News Archive

(1508) Week of Apr. 9, 2008

Software, cell phone and termites top town council discussions
Economic development tops goals set at County Council retreat
Sales Tax Commission sets capital projects list
Police investigate incidents
Deputies investigate thefts, assault incidents
Day of Decision precedes Wren prom
Author Ann Coulter to speak at Furman
Seems to Me . . . Fair officiating

Software, cell phone and termites top town council discussions

By Stan Welch

The Williamston Town Council met the Town’s name sake, Miss Williamston, Monday night. Ms. Holly Whatley, a sophomore at Presbyterian College, told Council and the audience that she likes small towns and their warm welcoming ways. She also told them that her public issue will be early testing for breast cancer. Her mother was diagnosed two years ago, and as she said, “It has affected our lives every day.”

Discuss fuel tanks

Council also heard a proposal from a representative of OEC petroleum to install a fuel control system that would allow for precise and itemized tracking of the fuel used by the various town vehicles and equipment. The system would likely necessitate the purchase and installation of larger tanks.

Gene Wright, representing the firm that would install and maintain the system, told council that they would save a minimum of fifteen cents a gallon for gasoline and/or diesel fuel purchased if they could purchase 9000 gallons, or a tanker load at a time.

“If you could take a whole tanker full, even if it was split up between gas and diesel, it would probably cost you a penny per gallon above cost, and the freight for shipping it in. But the tank farm is less than ten miles away, so freight won’t be a problem.”

Council agreed to provide Wright with additional information on the Town’s fuel use so he can fine tune the proposal to the Council. Town personnel will also be investigating the cost of the larger tanks in the meantime.

Software problems

Council failed to approve the purchase of new billing software for the Town, while agreeing to sever its relationship with the provider of the current software being used.

According to the Mayor, Town Clerk Michelle Starnes and several Council members, the software is unreliable and inaccurate. 

“You can run a certain report on this software, and then run the same report one minute later. You’ll get two different results,” said Councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. “I sit in the office and watch Michelle go crazy trying to get this thing to work. It is not a problem with our personnel. It is a problem with this software.”

The Mayor said that Smith Data has been uncooperative in relation to the problems. Councilman Carthel Crout said, “Send them a letter and tell them we will see them in court if we can’t reach a settlement.”

The Council unanimously voted to inform the company that the Town is no longer negotiating and will seek legal recourse.

They then considered three bids for new software, with Mountaineer Software having the low bid. “This is the best software of the three,” said Starnes. “That’s why we had them talk to you all. It is not only the cheapest, but it will also do things that the other two won’t do, even at the higher price.”

Councilman Otis Scott said he had just received the bids that afternoon and he moved to table  the matter until the next meeting. Following additional discussion, despite parliamentary procedures that require an immediate vote on such a motion, council finally did table the issue.

Since the Monday meeting, Mayor Clardy has subsequently called a special meeting to approve the purchase. That meeting will be held Thursday at 8 p.m.

At the next regular meeting of Council, the Town’s auditor will present his report.

Economic Development

Council entered executive session at the end of the meeting to consider a potential economic impact, according to Mayor Clardy. 

Following a half hour closed door session, the Council reconvened in open session and voted to instruct the town’s grant writer to seek $364,000 in funds to relocate a short section of street along the former Winn Dixie Shopping Center parking lot. Owner Jim Simpson reported that there are companies interested in locating in the shopping center and the relocation, or realignment, is needed to promote that interest.

Following that executive session, Council also approved a resolution to enter into a contract with Allen & Eakes Law Firm to pursue the acquisition of land for the Town’s proposed wastewater treatment plan.

Refund policy

Also addressed was the policy to be used in providing refunds to those reserving facilities for events, such as weddings or receptions. According to the policy adopted Monday night, people will receive half their rental back if they cancelled thirty days or more in advance. Those canceling less than thirty days but more than ten days in advance, would get 25% of their fees back, while those canceling within ten days of their event will receive no refund whatever.

Two positions on the Town’s Election Commission were filled and two incumbents were reappointed. Jerry Davis and Tommy Walker were appointed to join Diane Carter and Mike Looper, who were both reappointed, to the Commission. Councilman Middleton withheld his appointment until the next meeting of Council.

Mayor’s cell phone

The Mayor’s cell phone became an issue once again, as Councilman Crout reminded Mayor Clardy that the Council voted several months ago to terminate that phone.

“This still has not been done,” said Crout.  Crout asked Clardy if he was disregarding Town policy and Clardy said he was and would take full responsibility for it.

“You want to make me unattainable, unreachable, then damn me for being unreachable,” said Clardy. Clardy said he was being singled out and asked that Council authorize him to invite three major carriers to present bids for the Town’s cell phone service.

Crout said the reason the Mayor’s phone was being questioned was that the Council had voted to discontinue his phone and he had denied their wishes. He denied Clardy’s charges that his questions were a personal attack on the mayor.

The Mayor sought authorization from Council for him and mayor pro tem Otis Scott to travel to Washington DC with the Anderson Chamber of Commerce junket. Clardy said they wanted to meet with the area’s Congressman and Senator to discuss receiving RDA funds for the Town’s sewer system. His motion to approve the travel died from lack of a second.

Town hall termites 

and other deterioration

The condition of the Town Hall continues to deteriorate and Council voted to seek bids on repairs to the roof of the cafeteria area as well as to the dormers on the roof of the police department. Leaks in that area have allowed water into the main electrical power supply box, which has corroded dangerously.

“There isn’t much point in replacing this box until we have the water problem fixed,” said Chief David Baker. “We have had a number of power surges that I am afraid would damage the new equipment we are upgrading to.”

In addition to the leaks, serious termite damage has been discovered in the main part of the building. Estimates for a full treatment of the building are in the $11,000 range, but Councilman Crout stressed the need for an immediate attack on the active colony in the front wall of the building. “We need to kill these termites now. The longer they live the more they eat.”

The damage is so extensive that a portion of the brick wall has settled. “We have an actual structural shift in part of the building and we need to get busy on this,” said Councilman Middleton. Council approved the action unanimously.

Estimates will also be sought on the cost of renovating the floor in the gymnasium, and other work in that area. 

“I would like to refinish and restore the floor in the gymnasium, since we rent it out for so many events. We could also paint the gym, and repair the water damage done to the floors when that roof was leaking,” said Mayor Clardy. Funds from the town’s hospitality tax would be used, if Council approves the expenditure.

The Council’s second meeting in June will be moved to the Tuesday of that week, June 17, instead of Monday, the 16, to accommodate a prior commitment that Councilman Crout had scheduled.

Economic development tops goals set at County Council retreat

By Stan Welch

Economic development questions were front and center as the Anderson County Council held its annual spring retreat Tuesday. 

The Council, at a meeting moderated by facilitator Dennis Lambries, reviewed a vision statement produced last year, tweaking and modifying goals and actions to be taken to achieve those goals.

Economic development, the highest priority set by Council at last year’s retreat, led off at this year’s. 

Councilman Bob Waldrep opened the discussion by again raising his concerns that there are too many hands in the economic development pie. “We have been told that it is important to speak with one voice in our economic development efforts but it seems like there are so many different agencies.”

Economic Development Director Heather Jones explained to Waldrep that companies can become interested in Anderson in many ways. “Upstate Alliance, Innovate Anderson, the utility companies, the state Department of Commerce, all these organizations can be the point of first contact. But they are essentially marketing arms. Once a company has narrowed down the area of their interest to Anderson County, Upstate Alliance, for example, hands it over to us to pursue and they start the next marketing effort.”

Jones went on to concede that last year “was anything but a banner year, but it was a good year.” 

Under questioning from Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, she conceded that a net loss of 590 jobs took place in the county last year. She went on to mention that several sites in the county had been designated for industrial development, including a 200 acre site in the vicinity of Cherokee Road and the Walgreen’s Distribution Center, as well as a 600 acre site, which she described as the Thrift Brothers site, near exit 27 off of I-85.

“Exit 27 has a sort of a frontage road which makes that area attractive to industries,” said Jones.  

Agriculture

Brandon Grace also spoke to the agricultural aspects of economic development in the county, saying that a recently developed program, called ‘Grow with Me’ would be implemented in school districts Two, Three and Five next year.

The program not only uses local farm products in the school’s cafeterias, but also offers educational programs to make children aware of what farms and farmers are about. “We will provide local produce and goods to approximately 15,000 students next year. We are also working on a method to let local farmers tap into wholesale supply systems as vendors.”

Councilwoman Wilson attempted to question the county’s decision to hire Councilman Ron Wilson’s daughter as an agricultural consultant, but her question was shrugged off by County Administrator Joey Preston. “We’re not going to answer that question. Let’s just move on,” said Preston.

Councilman Wilson, who, unlike past instances, did not respond to Wilson’s questions, left the meeting a short time later and did not return. His reasons for leaving are unknown.

Reassessment

The pending reassessment of property in the county was also discussed, with assessor Mike Freeman offering his opinion that the cap on the increase in assessment at 15% will serve to shift the tax burden to the lower and middle level homeowners. County financial analyst Gina Humphreys told Council that the cap on millage increases this year is set at 4.5%, up from 3.4% last year. “That increase is based on the increase in the consumer price index and the growth in population,” said Humphreys.

Requested wording

Councilwoman Gracie Floyd asked that language from last year’s statement stating that Council would adopt a budget that didn’t raise taxes be removed. “We shouldn’t have that in there. We can’t promise that.”

Councilwoman Wilson asked that language be inserted calling for a serious review of spending as an alternative to a budget that raised taxes. “We didn’t meet this goal last year. Our budget raised taxes tremendously last year.”

She did manage to insert language into the environmental statements to require closer monitoring of the discharge from landfills, sewers, wastewater plants and roads into the county’s waterways. Chairman Michael Thompson inserted language calling for stronger air quality measures, such as alternatives to burning leaves.

County Administrator Joey Preston outlined a plan to expand the animal shelter or build a new one, which would include a low cost spay/neuter clinic as well. Wilson asked that language concerning the hiring of an in house vet to reduce costs also be included in the statement.

Wilson also raised questions about the availability of information from the Preston administration and asked that Council approve language saying that information about public expenditures be declared public information. Council members McAbee, Thompson, and Floyd all disagreed with her, and the requested language was not inserted.

Expansions

Charles Wyatt, Director of the Anderson County Sports and Entertainment Center, told Council that three more ball fields need to be added to the complex in order to be able to host tournaments without scattering the teams all around. “We are going to start losing these tournaments to other venues soon,” he said.

County Transportation Director Holt Hopkins told Council that there is a waiting list for hangar space at the airport. “I believe that we could fill twenty more T hangars and five more corporate hangars right now if we had them. We have to add hangar space. They will come if we do. They are already coming and we have no place to put them.”

Council also has two budget workshops slated for the coming weeks.

Sales Tax Commission sets capital projects list

By Stan Welch

The Anderson Capital Projects Sales Tax Commission wrapped up its work last week, compiling its final list of projects and approving the form of the referendum question to be presented to the County Council for endorsement next week.

The list contained a total of 124 projects with a total projected cost of $148 million, to be raised over the next seven years by the collection of a one cent sales tax. The anticipated funds will be split as evenly as possible, with each county council District slated to receive approximately $21.14 million.

In District Seven, the largest single project would be the construction of the extension of Ida Mae Tucker Road, which would cost $8 million. The widening of the shoulders on Midway Road would cost another $5 million, while Pelzer would receive a half million dollars for use in addressing wastewater problems. West Pelzer would receive $300,000 to renovate Town Hall, as well as an additional $150,000 for Main Street beautification and $50,000 for sewer line rehabilitation and infiltration problems.

Honea Path would garner $350,000 for renovations to the fire house, a like amount for renovations to the old Town Hall and police department, $250,000 for remodeling the recreation building and $50,000 for the Watkins Community Center renovations.

In District Six, reconstruction of Three Bridges Road and Mt. Airy Church Rd. would cost $10 million, while Cely Road reconstruction would cost approximately $4.98 million. Widening Circle Road would use an additional $1.5 million.

(Editor’s note: For a list of the top fifty projects, which all involve actual construction of projects or modification of existing roads, see graphic display in this issue. The remaining projects are all resurfacing projects of existing roads. All those projects are located in Districts 1,2, and 3.)

The Commission, made up of six members, made no bones about their political bias in choosing the projects. “We have got to divide this money as evenly as possible,” said Chairman David Jones, of Belton. “If this doesn’t significantly benefit every corner of this county, it has no chance of passing.”

Commissioner Kirk Oglesby agreed, saying, “It is almost impossible to guarantee fairness when so many variables are unknown. But we have to make the best effort we can to insure that everyone benefits from this.”

The Commission held a series of meetings across the County, with County Transportation Director Holt Hopkins and his staff also attending. The meetings were designed to elicit public input on what the needs of the various areas were, in terms of infrastructure. The Commission heard one message over and over. “We have been told everywhere we go that this tax has no chance to pass unless we put in place additional financial controls to assure that the money is spent like it is supposed to be,” said Commission member Rusty Burns.

Chairman Jones, a close political ally of Councilman Larry Greer, approached Greer and relayed that message. As a result, Greer proposed, and Council passed, an ordinance establishing an oversight committee to audit the spending of the funds, should the tax pass. The Commission also requested that an internal auditor be hired to assist in that spending review, and that Council commit to maintaining current budgeted spending levels on paving and road construction, so that no net loss of funding occurs as the taxes are collected.

The final list of projects, which includes as its top priority construction of the long delayed East/West connector, at a cost of $18 million, will be presented to the entire County council at their next meeting, on April 15. The list cannot be altered by the Council, once it is accepted. Council will vote, up or down, to accept the list and place the question of the sales tax on the November ballot as a referendum question.

Each Council member, except for District Four’s Bill McAbee presented a list of suggested projects from their respective districts. Unlike 2006, when the referendum was proposed and Council unanimously defeated it, support for letting the people decide for themselves seems much stronger this time.

“This is a good list of projects,” said Commission member Bob Burriss. “Any Council member who thinks the public shouldn’t be allowed to consider this tax will have to explain that position.”

Police investigate incidents

Williamston Police officers investigated vandalism, thefts and other incidents recently. Among incidents investigated were:

March 25 – Ptl. M.W. Ritter observed a black Jeep traveling on Greenville St. without taillights. He initiated a traffic stop and subsequently found that James Ridgeway, WM, 31, 5’9", 170 pounds, brn/brn was driving under suspension. He was arrested and transported to WPD.

March 25 - Ptl. D.E. Whaley was dispatched to Mineral Spring Park where Town employee Tim Gentry reported damage to the lower restrooms totaling $150.

March 25 – Ptl. M.W. Ritter initiated a traffic spot after he observed a white Jeep traveling northbound on Cherokee Drive with its door open.  The driver, Bryan Fricks, WM, 25, 6’1", 195 pounds, brn/hazel, was arrested for open container and disorderly conduct and transported to WPD.

March 26 – Sgt. M.D. Creamer and Ptl. M.W. Ritter were dispatched to 100 Williamston Court, Apt. 109 where Linda Trainor, WF, 50, reported that her live in boyfriend, Dale Berube, WM, 5’7", 170 pounds, brn/brn, assaulted her by striking her and throwing her down on a CD player, breaking it and hurting her back. EMS was called and treated and transported her to AnMEd. Berube was arrested and transported to WPD.

March 27 – Sgt. M.D. Creamer assisted the Lyman Police Department in serving an active felony warrant on Angel McConnell, WF, 43, 5’3", 140 pounds, of 504 Parker St.

March 27 – Cpl. D.W. Bryant  responded to the Cushman Plant where he investigated a case of vandalism to a building at the site. Two sides of the building had been painted with graffiti.

March 28 – Ptl. D.E. Whaley was dispatched to 41 Ridge Court where Billy Seigler reported that someone had stolen a 5’X8’ white utility trailer from his yard, valued at $600.

March 28 – SRO R.G. Alexander was dispatched to the BB&T Bank where manager Phyllis Lollis reported that Harold Dean, BM, 51, 5’10", 150 pounds, had been begging on the premises and that he was on a no trespass notice for the bank’s location. Alexander located Dean nearby and spoke with him. He denied having been on the property, but when Lollis confirmed that he had been, he was arrested and transported to WPD.

March 29 – Ptl. M.W. Ritter initiated a traffic stop on a black VW Jetta which ran a traffic signal. The driver, Summer Jade Hackett, WF, 23, 5’4", 153 pounds, blond/blue was found to be driving under suspension for failure to pay a traffic ticket. She was arrested and transported to WPD.

March 30 – Capt. K. Evatt initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle after it crossed the center line twice. The driver, Jonathan Gilreath, WM, 24, 5’10", 140 pounds, brn/brn, was found to be driving under suspension. Reports state a subsequent search found Gilreath in possession of a small amount of marijuana and some rolling papers. He was arrested and transported to WPD.

March 30 – Ptl. D.E. Whaley responded to the Rite Aid Drugstore in regards to a shoplifting complaint. Steve Culbertson, an employee of the store, told him that the subject, Joseph Scott Wood, WM, 38, 5’9", 165 pounds, of 37 Middleton Blvd., had taken an item into the men’s room. While Whaley stood by, Culbertson checked the restroom and found an empty package for an MP3 player. Wood was questioned at the front of the store and admitted taking the player, which he took from his jacket. He was arrested and transported to WPD, and placed on trespass notice for the store.

March 31 – Sgt. M.D. Creamer responded to a report of  a suspicious person at 100 Williamston Court. Upon arrival he found Courtney Hutchinson, BM, 20, 5’8", 150 pounds on the scene. Hutchinson was found to be on trespass notice for that location and he was taken into custody and transported to WPD.

April 2 – Sgt. Z.E. Gregory responded to McAlister St. and Lewis Circle where WFD Chief Steve Ellison reported that he had a witness who had seen two juvenile boys leave the area shortly before a yard fire began. The witness, Carl Heisler, Jr. reported seeing a white male juvenile,11, and a black male juvenile, 13, leaving the area a few minutes before the fire started.

Sgt. Gregory cruised the surrounding area and was waved down by a family member of the first subject. The relative reported that the boy had told them that they had lit some leaves and then got scared when a neighbor yelled at them. They tried to stomp the fire out then ran off. Both subjects and their mothers appeared at the WPD and signed the appropriate paper work. The juveniles were released into their mothers’ custody. Charges are pending from the Department of Juvenile Justice.

April 2 – Ptl. D. E. Whaley responded to the Community First Bank where Faye Meares reported that someone had stolen the tag off her vehicle while it was parked at the bank over the weekend. The tag was SC#383VYK.

Deputies investigate thefts, assault incidents

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated the following incidents:

BELTON 

April 3 – R. N. Holbrooks and J.D. Martin were dispatched to 3311 Hwy. 29N where William Miller, owner of Let’s Cover Up, reported the theft of several truck covers valued at $1900.

April 4 – A. Land responded to W. Calhoun Road where three men were on scene. James Guthrie reported that he had seen the men taking scrap metal from the location, which belongs to Guthrie’s father. Following interviews with the two adults and one juvenile  on site, Land arrested Ken Grant, WM, 44, 5’5", 150 pounds, black/blue, of 10 Morgan St., West Pelzer, for petit larceny and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The minor was from Pelzer and was transported to ACDC on charges of petit larceny and released to his mother’s custody. Also arrested was Ricky Grant, WM, 47, 5’6", 165 pounds, also of 10 Morgan St., on charges of petit larceny and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

EASLEY

 April 6 - Anderson County deputies were involved in a brief standoff with a suspect involving  a case of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. Deputy C. Whitfield was dispatched to 8124 Old Greenville Highway where Eleanor Lollis, WF, 72, reported that she and her son, Lester Lollis, WM, 46, had been in a physical confrontation, during which he knocked her down in the yard and locked her out of the house. During the altercation, he pointed a gun at her, according to her statement. Deputy Whitfield, accompanied by Sgt. McCarley, approached the back door and asked Lollis to come out and talk to them. He refused, and when asked if he had a gun, said that it was in the bedroom. Reports state Whitfield looked through the window and saw him with the handgun in his possession. The SWAT team was summoned, but Lollis was soon found passed out at the back door. EMS was called and it was subsequently discovered that he had taken an overdose of some sort of pills. He was transported to the hospital by Pelzer EMS. It is unknown whether charges have been filed at this time.

April 2 – P.D. Marter responded to Greenville Memorial Hospital where Willie Moore, of Easley, reported that he had been assaulted by his former father in law and another man. He said they pushed him down and punched and kicked him. He showed evidence of numerous injuries and scratches. Marter’s report indicated he would locate and interview the two subjects prior to seeking warrants.

April  2 – J.J. Jacobs responded to 115 Jessie Drive where Jean Vaughn reported that she had argued with her adult son, Chad McDonald, WM, 40, of Marietta SC, and had left her home to call police. Jacobs checked and found that Greenville County had active warrants on McDonald and he was transported to Hwy. 153 where GCSO deputies took custody of him.

April 4 – J.T. Bowers was dispatched to 3015 Pelzer Hwy., Lot 2 where William Czarnick and Jason Cavazos reported being in a scuffle together. The two friends decided to drop any charges but Cavazos was found to have an active warrant in Greenville County. He was arrested and transported to ACDC.

April 5 – T. B. Dugan responded to Waterside Rd. and Avendale Rd. to a new house site where Thomas Coker reported that someone had shot his work van, firing five shots at it. Coker said he had fired Eddie McDonald earlier in the day and had left the job site. He left the van there so other employees could leave when it was time. According to an employee referred to only as Root, McDonald allegedly returned looking for Coker. Root later heard several gun shots and saw McDonald shooting a bucket in the woods with a rifle. Root went outside and McDonald allegedly threatened to shoot Coker if he saw him. According to Root, he then shot the van several times. Damage is estimated at $2000.

April 6 – T.B. Dugan responded to 312 Randall Rd. where Sylvia Moore reported that several rings had been stolen from her mother’s fire safe within the last month while she was in the hospital. The rings were valued at approximately $2400.

PELZER

April 1  - C. Whitfield was dispatched to  506 Woodcock Rd. where Clint Holbrooks said he and his girlfriend were at his uncle’s house watching television when he heard a car pull into the yard. He looked out and saw a white male get out with a gun in his hand. He and his girlfriend fled out the back. He said he heard the gunman speak to him and then two shots were fired. The couple ran into another uncle’s house next door, and the gunman left. The second uncle said he heard the noise and looked out the window. He said he recognized the gunman, who fired two shots in the air.

April 1 – C. Whitfield responded to 3 Finley St. where Bobby Smith, WM, 52, reported being assaulted.

PIEDMONT

April 1 – T.B. Dugan responded to 608 Bagwell Rd. where Tripp Merritt, of Willow Tree Landscaping, reported the theft of landscaping equipment and a utility trailer that were valued at $17,000.

April 3 – C. Holbrooks was dispatched to1008 Calumet Court where Tony Patterson reported the theft of several appliances, valued at $2000.

April 5 – K.D. Pigman was dispatched to Archie St. and  Iler St. where he found Randall McClain in the street in an extremely intoxicated condition. McClain would not respond to his questions. A neighbor told Pigman there was a female lying on the ground in the back yard in need of medical attention. Randall was detained and Pigman drove to the back of the house where he found that the woman had apparently managed to leave the area. McClain was arrested for public disorderly conduct.

WILLIAMSTON

April 3 – J.J. Jacobs was on patrol on Wesley Ellison Rd. when he saw a white 1993 Dodge Ram truck with SC tag # 523WVG. That license plate had been reported as stolen so he stopped the truck. The driver, Robert Devine, WM, 49, 5’6", 175 pounds, brn/green, of 1002 Belton Hwy., was arrested for receiving stolen goods. He also had a suspended Pennsylvania driver’s license.

April 4 – T.B. Dugan was dispatched to 6011 Hwy. 29 N where David Dodenhoff reported that someone had broken into the vacant house he owns at that location. The house’s copper plumbing, copper wiring and heating and air conditioning units had all been stripped. Damage and loss was estimated at $4000.

Day of Decision precedes Wren prom

The Students Against Destructive Decision (SADD) club at Wren High School, along with the entire student body, will be involved in the “Prom Promise – Day of Decision” on Thursday, April 17th. 

The event will culminate a week of activities leading up to the Wren High prom on Saturday, April 19 being held at Fluor Daniel.

Members of SADD Organization want to reinforce how important it is for students to be safe and focused when driving.

During the week, the Serteen students will encourage students to sign the Prom Promise and the Contract for Life. 

The Prom Promise states, “I can have a positive influence on my life and the lives of my friends&ldots;. I have decided to be safe and sober. So whether or not I go to the prom, I promise not to use alcohol or other drugs.” The Contract for Life states that a student will not drink and drive but also it is a contract with the parent. The contract asks the parent to come and get them if students find themselves in a dangerous situation because of one of the friends drinking and/or driving.

The Day of Decision is an afternoon devoted to the safety of the students at Wren High School. 

Students can get hands on experience with a Peer Awareness Driving Simulator, funded by the district office, which uses the latest technology and virtual reality.

The simulator is an actual stationary car, that when driven by students, gives them immediate information regarding their accuracy while driving. Once the students drive the first time, the computer adds a drunk driving calculation into the mix to give students the results of how they drove if intoxicated. Screens outside the vehicle let other students watch the scenes the student driver sees while driving. A video is also played between drivers that depicts an accident in which a student was injured in an alcohol related accident, air-lifted to a hospital, and had to learn to walk, talk and feed themselves again.

In addition to the simulator, students will travel to four different stations to hear from families that have lost loved ones in accidents; a teen group against tobacco use called Rage Against the Haze; a representative from the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) organization and a local coroner. Chick-Fil-A will also be assisting by distributing coupons to students who are wearing their seat belts while leaving school.

Students will also watch a skit related to an accident re-creation. This skit will be done by the SADD members and will represent how impulsive decisions can result in tragedies. For more information or to help with the Day of Decision, contact Becky Mann at 850-5900 ext 246.

Author Ann Coulter to speak at Furman

Best-selling author and conservative commentator Ann Coulter will speak on the Furman University campus Wednesday, April 16 at 7 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium.

Her lecture, “Liberals are Wrong About Everything,” is free and open to the public. A question-and-answer session will follow.

Coulter’s appearance at Furman is co-sponsored by the university’s Conservative Students for a Better Tomorrow, the Furman University Student Activities Board, Residential Life Council and Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute.

Coulter is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, including If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans (2007), Godless: The Church of Liberalism and Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right (2002). She writes a syndicated column for Universal Press Syndicate, and is a frequent guest on TV shows such as “Hannity and Colmes,” HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” and “The O’Reilly Factor.”

A Connecticut native, Coulter graduated with honors from Cornell University, and received her J.D. from University of Michigan Law School. 

After practicing law in New York City, Coulter worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she handled crime and immigration issues for Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan. She later became a litigator with the Center for Individual Rights in Washington, D.C. Coulter was named one of the top 100 Public Intellectuals by federal judge Richard Posner in 2001.

For more information about Coulter’s visit to Furman, visit the Conservative Students for a Better Tomorrow website at http://furmancsbt.org/coulter.aspx or call Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

Seems to Me . . . Fair officiating

By Stan Welch

In recent weeks, a rather remarkable expression of public distrust of local government has been on display. This display has been in addition to the generic and ingrained public distrust that is so much a part of Anderson politics.

This most recent and glaring example of the trust issue has two distinct facets, like a rough cut gem. Both facets involve creating a position for an internal auditor to review spending of public funds.

In the case of the capital projects sales tax, which could generate more than twenty one million dollars a year in revenue if passed, an oversight committee has been approved by County Council in order to assure that the funds collected would be spent appropriately and in accordance with state law.

This oversight committee was asked for by the CPST Commission itself, who said plainly that without additional safeguards in place, the sales tax would have no chance of passage.

Stop and think about that for moment. Here are seven business and civic leaders, men well thought of in their communities and men who are well connected to their communities. They have their ears to the ground; their civic and professional responsibilities require that of them. So these men who know what is being said around the county reached the conclusion that without additional, extraordinary fiscal controls in place, the general public wouldn’t even consider passage of a tax that would, in effect, allow more than one year’s budget for the entire county to be spent on infrastructure projects over the next seven years.

But the oversight committee wasn’t enough. The Commission also recommended that an internal auditor be hired with some of those tax dollars to insure that the remainer of those tax dollars would be spent properly. In addition, the CPST commission asked that written assurances be provided, preferably in the form of an amendment to the upcoming budget ordinance, that no reduction in current levels of funding for the transportation department result from the passage of the sales tax, should that passage occur.

In other words, they don’t want the county administrator shifting funds out of the transportation department because the sales tax is generating additional funds.

 So we have one call for an internal auditor and associated fiscal controls. This is to anyone with a basic awareness, much less understanding, of Anderson politics, a remarkable moment and a landmark demand for additional accountability. It is also a neon sign of the growing public dissatisfaction with County policies on fiscal accountability and public openness.

Another call for an internal auditor is being heard these days as well, though not so loudly, perhaps. Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and Councilman Bob Waldrep are calling for an internal auditor to be hired to review county fiscal policies and performance and to report directly to the Council. Both are well known for their publicly expressed dissatisfaction with County Administrator Joey Preston and his management of the county’s operations.

Wilson and Waldrep adhere to an interpretation of home rule that they say gives Council the authority to hire, fire and directly supervise not only an internal auditor, but also the county attorney. Several other counties in the state utilize such a system, and in fact, Anderson County did so at one time.

County Attorney Tom Martin, however,  cites opinions issued by the State Attorney General which indicate his position that such a system is not proper under home rule. Not surprisingly, Martin and therefore Preston, accept this position as their own. And in truth, the argument can be made that such opinions do reflect the legal authority of the State of South Carolina.

Council has currently tabled the issue while awaiting the most recent in a series of opinions on the matter to be issued by the Attorney General’s office.

Where the problem, at least to my mind, arises is in the fact that the same power structure, including the Council itself, which is now so piously touting state law in support of its desire to avoid an independent internal auditor, just as pompously disregarded two separate opinions issued by the Attorney General concerning Wilson’s right to public information which she has fought to get for more than five years.

That’s right. The same Office of the Attorney General which supports Preston’s claim that he should have authority over the internal auditor also has consistently ruled that Wilson or any other elected official has an absolute right to the information, both specifically and categorically, which she has been routinely denied by the Preston administration.

So clear did the matter seem to those at the state level that two different Attorney Generals issued the same opinion while they were in office. 

The steadfast refusal of Anderson County to honor those opinions has gone unquestioned and unchallenged by the same county attorney who so adamantly beats the attorney general’s drum when it could affect the issue of an independent auditor and a county attorney who truly serves the county, and not its head bureaucrat.

There is a saying in sports that relates to the manner in which games are officiated. It doesn’t really matter what the umpire’s strike zone is on any given day, or whether or not the referees are calling charges or blocks in the basketball game. It doesn’t matter if the officials in a football game are calling holding or letting the players play.

What matters is that the calls are consistent, that they are called the same for both teams. In that way, the game remains fair; it maintains its integrity.

Seems to me the same could be reasonably asked of the county attorney and the Council too, for that matter. If you are going to insist on being, as Mr. Greer is wont to say, “consistent with state law”, then for crying out loud, be consistent! Either eat the cake or put it back on the table.

Mr. Martin, the next time you are giving an admittedly persuasive and eloquent defense of your position on the issue of the internal auditor, could you please also explain how those other opinions are routinely ignored, and how the tens of thousands of dollars spent on legal fees because of this inconsistency can be justified? Or is that information not to be made public?

 

 

 

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