News Archive

Week of Apr. 23, 2003

Petitions being circulated to change form of government in Williamston
Williamston governed under  ‘Mayor-Council’ structure
Turner asks for grievance hearing
Water tower enters last construction phase
Local man thwarts robbery attempt
Williamston officers make arrests
Pelzer infant dies in tragic accident

 

Petitions being circulated to change form of government in Williamston

Organizers of a petition drive in Williamston said they are obtaining signatures of registered voters in the town as the first step in an effort to change the town’s strong mayor, weak council form of government to a council form of government.

Williamston resident John Suber, who is helping organize the drive, said he thinks the mayor has too much power under the current system. Under the proposed change, he said, the council will have just as much say as the mayor.

Suber said his reason for helping spearhead the drive is not related to the recent controversey involving the the firing of the town’s police chief by the mayor.

“I’m not for either side,” he said, “I’m doing this because I believe we need to change the form of government.”

Suber said he has obtained official printed petitions and with the help of other citizens who are circulating the petitions, expects to have the names of 500 citizens who are registered voters in the town of Williamston.

Once the names are obtained on the petitions, copies will be made and the originals will be turned in to the town clerk to be forwarded to the registration board, Suber said.

Suber said he was told that once the petitions are turned in to the registration board, they will be certified in about a week to 10 days and then the matter will be presented to town council.

Petitions are available for signing at Scoops Restaurant, Foothills Pawn Shop and Williamston Curb Market. Citizens interested in signing the petition can also contact Suber at 847-7048.

Williamston Town Council members Greg Cole, Cecil Cothran and Wade Pepper  have indicated that they support changing the form of government for the town. Councilman Harvell could not be reached for comment.

“It is the best way to control things,” Councilman Cothran said. “Council has no power now.”

“Under the present situation, it would be an improvement,” Councilman Pepper said. “People would have total representation instead of decisions being made without council being a part.”

Councilman Cole said he thinks there are a lot of people who will not want to change the town’s form of government and they will have a chance to vote also. He said the petition is a great idea.

Mayor Clardy said that regardless of the form of government, someone would still have to deal with personnel situations.

Clardy said that it is his responsibliity as mayor to carry out the policies and procedures adopted by council.

“Town council should not be involved in the daily activities of the town,” Clardy said. “Someone has to make the decisions.”

Clardy said if the citizens decide to change the form of government, he will respect any decision made concerning the form of government the town operates under.

He said he doesn’t think giving the council additional administrative power is in the best interest of the town.

“There are 160 municipalities in the state of South Carolina that have the mayor-council form of government,” Clardy said.

Clardy said he thinks the push to change the form of government stems from the personnel decision he made concerning the police chief.

“They may not agree with my decision, or a part of my administration,” Clardy said. “Just because you have people who disagree, you don’t change the rules. There was no concern before.”

According to the South Carolina Code of Laws, changing the form of government in any municipality requires one of two actions: an Election Commission-certified petition to that effect signed by 15 percent of the town’s registered voters; or the municipal governing body calling for such an election by ordinance.

If either is the case, the municipal governing body would then conduct a special election not later than 90 days nor earlier than 30 days after the receipt of the petition or the passage of the ordinance.

Williamston is currently governed under the mayor-council form of government. 

The Council form of government, which organizers of the petition drive are pushing for, designates legislative and administrative powers of the municipality are to be vested in the town council. Each member of council, including the mayor, has one vote.

Williamston governed under  ‘Mayor-Council’ structure

Ready for a civics lesson? If you’re one of many curious as to where political power lies in Williamston, class in now in session.

Williamston is under a “Mayor-Council” form of government, according to the 17-chapter “Title 5-Municipal Corporations” guidelines of the South Carolina State House Network 2002 Code of Laws.

So what does this Mayor-Council form of government mean for Williamston? 

The mayor holds the most power in terms of day-to-day administrative actions.

According to the Code of Laws, “The mayor shall be the chief administrative officer of the municipality. He shall be responsible to the council for the administration of all city affairs placed in his charge by or under Chapters 1 through 17.”

In essence, the mayor has the following powers and duties according to the Code of Laws:

• “To appoint and, when he deems it necessary for the good of the municipality, suspend or remove all municipal employees and appointive administrative officers &ldots; except as otherwise provided by law or personnel rules adopted pursuant to Chapters 1 through 17. He may authorize any administrative officer who is subject to his direction and supervision to exercise these powers with respect to subordinates in that officer's department, office or agency;

• To direct and supervise the administration of all departments, offices and agencies of the municipality except as otherwise provided by Chapters 1 through 17;

• To preside at meetings of the council and vote as other councilmen; 

•  To act to insure that all laws, provisions of Chapters 1 through 17 and ordinances of the council, subject to enforcement by him or by officers subject to his direction and supervision, are faithfully executed;

• To prepare and submit the annual budget and capital program to the council; 

• To submit to the council and make available to the public a complete report on the finances and administrative activities of the municipality as of the end of each fiscal year; and

• To make such other reports as the council may require concerning the operations of municipal departments, offices and agencies subject to his direction and supervision.”

The Council holds the most power in terms of legislative action.

While the mayor is responsible for the day-to-day hiring, firing and other administrative duties, the council is in place to create laws and ordinances for the town. The following is the Code of Laws explanation of council responsibilities:

• “The council may establish municipal departments, offices, and agencies in addition to those created by Chapters 1 through 17 and may prescribe the functions of all departments, offices and agencies, except that no function assigned by law to a particular department, office or agency may be discontinued or assigned to any other agency. The mayor and council may employ an administrator to assist the mayor in his office.

• The council shall adopt an annual budget for the operation of the municipality and capital improvements.”

Not all South Carolina municipalities fall under this governmental structure. There are two other possibilities:

• Council form of government – The biggest difference in this versus what exists in Williamston is that all legislative and administrative powers of the municipality is vested in the town council. Each member of council, including the mayor, has one vote.

• Council-Manager form of government –  Under this governmental body, “all legislative powers of the municipality and the determination of all matters of policy shall be vested in the municipal council, each member, including the mayor, to have one vote,” according to the Code of Laws. And instead of the mayor being responsible for the day-to-day administration of the town, a town manager is hired as “the chief executive officer and head of the administrative branch of the municipal government. He shall be responsible to the municipal council for the proper administration of all affairs of the municipality,” the Code of Laws states.

So how did Williamston arrive at this form of government as opposed to the other choices? Back in the mid-1970s, all South Carolina municipalities were required to decide at the polls which of the three they preferred. Williamston voters chose Mayor-Council.

And should Williamston citizens decide they want a change in its governing structure, it would require clearing a few legislative hurdles.

According to the Code of Laws, changing the form of government in any municipality would first require one of two actions: an Election Commission-certified petition to that effect signed by 15 percent of the town’s registered voters; or the municipal governing body calling for such an election by ordinance.

If either is the case, the municipal governing body would then conduct a special election not later than 90 days nor earlier than 30 days after the receipt of the petition or the passage of the ordinance.

And as for any other governmental upheavals, take note: under South Carolina law, there is no legal process in place for impeaching municipal officials.

Editor’s note: For more information on the laws pertaining to South Carolina municipalities, log on to www.scstatehouse.net/code/titl5.htm.

Turner asks for grievance hearing

Richard Turner said he has sent a letter notifying the Town of Williamston that he wants to go before a grievance committee concerning his recent firing by Mayor Phillip Clardy.

Turner said he sent a letter Monday to the town requesting a hearing before the grievance committee, though he didn’t expect that it would lead to his reinstatement.

He did say that if the position was offered, he would take it.

“I’m a career man,” Turner said, referring to the position he has held for 21 years. 

The town’s five member grievance committee has no power to reinstate an employee or take any other action.

The committee is comprised of appointees made by the mayor and each of the four councilmen.

Under the present mayor-council form of government, the mayor has the sole power to hire and fire. Under state law, he is not required to give a reason for firing an employee.

Mayor Clardy confirmed that the town has received the request from Turner. He said the committee will probably meet with a member of the McNair Law firm for information concerning their responsibilities in dealing with a hearing before scheduling a date.

Turner said that after clearing his office, he had the chief’s office and evidence rooms sealed, pending an audit by State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

Mayor Clardy stated that due to the recent changes in the police department, he had requested SLED to inventory evidence and perform a ticket audit to protect the town and the police department.

Clardy also said that he had contacted a state agency to look into a situation in the police department but declined to comment further.

Sgt. Brent Brooks, acting chief of the Williamston Police Department, said the department is answering calls and  the protection offered by the local department is not lacking.

“We are patrolling and answering all calls,” Brooks said. “Nothing has lapsed as far as police protection.”

Brooks said that the department was organized by former chief Richard Turner so that it would continue in the event something happened to the leadership.

“We are structurally damaged, but  functionally not,” Brooks said. “All shifts are being covered.”

One dispatcher has returned since last week., Clardy said. Lt. Danny Hart remains on administrative leave with pay.

Water tower enters last construction phase

A water tower under construction just off Hwy. 29 North on McAlister Road in Williamston entered the last phase of construction recently when the 40’- diameter steel water tank was hoisted using hydraulic lifts and steel cables onto the concrete pedestal.

The $1.3 million castle-like structure will hold one million gallons of water and is the final element of a water transmission project begun in 1996 according to Henry Payne, Project Manager with Anderson Regional Joint Water System (ARJWS). Economic issues and a pending sale of the water system led to delays in the construction of the facility which is the first major project of the ARJWS, Payne added.

Construction began in September by Landmark Structures of Fort Worth, Texas. The ambitious construction schedule included a planned completion date of June 1 for the 215’ composite structure. Inclement weather has caused some delays, but the scheduled completion is still possible according to Payne.

He says that the goal is to have the facility ready for the peak demands of summer as well as increased demands due to growth in the area. The final phase involves sandblasting the concrete pedestal to provide a more uniform appearance.

Landmark pioneered the unique design of the structure which results in lower costs to the utility. Maintenance costs are reduced since no painting is required, security is increased since no catwalk is involved, and better structural integrity is maintained because of the combination of materials used. The maintenance ladder inside the concrete tower base will be locked behind steel doors.

The structure which will connect to a 20” line running from Clemson Boulevard to Virginia Avenue in Williamston is a fundamental part of the company’s water transmission system. The facility will serve the Town of Williamston as well as Big Creek, Hammond and Powdersville water districts. The Town of Williamston’s 2,850 customers should experience more water pressure and a more dependable water supply according to Town Supervisor Tim Hood.

Looking to the future, ARJWS has four contracts with engineering and design firm Jordan, Jones & Goulding (JJG) in Atlanta according to Payne. The first contract to provide a post- 9/11 vulnerability assessment has been completed. The second contract is to provide an optimization study of existing facilities and processes. JJG’s third contract involves reviewing new designs and technology and submitting recommendations for future equipment and process expansion. The final contract involves a study and recommendations for additional water lines in the system.

Local man thwarts robbery attempt

A Williamston man not only stopped a robbery in progress last week but also held the suspects at gunpoint until an Anderson County deputy could arrive according to reports by local authorities.

Ralph Austin Partain, a 62-year-old resident of Wood Drive, reportedly observed three suspects entering an abandoned residence, removing items, and placing them in a nearby van on Friday afternoon just before 6 p.m.

Anderson County authorities were notified and when Anderson County Deputy J. T. Owens arrived, Partain reportedly had all three suspects sitting on the ground while he guarded them with his handgun.

Two of the three suspects were juveniles, one of whom had waited in the van while the other two carried out the robbery.

Deputy Owens arrested and transported Kevin Michael Riley, 17, 121 Holland Drive, Belton, to Anderson County Detention Center after he reportedly admitted forcibly entering the residence and removing items.

The two juveniles were transported to Belton Police Department according to instructions from the Department of Juvenile Justice. Adults responsible for the two juveniles were contacted and met authorities there.

All stolen property which included various household items valued at approximately $255 was recovered and returned to the rightful owner.

Anderson County deputies arrested Joshua Maurice Ballard, 17, 110 Terry Lee Drive, Piedmont, on April 17. Reportedly, Ballard was in possession of three stolen cell phones and gave a written statement admitting his responsibility for the thefts. Deputies also investigated the following incidents:

Apr. 21 – Mack & Mack Furniture, 4530 Hwy. 29 North, Belton, reported that someone knocked the locking mechanism off a storage trailer and removed tables valued at $500. C Diaz investigated.

Apr. 21 – Ronnie Nolan Gossett, 32, 102 Wateree Lane, Williamston, reported that someone pried open a door and stole electronic equipment valued at $450. C. Diaz investigated.

Apr. 21 – Ella Warren Hutchins, 89, 10101 Anderson Road, Easley, reported that someone entered a storage shed and stole a riding lawn mower valued at $600. D. B. Anderson investigated.

Apr. 21 – Frank Grady Smith, 69, 527 Willingham Road, Williamston, reported that two guitars valued at $1900 were stolen from his car trunk. C. McBride investigated.

Apr. 20 – James Earnest Davis, 107 Bonnie Lane, Pelzer, reported that someone cut a lock on a storage building and took an air compressor valued at $369. D. M. Patten investigated.

Apr. 20 – Clifford Ervin Anders, 49, 403 Planter’s Walk Drive, Easley, reported two bikes and a weed eater valued at $200 missing. T. Digirolamo investigated.

Apr. 19 – Curtis Eugene Yarbrough, 53, #8 Scruggs Road, Williamston, reported that someone pried open a door and took tools valued at $1300. D. M. Patten investigated.

Apr. 19 – Hunsinger’s Cafeteria, 4530 Hwy. 29 North, Belton, reported that someone forced open a door and took $17.50. A. T. Grasty investigated.

Apr. 19 – Cathy Ann Shields, 40, 1403 Mt. Tabor Church Road, Easley, reported that someone forced open the door to a storage building at the Anderson Jockey Lot and removed an undetermined amount of collectible swords, knives, rings and gemstones. A. T. Grasty investigated.

Apr. 19 – Henry Dale Shaw, 27, 140 Hillcrest Drive, Williamston, reported that a 4-wheeler valued at $1200 was stolen from his yard. C. Diaz investigated.

Apr. 19 – Mike Alton Boggs, 42, #6 Boggs Drive, Williamston, reported that a utility trailer and tools valued at $1255 were taken from his back yard. C. Diaz investigated.

Apr. 18 – Elizabeth Fisher Bromeling, 41, 14 Dacus Drive, Williamston, reported that someone stole a TV and DVD player valued at $2220. J. R. McClellan investigated.

Apr. 18 – Timothy Michael Kelly, 34, 221 Cherokee Road, Williamston, reported that someone stole power tools valued at $1505 from his garage. D. B. Anderson investigated.

Apr. 18 – Scotty Dee’s Classic Lounge, 7201 Hwy. 29 North, Pelzer, reported that someone entered through a back door and took $1437.50. D. B. Anderson investigated.

Apr. 17 – Sheree Holcombe, 46, 1024 Kensington Lake Drive, Easley, reported that someone pried open the door to a vacant residence and stole appliances valued at $1200. R. Helmly investigated.

Apr. 17 – Allen Joseph Wallins, 29, 2726 Hwy. 86, Piedmont, reported a CD player and equalizer valued at $250 missing from a utility building. T. Digirolamo investigated.

Apr. 16 – Jason LeRoy, 32, 303 Hwy. 17, Piedmont, reported two lawn mowers valued at $300 missing from his carport. R. Helmly investigated.

Apr. 15 – Yates BP, 191 Owens Road, Piedmont, reported that someone broke a glass door and took cigarettes and lighters valued at $320. J. T. Owens investigated.

Apr. 15 – Tonya Lasha Dismuke, 20, 120 Kaleope Street, Easley, reported that someone stole a cell phone, purse and its contents, and jewelry valued at $490 from her vehicle. C. McBride investigated.

Williamston officers make arrests

Williamston police officers investigated the following incidents:

Apr. 18 - Tina Thrasher, 114 W. 3rd St., Williamston reported a Huffy 20 inch mountain bike valued at $100 stolen from in front of Winn Dixie. Z. E. Gregory investigated.

Apr. 19 - Jason Neil Rogers, 24, 110 Gossett Dr., Apt. C3, Pecan Terrace Apartments, Williamston, reported a reese hitch and ball valued at $40 taken from a 1993 Ford pickup.

Apr. 19 - Edwin Grier, Jr., 45, Austin St., Williamston, was arrested for public disorderly conduct after being observed on Greenville Dr. D. Munger investigated.

Apr. 19 - Isain Aguilar Ramirez, 22, 536 W. Main St., Williamston, was arrested for failure to yield right of way and no driver’s license after being observed on W. Main St., D. W. Bryant investigated.

Apr. 19 - Sonya Denise Barger, 39, 115 Tryon St., Williamston, was arrested for petit larceny after allegedly removing $261 from a purse belonging to an employee at Partners Restaurant, 14 N. Hamilton St., Williamston. The money was recovered. Sgt. D. B. Brooks investigated.

Apr. 18 - Dean Wade Chadwick, 37, 4 West 2nd St., Williamston, was arrested for furnishing false information to police officers after reporting to officers that a neighbor had pointed a handgun at him. D. Munger. D. Alexander investigated.

Apr. 17 - William Nelson Edwards, 49, 16 Randall St., Williamston, was arrested for public disorderly conduct after being observed on West Main St. D. Munger investigated.

Apr. 17 - Ralph Guyton Patton, 63, 2 Mahaffey St., Williamston, was arrested for public disorderly conduct after being observed on Academy St. D. Munger investigated.

Apr. 15 - Steve Ellison, 514 Greenville Dr., Williamston, reported a shoplifting incident in which unknown items were taken from the store by two males who left in a burgundy Pontiac. D. W. Alexander investigated.

Apr. 14 - Michael E. Sammons, 110 Davis St., Williamston, reported three guns valued at $800 stolen Apr. 12 from a building at the location. Missing items included a double barrel shotgun, an Ithaca bolt action rifle and a Hi Point Compact 9mm. D. W. Alexander investigated.

Apr. 5 - Mark Harper, 2 Crescent Dr., Williamston, reported two firearms valued at $250 taken from the residence. Missing items included a 20 gauge shotgun and a 32 Cal. revolver. D. A. Parker investigated.

Apr. 5 - Terry Leon Harper, 37, 895 Nash Mill Rd., Fountain Inn was arrested for public disorderly conduct, reckless driving and open container after being involved in a traffic accident on Main St. D. Munger investigated.

Apr. 3 - Three juveniles were arrested in connection with an incident a Palmetto Middle School in which a saxophone valued at $1,600 was damaged. C. A. Cauthen investigated.

Apr. 6 - Ronald Eugene Rogers, 46, 614 Willingham Rd., Williamston, was arrested for driving under the influence (more than 1st) after a Ford Bronco was observed on E. Main St. without a headlight. D. W. Alexander investigated.

Apr. 8 - Juan Francisco Martin, 43, 103 W. 1st St., Williamston, was arrested for public disorderly conduct after being observed walking on East 1st. St. M. D. Clardy. S. W. Doley investigated.

Apr. 8 - Moores, 17 Pelzer Ave., Williamston reported three males took a pair of Timberland boots valued at $100 from the store. D. W. Bryant investigated.

Apr. 8 - Patricia Ann Gibbs, 40, 8 Lopez St., Pelzer, was arrested for shoplifting and furnishing false information after attempting to take condoms valued at $10 from Winn Dixie.

Apr. 8 - Richard Joe Bobbitt, 50, 136 Moore Ln., Piedmont, reported a hit and run incident  in the West Main Shopping Center parking lot in which his vehicle had $500 in damage. D. W. Alexander investiated.

Apr. 2 - Kimberly Dawn Carpenter, 37, 137 Holland Ford Rd., Pelzer, was arrested for reckless driving and open container in a vehicle after a 1990 Honda was observed on Market St. and Greenville Dr.

Pelzer infant dies in tragic accident

A 6-month-old baby girl suffocated early Thursday morning at her Allen Street home in Pelzer when she apparently rolled off her mother’s bed and into a laundry basket head first according to Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore.

Nineteen-year-old Danielle Marie Heaton woke around 4:30 a.m., fed her daughter Katelin, and then took her to bed with her. Authorities believe the baby rolled off the bed while her mother was sleeping and into a laundry basket located near the bed. Shore said that a child Katelin’s age has only about four to six minutes to live if they are unable to breathe.

Heaton woke around 11 a.m., found Katelin lifeless in the laundry basket, and called 911. Authorities pronounced Katelin dead at 12:45 p.m.

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Social Services are investigating the death, a normal procedure in the death of a young child.

An autopsy completed Friday attributed the death to “positional asphyxia,” and preliminary findings ruled it accidental with no apparent foul play. “This appears to be an accidental death – just a tragic, tragic situation,” Shore added.

The investigation will go through the standard process and will be finalized in about 30 days according to Shore.

Funeral services were conducted Monday with burial in Greenville Memorial Gardens. An obituary can be found in this week’s Journal.