(1605) Week of Apr. 20, 2005
Week of Apr. 20, 2005
Relief Center ready to help residents
The Piedmont Emergency Relief Center (PERC) held a ribbon cutting and open house Sunday for the office and headquarters for the relief center located at the Piedmont Community Center.
Rev. Ron Thomas and M.O. Punchy Howard, Sr. cut the blue ribbon to officially open the Piedmont Emergency Relief Center.
Rev. Thomas also blessed the opening. The blue ribbon was used to raise awareness for the needs of families and children and efforts to try to take care of those needs.
More than 100 people came to the opening and supported the food pantry by helping fill the shelves with canned fruits and vegetables, dried beans, rice, and pasta. There was enough food donated to fill about 20 or more shopping carts, organizers said.
Guests contributed over $100 to PERC with the purchase of hot dog plates available during the event.
Marsha Rogers, Piedmont Public Service Commission Chairman, arranged for a siren salute as the blue ribbon parted. Then the gathered crowd entered the first floor room which has been rehabilitated by volunteers. Most brought food themselves or brought food collected by their church.
Many decided to volunteer at PERC in the future and everyone said they wanted to help in some way, organizers said.
Co-Chairs Norma Hedstrom and Cindy Ashenfelder agreed that though the ribbon cutting was the highlight, the turnout exceeded any optimistic expectation.
Unfortunately co-chairman Carol Ayers could not attend. Rev. Ron Thomas from Piedmont Presbyterian, Rev. Mahlon Helmuth from the Temple of Faith, Rev. David James from Piedmont United Methodist, and Rev. Lowry Drennan from Shiloh Methodist, all of the Piedmont Ministerial Association, support PERC and came to the open house.
Dolly Cooper dropped by as did Craig and Lori Lungren with their two young daughters. Boyd Sexton, Punchy Howard and Peggy Garrett, Betty Davenport, Mark and Debbie West were other guests.
PERC owes its success to the many volunteers who contributed over 500 hours in many different capacities.
Jackie Ayers, Ron Hedstrom, and Cory Hedstrom were among those repairing walls, floors, and ceiling.
Carol Ayers, Norma Hedstrom, and Cindy Ashenfelder ably co-chaired the organization to develop policies, procedures, and partners. Members of the Piedmont Community Improvement Association were also invaluable. Others too numerous to mention provided liaison with their church or other group.
Without their support, PERC would still be only a dream, Hedstrom said.
Members of the Piedmont community filled PERC shelves. PERC now stands ready to help Piedmonts citizens, organizers said.
PERC organizers are encouraged with the success of this food drive and community support.
Some found out about the open house and food drive as late as that Sunday and contributed. Piedmonts generous spirit and neighborly kindness are evident in every can on the shelves, organizer Jed Daughtry said.
Anyone may contribute food during office hours or by special arrangements.
PERC hours of operation are: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4pm to 7pm and Saturdays from 9am to 12 noon.
For more information on specific food needs PERC might have, please call Daughtry at 906-7351.
Currently PERC volunteers suggest that toiletries such as toothpaste and brushes, tampons and sanitary napkins, and other paper products would be helpful. Other shortages include: cereals, flour, sugar and artificial sweeteners, canned fruit, tea bags and juices, peanut butter and jelly and snack food for childrens school lunches. Baby food, formula, and diapers would also be helpful.
PERC thanked those key to opening the door. The names of individuals and organizations supporting PERC were written on keys. which were place on a wall in the office.
Recognized with keys were: Piedmont Community Improvement Association, Piedmont Ministerial Association, Piedmont Fire Department, Piedmont Fire Commissioners, Piedmont Boys Scouts, Piedmont Cub Scouts, Strong Communities, Marsha Rogers, Carol and Jackie Ayers, Cindy and Michelle Ashenfelder, David Ashenfelder, Ron and Norma Hedstrom, Christy and Cory Hedstrom, Sheila and Jed Daughtry, Wayne Pittman of Image Signs, Boyd Sexton, Mark West, Ted Williams, Max Kennedy of Grove Station, and Chris Nappi.
PERC organizers said they hope to make announcements in the near future about a website and other events including a June 25 street dance with much of the proceeds benefiting PERC.
The next meeting of the Piedmont Emergency Relief Center will be held on Monday April 25 at 7pm at the Piedmont Community Buildings Rowell Room.
There will be a guest speaker and business meeting. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
PERCs general meeting is open to the public and held the fourth Monday of each month at the time and location above.
By Stan Welch
The Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners (PPSD) gave first reading approval Monday to the first budget in at least a decade to reflect a deficit. As currently written, the budget would fall short of projected revenues by approximately $21,469.
The budget covers the three general areas of service provided by the public service district: fire protection, water and sewer and recreational.
Not surprisingly, fire protection is the largest of the areas, and consumes by far most of the budget. Based on estimated revenues and expenditures for the department, there will be a bare surplus of $45 in the fire departments portion of the budget. That figure reflects projected revenues of $961,102, based on .055 mills levied against a total assessed property value for the district of $17,474,580.
Within the department budget, personnel costs are the lions share, including just under $490,000 for salaries and an additional $148,000 for health insurance coverage.
Butch Nichols, District Administrator, reminded the Commissioners that in 1984, the fire department responded to a total of 98 calls for the entire year.
Last year, there were over 400 calls, and in March of this year alone, there were a total of 47 calls, not all to fires. It just shows how fast this district and area are growing, said Nichols.
The biggest drain on the budget appears to be the water and sewer department, as it shows a projected deficit of just over $18,000. A total of $108,746 is estimated in revenues, with a projection of $126,750 in expenditures. The revenue projection is based on a millage rate of .024.
A large expense shown in the budget is $25,000 for the cleaning of sewer lines. The district is committed to a certain level of cleaning each year to reach mandatory standards set by regulatory agencies.
Nichols suggested reducing the footage cleaned this year in order to save money.
Commissioner Fred Glenn agreed that the idea was worth investigating, but added, We dont want to get into trouble over it.
Commissioner Al McAbee suggested trying to adjust the cleaning schedule to 6 or 7 years, in order to allow for a reduction in the footage to be cleaned annually.
The recreation budget also reflects a deficit of $3,510. Utilities and lawn maintenance are the big eaters in that portion of the budget, consuming $9,300 and $9,500 respectively.
Nichols reported that he was meeting with the Greenville County Assistant Administrator next week to review the assessments of property in that countys portion of the district.
It just seems to me that theyre off some on that. We may find some more money that way. Any Commissioners who can join us would be more than welcome, Nichols said.
In other business, a lack of communication appears to be responsible for a delay in the construction of a fishing pier to be built out over the river near the downtown area bridge.
The Piedmont Pride organization has secured a grant of $10,800 for the project, but is unable to receive the grant themselves. They had asked The PPSD to accept and administer the grant on their behalf.
Commissioner Frankie Garrett asked the other Commission members what the delay was.
These folks asked me to inquire about this. They said that you (Chairwoman Marsha Rogers) said it would have to come from you or Butch Nichols or Assistant Chief Craig Lawless. Why havent we acted on this?
Chairwoman Rogers explained that the project must be funded and completed first, then the grant monies are reimbursed.
We dont have $10,800 in grant money in our hands. When they build the pier and submit receipts and other records, the monies will be repaid. Thats how these grants work, Rogers said.
She also explained that the district doesnt own the property the pier is slated for. We would be assuming the liability for something we dont own.
She asked Garrett directly, Would you want us to write them a check for $10,800 and just give it to them? Garrett replied he would not, but still questioned the lack of action by the Commission.
After further discussion, it was decided that Rogers would set up a meeting between grant officials from Anderson County and the Piedmont Commission as well as Piedmont Pride.
That way we can have all this explained so that everyone understands the process. That was supposed to happen before, but the county people didnt ever get back to me, said Rogers. This time, Ill set it up.
The commission also voted to meet at noon one day later this week to determine what action to take regarding the security at the Community Building.
Bids for a proposed alarm system were so varied as to approach and cost that the Commission declined them all.
Lets all get on the same page and tell them what we want instead of them telling us what we need, said Garrett. The commission also agreed that a proposal to install vinyl siding and paint the building might also address the major security issues.
During a special meeting at White Plains Masonic Lodge April 14, members of Grove Station Lodge #166 A. F. M. in Piedmont opened a time capsule box that was sealed in 1972.
The time capsule was sealed and placed in the corner stone of the Grove Station Lodge on March 25, 1972 and was removed from the building on March 25, 2005.
A special Centennial Celebration program was held in honor of placing the time capsule and related items in the time capsule.
The ladies night centennial banquet featured Mearlin D. Vinson, Worshipful Master with invocation by R. W., Harry P. Reid and guest speaker M. W. Grandmaster of Masons in SC Herbert L. Middleton, Jr.
Officers at Grove Station Lodge #166 at the time the corner stone was laid included: Wallace Reid, S. G. Warden; Jeff Harris, Treasurer; O. R. Cothran, Secretary; J. T. Vinson, Tiler; Lee Jones, Senior Deacon; Donald Parker, Chaplain; Al McAbee, Junior Deacon; Otis Harrison, District Deputy.
Also Lleon Eaton, Steward; Waldo Reid, Steward; Waymon Barnett, Junior Warden; Mearlin Vinson, Worshipful Master; Troy E. Bennett, Senior Warden.
Grove Station Lodge No. 166 A. F. M received a Letter of Dispensation on March 15, 1872. The lodge meetings were held over what was then known as the Nesbitt and Trowbridge Community Store, at Grove Station, approximately two miles north of Piedmont on S. C. Hwy. 20.
The Lodge was moved to Piedmont in January, 1882 with meetings conducted in the old town hall which was located on the site of the old Sue Cleveland Elementary School.
In 1966 the lodge purchased the old Grove School Building from Greenville County for $11,000 and began meeting in the building in 1967.
The building was sold at auction on March 5, 2005. The lodge held its last business meeting in the old building on March 10 and removed the cornerstone on March 25.
The time capsule included a copy of the 1972 Centennial dedication program which included history on the lodge from the beginning, and various copies of state masonic publications at the time.
There were also other publications of the time including two copies of The Journal, copies of the Greenville News, the Greenville Piedmont, Time Magazine, and Readers Digest.
Also included were photos of officers and of the corner stone, money, a list of what went in, a fishing license and credit card, a dues card, a memento given to visiitors attending the centennial program. and other historical items.
Troy Bennett, who was responsible for getting the items together for the time capsule was also present for the opening. The opening was attended by members of White Plains and Grove Station lodges.
O. T. Harrison, a member of the Grove Station Lodge when the corner stone was laid, was present representing the Williamston lodge.
The special event was also attended by relatives of Grove Station Worshipful Master (at the time the corner stone was laid) Mearlin Vinson. Daughter Linda (Vinson) Doty and granddaughter Kellie.
Also attending were Grand Master of the Masons of S. C. Jack A Marler, Senior Grand Warden Gerald L. Carver; Grand Marshal, William R. Logan; PDDGM 11th District Roy Ballard; PDDGM 17th District Bill Huff; PDDGM 17th District Leon Heaton and Otis Harrison, PDDGM, 17th District.
Members of the Grove Station Lodge said they are planning and deciding on the future of the Grove Station Masoinc lodge over the next few months and hope to either find a new meeting location or combine with another lodge.
By Stan Welch
The Anderson County Council meeting moved along smoothly Tuesday night until an ordinance came before the Council for first reading approval that could eventually lead to a lease purchase agreement for communications equipment upgrades not to exceed $1,815,000 in cost. The meetings progress got a little bumpier from there on in.
Prior to that, Council had been awarded a magnificent eagle sculpture by Major General Burchstead of the Army National Guard, to honor Anderson County for its outstanding support of the National Guard and its members.
Of the four Guard units in the County, three have been activated during the ongoing war in the Middle East, and the fourth has been informed that they will likely be activated later this year, said Burchstead.
He also reported that he had attended two funerals for soldiers killed in a recent helicopter crash in Afghanistan. One funeral was in Spartanburg, the other in Easley.
It is important to remember what we ask of these soldiers, and Anderson County has always done that, and shown their support, he said.
Council responded through District Four representative who presented the General with a resolution acknowledging his recent promotion to Major General, and his remarkable career which began as an ROTC cadet at Clemson University.
The General called the recognition one of the more pleasant ambushes he has ever encountered, and credited the soldiers he has served with and commanded for his success.
Council also heard a budget request from Chief Magistrate Nancy Devine, in which she asked for an additional $35,000 in operating costs, a full time clerk to assist the eight magistrates, the expansion of a current part time clerks job to a full time position, and $2000 for capital improvements to be allocated to each of the eight magistrates offices.
Regarding security issues, Devine asked that Council fund a deputys position for the Sheriffs Department to use in providing an armed deputy in the main Courthouse.
Both Councilmen Bill Dees and Michael Thompson expressed their concerns about security, with Dees adding that he found the magistrates requests quite reasonable.
Council gave final approval to an agreement to lease office space to Anderson Aero LLC. An ordinance changing the way in which citizens are appointed to boards or committees, as well as changing the terms of those appointments, also received first reading approval.
A resolution supporting the SC Attorney Generals Methwatch program was also approved.
Then County Emergency services Director Tommy Thompson and Administrator Joey Preston presented Ordinance 2005-15, seeking authorization to investigate the possible interest rates available for financing the central dispatch communications console upgrade.
Thompson told Council that seven years of 24 hours a day use had taken its toll on the equipment currently being used. Included in the presentation was a memo from Finance Director Gina Davis referring to an annual revenue stream of approximately $750,000 through an E-911 Tariff Fund that is funded by a tariff on all telephone customers in the County, in accordance with SC law.
The memo goes on to say that These revenues will be used to retire the debt associated with the acquisition of the Motorola Plant Vesta Median 911 communications system that is needed in Central Dispatch.
District 7 Councilwoman Cindy Wilson sought assurances that the debt could be paid off in 3-4 years using the tariff fund, but such assurances were not forthcoming from either Preston or Thompson.
There are restrictions on what the fund can be used for, said Preston. The fund will generate enough each year to service the debt, but other items such as maintenance have to be considered.
Thompson agreed, saying that only very narrow personnel needs can be funded with tariff monies, but said We need to keep a reserve fund.
The County is currently seeking to install an 800 MHz radio system and towers as well, in order to achieve dependable inter-agency communications. The ordinance received unanimous first reading approval.
The next presentation of the evening, dealing with the Beaverdam Sewer Project and reported violations of permit and environmental regulations, saw a substantial rise in temperature among the various members.
Despite asking well in advance for a presentation by County staff, engineers and consultants explaining the violations, the potential remedies, and the cost of those remedies, Wilson received no such presentation.
In lieu of a staff presentation, she made one of her own; reviewing recent developments, including an inspection and subsequent scathing report from a USFWS biologist who walked the project with Wilson in late February.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is a commenting agency, in regards to COE permits for such work. A commenting agency doesnt have primary jurisdiction but can, and often does, express concerns which they may have about any given project.
Biologist Mark Caldwell later e-mailed US Army COE official Les Walker, citing numerous violations of the Nationwide 12 permit under which the work was done. He went on to recommend that damages be repaired, that mitigation be required for damages done, that the Nationwide 12 permit be revisited, and that future permitting for Phase 2 be done under a different, more restrictive permitting process.
County Administrator Joey Preston had project consultant Dewey Pearson on hand to respond to Wilson.
Pearson, a former head of DHECs solid waste permitting and engineering department, said that neither he nor the County had ever been officially notified of any such violations.
He stated that there were some discrepancies and conflicts between DHECs requirements as related to their stormwater permitting process and requirements and those of the COE permitting process.
We have been asked to make some improvements, such as removing rip rap and check dams from several streams, and relocating a certain amount of silt to uphill locations. We have already required the contractor for phase 1-B to make those changes and well be inspecting soon to check on them. The contractor for Phase 1-A will be contacted soon about improvements he has to make, Pearson said.
Council members seemed more concerned with the fact that no official notification had been made than they were with the actual situation along Beaverdam Creek.
Chairperson Floyd demanded to see a copy of Caldwells letter. I want to see it for myself, to read it for myself. Where is it, Ms. Wilson? Wilson replied, I have presented this information to you on several occasions. The letter is before you right now. I passed out copies of the e-mail to all of you before the meeting. Councilman Greer also stressed that no violations have been officially cited by the COE.
Floyd read a letter purportedly sent by Timothy Hall of the USFWS which cited possible violations and intimated that Wilson had not represented herself as a member of County Council, but a concerned private citizen.
Wilson, speaking after the meeting said, I really dont see their point there. A private citizen should carry just as much weight, but since it was originally my private opposition to this project that led me to run for County Council, I know they dont.
So, ever since I was first elected to Council, Ive communicated with these agencies on official letterhead almost all the time. They clearly knew who I was. Les Parker and I have been in contact for years about this problem. Still, it seems very odd that this is the aspect of the problem that the Council and Administrator choose to focus on, Wilson said.
This is a very serious problem, and will, I fear, be very costly to repair and make right. Id just like to see us do it right the first time. It seems much cheaper that way, she added.
A letter to Senator Lindsey Graham, dated March 12, informing him of Wilsons verbal notification by COE representatives of the beginning of enforcement proceedings against the County, and seeking Grahams further involvement in pursuing the issues is written on Anderson County letterhead.
So were the letters and other documents used in preparing two news stories that appeared in The Journal following Caldwells inspection.
Chairperson Floyd, speaking after the meeting, said that until the County is officially notified of violations, then as far as Im concerned there are none. We will continue to do our business out there as we have been doing, Floyd said.
Councilman Thompson, recently elected to represent District 5, conceded he doesnt know enough about the situation to comment. I would like to know more about it though.
According to both Floyd and Pearson, Halls letter also referred to subsequent news stories as being unfortunate in that they were less than factual. (The stories in question appeared in the March 2 & 9 issues of The Journal and were based entirely on interviews with and official statements by federal officials, as well as on public documents and correspondence.)
Wilson, Preston and Floyd werent through for the evening. Wilson had also requested a thirty minute time slot for Preston and staff to present budget information which Wilson had requested, again well in advance.
Again, no such presentation was forthcoming. In addition, both requests for time to discuss the two subjects were reduced to five minutes each.
When Wilson argued that the County code of ordinances gives each member the right, not the privilege, to place items on the agenda as long as the time requested does not exceed 45 minutes, Chairperson Floyd retorted, You do have a right to place items on the agenda, and yours are on the agenda. As to the time allotted, the Administrator decided to cut that down, and the Chair agreed.
The County code of ordinances states that the administrator shall prepare the agenda for the Chairs approval.
Wilson also asked what has happened to $300,000 appropriated by general obligation bond approximately three years ago to be used in repairing the Stevenson Road bridge? She had requested that information in a memo to Preston dated April 13, 2005.
She also asked why the monies had not been spent within two years of the bonds issue, as required under federal arbitrage laws.
Preston responded that the arbitrage requirements are determined by the amount of interest such funds might draw, and that the funds in question had not exceeded the threshold which would trigger the arbitrage rule.
In a memo to Preston dated April 13, Wilson expressed concerns about the possible safety of the bridge and the Countys possible liability if someone were injured or killed at the site.
Councilman Greer said he was insulted by recent inferences that he was unconcerned about the publics safety, and that he had instructed Transportation Director Holt Hopkins to temporarily close the bridge if safety became an issue.
As the discussion of the budget issues continued, Preston became increasingly exorcised, standing and gesturing as he told Wilson that budget preparations were underway, and that he had a two foot high stack of data he had to work through.
You might want to spend a little time talking to department and division heads about these issues, he said. I may have a budget presentation by the next meeting, or I may not. It depends, Preston said.
Wilson countered by asking that Preston bring that big pile of papers to the Thursday workshop at the library so we can all go through it and learn about it.
Floyd broke in, saying, Im going to ask that you not do that, Mr. Preston. I have set the agenda for the workshop, and I dont want to get bogged down going through all this stuff. I dont have time for that, there are other things we need to do.
The Clemson University Pershing Rifles again placed first at the National Pershing Rifles competition in Bloomington, Indiana on April 9th.
Clemson freshman Trey Kennedy, a 2004 Wren graduate and former Commanding Officer of Wrens Navy JROTC, was a member of the Clemson University Pershing Rifles squad and competed in all eight events at the National competition held at Indiana University.
Kennedy placed third in the nation in individual and third in the duo competition. He was one of four in the color guard competition where they placed first, an amazing feat since Clemson University has not placed at all in color guard conmpetition in many years.
Kennedy took charge of preparing the Pershing Rifles uniforms for inspection including adding new buttons with the S. C. seal, resulting Clemson placing first in inspection.
The CU Pershing Rifles placed in every event, yielding them four first place trophys, two second place trophys, three third place trophys, two medals, a $75 cash award and the National first place trophy.
Parents, Mark and Debbie West of Piedmont, accompanied the CU Pershing Rifles to Indiana University.
Clemson University can be very proud of these individuals. They were very polite and professional all weekend. Each movement of each member of the CU Pershing Rifles was a movement as if it were one individual during all of their group competition events. They have practiced continuously, which was evident as they mesmerized their audience, Debbie West said.
In addition, Kennedy was nominated by his officers for a position on the National Board of Pershing Rifles.
After interviewing for this elite post, Trey was awarded this position.
Kennedy was one of two recipients last fall to receive a full Air Force ROTC Scholarship to Clemson University.
His parents attribute the scholarship to the Wren NJROTC program where Kennedy learned leadership skills, self discipline, honorable and moral attributes, as well as, grit.
We are extremely proud of Trey and the rest of the Pershing Rifles. The exemplary performance of CU Pershing Rifles is truly a reflection of the CU leadership as well, says his dad, Mark West.
The Spearman Elementary Earth Day Spring Fling will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 Friday April 22. The annual event features rides, fun and food.
McFeely Amusemented will provide fantastic rides including the new Atlantis Undersea Adventure ride, a monster 36 foot wave slide, a 36 foot climbing tower, a super moon walk and the mega mechanical berry-go-round.
Foods will include homemade ice cream, boiled peanuts, cotton cancy, nachos, hot dogs and more.
Since April 22 is also Earth Day, organizers are including a recycling drive. Throughout the week and on the day of the Spring Fling, everyone is asked to bring in empty aluminum cans and plastic bottles for a grade level competition to see which grade has the most itmes in their recycling bin.
Prizes and special drawings wil be held during the monrning announcements for those who participate.
For more information call Jodi Davenport at 845-3135.
The Palmetto High School Athletic Booster Club has several activities planned for May including a Spring Fling and cookout for all Palmetto athletes on Friday, May 6 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m..
On Saturday, May 7 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., the booster club will hold a yard sale at the Community First Bank parking lot, Main St., Williamston.
A booster club meeting will be held in the Palmetto High School cafeteria Tuesday, May 24 at 6 p.m. All members are invited.
A special program entitled Tips for Teens discussing methamphetamine will be held at Trinity Baptist Church in Williamston on Wed. May 4 at 7 p.m.
Organizers invited all teens in the area to find out the facts before taking the risks associated with the popular drug.
The program will be held in the new gym facility at Trinity Baptist Church, Hwy. 20, Williamston. For information call 245-6240.
Williamston police officers investigated the following incidents during the first week of April:
April 11 - Takesha Monika Webb, 22, 210 Williamston Court, Williamston, was arrested for no tag, no drivers license in possession and operating an uninsured vehicle after a 1989 Chevrolet was observed on Main St. without a tag. Sgt. A. B. Singleton investigated.
Apr. 6 - Jessica Leighton Williams, 15 Sunset Court, Williamston, reported a stolen CCB visa check card was used to make a $10.01 purchase at Enmark, 934 Anderson Dr., Williamston. Sgt. J. T. Motes investigated.
Apr. 9 - Luz Adriana Herrera, 22, 202 Jalan Dr., Williamston, reported a 1994 Pontiac Firebird valued at $8,500 stolen from East Main car wash while the owner was getting change from a coin machine. Cpt. K. P. Evatt investigated.
Apr. 9 - Brian Lee Colins, 34, 408 Randall St., Easley, was arrested for driving under suspension (2nd) and improper headlights after a black Ford Thunderbird was observed on Greenville Drive. Cpt. K. P. Evatt investigated.
Apr. 9 - David Allen Garron, 38, 108 L St., Unit E, Williamston, was arrested for public disporderly conduct after being observed riding a red bicycle in the middle of the roadway on Anderson Drive. Cpt. K. P. Evatt investigated.
Apr. 7 - Two 15-year-old males were arrested for fighting at Palmetto High School. Both were suspended from school, referred to family court for adjudication, and were released to parents.
Apr. 4 - A 16-year-old male at Palmetto High School was arrested after admitting he had taken a pill he said he had found. D. W. Bryant investigated.