News Archive

(1708) Week of Apr. 23, 2008

Former Governor Riley attends groundbreaking
Community invited to pray in park
Williamston to celebrate Earth Day
Piedmont approves 08-09 budget
West Pelzer citizens offer input for improvements
Town’s finances rebounding - Audit shows $1.1 million fund balance
West Pelzer Councilmen explain reasons for missing last meeting
Schools recognized for reducing achievement gap
Family dispute turns deadly
Support EMS
Pageant to benefit Shrine Club
Seems to Me . . . Let’s review

Former Governor Riley attends Community Garden groundbreaking

Former South Carolina Governor Richard Riley attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the Riley Community Garden located at the Riley Child Development and Family Learning Center at 9130 Augusta Rd. in southern Greenville County.

The garden, located at the center which was named in his honor, is designed to be used by families in the community as well as Riley Center families.

It will contain trees, plants, flowers, a rainbow garden, play space, labyrinth, outdoor classroom, arbor and statuary. 

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

Riley Center director Tina Haley and community volunteer Mamie Reid spoke during the groundbreaking which included, a balloon release.

Wielding shovels were 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 and former governor Riley.

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 the former governor who also served as the US Secretary of Education, and his wife.

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.

Community invited to pray in park

The community is invited to observe the National Day of Prayer in Mineral Spring Park on May 1. The amphitheater in the park will be available throughout the day, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., for people who want to come to pray, said Ken McInnis, spokesman for the Williamston Prayer Group which is organizing the local observance.

A more formal prayer time has been planned for 12 noon in the amphitheater with several area ministers leading prayers.  Participating Ministers include Dr. Norman Pearson of New Prospect Baptist Church, Rev. Kempie Shepard of Grace United Methodist Church, Rev. Mark Roberts of Calvary Baptist Church, and Rev. Tony Edwards of Pelzer Church of God.

Williamston Prayer Group participants and members of local churches will be at the amphitheater all day in case anyone who comes to pray would like to have someone pray with them or have special concerns they want to talk about, McInnis said. Anyone in the community who is interested is invited to be a part of the prayer time, he said.

The National Day of Prayer, created by the US Congress in 1952, is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. The National Day of Prayer Task Force calls on the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership in the seven centers of power: government, military, media, business, education, church and family.

The Williamston Prayer Group is a non-denominational, informal gathering of area men who assemble weekly to pray for needs in the community. Meetings are held every Tuesday at 8 a.m. at B & R Restaurant. Area men who are interested are welcome to join the group, McInnis said. For more information, call 847-5225.

Williamston to celebrate Earth Day

Williamston will celebrate Earth Day this Saturday, April 26 from  9a.m. to 3 p.m. with an Earth Day event in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park.

“We want to remind everyone that we live on a beautiful planet, but we are doing things on a personal, community, national, and international scale that have a negative impact on the planet for future generations. But the good news is that we can do small and easy things that help make a difference,” said Marc Edlein, spokesperson for the event.

Members of Grace United Methodist Church are coordinating the event which will feature displays by numerous organizations, businesses and others involved in recycling and helping save the environment. There will also be special activities, especially for young children, organizers said.

“We want everyone to come enjoy a beautiful day in the park and have fun learning about our planet,” coordinator Phil Hughes and  member of Grace Church said.

The celebration will start at 9 a.m. Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy will join event organizers and others at 10 a.m. to plant a Summer Red Maple, donated by Dan Thomas of DT’s Plants of Belton,  in the park.

Persons attending the event will have the opportunity to gather information and watch videos related to the Earth Day theme.

“We knew we wanted to make this first Earth Day as visual as possible said Joe Tysinger, another event organizer. “So we will have small billboards to illustrate the various themes. We will also have three shelters with short videos.”

Another goal is to tell the local “Green story” according to Tysinger. “Schools, businesses, and local organizations in the area have been going green for several years.  The space in our local Green zone provides a venue for them to tell their story.”

Visitors attending the event will move through the park to different zones that will help communicate Themes including Beauty, Crisis, Local green actions and resources, Things being done beyond our community and Easy steps an individual can take.

The 6th zone will be an opportunity for people to share their ideas with the community. 

Among those displaying will be Anderson County Environmental Services, which will have someone explain which things are recyclable and the recycling center locations throughout the County; Cedar Grove, Palmetto Elementary and Palmetto Middle schools will have student projects on display; and Upstate Forever will show how they promote sensible growth and the protection of special places in the upstate region.

Other participating organizations include: Anderson County Keep America Beautiful, Carolina Sustainable Farming Association CSFA, Callahams Orchards, Clemson Asphalt Recycling Technology Services, Earth Protection Services (EPSI), Girl Scouts, Roger Odachowski, Roylco, Sealed Air Corpoartion, South Carolina DHEC, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Split Creek Farm, Taylor Pallet & Recycling, Upstate Forever, URRC PET bottle Recycling.

“Children are an important part of Earth Day,” says Julie Dutterer of Williamston. “Younger generations are more in tune with fixing the earth and they represent our future. My Girl Scouts will be helping with activities in the children’s zone. Some of the activities will include coloring paper bags, earth volleyball, and face painting. The children can also plant a pine seedling in a paper pot that they can take home.”

The event is part of the global Earth Day celebration that takes place annually on April 22. There are 141 countries and over 200 million people from around the world who celebrate throughout the week. The event is a collective expression of the world’s will to create a sustainable society and it inspires action on a personal, community, national and international basis.

“Although the event is being held in Williamston, we really consider it an Anderson County community event that is open to everyone,” 

Anyone interested in participating in the event or supporting through materials or monetary donations can contact Marc Edlein 375-1319 or Joe Tysinger at 844-4203.

Town’s finances rebounding - Audit shows $1.1 million fund balance

During their semimonthly meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council heard a public presentation of the 2007 audit, addressed a termite issue and prepared for upcoming budget work sessions.

There was little discussion and no questions from the council on the audit report, which covered the first six months of 2007. The report was presented to each council member individually at an earlier date, according to Mayor Phillip Clardy.

David Phillips of Greene Finney & Horton accounting firm told council that the town received an unqualified opinion, which is the best opinion the town can have and meaning that there is reasonable assurance that the town’s financial statement is accurate and there was nothing wrong materially.

The figures presented in the audit covered a six month period from Jan. 1, 2007 to June 30, 2007. reflecting a change in operations from a calendar year to a fiscal year beginning July 1.

That, coupled with the purchase of new software and related problems “made things a little more difficult this year,” according to Phillips.

Phillips reported the town is in good financial shape with a fund balance of $1,131,000, a $239,000 increase over the previous year.

The unreserved fund balance is approximately $1,090,000.

Phillips said a healthy fund balance provides cash flow for the next year. The funds are available to cover significant emergencies and unanticipated expenditures, (such as the recent sewer pump failure), to allow flexibility for additional funding needs, to cover normal ups and downs in budget revenues and expenses. It can also help with lower interest rates if bonds are issued.

On the downside, a slight decrease in revenues was reflected, primarily due to less property taxes collected druing the first six months of 2007. This was partially offset by two more months of sanitation fees, Phillips said.

The audit reflects the actual financial revenues for six months and doubles those numbers for a comparison of what they will be expected to show for a year.

Expenditures in the first six months are up over the previous year, primarily due to the purchase of a new tractor and new accounting software.

Operating expenditures are up due to hiring of additional employees.

Revenues and expenses for the water and sewer  fund were in line with the budget and as expected.

The department does have $1,452,000 in water and sewer refund bonds and another $144,000 in notes payable for vehicles.

The town did not incur any additional debt during the first six months of 2007 and could legally borrow up to $725,000 as of June.

Phillips stated that the town is facing several considerable expenditures involving the water and the sewer systems. 

The sewer system is currently operating under a consent order from DHEC, and the town is working on a $10 million upgrade which will be funded from RDA grants and loans.

The water system is also in need of a major overhaul estimated at approximately $140,000 over the next four years, Phillips said.

There were some concerns reported in the management letter which accompanies the report, most of which are already being addressed.

Auditor findings, based on the year old information, show there is a lack of segregation of duties and ineffective monitoring of the clerk treasurer responsibilities, primarily as a result of limited financial personnel at the town.

In response, the council is working with external auditors and accountant to segregate clerk/treasurer duties and individual council members sign checks on a rotating basis.

The report also states that the town does not have adequate internal controls to detect misstatements in the annual financial reporting process. Instead the town relies on external independent auditors.

The town has contract accountants who compile and review monthly financial statements and reporting to council. The report states that at this time, the council believes this is the most cost efficient way to prepare the financial statements.

A third finding in the report states the town does not have a current system for properly recording personnel costs to the correct function in the water and sewer departments.

In response, council has instructed department heads to assign labor costs to the proper department and they have increased the number of line items in the chart of accounts to allow department heads to more accurately code the department and function.

The town is still experiencing problems with court fines and assessments, which are not being forwarded to the state in a timely manner.

According to Phillips, fines are being collected until the full payment is made and then forwarded to the state. Phillips said the state’s percentage of the money collected should be forwarded monthly. In response, the policy and procedures are currently under review by the town’s accountant and adjustments are being made to comply with state law.

The town has also recently purchased new software that will combine the front office accounting and the police department accounting into the same system.

Following an executive session, Council unanimously agreed to a $10,720 termite contract with C&L Pest Control company with a 10 year renewable contract.

Council also decided to set monthly budget meetings at the next regular meeting Monday, May 5.

Mayor Clardy said the fund balance increase is “an indication we are definitely on the right track.”

Clardy said that he and council want to know that the rates being charged are justified. He said that there are still concerns with the sanitation and water rate fees and making sure they are being well spent

Piedmont approves 08-09 budget

By Stan Welch

The Piedmont Public Service Commission gave first reading approval to the 2008-09 budget after cutting a cost of living increase for the firefighters in half.

The budget, as presented, was very tight, with just a twelve dollar surplus in the recreation budget, and forty four dollars in the fire department operations budget. The sewer and lights department had no surplus at all, with a neutral budget of $116,711.00.

The budget for the fire department was based on projected revenues of $962,017.00, including carryover funds from last year’s budget in the amount of $22,100. Without that cushion, the budget would have been in deficit.

The budget as presented included a two percent cost of living increase for the firefighters, but that amount was cut in half, following an executive session to discuss salaries. The original budget failed to get first reading approval, as the vote was 2-2. Commissioner Bobby Stover, whose vote would have decided the issue suffered a heart attack last week and is in the hospital following multiple bypass surgery. (See related story elsewhere in this issue.)

Following the failed vote, Commissioner Frankie Garrett moved to reduce the increase to one per cent. Chairman Ed Poore seconded that motion, and it passed unanimously. “I’d rather see them get this than nothing, but this is pitiful,” said Commissioner Marsha Rogers before voting to approve the change. The reduction in the increase resulted in a savings of approximately $6000 in the fire department budget.

A second reading of the budget is required for its adoption. The May meeting of the commission will be held on Tuesday, May 13, rather than on the third Monday, as is customary. Chairman Poore requested the change due to a prior commitment on the date of the regular May meeting.

In other business, the Commission could do no business because it recently implemented a policy requiring three bids on proposed expenditures. Two such projects, the pouring of additional concrete at the ball park, and the lawn maintenance contract for the town, failed to attract three bids.

Chairman Poore suggested re-advertising for bids on the concrete work, citing the policy recently adopted by the commission. Assistant administrator Craig Lawless reported that the Appalachian Council of Governments (ACOG) had advised that if the advertising requirements had been met, and more than three people picked up bid packages, the commission could proceed with less than three bids.

Commissioner Frankie Garrett moved that three bids be required just as they were a month ago when the contractor who performed the first part of the concrete work at the ball park submitted a bid to extend the project and perform the second phase as well. At that time, the commission denied that attempt and put the three bid policy in place. Garrett’s motion died from lack of a second.

Poore asked for other motions concerning the bids, and received none. “Without any motion to proceed, I can only rule that we must have three bids. I do not have the authority to change this policy.”

Poore made the same ruling concerning the contract for lawn maintenance because only one bid was received, even though seven bid packets were picked up by interested contractors.

West Pelzer citizens offer input for improvements

By Stan Welch

The public hearing held last week by the West Pelzer Town Council to receive public input into the uses of a $200,000 ISTEA grant attracted only four citizens. Those citizens still outnumbered the members of the Town Council who were present as three members who boycotted the last regular Town Council meeting again failed to appear.

The Council voted unanimously earlier this year to approve the expenditures necessary to produce a preliminary plan for the beautification program for Main Street. The grant process requires two public hearings to receive public input.

Despite the low turnout, the meeting produced a variety of suggestions. Mayor Peggy Paxton explained, “We can redesign the downtown area. We don’t want to lose the small town feel but we want to improve its looks. We can make this look like a community, a place where people will want to stop and shop.”

Ann Odom, one of those in attendance, suggested that trees be planted and benches installed along Main Street. Arlene Henderson agreed, but added that decorative light poles could also be useful. “If the streets were nicely lighted, people would get out and walk more.”

Paxton said she would like to see the power lines in the area moved underground. “We can create a whole new entrance to our town. This process doesn’t take anyone’s property. We can improve parking for our businesses. This is just a very exciting opportunity for the town. This money will be spread as far as it can go from the five way intersection up Main Street.”

Other suggestions included installing medians or traffic circles, as well as a historic monument commemorating the days when the town was known as Frankville.  Councilman Mike Moran said, “West Pelzer has been on a downward slide for the last few years, but this is a chance to show businesses that we have stopped that slide. If we do that, those businesses will come back and one success will feed another.”

Mayor Paxton said that the ISTEA grant, which comes from the SCDOT, would tie in very nicely with the passage of the proposed one cent sales tax that appears headed for a referendum vote in the November elections.

“We have three hundred thousand dollars for renovation of our Town Hall on that list of projects,” said Paxton. “There is a property on Main Street that would be perfect for putting all our town offices in one location. Those funds from the sales tax would make that very possible.”

A special called meeting of the Town Council will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23 to decide which design firm to employ for the proposed project. The meeting will be held at the Town Hall.

West Pelzer Councilmen explain reasons for missing last meeting

By Stan Welch

Three members of the West Pelzer Town Council, who declined to attend their last regularly scheduled meeting, on April 14, have responded to The Journal’s coverage and commentary on that incident with a jointly released statement.

The statement and subsequent comments by one of the Councilmen to The Journal, make a number of charges in explaining the majority’s absence from that Monday meeting. That meeting was held at the fire department, in anticipation of a crowd too large for the Town Hall, according to Mayor Peggy Paxton.

According to the statement, approved and released by Councilmen Joe Turner, Marshall King, and Jimmy Jeanes, the conduct of a large and boisterous crowd at a March 10th meeting at the fire station, as well as what they say was the failure of the police to control that crowd, led to concerns for their safety that caused them to stay away from the April meeting.

The letter states that at the March meeting, threats were made against them, although Councilman Jeanes acknowledges that no report of those threats was made to the West Pelzer police.

“We didn’t call the law, but we should have. We had every right to. But a police officer did escort us out that night, and I do appreciate that.” 

WPPD Chief Bernard Wilson agrees that no such report was ever made to his department. He said the officer escorted the Councilmen out at his instructions.

Mayor Paxton said she knew of only one act which could be construed as threatening. That actually took place during the meeting, when Mr. Jeanes called a citizen who was speaking a liar. Mr. Richard Black, another citizen, told Jeanes if he called anyone else a liar he would answer for it. Black, like Councilman Joe Turner, is confined to a wheelchair.

Mayor Paxton stated that a spouse of one of the Councilmen called her a foul name in front of a number of people, an act which she considered threatening. “I consider being called something like that very insulting and threatening. And several of the people who heard her felt the same way,” said the Mayor.

At that meeting, which followed an abrupt and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to abolish the police department during the February Council meeting, nearly a hundred citizens attended and loudly defended the police department and its continued existence.

In the statement, the trio of Councilmen state that they couldn’t hear the business that was being conducted. Councilman Jeanes explained to The Journal that the reason the proposed ordinance concerning the police department didn’t receive a second was that he and Mr. King are hard of hearing and could not tell what was going on because of the crowd noise.

 “It was very hard to hear what the Mayor was saying and what was being discussed, with all the noise the crowd was making. That’s why the motion to approve the ordinance didn’t get a second. We didn’t know what was going on.”

 The letter states that there was a lack of security at the meeting on March 10th, which included a public hearing on the proposed police ordinance. It also states that no action was taken by law enforcement to restore order to the meeting.

Chief Wilson said that once the meeting adjourned, there was “no order to be restored.” 

Jeanes, expounding on the contents of the statement, said that Councilman Mike Moran, on Sunday April 13, was seen distributing flyers telling citizens to “be aware” that the issue of the police ordinance might come up again at the next day’s meeting, and called on citizens to attend that meeting.

The statement says that the Mayor’s decision to hold that meeting at the fire station as well raised concerns among the three Council members, who decided not to attend. Approximately sixty people attended the second meeting, well beyond the town hall’s capacity.

Jeanes, King, and Turner all deny any intention of bringing the police ordinance back to the floor, a claim supported by the fact that the issue was not on the agenda for that April 14th meeting. “Of course, the issue wasn’t on the agenda the first time those three council members voted to abolish the police department either,” said Mayor Paxton, in an interview this week.

Turner, in a brief telephone interview, said , “Nobody cares what the Council wants anymore. It’s what they want that counts. But we never intended to put that ordinance back out there at this time.”

Jeanes also claimed that Moran used both town equipment and the time of a town employee to produce the fliers. Mayor Paxton said she didn’t know when the fliers were made but confirmed that the town’s business equipment was used.

“I do know that it was discussed in the town hall that the issue of the police department would come up again sometime,” she added. She opined that it was that discussion that may have led to Moran’s concern about the ordinance.

Jeanes said that the issue of the police ordinance was used to stir up the town’s citizens and try and draw another large crowd. 

“We felt like the first meeting at the fire station wasn’t run right and we didn’t want to go through that again at the April 14 meeting,” said Jeanes.

As a matter of procedure, the Council would have to approve the ordinance twice, with one of the meetings including a public hearing.

When asked why the same three Council members also failed to attend a public hearing last Thursday to receive public comment on a proposed downtown beautification project, Jeanes said he had to work. “I don’t know anything about that thing except we voted to approve it. But I can’t talk for the others as to why they didn’t go.” That meeting was held at the Town Hall.

Jeanes stressed that the decision not to attend was not a concerted one. “I don’t have any say so what they do. We didn’t decide together not to go to the April 14 meeting, either. We just all happened to decide not to go.”

The statement from the three councilmen concludes, “Please accept our apologies for any misinformation or misunderstanding that may have occurred. As always we have the best interest of the town at heart.”

Jeanes echoed that sentiment, saying, “I just want to do what’s best for this town. We just want a clean good place to live and work.”

Schools recognized for reducing achievement gap

Sixteen percent of elementary and middle schools across the state were honored by the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) recently for reducing the achievement gap for at least one historically underachieving student group.

Seven Anderson School District One schools, were among twelve Anderson schools honored. 

In Anderson District One, schools recognized include: Palmetto Elementary, Cedar Grove Elementary, West Pelzer Elementary, Spearman Elementary, Wren Elementary, Powdersville Middle and Powedersville Elementary.

Other Anderson County schools recognized include Honea Path Elementary, Wright Elementary, Iva Elementary, Townville Elementary,  and Concord Elementary.

In the sixth year of the study on gap-closing schools, 141 schools were identified based on results of the English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics portions of the 2007 Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test (PACT).

The schools recognized had high student achievement for at least one target subgroup — African American students, Hispanic students, or students participating in the free/reduced price lunch program.

Identified as a persistent challenge nationwide, the achievement gap is defined as the difference in achievement between the target group (the historically lower-scoring demographic group) and the statewide comparison group (the historically higher-scoring group) at various PACT performance levels (Basic or Above / Proficient or Advanced.)  

Details from this year’s gap analysis reveal in an analysis of PACT math and English Language Arts (ELA) scores: Achievement in both subject areas from 2006 to 2007 was generally flat.

In both 2006 and 2007, approximately one-third of all students scored at the Proficient or Advanced level on the ELA test and one-third scored Proficient or Advanced on the math test.

In both years, almost one-fourth of all students failed the ELA test and one fourth failed the math test (scored Below Basic). 

In an analysis of the sizes of the achievement gaps in ELA and math: The sizes of the gaps in 2007 generally increased compared to 2006, reflecting the general lack of progress overall in performance on the ELA and math tests. The gap between white and Hispanic students decreased at the Basic and above level in both math and ELA. In math, the gap decreased at the Proficient or Advanced level. 

The smallest achievement gap was observed in PACT math at the Basic and above level (17.5 percentage points) comparing the performance of white and Hispanic students.

The largest achievement gap was observed in PACT math at the Proficient and Advanced level (29.1 percentage points) comparing the performance of white and African American students. 

Achievement gaps observed at the Proficient or Advanced levels in ELA and math are larger than those at the Basic or above performance levels for all groups.

Gaps between white and African American students remain consistently larger than gaps between white and Hispanic students and between pay and free- or reduced-price lunch students.

Many of the schools recognized in previous years for closing the achievement gap have maintained their accomplishment. 

Thirty percent of this year’s honored schools are high-poverty schools, serving a student population of at least 70 percent poverty. Twelve of the recognized schools have 90 percent or more of their students in poverty.

Performance on the science and social studies PACT tests was analyzed in this year’s report but schools were not recognized for achievement in these content areas. The gaps in these subject areas should be noted.

The performance of all students on the Social Studies and Science tests at both the Basic and above and the Proficient or Advanced levels increased from 2006 to 2007.

The largest gaps in achievement for a subject area were observed in science. 

The size of the achievement gaps between the demographic groups studied in 2007 decreased in eight and increased in four of the twelve gap comparisons.

Although progress is being made, the sizes of the gaps are discouraging if South Carolina is to meet its 2010 achievement goal for all students.  

Family dispute turns deadly

By Stan Welch

A Belton man was shot and killed Monday evening, following a physical confrontation with his father. 

Bryan Andrew Bratcher, 26, of 160 McClain Road, was pronounced dead on the scene after suffering a single gunshot wound to the right side of the abdomen.

According to Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore, the shot severed an artery and lodged in his spine. He bled to death, according to Shore.

Anderson County deputies responded at approximately 6:48 Monday evening and secured the scene so that EMS personnel could enter.

Bratcher’s father, Daniel Marvin Bratcher, 53, also of the same address, was questioned and released in the case, which was to be presented to 10th Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams for determination as to whether to press charges.

Anderson County Sheriff’s Office records indicate a history of similar behavior by Bryan Bratcher over the last couple of years, with several police calls to that address.

Reports indicate that a question of self defense might be raised. Shore reported that there were several eyewitnesses, and that one of them, a juvenile, said that the victim had come into the home using loud and abusive language and was told by the elder Bratcher to leave the home, where several children were at the time.

Coroner Shore said that toxicology tests on the victim showed no drugs in the victim’s blood stream, but indicated a blood alcohol level of .176, or more than twice the legal limit in South Carolina.

During an ensuing struggle, the elder Bratcher was reportedly placed in a choke hold at least once and rendered nearly unconscious. Other family members were reportedly also assaulted or threatened. 

After recovering, the elder Bratcher allegedly went into the bedroom and got a pistol. According to the source, he told investigators he planned to frighten his son into leaving, but his son came at him again.

According to the results of Bratcher’s interrogation, he said he tried to shoot his son in the leg and hit him in the abdomen instead.

Support EMS

Construction is underway at the site of the new Pelzer EMS building located at the Pelzer ball fields on Hwy. 20. Recently visiting the site to watch as work begins were Pelzer EMS Board Chairman Dan Durham, contractor Larry Stone, paramedic Tony Vinson, former State Rep. and Pelzer EMS Board member M. J. “Dolly” Cooper, and Pelzer EMS Board member Harold Vinson. The slab was being poured for the 11,000 sq. ft. building and steel is being erected this week. Durham said it was only fitting that Mr. Cooper be on hand at the start of the project. “He has been a driving force behind providing EMS services to this area for forty years. He was with us from the very start.”

Pageant to benefit Shrine Club

The Tri-City Shrine Club will present the Miss Tri-City Shrine Pageant on Saturday June 7 at 5 p.m. at the Tri-City Shrine Club, Hwy. 252 in Honea Path.

There will be six age divisions including Precious Miss (age 1-3), Petite Miss (4-6), Little Miss (7-9), Young Miss (10-12), Junior Miss (13-15) and Miss Tri-City (16-19).

Winners in each age division will receive a crown, banner and bouquet.

Entry forms may be picked up from Larry Davenport at Larry’s Used Cars in Williamston or from Chasity Roper at the Cavalier Men and Women’s Hair Shop in Belton.

Entry fee is $25 and there are multi family discounts.

Entry deadline is May 24. All proceeds will benefit the Tri-City Shrine Club.

Seems to Me . . . Let’s review

By Stan Welch

News flash! Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston generously deigned to release his job evaluations for approximately half the years he has been employed in that job. Amazingly, those evaluations confirm that Preston is indeed the gifted administrator he thinks he is.

Of course, one could have learned that by a simple visit to the Anderson County website, which abounds in praise and adulation for Preston. No other county website in the state is such a paean to that county’s administrator. The part of that website dedicated to County Council is one page; to Mr. Preston, three pages. He will never have to mail a resume’ as long as he is county administrator.

According to the published reports in the Anderson Independent Mail, Mr. Preston released evaluations for the years 1996-98 and 2004-06. That’s six of the twelve years he has been employed. The newspaper said he released ten years worth. I don’t know which entity can’t count to ten, but the Anderson County financial department wins an awful lot of awards, if you know what I mean. Surely they can count to ten.

In fact this release of the evaluations has some things in common with the finance department’s usual means of providing such data. For example, none of the backup documentation related to Preston’s evaluations was provided, according to published reports. That is in keeping with that award winning department’s performance in providing elected officials with information. “Here’s a box of records, Mr. Councilman. You sort it out.”

Another similarity is that the information sought by the Independent Mail, (and let’s give credit where it’s due, folks. Didn’t these guys catch on to this FOIA thing really quickly once they realized they were actually allowed to question Mr. Preston?) was withheld. According to Mr. Preston’s attorney, (and yes, I know she’s listed as the County’s personnel attorney, but let’s get real,) Linda Bloodgood, said that complying with a request for the total amount of compensation made to Preston in the past twelve years would constitute “an arduous task”.

This is so Joey Preston. 

“It’ll take hours. It’ll cost a fortune.” Just like it’s going to cost over a hundred grand to put the County’s financial records on the website, even though the state Comptroller General has apparently agreed to help all counties do so at little or no cost.

These claims sound to my ears like a textbook description of incompetence. If Mr. Preston’s compensation is clearly spelled out in what is truly a remarkable contract for a public employee, then totaling that compensation should be a breeze for an award winning finance department like the one Preston has assembled. If that compensation is not clearly defined in that contract, then more than Preston’s job performance needs review.

If the difficulty in determining the amount of compensation is real, (perhaps its roots lie in the absence of documentation, such as use of county credit cards by Mr. Preston? Or perhaps there is some confusion over whether to include the cost of perks such as a Chiquola membership or the use of a beach house or a mountain retreat to the total of compensation provided to Mr. Preston?

If the award winning finance department is unable to answer those questions, perhaps a grand jury or a full and thorough audit might be helpful in sorting it out?

That apparent incompetence isn’t limited to this instance. Council members Cindy Wilson and Bob Waldrep spent weeks seeking and finally gaining access to credit card records which Preston fought tooth and nail to deny them. When they finally got to review them, they weren’t allowed to copy them at that time.

I hate to lose my train of thought here, but consider that statement for a moment. Two of the seven elected members of County Council were refused permission to copy public records, even though they brought their own copier and their own paper. Let’s think about that for a second. The most central question that arises from that statement is where the heck does Michael Cunningham get the authority to refuse an elected official anything? He gets it from his boss, Mr. Preston.

Of course, the very situation presumes that it is Preston’s authority to grant or deny permission. This attitude would seem to be something that might be included in, oh, say, a job evaluation? That is if the majority of Council thought the County policy requiring an annual evaluation was worth following instead of ignoring.

So more than two months after the assistant administrator and the award winning finance staff promised to copy and provide those documents to Wilson and Waldrep, they received them in the same box and the same disorder that they were in when the Council members first sought to copy them.

That is incompetence by the most benign interpretation; it is willful obstruction of the Freedom of Information Act by any other interpretation. Either way, it should show up on any legitimate job evaluation.

But let’s not get too caught up in all this folks. Seems to me the only job review that counts will be conducted in the June primary and the November general election. We’ll see where it all goes from there.







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