Week of February 28,
By Stan Welch
Town officials are expected to make a decision today (Wednesday) concerning Williamston Police Corporal Donnie Bryants future with the force.
Bryant, a veteran of twenty years with the department, and more than four years as School Resource Officer at Palmetto High School, faces the possibility of being discharged as a result of allegations made against him by five female students two weeks ago. As a result of an investigation conducted by the School District, and a subsequent request by District officials, Bryant will be replaced as the SRO, as is permitted under the contract between the District and the Town.
Based on the allegations, Bryant apparently violated District policy, though details of those violations have not been made public at this time. Personnel policies generally provide for considerable protections of the employee.
Williamston Police Chief David Baker stressed, however, that no criminal activity took place, and there will be no criminal charges brought. We have been meeting with the towns attorney and others to determine exactly what our policies state. Obviously, we would like to retain an officer of Cpl. Bryants experience and dedication to this town. But that is not my call, although I have had some input, as the supervisor involved. The Mayor conducts all personnel inquiries, said the Chief. He has been studying this situation, and is expected to make a decision this Wednesday (February 28).
Chief Baker expressed his hope that any decision concerning Bryants employment would not impact his department, which has seen major cuts in personnel since the Towns financial condition became known a year ago. The last vote taken by Council was to reduce the staff from seventeen to fifteen people. So far as I know, that is the level we will maintain.
Anderson School District One officials, after hearing concerns from a number of parents, decided to proceed with rezoning attendance lines for four Powdersville Elementary Schools, but will allow some children already attending the schools to remain in them.
The Board unanimously agreed to shift the attendance lines for Hunt Meadows, Wren Elementary and Concrete Elementary and Powdersville Elementary back to where they were in 2000 and in line with current middle school attendance lines.
The two areas affected are a triangle along River Road near Piedmont and another triangle area along Brushy Creek Road near the County line.
The River Road area students currently attend Wren Elementary and will attend Concrete Primary (Grades K4-2) and Powdersville Elementary (grade 3-5). Students in the Brushy Creek area who attend Hunt Meadows will go to Concrete Primary and Powdersville Elementary. Concrete has grades K4-2nd grade with students going to Powdersville for grades 3-5.
The vote included an amendment offered by Board member David Merritt, that would grandfather some children already attending the schools.
Merritts amendment was to allow current students in grades K4,K5, and first grade at Hunt Meadows and Wren Elementary to remain in the schools they are presently attending, if the parents choose to do so and can provide their own transportation.
All new enrollments for K4 through second grade will fall under the new attendance lines. Also second, third and fourth grade students currently at Hunt Meadows and Wren who fall in the shifted lines will have to attend Powdersville Elementary in the fall of 2007.
Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler recommended board members take some action on the proposal because it is time for kindergarten registration and it was already delayed one week to allow the board to make a decision Tuesday.
The lines were shifted in 2000 to get students into the new Hunt Meadows school and to relieve overcrowding in other schools, Dr. Fowler said.
Parents speaking to the board were primarily concerned with the effects on the younger children who would be attending three schools in three years.
The shifted lines will take students out of Hunt Meadows and Wren Elementary Schools and place them in Concrete and Powdersville Elementary.
Powdersville Elementary, which has a capacity of 625 to 650 students, is currently at 400, according to Dr. Fowler.
We have ample space for growth there, he said. Twelve classrooms are available.
We need to be good stewards of the money taxpayers give us and use what they have let us build, Dr. Fowler said.
Assistant Superintendent David Havird said that all four schools involved in the transition have gone through the process before and did very well.
He pointed out that all the schools were either rated excellent or good on state report cards and that all had excellent staff.
We want them to feel welcome and safe at their new schools, Havird said.
In terms of academics, you couldnt tell the difference, Dr. Fowler said.
Before the vote was taken, Dr. Fowler advised the board that they could make changes.
He also said that if nothing is done, the District would be buying more portables and not filling up Powdersville Elementary.
Havird said that Powdersville and Concrete are only about one mile apart and that it was almost impossible to rezone with them being that close together.
He said at the time they thought what they did was in everybodys best interest.
Those staffs were literally split apart, Havird said. Kindergarten through Grade 2 were left at Concrete, Grades 3 through 5 went to Powdersville, he said.
There is no difference in academic performance. No difference in curriculum, he said.
Board Chairman Fred Alexander said when Hunt Meadows first opened, The parents didnt want to go to Hunt Meadows. Now they dont want to leave. We have to make a tough decision.
In addition to concerns with their children attending three schools in three years, some of the parents said they had chosen their homes based on their children attending Hunt Meadows school. A number were from the Watson Grove subdivision.
Comments from parents included going to different schools is detrimental for children to go through and It is difficult on the little ones.
During Board discussion, Merritt said, We will try to do what is best for Anderson District One as a whole. You have given me food for thought.
Following a motion by board member Nancy Upton, seconded by Joe Pack, the board discussed the attendance lines and alluded to a possible building referendum in the next year or two.
Responding to a question by Merritt, Dr. Fowler responded the District will probably need a building referendum in the next 12 to 24 months.
We will have to go to the people in the next year, he said.
Fowler then said Wren High School is at capacity and the District will probably have to build an elementary school on Hwy. 81. He said the elementary school would draw students from Wren, Hunt Meadows and Cedar Grove on the other end of the District.
Merrit said he didnt want to see the classrooms remain empty at Powdersville Elementary, but would like to cut down on the number of moves for the children.
If we could do away with one of these moves by having K through 2 grandfathered, it would cut down on one move for the younger children and take care of our overcrowing at Concrete.
Dr. Fowler said that if half of the total affected are grandfathered, the relief to the schools would number about 100 to 103.
Havird said You are buying a couple of years time. We will have to get into a building mode soon.
Dr. Fowler said the decision would allow one more year before a portable is needed at Hunt Meadows.
Board member Tom Merritt said, We are trying to ease into what could be a longer prolonged pain. Im sorry it is even happening. Merritt said the staff was very accommodating and would do what is best for overall for the District.
Dr. Fowler said that it is a temporary solution and would cut out the younger children having to attend three different schools in three years but would only provide half the needed relief.
We are headed in the right direction.
David Merritts motion was to amend the original attendance line proposal to include an amendment to grandfather current 4k, 5k and first graders as long as they can provide transportation. The attendance lines and bus lines will be shifted as proposed to align with the Middle School attendance line and where they were in 2000.
The amendment was approved 4-3 with board members Wendy Tucker, Nancy Upton and Joe Pack opposed.
District One does offer an open door policy on attendance, allowing parents to place their children on a waiting list for a particular school as long as they live in the District and the school has space based on District guidelines.
During their regular montly meeting last Tuesday, (Feb. 20), Anderson County Council took at second look at setback guidelines, an animal cruelty ordinance and the blue laws.
Council gave second reading approval to an ordinance that would repeal existing setbacks. Councilman Larry Greer proposed the change, saying that the existing ordinance, which establishes a twenty five foot setback results in a taking of property without offer of compensation. He stressed the difference between subdivision and development. Subdivision is the simple splitting of a piece of property into two or more parcels. Development is the breaking up of a tract into lots for sale and construction. The current ordinance paints everyone with the same brush. I just believe that it is wrong to take someones property without even negotiating with them.
Bob Waldrep suggested a possible amendment to the ordinance to reflect that difference, and Greer expressed his willingness to consider that approach. Following a public hearing and considerable discussion, Council voted 5-2 to give second reading approval.
Council also considered a revised animal cruelty ordinance, which led to another of the evenings sharp exchanges between Gracie Floyd, who chaired the committee which produced the ordinance, and Waldrep, who asked a number of questions about it.
The changes were originally sought by an animal control officer, Mary Wilson, who has since denounced the committees results. Wilson no longer works for the County.
We originally wanted to change the definition of a pet, to allow us to protect more animals, and to bring our ordinances into compliance with state law, so that we could be empowered to enforce state laws. There have now been more than 500 changes made to the ordinance, and we still havent accomplished the two things we set out to do, said Wilson, speaking after the meeting. We were doing fine until Lt. Keith Bowman, of Animal Control, started meeting with the lawyer. Its been downhill ever since.
Adam Artigliere, the McNair Law Firm attorney who worked with the committee, which included three veterinarians, a Farm Bureau representative and Mr. Greer and Mr. Thompson, as well as county staff, and several citizens, including Mary Wilson, explained that simply adopting state ordinances isnt a workable choice, in his opinion.
There are simply too many differences and discrepancies. This ordinance uses language harvested from state law, the appropriate Richland County ordinance, which is considered a model, and language from the existing Anderson County ordinance. The committee believes that this is the best approach.
Waldrep and Councilwoman Cindy Wilson apparently disagreed, or at least thought it could be accomplished to a greater extent than the committee had proposed.
As Waldrep continued to ask questions, along with Councilwoman Wilson, Floyd became agitated. Finally she asked Waldrep for the floor, which he granted. I just dont get what the problem is, Mr. Chairman. We went through this piece by piece. We made sure we didnt step on anyones toes. Well, I call an ace an ace. Ms. Wilson doesnt like it, so its wrong. Or is it because Im the one presenting it? This isnt about the animals anymore. Before this came up, nobody said a word. But we try to do something about it and here comes the nay sayer.
Waldrep tried to ease the tension, saying, Ms. Floyd, you dont need to take it personally.
She broke in and said, Well, I am taking it personally, and Ill see you after this meeting.
Waldrep retorted, Well, when I see something like this, I want to be sure what were talking about. I am not persuaded at this time. If you just want to be unhappy with a member of Council youll have to start with me tonight. But please allow me to have my own opinion.
Council gave first reading approval to the ordinance, which contains no licensing provision at this time.
A public hearing approaching two hours in length preceded the Councils decision to give second reading approval to the abolishing of Andersons blue laws. An effort by Ron Wilson to force an advisory referendum was defeated by a vote of 4-3, with Wilson, Cindy Wilson and Larry Greer voting in the affirmative, while the other four Council members voted against the referendum.
The vote to abolish the blue laws was the exact reverse, with the same three voting to retain the laws, while Council members Thompson, McAbee, Waldrep and Floyd voted to abolish them. Third reading approval is required to achieve that purpose.
In other business, Ms. Wilson allocated ten thousand dollars to the Town of Williamston for ditching and grading, to be paid upon presentation of an invoice.
By Stan Welch
A local production company is trying to interest investors in an independent film about a local legend, Manse Jolly. A local Civil War history buff, Julia Barnes, is providing a location for filming, family members to play various roles, and a horse named Dixie Chick, that even an inexperienced rider can look good on.
Dead Horse Productions, owned by Vic Aviles, is the film branch of Aviles live performance production company, Showoffs. It was the involvement of Barnes daughter, Mary Lin Ashley, with Showoffs that led the film troupe to a back section of the Barnes farm near Belton.
We were sitting around at the farm talking one afternoon, after they had decided to do a film about Manse Jolly, and Vic said we should shoot it there. Well, we managed to find enough room way down on the back of the property where you couldnt see any power poles or other modern stuff. So weve been shooting a lot of it down there, said Barnes.
Manse Jolly was one of six brothers from a local family who served in the Confederate Army. Manse Jolly Road is named for him, and there have been several books written about him. Four of the brothers died during the war, but Jeff and Manse Jolly returned home to start their lives anew. But soon, according to the story, which is based on archival information, the Federal troops brought in as part of the reconstruction of the South, were running roughshod over the people of Anderson County.
One day, Jeff Jolly, well known to the Federals, was stopped by a patrol. Despite being unarmed, he was shot and killed. It was then that Manse Jolly swore he would kill five Union soldiers for each of his brothers lost. There is little question that he did so; some legends claim he killed more than 100 Federal soldiers before leaving for Texas a year later, where he started a family. He would drown during a river crossing just a couple of years after moving to Texas. His obituary appeared in the Anderson newspaper, The Intelligencer, in 1869.
Known even today as the Robin Hood of Anderson, Jolly was a hero to many locals at the time. He defended them against Union harassment when no one else would or could, according to Barnes. While the story is historically accurate, and based on records and archives, Barnes said that some license has been taken. The story is told in flashbacks, as told to a newspaper reporter years later, by an old man who knew Jolly. But the facts of the story are well established.
The film being shot is known as a trailer, including reenactors from the Butler Guards in Greenville, will probably be replaced if a full length feature is made. The actor playing Manse Jolly is D.J. Wilson, and hes great, said Barnes. But he doesnt ride, and Manse was a cavalry scout. So we put D.J. on Dixie Chick, who has two gaits, slow and standing still. She made D.J. look great. Thats why I say shes the star of the movie. But a full length feature will probably require a little more action than that.
Filmmaking is becoming a common event in upstate South Carolina. At least it appears that way with an independent filmmaker in Honea Path making a film on local legend Manse Jolly while a feature movie is being filmed in Anderson. Actor George Clooney has been spotted numerous times in the upstate recently, first in downtown Greenville, and now in downtown Anderson, where he is filming the movie Leatherheads. The film is based on football in the 1920s. A local resident caputured a of the famous actor outside of the old Calhoun Hotel on Main St. in Anderson, where several scenes are being filmed.Clooney in Anderson
By Stan Welch
District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson held another of a series of joint meetings Monday between various municipal, county, state and federal officials. One result of the meeting is the appearance of a flicker of life in a plan to run sewer lines from the eastern part of the county to Ware Shoals.
The plan, which has been around for a couple of years or so, might be modified to begin in Belton and pass through Honea Path along the way. Previously, the line was intended to begin in Pelzer/West Pelzer, and run through Williamston, but those towns are entangled in agreements and contracts for other approaches to their wastewater problems.
West Pelzer is trying to meet the standards needed to connect to Western Carolinas new Saluda River treatment plant, despite the fact that the rates charged to the Towns customers will increase several fold.
Williamston is working with Goldie & Associates to develop a plan to spread the Towns wastewater across a large land area to avoid sending it to the Saluda River.
Councilwoman Wilson said that she feels the revised idea might draw federal interest, based on what Senator Jim DeMints grant specialist, Michelle Gibbes, indicated at Mondays meeting, which was held in Belton. District Three Councilman Larry Greer, also in attendance, reiterated the Countys long standing plan to extend sewer to that part of the county, according to Wilson. Unfortunately, the sewer enterprise fund is so deeply in debt, and the existing lines so underutilized, that it is difficult to see how they can begin such a project anytime in the near future, she said.
Rusty Burns, Honea Path town administrator, and one who has supported this plan in the past, says the revised approach might make the project feasible. It certainly seems the best course for Belton and Honea Path to move ahead on this, rather than waiting to see who else eventually comes to the table. If we could get the Senator to obtain funding for us to revisit the study done on the entire line, and have the engineers review it with an eye towards starting in Belton, I think we would find the costs tremendously reduced.
The estimate for the entire line was in excess of twenty million dollars last spring, when the idea was last mentioned, but Burns thinks that could come down by well over half.
A treatment plant in Ware Shoals currently treats approximately 12 per cent of its capacity, since the mills it was built to service have closed. Honea Path currently has some of the lowest sewer rates in the area because the capacity at Ware Shoals is so excessive.
Councilwoman Wilson said, Not only are there no serious environmental issues involved in this approach, but the economies of force, and their effect on prices is compelling. It is certainly worth study.
Wilson has been holding these meetings in order to seek alternatives for funding, rather than count strictly on the county.
Anderson County Sheriffs Deputies investigated several local thefts and other incidents including the following:
Feb. 13 R.J. Payne was dispatched to 210 W. Union Dr., where John Mitchell reported that someone had broken into his truck and stolen a hundred dollars in cash and a stainless steel .25 caliber pistol, with pink pearl grips.
Feb. 14 J.R. Finley responded to 1115 Brown Rd., where Victoria Hughes reported that someone had broken into her residence and gone through the house. According to Hughes, the subject also used her computer and stole some jewelry.
Feb. 14 L.E. Brock was dispatched to 206 Shenandoah Dr., where Devin Morris reported that someone had stolen a 1995 Chevy Blazer from that location. The vehicle was valued at $2000.
Feb. 14 T.B. Dugan investigated a complaint from Henry Payne at 7009 Highway 29 that someone had stolen a car stereo from a vehicle he was working on. The vehicle belonged to Melissa Glubczynski, of Williamston.
Feb. 14 T.B. Dugan was dispatched to 47 Adger St., where Theressa Traylor reported that someone had smashed a window out of her 2001 Nissan Altima. Nothing was stolen, and damage was estimated at $100.
Feb. 21 B.G. Hill received a telephone report from Patricia Goldstein, of 120 Bellview Circle. She stated that an orange bicycle and a red electric scooter were stolen from her yard.
Feb. 13 M.J. Burns responded to a complaint at 205 Saluda Dr., where Shane Hammontree reported the theft of a palm pilot and a cloth necklace from the residence.
Feb. 14 M. A. Whitfield responded to 7005 Hwy. 29 to Sip Its Bar, where the manager, Joyce Russell reported the theft of approximately $400 from the cash register. Employee Melissa Patrick said that she went to the bathroom, and when she returned, four white males and a white female who had been shooting pool had left. About thirty minutes later, when she opened the cash drawer, the money was gone.
Feb. 14 R.E. Callahan was dispatched to 13 Archie St., where Alfred Johnson reported that a couple had come to his house to purchase a computer he had advertised for sale. They paid him with five counterfeit twenty dollar bills.
Feb. 14 D. W. Davis received a complaint of grand larceny from Alton Lawrence, of 1425 Durham Rd. Lawrence reported that someone had taken the air conditioning units from his business. Two units were taken
Feb. 14 J.L. Barnes was dispatched to River Reserve subdivision where Robert Phillips, of Greenville, reported the theft of several tools and other items from the construction site. The value of the stolen items was estimated at $425.
Feb. 20 J. L. Barnes was patrolling along Highway 86 when he was flagged down by a customer at the Pilot Station. The customer stated that there had been an intoxicated customer in the store who was planning to leave on his motorcycle. Barnes cruised the parking lot and found Carl Bryant, WM, 39, 510", 170 pounds, blond/green, of 160 Effie Dr, trying to start a motorcycle which he cut off when he saw the deputy. As he tried to step off the bike, he tripped and fell to one knee. Subsequent field sobriety tests determined that he was intoxicated. Barnes arrested him for public disorderly conduct and transported him to ACDC.
Ty Medlin, a graduate of Seneca High School and son of 1980 Palmetto graduate Tony Medlin, recently had a career day as a sophomore baseball player for Coker College. In a game with St. Augustine College on Feb. 27, Medlin reached base 6 out of 7 times with a single, double, and inside the park homerun. He drove in 2 runs and scored 4 in Cokers 27-0 win. Medlin is batting .375 with a .520 on base percentage. He has been chosen to play for the Carolina Chaos this Summer, a wood-bat league team based in Central, SC. Ty is also the grandson of Roy Medlin of Williamston.
By Stan Welch
Im sitting here on a Saturday night, sipping on some bourbon and thinking about a couple fellows I used to know back in Conway. They both died within the last six months. One of them died last night. Billy Wayne lost control of his truck on the way home and stuck it into an oak tree.
His son was just ahead of him on the way home. They lived next door to each other, and when Jamie noticed his Dad hadnt gotten home, he went back to look for him. When he got to the scene the state troopers wouldnt let him through at first. Finally they did, and he found his Dad, dead in the truck.
The other fellow on my mind tonight was a friend named Edsel Hardee. I asked him once why his Momma named him Edsel, and he said it was because she hated him. Edsel was Chevy man, to the bone, and that name made him flinch. But I knew Momma Hardee, and she surely didnt hate that boy. But she did worry over him. She worried over him for the same reason Jamie worried over his Daddy.
Both Billy Wayne and Edsel served in Viet Nam, and both of them paid a price for it until the day they died. For one thing, they both drank too much, although I never knew either of them to miss a days work or cause any trouble when they were drinking. But to be fair, it wasnt hard to get on the fighting side of either one of them.
Edsel was exposed to Agent Orange in Nam, and he died of cancer about the fourth or fifth time it came for him. The episodes kind of ran together there the last few years. A lesser fighter wouldnt have made it past the first two. They cut pieces off of him, and drilled cores out of him; and his hair fell out and his voice got hoarse, and he looked it right in the eye and spit at it. He was six feet tall and might have weighed a hundred twenty pounds when he died. He was a tough, ornery aggravating sonuvagun, and a damn good friend to me and my son.
He helped Luke learn to cast a bass rig and gave him his first high dollar bait caster outfit. Edsel fished a lot of local and regional tournaments, and did pretty well. He had a nice pond at his place on the Waccamaw River, and Luke and I fished it often.
Edsel loved Luke like a man who wanted a son and never had one would. Luke loved him back, and I was glad they got to know each other. We only knew Edsel for a couple years before he died, but thats a lot better than nothing.
Billy Waynes wounds were harder to spot. He came home and married and had a son and divorced and worked for Sears as an appliance repairman for twenty something years. But he never got over Viet Nam, and it ate at him. Sometimes, when hed been drinking and was in just the right frame of mind, hed talk about it with me. I got the feeling that he was still trying to get home.
I dont know this for a fact, but I would bet everything I have that Billy had been drinking the night he died. And he might have been taking a few of those VA nerve pills, as he called them. We had several long talks about that over the last couple of years, and while he appreciated the concern I felt, he never gave a damn for the advice I gave him. He was a stubborn, ornery, opinionated sonuvagun too. Did I mention he and Edsel were close friends?
Several years ago, he asked me to write a letter to the VA on his behalf. He was seeking disability, and I thought he deserved it. He had become combative and aggressive when he drank, and that was a big change in someone who was normally so kind and so gentle. It was obvious to me that he was losing some sort of inner battle. I wrote the letter, and he was always grateful to me. In fact, he was grateful far out of proportion for what I did for him. He returned the friendship and kindness hundreds of times over.
Nowadays, I watch the evening news and I see thousands of American soldiers in harms way. They are forced to deal with unimaginable horror every day, and no one knows what toll it takes. The effects of seeing children blown apart by roadside bombs or scores of people killed in market places likely wont be fully known for decades. I mean, Billy was in Nam in the Sixties. Look how long his wounds festered before becoming visible.
Who knows what poisons and toxins these soldiers have been exposed to? The U.S. Government took more than twenty years to acknowledge the effects of Agent Orange on the soldiers they soaked with it in Nam. They took just as long in admitting the reality of post traumatic stress disorder. Maybe my friends would have fared better if the government hadnt stalled for so long before providing treatment. Maybe not. Who knows? I just know that I dont trust the government to do right by todays soldiers anymore than they did after Nam, or the first Gulf War.
I hated the Viet Nam war when it was going on. It killed my friends, and it seemed stupid and pointless to me. I was tickled to be able to stay out of it. Tonight it seems to me that it is still pointless and stupid; and it is still killing my friends. And the new war that we have saddled this generation with is no different and no better, and it will still be killing someones friends thirty years from now.
And I hate that too.