News Archive

(1208) Week of Mar. 19, 2008

Voters say yes to building program
Tate returning to coach at Wren
Opposition growing for Slabtown C&D landfill
Piedmont Commissioners weed out bid process for service contracts
Local organization teams up with former NBA player
Failing pump station to be replaced early

Retired firefighter announces for Senate
Ordinace places auditor under administrator
House passes state budget
Retired firefighter announces for Senate
Tax stimulus checks should be out in May
State convention to be held in Anderson Sons of Confederate Veterans
Pelzer Historical Society receives incorporation
Sarah Drawdy makes it official
GWBA Easter egg hunt this Saturday

Voters say yes to building program

Voters in Anderson School District One made their wishes known Tuesday and approved a referendum allowing a proposed $85.75 million building program to proceed.

“The Administration and Board were very pleased to see that we had almost all of the precincts that  voted in favor of the referendum,” Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler said Wednesday. “Voters across the district from Cedar Grove to Powdersville support it,” he said.

“It tells me they see the need is there,” Dr. Fowler said. 

Fowler said that he is pleased that the voters in the District see what is best for the children of the District and that he and the Board fully expected the support for the proposal.

“They were given a choice and made a chilice for our children.”

Dr. Fowler said that with the approval for funding, the District can proceed with plans for the building program

The next step is have the two architectural firms that have already been chosen by the District begin work on the projects starting with those that are the most critical.

Those are the schools using  portables, he said. Dr. Fowler said several projects will be clustered and bid out as soon as possible.

One architectural firm is working on additions and the other is working on the Powdersville high school.

According to Dr. Fowler, if everything goes well, the District could be using the new and/or improved facilities in about 14 months.

It will take about three months for the architects to complete designs, one month to bid and another year to actually build.

“We could possibly open by next fall,” he said.

In the mean time, 14 portable classroom buildings will be brought into the District to get by.

The used portables were purchased from Greenville County, which completed a building program in recent years.

Schools that will place the portables in use include one at Palmetto Elementary; two at Cedar Grove; two at Concrete; one at Palmetto Middle and one at Wren Middle.

The remaining seven will go to Wren High School.

The building program will alleviate over crowding at Wren with a new high school in Powdersville.

The new Powdersville high school will be a 2A size school designed for 800 students.

Design and construction will take about three years. Students attending Powdersville Elementary and Middle schools will feed into the new high school.

Dr. Fowler said that the response by voters to the proposed building program shows that residents see there is a need across the District, “not only in Powdersville.”

“There is growth around us. We had to convince people that (our schools) in the area are growing.”

Dr. Fowler said that the building program does affect every school and in addition parents indicated that they were ready for improvements in athletic facilities.

Dr. Fowler said the program will meet the needs of the growing District for the next five to seven years at which point the issue will need to be revisited.

According to information provided to the District, the proposal will cost the owner of a $75,000 home $52.50 per year additional taxes or 14 cents per day.

The owner of a $100,000 home will see an additional $70 per year.

On a $125,000 home, the increase will be $87.50 and on a $150,000 home, the increase will be $105 officials said.

A complete list of details on the planned improvements and additions to each school is available online at www.thejournalonline.com.

Tate returning to coach at Wren

Wren High graduate and former Golden Hurricane football, basketball and baseball standout Jeff Tate is expected to be hired as the new head football coach and athletic director at Wren High School when the Anderson School District One Board of Trustees meet Thursday evening.

District One Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler confirmed Wednesday that Tate is being recommended for the position and that the District One Board will entertain the recommendation when they meet Thursday.

Tate has coached at nationally ranked Byrnes High School in Duncan for four years and at Spartanburg High for four years before that.

He has 28 years of coaching experience with 15 years experience involved in football playoffs and four with state championships.

In addition to football, Tate has extensive experience in baseball, coaching teams that made it to the baseball playoffs 10 years. He is a four time Region Coach of the Year, South Carolina Baseball All-Star assistant coach and former head baseball coach and has held the position of president of the SC Baseball Coaches Association.

During his career, he has coached more than 100 high school athletes who have gone on to colleges and universities.

While at Byrnes, he taught at Beech Springs Intermediate (Physical Ed. K-6), and was the Assistant Head Coach - Defensive Back Coach, going to state championships in 2004, 2005 and 2007.

While at Spartanburg High, he was the Assistant Varsity Football Coach, with one state championship in 2001. He was also the Head Baseball Coach leading the  baseball team to the Hawaiian Tropic Championship in 2003.

Prior to that Tate taught PE at Wren Middle and High between 1984 and 2000. He was also an assistant principal. He was an Assistant Varsity Football Coach and Head Track Coach, with a State runner-up track team in 1986.

At Wren High, he was the Head Baseball Coach with region championships in 1987, and consecutively 1993-1995 and 1997.

Tate is a 1988 graduate of Clemson University with a Masters in Education Administration and holds a B. A. degree in physical education from Newberry College.

Opposition growing for Slabtown C&D landfill

More than 250 people turned out for a public meeting held Tuesday at Wren High School to hear comments on a proposed C&D landfill on Hamlin Rd.

It was the second public meeting held for citizens to give input on the Greenpoint, LLC Construction, Demolition and Land-Clearing Debris (C&D) Landfill project.

Several DHEC officials were on hand to speak on the project and field questions from the crowd which overwhelmingly were opposed to the landfill.

Several elected officials including Rep. Dan Cooper and Anderson County District 6 Rep. Ron Wilson were present. Aletter from Senator Kevin L. Bryant was also read.

Cooper said that they need to know “that the neighborhood doesn’t want this landfill out there.”

In the letter Bryant stated that two pieces of legislation calling for a moratorium on existing applications and specifically on the Hamlin Rd. facility have been introduced on the State level, however are facing opposition or problems.

A statement was also read by Mark Bishop stating that the Three & Twenty Watershed Board had concerns about the impact of the facility and are unanimously opposed to it.

Anderson County Deputy Director of Environmental Services Greg Smith stated that the County was not in support of the landfill. County Principal Engineer Judy Shelto also stated that the Hamlin road is not designed for truck traffic and two bridges on the road are inadequate.

“The road does not meet the county commercial standard and is inadequate,” she said.

 A representative of the David and Floyd firm which originally did pre-permitting work for Greenpoint on their first application also presented information stating the landfill will accept inert materials, include recycling and have 8 monitoring wells on the site.

Numerous citizens spoke against the landfill, questioning the impact on the watershed, water tables, ground water, floodplains, roads and other issues.

One speaker, Brian Ledford, summed up the feeling of most of the crowd when he said, “We just don’t want your landfill. Take it somewhere else.”

The project was originally submitted for permits in 2005, but was turned down by DHEC in 2006 because it did not fit with the Anderson County Solid Waste Plan according to DHEC representative John McCain.

When appealed, an administrative law judge reversed the decision and DHEC was obligated to resume review of the project.

A second draft permit was received on Jan. 29 of this year and a public hearing held on Feb. 21.

Many residents complained about lack of notice on the process. DHEC officials said the hearing was advertised in the Anderson Independent Mail.

According to information presented by DHEC, they are not authorized to make a decision on traffic, property values, origin of waste (out of county or out of state).

They do make decisions based on buffers, seepage to groundwater, road access, stormwater and sediment control, access control, and impact to wetlands and floodplains.

McCain said that DHEC is required to monitor operational items such as waste screening and handling practices; process for covering waste; dust, odor, vector and litter control; fire prevention procedures and having an attendant on the premises.

The footprint of the landfill is 30 acres of a 200 acre tract of land which includes at least a 1000 ft. buffer to nearby residences.

According to McCain, DHEC is reviewing several issues that were raised at the last public meeting including the Anderson County land use ordinance, flood plain evaluation, evaluating wetlands and accuracy; watershed protection requirements and accuracy of property lines and an issue involving property waivers.

When questioned about dumping already occurring at the site, DHEC rep. Paul Wilkie stated that some fill debris had been brought in which contained a few small pieces that were not suitable for fill. The owners were verbally warned and put on notice that there will be close scrutiny by DHEC, Wilkie said.

Anderson County Council District Six Representative Ron Wilson stated that he was “opposed since I heard about it,” and received a round of applause when he announced that an ordinance restricting the weight limit on Hamlin Rd. was introduced to Anderson County Council (and was approved).

Written public comment on the landfill will be accepted by DHEC until April 7. Comments can be sent to Bureau of Land and Waste Management, 2600 Bull St., Columbia, SC 29201, Attention John M. McCain.

Piedmont Commissioners weed out bid process for service contracts

By Stan Welch

The Piedmont Public Service Board of Commissioners acted Monday night to strengthen the regulations concerning the bid process for the District.

The Commission voted 4-1 to consistently enforce its existing policy that calls for three bids to be obtained for any non-budgeted expense in excess of $500. That vote followed a vote not to extend an existing contract to perform additional work at the ball fields, because of questions concerning the number of bids received for the original contract.

The original work consisted of installing mulch at both  playgrounds, painting the storage building, installing a bulletin board, and pouring a concrete pad under the large picnic shelter. The contract for that work was awarded despite the receipt of only two bids. The funds were obtained through a PARD grant of $15,000 from Greenville County, and the responsibility for obtaining bids was given to recreation committee chairman Frankie Garrett.

The contract was awarded to Creamer Landscaping, who submitted the low bid, of $11,489.00, compared to the other bid of $11,900. 

Monday night, Garrett made a motion to amend the contract to spend an additional $2800 from the grant funds to install a concrete pad under the picnic shelter behind the backstop, which would also involve building a bulkhead to contain fill material.

Commissioner Marsha Rogers, who had in the past been questioned by Garrett for not getting three bids for maintenance work on the recreational facilities, asked where the other two bid proposals on that work were.

Garrett explained that he was proposing an amendment to the original contract to allow the same contractor to complete the additional work. 

During discussion of the amendment, Chairman Ed Poore stated that he felt the additional work constituted a new contract. 

Evidently the majority of Council agreed, since the motion to amend the contract died from a lack of a second. The issue of bid procedures would resurface later in the meeting.

Fire committee chairman Al McAbee reported that the department’s calls were down somewhat in February, but reminded everyone that the grass fire season is approaching.

“We’ll probably start to see more and more of those calls,” said McAbee. He also reported that the department had taken delivery on a new river rescue boat, purchased with a $35,000 DNR grant obtained with the help of Senator Billy O’Dell and State Rep. Dan Cooper.

“The additional equipment for the boat should be in within the next week or so, and once we install that, we will begin rescue training,” said Fire Chief Tracy Wallace.

Commissioner Garrett asked if three bids were obtained on the boat and equipment and was told that they were. 

Chairman Poore reported that Eliott Davis, the Commission’s external auditor had given the Commission a clean audit, meaning that the commission and department had handled the funds they managed in a manner consistent with standard accounting practices.

During unfinished business, Commissioner Marsha Rogers raised the issue of the bid process followed in awarding the contract for the park. “There were only two bids received and I’d like to know why. “ Garrett replied that he called about five people and only two responded with bids.

Rogers asked if the contract was advertised for bids, to which Garrett said he didn’t ask people who he knew didn’t have workmen’s compensation insurance.

Chairman Poore, apparently sensing a situation developing, asked Rogers, “Where are you headed with this line of inquiry, Ms. Rogers?”

“I’ll tell you where I’m going. This wasn’t advertised. People who have done work for us in the past weren’t approached about it. Was Anderson County asked about this? They have saved us lots of money in the past when we bought equipment through them. Who were the bids turned in to? Were they sealed? It seems that the second bid was just a little lower than the first, and it came in two days later.”

Rogers went on to ask whether the concrete pouring and finishing part of the contract was subcontracted. “We didn’t have a certificate of insurance from Mr. Creamer until a week after that work was done. Luckily, nothing happened but it could have. Also,  check was written to Creamer for $7422, when the terms of the proposal he submitted called for just half the cost of the picnic tables be paid in advance with the rest to be paid when the job was finished. Half the cost of the tables comes to $3133. Who authorized the higher amount without a vote of the board?”

Chief Tracy Wallace told Rogers that Garrett had presented the bill for payment and he had paid it.

Poore again tried to derail Rogers saying,  “The contractor has completed everything but putting in the tables. We have not spent any monies for which we will not receive what we paid for. We can learn from these mistakes and move forward. We can’t undo what has been done.”

Rogers said that she considered the manner in which the contract was handled to be “a clear double standard and a violation of our policy”. Commissioner Bobby Stover agreed, telling Poore, “We have a rule to get three bids on everything. Ed, you aren’t following those rules when you tell Frankie to get bids. Tracy and Craig should be handling bids and such. I make a motion that we use sealed bids, opened at  public meeting by this commission. That will keep everything above board.“

Rogers amended Stover’s motion to include requiring a spec sheet on the work to be done be provided to each bidder and that a certificate of insurance accompany each bid submitted to the Commission. The amended motion passed by a 4-1 vote with Garrett opposed.

Following that vote, the work originally proposed under Garrett’s earlier amendment was let for bid under the new procedures. 

“Mr. Creamer needs to be given the chance to resubmit his bid under the new procedure, since he has already made his price known.”

The construction of two walkways from the shelters to the track were added to the contract as well.

The Commission also voted to change the specifications for the upcoming maintenance contract at the ball fields. Rogers stated that since the Commission was now charging for the use of the ball fields, even if the lights weren’t used, she felt the field should require more care. After considerable discussion, it was approved 4-1, with Garrett opposed, to require that the field be aerated, overseeded, and fertilized twice a year.

The manner in which the contract will be handled was changed as well, when Stover moved to award the contract on a three year basis, with an annual review.

“If we like the work, we can keep the contractor at the agreed on price. If not, we can let it for bid and be done with the contractor.” The vote was 4-1, with Garrett opposed.

Chairman Poore, who consistently guided various commissioners to make their suggestions in the form of motions so they could be acted upon, asked Stover to make sure that the appropriate language be included in the contract to allow the contractor doing any chemical spraying to be the license holder and not the general contractor.

Stover had expressed his concern that a smaller business might be prevented from bidding on the job because no one in the company had the time or resources to receive spray training and certification. “He can always hire a spraying contractor who has his own license,” said Stover.

The Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners  will hold a budget workshop on Monday, April 14 at 6 p.m. 

Local organization teams up with former NBA player

By Stan Welch

It seems no matter how big a fellow gets, or how famous he becomes, when Momma calls for a helping hand, he gives it. 

That was the case last week when former NBA guard David Wesley came to Williamston to lend some star power to a Feed the Children food distribution event organized by his mother, Ramona Wesley. The event distributed food and personal items to some 400 families in the Williamston area.

Wesley, who played his college ball in his home state of Texas, Baylor University, was on hand to help load vehicles that came in and to talk to the dozens of volunteers on hand. “Momma called and said she was doing this and she wanted me to fly in and help. So here I am,” he laughed. “It’s a great cause and I was happy to do it.”

Wesley played for the New Jersey Nets, the Boston Celtics, the Hornets, and the Cleveland Cavaliers during his NBA career. “Right now, I’m taking a year off to spend with my family and decide what I want to do next,” said Wesley, in a soft Texas drawl. When told his Mom said he needs to get a job, he just chuckled. “I’ve got three daughters and a son. That is a job.”

Ted Mattison, of the Williamston Action Community Club, said his organization provided the tax exempt status needed for the Feed the Children organization to provide the supplied and coordinated with local schools to identify 440 families that received a 25 pound box of food and persnal care items. “There is real hunger in this county. Food banks struggle, Meals on Wheels struggles. There are children who go to school hungry every day in Williamston. We have to address that,” said Mattison.

Ramona Wesley said she moved to Williamston from Texas twelve years ago. “A bulldozer couldn’t get me out of here now. I love it and I love the people. But we have to help our neighbors, and that’s what Feed the Children does.”

Suzanne Wedann, of Feed the Children, the Oklahoma City based charity that sends food all over the world, said that the Williamston distribution accounted for $30,000 worth of food. “We have hungry people to feed every day of the year, everyday on every street corner. With volunteers and involved citizens like the Wesleys and Mr. Mattison, we can help out neighbors.”

“We are so grateful for David Wesley,” said Larry Jones, president and co-founder of Feed The Children. “Families in Williamston will receive food because of this generous gift of kindness. We send our most sincere ‘Thank you!’ to David!”

Founded in 1979 by Larry and Frances Jones, Feed The Children is consistently ranked as one of the 10 largest international charities in the U.S., based on private, non-government support. Feed The Children is a Christian, international, nonprofit relief organization with headquarters in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, that delivers food, medicine, clothing and other necessities to individuals, children and families who lack these essentials due to famine, war, poverty or natural disasters. In 2006, Feed The Children distributed more than 129 million pounds of food and other essentials to children and their families in all 50 states and internationally, supplementing more than 730,000 meals each day. Since its founding, the organization has reached out to help those in need in 118 countries around the globe.

Those wishing to donate to Feed The Children can call 1-800-627-4556 or go to www.feedthechildren.org.

Failing pump station to be replaced early

During a meeting held Monday, Williamston Town Council approved spending up to $99,000 for emergency repairs to a lift station that recently flooded resulting in failing pumps, motors and electrical panels.

Costs to repair the failing equipment will far exceed the cost to upgrade the facility according to the town’s sewer department head Tim Hood.

 Replacing the lift station, which is more than 20 years old, was already scheduled as part of the Town’s planned sewer system upgrade.

The system upgrade is to be funded from an RDA grant already applied for by the town, according to consultant Sonya Harrison of Goldie and Associates. The cost of the emergency upgrade will be reimbursable from the grant when the funds are made available in February of 2009.

The flooding occurred when a portion of the pump broke off resulting in the underground station being completely flooded, Hood said.

Due to the flooding, the electrical system which is located below grade, was compromised, according to Harrison.

The new pump station will have pumps and the electrical control panel located above ground.

Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. said that the pump station is hard to work in and eventually all of the town’s seven stations will need to be replaced.

The new pump station will come with a housing, according to Hood.

Cost to replace the two pumps is $23,000, the control panel  is $10,000 and meters are $20,000 for a total cost for equipment of $53,000. An additional $36,000 is estimated for construction costs.

As of Monday, one of two pumps at the facility were working. If both fail, there is the potential that raw sewage could escape into the nearby creek, Harrison said.

Harrison said approximately half of the town’s flow is through the station.

Council also approved Hood’s suggestion that an emergency bypass valve could be constructed to shut off flow if the situation warranted before the improvements could be made.

The cost of the emergecy valve is approximately $9,000 to $10,000.

“If it goes out DHEC will fine us more than the cost of the tap,” Mayor Phillip Clardy said.

Estimated total cost of the project at $91,472.

Acting on a motion by Councilman Middleton, Council approved an additional $2,500 for rental of a pump if it is needed.

Harrison said there would be additional DHEC permitting fees amounting to approximately $1000.

Clardy made a motion that up to $99,000 be approved for the total scope of the project, allowing for any additional expenditures that may come up. Up to $100,000 is reimbursable from RDA without putting out a bid, Harrison said.

Council then went into executive session to meet with a real estate attorney in connection with a land purchase for the land application the town is working on.

During a budget work session, council looked at the town’s chart of accounts, adding and deleting where necessary.

Retired firefighter announces for Senate

Retired Anderson City Firefighter, Roger Odachowski, 36, has announced his candidacy for S. C.  Senate District 4 seat currently held by Senator Billy O’Dell. 

Odachowski’s main objectives are: help in restoring the middle class, concentrating on protecting small businesses which he says are the backbone of the State economy, and allowing them to prosper; full support for public safety employees; and to fight for the rights of hard working South Carolinians which make up the majority of constituents in the district. 

On public education, he believes the success of current and future generations of students must be a priority for South Carolina’s leaders. “We need to end the shameful standard of only being required to provide a ‘minimally adequate’ education that has been limiting students’ potential for too long,” he said.

“Unfortunately, I was injured in a structure fire which ended my career as a firefighter in November, 2006 while serving the city of Anderson.  I want to continue protecting the citizens of my community through public service on another level.  I will be a full time legislator dedicated to listening to concerns of individuals in my district, providing constituent services, and working with other legislators on a bi-partisan level to insure the quality of life once again flourishes in the Upstate for all individuals.  I believe I have the best interest of South Carolinians due to the way I was raised and lived my adult life reflecting hard work, true family values and good moral judgment.”

Odachowski is President of the Anderson City Firefighters and a Vice President of the South Carolina Professional Firefighters, which advocates for the rights and safety issues of workers in South Carolina.

He is married to his high school sweetheart, Paula and they have an 11-year-old son Brandon who attends Palmetto Elementary in Williamston.

“We are heading into an economic crisis here in South Carolina where we need to come together and elect those who will stand up and do what is right for our State, our community and its People,” he said.

Ordinace places auditor under administrator

By Stan Welch

The political maneuvering that is so much a part of the Anderson County Council’s actions continued Tuesday night, centering around various financial controls and oversight measures proposed in recent weeks.

Council considered second reading approval of an ordinance designed to install additional controls over the administration of revenues which would be generated by the proposed capital projects sales tax.

The ordinance was introduced by Councilman Larry Greer at the last Council meeting, after the CPST Commission Chairman, David Jones, told him that public distrust of the county administration was a major impediment to the public acceptance of the proposed one cent sales tax.

One of the additional controls proposed is an oversight committee to monitor the expenditures of the approximately $148 million the tax is expected to generate. The original proposal to appoint a three man committee, including the chairman and vice chairman of the CPST Commission, was not acceptable to Councilwoman Floyd, who noted that both the Chair and Vice Chair are from the Belton area, which is in Greer’s district.

“I know Anderson County, and because of some of the things I know, I would sleep better knowing my district is represented and has someone watching over their interests,” said Floyd. She proposed instead that each Council member appoint a person to the committee, with the serving CPST chairman chairing the committee as well.

 After considerable discussion, Greer pointed out that there are inherent problems with committees composed of an even number of members, mainly the possibility of tie votes. Councilman Waldrep offered an amendment to Floyd’s amendment which reduced the number of committee members to seven, and allowed the committee to name its own chairman. That amendment was accepted and the ordinance was given second reading approval.

That ordinance also included a provision for an internal auditor for that committee, a concept that fared less well when proposed for the County council itself.

At the last Council meeting, Councilwoman Cindy Wilson asked that a resolution be prepared that would establish the position of an internal auditor who would report only to the Council, and could be hired and fired by them.

Tuesday night, she was presented with a proposed ordinance that would have placed the auditor under the county administrator’s control. Both she and Councilman Bob Waldrep made it plain that such a result was never their purpose.

“It was the original intent that the internal auditor would answer to Council. If we are simply planning to add another employee that I can’t talk to, we are wasting a lot of time,” he said. “And money,” added Wilson.

Chairman Michael Thompson responded, saying, “I began this part of the agenda by explaining that Ms. Wilson had asked for a certain approach to this issue, and added that a majority of the Council had voted to instruct the county attorney to produce an ordinance that was legal.

Opinions issued by the Attorney General’s office is that such a position would come under the county administrator, and this ordinance reflects that. Since I made it clear that Ms. Wilson is no longer the sponsor of this ordinance, she cannot now remove it from the agenda.”

Wilson said that she had spoken with McNair Law Firm attorney Adam Artigliere last week and told him what she was looking for in terms of the ordinance. She also read from the state code which provides what she considers an override clause that gives council the authority to establish and supervise such a position.

“Other counties maintain such an independent auditor, and also have their county attorney under their direct oversight and control. They find it offers a much better system of checks and balances. The fact that these counties do it this way indicates that we could too. In fact we did at one time.”

Wilson questioned what she sees as a conflict of interest by the McNair Law Firm attorneys who represent the county while their fellow McNair attorneys represented a major developer who was seeking concessions from the County. She also asked for an apology from the county attorney for completely changing the nature of the ordinance she requested. Said apology was not forthcoming.

Waldrep addressed County Attorney Tom Martin, saying, “The threshold question is whether or not this Council has the authority to an auditor. Is it your law firm’s position that they do not?”

Martin conceded that was true. “I challenge your firm’s opinion, Mr. Martin. This may have to be more fully tested,” said Waldrep.

Greer then made a motion to table the proposed ordinance while the county attorney sought an opinion from the Attorney General. The vote was unanimous. (Editor’s note: District Six councilman Ron Wilson was absent. He attended a public meeting concerning a proposed C&D landfill in his district.)

Wilson also proposed a resolution seeking Council’s support in instructing the County’s external auditor, Greene, Finney & Horton, to perform agreed upon procedures which would result in a more thorough audit of sponsorships, contributions, reimbursements, donations and gifts to Anderson County over the last two fiscal years up to the current date, as well as an audit of credit card expenditures during that same period, and audit of the accounting methods used by the County over that same period to determine whether the County is receiving the appropriate host fees for solid waste tonnage disposed of in the Anderson Regional Landfill.

At Chairman Thompson’s behest, County Financial Director Gina Humphries reported that the auditing firm would not accept such an assignment as it was presented. “This isn’t accounting language,” said Humphries. “What we would need is to produce a letter of agreement between the auditor and the auditee as to exactly what agreed upon procedures would be involved. Then we would proceed from there.”

Wilson agreed to withdraw her motion until the language can be adjusted. Waldrep sought and received assurances from County Administrator Joey Preston that the members of Council were free to contact the external auditor themselves. “I just don’t want to go to their office and have the door slammed in my face,” said Waldrep.

Waldrep also sharply questioned Preston as to when he and Ms. Wilson would receive the copies of credit card and other financial records they had earmarked on Feb. 6 to be copied and provided to the Council members. Preston replied that he would check with the finance department.

“That really is no answer, Mr. Preston. I can never get an answer from you. Why is that? You’re always having to check with someone else.”

In other business, Council gave third reading approval to a zoning change sought for a 30 acre tract in the Williamston Mill precinct. The tract will be developed as a planned unit development.

House passes state budget

By a vote of 113 to 0, the South Carolina House of Representatives unanimously voted to pass this year’s state budget. 

“In the midst of a nation-wide economic slow down, the House rejected efforts to raise taxes and instead funded key areas of government while cutting others,” House Speaker Bobby Harrell said. “I am pleased to see the House pass a budget that addresses our state’s educational priorities, our health care concerns and focuses on key economic development tools needed to grow our state’s economy.”

This year’s budget cuts government growth by 4 ½ percent compared to last year’s budget. Since Republicans have been writing the state’s budget, government growth has been held to an average of 4 percent a year.

Dan Cooper, Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee said, “This balanced budget fully funds education and health care while cutting government spending instead of raising taxes to meet the appetite of government.”

In order to fully fund health care and prevent cuts to crucial health care services, the House utilized $100 million from a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reserve account that totaled over $270 million, leaving the agency with over $170 million still in reserves.

The funds used from the DHHS’s quarter billion dollar reserve account were only used to fund health care related items, not other areas of government.

Health, Human Services and Medicaid Subcommittee Chairman Tracy Edge said, “After reviewing the Governor’s agency budget request to use $30 million from a DHHS reserve account, the House discovered the agency was holding over a quarter of a billion dollars in reserve accounts. We expanded on the Governor’s initial use of this reserve account and fully fund health care while still leaving the agency with over $170 million in reserves.”

Speaker Harrell said, “Hard decisions had to be made. We have protected education and health care while cutting government growth by 4 ½ percent.”

Retired firefighter announces for Senate

Retired Anderson City Firefighter, Roger Odachowski, 36, has announced his candidacy for S. C.  Senate District 4 seat currently held by Senator Billy O’Dell. 

Odachowski’s main objectives are: help in restoring the middle class, concentrating on protecting small businesses which he says are the backbone of the State economy, and allowing them to prosper; full support for public safety employees; and to fight for the rights of hard working South Carolinians which make up the majority of constituents in the district. 

On public education, he believes the success of current and future generations of students must be a priority for South Carolina’s leaders. “We need to end the shameful standard of only being required to provide a ‘minimally adequate’ education that has been limiting students’ potential for too long,” he said.

“Unfortunately, I was injured in a structure fire which ended my career as a firefighter in November, 2006 while serving the city of Anderson.  I want to continue protecting the citizens of my community through public service on another level.  I will be a full time legislator dedicated to listening to concerns of individuals in my district, providing constituent services, and working with other legislators on a bi-partisan level to insure the quality of life once again flourishes in the Upstate for all individuals.  I believe I have the best interest of South Carolinians due to the way I was raised and lived my adult life reflecting hard work, true family values and good moral judgment.”

Odachowski is President of the Anderson City Firefighters and a Vice President of the South Carolina Professional Firefighters, which advocates for the rights and safety issues of workers in South Carolina.

He is married to his high school sweetheart, Paula and they have an 11-year-old son Brandon who attends Palmetto Elementary in Williamston.

“We are heading into an economic crisis here in South Carolina where we need to come together and elect those who will stand up and do what is right for our State, our community and its People,” he said.

Tax stimulus checks should be out in May

Starting in May, economic stimulus payments of up to $600 for individuals or $1,200 for married couples will be issued by the IRS based on 2007 tax returns. Parents also get $300 for each eligible child.

To receive the payments this year, people must file a 2007 tax return. The IRS will determine eligibility, figure the amount and automatically send the payment addition to taxpayers’ normal refunds.

According to the IRS, many people who are eligible for the payments may not know it. Some of these people do not file a tax return because their income is too low or their benefits are nontaxable. Because they don’t file a tax return, the IRS does not know their names or addresses.

People who do not normally file a tax return but who have at least $3,000 in qualified income may be eligible for a minimum payment of $300 for individuals or $600 for married couples.

The $3,000 must be earned from wages or self-employment or from certain benefits such as Social Security retirement, Railroad Retirement or Veterans Affairs payments to disabled veterans or veterans’ survivors. It also can be from a combination of wages and these benefits, IRS officials said.

In order to be eligible for the rebate, filers must have valid Social Security numbers for themselves and any children. Those who are claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, or who are eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, do not qualify.

The IRS is working with the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs to locate their beneficiaries who may be eligible.

IRS officials are asking churches, charities, nonprofit and government organizations to help spread the word about these payments, especially to those people who normally don’t file a tax return.

People who normally don’t file a return can use Form 1040A with minimal information. There is no need to complete all the lines on the form. 

The required details are:

Name, address, Social Security number;

Filing status, names and Social Security numbers of children;

Workers with low incomes must complete Line 7;

Recipients of certain benefits from Social Security retirement, Railroad Retirement and Veterans Affairs can report their total benefits on line 14a of Form 1040A;

Write “Economic Stimulus Payment” at the top of the paper return.

Sign the Return. 

Filers with bank accounts are urged to use direct deposit as it is the fastest way to receive stimulus payments. The payments will not be taxable nor will the payments affect any federal benefits people are receiving.

The IRS Web site, www.irs.gov, is the best source of information on economic stimulus payments. Local tax preparers are offering special rates, and in some cases free help, for persons who normally do not file an income tax form.

State convention to be held in Anderson Sons of Confederate Veterans

The South Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans selected Anderson County as the host location for their March 2009 state convention. Expected to bring $100,000 in direct economic impact, this convention will be the largest the County has hosted thus far. In recent months, Anderson County has been chosen as the destination for two additional large conventions: the 2010 National Reunion (150th anniversary convention of the SCV) and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Convention in October 2008.

“We are looking forward to bringing our convention to Anderson County in March 2009,” said SC SCV Division Commander Randy Burbage. “We anticipate a great convention in this wonderful venue.”

A delegation from Anderson County including Councilman Ron Wilson, Anderson County Administrator Joey R. Preston, Sports and Entertainment Center Director Charles Wyatt, Civic Center of Anderson Events Coordinator/Assistant Manager Dan Brawley, Anderson Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Glenn Brill and Anderson County Public Information Officer Angela Stringer pitched Anderson County as the location for the 2010 National Reunion during the 2008 Annual Convention in Mobile, Alabama. This, in turn, led to the County acquiring the 2009 SCV state convention.

“The convention industry is synonymous with significant economic impact,” said SC Representative Daniel Cooper, District 10. “Attracting convention business to our area gives us an opportunity to showcase the rich heritage, beautiful landscape and unique southern hospitality that our beautiful county has to offer. Anderson County has been a hidden treasure that the convention industry has just discovered. The County is to be commended for competing with much larger venues and winning the bids.”

“The preparation and effort to outline Anderson County’s assets in a professional format had a direct impact on being awarded this convention,” said Anderson County Councilman Ron Wilson. “Our county has the facilities and amenities to attract conventions such as the SCV. As a matter of fact, Anderson County’s presentation was so well received that the SCV requested to use it as a model for what they desired in a bid proposal.”

“The investment our team put into landing the 2010 National Reunion has resulted in millions of dollars that will flood our County over the next 2 years,” said Anderson County Administrator Joey R. Preston. “Once we pulled the information together and made our presentation to the SCV for the 2010 National Reunion proposal, we had a foundation template that we can customize for other convention/conference bids. We were able to pitch the county to the CFSA immediately after our January Upstate Sustainable Agricultural Summit, which resulted in Anderson County being chosen to host their convention this October. This weekend, we received word that we have been selected as host for the 2009 SC SCV Convention. Anderson County has much to offer as a convention destination. This is a great beginning.”

The South Carolina Division of SCV has sixty-eight chapters, or Camps, with approximately 3,500 members. Camps activities include sponsoring living history demonstrations in schools, reenactments, marking Confederate graves, preserving historic sites and supporting an annual state-wide Confederate Memorial Day observance in Columbia.

For more information about the SC Division, SCV, visit the web site: www.scscv.com. 

Seems to Me . . . Investing in the future

By Stan Welch

The voters of District One were scheduled to go to the polls this week and decide whether to approve a referendum which would implement an additional $86 million in taxes to build a new high school in the Powdersville area, as well as financing improvements at schools across the District.

Whew! Eighty-six million dollars in the current economic atmosphere? Is that smart? Can people afford that? That would result in an additional one hundred dollars a year in taxes on a house valued at $150,000.

We were paying sixty dollars a year in taxes on our property forty years ago. Today, we’re spending $700. They’re taxing us to death. We didn’t need all these fancy buildings when I was in school. These are the arguments heard from the ‘not one penny more’ crowd.

These are my answers. 

You’re durn tooting it’s smart to invest this money in our schools. In fact, such an investment is the only thing that makes sense. This district is chock full of people who worked in the mills all their lives, then found themselves with few skills and almost no options, when economic circumstances completely beyond their control cast them out of work and into the jaws of a global economy that shows no signs of reversing itself. The option of turning out minimally educated kids to use as fodder in the global fight for economic survival is no longer a valid one. It hasn’t been for a long time.

Can people afford it? For crying out loud! I get so tired of hearing that. If an extra hundred bucks a year, or the huge amount of twenty eight cents a day, is the deal breaker on whether or not to pass this referendum, the battle is already lost. We are all broke and don’t know it. Sell your $150,000 house and buy a camper to put under the service pole out by the shed.

Twenty eight cents a day? That’s a pack of gum. Skip the Saturday six pack once a month. Quit smoking. Get by with just two televisions or two cars. Dump the cable service. Ditch the cell phone. Make a small sacrifice. You make them every day for your children, but this one is too great?

To those older citizens who argue quite correctly that they don’t have children in the school systems, but still have to pay the tax to educate them, let me say that the parents of those kids are currently paying your Social Security and Medicare expenses; and those kids will continue to do so in the future. Do you want them making minimum wage or a decent living?

So taxes were much lower forty years ago. You mean back when gas was twelve cents a gallon and a car cost three grand? Back when a week’s groceries cost twenty five bucks and people made a weekly salary in the double digit range? How far away was the nearest fire department back then? The nearest EMS station? Have any roads been built since then? Notice any other improvements in the quality of life in Anderson County?

Come on folks, I know you come by your conservative Scottish penny pinching ways honestly. And there is much to admire in those ways. But there comes a time when you have to trust in the process, and this was one of those times.

Anderson County School District One has a remarkable reputation for fiscal responsibility and management. This reputation extends across the state. If you can’t or won’t trust proven leadership with additional resources, because you distrust other, less capable leadership, then you have become hostage to your own fears. To punish the students of District One for that is unacceptable and indefensible.

To that noticeable section of the population that clings to the past and wishes for a return to its supposedly simpler ways, I’m sorry. That is unrealistic to the point of delusion. The clock spins one way, and one way only. And today, in the world in which our children will live long after we are gone, every second spent trying to stem the tide of time is two seconds lost.

Seems to me we have the responsibility to prepare our children to live in a world we can’t even imagine. Consider the changes in this country and across the planet since you graduated from high school. Now, try to imagine the world these students will be living in thirty, forty, fifty years from now. It’s impossible to do.

Do you really think that we can continue to meet our responsibility to these students unless we are willing to make a major twenty eight cents a day commitment to the effort?

Pelzer Historical Society receives incorporation

The Community of Pelzer Historical Society has recently been officially incorporated according to president Beth Rostron. The organization has been instrumental in efforts to preserve the history of the Pelzer area and providing special programs related to Pelzer’s colorful past.

They also initiated an effort to have a National Historic District designated for the Pelzer area, a preservation project for sports photographs in the Historic Pelzer Gym and continue with an oral history project.

The organization participated in the Pelzer Christmas Holiday Fair and other celebrations and historic functions. The latest preservation building project is the Historic Pelzer Library on Courtney St.

The Born In Pelzer Festival that was being organized has been  postponed until further notice, organizers said.

Sarah Drawdy makes it official

By Stan Welch

More than seventy five people applauded as Sarah Drawdy announced her bid for the 10th Circuit Solicitor’s Office at Tucker’s Restaurant in Anderson Monday.

Just an hour earlier, incumbent Solicitor Chrissy Adams had announced her bid for re-election on the steps of the Courthouse, and Drawdy wasted no time in stating the differences between their approaches.

“Chrissy Adams is a part time solicitor, when it should be a full time job. She has not cut court time, she has slashed it. She cut it from 42 weeks a year to 26 and she has pled case after case that begs to be prosecuted and won. Have any of you gotten a refund on your taxes since the Solicitor’s job is part time now? No, and there is no refund, because that court time was paid for whether she got it or not.”

In support of her argument about Adams’ desultory prosecutorial style, Drawdy had a display of actual sentencing documents from Adams term, which showed a number of sex offenders who received probation at Adams’ recommendation.

“Do you know what probation is?” asked Drawdy. “It’s freedom. It means a convicted sex offender has to check in once a month with a probation officer. The rest of the time, he’s out walking around with your kids. I will prosecute those people and send them where they belong, to prison. Probation for child molesters must stop,” she said to loud applause.

Drawdy, who worked under former solicitor Druanne White, also says that illegal immigrants need to be tried and deported if caught committing crimes. “Do you think someone who came here illegally to sell drugs illegally is going to meekly report to his probation officer? These people should be tried, and if convicted, they should be deported. That is my goal as Solicitor.”

“A big topic of discussion this election year is the new jail. Most of those in the jail are waiting on trials. That’s because of the court time situation. Court time means time when a judge is sitting on the bench. Without court time, nothing can happen except that cases can be dismissed. I’m not running to dismiss cases or plea every case I can. I’m running to send bad guys to jail and to give the victims of crime some hope that they will receive justice,” said Drawdy.

She also stated her intention of starting a check court. “This is a win/win. My office would issue letters to bad check writers giving them thirty days to come to my office and retrieve the bad check. They make the check good, they pay the bad check fee, and they pay a fifty dollar fine. Or we issue a warrant and they go to jail. This court works. In Spartanburg, they took in nearly a million dollars in restitution and service fees for area businesses victimized by bad checks, while taking in almost a half million for the general fund of the county. And it won’t take me three years to get this up and running, like Ms. Adams and her drug court. I’ll have it in place in my first month in office.”

So far, Drawdy and Adams are the only candidates for the Solicitor’s race.

GWBA Easter egg hunt Saturday

The Greater Williamston Business Association will sponsor the annual Easter Egg Hunt for ages 10 and under on Saturday, March 22, in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park. The event was postponed from last Saturday due to threatening weather.

Ages and time schedules are as follows: under three - 9:30 a.m., ages four and five - 10 a.m., ages six and seven - 10:30 a.m., and ages eight to ten - 11 a.m.

Drawings for prizes and grand prizes will be held for each age group. At the conclusion of the last hunt, a drawing will be held for a grand prize, a $100 gift certificate from Toys “R” Us.

Dr. Marion Williams, who heads the project for the GWBA, stated that the event is held each year for the kids and is not for profit.  The event will include other activities and parents are invited to take pictures with the Easter Bunny.

 

 

 

 

 

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