News Archive

(1305) Week of Mar. 30, 2005

Week of Mar. 30, 2005

Martin asked to resign, Baker named police chief
Baker named Chief of Police
Dees presents check
Piedmont Commissioners set bid, budget workshop
West Pelzer approves annexation, police services
NASTAR racing results in top 10 ranking for area skier
Foster care provider charged in infant death
Thieves strike homes, vehicles
Zoning board approves tower
Filing raises questions on requirement deadlines
Concert to benefit Children’s Hospital April 1
Columbia trip being planned

Martin asked to resign, Baker named police chief

At the request of Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy, Williamston Police Chief Troy R. Martin resigned Saturday from the position he has held for two years. He was replaced almost immediately by David A. Baker, a Captain in the department who was officially sworn into the position of  Chief at 9 a.m. Monday morning.

In a news release issued Monday, Clardy said he asked for Martin's resignation based on his opinion that the progress of Chief Martin's administration had reached its potential for the Williamston Police Department.

Mayor Clardy said Monday that it was his decision and that Council unanimously supported him on it. He stressed that Martin was not asked to resign because of something he had done wrong.

"I decided that Troy Martin had gone as far as he could with the department," Mayor Clardy said. "He wanted to go in one direction and I and Council wanted to go in a different direction."

In the release, Clardy stated, "Chief Martin accomplished many tasks for the Williamston Police Department over his two-year tenure, and brought a renewed challenge for this department. We wish him well for his future.”

Though Mayor Clardy and Council members Cecil Cothran and Otis Scott wouldn’t give specific reasons for Martin being asked to resign, they did give glimpses.

Comments made by Councilman Scott indicated that turnover in the department and low morale were primary reasons for the change.

Scott said that officers in the department couldn’t get along with the former chief and that there were major morale problems within the department.

Scott said he confronted Martin about the situation during a lengthy executive session held during the last meeting of Council.

“He didn’t seem to think there was a problem,” Scott said.

Scott said that he set up a meeting with the mayor to discuss the situation prior to the mayor asking for Martin’s resignation last week.

Martin turned in his resignation about 5:30 p.m. Saturday and cleared out his office and personal belongings Saturday and Sunday, according to the mayor.

Mayor Clardy said he had contacted Captain Baker on Friday, telling him there may be a potential change. Baker was notified Saturday that he was the acting chief,until being sworn in as Chief of Police on Monday.

During a news conference held Monday at noon, the Mayor said  they were not looking back but looking forward.

He said the change was not the result of a blowup or other cause, but had to do with several issues over a period of time.

“Chief Martin came in a very difficult time and he had a vision and a goal. We have been working hand in hand and progress came to its fruition,” the mayor said.

The mayor also said he had different directives and saw things differently.

Clardy said he and the former chief had a conversation on Saturday after which he asked for the resignation, to which Martin obliged.

Clardy said a priority is the safety of the town which he said “was a concern of mine and council.”

Clardy reiterated that the resignation had no bearing on a single employee, but was the result of things over a period of time, and a difference in philosophies. He said the request was made in the best interest of the town and council.

Baker was sworn in as chief by Municiapal Judge James M. Cox during a ceremony Monday morning. His wife Paige and two young sons were also present.

During the noon press conference, Baker said he saw the situation as an opportunity for “myself and the department.”

“I have made Williamston my home, I am a part of the town and the community. I am looking forward to working here,” he said.

Baker said as Chief he would concentrate on crime prevention and law enforcement.

He said he plans to lead by example and that he has a staff of excellent men and women whom he said he thinks will prove to be a service to the town.

“Community involvement will be a big part of this department,” he said.

When asked about turnover in the department, Mayor Clardy said the department had turnover of approximately 25 officers during Martin’s two year tenure.

According to the mayor, the turnover in the department was partially disciplinary, which he described as “in the best interest of the department and the town.”

Other turnover was the result of officers going to work for the sheriff’s department following the recent election, he said.

Others he admitted, “were the result of a conflict of philosophy, and personality  with the former chief,” he said.

Baker also said morale was a problem but declined to elaborate on the past, instead focusing on the future of the department.

“With change comes opportunity, not just with me but with the department,” he said. “Morale wise, it is looking good. I’m not looking at the past, but looking to the future.”

Mayor Clardy said the department will continue with efforts begun under Martin which include working toward state accreditation, making the office one  other departments can look up to, continuing the reserve program and having the facility recognized as a regional training facility.

Chief Baker said the reserve program will continue and will be a “great asset” to the department and the community because most of the reserves have professional training.

Responding to questions during the news conference, Baker said he would look into specifics of the reserve program.

Baker said he planned to familiarize himself with the duties and guidelines for reserves and “will stay within those guidelines.”

During the news conference, Clardy said he wanted the department to be exposed to other law enforcement opportunities and praised the former chief.

“He is an excellent administrator, and would be more effective in another larger department,” the mayor said.

Clardy stated that the decision to ask for the resignation was not the result of a single complaint or  incident.

“It was not based on pressure or emotion,” he said, “but was with cause.”

Chief Baker said  under his leadership, the department would have “a new and different perspective and attitude of cooperation with the press and the community.”

Councilman Cecil Cothran said he and other members of Council support the mayor on the decision. “I think we are all in agreement with what’s going on.”

Cothran said the labor turnover was out of control and morale “as low as you can get,” in the department.

Councilman Scott said Martin had done some good things but also said morale was low. “We tried to talk to him, he wouldn’t listen,” he said.

Scott said he stands behind  the mayor’s decision and the person he chose as the new chief  “100 percent.”

Baker named Chief of Police

David A. Baker, 35, a Captain with the Williamston Police Department for two years, and a member of the department since January 1998, was sworn as Chief of Police on March 28.

Municipal Judge James M. Cox administered the oath of office in the mayor’s office of the Williamston Municipal Center while Baker’s wife Paige held the Bible.

He was joined by their two children, Jay, age, 10 and Andrew, age 5. Paige is a teacher at Wren.

“We welcome Chief Baker’s leadership skills and abilities that he has demonstrated over the last eight years with the department in this new and exciting capacity,” Mayor Phillip Clardy said.

“With change comes opportunity,” Baker said. “I am looking forward to working together. The department will do some good things.”

Baker said there are very skilled and qualified people currently in the department, and he plans to use their special training and skills in serving the community.

“They have diverse training,” he said. “Some with training we havent’t been able to take advantage of.”

The new chief said he will have set office hours, working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and will be available before and after those times if necessary.

“My door is open to anyone in the department or the community,” he said.

He also said the Department belongs to the town and he wants the community to be a part of law enforcement in Williamston.

“Community involvement will be a big part of this department,” he said.

“You are our eyes and ears,” he said. “Voices should be heard. We count  on them to carry out our mission.”

“With change comes opportunity,” Baker said. “This is an opportunity for the department as well as the community.”

Baker said he has made Williamston his home and he is glad to be a part of the town and the community.

He said the new job has additional responsibilities and will be a challenge which he is looking forward to.

He said the department will focus on safety, crime prevention and law enforcement and he will lead by example.

“With our staff and a fantastic community, we will be just fine,” he said.

“I am looking forward to the future We will work together to make this an effective and efficient police department,” he said.

Dees presents check

Anderson County Councilman Bill Dees presented a check for $5,800 dollars recently to the Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners.  County Council approved the funds to help Piedmont make further improvements to the Thomas C. Pack, Jr. Memorial Field. The check was presented during the Board’s monthly meeting March 21 at the Piedmont Fire Station located at 3 Hwy. 86 in Piedmont.

 “Bill Dees has been wonderful to us and we appreciate everything he has done for Piedmont and the ballpark,” said Marsha Rogers, Piedmont Service District Board of Commissioners Chairperson.

The Thomas C. Pack, Jr. Memorial Field was built in the 1930’s by the Piedmont Manufacturing’s textile mill league baseball team.  Later, Piedmont Manufacturing became part of J.P. Stevens. 

When Stevens closed operations in Piedmont, the Piedmont Improvement Association assumed care of the field.  During the past ten years, they have installed a walking track and playground, replaced the fencing, built a new concession stand and restroom facility and paved the parking lot. 

Current goals are to construct new benches.  

Piedmont Commissioners set bid, budget workshop

Members of the Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners  accepted a $5,800 check from Anderson County Councilman Bill Dees, to help with improvements being made at the Tom C. Pack Park ballfield in Piedmont.

Recent improvements to the facility include adding four new bleachers around the track, two new bleachers in the dugouts, and two new children’s benches, a red gorilla and a blue elephant.

Commissioners accepted the check during a presentation made by Dees at the start of the March 21 meeting.

Commissioners then heard a presentation by engineer John Pruitt updating the sewer situation in Piedmont.

Pruitt said the Management Operations Maintenance Program under which the District is operating calls for a routine maintenance program. Once the program is in effect for 12 months, Pruitt said Piedmont officials could ask that the mandatory requirements be terminated.

 He said the District is presently under a consent order which mandates routine line cleaning and inspection as part of the program.

The goal is to service 20 percent of the system each year, using high pressure and a vaccum system, covering the whole system over a 5 year period.

Pruitt said preventive maintenance will also help avoid overflows and stoppage within the system.

A TV camera inspection program which covers approximately 10,000 to 12,000 feet of line is also part of the routine maintenance program.

According to Pruitt, Western Carolina Sewer requirements include controlling inflow and infiltration from storm water runoff.

He said the requirements are being made to  avoid using capacity at a new plant planned in the area.

The Western Carolina agreement also requires a timeline for a work plan for cleaning and reducing inflow and infiltration in the system.

He said a lot of the requirements are the same as the EPA mandates.

He said Western Carolina  has the option of limiting connections and putting a moratorium on the workflow if improvements are not made.

Pruitt said the District will look for grants and may have to consider a user fee.

Pruitt said the first round of maintenance cost about $28,000 and included some repetitive work where gravel, sand and rocks had settled into a portion of the system.

He said the next sewer line cleaning would be on a per foot basis and will be followed by monthly and/or weekly inspections, continuing the rehabilitation program.

Pruitt said problems in the system include water coming through the brick walls of manholes and pipe being misaligned or broken.

Pruitt told the Board that 5 manholes and approximately 1000 ft. of line will need to be replaced.

“It is best to find and fix a problem, he said. “not just satisfying Western Carolina and EPA.”

“We are trying to improve the system and serve the town, and protect the environment too,” he said.

Pruitt said the District should continue the rehab program over the next four years to “show how you are going to maintain it.”

Pruitt said rehab alternatives may include new lining technologies which he said are less costly because there is no excavating or replacing lines.

In other business, the board also discussed ethics questions involving hiring of relatives of Board Chair Marsha Rogers to do work for the district.

(See story in last week’s Journal on online at www.thejournalonline.com)

Acting on a motion by Commissioner Rudy Rhodes following the discussion, the board unanimously approved allowing Tommy Rogers to continue upkeep and maintenance at the ballpark and to post the job at the end of the year for qualified persons to bid on. Chair Marsha Rogers abstained from the vote.

A motion by Frankie Garrett to sell the assistant chief’s vehicle, died for lack of second.

Commissioners opened sealed bids for installation of siding and an alarm system at the community building.

It was decided that a workshop was needed to evaluate the bids because of discrepancies in the quotes.

The District has approximately $16,000 obtained through a Greenville County Recreation Grant that will go toward the project, officials said.

The workshop was set for Thursday, April 7 at 6 p.m. and will also include budget discussions.

Secretary Craig Lawless said that tax figures will be available by that time.

Commissioner Al McAbee reported that the Fire Department responded to 5 street calls, 2 grass, 3 vehicles, 19 medical, 1 mutual aid, 6 sewer and 1 street light call for a total of 37 calls.

McAbee praised the Piedmont Fire Department and other firefighters who responded to  a house fire on Golf Course Road. The fire would not vent, resulted in more than 60 firefighters from area departments including South Greenville, Donaldson Center, West Pelzer, Wren and Dunklin Fire Departments either responding or on call all night.

The Piedmont Fire Department initially responded to the fire which was burning along the floor and would not vent or burst into flames because of tight construction of the home, according to McAbee.

The result was firefighters used more air bottles than ever before while on the call. McAbee said at least 30 air bottles were used by firefighters during the fire and other departments brought in portable fill tanks.

The blaze was an example of how mutual aid agreements between local departments work, McAbee said.

The next regular meeting of the Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners will be on the third Monday, April 18 at 7 p.m. First reading on the new budget is planned.

West Pelzer approves annexation, police services

By Stan Welch

West Pelzer Town Council met on March 21, and moved closer to annexing two tracts of land and providing limited police service to the Town of Pelzer.

The two parcels are adjacent to each other on Mill Street. One is owned by a resident of the town, while the other is land owned by the town at the sewer plant. First reading approval of the ordinances that will allow annexation was unanimous.

The town also gave second reading approval to an agreement by which the town provides police services to Pelzer as well, for a monthly fee of $1500, payable on the first of each month.

Effective April 1st, the West Pelzer Police Department will begin patrols inside Pelzer’s municipal limits. Streets included are most of Lebby Street, Anderson Street, Pelzer Park Street, parts of Hale Street and parts of Reed Street. Also included is Pelzer Park, Hopkins Park ball fields and the Pelzer Pool. Coverage outside the municipal limits will continue to be under the jurisdiction of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

Council also heard several complaints from Charles Hood, a postman in the town. He asked that the town enforce their leash laws by any means necessary. Following considerable discussion of the problem, public works director Mike Mahaffey asked that the town replace a tranquilizer dart gun that was stolen from the town hall several months ago.

Mahaffey referred to a recent incident where a raccoon and a dog were in a fight on Tasha Street. The coon was killed and tested for rabies. It tested positive, leading to the dog’s humane destruction when it was found to be unvaccinated.

The price of the gun was quoted at $585 and tax. Councilman Joe Turner made a motion to purchase the gun and whatever supplies were needed. The vote was unanimous.

Hood complained about people piling their garbage up around or near their mailboxes, citing the filth and smell.

“I’ll tell you, in the summer time, that’s no fun,” he said.

He also reported that a number of businesses in town were not handicapped accessible, as required by federal law.

“Now, you all know my son is handicapped and in a wheel chair. There are a lot of businesses that he can’t get into. I was told at one restaurant that he could come in the back door, through the kitchen. Well, his money is as good as anyone else’s. The town needs to step up on this and make these businesses aware of this,” he said.

Councilman Joe Turner, who is also in a wheel chair, agreed and promised to provide the town with the pertinent federal and state laws so that they could look into the problem.

Mayor Peggy Paxton reported that Town Clerk Beth Elgin had been awarded a three year scholarship by the Municipal Financial Officers, Clerks and Treasurers’ association in the amount of $1,200.

Elgin will attend two special sessions per year for three years. She recently attended the first of six sessions that will be held over the next three years.

“There was a tremendous amount of information available,” she said. We had sessions on funding sources and how to access them, wage laws and employee liability, how to deal with various employee issues, disaster recovery for town records, different accounting procedures, Freedom Of Information laws, even how to make friends of reporters. The whole three days was like that. There is no time to get bored,” Elgin said.

Elgin is attending on a scholarship, which pays the full tuition cost of $1,200.

“We’re very proud that Beth was chosen. She really works hard for the town, and this will help her even more,” said Mayor Paxton.

Mayor Paxton recapped her appearance several weeks ago before the Anderson County council seeking approximately $60,000 in funding for several critical needs the town has. Chief among those concerns, now that the town has received $29,000 in matching funds for the water line improvements, is $10,000 to be used in upgrading the town’s utility billing system.

“That is really a crucial need for us right now. It will make everything so much easier, especially when we tie onto Western Carolina Water’s lines,” she said.

Other requests include funding for ground  penetrating radar for easier water and sewer line inspection and repair; a pump for the Spring St. lift station; an asphalt roller for road work; repairs to a sewer machine; and  meth lab safety equipment, some of which can be used to meet OSHA safety requirements within the sewer system as well. She also asked for an additional $20,000 or a used dump truck for the town.

“So far, I haven’t heard anything back, but I believe they are starting their budget process soon, so we’re still optimistic,” said the Mayor in an interview after the meeting.

She also responded to comments by Councilman Turner that he had been told that the mayor and the police chief had been seen in Myrtle Beach a month or so ago in the town’s police car.

“I don’t know why that comment was made, unless it was just to try and degrade my character in front of the people who were there,” said the mayor.

Turner raised the issue during Council’s comment period at the end of the meeting. “I just wanted to tell you we don’t have a ride along program in West Pelzer. That police car shouldn’t have been in Myrtle Beach.”

The mayor told Turner during the meeting that she had not been to Myrtle Beach, and if the police chief was it was while he was at a training seminar.

“I can’t recall exactly when he went down there, but it was on town business,” she said.

Turner, in a telephone interview the next day, conceded that he had no hard evidence that the police car was in Myrtle Beach.

“I’m just going by what I was told by some people who saw the town clerk, the mayor and the police chief in that car. But it could of been coming from Hilton Head, I don’t know.”

When asked to pinpoint the car’s location when it was seen, he finally conceded that it was reported to have been on Highway 418.

“Like I say, I’m just going by what I was told,” he repeated.

NASTAR racing results in top 10 ranking for area skier

Pelzer’s Hunter Brooking likes cold weather. In fact he anticipates each winter season, because cold weather means snow ski season, and ski season means race season.

Brooking, a sophomore at Palmetto High School, has been competing in NASTAR ski racing for 3 years,

He participates in giant slalom and slalom races, earning points that have him ranked 10th out of 45 in the intermediate national results listed on the NASTAR web site.

Brooking participates in NASTAR sanctioned events at ski resorts throughout the season, and must compete in at least five races held on separated days to be ranked.

During the 2004-2005 season, he raced 20 times and is ranked number one in the state of South Carolina. His results have put him first in the Crescent Ski Council, the south eastern ski organization under which he races. The Crescent Ski Council includes 23 ski clubs in the South East, Brooking is a member of the Palmetto Ski and Outing Club in Greenville.

NASTAR races are held at ski resorts throughout the country. Brooking competes at Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain and Appalachian in Boone, North Carolina and Timberline and most recently at Silvercreek/Snowshoe in West Virginia.

Developed by SKI Magazine in 1968, NASTAR (NAtional STAndard Race) is the largest recreational ski and snowboard race program in the world. Skiers are ranked based on their times compared to U. S. Ski Team skier Darren Rahlves, the pacesetter for this year.

The organization provides a competitive racing program with a handicap system that allows racers of all ages and abilities a way to compare themselves with one another regardless of when and where they race.

Racers receive a resort ranking, state ranking and national ranking in the age & gender category in their Division. Divisions include beginner, intermediate and expert.

There are also two participation rankings based on the number of days raced and the number of results recorded during the season.

The sport of ski racing has allowed Brooking to train at junior racing camps with ski legend Billy Kidd, the first American male alpine racer to win an Olympic medal. Kidd won his silver medal at Innsbruck, Austria in 1964. He is currently Director of Skiing at Steamboat in Colorado.

Brooking races in the male 15-16 intermediate category.

He is ranked 2nd at Timberline and 3rd at Sugar Mountain.

He is ranked 10th on the national level for his division. Overall, he is ranked in the top third of all NASTAR racers in his age and division nationally.

He qualified 2nd in team points in the Crescent Ski Council, just missing an all expense paid trip to finish out the season at the National Championships in Steamboat Colorado.

Anyone can race according to Hunter’s dad, Woody Brooking, who is a member of the club and has competed in NASTAR races.

Anyone interested in racing or just skiing,  is invited to check out the Palmetto Ski and Outing Club online at psoc.org or call 947-1258 for information.

The Palmetto Ski & Outing Club meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Quality Inn - 1314 S Pleasantburg Dr (SR 291 off I-85) in Greenville.

The PSOC Board meets at 6 p.m. before club meetings and all members are welcome to attend. First time guests are admitted free.

Foster care provider charged in infant death

By Stan Welch

Three days after the death of a seven month old infant, Anderson County Sheriff’s investigators arrested the child’s 61 year old foster mother for her death.

According to authorities, on Easter Sunday, someone at the residence of Lillian A. Sims, of 123 Compton Road, Belton, between Williamston and Belton, placed a 911 call.

Responding EMS personnel found the infant, Shaquala Mance unresponsive and in cardiac arrest. They transported her to the Anderson Area Medical Center where she was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

On Tuesday, March 29, Sims was taken into custody and charged with homicide by child abuse. The warrant was issued by the 10th Circuit’s Solicitor’s Office, following what Sheriff Crenshaw described as a “very concentrated investigation” by officials from the Sheriff’s office, the Solicitor’s Office, the Coroner’s Office, and the Department of Social Services.

The warrant states that “The defendant did on or between 3/19/05 and 3/27/05 cause the death of Shaquala Mance . . .  and did manifest extreme indifference to this human life by failing to provide medical treatment and causing a series of injuries that led to the death of this child. This defendant has provided a written statement.”

A second infant less than a year old, also in foster care, was removed from Sims’ home on Sunday. That child, following a medical examination  which showed no evidence of harm or injury, has been placed with a different set of foster parents.

According to DSS official Rick Hane, the deceased child was born September 1, 2004. She was immediately placed in foster care, though she did not come under Sims’ care until January of this year. Sims has been in the foster care system for approximately 18 months, according to Hane.

The deceased child’s parents were identified as Christy Mance and James Dawson, both of Anderson. They last saw their daughter on the Thursday before her death, and have since described to investigators a visible bump on the child’s head. Coroner Greg Shore stated at Tuesday’s press conference that the bump itself did not cause the child’s death.

“The autopsy indicates that whatever caused the bump also resulted in a mild concussion, which may have caused the child to be irritable, possibly resulting in subsequent actions which led to the child’s death.”

Shore said that the injuries, determined by an autopsy performed by Dr. Bret Woodard, included swelling and edema of the brain, and are very similar to injuries seen in cases of shaken baby syndrome.

Shore explained that an autopsy is routinely performed on any person under the age of 16 who dies in Anderson County to determine the cause of death.

Hane, speaking in defense of the foster care system, said, “This is a very sad and painful day for us. DSS is an agency made up of people who love children. We are extending our condolences both privately and publicly to the child’s family.”

He went on  to say that Anderson County currently has approximately 270 children in need of foster care. At the same time, there are 83 sets of foster parents available.

“We place well over half our children in homes outside Anderson County, away from friends and family. Imagine how that complicates a child’s ability to overcome an abusive past. We need more foster parents, not less. I just want to reassure people that this is an uncommon and unfortunate circumstance,” said Hane.

Thieves strike homes, vehicles

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated several thefts throughout the area. Among incidents investigated were the following:

PELZER

March 18  - Deputy J.J. Jacobs investigated the theft of a 12 foot single axle utility trailer from the home of Rebecca Kaiser, of 100 Easley Hwy. The trailer, which contained a large fireproof tent, a popcorn kettle, coolers, drinks, and electrical equipment, was gray with a yellow Iowa tag. The total value of the trailer and supplies was $14,500.

March 18 - Deputy R.R. Rector responded to a call at mini warehouses located at 980 Beaverdam Road. Jennifer Valentine reported that approximately $330 worth of clothing and jewelry was stolen from her unit. Two days later, on March 20, Rector returned to the mini warehouses, where Jennifer Meredith reported the theft of clothing and other items valued at $4,300 from her unit.

March 18 - Deputies R.R. Rector, J.J. Jacobs, and D.W. Cunningham investigated a reported assault. According to the victims, a family argument began, and the suspect hit both his brothers with a metal pipe, which was found at the scene. Both men showed evidence of being assaulted.

March 20 - Deputy J.A. Frazier investigated the theft of a red Homelite chainsaw, in the case, as well as a yellow Milwaukee sawzall in a red case from an ambulance at the Pelzer EMS station at 141 Lebby Street. Wesley Duckett reported the theft.

March 23- Deputy J.A. Frazier investigated a report of theft by Frances Singleton, who stated that she was approached by a man and  woman while shopping in Bi-Lo. The woman asked her about various ingredients for a recipe. Reports state while Singleton was distracted, the male removed her wallet from the purse she had in the grocery cart. He was described as a white male, age 25, 6 feet tall and weighing 170 pounds. Singleton’s wallet reportedly contained $800 at the time.

March 23 - Deputy J.D. Shelton investigated a report of burglary and breaking and entering by Johnny Chappell, of 460 Looper Road. Chappell reported that jewelry and over a dozen handguns were stolen from his home. He valued the items at $26,000.

March 23 - Deputy R.S. Turner investigated a report of theft by Shone Davis. Davis reported that his neighbor called him and told him that she had seen a man ring Davis’s doorbell, then when there was no answer, the man went went inside. He took a red tool box and an air tank and loaded them into a gold colored SUV and left. The man was described only as a white male.

PIEDMONT

March 11 - Deputy J.J. Jacobs investigated a report by Sharon Powell of 105 Bryan Abbey that  a diamond ring worth $7,000, as well as her wallet, had been stolen from her home.

March 18 - Deputies J.J. Jacobs and R.R. Rector investigated a complaint from Sandra Russ, of 415 Wren Road, that someone tried to steal her 2001 Buick Regal, damaging the ignition plate in the process. That same day, Jacobs also received a complaint by Brett Coleman of 1234 David Road, that someone had tried to steal his Nissan Frontier, damaging the ignition plate in the process.

March 19 - Deputy R.R. Rector responded to a complaint by Michelle Williford that a white male in his 30’s stole her purse from her car, then drove off in a faded 80s model car with a woman in it. The woman appeared to be in her 70’s.

March 20 - Deputy D.B. Anderson received a report from Mike Erkens of 1218 Davis Road that someone had stolen his dark green 1996 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.

March 20 - Deputy R.R. Rector investigated a report by Pink McCoy that 2 white males were seen in a blue Cadillac near his home. He approached them and they drove off. He later found some of his tools missing.

March 23 - Deputies R.D. Smith and A. Digirilamo responded to a complaint of attempted auto theft. Sandra Long, of 14 Archie Street, reported that someone tried to steal her car, damaging the ignition plate in the proccess.

WILLIAMSTON

March 23 - Deputies R.R. Rector and F.D. Sherrod responded to the Anderson Travel Center on Hwy. 81. Pamela Jenkins, who works there, reported that her boyfriend Edward Massingale, 33, of Pendleton had come to her work place and tried to drag her into his car. Massingale was still on the scene, and admitted trying to force her into the vehicle. He was charged with simple assault.

Zoning board approves tower

By Stan Welch

  The latest step in the county’s efforts to upgrade their communications system was approved this week by  the Land Use and Zoning Board of Appeals. The Board unanimously granted a variance for the construction of a 430 foot high radio tower, which will be an integral part of the County’s proposed 800 MHz communications system.

 Steve Newton, of the County Planning Department, explained that the requested variance met the criteria set by county regulations.

“A tower of 300 feet is already allowed in this area, which is zoned commercial. However, the setbacks for the additional 130 feet cannot be met. Without the variance, this site cannot accommodate the tower. The altitude of this site is essential in allowing for the maximum coverage by transmissions.”

He added that a Verizon tower is already established in the area, and that efforts to use that tower as an alternative were unsuccessful. The additional altitude is essential to provide the extra range of transmission, according to Newton and Thompson.

The variance extended to three sides of the proposed site: 170 feet to the east, 45 feet to the north, and 260 feet to the west. A public hearing was opened for comment on the request. No one spoke in opposition. Director of Emergency services Tommy Thompson spoke briefly in support of the request.

Board member Dan Harvell asked if there were any homes at risk in the event  the tower fell. He was told that there are currently no structures at risk at the proposed site, which is located at 3516 Hwy. 29 North in the Bowling Green district.

The Board also unanimously approved a variance for a proposed water storage tank to be built as part of  the Homeland Park Water and Sewer system. The tower will be 130 feet tall, or 100 feet higher than current regulations allows. The tower will be located at the corner of  Murray Avenue and Hwy. 29 South.

Filing raises questions on requirement deadlines

By Stan Welch

 An effort by a member of the West Pelzer Election Commission to file a late entry into the Town Council race scheduled for June 7 will be reviewed according to state law.

Marshall King arrived at the Town Hall approximately 90 minutes before filing for the Council race was scheduled to close at noon on Thursday, March 24.

According to Mayor Peggy Paxton, King announced his intention to file for one of the two available seats. He was given the required paperwork to fill out and advised that, under state election law, he had until noon to provide a petition signed by at least 5% of the town’s registered voters in order to be placed on the ballot.

In the case of West Pelzer, 5% would amount to 24 signatures. That requirement is found in Section 5-15-110 of the SC Code of Laws, which deals with municipalities using the petition method of nomination.

 That section reads in part: “Candidates for municipal offices in any partisan or nonpartisan general election nominated by petition shall file the necessary petition with the municipal election commission seventy-five days before the general election concerned.”

The law goes on to stipulate that the petitions must be certified as valid within the fifteen day period immediately after filing closes, so that certification is completed no less than 60 days before the election. While staff at the SC Election Commission could not pinpoint the exact date that the relevant section became effective, they did verify that no amendments to any part of the code had been made since 1998, indicating the section has been in effect at least seven years. 

Marci Andino, of the South Carolina State Election Commission, confirmed that all filing documents, including petitions, where required, must be provided prior to the close of filing. “That must occur by noon 75 days before the election,” Andino said.  

King disputed that deadline, saying that he had 15 days to present his petition. Mayor Paxton says she showed him the pertinent law and he again denied its validity, saying that the town had always used the 60 day deadline.

Section 2.301 of the West Pelzer Town code, however, says simply, “All municipal elections shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the election laws of this state.”

King was also advised that he could not hold two offices and resigned his post on the Election Commission just a few minutes before filing closed.

Upon the advice of Town Attorney Kerry Murphy, the Mayor accepted King’s filing documents, including his statement of economic interest.

He did not, however, provide a petition signed by the required number of voters. He again insisted that the 60 day deadline was sufficient, and that the town had always done it that way before, according to the mayor.

“I told him it would be easy for him to get 24 names in an hour and a half, since he’s lived here so long. But he said he had 15 days to get them in,” said Mayor Paxton.

Efforts to reach Mr. King for comment were unsuccessful. 

 On the following Monday, March 28, he presented his petition, bearing Monday’s date. On Tuesday, March 29, Town Attorney Murphy advised the Mayor that the petition be reviewed by the town’s Election Commission’s two remaining members.

According to the municipal election regulations, the duty of those commissioners is to verify that the petitions appear to be proper as to the appearance of the signatures and as to the date on which they were received.  After the preliminary examination, the petitions will be forwarded to the Anderson County Election Commission.

Patsy Brown, spokesperson for the County Election Commission, said that their role is to verify the signatures.

“We have the only voter registration records, which will allow us to compare petition signatures with those on the voter registration forms. That is our only role in this process,” she said.

Mayor Paxton told The Journal that the Town’s Attorney will recommend that King’s petition be denied, based on the facts and law cited above.

“We are following the law in forwarding all the petitions to the town election commission,” said Paxton. “We will continue to follow the law in processing those petitions. We have no other choice in the matter.”

The Mayor said Tuesday evening that the remaining election commission members, Sammy Durham and Sarah Drennon, would be summoned as quickly as possible.

“We are under time pressure. The county must finish their certifications by April 9, so we can meet the 60 day requirement. We also have to send off these statements of economic interest to the State Ethics Commission within 5 business days of the close of filing.”

Town Clerk Beth Elgin stated that the intention was to assemble the two commissioners by 2 p.m. today (Wednesday) to begin inspection of the documents.

The slate of candidates seeking the two available seats who met the March 24 deadline include incumbents Joe Turner and Earl Brown, as well as Pat Alexander, Linda Lozano, and Randall Ledford.

Concert to benefit Children’s Hospital April 1

The seventh annual concert to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network will be held at the Pelzer Auditorium this Saturday, April 2 beginning at 5 p.m.

The event will feature John Helmuth, Total Praise Quartet, Elias Praise Band, Daystar Quartet, Catlin Tierce and Trevor Thomas.

It will be hosted by Joe Trustee of WSSL Sunday in the South and co-hosted by Paul Lindsey of WRIX AM 1020.

Event organizer Catlin Tierce said he never thought it would go this far.

“It really brings a lot of people of different cultures and backgrounds together for one common purpose,” he said.

Helmuth is the Jr. Pastor at Tabernacle of Faith in Piedmont, where he coordinates several street ministries and leads the youth.

The Total Praise Quartet is Rodney Hicks, lead; Paul Wooten, baritone; Stephen Jewell, bass; and Phillip Masters, tenor. Betsy Masters is their sound engineer.

They have performed along with many artists since their beginning in 1988 and are committed to reaching “one more soul and to bless that weary heart wherever it may be.”

The Elias Praise band, founded by John Helmuth includes Helmuth on lead vocals and guitar, Michael Hulmuth on guitar and vocals, Rachel Helmuth on drums and mandolin, Josh Reese on bass and Aaron Helmuth on keyboard and percussions.

They are the house band at Tabernacle of Faith in Piedmont and have ministered in several upstate churches, coffee houses and other outdoor events and have done concerts in Michigan, Tennessee and Florida.

Trevor Thomas creates characters that people can laugh at and learn from as he combines music, monologues, poems, sketches and mime for an unforgettable worship experience.

He makes approximately 180 appearances a year and conducts drama workshops and seminars at churches and drama festivals where he teaches the basics of acting and directing.

Catlin Tierce has won numerous awards and talent contests over the past few years for his singing and songwriting. He was named the Star of Tomorrow Male Christian Vocalist for 2004 by AirPlay International.

He has signed with Canadian-American Records and has a song (Bud Ain’t Wiser) in the top ten in seven different countries.

Sound is being provided by Sound Systems and More.

The Greenville Hospital System Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in the region dedicated exclusively to children. It cares for more than 80,000 infants, children and adolescents each year.

Proceeds from the benefit concert will go to the Children’s Miracle Network to help fund the Children’s Hospital.

FREE tickets are available in advance at Bargains Food Store, Hwy. 8, Pelzer.

Columbia trip being planned

The Town of Williamston is sponsoring a trip to Columbia on April 26. The trip is open to the community and is limited to 49 registrants. Cost is $25 (excluding meals) and children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Deadline is April 7.

During the trip, citizens will meet several individuals who represent the Williamston area on the state level including Sen. Billy O’Dell, Rep. Dan Cooper, Rep. Michael Thompson and  will tour the State House and offices.

The tour will also include the State House grounds, the Governor’s Mansion and Main St., organizers said.

For more information or registration, call (864) 847-7473.

 

 

 

 

 

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