News Archive

(1608) Week of Apr. 16, 2008

Strong Communities project getting national attention
FWA announces concert lineup
Municpal Association meets in Williamston
WP Council meeting canceled after Councilmen fail to show up
Riley Community Garden groundbreaking Saturday
Argument results in sword fight
County Council clears way for CPST to be on referendum
Wilson contributes to political campaigns
Hooper to run for District 7 seat
Hearing to discuss justice barriers
Pathways to Success offers student tips
Thefts, altercations investigated
Seems to Me . . .Political tidal waves

Strong Communities project getting national attention

The Strong Communities project to make children in local communities safer appears to be working and is drawing national attention, being featured in a leading health journal

Results of a community survey done by a leading private research firm and Clemson University, show that children participating in the program are safer as a result of a  Clemson University  initiative which focuses on the communities of Williamston, Pelzer, Piedmont and the south Greenville area.

The Strong Communities initiative program and the results of the program are the focus of the entire April-June issue of the professional journal Family and Community Health.

According to a news release, in random surveys conducted in 2007 in the service area of Strong Communities for Children, parents of young children reported better care for their children than did parents interviewed in 2004.

However, the opposite was true among parents surveyed in comparison communities elsewhere in South Carolina.

The community survey was conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and Westat research firm, in collaboration with researchers in Clemson’s Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life, the base for Strong Communities.

Parents in the area served by Strong Communities described more positive behavior toward their children (for example, hugs and other expressions of affection), more careful supervision, more use of household safety devices (for example, baby gates at staircases), and, in general, less neglect.

An analysis by faculty of Clemson’s Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life of the state Department of Education’s annual survey of children, parents, and teachers showed that each of these groups believe that elementary schools in the Strong Communities area have become safer.

Local respondents also indicated that children are safer while in transit to and from school and that schools have become more responsive to parents. The opposite pattern was seen in schools in comparison communities.

Based in southern Greenville County and Anderson School District 1, Strong Communities began in 2002 as a result of a grant from The Duke Endowment.

Planned to be a decade-long project, Strong Communities has so far attracted Endowment funding of approximately $10 million. Additional funding has been requested for the remaining years of the initiative.

Strong Communities is the largest grant project that Clemson has experienced in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. Along with a parallel project at Duke University, Strong Communities may be the largest social science grant that any university has received from a single funder.

Strong Communities Outreach Workers and Williamston residents Sharon Crout and Dr. Doris Cole have been very instrumental in administering the program along with a host of local volunteers.

Dr. Cole, the research assistant professor at the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life (IFNL) at Clemson, was recently recognized as the Rural Educator of the Year by the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

In a news release, Dr. Richard Krugman, Dean of Medicine and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Colorado in Denver, commented, “The goal (of Strong Communities) is fabulous: should any child or family have reason to celebrate, reason to worry, or reason to grieve, someone in the community will notice, and someone will care. That five years into the project Strong Communities for Children is beginning to show success is even more fabulous.”

The health journal editor, Dr. Jeanette Lancaster, Dean of Nursing at the University of Virginia, added, “What we see is that not only are community efforts to protect children effective, but that communities are enlivened and renewed through their collective efforts to protect their most precious and vulnerable resources, their children.”

Dr. Lancaster described Strong Communities as “the first large-scale initiative to address child abuse through research and community-based prevention and intervention concepts.”

Dr. Gary Melton, the director of Strong Communities and the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life, praised the Anderson and Greenville County communities that have participated in the initiative: “The response has been simply stunning. It is especially remarkable given the generation-long trends toward ever greater isolation and alienation among young parents.”

In the first six years of the initiative, about 60,000 hours of service to Strong Communities by 5,000 volunteers were recorded -almost certainly an underestimate of the actual amount.

Churches and neighborhood groups were the biggest sources of volunteers. Public safety agencies, especially firefighters, have been especially reliable volunteers in Strong Communities. Scores of businesses and civic organizations also have participated, as have all of the local governments in the service area.

“The volunteers are a cross-section of the community. Bringing the Golden Rule to life, they are ordinary citizens making extraordinary contributions,” commented Dr. Melton.

The 44 leading volunteers in the initiative were especially likely to be motivated by religious beliefs.

Almost all reported being regular church-goers, and more than one-fourth were church employees.

Research interviews of these exceptional volunteers showed a general belief that volunteering in Strong Communities has been a distinctive and transforming experience for both the volunteers themselves and the communities at large.

One volunteer, an apartment manager, told researchers, “I have grown tremendously. I feel that I can conquer a mountain!... Each year working with Strong Communities volunteering, I just get more energy. My wife tells me I can’t save the world, but I can sure try!”

Since 2006, the resources generated in Strong Communities have often been applied in Strong Families, the initiative’s volunteer-delivered services for families of young children (for example, Parents’ Nights Out). Approximately 3,000 families have enrolled in Strong Families, and thousands more have participated in particular activities.

Not all of the news arising from the Strong Communities research has been good. 

“The challenges to young families keep increasing,” Dr. Melton said, “and I worry about the situation for young children in a time of recession.”

In the community survey, parents in the Strong Communities service area reported increasing social support.

However, most other indicators of community well-being (for example, memberships in community organizations) were down in all of the areas studied in the survey.

Even in the service area, about 1 in 5 parents reported serious isolation. The isolated parents were unable to name children in other families in their neighborhood or to identify a source of emergency child care.

Contrary to research on previous volunteer-based initiatives, community engagement was greatest in the most disadvantaged areas.

“Strong Communities thus has the potential to keep kids safe in both high-need and wealthy communities,” Dr. Melton concluded.

To learn more about Strong Communities, visit www.clemson.edu/strongcommunities or www.clemson.edu/strongcommunities. For more information on this initiative and IFNL, visit www.clemson.edu/ifnl.

FWA announces concert lineup

Organizers of the 27th annual Freedom Weekend Aloft announced an exciting and diverse concert line-up for the 2008 event scheduled for May 24 through May 26 at Heritage Park in Simpsonville.

Country music’s award winning duo, Montgomery Gentry will headline on Saturday, May 24. 

Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry have produced more than 20 chart topping singles including the #1 hits “If I Ever Stop Loving You”, “Something To Be Proud Of”, “Lucky Man” and 9 more top 10 hits.  The duo’s albums have included Carrying On, My Town, You Do Your Thing and Some People Change.

On Sunday, May 25 two time Grammy winners Huey Lewis and The News will perform from more than 19 top ten hits from their gold to triple platinum albums. Among them are “The Power Of Love” which was nominated for an Academy Award to “Heart Of Rock And Roll”, “Do You Believe In Love”, “I Want A New Drug”, “Heart And Soul”, “Hip To Be Square”, “Back In Time” and many more. 

The Heritage Park Amphitheater gates will open for each evening’s featured concerts at 6 p.m. with opening acts to be announced taking to the stage at 8 p.m. followed by the headlining.

Tickets are available on-line at www.ticketmaster.com .  Discount tickets will be available for a limited time with premium Gold Circle general admission and Lawn general admission.

Other festival attractions, many of which are free, will begin each day at 10 AM with the Bi-Lo KidZone, Disc Dog competitions, Featured Balloon Flight at 6 PM, multiple musical stages, great food and more.

Organizers previously announced that The Greenville Hospital System has partnered with the event as the title sponsor and the event has the continued support and participation of Pontiac GMC as presenting sponsor.   Proceeds from the Upstate’s highest flying celebration will help support Safe Kids Upstate and Greenville Hospital System’s Every Woman Program.

Visit www.freedomweekend.org for more information.

 

By Stan Welch

Representatives of towns from all over the County attended last Thursday’s County Municipal Association dinner meeting at the Williamston Town Hall.

A total of sixty people were on hand to listen to a presentation by Rusty Burns in support of the proposed one cent sales tax. Burns explained a number of aspects of the tax, such as the fact that it has a set term of seven years or until the projected revenues are collected, whichever comers first.

He also explained that the state of South Carolina administers the funds, and not the county. “We have been faced with a significant issue of trust everywhere we have gone. A majority of people see the need for this revenue and the good it could do, but they all say they don’t trust the county administration or the County Council to handle the money. In addition to reassuring them that the state oversees this process, we also explain that we have requested and obtained agreement from the County Council to put in place both an oversight committee and internal auditor to provide additional safeguards.”

Perhaps the strongest control of all is the fact that the tax must be established by a referendum which sets the list of projects to be funded in an unalterable priority. County council, which was set to consider the referendum question at the April 15 meeting, cannot change that priority in any way. They can either approve or disapprove putting the issue on the November ballot as a referendum, but they cannot alter the list of projects.

Burns also explained that using the projected revenues, of approximately $21.3 million a year, to leverage bond issues would allow the list of projects to be started much faster than waiting to collect the funds annually.

 “We should be able to start at least a couple of dozen of the top projects almost simultaneously, so that people can start to see the real effects of this tax. This money will circulate six or seven times throughout the local economy. That makes this sales tax actually a billion dollar jobs project for Anderson County. And frankly, with the general economy going the direction it’s going, we could use that kind of economic boost.”

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and Councilman Bob Waldrep, who were on hand, pledged their support for placing the issue on the referendum. “Clearly, this is an important issue and the people deserve the right to vote on it,” said Wilson.

Burns also encouraged those present to promote the tax after the Council approves it, should that be the result. “We have asked each council member as they came before the commission to give us their list of projects if they would vote to place it on the ballot, and we anticipate that it will pass. But once that happens, the Capital Projects Sales Tax commission ceases to exist. Our job is done and we have no more authority,” said Burns.

 State law prohibits the county from spending a dime to either promote or oppose such a tax, which means we need an organization to take the lead and continue to educate people about this tax and the tremendous benefits it can offer Anderson County. We hope that the Chamber of Commerce, which is already a 501(c)(3) organization, will take that lead. But this is our very best chance to achieve real improvements in our roads and we need to keep that chance from slipping away.”

Municipal Association meets in Williamston

By Stan Welch

Representatives of towns from all over the County attended last Thursday’s County Municipal Association dinner meeting at the Williamston Town Hall.

A total of sixty people were on hand to listen to a presentation by Rusty Burns in support of the proposed one cent sales tax. Burns explained a number of aspects of the tax, such as the fact that it has a set term of seven years or until the projected revenues are collected, whichever comers first.

He also explained that the state of South Carolina administers the funds, and not the county. “We have been faced with a significant issue of trust everywhere we have gone. A majority of people see the need for this revenue and the good it could do, but they all say they don’t trust the county administration or the County Council to handle the money. In addition to reassuring them that the state oversees this process, we also explain that we have requested and obtained agreement from the County Council to put in place both an oversight committee and internal auditor to provide additional safeguards.”

Perhaps the strongest control of all is the fact that the tax must be established by a referendum which sets the list of projects to be funded in an unalterable priority. County council, which was set to consider the referendum question at the April 15 meeting, cannot change that priority in any way. They can either approve or disapprove putting the issue on the November ballot as a referendum, but they cannot alter the list of projects.

Burns also explained that using the projected revenues, of approximately $21.3 million a year, to leverage bond issues would allow the list of projects to be started much faster than waiting to collect the funds annually.

 “We should be able to start at least a couple of dozen of the top projects almost simultaneously, so that people can start to see the real effects of this tax. This money will circulate six or seven times throughout the local economy. That makes this sales tax actually a billion dollar jobs project for Anderson County. And frankly, with the general economy going the direction it’s going, we could use that kind of economic boost.”

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson and Councilman Bob Waldrep, who were on hand, pledged their support for placing the issue on the referendum. “Clearly, this is an important issue and the people deserve the right to vote on it,” said Wilson.

Burns also encouraged those present to promote the tax after the Council approves it, should that be the result. “We have asked each council member as they came before the commission to give us their list of projects if they would vote to place it on the ballot, and we anticipate that it will pass. But once that happens, the Capital Projects Sales Tax commission ceases to exist. Our job is done and we have no more authority,” said Burns.

 State law prohibits the county from spending a dime to either promote or oppose such a tax, which means we need an organization to take the lead and continue to educate people about this tax and the tremendous benefits it can offer Anderson County. We hope that the Chamber of Commerce, which is already a 501(c)(3) organization, will take that lead. But this is our very best chance to achieve real improvements in our roads and we need to keep that chance from slipping away.”

 

WP Council meeting canceled after Councilmen fail to show up

By Stan Welch

More than sixty people showed up at the West Pelzer Town Council meeting Monday night. Unfortunately only two of them were members of the Town Council.

Faced with a lack of a quorum, Mayor Peggy Paxton had no choice but to cancel the meeting. According to her, the three Councilmen who failed to attend, Joe Turner, Marshall King, and Jimmy Jeanes, all refused to attend because the meeting was held at the West Pelzer Fire Department station, instead of at Town Hall.

“The Councilmen were informed by the Town Clerk about the change in location on Friday, and the agenda was published reflecting that change. The Councilmen all told the clerk, Paula Paxton, that they would not attend if it was at the fire house,” said Paxton.

The Journal confirmed that the public notice posted at the Town Hall did in fact indicate the change in location.

Under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, the time and location of any public meeting must be published at least twenty fours in advance of the meeting. Both Paxton and Payton confirmed that that requirement was met. Payton also confirmed that all three members expressed their refusal to attend the meeting if it was moved to the fire station.

Councilman Mike Moran, who attended the Monday meeting, said he received ample notice of the change and agreed with it. “These folks have a right to be at the meetings and this is the only place that will hold them.”

The agenda for the meeting included the opening of sealed bids for the purchase of the Town’s outmoded police cars. Ironically, Councilman Turner has pushed repeatedly for the sale of those vehicles.

Also on the agenda was the second and final reading of an ordinance which would formalize and clarify the method for dissolving any given department of the Town government.

That ordinance was introduced as a result of an aborted effort by the same three Councilmen several weeks ago to abruptly disband the Town’s police department.

That vote was taken abruptly at the very end of a regularly scheduled meeting, and was not on the agenda.

The results of the vote were later voided because the department was established by ordinance and would therefore have to be abolished by ordinance. That process, under the town’s code, requires a formally written ordinance and two public readings and approvals of the ordinance.

At a subsequent meeting including the dissolution of the police department on the agenda, more than 100 people attended and almost unanimously opposed the measure. So unified and vociferous was the public opposition that Turner’s motion to approve the ordinance did not even receive a second, and died without a vote. That meeting was held at the fire station due to anticipated large crowds.

Paxton said Monday that the possibility of a large turnout was what led to her moving that meeting to the fire station. “I had a number of calls even at home asking when and where the meeting would be. I felt like there would probably be a large crowd so I made the decision on Thursday to move the meeting. It is our responsibility to make these meetings available to the public, and if more people want to attend than we can get into the Town Hall, what else can we do?”

Speaking about the effectiveness of what she sees as a tactic by the majority, Paxton said, “The Town attorney said that if it becomes habitual, and affects the Town’s ability to function, there are remedies we can pursue. Of course, there is no method of recall in South Carolina, so I guess we just have to hope that they will resume their duties. I just don’t see what the problem is with meeting here when we need to.”

Those who attended the meeting were unhappy with the cancellation. “I hurried here from work because I think we need to be involved in this town,” said Ann Owen. “The citizens cared enough about their town to come to the meeting, but the Councilmen didn’t. I think it is just absurd that they didn’t care enough to show up.”

Arlene Henderson said that the Councilmen had made no bones about their decision. “They have been going around town bragging about how they weren’t going to show up. What does that tell you?”

Mamie Ellenburg said, “They have no right to do something like this. They need to remember that they are here for the town and not for themselves.”

Calls to the council members seeking comment on their decision not to attend went unanswered.

Meeting held at Fire Dept. to accomodate crowd

Riley Community Garden groundbreaking Saturday

A groundbreaking ceremony and work day on Saturday, April 19 will celebrate the Riley Community Garden, a new gathering place for residents of southern Greenville County.

The garden, located on the grounds of the Riley Child Development and Family Learning Center at 9130 Augusta Rd., will contain trees, plants, flowers, a rainbow garden, play space, labyrinth, outdoor classroom, arbor and statuary. The garden is designed to be used by families in the community as well as Riley Center families.

Plants, pavers, block, stone, mulch, irrigation system components, signage, and plaques have already been donated to the garden project by area businesses, organizations, and individuals, said Beth Bagwell of Strong Communities for Children. Strong Communities is coordinating the project in conjunction with the Riley Center.

The Carolina Association of Lawn and Landscapers adopted the garden as its service project for 2008 and members have donated supplies and expertise, said Bagwell. CALL volunteers will supervise the Saturday workday.

The public is invited to the ceremony that will begin at 9 a.m. and will include entertainment by Riley Center children, comments by Riley Center director Tina Haley and community volunteer Mamie Reid, a balloon release and the official groundbreaking.

Wielding shovels will be Terry Creamer, South Greenville Fire District commissioner and garden project manager; Holley Stokely, with Plant and Supply Locator and garden project advisor; Rep. Eric Bedingfield, House District 28; Mamie Reid, community volunteer; Dr. Kathy Howard, Associate Superintendent, Greenville County Schools; Mario Walker, president of Carolina Association of Lawn and Landscapers; Susannah Horton, Clemson student and garden designer and Beth Bagwell, Strong Communities garden coordinator.

Trees will be planted in the garden in memory of Ann “Tunky” Riley and several recently deceased community members. The Riley Center, which opened in August 2005, was named in honor of former US Secretary of Education and Mrs. Riley.

Volunteers ages 18 and older are needed to work beginning at 10 a.m. Child care will be provided from 10 a.m. – noon and a barbecue lunch will be served at 1 p.m. For more information on volunteering, call 243-9568. Rain date for the event is April 26.

“Since April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, this is an appropriate time to bring the community together to celebrate and work on the garden project,” said Bagwell, “The community garden will offer a new opportunity for building community and strengthening families, which are key components to help keep kids safe.” Strong Communities for Children, a child protection initiative of the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life at Clemson University, occupies office and meeting space at the Riley Center.

Argument results in sword fight

An argument over a neighbor’s dog resulted in a sword fight in Piedmont Saturday evening. ACSO Deputy J.J. Jacobs was dispatched to 16 Archie Street at about 6:30 p.m., where he found a white Ford van in the middle of the yard and a bleeding man lying on the ground directly behind it. There were also two swords on the ground.

 According to Jacobs’ incident report, the man on the ground was identified as Joseph Durward Allen, a 42 year old white male, whose address is 14 Archie Street. Randall Allen McClain, a 46 year old white male at the 16 Archie Street address was listed as the victim on the Anderson County Sheriff Department incident report.

 According to Susann Griffin, spokesperson for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the two men had argued in the past over some dogs owned by McClain. McClain had apparently gotten rid of those dogs but had gotten a puppy. Allen reportedly said he was taking the puppy up the street to show it to someone and McClain objected. Allen then allegedly went to his house and got a sword, which McClain got away from him while getting a minor cut in the process.

 According to reports, McClain apparently then inflicted some punishment on Allen, who went home and got a second sword. During the second round, McClain’s father, Billy McClain, 69 years old, drove into the yard in the Ford van and brushed Allen with the vehicle. According to Griffin, Allen was not run over. He was taken to Greenville Memorial Hospital, but not as a result of being hit by the van. “Apparently, he got a pretty good thrashing and that was the reason for transporting him. None of the injuries were serious,” Griffin said.

Both parties signed complaint withdrawal forms, dropping the charges.

County Council clears way for CPST to be on referendum

By Stan Welch

What a difference two years makes. 

Just two years after unanimously defeating a proposed Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) , a decidedly different County Council did a complete turnaround and voted unanimously to place the CPST question on the November ballot and let the people decide the issue.

The question will require two more readings, one of which will include a public hearing, but the turnaround in the attitude of the Council bodes well for the chances that the question will be placed on the ballot as a referendum in November.

In 2006, the one cent sales tax proposal was cast aside casually, without even any discussion. That list of projects was short and composed of high dollar, high visibility, but narrowly focused, projects. That obvious flaw was assiduously avoided by this year’s commission.

Projects approved

The six man group, assisted by Anderson County transportation director Holt Hopkins and his staff, managed to produce a list of prioritized projects that distributes the estimated $148 million in revenues evenly among the seven Council districts.

Several council members commented on those efforts at equity as a major influence on their decision to support the tax.

Commission Vice Chairman Bob Burriss was sorry that Chairman David Jones was ill and unable to attend the meeting. “David would have loved to be here. He believes in this approach to the County’s infrastructure problems, as we all do.  But as hard as he has worked, it’s a shame that he couldn’t be here. Still, this unanimous vote is strong evidence that we produced a fair and equitable list of projects.”

The meeting began with a challenge to Chairman Michael Thompson’s recent efforts to reconfigure the Council’s meetings. He says it is to reduce the posturing and politics that arise at every meeting, while his critics say his goal is to suppress dissenting views and reduce the public’s opportunities to speak their minds.

Council meeting twice

Thompson has added a special called meeting, held in mid-afternoon, on the day of the first Council meeting each month. He has said that he wants that meeting to function as a meeting of a committee of the whole, where issues can be resolved without a vote being taken until the regular meeting just hours later. Critics say that the discussion and debate involved in resolving those issues should be conducted during that regular, televised and better attended meeting.

Citizen comment pulled

As evidence of their claims, his critics pointed to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, which for the first time in recent memory did not include citizen comments on non-agenda matters or the customary remarks of the Council members.

District Three Councilman Larry Greer led the challenge to the altered agenda, citing county ordinance that contains a minimum list of required elements, including specifically citizens’ comments on non-agenda matters and remarks by the Council members. “Mr. Chairman, we are in violation of our own ordinance. I move that we replace those items.”

Councilwoman Cindy Wilson offered an amendment adding the administrator’s report henceforth, also in accordance with the ordinance.

Chairman Thompson said that the ordinance gives the chairman the discretion to remove citizen’s comments from the agenda. Citizen comments on agenda matters was included on the agenda of a special called meeting held three hours before the regular meeting on April 1, but was deleted entirely from the agenda for this week’s meeting.

Greer said, “I must reiterate that I defend our people’s right to be heard, although I often disagree with what is said and the way in which it is said. But they have a right to be heard.”

Negativity blamed

Thompson explained his actions, saying, “I was hearing a lot of negativity from the audience. I have spoken with two lawyers and they assure me that it is a privilege to speak to the Council and not a right. I heard about the County losing economic development because of the goings on at Council meetings. “

Councilwoman Gracie Floyd asked why the Council was even voting if the chairman had the authority to remove the items. 

Thompson asked McNair Attorney Adam Artigliere, sitting in for County Attorney Tom Martin, if he could answer the question. Artigliere responded that amending the agenda at a specific meeting can be done by a single vote, while changing an ordinance would require three readings. “I believe the motion to amend is proper and can be voted on.”

Wilson’s amendment was defeated, meaning that Administrator Joey Preston no longer has to present a report on his activities during the weeks between meetings, while Greer’s original motion to restore the two items to the agenda was approved, with Thompson stating that it applied only to the specific meeting. Councilman Bill McAbee provided the swing vote that passed the motion 4-3.

Hamlin Rd. weight limit

The Council voted unanimously to impose a weight limit on Hamlin Rd. in response to the proposed locating of a construction and demolition landfill. Several Three and Twenty area residents spoke in favor of the weight limit, which has not been publicly announced yet. Several residents also spoke in favor a resolution supporting a zoning referendum for that same precinct. That resolution was later approved as well.

Councilwoman Wilson later during the meeting sought a similar accommodation on Smythe Street in her district. “This is a road also inadequate for the weight of the trucks using it as a shortcut. The regular road they would use is difficult to use because the radius of the right turn is so tight. But SCDOT officials have indicated that they have no problem with this and will be altering that radius in the near future. So my request for a weight limit is contingent on the DOT completing that work. Until it is, no weight limit will be imposed.”

Her request was approved 6-1,with McAbee dissenting.

Wilson contributes to political campaigns

By Stan Welch

According to campaign disclosure records from the S. C. Ethics Commission, politics is an expensive proposition for one member of the Anderson County Council in particular.

District Six Councilman Ron Wilson recently spent $6,000 donating to the campaigns of two challengers to Wilson’s fellow incumbents on the Council. In addition, he also contributed an additional $3,000 to incumbent Councilman Larry Greer, who represents District Three.

According to information obtained from the website of the South Carolina Ethics Commission, Wilson used two corporate entities as well as his own name to donate the maximum allowed by law to the campaigns of Doug Hooper, a political neophyte who is running against incumbent Cindy Wilson in District Seven and Raymond MacKay, who is one of several candidates running against District One incumbent Bob Waldrep.

State law requires that candidates provide a complete list of their contributors once each quarter. The information provided by the various candidates reflects that Ron G. Wilson, Atlantic Gold & Bullion, Inc. and International Commerce Corporation, both of which Wilson owns, all contributed $1,000 to the three candidates listed above.

The information lends credence to reports that Wilson was actively recruiting opponents for Ms. Wilson. One of those approached has confirmed that he declined to run against Ms. Wilson. Dr. James Smith  said he told Ron Wilson that he had no intention of opposing Ms. Wilson.

When asked about his contributions, Wilson readily acknowledged them. “I always do that. I contribute to those I want to see win. I did it last time.”

In fact, Wilson contributed to Cindy Wilson’s campaign in 2006, the year he ran for the first time. While he ran at least partly on a platform of supporting her in her efforts to obtain a full audit of the County’s finances, he made virtually no effort to pursue that goal. His effort was limited to making a single motion to amend the agenda at a Council meeting to discuss the issue. When that motion failed, he abandoned any other attempts to bring the issue up.

He has since clashed with both Wilson and Waldrep on the issue of access to public information.

Ms. Wilson has also repeatedly raised the question of the propriety of his daughter receiving a county contract as an agricultural consultant while Wilson is seated on the Council.

The rift between the two continued to widen, as Wilson attacked Ms. Wilson on several occasions, and made his own charges that her family had benefited from her access to information concerning the Beaverdam sewer project.

Mr. Wilson was asked by The Journal if he had any knowledge of a telephone poll which is being conducted in District Seven. During the last election cycle, Wilson conducted similar polls and provided Ms. Wilson with the results of those polls. He denied any knowledge of the current poll, though he said he had heard about it.

Wilson conceded that he won’t be making any further contributions to the candidates mentioned. “I’m legally maxed out for this election cycle,” said Wilson.

Hooper to run for District 7 seat

By Stan Welch

Doug Hooper is running for the District Seven Council seat against incumbent Councilwoman Cindy Wilson because he thinks that what he sees as her adversarial relationship with the Council and county administrator is hurting her constituents.

Hooper, 48, is a paramedic with Greenville County, and lives with his wife Crystal, stepson Clay and daughter Lindsey in the Shady Grove community near Belton.

“Ms. Wilson’s adversarial relationship with the Council and with the county administrator makes her ineffective. An example is the time a few months ago when Council voted against her efforts to fund some things in her district. They later did spend that money because they realized they had done the wrong thing, but it should never have happened.”

Hooper was referring to an unprecedented vote by the majority of Council to deny Wilson access to her own recreation funds. At a later meeting the same majority distributed those funds against Wilson’s wishes. Hooper says that was wrong, and would upset him if her were the District Seven representative. “But if Ms. Wilson would work with Council, these things probably wouldn’t happen” said Hooper in a recent interview.

“My slogan is leadership through unity. I want to unite the County Council and work to do the best thing for every single citizen, as well as for District Seven.”

Hooper says he was totally surprised by District Six Councilman Ron Wilson’s campaign contribution of $3000 to Hooper’s campaign, but added, “I think that goes back to the fact that even other Council members want to see someone in there who will work with them.” Hooper denied that Wilson recruited him to oppose the District Seven incumbent. “I don’t think Mr. Wilson was recruiting anyone to my knowledge. He had nothing to do with my decision to run. I am running for District Seven, not against Cindy Wilson.”

Hooper says that water and sewer, as well as economic development are important issues to his campaign. “Many people in our district are concerned about their wells during this drought. We should be seeking grants and other means of funding water and sewer lines.” Asked how  a member of Council could make that happen under Home Rule, Hooper replied, “The county administrator works for the County Council. I’m sure he could be encouraged to seek grants for that.” “There are so many textile mills closing and jobs leaving. The automotive industry seems to be growing in this area, and I would like to see efforts to attract that kind of business to our area. “

Hooper also cites the issue concerning the County’s recent purchase of the 800 MHz communications system as a reason for his running. “Ms. Wilson opposed this and I feel that evening tough economic times, you have to support your first responders. As a member of Council, I will do that.”

Hearing to discuss justice barriers

 The S.C. Access to Justice Commission will hold eight public hearings to discuss access to justice barriers in South Carolina. One of the hearings will be held April 17, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Anderson County Courthouse. Information gathered from the hearings will be used to conduct a needs assessment regarding civil legal representation for people of low income or modest means in South Carolina.

The hearing panel will consist of commissioners, Congressional representatives, local legislators, local judges and city and county representatives. The speakers will address a number of issues including language barriers, attorney fees, court costs, lack of transportation to courthouses, illiteracy, lack of notice, lack of disability accessibility, lack of sign language interpreters for the deaf, cognitive impairments, income just above poverty guidelines yet still prohibitive of obtaining legal services, and others.

South Carolina is the 27th state to establish an Access to Justice Commission. These hearings will allow commissioners to identify the barriers to justice experienced by individuals of low income and modest means and determine which areas to address.

The S.C. Supreme Court established the Access to Justice Commission in January 2007 in an effort expand access to civil legal representation for people of low income or modest means in South Carolina.

If you would like to sign up to speak or you require accommodations, please contact Robin Wheeler by phone at (803) 576-3808 or by email at rwheeler@scbar.org.

Pathways to Success offers student tips

Guidance counselors across the state are advising middle and high school students about next year’s classes and many schools are preparing career exploration days for their students.

South Carolina’s Personal Pathways to Success, an educational initiative of the 2005 Education and Economic Development Act, has put together a tip sheet that can help students objectively consider their futures.

While older students will benefit, some tips are applicable for all K-12 students.

By following the tips, students will become more aware of their career choices. The tip sheet, which can be downloaded from scpathways.org, includes hints such as:

• Talk to your parents about your future, your hopes and dreams. 

• Get a part-time summer job or volunteer regularly. 

• Participate in your Individual Graduation Plan with your parents and your guidance counselor.

• Tour a local business with your parents or classmates. 

• Ask an adult if you can “job shadow” for a day. 

The Personal Pathways to Success initiative was created to improve the state’s workforce and make South Carolina more globally competitive. Personal Pathways connects academic studies with preparation for entering the workforce.

It is a collaboration between South Carolina residents, educators and businesses to enhance the state’s quality of life.

For more information regarding Personal Pathways to Success or the Education and Economic Development Act, please call (800) 763-KIDS or visit www.scpathways.org.

Thefts, altercations investigated

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated the following incidents:

BELTON 

Apr. 12 – C. Holbrooks was dispatched to 339 Mize Rd. where an incident involving three people. Reports state all three had minor injuries and due to conflicting and unsubstantiated stories, Holbrooks made no arrests.

Several hours later, at approximately 7:30 in the evening, Deputy M. Voigt and Sgt. N. Peluso responded to the same address where another altercation was reported.

At approximately 11:30 p.m. Voigt and Peluso again responded to the address. According to reports, this time Voigt intended to seek warrants from the magistrate.

April 13 – J.T. Bowers responded to Hwy. 29 in reference to a man passed out and bleeding. Upon arrival, EMS found the man had an Anderson address on his driver’s license, but paramedics were unsure whether he was intoxicated or going into diabetic shock. They rushed him to AnMed for further treatment.

EASLEY

Apr. 8 – J.T. Bowers was dispatched to Hwy. 86 and Watson Rd. where he found Henry Smith, BM, 43, 6’, 210 pounds, grey/brn. He was arrested for public disorderly conduct and transported to ACDC. The complainant was Kenneth Wilson, manager of the Zaxby’s  at that location. Smith was also a manager at the restaurant.

Apr. 11 – R.D. Smith responded to 2708 Powdersville Rd. where Michael Reisling reported the attempted theft of his father – in – law’s Kubota RTV. It had been driven about a hundred yards from the garage where it is kept and the cable taken off the winch on the front.

PELZER

Apr. 11 – W.B. Simpson received a report from Ruben Sanchez, a security officer for Swift Transportation Co. He reported that a Swift employee had found and recovered a stolen 53 foot trailer which had been involved in a wreck in 2007. The trailer was left with Tinsley Towing for repair and return to Swift. According to the report, the trailer was never returned and was later spotted in Pelzer by a Swift driver who contacted his dispatcher, Ron Leonard. Leonard contacted Jimmy Heatherly who said he purchased the trailer from Tinsley Towing for $1400. Sanchez said the trailer is worth at least $15000.

PIEDMONT

Apr. 8 – R.D. Smith responded to 1124 Williams Rd. where Ricky Bryson stated that Jamie Eaton had assaulted him following a verbal argument. Bryson, WM,47, 5’7:, 145 pounds, said that Eaton, WM, 6’, 150 pounds, had followed him outside and pushed him down, striking him in the head. Eaton admitted to Deputy Smith that he pushed Bryson down. He was arrested for assault and battery and transported to ACDC.

Apr. 9 – T.B. Dugan met with Pickens County Deputies at the Burger King at Hwy. 153, where he took custody of Richard Lawless, WM, 36, 6’1", 190 pounds, brn/hazel, of Pendleton. Anderson County has a family court warrant for Lawless for being more than $6600 in arrears on his child support.

Apr. 11 – M. Voigt responded to 238 Osteen Hill Rd. in reference to Rocky Ingram who was allegedly driving around the area firing a pistol out the window of his car. According to reports, Ingram came out of the trailer, smelling strongly of alcohol and cursing. He struck the trailer several times and refused to quiet down. When told he was under arrest, he assumed a fighting stance and challenged Voigt. Voigt then tasered Ingram and subdued him, placing him in custody.

Apr. 11 – J.T. Bowers responded to 1808 Hwy. 86 where Larry Leaphart, owner of the business at that location, reported that someone had broken into two of his customer’s cars and stolen sound systems. Total losses were valued at $1875.

Apr. 12 – J.J. Jacobs stopped at 243 South Circle Dr. to investigate a stolen license plate. Kenneth Sellers was present at the time and a records check indicated that Anderson County had thirteen active bench warrants on him. Sellers, WM, 46,6’1", 225 pounds, gray/brn, was arrested and transported to ACDC.

Apr. 12 – J.J. Jacobs responded to Foothills Motor Sports where Troy Smith reported the theft of an enclosed utility trailer valued at $3500. The trailer was a Wells Cargo Tote Wagon.

Apr. 12 – C. Holbrooks was dispatched to 100 Evelyn Lane, where two men had an altercation where one man reported being struck with a baseball bat after an argument over a chicken that one man’s blind dog had killed.

Reports state one of the men came over drunk and fussing about the chicken and was told to come back when he was sober. Several minutes later, a group of people was on the property, one of them carrying a 2X4. They returned to the other property but the man was again asked to come look at the chicken. He did, taking the bat for protection. According to reports the owner of the chicken allegedly hit the dog’s owner with the chicken, whereupon he hit the man in the arm with the bat and fled to his house. No arrests were made at the time.

Seems to Me . . .Political tidal waves

By Stan Welch 

Well, the latest skirmish between the factions of the fragmented West Pelzer Town Council took place Monday night. There was no violence, no confrontation, no squabbling; just the silent, glaring absence of three members, a majority of Council, which chose not to do the business of the Town that night.

 Why did three grown men, sworn to the service of the Town and its citizens, decide to stay at home and leave the Town’s agenda untended? They didn’t like where the meeting was going to be held that evening, so they chose not to go.

The nefarious, unsatisfactory location in question? Why, it was the West Pelzer Fire station, where each and every one of the Council members took their oath of office just a few months ago.

That location has recently replaced the Town Hall as the most popular meeting location, as dozens of citizens have suddenly rediscovered an interest in their civic government. It’s ironic actually, because the same three Councilmen who refused to appear at that station Monday night helped make it necessary to meet there, when they voted unexpectedly to dissolve the Town’s police department a couple of months ago.

The public uproar that decision caused would have blown the roof off of Town Hall. It lifted the roof at the fire station. It apparently scorched the hides of the three Councilmen who thought they could play fast and loose with their citizens’ police protection.

But it did more than that. It apparently lit a spark of public interest and participation that is still burning, and creating more heat than they wish to endure.

The meeting was moved to the fire station Monday by Mayor Peggy Paxton, who is absolutely authorized by the powers of her office to move the meeting to another location, so long as she meets the requirements for notifying the Council and the public of the change. Mayor Paxton said that by the number of calls and queries from the public concerning the time and location of the meeting, she felt certain the crowd would exceed the capacity of the tiny Town Hall.

At past meetings I have attended, thirty people have packed that building to the point that several had to stand. Monday night, approximately twice that  number were at the fire station. If the three Council members had shown up, it would have been a good crowd.

But they didn’t show up. They showed out instead, determined to show Mayor Paxton and Councilman Mike Moran that they could have their way. And so they did, thereby shooting off another toe. Once more they proved to the general public that their own personal interests take priority over the public interest. That was the very message that the public got from the ill advised coup to remove police protection from the town, not to save money, or to improve public safety, but because the current police chief is not and has never been popular with these Councilmen.

So disconnected from the public are these representatives of the public that one of them actually called a citizen a liar at the meeting where the question of the police department’s fate was settled, at least for the foreseeable future. If the Councilmen who supported Councilman Turner in his bid to abolish the department had backpedaled any faster, the Tour De France would have ended differently this year.

It was that remarkable political blunder that brought people out in droves that night. Was it the belief of a fair portion of the public that their Council was capable of repeating a blunder of similar magnitude that brought them out Monday night. If so, they were proved right, as the Council’s majority did indeed commit a comparable blunder, and once again, as a group.

For three grown men, who sought and won public office and who took an oath to uphold that office, to refuse to attend a meeting because they might have to listen to the public they swore to serve is childish and foolish. Politically, it is clumsy and damaging to any ambitions of another term any of them might harbor, including long time veteran member of the Council Joe Turner.

Seems to me these three men continue to misread the political tides that are swirling about them. If a single one runs unopposed next time, it will be a stunning surprise. If the public shows up at the polls like they have begun showing up at meetings, these three men will hear them loud and clear, whether they go to the fire station or not.

 

 

 

 

 

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