News Archive

(1905) Week of May 11, 2005

Week of May 11, 2005

Baccalaureate services Sunday for graduates

Freedom Weekend Aloft brings balloons, concerts Memorial weekend
Sewer, other projects discussed in workshop
Williamston Council updated on projects

Williamston police report
Local NHRA motorsports team competes close to home
King running as write-in candidate
West Pelzer Council meetings continue to be heated
Health and Wellness Festival set for May 24Mineral Spring Park
County budget discussions tabled for further review
County budget discussions: to increase or decrease?
Deputies investigate assaults, thefts

National film crew visits

Baccalaureate services Sunday for graduates

Area high school seniors will participate in baccalaureate services this Sunday in preparation for graduation services to be held next week.

The Palmetto High School Baccalaureate Service will be held Sunday May 15, 7 p.m. at the Palmetto High School Auditorium.

Bradley Douglas Angel will welcome guests. Nancy Ayers Haguewood will give the invocation.

Westley Paul Cox will lead the congregational hymn, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”

Cody Wayne Moore will read scripture from Proverbs 3:5-6.

The PHS Chorus will present a musical presentation “How Can I Keep fro Singing,” by Greg Gilpin.

Travis Carter Hancock will introduce the speaker Rev. Billy Slatten, Pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church.

Alysia Nicole Hewitt will pronounce the benediction.

Wren High School Baccalaureate Service will also be held on May 15 at 7 p.m. in the Wren High Auditorium.

The invocation will be given by Honor Graduate Hillary Finlen. Honor Grad Lindsay Cook will lead the Pledge to the flag. Honor Grad Brittany Knight and Wren High Principal G. Robert Binnicker will welcome guests.

Concert Choir Senior members will sing “You Raise Me Up” under the direction of Kathy M. Smith.

Honor Grad Clint Ghan will lead the congregation in singing “To God Be The Glory.”

Honor Grad Kevin Hand will introduce the speaker.

Reverend Delton Hand will deliver the message, “Do the Best You Can, Where You’re At, With What You’ve Got!”

Honor Grad Jessica Wilson will pronounce the benediction.

Both Anderson District One graduation ceremonies will be held May 21 at the Anderson Civic Center.

 Palmetto High School graduation will be held at 4 p.m.

Wren High School graduation services will be held at 7 p.m.

Freedom Weekend Aloft brings balloons, concertsMemorial weekend

The 24th annual Pontiac GMC Freedom Weekend Aloft will feature four days filled with hot-air balloons, concerts, disc dog competitions, soccer, softball, great food and more during Memorial Weekend, May 27-30.

The annual event will feature 100 of the country’s best hot-air balloonists competing daily for more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.

Featured concerts will be held three evenings in the William A. Floyd amphitheater and will be the only FWA attraction where attendees will be required to pay admission.

Organizers said the event’s goal is to provide high quality entertainment at very low prices through the support of corporate sponsors.

On Friday, southern rock superstars Molly Hatchet, Marshall Tucker Band and Charlie Daniels Band will join forces for the first show of the weekend sponsored by the Anderson Independent Mail and ROCK 101 FM.

Molly Hatchet will begin the show at 7 p.m.  The group’s 1978 debut album went multi-platinum as did their second album.  The band struck gold status in 1991 with the release of their greatest hits album. 

Fans will enjoy hits such as “Flirtin With Disaster”, “Gator Country”, “Whiskey Man” and more. 

They will be followed by the Upstate’s own Marshall Tucker Band who have had seven gold and three platinum albums with hits including, “Desert Skies”, “Can’t You See”, “Heard It In a Love Song”, “Take The Highway”, “Fire On The Mountain” and more. 

The legendary Charlie Daniels Band will then take the FWA stage.  

Daniels is a patriotic man which is evident in many of his songs. His career includes gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums.

The hit “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” won Daniels a Grammy and was an international phenomenon.  

An endless list of other hits including “The South’s Gonna Do It Again”, “Long Haired Country Boy”, “In America”, “This Ain’t No Rag, It’s A Flag”, “Uneasy Rider”, “The Legend of Wooley Swamp”, “Still In Saigon”, “Simple Man” and many more are staples for Daniels. 

Commenting on his own music, Daniels stated; “It’s purely American music with something for everyone, at least that’s what I’ve hoped for in my 40 years in music.”

On Saturday, May 28, B 93.7 FM will bring Ryan Cabrera and Gavin DeGraw to FWA.  The Upstate’s Dezeray’s Hammer will open the show at 7 p.m.

The two hot new artists are lighting up charts with Cabrera’s current single “True” and DeGraw’s current single “I Don’t Want To Be”.

Cabrera is described as a young singer-songwriter who is already receiving international acclaim.

He learned guitar in middle school teaching himself Beatles songs and credits The Dave Matthews Band as having a major influence on his acoustic based sound.   

Cabrera’s debut album “Take It All Away” has produced the hit single “True” which is currently # 17 on Billboard’s Pop 100 Airplay. 

Other hot singles on the album may include  “Let’s Take Our Time” and “Exit to Exit” and more.

Gavin DeGraw will follow.  This New York based 26 year old rock artist is a compelling singer-songwriter, guitarist and pianist. 

His debut album “Chariot” produced the hit single, “I Don’t Want To Be” which has risen up the Billboard charts and currently is #11 on the Pop 100 Airplay. 

Upcoming releases include “Just Friends”, “Crush” and “Follow Through”. 

On Sunday at 8 p.m. Magic 98.9 presents John Waite and Edwin McCain. 

Born in Northern England, Waite began his career founding the group The Baby’s in the UK.    Hits followed including “If You’ve Got The Time”, “Isn’t It Time”, “Back On My Feet” and “Head First”. 

Waite later left The Baby’s to embark on a solo career which brought more hits including “Change”, “Missing You” and more.

Edwin McCain was born in Greenville, and continues to call the Upstate home. 

McCain’s style is a mix of southern soul and acoustic storytelling.  His latest album A Scream and A Whisper came at a time when McCain said he had recaptured a passion for the music that he felt he had not had for some time. 

He has reached both Gold and Platinum status with hits such as “I Could Not Ask For More”, “Solitude”, “I’ll Be”, “See The Sky Again” and more!

Music fans may want to come early on Sunday as Oldies 106.3 presents a free Beatles bash at 4 p.m. featuring the tribute band The Return performing timeless and Beatles hits.

Memorial Day will also feature a free beach blast sponsored by Magic 98.9 FM featuring The Embers and The Catalinas beginning at 3 p.m.

Both groups are synonymous with sounds of the Grand Strand.

 The Embers have been inducted into the South Carolina Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.

The Catalinas have the #4 Beach Music hit of all time, “Summertime’s Calling Me”. 

Other favorites include “Rainy Day Bells”, “Party Time Man”, “Miss Grace”,  “Facts Of Love”, and more. 

As in previous years, beach music fans can literally get sand in their shoes as organizers bring the beach to The Anderson Sports and Entertainment Center. 

There will also be contests including shagging, limbo, water balloon toss, hula hoops and more.

General admission tickets for concerts are available in advance at area Bi-Lo stores through May 26 for $15 per person. After May 26, concert tickets will be $20.

Concert tickets will be available at the Civic Center Box office during the event from 12 noon to 10 p.m. All ages will require a ticket.

Lawn chairs and blankets are permitted. No coolers or pets are allowed on the event grounds.

Special amusement ride deals include $15 unlimited rides on Friday from 12-4 p.m. and Monday from 4-10 p.m.

General admission is free, parking is $6 per car.

For additional information call the FWA Offices at (864) 222-0051 – Anderson or (864) 232-3700 – Greenville or visit the event’s web site at www.freedomweekend.org.

Sewer, other projects discussed in workshop

During their workshop and monthly meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council was updated on the status of several projects underway in the town including a sidewalk project, sewer study on providing sewer to Shorebrook, soccer fields, and downtown revitalization.

Mayor Phillip Clardy told Council that the town has advertised for bids on the sidewalk project and will accept bids at 10 a.m. May 26 from any qualified contractor.

Clardy told Council that the sidewalk project includes repairing or replacing sidewalks between the traffic light at Hamilton Dr. and Greenville Dr. to Anderson Dr. toward Hardees. It also includes making the sidewalks handicap accessible.

According to Clardy the project is being done in phases to avoid a delay because of SCDOT questions concerning water drains and easements for new sidewalks planned along Anderson Dr.

 The first phase of the project will be along Hwy. 20 (Main St.) from Hamilton St. to Academy St., Clardy said. Once the bid is awarded, work will begin on the project, Clardy said.

Clardy also told Council that representatives of the town and the Palmetto Soccer Club are looking at the property recently designated by council for soccer fields to determine exactly how much of the parcel will be needed.

The property is part of a large parcel of property which includes the old water plant facility.

Clardy also updated Council on the status of the Cherokee Road property which the town is planning to sell.

 According to Clardy, the town is still in the process of determining a value for the property.

Questions concerning sewer lines already on the property, their condition and the value it adds to the property have made it difficult to set a price.

Water and Sewer Department head Tim Hood said that an evaluation of the sewer pump station showed that it will need to be upgraded to carry additional capacity if the property is developed as a subdivision.

Hood said it will cost approximately $30,000 to upgrade pumps and install new pipe to tie the facility in with the existing sewer infrastructure on the Cherokee Road property.

He said that upgrading the capacity from 90-93 gallons presently to 200 gallons will serve the area’s needs for the next 10-20 years.

Clardy told the Council that a downtown revitalization project being sponsored by the Greater Williamston Business Association will have to be approved by Council before the project can get underway.

The  SCDOT Transportation Enhancement Grant the GWBA and Town are applying for is for improvements along state highways.

Clardy said SCDOT officials are in support of the project but want something done about pedestrian safety along Main St.

A tenatative plan sent to SCDOT proposes adding a turning lane into Town Square Center, eliminating parking along Main St., and placing a median for pedestrians to  have a safety zone while crossing the state highway.

Clardy said SCDOT officials do not like Main St. parking because he said it obstructs the view of pedestrians. He also said that he believes a recently announced law suit may also influence the SCDOT decision on the project.

Town Attorney Richard Thompson said that if the highway department makes suggestions for safety improvements which are rejected by the town, it will open the town to a lawsuit should another accident occur.

Councilman Cecil Cothran stated that he thinks eliminating the parking on Main St. would hurt the businesses located there.

Clardy said a meeting will be set up for area business owners and others interested in the project to attend for information and to look at prospective plans.

Williamston Council updated on projects

During their regular meeting, Council unanimously approved three requests for use of the amphitheater in Mineral Spring Park.

Life Church requested use of the amphitheater for a gospel, drama , puppetry program  from 2 to 4 p.m.  on May 22.

AnMed Hospital requested use of the park for a wellness festival on Tuesday, May 24 from 3 to 7 p.m.

Council approved use of the park amphitheater for an event by Beech Springs Church on August 13.

During public comments, Pam Owens of the Williamston Area Historic Commission asked about the status of providing electricity to the cemetery and status of the Gray Drive bridge.

Mayor Phillip Clardy reponded that as soon as the permit is approved they will drop the line for power. He also said that the bridge situation is under litigation, with the McNair law firm and CSX doing a study on replacement cost of the structure.

Dan Belk said that of eight businesses and one church on East Main St., no one is in favor of allowing the proposed downtown revitalization project if it eliminates parking. He said that a third lane for the crosswalk will be less safe and eliminating parking will hurt the businesses.

“I feel is is a tragic mistake,” he said. Belk said that other towns that have undergone revitalization projects “did not take parking and have three lanes of traffic for shoppers to cross to get to the businesses.”

Belk said he is very much against it and does not want to see it proceed without being involved in the loop.

Tommy Walker spoke in opposition to joining the Anderson County 911 program citing a cost of $225,000 for frequency and radios and other problems with the 911 system.

“We don’t need to lose any more control or privileges,” Walker said. “We’ll take care of our own business.”

Williamston Police Chief David Baker also spoke on the issue.

Baker said he received a call from the Anderson Independent asking about the town’s intent on 911 and was advised that everybody in the county except Belton and Williamston law enforcement were joining the County 911 program.

Baker said that the Williamston Police Department will continue to take direct emergency calls due to a low call volume and  the fact that the department has to have personnel present to man the jail and to accept fine payments.

He said that the current program provides an effective and efficient use of personnel and that most emergencies are called in on the direct line or walk in. He said the current system allows the department to have personnel there to address things.

Out of 100 or more calls during a month, Chief Baker said that only 12-15 are emergencies.

Chief Baker said he has some ideas to present to Anderson County Emergency Preparedness Director Tommy Thompson which he said, “could eliminate the $225,000 expense for the county and still do what we need to do.”

Clardy said that any decision would require a vote by Council.

Council then went into a brief executive session to discuss a contractural matter.

Upon returning to regular session, Council heard reports on the status of several projects.

Speaking on the downtown revitalization project, Clardy said it was the intent of the town and council to try to enhance the downtown for economic growth.

He said that although there had been talk and interest in a project, “nothing had been decided officially.” He said the next meeting on the project will include the merchants.

He said SCDOT officials, through which the transportation enhancement grant is administered, were to be used to benefit and enhance the downtown area and that SCDOT officials do not favor streetside parking.

He also pointed out that SCDOT had added a lighted cross walk with a push button for pedestrians to cross the street safely at Mill St.

He said as far as buffering zones and beautifying, “They love it.” But they want to eliminate the street side parking.

Clardy said he could see that the parking issue for the businesses was “not a convenience but a necessity.”

“Let’s come to a common ground consensus before we lose these grants,” Clardy said.

Clardy said that the plan would be submitted with modifications to town council to be approved or disapproved.

“I do not intend to let it lie dormant,” Clardy said.

Clardy pointed out that a lawsuit was filed against the highway department concerning a fatality at the crosswalk on Main St.

Town Attorney Richard Thompson advised the town that there must be some information that the crossing was done wrong and he said if so, “the highway department will want to fix it.”

He said they (SCDOT) can’t fix it without the town allowing it, but if the town refuses, it may be opening itself to litigation in the event of another accident.

“They want to fix it because it is a matter of safety. The next time they will look at everyone involved,” Thompson said.

“Ultimately the Highway Department will decide,” Thompson said. “Town Council does have to approve it. The question is what happens if you don’t.”

Councilman Cecil Cothran said that the plan to eliminate parking will lead to more people crossing the road, possibly leading to more fatalities.

Clardy said that eliminating parking will open up Main St., allowing pedestrians to clearly see traffic and traffic to see pedestrians and that SCDOT officials are looking at other liabilities including storm drains.

Clardy said that safety improvements in the area seem to have helped including the addition of a pedestrian warning sign and planters to keep vehicles from parking at the crosswalk.

In other business, Council approved first reading on a flood plain ordinance bringing the town in line with county guidelines and allowing compliance to fall under county enforcement.

According to David Rogers of the Town of Williamston, FEMA decides where the flood plain lies and the county will look at a map to decide if a property is in the flood plain.

Any appeals will come before the local zoning board, Rogers said.

Due to a time constraint on the ordinance, Council unanimously approved holding a special called meeting May 16 to approve second reading on the ordinance.

Police Chief Baker also told Council that the town’s firing range will be relocated from just off Minor St. to a location behind Brookdale Park.

According to Baker, the new location which is located on six acres owned by the town is on a sewer easement and will be more accessible and safer and will allow officers to train as a rifle range. He said it has a 20 foot bank and a natural bowl shape making it safer and additional police presence in the area will be beneficial.

The current shooting range is located behind the town’s storage sheds on Minor St.

Baker said the bank there is only 15 feet high and the range faces the proposed new soccer fields.

Baker said the new area will need “very little work to get it where it needs to be for a shooting range.”

It will need some grading and planting grass he said.

Baker also said the town has a “very qualified” firearms instructor, Randy Creamer who will oversee training.

Clardy said town residents who are not in compliance with ordinances concerning dilapidated properties and high grass will face a crackdown soon.

According to Clardy, 127 letters are being sent to property owners to comply or face consequences.

Clardy said those receiving a notice will have five days to comply before facing fines and measures necessary to bring a property into compliance.

Williamston police report

Williamston Police Officers investigated the following incidents:

May 9 - Paige Sarni Gilmer, 37, 410 S. Franklin St., Greenville, was taken into custody from Greenville County Sheriff’s Office for an outstanding warrant (failure to appear). C. J. Sanders investigated.

May 8 - Edith P. Jones, 60, 1 Church St., Apt. 171 , Williamston, reported a 2005 Ford Taurus vandalized by a rock thrown through the rear window. A left rear tire was flattened and an unknown liquid was poured on the vehicle, causing a total of $750 in damage. A 1999 Jeep owned by Heather Marie Brown, Apt. 172, which was parked next to the vehicle, was also damaged with a rear tire flattened and an unknown liquid poured on the left side of the vehcile causing $80 in damage. Sgt. J. T. Motes, T. A. Call investigated.

May 7 - Jessica Marie Owens, 22, 202 S. Hamilton St., Williamston, reported  vandalism in which a marker type pen was used to  deface the front and rear door of the residence causing $100 in damage. T. A. Call, Sgt. J. T. Motes investigated.

May 4 - Amy Chandler, a manager at Minor St. Apartments, reported damage to Apt. 157 at 159 Middleton Blvd. in which holes were punched in sheetrock, carpet damaged and an unknown substance rubbed on the walls causing approximately $1,000 in total damage.

May 5 - Thomas Franklin Tate, Jr., 45, 229 E. Carolina St., was arrested for outsanding warrant for possession of a stolen vehicle. C. J. Sanders investigated.

May 1 - Grady Kay, 67, 23 McClellion St., Williamston, reported a red and silver Next bike valued at $100 taken from the backyard of the residence. The bike was located and recovered at 4 Attaway St. where the resident stated that a “Brian” had brought the bike to the residence and was going to return it the next day. The resident was advised to have “Brian” contact the Williamston police Department.

Apr. 29 - Rigoberto Martinez Rodriguez, 27, 110 Terapin Dr., Williamston was arrested for no drivers license and no proof of insurance after a 1998 Chevrolet truck was observed speeding on Greenville Dr. A. B. Singleton, Sgt. J. T. Motes investigated.

Apr. 29 - Reid Elliot Smith, Jr., 60, 14 Brown St., Williamston, reported three juveniles pulled 2 planks from a fence causing $35 in damage. A. B. Singleton investigated.

May 3 - Jacob Paul Allen Black, 17, Williamston, was arrested for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in connection with an incident involving a 15 year-old female at Palmetto High School, 804 N. Hamilton St., Williamston. SRO/CPL D. W. Bryant investigated.

Apr. 29 - Benjamin Solano Samora, 21, 403 Four Oak Way, Greenville, was arested for disregarding a stop sign, no S. C. Drivers license and operating an uninsured vehicle after a Toyota was observed disregarding a stop sign at the corner of Gossett Dr. and W. Main. C. J. Sanders investigated.

Local NHRA motorsports team competes close to home

A Williamston based motorsports drag racing team will compete in the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals to be held this weekend, May 12-15 in Commerce, Georgia.

Hartman Motorsports, located on Hwy. 81 in the Piercetown Communty, has been involved in NHRA and IHRA racing full time since 2000, when Virgil Hartman became the owner and crew chief of a Top Fuel dragster for his daughter, Rhonda Hartman Smith, the “Quickest Female on Earth.”

Within two years, the team expanded to a two-car Top Fuel team with the second dragster being piloted by his son-in-law John.

Rhonda and her husband John are the only husband and wife combination to finish in the top 10 of the NHRA point standing in the history of the sport.

The successful team has finished in the top 10 for four consecutive years with several semi-final and final round appearances between their NHRA and IHRA schedules.

Top Fuel driver Josh Starcher will pilot the second Top Fuel dragster during the NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce alongside teammate, John, now the Hartman Motorsports primary driver.

 “Commerce is the home-track race for Hartman Motorsports,” said Virgil. “We have a lot of friends, relatives and fans coming in from South Carolina and Georgia to support us throughout the weekend.   Also, having received local sponsorship, we want to give them all an opportunity to see another dragster run.”

Sponsors include The Ole Country Smokehouse, Hwy. 81, General Machine of Anderson, Coca-Cola of Anderson, and Performance Chevrolet of Seneca,

Now in her thirteenth year of drag racing competition, Rhonda is expanding her career by moving into the Team Manager position for the 2005 NHRA racing season.

She was introduced to full-throttle horsepower as a youngster and attended drag racing events with her family in Southern California.  She spent her childhood alongside her father and brother and learned how to build and service their family-owned racecar. 

Although Rhonda had her sights set on the driver’s seat, her father and team owner, stressed that she had to earn her way behind the wheel.  While attending San Dimas High in California, Rhonda spent her weekends at the track cleaning parts and helping out the team while her brother drove the team-owned Alcohol Funny Car. 

She balanced an active student life of cheerleading, softball, student government and her studies.

In 1992 she made her driving debut in the California Independent Funny Car Association series and won her first race.  Rhonda’s “need for speed” continued when she earned her Top Fuel Dragster license in 1994.

She met future husband, John at an IHRA race.  The pair worked together when John was hired to crew for Hartman Motorsports.  The “sparks” flew right away – the couple was engaged in 1994 and married in 1995.

She enjoyed immediate success on the IHRA Top Fuel circuit in 1994 including victories at the Supernationals Inaugural Race and Grand American Nationals.  She earned an IHRA record as the first female and youngest driver to win a national event and was named the IHRA Rookie of the Year.

“My young age was more of a challenge than my gender,” comments Hartman-Smith. “My peers felt that it would be difficult to handle the pressures of professional competition at 18 years of age.  I didn’t let that get in the way of my lifelong dream of driving.”

Rhonda’s only time away from racing was in 1998 – 1999 when she and John celebrated the birth of their daughter, Megan Smith. 

Rhonda moved right back into the driver’s seat in 2000 and participated in all 24 NHRA race events.  The team established a race-by-race sponsorship with FRAM Filters that progressed into a full-time partnership from 2001 to present.

She celebrated her first top 10 NHRA championship point standings finish (tenth place) in 2001. 

She and John graced the NHRA record books as the first professional husband-and-wife to qualify at the same NHRA race.  Rhonda’s career continued to excel in 2002 when she and John both earned top 10 points standing positions – Rhonda finished 9th and John finished 10th.

John was introduced to drag racing while working alongside his brother and father preparing their family-owned racecar for regional events in Florida.  After graduating from high school, he began working as a crewmember on his father’s professional team and for prominent NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers.

John joined Hartman Motorsports as a crewmember in 1993.  Although he enjoyed working on the team-owned Top Fuel dragster. He and Rhonda were soon engaged and married.

With 10 years of fuel racing experience under his belt, John began sharing tuning responsibilities with father-in-law.

Together they tuned the team-owned dragster to three IHRA Top Fuel victories, several runner-up finishes and concluded the 1994 season in third place.

John earned his Top Fuel license in 1997 and took over driving responsibilities in 1998 for several races when Rhonda became pregnant with their first child.  While Rhonda took the 1999 season off to spend time with newborn Megan, John tuned for the Fluke Top Fuel team and driver Randy Parks.

Hartman Motorsports was back together in 2000 and participated in all 24 NHRA race events with new-mom Rhonda in the cockpit and John tuning.  They completed in team’s first full-year of NHRA competition in 12th place.

The 2001 season was bittersweet for John.  While gaining experience and seat time in the Hartman Motorsports 3rd team car, John was involved in a serious accident when an opponent had an engine explosion and crashed into him. 

John suffered serious injuries, attending months of rehabilitation and four operations to improve mobility in his leg and wrist.  Although he was unable to complete the season, John finished in 13th place. 

He was back on his feet in 2002 and began driving the team’s back-up dragster to test parts and tuning techniques.  John partnered with Prestone“ Products, a sister company of FRAM“ Filters, and made a mid-season debut with John behind the wheel and Virgil as the team owner/tuner.

“The 2002 season was a real turning point in my driving career,” comments Smith.  “After a devastating 2001 season, I was thrilled for the opportunity to drive again.”

In September 2002 they earned a spot in the NHRA record books as the first married couple to race each other in the same professional category. 

John completed his first full-time professional tour in the NHRA top 10 in 10th place just behind Rhonda who earned the #9 spot.

The pair continued to battle it out on the NHRA and IHRA starting lines in 2003.  Although Rhonda earned a 4-1 lead in head-to-head competition, John continued to improve his career-best driving statistics during his first full-time season of Top Fuel competition.

John and the Prestone team experienced numerous “firsts” during the 2003 season including a career-first final round match-up at his hometown race, the Mac Tools Gatornationals, in Gainesville, Florida. 

He earned two IHRA Top Fuel runner-up titles at the Inaugural IHRA Amalie Oil Texas Nationals and the ACDelco Nationals.

He competed in the Budweiser Shootout, a premier event showcasing the eight quickest Top Fuel drivers of the 2003 season, and raced for his shot at the $100,000 purse. 

He posted career-best’s including a 4.540-second elapsed time (Houston, TX) and a 325.77 mph run (Joliet, IL).  John completed the 2003 NHRA and IHRA seasons in the #8 points standing position on both professional circuits.

Virgil Hartman became involved with drag racing more than 40 years ago when his neighbors took him, as a 15-year-old, to Fontana Drag City. 

The following week, he was working in the time-slip booth.  He’s been with racing ever since. 

In 1972, after serving time in the military, Hartman built a Jr. gas dragster. 

By the late 1970s he was involved with alcohol dragsters.  Hartman started racing with his son, Richard, in 1982, before daughter, Rhonda, started racing in Top Fuel in 1993. 

Their “family-style” racing story is a favorite among the fans, and Hartman and his team have been featured in many racing related magazines and news outlets.

His family was also included in FOX TV’s special series “Families of Racing” which featured other great families such as the Pettys and Earnhardts.

Grandson, Nick Hartman, is on the brink of getting his license, and his granddaughter, Megan Smith, already owns her own Jr. dragster.

King running as write-in candidate

By Stan Welch

Marshall King, resident of West Pelzer for 54 years, is seeking  a seat on the town council in the June 7 election. King, who is running as a write-in candidate, has a lot of history with the town and the area. He has been a member of West Pelzer Baptist Church for 36 years, a member of the Pelzer Masonic Lodge for 48 years, is a Pelzer High School graduate, a WWII Navy veteran, and has been a father and husband for 58 years. He also retired after 30 years with the Fort Hill Gas Authority.

His goals as town councilman are to make government responsible to all the town’s citizens, to be an advisor to the town’s businessmen and help attract new businesses to the town. He wants to see the town’s water service improved, and says if the town can’t raise the $50,000 matching funds for the $500,000 federal grant that has been approved, he would favor borrowing the money. “We can’t afford to let that grant money slip away. It’s too important to the town,” said King.

Decreasing the infiltration inflow into the town’s outdated sewer system is also important, says King.

King is pleased with his write in campaign so far. “I have a good bunch of folks working for me. I’m really pleased with how things are going. I just ask that the folks support me, and I’ll support them. I’ll be honest and fair with everybody. I don’t believe in lying and I will support all the people of West Pelzer.”

West Pelzer Council meetings continue to be heated

West Pelzer’s Town Council meeting quickly became controversial Monday night after the reading of the minutes from a called meeting Apr. 28.

Councilman Terry Davis pointed out that the code number of the town ordinance read concerning input from citizens at the meeting was wrong.

He also said he wanted the minutes to reflect information concerning actions of one of the police officers.

Mayor Peggy Paxton responded quickly that the information was a personnel matter and should never have been brought up in open business.

Paxton and Davis then had a disagreement over what was said at the last meeting concerning a citizen’s input.

Davis maintained that the comments were not on his tape recording of the meeting and Paxton maintained they were on the town’s tape recording.

“We’ll listen to the tape. After the meeting,” Paxton said.

Paxton called for approval of the minutes. After no second, council agreed to wait till the end of the meeting. The minutes were never approved.

Paxton then directed the meeting toward old business proposing a wording change concerning new water customers. The proposal would change the word “deposit” to “ user’s fee” and as explained, the first $50 would  be nonrefundable and the second $50 be applied to the final bill.

With no response from council after asking for comments, Paxton asked if council wanted to wait until next month so they could review information she had given them at the last meeting. Council agreed.

Paxton then read a letter in which businesses would be asked to comply with the American Disablities Act. Council approved sending the letter which gives businesses 15 days to comply. Councilman Joe Turner was asked to head up the project.

The meeting then focused on the town’s accounting software program and its ability to provide detailed reports requested by Councilman Davis.

Don McCluney of Ramsoft, developer of the accounting program used by the town, was present to explain issues in question.

Paxton handed out a report she had generated using Excel and McCluney handed out one he generated from his software.

Davis asked if it could contain more detail, and if the program the town had now could generate the report.

McCluney explained that there was a limited amount of space for information. He also said the program was a general accounting program designed for standard reports, but that it could be customized to provide whatever the town needed with some space limitations.

After a lengthy discussion from McCluney, an individual interrupted the meeting.

Paxton cautioned that if people continued to talk they would be removed from the meeting.

McCluney continued, saying the original version was DOS formatted and they have been in the process of implementing  the Windows version on the town’s computers since October.

“This software will do anything that the town of West Pelzer requires,” he said.

Davis questioned McCluney about the amount of space available for a description.

 During the discussion, several conversations could be heard throughout the room of about 40 people.

At this point the meeting was interrupted when Mayor Paxton asked business owner Pat Chandler to leave. Chandler was talking to Faye Davis who was seated beside her.

Chandler said she wanted to read something from the internet before she left, referring to a posting made by Paxton on a local website.

As Chandler read the posting, words were exchanged back and forth between her and Paxton at the same time. Paxton then told Chandler she needed to leave.

As she was leaving, Chandler said,  “You were elected as Mayor. You are supposed to serve the people. You won’t let nobody talk because you think it is a one woman show.”

Faye Davis and Paxton then had a heated exchange concerning the contents of the posting Chandler had read and several other alleged incidences which took place involving Davis and Paxton.

As Davis walked out of the meeting, Paxton changed the discussion to the transportation enhancement grant.

Paxton explained that if the grant  had been approved, it would have provided funds of $220,000 for improvements to the Main Street business district from the Hickory Point to Gray Mortuary.

“It was voted down because we didn’t want to spend $3,300,” Paxton said.

Councilman Terry Davis said that the town had spent too much money this year and that they could reapply next year.

“As much as people don’t like me right now, I promise I have got the best interest of this town,” Paxton said.

“I didn’t vote for it because it was a chance we might not get it.” Councilperson Maida Kelly said. “And I didn’t want to be out $3,300 dollars.”

“Me too,” Councilman Joe Turner said.

Turner then asked McCluney about the cost of getting everything needed to get the computer going.

This brought the discussion of the meeting back to where it left off.

Questions by Town Clerk Beth Elgin and Davis were answered by McCluney.

There was some other discussion about getting information from the auditors for the program.

McCluney stated that basically “knowing how to operate it (the progam) and inputting data properly” would give them the information they wanted.

Paxton questioned whether the program was in compliance with the Government Accounting Standard Board and also said they had not been properly trained on the program.

McCluney defended himself saying, “I have done a lot of training on the telephone and I have responded to every call.”

Davis said he was told by the clerk that McCluney had not returned her calls.

Finally, McCluney asked, “Are we going to get this thing straightened out or are we interested in getting somebody fired?”

“These people are capable of doing the job. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get this straightened out,” he said.

The meeting then moved to the citizens agenda. Sara Beecham asked why it was taking so long to get signs put up at each end of town.

The town had received a $10,000 Parks, Recreation and Tourism Grant (PRT) last year for the project Paxton said.

She explained that they were waiting on an encroachment permit from the Department of Transportation (SCDOT).

Local Businessman Jimmy Jeanes, who will build and install the signs, also said they were waiting on the DOT right-of-way before the project would be started.

Paxton explained that $5,000 had been spent on Christmas decorations as approved by Council last fall.

Vicki Farmer asked about Main Street parking and if the town could paint lines. Paxton said she would look into it.

Farmer also questioned if all the water meters were being read.

Michael Mahaffey, water department, said they were unable to read a meter because of vicious dogs and the bill would be prorated.

Paxton also explained that the town was losing as much as 57% of its water due to leaks and infiltration but that they have a grant to help video and repair water lines over the next two years which may actually allow the town to reduce water rates.

Kathy Griffith and Lanita Driggers said they received political information in the mail from Earl Brown that had labels with their water account and phone numbers on it.

“How did Mr. Brown get information with account numbers on them?” Driggers asked.

“We did not give it out or print a list,” Paxton said.

Several others questioned why their account numbers were on the labels even if someone from the town gave him a list.

“You’ll have to call him and ask him,” Paxton said.

Councilman Earl Brown was not present at the meeting.

“You all act like children. When are we going to be able to come in here and have a meeting like adults?” Debbie Young asked.

After some discussion from others, Maida Kelly made a motion to adjourn.

Health and Wellness Festival set for May 24 in Mineral Spring Park

AnMed Health will partner with The Greater Williamston Business Association and Ace Hardware for a health and wellness festival planned for Tuesday, May 24 from 3 to 7 p.m. in Williamston’s Mineral Spring Park.

The event will include special health and wellness presentations, food samples, health screenings and other activities for kids and adults.

Special presentations by local experts will include “Advance Directives, Living Will and Healthcare POA,” presented by Leo Marsden, Hospice of the Upstate; “Discussion on new food guide system-My Pyramid,” led by Danielle Little RD, AnMed Health Outpatient Dietitian; “Top 10 Dental Factoids,” by Robert G. Austin, D.M.D., Family Dentistry; “When Does Your Weight Become Dangerous?” by Dr. Blair M. Rowitz, FACS, AnMed Obesity Care-Surgical Consultants; and “Seasonal Allergy Treatments,” Ann Barnes, PharmD, AnMed Health Williamston Pharmacy.

Free screenings will be offered including blood pressure, blood sugar, total cholesterol (please do not eat 2 hours prior), and body mass index.

Other attractions will include healthy pizza samples and freshly squeezed lemonade. Special gift items will be offered for sale by the AnMed Health Women’s Boutique.

There will also be information booths from several Williamston area businesses.

Special activities will include Clemson University Tiger, a Castle bounce for kids, learning exercises, Clemson University Safe Kids, Community Safety and presentations by the Williamston Police Department and the Williamston Fire Department.

The Anmed Health Blood Mobile will also be available for persons who may be interested in donating blood.

For more information, call 716-6466. 

County budget discussions tabled for further review

By Stan Welch

 The Anderson County Council, in an unusual and unexpected move, voted by a slim majority Monday night to table the recommended first reading approval of the proposed 2005-’06 county budget.

The unexpected failure to take the first step in a pressing sequence necessary to achieve a new budget by the fiscal year deadline clearly surprised both Council Chairperson Gracie Floyd and County Administrator Joey Preston; who had come into the meeting with what appeared to be plenty of ammunition in his quest for first reading approval.

 In addition to a long, detailed presentation including more than 100 slides, Preston also had a scientific poll supporting the notion that Anderson County residents would tolerate a 6 mil increase in order to fund an additional $3.2 million for the sheriff’s department.

The poll, conducted by Winthrop University professor Scott Huffman, and written in conjunction with Preston’s office, strongly supported the notion that special expenditures for law enforcement do indeed meet with public support.

The poll, modeled closely after a similar study done in support of a special EMS tax levy several years ago, was prepared and executed in a remarkably short period of time.

At an April 21 Council retreat, Councilman Larry Greer suggested that such a study might be useful.

Five days later, a period which spanned a weekend, the poll was ready and calling had begun, according to Huffman. Polling continued until May 5, and 853 homes were polled.

 “There were a couple of reasons we were able to get into the field so quickly,” said Huffman after the Council meeting. “For one thing, the similarity to the EMS poll was very helpful. In several cases, the framework of the questions was already there, we just had to fine tune the language a bit. We worked on the text of the study in close conjunction with Mr. Preston’s office.”

Drawing from registered voters and tailoring the calling schedule also helped according to Huffman.

“We called when we were pretty sure people would be home. Also, calling registered voters really helps insure that the numbers you call aren’t businesses, or out of service. It just increases your chances of making viable calls the first time.”

 The poll, which cost almost $17,000, and which was conducted with only a consensus of Council and not a formal vote, had a margin of error of a little more than 3%, with a confidence level of 95%.

 In addition to the presentation and the poll, Preston also presented a remarkable document signed by various department heads, as well as elected and appointed officials.

Preston said in presenting the document, “I’ve never had one of these in my whole career.”

The document, titled Budget Statement, expressed approval and support of the proposed budget, and of Preston’s efforts in compiling “a budget that will provide the highest level of government service at the lowest possible cost, all within the constraints of increasing operating expenses and limited. and in some cases  decreasing revenue sources, including state mandates.”

 The statement goes on to say that the proposed budget is “not an extravagant budget, as some critics would suggest.”

Those critics have also suggested that pulling the Sheriff’s Department’s budget from the general fund and making it a special levy is designed to disguise the impact of the 6 mil increase that the 30% increase in the Sheriff’s budget will entail.

Critics, including District 7 Councilwoman Cindy Wilson, think that other areas of spending can be cut to obtain the $3.2 million increase the Sheriff is seeking without raising taxes.

Wilson has repeatedly expressed the belief that fleet services could be handled differently, using opportunities provided by the state’s Budget Control Board to reduce costs.

She also questions the county’s legal expenditures, and has offered ordinances reestablishing an in house county attorney which she says will save the County hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Additionally, the budget statement claims that attempting to reduce taxes by the 1.5 mils sought by Councilmen Dees and Greer earlier this year would “result in a reduction of county personnel and a subsequent reduction of county services. The bottom line for most departments is that this would result inlaying off employees. We do not believe this is the route to follow, nor do we believe that the citizens really want less governmental services. There are many areas we actually need to expand on, not retract.”

The statement, which was taken around for signatures by County Administrator Preston according to several of those who signed it, closed by expressing the signatories’ support for the budget and asking County Council to support it as well.  

Auditor elect Jacky Hunter and Sheriff David Crenshaw provided separate documents asserting their support for the administrator’s budget for their departments specifically. The other signatures were provided as an attachment to the budget statement.

Despite the document, which bore approximately 40 signatures, Councilwoman Wilson, speaking in a later interview, called the budget a sham.

“There has been no process so far. It makes no sense to hand us a $112 million dollar budget and expect first reading approval. The people who elected us expect us to be more responsible than that, or at least the ones who elected me do. If the budget was ready in time for all these department heads and other officials to look at it and pledge their support, why did the council get it so late?”

Wilson moved to table the first reading approval, but was met with a 4-3 vote against her motion.

New council members Michael Thompson and Bill McAbee voted to table also. 

One opposition vote, however, turned out to be a parliamentary move on the part of Councilman Greer to keep discussion of the budget alive, so that he could ask a few questions himself. Among his concerns was the proposed use of tax mils that were freed up earlier this year when the Civic Center bonded indebtedness was paid off.

Greer said he had been led to believe that those mils freed up by the clearing of that debt would be used to address courthouse security issues as well as to service the debt on a bond approved in FY’04-’05 to build two libraries, one in Powdersville, and one in Pendleton.

It was Greer who, along with Councilman Bill Dees, sought to secure a 1.5 mil tax reduction this year. Such a reduction would reduce revenues by approximately $775,000.

Greer, after asking several questions, offered his own motion to table the first reading. A motion to table must be voted on without delay, and without debate.

Preston rose to try and address the potential disruption of the budgetary timetable, but was denied the opportunity to speak by Chairperson Floyd.

Greer’s vote swung the issue, and the first reading approval was tabled. Preston then rose to explain that a certain schedule has to be met, that a budget has to be in place by the June 30 end of the current fiscal year. “We have to have a certain period of public notice before we hold a public hearing on the budget. This means we’ll probably have to have special called meetings.”

Floyd expressed her anger and bewilderment over the vote to table. 

“What you have done is make things harder for us. If we don’t have a budget, we’ll have to close down the county. I just don’t get this. I don’t understand the agendas here. If this is to be a show, to do some grandstanding, it didn’t work. Now how do we get out of this corner we’ve just gotten ourselves into?”

A request for a brief recess by Councilman Dees gave everyone a chance to settle down a bit, but Councilman Greer was clearly displeased by Floyd’s diatribe.

Asking to make some comments, he was at first hindered by Floyd who sought the advice of County Attorney Tom Martin as to whether any further comment was permitted.

Greer insisted, saying, “The chairperson exercised her right to make some comments of her own. I would like to exercise my right to do the same.”

He proceeded to express his understanding of the Chair’s concerns over the vote to table.

“I see why you might see this as throwing a wrench into the works, but tabling this motion doesn’t necessarily mean stopping this budget. It just gives us more time to look things over. As for special meetings, I will be at every one we have to have. And I’ll cast my vote on this budget in the best interests of the people who elected me and the people of Anderson County upon third reading.”

Floyd was still clearly agitated at the end of the meeting, when Council members make remarks.

She commended Preston and his staff on their “very fine and thorough budget presentation. In all my years on council, we have always passed a budget on first reading. This is the first time I can remember something like this happening. I still don’t understand it. I just don’t understand it.” She then adjourned the meeting.

Efforts to reach Preston for comment were unsuccessful.

County budget discussions: to increase or decrease spending?

By Stan Welch

While the big budget story at Monday’s County Council meeting was the Council’s decision to table first reading approval of the proposed budget, there were some highlights and important issues raised by the budget presentation.

For example, the proposed budget reflects an increase in operating expenses of just under $1 million. This figure includes $732,000 increases in workmen’s compensation and other insurance requirements, as well as a projected increase of $240,000 in fuel costs. That figure is based on a per gallon price of $2. Using the current value of a mil as $513,000, those increases account for almost 2 mils.

Financial analyst Gina Humphreys reported that a 1.5 mil tax reduction, which Councilmen Dees and Greer both sought earlier this year, would cost the county $775,000 in revenue.

Such a reduction, according to the budget proposal, would be achieved by taking one mil from the general fund and .5 mil from the Sheriff’s levy.

The Sheriff’s budget, as proposed, would involve a $3.2 million increase, and would require 19 mils in a special levy to fund his department. This year, the budget proposes to establish that special levy as separate from the General Fund.

Both County Administrator Joey Preston and Sheriff Crenshaw agree that such an approach will increase accountability and clarify the costs of law enforcement for the general public.

Humphreys also reported that the budget projections are based on a tax collection rate of 96.5% for real estate and 98% for vehicle taxes. In 2004, the actual collection rates were 95% and 97.2% respectively. Humphreys reported that one percentage point of collection equates to $200,000 in revenue.

According to the budget document, the proposed amount to be spent in servicing debt this year will total $6,751,845. This figure does not include the bonded indebtedness incurred to construct two new libraries, one in Pendleton and one in Powdersville. That indebtedness will be addressed in the ’06-’07 budget.

An additional debt of $6 to $6.5 million is anticipated in order to address courthouse security issues. Those issues may be addressed by issuing bonds, a lease/purchase agreement, or a combination of the two.

Preston had indicated that moving non-judicial services, such as records and the auditor and assessors offices from the courthouse would be a major part of the project.

The cost of such changes will be covered by use of monies freed up by the April 2005 payoff of the Civic Center bond issue.

The budget also calls for an increase of more than $300,000 in capital purchases for the various enterprise funds the county maintains. Those include solid waste, waste water treatment, the airport, environmental services and stormwater management. A summary of budget needs for the enterprise funds comes to better than $10 million.

A total of 81 new employees were requested, including the Sheriff’s request for 26 new hires. Fifty four are actually being proposed. A 2% COLA increase for all employees making $30,000 or less would also be included in the proposed budget.

Deputies investigate assaults, thefts

 Anderson Count Sheriff’s Deputies investigated several assault incidents in the area during the reporting period. Amond incidents investigate were:

PELZER

May 2 – Deputies R.S. Turner and Fraizer were looking for a subject involved in two different cases. Acting on information they received, the officers went to 167 Lesley Road in Pelzer. After knocking on the door several times, the officers noticed a strong chemical smell, and saw acetone on a table inside. Drug team officers were called to the scene and determined that a methamphetamine producing apparatus was present.

PIEDMONT

May 3 – T.A. Caron responded to a 911 call on the side of I-85 near the Hwy. 86 interchange. The complainant, a Boyce Kerns, reported that he had seen a man pull over and pull a woman from the car. Kerns pulled in behind them and the man fled. The woman later identified herself as Christina Boston.

Another witness, also reported he found her lying beside the highway and called 911. She was transported by EMS to Greenville Memorial Hospital.

May 4 – B. Parker responded to a complaint of armed robbery and kidnapping at the Waffle House at 101 Assembly Drive. According to an employee, a black male between 20-35 years of age, 6’0 tall,175 pounds with smooth skin came in, grabbed a customer by the arm, and showed a gun. He demanded the money in the register and fled.

May 5 – T.A. Caron received a report of grand larceny from Craig Lipscomb, of 108 Sir Lancelot Drive, concerning the theft of four BF Goodrich tires and Weld Bullet Hole aluminum rims from his truck, which was on display for sale at Big Daddy & sons Garage on Hwy. 81.

May 5 – D.E. Tench responded to a complaint by a 14-year-old male  who reported that his father had slapped his face and pushed him for something he said to his stepmother  when his father came to pick him up for church.

May 6 – T.B. Dugan responded to a complaint of assault & battery and malicious damage to property. Robert C. Lahmann, 608 Bonanza Circle, reported that a man he identified had been following him. Reports state that when Lahmann stopped for cigarettes, the man attacked him with a walking stick, both before and after Lahmann got out of the car. The car suffered damage to the windshield and the center console. According to the report, the man continued to follow Lahmann to his home, where he drove around the residence for some time before leaving.

WILLIAMSTON

May 8 - K.L. Brown and M.D. Campbell responded to 315 Parkview Road in Anderson, where Krystal Murphy, of 110 Estelle Drive in Williamston reported that she had been assaulted. She said she was in the yard with some other people when Michael K. Stone, Jr. came outside. Reports state, as he walked past he suddenly slapped her with an open hand for no reason. Stone was arrested for simple assault and transported to ACDC.

National film crew visits

A television film crew for the documentary news program 48 Hours recently visited Williamston to talk with Mayor Phillip Clardy about the death of Leslie Mazzara. Mazzara was a former Miss Williamston, who was murdered along with a roommate in their rented home in California last October. Though authorities have stated they collected a lot of evidence at the scene, no arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing. The crew is expected to return to the Upstate during Memorial Weekend for additional filming of Calvary Home for Children, an Anderson outreach ministry which Mazzara was associated with.

 

 

 

 

 

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