News Archive

Week of Feb. 11, 2004

Spartanburg Solicitor reviewing SLED report

Behind the scenes preparing for  “Cinderella” production
Venue change hearing set, town to decide on attorney for pending Turner case
West Pelzer annexation draws citizen response
Pelzer officials approve funds for gym repairs
Man arrested on multiple violations
Laurens attorney hired, non-local jury to hear case Turner assault case

Spartanburg Solicitor reviewing SLED report

The State Law Enforcement Division has confirmed a Williamston related investigation has been completed and that a report has been sent to Spartanburg-based 7th Circuit Solicitor Trey Gowdy’s office for review.

Solicitor Gowdy confirmed to The Journal that the report involves an audio tape but also includes a broader investigation by SLED.

Gowdy said his office began reviewing a several-hundred page SLED report in January, which details events as recent as 2002.

“We will look at the report, review it and then get together with SLED if warranted,” Gowdy said.

“What we have done so far is reviewed all of SLED’s investigation. We have some additional questions which is typical in a case like this. We will suggest potential avenues of investigation and once that part of the investigation is over, we’ll be in a position to say whether a criminal act has been committed and then if there is enough evidence,” Gowdy said.

Gowdy said he hopes to have an updated report from SLED by the end of March.

No additional information concerning the report or the focus of the investigation has been released by SLED.

Local sources have indicated to the Journal that the SLED investigation possibly includes Williamston finances under the current administration.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said did not know anything about the specifics of the SLED report sent to the 7th Circuit Solicitor in Spartanburg and could not comment on it if he did.

 

Laurens attorney hired, non-local jury to hear case Turner assault case

Williamston Municipal Judge James M. Cox decided Monday that an out-of-town jury will hear proceedings on a misdemeanor assault and battery case against former Williamston Police Chief Richard Turner.

Cox said the case should be moved to another venue because of the publicity it has received. The town consented to a change of venue motion and a speedy trial motion which was requested by Turner’s attorney Bruce Byrholt in December.

According to Cox, when a speedy trial is requested, a case is usually tried within six months of the date of order.

Williamston Mayor and Council called a special meeting last Thursday to discuss hiring an attorney to represent the case for the town.

Councilman Wade Pepper was not present for the meeting.

After going into executive session to discuss retaining an attorney, council unanimously agreed to hire attorney Bill Mayer of the Mayer Law Firm in Laurens.

Councilman David Harvell made the motion which was seconded by Councilman Cecil Cothran.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said Mayer will represent the town, prosecuting the case for a fee of $2,000. Any additional expense that may be incurred will be brought back before Council, Clardy said after the vote.

Mayer is a graduate of the South Carolina School of Law and has served as Assistant Solicitor for the 8th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

The Thompson and King Law Firm which normally represents the town recused themselves from the prosecution and trial of Turner due to working with him in the past.

The firm agreed to give up fees to help with the expenses resulting from  hiring another attorney, Mayor Clardy said.

Turner was charged with assault and battery after an alleged shoving incident that developed at the police department between the former chief and police Sgt. Zack Gregory.

The alleged incident occurred June 23 after Turner’s son Steven was told by Williamston’s new Police Chief Troy Martin that his employment with the town had been terminated.

At the time, Mayor Clardy and Chief Martin said that Turner was treated as any other person would have been treated in that situation.

Turner maintained that he assaulted no one and is innocent of the charge.

Mayor Clardy said the town is committed to following through on the charges.

 

 

Behind the scenes preparing for  “Cinderella” production

  When The Williamston Heritage Players present their latest production,  Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, at the Pelzer Auditorium next Thursday, the audience will be treated to another delightful performance,  showcasing talented local actors, dancers and singers.

Regular supporters of the local arts company have come to expect and enjoy the pool of local talent that appears in the live performances.

The Heritage Players present 2 or 3 community theatre productions each year, usually one in the early spring and another in late summer or early fall according to Lisa Sherard, who is directing the “Cinderella” production.

Each production usually includes 6  performances over a nine day period. Leading up to opening night are numerous hours of behind the scenes planning, practice, rehearsals, and set construction.

All participants from set workers to cast are local, according to Sherard.

“We try to get everybody in the community involved,” she said. “It is a challenge to get people who want to be involved because they often don’t think that they are talented, but are.”

A committee of 10 persons decides which production the players will present and a director usually volunteers or is chosen from  several experienced directors who are on the committee.

“It depends on who we can find to direct,” Sherard said

Another factor, according to Sherard, is how many men are to be involved in a production, “because it is usally harder to get men involved.”

Reception by the community has been great, according to Sherard who said that the shows can average as many as 400 persons per performance.

Often the productions involving larger casts, especially children, bring family members who get involved in the preparations and bring larger crowds to the shows, according to Sherard.

“Our biggest was Annie,” she said. “They support their family members more than the performing arts,” She said. “People also tend to come out for shows that are familiar.”

For each production, the participants usually put in 8 to 10 hours per week in rehearsal time over an 8 week period.

In addition to rehearsals, actors or their family members are often involved in the set production.

Lisa’s husband John, often puts in numerous hours, lending his expertise and handiwork for set building.

Set production includes building and painting backgrounds, sets and other items necessary for scenes.

“We do try to reuse materials to keep costs to a minimum,” Sherard said.

The Pelzer Auditorium is provided to the Heritage Players by Anderson School District One.

It is a wonderful place to hold the productions though it does present problems, especially with presentations involving larger casts and multiple scene changes.

“We have a very small stage area to work with,” Sherard said. “There is no room offstage. We often have to house cast members in the school cafeteria between scenes.”

When this is necessary, radios are used to direct the actors back and forth for their scenes. “And if there are kids, they have to be supervised,” Sherard said.

Cinderella promises to be another steller production by the Heritage Players.

“We have some really good special effects in this show,” the director said. 

One of the special effect scenes is when Cinderella, performed by Palmetto High School senior Rebecca Edens, is transformed into a princess, Sherard said.

Cast members in Cinderella are from across the area and  include: Prince, Thomas Fellows; King, Joe Allen; Queen, Jana Jennings; Stepmother, Stephanie Summerlin; Portia, Hayley Meade; Joy, Emily Uldrick; Godmother, Connie Fellows; Herald Carroll Suttles; Chef Amy Roberts; Coachman, Bobby Francis; Steward, Walter Dyal; Guard, bobby Francis; Footman, Jared Fricks.

Singers and dancers include Lindsey Cooley, Linda Allen, Nancy Bannister, Aubrey Terrell, Elizabeth Rogers, Diane Pakkala, Amy Roberts, and Lee Fellows.

Others involved in the production are Alesha Martin, Kelly Martin, Morgan Jennings, Natasha Bass, who will portray Royal Steeds.

Children will include Lyla Allen, April O’Donnell, Chloe O’Donnell, Kaylee Summerlin and Logan Jennings.

Behind the scenes, workers include: Set workers, John Sherard and Danny Owens. Costumes Anita Fricks and Ann Cothran; Scenery, Wanda Fricks; Sound and lights, Barry Speer and Adam Cooley.

Debbie Blume is the musical director; Erika Young is the choreographer. Lynn King is assistant director.

Dates for the Heritage Players production of Cinderella are Feb. 20, 21, 27 & 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 22 and 29 at 2:30 p. m. Tickets will be available at the door for each performance and are $10 for adults, $7 for students and seniors. For more information call 847-4886.

Venue change hearing set, town to decide on attorney for pending Turner case

Hearings on a misdemeanor assault and battery case against former Williamston Police Chief Richard Turner are scheduled for Feb. 16 and Feb. 17. The hearings will focus on motions filed by Turner’s attorney Bruce Byrholt in December asking for a speedy trial and change of venue, according to Williamston Municipal Judge James M. “Jimmy” Cox.

Proceedings are normally allowed 15 minutes of courtroom time.

 If both sides agree, it is then up to the judge to determine another venue to hear the case, which must also be approved by both sides, Cox said.

Cox said the motion for a speedy trial will help move the legal proceedings along. According to Cox, a case is usually tried within 6 months of the date of order.

Cox said the court is in the process of clearing 30 cases that are pending on the trial roster.

There are some cases which cannot be resolved and others that involve drawing jurors and setting trial dates, Cox said.

Part of the process involves disposing of pending motions, a preliminary step to actually trying the case, according to Cox.

Williamston mayor and town council will hold a special called meeting Thursday Feb. 12 at 5 p.m. to decide on retaining an attorney for the case.

According to information provided by the town, Attorney Bill Mayer, of the Mayer Law Firm is under consideration to represent the town.

 Mayer practices law in Laurens and is a graduate of the South Carolina School ofLaw and has served as Assistant Solicitor for the 8th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

A statement issued by the town said Mayer has been acquainted with the case and is interested in representing the town.

Mayer is expected to attend the meeting to discuss the case with council who will convene in public session to vote on the hire, according to the statement.

The law firm which normally represents the town, Thompson and King, indicated in July, 2003, that they will not be involved in the prosecution and trial of Turner.

The law firm advised the town that it is their understanding that when police officers or sheriff deputies are charged with criminal offenses, either the County Solicitor’s office or the State Attorney General’s office is in charge of the prosecution.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy contacted the State Attorney General’s Office about the case.

In a letter sent to the Attorney General’s office, Clardy stated that the Anderson County Solicitor had made statements prior to the warrant and arrest of Turner that indicated her office could not offer an impartial opinion in the case.

The Attorney General replied that they do not prosecute municipal or magistrate cases and suggested the town contact an adjacent solicitor’s office.

Turner was charged with assault and battery after an alleged shoving incident that developed at the police department between the former chief and police Sgt. Zack Gregory.

The alleged incident occurred June 23 after Turner’s son Steven was told by Williamston Police Chief Troy Martin that his employment with the town had been terminated.

At the time, Mayor Clardy and Chief Martin said that Turner was treated as any other person would have been in that situation.

Turner maintained that he assaulted no one and is innocent of the charge.

West Pelzer annexation draws citizen response

The possibility of annexation drew a large crowd of citizens who live outside the town limits to the regular meeting of the West Pelzer Town Council Tuesday night.

West Pelzer officials had voted unanimously to pursue annexation of several areas to the town at their meeting in January. The most likely candidates for annexation would be areas which already receive town services, the council decided.

Subsequently, Mayor Peggy Paxton sent letters to 80 homeowners who live on Hindman Street, Mill Street, Holliday Street, Arthur Davis Circle, Belleview Drive, Hoyt Street and James Street and who currently receive water and/or sewer services through the town but are located outside the town limits.

Paxton’s letter outlined the town’s plan as well as some of the benefits to annexation including: lower water and sewer rates, lower garbage pickup rates, and police protection.

Paxton’s letter also reminded the citizens of the homestead exemption which could reduce taxes for senior citizens and included a brochure explaining this benefit.

Citizens were encouraged to attend the next town council meeting to pose questions or concerns about annexation. The packed town hall was filled Tuesday night with citizens interested in the issue.

During a question and answer session at the end of the meeting, one citizen expressed concerns about “$2,500 hookup and $600 tap fees” to the Western Carolina sewer system.

Paxton indicated that there is a possibility that the town would waive those fees in order to encourage annexation. Council member Joe Turner also reminded the citizens that the lines belong to the town not Western Carolina.

Several citizens expressed an interest in being annexed to the town in order to acquire police protection and expressed frustration with current response from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. Paxton emphasized that the Police Department’s “total reorganization” provides the groundwork for round-the-clock police protection for the town.

A retired citizen said she felt strongly there would be no financial benefit to being a part of the town even with the homestead exemption. “We’re outside the town because we wanted to be outside the town,” she said.

According to Paxton, the next step on the issue would be to “explore and start a petition” on annexation. To proceed with the annexation process, the petition would have to be signed by 75% of those residents in the areas proposed to be annexed.

In other business, the council unanimously approved a resolution “seeking the aid of Anderson County Environmental Services, Wastewater Division, the Anderson County Administrator and others to assist the Town of West Pelzer in acquiring $2,500,000 in funds for a sewer collection system replacement project.” The purpose of the resolution is to officially notify authorities of the town’s need for funds for a collection system.

Paxton reported that a workshop will be scheduled soon to review an employee handbook with the council and employees.

Paxton reported that the light at the Sav-Way is not yet in place. The council had discussed the installation of a light at the last council meeting to increase security due to a recent robbery. The council voted first to ask the store’s management about adding a light at their expense. A second option would be to add a light at the town’s expense.

At the January council meeting, the Maintenance Department had requested that the council consider the possibility of selling the town maintenance truck and purchasing a bucket truck.

Michael Mahaffey reported that he had found bucket trucks ranging in price from $20,000 to $42,000. He also mentioned the possibility of getting one at a Duke Power auction or through Martin & Martin. The council took no action on the issue.

Paxton reminded citizens that Anmed will perform blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol screenings at Town Hall on March 8 from 10 to 12 noon. The town has been added to the Anmed service schedule so additional screenings and services will be provided in the future, Paxton said.

Pelzer officials approve funds for gym repairs

The Pelzer Gymnasium will get a facelift after town officials authorized an expenditure of $24,000 to begin needed repairs on the landmark at the regular town council meeting February 9.

According to Mayor Page Henderson, the town received an estimate of $8,000 to prepare the gymnasium for painting and to apply two coats of paint and an estimate of $13,500 for installing a new roof. The balance of the funds would be used for miscellaneous carpentry work, Henderson said.

Henderson added that the town is trying to locate a general contractor who will handle the balance of the work that needs to be done on the structure which includes some termite damage.

Henderson reported that a “preliminary draft” has been completed on the plans to contract with the Town of West Pelzer for police protection, but he admitted that work with attorneys is moving at a “snail’s pace.”

The town must have a codification of ordinances in order to proceed with police protection. Henderson reported at the last council meeting that Municipal Code Corporation of Orlando, Florida would meet with Town Attorney Jimmy King and perform the legal research and cross-referencing necessary to systematize the ordinances.

Though Henderson admitted that he was not sure of the cost or complexity of the project, he estimated a cost ranging from $5,000 to $18,000 to develop a set of ordinances for the town using state ordinances as a guideline.

The council unanimously supported a resolution “seeking the aid of Anderson County Environmental Services, Wastewater Division, the Anderson County Administrator and others to assist the Town of Pelzer in acquiring $5.33 million in funds for a sewer collection system replacement project for the Pelzer Mill Village Subdivision.” The purpose of the resolution is to officially notify authorities of the town’s need for funds for a collection system.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) permit which has expired on the 5-year-old sewer project will be renewed around September 15, according to town officials. Lara Payne of Rural Development will also prepare a revised application on the sewer project based on updated engineering reports.

Municipal Clerk Skip Watkins reported that the town had received no information from the governor’s office about scheduling a new municipal election. Documents are still being reviewed by the Department of Justice, Watkins said.

Henderson reported that town employees will put up a gate at the entrance to Pelzer Park near the Ide residence in order to curb traffic through the park.

Henderson again mentioned his frustration with the lack of enforcement of the 25 mph speed limit near Pelzer Elementary School by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. Henderson advised the council at the last meeting that he had sent a letter to Anderson County Sheriff Gene Taylor about the lack of enforcement of the speed limit.

Man arrested on multiple violations

Anderson County deputies arrested a local man early Monday morning after an investigation uncovered weapon and traffic violations.

A deputy was patrolling Lesley Road just after midnight when he observed a tan 1985 Datsun 200SX swaying from side to side and traveling approximately 65 mph.

After being stopped by the deputy, the driver of the vehicle provided a S. C. driver’s license which had expired July 1, 2003.

Reportedly, a passenger in the vehicle had an item between his legs under a hat which appeared to be a scanner. The deputy also observed a black trash bag in the rear of the vehicle containing a large unknown object.

After further questioning, the driver of the vehicle stated that there was a handgun under the passenger seat which belonged to him. Authorities located a 9mm semi-automatic handgun which had three rounds in the clip and one in the chamber under the passenger seat.

Authorities also reported locating multiple items in the vehicle which the reports stated are generally used in the commission of burglaries. According to the incident report, the passenger of the vehicle stated that the items belonged to him and that he used them for hunting.

Deputies charged Tony Randall Babb, 38, 201 Lesley Road, Pelzer, with a violation of the S. C. gun law and possession of an expired license and transported him to the Anderson County Detention Center. Authorities are continuing further investigations on the incident.

Anderson County deputies also investigated the following incidents:

Feb. 10 – Deana Marie Girardeau, 44, 348 E. Church St., Easley, reported that someone took a black 1995 Chevrolet Camaro valued at $4,000 from the front of her residence. S. F. Jones investigated.

Feb. 9 – Marshall Lewis Whitten, 52, 400 Easley Hwy., Pelzer, reported that someone knocked in the back door of his residence, ransacked his house, and took cash, jewelry, electronics, and a guitar valued at $3,180. T. A. Caron investigated.

Feb. 9 – Little General, Hwy. 86 Anderson Road, Piedmont, reported that a male customer requested two cases of Budweiser. When the clerk placed them on the counter, the suspect grabbed them and attempted to leave without paying. The clerk was able to grab one case which broke and fell on the floor. The suspect left in a small, red vehicle with one case. W. Mills investigated.

Feb. 9 – Renee Wanda Anderson, 33, 226 Park Row, Piedmont, reported that someone entered her residence and took the lock faces valued at $40 off the dead bolt locks on two doors. W. Mills investigated.

Feb. 9 – Century Farm Convenience Center, 2100 Hwy. 86, Piedmont, reported that one pack of Game 24 Red Hot Cash lottery tickets valued at $300 was missing. J. M. Durham investigated.

Feb. 8 – Steven A. Brewer, 20, 216 Ridgecrest Drive, Easley, reported that someone broke out the driver’s window to his vehicle parked at the Anderson Jockey Lot and removed clothing, CDs and CD player, and a remote control car valued at $830. A. R. Hyslop investigated.

Feb. 8 – William Oscar Finley, 40, 109 Arthur Drive, Piedmont, reported that someone pried open the side door to his garage and took a John Deere tractor, front end loader, and back hoe attachment and a 12-foot trailer valued at $25,112. David M. Patten investigated.

Feb. 7 – Pinnacle Drilling and Blasting, 512 Hood Road, Greenville, reported that someone attempted to gain entry by prying open a door and causing $150 in damages. A. Digirolamo investigated.

Feb. 7 – Joey Harland Hogg, 40, 2109 Easley Hwy., Piedmont, reported that someone removed a 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier valued at $500 which was parked outside a business in Pelzer. A. Digirolamo investigated.

Feb. 7 – Stephanie N. Rhodes, 30, 4911 Hwy. 86, Easley, reported that someone removed a washer and dryer valued at $800 from her home. F. Wooten investigated.

Feb. 7 – Jason Michael Pearson, 1802 Elrod Road, Piedmont, reported that someone removed sporting goods valued at $850 from a toolbox in his vehicle. D. C. Fouts investigated.

Feb. 7 – Grant Lee Cluxton, 27, 117 Hopsewee Dr. Bldg. CC, Piedmont, reported that someone stole an air compressor and saw valued at $1,800 from the back of his truck. G. G. Diaz investigated.

Feb. 7 – Charles Winfield Lane, 20, 324 Santee Dr. Bldg. 100, Piedmont, reported that someone forced entry to a truck camper cover and stole an amplifier, instruments and a tuner valued at $1,210. G. G. Diaz investigated.

Feb. 6 – Ronald Lee Holbrooks, 39, 508 Woodcock Road, Pelzer, reported that someone attempted to pry open the trunk of his car causing $1,500 in damages. The suspect also pried open the rear sliding glass door to his business truck and entered a locked toolbox and took items valued at $2,135. J. M. Durham investigated.

Feb. 5 – Mark Edward Hayes, 46, 2440 Powdersville Road, Easley, reported that someone entered a garage and took two Echo backpack blowers value at $1,120. J. M. Durham investigated.

Feb. 3 – Cornelious Christy, 54, 203 Lewis Road, Williamston, reported that someone carried away a TV, VCR, and Cobra CB radio valued at $370 from a storage room. N. Mitchell investigated.

Feb. 3 – James Cooper, 55, 613 Three Bridges Road, Easley, reported that someone entered a garage and removed a red Craftsman rolling toolbox with assorted tools, three floor jacks, and a Honda air compressor valued at $3,100. D. Hodges, Jr. investigated.

Feb. 2 – Dale Chastain, 51, 108 Rich Drive, Pelzer, reported that a Vivitar digital camera and a Colt .32-caliber automatic pistol valued at $1,000 were missing from his residence. Jerry Brown investigated.

 

 

 

 

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