News Archive

(0505) Week of Feb. 2, 2005

South Greenville Fire District lowers ISO rating from 4 to 3
Public hearings to gather input on student assignment in Greenville County
County Council hears reports from sheriff, others Tuesday
Party affiliation draws additional discussions
Vickery charged with assault, resisting arrest
Deputies investigate thefts
Vandals strike Veterans Park
Armed floral robber caught

South Greenville Fire District lowers ISO rating from 4 to 3

The South Greenville Fire Department is continuing an effort to upgrade firefighting capabilities in the district, with the most recent improvements resulting in a lower ISO rating.

The Fire District has been able to lower the ISO rating from 4/9 to 3/9 recently with the addition of equipment and personnel changes, according to South Greenville Fire Chief, Ken Taylor. The district has a split rating due to an area that has limited water available.

The department added a 100 ft. platform truck, and added 5 inch hose on two trucks, more nozzles and moved personnel around to different stations to comply with guidelines to get the better rating. The Insurance Service Offices conducts the inspections and determines the ratings which are used by insurance companies to determine rates.

The Grummen duplex platform truck includes a 100 foot ladder with bucket, 8 different sizes of ladders from 14 to 40 ft. and breathing air cylinders. It can pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute.

The 1984 truck is “like new” with only 12,000 miles on it according to Chief Taylor.

Firemen in the district repainted the vehicle, he said.

South Greenville Fire District  dropped from a Class 5/9 rating, which the district had for about 10 years, to a Class 4/9 rating in June of 2004.

With the most recent improvements, the District requested another ISO valuation survey in November. The Fire District received notice of the class 3 rating just last week, Chief Taylor said.

In addition to equipment upgrades, other improvements are being made. The district is in the process of building a new fire station on Holliday Dam Road. According to Taylor, the location on 1.5 acres of donated property is more centralized for the area it serves.

The 5,000 square ft. facility will replace an older building on Hwy. 247, which currently houses the satellite station. “It is in dire need of repairs,” Taylor said.

The new four bay structure will included a kitchen, living room and bunk room. It is expected to be completed by mid to late spring, according to Taylor.

It will house two pumpers, a brush truck and a rescue boat.

There are two firefighters on duty at the station at all times, he said.

The South Greenville Fire District covers 134 square miles of territory and employs a total of 37 firefighters.

The District currently has six satellite stations including: Station 1, Moonville; Station 2, Headquarters on Hwy. 25; Station 3, Fork Shoals Rd.; Station 4, at Ware Place, Station 5, on Hwy. 247 and  Station 6, on West Georgia Rd.

Taylor said the district is committed to getting a lower rating. Residents and business owners in South Greenville should see some insurance savings thanks to efforts.

“We cover a big area. It’s kind of hard on us with the area that we do cover, because some of our district is not as populated as other parts,” Taylor said. “It’s rural with a lot of open land.” He said the rural area around Possum Kingdom is the portion of the district with the Class 9 rating, because it has few fire hydrants.

South Greenville serves a growing part of Southern Greenville County which includes about 25,000 people. It includes several new residential communitites.

The district also includes fire protection for industry such as Michelin and the Mattrix Industrial Park.

Public hearings to gather input on student assignment in Greenville County

Public hearings to receive comments about student assignment in several Greenville County Schools will be held Tuesday, February 8,  from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, February 15 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Council Chambers, County Square, 301 University Ridge, Greenville. The hearings are being hosted by the Student Assignment Advisory Committee.

Parents and others wishing to speak can sign up beginning 20 minutes prior to the start of each hearing and can sign up throughout the hearings. Each speaker will have up to three minutes.

To ensure everyone has an opportunity to speak, groups are asked to designate representatives to present their views. Groups supporting each speaker can stand to show their support.

Student assignments to be considered by the committee are:

Woodmont High School – School is scheduled for completion in summer 2005. The new relocated facility with student capacity of 1,600 will provide overcrowding relief to Hillcrest High School. The committee will look at providing minimum student relief of 300 students to Hillcrest High.

Other areas to be considered include:

New South Central Middle School – The new relief school being constructed within the Woodmont Middle attendance area for a capacity of 750. The school will provide relief of 250 students to Bryson and Hillcrest Middle Schools. the committee will look at balancing new growth between Woodmont Middle and the new South Central Middle School considering the schools’ capacities. They also consider how to provide a minimum student population of 400 students at the new school. The school is scheduled for completion in summer of 2006.

J. L. Mann High Academy – New relocated facility with 1,500 student capacity to provide overcrowding relief to Mauldin High School. Provide a minimum student relief of 150 students to Mauldin High. The first full year of occupancy in the new facility will be the 2007-08 school year.

Beck Middle Academy – New relocated facility with 1,000 student capacity to provide overcrowding relief to Mauldin and Riverside Middle Schools. Provide a minimum student relief of 300 students to Mauldin Middle and Riverside Middle. The school is scheduled for completion in summer 2006.

New Southeast Area Elementary School – New relief school with a capacity of 750 to relieve overcrowding at Bell’s Crossing and Bryson Elementary Schools. Considering growth potential in the area, provide a minimum student population of 250 students for the New Southeast Area Elementary. Provide a minimum student relief of 250 students to Bell’s Crossing and Bryson Elementary. The school is scheduled for completion in summer 2006.

Greenbrier Elementary – Expanded facility for 1,000 students to provide relief to Mauldin Elementary School. Provide a minimum student relief of 175 students to Mauldin Elementary. The expansion is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2006.

Greenville County Schools Superintendent Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher recently announced the charge for the Student Assignment Advisory Committee (SAAC).

The committee is appointed by the School Board and administration to provide citizen recommendations to the District on school attendance line adjustments.

This is the third year that the SAAC has met to assist the District with the important task of student assignment.

Meetings of the SAAC will be announced through local media outlets and on the Greenville County Schools website, officials said. The committee will complete their recommendations by early March.

Several schools are being expanded and/or relocated and two relief schools are being constructed with the intent to reduce overcrowding and to address needs in some of the fastest growing areas of the district.

The committee will focus on these schools while guided by the district’s Education Plan and student assignment factors identified in the Board’s student assignment policy.

County Council hears reports from sheriff, others Tuesday

Anderson County Council members received several reports from Department heads and other program directors during their regular meeting Tuesday, February 2.

Sheriff David Crenshaw and Chief Deputy Tim Busha reported on the early results of the restructuring of the Sheriff’’s Department. Busha reported that the department had been reorganized into three main divisions: uniform, investigative, and special operations.

“Anyone in law enforcement knows that uniform patrol is the backbone of any police department. We have been able to put 22 officers on each patrol shift. That has allowed us to do some proactive patrolling, and that has led to more arrests. We have also cut down on our response times tremendously. Our average response time from the reception of the 911 call to reaching the scene is 12 minutes. In a county of 775 square miles, that’s pretty good,” said Busha.

“Just as importantly, virtually no calls were held by dispatch. In other words, an officer was dispatched immediately to each call, instead of some being put in the hold file to wait for an available officer,” he said.

Busha also pointed out that the use of the special operations unit, ACE (Aggressive Criminal Enforcement) has freed up patrol officers to perform their primary function.

“The ACE unit has already made 38 drug arrests, leading to 74 drug charges being filed. They have written a total of 97 citations this month,” Busha said.

Sheriff Crenshaw said that vehicles were a problem. “We have had to press some old ‘spares’ back into service, but we should take delivery on 9 new vehicles this week, and we plan to order 10 or 15 more soon,” he said.

He added that the computer system the department uses is also problematic. 

“We’re not on the information super highway. We’re on the information dirt road with two flat tires. But so far we’re making it work,” he said.

He added that his department is cooperating with other agencies. “It’s time for all the egos to go out of law enforcement. It doesn’t matter who puts the bad guys in jail, as long as they go and stay there,” he said.

Crenshaw also said, “I’d rather be Sheriff of Anderson County than President of the United States. This is my home, and it’s where my friends and family are. We just want to make it a better place for all the people of Anderson County to live.”

Bob Strother, of the Appalachian Council of Government (ACOG) reported to the Council on the return on the County’s investment in ACOG.

“The County’s investment in ACOG for the last fifteen years has been just under $75,000 a year. This year, the return on that money totalled a little over $11 million. That’s approximately $147 return for every dollar invested,” Strother said.

Strother explained that the figure includes both loans made by ACOG ($730,000) as well as private capital invested as a result of those loans ($4,656,580).

Other monies obtained or provided by ACOG included grants, aging/workforce investment subcontracts and highway improvement bond monies in the amount of approximately $5.7 million.

 The ACOG also performed a variety of service for the county, such as training first responders in terrorism awareness, reviewing 27 sewer discharge permit requests, and conducting various studies and surveys.

Transportation Department Head Holt Hopkins reported on his department’s efforts in the areas of paving, ditching, mowing, engineering and road maintenance.

The department has an operating budget of $3.5 million and has 57 full time and 10 part time seasonal employees. The department is responsible for 388 vehicles, including heavy equipment and paving equipment. That number doesn’t include the 180 vehicles used by the Sheriff’s department, he said.

 Council also received a report that the South Carolina Flight Service station in  Anderson County will be closed as the result of a privatization of that service by the FAA.

The station, which provided flight and weather information, and received filed flight plans from pilots, employed forty people.

Under the privatization plan, Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract and plans to consolidate services, reducing the number of stations nationwide from 58 to 20.

Chairperson Gracie Floyd said that Anderson County people don’t give up that easily and she immediately spearheaded preparation of a resolution to be  brought Council for approval, indicating Anderson County’s desire to retain the station.

 Several ordinances received first or second reading approval, including the fee in lieu of taxes plan to be conducted with KW Real Estate Investments concerning the Budweiser Distribution center at Highway 86 and I-85. Acceptance of an ordinance approving the Area Four land use plan also received first reading approval. No ordinances were slated for final approval.

Party affiliation draws additional discussions

The fuss over the Anderson County Republican Party’s (ACRP) Executive Committee’s efforts to reprimand several  County Council members continues.

At the January 18 County Council meeting, Dan Harvell rose to read a resolution by the ACRP’s Executive committee which chastised three Council members for voting in support of the nomination of Gracie Floyd as Chairperson of the 2005 Council.

Floyd, who is the Council’s sole Democrat, was elected to the Chair as a result of the support of Councilmen Fred Tolly, Bill Dees and Larry Greer.

The resolution read by Harvell referred to the need to adhere to the political philosophy under which one ran for office. The language of the resolution was stern, and clearly touched a nerve with both Dees and Greer, who both responded strongly at the Jan. 18 meeting. 

Councilman Tolly was not present, neither on the 18th nor 2nd. The appearance of Harvell apparently also touched a nerve with the regulars in the audience who attend most if not all of the meetings of the Council.

Several of them responded during the public input portion of the February 2 meeting.

Elizabeth M. Peace told the Council that on January 18, she had “witnessed an attempt to stifle freedom” by the Republicans’ effort to reprimand the councilmen. She stated that she is neither Republican nor  Democrat, and is proud to live in South Carolina “where no pledge {of party loyalty} is needed in order to cast a vote.” She went on to say that  “ the reprimand is akin to totalitarianism.”

Brooks Brown IV said he was “appalled” by Harvell’s actions and likened him to a lobbyist, trying to influence an election. He pointed to Harvell’s   position on the ACRP Executive Committee as a problem and advised him to remove himself from that position. He also stated that Harvell, by violating the laws regulating lobbyists, had committed a misdemeanor. “If you want to lobby this council, pay your $100 registration fee and do it openly,” said Brown.

Ed Jean expressed his disappointment in the Republican effort and said that Harvell’s position as head of the Anderson County Taxpayer’s Association made it worse.

“Where do moderates fit in with a Republican party that is dominated by the Taxpayer’s Association? It’s time for everyone to work for the people of Anderson County and stop all the partisan politics,” he said.

Harvell then rose to respond, speaking directly to Floyd. 

“This action was in no way against you or your being Chairperson. There is no question that you are doing an excellent job as Chairperson. No question.  This is not about gender or race or anything but political philosophy and core values. The members of the Executive committee are there because they care about this country and its future. We are free to voice our opinion when we see council members who are not toeing the conservative line.”

Harvell went on to say, “I know this hurt some people’s feelings, and I’m sorry. But there was no animosity except for political performance.”

 He responded to Brown’s remarks by saying that he, Brown, would have to handle the issue of Harvell’s supposed misdemeanor as Brown saw fit. “You just handle that anyway you think you need to, Mr. Brown.”

At the end of the meeting, Councilman Dees expressed his view that loyalty is a two way street. He had explained at the January 18 meeting that the Republicans had supported a different candidate against him in the last election.

Speaking Tuesday night, he said  “I was raised by people who voted their conscience. Blood has been spilled all over this world  for the right to vote our conscience.”

 Councilman Greer spoke of seeing several television  programs recently about the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz.

“Folks, a government murdered over 6 million people for no reason except for a label that had been put on them. It is time for the Taxpayer’s Association, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, this County Council, and this administration to get past all that and do the business for the people of Anderson County.”

Vickery charged with assault, resisting arrest

by Stan Welch

Troubles continue for former West Pelzer Fire Chief Mark Vickery who was arrested for assault in connection with an incident February 2 involving a fellow firefighter.

According to West Pelzer Police Chief Bernard Wilson, on Friday, January 28, Vickery accosted Richard Adam Maw at a local auto parts store. Chief Wilson said Vickery cursed Maw and taunted him, then beat on his truck several times, before pursuing Maw down Main Street in West Pelzer. 

Chief Wilson said he witnessed the vehicular pursuit, but Vickery turned off and was not arrested at that time. Wilson, however, swore out a warrant on behalf of Maw.

On Feb. 2 at approximately 7 p.m., Wilson observed Vickery driving down Main Street and effected a traffic stop in order to serve the warrant. 

According to Wilson, Vickery refused to accept the fact that a warrant had been issued for him and refused to be put into custody.

Wilson said that Vickery did not assault any officers, but simply tried to avoid being handcuffed and arrested. 

Vickery’s wife, Penny Vickery, showed up and got into the mix, according to Wilson.

“She wouldn’t back off from us and she was told she would be arrested for hindering a police officer if she didn’t. When we finally got him under arrest, she was informed that she too was under arrest. At that time, she took off and the other officer with me went after her and placed her under arrest for hindering an officer in the performance of his duties,” Wilson said. “Both were charged with resisting arrest and are currently awaiting arraignment and a bail hearing at the Anderson County Detention Center,” he said.

Vickery resigned as chief of the West Pelzer Fire Department in December amidst concerns about the department’s financial condition.

The department’s Board of Directors was reactivated in December of 2004 due to department members’ concerns over the financial status.

The Fire Department is currently addressing a number of financial challenges, including being in arrears on utility bills and payments on department equipment, such as a fire truck.

Deputies investigate thefts

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated the following incidents

Jan. 27 - CVS drugstore, Anderson Road, Piedmont, reported a shoplifting incident in which a white male, approximately 25 years of age, 6 feet tall and weighing 250 pounds, put several boxes of over the counter medicines in his jacket and left the store. He drove off in a  beige Dodge Neon . The tag was reported stolen by Dorothy Griffith of Williamston. Deputy D.B. Anderson investigated.

Jan. 26 - Teams Texaco, 2501 River Road, Piedmont, reported that the driver of a black Ford Taurus had driven off without paying for $26.09 in gas. The vehicle was listed in the NCIC system as stolen. A search of the area for the vehicle was unsuccessful. Deputy R. S. Turner investigated.

Jan. 26 - Steven Dover, 211 Gin Road, Piedmont, reported that sometime between Jan. 24-26, an unknown person had broken into his truck and stolen three wild game cameras, hand and power tools and a volt meter. Total value of the items is approximately $980. Reports state the theft could have occurred either at the victim’s home, or at the Greenville Fire Department on East Stone Avenue, where Dover works. Deputy J. D. Shelton investigated.

Jan. 26 - Stan Cobb, Powdersville Tire, Hwy. 153, Piedmont, reported a moving van parked in his front lot. Reports state the driver of the van  said he had stopped at a Texaco station at Highway 153 and I-85 after midnight the previous evening where his employee put unleaded fuel into the diesel  powered truck’s tanks. The truck started and ran until it got to Powdersville Tire, where it quit running. Big Daddy’s Towing was called to pull the van out of the road into the lot. According to reports, the tow truck driver drained the van’s fuel tanks into a storm drain that leads to a nearby creek. No charges were filed by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, but DHEC, The Anderson County Fire Department and HAZMAT team all were notified. DHEC will investigate the incident. Deputy J. D. Sheldon investigated.

Jan. 25 - Stephanie Chastain, 825 Joe Black Road, Williamston, reported a 20”flat screen TV and a DVD player stolen from the residence. Forced entry was gained by breaking a window. Deputies R. Rector and A. Digirolamo responded.

Jan. 20 - Robert Edens, 1134 Tall Oaks Circle, Piedmont, reported that someone broke into his truck and stole a CD/MP3 player, a Targus bag, a PDA, a laptop computer and a PCMCIA card. Total value of of the missing items amounted to $1,780. D. B. Anderson investigated.

Jan. 24 - Alfred Deavers, 1410 Durham Road, Piedmont, reported that a 2002 Model 250 Ford van with a cracked windshield had been stolen from his residence. The van, valued at $14,000, had no tag on it at the time of the theft. Deputy R. S. Turner investigated.

Jan. 24 - Frank Shoval, Cason Road, Piedmont, reported that his garage had been broken into and some tools taken.

Jan. 23 - John Pearson, Pearson’s Restaurant, 605 Anderson St., Piedmont, reported the theft of a security camera valued at $300 from the side of the building. The tape showed a suspect climbing up to the camera just before it went dark. The picture was too blurry for identification, but the security  company is going to process the tape in hopes of clarifying the image. Deputy R. R. Ables investigated.

Jan. 16 - The renter of a storage unit at Beaverdam Storage, Beaverdam Road, Williamston, reported that the lock had been cut off her unit and the contents had been gone through. Nothing appeared to be missing at the time reports stated. Deputy R. S. Turner investigated.

Vandals strike Veterans Park

Williamston Police officers investigated vandalism in the Veterans Park last Tuesday.

Officers investigated after Joe Clayton, Greer, Jr., 123 Gossett Dr., Williamston, reported damage to a wooden bridge in the Veteran’s Park, just off Gossett Dr. Two sections of railing on the wooden bridge were damaged and two sections of metal fence around the tank display were removed causing $800 in damage. The fencing was found in the creek. Z. E. Gregory investigated.

Jan. 30 - Thomas Bradley Davis, 29, 1050 Dean Springs Rd., Belton was arrested for pointing a firearm and criminal domestic violence after an incident occurring at Video Update, 11 Pelzer Ave., Williamston. T. Motes investigated.

Jan. 30 -Timothy Isiah Brown, 40, 131 Middleton Blvd., Williamston, reported items valued at $787 including an electric shaver, Sony digital camera and a Minolta 35mm camera missing from the residence. Sgt. K. P. Evatt investigated.

Jan. 27 - A 16-year-old employee at Winn Dixie reported that while sweeping the sidewalk, she found a small baggie containing 1.8 grams of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. A. B. Singleton investigated.

Jan. 26 - Daniel Arthur Epstein, 21, 312 Bowen Rd., Anderson, was arrested for failure to stop, operating an uninsured vehicle and failure to register a vehicle after three ATVs were observed on the roadway at Sunset Drive, Williamston. Reports state all three vehicles left the scene. A pursuit followed on Forest Hills Drive and Byron Dr., until the ATV went onto a dirt trail. With assistance from Anderson County Sheriffs Deputy  D. Alexander, one of the vehicles was stopped on Patterson Dr., Sgt. K. P. Evatt investigated.

Jan. 26 - Charles Michael Martin, 48, 308 Cardinal Dr., Easley, was arrested for trespassing after notice after an incident at 101 Parker St., Williamston.

Jan. 25 - An arrest warrant was served on Tamela Jean Hall for unlawful use of the telephone in connection with an incident in which a message containing profanity was left on an answering machince at 12 Bruce St., Williamston. T. A. Chapman investigated.

Armed floral robber caught

Authorities have arrested a Simpsonville man in connection with the armed robbery of a Williamston florist and a Seneca florist on January 24.

Earl Richard Thivener, 34, 208 Derrick Lane, Simpsonville, is facing charges of armed robbery, possession of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime and kidnapping in connection with the armed robbery of Debra's Floral Designs, 310 West Main St., Williamston, at about 12:30 p.m.  last Monday.

Thivener was arrested Friday morning in a joint effort including the Williamston Police Department, the Seneca Police Department, the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

The man was arrested after the Williamston Police Department received a tip from Anderson City Police that a white male matching the description of a recent armed robbery suspect was in a florist shop in Anderson.

Anderson Police units conducted a field interview and obtained his personal and vehicle information from the man who was acting suspicious in the business, authorities said.

Reports state a black 1996 Nissan the man was driving matched the description of a vehicle involved in the robbery of Albertson’s Florists in Seneca the same day as the robbery in Williamston.

Further investigation by the Williamston Police Department revealed the man had a prior conviction for armed robbery.

The man was positively identified by both robbery victims in a photo lineup provided by SLED.

Arrest warrants for armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime were obtained from Judge James M. Cox.

Williamston Police Captain David Baker along with Anderson County and Greenville County Authorities and Captain Frank Gies of the Seneca Police Department and with assistance from Greenville County SWAT team members, took the man into custody at 6:50 a.m. without incident as he was exiting the Simpsonville residence.

According to Williamston police reports, the man entered Debra’s Designs on January 24 and after a short time, approached the owner, Mary Ellen Harvell, armed with a black semiautomatic handgun, and told her to give him all of the money out of the cash register.

She was then forced into a back room and her hands were bound with a cord. Taken were $140 in cash, a purse valued at $50 and a cellphone valued at $100.




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