News Archive

Week of Feb. 26, 2003

 

Cuts could force School District One to borrow money this fall
Recommendation made to Pardon and Parole board on Middleton parole
Mission, ministry drive new church
Ordinance committee determines process
Piedmont resident named SCTEA Educator of the Year
Grand opening Friday for new Fred’s store

Cuts could force School District One to borrow money this fall

By Stephanie Summerlin

Hiring freezes, the elimination of several academic programs and spending delays are just some of the ways Anderson School District One will wrestle the latest round of state education budget cuts.

In its February meeting, the district’s board of trustees heard where fiscal adjustments will be made to reduce the blow of a 3.73 percent cut handed down from Columbia.

Those adjustments include:

• No summer school at Concrete Primary, Powdersville Elementary, Wren Elementary and Hunt Meadows Elementary, which will save the district $100,000. Fifth graders from the respective schools will attend summer school, currently funded by the 21st Century Grant, at the district’s middle schools. Third and fourth graders affected by this move will be offered 12 days of summer school at other facilities.

• No CREATE program this summer ($5,000 savings).

• All district-related travel cut ($15,000 savings).

• Reclassing substitutes to the appropriate grants ($15,000 savings).

• Delaying curriculum development work until July ($10,000 savings).

• No developing or printing a second benchmark test ($7,000 savings).

• Moving summer staff development to July 30-Aug. 1, 2003 ($15,000 cost moved to next budget year).

• Freezing the hiring of three instructional coaches ($95,000 savings).

• Not hiring for a vacant speech therapist position ($10,000 savings).

• Eliminating after-school tutoring program at the high school level ($25,000 savings).

• Cutting instructional supplies accounts by 10 percent ($65,394 savings).

Those adjustments add up to $362,394 in savings for the district – leaving Anderson One to dip into its general fund balance to the tune of $500,000 in order to cover the entire budget shortfall.

“Our fund balance started off this year at about $2.1 million. It has been reduced down to $1.5 or $1.6 million,” said Superintendent Dr. Reggie Christopher. “That is going to cause us cash flow problems next fall. We will not have enough cash in the bank to make payroll or pay bills.”

With that said, Christopher asked the board to consider taking part in TAN – the Tax Anticipation Notice program. TAN will allow the district to borrow money against anticipated tax revenue to aid in cash flow. Participating districts – some 30 statewide – can obtain loans and will pay interest only on the days the money is used.

Christopher also noted that state spending per pupil has taken a significant hit this year – dropping it to 1994 levels.

“(The state) has set the student base cost at $1,643, which is $290 below what we started with this year,” he said.

Now nearly at the two-year mark since the first round of cuts began, the district has endured unprecedented dips into its coffers, Christopher said.

“We have lost $3.2 million in the last two years,” he said.

Despite the staggering figure, Christopher says District One will not furlough teachers.

“There is a resolution that states that districts can furlough up to five days,” Christopher said. “There are standards that have to be met, and this year’s standard is that districts have to be out of money. That’s not going to affect us. We’re still going to have a fund balance.”

The same may not be true next year, according to the superintendent. 

“(The state) could very easily go to 185 teacher days next year,” he said. 

“Forgiving” snow days would also do little to help the budget cause, Christopher said.

“The problem is that the only money you’ll save is the cost of operating the buildings and running buses,” he said. “I don’t really agree with (forgiving snow days). They hold our feet to the fire about this accountability, and then ask us to forgive days. That just doesn’t make any sense at all.”

The most painful aspect of the recent cuts is having to reduce spending in academic areas, Christopher said.

“There are several things that have  contributed to our good test scores. Good teaching is the main thing, but also our after-school programs, summer school programs, etc. have helped kids that really need additional attention,” he said.

And with an anticipated 1 to 3 percent additional cut most likely hitting this fall, the outlook is grim, say district officials.

“All the educational progress that we’ve made in this state is in jeopardy,” said board member Steve Garrison. “Unless they get this fixed fast, we’re going to go backwards.”

 Recommendation made

to Pardon and Parole board Middleton parole

The South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services has completed it’s investigation into the pardon request made by Marion Middleton and have made their recommendation to the Pardon and Parole Board, according to Peter O’Boyle, spokesperson for the department.

Once investigators make a recommendation to the state pardon and parole board, the board then schedules an open hearing within seven to nine months after the recommendation is received, O’Boyle said.

O’Boyle said the date for a public hearing on the pardon request by Middleton has not yet been set.

Several Williamston residents have written the Probation, Parole and Pardon department to express their feelings on the matter.

Williamston residents Brian and Barbara Levy have been in the process of collecting signatures for a petition against the pardon.

174 people signed the petition, which was mailed to the Probation, Parole and Pardon Services Department last week, according to Levy.

During their Feb. 5 meeting, Williamston Town Council approved a resolution concerning the issue.

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy asked town attorney Richard Thompson for advice in wording a statement concerning the pardon request being made by Middleton.

At that meeting Clardy said the town was the victim in the situation, and he recommended that an official statement be made by the town concerning the matter.

Thompson recommended that the statement be made by resolution and approved by council.

Because citizens may be for or against the pardon, Clardy asked that the resolution reflect that the town oppose the request for pardon, but include verbage that the issue has divided the town. Thompson and Mayor Clardy were to work on the exact wording.

Council approved the resolution 4-0 with Councilman Wade Pepper abstaining.

Under state requirements, Middleton could apply for a pardon once his sentence was served and full restitution was made. Under the terms of sentencing, Middleton’s probation ended upon payment of the restitution.

The Town of Williamston has received the restitution payment of $76,000, according Town Clerk Hala Cochran.

According to state law, a person receiving a pardon is “fully forgiven from all the legal consequences of his crime and his conviction.” Persons pardoned may register to vote and vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, and be licensed for any occupation requiring a license, according to spokesperson O’Boyle. 

Anyone who has an interest in the pardon is encouraged to offer input. Victims of the crime, in this case the Town of Williamston, may testify at the open hearing or send letters to the board.

Letters may be written to the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, P.O. Box 50666, Columbia, S.C. 29250.

The S.C. Board of Paroles and Pardons is composed of seven part-time members: one from each of the state’s six congressional districts and one member at-large. Marlene McClain who works part-time with the South Carolina Department of Social Services in Anderson is the representative for the Third Congressional District.

Middleton submitted an application for pardon in November 2002. Persons requesting a pardon must complete an application, submit three letters of reference, and pay a $50 application fee.

Middleton pled guilty in August 2002 to embezzling $76,000 from the Town of Williamston during his term as mayor. He served 46 days of a 90 day sentence, receiving early release due to a work-credit program.

A trial is still pending for former Williamston Town Clerk Donna Ellis who was charged  with breach of trust and embezzlement of funds from the Town of Williamston. Assistant Solicitor Kathy Hodges said last week that Ellis’ case could be tried in the March 10 trial session depending on the current case load. There are currently several cases ahead of Ellis’, Hodges said.

SLED investigators are currently looking at information concerning Easton Press books allegedly purchased with Town funds by  Middleton, that were not included in the original investigation, according to Assistant Solicitor Kathy Hodges.

A number of books reflected in invoices obtained from Easton Press are still unaccounted for, officials said.

 

 

Mission, ministry drive new church

Other than an identifying sign for the Cheddar Christian Fellowship, nothing about the exterior of the old Bigelow manufacturing facility gives a hint to a visitor of what lies inside.

Yet the wet winter weather is no match for the warm welcome one receives upon stepping inside the converted facility. The relaxed atmosphere tends to make one feel right at home immediately.

One would also never guess that Pastor David Smith has been on the job less than a few weeks.

According to the church’s motto “Every Member a Minister,” ministry has been in place at the church since day one. Pastor Smith who was ordained at Concord Baptist Church in Anderson only makes that more “official.”

The mission of the church is and has been to reach the unchurched in the community. One look at the diversity of the congregation reveals that mission in action. Barriers of age, race, and means fade away as the congregation unites in worship.

Less than a year old, the church has grown by leaps and bounds and finds itself continually adjusting to the congregation’s growth. On the day of this visit, the child-friendly nursery is filled to overflowing with 12 children.

The church is geared to recognizing a need and finding a way to fill that need. With help from a Palmetto High School food drive, the church was able to supply over 30 families with food for Christmas. Based on the response to that effort, they continue to maintain an open food cupboard.

A New Members Class helps new Christians to grow and develop in their faith. Church members actively visit and pray with the sick and those in need of support. Youth find a place to gather in an activity room equipped with a pool table and other attractions. An extra effort is made to have special guests and special services to add to the ministry of the church.

“We are excited about our church,” said Alton Thompson, who has watched the community church grow from two families to a group as large as 94.

Thompson said the first meetings of the church were held in September on the front porch of a building at Callaham Peach Orchards. “It was real nice to meet outside,” Thompson said. 

As the group got bigger and bigger and the houses they met in got smaller, it didn’t take long to realize that they were going to have to have a larger place to meet.

“We are not in the numbers game,” Thompson said. “We’re trying to get those not going to church.”

About 30 to 35 families form the nucleus of the church and have helped  with work and other donations as the group began meeting at the old Bigelow plant.

Walls in the plant office were torn out to accommodate the larger crowd. “We knew we had to have something bigger. It fell into place,” Thompson  said. “There are a lot of good people that are really working hard.”

The new congregation welcomes one and all to come enjoy the fellowship and grow with them at 227 Youth Center Road, Belton.

Ordinance committee determines process

The committee reviewing ordinances and the comprehensive plan for the town of Williamston met Feb. 17 for its first meeting.

The committee consists of the municipal attorneys Richard Thompson and Robert King, town clerk Hala Cochran, planning commission chairman Jim Simpson, zoning board of appeals chairman Keith Cole and Mayor Phillip Clardy. All members could not be present for the meeting, but the following process was determined.

Residents of the town are asked to submit concerns or complaints in writing to the town or to the councilman for the ward involved. The committee will review and channel all concerns submitted.

Criminal violations will be referred to the Williamston Police Department. Noncompliance issues will be referred to the town clerk for action.

A notice will be sent from the town to noncomplying  property owners. A property owner will have approximately 30 days to comply. After this time,  noncompliance issues will be referred to the zoning board and the town attorneys for additional action.

Clardy emphasized that this action is not intended to “single out anyone” but is a way to enforce ordinances that are in place and deal with “unresolved issues” in the town.

Piedmont resident named SCTEA Educator of the Year

Robin McFall, of Piedmont, a Tri-County Technical College English instructor, was named Educator of the Year among the State’s 16 technical colleges at the South Carolina Technical Education Association (SCTEA) conference February 21 in Myrtle Beach.

McFall began teaching at Tri-County 12 years ago as an adjunct instructor after working as a teacher for Anderson School Districts 1 and 3. In 1992 she became a full-time instructor. 

For several years, she has been involved in the distance learning courses and worked with Dr. Marianne Taylor, English department head, to develop the English sequence.  She also is involved in teaching the College’s online course offerings.

McFall received the highest award presented to Tri-County’s faculty, the Presidential Medallion for Instructional Excellence, at the College’s commencement last May.

In addition to teaching full time, McFall devotes time to committee work at the College.  She chaired the Academic and Administrative Support Services Committee, worked on a College-wide committee for advising and retention and is a member of the Multicultural Discussion Group.  She serves as the Arts and Sciences representative for the Scholarship Committee, and last year she chaired the Arts and Sciences Committee set up to review and revise its orientation.  She also serves as vice president of the Faculty Senate.  She is vice chair of the Academic and Administrative Support Services Committee.

During the year, she participated in several professional development activities including the National Computers on Campus Conference, a Prentice Hall workshop on using web sites to supplement course content and to detect plagiarism, and a pedagogy conference at Claflin College.

She is a member of the National Academic Advisors Association, as well as the National Council of Teachers of English and the S.C. chapter of the American Association of Women in Community Colleges.  Recently, she was named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers for the second time.  Only about five percent of the recipients of this honor are named more than once.

She is an honor graduate of Palmetto High School and graduated cum laude from Clemson University with a B. S. in English.  She also holds a master of education with a specialization in English from Clemson.

McFall resides in Piedmont with her husband and two children.  

McFall and her family attend Williamston First Baptist Church where she teaches preschoolers in Sunday School and works with Vacation Bible School.

Both sets of grandparents – Ray and Mary Anne Bunton and Bill and Micki McFall – live in Williamston and also attend First Baptist Church.

McFall’s husband Perry is an engineering manager with Greenville Hospital System and a den leader for cub scouts at Spearman Elementary School. McFall serves on the PTO Ways and Means Committee at the school.

Their son Logan is a second-grader at Spearman and their son Kade attends day care at Tri-County.

Grand opening Friday for new Fred’s store

Fred’s will hold grand opening for its new Williamston retail store location this Friday, February 28 at 8:45 a.m.

The new store is locate at 297 South Highway 20 between Pelzer and Williamston.

The grand opening will included a ribbon cutting with area officials and include registrations to win a $100 shopping spree, free samples, and free hot dogs and drinks.

Adhering to an aggressive growth pattern, the store is the third location in Anderson County with stores in Anderson and Belton.

 Fred’s, Inc. based in Memphis, Tennessee, was founded  in 1947 and operates 430 general merchandise stores in 14 states in the Southeastern United States.

South Carolina currently has 12 stores, none of them yet containing pharmacies. 

The typical store averages 16,000 square feet with over 11,000 different items in inventory.

Its merchandising strategy is to stock frequently purchased items that address the everyday need of customers, including nationally recognized brand name products, private “Fred’s” label products and lower priced off-brands.

Fred’s offers customers convenient store location and  size, low everyday discount prices, and a merchandising mix of health and beauty aids, paper and cleaning supplies, apparel, recreational and pharmaceutical items, according to a new release.

Fred’s stores are built “to complement the communities where they are located” according to a company spokesperson. Employees are encouraged to volunteer and be active in the community, he added.

Originally called The Bargain Center, with a cigar box for a cash register and a screen door as a front door, the first Fred’s store opened in 1947 in Coldwater, MS.

By 1953, there were 53 bargain centers, the forerunners of the modern day discount store.

Since 1971, Fred’s headquarters and distribution center has been located in Memphis, TN. The facility includes 900,000 square feet covering 20 acres under one roof.

Future company plans include having 800 stores and 550 pharmacies by the year 2005.

For more information, visit Fred’s website at www.fredsinc.com.

 

 

 

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