News Archive

(1405) Week of Apr. 6, 2005

Week of Apr. 6, 2005

Downtown project plan ready to submit for grant
Cochran relieved of duties as Clerk

Clardy not in violation of state ethics laws
Williamston officials looking at recreation, sewer projects
Recreation checks are disbursed by Council
West Pelzer election commission reorganized
Deputies investigate numerous area thefts
Williamston police report for March

Greenville County Council approves Acadia community
Sheriff’s office presents budget requests to Council
Wilson continues to raise issues with County Council

DeMint applauds textile safeguard initiatives
DeMint announces sewer system grants

Downtown project plan ready to submit for grant

A downtown revitalization plan submitted to the South Carolina Department of Transportation has received preliminary approval, passing the first hurdle in allowing the project to be submitted for a SCDOT grant in June, officials said this week.

A committee assigned by the Greater Williamston Business Association to look at options for a downtown redevelopment plan, has been working with architect Tipton Pitts for about a year to come up with a working plan to be submitted along with the grant application in June.

Committee members initially came up with 4 or 5 alternate plans, primarily focusing on rearranging parking or eliminating parking along East Main St., providing special lighting and placing a small amphitheatre/park with a clock tower as the centerpiece of the project.

SCDOT District Traffic Engineer Eric C. Dillon stated in a letter to Pitts that SCDOT conceptually agrees with the proposal to enhance SC Hwy. 20. It also states that they expect issues of parking, roadway alignment, and pedestrian safety to be addressed.

The preliminary plan submitted and approved by SCDOT adds a turning lane into Town Square Center and eliminates parking along Main St., while adding a redesigned parking area in the area between McDonald’s and the musuem.

It also changes traffic flow in the  Town Square Center parking lot. The plan calls for one entrance at the present site and relocating the exit, which includes left and right turning lanes exiting the center closer to McDonalds.

A cross walk which has been the center of safety discussions in the past will be replaced with a new cross walk with brick banding and concrete or an asphalt pattern. Similar crosswalks will also be added near McDonalds and at the traffic light at Mill Street.

The plan calls for a low planted median to be placed between the traffic lanes allowing pedestrians a saftey zone while crossing three lanes of traffic.

The original idea for a clock tower will be changed to a fountain because of grant restrictions, Pitts said. There will also be additional landscaping and trees in the plan.

Pitts called the proposal a conceptual plan and said it will change before the project is finalized, but that it is close enough to be submitted for the grant.

If a grant is approved, details of the plan will be finalized with input from the committee and business owners along East Main St.

According to the plan, the fountain will be located on the corner of the museum property at the entrance to Town Square Shopping Center.

Preliminary discussions have included possibly incorporating the original rock at the site into the design.

Committee members include Jim Simpson, David Meade, David Maddox, Larry Holcombe and Phillip Clardy.

GWBA members have been dicussing a downtown plan for several years and are hoping that the present plan, if approved for a grant, will be the beginning of an effort to make the downtown area of Williamston more attractive, according to GWBA president Dave Maddox.

Approximately one year ago committee members decided to concentrate efforts on the core of the downtown area, from the Mill St. at Main St. traffic light, through downtown to the bridge over Big Creek.

The plan was revised to focus on East Main St. and will then be extended into other areas of the town in phases, officials said.

Municipal consultant Rusty Burns said that chances of grant funding for the project are good, considering the project includes museum landscaping and other design work along Main St., which is a State Highway.

Burns also stated that projects which include partners, in this case the GWBA and the Town of Williamston, are also more likely to be funded.

The GWBA has had several downtown redevelopment experts look at the town and present ideas for the group during the last five years.

Traffic calming devices such as pavers and bumpouts may be incorporated into the downtown plan as well as adding decorative trees and lighting, according to drawings being submitted.

Williamston Town Council passed a resolution indicating their support for a downtown revitalization project last July.

Town officials have met several times with SCDOT officials to look at options to improve safety in the area along East Main St.

As a result of those discussions, Department of Transportation officials have installed new pedestrian crossing signage at the East Main crossing and installed new signs warning approaching motorists of pedestrians before they reach the congested area.

Committee members said the plan takes safety along Main Street into account while adding to the attractiveness of the downtown area.

Cochran relieved of duties as Clerk

During their regular monthly meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council unanimously approved a resolution dismissing Municipal Clerk Hala Cochran from her duties.

Following an executive session lasting approximately 45 minutes, Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy read a resolution citing a lack of faith and confidence in Cochran’s ability to perform the duties of clerk and stating that allegations made by Cochran in a SLED report were made in bad faith and were politically motivated..

According to the resolution, the statements were made by Cochran to SLED agents last year during a SLED investigation into alleged illegal activities in the Town of Williamston.

The final report by Spartanburg Solicitor Trey Gowdy’s office stated that no charges were to be filed after the office completed a year long a review of four separate State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigations into alleged public corruption and misappropriation of funds in the Town of Williamston.

Seventh Judicial Circuit Deputy Solicitor Donnie Willingham stated, in a December 16 letter sent to SLED, that he believed the allegations were without merit. This was after reviewing the 304 page report of approximately 26 allegations of misconduct by Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy. (see complete story online week of Dec. 22, 2004) 

The Town’s resolution dismissing Cochran stated that after examining the report obtained from SLED under the South Caroina Freedom of Information Act, Town Council finds that the allegations made by Cochran  “were in bad faith and were politically motivated.”

It also stated that “other matters have been brought to the attention of the Council which bring into question Cochran’s ability to execute the duties of municipal clerk.”

Town Treasurer Michelle Starnes was named acting Clerk during the meeting by a vote of Council.

Clardy not in violation of state ethics laws

The State Ethics Commission has ruled that Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy did not violate South Carolina ethics codes alleged in a complaint filed by a former member of the Williamston police department who was fired in 2003.

A complaint filed by Henry Daniel Hart on June 12, 2003, alleged that Clardy violated ethics laws because he directly promoted his brother, Steve Clardy, to the rank of Administrative Sergeant with the Williamston police department. It also alleged that Clardy had given gifts to state representative Michael Thompson which were purchased with taxpayer money, that Clardy purchased cards and postage with taxpayer money to be sent to registered voters of the town and that he purchased meals at area restaurants on the town credit card.

Based on the evidence, the Ethics Commission found there is not probable cause to indicate Clardy violated any of the ethics codes in question.

The commission made the ruling after reviewing a S. C. Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigation report based on a similar complaint and additional interviews.

The report states documents were provided to SLED that purportedly showed numerous instances where the Town of Williamston credit card issued in Clardy’s name was used to charge various meals at several different restaurants.

The SLED investigation determined that Clardy turned in receipts to the town showing the purpose of the meals with a handwritten note. It also stated that though Clardy maintained that the meals were for town business, there is no formal authorization for him to charge such meals either in the form of an ordinance or council approval.

The complaint also alleged that Clardy had charged a meal for himself and his parents at Hart’s restaurant (Partners). The receipt for the meal on April 3, 2001, indicated that it was for a “business lunch”.

Clardy maintained that the lunch was with Larry Finney of Greene, Finney and Horton, the town’s auditing firm. Finney, reviewing his calendar, confirmed the lunch meeting with Clardy.

The report states that the Chief of Police, Troy Martin stated that Mayor Clardy did not participate in the decision to promote Steve Clardy.

The reports states that there was no evidence presented to suggest that Clardy caused or participated in the promotion or advancement of a family member in violation of ethics guidelines.

The report states that even though there is no ordinance or written authorization that allows the mayor to charge business meals, there is no specific prohibition either.

It goes on to state that the lack of any city policy to define when a meal is reimbursable prevents the commission from finding a violation.

To avoid the appearance of impropriety in the future, the commission strongly suggested that City Council formulate a written policy concerning travel and meal reimbursements.

Williamston officials looking at recreation, sewer projects

During their regular monthly meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council approved a resolution dismissing Town Clerk Hala Cochran, heard from members of the Palmetto Soccer Club, approved use of the park for a child abuse prevention event to be held in April, and will take another look at providing sewer to the Shorebrook subdivision.

Council first heard from a resident of Mill Creek, who asked for help with a code enforcement problem in her subdivision.

The resident said that trash and other unsightly items were a problem in her neighborhood.

“We will address this to the fullest extent of the law,” Mayor Phillip Clardy responded. Clardy also stated that “We can’t dictate how people live their lives, but can address the situation to the extent of the law.”

Robert Vaughn of South Hamilton St. asked town officials to do something about delapidated properties, pointing out a burned out house on Greenville Dr., and a building on Mill St. and a property on Hamilton Street, where a house was removed.

“Bring our city forward to make it a good place for people to come to,” urged Vaughn. Vaughn  said he would like for the town to be “a good clean town.”

Clardy responded that the home on Greenville Dr. was to be rebuilt but the resident has since passed away and the property is now in an estate situation.

Clardy also suggested that boards could be placed in windows of vacant buildings and could be painted with art.

Council then went into an executive session to discuss a personnel issue. Upon returning to open session, Council approved a resolution dismissing Hala Cochran from her duties  as Muncipal Clerk for the Town of Williamston. (See separate story)

David A. Baker, named Chief of Police last week, was introduced to Council.

Baker told Council that he had the opportunity to work under two chiefs with two different management styles and two different directions,  which he said had some directions that were effective on both accounts.

He told Council the department will take a proactive rather than a reactive role, will rely on the excellent staff and their special skills. He also said the department will continue to rely on reserve officers.

He said he had met with members  of the department this week and had made a few promotions, including naming Kevin Evatt investigator. Baker said he will assist Evatt with new and ongoing investigations.

Baker told Council that he plans to wear a uniform and will be involved in patroling with his officers. He said he will also be assuming some of the paperwork responsibilities of the officers, “to allow them to be out in the community.”

Clardy also announced that April is Spring Clean month and the town will be making extra efforts to pick up items to be taken to the landfill.

Items that are not normally picked up including batteries, metal and other items will be picked up but must be separated, Clardy said.

Street Department head David Roberts said that due to increasingly strict landfill regulations, items must be separated into piles to be picked up and cannot be mixed.

Items should be separated into manmade items, greenwaste, garbage, and certain other items.

Manmade items include construction items such as concrete, glass, boards, etc.

Green items include rocks, limbs, stumps, grass, leaves (unbagged) and other natural items.

Garbage, metal, car batteries and tires must be separated from any of the other piles to be picked up, Roberts said.

Roberts said that items will be picked up as they can this month and the truck may have to come back to pick up other separated item.

Separation is the key because it takes a lot of time if items have to be hand picked, Roberts said. He also said that mixed items are a problem at the landfill.

“They can fine us and tell us not to come back,” he said.

Items that will not be picked up include hazardous materials, items with lead based paints, pallets, and shingles, he said.

If unsure or for information call Roberts at the Williamston Municipal Center at 847-7473.

Council also heard from Palmetto Soccer Club president Melissa Ferguson.

Ferguson said the club has dropped enrollment this year from  125 last year to 65 this spring, primarily because the organization does not have a field to practice and play on.

She said the club currently uses a band practice field at Palmetto High School which causes scheduloe conflicts and parking problems. She said she believes the club will increasingly grow with their own fields.

Ferguson said the club is looking for 2 acres of Town property to be used for two soccer fields and parking.

Council approved designating property near the depot area for soccer fields at the March meeting.

Mayor Clardy said the fields will add to the recreation area which includes the park, located in the heart of town.

Palmetto Soccer Club members  will walk the property with town employees this week to point out what they want, the mayor said.

Ferguson said the club initially wants two fields with lighting.  In the future, other things may be requested, she said.

Mayor Clardy told Council that an engineering study will begin this week to determine the condition of sewer lines on the Cherokee Road property.

Clardy said surveying has been completed and when the engineering study is done, the town can proceed with an auction sale.

Council also approved a request from Gloria Morris, program director of Foothills Prevent Child Abuse for Anderson County.

Morris said the non-profit organization works through Strong Communities, Keep Kids Safe.

Morris requested use of the Mineral Spring Park on April 17 for a Blue Ribbon Sunday event. The event is open to the public and will include many special activities geared toward helping keep children in the community safe.

At the request of Mayor Clardy, Council approved a feasibility study on providing sewer to the Shorebrook subdivision.

Clardy said he wants to look at the situation and see if there can be some resolution to the problem which has been brought up through the years.

Residents have complained that promises of the developer to eventually provide city sewer were not followed through.

Clardy said the town will look at the availability of lines and the costs associated with providing the service.

Recreation checks are disbursed by Council

By Stan Welch

Anderson County Council has recently issued a directive to County Administrator Joey Preston which establishes the procedure for the disbursement of monies from Council members’ recreation funds.

Prior to this time, there had been no clear policy, according to District One Councilman Fred Tolly, author of the directive.

“We’ve never really had a clear policy on this. It was just sort of make sure this gets to the recipient kind of thing. But we have now established a clear procedure to handle this,” said Tolly in a telephone interview.

Tolly addressed the issue in a letter to Preston, dated March 30. 

“It has come to our attention that checks appropriated from a councilperson’s recreation funds account have been forwarded to the recipient under someone’s name in Administration. From this point forward all checks to be mailed under a councilperson’s name should be sent to the Clerk to Council and forwarded to the recipient under the Councilperson’s name.”

It also states that “The letter to be forwarded with the check must be written by the Clerk to council and no other department of the county.”

Also signing the directive were Chairperson Gracie Floyd, as well as Council members Greer, Wilson and Thompson.

Tolly stressed that all correspondence accompanying such fund disbursements would be generated by the Clerk to Council.

“The finance department will of course still cut the checks, since the Council doesn’t have any money. They still hold the checkbook.”

Recreation funds are discretionary in nature, and are funded in part by accommodations tax money.

The budget for last year also funded each council member’s account in the amount of $25,000. 

In fact, recreation funds are often used to meet special needs and curry political goodwill within a council member’s district.

Donations to Crime Stoppers, helping fund the purchase of a fire truck, matching funds for a sewer grant, contributions to the American Heart Association, Alliance Consulting Park, SCANG, the Anderson Free Clinic, and the Anderson Cancer Association are some of the uses reflected in the latest account report, issued March 22.

West Pelzer election commission reorganized                 

By Stan Welch

At a special called meeting April 4, the West  Pelzer Town Council appointed Sue Trotter and Peggy Rainey to the town’s election commission. The two join Sammy Durham in time to oversee the upcoming June elections for two council seats.

The need to appoint members arose as the result of a sitting election commission member’s decision to run for the town council. Marshall King, who had been on the election commission for several years, was required to resign in order to run for the town council seat.

King’s filing for the seat was eventually turned down, due to the absence of a petition containing the names of at least 5% of the registered voters in West Pelzer.

King had declined to provide the petition at the time of the filing, saying that he had another 15 days to do so, and that the town had always considered 60 days before election to be the deadline.

State election law, however, clearly states that nominating petitions, where required, must accompany all filing documents before the official close of filing, which was at noon on March 24 in this case. The additional fifteen days is intended to allow for verification of the signatures and printing of the ballots before the 60 day deadline.

The S. C. Ethics Commission also imposes a deadline of its own, requiring filing of the statements of economic interest within five business days of the close of filing for office.

Town Attorney Kerry Murphy provided a ruling that King’s filing documents be accepted for review, in accordance with state law.

King’s resignation from the election commission reduced its membership to one, so Murphy subsequently ruled that state election law disqualified King’s filing entry, leaving a slate of five candidates for the two seats.

Those candidates are incumbents Joe Turner and Earl Brown, as well as Pat Alexander, Linda Lozano, and Randall Ledford.

Mayor Peggy Paxton, speaking at the called meeting, said that the two appointees were interim appointees.

“Mr. King can’t return to the commission before the election, since he has the option to run as a write-in candidate. But afterwards, it would be possible for him to be reappointed,” she said.

Deputies investigate numerous area thefts

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated the following incidents in the area:

PELZER

March 24 - J. D. Shelton investigated a complaint by Jason Couch, of 25 Smythe Street, that two vehicles at that location were damaged by thieves. Both cars suffered damage to the steering column and ignition area.

March 30 - W. Cunningham and R.R. Rector responded to a call at 460-A Looper Road, where Susan McMahan reported the burglary of her home, and the theft of approximately $90 in cash.

PIEDMONT

March 23 - T. B. Dugan responded to 300 Bonanza Circle, where Carol Lewis of Greenville reported the theft of a car belonging to Randall Davis, of that address. Reports state the car’s key was broken off in the ignition, allowing it to be started.

March 24 - A. Digirilamo received a complaint from Thomas Gallagher, of 523 Osteen Hill Road, who reported that the windows were smashed in ten cars he keeps in a field for spare parts. Eight of the cars were Pontiac Fieros.

March 25 -  J.M. Durham investigated the burglary and theft of $300 cash from the Piedmont Car Wash at 0 King Street.

March 25 - C.M. Beeco responded to a complaint of assault by Ronald Dehn, of 381 High Point Rd., at Stone’s Rhythm and Brews bar on Highway 81. Dehn said he went out the back door of the bar around 1 a.m. and was attacked by two men, one of whom he knew. The men were described as both being around 6’ -6’2” tall, around 200 lbs., in their mid-twenties, with brown hair.

 March 26 - T. A. Caron investigated a report of a theft at Antiques Plus, at 100 Piedmont Road. Lee Olson, owner of the business, reported that 20 antique rings had been stolen from the shop space rented to a vendor, Tammy Kvehnle of Simpsonville.

March 26 -  T. A. Caron responded to 506 Hurricane Creek Rd. where both Jerry Ellison and his son Matthew reported that someone had broken into their vehicles and stolen a number of items, including a television and a digital camera. A GMC Yukon and Sierra pickup both had windows smashed out. The items were valued at approximately $2,200.

March 29 - W. Cunningham received a complaint from Robert Garrett of 110 Beardsley Road concerning the theft of tools and a tool box from his truck, valued at more than $600.

March 29 - W. Cunningham responded to a call from Zink Animal Hospital, where hospital staff informed him that a dog had been shot, and might lose a leg as a result. The dog’s owner, Terri Rodgers, reported that she and another witness saw a man they reportedly knew shoot the dog. Cunningham went to the house of the man’s father, who told him the dog had jumped up on a 1986 tan pickup, scratching it badly. He also reported that the dog often chased vehicles and had bitten him twice. The man wasn’t at his father’s home at the time.

March 30 - R.R. Rector and A. Digirilamo investigated a complaint of burglary and theft made by Vivian Hembree, of 741 Iler St. Hembree reported the theft of a TV, a VCR and some medications, as well as the theft of her 1988 light blue Ford Crown Victoria.

WILLIAMSTON

March 23 - R.R. Rector investigated a complaint by Clara Zeager, of 511 Irby Road. Zeager reported that two white males, possibly with a third accomplice outside, came to her home. They claimed to be selling home improvement products, like Lowe’s or Home Depot, at discounts. She let them in and they talked awhile. When they left, she found her check  book and credit cards missing from a purse one of the men had sat near during the conversation.

Williamston police report for March

The Williamston Police Department arrested several persons for driving under suspension and investigated thefts and shoplifting incidents during March. Among incidents investigated were:

April 5 - Martinex Almenez Sullivan, 29, 310 E. Carolina St., Williamston, reported approximately 200 compact discs valued at $50 removed from a 1992 Honda Accord parked at the location. J. T. Motes investigated.

April 5 - John Derreck Martin, 24, 3700 Hwy. 29 N. Belton, was arrested for driving under suspension after a vehicle was observed disregarding a stop sign at East Carolina St. and Greenville Dr. Captain K. P. Evatt investigated.

Mar. 29 - Abhijit Indranarayan Karmokar, 24, 813 College Ave. Apt. 11 Clemson, was arrested for driving under suspension, improper headlights and no  signature on registration after a 1994  Mazda was observed on Anderson Dr. with a passenger headlight out. A. B. Singleton investigated.

Mar. 29 - SavWay, East Main St., Williamston, reported an incident in which the driver of a vehicle paid for $10 in gas, then pumped $31.23 in gas into the vehicle while he made a call on a pay phone. He then reentered the store and told the clerk he thought she had set the pump to cut off and did not have the money to pay for the gas. He then left the store. Z. E. Gregory investigated.

Mar. 10 - Christina Ruth Gross, 484 East Dumplin Rd., Kodak, Tenn. reported an unknown person had obtained her debit card number and made four credit card purchses. The purchases included two purchases at Bloomingdales online store, for $2,017.94 and $986.95; Anne Taylors.com, $509.78; and Neiman Marcus, $1,247. The items were to be delivered to an address in Williamston. The incident remains under investigation. D. A. Baker investigated.

Mar. 18 - Tina Marie Patton, 41, 309 Main St., Williamston, reported an attempted forgery on checks reported stolen in Sept. of 2004. J. T. Baker investigated.

Mar. 22 - Faye Browning, 411 South Hamilton St., reported a check forgery in the amount of $400 on a First Citizens Bank account. T. A. Call investigated.

Mar. 22 - Wardell Owens, 72, 130 Napoleon Rd., Pelzer, reported a red bicycle valued at $10 stolen from 10 Market St., Williamston. J. T. Motes investigated.

Mar. 16 - Robert Tommie Vaughn, 56, 204 S. Hamilton St., Williamston, reported a 2001 Jeep Cherokee valued at $15,000 stolen from the backyard of the residence. Sgt. J. T. Motes investigated.

Mar. 17 - Arnulfo Martinez Chimal, 47, 5300 Augusta Rd., Greenville, was arrested for no tag light and no drivers license after a vehicle was observed on Main St. and Greenville Dr.. K. P. Evatt investigated.

Mar. 9 - Robert William Stokes, 43, 4313 Keys St., Anderson, reported convenience checks from a Discover Credit Card account were stolen from his mailbox and were passed at stores in Williamston. Officers were to meet with store managers to obtain a video of the incident. Capt. D. A. Baker investigated.

Mar. 12 - Juan Gabriel Estrada, 27, 115 Crappie Dr., Williamston, was arrested for speeding and no drivers license after a 1994 Toyota Camry was observed travelling at a high rate of speed on Ida Tucker Road. Sgt. J. T. Motes investigated.

Mar. 12 - Elric Beal, 48, 14 Mayo Dr., Greenville, was arrested for shoplifting after being observed placing items valued at $33 into his jacket and leaving an area store. T. A. Call, Sgt. J. T. Motes investigated.

Mar. 10 - Daniel Richard Morrrision, 18, 1175 Old Pelzer Rd., Williamston, was arrested for speeding and no drivers license in possession after a Chevrolet truck was observed speeding on Academy St., Sgt. J. H. Kirby, J. T. Baker investigated.

Mar. 10 - Teri Dawn Jones, 40, 314 Mahaffey St., Williamston, was arrested for driving under suspension (3rd offense) after a 1990 Ford Tempo was observed attempting to avoid a checkpoint on South Hamilton St., Sgt. J. N. Griffin, W. Johnson investigated.

Mar. 7 - Latima Nicole Wells, 20, 713 McAlister Rd., Williamston, reported that an unknown person had forged a check at Winn Dixie in the amount of $168.28. Z. E. Gregory investigated.

Roger Dale Hooks, 58, 104 Lander St., Williamston, reported a bicycle valued at $125 taken from the location. T. A. Caron investigated.

Mar. 8 - Timothy Stefon Moore, 40, 20 Mattison, St., Williamston, reported a black cast iron pot valued at $10 removed from his yard. Sgt. J. T. Motes investigated.

Mar. 6 - David A. Gannon, 38, 108 L St., Unit E, Williamston, was arrested for speeding and no drivers license after a 1990 Mazda was observed on Anderson Dr. A. B. Singleton investigated.

Mar. 7 - Jeffrey Mark Day, 26, 91 Parker St., Williamston, reported a radar detector, 12 CDs and $165 cash taken from a 1997 Isuzu in the driveway of the location. J. T. Motes investigated.

Feb. 15 - Four area men were arrested for fighting after an incident at Cooley’s Barber Shop, 30 East Main, St., Williamston. Arrested were: John Palmer Frasier, 41, 1016 Garren Rd., Belton, David Allen Gosnell, 33, 4 W. Third St., Williamston, Samuel Douglas Wood, 37, 215 McDonald Ave., Williamston and Timothy Wayne Wood, 23, 7 W. Third St., Williamston.

Feb. 20 - Charles Michael Martin, 48, 101 Parker St., Williamston, was arrested for use of a vehicle without owner consent, driving under the influence and open liquor in a vehicle after a 1996 Dodge truck reported stolen was observed on Park St. Sgt. J. H. Kirby, J. T. Bauer investigated.

Greenville County Council approves Acadia community

Acadia, a new community planned for 300 acres of woodlands along the Saluda River, received unanimous final rezoning approval from Greenville County Council last night, setting the stage for groundbreaking as early as June.

Acadia, located just above Piedmont, will create a village shopping and outdoor sports destination within ten minutes of downtown Greenville.

Built in five neighborhood phases over the next six to eight years, Acadia is zoned for up to 700 homesites of all sizes and price ranges, from condos and townhomes, to cottage, manor and secluded estate homes.

Designed to be much more than a subdivision, Acadia’s distinction lies in its design as a traditional neighborhood development, essentially a walkable community with alleys and trails connecting community amenities like the homeowner’s Riverhouse, the non-denominational chapel, a Pavilion, gardens and pet parks.

Soccer, swimming, canoes, kayaks, hiking and biking will be available to residents and the invited public alike.

Acadia Village incorporates retail shops, offices, galleries, neighborhood café and other neighborhood services that help instill a true sense of community, welcoming people to come visit, play, work and stay in Acadia, developers said.

“We want to commend the developer for offering Greenville a true new-urban community that balances thoughtful development with generous greenspace and respect for natural resources& Acadia will be the role model for residential development in the County for years to come,” said Jim Barbare, Chairman of Greenville’s Planning Commission, at Acadia’s recent public hearing.

Caleb Freeman, Greenville resident and developer, was concerned the Acadia tract would fall to industrial development, so he and his team invested a year of intense planning to make Acadia uniquely residential.

“We are so pleased that the County Council and Planning Staff have endorsed Acadia with their approval of our Planned Development. We saw that Acadia’s beautiful woods and river frontage were too attractive for an industrial park,” Freeman said.

Combining town convenience with country setting, Acadia is inspired by the villages and towns that are the history of the Upstate.

“Acadia will not try to mimic their architecture, but instead to capture their sense of real community,” said Freeman. “Our goal is to create neighborhoods, not one-dimensional gated subdivisions; Acadia is a balance of small-town feel with convenient amenities and access.”

“The Pavilion, the Riverhouse, the Chapel, the Village Place, soccer field, pet parks, trails and paths are essential components of every real community, so we plan to build these early on,” explains Freeman. “As homes go up, other planned amenities like vegetable gardens, tennis courts and pool areas will be incorporated into the five neighborhoods of Acadia.”

Acadia’s first neighborhood, Village Place, will be the heart of the community, comprising nearly 130 residences. Condos, townhomes, unique gatehouses, and single-family cottage, manor and estate homes will be incorporated around playfields, shops and offices.

A select team of architects has exclusively designed original Acadian home plans, and recommended many others, so that no two houses need look the same, eliminating the cookie-cutter feel of many standard subdivisions.

“My hope is for Acadia to always be a welcoming home for friends and families of all ages. That’s why my family and I are eager to be some of the first residents in Acadia,” Freeman said.

Acadia is located at Exit 12 (Highway 153) off the Southern Connector (I-185), just five minutes from the Greenville Hospital and one mile off I-85. It is locted in the Piedmont Public Service Fire District.

For more information visit www.AcadiaSC.com.

Sheriff’s office presents budget requests to Council

By Stan Welch

Need to get County Council’s attention? Do what Sheriff David Crenshaw did. Ask them for $3.2 million for your department. That number includes 67 new vehicles and 34 new hires.

Crenshaw and Chief Deputy Tim Busha appeared before Council to explain the needs of the department as Council prepares to address the coming year’s budget.

Sheriff Crenshaw began by describing the requests he was about to make as “a list of what we need, not what we necessarily want. This is not a wish list.”

Chief Busha then explained that the requests fall into three budget areas. Personnel came first, as Busha provided both raw numbers and analysis showing how the county’s force compares with neighboring counties, two of which have smaller populations.

For example, in the area of deputies who are used exclusively to serve warrants, Anderson County has four deputies designated for that task.

They are currently 15 weeks behind, and each deputy has a backlog of approximately 5700 warrants to serve.

Spartanburg County, by comparison, dedicates 10 deputies to that task, with the result that each has only 1000 warrants to serve.

Greenville County has 20 deputies who are each responsible for 2000 warrants, according to Busha.

In the area of uniform patrol officers, which Busha called the first line of defense, there is a management aspect called span of control which figures in. According to Busha, the span of control refers to the ratio of supervision.

“It is the nature of our business that uniform patrol, which is the most directly involved aspect of law enforcement, is also the least experienced and needs the most supervision. The ratio of superior officers to patrol personnel is critical. We currently have 1 sergeant per 20 patrol units on any given shift. We would like to cut that to the optimum number of one to 5 or 6, but that isn’t realistic. So we’re asking for one additional sergeant per patrol shift. That will cut the number down to one supervisor  per ten officers.”

The Sheriff also requested an increase in crime scene investigators, desk officers, communications operators, crime investigators or detectives, personnel to be dedicated to traffic duties, deputies to provide more courtroom security, and narcotics investigators.

“When I came to work here in 1974, we had five narcotics investigators. We still have only five,” said the Sheriff. “Meth labs are popping up all over the area. We’ve busted 15 in the first ten weeks of this year. But we aren’t even keeping up at that rate. We need help, and we hope you’ll see fit to give it to us.”

He added that the drug traffic also fuels the area’s extremely high burglary rate. “If you’re doing drugs, you have two choices to finance your habit . . steal or deal. That’s one reason we lead the Upstate in burglary.”

The operational budget requests were modest, with Busha saying, “We haven’t changed that area much from the past. Our needs are more in terms of more manpower and technology to apply to those operational aspects.”

The capital budget will require a bit more. Crenshaw referred to the dilapidated fleet of police cars, saying that the County transportation department “has saved our lives by managing to keep cars running long after they should have quit.”

In asking for 67 new vehicles, he cited cars with anywhere from 125,000 to 300,000 miles on them. Busha also explained that the department’s computers, both desktop and laptop, are woefully out of date.

“We really are well behind in terms of computers, which are essential to police work,” he said.

 He explained the importance of the cars by describing his department as “a cavalry unit. We’re raiders. We have to stay on the move. We have to have our horses to be effective, and that’s what those cars are to us.”

The inter-operability of the 800 MHz radio system the county is pursuing was also touted, as Crenshaw related a story about how the County Hazmat team, which went to Augusta recently when a train derailment released chlorine gas and forced large scale evacuations, was able to be programmed into such a system and begin working with local authorities immediately.

“Homeland security is the driving force behind the 800 system, and it is very important to have that uniformity of communications across the area and state,” he said.

Council seemed to support the requests, despite a few questions. 

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, who had invited a representative from the General Services division of the State Board  of Budget and Control to speak to the Council, pointed out that a fleet leasing service offered by the state might save a tremendous amount of money on such a large number of vehicles. (See related story elsewhere in this issue.)

Council Chairperson Gracie Floyd made an impassioned plea to Council to  “find a way to give the Sheriff what he needs. We can pay him now or pay him later. I have seen more of a presence in the community in the last few months than I ever have before. My people tell me, at last we’re getting some relief. And these people making this methamphetamine ? They are a disgrace. They are making this junk in good neighborhoods and in bad neighborhoods. I know this will be difficult, but we have to find a way to get the Sheriff what he needs. He hasn’t asked for anything unreasonable. Anderson county takes such pride in their firsts, but now we are first in crime in the state.” she said.

At current tax rates, the $3.2 million  request would consume between 6 & 7 mills.

Wilson continues to raise issues with County Council

By Stan Welch

The April 5 meeting of the Anderson County Council was a lively one, as Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and Chairperson Gracie Floyd jousted on several occasions over Wilson’s efforts to either present or solicit information.

The Council heard a report from John Henderson, of the SC Workmen’s Compensation Trust who said the County’s premium will increase next year.

Citing potential deficits in the trust, due to a high number of claims, Henderson reminded Council that the Trust’s bylaws don’t allow such a deficit, and require it to be retired.

As part of that process, and since Anderson County currently has an unusually high number of claims, Henderson informed Council that their premium for next year will increase above the current premium by $447,000.

According to County  Administrator Joey Preston, that is equivalent to approximately 1 mill of tax. The increase will be imposed in October.

Council gave second reading approval to separate resolutions approving abandonment of County maintenance on two sections of road; one, a section of Abercrombie Road, and also a spur of Interstate Blvd.

Council members also appointed several citizens to various committees and boards.

Two of the more prominent appointments were that of former Council Chairman Clint Wright to the Planning Commission, as well as the appointment of Charles Crowe to the Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center Advisory Board. District 4 Councilman Bill McAbee made both appointments.  

Council also heard from Sheriff David Crenshaw, concerning his department’s budget needs (see related story elsewhere in this issue) and from Marty Watt, of the Clemson Extension Service, who appeared for the same reason.

Watt’s presentation was cut so short that Chairperson Floyd invited him back to make a more thorough plea for funding.

It was during the portion of the meeting when Council members request certain items, such as the transfer of funds from paving and recreation accounts, to specific projects that matters between Wilson and Floyd began to gather steam.

Floyd requested the transfer of monies from her recreation funds to cover expenditures previously made from County Council’s fund to cover the costs of leadership classes which Floyd sponsors.

Floyd said that she had recently learned that recreation funds could be spent for that purpose, and said she wanted to reimburse the Council fund.

Wilson asked about the nature of the leadership classes. Floyd pointedly suggested that Wilson think hard about her question, adding that it had been established that the classes were a legitimate expenditure. The transfer was approved.

When Wilson’s turn for requests came up, she sought to transfer approximately $1,100 from her paving funds to pay for 20 STOP signs for Williamston.

After Transportation Department Director Holt Hopkins explained that it wasn’t the County’s responsibility to replace those signs, Council voted 4-0-3 to approve the transfer. Dees, Floyd and Tolly were the three abstaining votes.

Wilson then sought to introduce information she had assembled and titled Highlight of County Council Expenses June 2004 to April 2005.

Floyd refused to allow her to present the information at that time, saying she should wait until time for Council’s remarks.

Despite the efforts of the Councilwoman who invited her to address the Anderson County Council, S. C. Budget and Control Board representative Nicki Wilson was allowed scant time to make her presentation.

District 7 Councilwoman Cindy Wilson was obviously angry at the treatment afforded to Nicki Wilson (no relation), a representative of the State Budget and Control Board who was asked by Councilwoman  Wilson to speak to Council about a variety of  cost cutting options offered by the state to the various counties.

“It just seems criminal and shameful to me that the Council would be no more interested than they were in receiving information that could save this county thousands upon thousands of dollars,” said Wilson, speaking after the meeting.

Councilwoman Wilson requested a time slot for the presentation on the April 5 agenda in writing in a memo dated March 24. That memo also requested 20 minutes to allow Ms. Nicki Wilson to explain several leasing, purchasing and other programs  which the state makes available to the counties, usually at significant savings.  

According  to the Councilwoman, the request was initially cut to ten minutes, and finally  to five minutes.

Councilwoman Wilson indicated during the meeting that the state offered  a program which  might greatly reduce the cost of 67 new police vehicles requested by Sheriff David Crenshaw.

According to figures provided to Wilson by the state leasing program, a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria with the police package of equipment, as specified by the Sheriff’s request, would cost the County $20,244 to purchase.

But the state also offers a lease program for that vehicle, which according to the figures provided, would cost a flat rate of $100 per month, as well as $.28 a mile. That price would include liability insurance, collision repair, all maintenance and all fuel.  Other vehicles are also available under that program, at lower mileage rates.

There are also programs which provide cleaning and office supplies from a central state operated warehouse. There is an express mail service between state and county agencies which guarantees next day delivery at a fraction of USPS prices.

The County currently participates in the state’s surplus property program, but does not currently avail itself of any of the other programs.

Nicki Wilson reported that she had met with Purchasing Department Director Robert Carroll during the day, and explained the programs to him.

Wilson and Floyd clashed again during the Council’s comments. 

Wilson again offered her Council expense information and pointed out several issues that the report raised.

She also questioned an employee evaluation form recently sent to Council members for an annual evaluation of the Administrator.

Wilson attempted to question a disclaimer  which reserves for the County the right to “revise the content of this document in part or in whole.”

Floyd immediately stopped her, citing possible personnel issues, which are normally addresses in executive session. Wilson asked that Floyd not interrupt her.

Finally, County Attorney Tom Martin indicated that the form itself, but not any information concerning the evaluations, could be discussed in open session.

County Administrator Joey Preston said he was not familiar with the disclaimer, but would defer to Linda Bloodgood, who handles personnel issues for the County.

Bloodgood also represents Preston in an ongoing libel and defamation lawsuit against two private citizens.

It is that relationship which has led Wilson to court seeking a writ of mandamus to force the release of legal vendor files which Preston and the majority of Council have so far refused to provide.

Brooks Brown IV, a frequent critic of Wilson’s, spoke to that issue during citizen’s comments. He referred to the exorbitant cost,  which Preston claims the County has incurred due to the legal wrangling.

“Mr. Preston told me himself that it has cost a half million dollars to fight this. How much are you willing to spend to be right? Just give her the information. There are laws in place that will allow her to be prosecuted if she releases the information improperly. This is a Pyhrric victory even if you win the case. Look into your heart and ask if this hasn’t become just a bit personal.”

 Speaking after the meeting, Brown said that Council has expressed a desire to reduce property taxes by two mills.

“At the current rate, the legal expenses incurred in this have eaten up one mill that can’t be reduced. It’s ridiculous,” he said.

Council will hold their first May meeting on Monday, May 9 to accommodate schedule conflicts. They will also hold their spring retreat on Thursday, April 21 at the museum beginning at 9 a.m.

DeMint applauds textile safeguard initiatives

Responding to U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and other free trade proponents in Congress who are demanding more enforcement of agreements, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced this week that they will self-initiate three textile safeguards with China.

“Today’s announcement is unprecedented,” said DeMint. “This is the first time any administration has acted on its own to initiate textile safeguards. While we must continue to negotiate new trade agreements that expand American exports around the world and help our companies compete here at home, we also need to do a better job enforcing our existing agreements. Our businesses and workers have rights under our trade laws, and I’m glad the President is enforcing them.”

“This decision is the first step in a process to determine whether the U.S. market for these products is being disrupted and whether China is playing a role in that disruption,” said Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. The United States is permitted, under the provisions of China’s WTO Accession Agreement, to apply safeguards on textile products from China in instances where those criteria are met. “This Administration is committed to enforcing our trade agreements and to providing assistance to our domestic textile and apparel industry consistent with our international rights and obligations. Free trade must be fair trade and we will work to ensure that American manufacturers and workers compete on a level playing field.”

The products subject to review will be cotton knit shirts and blouses (Category 338/339), cotton trousers (Category 347/348), and cotton and man-made fiber underwear (Category 352/652). The decision was made to initiate this review based on substantial increases in imports of these products from China over the first quarter of this year, following the removal of textile quotas under the World Trade Organization as of January 1. Preliminary data for the first quarter of 2005 show imports from China in these categories growing by approximately 1,250 percent, 1,500 percent, and 300 percent, respectively, relative to the same quarter of last year.

 In accordance with its published procedures, the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) will shortly publish in the Federal Register notices seeking public comments regarding each product subject to safeguard proceedings, providing relevant information, and specifying the date by which comments must be received. The comment period shall be 30 calendar days, after which CITA has up to 60 days to render a final determination.

In 2000, then Congressman DeMint helped ensure the inclusion of the textile-specific safeguard mechanism as a provision in the US-China trade agreement.

DeMint announces sewer system grants

U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) announced this week that nearly $1 million in grants will be used to update and improve several sewer systems throughout the state. The grants are being awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission to the following municipalities:

Town of Pelzer will receive a grant for $401,527 for sewer system improvements. The project will provide improved service to 652 customers in the Pelzer area, and allow the town to gain compliance with state and federal wastewater standards.

Town of West Pelzer will receive $62,328 for sewer system improvements. The project will provide improved service to 498 customers in the West Pelzer area, and allow the town to gain compliance with state and federal wastewater standards.

Also, Pickens County will receive $330,000 for a sewer extension project that will create at least 30 new manufacturing jobs at the Pickens Country Commerce Park near Liberty.

“Many of these wastewater systems are obsolete and in desperate need of service and updates. I’m pleased that the Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded these funds as they will make a huge difference to many in the area,” said Senator DeMint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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