Week of May 17, 2006
nearing completion, town paying DHEC fines
activities to help Mazzara fund
recycling center ready for bids
Anderson School District One High Schools will hold graduation commencement services this Saturday, May 20 at the Anderson Civic Center. Wren High graduates will receive their diplomas at 10 a.m. Palmetto High School graduates will receive their diplomas at 7 p.m.
At the Palmetto commencement service, Justin Shaun Elgin, Honor Graduate, will lead the pledge of allegiance. The Palmetto High Band will present the National Anthem.
Honor Grad William Lee Clardy will give the invocation. Honor Grad Jordan Armin Veres will welcome guests.
Salutatorian Jessica Ann Cooley will address students. The Palmetto High Choral Department will have a special presentation, There Youll Be.
Valedictorian Megan Breann Roberts will address her fellow graduates.
Palmetto High Principal Dr. Mason Gary will introduce platform guests and other special recognition.
School District One Board Chairman Fred Alexander, Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fowler, Principal Dr. Gary, Assistant Principals Mike Kelly and Brian Couch, will present diplomas to graduates. Dr. Gary will confirm graduates.
Honor Grad Kayla Marie Mack will have closing remarks. The Alma Mater will be lead by the Palmetto High Band. Honor Grad Michael Thomas Bagwell will lead the benediction.
Attendees are requested to refrain from expressions of pleasure for individual graduates which detract from the recognition due the next graduate in line, school officials said. Persons who choose to be disruptive during the ceremony will be escorted from the Civic Center.
Palmetto Honor Graduates include Michael Thomas Bagwell, Brittany Nicole Bowman, Eva Nicole Bush, Jennifer Nichole Chapman, William Lee Clardy, Jessica Ann Cooley, Justin Shaun Elgin, Jordan Elaine Jackson, Jessica Shay Jeanes and Lindsay Katherine Lollis.
Also Kayla Marie Mack, Brittany Nell Mays, Jonathan Isaiah Peterson, Ashley Michelle Phillips, Joseph Carson Philips, Elizabeth Hope Plott, Megan Breann Roberts, Lauren Ashley Taylor, Jordan Armin Veres and Jessica Ann Vinson.
Junior Marshals include Amanda Jill Bagwell, Allison Brooke Baldwin, Hunter Woodson Brooking, Chad Michael Davis, Lauren Michele Fincher, Sarah Ellen Franco (head marshal), Whitfield Albert Parham, Dedria Rene Powell, Haley Charlene Ramsey and Kadie Elizabeth Zahnd.
A special salute to graduates is included in this issue of The Journal.
Wren High Commencement Service will be held at the Anderson Civic Center at 10 a.m. on May 20.
Honor Grad Jeremy Brasca will give the invocation.
The Wren NJROTC Color Guard will present colors. Honor Grad Kevin Niehaus will lead the pledge of allegiance. Honor Grads Hanna Shirley and Tiffany Sellers will sing the Star Spangled Banner.
Student Body President and Honor Grad Anthony Stack will welcome guests.
The Senior Concert Choir members, with soloists Quinton Ellison and Amy Evans will present special music, I Believe.
Principal G. Robert Binnicker will recognize honors. Valedictorian Ridgley Beckett will present the address, The Time of Our Lives.
Salutatorian Jennifer Pate will present her address, The Fabrication of a Journey for a Life of Victory.
Principal Binnicker will award diplomas. He will be assisted by David Coyne, Jack H. King and Dr. Chris Ferguson.
Honor Grads Kelly Armstrong and Madison Tierno will lead the Alma Mater. Honor Grad Whitney Chambers will give the benediction. Honor Grad Luke Wright will have closing remarks.
Receiving Certificates of Mastery are Kaitlyn Dunn, Anna Jester, Quinton Ellison, Amber Price, Alicia Epps and Bryan Menghini.
Junior Marshals include Holly Anderson, Justin Carter, Lauren Hughes, Christopher Lewis, Dylan Lusk, Christopher Marks and Emily Uldrick.
The graduating class and Wren Honor Graduates are pictured in a special salute to graduates section in this issue of The Journal.
Williamston Town Council discussed sewer expenses and DHEC fines as they came nearer to completing a budget for 2006 during a work session Tuesday.
Newly elected councilman Marion Middleton, Jr. took the oath of office for the Ward 2 Council seat at the start of the meeting. A brief intermission of the meeting was held to allow those in attendance to congratulate Middleton.
Upon returning to session, Mayor Phillip Clardy said the town was facing a $5850 fine and a consent order to clean a chlorine contact chamber at the towns sewer treatment facility.
According to Clardy, the maintenance is necessary to keep the facility in compliance. The output and discharge is currently being affected, he said. The fine was lowered from what it could have been, in the mid to lower $20,000s, Clardy said.
Clardy said the problem needed to be addressed immediately and that DHEC officials were there Monday. He requested it be added as a line item expense for repair and maintenance.
He also said that sludging of pools at the facility was not as bad as thought. The expenditure was approved 5-0.
Mayor Clardy also reported some parties are interested in purchasing the generator at the old water treatment plant. He said the equipment could be valued at as much as $50,000. He said he intends to fire it up soon to be sure it is in working order and town officials will consider offering it for bid.
Appalachian Council of Governments advisor Joe Newton presented the 23rd draft of the towns budget which he said is looking firm at this point. Newton said that once the land sale proceeds are locked in, town officials will know whether they will need a short term TAN or a longer term GO Bond to stabilize the towns finances.
Closing is still underway on some properties sold at the recent auction, he said.
The town is expected to borrow between $200,000 and $700,000 depending on the actual proceeds from the sale and other figures currently being considered.
There was also considerable discussion about keeping police dispatch local or having it go through the 911 central dispatch of Anderson County.
Williamston Police Chief David Baker again presented his case for adding a dispatcher and keeping the service in Williamston.
Although questions still remain, under the current proposal the town will need to purchase additional radio equipment costing $12,000 and pay for half of the salary and benefits of a dispatcher through Anderson County, estimated at approximately $32,400 year.
Baker said a Wiliamston dispatcher is paid less, approximately $23,500. He said adding a dispatcher would allow scheduling of the officers he has and put one officer back on the street.
The issue was tabled to allow additional information to be presented later.
Newton presented a preliminary 2007 budget but said it was only a starting point for council.
He said the budget will depend on the number of employees, how much the town borrows, town debt, the land sale proceeds and salaries and other costs associated with smaller staff.
Once these factors are more definite, a good draft of the 2007 budget is needed to begin looking at a possible tax increase.
The preliminary 2007 figures are based on the current millage rate, Newton said.
Newton said that he is suggesting the budget include a $600,000 contingency fund which he said is the difference between a healthy town and a sick town.
Councilman Greg Cole brought up the issue of changing the fiscal year. Newton said at this time he was not comfortable with making the change.
Council set their next meeting for Tuesday, May 23 at 5:30 p.m.
The Piedmont Public Service Board of Commissioners approved second reading on the 2006-2007 budget during their regular monthly meeting Monday.
First reading on the budget was held April 24. Final reading will be held, with minor changes, at the next meeting.
The budget reflects expected total revenue of $1,160,637 to expected total expenses of $1,154,908, for a surplus of $5,729.
General revenue from property tax Anderson County amounts to $105,447 and Greenville County, $856,662. Interest accounts amount to $14,500 for a total of $976,609.
Revenue from Sewer and Light from property tax for Greenville County residents amounts to $64,930, and for Anderson County $46,013; sewer grant of $29,500, for a total of $140,443.
Special Account revenues from property tax for recreation for Greenville County amount to $31,151; Anderson County, $3,834; Rental, fees ballpark, $400; other recreation $8200, for a total of $43,585.
Expenses are budgeted at the following:
Fire Department expenses are budgeted at: station repairs and maintenance, $500; fire equipment, $1,000; internet computer, $600; supplies, $6,000; uniforms, $3,500; protective clothing $3,000; office $2,000; office $2,000; taxes and permits, $700; vehicle expense, $11,200
Utilities are budgeted at: water, $1,000; phone, $9,000; power, $7,500; natural gas, $5,000; for a total of $22,500.
Commissioners expense is budgeted at: professional fees, $9,000, accounting and auditing, $1,200, and other professional fees $500; for a total of $10,700.
Dues and subscriptions is budgeted at $4,000. Accident and disability insurance, $5,000; property building and vehicle insurance, $23,000; health insurance, $152,000; life insurance $9,500; workers compensation, $35,200; for a total of $224,700 for insurance.
Travel and training amounted to $4,000; Medical and physical fitness, $8,000; trash pickup, $225; promotional and entertainment (including Christmas gifts, Christmas party and florals and gifts),$2,350. Also, safety supplies are budgeted at $850; advertising, $500; and debt service interest at $9,213.
Other expense $200; retirement (PORS) $50,200; capital outlay, $6,000; debt retirement principal $27,398.
Fire department payroll amounts to $497,240; FICA, $30,829; medicare, $7,210; SUTA tax, $1,389; for a total of $536,6678.
Other expenses include contract labor for lawn maintenance, $2,670; building maintenance, $1,500; and fire runs, $25,000; for a total of $29,170.
Sewer and light expense are budgeted at the following: professional fees-consultant, $3500; Jet vacuum and camera, $30,000; sewer supplies, $500; professional grants, $3400; computer expense, $750; legal, $2000; other expense, $9000; repairs, $30,000; insurance, $8856; retirement, $3360; medicare $455; FICA $1946; and wages, $31,399. Total sewer expense of $125,166. Utilities for light are budgeted at $13,500 for a total for sewer and light expense of $138,666.
Special recreation expenses are budgeted at: ball park security, $1368, professional expense recreation, $600; building maintenance, $2000; ballpark supplies, $300; wages (rec building dept.) $9428; FICA, $585; medicare, $137.
Contract labor is budgeted at: other $250; ballpark maintenance, $12,000, lawn maintenance/community building, $3000; total special recreation expense is $15,250.
Insurance for the recreation amounts to $400 for the ballpark and $2,600 for the community building for a total of $3000.
Other expense, $300; supplies, $550; ballpark utilities, $1,800; water, $500; power $3500; natural gas $3750 and phone $800; for a total of $10,350.
Total recreational expense amounts to $43,568 and total budgeted expense of $1,154,908.
The Piedmont Public Service District is a public service district providing fire protection, recreation, and sewer services to residents within the district. It includes Anderson and Greenville County residents.
The Piedmont branch of the Anderson County library system reopened with almost twice the space and number of books than before.
The branch at the Piedmont Plaza Center on Hwy. 86 opened 15 years ago in a 2400 sq. ft. building. The recent expansion increased floor space to 3400 sq. ft., allowing additional books and other reading materials to be housed at the facility.
Five new computers were also added to the two already there, to better serve library users. The building also includes a meeting room.
Librarian Betty Davenport has served in the position for 32 years. Before moving to the present location, Davenport said she remembered working at the library when it was housed in the old Piedmont jail, a 400 sq. ft. facility where some books were stored in the bathroom.
Davenport said the library holds a story hour on the second Tuesday and second Thursday of each month. The Tuesday story hour is for children ages 3 to 6, the Thursday story hour is for ages 7 to 12.
Anderson County Library Systems Director Carl Stone said the facility increased from 2400 sq. ft. to 3400 sq. ft. allowing an additional 6000 to 7000 books to be added. During his time as director, every branch in the system has been redone once or twice he said.
The system includes nine branches.
Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Library System, Fran Shirley said she was proud of the new facility. She said that even though the perception is people dont read books anymore, People do read books, she said.
County Council District Six representative Bill Dees said that when he was growing up in Greenville, he and his sister often walked to a nearby library for storytime and he became an avid lover of reading books.
He thanked County Administrator Joey Preston for being a visionary and Jerry Yeargin, for his support in the community.
The Piedmont Public Service District Board of Commissioners met Monday May 15.
Anderson County Council District 6 representative Bill Dees presented a check for $5000 to the District. The funds from Anderson County will go toward playground equipment and other improvements at the Tom C. Pack memorial field in Piedmont.
Rogers said a lot of people use the park and the walking track and it wouldnt have been improved if not for Anderson County. Dees said the parks were for the children and others.
In other business, Commissioners discussed whether to consider two positions as part-time for the District or as contractors.
The Community Building custodian and the ball park custodian positions have been discussed at several meetings with questions concerning workers compensation and liability insurance.
After considerable discussion it was decided to consider both positions as part time employees of the Piedmont Public Service District without benefits.
District Secretary Craig Lawless said the District liability insurance would not increase, but there would be an increase for workers comp. of $120 a year for the ball park custodian and $360 for the custodian. Commissioners approved the decision 4-0, with Rogers abstaining.
Commissioners also unanimously agreed to pay the Greenville County storm runoff fee. There was some question about Public Service Districts paying the fee, but Chief Butch Nichols said South Greenville and Gantt had paid their fees.
Commissioners will meet with other special service districts on Tuesday, May 23 to discuss an agreement with Metro sewer.
Commissioner Al McAbee reported the District responded to 6 street calls, 7 grass, 1 vehicle, 10 auto, 22 medical, 2 electrical, 4 sewer and 2 other including a dumpster fire.
Second reading was held on the 2006-07 budget. The figures remained the same as on first reading, held at the April meeting. (See story in this issue) Third reading will be held at the June meeting, with minor changes due to the workers compensation added at this meeting.
By Stan Welch
The West Pelzer Town council held a special called meeting Monday, May 15 in order to approve the purchase of a pump for the Spring Street lift station. That lift station, which is normally powered by two pumps, had been running on one unit for some time. The pump originally went out more than two weeks ago, and was reported to Mayor Peggy Paxton, who deferred any action until the following regularly scheduled Council meeting.
At that meeting, the Council voted to delay purchasing the pump until Councilman Pete Davis, who is employed in the Greer wastewater department, could look into the price of the unit needed. At Mondays meeting, Councilwoman Maida Kelly reported that Davis, who was not present, had said that the price he received was the same as the one which sewer department head Brad West had originally provided. That price, quoted by Pumps, Parts & Service, of Charlotte, NC was $3,177.30. The broken pump will be reworked and put into stock for a backup.
Following the recent meeting at which the purchase was delayed, West resigned, telling The Journal in a later interview that the issue of the pump was a contributing factor in his decision to quit. Ive been thinking about it for some time, and have put some applications in at different places. We shouldnt have to beg, borrow and steal to get what we need to do our jobs, he said.
The Journal, in the original story, stated that Wests decision to leave left the Town without a wastewater operator. In fact, Jeff Bruce, who is the Class A certified chief operator in charge of the Pelzer wastewater treatment plant, also serves in that capacity for West Pelzer, and had assisted West in completing his training for the certifications he held. He continues to serve West Pelzer in that capacity.
At Mondays special called meeting, council also voted to seek quotes on a submersible pump unit for a backup in case the unit at the other lift station went out. Said Councilman Marshall King, We dont need to be sitting around needing a pump when one goes out.
By Stan Welch
The resignation of Pelzer Town Councilwoman Tonya Scott has already had one consequence. The skateboard park on Highway 8 has closed temporarily, due to lack of supervision, and other safety concerns.
Scott, who moved with her husband out of the Town limits, submitted an irrevocable letter of resignation in late April. A special election to fill her seat is slated for July 18.
Scott had been the Councilmember who was spearheading efforts to establish a skate park in the town, and to organize volunteers to provide the necessary supervision. A motorcycle poker run was held in April to raise funds for the project.
The Town has not abandoned its plans to develop a safe and supervised skate park, said Mayor Kenneth Davis. I am hoping that Tonya will continue to work with us on this project. She was doing a good job of getting things together. But I havent spoken with her about it yet, so Im not speaking for her.
Evidence of the Towns continued interest will be on display Saturday at the Pelzer ball fields, where the American Ramp Company will set up two tractor trailer loads of ramps and equipment for a demonstration of skateboarding and BMX bicycling. Following the demonstration events, those attending will also be able to try out the ramps.
All those skating or riding will have to wear helmets and sign a waiver, or have a parent or guardian sign one. There is no charge, and the event will begin at 9:30 on Saturday, May 20.
Mayor Davis said the demonstration is to help the Town pick the best and safest equipment for use in the proposed park. We dont need these kids using all this home made, slapped together stuff. We need the safest and best equipment we can get. Thats what this event is for.
A number of special fun activities are being planned in conjunction with Freedom Weekend Aloft to help raise funds to build a home for abused children at Calvary Home for Children in memory of Leslie Ann Mazzara, Miss Williamston 2002.
Organizers are looking for volunteers to help man the Calvary Home for Children Booth and hellp with other activities planned during the Memorial Day weekend at FWA.
Activites will include face painting, a dunking booth, Little Miss and Mr. FWA pageant, a Balloon Chase - 5K walk/run, Sit for Stephanie 2006, Rock Paper Scissors Tournament, and the Rai$ing Race Family Edition.
Needed are volunteers to help with face-painting. No experience is required and easy designs are used, organizers said. The organization will also be selling tickets for a balloon release/race and signing up participants for the Rai$ing Race Family Edition.
Volunteers to help with and anyone willing to get wet are needed for the dunking booth! Children can help collect the balls and return them to the front. They can get wet, too.
The Little Miss Freedom Weekend Aloft will be held on Friday, at 4 p.m. The pageant is for girls ages 0 - 16 and boys 0 - 6. Contestants will be qualified for and have their swimsuit fee paid to Little Miss/Mr. Hawaiian Tropic NC/SC State Pageant later this year. Overall winners will have registration and tropical wear fees paid. Entertainers and backstage moms are needed.
The Balloon Chase - 5K walk/run will be held Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. Registration 6 - 8 a.m. Helpers are needed to monitor the route and help with registration.
Sit for Stephanie 2006 will be held on Saturday and Sunday. Participants are needed to collect donations for CHC before and during event. Although participants are encouraged to collect donations, it is not a requirement. Donation forms are on the FWA page on the website.
Rock Paper Scissors Tournament will be held on Sunday. The rules are simple. Paper covers rock. Rock crushes scissors. Scissors cut paper. Rock Paper Scissors may only take a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master. Tournament Rock Paper Scissors proceeds much like a tennis competition: game, set, match. The first to win two games wins the set, the first to win two sets wins the match. The winner moves on to the next round; the loser is eliminated. $5 gets you in the game. The champion will win a cash prize and a trophy. The tournament is for children under 12.
The Rai$ing Race Family Edition will be held on Sunday or Monday depending on weather. It will be a one-day race similar to CBSs The Amazing Race in a mini format and limited to the Sports and Entertainment Center grounds. Two-person teams must be a parent and child (under 12). Volunteers are needed to monitor the racers and tasks and participants are needed.
Full details as well as application/entry forms for all events can be found on the Leslie Mazzara fund web site I will be sending you another e-mail soon with some of the flyers.
If you can help us by volunteering, please go to the web site at www.lesliemazzarafund.com and complete the volunteer survey. Just click on the link near the bottom of the Freedom Weekend Aloft page.
For more information, contact Renee Tollison, Event Coordinator at 864-224-6836 or 864-934-6279 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Calvary Home for Children is sponsoring the first annual Little Miss/Mr. Freedom Weekend Aloft Pageant to be held on Friday, May 26, at 4 p.m. on the grounds of the Anderson County Sports and Entertainment Center. The pageant is open to girls ages 0 - 16 and boys ages 0 - 6.
Each contestant will also be eligible to compete in and will have his/her swimsuit fee paid to the 2006/2007 Little Miss/Mr. Hawaiian Tropic SC/NC State Pageant presented by RLF Productions later this year. Winners may also appear on the FWA web site and other advertising, make appearances throughout the weekend and will come back to crown next years winners.
Due to time constraints, there will be a limited number of contestants accepted. Applications must be postmarked by May 16, 2006. Please call for acceptance after this date. Absolutely no entries will be accepted at the door.
Entry forms are available at Curves of Belton, Curves of Honea Path, Cuttin Loose in Pelzer and Rags to Riches in Anderson on West Whitner St. Full details can be found on the web site www.lesliemazzarafund.com or call Renee Tollison at 224-6836.
A special fundraising event will be held this Saturday, May 20 to assist with medical expenses for Isaac Clary, age 8, who has had a liver transplant and a bone marrow transplant. All funds generated as a result of the community musicfest and hotdog supper will go to transplant related expenses. The event which will be held from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Pelzer Community Center, intersection of Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 20 behind Bi-Lo, in Pelzer. There will be a raffle and door prizes organizers said.
Bands performing will be The Barons (50s & 60s music), George Hyder (bluegrass), and Stillwater Band (country). There is a $5 cover charge and children 8 and under are free.
Anyone who would like to contribute items for the raffle and door prizes is asked to contact June Fowler, Public Relations Coordinator/Grandmother at (864)901-1459 or (864)859-8757.
Born on December 27, 1997, Isaac was diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, and doctors at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center performed a life-saving liver transplant in December, 2001. In 2004, he was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a rare bone marrow disorder.
On April 21, 2006, Isaac received his second gift of life, a bone marrow transplant. He remains hospitalized at the Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center, where he has been a patient since November 27, 2005. An estimated $65,000 is being raised by volunteers to assist with his transplant-related expenses. Isaac is the son of Sammy and Melissa Clary of Easley and the grandson of Ron and June Fowler, and Ray and Sandra Clary of Easley.
Funds are needed for Isaacs transplant-related expenses and post-transplant care. All donations are tax-deductible. Isaacs family has asked for assistance from the Childrens Organ Transplant Association, a national charity based in Bloomington, Indiana, that is dedicated to organizing and guiding families and communities in raising funds for transplant-needy patients.
COTAs priority is to assure that no child is denied a transplant or excluded from a transplant waiting list due to lack of funds. 100% of all funds raised are used for transplant-related expenses. Find out more about COTA at www.cota.org or call 800.366.2682. For more information, please visit Isaacs web site at: www3.caringbridge.org/sc/isaacsjournal
By Stan Welch
Tuesday night, the Anderson County Council defeated a proposal for a $.01 sales tax to be used for infrastructure; but for more than half an hour, it looked like the proposal would defeat them.
The proposal was in the form of an ordinance which would frame the question that would appear on the ballot in November. The ordinance would also provide a list of prioritized road projects. A sales tax commission has spent the last several months in listing and prioritizing more than forty road and bridge projects.
The effort to obtain funding from the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) Board was handicapped by a last minute decision to pursue the funding. Last spring, council was informed that no opportunity for funding would be available in the 2006 election cycle. Referendums of this type are tied to election cycles because they have to be placed on general election ballots.
Late last fall, the County was informed that a chance to receive funds did indeed exist, and a hurried effort was mounted to pursue the monies. A commission was appointed and a number of meetings was held. During the course of these actions, the County was waiting to hear how much the SIB would provide in grants, with the most frequently mentioned figure being $150 million.
That number had some of the Council reconsidering their natural opposition for such a sales tax. But in light of recent unofficial reports that Anderson County is likely to get only a fraction of that amount, if any at all, had apparently strengthened opposition to the tax and to the commissions recommendations.
The Commission had been forced to send up a recommendation that attempted to accommodate both possibilities; full funding or no funding at all. That search for flexibility clearly confused several members of Council. The federally imposed timetable for the mandatory review of the referendum question by the U.S. Department of Justice added to the pressure on Council as they discussed the issue, once they realized there was such a deadline.
The combination of confusion and pressure led to a forty five minute demonstration of parliamentary perambulations and financial finagling that had the audience laughing and offering shouted suggestions and reminders of just which motion or amendment was being voted on at the time.
Within moments of the ordinance being presented to the Council, Councilman Michael Thompson had made a motion to table the proposal, saying that it would be better to spend 2007 researching and preparing for an effort in 2008 to obtain funds. His objections were that the effort was being rushed into, and that Whitehall Road, a pet traffic peeve of his, was not on the list. The motion to table was seconded by Gracie Floyd, but failed to obtain any additional support.
Councilman Bill McAbee then made a motion to refer the list back to the Commission to be reconsidered, with greater weight being given to the traffic counts on the various roads. That motion died for lack of a second. Councilman Tolly then mentioned that time constraints were a factor, and that a first reading approval was necessary to meet those demands.
Councilwoman Gracie Floyd said she could not support the ordinance because her district just got a short little road that runs by Newton Shoes paved. She made a motion that the Council study this some more and slow down and take our time. Thompson said he didnt understand the motion, and Chairman Greer said he didnt either. The motion received a second, however, and was quickly amended by Councilman Dees to say that if the SIB money didnt materialize, that the ordinance would die. After more discussion, during which Greer said he had changed his mind about opposing the tax for 110 million good reasons, but would resume his opposition if the money wasnt forthcoming, and Councilwoman Cindy Wilson said that if the Council had been better stewards of the countys money over the last eight or ten years, there would be money available for infrastructure, the motion to refer the list back was approved by a vote of 5-2.
Holt Hopkins informed the Council that the referral back to the commission meant that the ordinance would be deferred until the next election cycle in 2008. Greer then made a motion to reconsider the motion to refer the issue back to the commission. It passed by a 6-1 vote with Thompson opposing. Dees then moved to amend the motion again to include the language requiring SIB funds to go forward. He then amended his own amendment to include language requiring traffic counts to be factored in. Following further discussion, Dees attempted to withdraw both his amendments, but was unable to when Tolly refused to withdraw his second to the first of Dees amendments. That left the Council voting on the amendment to require SIB funding which was defeated by a vote of 4-3. and a motion to require SIB funding was defeated.
Hopkins was then called on for his recommendations. He explained that there is a sixty day minimum period for the USDOJ to review the question, which would necessitate the referendum question being sent to them by June 15. We would absolutely have to have first reading tonight so that we can be ready if the SIB does meet in time. I personally think that the option of SIB grant money is gone for Anderson County this time around.
Hopkins told Council that the SCDOT offers little promise of funding. The DOT is essentially broke. Theyve told us that if we wait on them to get our roads fixed, it aint gonna happen. After extricating itself from the tangle of motions and amendments, Council voted 7-0, defeating the ordinance and referendum proposal.
In other business, the Council did give third reading approval to the 2006 budget, despite objections from Councilwoman Wilson. She sought to delete and omit several changes in language, but the motion died from lack of a second.
A theme raised during the budget workshop was repeated during the discussion Tuesday night. Council members Dees and Tolly and Greer all referred to unfunded mandates and the vehicle tax ratchet down as being issues over which the Council has no control. Greer referred to $1.7 million increase in the budget that we cant do a thing about.
Employee raises were mentioned a number of times, with several council members apologizing to the countys employees for the failure to increase their pay, while Wilson mentioned several areas that she felt could be cut to free up some funds for raises. Those included cutting the Countys legal fees, catering expenses and other costs. We could easily find $300-350,000 in cuts to put into other uses, she said.
Council, after more discussion, voted 6-1 to approve the budget, with Wilson opposing.
Speaking after the Council vote on the sales tax, Otis Wells, the only member of the Commission at the meeting, said that They dont understand the issue. We had to give them two alternatives so we could react to the SIBs decision. But this councils action tonight is a No vote for Anderson County, and it will hurt the county for years to come. But no one should be surprised. That same lack of leadership years ago, when Anderson Countys inaction led to the Greenville airport being located between Greenville and Spartanburg instead of between Greenville and Anderson. Guess which two counties are growing the fastest now?
Hopkins said that the countys transportation and maintenance department will keep seeking funds elsewhere. Well keep beating the bushes and doing what we can until 2008. Maybe well hear from the SIB Board by then. I feel bad for the Commission members because they did work very hard on this. They were a quality group and did what they were asked to do.
By Stan Welch
Unfunded mandates and the vehicle tax ratchet down were the two phrases most frequently heard at last Fridays budget workshop, held by the Anderson County Council.
Business analyst for the County, Gina Humphreys, used her own tax records to present evidence that the vehicle ratchet down, or assessment ratio change, had resulted in her paying a net decrease of $27.54 in property and vehicle taxes over the period from 2001-2005.That total decrease reflected an increase in property taxes of almost $375 over that five years as opposed to a decrease of $401 in vehicle taxes.
She also presented a series of tables showing the impact of the vehicle tax reduction on the Countys revenues. The final conclusion reached by all the charts and information was that the county would have an additional $2.4 million for the 2007 fiscal year, or the equivalent of 4.6 mils, with the difference in the value of the mil of approximately $31,000. That amount was multiplied by the 77 mil levy set for this years proposed budget, to reach the $2.4 million figure.
Several members of council decried the vehicle tax reduction, saying that it did not reduce taxes, but shifted them to other property. Adding fuel to the fire is proposed legislation before the Senate that would apply the assessment ratio change to motorcycles and so called supertrucks, the large trucks and SUVS weighing between 7000 and 9000 pounds. Under H4307 the assessment would drop from 10% to 6.5%, the same change applied to other vehicles.
Chairman Greer said This is just another example of the state legislature taking credit for a tax cut at the expense of the local budget. Gracie Floyd was most adamant, saying , everyone throws tomatoes and eggs and cans at us. We get caught in the crunch. We need to work with the Anderson Independent Mail and radio stations to make sure people know this is not our fault. They put all this burden on our people and all we can do is accept the blame.
Figures presented by the financial staff indicate that the fiscal impact of H4307 would result in a loss of $623, 332 , with the county losing $163,000 and the schools losing $360,000. Councilman Dees said the legislation is further evidence of the erosion of home rule, while Floyd wrote it off to this year being an election year.
When asked if he had contacted the county delegation about the proposed law, County Administrator Joey Preston said, I was told by a delegation member to quit writing letters about it. He declined to name the delegation member.
Chairman Greer continued the theme of state interference in local affairs, saying that the budget showed a n overall increase of approximately $3 million over last year. Almost every dollar of that is state mandated. We have no control over that. They tell us what to do, and we have to do it.
In addressing the request by the EMS squads for a 33% increase in funding, Greer expressed his preference for an adjustment by the squads in their fee schedules. For example, an additional charge of $1 per mile would more than offset the cost of the fuel increases that are expected, said Greer. The requested increase would result in an addition of 1.8 mils to the EMS levy, raising it from 5.7 to 7.5 mils.
Councilwoman Cindy Wilson questioned the addition of 59 employees in this years budget, asking where they were added. Preston responded that most of them were in the Sheriffs department, saying, They added several new deputies. Weve been pretty much flat on new hires. Most of the new hires are in the enterprise fund operations, bridge crews and so forth.
Wilson also asked at various junctures during the three hour session that the budget ordinance be provided. Greer continued to delay that, saying, I told you we will get to that, Ms. Wilson. The ordinance was finally provided just moments before the workshop adjourned. Wilsons motion to extend the session or schedule another one before the scheduled third reading of the budget was denied, since such votes cant be taken at workshops.
By Stan Welch
The first Republican Stump Meeting held in Anderson County drew a large slate of candidates, as well as a crowd of several hundred.
Governor Sanford was on hand, calling the stump meeting tradition a great one, and saying Letting candidates and voters really interact is so important. So much of what we say to each other these days is filtered through the television screen or some opinion poll, that its really good to just meet and speak to the people we represent.
Candidates for seats from the Governor to County Council, from State Treasurer to School Superintendent were on hand, to say a few words and shake hands. More than one baby was kissed. Candidates who werent even running this year were on hand to show their support and their faces.
Senator Billy ODell was on hand, saying that Seeing so many candidates together gives the people a chance to really compare their views and their styles side by side. That allows a different perspective for the voter that can really be helpful.
Page Rice, one of the events organizers, said the crowd was gratifying. For our first effort, this is great. We have a lot of candidates, which in turn will draw more crowds next year. Then, as the stump meeting grows in size, the other candidates will have to show up too. They wont be able to afford not to.
Anderson County has begun the bid process for phase one of the Powdersville Convenience Center project and bids are due on May 25, County officials said. The bid is expected to be awarded sometime early in June with construction expected to begin in July. The new recycle-only facility will be constructed on Old Anderson Road in Powdersville. It will be the fourth recycling-only site in the County and will serve as a drop-off point for recyclables. Future plans for the site include horticulture displays, a learning and picnic pavilion, an ecology walking trail, recreational spaces, and the second recycling education center in the County.
I think this project is going to be a real asset, said County Councilman Bill Dees, who represented Council District 6. I believe it will be well received and welcomed by the community. If one looks at the status of landfills in America and in this county, they are rapidly filling up. Many waste products do not deteriorate rapidly; some may last for hundreds of years. We must as a nation and as a county, take steps to recycle, saving land, natural resources, and money. Recycled materials may be used over and over, at a great savings to us all.
This site will have more convenient access, larger facilities and improved safety, said County Environmental Services Director Vic Carpenter. This site represents progress in our goal to provide equal and convenient access to waste disposal at a reasonable cost.
In 2005, Anderson County Environmental Services collected and processed approximately 6,700 tons of recyclables; disposed of 64,225 tons of solid waste generated by local residents; and processed more than 3,000 40-yard containers collected at the 15 local convenience centers.
Were going to need more shelves, said Ron Hedstrom, Piedmont Emergency Relief Center (PERC) Board President, upon seeing the 10.5 tons of food raised by the letter carriers of the Piedmont Post Office.
On Saturday, May 13 the National Association of Letter Carriers held its annual food drive. Letter carriers across the country picked up food in addition to the mail on their regular routes. Previously, post cards and bags with the slogan Nice Day for a Drive printed on them and cartoon by Family Circus artist Bill Keane were distributed.
The bags were filled, some beyond the breaking point, by local residents who donated food items which will stay in the community this year. Due to efforts of local postal employees coordinating with the PERC organization, the donated items will be distributed to those in Piedmont who are in need.
Postal employees assisting in the drive were Vicki Arrowood, Postmaster; Pat Rodgues, Supervisor; Linda King, Assistant Supervisor and Letter Carriers Bobby Wells, Brian Frazier, Jen Sanders, Debbie Forsyth, Wendi Spearman, Amy Morgan, Janet Pack, Stephanie Mayfield, Jennifer Fountain, Betty Conley, Jonathan Wheatley, Wanda Campbell, Kenneth Todd, Carrie Foote, Jesse Winner, and Debbie Arrowood.
The Piedmont letter carriers requested that the Piedmont Emergency Relief Center benefit from the drive this year. Bobby Wells broached this with those in charge.
For approximately 2.5 hours, PERC volunteers moved the food items from the Piedmont Post Office loading dock to the PERC office at the Community Building. Over and over again, they loaded postal tubs with bags of food. Each of the 526 tubs weighed about 40 pounds, for a total of 21,040 pounds of food items collected.
PERC volunteers included Ron Hedstrom, Board President; Cory Hedstrom, Policy and Personnel Chairman; Paul Porter, Board Member; Jed Daughtry, Director; Jeremy Moore, PERC Food Security Specialist and David Parisi. Woodmont High School students helping move food were Jamie Brazeal, Kayleigh Meeks, Chaz Schwiers, Michael Hughes, and Hilary Rampey.
After the work was completed, volunteers enjoyed barbecue from Big Daves Barbecue. Dave Jones is PERCs Vice-President of the board of directors.
The large amount of items collected has also led to the need for additional volunteers. Piedmont residents, usually through food drives in churches and schools have done a wonderful job of keeping our shelves stocked for our clients, said Hedstrom. Now we need volunteers to sort through the food and give it to deserving families.
If you can email, you have all the skills and qualifications to work at PERC, he quipped.
Volunteers will, over the next weeks, sort the food for the needy. In addition, they will inventory and count the cans of vegetables, fruits, and meats, along with the bags and boxes of rice, cereals, beans, and other non-perishable foods.
According to Americas Second Harvest, the national food bank network, the latest data on hunger in America shows:
Nearly 14 million children lived in homes rated food insecure in 2004, meaning they were hungry or at risk of hunger.
Researchers have found that even mild under-nutrition suffered by young children during critical periods of growth may affect brain development as well as overall physical development.
Dr. Ryan Cook, of Footbridge Family Dental in Piedmont, recently donated a collection of framed Piedmont paintings to the Bonnes Amies Club.
The paintings are the original oil paintings done by a local artist, Fran Geisler, the former art teacher at Spearman, for the annual Footbridge Festival celebrating Piedmonts history. The paintings will be displayed at the Piedmont Community Building.
Geisler painted one painting per year and only a limited number of prints of each of the painting were made available each year during the Footbridge Festival.
The collection of paintings capture the rich history of the town of Piedmont including the Mill from both the Anderson County and the Greenville County side, Piedmont High School, the old Hotel, Train Depot, and Main Street.
Dr. Cook and staff have participated in the footbridge festival each year and named the dental practice for the foot bridge over the Saluda River which once connected Greenville and Anderson counties.
I wanted the paintings to be displayed in a place where the whole town can appreciate them, Dr. Cook said. The Community Building is the perfect place for this cherished collection of paintings. Im happy to donate them to the Bonnes Amies Club, who I know will keep them safe so we can all remember Piedmonts history.
Anderson County Sheriffs Deputies investigated a number of incidents in the area recently. Among incidents investigated shoplifting, thefts and disorderly conduct:
May 10 R. S. Turner investigated a complaint of shoplifting at the Shell station at 1712 Highway 8, where Raymond Gill, the cashier, stated that a white male came in and asked Gill to give him a beer. Gill refused and the man put a beer in his pants and left without paying. He was driving a white or cream colored Cadillac.
May 11 R. S. Turner responded to 605 HI Taylor Road, where Mary Lou Cason reported the theft of her 2000 Pontiac. Turner reported marks on the ground indicate that the car might have been dragged from the driveway.
May 12 J. J. Jacobs received a report from Mose William Presley that someone had broken into his Hyundai Accent and stolen approximately $300 worth of jewelry and tools. A number of fingerprints were collected and entered into evidence.
May 13 J. J. Jacobs assisted Greenville County deputies in recovering a stolen 1993 Ford van, which was discovered by Greg Emery, who was riding his four wheeler. The van was found to belong to the Homes of Hope located on Hwy. 153 in Piedmont.
May 14 J. L. Bergholm responded to a complaint of burglary at 114 Spearman Drive. Barbara Ann Moss reported that her home had been entered and a variety of items taken, ranging from clothes to a .22 caliber pistol. The total value was estimated at a little more than $4000.
May 10 R. M. Cooper responded to a burglary report at 129 Beardsley Rd., Apt. T-11. Amanda Clark reported that someone had broken in to her apartment and stole several items including jewelry. The total value of the items was almost $1800. A newer model blue car was seen in the driveway by a neighbor, but no details were available.
May 12 J. L. Bergholm received a complaint of burglary from Wally Burton, operations manager at MIP, Inc., located at 1015 Elrod Rd. Burton reported that someone had driven through a gate at the rear of the business doing $300 worth of damage, before forcing their way in through a roll up door, doing an additional $300 in damage. More damage was done and an 8 X 10 black mesh utility trailer valued at $1000 was taken.
May 12 T.M. Christensen responded to the Hardees at 904 Anderson St., where he found Jeremy Joseph Childress, 27, asleep in his car, with the motor running. An SKS rifle was on the back seat. Reports state Childress was unsteady on his feet and uncooperative. He was arrested for public disorderly conduct and transported to ACDC.
May 9 J. C. Moore responded to a complaint of assault and battery at 906 Belton Hwy., where Tim Ellison reported that his daughter, Brittany Finley, 18, had hit his wife Kimberly Ellison with a 2x4. She had also poured gas in the house and threatened to burn it down. Finley was arrested and transported to ACDC.
J. L. Barnes received a complaint of petit larceny from Dale Renfroe, of Lavonia, GA. Renfroe had a Georgia dealer plate stolen from his vehicle while attending an auto auction at 144 Webb Road. The tag was later recovered in North Little Rock, Ark.
By Stan Welch
As the June 13 primary approaches, Im starting to wonder if anyone is running. I know a slew of people signed up, but where are they? Has anyone in the Williamston area seen Julia Barnes, the Republican opponent for Cindy Wilsons District 7 seat? I havent.
Of course, I made her mad early by using a verb she didnt like to describe her association, however temporary, with Democratic candidate for the District 7 seat Ed Jean and former candidate Bob Austin. So maybe, like the County, she simply isnt sending me her press releases these days.
Mrs. Barnes has a centerpiece of her campaign her opinion that the acrimonious relationship between Ms. Wilson and Joey Preston has become detrimental to the districts ability to access resources that other districts are receiving on a fairly regular basis. This may surprise Mrs. Barnes, but I agree with her.
It seems to me that District Seven is routinely denied access to resources that the other parts of the county are not. Evidence to support that claim can be found in Ms. Wilsons past use of paving funds to address other needs in her district, like repairs to fire department buildings, as well as her use of recreation funds for less than purely recreational programs.
Before Council amended last years budget ordinance to restrict the use of paving funds to only paving, drainage and infrastructure, Wilson would use those funds for a variety of sues. The record clearly shows that. What the record doesnt show as clearly is that Wilson had no chance of success if she approached county administrator Joey Preston seeking four or five thousand dollars to repair a fire department or EMS building, much less get funding for a few miles of four lane highway into her district.
A cynical observer of the political scene in Anderson County might even decide that the restriction placed on the paving funds was intended to further tighten the purse strings available to District Seven. A truly cynical observer might even think that was done in an effort to encourage just such questions about Wilsons effectiveness as Barnes is now raising as part of her campaign. Luckily, I am not that cynical, though I know some who are.
As I said, the question raised is a good one. Unfortunately, it is the wrong one. Assuming that Wilsons adversarial relationship with Preston has affected her ability to serve her constituents, the question becomes Why?
Why should any elected officials opinion of an employees performance cause their constituents to suffer? Conversely, why should any elected officials opinion of an employees performance cause their district to benefit? Wasnt the idea behind Home Rule, that Holy Writ of governance that all administrators and lazy elected officials call down to justify themselves, to remove good old boy politics from the equation, and allow for professional, dispassionate administration to occur? Wasnt the idea to remove, or at least reduce, the opportunity for public largesse to be used to punish political enemies and reward political allies?
Now, if professional and dispassionate government is in fact in place, why should a district, like District Seven, receive less of the financial pie than, say, District Six, which is faster growing, to be sure. But the number of public projects announced for that district in recent months is mind boggling. Could someone point to a major project funded in District Seven, aside from the Beaverdam sewer line, in the last two or three years?
Have you been by the Lander Memorial Library in Williamston lately? Well, the good news is that its only 15 or twenty miles to the proposed new Powdersville library, or even less to the beautiful new Belton facility, over in Chairman Greers district.
In District Six, theyre planning to build a major soccer facility, just a penalty kick away from Greenville County. In Pelzer, theyre holding poker runs to try and raise money for a skateboard park. I think its safe to say that Mr. Dees is getting his moneys worth from Mr. Preston. Im sure Messrs. Greer and Thompson feel the same way. Im not sure Ms. Floyd still feels that way, since she doesnt hold the gavel; anymore. And Mr. McAbee might have some questions, although the Pendleton area has been pretty well fed in recent months. I think we all know Ms. Wilsons opinion on that issue.
So Mrs. Barnes, have at it. If you think that the question is whether Ms. Wilson can be effective or not in representing her District, I say that is a valid question. But it still seems to me that the more important question is Why cant she?
Why should a hired administrator be able to significantly affect the flow of resources to some districts and restrict that flow to other districts? Do the District Seven taxpayers count for less? Do they deserve less in return for their tax dollars?
Theres one other issue Id like to touch on real quickly before wrapping this up. There are signs, for those who can read them, that Ron Wilsons opposition, and I mean that in the general sense, in District Six is about to fall back on the tired and divisive tactic of raising Wilsons involvement in the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
It is a simple-minded tactic, designed to give those who are determined to be offended a reason to be offended. It is a tactic without merit, as proven by Wilsons election to the state Board of Education, despite the use of that same tactic in that election.
As a proud member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I find this tactic insulting and, quite frankly, stupid. Generally speaking, people who use stupid tactics turn out to be stupid people. A much smarter tactic would be to rent in advance a billboard that your incumbent opponent had always rented in prior election years. Take it as you wish.
But as a citizen of this country and this state who is proud to sat that seven members of his family marched off to fight the United States Army during the Civil War, I make no apology to anyone for my pride in that heritage. Furthermore, I would be deeply disappointed in Mr. Wilson of he made any such apology. In fact, it seems to me that Mr. Preston, who is also what I am sure is a proud member of the SCV, would agree with me on that point.