which promotes anti-litter campaigns and beautification efforts throughout the state.
We were very fortunate that Rusty Burns encouraged us to seek this grant. We were doubly fortunate that Rep. Dan Cooper and Sen. Billy ODell once again came through for us in helping us obtain these funds, said Mayor Paxton.
Rep. Cooper is the Chairman of the Palmetto Pride legislative committee.
Mayor Paxton said the funds will be used to erect a sign in front of the Town Hall as well as expand the existing landscaping at the signs at each end of town.
Williamston also received an award of $3900, as well as a PARD grant of $20,000, which is slated for a major renovation of the Brookdale Park. We will use the Palmetto Pride funds, which our always helpful state officials helped us get, to buy and install some decorative benches and some trash receptacles at the Brookdale Park. The additional funds will allow us to broaden the scope of that project, said Mayor Phillip Clardy.
Pelzer Town Clerk Skip Watkins also credits Burns with making him aware that the funds were still available. Rusty called me and said there were some funds still out there so we made a kind of a last minute application and got lucky. Were planning to buy some benches for the entrance to the gymnasium and to buy some trash cans for the park and the ball fields. That in turn will help reduce the litter problems at those locations, so were pleased to be able to do that with these funds.
Burns, who is a grant writer for all three towns, said, Rep. Cooper and Senator ODell are always willing to go to bat for us on these things, and those are two pretty good batters. But its nice to see these small towns able to get access to grants and awards to beautify their streets and parks.
As the Republican Presidential Preference Primary roars down upon South Carolina, the choices in the Republican field are as muddy as they have ever been.
Three major contests three different winners. Huckaby in Iowa McCain in New Hampshire and Romney in Michigan the winds of momentum have turned into a sidewalk dust devil, scattering leaves everywhere but going no place.
The confusion actually works to increase the importance of the South Carolina primary, the first to be held in the South.
The winner of the South Carolina primary will be the clear front runner, heading into the second round of Southern primaries.
But several other candidates, whose strategy has been to concentrate on the Southern primaries, are still considered viable candidates in the Palmetto State, including Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.
Even Ron Paul, who has been mired in single digits numbers in the previous contests, is still a factor. All three of the second tier candidates need strong showings in South Carolina if they are to retain any credibility as candidates.
Senator McCain represents the Old Guard of the Republican Party, with an established reputation as a strong supporter of the military and fairly conservative financially.
Mitt Romney returned to his original claim of being the candidate best qualified to run the country as a business, and to establish a policy on illegal immigration that will make the nation more secure.
Mike Huckabys chances in South Carolina hinge on his strong conservative social values, such as his pro life position and his status as an ordained Baptist preacher.
The primary will take place this Saturday, January 19th. It is an open primary, meaning that any registered voter can vote. Democrats who do so however will forfeit their privilege to vote the following weekend, January 26 in the Democratic Primary.
Fueled by the presence of both the first viable woman candidate and the first viable black candidate, the Democratic field has narrowed considerably.
Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama are clearly the 800 pound gorillas in the field, jousting with each other, while John Edwards pins his hopes on his Southern roots to carry him to an essential win in the Palmetto State.
The major question for the Democrats is whether or not South Carolina, where even liberal Democrats are pretty conservative when compared to their counterparts in other regions of the country, will vote for a black or female candidate in significant numbers.
With voter turnout at unprecedented levels in Iowa and New Hampshire, the South Carolina Democratic Party has predicted that more than 300,000 voters will participate in the states Democratic presidential primary election on Jan. 26.
Locally, the Anderson County Democratic Party is expecting 10,000 Anderson County residents to cast their ballots in the first-in-the-South Democratic primary. The Party also believes the Jan. 26 primary will play a pivotal role in selecting the next Democratic presidential nominee.
This will be a historic election, said Anderson County Democratic Party Chair, Stuart Sprague, We expect that South Carolina Democrats will be selecting the next President of the United States.
Sprague said Americans are ready for a change, but that change wont come by electing another Republican leader. We want to improve our quality of life. The Democratic Party emphasizes national security, strong economic growth, affordable health care, retirement security, honest government, and civil rights, he said. Our President should reflect these values.
The Anderson County Party encourages all registered voters to participate in the Jan. 26 Democratic primary. Voters can only participate in only one party election.
Registered voters, who qualify, and intend to cast absentee ballots in the January 26 Democratic Presidential Preference Primary may do so in person Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. through January 25th.
Absentee voting will take place in Room 105 of the old Bailes Building, located directly behind the Historic Courthouse, 107 South Main Street, Anderson.
The Registration Office is located in Room 101. For more information call 864-260-4035.
Voters who wish to cast an Absentee Ballot must bring identification such as a S.C. Drivers license, a photo I. D. issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles or a Voter Registration Card. Voters must complete the Absentee Application and check the reason they must vote absentee.
By Stan Welch
County officials cut the ribbon last week to officially open the recently replaced Fire Station Creek bridge in District Six.
The original bridge, built in 1936, consisted of a 34 foot long pony truss which was only 17.5 feet wide and could bear only 25 tons, which restricted the fire trucks from the nearby Three and Twenty Fire Department. The bridge spans a tributary of Three and Twenty Creek.
The new bridge is 36 feet wide and has no weight restrictions, due to its hollow core slab construction and asphalt road deck. The new bridge was designed and constructed largely by the Countys recently organized in house bridge crew. Project engineer Judy Shelato said that use of the in house resources saved 20% in construction costs. We used subcontractors only for the phases of construction that we didnt have the equipment for. Using in house resources also allowed us to essentially set our own schedule and to really speed up the timetable on this project.
The funding for the $256,000 project was largely provided by a federal earmark obtained in 2005 by Congressman Gresham Barrett. Those same funds allowed for the 2006 replacement of the McClellan Road Bridge and the scheduled 2008 replacement of the Cox Road Bridge.
By Stan Welch
The Anderson County Council led off its meeting Tuesday night with an announcement concerning a new shopping center that is coming to town, if the proper incentives are made available.
The question remains, however, whether the Council is willing to offer such incentives, following a unanimous vote to table the question.
The development, which is already under construction, would involve a capital investment of approximately $28 million and provide 450 retail jobs, according to Burriss Nelson, commercial economic development specialist for the County.
The 176,000 square foot facility, including four high end retailers, would generate a half million in taxes annually, with thirty per cent of that going to the County in a fee in lieu of taxes, while approximately $350,000 would go to the District Five School system.
Councilman Larry Greer raised concerns that the County seems to offer such incentives to only large enterprises, while smaller businesses actually bear the greater burden created by the incentives offered. Nelson responded that the approach was to incentivize development that reflected planning, high end businesses and clean development.
Councilwoman Gracie Floyd raised the issue of people who currently pay double the normal rate for access to city water, because they live outside the city limit but inside the citys service area.
We have 5000 citizens who pay double for their water and cant even vote against the people who impose those rates. And you want us to reduce the cost to this developer by half. I have to get my heart and conscience right on this before I can vote on it. I move that we table this matter, she said.
The council voted unanimously to do so.
Councilwoman Cindy Wilson offered an amendment to the solid waste ordinance that would have retained the Councils final authority to impose consumer price index increases to the recently raised solid waste fee, rather than leaving that decision in the hands of the county administrator and the head of the environmental services division.
The amendment was defeated 4-3, with Councilmen Greer and Waldrep joining Ms. Wilson in voting for it.
Mr. Greer proposed an ordinance which would allow the extension of discussion of agenda items by a simple majority vote, rather than the unanimous vote which was required. That amendment was defeated, but Chairman Thompson offered a compromise amendment which would allow a two thirds majority vote to extend the time. That two thirds vote effectively requires five votes, since there are seven members.
A proposed revision to the EMS zone map sparked questions by Waldrep concerning whether EMS District 9 would be expanded.
District 9 is an area in the city limits which imposes a second EMS levy in addition to that imposed on the county tax bill. Waldrep asked whether the revision of the map would effectively envelope more people in that double levy area. County attorney Tom Martin was unable to answer that unequivocally, but said that the revision itself carried no power to increase taxes.
I simply want to know whether this will have a tax consequence on anyone, said Waldrep. If a district already has a second levy and that area is expanded, then a tax impact will definitely be felt.
Waldrep also raised some eyebrows when he announced that compliance with his recent Freedom of Information Act request for County credit cards receipts had been priced at $5000 by the administrator.
Mr. Preston, I really dont believe I can afford to pay that to see public records. Waldreps remarks came during a discussion of economic development and the need to keep records confidential. I do not believe that the countys economic development efforts are like the Manhattan Project.
He and Councilwoman Wilson both defended their position on the recent purchase of a 800MHz radio system from Motorola.
The issue I had with the system was the fact that there was little or no review of a contract that was written by the vendor and handed to the county, said Waldrep. To say that I opposed providing our emergency personal with a better system is unfair and untrue.
Wilson agreed, saying, I never opposed the system itself. I had issues with the bid process and the contract. But I said repeatedly that our responders deserve the best equipment we can provide. I just think we have a duty to provide that equipment as economically as we can.
Anderson County Sheriffs Deputies investigated a number of incidents involving domestic disputes and arguments, several resulting in minor injury and several with no charges filed. Among incidents investigated:
Jan. 11 K.D. Pigman responded to the Anderson Jockey Lot where Ricky Spearman reported that someone had broken into the ATM machine on site, damaging the machine badly. No money was in it.
Jan. 13 A.D. Hendrix was dispatched to AnMed where he spoke with Edwin Edwards, WM, 52, who said that while he was at a Tudor Rd. address with some friends, a guy named Billy, a WM from 50-55 years old, 175 pounds/ brn/brn, pointed a gun at him.
Jan. 8 ACSO deputies responded to 6 Lyman St. on two separate occasions. At approximately 2:15 p.m., J.J. Jacobs and T. Bowers responded to a complaint by Tenille Gonzalez that her roommate Audria Roach had placed dog feces in two pairs of her shoes. Roach admitted that she had done that because Gonzalez dog continuously defecates in the house. She agreed to pay for the two pairs of shoes and no charges were filed.
At approximately 10:10 P.M., M.J. McClatchy was dispatched to the same address in response to a complaint of simple assault. Jesse Stone, Roachs brother, stated that she had come into his room and refused to leave. Reports state that after he knocked a beer from her hand, she allegedly choked him. He did not wish to press charges and left the house for the evening. Again, no charges were filed.
Jan. 8 P. D. Marter responded to 11 Allen St. where William Hawkins, 27, WM, 511", 230 pounds, was found deceased on the scene. Jennifer Hawkins, 25, reported the incident. A subsequent autopsy confirmed that Hawkins, who had a history of health problems, died as a result of natural causes.
Jan. 9 K.W. Pearson responded to the Bi-Lo where he met with DSS workers who then went to 3 Fuller Street to take custody of the brother of the infant Haley, whose mother Danielle Bowen was arrested earlier that day for the infants death. The older child was taken into DSS custody at that time. (See related story elsewhere in this issue.)
Jan. 11 K.D. Pigman responded to 5 Fennell St. where Julie Gustin reported while she had been at work out of town for a week someone had broken into her home and stolen a number of household items valued at $205.
Jan. 8 M.D. Campbell was dispatched to 1506 Durham Rd. where Burnley Landing stated that someone had stolen a 16 foot Tagalong Trailer and its contents valued at $7000.
Jan. 9 C. Holbrooks responded to Anchor Storage where William Irvin Jr. reported that his storage unit had been broken into and approximately $3400 worth of collectibles taken. While on the scene, Holbrooks discovered eight other units which had been damaged during break in attempts. In each case, damage to the doors was estimated at $100.
Jan. 9 C. Whitfield was dispatched to 104 Carson Creek Rd. where, according to reports, Bruce Cheatham and Lisa Fowler had been involved in a domestic quarrel that resulted in Cheatham receiving a minor knife wound to the nose and Fowler appearing to have been choked. Unable to determine the primary aggressor, Whitfield arrested both parties.
Jan. 9 E.F. Kelley was dispatched to the Anchor Storage at 7481 Highway 81 where Alfred Deavers reported the burglary of his rented storage unit. Deavers losses totaled $1350.
Jan. 8 M.D. Campbell responded to 1001 Princeton Rd. where Darlene Gould reported that someone had entered her vehicle and stolen a Kodak digital camera valued at $400.
Jan. 9 K.W. Pearson responded to 202 Dacus Dr. where Chad Caldwell reported the theft of a 12 gauge shotgun and a Ruger 9mm pistol.
Jan. 9 C. Holbrooks responded to 3001 Hwy. 153 where Nineka Williams, of Charlotte, reported that her 2002 green Ford Explorer had been stolen from the Burger King parking lot. The vehicle was valued at $8000.
Jan. 13 A. Land responded to 344 Wesley Ellison Dr. where James Smith, WM, 41, reported that his son Kenneth Smith, WM, 21, of Marietta, had called and threatened him. Twenty minutes later, T.B. Dugan was dispatched to the scene where James Smith reported that Kenneth arrived at the location and again threatened him, pulling some sort of weapon from his truck. Dugan was planning to seek a warrant for Kenneth Smith.