News Archive

(1007) Week of March 7, 2007

Officer to remain on police force
Town rehires grant writer, auditor
Williamston EMS opens satellite office
Public hearing set for sewer concern
Williamston drug bust results in arrests
Spearman, Palmetto to see facility upgrades
School to work program works for District One
Williamston man arrested in cab driver murder
Deputies investigate thefts
Seems to Me . . . Pointing the way

Officer to remain on police force

By Stan Welch

The fate of Williamston Police Cpl. Donnie Bryant, faced with five charges of harassment while serving as School Resource Officer at Palmetto High School, has been determined.

Mayor Phillip Clardy announced Wednesday that Bryant, a twenty year veteran of the force, will  be retained on regular duty, but will be replaced as SRO.

“I want to make it clear to the people of Williamston that we take such allegations very seriously. But we also recognize the worth and value of Cpl. Bryant and his long career as a Williamston police officer. Both the Chief and I have complete confidence in Cpl. Bryant’s ability to perform his duties as a uniformed officer.”

Clardy, however, did acknowledge that his investigation into allegations lodged against Byant last month by five female students revealed that the officer had violated the Town’s policy on harassment. “Was his behavior inappropriate? According to our policy, yes, it was. But the most serious allegation that was made involved

Cpl. Bryant kissing one of the girls on the forehead in the middle of a crowded hallway.”

Clardy added that some of the allegations were amended after they had been made. “Frankly, we didn’t find all of those allegations to be credible” said the Mayor.

Bryant,who has been returned to normal patrol, faces no criminal charges, nor will he suffer  demotion or loss of pay. He will be on a six month probationary period with the department, followed by a reevaluation. He will also attend a sensitivity course offered by the South Carolina Justice Academy.

Chief David Baker said that interviews to fill the SRO vacancy are currently underway,in conjunction with the School District.

Town rehires grant writer, auditor

During their regular meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council decided to rehire the town’s former grant writer, approved a contractor to tear down the old city hall and hired an auditor.

Council also took several steps toward making improvements to structures in Mineral Spring Park and stated they will announce their appointments for the new park committee at their March 19 meeting.

Council unanimously approved allowing Harper Construction to do stabilization work on the Spring House in Mineral Spring Park. Councilman Marion Middleton said that Roger Ellision  volunteered to work on the structure at no cost to the town. Workers will raise the gazebo, cut rotting posts and replace with treated lumber and will level the structure.

Council also unanimously approved first reading on a vandalism ordinance for Mineral Spring Park.

Signs will be posted with park hours and the town will replace metal gates at the Main St. entrance and exit.

Council unanimously approved 2nd reading on an ordinance dealing with town owned property known as the McPhail property, which has residents living in mobile homes located on several lots.

The ordinance allows the town to sell the property to the current inhabitants with certain terms to be decided by Council. Discussions included offering terms of 5% for 5 years.

The ordinance passed with an amendment by Councilman Scott that the residents involved have 60 days from notification by certified mail to respond with their intent to purchase or leave the property.

Council then decided to look into the terms of the recent security camera installation in the park.

Councilman Carthel Crout questioned the $2500 cost for conduit and $140 for installation of a phone line which he said was not discussed when the contract was approved by Council.

In old business, Council opened two bids for removal of the old town hall building. Roger Welborn bid $18,000 and Grindsouth Incorporated offered to remove the structure at no cost to the town.

Council went into executive session to discuss the bid offers.

Upon returning to public session, Council unanimously agreed to accept the Grindsouth offer with an amendment offered by Councilman Scott that the company will be responsible for all demolitin permits and landfill and transportation costs. A list of specific items the town will salvage from the building will be provided to the contractor.

Developer Jim Simpson expressed concerns about a time limit, to which the contractor responded that he thought the building could be removed and the site cleared and prepared for seeding within two weeks.

In an effort to get a revitalization project back in motion, Council decided in a 3-2 vote, to reinstate Rusty Burns to the grant writer position at the compensation he was formerly making. Councilman Marion Middleton and Carthel Crout, both expressed support in hiring him, but both opposed the mayor’s motion to rehiring Burns, because there was no job description or set compensation.

Councilman  Crout had the issue placed on the agenda.

“I have no problem bringing Rusty back,” Crout said. He recommended rehiring Burns to get through the downtown revitalization but said he wanted to know the details of what it will cost.

He and Councilman Middleton expressed concerns that Burns had not returned a phone call and that there is no job description or payment specifications.

“There is no free money,” Middleton said, pointing out that the recent sidewalk replacement cost the town money in matching funds even with the grant.

Mayor Clardy said that he had spoken with Burns and that Burns had indicated he would work with the town. Councilmen David Harvell, Scott and Clardy were in favor of rehiring Burns.

Under new business, Planning Commission Chairman Jim Simpson requested that Council allow Appalachian Council of Governments (ACOG) advisor Chip Bentley to work with them on revisions to the town’s comprehensive plan. Simpson also reported that a planned hearing on rezoning was rescinded at the request of the property owner.

ACOG advisor Joe Newton said that Bentley told him that the comprehensive plan is outdated and irrelevant and needs lots of work.

He said Bentley has offered to work with the town’s planning commission to rewrite the comprehensive plan and the zoning ordinance. He offered to do the work over a period of six months for $2500.

Council unanimously approved having Bentley work with the planning commission at the quoted offer.

Council unanimously approved a request to reinstate some parking spaces on  Main St. in front of  park. Councilman Crout said that he had been asked for the spaces to be put back by the publisher of The Journal.

Mayor Clardy said that the town will check with SCDOT for approval because Main St. is a State road.

Council unanimously agreed to lower the deductible for town employees health insurance from $1250 to $500. The change will be effective July 1. Mayor Clardy will contact the State Municipal Association to determine the change in premium which will result in a change in the 2007 budget.

Councilman Crout made a motion to make the March payment of $3000  to Anderson County for sewer capacity. The payment has already been made according to treasurer clerk Michelle Starnes as have payments have been made for Jan., Feb.

The town is negotiating a contract with County officials for the capacity issue.

Council discussed painting the water tank on Virginia Drive.

 According to Councilman Middleton, the town has a four year contract for a total of $140,000 for necessary work on the tank.

Work needed includes painting the interior which will result in the need to drain the tank and possibly no water pressure for residents. The town originally contracted with the company in 2003.

Though nothing has been done recently, the company has indicated they will come back and do the work again, according to the Mayor.

Clardy said that the town didn’t have a backup water source or bypass at the time and that water pressure on the town’s old lines could be a problem.

Middleton made a motion for the project to be put out for bids, but no action was taken. 

Town Attorney Richard Thompson advised the issue needed to be discussed in executive session.

Mayor Clardy reported that the town  was still working on job descriptions for the town’s employees.

There was brief discussion on hiring an auditor. Two firms applied for the position, according to Clardy, and another submitted an application for the bookkeeper job.

Acting on a motion by Councilman Otis Scott, Council unanimously agreed to have hiring an auditor placed on the March 19 agenda.

Council unanimously approved a request by Sherry Field of Family Connections to hold the Amazing Ride for Amazing Children in Mineral Spring Park on June 9.

 The event will include motorcycles, singing, food and fun things with approximately 400 people expected to participate.

Council then went into a lengthy executive session to discuss several topics. Non of the issues being discussed in the secret session were stated before council left public session.

Upon returning to public session, and despite having voted to make the decision of hiring an auditor at the Mar. 19 meeting, Council took action to hire the accounting firm of Greene Finney and Horton as the town’s auditor.

The firm was the town’s auditor from 2001 until 2005, when accountant Larry Finney resigned from the position citing a lack of cooperation by town officials to following the firm’s advice which eventually  led to the financial debacle that became public at the end of the year.

Council also briefly discussed Forest Hills sewer and allowing a lift station to be built by the property owner on property on Mill St. Extension. Both issues are to be on the March 19 agenda.

During the comments portion at the beginning of the meeting, Council heard from two citizens 

Kempie Shepard requested use of the park amphitheater on April 8 for a sunrise service.

She also requested use of a room at the Municipal Center to house a food panty for people in the Williamston area. Both requests will be placed on the agenda for the Mar. 19 meeting.

David Meade, speaking as a business owner and a member of the Greater Williamston Business Association Downtown Revitalization Committee, requested Council consider allowing former town grant writer Rusty Burns to work with the GWBA and Town on a downtown revitalization project that has been underway since 2005. The project was delayed during the past year because of town developments.

Meade said that the committee needs help and expertise, that relocating Pelzer Ave. is a big part of anything that could happen with the downtown area.

Williamston EMS opens satellite office

By Stan Welch

The Williamston EMS squad recently expanded its operations to include a second location at the intersection of Cherokee and Hembree Roads. The new facility is expected to significantly reduce response times in that area.

Joe Barr, of the Williamston EMS, said that he had been noticing that the squad was experiencing a drop in compliance with response time goals in that area. “We are about five or six miles from that area here in town, and almost eight miles to the interstate. Plus we’re just about busting at the seams here in town.  So we decided to put a unit out there.”

The site consists of a small single wide trailer, of the type used for construction offices, and one unit parked outside. While Barr says it is early, the growth underway in that area will likely demand further expansion and improvements to the facility. “Right now, we’re staffing it with whoever is available from Town. But eventually, we will probably have to make some decisions about who to put out there.”

Based on very preliminary results, Barr says it appears that compliance with response time demands may improve by as much as thirteen per cent, with reductions of one and a half to three minutes per call, depending on the call and location. “That’s a lot of difference when you’re waiting on an ambulance,” said Barr.

 “The growth expected for his area would seem to indicate a growing need for coverage. We will respond as that need arises, but this is a good first step. We understand that we have to work with the entire EMS community, and that patient needs come first, just like they always have. If a nearby unit besides us is needed, that’s who gets sent.”

Public hearing set for sewer concern

By Stan Welch

A public hearing will be held on March 15 to address environmental and health concerns raised last year by residents near the Town’s wastewater treatment plant.

While he and others will receive a full briefing later this week in preparation for the hearing, Mayor Phillip Clardy said the preliminary results of the testing by Goldie & Associates indicate that there are no significant health issues. “We do have a problem with odor, and Council recently approved the use of a new chemical which will not only deal with that problem, but will also work to reduce the sludge problem in the lagoons,” said Mayor Clardy in a recent interview.

Last May, the Town Council adopted a resolution declaring the Town’s intent to accept leachate from the Anderson regional Landfill, formerly known as Big Creek. The water is collected at the site in a holding pond, then pumped into tankers for transport to treatment plants in the area. Belton currently has such an agreement with ARL as well. (See related story elsewhere in this issue.) Residents of the Gatewood subdivision and other neighborhoods near the treatment plant complained loud and long last year about odor, the number of trucks using their streets to reach the plant, and a number of health issues they said were related to the acceptance of leachate.

They complained of being misled by the town, as well as raising health questions ranging from nausea to bloody noses to shortness of breath. A series of meetings were held to address their concerns, resulting in the Town’s decision to conduct air quality testing. It is the results of that testing that will be the subject of next week’s public hearing.

Mayor Clardy also reported that the Town’s plans to fund and develop an alternative treatment and disposal method are on track. The plans call for the town’s treated wastewater to be drip fed into a large drain field which will absorb the water, and result in no introduction of wastewater by the town into the Saluda River.

“We have submitted our funding and our plan to the regional Greenville office of the Rural Development Authority ( RDA), which has approved them. We are to meet with RDA officials from Columbia next week. Hopefully they will approve the plan, at least in principle. Then we will seek to negotiate the rate structure so that the impact on our citizens is as little as possible,” said Clardy.

Clardy declined to identify any potential sites for the drain field, since no decision has been made. “But Goldie and Associates have identified some sites, and the process is underway,” said Clardy.

The RDA, which provides funding for many small towns and rural utilities, sets the rates at a level adequate to ensure repayment of the grants and/or loans being made to the borrower. West Pelzer is currently preparing to enter into such a relationship with RDA, in order to finance the construction of its sewer system and its connection to the Western Carolina treatment plant.

Williamston drug bust results in arrests

By Stan Welch

Local, county and state law enforcement agents worked together to coordinate and execute simultaneous raids on two houses on Market Street last Thursday. The results were well worth the effort, according to Williamston Police Chief David Baker.

Entering, securing and searching two houses just yards apart at the same time is not the easiest thing in the world to do,” said Chief Baker. “But the Sheriff’s entry teams and the SLED agents did great jobs and really made for a safe and efficient operation. I had six officers on hand to execute the warrants, but the specialized training those other agencies have really helped. The entry teams went in first and secured the suspects and the houses so that we could safely execute our warrants.”

The houses were raided after more than two months of investigation and drug purchases by the WPD. “We had complaints from citizens of suspected drug activity, so we had informants make buys and we also had an undercover officer make a buy earlier this month.” The raid was staged during the daylight hours, said Baker. “We were trying not to have the children there, and we also have to consider the safety of the other citizens who live in the neighborhood. So we went in while most people would ordinarily be at work or out of the house. It worked out real well.”

Arrested were Dantez Hatton, 21, Mantez Hatton, 21, Terrenzo Gaines, 21, and Terry Charmar Smith, 20, all of Williamston. Also arrested was Felicia Legg, 21, of Spartanburg. She is the mother of two children who were present during some of the drug transactions, which led to charges of child endangerment being added to the long list of other charges.

Dantez Hatton was charged with  trafficking crack cocaine; possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine within proximity of a school, park or playground; two counts of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine; and two counts of distribution of crack within proximity of a school, park or playground.

Mantez Hatton was charged with two counts of trafficking crack cocaine; possession with intent to distribute crack within proximity of a school, park or playground; two counts of distribution of crack cocaine; two counts of distribution within proximity of a school, park or playground; one count of trafficking cocaine; possession with intent to distribute marijuana; and two counts of child endangerment.

Gaines was charged with trafficking crack cocaine; distribution of crack cocaine; distribution within proximity of a school, park or playground; possession with intent to distribute crack within proximity of a school, park or playground.

Smith was charged with trafficking crack cocaine; possession with intent to distribute within proximity; distribution of crack cocaine, two counts of distribution of crack cocaine within proximity; conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine.

Legg was charge with trafficking crack cocaine, possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine within proximity.

Additional charges may be forthcoming, according to Chief Baker.

“We’re still working on all the paper work, because the charges are so numerous and complex,” said Chief Baker Monday afternoon. Among those charges were trafficking crack cocaine, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine, and gun charges. “One of the guns was stolen. There was a handgun and five rifles. We also found drugs in both locations for which we had warrants, although all five suspects were in one location together.”

$1,500 in cash was also seized.

Chief Baker said no methamphetamines were found. “The meth trade isn’t quite as dominated by Mexican dealers as it used to be because there are so many small operations out there. The Mexican dealers usually make it in one location far from here and distribute it. But the Mom and Pop operations are the ones we usually find in this area.”

Spearman, Palmetto to see facility upgrades

During their regular monthly meeting last Tuesday, Anderson District One School Board of Trustees approved the upgrade and expansion of the kitchen facilities at Spearman Elementary, the addition of a multipurpose room at Palmetto High and HVAC improvements at two Wren schools.

 The board unanimously approved a bid of $113,700 by Stihles Heating and Cooling to perform repairs on a cooling tower and the HVAC system at Wren High and Wren Elementary.

Work will begin in the next few weeks over Spring Break and should be completed before needed, Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler said.

The District is also planning improvements for the Spearman Elementary kitchen and the Palmetto High multi-purpose room.

The appliances and kitchen at Spearman have not been remodeled since the school was built approximately 50 years ago.

The school has more than 500 students and is still growing according to Fowler. There is no office space for the nutrition manager and no loading dock.

The improvements will include 653 sq. ft. expansion for food preparation, an office for the manager and a loading dock with two storage areas.

“This is something that has been needed for a long time,” Dr. Fowler said.

The District is planning a 1600 sq. ft. multipurpose room addition at Palmetto High which can be used by the entire school, Fowler said. It can be used for classroom space, a large presentation area, and overflow seating for lunch which is currenlty running three lunch periods in the present cafeteria.

Dr. Fowler said no local funding will be needed for the two projects with funding coming from the state EIA reallocation of fund from the Barnwell money childrens’ endowment. The money is at the state, Dr. Fowler said.

Fowler asked the board for permission to seek bids with March 27 being set for the bid opening

The board unanimously approved Fowler’s request. The work will take approximately four months, he said.

The board unanimously agreed to approve shifting the attendance lines for Hunt Meadows, Wren Elementary, Concrete and Powdersville Elementary Schools.

(See story online)

Assistant Superintendent David Havird reported that the District had Nutritional Services revenues of $364,790 and expenses of $305,099 for a monthly profit of $59,691. Year to date profit is $205,630.

Upon recommendation of Dr. Fowler, the board also approved the following personnel recommendations.

Leave of Absences: Debbie Whiten, Hunt Meadows Elementary, Grade 4; Brenda Wilson, Palmetto High School, Business.

Resignations - Donna Bailey, Wren High School, Business.

Recommendations - Ashley Demaszza, Pelzer Elementary School, Kindergarten; Michael DeMazza, Wren High School, Social Studies; Sarah Edwards, Spearman Elementary, Grade 3; Mechelle Fulbright, Powdersville Elementary School, Grade 5;

Shannon Goodacre, Wren High School, Social Studies; Nicole Rolfe, Spearman Elementary School, Grade 4; Kevin Smith, Palmetto High School, Business.

Transfers - Kim Bolding, transfer from Palmetto Middle Grade 8 to Spearman Elementary, Grade 1.

School to work program works for District One

During their monthly meeting last Tuesday, Anderson School District One Board of Trustees heard a report from Dr. John Pruitt on The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) High Schools That Work initiative.

The project involves all high schools in the state as part of a restructure movement that blends high school and technical education to improve all students preparation for academics.

Pruitt said the SREB representatives were very complimentary of the District One program at both high schools and the Career and Technology Center and the chairs of both committees stated the schools were the finest they have visited.

They also praised the extra help systems in the District which include Freshman Academies, Thursday School, Saturday School, before and after school programs, willingness of teachers to give additional assistance, credit recovery systems and summer programs.

The success of the program is the result of “teachers willingness to come in and do extra work and being able to provide transportation for these students,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt also reported on the Personal ‘Pathways to Success program, which includes career advisory and course selection.

The program includes new counselors at the three middle schools and another to be added at the high school next year, Pruitt said.

He said the Personal Pathways to Success makes education relevant and makes it come alive for the students.

Pruitt said the program begins in elementary school with students learning about professions though career awareness activities.

Students establish an individual graduation plan beginning in the 8th grade with students declaring a major based on their chosen cluster of study in the 10th grade.

They begin formulating their high school planning in the 8th grade with career tests and surveys, Pruitt said. The middle school students begin receiving feedback and individual consultaiton starting with 6th grade.

The Career Advisory CAPS helps students with what they need to take for the next year and includes input from treachers, who work with the students and parents.

Pruitt said 95% of the parents attend a conference.

Students choose a cluster in 9th grade, declare a major in 10th grade, continue in a major and update the IGP in the 11th grade and focus on post secondary goals.

In the 12th grade they complete the requirements for those majors and have opportunity for work/study or apprenticeships.

Students are not locked into a major and can make changes or have multiple majors, Pruitt said.

Williamston man arrested in cab driver murder

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office has made two arrests in conjunction with the murder of Major Ray Davenport last September.

Micahel Nathaniel Gray, a 21 year old black male, and Michael Richard Turner, a 26 year old white male, were arrested and charged with murder in the death of Davenport, an Andersoncab driver. Gray was also charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

Williamston Police Chief David Baker said he was not familiar with Turner. “He either lives outside the town limits, or he’s been staying off the radar.”

Davenport, 48, was killed on September 25 . He was found dead in his cab, which had struck a utility pole during the incident.

Deputies investigate thefts

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated several breakins and thefts from residents and businesses in the area. Among incidents investigated:

BELTON

March 4 – N. M. Mitchell was dispatched to 13922 Belton Hwy., where James Richey reported the theft from his vacant residence of several lengths of metal pipe, a green gas powered push mower and a camper shell for a truck.

EASLEY

March 3 – M. Voigt investigated a complaint of burglary at 100 Pine Rd., where Jewel Breazeale reported that someone broke into his house the night before while he was sleeping and stole $250 from his wallet in the cabinet in his kitchen. The back door had fresh pry marks and was slightly ajar when Breazeale got up next morning.

March 4 – J.J. Jacobs and M.D. Campbell investigated a complaint of petit larceny at 115 Jessie Drive, Lot #5. Amanda Belk reported that her ex-boyfriend’s brother had come over to retrieve some of his brother’s belongings.

A cousin came with him. She said they stayed for a couple hours, when she noticed the brother in her room with the door locked. He then ran out, according to Belk, putting a large wad of money in his pocket. She ran into her room and found money missing from her closet. She went out and confronted him as he and the cousin were leaving, and he allegedly cursed her and accused her of trying to keep his brother’s belongings. She reported the loss of $450.

March 4 – W.E. Gregory was dispatched to 212 Harrogate Lane, where Timothy Brady reported that someone had pried two emblems off his Ford truck, causing $200 worth of damage in the process. The emblems, valued at $150, read “F-250”and “King Ranch.”

PELZER

March 2 – J.J. Jacobs responded to 16 Finley St., where Joshua McClain stated that he had been assaulted by a white male from Piedmont. (The details of his description are redacted on the incident report, in a possible violation of the South Carolina Freedom of Information act, which states that police reports are public documents.) McClain said that the asailent then fled down McKinley Street and was in turn assaulted by an unknown third party and severely injured. McClain said that the assailant then entered a vehicle and left the scene.

Early the next morning, J.J. Hogue responded to the AnMed Center where McClain had gone for treatment of his injuries. McClain then claimed that his assailant was an unknown white male, about 40-45, six feet tall, weighing 180 pounds.

PIEDMONT

March 2 – M.D. Campbell responded to 603 Anderson St., where Sherry Beasley reported that someone had broken into a building and stolen a number of items.

March 2 – J.J. Jacobs responded to 1506 Durham Road, where David Landing reported the theft of his enclosed utility trailer valued at $10,000.

March 2 – J.J. Jacobs stopped a white Chevrolet van with SC tag #290CZC, which should have been on a 1964 Ford. The driver, Timothy Broadus Ellison, was wanted on a charge of DUS for not paying tickets. He was searched and allowed the search of his vehicle, which yielded a handgun under the seat. He was arrested for a violation of the SC gun laws and transported to ACDC.

March 4 – J.J. Jacobs was on patrol when he noticed a vehicle’s taillights showing behind the Valdez Garage. Upon checking, he found a white Honda driven by Michael Jack Martin,WM, 28, 5’11", 170 pounds, brn/blue of 2626 River Road. Martin claimed he was waiting on someone. A check of the NCIC revealed that there was an outstanding warrant on Martin for littering. Deputy M.D. Campbell arrived as back up and during a subsequent search of Martin, a handgun was found in his jacket pocket, despite his denial of having any weapons prior to the search. He was arrested and transported to ACDC.

 March 5 – J.A. Frazier received a report from Gary Brooks at 106 Sherman Court Ext. that someone had broken into his vehicle. Brooks and his son observed a white male wearing dark clothing inside the 2000 Jeep. The subject fled in a Chevy Z71 pickup, dark in color with a lot of mud on it, and a diamond plate tool box in the bed.

 

Seems to Me . . . Pointing the way

By Stan Welch

Well, based on what I’m hearing from colleagues and rivals, this is the week that everyone in the media is supposed to do their story on the first anniversary of Catergate; that infamous incident where Joey Preston and an unnamed female employee were reportedly  managed to be both intimate and public while performing certain actions. Not an easy task, but then, Mr. Preston’s considerable talents are both broad and well documented.

I, however, see little reason to revisit this incident. The aftermath of it is well known. No, the reports that the 911 tapes were altered to remove certain information that was broadcast are a fact. Furthermore, SLED is aware of this fact. Whether they choose to act on the information or suppress it is a decision only they can make. Why they have sat on the information for six months defies explanation, aside from a sinister and insulting theory that a conspiracy is afoot, and SLED is part of it. Or maybe they just want no part of it. Certainly, there are lots of people in the Anderson County power structure who would dearly love to see Catergate die a quiet death.

But I believe that SLED will finally have to question those who doctored the tapes; I further believe those questioned will eventually see the risks involved in standing near the curb, when it comes to Anderson County politics. It’s far too easy to get pushed under a bus.

Those questioned will take whatever steps they need to in order to protect themselves. This is Anderson County, after all.

Those steps will inevitably result in the Catergate house of cards collapsing. That implosion, when it comes, will be spectacular and will raise a cloud of fallout unlike any seen in Anderson County in many years.

In the meantime, let’s talk about an equally fascinating political phenomena. This political force is none other than the Diva of District Two, Councilwoman Gracie Floyd. Bombastic and flamboyant, she is famous for her mood swings, both personal and political. Substituting force of personality for a grasp of the issues, she is a crowd favorite in the Council chambers, as well as in the aisles and hallways during breaks in the action.

She has recently been acknowledged as one who points the way in Anderson County. The question naturally arises, points the way to what? 

She frequently concedes her confusion during discussions of various issues. She repeatedly asks to delay votes on various matters until she can study them enough to make an informed vote. But when Council members made the same request about a recent rewrite of an ordinance which she oversaw, she was clearly offended by their lack of confidence in her presentation.

She does not take criticism or questioning well, and frequently displays her temper to varying degrees. As mentioned above, she took obvious offense at some Council members’ audacity in raising questions about a proposed revision of the County’s animal control ordinance, which was crafted by a committee chaired by Floyd. Intended to achieve only two essential changes in language, the ordinance, as supervised by Floyd, had undergone almost six hundred changes in language when it was presented for first reading.

When Chairman Waldrep and District Seven Councilwoman Cindy Wilson raised some concerns that even all of those changes had failed to address the two issues that had led to the revisions, Floyd became incensed. She ended up suggesting that it was because she was the one presenting the ordinance that it was receiving less than automatic approbation and approval. The charge had the muffled sound of a deck of race cards being shuffled, if not actually dealt. Or perhaps the veiled reference was to the less than warm relationship she and Councilwoman Cindy Wilson have.

As the Council’s only African American member, Ms. Floyd is often forced to bear up under some unpleasant vestige of Southern life that has managed to survive till the present day. Her own swiftness in pleading on behalf of “her people” in no way lessens these burdens. Nor do her frequent exhortations to the other members that the Council is there to do what is best for the entire county prevent her from making plain spoken demands to know “what my district is getting” out of various proposals.

As one of only two women on the Council, one might expect at least occasional expressions of solidarity and sisterhood with Ms. Wilson. Instead, Ms. Floyd is frequently condescending to, and dismissive of, Ms. Wilson. Recently, when asked if she were offended by Floyd’s repeated sarcastic use of the name “honey” to refer to her during a finance committee meeting, Wilson laughed and said that was quite mild, compared to some of the things Floyd calls her.

According to witnesses, during a December executive session to discuss the sitting Council’s effort to censure Ms. Wilson, Floyd reportedly called her an epithet which Ms. Wilson refused to repeat to me.

Most recently, Chairman Waldrep came under the lash of Floyd’s tongue. As one of those questioning the animal ordinance, Waldrep tried to tell Floyd that there was nothing personal in his request for more information about the proposal. Floyd, who actually nominated Waldrep for the Council’s Chair, retorted that she did in fact take it personally and that she would see him after the meeting.

One might almost reach the conclusion that after several years of being on the winning end of the great majority of votes by the Council, that Ms. Floyd is already tiring of being on the losing end of an increasing number of votes. It is an experience likely to be repeated, as an increasingly proactive Council pursues various issues and avenues left unexplored in recent years. Seems to me that Floyd, lauded for pointing the way, may be reduced to pointing fingers in the upcoming months. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

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