News Archive

Week of May 14, 2003
Mayor addresses personnel issues
Interim police chief begins restructuring
Former clerk’s trial begins Wednesday
Middleton pardon hearing rescheduled July 16
West Pelzer candidates offer distinct choices
Petitions turned in for certification 
Editorial
Diplomas awarded Friday to Palmetto, Wren Class of 2003
Wren, Palmetto runners capture state track honors

Mayor addresses personnel issues

The Town of Williamston is currently in the process of revising portions of its policy and procedures.

A committee comprised of Mayor Phillip Clardy, Councilman Cecil Cothran and Treasurer Michell Starnes is currently looking at the policy.

The town adopted the present version based on information and policy previously in effect in 2001 and has had a committee in the process of evaluating job descriptions, pay scales and ranges to bring consistency to the town’s positions.

Clardy said the group is comparing other municipalities of the same size and will come up with a minimum and maximum salary range and a brief job description for each position with the town.

“We will take every employee and determine a job description and then take salaries and make them comparable to other  towns with a similar population of around 4000 people,” Clardy said.

“The comparison will determine if we are over or under paying our employees,” he added.

Clardy said the committee will also look at certain positions to determine if they should be on salary.

“This will probably be the supervisors,” Clardy said.

The mayor also said that as much as 75 percent of the overtime in each department was related to department head overtime.

There may be changes reflected in other departments also. Clardy said one change is the police chief’s position which is to be based on salary rather than hourly.

Clardy said the new chief of police was hired based on a yearly salary of $35,000 and the new policy will reflect a stated salary range for the position.

“We are working on ranges,” Clardy said.

The policy and procedures also will address other personnel situations, such as the paying of a bonus to town employees, Clardy said.

Clardy said the only bonuses issued by the town are at the end of the year and are based on years of service at $25 per year with a cap at $500.

He said that policy is based on what has been done in the past.

Clardy said an issue that has recently been raised concerning an alleged $5,000 bonus is based on incorrect information being presented as fact in the public realm.

Clardy confirmed that several employees were hired with the provision that after 90 days they would receive an increase in pay  based on a stated amount per hour.

Those employees had not received the promised pay increase in more than a year, according to Clardy.

To rectify the situation, Clardy said the employees were paid back pay to the date 90 days from their hiring, amounting to the difference in the promised hourly wage.

In one case, an employee received back pay in addition to promised maternity leave pay, which amounted to approximately $5,000.

Clardy explained that he follows the policy that an employee may be hired at a stated amount per hour salary for an evaluation period and promised a raise at the end of the evaluation period.

Clardy said the policy is based on what has been done in the past.

All full time employees with the town have state retirement which is based on 6 percent deduction from the employees pay with a match of 6.07 percent from the town.

Police officers retirement is slightly different and is based on 6.5 percent deduction with a 10.3 percent match by the town.

Clardy said the town has had police retirement for the town’s officers since 1994. Officers prior to 1994 would have had regular state retirement.

 Officers employed prior to 1994 would have had two retirement programs, one based on the state retirement until the change was made in 1994 and then the police retirement once it became available, according to Clardy.

Records show the town apparently purchased police retirement for former Chief Richard Turner in 1994 in the amount of approximately $37,000.

Retirement was also an issue concerning former clerk Donna Ellis. Ellis allegedly used town funds to purchase state retirement for herself.

 

Interim police chief begins restructuring

Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy said he has faith in the abilities of the newly hired interim police chief Troy Martin.

“He has been very forward and upfront with me,” Clardy said, “concerning the conduct and goals as far as the other positions he has held.”

Clardy said Martin was hired as an interim chief to restructure the department.

Before coming to Williamston, Martin, 53,  worked with the Greenville Spartanburg Airport police department. From December 1996 to May 2002, he was a Lieutenant with the Laurens County Sheriff’s office.

Prior to that he was Chief of Police at the Ninety Six Police Department for four years and Chief of Police at the Clover Police Department for three years. He currently resides in Greenville.

During an interview with Martin, he said he was brought in to restructure the police department, including looking at policies, procedures and record keeeping.

The new chief said that concerns about his experience are unfounded.

“Everything I have done has prepared me for this position,” he said.

Martin said that one of his first actions as chief of the Clover police department was to condem an old jail and then build it back.

 He also instituted new policies and procedures in an effort to completely overhaul and upgrade the department, he said.

He admitted that during the period he struggled with members of the council under the council-mayor form of government for three years.

Martin admitted that he also experienced a problem concerning a situation with the sheriff’s office in York County which resulted in a lot of attention by the media.

“Everything I did was under a microscope. That’s the way it is when restructuring a police department,” Martin said.

“I am proud of everything I did,” Martin said of his time at the Clover police department.

Martin said that he had a good working relationship with the mayor in Clover at the time, but was fired from the position when the mayor lost his bid for re-election. “When the mayor lost, I was out as well,” he said.

During his time in Clover, he said he was involved in the commuity including the Lions, Rotary and Optimist clubs. He also served as secretary and vice president of the Police Chiefs Association during the period.

When he took the position he was to restructure the department. Partof the process, he said, was to redesign the uniforms and patches.

“There was nothing there,” Martin said, “compared to what was here.”

Martin said when he left he handed over one of the finest departments in the state.

Matin said he was brought to the position at Ninety Six because the police department also needed restructuring, though he said the situation didn’t have the turmoil experienced at Clover.

Concerning his new job, Martin said he is not nervous, concerned or excited by the atmosphere surrounding his situation as police chief in Williamston.

“I’ve tried to stay away from the negativism” he said. “All I have done through  my chief’s career has trained me for what I need to do,” he said.

Martin said he expected very few situations to arise that he hasn’t dealt with.

He said the restructuring of the department is just a process and involves pulling together.

“I’m not on the defensive,” he said, “I’m on the offensive. “I’m not concerned with what’s going on around me. I have a job to do.”

Martin emphasized that the police department is functioning.

“We still have a police department they can depend on and it will only get better,” he said.

Martin said he wants the department to have a completely different image. “My leadership is to be professional and community oriented,” he said.

His plans call for better police community relations including more patrols in the neighborhoods and having officers meet and speak with business owners.

 “We want them to eat in our facilities and asking that they do,” he said. However, due to the present atmosphere in the town he has instructed officers not to go into certain businesses.

“I don’t want my officers to be in the position where they have to sit in the middle of conversations or be in situations where the owners are hostile to the mayor and new police chief,” he said.

“We will still the police and will respond if called,” he said. “We will protect and serve.”

Martin said he wants to bring more training in house if possible and have less training being provided out of town at the criminal justice department in Columbia.

“I would like to bring instructors here to cut costs,” he said.

Martin said he wants to pursue possible grant funding for the department where possible.

He plans to participate, along with other police chiefs, in a conference call this week with Sen. Hollings  about  Community Oriented Police and Servicing (COPS) grant funding.

He said his goal is to have the department improved and be made more professional.”

Martin said the department is available to serve the public. “We are here to protect,” he said.

He also said the restructuring offers opportunities.

“My records speak for themselves. I’m looking forward to the job as Chief of Police in Williamston,” he said. “I’m a very community oriented chief and will be seen often in the community.”

 He said he plans changes that he hopes will make the department more community oriented.

New paint, rearranging the office and new furniture was one of the first projects undertaken in the department.

The new furniture included a desk, hutch and small table with total cost for the items amounted to approximately $1,456 town records show.

Also paint and a wall paper border were added to the office. The hunter green and white paint scheme were chosen to present a more uniform appearance more resembling the mayor’s office, according to Martin.

Former clerk’s trial begins Wednesday

Former Williamston Town Clerk Donna Ellis was scheduled to go to trial at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday May 14, before Circuit Court Judge Alex Macaulay of Oconee.

Ellis, indicted for embezzlement, conspiracy and accessory to embezzlement, is represented by attorney Bill Bannister of Bannister and Wyatt law firm of Greenville.

An twelve member jury with five females and seven males was chosen Wednesday morning to hear the case.

Approximately 30 people including witnesses, family and spectators were in attendance in the Courtroom.

A total of eleven witnesses were present including former mayor of Williamston, present and former councilmen and other town employees.

Witnesses expected to testify included Williamston Mayor Phillip Clardy, former mayor Marion Middleton, former councilman James Rogers, Councilman David Harvell, Councilman Wade Pepper, former town supervisor Joe Sullens and two other town employees.

Middleton pardon hearing rescheduled July 16

 

The South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services hearing concerning the pardon request made by Marion Middleton has been rescheduled to July 16.

According to Peter O’Boyle, spokesperson for the department, the Pardon and Parole Board originally had scheduled a hearing for June 10, but rescheduled at the request of Middleton.

 An open hearing will be held in Columbia, however there will be limits on the number of speakers and spectators that will be allowed, O’Boyle said.

Due to the practical limits of the rooms in which hearings are held only 6-12 people will be allowed, according to O’Boyle.

The board is still accepting written correspondance.  Anyone who has an interest in the pardon is encouraged to offer input. Victims of the crime, in this case the Town of Williamston, may testify at the open hearing or send letters to the board.

Letters may be written to the S.C. Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, P.O. Box 50666, Columbia, S.C. 29250.

Middleton submitted an application for pardon in November 2002. Persons requesting a pardon must complete an application, submit three letters of reference, and pay a $50 application fee.

Under state requirements, Middleton could apply for a pardon once his sentence was served and full restitution was made. Under the terms of sentencing, Middleton’s probation ended upon payment of the restitution.

The Town of Williamston received the restitution payment of $76,000 earlier this year.

According to state law, a person receiving a pardon is “fully forgiven from all the legal consequences of his crime and his conviction.” Persons pardoned may register to vote and vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, and be licensed for any occupation requiring a license, according to spokesperson O’Boyle. 

Middleton pled guilty in August 2002 to embezzling $76,000 from the Town of Williamston during his term as mayor. He served 46 days of a 90 day sentence, receiving early release due to a work-credit program.

Trial for former Williamston Town Clerk Donna Ellis, who was indicted at the same time as Middleton, began today (May 14).

Ellis has been indicted for embezzlement, conspiracy and accessory to embezzlement.

Petitions turned in for certification

Organizers of a petition drive to change the form of government in Williamston said they have obtained the necessary signatures and have turned in petitions to Williamston’s town clerk, who will forward them to the County Election Commission for certification.

Organizers said obtaining signatures of approximately 470  registered voters was the first step in the process of allowing Williamston residents to decide if they want to change the town’s strong mayor, weak council form of government to a council form of government.

More than 302 signatures must prove to be valid to meet the requirments o 15 percent of the town’s registered voters.

Once the signatures of registered voters are verified, the petitions will be presented to Williamston Town Council  and then by referendum for voters to decide if they want to change the form of government in Williamston.

Williamston Town Council members Greg Cole, Cecil Cothran and Wade Pepper  have indicated that they support changing the form of government for the town if it is the will of the residents.

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

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

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

Under the proposed change, the council will have just as much say as the mayor. 

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

Clardy said that it is his responsibliity as mayor to carry out the policies and procedures adopted by council, which he said he has followed in all of his actions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Councilman David Harvell said he will also support what the people want however he expressed reservations about the proposal.

 He said he thinks there will only be more chaos if the change is made. “The decisions will still have to be made by somebody,” he said.

 Harvell said he was elected by the people and would work not for one group, but in the best interest of the town.

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

Clardy said that along with a change in the form of government, policies and procedures will have to be changed.

“Decisions on personnel and other decisions are solely based on the policies and procedures that have been adopted by town council,” Clardy said

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

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

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

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

Editorial . . .Should Williamston change its form of government?

A new form of government, Council-Mayor, may be the answer to Williamston’s political problems. Then again, it may not. Some say that council has no power under the present mayor-council form - Not so! Our understanding is that council at present controls the purse strings. Council also is responsible for creating work positions, not the mayor. Hypothetically, council can create or eliminate any position, even the position of police chief. Council can also set salary limits as well as qualifications for these positions.

There is at present a $2,500 spending limit on the town books restricting the mayor to a certain amount of expenditure without consent of council. So much was done in secret in the past administration that we did not know what that limit was until a new mayor took office in 2001. However, Council can re-set that limit as low or as high as they wish. Any unauthorized expenditure above whatever they set would not be paid.

If council sees fit not to authorize a credit card for the mayor, then so state by ordinance. If a credit card is allowed, set guidelines and restrictions. If council sees fit to authorize use of a town vehicle by the mayor, or any other employee, then enact an ordinance or policy setting guidelines and restrictions.

The position of mayor has a certain degree of power which is necessary to have a workable office unfettered by nit-picking or undermining by individuals council members. Council should not be involved in everyday decisions, some of which must at times be made immediately. However, that power delegated to a mayor can be abused.

Both mayor and council should understand that use of power is a two way street. There must be mutual co-operation and trust by both parties. It is time for the betterment of Williamston and its good citizens that town officials come together in a true spirit of what is best for its people. That’s our opinion. What is yours?

Diplomas awarded Friday to Palmetto, Wren Class of 2003

Palmetto and Wren high schools’ Class of 2003 will observe commencement exercises May 16 at the Anderson Civic Center.

Palmetto High seniors, who will hold graduation at 5 p.m., will be led by valedictorian James Derek Lovely and salutatorian Monica Sue Marshall. Both will deliver keynote addresses during the ceremony.

Palmetto will open commencement exercises with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by honor graduate Jack Brody Nichols, followed by an invocation delivered by honor graduate Edward Francis Hudak. Honor grad Ginger Elizabeth Pttorff will welcome guests.

After remarks by Palmetto High Principal Mason Gary, diplomas will be presented by him and Fred Alexander, school board chairman; Dr. Reggie Christopher, school superintendent; and Mike Kelly and Dr. Mark Wilson, assistant principals.

Palmetto High’s chorus will perform the school’s alma mater.

Graduation exercises will conclude with closing remarks given by honor graduate Justin Nathaniel Higgins and the benediction by honor graduate Matthew Ballard Angel.

Honor graduates include: Matthew Ballard Angel, Elizabeth Anne Callaham, Cory Miles Cape, Tasha Ann Chapman, Adam Lee Clardy, Jason Ron Clardy, Jeremy Lee Colvin, Andrew Ray Crawford, Brittany Ann Creamer, Eric Shannon Crowe, Casey Marie Cummings.

Also, Winter Leshuan Edwards, Jacob Richard Fetner, Kimberly Ann Gillette, Ashley Nicole Haulbrook, Ashley Nicole Haynes, Justin Nathaniel Higgins, Kristina Kay Hiott, Christopher Daniel Honeycutt,  Edward Francis Hudak, Emily Ann Johnston, Melissa Ann Jones.

Also, Adam Douglas Jordan, Nicholas Scott Key, James Derek Lovely, Cassie Gail Marshall, Monica Sue Marshall, Sherry Lynn Marter, Brandie Nichole Martin, Justin Michael Martin, Justin Paul Martin, Charles Richard Mustin, Jack Brody Nichols.

Also, Kelly Annmarie Norton, Michael Lequinn Pearson, Ginger Elizabeth Pottorff, Jessica Marie Roberts, Sierra Renee Shuler, Stacy Annette Smith, Brad Callie Tinsley and Brandi Nicole Woodson.

Junior marshals include: Evan Rebekah Patterson, Sheila Leneice Wright, Brett Renee Stroud, Teri Lee Hancock, Jessica Marie Garrett, Jessica Nicole Rasnake, Jessica Robyn Murphy, Amy Elise Blume, Amy Michelle Stubbs and Justin Curtis Meade.

Wren High seniors, who will hold graduation at 8 p.m., will be led by valedictorian Sarah Smith and salutatorian Michelle Freeman. Both will deliver keynote addresses during the ceremony.

Wren will open commencement exercises with the invocation delivered by honor graduate Hannah Wright, followed by the presentation of colors by the NJROTC Color Guard and the Pledge of Allegiance led by honor graduate Isaac Arnold.

Honor graduates Katie Place and Melissa Duncan will lead attendees in the “Star Spangled Banner.” Leah Moody, an honor graduate and Wren High student body president, will offer welcome remarks.

Wren’s Concert Choir, featuring honor graduates Katheryn Dixon and Matthew Reese, will perform “Time to Say Goodbye.” Honor graduates Lindsay Mahon and Andrew Sentell will follow with “Please Remember.”

Diplomas will be awarded by Wren High Principal G. Robert Binnicker, David P. Coyne, Jack H. King and Dr. Kelly U. Pew.

Amanda Hackenberg and Caroline Holmes, honor graduates, will lead attendees in the school’s alma mater, followed by the benediction delivered by honor graduate Matthew Davis.

 Honor graduates include: Issac Arnold, Bridget Bagwell, Jacob Barry, Jade Bellack, Mary Caitlyn Boggs, Haley Cantrell, Christopher Coia, Leslie Davis, Matthew Davis, Katheryn Dixon, Melissa Duncan.

Also, Jessica Durham, David Scott Ebert, Mia Flores, Kaley Foley, Amy Foster, Michelle Freeman, Carla Furr, Joshua Garrett, Erin Gregory, Jena Griggs, Amanda Hackenberg.

Also, Scotty Hill, Caroline Holmes, Adam Johnson, Adam Lanford, Stefanie Lee, Erin Lindley, Jean Loder, Reed Long, April McDonald, Leah Merrill, Janna Merritt.

Also, Leah Moody, Preston Morgan, Sheena Morris, Lauren O’Diear, Bonnie Odom, Brandon O’Shields, Kathryn Place, Clayton Porter, Hollie Rader, Heather Ramsey, Matthew Reese.

Also, Matthew Rice, Kristina Roy, Lindsay Scott, Andrew Sentell, Sarah Smith, Shanna Somero, Tyler Ulmer, Sarah Upton, Nathaniel Wentz, Adrienne Wimbrow, Hannah Wright and Laura Young.

Those receiving Certificates of Mastery include: Alisha Driggers, Alyson Ghizzoni, Elizabeth Hudson, Dee Anna Irby, Tracy Lozowski, Romisha Mayes, Javon Mickens, Nicole Nichols and Adam Rhodes.

Junior marshals include: Kelsey Darity, Daniel Eils, Justin Moody, Andrea Teuber, Melissa Teuber and Cynthia Worthington.

West Pelzer candidates offer distinct choices

West Pelzer voters will have a clear choice between a candidate with experience and a first time candidate with new ideas in the June 3 election for mayor.

A lifelong resident of West Pelzer, Joe Turner is running for the office of mayor based on his 12 years of experience as a town councilman. Since the council is losing some experienced members, Turner feels that his knowledge and experience makes him more qualified and a good choice for the job.

Turner feels that “lots of things can be done” through grants and a change in the form of government. Turner favors the “strong council, weak mayor” form of government.

He also believes that things can be done to improve the sewer and water situation in the town. Turner says that he will be available to work full time to go to Columbia or do whatever is needed to bring about improvements.

A Vietnam veteran, Turner is a member of the VFW, the American Legion, and the Paralyzed Veterans of America. He also has a degree in Wildlife, Parks and Recreation Management.

Turner is a member of West Pelzer Baptist Church and lives on Hindman Street with his wife Tammy and their son Jeremy.

Peggy Paxton plans to bring “new ideas and strategies to the table to get control of the government” if she becomes mayor. She feels that representatives have to “stop dragging their feet and waiting on opportunities to find them.”

Paxton plans to work hard to resolve water and sewer issues, to enforce ordinances, and to reduce the cost of living. According to Paxton, citizen concerns “will no longer go unanswered.”

Paxton gave herself a “personal challenge to make a difference” in West Pelzer and to bring a “higher morale” to the community. She worked on the West Pelzer Fall Festival, the community food drive, and the first Christmas parade in over 40 years.

Chairperson of the Community Service Committee, Paxton is also a member of the Get Together Club and the beautification committee for Anderson County Keep America Beautiful. She was 2002 recipient of the Volunteer Pride Award from Keep America Beautiful of Anderson County and 2002 grant recipient from the Anderson County Master Gardeners Association to add decorative hangers on Main Street.

Paxton is a 1985 graduate of Parker High School with additional studies in business management and accounting. She works part-time as a bookkeeper for AP Polymers in Simpsonville.

A resident of West Pelzer for six years, Paxton, her husband Kevin, and their children Andrew and Alexandria attend West Pelzer Baptist Church.

West Pelzer voters are encouraged to “Meet the Candidates” May 15 at 6 p.m. at the West Pelzer Fire Department. Candidates for mayor and town council will be present and will respond to questions from citizens.

Wren, Palmetto runners capture state track honors

Wren brought home four state championships, and Palmetto came away with another as our local area was well-represented at last Saturday’s State AAA and AA track Meets held at Spring Valley High School in Columbia.

Palmetto’s Justin Meade finished first in the AA Boys 1600-meter run with a time of 4:41.30 for the state AA Championship Title.

 Meade came from behind on the last stretch of the race, sprinting past Chapin’s Matthew Cregger, who finished with a time of 4:41.89.

“I knew it was going to be a sprint between me and Creggar, and I just hoped that I had it,” Meade said. “I just popped in behind him, and if I had it, I had it. I was like “I’ve got this”, and I kept on going.”

Palmetto’s Ben Sherard, finished 6th in the 1600 meter race with a time of 4:55.37.

Sherard, a junior, finished 2nd in the 3200 Meter Run with a time of 10:39:33. Cregger, a senior, finished first in the 3200 with a time of 10:32.99. Sherard outran Creggar last fall to win the State AA Cross Country title for Palmetto.

Palmetto’s Ginger Pottorff competed in three events, finishing 3rd in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16:32, 3rd in the high jump (4-10) and 5th in the triple jump (33-2).

Palmetto’s Stephen Taylor finished 6th in the 400 meter race with a time of 53.12.7.

Wren’s Sunday Ford, a sophomore, finished with state titles in the 1600 and the 3200 meter runs.

Ford won the 1600 with a time of 5:18.66, almost 15 seconds ahead of the second place finisher, Sarah Binkley of Dreher and won the 3200 in 11:48.12, more that 11 seconds ahead of Binkley.

Hannah Wright finished 5th in the 3200 with a time of 12:49.58.

Wren’s Brad Orr claimed top honors in the State AAA 1600-meters competition, and the 4x800 relay team breezed to victory in its State AAA event to lead the boys showing by the Golden Hurricanes.

Orr took first in the 1600 with a time of 4:34.68 and finished second in the 800 meter race with a time of 2:02.98.

Competing on the 4x800 with Orr were Daniel Eils, Steven Craig and Steven Dickey, finishing with a time of 8:28.07.Craig finished 5th in the 3200, with a time of 10:40.17.