News Archive

(0908) Week of Feb. 27, 2008

Contracted management keeping waste water treatment compliant
Capital projects sales tax will fund Powdersville area improvements
Pelzer acreage not suitable for park
Former resident has award winning dog
Kindergarten registration Mar. 5
Adult baseball league now being organized
Area residents arrested in Liberty cockfight raid
Temples agency holds open house
Seems to Me . . . The biggest surprise

Contracted management keeping waste water treatment compliant

By Stan Welch

For twenty six years, Robert Hammett operated Williamston’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). In June of 2005, he abruptly resigned. 

Over the following months, seventy five violations of DHEC regulations were discovered. Nearly all of them involved reporting  and records violations. Hammett would surrender his state license two years later, after being cited for 21 of those violations.

In December of 2005, Goldie & Associates, which had done some testing and lab work for the Town prior to Hammett’s departure, were contracted to handle the Town’s WWTP, and to help it prepare for future operations.

More than two years after Goldie & Associates were retained by the Town of Williamston to address their wastewater issues, the Town remains under a consent order which throttles, if not eliminates, any significant economic development.

During that same period, the Town of Williamston has collected approximately $1.2 million in revenues from water and sewer bills. Nearly a third of that revenue, or $399,219.28 has been paid to Goldie & Associates for work performed on behalf of the Town, based on figures obtained from the Town under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act.

Approximately $32,000 of that amount was owed to Goldie and Associates for work done in 2004-2005, when the Town was failing to pay a number of its vendors, due to the financial problems it faced. Nevertheless, G&A has received well over $350,000 in the last two years for its services to the Town.

During those two years, plus a few weeks, that the engineering firm has served as the Town’s sewer consultants, the Town has considered a variety of approaches to its wastewater treatment problems. Currently, Goldie and Associates is conducting efforts to locate and obtain several hundred acres of land, which would be used to disperse the Town’s wastewater effluent without discharging it into the Saluda River.

Such an approach, if approved by DHEC and successfully implemented, could void all the Town’s capacity requirements, since no wastewater would be discharged into waters covered by the NPDES regulations.

Other options have been studied and reviewed, including the updates to the existing plant which would still be required as part of the land application system mentioned above. Those updates would include a 2.6 million gallon surge basin with aerator, an expansion of the daily treatment capacity from one million to 1.3 million gallons per day (mgd), a subsurface drip system to distribute the treated effluent across a land area, and other improvements.

That land application approach could cost the Town $11 million, to be funded by the Rural Development Authority, or RDA.

According to published reports in The Journal, those funds would be configured as forty per cent grant funds and sixty per cent as a loan. RDA would effectively set the Town’s water and sewer rates at a level sufficient to meet the payments on the loan. That rate would almost certainly be considerably higher than current rates being charged by the Town.

Also during Goldie & Associates’ employment by the Town, DHEC imposed the aforementioned consent order and levied fines of $23,000 against the Town. That amount was later reduced to $6000 as the result of negotiations by ACOG’s Joe Newton during the Town’s  financial crisis. Also a part of the efforts to address the Town’s financial difficulties was a twenty per cent increase in water and sewer rates, enacted in February of 2006. Those rates had lagged far behind, having gone for several years without being increased.

In May of 2006, Council adopted a resolution allowing the Town’s WWTP to begin accepting leachate from the Anderson Regional Landfill for treatment.  As summer wore on, the odors and potential health risks for residents in the Gatewood area led to a series of volatile public meetings, and led to air quality testing being conducted by Goldie & Associates. Additional chemicals were also applied to the WWTP to reduce the odors.

Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. explained that the amounts billed by Goldie & Associates might seem high, but added, “We are under budget for water and sewer the  best as I can tell. Our basic, annual $60,000 contract with G&A is for simply operating the WWTP. These other functions are separate expenses. We had studies on the leachate,  a study on the question of the County’s reserved capacity, RDA and EPA mandates that had to be met, pretreatment for wastewater received from industries in town. Many of these things actually generated revenue for the Town. All in all I am comfortable with the amounts involved.”

Despite Middleton’s comfort with the numbers involved, the Town remains unable to pursue or even entertain any significant development. Currently, Goldie &Associates, along with the Town Council, are seeking approximately 500 acres to be used in the land application method of dispersing the town’s wastewater once it is treated.

Capital projects sales tax will fund Powdersville area improvements

By Stan Welch

A public forum concerning a proposed one cent capital sales tax will be held Thursday night, Feb. 28, at Powdersville Library at 5:00 p.m.

Holt Hopkins, Anderson County Director of Transportation, is hoping that the public will attend in strength, and bring suggestions for projects to be funded by the tax.

“The idea of these meetings is to receive public input, not just about the tax, but about the needs of the various communities as they see it. Public input is essential in building support for this type of funding method. We want people ,” said Hopkins.

 The purpose of the capital projects sales tax (CPST) is to provide funding over a seven year period for infrastructure projects, such as bridges, roads, and, in this case, a proposed improvement of the county jail. While upgrading or replacing the jail was one of the original recommendations for the sales tax, early indications are that the commission members do not favor that use of the funds.

Rusty Burns, a government ombudsman who represents various municipalities and utilities in the area, is a member of that Commission. He also served on the CPST Commission in 2006. That Commission saw its efforts squandered when the County Council voted unanimously not to place the issue on a referendum during the 2006 general election, as is required by law to pass such a tax.

Burns confirms that he sees little support for the use of the funds to improve or replace the jail. “There seems to be a consensus that roads and bridges are more important. It’s early and I may be wrong. But I just feel that the jail proposal is losing steam rapidly.”

Burns added that there seems to be a real concern over how the money is handled and accounted for. 

“The general climate, as we move about the county explaining and meeting with people about this proposal, is that there is a real issue of public trust at play. People become more receptive when they realize that this tax is collected by the State, not the County. And it must be spent according to the priorities set in the referendum question itself. The County Council cannot alter that question once we formulate it and present it to them. They cannot change the projects or the order in which they are to be constructed.”

The purpose of the Commission, composed of Burns, who represents Pendleton, Chairman Dave Jones (Belton), Vice Chair Bob Burriss (Belton), Dick Bales (Easley), Vance Clinkscales (Anderson) and Kurt Oglesby (Anderson), is to prioritize projects to be funded, and to formulate the question to be presented to Council for approval on the referendum.

There are deadlines built into the process. For example, the referendum question has to be approved by the US Department of Justice before being placed on the ballot. Working backwards from the August 15 deadline for that presentation, the absolute latest date for third reading approval of the question by County Council would be May 20. 

Burns says there is plenty of time. “Last time we really got pinched because the State Infrastructure Bank was also involved. This time, we need to move smartly, but we have time to do this properly. I think one project that is receiving a lot of early attention is the East west connector which would link Hwy. 81 and Clemson Boulevard.”

Projects being considered in the area include:

Powdersville - realign and widen Piedmont Road and improve intersections, $1 million; realign and widen Three Bridges Road and improve intersections.

Three & Twenty, Hunt Meadows - Intersection improvement at St. Paul and SC Hwy. 8; bridge replacement on Ridge Rd., $660,000.

Piedmont - Improve intersection on Westinghouse Rd., no estimate available.

Hopewell Piercetown - Bridge replacement on Long Road, $430,000; McGee Road realignment and widen roadway, improve intersection, $1.5 million.

Williamston - extension of Ida Tucker Road, $6.5 million; replace SC 20 bridge and four lane, $4 million; install sidewalks near all schools, no estimate available.

West Pelzer - Joe Black Road bridge replacement $550,000.

Each of the County’s seven council districts will receive approximately $22 million over the 7 year period the tax will remain in effect if it is approved by voters later this year.

If the referendum is approved  funding for specific projects will become available as early as 2009, Jones said.

In addition to the Powdersville meeting Thursday, a meeting will be held at the Three & Twenty Fire Department on March 3 at 6 p.m. and the full commission will meet at 6 p.m. on Mar. 6 at the Anderson Civic Center and at 4:30 p.m. on Mar. 13 at the Anderson Library.

Pelzer acreage not suitable for park

By Stan Welch

Despite a recent disappointment in his efforts to develop ninety four acres of land near the town’s wastewater treatment plant into a recreational area, Pelzer Mayor Kenneth Davis continues to seek a productive use for the land.

Last week Mayor Davis, along with Ernest Locke, of the Anderson County Environmental Services Division, along with a representative from Clemson University, walked the property to determine its suitability for such a use. Unfortunately, the suitability simply isn’t there.

“The area might be a possible use for agriculture, but the water quality coming from the treatment plant isn’t good enough to have children playing on the ground. It would have to be drinking water quality,” said Mayor Davis.

Davis said that the Town continues to explore options for treating its wastewater more efficiently. “DHEC has been very helpful recently, and we have more meetings scheduled with them. So we are hopeful that our situation will continue to improve,” said Davis.

As for finding a use for the ninety four acres, Davis has other ideas. “I’ve been talking with a very large landscaping firm in the state, and hope they might want to use the land to put trees and things in. There’s a hundred thousand gallon flow each day. That would water a lot of trees, and it would certainly help ease our capacity problems if someone were using all or part of that flow.”

Said Davis, “Sometimes you just have to try these ideas and see if they work out. The park idea fell through, but I’ll keep looking for a way to bring the Town up. Maybe the other idea will work.”

Former resident has award winning dog

Former Williamston resident Ryan Dawkins, who now lives in Columbia, is the proud owner of a top dog.

Though not a purebred, her pet dog Oliver was selected as the top dog from a field of 260 entries in a contest sponsored by the State newspaper in Columbia recently.

Oliver first captured the Pound Dog category and was eventually chosen by the seven member panel of dog lovers as the winner.

When Dawkins first found Oliver wandering on a country road, he was a six month old, thin, starving pup with sunburned ears. He is a solid white mix with steel blue eyes and she learned, he is deaf.

Dawkins created her own sign language with commands for sit, down, stay, come, walk politely and no.

In picking Oliver as Best in Show, judges called him “intense, focused and beautiful,” with a “gentle disposition” and “happy stride.”

Kindergarten registration Mar. 5

Anderson School District One elementary schools will hold 4K and 5K registration for 2008-2009 on Wednesday, March 5, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parents registering the child should bring  the child’s Social Security card, birth certificate, current immunization record and proof of residency, school officials said. All new enrollees are required to show proof of residence. Any two of the following items will be acceptable and will be verified by a member of the school staff prior to enrollment of new students: tax bill, deed, voter registration card, current utility bill, signed lease with signature of the tenant and landlord stating the actual location of the home or signed contract with builder/contractor or realtor.  District One elementary schools include Cedar Grove, Concrete, Hunt Meadows, Palmetto Elementary, Pelzer Elementary, Spearman Elemetary, West Pelzer and Wren Elementary. Powdersville Elementary only has grades 3 - 5.

Adult baseball league now being organized

The National Adult Baseball Association, the fastest growing premiere amateur adult baseball association in the United States recently announced a new league being established in Anderson  The league is being organized under the leadership of Rick Castro. 

“This is for guys with all skill levels that want to come out and play, compete sure, but love of the game is what it’s all about” Castro said.

Castro, a life long athlete and semi-pro player of baseball, recently relocated from Austin, Texas to the Anderson area to accept a position specializing in Sports Training and is an MMA fight instructor exclusively at Coop’s Gym.  He was more than a little setback to realize there was no baseball league to participate in over the summer. “I thought - I won’t make it through the summer- I just won’t.  I have to do something.  So I thought, well, why not start a league?  So it’s on and I am inviting all lovers of the game to join me.” 

To launch the ANABA (Anderson National Adult Baseball Association), an informational meeting is scheduled for March 1st at 10 a.m. hosted by Coop’s Gym, 219 Brown Road in Anderson. 

“Whether you are interested in playing, coaching, managing, volunteering, putting a team together, finding other players for your potential team or just knowing more about this exciting opportunity; you are welcome,” Castro said.

 The Anderson National Adult Baseball Association will offer both players and fans of the game a 20+ game schedule, playoffs, championships, an All-Star game, a chance to represent the league in a NABA national championship, an end of year awards party and an organized Fall league.  Further, ANABA promises to keep registration fees low.  So come on down, refreshments will be provided and no shortage of baseball fans will be on hand.

Manager’s meetings and tryout dates will be announced on their website at http://naba.statdepot.com For information call 864-367-7421 or rick.castro42@yahoo.com.

Area residents arrested in Liberty cockfight raid

According to ACSO records, a number of people from the area were arrested at a raid on a cockfighting event last weekend in Liberty.

Persons from the Pelzer area were Jeff Frady, Summer Frady, Jeffrey Frady, Michael Lambert, Blanton Tinsley, Jennifer Lambert, and William Davis. From the Piedmont area arrested were Kimberley Spearman and Jason  Luker. From the Belton area,  Bronson Whitfield and Greg Couch, Jr. From the Easley area were: James J. Lewis, Thomas Jackson, Johnny Hughes, Timothy Lurero, Donald Bilbrey, Joseph Stokes, James Mason, Jerry Nix, and Ronald Harris.

Other incidents investigated include the following:

PELZER

Feb.15 – L. Finley was dispatched to 8 Allen St. where Dwayne Quigley  reported that a while male, 20/30 years old,6’1", 175 pounds, had been trying to push a four wheeler belonging to Quigley’s son out of his yard. The man fled when Quigley approached.

Feb. 15 – M. Voigt responded to 2 West Main St. where the store clerk at that location told him she had refused to sell beer to a man in a red GMC truck, as well as his passenger, because he was too drunk. Voigt spoke with the subject, Wade McAllister, WM, 53,6’1", 200 pounds, brn/brn of Belton, and found him to be grossly intoxicated, according to the police report. He was arrested for public disorderly conduct. A subsequent search of McAllister revealed several Xanax tablets as well as Oxycodone tablets as well. He was also charged with possession of a controlled substance and transported to ACDC.

Feb. 18 – M.J. McClatchy responded to 11 Hindman St. where he assisted West Pelzer Police Chief Bernard Wilson in an arrest. Wilson had received a complaint that the occupant of the house at that location had been seen urinating off the porch, and appeared to be under the influence of narcotics. The two officers approached the house and found the front door open. They knocked on the door frame and identified themselves as police. A subject inside told them to come in, where they immediately saw drugs and paraphernalia on the coffee table. Ricky Lee Horne, WM, 26, of 1209 Pickens Avenue in Williamston, was located in a bedroom and subsequently arrested.

Feb. 18 – M. Voigt responded to a call of a break-in in progress at the Hickory Point convenience store. Charles Webb had been driving by when he heard a loud crash. Looking in his mirror, he saw a man jump from the window of the store carrying something. He called 911. Voigt found the window broken by a flower pot which was thrown through it. Two subjects were caught on tape. Missing was the cash drawer from a register, valued at $100.

Feb. 18 – M.J. McClatchy responded to 7007 Hwy. 29  to Fontaine Construction Co. where James Curtis reported someone had broken into the company’s storage containers and stolen several power tools valued at $2900.

PIEDMONT

Feb.16 – J.J. Jacobs and J.T. Bowers were dispatched to 408 Wood field Dr. As they responded, they observed a silver Chevrolet Monte Carlo leaving the area at a high rate of speed. They initiated a traffic stop and determined that the driver, Jason Lowe, WM, 35, 6’,190 pounds, brn/blue had been involved in a reported domestic incident. Further investigation revealed that Lowe and his stepfather, Daniel Summa became engaged in a physical struggle after Lowe broke the door and entered the house. Reports state Summa was struck with a child’s door gate and injured. Lowe was charged with malicious damage to property and transported to ACDC, pending a diagnosis of Summa’s injuries.

Feb. 19 – M.A. Whitfield responded to 115 Piedmont Golf Course Rd. where Franklin Smith reported that he had received change from a purchase at the Lil Cricket store on Hwy. 29 which included a ten dollar bill. He later tried to spend the ten dollar bill and was told it was counterfeit. Whitfield took the bill as evidence.

Feb. 20 – J.J. Jacobs was dispatched to 106 Brookstone Dr. where Steven Beacham reported someone had broken into his home and stolen tools and electronics valued at approximately $5000.

WILLIAMSTON

Feb.21 – D.L. Barton responded to the AnMed emergency room where Orlando Blanding reported he had been assaulted by Wallace Kemp, BM,33, 5’7", 145 pounds. The two were at work and began fighting. He said Kemp hit him in the head and they began fighting. During the fight, Blanding was also bitten on the stomach.

Feb. 16 & 17 – M.Voigt assisted WPD Sgt. Z.E. Gregory in serving two warrants. One was served on Harley Edwards, WM, 28, 5’9. 200 pounds, brn/hazel. Edwards was then transported to the Greenville County line where GCSO deputies took custody of him.

 The second warrant was served on Fred Smith, BM, 50, 6’3", 220 pounds, of Anderson. He was transported to ACDC.

BELTON

Feb. 16 – J.J. Jacobs responded to 1771 Cannon Bottom Rd. where Michael Baker reported that someone had punctured all four tires on his red 1990 Ford F-150 pickup. The loss was estimated at $700.

Feb. 16 – R.N. Holbrooks was dispatched to 913 Glenwood Street Extension where Israel Sanders reported that two men had come to his house and assaulted him, injuring his arm and hitting him a number of times about the head. The two men are reportedly relatives of Sanders’ estranged wife.

Feb. 18 – J.T. Lee responded to 6622 Belton Hwy. where Andy Duvall reported the theft of a 2007 silver Grand Prix. The car was stolen from the U Save Auto Rental location.

EASLEY

Feb. 18 – P.D. Marter was dispatched to 109 Stonehenge Court, where Kent Berg reported that someone had slashed all four tires on his daughter’s car. The loss was estimated at $320.

Feb 20 – W.E. Gregory was flagged down by Dale Looper at 301 Enterprise Dr. in reference to a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot. He found Patrick McSharry, WM, 37, 5’6",170 pounds with red hair and hazel eyes asleep in the vehicle. Upon awakening him, Gregory found McSharry to be “grossly intoxicated” and arrested him for public disorderly conduct.

Temples agency hold open house

Jamison Temples State Farm Insurance Agency recently celebrated an open house and customer appreciation day at their new location on Hwy. 25, 8005  Augusta Rd., Piedmont.

Temples moved to the new location in July from the location at 7740 Augusta Rd., where he was for six years after he purchased the building and remodeled it.

The 3400 square foot building formerly housed a daycare. Approximately 2400 sq. ft is in use with an additional 1000 sq. ft. available for future expansion if needed, Temples said.

Temples is an independent contractor for State Farm Insurance Company.  He has been an agent for more than 6 years and handled claims for four years for a total of 11 years in the insurance business.

In addition to Temples, the agency has three staff members. Two,  Beth Copher and Erica Shirly Rector, are licensed insurance agents. Also working in the office is Tonya Rawls.

Temples is a graduate of Chapin High School and Clemson University, where he obtained a degree in Animal Science. After his mother-in-law recommended he look into the insurance field he said he saw the potential and a good career. He lives in Simpsonville with his wife Kristin and two sons, Cole 7 years and Wyatt, 4.

Temples said he loves the upstate and enjoys living and working in the Moonville, Simpsonville area.

“I am looking forward to serving the area and hope residents will come out and support us,” he said.

The Valentine’s Day open house included refreshments and a visit from the Good NeighBear, the State Farm mascot. The Blood Connection also held a blood drive.

State Farm offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, renters insurance, health insurance, life insurance and financial services.

For more information on any of their services, call 864-299-5006 or visit their website at jamisontemples.com.

Seems to Me . . . The biggest surprise

By Stan Welch

I have been a newspaperman for almost a quarter of a century. That is what I call it. Some people call it being a journalist, or a reporter. I call it being a newspaper man. To me that term carries a deep respect for the traditions of the craft and the profession.

It is not a profession one enters seeking wealth or fame. For every Lewis Grizzard, whose style and talent translate into real financial rewards, there are literally thousands of good solid reporters who do their jobs, write their stories and draw their pay. For every Woodward and Bernstein, there are legions of foot soldiers who, for the most part, believe that if they provide the general public with accurate information, the general public will make informed decisions about the issues that affect their lives. And people think reporters can’t be naïve.

Every one of us who never leaves the house without a pen and a notebook, even to go to the grocery store, understands that our profession, or craft, as some practice it, places us in an unusual position. Acquaintances with those we cover are inevitable; friendships almost impossible, and almost certainly a professional risk if they develop.

So we generally find ourselves in a precarious position, balancing social instincts with professional standards. Amongst ourselves, as different and diverse as we are, as our methods of doing our job may be, we share an understanding of the awkward no man’s land we all have to traverse from time to time.

We realize that when we write a story that questions the behavior or the performance or the appropriateness of the actions of a given party or organization, many who agree with the story will insist on seeing us as allies, while those who disagree will insist just as adamantly that we are biased enemies. A month later, those sides may switch completely, again based solely on a news story we write.

Our insistence that we really don’t care what readers think of us, but seek only to satisfy our industry’s and our own standards is usually blown aside like the tendrils of a dandelion. All this, we anticipate and accept, especially those who have a few years on the job.

Still, there are incidents that occur which amaze even the most grizzled of us. Among the newspaper reporters whom I work alongside, I am by far the most senior, uh, I mean experienced, of them. As a result, I am less often surprised by the things I see and hear, as I cover local and county government. I must admit, however, that I have been surprised more frequently since coming to Anderson County than I had in a while.

The surprises began early, when Mr. Joey Preston took the trouble, or had Gina Humphreys, take the trouble to “correct” one of my first news stories in The Journal. When questioned as to why he would go to all that trouble, he told me that would be done for all my stories. When informed that he would not be afforded the chance to correct my homework, so to speak, he seemed amazed at my temerity in declining his generous offer. For my part, I was absolutely stunned that a county administrator would be both so bold in making such an offer and so ignorant of what the response to that offer would be.

This was my first glimpse through the looking glass that reflects media relations with government in Anderson County. There would be others.

For example, there was the day I arrived at the courthouse to retrieve some public records concerning the consulting arrangement between State Rep. John Scott and the County. Mr. Scott is paid several thousand dollars a month to consult with the County on mass transit matters. He is qualified for that position approximately as well as the County’s newest agricultural consultant. The surprise was that Mr. Scott had been called all the way up from Columbia to meet me and ask me why I was picking on the County’s only black consultant.

There have been other surprises along the way – the odd arrest, the various bills for several hundred dollars for information sought under the FOIA, that sort of thing. But the actions of a county employee several weeks ago, in which the head of the Park Police nonchalantly threatened to provide false witness against me in order to place me under arrest promise to take things to a new level.

Now, I’m not surprised that the threat to lie in order to create grounds for an arrest was made. Bill Striewing is Joey Preston’s boy, and has been ever since he gave up being a dogcatcher in Cherokee County and followed Mr. Preston over here, where he became commander of the palace guard. Told to bark, he barks. Allowed to bite, he bites.

No, what I’m surprised by is the fact that not one person of authority in the law enforcement hierarchy in Anderson County has even bothered to follow up and ask any questions about this matter. Solicitor Adams? No, haven’t heard from her. Sheriff Crenshaw? Not a word.

Now let me make this clear. I did not file a complaint, because according to preliminary legal advice I received, the actions of Striewing were probably not technically illegal, since he never actually filed the false report.

Apparently, lying by an alleged law enforcement official in Anderson County isn’t worth a phone call or a question as long as it’s not in writing.

Of course, if I hadn’t made it clear to Striewing that I had been recording the entire exchange, that situation would probably have turned out differently, too.

David C. Meade, managing editor of The Journal, did, however, send a letter to Mr. Preston and Chairman Thompson, outlining the incident and asking that Striewing be suspended until a review of his actions could be completed. No response so far.

But my question is this. If Bill Striewing is a bona fide law enforcement officer, sworn to uphold the laws and Constitution of this state, shouldn’t the standard for his behavior be higher than the minimum standard of legality? Is he not held to some professional standard of conduct? What he started to do might not have been perjury, but when we went to court and he repeated it, it would have become perjury. Is there any reason to think he would have been less willing to repeat the lie than he was to tell it in the first place?

And if he is not a trained law enforcement officer, along with his troops, then why are they armed? It is time for someone in Anderson County government or law enforcement to provide a clear and definitive standard for this ersatz force to meet.

If untrained, uncertified personnel are authorized by County officials to carry weapons, when they have not attended the South Carolina Justice Academy for even the most basic of training, then the County assumes an enormous liability for their actions.

Seems to me, some answers are in order. But if we get them, that will be the biggest surprise of all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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